Category Archives: Mexican

Copycat Chipotle Barbacoa Beef with Spanish “Rice”

For a long time now, I have been eying all these “rice” recipes that use cauliflower in place of the actual rice grain with skepticism. I mean, really, could cauliflower really taste like rice? So, I have put it off and put it off… even though I have made cauliflower crust pizza (and loved it) and made mashed faux-tatoes (mashed cauliflower, which my 2 year old LOVED and used as dip for the rest of his meal). Why wait any longer to make cauliflower rice! I adapted a recipe I found for Spanish “Rice” and to be honest, no one in my family even knew it wasn’t real rice! My husband was so surprised that it contained no actual rice. And, I loved that our meal was so good for you on so many levels.

The Copycat Chipotle Barbacoa Beef turned out great as well. I have to say that the whole cloves were a little strong for me and I will probably reduce the amount in half next time I make it. They added nice flavor but just a little too much flavor for me. The beef, by the way, was about the easiest thing to make and we have a ton left over so I know I will be eating it, with pleasure, for lunch the rest of the week.

We served the whole meal a few different ways. My 2 and 4 year olds prefer everything separate on their plates: beef, rice, tomatoes, avocados, greens (spinach and kale blend), shredded cheese, olives, and sprouted grain corn tortillas from “Food is Life” brand. That way they could assemble the burritos themselves and with whatever filling they prefer. My husband had his as a bowl a la Chipotle. I did mine as a big salad, pictured below.



Copycat Chipotle Barbacoa Shredded Beef
Recipe adapted from

3 lb. center cut beef rib roast
2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1/4 c. lime juice
1.4 c. tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3-4 tsp. cumin (depending on your taste preferences)
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. sea salt
3/4 c. beef broth
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. whole cloves

In a food processor or blender, combine chili powder, onion, lime juice, tomato paste, garlic, apple cider vinegar, cumin, oregano, and salt. Blend until well combined.

Place roast in the bottom of your slow cooker. Pour tomato mixture over the top. Add broth, bay leaves, and cloves. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. Remove roast from liquid and shred.

Return to slow cooker and continue cooking another 1-2 hours or until meat is very tender. Serve in tacos, bowls, burritos, or a taco salad.

Spanish “Rice”
Recipe adapted from

1 head of cauliflower, riced (see below)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. grape seed oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 heaping tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/4 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. salsa (I used the mild fresh salsa from Trader Joe’s)
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 – 1/2 c. chopped black olives

To rice the cauliflower, chop cauliflower into florets. Place in a food processor and cover with water. Process until cauliflower is in small bits, rice like consistency. Drain in a fine mesh sieve.

Heat oil in a large skillet, add onion and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Add chicken stock,
“rice”, seasonings, and salsa. Bring to a light boil, reduce heat and continue to simmer until most of the liquid is cooked off.

Stir in black olives. Texture should be slightly firmer than regular rice.

Husband Rating: 7 out of 10


Black Bean Tacos with Homemade Corn Tortillas

One thing I miss now that I am gluten-free is having a good tortilla with my tacos. Flour tortillas just seemed superior to me in texture and flavor to the store bought corn tortillas. I did find one brand of corn tortillas that were ok but I still wasn’t loving them.

I was telling a few friends about this and one couple, who are great cooks, told me that they LOVE corn tortillas! Really?  I didn’t believe it… But, their qualification was that the tortillas had to be homemade. That seemed like a daunting task to make my own tortillas. They insisted that they were simple to make so I finally deicded it was time to give it a shot and see if they really were better.

Were they better??? YOU BET!!! They were so easy to make, taking very little time at all! And, they tasted far better than any corn tortillas I have ever gotten in a store. I am sold! I will be making my own corn tortillas from now on.

Now, the trick will be to make a bigger batch and try freezing them… hmmm…. another addition to this recipe for another time! 🙂

By the way, we decided to a vegetarian filling for the tacos inspired by a recipe I saw on Cookie + Kate (a vegan blog that has wonderful recipes). Definitely check it out!


Black Bean Tacos with Homemade Corn Tortillas

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 cup corn
1 tsp. cumin
roasted red pepper sauce (see recipe below)
shredded pepper jack cheese
2 c. masa harina
1/2 tsp. sea salt

To make tortillas, combine 1/2 tsp. sea salt with 2 c. masa harina (corn flour). Add 1 1/2-2 c. hot water slowly until dough is firm and springs back to the touch; not dry or sticky.

Allow dough to sit for 1 hour covered. Divide dough into 12 balls. Put one ball between two layers of wax paper and roll out to approximately a 6″ circle. Continue to do so for all dough.

Heat a skillet to medium heat. Place one tortilla on and cook for about 1 minute or until just appearing to be cooked on edges. Flip and cook another 30 seconds. Remove to a plate with a paper towl on it to absorb moisture. Repeat with remaining 11 tortillas. Set aside.

In a medium skillet, combine beans, tomatoes, corn, cumin, and salt/pepper to taste. Heat over medium high heat until simmering. Continue simmering for 10-15 minutes or until hot through and mixture thickens slightly.

Serve scoop of bean mixture with some cheese and red pepper sauce in a tortilla. Optional – top with guacamole.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
1/4 c. water
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sugar

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. (I used our magic bullet.) Blend until a smooth texture. Pour ingredients into a small sauce pan. Cooking at medium heat, bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and continue simmering 15 minutes or until slightly thickened and the flavor of the onion mellows a bit. Serve warm over taco ingredients.

*This recipe was originally for enchiladas so this would make a great alternative to store-bought enchilada sauce.

Husband Rating: 7 out of 10

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Taco Packets

First of all, I just have to share my excitement at the birthday present I got this week – new stainless steel cookware!  I feel like a real chef now!  🙂 Aren’t they pretty!!!  I do realize I will have to do a bit of retraining as I was using non-stick before but I am up for it.  Not only are they great for cooking with, they are toxin free – nothing getting into my food from the non-stick coatings of my previous set!  Yay! image

Now, onto tonight’s dinner which was a complete winner (and I think it was because I got to use my new pans!). Just kidding… but truly, this meal was amazing!  I have been trying to use up the meat in our deep freeze because we are planning on buying a 1/4 of a grass-fed cow and will need the space.  I also didn’t have time to grocery shop this past weekend so have been just cooking from what is available in the pantry, fridge, and freezer.  With that being said, I am glad that I had on hand what I did because this dinner was a 10!!!

And, Wilford clan, you will get to try this as I plan on doing this for our meal over the 4th of July at the cabin.  It was so easy to make that I know I can easily do it for our group of 8 adults and 3 kids.  Although I cooked this recipe inside (due to our lovely unpredictable MN weather), I think it all could easily be grilled too!


Sweet Potato and Black Bean Taco Packets

1 lb. beef sirloin
1/4 c. lemon juice or lime juice (I used lemon simply because I was out of lime but either would be tasty)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
3 garlic cloves, minced

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 c. fresh spinach, chopped
2-3 Tbsp. butter
1 can tomato sauce
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
Seasoning for foil packets: oregano, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper (*see note below re: amounts)

2 Tbsp. grape seed oil or coconut oil
taco shells (I found some G/F ones made with organic corn at Trader Joe’s)
shredded sharp cheddar

Optional: tomatoes, guacamole, avocado, salsa

*Seasonings Note: I didn’t actually measure the amounts of seasoning I put in the foil packets… just did a few shakes of each.  However, if you are someone who needs measurements, I would recommend using your favorite taco seasoning and just put about a 1-2 teaspoons of it in each packet.


In a large zipper bag, combine olive oil, juice, cumin, oregano, garlic, salt/pepper. Mix together and add sirloin. Marinate for at least 4 hours – the longer you marinate, the more tender the steak will be. Cut into bite-sized pieces. (If grilling, see “Food for Thought” before cutting up.)

Set out 6 squares of tin foil. In each square, add 1/6 of the sweet potato, spinach, tomato sauce, and black beans. Add a pat of butter and seasonings. Seal the packets (see below) and place in an oven preheated to 425 degrees. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until sweet potato is tender.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan. Add sirloin pieces and cook in medium high heat for 2-4 minutes or until desired done-ness.

Carefully open foil packets. Layer each taco shell with meat, shredded cheese, and sweet potato fillings. Add any other optional toppings you wish to add and enjoy!

Husband Rating: 10 out of 10

Food for thought: If you are grilling this meal, I would recommend leaving the steaks whole and grilling to your desired done-ness and slicing afterwards.  Just make sure you let them sit for a few minutes after you remove them from the grill to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.  The foil packets should take a similar amount of time on a grill at a medium-high heat.

I also think that if you are looking for a good meatless meal option, simply have just the foil packets on tacos and leave out the steak.  It definitely could stand on its own and be a great meal!

Taco Bake

So, today I am officially done with my sugar detox.  It went better than I thought and I am surprised at how even though I am “free” to eat whatever I choose, I don’t really find myself seeking sugar-containing foods.  I did have grapes today in my chicken salad and a few crackers on the side. I loved having a bit of fruit but really, the crackers were just filler… I didn’t need them and almost wished I hadn’t had them.  I really think I need to take reintroducing “sugar” foods into my diet slowly.  Perhaps stick with just fruit for a while, and even that at a moderate pace.

So, this dinner is also a sugar-free meal.  It was satisfying – at least three of our four ate it and relatively easy to toss together.  There is a great variety of veggies in it, which I like as well.  And, it is one of those meals that you could really add just about any veggies from your fridge that needed using up.  I served it with a side of fresh guacamole.


Taco Bake

Recipe adapted from

1 lb. ground turkey
1 yellow onion, finely diced
3 zucchini, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 c. cauliflower rice (directions for cauliflower rice here)
1/2 each red, yellow, and orange bell pepper, finely diced
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. cumin
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. oregano
salt/pepper to taste
2 c. diced tomato
2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1-2 Tbsp. coconut oil


In a large skillet, melt coconut oil.  Add turkey and break up.  Once turkey is cooked about halfway though, add onion and bell peppers.  Continue cooking until the turkey is completely cooked through. Add zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, and seasonings.  Continue to cook until carrots begin to turn tender.

Remove from heat and spread in a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Top turkey mixture with diced tomatoes and add cheddar cheese to the top of that.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Husband Rating: 7 out of 10

Food for thought: I think another tasty addition to this meal would be olives or red onion.  It would also probably be a tasty combination to serve as filling for tacos, rather than a stand alone dish.

I also think this has potential to be a freezer dish – simply assemble and freeze prior to baking.  You could easily make a double batch and then split it into two pans before baking.  For our family, one and a half batches would suffice to make two meals, based on the leftovers we had.

Shredded Turkey Tacos

I love the recipe from 100 Days Of Real Food for the Pork Carnitas Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa.  I planned to make that for dinner tonight but when I was at Trader Joe’s this week they did not have the pork shoulder that the recipe called for.  I decided to try making a variation of the recipe that used turkey breasts instead.  The flavor was great but I did overcook them a little too much.

I find it humorous that the boys at their taco fillings actually assembled as tacos using whole wheat tortillas for the first time now that I can no longer eat them!  But, I was pleased that everyone seemed to eat the meal well!

Along with the turkey meat, I sautéed an orange bell pepper in coconut oil and served the whole lot on some kale with avocado, tomatillo salsa, and fresh cherry tomatoes.

Shredded Turkey Tacos

Shredded Turkey Tacos

2 lbs. turkey breasts
3 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. fresh minced garlic
1 onion
1/2-1 c. chicken broth
Optional Toppings:
tomatillo salsa
shredded cheese
cherry tomatoes
orange bell pepper

In a small bowl, combine oregano, pepper, salt, and cumin.  Rub on the outside of the turkey breasts.  Place in a slow cooker. Chop the onion in large chunks and place onions and garlic on top of turkey breasts.

Cook in slow cooker on high for about 2-3 hours, checking occasionally.  Add the chicken broth as cooking if the turkey seems to be getting too dry.  When fully cooked through, shred the turkey using two forks and serve with whatever topping you prefer.

Husband Rating: 8 out of 10

Food for Thought: I had a ton of turkey leftover.  With that I put about half of it into a large freezer bag and am saving it for another meal.  I plan to heat it up with a little additional chicken broth for moisture.

Cumin Chicken with Black Beans

Dinner tonight reminded me of one of my favorite summer dishes – Black Bean and Corn Salsa.  This had almost all of the same ingredients in a hot version.  An easy dinner, minimal prep, and tasty.  The recipe for a great weeknight meal!

Cumin Chicken and Black Beans

Cumin Chicken with Black Beans

Recipe adapted from

4 boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts
2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 of a large red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 of a jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 c. frozen corn
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
salt/pepper to taste

Optional: avocados, gluten-free tortilla chips


Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.  Combine cumin and cayenne and sprinkle evenly over the chicken.  Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook until no longer pink in the middle.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining amount of olive oil and heat.  Add onion and jalapeno and cook for 2-3 minutes until just starting to turn tender.  Add corn and black beans and cook until hot.  Return chicken to the pan along with the tomatoes. Remove from heat.  Toss with cilantro, green onions, red wine vinegar, and lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with avocados and g/f tortilla chips.

Husband Rating: 6 out of 10

Food for Thought: A great addition to this meal would be some quinoa if you are looking for a whole grain.  I would make it according to package directions and toss it in with the cilantro, lime juice, etc.

Mexican Meatball Stew

This was one of the recipes from our food swap this month and I decided to add a few ingredients to tailor it to my family’s taste preferences.  I am still a bit undecided on the actual meatballs – they could use a little more oomph in my opinion but the overall effect of the stew was great.  It was warm and filling. The boys liked the meatballs – it was probably their favorite part!  It was easy to make and overall healthy.  We had it with some fresh tomatoes and avocados on the side as well as a few tortilla chips.




Mexican Meatball Stew

2 14.5 oz Mexican style stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 24 oz. package frozen turkey meatballs, thawed
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 14 oz. can chicken broth with roasted garlic
1 10 oz package frozen corn, thawed
1 c. quick cooking bulgur wheat (I used a Bob’s Red Mill brand)
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder


In a 4-5 qt slow cooker, combine tomatoes, meatballs, beans, broth, and corn, and seasonings.

Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high 3-3 ½ hours.

About 30 minutes before serving, cook the bulgur wheat according to package directions.  Stir into the stew.

Husband Rating: Didn’t get one as he was gone for Bible study!

Food for thought: As far as the meatballs go, I think that maybe using something like chorizo would be tasty and making meatballs from scratch could be good… though more work.  Just a thought I had…

This was a great freezer meal – we tossed everything into a large freezer bag.  On cooking day, I simply took it out of the freezer, stuck the whole icy block into my crock pot, turned it on, and viola!  Dinner was ready!  Love it!


Refried Black Beans for a crowd

My church group is serving a meal at the Ronald McDonald House this coming weekend and we are doing a taco bar. As part of that, I wanted to include a refried bean option but didn’t really want to buy a bunch of cans of refried beans just to reheat. The meal is for about 80 people so I did a good old Google search and came up with a recipe for refried beans for a crowd (link to the original recipe below) and decided to try it with black beans instead.

The results??? I will never again buy a can of refried beans! These were so easy, are so delicious, and make such a large batch that I know I can simply make one batch, freeze it in smaller portions and be set for a while! I love that I know exactly what went into these beans, instead of always wondering a little bit what was in those canned beans (even the organic refried black beans I had been buying recently). Yep, this recipe is a good one!

***Oh, I didn’t take a picture of them because I simply couldn’t figure out how one takes a picture of a big pile of brown refried beans and makes it look attractive… Trust me, picture or not, they are good!

Refried Black Beans for a Crowd (or your freezer!)

Recipe adapted from

1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 1/2 c. black beans, rinsed and sorted (but NOT soaked)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
3 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
6 slices of bacon, crisp and crumbled
1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
10 cups water


Place all ingredients in a large crock pot on high for 8 hours.

Drain beans but reserve cooking liquid. Place beans in a blender or food processor and puree until desired consistency. Add reserved cooking liquid as you puree. I would estimate that I added about 1 c. of liquid to every 5-6 cups of cooked beans. It all depends on your personal preference of how smooth or chunky you prefer your refried beans.

Serve immediately or allow to cool and simply reheat when you are ready to serve.

Makes approximately 12 c. of refried beans.

Shredded Southwest Beef Sandwiches

This recipe started out as one thing and ended as something completely different than I intended… and sometimes that is the best result!  This was originally listed on my menu plan as the Spicy Southwest Beef Torta, a recipe I found in a free cookbook I got from Costco.  What I actually made was not spicy, nor a torta (or a flatbread style entrée).  But, what it was turned out to be a savory Southwest inspired shredded beef sandwich that both my 2 and 3 year old enjoyed and actually ate!  (I wish that it didn’t always surprise me when they both like a meal on the same night, but I guess for a while until they are older it will!) We ate it simply with fresh tomatoes on the side.  It was delicious and simple!


Shredded Southwest Beef Sandwiches

2 1/2 lbs. boneless beef chuck pot roast
1 white onion, thinly sliced
2 c. beef broth
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
salt/pepper to taste
dash lime juice
1 can refried black beans
2 avocadoes
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
6 sandwich rolls


Place roast, onion, and beef broth in crock pot and cook on high for 3-4 hours, until beef is fork-tender. When meat is tender, remove from liquid and shred. Set aside. Remove onions from the crock pot and add to shredded beef. Scoop out about 1/2 c. of the cooking liquid and add to the meat. Add cumin, chili powder, salt/pepper, and lime juice and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste preferences. Keep warm.

Warm refried beans slightly. Slice each bun in half. Spread a layer of beans on the bottom of each roll. Add a layer of shredded beef. Top with avocadoes and cilantro. Enjoy!

Food for Thought: This would probably also taste good as a shredded beef for tacos or nachos or quesadillas.  Though I haven’t tried it, I imagine that any leftover cooked meat would freeze and reheat well.  I would add additional liquid from the leftover cooking liquid to whatever you plan to freeze or when thawing add additional beef broth to ensure the meat does not get dried out.  If you try this, let me know how it turns out.  If I try it, I will do the same!

Seven (or is it eight, I lost count…) Layer Taco Dip

I needed a few different appetizer ideas for a holiday get together and decided to make a seven layer taco dip.  When I told my husband what I was making, he said, “Why go for just seven layers. You need to go for eight!”

So, I decided to modify several different recipes I saw and used a few recommendations from my friend Katie to make it healthier (i.e. use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, using refried black beans instead of regular black beans, etc.).  This is the 8 layered combination I came up with and it was delicious!



Seven (or is it eight) Layer Taco Dip

1 can refried black beans
1 tsp. cumin
8 oz. fat free cream cheese
1/2 c. fat free greek yogurt
1 package taco seasoning
2 avocados
1-2 tsp. lime juice
1/4 c. salsa
1/4-1/2 c. shredded lettuce
1 small tomato, diced
1/4 c. sliced black olives
1/4-1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese


Spread black beans in an even layer over plate.  Sprinkle evenly with cumin.

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and taco seasoning.  Spread on top of black beans layer.

In another small bowl, smash avocados with lime juice. Spread over cream cheese layer.

Spread salsa on top of avocados.  Top with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and shredded cheese.

Enjoy with tortilla chips!

Food for thought: I wanted to have most of the work done ahead of time but didn’t know how well the avocado layer would hold up. So what I did was make the bean layer and cream cheese layers and refrigerated that.  Then, I shredded the lettuce, chopped the tomatoes and olives, and put those in little baggies in the fridge, and about an hour or so before our guests came, mashed the avocadoes and added the remaining layers. The dip looked and tasted great throughout the get together and I didn’t notice any browning of the avocadoes (but maybe that was because everyone at the taco dip too fast!)  🙂

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