Mango Margaritas & “Homemade” Tortilla Chips with Grilled Pineapple Salsa!

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TGIF! Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner and you know what that means – Margaritas! In the interest of having a good time research, my trusty pals and I decided to go in search of the new perfect margarita. Sure the lime margarita is delicious and traditional but why limit yourself? One click of the keyboard and a multitude of exotic possibilities lay before me-strawberry, blackberry, cucumber, pomegranate, cranberry, mango-avocado, papaya, hibiscus, watermelon and mint! Who knew there were so many? Obviously, a lot of research has already been done on this subject. Since we had fresh mango and pineapple in the refrigerator, we decided to start there.  After much testing and tasting we came up with a fabulous Mango Margarita, which is cool and refreshing with just the right amount of sweet-the perfect grownup dessert, like a mini vacation for your tastebuds. Take me away Calgon…

Crunchy, salty tortilla chips, warm from the oven, topped with spicy, smoky, sweet pineapple salsa are a perfect pairing for the ice-cold mango margaritas.  Sure it’s easy to just pick up a bag from the store (I do it all the time), but making them yourself out of good quality (non GMO) tortillas is so much tastier!  It’s easy too and only takes 15 minutes or so, depending on quantity.  Each 6 inch tortilla makes 6 chips, so do the math to figure out how many you need. (I would say 2 tortillas per person).  This is also a great use for stale or dried out tortillas, so don’t throw those out!  The grilled pineapple salsa is the creation of my son, Eric. Grilling the pineapple is pure genius!  It adds a nice smoky quality and softens the pineapple so that it picks up the other flavors nicely.  His version included habanero peppers and was delicious but pretty spicy (our lips were numb), so I have toned it down with mildly spicy jalapeno peppers.  If you like things super spicy (like my Dad) increase the amount of peppers or add spicier varieties.  This is also a good appetizer for my Fish Tacos, Chile Rellenos or Black Bean and Mango Salad with Avocado Ranch if you want to continue the Mexican theme.

Tips:   You can buy mango pre-cut but it’s very easy to do it yourself if you know the right technique.  How to cut a Mango.  If you like your margies really thick and frozen, you can buy frozen fruit or cut the fruit into chunks, lay them on parchment or waxed paper and freeze them for a half hour or so.  Using frozen fruit reduces the amount of ice you need, resulting in a thicker, fruitier beverage.

Mango Margaritas

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 cups ripe Mango, large dice
6 Tbsn fresh lime juice
1 Tbsn agave necter
4 ounces Tequila (100% agave blanco)
1-2 cups Ice

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  • Rub the cut side of a lime around the rim of the glass and dip the wet rim in salt. (Optional)
  • Add all the ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth. Add additional ice if a thicker drink is desired.

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  • Pour into prepared glasses.  Cheers!

Homemade Tortilla Chips

  • Servings: 72 tortilla chips
  • Difficulty: easy
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12  6″ corn tortillas
1/3 cup vegetable oil(avocado, grapeseed or sunflower)
kosher or sea salt
  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Brush tortillas with oil on both sides.  Place in a stack.

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  • Cut tortilla stack into 6 triangle shaped wedges.
  • Arrange the tortillas on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake  for about 6 minutes.

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  • Using tongs turn them over, sprinkle with a little salt, and bake for another 6 minutes..
  • Remove from the oven and let cool.

Spicy Grilled Pineapple Salsa

  • Servings: 1 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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1/4 whole pineapple, sliced into rounds
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced(or other hot pepper)
1 small shallot, finely diced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
1 tsp fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

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  • Grill pineapple slices on a hot grill for several minutes on both sides and remove from heat.

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  • Dice pineapple into small chunks

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  • Using gloves, finely mince jalapeno
  • Combine all ingredients.  Serve with chips. Ole!

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Mexican Trio – Fish Tacos, Chile Rellenos & Black Bean and Mango Salad with Avocado Ranch

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Monday is Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican celebration which many Americans have wholeheartedly adopted. I mean who’s going to pass up an opportunity to legitimately drink margaritas and salsa dance on a Monday? (Stay tuned, I promise a recipe for the World’s Best Margaritas and easy ‘homemade’ tortilla chips on Friday). I have always focused on the wonderful Mexican food and cervezas without knowing much about the holiday itself, other than knowing cinco de Mayo means fifth of May in Spanish. It is a celebration of the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, in which the Mexican military was victorious over the French in 1862. The victory at Puebla became a symbol of Mexican resistance to foreign domination.  Read more at Enclyopaedia Britannica.

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In honor of this Mexican holiday, I am presenting a trio of Mexican goodies to include in your celebration next week. They are all wheat free,  gluten free, and vegetarian, with the exception of the fish tacos. The fish tacos are made with roasted halibut, spiced with ancho chili, garlic and cumin, then topped with a  creamy, lime coleslaw.   If you don’t like creamy dressings, you can omit the sour cream/yogurt and mayo and substitute olive or avocado oil and vinegar for a fresh, zesty coleslaw.  My coleslaw turned out a glorious pink color.  The more red cabbage you use, the darker purple it will get.  I try to buy fresh fish that is live caught (rather than farmed) and sustainably fished.  Good choices are mahi mahi and halibut but any mild, white fish will work. Seafood Watch is a good source of information on selecting sustainable seafood.

I (with the direction able assistance of my son, Eric) made corn tortillas for the first time and it wasn’t a difficult as I thought it was going to be.  If you don’t want to go to the trouble, you can find many very good store bought tortillas that are labeled organic (meaning non GMO). My favorites are organic, whole grain Taco Sliders by Mi Rancho.  They are also the perfect size (4 1/2 inch round) for taco appetizers or mini quesadillas.

I fondly remember my Mom making chili rellenos when I was a kid, using canned chilis, stuffed with cheese, dipped in batter and fried.  Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?  This updated version includes fresh poblano peppers, not fried but roasted and stuffed with jalapenos and various cheeses topped with fresh tomatoes, cilantro and lime.   We rounded out the meal with a Black Bean and Mango salad tossed with a dollap of homemade  avocado ranch dressing. Yum!

Spicy Fish Tacos

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 pounds halibut(or other mild white fish), skinned, and cut into 4 to 6 pieces
3 Tbsn chili powder
1 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
1/2  tsp cayenne pepper(or more to taste)
1 clove garlic, minced or 1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsn lime juice
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 teaspoon(s) salt
 
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  • Combine chili powder, cayenne, cumin, garlic lime juice, oil and salt in a gallon zip lock baggie and shake to combine.
  • Add fish and allow it to marinate for 20 minutes or so.

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  • When ready, broil fish for 4 or 5 minutes per side, until fish flakes easily. (fish can also be cooked on the grill)
  • Break into pieces for serving, if desired.

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Coleslaw

3 cups red or green cabbage, finely shredded
2 Tbsn fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 jalapeno
1/4 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp lime zest
2 Tbsn lime juice
1 tsp sugar
2/3 tsp salt
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  • Combine all ingredients, except cabbage, jalapeno and cilantro, in a small bowl and stir until creamy.

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  • While wearing gloves, seed and mince jalapeno and add to cabbage and cilantro.

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  • Add creamy mixture to cabbage mixture and toss to combine.

Tortillas

If you are using pre-made tortillas, you can wrap stacks of 10 or 12 in damp paper towels and heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds or so.  Or wrap them in foil and heat them in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.  Wrap them in a clean towel to keep warm.  If you are feeling industrious and want to make them yourself, here is how:

2 1/2 cups masa
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 tsp salt
 
 
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  • Combine all ingredients and form into a ball, kneading until it’s smooth.  It should be firm not sticky. It will not be elastic like a four dough.  Add water if it doesn’t form a ball or masa if it’s too sticky;.
  • For each tortilla, form a golf sized ball of dough and place it between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper and roll it into a flat circle with a rolling pin.  You can free form it or use an inverted  bowl as a ‘cookie cutter’.  A golf sized ball will yield a 5 or 6 inch tortilla.
 
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  • Cook tortillas in a dry (ungreased/ heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, for 1 or 2 minutes on each side over medium heat until there are several small brown spots.  Stack them as they are done and cover with foil or a clean dish towel.
 
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Chiles Rellenos

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
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6 poblano peppers
1/2 small onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 1/2 cups shredded cheeses (jack, pepper jack, cheddar, parmigiano)
2 tablespoon(s) chopped cilantro
Salt

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoon(s) chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon(s) freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

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  • Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or under a broiler, turning occasionally, until they are charred all over.
  • Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool.  Peel. The skins will come off easily

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  • Using a small, sharp knife, make a small lengthwise slit in each one, near the stem end and carefully remove the core and seeds, leaving the stem on if possible.  If you accidently cut it off, you can add it back after the pepper has been stuffed.

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  •  Sauté the onion, garlic and jalapeño over medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then add the cheese and chopped cilantro.
  • Carefully stuff the cheese filling into the poblanos and press the poblanos closed.

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  • Place the stuffed poblanos on a baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
  • Combine tomatoe, cilantro, lime and salt in a small bowl.
  • Serve chile rellenos with tomato garnish.

 

Black Bean and Mango Salad with Avocado Ranch

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 head romaine
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh mango, diced
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
 
  • Chop romaine and top with beans, tomatoes, mango and avocado.
  • Dress with avocado ranch.

Avocado Ranch

1 ripe avocado
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley or cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsn apple cider or white vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally when needed. Thin with water if desired.

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