Tag Archives: Mexican

Frijoles Charros

This recipe is an old classic, taken from my teenage recipe collection. Behold the binder of my youth!

My sister Erica and I bought matching binders when I was about 16 years old, and faithfully copied in our favorite family recipes. However, in my enthusiasm for Tasty Kitchen, America’s Test Kitchen, and various and sundry food blogs, I haven’t accessed the lore in this little book for quite a while. I wonder what else is in here . . .

. . . oooh! Pork Shreds with Hoisin Sauce! I must mend the error of my ways and make some Mom classics.

As for these beans, I just love them.

When I was first drafting this post, I was under the impression that Mom learned how to make this dish when she studied abroad in Mexico during her college years. Thankfully, I took the time to check my sources, and it turns out that she learned it when we lived in Valencia from our neighbor Wendy, who in turn learned how to make it in Mexico. I think. Either way, for me it brings back so many comforting childhood memories. Thanks for so many years of quality food, Mom. You fed us well!


(Serves 6-8)

2 1/2 – 3 cups brown, black, red or pinto beans
1 onion
1-28 oz can diced tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
1 lb bacon
1 bunch cilantro
2 jalapeño chilies
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cover the beans with water and soak them overnight.

That picture kind of looks like a cloud of darkness, but I promise–there are beans in there.

The next day, when you’ve rolled up your sleeves and you’re ready to cook, rinse and wash the beans under running water.

Yep, that stream of water is looking quite weak. In fact, in about an hour our water was about to be turned off for the rest of the night. Why the City of Chicago waited until 5pm on Monday to start working on a leak that had reduced our water to a thin trickle 3 days prior is a mystery to me–all I can say is that we fell asleep to the tune of drillhammers tearing up the street at 11pm. Thankfully the project manager warned me that our water was about to be off just as I turned into our apartment complex, which enabled us to stockpile the H2O like aquabandits:

But back to the beans! Once they’re nice and clean, return them to the pot . . .

. . . and cover them with water (about 1 inch above the beans). If perchance you forget to soak the beans, just increase the cooking time by about 1 1/2 hours.

Let’s gather the remaining ingredients to our collective bosom:

Add the can of tomatoes to the pot:

Mince the garlic and toss it into the pot–or you can squeeze it straight in with a garlic press. I think I’ll call mine a ‘garlique press.’ It makes me feel more French.

Chop the onion finely (okay, my chop was quite rough) and toss that in the pot too:

Mince up the jalapeño chilies:

You can remove the seeds to suit your preferred level of spiciness–I cut out the seeds from one and left them in the other.

Toss ’em in the pot!

Are you sensing a pattern here? A ‘tossing in the pot’ pattern? In fact, it’s beyond me why this recipe isn’t just called ‘Toss ‘Em in the Pot Beans.’

Roughly chop the cilantro . . .

. . . and you guessed it. The thing with the pot again. But only toss in half of the cilantro, because the other half is going to be a garnish!

This is my bowl of reserved cilantro–it will add a note of brightness to what could otherwise be a very brown dish.

Dice the bacon . . .

. . . and fry it until crisp.

Nope, still too floppy.

Zer ve go, fraülein! This blog brings out the weird accents in me–it just can’t be helped.

Reserve a small amount of bacon for a crispy garnish . . .

. . . and then add the rest to the pot as well.

As you can see in the above picture, I didn’t wait until the bacon was done to start cooking the beans. Basically, as soon as the beans are rinsed and covered in water again, I turn the heat on medium high and bring the beans to a boil. Then I add ingredients as they become available. This saves time, which is key since this dish has a looooong cooking time. Once the beans are boiling, lower the heat, cover the pot, and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours (until the beans are very tender), stirring occasionally.

The colors were very bright to begin with, but as it cooks all the ingredients will start to Become One. Unfortunately, the bacon will also become floppy again–there’s no way around it. That’s why setting some crispy pieces aside is so key.

See? Uglier, but so much more delicious!

During this time, add generous amounts of salt and pepper:

Check the pot periodically and add water as needed so that the beans stay covered. During the last half an hour of cooking, remove the cover so that the excess water evaporates:

As soon as you’ve tasted it, the beans are soft enough, and the seasoning is to your satisfaction, serve over rice!

Don’t forget to sprinkle that extra bacon and cilantro over top.

This always hits the spot.

I love this dish like it was my own child.

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Easy, Cheesy Tex-Mex Quiche

This crustless quiche is a great throw-together kind of weeknight dinner. Adapted from this recipe (Tasty Kitchen–no surprises there), it’s gooey and wonderful and (best of all) requires minimal effort for the tired cook in the family. Next time there’s a potluck and I’m dragging my feet about cooking, I called upon my husband to remind me to make this quiche and quit my whinin’. Not that there have been any potlucks in my life recently . . . and not that I’ve whined about any of them. It’s just a hypothetical situation, of course.


(Serves 5)

5 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 TBS melted butter
12 oz small curd cottage cheese
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 4.5 oz can chopped green chilies

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

In a medium sized bowl, crack open them there eggs.

Give them a good beating. Anyone seen that Bill Cosby stand-up routine? Let the beatings begin!

It’s all about how children are brain-damaged beings, and it’s darkly funny. All you need to do is read yesterday’s post to confirm that children are, indeed, not exactly a shrine of innocence and purity.

Add the flour . . .

. . . the baking powder . . .

. . . and that golden stream of melted butter.

Beat it all again until well combined.

Grate up a nice slab of Monterey Jack cheese.

Stir the grated cheese, chilies, and cottage cheese into the egg mixture until it’s nice and uniform.

Okay, this doesn’t exactly look delicious. But patience, my friends! I hear it’s a virtue . . . right? Yeah, that rings a bell.

Grease a 9 inch pie plate or spray it down with baking spray . . .

(please don’t tell me what’s in that spray) . . . and pour in the egg mixture.

Bake it for 10 minutes, then turn down the oven temperature to 350 F and continue to bake for 30-35 more minutes, until the sides and top are a golden brown.

In the meantime, you can make some kind of accompaniment for the quiche. We chose breakfast sausage, but in retrospect a salad might have been a nicer pairing. Sausage + eggs + lotsa cheese can get a little heavy.

When you remove the quiche from the oven it will look something like this:

Nicely puffed, lovely and golden. Mmmm. Start singing Tonight’s gonna be a good night and get your groove on, baby. Take it down, spin it around, and shake that thang!

Then do a quick check around to make sure no one witnessed your little ‘episode’.

Let it cool for a few minutes, and then serve!

The quiche is very cheesy and rich–here’s a picture to illustrate. Um, my mouth is watering.

After we had finished dinner it came to light that the quiche contains cottage cheese.

“Cottage cheese!?” exclaimed my husband. “That’s gross!” The funny thing is, he had never actually tried cottage cheese–I guess the lumpy look of it wigged him out. But the point is, if you have manly cottage cheese haters in your family, they will be none the wiser unless you choose to personally drop the bomb.

I chose to personally drop the bomb, but that’s just how I roll.

The best part: the crusty brown sides and bottom.

My pale Scandinavian roots indicate that I will never have toasty brown sides, or a lovely tanned bottom. Dang it! It’s the raw cottage cheese look all the way.

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