Mexican Rice

Serves 4 – 8

Mexican Rice is a staple in Mexican cuisine that it’s served as a side with many main dishes.  This version can be personalized with the vegetables of your choice.  I’m using corn and tomatoes to achieve an authentic Mexican taste, but you can also add fresh or frozen carrots, peas, peppers and mushrooms to serve as a complete meal.   The turmeric and tomato sauce combined add a great, rich colour, which is a visual treat that will whet the appetite.  This makes a great addition to tacos and burritos or even rolled up in a taquito alongside cooked chicken.  This Mexican Rice isn’t just for accompanying Mexican dishes, but can be used to jazz up basic baked chicken and steamed broccoli or an already flavourful roast!  Let’s get started.

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Mexican Rice – Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup kernel corn (canned is fine, thoroughly rinse in cold water prior to cooking)
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed in cold water a few times to remove starch
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 6 – 8 slices of pickled jalapeno, drained and chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups chicken broth, hot (substitute 2 cups water, hot, and 1 bouillon cube or 1 tsp. chicken broth powder)
  • ½ tsp. ground dry red chili
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 pinch turmeric
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 green onion, green part sliced thin
  • 1 Tbsp. coriander, chopped fine

Instructions

  1. Heat butter in a large, heavy bottom, non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion and sauté until onions are soft, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Stir in rice and sauté until toasted, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add corn, pickled jalapenos, ground dry red chili, ground cumin and turmeric.
  4. Add tomato sauce and chicken broth (or water and 1 bouillon cube or 1 tsp. chicken broth powder).
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir until well combined, and cook covered over medium heat for 15 -20 minutes or until liquids are evaporated and rice is fluffy. Turn off stove.
  6. Add tomato and green onion, stir through, and let rice rest for about 5 minutes prior to serving.

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Serve garnished with finely chopped coriander.  This Mexican Rice can be served as a side or even as a main dish for the family.  It’s so flavorful and delicious that they won’t miss the meat.

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Chicken Nachos

Serves 2

This restaurant favourite is definitely delicious and caters to all my comfort food craving taste buds.  There’s only one trick to making nachos at home:  keeping the chips crispy!  The best way to achieve this is to not add anything liquid or comprising a high water content while baking the nachos.  Those can be added fresh prior to serving.  Let’s get started.

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Ingredients

  • 1 bag of good quality, thick corn chips
  • ¼ red onion, diced
  • ½ cup kernel corn, cooked (or use equivalent amount from the can)
  • 1/3 cup pickled jalapenos, drained (if you want it really spicy use fresh sliced jalapenos)
  • 1 cup cooked shredded or diced chicken breast
  • 2 – 2 ½ cups of Tex-Mex cheese, shredded
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin

To serve:

  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Salsa (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking tray with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  2. Arrange the chips on the baking tray in a single layer.  Top with onions, corn, pickled or fresh sliced jalapenos and chicken.
  3. Sprinkle the cheese on top evenly until well covered.  Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until cheese starts to bubble.
  4. Turn off oven, remove the nachos and sprinkle with the tomatoes and green onions.

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Serve right away with a side of sour cream or salsa if desired.  You can serve right off the baking tray or if you want you can carefully remove the nachos to a serving plate prior to serving.  For a complete Mexican meal, try the White Chicken Enchiladas.

Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders

Serves 4

Chicken tenders are a comfort food for many, but due to the calories added by deep-frying we usually reserve them for ordering occasionally as an appetizer at restaurants.  This recipe makes it not only healthier by cutting out the oil and deep frying, but also allows you to do it in a quick and easy manner.  These crispy oven-baked chicken tenders are absolutely delicious and they really are almost as crispy as if you’ve deep-fried them.  Kids and adults alike will enjoy them, especially served with the suggested simple, but oh-so yummy, dip recipe!   Let’s get started.

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Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders – Recipe

Ingredients

For Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders

  • 1lb chicken tenders, cut lengthwise in half, washed and patted dry
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs (to make your own, toast three thick slices of bread and process in a coffee grinder or food processor into coarse crumbs)
  • ½ cup cheese, shredded (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp. ground dry red chilies, divided (optional)

For Dip

  • 2 Tbsp. mayo
  • 2 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 2 tsp. sriracha sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. mango juice or mango jam (substitute orange jam or other similar tasting thick juice or jam)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a large baking tray with aluminum foil. Place on top oven rack to preheat.
  2. In a bowl, add chicken tenders, salt and pepper to taste and 1 tsp. of the ground dry red chilies (if using). Toss well to coat and set aside.
  3. Set up your dredging stations: 1. Set one large plate with flour (seasoned with salt and pepper), 2. Set a bowl next to it with two eggs, beaten, 3. Set a large plate with breadcrumbs, cheese (if using), salt and pepper to taste and the rest of the ground dry red chilies (if using) and combine well.
  4. Bring out the preheated baking tray, grease it with butter and set it carefully next to the 3rd dredging station. Place marinated chicken tenders before the first dredging station.
  5. Working quickly, dredge each chicken tender in the flour and shake off excess. Next dip it into the egg and let excess drip back down into the egg bowl and then roll in the breadcrumb mixture until well coated.  Place carefully on the baking tray.  Repeat for each of the other chicken tenders until there are none left.  If you keep a bowl of water nearby, this will help remove excess breadcrumbs from your fingers.
  6. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 10 minutes and then carefully turn each chicken tender over and bake for another 5 minutes. Turn off oven and remove chicken tenders to serving plate.
  7. While the chicken tenders are baking, mix all ingredients in the ‘dip’ section in a small ramekin or cup until combined well.

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Serve chicken tenders right away with the dip on the side.

Red Bean Buns – Danpat Bbang (Vegetarian)

Serves 8 (16 buns)

I used to buy Korean pastries and buns at the local Asian grocery store until I discovered this wonderful, quick and delicious recipe for red bean buns.  The recipe for the bun is so versatile that you can replace the red bean paste with anything from mango curd to custard.  Decrease the sugar level and stuff with spinach and feta cheese for an easy Greek style appetizer or stuff with potato masala for a great tasting Indian dinner roll.  If you have a stand mixer or a bread machine it becomes even easier to make these buns.  This post will feature the ‘flower’ bun as traditionally made using this recipe, but you can make any shape you want as long as the red bean paste is well sealed inside.  Follow the step-by-step pictorial to ensure the perfect red bean buns every time!

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Red Bean Buns – Recipe

Source: Aeri’s Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. instant dry yeast
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ Cup sugar
  • ⅔ Cup lukewarm water
  • ⅔ Cup lukewarm milk
  • ¼ Cup butter, melted  (and more for brushing)
  • 1 can sweet red bean paste (available at Asian supermarkets)
  • 2 tsp. sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions

Sift flour into a big bowl, make a well in the centre and add the sugar, yeast, salt and cover with flour from the sides.  Pour in lukewarm water and lukewarm milk and mix together until dough just starts to come together.

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Make a well in the dough and add melted butter and knead dough until smooth and elastic.  It will take about 5 – 7 minutes in a stand mixer with the hook attachment on setting 2.  You can also use a bread machine to knead or knead by hand for 15 minutes.  The key to a soft and light bun is in the kneading so don’t skimp.

Form dough into a ball, place back into the bowl, loosely cover with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place, such as an oven with the light turned on, for 1 hour.

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When dough has sufficiently risen, remove to a clean work surface, punch down to remove any air inside.

Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces and as you work on one of the pieces at a time keep the rest well covered under plastic wrap to prevent drying.

Form piece of dough into a round ball, flatten or roll out until it is about 3 inches in diameter, scoop out 1 Tbsp. of red bean paste and place in the center.

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Fold the dough up and over the red bean paste to cover it until it resembles a small bundle. Seal tightly and place seam side down under plastic wrap.  Repeat until all the dough pieces are similarly done.

Working with one bundle at a time and keeping it seam side down, press down or roll out to about a 2 inch diameter circle.

Cut 4 3/4 inch decorative slits around the edge in a north, south, east, west direction and 4 more slits evenly spaced between the first four until 8 ‘petals’ are visible making sure not to intersect the slits so that the centre remains whole and the ‘flower’ remains one whole piece.

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Place on a parchment lined baking tray and repeat step 10 until all the bundles are done and placed few inches apart on baking trays.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and allow the dough to rise 15 minutes so that the bun can expand.

Brush butter on top and place a little bit of sesame seeds on the center of the dough and gently press down to help them stick to the dough.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and brush with more butter if necessary to give each ‘flower’ red bean paste bun a glossy look.

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Enjoy for breakfast, with tea or as a snack any time.  It’s so delicious and soft and presents so well that no one would believe you made it at home.  Replace red bean paste with a savory stuffing and serve as an appetizer before dinner.

Fish Cutlets – Cocktail Style Fritters

Serves 8

This is my mom’s recipe for easy, simple and absolutely delicious fish cutlets.  The fish cutlets are slightly spicy, but mostly lip-smackingly savory that you won’t be able to stop popping them into your mouth!  I have to resort to extreme measures to stop myself from eating them all right then and there.  These taste even better with a little squeeze of lime or dipped into mint and green chili dip.  Let’s get started.

Fish Cutlets

Fish Cutlets – Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 can jack mackerel steaks, flaked (or 4 cans of tuna)
  • 2 potatoes, boiled and mashed
  • ½ red onion, finely minced
  • 5 green chilies, finely minced
  • 3 sprigs of curry leaves, finely minced (or handful of coriander leaves, finely minced)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 2 egg whites, beaten
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • Oil, for shallow frying

Instructions

  1. Combine first 7 ingredients together until well mixed.
  2. Pinch off a lit bit of the fish mixture and roll between palms until a ball a little bit smaller than a Ferrero Rocher is formed.  Continue repeating until all the mixture is used up.  I was able to make 29 balls.
  3. Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium-high, it should be about an inch deep.  Oil is ready when a little bit of the fish mixture dropped in starts to gently sizzle.
  4. Dunk each ball into the egg whites and then roll on top of the bread crumbs until thinly and evenly coated.
  5. Fry 5 at a time, turning over once, until dark golden brown, 3 minutes.  Remove to dish covered with paper towel to drain oil.  Continue until all the cutlets are fried.
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The ingredients

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The fish and potatoes

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Add all ingredients together

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Combine everything

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Make balls

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Dunk into the egg whites

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Roll in the breadcrumbs

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Fry in the oil

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Serve with lime wedges, onion/green chili/curry leaves relish and mint and green chili dip.  Or just eat them on their own.  It makes a great appetizer or tea time snack and will be eaten up in a few minutes at cocktail parties.

Information

  1. If the balls are not firm, put them in the fridge for 15 minutes before dredging in egg whites and breadcrumbs.  This will make it easier for them to hold their shape when you fry them.
  2. Your fingers will start to get covered in egg whites and breadcrumbs so have a little bit of warm water in a cup nearby so you can clean your fingers when they get too covered.
  3. You can fry more than 5 at a time, but this makes it easier to handle and ensures that the cutlets aren’t too crowded and hold their shape better.
  4. You can also bake them at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, flipping over once, until dark golden brown.  Flatten each ball slightly into a disc and add a little bit of oil on each side before baking them.

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