Guacamole

Whenever I’m looking for a recipe, I always start with Food Network because they tend to be tested pretty well. So this recipe comes from Alton Brown himself, only slightly modified. I love the flavor that the tomatoes bring. Just remember to let this one sit, and it’s best served room temperature.

And this one is naturally gluten free.

Guacamole

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Let this one sit and serve preferably at room temperature.

Ingredients

  • 3 Large Avocados, cut in chunks
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 Medium Onion, diced
  • 1/2 Jalapeno, diced (or 1 whole for more heat)
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Minced Garlic

Directions

In a large bowl, toss avocado with lime juice. Add salt, cumin, cayenne, then mash with a potato masher until smooth and well mixed. Fold in remaining ingredients. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour before serving.


 

Fish Tacos

I was looking for a good non-breaded fish taco recipe. This one is nice with naturally buttery cod and a small amount of heat (don’t forget the sour cream). Jeff’s favorite part might be the slaw that you make to go with it. You can find the original recipe on Delish. It’s not crazy filling, but you can take that as an opportunity to have dessert with it, like churros.

And this one is naturally gluten free (just use corn tortillas).

Fish Tacos

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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The fish has a fair amount of liquid while it cooks and the filets can stick to the pan, so keep an eye on them.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 2 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp. Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 1/2 lb. Cod (or other flaky white fish)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Corn (or flour) tortillas
  • 1 Avocado, sliced (optional)
  • Lime wedges for serving (optional)
  • Sour Cream for serving

Slaw:

  • 1/4 c. Mayo
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 2 Tbsp. Cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. Honey
  • 2 c. Shredded Purple Cabbage
  • 1 c. Corn
  • 1 Jalapeño, minced

Directions

For marinade: In a medium shallow bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, paprika, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Add cod, tossing until evenly coated. Let marinate 15 minutes.

For slaw: In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, lime juice, cilantro, and honey. Stir in cabbage, corn, and jalapeño. Salt and pepper to taste.

For cod: In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil. Remove cod from marinade and season both sides of each filet with salt and pepper. Add fish and cook until opaque and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Let rest a few minutes before flaking with a fork.

Assemble tacos: Serve fish over grilled tortillas with corn slaw and avocado. Squeeze lime juice on top and garnish with sour cream.


Fajitas

Fajitas are wonderful, whether made with steak or chicken. Haha, we usually opt for chicken because it’s cheaper. You don’t need a whole packet of taco seasoning–just enough to give it a little flavor. Serve with Spanish rice or cilantro lime rice, cheese, sour cream, maybe some salsa, and of course a tortilla.

If you’re making this gluten free, make sure to use gluten free taco seasoning and corn or other gluten free tortillas. You may also want to use a new or uncontaminated bag of cheese.

Fajitas

  • Servings: 5?
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Don’t forget the Spanish rice or cilantro lime rice.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 2 Green Peppers, cut in small strips
  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs. Chicken breasts or beef sirloin, sliced thin
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Taco Seasoning to taste (such as McCormick or homemade)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Spanish rice or cilantro lime rice
  • Flour or corn tortillas

Directions

In a heavy pan, heat the oil then add the onion and green peppers. Cook until tender and maybe with a tiny bit of black for flavor. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove and place in a bowl. In the heavy pan, brown the chicken and then salt and pepper to taste. Add the onion and peppers back into the pan, then sprinkle all with taco seasoning. Serve on top of tortillas and rice, adding sour cream, salsa, or other toppings as desired.


Chili Lime Corn

We actually went looking for this recipe because Disneyland often has delicious-smelling corn on the cob. I can’t remember if we ever actually tried the corn at Disneyland, haha, but we found this recipe on Food Network and adapted it. Since then, we’ve made it a lot over the years.

You can top frozen corn with just the flavorings after microwaving (obviously it’s not 100% the same). And sometimes we’ll be short on time and we’ll boil the corn cobs beforehand and then grill for just a few moments–but the best flavor comes from letting the corn grill from raw. The original recipe called for grilling the ears in the husk, but we didn’t have good results with that–so we went to aluminum foil. And you generally only need one lime for this recipe if it’s large enough and juicy enough.

Sometimes the flavor is very subtle, so we’ve sometimes doubled the butter mixture for the corn. You spread it on with a spoon or pastry brush. Here’s what it looks like with a single batch:

And this one is naturally gluten free.

Chili Lime Corn

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Delicious flavors, but it usually takes longer to make than I think.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. Butter, at room temperature (you can melt if you’re in a hurry)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Lime Zest

  • 1 Tbsp. Lime Juice

  • 1 tsp. Chili Powder

  • 1/4 tsp. Dried Minced Garlic

  • 1 tsp. Salt

  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper

  • 4 Ears of Corn, husked
  • (Aluminum foil for wrapping)

Directions

Preheat grill to medium. In a small bowl, combine butter, lime zest, juice, chili powder, garlic, salt, and pepper and set aside. Tear off a piece of foil for each ear of corn. Place an ear of corn on the foil, then spread butter mixture evenly on corn with a spoon or pastry brush. Wrap each ear in foil tightly, to keep juices in. Grill for 15-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.


 

Cilantro Lime Rice

I make this rice a lot as a side for taco salad, to go in fajitas, or of course to go with sweet pork burritos or salad. I usually end up getting the rice started to cook and then work on adding the rest of the ingredients–and by the time the 15 minutes of cooking is up, I finally have finished adding all the other ingredients. I think the zesting and juicing the lime takes the most time. But it’s still pretty fast and easy. And often instead of adding chicken broth, I’ll do a heaping 2 tsp. of chicken base with 2 1/4 c. water.

This recipe is adapted from melskitchencafe.com, which has lots of great recipes that you should check out–I’m just including it here for my convenience and because I don’t make any money off this blog.

And this one is naturally gluten free.

Cilantro Lime Rice

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Great with sweet pork, taco salad, and fajitas.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  •  1 1/4 c. Rice
  •  2 1/4 c. Chicken Broth (or 2 heaping tsp. chicken base with 2 1/4 c. water)
  •  1 scant tsp. Salt
  •  1/4 tsp. Pepper
  •  Juice and Zest of 1 Large Lime
  •  2 Tbsp. Cilantro, chopped
  •  1/4 tsp. Cumin

Directions

In a pan, melt the butter and add the rice. Stir, letting the rice and butter cook for 1-2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 15-16 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes (I’m usually in too much of a rush for this step). Fluff with fork and serve.


 

Cafe Rio Jalapeno Ranch Dressing

This dressing is amazing! And it’s easy because you just throw everything in the blender. It’s great on a sweet pork salad and also inside a sweet pork burrito. I adapted this from a recipe on The Recipe Critic. It often turned out pretty runny and not spicy enough (albeit still delicious), so I made some adjustments. I’m not sure if it’s 100% a Cafe Rio copycat, but I love it. Sometimes 2 jalapenos can be really hot, but I think I’d prefer a little too much heat in the dressing to basically none. Otherwise you might as well make plain ranch.

And this one is naturally gluten free.

Cafe Rio Jalapeno Ranch Dressing

  • Servings: 10?
  • Difficulty: easy
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Use 2 jalapenos if you want it to have any heat (1 is usually very mild).

Ingredients

  • 1 packet Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1 c. Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tomatillos, husk removed and cut in chunks
  • 1/2 bunch Fresh Cilantro (discard stems)
  • 1 tsp. Minced Garlic
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1-2 Jalapenos with seeds, cut in chunks (2 if you want any heat)
  • Up to 1 c. Buttermilk for desired consistency (or 1 c. milk + 1 Tbsp. lemon juice) (or just use regular milk)

Directions

Place all ingredients except buttermilk in a blender and pulse until smooth and creamy. Then blend in milk gradually until you reach your desired consistency. Sometimes you won’t need to add much milk at all.


 

Pico de Gallo Salsa

If I’m going to have chips and salsa, I love to have pico. I love the fresh made salsa at Harmons and wish I had a recipe for it, but this is a pretty good recipe adapted from one on All Recipes. Just make sure you give it lots of time to sit, so it can absorb the flavors.

And this one is naturally gluten free, just like the tortilla chips you eat with it.

Pico de Gallo

  • Servings: 8?
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Chopping takes a while, but it’s delicious and easy to come together.

Ingredients

  • 6 Roma Tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large Red Bell Pepper or 2 small Green Bell Peppers, diced
  • ½ White or Red Onion, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • Juice of 1 lime (or 1/2 if it’s very juicy)
  • 1 tsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1 pinch Garlic Powder
  • Salt (quite a bit) and Pepper to taste

Directions

Stir all ingredients in a bowl, then cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours so flavors can meld.


 

Churros

Man, I love churros. They could basically work as a side dish for Mexican food, dessert, or even a bread I guess. I even bought a huge piping tip to try to make the thicker ones, like the churros at the fair or Sam’s Club cafe. Haha. If you’re using a huge tip, sometimes the middle of the churro is a little wetter (like they could cook a little longer), but they’re still delicious in any case. You can also use a smaller tip and make mini churro bites.

I’ve made these with regular flour and gluten free flour, and they’re great. This is from a Food Network recipe that also includes chocolate dipping sauce in the original recipe. But I find the cinnamon sugar so amazing that it doesn’t need dipping sauce. Also, I love to make big batches and freeze extra for later. Then I just take them out of the freezer, warm them up in the oven at 350 for a few minutes, and roll them in more cinnamon sugar. Just like fresh made.

If you’re making these gluten free, I do like to add a little extra cup for cup flour and cook them a little longer (that seems to be fairly standard when making a gluten free version–adding a little extra and cooking a little longer). These are amazing as gluten free, and I would’ve had no idea. Although, when you’re mixing the choux dough, it looks more like oatmeal than smooth dough–but they cook just fine. And the picture below is of a gluten free churro.

Churros

  • Servings: 6?
  • Difficulty: medium
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Warm and soft in the middle, with a slight crunch on the outside.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. Water

  • 1/2 c. Butter

  • 1/4 tsp. Salt

  • 1 c. Flour (or 1 1/4 c. gluten free flour with xanthan gum)

  • 3 Eggs, beaten

  • Vegetable oil, for frying

  • 1/4 c. Sugar

  • 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon

Directions

In a heavy saucepan, bring the water, butter, and salt to a boil over high heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour. Reduce the heat to low and stir vigorously until the mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute (gluten free will look more like oatmeal). Remove the dough from the heat and, while stirring constantly, gradually beat the eggs into the dough. Make the cinnamon sugar by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl large enough to fit a churro, then set aside for later.

Heat about 2″ of oil to 360. Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large tip (I find the silicone bags work great and don’t break). Pipe lengths of dough into the oil, about 4″ long. Fry each churro until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side, flipping halfway through. Then drain on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet. When the churros are just cool enough to handle, roll them in the cinnamon sugar.


 

Jalapeno Cheddar Soup

This is another decadent cream-based soup based on a Harmons deli soup recipe. (Check out the tomato basil soup also.) I’m so glad the deli director at Harmons was always happy to share any recipe you’d ask for, because everything that Harmons makes is so amazing. Anyway, at the hot soup bar, you can find their turkey cheddar jalapeno soup. I adapted it to use chicken (cheaper and more convenient), and I also added more ingredients so it wasn’t so much broth in relation to chicken. This one is great, spicy, and best with chips and cheese on top. Depending on how spicy it turns out, you may need to add sour cream. This is another soup where we freeze the leftovers in gallon bags–sometimes the potatoes can get a little mushier, but mostly it heats up and tastes just fine. And this soup still has a thin broth instead of a thick gravy like a stew–so I put cheddar and sour cream on top of the soup for the picture, and of course they both just sank right in. Haha. 

If you’re making this gluten free, make your roux with the cornstarch instead of flour.

Jalapeno Cheddar Soup

  • Servings: 15?
  • Difficulty: medium-hard
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Spicy and delicious–you can freeze leftovers in gallon bags.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. Butter
  • 1/2 c. Flour (or 1/4 c. cornstarch)
  • 6.5 lb. Chicken Breasts, cubed
  • 1/4 c. Canola Oil
  • 1 Onion (.6 lb.)
  • 2 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1 Red Pepper (3.25 oz.), diced
  • 1 Green Pepper, diced
  • 1 Jalapeno (1 oz.), diced
  • 1/4 c. Water
  • 1 oz. (about 1+ Tbsp) Member’s Mark Chicken Base
  • 1 gal. Chicken Stock
  • 2 qt. Cream
  • 2 qt. Milk (8 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp. Salt
  • 2 tsp. Black Pepper (1/4 oz.)
  • 1 Tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes (1/4 oz.)
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and diced  
  • 1 lb. sharp or extra sharp cheddar, grated
  • 1/2 bag Frozen Corn

Directions

In a separate pan from the stock pot, create the roux by melting the butter and adding the flour or cornstarch to cook. In the large stock pot, brown the chicken. Add oil, onion, garlic, peppers, and jalapeno and cook until onion is translucent. Add water, stock, base, and cream. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and bring to boil. Add potatoes and cook until they’re done (about 15 minutes). Reduce heat and add roux and cheese. Stir until soup thickens and cheese melts, then add corn. Serve with sour cream, extra cheese, and crushed tortilla chips on top.


 

Chicken Bacon Ranch Quesadillas

Jeff and I had our first date at Chili’s, so it’s always had a special place in my heart. I used to love getting their quesadilla explosion salad before I found out I have celiac. One day for a date night, I looked up ideas of how to make those quesadillas, stuffed with cheese, chicken, bacon, and ranch. I didn’t find an exact copy, but I’m quite happy with how these turned out, and we’ve had them a lot. They’re pretty easy if you’ve got pre-cooked chicken (such as from rotisserie chicken) and bacon. And Chili’s would serve them with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, and sour cream, so that’s what we try to do if we can.

If you’re making this gluten free, just use corn tortillas and make yours either in a separate pan or make yours first before making any with flour tortillas.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Quesadillas

  • Servings: 6?
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Chili’s flavors, delicious with shredded lettuce, pico, and sour cream.

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg. Bacon, cut into pieces with scissors
  • 1-1.5 lbs. Chicken Breasts, sliced thin or Rotisserie Chicken pieces
  • Taco Seasoning to taste (optional)
  • Flour or Corn Tortillas
  • Shredded Cheddar or Mexican Cheese
  • Ranch Dressing
  • Optional: Shredded lettuce, pico de gallo or salsa, sour cream

Directions

In a heavy frying pan, cook the bacon pieces until crisp and then place on a paper towel lined plate. Remove the grease, then cook the chicken on high heat, adding taco seasoning to taste. Set chicken aside in a bowl. Wipe out the pan, then cook one side of two tortillas (or alternately you can use one tortilla to make a quesadilla, but fold it in half). When the tortillas are crisp but not dark, flip one over and set one aside. Place a handful of cheese on the one in the pan, then squirt ranch dressing in a spiral on top of the cheese. Add several chunks of chicken, then sprinkle bacon pieces over top. Sprinkle another handful of cheese over all, then place the reserved tortilla with the uncooked side up. Then carefully flip the whole thing so the uncooked side of the tortilla cooks. When the quesadilla is done, place on a cutting board and cut into four pieces. Serve with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, and sour cream.