Mushroom, Spinach and Black Bean Quesadillas

When you want a healthy and yet quick meal or a snack on-the-go, these quesadillas are a great option. A mix of spinach, corn, mushrooms, black beans, onions, and creamy avocado makes for a filling, delicious vegetarian meal. And if you’re craving meat, just add some shredded chicken to the mix.

Servings: 4 quesadillas Cook and prep time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 large Red Onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper flakes
  • 8 oz Baby Bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups fresh Spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen Corn
  • 1/2 cup cooked Black Beans
  • 2 large Avocados, removed from shell and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
  • 4 medium Tortillas (I use whole wheat although flour tortillas are usually tastier but less healthy)
  • Salt to taste
  • Salsa, for serving
  • 2 cups shredded chicken, optional (for when you want a non-vegetarian option)

Method:

  • In a pan, heat the Olive oil
  • When oil is hot and shimmering, add in the garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir and add in the onions, stir occasionally while the onions turn translucent.
  • Add in the sliced mushrooms. Fry the mix, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and caramelized, and the water from the mushrooms in the pan has dissipated – approximately 3-4 minutes
  • Add in the spinach, black beans and corn. Cook till spinach has wilted. Sprinkle salt, stir and keep aside
  • Lay out the four tortillas on plates
  • Cover a half of each tortilla by distributing the 1 cup of cheese across the tortillas
  • Distribute equally the spinach, corn, black beans, and mushroom mix over the cheese
  • Layer the mix with equal amounts of avocado slices and sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese evenly over it, as well
  • Fold tortilla into half by pressing the empty half of the tortilla over the toppings
  • Heat a medium/large size skillet. When skillet is hot, place the folded tortilla in the skillet. Cook on both sides for a total of 4 mins, flipping half-way through
  • Before serving, cut the quesadillas into 3 equal sizes
  • Serve hot with a side of salsa
  • Enjoy!

Chipotle Black Beans

To soak or not to soak? The kids want to take burritos to school and I don’t have time to soak beans. Sure I can make it without beans but beans add a lot more protein and nutrition. What to do? A no-soak option gives me delicious, smoky beans within an hour.

The options below include the method if you did soak your beans overnight.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry black beans
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp crushed chipotle pepper with sauce
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, for garnish
  • Optional garnish: red onions, avocado

Method

  • Wash the beans and remove any debris
  • Put beans and 2 cups water in a pressure cooker-safe container and pressure cook on high for 30 mins and slow release for 15 minutes
  • If you did soak your beans for atleast 6 hours, pressure cook beans for 15 minutes
  • Garnish with cilantro

Mexican chicken casserole

How do I get easy, and healthy meals on the table on a weeknight? Mexican, Thai, Chinese are usually my go to dishes. This Mexican Chicken casserole dish is a multi-purpose one. I either roast a chicken on the weekend or buy one from Costco. Make this dish using rotisserie chicken and you can have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes. And best part, use the left overs for burritos and quesadillas in the lunch box the next day!!

Servings: 4

Time including prep time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely minced
  • 4 Cups chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 1 cup green peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup red peppers, diced
  • 1 cup black beans (can or soak overnight and cook first)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2.5 cups salsa (medium or spicy)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder ( optional)
  • 1.5 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese (or Mexican blend)

Garnish

  • 1 cup sour cream (I use Greek Yogurt as a healthier alternative)
  • Guacamole
  • Green onions

Method:

  • Heat Ninja Foodie on Sear function
  • Add oil
  • When hot, add in the onion and garlic
  • Stir fry for a minute
  • Add in the green peppers and red peppers, stir for another minute
  • Switch off Foodi
  • Add in the beans, chicken, corn, salsa, cumin and chili powder. Mix well
  • Sprinkle the cheese on the top of the mix
  • Close the lid of the Foodi and turn on the Bake function. Bake at 350F for 5 mins or until cheese is melted
  • When done, turn off the Foodi
  • Serve garnished with onions, sour cream and guacamole. Optionally, serve with a side of Mexican rice or in a tortilla as a burrito.

Healthy Chorizo Burrito Bowl

This Chorizo Burrito Bowl while packed with Mexican flavors, is a healthier than any version you’ll get in a restaurant but still just as delicious! Not only is it healthy, it’s a quick, delicious meal. Home-made chorizo takes center-stage on a bed of Cilantro Lime Rice along with tomato salsa, corn, black beans, lettuce, and so creamy guacamole. Pack it for lunch or get a quick dinner on the table, it’s a guaranteed favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup – Lettuce, shredded
  • 1 tbsp – lime juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 cup – Cooked Chorizo
  • 1 cup – Cooked Black Beans (see linked recipe for home cooked black beans or use canned – just rinse before using)
  • 2 cups – Cilantro Lime Rice
  • 1/4 cup – Queso Fresco cheese (I avoid it to keep it healthier, but use it for the kids)
  • 1/4 cup – Greek yogurt (replacing sour cream with yogurt makes it healthy while providing the same, delicious, creamy flavor
  • 1/4 cup – Pico de Gallo
  • 1/4 cup – Corn Salsa
  • 1/4 cup – Guacamole

In a rush: You can make it easier by using store bought chorizo (I have used V&V Supremo brand when in a pinch), and canned black beans – just rinse it out before using.

Method:

  1.  In a bowl, combine cabbage, lime juice, and salt . Combine and refrigerate until needed
  2. To serve:
    1. Layer each serving bowl with half a cup of the Cilantro Lime rice. Top rice with black beans, Chorizo, lettuce, cheese, yogurt, pico de gallo, corn salsa and guacamole, spreading it evenly across the bowls.
    2. Enjoy!

Note:

  1. If using store-bought chorizo, it will need to be cooked
    • Heat a pan and add 1 tbsp of oil
    • When oil is hot, add 1/2 a chopped onion. Fry onion for 2-3 minutes and then add chorizo.
    • Sauté for 7-8 minutes on a medium flame, stirring and breaking the meat up with the spatula, until it is fully cooked through and meat turns from bright red to reddish-brown

Black Beans

Tender, delicious black beans for just about any dish that calls for black beans like burritos, or a Burrito Bowl or Santa Fe Chicken. Yes, takes longer than beans from a can but so much better for you. Black Beans are full of protein, fiber, folate and magnesium. Cook up a pot and have them ready for soups, salads or just a side.

Servings: 6 cups when cooked

Time – if using a Pressure Cooker: 5 minutes prep time + 25 minutes cook time; if using stove top: 5 mins prep time + 1 hour cook time

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb dried black beans
  • 1 small red onion, diced fine
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 6 cups water

Method:

  • Rinse the black beans twice, throwing out the water after each rinse
  • Pressure Cooker Method:
    • Next day, in a pressure cooker, heat the olive oil
    • When oil is hot, add in the bay leaves. Once leaves splutter, add in the garlic and onions. Stir for a minute and then add in the cumin powder, chili powder, beans along with the water
    • Close the pressure cooker and close steam valve. Set to high pressure for 25 minutes total. Then allow the pot to naturally release steam for 15 minutes
    • To serve, stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Add salt and/or adjust seasonings, if needed
  • Stove Top Method:
    • In a large pan, heat the olive oil
    • When oil is hot, add in the bay leaves. Once leaves splutter, add in the garlic and onions. Stir for a minute and then add in the cumin powder, chili powder, beans along with the water
    • Bring the water to a boil then cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to low. Set timer for an hour and let the beans simmer. After an hour, check the beans – they should be plump and easy to press through with a fork. If still tough, continue to simmer in 5 minute increments until soft. If needed, add a little water.
    • When done, turn off the stove.
    • To serve, stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Add salt and/or adjust seasonings, if needed
  • Beans can be used right away in various recipes like a burrito bowl or Santa Fe Chicken stored in fridge for 5 days or in a well-sealed container in the freezer
Burrito Bowl
Santa Fe Chicken

Mexican pork stew

30 mins to get dinner on the table before ravenous kids burst through the door! All I had on hand was some pork in the fridge. A quick combination of pork, and beans in a tomato broth with some spices that are often used in Mexican recipes, resulted in a hearty stew that we enjoyed on a cold winter’s day.

Serves: 4 Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb Bone-in pork loin – cut into small cubes while keeping the bone – adds flavor. Alternatively, 1 lb pork shoulder, small cubes
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 15.5oz can white beans ( I had cannellini, you can use white kidney or pinto beans)
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Salt, if desired
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Method:

  • In Pressure cooker:
    • Put oil in pressure cooker
    • When hot, add the onions, garlic and jalapeno. Fry for 2-3 minutes until onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally
    • Add the chii powder, cumin powder, smoked paprika, oregano and black pepper powders and stir for a minute
    • Add in the pork pieces and stir to coat the meat with the spices
    • Add in the diced tomatoes, beans and broth
    • Close pressure cooker and pressure cook for 15 minutes
    • When done, let pressure off, remove kid and garnish with the lime juice and cilantro
    • Serve with crusty bread or Mexican Cilantro Lime rice
  • On stove top:
    • In a large, heavy bottom pot, heat oil
    • When hot, add the onions, garlic and jalapeno. Fry for 2-3 minutes until onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally
    • Turn flame to medium heat, add the chili powder, cumin powder, smoked paprika, oregano and black pepper powders and stir for a minute
    • Add in the pork pieces and stir to coat the meat with the spices
    • Add in the diced tomatoes, beans and broth
    • Stir, cover and cook on medium-low for about 25 minutes
    • When done, remove from heat and garnish with the lime juice and cilantro
    • Serve with crusty bread or Mexican Cilantro Lime rice

Mexican Chorizo

Chorizo brings back memories of Goa. Goa was where we spent our summer holidays with our grandparents and uncle. The best part was the food….farm-fresh eggs, chicken, and lots and lots of pork. The pork was always one of the piggies we played with that made its way to the table. At that time, we didn’t realize why one or the other would go missing. I still remember the day when my sister learnt that her favorite pig Paklo was on the table….she stopped eating pork for a very, very long time. Eventually, years later, it was the taste of delicious Goan sausages which are very close to the Mexican Chorizo that lured her back to eating pork. It has been hard to make or buy Goan sausage and so, Mexican Chorizo is a great alternative. Are Goan pork sausages the same as Mexican Chorizo? They both use almost similar spices but they are not the same. Goan sausages, also known as choriz, are similar to the Portuguese chourico (Goa was once ruled by the Portuguese). It is cured like the chourico but unlike chourico, it still needs to be cooked before eaten. The Mexican chorizo is fresh and also needs to be cooked.

I hesitate to buy store-made sausages or chorizo after I read that it often includes mechanically separated meat (check the ingredients…you’d be surprised some of the top brands do that with hot dogs and sausages) and nitrates, which are supposedly cancer causing. Now that I figured out how to make this at home, it’s a easy way to have delicious chorizo on hand for tacos, burritos, with eggs or just about anything!

Servings: 3-4 Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 8 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Dry ingredients
    • 1 tbsp cumin powder
    • 1 tbsp red chili powder
    • 1 tbsp smoked paprika powder
    • 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
    • 1 tsp coriander powder
    • 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano (or regular oregano)
    • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
    • 1/2 tsp clove powder
    • 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lb ground pork (preferably a 70/30 meat/fat content)

Method:

  • In a small bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients
  • In a large glass or metal bowl, ad the ground pork, vinegar, garlic and the dry ingredients. Mix until the ingredients are all well combined
  • Can be used right away or stored refrigerated in an air-tight container for 3-4 days for later use or freeze in a sealed freezer bag for up to 6 months
  • Cooking Chorizo: To use right away:
    • Heat a pan and add a tbsp of oil
    • When oil is hot, add 1/2 a chopped onion. Fry onion for 2-3 minutes and then add chorizo.
    • Sauté for 7-8 minutes on a medium flame, stirring and breaking the meat up with the spatula, until it is fully cooked through and meat turns from bright red to reddish-brown
  • I use this for tacos, and in burrito bowls
Chorizo Burrito Bowl

SANTA FE Chicken (crock pot/ Ninja Foodi/ Instant pot)

At the end of a busy work day, I am usually too drained to cook a meal. Given that we try to eat low sodium, healthy meals, I’m constantly trying to figure out meals that are quick and easy to put together (easy enough that Nilesh can put it together too ;-)). And the Santa Fe Chicken comes to the rescue – made with corn, black beans, peppers, tomatoes and seasonings – all pantry staples. Put it into the crock pot, and 4 hours later, you’ll have a good, healthy meal. I served it over Cilantro Lime Rice, topped with low fat cheese, Greek yogurt (a great alternative to sour cream), chopped scallions and cilantro – your family will love this and you’ll be making this again!

Servings: 8

Ingredients:

  • 24 oz (1-1/2 lbs) chicken breast
  • 14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained or cooked at home
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 14.5 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 poblano pepper, roasted and chopped (optional)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 6 fat garlic cloves, minced fine
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red chili powder (or cayenne pepper powder), or to taste
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste

Instructions:

  • Heat oil in a pan and add chopped onions and minced garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes till the onions soften.
  • Transfer this mixture to the slow cooker along with all the other ingredients.
  • Combine chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, corn, cilantro, poblano pepper, red pepper, half the scallions, cumin, chili powder, and salt in the crock pot / Ninja Foodi/Instant Pot
  • Season chicken breast with salt and lay on top.
  • For Crock Pot: Cook on high for 4 hours.
  • For Ninja Foodi: Cook with Slow Cook option on high for 4 hours
  • For Instant Pot: Cook with High Pressure option for 25 mins – quick or natural release
  • When cooked, remove chicken and shred
  • Return chicken back to the Slow Cooker/ Foodi/ Instant Pot and stir
  • Adjust seasonings to taste
  • Serving hot over cilantro lime rice or with tortillas, with your favorite toppings


Pork Carnitas

Who doesn’t love Mexican food? Make a big batch of pork carnitas and I can freeze some for when we’re in a hurry. I’ll use the rest in a burrito bowl, or tacos or even in a sandwich. A hot corn tortilla with some pork, red onions, cilantro, a dash of salsa is so satisfying. Or try it in a burrito bowl with lettuce, salsa, guacamole, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), cilantro, black beans and red onions, to make for one delish, healthy meal!

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs pork shoulder (pork butt)
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Rinse and dry the pork shoulder
  2. Combine the salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, chili powder, olive oil, and rub all over the pork
  3. Place the pork in a slow cooker (fat cap up). Add in the jalapeno, onion, bay leaves, garlic, and pour the orange juice over it
  4. Slow Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours
  5. Pork should be completely tender and will shred easily with a fork
  6. Remove from slow cooker and shred using two forks
  7. To thicken the juices left in slow cooker, transfer into a pan and reduce it down to about 2 cups

To Crisp in oven:

  1. Place the shredded fork in a single layer on aluminum foil on a pan. Place the pan in a pre-heated oven, under the broiler on high heat. Let it crisp for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven. Toss the pork using tongs, spoon 1/4 cup of the juices over the pork. Broil for another 5-6 minutes until the edges of the pork are crisp

To Crisp on stove:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large nonstick pan
  2. Add pork to pan without overcrowding. Pour 1/4 cup of juices. Wait until the underside of the port is crisp. . Add pork to the pan, avoiding crowding, and drizzle with ¼ cup of the juices. Wait until the juice has evaporated and the underside of the port is crisp. remove from pan. Repeat with the rest of the pork in batches.

Just before serving, drizzle over more juices and serve hot, in tacos or burritos.

Serve with diced onions, black/refried beans, salsa, Greek yogurt/sour cream, lime squeezed over it, chopped cilantro, corn, lettuce, grated cheese