Mexican Post, Love Park Philadelphia

No Cheese.

Dave and I are back on one month of quitting cheese.   Sigh.

In lieu of creating some type of cheese-less mexican dish for you in honor of Cinco de Mayo, I’m going to tell you about our dinner at the Mexican Post in Philly.

The famous Philly Love Park, right outside of where Mexican Post is located.

Dave and I had a night out together for our 3 & 1/2 year anniversary last weekend.  We chose to celebrate not because we’re romantic and do that sort of thing… but because I (miss groupon) had a deal that had to be used up!  lol.  For just $15, we could order two appetizers, two entrees, and two drinks.  WOW!

Our VERY FIRST picture together! Right after the Phillies won the World Series in 2008.

We went after work and were just in time to watch the Flyers in a playoffs game.  The restaurant had just finished up their happy hour, and they were packed.  We waited and waited for what seemed like at least 10-15 minutes to get a server, when finally an older gentleman came to ask us if we’d like drinks.  (uh… yeah!)  Turns out, he was either the owner or manager of the place, and we got the royal treatment the rest of the night!  He apologized of course, and then took care of us while we ordered our Mexican Feast.

Appetizers:

We started out with the Ceviche de Pescado & Rosarito Flauta.  What am I thinking?  The real start to the meal was a big bowl of homemade tortilla chips w/ really really REALLY good salsa and TWO fabulous drinks.  I went with the Casa Mango Margarita-Jito & Dave with “The Don”.

A Margarita-Mojito MIX! Jose Cuervo Silver Tequila with premium Grand Marnier, muddled mint and lime over smooth mango puree and their signature sour mix

Don Julio Blanco Tequila with 2 slices of jalapenos and cucumbers muddled with pure agave nectar. Cointreau and lime juice – rimmed w/ cayenne pepper and salt

Tilapia fish with avocado, lime juice, onions, tomatoes and cilantro.

By far the best part! It even had (delicious) written next to it on the menu! Spinach flour tortilla, grilled chicken breast, serrano peppers (medium), plum tomatoes and Chihuahua cheese served with chipotle BBQ sauce and guacamole.

Everything so far was delicious.  As we were enjoying our drinks, our “waiter” came back out and offered us a special secret hot sauce (after I mentioned we like spicy…).  He recommended we try some on the Ceviche.  Thinking it had a top like regular Frank’s Hot Sauce, I shook some onto my Ceviche & chips.  Whoops… there was no “safety” lid on this bottle, and hot sauce poured onto my dish.  Dave just looked at me and laughed, having already tried some.  O.M.G.  FIRE.  My mouth was on.fire.  Within the next few minutes, all of our chips and my drink were gone… into my belly in an attempt to cool off my mouth.  The terrible part is, I actually really liked this hot sauce.  It had so much flavor, despite being HOT AS HELL.  Next time, I’ll be more careful!

HOT HOT HOT!

Entrees:

For our main dishes, we both went in opposite directions.  Dave wanted to try the Carne Asada, since he really likes the one we eat from Trader Joe’s.  I found the perfect dinner for indecisive, little, old me… the Taco Sampler.  🙂

Skirt steak, sauteed onions and peppers topped with chimichori sauce. Served with yuca frita and guacamole.

(L to R) 1. Corn soft tacos with pulled pork, roasted pineapple salsa, espuma (avocado & Serrano vinaigrette) sauce and red pickled onions. 2. Corn soft tacos with chicken tinga topped with shredded lettuce, avocado, queso fresco and crema fresca. 3. Corn soft tacos with grilled skirt steak, re-fried beans, pico de gallo, espuma (avocado & Serrano vinaigrette) sauce and crispy onions. 4. Corn soft tacos with beer battered tilapia, Mexican slaw, diced tomatoes, queso fresco, aioli (scallions & olive oil) sauce with a side of salsa ranchera.

By the time our entrees had come out from the kitchen, I was so full!  This rarely happens to me, but I made an attempt to try a few bites of each taco.  They were all delish except the fish taco, which was too greasy for my liking.  I guess I’m also comparing this to my only fish taco experience- which was at a small Mom/Pop Mexican place in L.A.  Dave really enjoyed his steak which was humongous.  It came with only a few “fritas” which was strange, but perfect as we were stuffed.

Overall:

We really enjoyed the food at Mexican Post.  Everything was very fresh and flavorful.  This is the second time I’ve been here though, and the second time the owner/manager has had to help my table.  If the service stepped up a bit, this might be a staple for us.

What is everyone making for Cinco de Mayo?!  I will be enjoying my weekend up at PENN STATE to watch my little sister graduate!  I can’t wait… a whole weekend in my happy place… with my whole family! 🙂

Chili-Lime Veggies for Faux-Fajitas

This week I made a fab version of my non-sizzle fajitas (I know, that takes out all the fun) that I just had to share with you! Making Mexican food at home can be really great because it allows everyone to personalize their own dishes. This time, I cooked the veggies perfectly, so they were still crunchy and the onions didn’t disappear- something that I always seem to do when over-cooking them. I used Chili Powder and Lime juice to give the veggies a nice kick and unique taste.

Chili-Lime Veggies & Faux-Fajitas
Ingredients:
1 lb Ground Beef (I normally use turkey but this was all we had)
1 packet McCormick’s Fajita Seasoning
1/4 cup Water
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
12 mini-Sweet Peppers
1 Sweet Onion
1 Jalapeno
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
2 Tablespoons – 1/4 cup Lime Juice
1 teaspoon-1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
Salt, Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Paprika (to taste)

Garnish: Tortilla Chips, Corn Tortillas, Avocado, Shredded Cheddar, Chopped Tomatoes, Hot Sauce, Sour Cream, etc.

Directions:
1. Cook/chop up the ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drain fat, if any and add seasoning packet & 1/4 Cup Water. Lower heat and simmer.
2. Meanwhile, chop onion and peppers and throw into a saute pan with the oil, garlic, and lime juice, over medium heat. Mix in seasonings. Cook while meat is cooking, about 10-20 minutes.
3. Serve meat and veggies with desired garnish.

What else can you do? Feel free to add any veggies you want, like mushrooms or zucchini. MMM!

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Fajita Salad

It is one of those nights where I just can’t get my act together to make something “fancy” for dinner.  It’s funny that this type of night is exactly when I end up turning a boring dinner into an awesome one!  I’m in the mood for salad, but also for something spicy… so Fajita Salads it is.  You can use any type of meat (or no meat) for these bad boys… but since my Mom had just bought some fresh ground turkey breast that’s what we decided to do.

 

DIY Fajita Salad

Ingredients:

1 Onion, sliced

6 small Sweet Peppers (or 2 bell peppers)

1 Tablespoon Garlic

1 Jalepeno

1 cup frozen Corn

1 packet Fajita Seasoning

1 lb Ground Turkey Breast

1 Can Rotel (diced tomatoes w/ chilies)

1/2 packet Taco Seasoning

Lettuce

Optional Garnish:  Salsa, Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese, Cilantro, Hot Sauce

Directions:

Slice all of the veggies and put into a heated and oiled pan.  Simmer on low.  Heat the ground turkey and chop into small pieces in another pan.  Add the fajita seasoning to the veggies and 1/2 of a packet of taco seasoning onto the ground turkey.  Also add 1/2 – 1 Can of Rotel to the turkey.  Continue to cook over medium heat until the turkey is cooked all the way through.

Serve the veggies and the turkey over chopped lettuce.

 

Like most of my recipes, you can really do whatever you want with this!  As you can see, even Dave and I had completely different salads.

My salad...

 

...Dave's Salad

We used Cilantro, chopped Grape Tomatoes, a bit of Reduced Fat shredded Cheese, Green Tabasco Sauce, a drizzle of Light Ranch dressing, and I threw in a few spicy peanuts we had in the house.  You really only need a DRIZZLE of dressing, if that.  The turkey and veggies provide enough sauce to make up for dressing.  What a great dinner, out of nothing.  I love it!

Chicken in Peanut Sauce

Hello everyone!  I am “up” in NYC this weekend with Dave and some of our friends that we met on our trip to Israel!  I am busy taking lots of pictures of all of the fabulous food we’ll be eating and cocktails we’ll be drinking.  Can’t wait to tell you all about it 🙂  But for now, check out this Mexican recipe I cooked up this week for dinner.  Enjoy and have a WONDERFUL weekend everyone!

It wasn’t until I started blogging that I realized “easy” recipes are my thing.  Well apparently they are.  I’m okay with that.  After a long day of work, and then the gym… what’s the point of coming home to stand in the kitchen for hours?  Of course there is no point, if you can make awesome food simple.  Like i do!

I tried this recipe from the Food Network Show:  Mexican Made Easy.  It really does a good job explaining what type of recipe it is!  Here you go:

Chicken in Peanut Sauce

Recipe modified from:  Mexican Made Easy

Makes:  6-8 Servings

Ingredients:

2-3 large Tomatoes

1 cup Unsalted Peanuts

2-3 Tablespoons Peanut Butter

2 Tablespoons Adobo Sauce from Canned Chipotles

1 Chipotle from above (optional!)

4 Chicken Breasts

Salt & Pepper

Sesame Seeds

Cilantro

Warm Corn Tortillas

Directions:

1.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Core the tomatoes and cook in the boiling water for 3 minutes.  Let cool and peel skin off.

2.  Boil the chicken breasts, and then shred using 2 forks.

3.  Add tomatoes, peanuts, peanut butter, and adobo sauce into a food processor or blender.  Process until smooth.

4.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Add sauce to the chicken in a skillet.  Stir for 3 minutes over medium heat until thoroughly heated.

6.  Transfer to a platter and serve with warm corn tortillas.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and fresh cilantro.

I cored my own tomatoes! You might not realize how big of a deal this is… but I was pretty much AFRAID of tomatoes for the past 25 years. Not anymore. Check em out!

Cored… and now cooked and peeled.

I had to document my new talent with tomatoes 🙂

Even Sushi (my family’s pup) couldn’t stay away from this meal! She was hoping I’d drop some chicken for her 🙂

One huge pile o’ chicken!

OMG, I loved this recipe!  It is basically a Mexican version of my favorite Asian peanut sauce.  The Adobo sauce gives it a little bit of heat, different than your average cayenne, hot sauce, or even Sriracha flavor.  YUM!  The corn tortilla, which I have never bought before, brought the entire thing together and is definitely a key part of this recipe being kick-ass.  This recipe was so easy to make, and it could be even easier if you have pre-cooked chicken or even pre-shredded chicken from leftovers.

The cilantro and corn tortilla are CLUTCH! Added huge flavor and contrast to the thick peanutty sauce.

as we like to say in my house… YUM!

This recipe was a hit in our house.  You could use beef or even pork if you have that in stock at your own house.  The unsalted peanuts could be replaced by salted peanuts if you want to take out the salt added at the end.

Guacamole & Mexican Corn Pasta

After a Diet Week 1 of eating healthy Asian foods… it was time for a change.  The farthest thing from Asian I could think of was MEXICAN!  Mom and I cooked up a do-it-yourself Mexican feast!

No mexican feast could be complete without some homemade guacamole.  This batch happened to be the BEST one I have ever made.  I couldn’t stop eating it!  Although avocados are very healthy, you do have to watch your portion control as they are high in fat and calories.

This batch of guacamole is a modification from a Paula Deen Recipe.  It is so easy.  All you have to do is cut the avocadoes in half and score them, making small squares still in the skin.  Scoop them out with a spoon and combine with the rest of the ingredients.  Stir it and season to taste.  That’s all!

Guacamole Ingredients

4 Ripe Avocadoes (How to Cut an Avocado)

¼ Cup finely diced Onion

¼ Cup diced Tomato or Cherry Tomatoes

1 teaspoon minced Garlic

1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1 teaspoon Salt

½ teaspoon Lime Juice

½ teaspoon Lemon Juice

You don’t even need to measure anything in this recipe… just stir it all together and make changes when you taste it.  The avocado will mush more when you add the citrus juice, but try not to mash it since it’s good to keep some of the pieces in there.

Best Guac ever!!!

These are the healthiest, best tasting tortilla chips out there. They can be more expensive but are totally worth it. 14 = 1 Serving!

see for yourself!

With the guacamole made, we had a nice snack while we cooked.  Mom and I took Extra Lean Ground Turkey and cooked it in a large pan with ½ a packet of Taco Seasoning and ½ a can of Rotel (diced tomatoes with chilies).  She also cooked up one green and one red Bell Pepper, one Poblano Pepper and an Onion which was sauteed on medium heat with just some Cooking Spray.

The ground turkey with Rotel

I also cooked up a pot of Trader Joe’s new Corn Penne Pasta.  This pasta is gluten free, and my best friend Julie (who is not only GF but dairy free among other things…) highly recommended this stuff… so I had to get it!  Julie did mention that you have to make sure you cook it long enough, or else it is very starchy and hard.  I cooked it for about 12-15 minutes or so.  While the pasta and the ground turkey were cooking up, we prepared the rest of the ingredients:  Corn, Pinto Beans, Sautéed Bell Peppers & Onions, and tortilla wraps for everyone else.

Check out that spread!

My meal ended up looking amazing!  I used the corn pasta, ground turkey, beans, corn, a dollop of light sour cream & guacamole (I already ate SO much while cooking), and finished it off with some taco sauce.  MMM!  Delish!

This was a wonderfully hearty and satisfying meal, which was a perfect follow-up to my amazing workout earlier in the evening.  I had to share that I ran THREE MILES for the second time in my life!  I am so proud of myself.

What have you been doing to get in better shape and stick with the January 2012 Healthy Lifestyle Challenge???

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

The winter has held off in Philly so far this year, and it’s been unusually warm and sunny so far in November and December.  My mind couldn’t be happier but my belly must be pretty confused because I am already craving soup!  You will soon learn two things about me after reading this blog… 1. I love soup.  2.  Almost everything I eat is SPICY!!!  Since I’ve been interested in cooking, I’ve always wanted to try to make Tortilla Soup.  It’s one of my favorite soups to order out but I knew it was complicated and have avoided trying it out on my own.  I figured starting my blog was a great time to give it a go! 

 

The recipe I made was a Chicken Tortilla Soup.  I had some frozen chicken breasts which I took out and defrosted when I got home from work.  I like to buy chicken when it’s on sale at the market, slice them in half (they are SO thick now! Blech) and freeze them to use later on. 

 Ingredients:

2 Chicken Breasts

1 Tablespoon Olive oil

2 teaspoons Cumin

1 ½ teaspoons Chili Powder

½ teaspoon Garlic Powder

½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

½ teaspoon Salt

½ teaspoon Black Pepper

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Onion, diced

1 Green Bell Pepper, diced

1 Red Bell Pepper, diced

1 Jalapeño, seeded & diced

1 teaspoon Garlic, minced

1 can Rotel Tomatoes & Chilies

32 oz Chicken Stock (low sodium)

1 can Tomato Paste (3 Tablespoons)

4 cups Hot Water

1 can Black Beans (drained)

3 Tablespoons Cornmeal

Optional Garnish: Tortilla Chips, Avocado, Onion, Salsa, Shredded Cheese, Sour Cream, Cilantro, etc.

 

Whew!  This was a big grocery list but I actually had mostly everything already at home.  Anything else that I had to buy was pretty inexpensive, so I liked this recipe! 

 

Directions:

First, preheat the oven to 375.  You first want to mix your spices together in a small bowl.  Spray a pyrex baking dish and place the thawed chicken breasts in there.  I use a oil-sprayer (that’s what I call it at least!) so if you have that, it’s your best bet but if you don’t you can just drizzle the chicken with a little bit of Olive Oil.  Sprinkle about a tablespoon of your spice mix onto the chicken and put in the oven to bake for about 20-25 minutes. 

 

Mixing up my spices

While your chicken is cooking, cut all of your peppers and start to sauté them in a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the garlic, and the onion over medium high heat.  About ten minutes into sautéing the veggies, dump the rest of the spice mix in.

Adding some colorful Peppers into the soup

 

Take the chicken out of the oven and place on a cutting board.  Shred the chicken with two forks and dump it into the sauté.  Pour in all of the cans (Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, beans) and the 4 cups of water.  Stir, then bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered.

 

Shredded Chicken

Mix the cornmeal with a few tablespoons of water, until it becomes moist and you can stir it.  Pour this into the soup and stir.  Simmer for another 20 minutes or so.  This is a good time to taste the soup to see if you need to add any other seasonings.

 

I put all of the garnish aside so we could top our own soups!

Ladle the soup into bowls and you can either top the soups off with the garnish, or you can do what I did and place them out for each person to top themselves!  I used avocado, fat free sour cream, reduced fat Mexican cheese, some fresh cilantro, and a few crunched up blue tortilla chips. 

 

Finished product! (forgot the chips at first!) Was too excited to take a bite 🙂

The soup turned out fantastic.  My favorite part about it was the avocado pieces that I mixed in, they were a cool break from the spicy soup.   It was a little thicker than I was expecting but it was so flavorful and fresh.  If you don’t like spicy, you can still try this soup, just omit the cayenne and jalapeño. 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

As if this wasn’t enough… I also prepared a baked potato for Dave and myself to go along with the soup. 

 

I baked the potato in the oven along with the chicken on a piece of aluminum foil, poked with some fork holes, sprayed with my handy “oil-sprayer”, and topped off with a sprinkle of sea salt.  I left the potatoes in the oven until my soup was cooking for the last 10 minutes.  I think it had been in there for an hour, maybe a little longer. 

 

Once I took the potatoes out, I opened them up like Alton Brown taught me.  First, you poke fork holes in the middle going long-ways down the potato.  Then you squeeze both ends of the potato together.  Just like that and it’ll pop open without breaking in half! 

 

MMM!!! Delish!

These big babies were garnished with the sour cream, some fresh chopped chives, and a little taste of my Dad’s special bacon leftover from his dinner.  I’ll teach you how to make that some other time… it’s to die for and totally worth the calories. 

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup and my fancy Baked Potatoes made for a great dinner, but I do recommend making this on a weekend- I was in the kitchen for a little too long on a work night.  This recipe is definitely going down in the cookbook!  I