Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cinco de Mayo!

Next to Thanksgiving, Cinco de Mayo is probably the hubs favorite day of the year.  If he could, he would eat Mexican food everyday.  I can't even begin to tell you how excited he was that Mexican food was my big craving when I was pregnant with our little peanut.  It was like Christmas to him whenever I asked if it would be okay if we had Mexican...for the third time in a week.  So when May 5 rolls around, he gets pretty excited at what I'm going to cook up for dinner.

We used to go out to eat on Cinco de Mayo...USED to.  Now with two kids, standing in long lines and big crowds for tacos and tequila shots just isn't in the cards anymore.  Fine by me.  I would rather be able to stay in my yoga pants anyway.

This year the menu was set with a few ole favorites and a new little gem.  Chicken carnitas tacos (or rice bowl in my case), Spanish rice, corn salsa and southwestern eggrolls with avocado cream dipping sauce.  I was pretty stoked to get back in the kitchen and cook an entire dinner since most of my dinners since the peanut was born have consisted of reheating freezer meals and most of my time in the kitchen had been consumed in baking projects.  Not that I'm complaining, but it's always nice to get to "just cook" once in a while!  Of course, things didn't really do as planned.

Tuesday was pretty rough in our house.  The little peanut had a rough night on Monday which typically translates to an easy day...not the case.  When she wasn't attached to me, she was crying.  It's pretty impossible to get anything done when your trying to calm a screaming baby, so I was pretty thankful that one of the items on the menu was done mostly in the crockpot...until I looked at the clock and saw it was almost 4 already and there was no longer time to slow cook my chicken for 6 hours in the crock pot.  Ok...backup plan.

I took the same ingredients that were supposed to go into my crock pot and put everything in a pot on the stove, threw the cover on and put it over medium heat.  Once things got going, I reduced the heat to low and let it cook for about 1 1/2 hours.  Not quite the "low and slow" I was hoping for, but it worked in a pinch!

Chicken Carnitas (adapted from Closet Cooking)
1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs
3/4 c orange juice
1/4 c lime juice
6 garlic cloves; sliced
1 T chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1 - Place chicken in a crock pot.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine and cover chicken.  Cover the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  (Or if you run short on time, cook like I did above)
2 - Remove chicken from crock pot and shred.  Put 1/2 cup juice from the crock pot onto a baking sheet, add chicken and toss to coat.  Bake chicken at 425 for 7-8 mins until the edges are nice and crisp.  Don't skip this step!  It definitely adds another element to your chicken!!

I made some Spanish rice to go along with the chicken and had a nice little meal.  The hubs made tacos out of the chicken and corn salsa, but I was just as happy making a little rice bowl with all the ingredients.  Super yummy!

The next big menu item was Southwestern eggrolls.  You want to know the way to my hubby's's eggrolls.  Southwestern may be his favorite, due to his affection with all Mexican fare, but throw anything into an eggroll wrapper and he's a happy fellow.

Since I'm trying to be healthier these days in an effort to loose the baby weight, I decided to try a recipe that had the eggrolls being baked, not fried.  That was a huge fail!  After baking the eggrolls just as the recipe had stated, they were still limp and not crisping at all.  Definitely NOT something you want in an eggroll.  Thankfully, a quick pan fry saved the day and we ended up with these beauties.
Since every recipe I've ever found for any kind of eggroll provides you with more filling than you ever need, I put half the filling in the eggrolls and took the other half of the filling (sans cheese) to use as corn salsa.  One recipe, two menu items!  Done and done!

Southwestern Eggrolls (adapted from Nutritious Eats)
(This is the full recipe and will make about 20 eggrolls.  If you don't need that many, either cut the recipe in half or save half of the filling for a yummy salsa.)

2 c frozen corn; thawed
15 oz can blak beans; rinsed, drained
1 c Mexican cheese blend; shredded
1 can Rotel
1 large green onion; chopped
1/ c fresh cilantro; chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
egg roll wrappers

1 - Combine corn through pepper in a small bowl and mix well.  Use about 1/4 c of filling per eggroll wrapper.  Roll eggrolls as directed on the package, using a little water to insure you get a nice, tight seal.
2 - Heat 1 inch oil in a pan to about 350.  Pan fry eggrolls for 3-4 minutes per side until nice and golden brown.

Avocado Dipping Sauce (adapted from Bobby Dean)
1 avocado; ripe
1/2 c sour cream
1 lime; juiced
salt and pepper to taste

1 - Place avocado, sour cream and lime juice in a food processor and process until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Of course, we had a margarita...or wash everything down and our Mexican fiesta was a success! 

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