2016-07-08 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

South of the border, in your backyard
By Connie Wendell Special to the Post

Mexican food has always seemed to create a festive mood; perhaps because it is so casual and versatile. Not to mention yummy and most of the fare is healthy. I have included some festive recipes today.

Hopefully you will be festive, too.

Quick and easy nachos

5 cups bite-sized tortilla chips (6 ounces); 1-pound ground beef; 1 (15 ounce can) black beans or pinto beans, rinsed and drained; 1 cup bottled chunky salsa; 1½ cups shredded cheddar, Colby Jack or Mexican blend (6 ounces); Options for Toppings: thinly sliced scallions, snipped fresh cilantro, seeded and sliced jalapeño chile pepper, sour cream and/or additional bottled chunky salsa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange half of the tortilla chips on an 11 – 12-inch oven proof platter or pizza pan; set aside.

In a large skillet cook ground beef over medium heat until brown. Drain of fat.

Stir the black beans and the 1 cup salsa into the beef. Spoon half of the mixture over chips. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven. Top with remaining chips, beef mixture and cheese. Bake for 10 minutes more or until cheese melts.

If desired, top with scallions, cilantro, jalapeño chile pepper, sour cream, and/ or additional salsa.

Serves eight.

Fun loving tacos

1-pound lean ground beef or ground turkey; 1 tablespoon chili powder; 1 tablespoon ground cumin; 1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce; 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans; 12 (6 inch) tortillas warmed; 12 taco shells; 1 ½ cups Mexican style four cheese blend or cheddar cheese (6 ounces); 1 ½ cups shredded lettuce; 1 large tomato, chopped; ½ cup chopped red onion’; ½ cup sour cream; ½ cup bottled salsa; 1/3 cup snipped fresh cilantro; 2 jalapeño chile peppers, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large skillet cook meat until brown; drain well. Stir in the chili powder, cumin and enchilada sauce; cook until heated through, stirring occasionally. Keep warm.

Meanwhile wrap flour tortillas in foil. Heat in oven just 10 minutes or until warm. Arrange taco shells in a 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan; add to oven for the last 6 minutes to crisp. Place refried beans in a small saucepan; heat just until warm, stirring occasionally.

To assemble, spread in a thin layer of refried beans onto a flour tortilla. Fold the tortilla around a taco shell. Fill the crunchy shell with beef mixture and top with cheese, lettuce tomato, red onion. sour cream, salsa, cilantro and/ or jalapeño chile pepper slices. Repeat with remaining beans, tortillas, taco shells and fillings.

Serves six.

Good morning breakfast migas

½ pound bulk pork sausage; 3 (6 inch) tortillas, cut into ¾-inch pieces; 1/3 cup chopped red sweet pepper; 1/3 cup chopped onion; 2 tablespoons canned green chile peppers; 6 eggs, lightly beaten; ½ cup shredded queso Oaxaca, queso Chihuahua or cheddar cheese; ½ cup bottled salsa, plus more for topping; 1 avocado, chopped; ½ cup sour cream; bottled salsa

In a large nonstick skillet cook sausage over medium heat about 5 minutes or until brown, using a wooden spoon to break up meat as it cooks. Drain off fat. Add tortillas, red sweet pepper, onion and green chile peppers and cook about 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add eggs and cook, without stirring, until egg begins to set on bottom and around edges. With a spatula or large spoon, lift and fold the partially cooked egg so the uncooked portion flows underneath.

Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until egg is cooked through but is still glossy and moist. Fold in cheese and ½ cup salsa. Immediately remove from heat.

Serve migas with avocado, sour cream and additional salsa.

Serves four.


If you use chile peppers, please be careful as they contain volatile oils that can burn your skin and eyes. Avoid direct contact with them as much as possible. When working with chile peppers, wear plastic or rubber gloves, if your bare hands do touch the peppers, wash your hands and nails well with soap and warm water.

Enjoy south of the border and until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at connieqwendell27@gmail.com.

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