Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mexican Fiesta Night Inspired by the Pioneer Woman



A few weeks ago, we invited our good friend Lydia over for dinner. Lydia was my English teacher in high school and inspired me to study journalism in college. Now, she is my mentor and one of our blog's biggest fans! We don't get to see her very often because she lives in Texas and we live in Miami, so we wanted to do something special for her when she came down for a visit. I know she is a huge Ree Drummond fan (The Pioneer Woman), as are we, so I decided to make a few of her recipes for our dinner party. She has so many yummy recipes that I had a hard time choosing what to make. I happened to be watching the Food Network one day when her "Mexican Fiesta" episode come on. I thought it was perfect to make Mexican food for my good Texan friend, so I recorded the episode and made everything she made on that episode, including a super tender and cheesy "Tequila Lime Chicken," an extraordinary "Black Refried Beans" dish and our absolute favorite part of the evening, a "Mexican Rice Casserole." Lydia loved it so much that she broke her strict diet that night AND even made the rice casserole for her family when she got back home!  Here are the recipes for those delicious dishes with a few tweaks here and there by us. We also cut some of the recipes in half to accommodate a small group. Hope you enjoy!



Tequila Lime Chicken


Ingredients:
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup of tequila
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 jalapeno, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup grated Monterey Jack

Options for servings:
Corn tortillas
Flour tortillas
Grated Monterey Jack
Pico de gallo
Jalapeno slices
Lime wedges
Avocado slices
Sour cream

Kitchen Essentials:
Cutting board
Knife
Refrigerator 
Large plastic freezer bag
Measuring cups and spoons
Grill

Prep:
Add the lime juice, tequila, olive oil, salt, garlic, jalapenos and cilantro into a large plastic freezer bag. Add the chicken, seal the bag and marinate in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

Directions:
Remove the chicken from the bag and grill it over medium-high heat. Rotate the chicken 45-degrees on both sides to create nice grill marks, and continue grilling until the chicken is cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Melt the Monterey Jack over the top of the sliced chicken breasts. Slice the chicken and serve it on a plate topped with the sides.




Black Refried Beans

Ingredients:
1 pound dried black beans, soaked overnight in cold water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Kitchen Essentials:
Large bowl
Colander 
Large pot
Measuring spoons

Prep:
Soak beans in water overnight in a large bowl to soften. The next day, mince the garlic and chop the onion.

Directions:
Drain the soaked beans and add to a pot. Cover with 2 inches cold water and add the garlic, onions, cumin, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Leave to a simmer until the beans are tender and the liquid has turned into a thick sauce, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Melt the butter in a skillet and pour in the beans. Mash the beans (leave some texture) and cook over a medium heat, 3 or 4 minutes.



Mexican Rice Casserole

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 whole large onion, chopped
4 cups long grain rice
Two 14.5-ounce cans whole tomatoes
One 10-ounce can diced tomatoes and green chiles, such as Rotel
1 teaspoon cumin (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
6 to 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth (more if needed)
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar
Fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving

Kitchen Essentials:
Oven
Cutting board
Knife
Stove
Pan
Measuring cups and spoons
Large Dutch oven
Can opener
Spatula

Prep:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Mince the garlic and chop the onions.

Directions:
Heat the oil in a large dutch oven and add the garlic and onions. Cook, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the rice. Stir constantly, making sure the rice doesn't burn. Cook over low heat, about 3 minutes.

Next, add the whole tomatoes, diced tomatoes, cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne and turmeric. Stir to combine and let cook, about 2 minutes. Finally, add the chicken broth and stir the mixture together. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer until the rice is not quite done, 10 to 15 minutes.

Top with the cheese, and then bake with the lid off until the cheese is melted and the rice fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Serve with chopped cilantro.





34 comments:

  1. What a sweet thing to do for your friend and mentor, Cristy! You are a thoughtful hostess to host a Mexican Fiesta Night. Everything looks scrumptious!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Stacy! the Pioneer Woman made it easy!

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  2. I love that you made the entire Pioneer Woman episode!! I love her show and blog! This fiesta looks amazing

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    Replies
    1. We love her too! But we try to cut back on the amount of butter she uses! lol

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  3. I love a good Mexican fiesta! This all looks to die for...I wish you'd invite me over for dinner!

    xxx
    Jaclyn
    http://www.loveandbellinis.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Next time you are in Miami, email us! lol

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  4. How cool that you've kept in contact with some of your teachers!

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  5. Love your presentation and innovation

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  6. What a delicious FEAST and setting! You are truly a Perfect Hostess.
    Cheers!
    J+C

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  7. Hi Mrs P,

    I have only seen bits and pieces of Ree Drummond on Food Network when I visited America. Sadly, I don't have any access to her shows in Australia... With all these delicious food and heaps of your warm welcome, I'm sure Lydia must be touched :D

    Zoe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Zoe. Try looking for her videos online. She's great! Thanks for following our blog!

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  8. Wow what a spread! All those Ree dishes look so delicious.

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  9. Wow, an entire episode? Amazing. Love the setting too!

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  10. OMG, how fun is this?! I would love to do something similar with friends. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Ah! This warmed my heart. I had an amazing English teacher in high school too and she is still my biggest fan. This all looks so tasty. You can't go wrong with Mexican, can you!?

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  12. Your friend is so lucky to be invited by you! ;) We used to invite some friends over for fajita night but life got busier. I miss the fun, after seeing your dinner get together. You have lovely kitchen and dining area!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's important to always make time for friends!

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  13. What a truly fantastic feast you put together for your friend - it all looks wonderful. Theme parties are just the best!

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  14. Growing up in Texas, I love Mexican food and I'm sure your friend was thrilled with the lovely dinner that you prepared.

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  15. What a thoughtful thing to do for your mentor! Any teacher would be proud to have had you as a student. :)

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  16. What a thoughtful friend you are!! I would loved to be invited for a tasty fiesta!!

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  17. Hi Mrs. P, look like you had a good time, the spread look wonderful. Excellent presentation! Thanks for sharing the wonderful recipes.

    Best regards.

    ReplyDelete

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