Cheddar-Bacon-Chile Cornbread

Cheddar-Bacon-Chile Cornbread

There’s a huge debate in the South: sweet or savory cornbread? Is it truly cornbread if you include sugar or honey? My family’s always gotten around the argument by calling the sweet stuff Johnnycake instead of cornbread, and enjoying both to boot!

Today’s delicious cornbread definitely falls into the savory category several times over, though. It combines the salty and spicy flavors of green chiles and bacon with melty sharp cheddar cheese to make a dense and flavorful cornbread. The taste is reminiscent of enchiladas and breakfast tacos, with a tang and depth of flavor from the buttermilk that’s all its own.
Cheddar-Bacon-Chile Cornbread from Mancktastic! at mancktastic.wordpress.com

We start with equal parts cornmeal and flour, then add baking soda, baking powder and salt for lift and rise, plus sugar as a little nod to Johnnycake, then come in the delicious bits. Sharp cheddar and crumbly bits of bacon join the party to add their own tasty notes to the dish. Next come the wet ingredients: melted butter for savory richness, buttermilk for tang, eggs and, finally, lightly spicy green chiles. Everything is stirred together to spread the yummy bits throughout, then topped with extra cheese and bacon to form a crispy crust on top. Into the oven it goes for 35 minutes, then out comes an extra-yummy and savory treat!

Cheddar-Bacon-Chile Cornbread from Mancktastic! at mancktastic.wordpress.com

Cheddar-Bacon-Chile Cornbread combines all the great tastes of Tex-Mex into a one-dish, easy-clean-up delight that is delightful solo or as the accompaniment to chili or Chicken Tortilla Soup. With a moist, rich interior and a smoky, crispy cheese and bacon crust on top, it’s a dish that’s worth turning the oven on even in the middle of summer!

Cheddar-Bacon-Chile Cornbread from Mancktastic! at mancktastic.wordpress.com

Cheddar-Bacon-Chile Cornbread

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cupcooked, crumbled bacon
  • 4 ounces diced green chilies
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ stick butter, melted
  • additional cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon, to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 400° F.
  2. Whisk cornmeal, flour, cheese, baking powder, baking soda, bacon, salt and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the chiles, buttermilk, eggs and melted butter and stir well until completely combined.
  3. Pour batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square baking dish, top with additional cheese and bacon, and bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

based on a recipe from Eat, Live, Run

Cheddar-Bacon-Chile Cornbread from Mancktastic! at mancktastic.wordpress.com

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Self-Made Seasoning: Homemade Taco Mix

Self-Made Seasoning: Homemade Taco Mix

Hello, folks! We’re back from New York and completely tuckered out, so this’ll be a short little entry with a simple little recipe: Homemade Taco Mix!

Homemade Taco Seasoning from Mancktastic!

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a weird sensitivity to cumin, so I have to make my own taco mix so my belly doesn’t get angry. Even if you don’t have a sensitivity like me, I highly recommend making your own taco seasoning! It’s cheap, easy and way lower sodium than the commercial stuff.

Homemade Taco Seasoning from Mancktastic!

This seasoning is a little spicy, a little peppery and really well-balanced in the flavor department. We use it sprinkled on chicken before we grill it, on ground beef for taco night and as a final garnish for nachos! Try it in Taco Burgers, Mexican Pork and Grits Bake, or my favorite Chicken Tortilla Soup!

Homemade Taco Seasoning from Mancktastic!

Homemade Taco Seasoning

  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
  1. Combine all ingredients in a lidded container and shake to combine. Store in pantry for 3-6 months.

Homemade Taco Seasoning from Mancktastic!

Spice It Up a Little: Taco Burgers

Spice It Up a Little: Taco Burgers

Mmm, who doesn’t love a good cheeseburger? We’re not going to rest with cheddar on beef, though, let’s make in a little spicy, up the cheese factor and put a Mexican twist on this classic! This stuffed and studded burger is packed with flavor and spices.

Taco Burgers from Mancktastic!

To impart that Mexican spice, we combine crunchy corn chips with taco seasoning and mix it throughout the ground beef for our burgers. Rather than just laying cheese atop the patties, we also stuff them with what my grocery store calls “Fiesta cheese”. And, for a final layer of flavor, we crust the patties with additional taco seasoning.

Taco Burgers from Mancktastic!

You’d be surprised how much flavor plain ol’ corn chips can add to a simple burger, but it gives a distinct earthy flavor that is a natural counterpart to the beef. Corn is a traditional flavor for Mexican cuisine, so it’s a fine pairing. The cheese cuts through the saltiness of the chips and seasoning for a well-balanced dish.

Taco Burgers from Mancktastic!

Taco Burgers

  • 1 pound ground beef (I used 96/4)
  • 1 cup corn chips
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Mexican cheese chunks
  • ¼ cup taco seasoning, divided
  • 4 slices colby jack cheese
  1. Crush corn chips by pulsing them in a food processor. Add 2 Tablespoons of taco seasoning to the work bowl and combine.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix spiced corn chip crumbs, ground beef, and egg, until well combined.
  3. Shape ground beef mixture into 8 equal balls. Place ¼ cup cheese chunks in between 2 balls and combine into a patty. Form 3 more patties using same method.
  4. Pour the remaining taco seasoning on a plate. Place each patty on the seasoning, press to adhere, flip and repeat.
  5. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and grill 7-8 minutes on each side. For the last minute of grilling, lay a slice of colby jack on each patty.
  6. Serve with salsa and tortillas.

Taco Burgers from Mancktastic!

Mexican Pork and Grits Bake

Mexican Pork and Grits Bake

Bill and I registered for a crockpot when we got married; it seemed like a thing we were supposed to register for and was on all of the registry recommendation lists. My Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Tom very generously gave us the crockpot for our wedding and I was filled with grand plans! We’d come home from work to fragrant delights and dinner already prepared. But it turns out we registered for a crockpot without a timer, so unless a dish needed to be cooked for 9-10 hours, set it and forget it wasn’t going to work with our schedules. So, a year and a half passed with the poor little slow cooker sitting sadly, gathering dust at the bottom of the microwave cart…

This weekend I decided to have mercy upon the neglected slow cooker, so it was time for Mexican Pork and Grits!

Mexican Pork and Grits Bake from Mancktastic!

Pork butt, beans, beer, water, tomatoes, salsa, taco seasoning and garlic went into the virgin crockpot to simmer away at low for 7 hours. This time infused the pork with a great savory and slightly flavor, while leaving the meat super-juicy and tender. Meat, beans and all those delicious juices went into a casserole dish to be topped with that Southern classic: creamy, cheesy grits! Bake it all together and you have a super-filling and flavorful casserole to feed the whole family. The whole dish is full of spices’ flavors without burning off your taste buds, with decadent grits that melt perfectly into the pork, pintos and sauce.

Mexican Pork and Grits Bake from Mancktastic!

Mexican Pork and Grits Bake

  • 1 pound pork butt, bone-in
  • ¼ cup dry pinto beans
  • 12 ounces beer
  • 12 ounce water
  • 14 ounces diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 16 ounces salsa
  • 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons dried, roasted garlic slices
  • 1 cup quick grits
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Mexican cheese, shredded
  1. Combine pork butt, dry pinto beans, beet, water, tomatoes, salsa, taco seasoning and garlic slices in slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 7 hours.
  2. Remove pork from slow cooker and chop into small pieces. Return pork to slow cooker and mix contents together.
  3. In a large sauce pan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add quick grits to water, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Season grits with oregano,salt and pepper, then mix in half of the Mexican cheese. Stir until cheese is melted throughout the grits.
  5. Arrange meat and beans mixture in the bottom of a greased casserole dish, then top with the cheesy grits.
  6. Top with the remainder of the cheese and broil on low for a few minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Mexican Pork and Grits Bake from Mancktastic!
based on a recipe from The Holzmanns

Melty, Mixy Mexican Goodness: Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake

Melty, Mixy Mexican Goodness: Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake

So often, every recipe for Mexican food you run across is chockful of tortillas, refried beans and other delicious goods that we should probably try to enjoy in moderation. Enchiladas, tacos, burritos: all delicious and all tortilla-dependent!

That’s why I was so happy to come across this simple rice-based recipe for a tasty Mexican casserole-type entree on Tasty Kitchen. I made a few substitutions based on what I had handy in the kitchen and wound up with a tasty, easy weeknight dinner that we all loved.

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Chicken and rice are cooked beforehand, then combined with lean and healthy ingredients to make a wonderfully flavorful dish. The yogurt helps meld all the flavors together while keeping the whole dish moist and delicious. With a triple wallop of protein from the black beans, chicken and Greek yogurt, this meal will fill you up without weighing you down. It’s perfect for a night when your busy family needs fuel!

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake

  • 2 cups chicken pieces, cut into 1″ pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups cooked long-grain rice
  • ¾ cups frozen corn
  • 15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup salsa
  • ¼ cup taco sauce
  • 1½ cups Mexican blend cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350◦ F.
  2. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste and sauté until cooked through.
  3. In a large oven-safe dish, combine chicken, rice, corn, black beans, sour cream, salsa, taco sauce and 1 cup Mexican cheese and mix thoroughly to combine. Make sure the yogurt and cheese are stirred in throughout the entire bowl. Top with the reserved ½ cup of cheese.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through.

CheesyChickenandRiceBake

adapted from from Tasty Kitchen

Lean, Fresh and Unexpected – Mexican Couscous Bowl

Lean, Fresh and Unexpected – Mexican Couscous Bowl

Generally, I try to avoid dinners completely comprised of cans and boxes. They tend to be full of sodium and questionable ingredients that don’t fill you up in the long run. I’ve found the exception, though, in the quick and fresh Mexican Couscous Bowl! It combines the protein and fiber of couscous and black beans with nutrition of tomatoes and corn, topped with the spice of salsa and melty cheese. It’s super-simple and quick to through together, plus it’s something you can feel good about feeding your family without sacrificing taste!

Mexican Couscous Bowl

  • 1 box garlic couscous
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 quarter of a lime, juiced
  • ½ cup salsa of choice
  • 1 cup mexican blend cheese
  1. Prepare couscous to package directions, then transfer to a large skillet.
  2. Add black beans, tomatoes, corn, salt, lime juice and salsa to the couscous skillet. Turn heat to medium and stir for 3-5 minutes, or until all ingredients are heated through.
  3. Add half of the cheese to skillet and mix until melted through.
  4. Divide couscous among bowls and top with remaining cheese.

Mexican Cous Cous

This unexpected flavor and cuisine combo is a real winner! The Mexican flavors work very well with the small couscous pearls, creating a hearty dish that will fill you up with healthy protein and veggies. Feel free to replace the frozen and canned components with fresh equivalents!

Click here to download a PDF of this recipe!

Based on recipes from Annie’s Eats

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

When last week came to an end, I found myself with a wicked craving for Mexican food that needed to be satiated. Luckily, I’d planned ahead and had all of the ingredients for this Chicken Enchilada Casserole in the kitchen, so it became dinner for Bill, Keri and I when she came over Saturday night! It takes just 2 dishes to make: a skillet and a baking dish, so it was a great choice to throw together while we had company over.

The creamy and cheesy sauce, shredded chicken and hearty corn tortillas combined to make one heck of a good casserole! It’s filling without being heavy with the textures and flavors of enchiladas, minus the trouble of rolling and filling each tortilla. The subtle spice from the enchilada sauce is tamed down by the evaporated milk and cream cheese, so you wind up with all the flavors of Tex-Mex without rushing for a glass of milk or a margarita (though you’re still welcome to one 🙂 )

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

  • 1½ cups chicken broth
  • 7 ounces chopped green chilies
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1 cup evaporated skim milk
  • 10 ounces mild enchilada sauce
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups Mexican cheese, divided
  • 9 corn tortillas
  1. Heat chicken broth and half of the green chilies in a deep-sided skillet on medium-high heat. When boiling, add in chicken breasts and cook for 8-10 minutes on each side, or until cooked all the way through. Remove chicken, shred and set aside. Reserve cooking liquid and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Return skillet to heat and add the remaining chiles, cooking for 1 minute. Add evaporated milk, enchilada sauce, cream cheese, 1 cup shredded cheese and reserved cooking liquid to the skillet and stir until combined. Add chicken to the mixture, stir well to coat, and set aside.
  3. Lay 3 corn tortillas in the bottom of an 8″ x 8″ baking dish, then top with 2 cups of the chicken mixture. Repeat the layers two more times, ending with the chicken layer on top. Top with the remaining shredded cheese.
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese on top is golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

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The creamy sauce in this casserole is really delicious, especially when it bakes into the corn tortillas which add an oomph of texture and flavor. You could use a spicier enchilada sauce, if that’s what your family prefers, but we found the spice and flavor levels to be great in the recipe as-is.

Based on recipe from Iowa Girl Eats

Click here to download a PDF of this recipe!