Growing up in Southern California, I lean toward Mexican-American food as my favorite cuisine. Even though my parents were Norwegians and Poles from Minnesota, I was more familiar with a tortilla than lefse or the foods of my forefathers.
My parents weren’t born adventurous eaters. But, upon their migration west, they made friends early on with folks who took them to Olvera Street and showed them the basics of Mexican-style cooking. For my part, I was blessed with many friends in college to teach me more tricks. (Elva, thanks for showing me how to make that rice!)
Without Mexican grandmothers to show us the ropes, FishPapa and I have taught ourselves some things along the way, too, like how to make tamales or homemade tortillas. We leaned on these skills during our stint in Kansas City where we had a really hard time finding California-style Mexican food.
Now that we’re back home, we still make these things ourselves, enjoying Mexican-inspired fare almost on a daily basis.
One of the things I love about Cinco de Mayo is that many grocery stores offer great deals on ingredients you might want to use. Real ingredients. Consider the sales from my Ralphs:
- Tri-tip, top sirloin steak, or flap meat (for carne asada): $4.77/lb
- boneless, skinless chicken breast: $1.88/lb
- avocados $0.69/each
- strawberries $1.25/lb
- mangoes $0.99/each
- roma tomatoes or white onions $0.99/lb
- jalapeno peppers $.50/lb
- Mission chips $2.50/18 oz bag
Due to the lime shortage, they didn’t make the list. But, this is a great round-up of ingredients to make some stellar meals. Here are some of our favorites:
- Creamy Turkey Enchiladas – the result of a pantry challenge, this recipe comes together with things you probably already have on hand. No canned sauces.
- Chicken and Chile Enchiladas for a Crowd – if you’re not entertaining a crowd, just freeze the extra pan before baking.
- Turkey and Black Bean Enchiladas – Another very freezer-friendly meal
- Poblano Chile Enchiladas – Probably one of our family’s favorite meals. We divvy them up even-Steven so no one gets to hog them all.
- Crockpot Enchiladas – These are super easy to make, and there are never any leftovers. Need I say more?
- Cheese Enchiladas – These meatless enchiladas come together in about 15 minutes. I now make them with a slightly spicier adaptation of this recipe from Gimme Some Oven.
- Chili Stacks – This is a taste of my childhood. These stacked enchiladas take 30 minutes from stove to oven to table. You can’t lose.
- Carnitas Soft Tacos – These are my very favorite kind of tacos. This crockpot recipe will rival whatever you can find at a restaurant.
- Taco Seasoning Mix – Don’t buy packaged mixes. This is cheaper and better.
- Paso Mom Tacos – A family favorite at our house, these disappear in a flash.
- Turkey and Black Bean Tacos – Stretch your taco meat by adding beans to the filling mixture.
- Santa Fe Chicken Tacos – Got leftover chicken? Transform it into tacos.
- Grilled Shrimp or Fish Tacos – No need to go to a restaurant. These babies are awesome.
- Chicken, Bean, and Cheese Burritos for the Freezer – Make several batches and stash them in the freezer. They won’t last long, unfortunately.
- Green Chile Burritos – I love these meatless burritos. They are tasty and full of flavor.
- Burritos for Freezing – Want some tricks for making tasty frozen burritos. This post of mine at The Kitchn should answer lots of questions.
- Breakfast Burrito Bar – This is a stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast. So delicious!
Tamales, Nachos, Taquitos, and Pizzas
- Cheesy, Corn, and Chile Tamales – These are my lazy girl tamales.
- Jalapeno Popper Nachos – All the flavor of Jalapeno Poppers, but cheaper when the ingredients are dispersed over nachos. So good!
- Easy Skillet Nachos – This dish is so easy, I created it on vacation with limited kitchen equipment.
- DIY Nacho Bar – Let everyone dress his nachos the way he likes them.
- Potato Nachos – Find a sale on potatoes? Make nachos with potatoes as the base.
- Not Soggy Nachos – My kids have enjoyed these since they were little. No soggy chips!
- Beef Taquitos – Delicious and crispy, these “tube tacos” are also freezer friendly.
- Easy Chicken and Cheese Flautas – Typing this list has made me so very hungry! These flautas are absolutely fabulous.
- Burrito Pizza – Who says pizza can’t be international? Top your dough with burrito fillings for a fun twist.
- Jalapeno Burn Pizza – This is one of our favorite pizzas ever. So spicy and good!
- Lawnmower Taco – FishBoy9 says this is his favorite dinner ever.
- Spicy Turkey Egg Bake – My kids don’t like most egg casseroles, but they devoured this one.
- Chile Cheese Bake – I took my favorite Poblano Enchiladas and put them in casserole form. Cheater-style that is delicious.
- Chicken Enchilada Casserole – Don’t feel like rolling enchiladas? Then don’t. Toss it all in a baking dish and call it good. Which it is. Very.
Side Dishes and Salsa
- Homemade Corn Tortillas – FishPapa taught himself how to make these. He perfected his technique after a trip to Honduras in ’96. Now he and the girls make them for our family.
- Mexican Rice – My friend Elva taught me to make this rice in college. Twenty plus years later, I’m still making it.
- Healthier Refried Beans – These beans are so simple, and so much better than the can.
- Homemade Pintos – Make a ginormous batch of beans and freeze them in 2-cup portions. Then you can kick the can to the curb.
- Cactus Salsa – My mom’s friend Nancy shared this recipe with our family when I was little. It’s one of my favorites.
- Homemade Salsa – With a blender or food processor, you can whip up salsa in ten minutes or less.