Friday, May 11, 2012

Craving Mexican

Last week was Cinco de Mayo. I didn't celebrate on the actual date, but hearing so much about it afterwards via Twitter, Facebook, blog posts, etc got me craving Mexican.

When I was little, my dad used to make what we always called "huevos rancheros" - eggs scrambled with hot sauce. It was only recently that I discovered that googling "huevos rancheros recipe" returns about a thousand recipes, none of which resemble in the least my dad's concoction, though some of them look amazing. :) Whether they're "authentic" of not, though, I love the combination of eggs, salsa, and hot sauce, so last week when I had some eggs to use up, I figured I'd document this amazing dish... whatever it should properly be called.

"Not Really Huevos Rancheros"
(Makes 2 servings)

Salt and pepper, to taste
1 TSP fajita or southwest seasoning
2 small corn tortillas
Nonstick cooking spray (or oil)
4 eggs
2-4 TBS (or more) hot sauce, to taste
1/4-1/2 cup salsa, to taste
1/2 cup black beans
2-4 TBS chopped cilantro (to taste)
Shredded cheese, if desired

Cut the corn tortillas into smallish squares.

Spray a medium nonstick skillet with cooking spray (or oil), and cook tortillas with salt and pepper over mediumish heat until very browned and crispy - you don't want the tortillas to get soggy later on when you add them to the eggs!

Set the cooked tortillas aside. While your skillet cools slightly, gently mix eggs and hot sauce in a bowl. Don't overwork your eggs! You want them just blended, not frothy.

When your skillet is the right temperature, pour in your eggs.

Note: In my very humble opinion, there's three keys to amazing scrambled eggs: temperature, movement, and timing. You want the skillet to be hot enough that the eggs start cooking immediately when they hit the pan, but not so hot that they start "frying" on impact. Once you've poured in the eggs, you want to keep them moving by using a rubber spatula to constantly move the eggs from the outside to the middle, forming big "curds". And lastly, you want to remove the eggs when they're still a bit moist - they'll finish cooking on your plate! These are just my opinion, and I'm no expert - but I've been told I make good eggs. :) Now back to the recipe...

When your eggs are just barely set (but still very moist and glossy), turn off the heat and add your tortillas, salsa, and beans. Stir together until well mixed and your eggs are done cooking (if you want to add cilantro and/or cheese, this is also the time to add them!). Enjoy!

One of the ideas I ran across while I was googling "huevos rancheros" was a blog post by the Smitten Kitchen that looked sooo good, I decided to try it later that week for lunch. You can see the original post here, but this is how I altered it:

First, I chopped up some avocado, tomatoes, and a Mini Babybel Light cheese round, and measured out 1/2 cup of black beans. I also grabbed some salsa out of the fridge.

Then I heated a skillet with a little nonstick cooking spray and heated two small corn tortillas, sprinkling both sides with fajita seasoning. When they were very hot, I cracked an egg on top of each one.

I waited for the white to cook a bit, then flipped them over to finish cooking (I ended up with both yolks still runny, which is what I was going for).

Once they were done cooking, I slid them off the skillet and onto a plate, and topped it with my avocado, cheese, black beans, tomato, and salsa.

The verdict? So. Amazing. Totally different from "my" huevos rancheros, but so amazing. I will definitely be eating this again!

I still had about 1/2 cup of beans left over, so the next day I decided to do a Tex-Mex salad.

Mixed greens (heavy on the baby spinach, I LOVE baby spinach!), diced red, orange, green, and yellow sweet peppers, shredded carrots, diced tomato, chopped cucumbers, my beloved black beans, some Southwestern-style Chicken Shortcuts (I got maybe 1/2 cup, but strangely enough Abigail tasted these and ate a whole plateful for lunch, then requested the rest of the bag for lunch the next day!), and the easiest-ever southwestern ranch dressing: 1 tablespoons of low-fat yogurt ranch dressing blended with about 1/4 cup salsa.

That finished up my can of black beans, and, sadly, my amazing Mexican lunches. :)

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