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America’s current way of celebrating Halloween originates from the ancient Celts and their celebrations of the end of the harvest season.

But we also get a lot of our traditions from Mexico: the practice having of decorating with skeletons and/or dressing like one the night before the Day of the Dead, which is November 1, is a big one. Thus, on Halloween (the night before the Day of the Dead), we dress as spooks and goblins.

So it’s very appropriate to serve Tex Mex food at a Halloween party.

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Celebrating Halloween with ghosts and skeletons comes to us from Mexico. Therefore it’s completely appropriate to celebrate the day before the Day of the Dead (that would be Halloween) with some great Tex Mex dishes.

Read below for a Halloween Tex Mex dish idea to treat your little ghouls and goblins.

If you’re hosting a party for teens, why not spice the party up with some Tex Mex lasagna?

For ingredients you’ll need a pound of lean ground beef; a cup of frozen diced onion, red and green bell pepper and celery; 3 minced garlic cloves; one tablespoon of chili powder, one tablespoon of chipotle seasoning blend,; a 24-ounce jar of mild salsa; a 15-ounce can of dark red kidney beans, drained; a 10-ounce can of enchilada sauce; a 10-ounce package of frozen white kernel corn (thaw it); 16 six-inch corn tortillas, four cups of shredded cheese; and sour cream and chopped tomatoes.

Cook the beef, diced onion, peppers, celery, and garlic cloves in a large skillet (non-stick) over medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring often until the veggies are tender and the ground beef is no longer pink and “crumbles.”

Stir in the salsa and the chili powder, the chipotle and the kidney beans. Cook another 5-10 minutes.

Take two tortillas (overlap their edges) and place one cup of the beef mixture and ½ cup of cheese into a lightly greased baking dish. Repeat the layers. Then repeat the procedure with three more baking dishes. Cover the dishes in non-stick aluminum foil.

Bake (keep the dishes covered) for 30 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. Then uncover and bake another 5 minutes or until their bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving with your desired toppings.

Celebrate All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween) the right way: by coming to the Mattito’s nearest you for some great Tex Mex food. Go ahead and dress in costume!

Image courtesy Apolonia/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When Your Picky Eater Won’t Eat Tex Mex Food

All children are picky eaters at one time or another. There’s the 4-year-old who won’t eat the crust of the pizza and only picks at the toppings. There’s the 6-year-old who won’t eat a hot dog, but happily devours the buns. There’s the 7-year-old who will only eat a tuna sandwich whenever you go out to a restaurant. (No tuna sandwich on the menu and the kid decides to go hungry.)

All of these are normal behaviors.

But then there’s the child who refuses to eat a taco, or a burrito…

We know; hard to believe. But these “No to Tex Mex, thank you” children definitely are out there.

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She’ll eat everything on her plate – except a taco! Don’t force the issue and let her try a bite of yours, but only if she wants to.

Read below for some tips on how to get your picky eater to love Tex Mex meals.

  • According to the Mayo Clinic, the most important thing to do is not force your child to eat something she doesn’t want to, because this probably will result in a power struggle. The same goes for bribing a child to eat something. She’ll come to know she can get something from you she wants if she puts up a fight. Forcing a child to eat also can lead her to feel that dinner time is a time of anxiety and disagreements. Don’t fight about it.
  • Be very patient when introducing new foods to your child, including Tex Mex. Let her place a small bite of the burrito in her mouth. If she doesn’t like it, let her spit it out.
  • Make it fun. Show the child how much you enjoy the food and let her know how tasty it is. Again, don’t force her to try it. Let her know she’s allowed to take a bite from your plate if she’d like, however.
  • Cook some tacos or burritos at home, but don’t force her to eat them and don’t have an argument about the fact that she refuses. Have a dish that she likes handy. It’s Ok to say how much you’re enjoying your taco, but don’t tease her and don’t scold.
  • Eventually, as you enjoy Tex Mex food yourself, as she grows older, she’ll grow out of her picky eating phase and we can practically guarantee that she’ll come to love Tex Mex food as much as you do.

We have several, non-Tex Mex dishes here at Mattito’s for your young picky eater, including chicken strips, PBJ, cheeseburgers, and more. Find a Mattito’s location near you and bring the whole family!

Image courtesy stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Make the Perfect Salsa

The salsa you use as a garnish or side with your Tex Mex dishes can make or break that dish.

Salsa first appeared within the Inca culture and made its way to the Mayans and Aztecs. Spaniards’ first encounters with tomatoes (the main ingredient of salsa) took place after Spain’s conquest of Mexico (1519-1521). They also first came into contact with the old Inca combination of combining tomatoes with ground squash seeds and chili peppers, eating the mixture mainly as a condiment eaten with lobster, fish, turkey, and venison. Alonso de Molina is said to have given this combination the name of salsa in 1571.

New Orleans’ manufacturer Charles E. Erath started putting out jars of salsa (which he called Extract of Louisiana Pepper, Red Hot Creole Peppersauce) in 1916 and a year later, Los Angeles’ La Victoria Foods started selling Salsa Brava

Henry Tanklage, founder of La Victoria Sales Company (created specifically to market a new salsa line, named La Victoria), introduced the first salsa hot sauces in the U.S. in 1941. He created red and green taco and enchilada sauces

Salsa sauce sales took off in a big way between 1985 and 1990, growing by 79 percent: Americans love their salsa.

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A great salsa starts with fresh tomatoes, making the garnish/salad a very healthy addition to a Tex Mex meal.

Salsa is fairly easy to make yourself. Here’s one of our favorite recipes (makes five cups):

You’ll need 3 cups of chopped tomatoes, ½ cup chopped green bell pepper, 1 cup of diced onion, ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 4 teaspoons chopped fresh jalapeno pepper (including the seeds), ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and serve.

We love salsa here at Mattito’s. I you love it as much as we do, we urge you to find a Mattito’s location near you and sample some yourself!

Image courtesy Supertrooper/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Vegetarian Tex Mex Dishes

Most people think of meat when they think of Tex Mex food. From steak in fajitas to the ground beef, pork, chicken, or even fish in tacos, meats tend to be a mainstay of any Tex Mex dish.

But vegetarians can take heart: there are plenty of terrific non-meat/vegetarian Tex Mex dishes available for you to enjoy.

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Roast these vegetables, mix them with black beans, place them in a tortilla, and you have a great Tex Mex vegetarian wrap!

Read below for six vegetarian Tex Mex dishes you may want to try.

  1. Try vegan tacos. Mix chickpeas (garbanzo beans), sweet potatoes and finely chopped walnuts together to use as the “meat.” Place the sautéed vegetables of your choice on top of the mix.
  2. Make enchiladas with a mix of black beans, zucchini and corn instead of meat.
  3. Pack tiny taquitos with sweet potatoes that have been “spiked” with lime.
  4. If you adore avocadoes, place fried avocadoes as the meat in your taco, rather than chicken or beef.
  5. Use roasted sweet potatoes and black beans as your taco filling.
  6. Preheat our oven to 400 degrees F. Spread a thin layer of refried beans, sliced tomatoes and then black beans in a folded tortilla (you can opt for a gluten-free tortilla, if you desire) and bake for 10-15 minutes. Voila! You now have a very healthy quesadilla, one that’s baked, not fried in a pan.

Are you a lover of Tex Mex food who has decided to follow a vegetarian diet? Don’t worry about eating at Mattito’s: let us know your dietary needs and we’ll be sure to whip up something absolutely delicious for you (we have a great vegetarian menu available; all you need to do is ask).

Visit a Mattito’s location near you soon!

Image courtesy Apolonia/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Eating Tex Mex Food on the Paleo Diet

If you’re adhering to a Paleo diet (one in which followers eat no grain, breads, starchy vegetables and fruits, mostly eating meats, vegetables and some fruit), Tex Mex food will easily accommodate your dietary needs.

For example, you can start off your meal with tortilla soup. Tortilla chips, of course, are not allowed on a Paleo diet, but you can easily ask your waiter to hold the tortilla chips, sour cream and cheese. You could ask the waiter to tell the cook to add some chicken (make sure it has no sauce on it) to the soup for a heartier repast.

Fajitas to the rescue! Why not order a taco salad, minus the shell bowl? Ask for fajita meat rather than ground beef. Again, opt out of the cheese and the sour cream. Ask that the waiter forgo the corn and beans, as well.

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Fajitas and the Paleo diet go together like peanut butter and jelly, minus the carbs and sugar.

Salad dressings can be problematic on a Paleo diet. So skip the dressing and ask for salsa instead.

Dying to have a margarita but worried about all the sugar (which you should be, if eating Paleo). You can still enjoy this wonderful drink, but you’ll need to be very specific when you give your order to your waiter. Don’t ask for a margarita; instead ask the waiter for a shot of silver tequila to be mixed with two shots of freshly squeezed lime juice (make sure it’s freshly squeezed), in a salted glass over ice.

If you’re following any type of diet and/or have certain food restrictions, we’ll do everything we can here at Mattito’s to accommodate you. Just talk to your waiter. Visit a Matitto’s near you.

Image courtesy KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

6 Things You Didn’t Know About Mexican Food

Did you know that tortillas once came in cans? In fact, in the 1980s, most U.S. residents looking for tortillas could only find them in cans.

That’s just one thing you probably didn’t know. For five more things you probably didn’t know about Mexican food, read below:

  1. Fajitas aren’t a true Mexican food: they were created by Ninfa Rodriquez Laurenzo for his Rio Grande Valley restaurant, Ninfa’s. Fajitas became so popular that Mexican food chains such as Chi-Chi’s and El Torito actually dispatched spies to Ninfa’s to pilfer the recipe.
  2. Disneyland is said to have played a part in the creation of Doritos. It’s believed that (in the early 1960s, when Disneyland was young) Mexican workers at the one of the park’s restaurants fried leftover tortillas and also added flavoring to them.

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  1. Nachos, while not a traditional Mexican dish, do hail from Mexico. Ignacio Anaya, a chef in Piedras Negras, first made the snack item for military housewives shopping on holidays. The idea grew in the 1970s when a San Antonio concessionaire at Arlington Stadium named Frank Liberto decided to see if the nachos would sell during games. They did and nachos have become a Mexican-food item ever since.
  2. The taco truck, now seemingly everywhere you turn in a downtown street in any city in the country, actually got its start in New York City in 1966 when two housewives ran an early version of a the truck.
  3. .The term Tex Mex food was created when the Texas Mexican Railway was chartered in 1875. The cuisine uses the best influences of food from South Texas, Mexico and Spain.

There’s one fact that we’re certain you know well: Mattito’s serves some of the best Tex Mex dishes in the Dallas region! Check out a Matitto’s near you to enjoy some delicious Tex Mex cuisine.

Image courtesy Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Celebrate Labor Day with Easy Tex Mex Barbecue

Labor Day 2014 arrives on September 1. It came about as a federal holiday in 1894 after President Grover Cleveland wasn’t able to break up a railroad strike. It’s observed on the first Monday of every September.

During the height of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s, the average non-farm worker worked 12-hour days and often seven days a week. And all that just to eke out a basic living. Even children as young as 5 or 6 worked in factories (this even despite child labor laws in some states). What’s more, these workers often toiled in very unsafe working conditions, not even having enough sanitary facilities, breaks, and access to fresh air.

Labor unions soon started organizing and held work strikes and rallies to protest these untenable working conditions. NYC workers – upwards of 10,000 – took off from work (unpaid) on September 5, 1882 to march from city hall to Union Square, thus instigating the first Labor Day parade.

The idea of a “workingman’s holiday” soon caught on for early September and was made in to law by President Cleveland 12 years after the first parade.

Today, Labor Day also has become something akin to the “unofficial” end of summer.

It’s thus a day of parades, pool parties, relaxation, trips to the beach, and lots and lots of food!

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Barbecues are a popular pastime on Labor Day. With that in mind, read below for an easy barbecue Tex Mex dish: barbecue ribs (serves 4-6).

You will need:

  • 2 teaspoons of dry mustard
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • About 4 pounds of pork loin back ribs

To prepare:

  • Heat your gas grill or charcoal to medium heat.
  • Combine the ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper, and dry mustard in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove half of the sauce and set aside to serve with the ribs.
  • Place the ribs over the medium-hot coals/on the grill.
  • Cover and grill for 10 minutes.
  • Baste with the sauce and continue grilling, uncovered, and turn every few minutes.
  • Grill for another 20 minutes or until the meat is thoroughly.
  • Serve the ribs with the set-aside sauce.

Labor Day is supposed to be a day of rest. So instead of cooking (work!), why not come to a Matitto’s near you and allow us to help you celebrate Labor Day with ease.

Image courtesy nongpimmy/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why is Flan so Popular in Mexico?

If you have a sweet tooth and decide to have some dessert after your meal here at Mattito’s, you’ll notice that one of our desserts (our desserts are under Postres on our menu) is flan.

Flan is a type of egg custard that came to Latin America via Spain. It usually is covered by melted caramel.

It dates back to ancient Rome, where Romans used served it on its own or flavored with honey. It gets its name from the French word flaon, which comes from the Old German flado , a “flat cake.”

Spaniards brought flan to Mexico during Spanish conquest and rule and it’s become a truly beloved dish among Mexicans

Flan often is considered a dessert, but more and more people are eating it any time of day.

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Smothered in melted caramel, flan most often is eaten as a dessert or sweet treat any time of the day.

It’s popular in Mexico because it tends to be associated with home cooking or the unassuming comida corrida restaurants. What’s more, the basic recipe and components of making flan remain the same as they have for centuries:

An egg and milk custard is poured in a round mold that’s been coated with caramelized sugar. The cook then covers the mold tightly and steams it in an oven or stove. (If oven steamed, the cook places the covered flan mold in a pan of hot water that reaches halfway up the mold’s sides. This is known as baño maria (water bath).

The baker cools the flan after steaming it by placing it in a refrigerator before removing it from the mold. It should be kept chilled for at least an hour before serving.

Flan comes in different flavors, with vanilla, orange, almond, chocolate, and pistachio the most popular. Coconut, honey, cheese and coffee-flavored flan also are popular, as are flans topped with fresh fruit such as strawberries, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, and cherries.

Image by Cary Bass (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5] via Wikimedia Commons

Tacos vs. Hamburgers: Which is Better for You?

Americans love both hamburgers and tacos. So much do U.S. citizens love both, one could almost rephrase the old saying “American as apple pie,” to “American as hamburgers and tacos.”

The HuffingtonPost.com reported in July 2013 (from information gathered from PBS.org in 2012) that Americans eat almost 50 billion (yes, BILLION) hamburgers a year. That comes to three hamburgers for every person in the U.S. every week.

Meanwhile, according to the website NationalTacoDay.com (which happens to fall on October 4 this year), Americans ate 4.5 billion tacos in 2013. While that’s a bit less than 10 percent of the number of burgers consumed, that’s still an amazing number of tacos. In fact, NationalTacoDay.com says 4.5 billion tacos comes to about 775 million pounds, as much as the weight of two Empire State Buildings!

So while Americans eat more hamburgers, which is better for you, a hamburger or a taco?

The taco? Why? Because hamburgers undoubtedly come with mayonnaise or some sauce smeared on the bun, adding fat calories and calories over all. And, even if you use lean beef for the meat, you’re going to have a higher fat and calorie content than a taco.

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While it may look healthy, if it comes smothered in mayonnaise or some other sauce, the hamburger isn’t as good for you as a taco.

Meanwhile the taco with lean meat will have fewer fat calories (unless you pour on melted cheese).

With its chopped lettuce and tomato, perhaps with a bit of pico de gallo (also known as salsa fresca) comprised of chopped tomato, white onion, lime juice, chopped cucumbers, radish and even mango, a taco makes for a truly healthy meal. Wrap it in a soft tortilla (which has a lot less trans fat than a hard taco, which is deep fried in hot oil) and enjoy a truly healthy meal!

If you’d like a nutritious and delicious taco isit a Mattito’s restaurant location near you.

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Make the Perfect Fajijta

Fajitas probably are the healthiest of Tex-Mex dishes: there are no hard or soft shells (no starch and trans fat) and there is no cheese. (Fat! And calories!). You can use lean beef to stay away from fatty meats. And you can include as many healthy vegetables as your plate will hold.

There’s just nothing not to love about a fajita and plenty to adore.

Read below to learn how to make the perfect fajita.

  • Start with lean skirt steaks. They’ll be rolled up fresh from the butcher, so get out a good cutting knife and roll them out for trimming.
  • Place the trimmed meat into a bag with the marinade of your choice. Don’t seal the bag completely; leave a small hole for air at the side of seal and press the air out through the hole. Once the air is out of the bag, finish sealing.
  • Squeeze the bag to make sure the meat is completely covered with the marinade.
  • Lay the bag flat in your refrigerator for three to 10 hours, turning it over occasionally.
  • Cut up the vegetables of your choice, mix them together in a large bowl and add some of the marinade.

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A hot, sizzling fajita with lean steak and hot vegetables is a very delicious and healthy meal.

  • On the two-sided grill you’ve set up, lay a cast iron skillet on the hot side of the grill and let it heat up for five minutes.
  • Move the skillet over to the cool side of the grill and then place your meat on the hot side (over the coals) for grilling.
  • Flip the steaks every minute or so as they char.
  • Place a thermometer in the meat and remove them from the grill when they hit 125 to 130 degrees F.
  • Cook the vegetables in the skillet.
  • Slice the steaks into smaller pieces. Slice against the grain.
  • Place the veggies on the meat and eat!

If you’d like some delicious Tex Mex fajitas without having to do the work of preparing them yourselves, visit a Mattito’s restaurant location near you. Come hungry today!

Image courtesy of KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net