Baked Chicken Tacos

CELEBRATING CINCO de MAYO!

A big dish of baked chicken tacos seems like the perfect way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a yearly celebration that is held on May 5. This traditional Mexican holiday was created to commemorate the 1862 victory of the Mexican army over French adversaries at the Battle of Puebla. Cinco de Mayo is sometimes mistaken for Mexico’s Independence Day—the most important national holiday in Mexico—which is celebrated on September 16.

More popular in the United States than Mexico, Cinco de Mayo has become associated with the celebration of Mexican American culture. Celebrations began in California, where they have been observed annually since 1863. The day gained nationwide popularity beyond those of Mexican American heritage in the 1980’s due to advertising campaigns by beer, wine, and tequila companies. In Mexico, the commemoration of the battle continues to be mostly ceremonial, such as through military parades or battle reenactments.

Nowadays, Cinco De Mayo is celebrated officially in every continent and in over 40 different countries, including Canada.

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Baked Chicken Tacos
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Cuisine Mexican
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TACOS
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add onion to skillet & cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent & fragrant.
  3. Stir in the chicken, taco seasoning, tomatoes (fully drained), and green chiles (fully drained). Stir to combine fully. Reduce to simmer & allow to cook for 5-8 minutes.
  4. Place the taco shells in the baking dish, standing up. Bake the taco shells for 5 minutes by themselves to allow them to crisp up. Remove from the oven. Spoon 1 tablespoon ( or more) of beans into the bottom of each taco shell. Top with the chicken mixture, almost to the top of each shell. Sprinkle each shell generously with shredded cheese.
  5. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until cheese is fully melted & the edges of the shells are browned. Remove from the oven. Add toppings of choice.
Recipe Notes
  • SOME TOPPING SUGESTIONS:
  • Shredded lettuce or arugula
  • Salsa
  • Sour Cream
  • Jalapenos
  • Cilantro

Zesty Chicken Wraps

People in Mexico, the Mediterranean, and South Asia  have been eating wraps since around the 1900’s. The wrap in its Western form probably comes from California, as a generalization of the Mexican/Tex-Mex burrito and became popular in the 1990’s.

Wraps have become a popular option in sandwich shops and restaurants, and for good reason. Like all sandwiches, wraps are an outlet for culinary creativity. A wrap can be anything you want it to be – breakfast, lunch, dinner, even a snack!

Wraps offer the same flexibility and creative options as a sandwich, but in a more convenient format all rolled up in a tasty tortilla or flatbread. The usual flatbreads are wheat tortillas, lavash or pita; the filling may include cold sliced meat, poultry, or fish, shredded lettuce, diced tomato, guacamole, sautéed mushrooms, bacon, grilled onions, cheese, and a sauce, such as Ranch dressing or honey mustard.

They are the perfect on-the-go meal. Most wraps can be eaten one-handed, leaving the rest of you free to continue about your day. They’re the perfect meal solution for a busy schedule.

It is remarkably easy to create your own personalized wrap: choose a bread, pick your condiments, layer your fillings, decide whether you want to grill it or not and enjoy. Does it get any better than that!

I have to admit, I absolutely love wraps so I like to fit them in to our meals whenever I can. These zesty chicken wraps are so good !

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Zesty Chicken Wraps
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Course Lunch
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
Course Lunch
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Chicken
  1. In a large bowl, combine 2 Tbsp oil, lemon juice & seasonings; add chicken & turn to coat. Cover & refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
Filling
  1. In a heavy skillet, heat 2 Tbsp oil & sauté zucchini & onions until tender crisp. Remove & keep warm. Drain marinade from chicken & cook in the same skillet until no longer pink, about 5-6 minutes. Return zucchini/onion to pan, heat through.
Assembly
  1. Lightly spread 4 tortillas with a bit of guacamole or sour cream. Spoon filling down the center of tortillas. Add toppings saving a good bit of the cheese for sprinkling over them after they are rolled.
  2. Roll up & place on a microwave safe dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese & microwave only until cheese is melted. Top with sliced green onions & tiny grape tomatoes. Serve extra toppings on the side if you like.

Breakfast Turkey Taquitos

Breakfast taquitos are like the smaller cousin to breakfast burritos. They use smaller corn tortillas and have a filling rolled into center of each tortilla. Taquitos are a great way to get some vegetables into your morning meal, and if you need, you can even take them on the go with you once they’re done. What’s more, they’re easily adaptable to your needs. So, if you prefer different veggies or have some leftover ones to use up, you love breakfast sausage or prefer them meatless, there’s a way to make breakfast taquitos work for you.

What’s more, these taquitos are baked, not fried, so they’re a little less guilt-inducing than you might think. Customize the recipe to your liking, swapping out what you dislike and putting in what you do. Serve breakfast taquitos with some fresh fruit, salsa verde, guacamole or sour cream and green onions.

These tasty taquitos are everything you want in a brunch item. They are hearty, savory, and easy to make. Another bonus is that you can prepare and bake the taquitos. Allow to cool completely and then place in a freezer Ziploc bag. When ready to eat, microwave them until warm. Could breakfast food get more convenient than that?!

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Breakfast Turkey Taquitos
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Course Brunch
Cuisine Mexican
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Course Brunch
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
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Instructions
Filling
  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet on high. Add olive oil, onion, and garlic & cook until soft, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomato, cook until the tomato starts to break apart and dissolve into the mixture, approximately 3 minutes.
  2. Add the turkey, cumin, smoked paprika & chili powder; cook until the turkey is cooked through, using a wooden spoon to break the turkey into small pieces. This will take approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cilantro & beaten eggs to the mixture & cook until the eggs are cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Heat tortillas for 10 to 15 seconds in the microwave before working with them. While the tortillas are warm, divide the filling between them topping with diced avocado & 100 grams of the shredded cheese. Roll the tortillas & place in the baking pan seam side down.
  5. Top taquitos with salsa & remaining 50 grams shredded cheese.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with oil.
  2. Heat tortillas for 10 to 15 seconds in the microwave before working with them. While the tortillas are warm, divide the filling between them topping with diced avocado & 100 grams of the shredded cheese. Roll the tortillas & place in the baking pan seam side down. Top taquitos with salsa & remaining 50 grams shredded cheese.
  3. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crispy. Serve immediately.

French Dip Tortilla Roll Ups

The French dip sandwich is on menus across North America and beyond, from delis to upscale restaurants, served as it was originally conceived or with some variants. For instance, cheese might show up on the thinly sliced beef; some might be smeared with mustard or horseradish. It has also provided inspiration for other cultural dishes.

Although the French Dip Sandwich is not French, (the name referring to the kind of bread used to make the sandwich, a French baguette, rather than its origin), the inventor, Philippe Mathieu was.  In 1918, Philippe owned the still existing delicatessen and sandwich shop called Philippe the Original in Los Angeles.

According to the story at the restaurant, Philippe was preparing a sandwich for a policeman and accidentally dropped the sliced French roll into the drippings of a roasting pan.  The policeman liked the sandwich and came back the next day with some friends to order the sandwich dipped in the meat pan.  As they say, and the rest is history.

However, there is a second theory that the sandwich was created in 1908 at Cole’s P. E. Buffet in LA, possibly for a customer with sore gums, who requested that the crunchy bread be softened with meat juice. For what it’s worth, the controversy remains unresolved.

The classic French dip is a sandwich traditionally consisting of sliced roast beef, served on French bread, and eaten au jus (‘with juice,’ referring to the flavorful drippings of the meat left over from roasting). The juice is commonly served on the side in a small dipping bowl.

These French dip tortilla roll ups put an interesting Mexican spin on the classic.

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French Dip Tortilla Roll Ups
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Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Lay out 4 tortillas on a work surface. Distribute shredded provolone cheese evenly over each of the tortillas. Place thin slices of roast beef evenly over the cheese, then sprinkle the French-fried onions on top.
  3. Roll up each tortilla tightly & place seam side down in a greased baking dish. Brush the remaining oil over the tops of the roll-ups.
  4. Bake about 10-15 minutes, until roll-ups are browned.
  5. While the roll-ups are baking, combine the beef consommé, water, soy sauce, onion & garlic powder in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until warmed through.
  6. Slice roll-ups in half & serve with warm sauce for dipping.

‘Leftover’ Turkey & Rice Enchiladas

Most families have a roundup of classic holiday dishes that they make every year. Those dishes provide plenty of leftovers for days (maybe even weeks) after the holiday has passed. It follows that during the holiday season, the meals start to look the same. We love leftovers, we really do, but every meal enjoyed after Christmas Day starts to seem identical. That is, until you plan a boxing day feast with a spicy twist? These tasty enchiladas are a saucy, cheesy way to use up any leftover turkey from your Christmas dinner.

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Turkey & Rice Enchiladas
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
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Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Cook rice. Allow to cool slightly. Stir together rice, half the cheese, stuffing, turkey, green onions, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Spread 1/2 cup of gravy on the bottom of prepared pan.
  3. Divide filling down the center of each tortilla. Roll each tortilla up tightly and place seam-side down in baking dish. Top with the remaining gravy and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tortillas are lightly browned and the filling is heated through.
  5. Top with cranberry sauce and sprinkle with parsley.

Shrimp Quesadillas w/ Guacamole

Quesadillas are basically toasted tortillas with cheese inside. The name in Spanish literally means ‘little cheesy thing’. What constitutes a quesadilla varies greatly between Mexico and its neighboring countries. They agree that the quesadilla and taco or burrito are different; the former being cooked after being filled or stuffed while the later two are filled with pre-cooked ingredients. Also they may be made with flour, corn or wheat tortillas as well as Mexican Masa (tamale version).

The quesadilla originated in central and southern colonial Mexico, beginning as a corn tortilla gently heated until soft enough to fold, then filled with cheese and toasted on both sides until golden and crispy on the outside and gooey with cheese on the inside. Over time, chopped, cooked vegetables and bits of roasted, shredded meat also found their way into these cheesy tortillas.

Influenced by the many micro-cultures of Mexico and Latin America, the quesadilla has been adopted and adapted by chefs and home cooks around the world, especially since the little cheesy things make it so easy to feed vegetarians and meat-eaters at the same table. A vegetarian quesadilla can be as simple as cheese folded into a tortilla. For the meat or seafood lovers, just add some shredded chicken, pulled pork or ‘roasted’ shrimp.

Speaking of shrimp …. to maximize the flavor, don’t sauté them – roast them! Much like roasting meat on the bone, roasting shrimp in their shells gives them a more intense flavor and keeps them from drying out as easily. The flavor from the shells penetrates the flesh, making them even tastier.

Something else I wanted to mention is a suggestion to help make your quesadillas nice and crunchy. Don’t use butter or oil to cook them in, use mayo instead. The fact that mayo contains a bit of sugar will promote browning and also give some extra crispiness.

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Shrimp Quesadillas w/ Guacamole
Instructions
  1. In a skillet, fry bacon to a cooked but not real crisp stage. Remove from pan to paper towel. Sauté mushrooms, zucchini & garlic until most of the moisture evaporates. Cut each shrimp in thirds & add to skillet with seasonings. Cook for another minute or until shrimp begins to turn pink. Remove from heat & add cooked bacon & combine.
  2. Grate cheese. Lightly butter one side each of 4 tortillas. Place on a griddle, & cook until warm & browned slightly. Remove 2 of them & keep warm. To each of the remaining 2, sprinkle with 1/4 of the cheese, top each one with 1/2 of the filling then sprinkle with remaining cheese over filling. Place the 2 warm tortillas on top of the filled ones.
  3. Place a lid (or a baking pan) over the griddle for a few minutes to give the cheese a chance to melt.
  4. Remove quesadillas to a cutting board & cut each one into 4 pieces. Serve hot with your choice of toppings.
Recipe Notes
  • As I mentioned in the blog article, roasting the shrimp really intensifies the flavor. If you have the time, try it instead of just sautéing them.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  • Place the shrimp (shells-on) on a lightly greased baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and minced garlic.
  • Sprinkle evenly with the seasoning (such as Old Bay) and arrange the shrimp in a single layer. 
  • Bake the shrimp for 8-10 minutes or until just pink and opaque throughout.
  • Remove from oven.

Black Bean Pulled Pork Quesadillas

A quesadilla is a Mexican dish that dates back to the 16th century. Traditional quesadillas were made with a corn tortilla that was warmed on a griddle, filled with cheese and various other fillings (meat, vegetables), and then folded over to be eaten by hand. The addition of toppings like guacamole, salsa and sour cream seems to have come along later.

Quesadillas are simple and quick to make. Place the quesadilla in a dry griddle (or skillet) over low to medium low heat. That way, you don’t have to handle greasy tortillas with your hands. But more importantly, oil is a heat conductor which browns the tortillas faster than the filling heats through and the cheese melts. Tortillas are thin – and they cook fast!

If you cover with a lid, the filling heats through and melts the cheese faster, before the tortilla gets too brown. Cook until underside is golden and crispy, then remove the lid.

Pulled pork and savory black beans are a great match by themselves but adding creamy avocado takes it up a few more notches. 

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Black Bean Pulled Pork Quesadillas
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Instructions
  1. On a griddle, heat butter & sauté mushrooms until moisture has evaporated; add corn & green onions. Sauté for another few minutes. Remove from heat; transfer to a dish.
  2. Wipe griddle with paper towel; place 2 tortillas on dry griddle & top each with 60 gm of the cheese. Next, divide black beans, green onions, corn & mushrooms between the 2 tortillas. Top with another 60 gm each of the remaining cheese. Cover the tortillas with the 2 remaining tortillas.
  3. If your griddle does not have a cover, use a sheet pan to cover the 'quesadillas' until cheese melts & quesadillas are heated through. Remove from griddle onto cutting board. Cut into wedges & place on serving plates. Top with avocado slices & diced Roma tomatoes. If you prefer, sprinkle with additional cheese & green onion. Serve with your choice ... salsa or sour cream or maybe both!

Mexicali Quiche w/ Avocado & Roasted Tomatoes

There are so many great things to make with tortillas. You can load up burritos for breakfast, stuff some quesadillas with shrimp or make tortilla chips and cover them with cheese, guacamole and spicy salsa.

A tortilla quiche combines a classic breakfast quiche and a tortilla tart without having the traditional pastry crust.

Breakfast for supper is always good with Brion & I. Making this meal a day ahead of serving it allows the flavors to become exceptional.

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Mexicali Quiche w/ Avocado & Roasted Tomatoes
Instructions
  1. In a skillet, cook ground pork, onion, mushrooms & garlic. Cook until meat is brown & crumbly & moisture has mostly evaporated from the mushrooms. Stir in corn, beans, chili powder & cumin. Remove from heat.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. In a bowl combine eggs, milk, green chili peppers (if using), salt & pepper. Grate cheese.
  4. Lightly butter bottom of an 8-inch baking dish. Place one of the tortillas on the bottom of dish; sprinkle with a bit of grated cheese & top with half of the pork mixture. Tear other tortilla into pieces & place on top then sprinkle with a bit more cheese & remaining pork mixture.
  5. Carefully pour milk mixture over quiche then top with remaining cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes or until set.
  6. While the quiche is baking, place cherry tomatoes in a foil lined baking pan, drizzle with olive oil & roast until skins pop.
  7. On a plate, mash avocados; add salt, garlic & lime juice. When quiche is ready, top with avocado mixture & roasted tomatoes. Serve.

Guava Cream Cheese Scones

Over the years, I have used guava paste numerous times. I found it was equally as good in both sweet and savory preparations, adding a nice ‘zing’ due to the natural acidity in guava fruit.

This specialty ingredient is made by cooking together guava fruit and sugar until it is very, very thick and then leaving the mixture to dry to remove excess moisture. This results in a paste that keeps well and is very flavorful. Guava paste is typically sold in short, wide cans or plastic packaging.

Guava paste is an ingredient found in many Cuban, Caribbean and South American recipes. A common pairing with cheese as an appetizer or baked into pastries as part of the filling. Also known as goiabada or pasta de guayaba, has a sweet, floral taste lending a distinct and tropical flavor to anything it is used in.

Today, I’m using it in some scones with cream cheese. Should be good!

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Guava Cream Cheese Scones
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a round 8" baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar & baking soda. With fingers, cut in cold butter & cream cheese until mixture resembles small peas. Do NOT over work dough. Carefully stir in guava paste cubes with a fork.
  3. In a small cup, beat egg slightly then combine with buttermilk & vanilla. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture, stirring ONLY until combined.
  4. Pour dough into lined baking pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden & tests done. Slice into 8 wedges & serve warm.

Breakfast Enchilada Bake

ENJOY FAMILY DAY!

First held in the province of Alberta in 1990, Family Day is supposed to reflect the values of family and home that were important to the pioneers who founded Alberta. It was to give workers the opportunity to spend more time with their families to help prevent the erosion of family values in Canadian society.

‘Family Day’ is a public holiday in 5 Canadian provinces, where it is a day off for the general population with schools and most businesses being closed. However, there are some provinces where the holiday is named slightly different and for different reasons.

Family Day was scheduled to fall between New Year’s Day and Good Friday in order to grant another day off between these celebrations as they are approximately three months apart.

This meal seems so appropriate for today. Just put breakfast in the oven, sit back, enjoy a coffee while it bakes. What a great way to start a ‘family day’ together!

Easy to make, a breakfast bake sits in the fridge for several hours or better yet, overnight, so when you pop it in the oven the following morning, all the work will have already been done. Plus, variations abound according to your tastes and favorite ingredients: substitute sausage for bacon (or use both). Forego all meats for a vegetarian version and substitute fresh spinach, roasted peppers, blanched broccoli. Of course, make-ahead breakfast bakes are genius and forgiving; it can use up multiple supplies in your kitchen, appeal to a variety of tastes and be absolutely delicious every time.

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Breakfast Enchilada Bake
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Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green pepper, onion, garlic & all spices; cook 3-4 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add chicken sausage & cook, stirring frequently, for another 5-6 minutes or until cooked through, breaking up the sausage into small pieces. Once fully cooked, stir in 3/4 cup of cheese.
  3. Spray a 13 X 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. On a work surface, lay out tortillas. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the sausage filling onto one side of the tortillas; roll each tightly. Place seam side down in the baking pan; sprinkle any extra sausage mixture on top.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together eggs & half & half until completely combined. Pour over enchiladas & sprinkle with remaining 1 1/4 cups shredded cheese. Cover with foil & refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  6. Remove chilled enchiladas from fridge, bake for 20 minutes covered, then remove foil & bake for an additional 15 minutes OR until center is set (eggs should no longer be jiggly) & cheese is lightly browned. If you prefer, leave the casserole covered & bake longer, before removing foil. Serve with your choice of toppings.