recipes

Meal Ideas 09 August 2017

Spice Up School Days

(Family Features) Busy school days demand meals that can match the pace of life. A Mexican-themed meal is a sure way to keep things festive and lively around the family dinner table.

Not only does a meal centered on Mexican-style foods let you spice up your menu, it also allows for plenty of personalization so even the pickiest of palates can be satisfied. That means less time for preparation and more time spent together.

Put a fresh twist on your next school-night fiesta with these ideas:

  • An ethnically-inspired meal is a great opportunity to encourage kids to try out new flavors and experiment with foods they wouldn't normally eat. Sample variations of classic salsas, incorporate seasonal ingredients like jicama and diced sweet peppers to freshen up your dishes or put a spicy spin on a classic Italian favorite by creating Mexican-inspired stuffed shells.
     
  • Get creative with proteins. Chicken and beef are common options, but heart-healthy fish and shrimp are also great candidates for a Mexican-style meal. Pork is another good choice for many Mexican dishes, and beans provide an excellent source of added protein, along with some flavor variety.
     
  • Mex-up your taco night. Try an alternative to the traditional corn shell with an option like Ortega Good Grains Taco Shells, crafted with artisanal blends of real corn, unique grains and ingredients baked into each shell. They're made with whole kernel corn, giving them an authentic taste and a distinctive flavor, aroma and texture.
     
  • Keep things kid-friendly and fun by focusing on finger foods. A large taco can be difficult for little hands to handle, but a street taco portion, a chimichanga or even nachos are more hands-on.
     
  • Look for fun toppings that add an extra crunch. For example, new Ortega Crispy Taco Toppers, lightly breaded slices of real jalapeno or onion, provide a bold kick and are the perfect finishing touch for tacos, salads and even Mexican-style burgers.
     
  • Don't forget dessert. No meal is complete without a sweet treat, such as a churro, flan, empanada or sopapilla. Many of these favorites can be prepared ahead of time so you can simply cook and serve for a perfect ending to your family fiesta.

Find more mealtime inspiration like these recipes, perfect for the busy back-to-school season, at ortega.com, or find Ortega on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

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Slow Cooked "Pulled" Chicken Tacos

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
Servings: 5

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 bottle (8 ounces) Ortega Chipotle Taco Sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 package (10 shells) Ortega Good Grains White Corn with Chia Taco Shells, warmed
    taco toppings
  1. In medium pan, combine chicken, taco sauce, chicken stock, salt and pepper, and cook on low, covered, approximately 2 hours, or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165° F. Remove chicken from pan and shred using two forks.
  2. Turn heat to medium-high and reduce cooking liquid into thick sauce, cooking 3-5 minutes and stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and combine sauce with shredded chicken.
  4. Serve in taco shells with desired taco toppings.

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Baja Chicken Pizza

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 5

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1 pound
  • 1 bottle (8 ounces) Ortega Green Taco Sauce
  • 1 can Ortega Vegetarian Refried Beans
  • 3/4 cup Ortega Homestyle Salsa (any variety)
  • 1 Mama Mary's prepared pizza crust
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can (4 ounces) Ortega Diced Green Chiles
  • 1 bag (8 ounces) Mexican-style shredded cheese
  • 1 bottle (8 ounces) Ortega Original Taco Sauce (any variety)
  • 1 bag Ortega Crispy Onion Taco Toppers
  1. In large bowl or re-sealable plastic bag, combine chicken breasts with green taco sauce. Stir or shake to coat. Marinate at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  2. Heat oven to 350° F.
  3. Bake chicken 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165° F.
  4. Let chicken cool 10 minutes then cut into small cubes.
  5. In medium bowl, combine refried beans and salsa.
  6. Transfer prepared pizza crust to baking sheet.
  7. Spread bean mixture over dough, leaving 1/4 inch at edges for crust.
  8. Top with peppers, green chiles, chicken and cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.
  9. Top with taco sauce and crispy onion toppers then serve.

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Mexican Style "Totchos"

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 5

  • 1 package (32 ounces) tater tots
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 packet Ortega Taco Seasoning
  • 1cup water
  • 16 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 container (16 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 bag Ortega Crispy Jalapeno
  • Taco Toppers
  1. Prepare tater tots according to package directions.
  2. Heat medium skillet over medium heat. Cook ground beef 4-5 minutes until browned, using wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Add taco seasoning and water. Cook until water evaporates and sauce is thickened.
  3. Top hot tater tots with cooked ground beef and cheese, and broil in oven 5 minutes.
  4. Top with tomatoes, sour cream and crispy jalapeno toppers, and serve immediately.

Source: Ortega

Beverages 14 April 2017

Sweet Meets Spicy

Fresh ideas for a fun fiesta menu

(Family Features) There’s no better way to spice up a party than by using unexpected ingredients in fun, flavorful dishes and drinks. For your next fiesta, celebrate a star of the party with sweet and juicy watermelon.

Not only does versatile watermelon lend a unique taste to your menu, it’s a healthy ingredient that provides natural hydration with 92 percent water content, along with the antioxidant lycopene and the amino acid citrulline.

These recipes show how, with a little creative carving, you can use the whole melon, including flesh, juice and rind, for big value and zero waste.

Find more fiesta-ready recipes at watermelon.org.

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Cactus Carving

  • Medium-large oval or oblong watermelon (seeded or seedless)
  • Cutting board
  • Paring knife
  • Dry erase marker
  • Kitchen knife
  • Scoop
  • Cactus cookie cutter
  • Small flower cookie cutters
  • Toothpicks
  • Fire and Ice Salsa (recipe below)

Wash watermelon under cool, running water and pat dry.

On cutting board, place watermelon on its side and cut off 1/4 inch-1/2 inch from stem end; this will provide a sturdy base. Reserve end piece to make into small cactus.

Stand watermelon upright on base. Use dry erase marker to draw simple outline of cactus shape.

One-third up from bottom of watermelon, draw straight line around back, being careful not to go through cactus outline; this will create a serving bowl for watermelon salsa.

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Use kitchen knife to cut around outline, leaving just bowl with cactus attached. Scoop out base to form bowl.

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From pieces of watermelon that were cut away, use cookie cutters to make cactus pieces and flower pieces to decorate with, and chop remaining watermelon to make watermelon salsa and watermelon margaritas, or juice.

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Attach toothpicks randomly around cactus to make thorns and decorate with watermelon flowers. Decorate bottom rind scrap with toothpicks to resemble short, round cactus.

Fill bowl with Fire and Ice Salsa and serve with tortilla chips.

Fire and Ice Salsa

Makes: 3 cups

  • 3 cups seeded and finely chopped watermelon
  • 1/2 cup finely diced green peppers
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely sliced green onion
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely diced jalapeno peppers
  1. Combine ingredients; mix well and cover. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

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Nachos with Watermelon Avocado Salsa

Makes: 8 servings

  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 can (4 ounces) diced green chilies, drained
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups diced watermelon
  • 16 ounces fat-free refried beans
  • 11 ounces corn tortilla chips
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup fat-free sour cream
  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. To make salsa: In medium bowl, combine avocado, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, chilies and red onion; toss to thoroughly mix. Add watermelon and toss gently. Set aside.
  3. Over medium heat, heat beans until hot. Mash if preferred.
  4. Place chips on flat, oven-proof plate or cookie sheet and top with beans and cheese. Repeat layers as desired. Heat in oven 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted and chips are hot.
  5. Top with salsa mixture and sour cream.

Tip: Reserve some salsa to place in bowl for dipping.

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Blended Watermelon Margarita

Makes: 2 margaritas

  • 2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed and frozen
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 ounces silver tequila
  • 1 1/2 ounces lime juice
  • 1 ounce elderflower liqueur
  • pinch of salt
  • lime slices, for garnish
  1. In blender, combine watermelon, water, tequila, lime juice, elderflower liqueur and salt. Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into two chilled margarita glasses and garnish with lime slices.

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Watermelon Margarita on the Rocks

Makes: 2 margaritas

Watermelon Simple Syrup:

  • 2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 1 cup sugar

Watermelon Juice:

  • 2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 1/2 cup water

Margarita:

  • lime wedges
  • coarse salt
  • ice
  • 4 ounces silver tequila
  • 4 ounces watermelon juice
  • 2 ounces lime juice
  • 1 ounce watermelon simple syrup
  1. To make watermelon simple syrup: In small saucepan over medium heat, combine watermelon and sugar. Use potato masher to mash watermelon and sugar together, pushing out liquid and dissolving sugar. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour mixture through fine mesh sieve set over bowl or jar, pressing watermelon to extract all liquid. Set aside to cool completely.
  2. To make watermelon juice: In blender, combine watermelon and water. Blend until smooth then pour through fine mesh sieve set over bowl or jar.
  3. To assemble margaritas: use lime wedge to line rims of two glasses with juice. Dip glasses in coarse salt and carefully fill glasses with ice.
  4. Combine tequila, watermelon juice, lime juice and simple syrup in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until thoroughly chilled, about 30 seconds, and pour into prepared glasses. Garnish with lime wedges.

Source: National Watermelon Promotion Board

One Dish Meals 09 February 2017

Delicious Dishes for the Perfect Night In

(Family Features) When planning a get-together with friends, finding the right playlist and inviting your favorite people over is easy, but planning the perfect menu can be daunting.

Whether it’s game day, the season premiere of your favorite show or just a casual night in, if you’re craving something satisfying and delicious, one simple solution is Mrs. T’s Pierogies.

You can easily add a creative twist to your menu by serving up bite-sized Bacon-Wrapped Pierogies, featuring Classic Cheddar Mini Pierogies, which are perfect for sharing. Or try adding some flare to your nachos by substituting chips with pierogies. Available in 15 tasty varieties, these potato-filled pasta shells are loaded with flavor and are the perfect canvas for all your favorite ingredients and spices.

Find more recipes to enjoy with your friends at MrsTsPierogies.com.

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Bacon-Wrapped Pierogies

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 32 minutes
Servings: 4

  1. Heat oven to 400° F.
  2. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Defrost pierogies by placing in boiling water for 2 minutes or refrigerating overnight.
  3. Wrap half slices of bacon around each pierogy. Arrange pierogies on baking sheet. Sprinkle with brown sugar, if desired. Bake 16-18 minutes, or until golden brown, turning once.
  4. Optional: Saute wrapped pierogies 8 minutes, or grill 5 minutes until browned.

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Pierogy Nachos

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Nachos:

  • 2 boxes (16 ounces each) Mrs. T’s Classic Cheddar Pierogies
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Pico de Gallo (recipe below)
  • guacamole (recipe below)
  • sour cream (optional)
  • pickled jalapeno peppers (optional)

Pico de Gallo:

  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 small, diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Guacamole:

  • 1 small, ripe avocado
  • 1 seeded and minced jalapeno
  • 1/2 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  1. To make nachos: Saute pierogies in butter over medium heat, approximately 8 minutes on both sides.
  2. Preheat broiler. On large, oven-safe plate, arrange hot pierogies; sprinkle with black beans and Monterey Jack cheese.
  3. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with Pico de Gallo and guacamole, and sour cream or pickled jalapeno peppers, if desired.
  4. To make Pico de Gallo: Mix together all ingredients and set aside. Serve on top of pierogies.
  5. To make guacamole: Cut avocado in half and remove seed. With spoon, scoop out inside; place in bowl.
  6. Mash avocado with fork until slightly chunky.
  7. Mix in jalapeno, tomato, green onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Serve on top of pierogies.

Source: Mrs. T's Pierogies

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