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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.

August1Photo_SizzlingFajita

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

Easy-to-Make Tex Mex Dishes

Tex Mex food generally is very easy to make. At perhaps its simplest, put some ground beef, chopped lettuce and cut up tomatoes in a hard or soft tortilla and you have a great hard or soft taco!

If you want something different, it won’t take all that much more effort to make another tpe of Tex Mex dish.

We do recommend that you invest in some chile powder spices, as well as cumin, paprika and cinnamon.

You’ll also need dried or canned beans and these should include black, pinto and kidney beans.

  • A super-easy dish to make is carnitas (pulled pork). Sear some pork butt and then let the meat simmer in the oven in a spicy stock of your choice for about four hours. Then add it your tacos, quesadillas, burritos, whatever you choose!
  • Chile con carne is just a mix of kidney beans, spices, tomatoes, and ground beef. Cook in one pot. That’s it: done!
  • No Tex Mex dish is worthy of the name without a condiment known as pico de gallo. This zesty addition to your Tex Mex meals is just tomatoes that have been marinated in garlic, jalapenos and lime juice. Add pico de gallo to your tacos, fajitas, just about Tex Mex meal for some real added zest.

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Pico de gallo is a great condiment or even chip dip. Marinate cut up tomatoes in lime juice, jalapenos and garlic and you’re done!

  • For a basic – but absolutely delicious – burrito, mix some spicy black beans, that just-created pico de gallo, and some guacamole in a soft taco. Your friends and family will think you went to a Tex Mex cooking school!
  • The recipe above is great for vegetarians and so is the following: mash up some black beans with your favorite salsa and then spread the mixture on a soft tortilla, place some cut up vegetables on the top of the spread, roll it up and enjoy!

If you’d rather have delicious Tex Mex dishes made for you (no clean up required!), visit one of our Mattito’s locations. We look forward to serving you!

By jeffreyw (Mmm… Pico de Gallo Uploaded by Fæ) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Eat Mexican Food and LOSE Weight

Mexican food has a reputation of adding to weight gain.

That reputation is correct, if you pile on the fatty meats, cheeses, sauces, and eat lots of chips and guacamole.

But Mexican food can actually help you lose weight.

Read below for tips on how to lose weight by eating Mexican food.

  • As hinted at above, watch the amount of melted cheese drizzled on your dishes, go easy on the sauces and don’t eat chips and guacamole (well, eat a little: no one should have to give up chips and guacamole completely).
  • Salsa actually is OK; regular salsa is pretty much tomatoes and spices and tomatoes have very few calories.
  • But, seriously, go easy on the chips. They are made of corn and are thus very starchy (full of carbs) and are also fried, adding a lot of bad fat to your meal.
  • Skip the refried beans. They taste great for a reason: they’re cooked with lard or bacon grease and they’re sometimes smothered in cheese. Opt for black beans instead; these are very healthy and tasty – and come packed with far fewer calories as well as fat and carb grams.
  • Skip – or limit – any and all dips made of any sauce other than regular salsa. This includes guacamole and dips made of cheese.

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As much as we love guacamole, guacamole doesn’t love our waist line. Skip the dip and keep calories low.

  • If you get tacos, opt for hard shells so that you can just dip a fork or spoon into the shell and eat the meat, lettuce and tomatoes. The crisp taco shell is made of corn and fried so leave it be. If you absolutely must eat a tortilla with your taco, ask that the taco come in a soft one.
  • Ask for a to-go box as soon as you receive your food and place half of it immediately in the box for eating later. Eat just half of your (more than likely) over-sized meal.
  • Instead of beans and rice as sides, depending on the restaurant, ask to substitute steamed vegetables, a salad or the aforementioned black beans.
  • If you just can’t bear to eat a taco, enchilada or burrito without a tortilla, opt for a fajita – no tortillas are served, fried or soft. Save yourself from the temptation.
  • Skip the margaritas and beer. Stick with iced tea (unsweetened) or good old water.

Mexican food, with its focus on lots of lettuce, black beans and vegetables can be very healthy and low in calories, so long as you pay attention to what your order. Visit a Matitto’s near you to enjoy our delicious – and not fattening, when served correctly – Tex Mex meals!

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4 Ways to Make a Taco

Making a taco is easy, you just put in ground or shredded beef, top it with some shredded lettuce in a hard corn tortilla, add some cut up tomatoes and perhaps some salsa and you’re done!

Wait a minute!

Tacos can be as simple or as creative as the cooks who make them.

Read below for some of our four different ways to make a taco.

  1. Make the traditional taco as described above. Try using two tortillas per taco (helps keep the taco’s contents from spilling should the shell break) and add an onion relish with cilantro and lime juice. You also could try a pico de gallo salsa. As for your meat, you can choose from grilled beef, carnitas (pork), fish, or shrimp. If you want a real Mexican taco, you can add meat cuts such as tongue, brains, cheeks, or lips.

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Traditional tacos can include grilled beef, fish or chicken, as pictured above.

  1. Make a carne asada taco. Marinate the flank or skirt steak in a sealable plastic bag in the juice of your choice then grill the steak to your desired state of rareness (medium rare, well-done, etc.). Dice up the meat and add it to your tacos.
  2. Make adobo. You’ll first lightly toast three ounces of dried chiles over medium heat in a saucepan. Once toasted, soak them in enough boiling water so that they are covered completely and then make the adobo sauce of your choosing (take a look at this recipe). Roughly dice the meat of your choice and brown it in a skillet (traditional adobo is made of pork shoulder, but you can use chicken or beef chuck). Add the meat to the adobo sauce and then add the meat to your tacos shells.
  3. Make carnitas. Cut up 3.5 pounds of pork shoulder roast (also known as pork butt roast). Carnitas use the fattiest part of the pig, but you can cut out/trim some of the fattest parts, if you like. Place the roast in a large casserole dish with wet spice mix of your choice. Add enough liquid (water, vegetable oil, orange juice or – if you’re going for the full, Mexican style carnitas – rendered lard) to just cover the carnitas. Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and cook the carnitas for about three hours. Remove them from the casserole and break them up a bit when they have cooled. Heat your broiler and place the shredded carnitas on a baking tray for several minutes until they become crispy. Stir with a fork and brown them again. Add them to your tacos.

No matter what type of taco you prefer, any of our Matitto’s locations can put together one that will have you salivating for more. Come have lunch or dinner at one of our restaurants today!