Friday, September 28, 2012

Food for Warmth

I wouldn't venture to say we cycled too many staple recipes throughout dinnertime in my family growing up, and there certainly weren't any family recipes passed down from generation to generation (with one exception being my great grandmother's fudge that I have yet to master). Our entirely Western European (English, I think) genetic makeup contributes little to our dining because don't they just eat fish and chips or something? And despite being raised exclusively in the South, we don't really have any southern roots per se.

Needless to say, when it comes to my go-to cuisine, I'm sort of at a loss.

If I were to adopt a genre of food, though, I think it'd be anything with Latin influence. I just love it. But with fall here, I for one am in the mood for soups, chilis and generally anything made in a Crockpot that doesn't look like something that's been left out in the rain too long (which, incidentally, cuts out about 95% of Crockpot recipes). Basically if it's warm and hearty, and perhaps sprinkled with cumin or cilantro, I want it.

And fortunately, there just so happens to be one recipe that my mom somewhat regularly makes and it hits on all the qualities I'm shopping for in a meal this fall.

Ingredients (serves 6 or so):
1 lb. ground turkey (or ground beef or tofu or even just extra black beans mashed up)
1 cup water
1 packet taco or fajita seasoning
1 fresh jalapeƱo (optional)
1/4 cup rice (white or brown, but I usually use white for this recipe)
15 oz. can diced tomatoes with chiles
15 oz. can black beans
Toppings (see below)

Brown the meat in a large skillet with a little olive oil. Drain out the water from the meat and add water and seasonings. Mix in uncooked rice and tomatoes. Cook for 35-40 minutes stirring occasionally. Drain black beans and add to mixture. Cook for additional 15 minutes, adding more water if needed.

Top with Mexican cheese, salsa, lettuce, cilantro, tomatoes, black olives, guacamole, etc. etc. etc.

This dish is great alone or with tortillas or tortilla chips a la nachos. Added bonus: it freezes and reheats well. Enjoy!

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