Mean Mexican Rice

FullSizeRenderWhat looks like a lonely little bowl of rice, is actually a culinary heavy hitter—filling for tacos, or a way to amp up rice as a side dish with any meal. We love this rice in our tacos (tortilla and guacamole recipes previously posted), and if you make it ahead of time and refrigerate (then microwave to serve again), you’ll have more time for chopping and grating all those fresh vegetables. Fresh tortillas, guac, and this rice recipe make the trifecta of tacos.

Not in the mood for tacos? This is a great little gluten-free side dish, to serve with grilled or roasted meat. It’s a side dish without a season—works well in summer or winter. I got this recipe from my friend Terri, and I do not know who or where she got it from. I’ve scribbled it on a piece of scrap note paper, with no indication of it’s origins. (Some of you have a neat box of recipe cards written in D’Nealian cursive, all wrapped in plastic sleeves. I envy you organized people. My recipe collection looks more like kidnapping ransom notes.)

Serves 6-8 as a side or 10-12 for tacos

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup white rice
1 can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken stock (or 1 – 14-ounce can chicken broth)

In medium saucepan, heat onion in vegetable oil over high heat. Cook until onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Add rice, tomatoes, spices, and chicken stock and stir to combine. Leave heat on high until liquids start to boil, then turn down to low and let simmer for 20 minutes, covered.

NOTE: If you use vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock, this is a vegetarian recipe.

Tortillas for Tacos

IMG_0820Once you get the hang of this recipe, these tasty tortillas can be used for a variety of dishes, from tacos, to fajitas, to fresh sandwich wraps. They can be stored in the frig for up to a week (with parchment paper between each tortilla to keep them from sticking together), and briefly reheated on a skillet if needed. I’ve tried to make masa (corn) tortillas from scratch, but did not succeed. I need a Mexican grandma to teach me the trick to those, and sadly, I don’t have one of those in my family tree. (My lineage is more lefse than limonada.) So for now I’m sticking with these flour tortillas for our tacos. Directions and ingredients below are for making tacos or burritos at home to rival Chipotle fare. Seriously. 

Makes 8-10


2½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup shortening
1¼ cups boiling water
Vegetable oil

In large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or tines of a fork to combine. Pour in boiled water, starting with 1 cup and stirring with wooden spoon. If mixture is still too dry, add more water until flour pulls away from sides of bowl and dough holds together in a ball.

Dust large cutting board with flour and drop dough onto board. Sprinkle dough with more flour and knead until elastic. Drop dough into oiled bowl (use vegetable oil, not olive oil), and turn to coat. Cover bowl and let dough rest in warm, draft-free spot for 10 minutes.

Heat large griddle or skillet to high and brush with vegetable oil. Drop dough onto floured board and divide into 8 or 10 pieces. Form each piece into a ball, and then roll a ball out to about 8 inches in diameter. (The tapered French rolling pin the is perfect tool for making these.) Dough should be very thin, almost to the point of tearing. Carefully move tortilla to hot griddle. Tortilla is ready to flip when large bubbles form on top. Do NOT “pat down” tortillas as they cook! Allow air pockets to form in dough as it cooks. Flip, then brown lightly on reverse side. Remove tortilla to plate and repeat with remaining balls of dough.

Top tacos with:

One recipe Mean Mexican Rice
1 pound ground turkey, cooked in skillet, and seasoned with taco seasoning (My preference is Penzy’s Chicken Taco Seasoning—2 tablespoons per pound of meat.)
Monty Jack cheese
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
Tomatoes, chopped
Green peppers, chopped
1 can corn, drained
Scallions, chopped, or red onion, chopped
Black or Kalamata olives, chopped
Lettuce, chopped
Sour cream

Tortilla Black Bean Casserole

IMG_0805If tacos married lasagna, this would be their love child: an easy layered Tex-Mex dish that packs a punch of flavor. I found this casserole recipe online at Midwest Living, but I’ve added a can of corn, and more seasonings than the original as it needed a little more zippity-do-da. It assembles in about 15 minutes, and bakes in 30…and as small corn tortillas take the place of pasta, it’s a hit with the gluten-free crowd. The first time I served this, my meat-lovin’ man was shocked when I told him he’d eaten—and enjoyed!—a meatless meal. So it’s a hit with vegetarians and carnivores as well. With only 2-3 of us currently in our household (that third comes and goes a lot), we always have leftovers. That’s why we were happy to find this dish is even better second day, reheated in the microwave. 

Serves 8


2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 sweet green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 ounce) can of corn, drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes, do not drain
3/4 cup picante sauce or salsa
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika, or regular paprika
Pinch each garlic salt and black pepper
12 – 6-inch corn tortillas (these small ones fit best in the rectangular pan)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or white cheddar cheese (I prefer the white cheddar)


1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup halved or quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
Fresh cilantro, chopped
1-2 scallions, sliced (optional)

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. In a large skillet, sauté onions on high heat until translucent. Add green pepper and cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook and stir for additional 1-2 minutes. Add black beans, corn, undrained tomatoes, picante or salsa, cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine and simmer uncovered for 3-5 minutes.

In 3-quart rectangular baking dish (9″x13″), assemble the ingredients in this order:
1/3 bean mixture
6 corn tortillas
1/2 of the shredded cheese
1/3 bean mixture
6 corn tortillas
1/3 bean mixture
1/2 of the shredded cheese

Top with foil and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let dish cool and set for 5-10 minutes before serving. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream, tomatoes, cilantro, and sliced scallions.