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Two Vegetarian Tex-Mex Recipes

When you think of Tex-Mex cuisine, you undoubtedly think of tacos, fajitas, burritos, and other main dishes that showcase steak, ground or shredded beef and pork.

And while meat certainly adds great flavor and gusto to Tex-Mex dishes, Tex-Mex also moves easily to vegetarian.

Take a look below for two easy vegetarian Tex-Mex recipes.

  1. Use Shredded Hearts of Palms for Tacos

There’s just something about shredded beef in a taco – it’s delicious! To get that “shredded” feeling in a vegetarian taco, swap hearts of palm for beef.

You will need (to make 6-8 tacos):

  • One-half of a chopped medium, yellow onion
  • Two minced garlic cloves
  • One tablespoon of olive oil
  • One can of hearts of palm. Drain completely and shred them.
  • Three-quarters cup of chile sauce.
  • Six to eight soft tortillas

To prepare:

  • Using a medium-sized skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the garlic and onions until they are semi-transparent.
  • Then add the shredded hearts of palm into the skillet. Do so for just a few minutes, as this lets them absorb the onions’ flavor.
  • Next, stir in the chile sauce. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let the skillet fully heat up. This should take about five to seven minutes.
  • Stuff mix into tortillas and add garnish as you desire.
  1. Use roasted root vegetables in your fajitas

Steak is delicious in a sizzling hot fajita, but so are roasted root vegetables (carrots, turnips, beets, and more).

vegetarian tex mex recipes

Root vegetables such as carrots can make a delicious vegetarian fajita dish.

You will need (to make four servings):

  • Four large carrots
  • Three large turnips (or beets) and watermelon radishes
  • Four small sunchokes (you may know them as Jerusalem artichokes)
  • Two tablespoons of olive oil
  • One-half tablespoon of fresh lime juice
  • One teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • One teaspoon of coriander
  • One teaspoon of sea salt
  • One teaspoon of garlic powder
  • One-half teaspoon of cumin
  • Two or three dashes of cayenne pepper (this is optional, depending on your taste for spicy).
  • Soft tortillas (corn is best)
  • A baking sheet and parchment paper

To make:

  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  • Then make sure your scrub the vegetables well. Peel them (if desired) and slice them into thin strips, similar to the vegetables in a “regular” fajita.
  • Take a small mixing bowl. Combine the spices (whisking them is best).
  • In a large mixing bowl, toss the vegetables with the lime juice and olive oil, coating the vegetables evenly.
  • Cover the baking sheet with parchment paper and distribute the vegetables evenly upon it.
  • Bake the sheet for 40 minutes or so. Flip/turn the vegetables after about 20 minutes. You’ll know the vegetables are cooked when they start to brown.
  • Warm the tortillas, place the vegetables and any additional toppings you desire and enjoy!

We have several delicious vegetarian dishes waiting for you here at Mattito’s. Take a look at our menu and then come visit a Mattito’s location nearest you.

Image courtesy Simon HowdenFreeDigitalPhotos.net

Make Tex Mex Food Even Healthier

If you believe that Tex Mex food is unhealthy – all that cheese, all that beef, all those tortilla chips! – it’s time to modify that opinion:

A Tex Mex dish can be incredibly healthy!

Here’s why:

  • A lot of Tex Mex dishes incorporate beans – black beans and white beans in particular – that pack a lot of plant protein, phytochemicals and fiber within them. Many people don’t have enough beans in their diet and eating Tex Mex with black or white beans is a delicious and easy way to work some of them into your diet.
  • Tomatoes are everywhere in Tex Mex dishes. They are in tacos, fajitas, burritos, salsa, sauces, etc. So ubiquitous are they, it sometimes feels as if tomatoes are in every Tex Mex dish. And tomatoes, as you know, pack a powerful anti-oxidant punch. Tomatoes are actually fruits, not vegetables, and also carry a good dose of vitamins A and C.

Tex Mex tomatoes

  • Who says you must use fatty ground beef or steak for your tacos, burritos or fajitas? Not us! You can substitute fish or chicken, or lean ground beef in your tacos and burritos (or even black beans for a healthy vegetarian taco/burrito). You can get a lean cut of steak for the fajita – or even grill chicken instead.
  • As for sour cream, if you’re truly serious about eating in a heart-healthy way, you’ll skip it, but if you must, replace the full-fat sour cream with non-fat sour cream. The same goes for cheese – substitute low-fat cheese (or simply halve the amount of cheese you use in your recipes).
  • As for tortillas, corn tortillas have less than a third of the calories as well as the fat as flour tortillas. Never use hard-shelled tortillas – they’ve been fried to be crispy.
  • Skip the tortilla chips. Well, maybe just a handful. But seriously: just a handful!
  • Skip the rice. Even if it’s not refried rice (which has a lot of fat and even lard packed in), skip it. It’s just too starchy. Give yourself some extra black or white beans instead, or opt for some grilled vegetables as a side.

And there you have it: an extremely healthy diet of Tex Mex cuisine.

Go healthy and eat Tex Mex! And do so here at Mattito’s. We look forward to seeing you soon at the Mattito’s location nearest you.

Image courtesy rakratchada torsap/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Make the Ultimate Margarita

They may not be true Mexican drinks, but thank goodness someone north of the border invented the margarita – so refreshing on a broiling day, so tasty!

 Make the ultimate margarita

In order to make sure you serve up the ultimate margarita, begin with the tequila. This is the main ingredient and so you need to pay the most attention to the tequila.

Purchase the highest quality tequila you can: you should look on the label’s legend for the words “100% de agave.” If you can’t find tequila with this, then your second best bet is to find some that is 49 percent fermented cane sugar.

Depending on how “liquor-y” you want the margarita to taste, you may want to use triple sec (which is made from orange skins and has an alcohol content of from 15-30 percent) for less alcohol. Or if, you want more of “alcohol-ish” taste, opt for Cointreau, which is made from bitter as well as sweet orange skins and has a higher alcohol content (40 percent).

Here are all the ingredients you’ll need (makes one margarita):

  • Half an ounce of tequila
  • 5 ounces of triple sec or Cointreau
  • One to 1.25 ounces of lime juice
  • Salt (for the glass’ rim)

You then shake all of the ingredients (use cracked ice) in a cocktail shaker until the outside of the shaker frosts up. Then strain into a glass over ice and add a slice of lime for garnish.

Many people use a blender to mix the ingredients. But an ultimate margarita should be shaken with ice, not whirled in a blender (doing so can make the entire concoction freezing, dulling its flavor).

Whether you’re looking for some great cerveza (beer) or margaritas, Mattito’s delivers. Visit a Mattito’s location nearest you to grab an ice cold drink on a hot Texas afternoon or evening. We look forward to serving you.

MargaritaReal” by Akke Monasso – I (Akke) created this work entirely by myself.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Hold the Ultimate Summer Party with Tex Mex Food

As August arrives, the heat of summer in Texas feels as if it’s just getting started.

 Tex Mex Summer Party

So we feel August is prime time for holding the ultimate in summer parties.

And Tex Mex cuisine will only add to the fun.

Here are some ideas for the foods to serve at your ultimate summer party.

  • You’re going to want to have some “cold” options for your guests, so don’t forget the margaritas. Try pink margaritas, which include tequila as well as lime juice, powdered sugar, orange liqueur, and cranberry juice.
  • Create shrimp cocktail with some zing by adding canned chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
  • Your party menu heats up – just a bit – when you offer chicken enchiladas served with baby spinach, chopped cilantro and shredded pepper jack cheese.
  • Let your guests feast on butternut squash salad that includes cannellini beans, kernels of fresh corn, red onion, and chopped basil.
  • Spice up a tasty fruit dish of mango, plums and peaches with jalapeno pepper!

As for decorations:

  • If you don’t have margarita glasses and don’t want to buy real glass, many stores have plastic glasses for purchase.
  • Find red, yellow and green tablecloths. If you can’t find that color combo in one tablecloth, use individual yellow, red and green colored cloths over tables and buffets.
  • Small serapes or small Mexican throw rugs also can be placed on tables for a colorful Tex Mex appeal.
  • Get some tissue paper of different vibrant colors and make paper flowers (here are instructions) and place them around your home and patio.
  • Don’t forget small straw sombreros. You can find them in almost any party or crafts store.

Parties are to be enjoyed by everyone, even the hosts. So if you’d rather not cook, contact Mattito’s catering division to help you choose the Tex Mex dishes you’d like to serve and make arrangements for home delivery. We look forward to helping you celebrate summer in style!

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Common Misconceptions and Myths About Tex Mex Food

When you think of Tex Mex food – or even Mexican food – do you think only of beans, tacos and fajitas?

Then your knowledge of Tex Mex/Mexican cuisine has some holes in it.

Read below for some common misconceptions or even myths about Mexican/Tex Mex foods.

Tex Mex Food Myths

  • As mentioned above, if you think this cuisine is nothing but fajitas, tacos, chalupas, and burritos, you’re missing out. Mexican and Tex Mex cuisine is quite extensive. There’s moles, cabrito (baby goat), pozale, pork marinated with achiote, lime soup, ceviches, tamales, and more – much more.
  • Do you think Tex Mex food is always hot and spicy? Sure, the cuisine is full of spicy flavors, but it’s also full of a variety of subtle flavors such as jalapeno, chile quero, pasilla, ancho, guajillo, arbol, and more. Some are extremely hot/spicy while others are more subtle, used to bring out more of the flavor of a dish’s ingredients.
  • Do you think that Tex Mex cuisine is inherently unhealthy? After all, all that cheese, fatty beef/steaks, refried beans. But those ingredients are more of a fast-food ilk. Real Tex Mex foods include plenty of colorful vegetables, whole and black beans, whole-grain rice, lots of fish, and more.
  • Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about Tex Mex cuisine is that it’s Mexican cuisine. It’s not, really: it’s more of an Americanized – even Texan-ized – version of Mexican foods, as Mexico residents moved up to the United States bringing their native foods with them. As in almost all cultures that meet another, both cultures assimilate some aspects of the other. Hence the “Americanization” of Mexican cuisine.
  • Which brings us to fajitas and hard-shell tacos: neither come from Mexico. Both were created in America. Yes, skirt steak (of which fajitas are made) is eaten in Mexico, but the fajita was created here in the U.S. And, while Mexicans do eat tortillas, they eat soft, floured tortillas. The hard, u-shaped corn tortilla used for tacos was created in the U.S. in the mid-1900s.
  • Another believer is that Mexican food uses a lot of cheddar cheese. Again, using grated or even ungrated cheddar cheese on Tex Mex dishes started in the U.S. Cheese in Mexico sometimes is used as a garnish, not as a major part of the dish. In addition, Mexicans use a whiter variety of cheese, not the bright yellow cheddar.

One misconception about Tex Mex cuisine we know that you know is not true, is that Tex Mex dishes aren’t tasty. If someone believes this, it’s more than likely because he’s eaten too many dinners at a fast food “Mexican” restaurant.

Visit a Mattito’s near you to enjoy delicious Tex Mex cuisine. We look forward to having you as our guest!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Difference Between Tex Mex and Cal Mex Cuisines

The Tex Mex food you love here in Texas is known as Cal Mex.

 Cal Mex Cuisine  Tex Mex Cuisine

Cal Mex cuisine is very similar to the Tex Mex dishes prepared here in Texas. A few (minor) differences include:

  • Californians in general tend to demand healthier foods, and the Mexican restaurants in the Golden State have answered with more dishes offering fish and more vegetables. Dishes such as fajitas also focus on leaner cuts of beef
  • California residents tend to like their taco shells crispy rather than soft.
  • Cal Mex food also has more garlic than Tex Mex.
  • They also ask for black or white beans instead of refried beans.
  • You’ll see black olives in Cal Mex cuisine; rarely – if ever – in a Tex Mex dish.
  • Tex Mex dishes in Texas tend to go heavier on the cheese.
  • Avocado and guacamole is more popular in California.
  • Shredded beef in tacos is more common in California than in Texas.
  • Tex Mex aficionados love their chili and the hotter the better!
  • You may find more lettuce and tomato in your CalMex acos.
  • Californians also love their sour cream, especially on what is known more as a tostado in California (known as a chalupa in Tex Mex cuisine).

Every region has its own take on a particular cuisine. Tex Mex/Mexican food in New Mexico will be a lot different than it is in Texas. Even Tex Mex in Houston will be different than what you’ll find here in Dallas.

If you once lived in California, what do you see as the main difference(s) between Cal Mex and Tex Mex cuisines? Do you prefer the California style, or have you embraced Tex Mex?

Whether you want a taco with beef (shredded or not), or with chicken, if you’ve a hankering for great Tex Mex cuisine, make sure you visit a Mattito’s near you soon. We look forward to serving you!

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles and koratmember/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Benefits of Eating Tex Mex Food

Eating Tex Mex cuisine has many benefits, most of which are related to our physical health. Some though, have nothing to do with eating and everything with our emotional wellness.

 Eat Tex Mex with friends

Read below to learn what we mean.

  1. Tex Mex cuisine can be extremely healthy. Take ceviche, just as one example, this dish of raw fish (often scallops or shrimp) is marinated in lime juice and then given terrific flavor with spices such as garlic, chili, salt, cilantro, even peppercorn. One serviing is just 140 calories and five grams of fat.
  2. Tex Mex is full of beans (in a very good way)! Skip the refried beans and opt for white beans or black beans. They’re delicious and pack lots of protein and fiber.
  3. Tex Mex food comes with plenty of colorful, tasty, and good-for-you vegetables. Think red and green peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, chilies, corn, and more. Delicious!
  4. Beef is mouthwatering, but the results of eating too much red meat can be anything but. Yet swapping beef for fish or chicken in your taco, burrito, fajitas, etc. is good for you and just as scrumptious.
  5. Traditional Mexican food (which made its way north to Texas as Mexicans moved to Texas and then morphed into the Tex Mex cuisine we love today), actually goes easy on the meat: meat is a garnish, not the main part of a meal. What do Mexicans eat instead of beef in their burritos? Beans and rice. Good beans (such as black beans) and slow-cooked rice, the hearty kind, not the fried rice we love (but which doesn’t really love us back).

But there are more benefits to eating Tex Mex cuisine than just better health. Eating Tex Mex can improve your social and emotional life. Why?

Because few people eat Tex Mex food alone! Think about it: when was the last time you went to a Tex Mex restaurant by yourself? (That solo jaunt to the Taco Bell drive-in window doesn’t count because Taco Bell doesn’t serve real Tex Mex—or even real Mexican – food.) Eating with others allows you to connect, bond, learn from each other — and even plan future activities together. You’ll undoubtedly laugh. You’ll undoubtedly discuss the day’s events, possibly even current events. (You could actually learn something!)

People truly do need people and eating Tex Mex food with family or with friends (or with both) is good for a healthy heart – and a healthy soul.

Enjoy all the physical and emotional benefits of eating delicious Tex Mex cuisine by eating at a Mattito’s near you. Come on in today!

Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Back to Tex Mex Basics

Tex Mex cuisine is becoming so popular today that it’s easy to find complicated recipes for Tex Mex dishes. Or to find recipes for a recipes that are a fusion – if you will – of the best of Tex Mex and another type of cuisine.

But let’s get back to basics! Read below for two quick and easy Tex Mex recipes.

Carne Asada

July1_Carne_Asada (1)

Grilling carne asada.

You will need (makes 4-6 servings):

  • Two pounds of skirt or flank steak
  • Freshly ground pepper and kosher salt
  • Olive oil

For the marinade, you will need:

  • Four minced garlic cloves
  • One seeded and minced jalapeño chili pepper
  • One teaspoon of ground cumin seeds
  • One large fresh cilantro (leaves and stems), chopped finely
  • Additional ground black pepper and kosher salt
  • The juice of two limes
  • Two tablespoons of white vinegar
  • Half a teaspoon of sugar
  • Half a cup of olive oil

To make:

  • Place the steak in a large bowl (non-reactive) or baking dish. Combine the ingredients for the marinade and pour the mixture over the steak, making sure that each piece is thoroughly coated.
  • Cover in plastic wrap, place in refrigerator and let stand for one to four hours.
  • When ready to grill, preheat the grill to medium-high flame. For stove-top cooking, use a cast iron grill pan on high heat.
  • Brush grates/pan with a bit of oil to prevent the meat from sticking.
  • Take the steak (brush off excess marinade). Season each side of the steak with the pepper and salt.
  • Grill each piece for just a few minutes on each side until medium rare or well done (to your preference).
  • Place the steaks on a cutting board and let them rest for about five minutes. Then slice them thinly on the diagonal and against the grain.

Carnitas

You will need (makes 6-8 servings):

  • Four pounds of boned pork shoulder. Remove as much fat as you can and cut into large cubes.
  • One quart of beef broth
  • Two cups of tomato salsa (chunky)
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Two cups of tomato salsa/pico de gallo
  • 20 or so corn tortillas

To make:

  • Take a large saucepan and, over medium-high heat, combine the broth, pork and salsa. Add water to completely cover the meat. Cover and bring to a boil.
  • Keep it covered and reduce the heat to low and let simmer for at least three to four hours until the pork pulls easily apart (you may have to let it simmer for more than four hours). Add salt, as needed (to taste).
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Take the meat from the pot. Pour out the liquid.
  • Spread the meat in a roasting pan, breaking it into smaller pieces.
  • Roast the meat until crispy and brown (about 15-20 minutes).
  • Heat your tortillas one by one in a microwave or in a hot skillet
  • Double up the warm tortillas and place the carnitas in them by spoon. Top with salsa.
  • Best to serve with avocados, beans and maybe even grated cheese.

If you’d rather not do the cooking, visit a Mattito’s near you to enjoy our own delicious carne asada and carnitas dishes. We look forward to serving you.

Image by Meowmeow10 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Making the Perfect Fajita

Fajitas are not traditional Mexican food – they’re a modern creation, a delicious modern creation.

Served sizzling hot, these dishes actually can be healthy (so long as you use a lean cut of beef).

June4_Fajitas

Take a look below at a recipe we believe can lead to the perfect fajita.

Ingredients you’ll need (serves 4-6):

  • A half cup of soy sauce.
  • A half cup of lime juice (6 to 8 limes).
  • A half cup of canola oil.
  • One-quarter cup of brown sugar (packed).
  • Two teaspoons of ground cumin seed.
  • Two teaspoons of chili powder.
  • Three medium cloves of garlic (about one tablespoon of the garlic, finely minced).
  • Two pounds of trimmed skirt steak. Cut them crosswise into 5- or 6-inch strips.
  • One each of large red, yellow and green bell pepper. (You’ll need to stem them, seed them and cut them into strips that are a half-inch wide.)
  • One white (or yellow) onion. Cut it into half-inch slices.
  • 12 to 16 flour or corn tortillas. Make sure they are hot.
  • Guacamole (if desired).
  • Pico de gallo (if desired).
  • Shredded cheese, salsa and sour cream (if desired).

To make:

  • Combine the lime juice, oil, soy sauce, sugar, black pepper, chili powder, garlic and cumin in a medium-sized bowl. Wisk to combine the ingredients.
  • Transfer a half cup of this marinade into a larger bowl and set aside.
  • Take the steaks and put them in a zipped-lock bag (one gallon size) and add the remainder of the marinade.
  • Seal the bag (squeeze out as much air as possible) and massage the bag until all the meat is completely coated with the marinade.
  • Lay the bag flat in the refrigerator and turn it every couple of hours. Do this for three to 10 hours.
  • While the steak is marinating, toss the peppers and onions into the bowl with the remainder of the marinade. Place in refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
  • When you’re ready to cook the steaks, remove them from the marinade. Wipe off any excess marinade and place the steaks on a large plate.
  • Light a charcoal fire and, when it’s covered by gray ash, pour it out and arrange the coals to the side of the charcoal grate.
  • Set a cooking grate in place, cover the grill and allow it to heat up for five minutes.
  • Clean and oil the grilling grate.
  • Get a large cast-iron skillet and place it on the cooler side of the grill.
  • Transfer the steaks to the grill’s hot side; and cover and cook for one minute.
  • Flip the steaks and cook for another minute.
  • Cook, flip and cover until all the steaks are charred well.
  • Insert a thermometer (instant-read type) and make sure the steaks’ centers are 115 to 120 degrees F (if you want medium-rare steaks) or 125 to 130 degrees F (for medium).
  • Transfer the steaks to a large plate.
  • Cover (tent) with foil and leave them there for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Transfer the iron skilled to the grill’s hot side and let it preheat for two minutes.
  • Add the onion and pepper mix and cook it, stirring occasionally. The vegetables should soften and begin to char in spots (takes about 10 minutes).
  • Once the vegetables are cooked, transfer the steaks to a cutting board and pour any juice from the plate into the skillet with the vegetables. Toss the skillet to coat the vegetables with the juices.
  • Move the vegetables to a warm platter.
  • Slice the meat thinly and against the grain.
  • Transfer to the vegetable platter.
  • Serve immediately (the meat needs to be hot) with the hot tortillas. Add the guacamole, pico de gallo, condiments, etc., to preference.

Try making your own fajitas, then visit Mattito’s to see if we make a better one! Visit a Mattito’s near you today.

Image courtesy of KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When it comes to your Fourth of July party, you want things simple. After all, you’ll probably be outdoors, it probably will be Texas hot (and that’s HOT!), and you may be by the pool and will want to enjoy lazing in it yourself.

In fact, just because you’re the party host or hostess doesn’t mean you have to work to make sure your guests have fun: you want to enjoy Independence Day, too.

June3_July4Fireworks

The great thing about Tex Mex party food is that most of it can be made ahead of time, leaving you free to actually enjoy your own party!

Yet perhaps the best way to incorporate Tex Mex food with your Fourth of July celebration is to mix Tex Mex with that All-American favorite, the hot dog.

To make a Tex Mex hot dog, all you need are grilled and hot frankfurters, buns and lots and lot and lots of Tex Mex toppings.

Instead of the usual mustard, relish and ketchup, have on your hot dog toppings table the following:

  • Cubed avocado
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Black beans (maybe even white beans)
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Fresh corn kernels
  • Chopped onions

As for the sauce, try drizzling Crema Agria Mexicana on the dogs (once they are snug in their buns with all their toppings). Made by Darigold, this topping is similar to sour cream, but offers up a spicy as well as salty taste, helping the flavor of your hot dog and its topping pop!

Want a full Tex Mex menu for your Fourth of July get together? Then call Mattito’s for catering. We can cater your party whether it’s just a handful of guest or a couple of dozen. Contact us today.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net