Cook's Corner: Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Published 8:12 pm Wednesday, May 3, 2006

By By Lisa Tindell
I'm not Mexican, but I love good Mexican food. As a matter of fact, there is a group of my good friends who feel we have not completed our week without a Saturday night trip to a local Mexican restaurant.
I also realize that some Mexican fare is an acquired taste. For some reason, most of my friends don't care for Guacamole, but love Pico de Gallo. I'm just the opposite. Give me a little bowl of that creamy, green stuff and I'm happy. I'm not a big fan of cilantro but I have a friend who's even trying to grow some for her own use. Go figure.
This week's collection of recipes, as you may have guessed by now, will feature Mexican dishes. The reason for my choices this week is to help out if you have decided to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Even if you don't plan to celebrate this holiday, these dishes are pretty good anyway. Most recipes available to print have certainly been Americanized. At any rate, you can choose which ones sound good to you and celebrate May 5 any way you choose.
Funky Enchilada Casserole
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast meat - cubed
1 tbsp. ground cumin, or to taste
1 tbsp. dry taco seasoning
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn kernels
12 (6 inch) corn tortillas
One-half bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and season with cumin, taco seasoning and cayenne pepper. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook until chicken is browned, about 5 minutes. Add red, yellow and orange peppers; cook and stir for another 5 minutes, then mix in the black beans, kidney beans and corn. Remove from the heat. Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch baking dish with corn tortillas. Pour in the skillet mixture then top with cilantro and pepper jack cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cheese is starting to brown on top. Let stand for 10 minutes, then serve with your favorite Mexican food toppings such as sour cream, salsa, etc.
My friends Connie and Dru will like this next recipe. They love Pico de Gallo. I love quesadillas so maybe we could get together and agree on this recipe. As soon as she gets it cooked, I'm sure she'll give me a call.
Pico de Gallo Chicken Quesadillas
2 tomatoes, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 limes, juiced
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into strips
One-half onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 (12 inch) flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
sour cream, for topping
In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno, salt and pepper. Set aside. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add chicken and saut