Chili-spiced nuts, queso close out Mexican dish recipes

Posted Monday, Apr. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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How exciting is it to actually be able to plant seeds, flowers and bushes right now?

Every once in a while, a day presents itself that's truly perfect. What do I mean by perfect? It's simply not too hot, windy or cold; of course folks with allergies, like myself, get gleeful when the pollen count isn't fully in the red zone and the wind isn't blowing. Now when this day arrives it's one to dedicate fully to gardening. And because my entire yard is organic, I planted two types of okra in the dedicated veggie garden and a couple more plantings in the flower beds.

We replaced any tomato plants that got ruined by too-early planting and we added more peppers. Mike bought some hotter varieties to spice up some of his favorite dishes this summer and fall.

Here are a few more delicious Mexican food recipes, including the one I promised earlier and forgot to print, the Chili-Spiced Nuts.

Chili-Spiced Nuts

These are wonderful and make an easy and delightful gift to put in a jar and take to a friend or gathering.

2 Tablespoons peanut oil

2 teaspoons mild ground chili powder

4 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 cups mixed nuts of your choice (I have also done this recipe using just whole pecans-wonderful!)

Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil, chili powder, paprika, salt and cumin. Stir for two minutes or until the spices become fragrant. Add the nuts and stir for five minutes or until the nuts are golden. This makes 3 cups.

Here is a dip for 30 people, a great recipe you can keep hot in a Crock-pot! You can half the recipe if needed.

Thompson's Chili con Queso con Carne

2 pounds lean ground beef (we prefer grass fed.)

2 cans Rotel-regular heat

2 pounds Velvetta cheese

*Brown the beef and add the Rotel (undrained).

Simmer slowly together one hour. Cut the cheese into chunks and add to the meat mixture. Cook until the cheese has melted. Serve hot with your favorite tortilla chips. This makes 2 1/2 half quarts. Leftovers are great served over broken tostados or rice, even over scrambled eggs.

Dee Dee's Taco Salad Supreme

I have served this, as well as taken it to events. It's so refreshing when the weather warms.

The Dressing: Mix two tablespoons lemon juice (fresh) and 1/2 cup mayonnaise. We like either Dukes or Hellman's.

The salad

1 pound lean ground beef

1 Tablespoon chili powder

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1/4 teaspoon dry red pepper (ground)

2 large tomatoes-chopped

1/2 cup white or sweet onion-chopped fine

1 cup grated sharp cheese

1 1/2 heads iceburg lettuce-rinsed, drained and broken into bite-sized pieces

1 1/2 cups crushed Fritos

2 avocados, peeled and sliced

Saute the beef with the seasonings until done. Drain very well. Keep at room temperature. Combine and toss all ingredients with the dressing. Serve. If I am going to take this salad, I put the dressing on it when I am ready to serve it. I also keep both the dressing and salad cool, or cold, until ready to use. This serves 8 to 12.

Thompson's Tacos

Many years ago when my family met a neighbor in Hurst, we were introduced to tacos. I have loved them ever since! I begin by frying corn tortillas. Yes, I know you can buy them pre-made and we have done just that, but when my grandkids come over they request or ask, "Did you fry the shells?" The difference is like night and day - fried rules.

Taco shells are made by placing the tortilla in hot oil and then folding as soon as they soften. Hold the edges about 1 inch apart with tongs and fry until crisp. This will take about one minute per shell. Mike likes to fry these outside in a cast iron frying pan on a propane burner that's attached to our outdoor grill. We place them in a warm oven right before we eat.

Tacos, better known as the "Mexican sandwich," just naturally pair well with a pot of pinto beans. We always serve tacos and pinto beans together!

The filling for the fried shells:

Spiced ground beef-drained. We season the meat using a little salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin-to taste

Grated Longhorn cheese (but can use medium cheddar)

Chopped fresh tomatoes

Lettuce-I use rinsed and drained iceburg or Romaine-chopped in to thin slices

Chopped red onion

Serve with your favorite hot sauce or salsa. If I have time, I make guacamole to go along with the tacos. Vegetarians can still eat the taco just substitute refried beans for the meat.

There are so many great Mexican food recipes and I do hope readers have enjoyed reading our favorites. Now it's time to move on. Next week, I'll feature a request - recipes for one or two people only. I have also been asked a a few questions over the past months that I will answer.

• It's such a nice time to explore the plant nurseries and see all the surprises just waiting for you to take home and grow. Have a wonderful week and let's keep taking advantage of the “perfect” gardening days.

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