Easy Weeknight Salsa

I LOVE fresh salsa. LOVE IT. One of my favorite salsa recipes is from the Mexican food guru, Rick Bayless. The recipe has you roast the some of the ingredients in the oven and then puree it all together. It’s WONDERFUL, but it’s a little time consuming. (Side note: I can point you to that particular recipe if you’d like it – just comment or email me!)

Anyway, a few nights ago, I needed fresh salsa something terrible but there was no way in heck that my wiry toddler and starving husband were going to afford me the time to chop and roast. Enter “Easy Weeknight Salsa”. Three minutes of chopping, 15 minutes in the fridge, and you’re off enjoying chips and salsa without a lot of hassle! This is really a basic Pico de Gallo – you’ll find this recipe in many home cooks’ repertoire, I’m sure, but it was too good and easy not to share!  Here’s how you do it:

Easy Weeknight Salsa

2 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup diced white onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt

1) Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Let stand 15-30 minutes so the flavors meld together. I like my salsa chilled, so I put it in the fridge to let it sit.

(Note: The salsa may get a little wet if you have any left over, but you can use a slotted spoon to get it out if you like! It’s still just as tasty!)

Zesty Chipotle Sauce

One day last week, my boss was in frantic mode. We were on the phone discussing a project while I was on my way back to the office from the dentist and he mentioned he hadn’t eaten lunch yet. I offered to pick him up something and he immediately requested Subway. Like any loyal Subway diner, he immediately spouted off his order, which, to my surprise, included chipotle sauce. Whenever I’m at Subway, I get the same thing – every.single.time. (If you’re keeping score, that would be – Turkey, Swiss, spicy mustard, lettuce, tomato, olives, pickle, jalapenos on wheat.) I never think about the other sauces they serve there, but this particular lunch order got me curious.

Keeping with my “I should be able to make that” mode, I set out to figure out what exactly was in that delicious chipotle sauce of theirs. I experimented with several versions until I arrived here. I served this on fish tacos (which I will post later this week!) and you could also use it as a spread on a sandwich.

Warning – it’s SPICY. If you don’t like heat, definitely cut the chipotle part in half. It will still be tasty, just not quite as hot!!

Zesty Chipotle Sauce

1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup light sour cream
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 chipotle in adobo (from a can), finely diced
1/2 tsp sauce from the chipotle in adobo can
1/4 tsp kosher salt

1) Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Keeps well for 5 days in the refrigerator.

Yield: about 8 servings (1 Tbsp each)

DIY: Homemade Spicy Taco Seasoning

Have you ever looked at the back of the a packet of taco seasoning? I am guilty of buying MANY MANY of them in the past (trust me!) and I never gave a moment’s thought to what was in them. In my attempts to eat ‘cleaner’, I have been reevaluating convenience foods and I’ve come to the realization that with not too much extra effort, you can make many items for yourself.  The two things that have been rolling around in my head recently are salad dressing and spice mixes. I wanted to make taco salads tonight for a quick family dinner, but when I hit the seasoning packet section at the store I had one of those “oh no” moments. I decided that it couldn’t be too hard to make taco seasoning for yourself (and I was right! Love it when that happens!) This recipe is SO easy – just a minute or two of measuring and you won’t get any of this junk:

Wheat flour, Salt, Dried Garlic, Maltodextrin, Chili Peppers, Spice, Dried Onions, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Paprika, Sugar, Contains less than 2% of Silicon Dioxide as an anticaking agent, Soybean Oil, Malic Acid

Riiiiiiiiiiiight. I knew you’d be with me!! So raid your spice cabinet and get ready to enjoy some healthier tacos!! This is not inferno hot, but if you’re not a huge fan of heat, cut the cayenne in half! If you love the heat, add a little more!

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Spicy Chili Queso Dip

I posted this recipe a while back, but I never had any pictures of it. My father-in-law, Mike, makes this dip and it’s cheesy and addicting. It appears at every holiday. Easter? Cheese dip, sure! Christmas? Gotta have queso! 2nd Friday in June? Sounds like a good day for dip!

The queso starts with peppers, onions, and sausage cooked down in a skillet. Then you add some diced jalapenos (have you ever bought them diced like this? Love them!), and a can of chili.

Then your mini-crockpot gets stuffed to the gills with Mexican Velveeta.

And then you wait….

After an hour or so, cheesy goodness!! We serve with tortilla chip scoops or Frito scoops and make sure to get some when it’s first ready otherwise you won’t get any, it’s that good!!

PS: If you need a mini crock, they’re really affordable! You can get this basic white one for $15 at Amazon. Or live on the wild side with something like this spicy red one!

Mexican-Style Black Beans

When I go out for Mexican or Cuban food, I love getting black beans. My only complaint, however, is that I feel like I need to drink a gallon of water afterwards because they are so salty!! We enjoyed some fajitas on the grill tonight and I wanted, no I needed,  good black beans. This recipe requires minimal chopping, a few minutes of sauteing, and then the rest is just ‘set it and forget it’!

Mexican-Style Black Beans

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onions
3/4 cup diced green peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2 (15-ounce each) cans black beans, undrained
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1) Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and peppers and saute for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute, until fragrant.

2) Add chili powder and cumin, stirring until combined with the onions. Stir in canned black beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, simmering beans for 30 minutes.

3) Stir in lime juice and cilantro. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

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