Tag Archives: mexican

Spinach Fried Quesadilla with Goat Cheese

29 Jul

I went to a very well-known Mexican restaurant that just opened in Puerto Rico… one that has many locations in cities around the US, but apparently according to the hard-core fan base, it’s not a chain restaurant. Well… back to my experience, the thing was, I was underwhelmed. After all the fanfare of this restaurant opening in PR and having friends telling me such “wonderful” things about it, I was not impressed. My net takeaway was – I can make better Mexican food at home!

This is how these quesadillas came about… Why make quesadillas with only 1 cheese, or only one ingredient for that matter? And newsflash to all the “fancy schmancy” restaurants out there, quesadillas can be made with something other than just chicken.

Inspired by the fried quesadillas of Guadalajara, here is my take on a great vegetarian option for lunch on even dinner…

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SPINACH FRIED QUESADILLA

3 sprouted corn tortillas
1 cup baby fresh spinach – what you can fit in a 1 cup measuring cup
1 cup grated mozzarella or Italian blend cheeses
2 ounces of goat cheese – cream cheese will do in a pinch
Kosher Salt
Freshly grated Black Pepper
Olive Oil

 

You’ll be able to make 2 quesadillas at a time using a large skillet, but you need to make them in staggered steps. I consider 3 quesadillas is a good serving portion for one, but if you think you are better off with 4 quesadillas, just add one more tortilla and adjust the rest of the ingredients. This is more a method than a recipe…

 

  1. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and place one tortilla… flip it over on both sides so there’s some of the olive oil on both sides.
  2. Place some of the shredded cheese on top of the tortilla. Now place a few fresh baby spinach leaves on top of the cheese. You can rip them into smaller pieces with your hands if you’d like. Season the spinach with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Place a few pieces of goat cheese over spinach.
  3. Carefully, fold tortilla in half so you end up with a half moon filled with spinach and cheese. At first it will seem as if there is too much spinach for the small tortilla, but the heat from the skillet will wilt the spinach and it will reduce the bulk considerably.
  4. Flip the tortilla a few times so that it gets golden brown on both sides.

While one quesadilla is getting golden brown to the side of the pan, you can use the remaining space to heat up tortilla #2. And start the process all over again.

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Guacamole Verde

1 Jul

You know I am not a cilantro fan… When a recipe calls for cilantro I usually substitute with flat-leaf parsley or I just omit it at all.

But there is something I have learned about cilantro in the last few years… I can tolerate it, even enjoy it, when I use only the leaves and not the stems of the cilantro plant. The stems remind me too much of the taste of recao. It’s too strong for me and gives me acid reflux. I know… not pretty. I noticed this once when I was cooking the now-famous veggie sancocho recipe after a retreat. I did like Ina Garten and shaved the leaves off the stems of the cilantro and used only that to “season” the sancocho. The other “more experienced” cooks were appalled at my “waste” of perfectly good cilantro stems. But many of the soup eaters thanked me afterwards because the cilantro flavor was subtle and not over powering at all after a few days of fasting.

Fast forward to the other day when I wanted to make something to bring to a party and I had an over abundance of avocados in my hands. I decided to make an avocado without tomatoes so it would stay as creamy as possible without the watery residue tomatoes sometimes leave atop guacamole. At the store there was no flat-leaf parsley so I went with the traditional and very much cheaper cilantro.

This guacamole was an absolute hit… People were asking me for the recipe all night. I wished I had posted this recipe already so I would not have to repeat myself so many times that night.

Guacamole Verde

GUACAMOLE VERDE

1 large avocado, cut into small pieces
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
The juice of 1 green lime
A generous handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
A drizzle of olive oil – about 1 tbs
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Mash everything together in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Let it stand in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors meld together.

You can make this with fresh avocados, but it also works with frozen avocados. Just defrost them and get rid of any water that separates from the pulp when the avocado is thawing.

Taquería Los Pioneros… Ándale, ándale!!! Arriba, arriba!!!

14 May

Ever since Cinco de Mayo week I’ve had the worst taco cravings EVER!!!

I was traveling in Dallas recently and with all the work we had, I was not able to enjoy as much TexMex fare as I wanted. So as soon as I landed back in Puerto Rico, all I wanted was TACOS. And the best tacos in Puerto Rico are at Los Pioneros.

I learned about Los Pioneros from my Mexican friend Carla. She worked with me in P&G and Los Pioneros was her favorite place to get her Mexican food fix whenever she was feeling home-sick. To me, the measure of great ethnic food is if people from that region/country love it. If Mexicans loves Los Pioneros, then it has to be as authentic as can be.

I don’t know why I don’t visit Los Pioneros more often, because I drive by it almost every time I visit the Yoga Center. They’re located on Piñero Ave. in Puerto Nuevo. It’s super casual… you order at a window and sit in one of the wooden tables with benches until they call out your number.

Los Pioneros have a full menu of Mexican delicacies… but I usually go for the Vege-Tacos. They have 3 options to choose from:

  • Tacos de Nopales – Cactus Tacos
  • Tacos de Espinacas y Setas – Spinach and Mushroom Tacos
  • Tacos de Calabacitas – Zuchinni Tacos

I have ordered the spinach tacos, but by far my favorites are the Nopales Tacos. They remind me so much of the nopales sauce I had in Guadalajara over my chiles rellenos. They’re cooked with slices of mushrooms, onions and large pieces of jalapenos. If you’re not too find of eating chiles directly like me, I suggest you look thru your filling to make sure there aren’t any big pieces of jalapeno you prefer not bite into.  Can you see the piece of jalapeño right there, with the stem still attached???

They’re sold individually and you order as many as you want. They give them to you in a platter and you go to a station where you can pick your favorite condiments to eat them with: Lettuce, raw onions, and your selection of salsas that span from the mild tomatillo to very, very spicy versions I don’t even dare to look at. Remember I am the spice WIMP.

I usually order just 2 tacos, but the last few times I have been left wanting more… like a pregnant woman that just can’t get enough of her craving. And for the record – I AM NOT PREGNANT!!! But I have made a conscious decision I will start ordering 3 tacos from now on…

So if you live in San Juan’s Metro Area or if you’re visiting and get a Mexican food craving… all you need to do is visit Los Pioneros and you will not be disappointed at all. It’s not a vegetarian restaurant, but their vegetarian options are as authentic as they can be.

Have you eaten at Los Pioneros?? Do you agree with my recommendation??? What do you love to order??? Please share your vegetarian recommendations, because if they’re not, I won’t be able to try them on my next visit…

Los Pioneros
1511 Ave Piñero
Río Piedras, PR
787.781.6495

Cottage Cheese Tortilla Dip

5 May

I am eating this dip as I am writing this post…

Today is 5 de Mayo and everyone has their craving for something Mexican. I have been so busy lately that I haven’t had the chance to cook anything new. My days are filled with boiled potatoes mashed with olive oil and sandwiches. Munchies are the order of the day… and today I have munchies for tortilla chips. But, with what???

This is my new go-to no fuss dip for tortilla chips… When I am by myself at home and want just something to much on with chips, my friends gravitate towards the salsa, but I am more of a cheesy girl 😉 I usually go for sour cream to dunk my chips, but one day I was out of sour cream and all I had that resembled something creamy was COTTAGE CHEESE. Yes indeed…

To me, white tortilla chips dunked in cottage cheese are delicious, creamy… and it may not be all that Mexican, but it’s my way to celebrate 5 de Mayo with all of you.

COTTAGE CHEESE TORTILLA DIP – Serves 1

½ cup of cottage cheese
A squirt of lime juice (optional)
Your preferred tortilla chips…

I don’t even know why I include instructions for this because they’re really none…

  1. Just place the cottage cheese in a small pretty bowl and mix in the lime juice, if using.
  2. Dunk the chips in the cheese and enjoy…

I do not feel this needs any salt because the tortilla chips I buy are already salty, but if you are making your own tortilla chips and want to add a bit more salt, go ahead.

Mexican Dinner @ Devanand Yoga Center

8 Mar

At the Yoga Center, they’re organizing one Saturday a month an International Dinner… I would like to say partly inspired by me, because my mom was who gave the idea. I am always telling her how fun it is to showcase how to make Italian food, French Food, Middle Eastern Food, Greek Food – all 100% VEGETARIAN.

The Devanand GUYS started it all last weekend – Manolo, Gabriel, Joel, Gerardo and Carlos – all part of an all-guys cooking team. They decided they would take on MEXICAN FOOD as the International starting point. They planned the menu, the cooked all the food. They even washed the dishes afterwards… Ladies – some of these are great “catches”. Some of them are already taken… 🙂

The menu went as follows:

Always a green salad with a delicious dressing to start and Nachos with cheese to complement the appetizer lineup…

 

Burritos filled with a mashed potato, broccoli, carrot and black bean filling on a whole wheat tortilla…

Quesadillas filled with cheese, corn, tomatoes, peppers and black beans… and because they were made in whole wheat tortillas, we now know these were actually sincronizadas. Right??

Corn tortilla tacos filled with textured soy protein and topped with shredded lettuce…

Whole Grain Brown Mexican Rice made with tomatoes, onions, cumin and jalapeño peppers, which do not make regular appearances at the Devanand kitchen…

Pico de Gallo, Guacamole and Sliced Black Olives to top the tacos…

The menu was rounded up with delicious and moist vanilla cake with a Guava Glaze and Shredded Coconut on top… made by Manolo, our resident baker, and sweet guava and star fruit natural juice.

We enjoyed the dinner very much… I actually had quesadillas and I made myself my own taco filled with the mashed potato filling on a corn tortilla topped with pico de gallo and guacamole. It was just what my taste buds wanted. Marla got great points by inviting about 10 new people to our center. She gets great THANKS from the whole team.

       

Hope this gets you excited to visit the Yoga Center for the next International Dinner night… especially if you live here in Puerto Rico. I’ll certainly keep you posted via FaceBook. OK??

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