Thursday, June 9, 2011

A la Mexicana

Even with my jaw wired shut, I've been determined to find a way to enjoy the food of my people - Mexican food.  After all, it was the Mexican ointment Vitacilina (thank you Tia Maria!) that saved my face, knees, and hands after this bike accident from hideous, permanent scarring.  I have a commitment to my heritage and will not deprive myself from the food that makes my heart content.

The first of my "Latin smoothies" was not too adventurous - Mexican rice.  Fortunate to have my mom visiting from CA to assist me for a week post-surgery, this was among my first requests (I was too drugged up on 2 medications then to make it myself).  And it was delicious!  One week later, I attended my friend Alex's BBQ and decided I would cook up something using ingredients that I could no longer enjoy and would soon spoil in my fridge - chicken enchiladas.  Yes, I will admit, it was a small torture to cook and smell all the delicious aromas and spices knowing that I couldn't eat my finished product.  But after sitting at the patio table for 15 mins watching others savor the dish, I asked to borrow the blender and with chicken broth and strainer in hand, I blended 2 enchiladas.  Ahh...let me tell you, they hit the spot.

Next came the guacamole smoothie (see recipe in prior blog).  I'll admit that the first round of the guacamole was a tad bit too spicy.  And add the fact that I can't sneeze without pain, I knew I was taking my love for food to the next level and was determined to enjoy every last sip of my guacamole smoothie.  The childhood cravings followed soon thereafter.  Bread or tortillas on their own were out of the question, but beans, eggs, potatoes, and chorizo (Mexican sausage) soon found their way to the blender.  One evening I was so indecisive about wanting to fulfill my craving yet knowing I needed to take in a veggie smoothie, that I made one refried bean smoothie followed by an asparagus and onion smoothie.  Sorry folks, you do what you gotta do to feed the hungry monster.

This week I decided that with limited hours in the day to cook, blend, and strain, I was going to be productive food wise even while I slept.  I dusted off my slow cooker and decided I would cook up carnitas over night.  If I didn't have my "grill," these carnitas would been the base for some darn good tacos to enjoy.  But don't worry, at least while I slept, in my dreams I was enjoying those savory tacos.  On those occasions when I can't even muster the energy to organize a meal for the slow cooker, I do rely on restaurant meals.  A shout out to my friend JC who showed up with Chipotle and Coronas for dinner one night.  One of those burrito bowls was sufficient for two nice sized smoothies and I could just about taste each of the food components - meat, rice, beans, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.
If you decide to join me on my blending adventures, here are the recipes for the aforementioned meals:

Mexican Rice Smoothie
- 1 cup of white rice
- 1 can of tomato sauce
- 1/3 cup of finely chopped white or yellow onion
- 1 tbsp of finely chopped garlic (preferably chopped garlic in oil that can be store bought)
- 1 tsp of cumin
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth (preferably warm)
- 2 1/2 cups of water (preferably warm
- 1/4 cup of spicy tomato sauce (optional based on tolerance for spice)
- 3 tbsp olive oil

Place 2 tbsp olive oil into warm sauce pan.  2-3 minutes later add onion and saute until golden.  Add garlic and saute until lightly brown.  Add rice and saute for 10 minutes.  Add tomato sauce (and spicy tomato sauce), 1 cup of chicken broth and let smmer for a few minutes while stirring.  Lastly, add salt, pepper, cumin, and 2 cups of water.  Cook covered for 25-30 minutes  Rice should be very soft once cooked and over half of the liquid would have evaporated with the cooking.  Once cooked, allow rice and cooked broth to cook for a bit.  When ready, place into blender adding the remaining olive oil, water, and chicken broth.

Chicken Enchilada Smoothie
- Packet of chicken breasts
- 1 large white onion
- 3 whole carrots
- 5 peeled garlic cloves
- 1 packet of Mexican-blend shredded cheese
- 1 can of enchilada salsa
- 1 cup cooking oil
- 15-20 corn tortillas
- 1 tsp each of salt, pepper, oregano, and Adobo seasoning

In large pot, boil 5-6 cups of water, sufficient to hold all chicken with plenty of broth.  While water comes to a boil, season chicken with salt, pepper, oregano, and Adobo.  Separately, chop into 1.5 inch large chunks half of the onion and all of the carrots.  As water starts to boil, place onions, carrots, and garlic cloves.  Stir for a few minutes then add seasoned chicken breasts.  Cover and cook for 45 minutes or until chicken is extremely tender and easy to shred.  You may stir occasionally while cooking.

Remove chicken and shred into medium sized bowl.  Strain broth and add 1/2 cup to shredded chicken to maintain tenderness.  Finely chop remaining white onions.  Warm tortillas by microwave or stove.  In medium-sized sauce pan, warm enchilada sauce and 1/2 cup of broth.  Stir and taste, adding more broth to calm sauce spiciness.  Warm a separate saucepan with add 1/4 cup of oil.  Take one warm tortilla and place in saucepan with, lightly coating each side with oil and let extra oil drip off before transferring to saucepan with enchilada sauce.  Coat tortilla and transfer to platter.  Add about 2 tbsp of shredded chicken, a small handful of chopped onion and shredded cheese, and carefully roll enchilada.  Repeat for each enchilada until platter is full, using about 1/4 cup of oil each time for the first coating step.  Cover with remaining shredded cheese and plate platter into oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  For blending, place two enchiladas with 1 cup of broth in blender.

Refried Bean (Frijoles Fritos) Smoothie
- 1 can of whole pinto or black beans
- 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup of sour cream
- 1/2 to 1 cup of water

If you're lucky enough to have time, make the beans from scratch.  

Warm medium-sized sauce pan and add oil, coating pan.  Place homemade or canned beans into oiled sauce pan and bring to a simmer.  With potato masher, mash beans and add 1/2 cup of water if juice from beans begins to dry out.  Transfer mixture to blender, adding sour cream and 1/2 cup water.  Should blend into very smooth mixture easy for slurping thru a straw.

Egg, Potato and Chorizo Smoothie
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 1 over-baked potato (or 2 small potatoes)
- 2 inches from chorizo sausage
- 2 tsp of vegetable oil
- 1 cup of water
- Salt & pepper to taste

In small saucepan, warm 1 tsp of oil and add chorizo, cooking over moderate heat.  As chorizo cooks, it will begin to fall apart.  Be careful not to burn the chorizo.  Separately, add milk, salt, and pepper to eggs and beat until mixture is fluffy.  Eggs will cook in 3-5 minutes.  They will maintain a liquid consistency even once cooked.  Place scrambled eggs, potato, chorizo, and water into blender.  Once blended, taste for salt and pepper. 

Chipotle Smoothie
- 1 burrito bowl ordered with desired items
- 2 cup of chicken, beef, or vegetable broth (based on bowl's content)
- 1 cup water

Place half of the burrito bowl contents into blender, 1 cup of broth, and 1/2 cup of water.  Blend and add additional liquid if needed.  One burrito bowl renders plenty for 2 hearty smoothies. 

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