My Mexican-American Kitchen

My mother used to tell me that she thought I must have been Spanish in another life. Along with talking in my sleep and waking up everyone in the house with my laughter (while still asleep, mind you), she said sometimes I'd speak in Spanish. To whom, she did not know. But it freaked her out a little bit (especially since they don't teach Spanish very well in schools...or any other language for that matter).

I have been reminiscing about Latin and Hispanic foods lately. Yesterday's lunch was no exception. An indoor picnic for one (counter clockwise): whole wheat tortillas, chicken & steak, guacamole cream, reduced-fat shredded cheddar, fat-free sour cream, Spanish rice, shredded lettuce, tomato salsa

Whole Wheat Tortillas makes 3 to 5 tortillas
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 scant cup warm water (110 degrees F)
1 Tbsp oil

In a medium bowl, mix ingredients with a wooden spoon or your hands, until a dough forms. It should be of a stiff consistency, but not too firm. If the dough is too stiff, divide it into several pieces, sprinkle with 1 or 2 tablespoons of the remaining water and mix or stir again until a ball forms. Divide the dough into even portions and roll into balls. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
Lightly flour your counter or workspace. Alternatively, lay down a piece of plastic or parchment paper and flour it. Roll each ball into a circle by flattening the ball of dough, lightly flouring it, and with a rolling pin rolling forward and backward over the dough. If using plastic/parchment, roll out the tortilla between two layers of the sheet. Alternate rolling, flipping, and turning the dough until your circle is formed (about 1/8 inch thick), re-flouring the work surface if necessary.

Cover each tortilla with plastic wrap after rolling. Repeat the rolling out process for the remaining balls of dough. Heat a skillet or cast iron pan over moderately high heat. Lay a tortilla on the griddle and cook for 20 to 45 seconds until tortilla bubbles and lightly browns on the underside. Flip the tortilla, using a spatula, and cook for another 30 to 45 seconds.
Transfer the cooked tortilla to foil or kitchen towel and wrap them up to keep them warm. Tortillas can be stored in a plastic bag and refrigerated until ready for use. Warm slightly in microwave or on griddle before serving.

Chicken, Steak, Pork or Tofu for fajitas
1/4 lb preferred protein sliced into strips or cubes, 1/4 inch wide
(chicken breast, flank steak, pork tenderloin, semi-firm tofu)

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large pinch, paprika
1 large pinch, chili powder
1 large pinch cumin or cumin seeds
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp white vinegar or fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 Tbsp oil
Place everything in a 1 gallon plastic bag, press out as much air as possible and let marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes, and up to 24 hrs.

Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.

Cook protein:
1-2 minutes for rare

3-5 minutes for medium

6-7 minutes for well-done

Mexican Rice serves 3-4
adapted from Mexican-American Border Cooking

1/4 pound long-grain rice
1 1/2 tablespoons shortening
1/4 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 12 oz bottles of Mexican beer (Tecate, Dos Equis)
1/4 cup frozen (thawed) peas
1-2 stewed tomatoes, chopped
1 small green pepper, diced
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon salt

Chop onions, prepare broth, thaw peas, chop tomatoes, and dice peppers. Heat shortening in a skillet and fry rice over medium heat until golden brown. Add onion and cook until fairly softened. Add minced garlic clove and chicken broth. Cook to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Add cilantro and salt. Blend in diced pepper and chopped tomatoes. Cover and cook for 40 minutes stirring frequently to prevent from sticking. Add peas and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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  1. You made your own tortillas. I am impressed. I'm also craving Mexican now.

  2. rachel: Thaaaanks! i've decided that if I want something, I'll have to make it myself. I won't allow myself to go get fries, ice cream, or even tortillas, unless I make it myself. I save $$ that way.

  3. I am SO excited to see a good mexican rice recipe. You'd think I'd have come across one before, but I've been living in a Spanish-free bubble called San Antonio...wait, that can't be right.


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