Archive for January, 2016
Thanks to Jessie Voigts, the guru behind WanderingEducators, for sharing this easy, inventive Mexican-inspired salad recipe.
When I was in college at Michigan State University, we used to go to El Azteco Restaurant for our Sunday dinners, when the cafe was closed. El Az offered bean and cheese burritos at a fair price for a college student in the late 1980s: $1.50 each. Since I graduated many moons ago, they’ve moved to a better location – and I’m able to afford more than a bean and cheese burrito.
One of my favorite dishes at El Az is the Topopo Salad. Piled high on a plate, it’s a crunchy green salad with chicken and peas, limey dressing, refried beans, and cheesy chips. It’s very easy to make (and adapt) at home. Use what you have – tonight, I was out of cilantro (what?!), but did have some lovely colored sweet peppers to throw in.
The recipe is flexible in terms of ingredients and quantity. It is not good left over, so if you think you chopped too much, only put the dressing on what you’ll eat tonight.
Equal parts olive oil, lime juice, and white wine vinegar (rice vinegar works well, too)
Minced garlic, to taste
Salt, to taste
Mix this all up in a mini food processor or jar. Now, I like my salad lightly dressed, while our daughter likes more dressing on hers. Keep the jar handy for those that like more.
Iceberg lettuce (I know, this is the only time I buy this lettuce. Trust me – you need crunchy lettuce)
Cooked chicken, chopped
Avocado, chopped (or guacamole, if you feel like making it)
Green onions, chopped
Frozen peas, thawed and crisp (or edamame, if you have them and would like extra protein)
Colored peppers, chopped
You can use a can of refried beans, or, you can fall in love with Orangette’s creamy black beans and use those instead, like I do (if you make one can, instead of four at a time for her larger recipe, you can finish the beans in the time it takes to chop everything).
Grated Cheese (we love the Tillamook extra sharp. Quality is important here)
- Get your beans ready, either by cooking the black beans or heating up the refried beans.
- Chop everything for your salad. Combine in a large bowl with the dressing, quantity to taste.
- Spread enough tortilla chips on a pan for whoever is joining you for dinner. Top with plenty of shredded cheese, and slide into a 350 oven for 5-8 minutes. You want the cheese gooey, not crispy.
- Divide the chips up onto the plates. Top with beans (spread them around a bit) and then you can go one of two ways, depending on how you like it:
- Pile the salad on top of the chips and beans (photogenic, Instagram-ready)
- Put the salad next to the chips and beans (no wet chips, more scooping of prized ingredients)
- Now is the time to have people add things they love but others don’t – avocado, banana or jalapeno peppers, olives, chopped onion, etc.
- Serve and enjoy. This salad is the best thing you can have in the winter. Or summer. Or spring or fall. It’s perfect for a crowd, and I always try to keep the ingredients on hand for when our teen has friends drop by and they are hungry enough to devour everything in my kitchen. El Azteco knew what they were doing…
All the flavor of pecan pie without all the work — or extra sugar.
That’s the idea behind these pecan pie balls. Over the holidays, I was looking something lighter than your typical sugar-spiked pecan pie for dessert, so I decided to take a cue from my No-Cook Cocoa Granola Bites recipe. This vegan version has only a few ingredients and you can mix-and-match many of them to make these your own.
I dipped my first batch into chocolate but the second time I never had a chance to — my kids polished them off first.
Prep time: 15 minutes + soaking + chilling
Servings:14, 1″ balls
1 cup pitted dates
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 cup pecans (or any combination of nuts)
1/2 tbsp. honey
1/3 cup oatmeal
2 full graham crackers or 4 tea biscuits
1 1/2 tbsp. tart juice, like cherry or use water
Chocolate candy coating (opt.)
- Soak the dates in water spiked with the almond extract for 1 hour (or overnight).
- Drain the dates and place in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients (minus the candy coating). Note: You may want to add more oatmeal or juice to get the right consistency — the batter will be sticky.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour (or freeze for 15 minutes). Form the mixture into 14, 1″ balls; I used a cookie scoop.
- At this point you can leave the balls plain or roll them in chopped nuts or cocoa powder. To coat with chocolate, refrigerate for another hour. Melt 1 cup candy coating in the microwave. Working quickly, dip each ball into the chocolate and then place on waxed paper to set. Refrigerate until you’re ready to start eating.
- Store for up to 5 days.