Tag Archives: Tex-Mex

Tomato and Scallion Quesadillas

These quesadillas are a product of what’s happening in my garden now.  I know most people have a zucchini invasion in their gardens at the moment.  I, however, have an onslaught of cherry tomatoes to eat on a daily basis which I rather enjoy.

This is  a light, quick, and seasonal home-grown lunch I made yesterday for the boys and I.   I used some roasted tomatillo salsa to add some spice to mine, but without that, they are very child-friendly.  The boys adored them, which I found outrageously astounding.  Of course it is delicious and savory and naturally sweet and even a little spicy with the salsa.  It’s both light yet filling, striking a nice balance of texture and flavor with the creamy yet tangy bite of manchego and beans.   The ridiculously fresh produce added a fresh lightness which rounded it out and the chewy crunch from the tortilla was the perfect contrast to the filling. That being said,  my children don’t really enjoy anything with such balanced qualities.  Or at least, they hadn’t before yesterday’s prepared lunch.

I suspect however that the general punctilious nature with which we approach our food is directly related to our experience in the creation and subsequent appreciation of it.  What grows in our garden is what was on the plate they were raving about and despite my preparation of the ingredients, they took ownership in the quality, therefore opening their minds to a wider array of flavors and tastes.  They helped with the seeds and the watering and the feeding and the picking and truly enjoyed doing it.

This novel experience of growing their own food has most assuredly broadened their palate, for which I am very grateful.  If you have a picky eater, I highly recommend allowing them to grow their own ingredients.


Tomato and Scallion Quesadillas

with black beans, manchego and roasted tomatillo salsa.

  • olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 10.5 ounce can of black beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons salsa, plus more to finish if desired (your choice, I used this one)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions
  • about 1/2 cup grated manchego cheese (more of less if desired)
  • three eight inch flour tortillas


Place large nonstick skillet over high heat and coat bottom thinly with olive oil. Drop in garlic, black beans and salsa.  Toss occasionally so the garlic doesn’t burn, until hot.  Remove from heat and add tomatoes, scallions and manchego.  Season to taste.   Drop filling into flour tortillas and fold tortillas in half.  Press firmly to evenly distribute filling.  Place filled tortillas in a dry nonstick skillet over medium high heat until gently warmed, then flip to warm the other side of the quesadilla.  Repeat with remaining filled tortillas.   Serve with additional salsa if desired.

Posted in For Kids, Lunch, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Black Bean and Veggie Burritos

Ok, Confession time:

I haven’t been out of the house without my children since I turned thirty.   Well, really since Max was born.   He’s now two years old.   I went out for a couple of hours once to try to enjoy myself, but, I worried the entire time and ran back home as fast as I could.

Yes, every wedding, every girls night, every everything has been put on hold in place of my crazy mommy martyrdom, until recently when the stars aligned, and an opportunity arose for me to be both worry free and child free for more than one twenty four hour period coming this Sunday.   I might even get to see a movie that isn’t rated G!  Or…perhaps go to a non-chain restaurant and have more than one cocktail in a sitting while speaking with real grown ups.

I also promised myself that I would not do all the things that I always swear I’ll do someday when they’re older, like match all the unmatched socks or organize the DVDs, or tackle the pantry that mocks me every time I open it.   No, there will be time for that.  This break is just a mini break. One that’s long enough to remind me just how awesome they are, even when they pull off every single one of my keys from my laptop (grumble) and not so long that I end up cuddling their stuffed animals while watching home movies.

So, I got to thinking and I asked my husband, Mike, what we would eat while the kids were gone (besides going out, obviously).   He said, “all the stuff we love that the kids hate”.  That answered my question.   Burritos!   Yes, we love burritos.  Cheesy, spicy, tangy, delicious burritos.  Our obsession started a very long time ago and has yet to subside.    So, here’s the recipe for our most favorite burritos of all time.   I’ll occasionally mix up the ingredients, but this is the backbone of the recipe.  Feel free to substitute or add whatever your favorites are.   Everyone deserves a burrito now and then.

While we finish up family fun in the sun and fireworks and barbecue everything we possibly can, these will be waiting…with a big margarita on the side, just for me.

Black Bean and Veggie Burritos

  • large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced into thin half moons
  • roasted cumin
  • cayenne
  • Large , “Burrito sized” tortillas, warmed
  • Prepared black beans (recipe follows)
  • Prepared vegetarian yellow rice (recipe follows)
  • lime juice
  • cilantro

serve with the following optional additions:

  1. your favorite salsa or pico de gallo
  2. diced avocado or guacamole
  3. sour cream
  4. Mexican blend cheese
  5. shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes


In a large nonstick sauté pan over medium high heat cook onion in olive oil with a pinch of salt until translucent. Add garlic and toss for about one minute. Add peppers and zucchini and cook until just tender, or about three minutes.  Turn heat to low and add one teaspoon of roasted cumin, a quarter teaspoon of cayenne and stir, add salt to taste.  Add more cumin and cayenne, if desired. Squeeze half a lime’s juice, evenly over hot vegetables and add a pinch of freshly chopped cilantro to finish. In warmed tortillas add a thin layer of yellow rice and black beans (recipes below)  then top with some of the sautéed vegetables along with your favorite additions listed above.  Enjoy.


Black Beans

  • 1 cups dried black beans
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped peppers
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of puréed chipotle in adobo
  • 1-2 teaspoons roasted cumin
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetarian vegetable stock
  • juice from one lime
Sort beans, rinse thoroughly and soak in cold water, covered, over night in the refrigerator.   Drain soaking liquid and rinse beans again.   In a large pot over medium heat, add beans, salt, olive oil, onions, peppers, garlic, chili powder, pureed chipotle in adobo and cumin.   Stir until fragrant and then add stock.  Cover and cook until beans are tender then add the lime juice.

Vegetarian Yellow Rice

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced (or coarsely grated) shallot
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups (scant) vegetarian vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

In saucepan over medium-high heat, add oil, shallot and garlic.   Cook until soft and fragrant, about two minutes.  Add rice and toast until golden brown, about two more minutes.  Add broth, salt and turmeric and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover until almost all the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and keep covered until rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork.

Posted in All, Dinner, Lunch, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Wrapped: Southwest Style Vegetables with Summer Salsa.

The server brought out a plate full of sizzling seared vegetables. Blackened on one side, crisp on the other with a side of tortillas. There they were. Brightly contrasting colors of sweet and spicy vegetables as the aroma of sweet and savory peppers and onions filled the air. The presentation was a bit dramatic, which, I admittedly enjoyed…just a little. He placed it down. I saw a lovely medley of fresh vegetables; carrots, cauliflower, zucchini and of course, my beloved peppers and onions. They were imperfectly perfect if you ask me, but…as I picked one up and popped it in my mouth, I noticed… with such disappointment, they were drenched in garlic and rosemary oil. I mean drenched. The pan must have started cold, or maybe that particular restaurant just likes to dump bottles of wrongly seasoned oil all over their vegetables.  Perhaps the cook is a meat lover trying to overcompensate for the lack of prevalent protein. I don’t know much about Mexican, or even southwestern cooking, but last I checked…that wasn’t it. Not at all. Talk about a taste tease. It smelled great, it looked great.  I awaited the presentation with all its glorious fanfare. The sizzle, the aroma…it was all there.  My senses deceived me.  That was about ten years ago.  I’ll never forget it.


Ever since then, I’m always on the lookout for a similar dish at restaurants. Every time. Vegetable fajitas, grilled vegetable burritos, seared vegetable platter, spicy blackened vegetables, etc.; if you can get it right, I’m happy. Simple enough, but you’d be surprised. The vegetables have to be fresh, seasonal (organic & local is a bonus, but not required) they have to be crisp, but tender and chopped so they’re all cooked perfectly in unison, they have to be seasoned, but not over seasoned and the vegetable blend itself has to be exciting – mostly peppers and a little onion with a little something sweet and a little something spicy, topped with an abundance of salsa, sour cream, guacamole, a touch of fresh lime juice and a little cilantro.


I’ve been messing around with vegetable combinations, doing a little something different each time depending on the season and what was fresh at the market, etc. However, I had to wait until today to give you the perfect rendition. In a perfect world I would make it just like this every time. The vegetables just aren’t the same without the salsa. If you choose not to make the salsa, then add some (2 large cloves) of pre-roasted garlic and 1-2 chile peppers (Serrano or jalapeno) into the vegetable mix. It won’t be the same, of course, but it will be really good, regardless.

Summer is not my favorite season. There’s humidity and bugs and sunburn and bathing suits. Really, who’s a fan of those things? Summer does have some redeeming qualities, though, particularly when it comes to vegetarian cuisine and grilling. This particular dish is a definite highlight of my summer. I sometimes do this on the stove, in small batches, in a very hot pan with a little oil. Other times, when it’s chilly or raining, I’ll use the broiler. It was 93 degrees outside, the gentle breeze cooled me, the kids were entertained by popsicles and splashing in the baby pool, the citronella got rid of the bugs, the outdoor grill kept my house less than broiling and the sun block protected my skin. I think I might be evolving into a fan of summer.

Southwest Style Vegetables

  • 3 bell peppers of varying color, chopped
  • 1 large, (softball sized) white onion, chopped
  • Sweet corn kernels from 2 ears of slightly blackened, grilled, fresh corn
  • 1 cup of canned kidney or black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 ripe, red (baseball sized) tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tsp. salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (divided into 3 fairly equal amounts)
  • 1 cup cubed, sharp and tangy cheddar cheese of your choice.
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Combine all produce in a large bowl. Top with beans, salt and one (out of three) portions of lime juice. Cover and leave for 1 hour.

Preheat gas grill to about 500 degrees (medium heat). Place prepared mix onto a slotted grill pan (I used the grill pan part from my broiler pan). Top vegetable (and bean) mixture with cubed, sharp cheese. Place pan on preheated grill. Cover with grill top.

After 3-5 minutes, douse evenly with another portion of lime juice. Close cover. After another 3-5 minutes, repeat with the last portion of lime juice, and then sprinkle fresh cilantro.

Taste. If tender and sweet, yet crunchy…they’re perfect. Add salt to taste if necessary.

If they’re still raw, cook for 3 – 5 minutes more. Taste to be sure they’re to your liking.

Summer Salsa

  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. dried chives
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt (more to taste, if desired)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, roasted and peeled
  • 2 pickled Serrano chiles, diced (keep the seeds, in my opinion)
  • 1 tbsp. julienned pickled onions.
  • 2 large baseball sized tomatoes, deseeded and diced
  • 1 green pepper, roasted, peeled, deseeded and diced.
  • The juice from half a fresh Meyer lemon (about 2-3 tbsp.)
  • Fresh herbs of choice: Suggested -1 tsp. fresh chopped cilantro OR 1 large leaf of fresh basil, finely chopped

In small sauté pan, gently warm together, the oil with the dried spices: chives, chili powder, cayenne, cumin and salt. Add roasted garlic and Serrano chiles to the pan. Blend until smooth.

In medium bowl, combine the pickled onions with tomatoes, green pepper, lemon juice, and fresh herbs. Top with seasoned, blended oil and gently but thoroughly, mix together. Add salt to taste.


Place roasted vegetables in a tortilla and top with summer salsa. Wrap tortilla and grill directly on 400 degree grill (closed cover) until hot and grill marked.

NOTE – Serve alone or with any of the following:

  • seasoned rice
  • additional cheese
  • sour cream
  • guacamole
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Additional beans (refried, etc.)
  • queso
  • crisp lettuce
  • grilled marinated, thin sliced steak or chicken
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