Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa (Salsa de Molcajete)

The salsa roja recipe is popular. Ridiculously popular. But we had some company in town and I needed salsa fast — nigh onto immediately. Rick Bayless recipe to the rescue! This is quick and easy, and simple to tweak:

You’ll need:

  • 1 to 2 fresh jalapeño chiles (my late-season ones from the garden weren’t that hot so I used 5)
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, preferably fire roasted
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt

Easy steps to yum:

  1. Heat an ungreased skillet over medium heat and roast the chiles and garlic, turning often until they’re splotchy and brown and soft — this takes about 10 minutes for the chiles, and 15 minutes for the garlic
  2. Cool until you can handle them, then roughly chop the chiles, discarding caps, and drop into food processor
  3. Peel the garlic and scoop the softened cloves into a food processor; pulse until very finely chopped
  4. Add the tomatoes with their juice to the food processor then pulse until puree is coarse
  5. Pour into serving dish and stir in cilantro and lime juice, and salt to taste — about 1/2-3/4 teaspoon
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Chili

This, like a lot of my recipes, is cobbled together from so many different recipes and word of mouth that I’m not even sure where it started. It involves my Mama’s concoction of spices, though, so it’s awesome. And spicy. Feel free to tone down the spices and add more later if it looks like too much!

  • 1 lb. breakfast sausage
  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 can dark kidney beans
  • 1 can light kidney beans
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 1 small can green chiles
  • 1/3 cup chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Water or beer

To assemble:

  1. Brown the meats and onion together till the meat is cooked through
  2. Add all the cans and all the spices and stir well
  3. Adjust consistency as you like it — add a little beer or water till it looks just right
  4. Simmer at will. I love this cooked all day in the slow cooker, or on the stove top in a heavy pan (such as a cast iron dutch oven)
  5. Serve with cheese, Fritos, and cornbread!

White chocolate oatmeal Craisin cookies

I had a morning appointment at Redo in Franklin (if you haven’t been, go now — love them) today and, as I am wont to do, brought The Kiddo with me. Fortunately he travels well, especially when the iPod is loaded up with Super Why. Know what else travels well? These cookies! I can neither confirm nor deny that they are lovely for breakfast sandwiched around a healthy smear of peanut butter.

This varies just a bit from the recipe on the Craisin bag, so here ’tis:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag Craisins
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

To make the goodness:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla for 5 minutes at medium speed till mixture is light and fluffy
  3. Combine dry ingredients in a second bowl and add to butter mixture one cup at a time, mixing till just incorporated
  4. Stir in Craisins and white chocolate chips
  5. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto nonstick or greased cookie sheets and bake for about 10 minutes until they’re just starting to brown around the edges
  6. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes, then move to wire rack to completely cool

This makes about 5 dozen, and they  freeze beautifully! Enjoy!

Mashed black beans

I recently came across this Rick Bayless recipe for simple mashed black beans. Can you ever go wrong with a Rick Bayless recipe? I’m saying no. With a little tweaking for what I had on hand and what sounded good, I ended up with this:

  • 2 Tbsp. bacon drippings (I always have some in the fridge)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt

In the time it took The Yankee too cook up our fajitas (more on that later), I had these done like so:

  1. Put a dry skillet over medium heat and drop in three unpeeled garlic cloves; keep turning them till the skin is nice and browned and the garlic inside is soft; set aside to cool enough to handle, then remove skins
  2. While the garlic is roasting, drain and rinse a can of black beans
  3. Remove the pan from the heat for just a minute and drop in 2 Tbsp. bacon fat; let it melt (it will do this quickly and will also smoke quickly, thus the part about removing the pan from the heat), then drop in softened garlic and crush the cloves with a potato masher
  4. Pour in can of beans and give it all a good stir to incorporate the garlic
  5. After everything is heated through, use a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon to mash the beans; you’re not looking for ice-cream texture here, just smush them up a bit
  6. Take the pan off the heat and add in as much water (probably 2-3 Tbsp) as is needed to be able to easily spread or spoon the beans
  7. Season with salt to taste — 1/2 teaspoon or so

These are fantastic eaten as is, sprinkled with cheese, on nachos, with fajitas, with burritos… use your imagination!