Best Summer Coleslaw: Cilantro Lime

This is the perfect side to any summer barbecue – my mouth is watering just thinking about it!  It’s quite easy, (should be made at least 2 hours before serving), and also rather healthy compared to many other coleslaws.  There’s no spice to it, but you could add your own by adding jalapeños.

1 head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 – 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 green onions, sliced very thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
Optional: jalapeño 
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup plain yogurt
4 TBSP fresh lime juice 
zest of lime from about 2 limes
Slice and dice all of the ingredients and place in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl, mix up the dressing.  Then pour over the entire cabbage mixture and stir to coat.  Note: it will become “saucier” as it sits in the fridge, so don’t worry if it seems like the dressing is lacking right away.  Again, make this ahead of time and have it in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving it.  It taste great the next day too!

Texas Sheet Cake (Variation: Chocolate Chili Cake)

It’s true everyone has their own version of Texas sheet cake.  This one is from my mom’s Junior League of South Texas Delicioso cookbook, and it always meets approval at our house.

I add salt, and if it’s just for adults, I sprinkle in the cayenne pepper for extra pomp and spice.  I vouch for this as the best birthday party cake ever.  1) It is easy to ice and decorate (i.e., you don’t have to ice sides or draw works of art in icing…you just set the cool stuff on the top). 2) One sheet cake can feed so many people.

Ingredients for cake:

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional, for adults)


1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
Ingredients for icing:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup cocoa
6 Tbs. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. (2 cups) powdered sugar


for cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease one jelly roll pan.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pepper in large mixing bowl.
  3. In saucepan, bring to boil butter, cocoa, water, and shortening over medium heat.
  4. Mix into dry ingredients.
  5. Add buttermilk and eggs.
  6. Pour into jelly roll pan and bake 12-15 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with crumbs.  It is important not to over-bake.

for icing:

  1. 5 minutes before taking out cake, bring to boil in saucepan: butter, cocoa, milk, and vanilla.
  2. Pour mixture into mixing bowl and beat in powdered sugar.
  3. Pour icing over hot cake right out of the oven and spread evenly.
  4. Allow to cool completely before decorating.
  5. Enjoy the party!

Tex-Mex Beans and Rice Casserole

This recipe started as Monterey Rice from the Vegetarian Express Lane Cookbook, but I added a few more ingredients for a little more Tex-Mex flavor.  The fresh avocado wedges are the icing on the cake.

4 cups cooked brown rice (from 2 cups uncooked)
1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup cottage cheese
1 14 oz. can sweet corn
1 14 oz. can black beans
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 4 oz. can mild green chilies (optional)
1 cup tomato sauce (or spaghetti sauce)
3-4 green onions, sliced
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional–if the kids can handle it)
sour cream
shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients except for toppings in large bowl.  Spread into oiled 9×13” baking dish.  Bake for 20 minutes.
  3. Top with sour cream, cheese and avocado.
  4. You could also roll this casserole into a tortilla for a stellar burrito. Enjoy!

Mexican Chicken Eggrolls

Eggrolls…how I love thee! You can wrap just about anything into an egg roll wrapper (maybe that’s a stretch). I have enjoyed many in my day and my kids enjoy them too. So, I decided to try a Mexican version…made from many of the same ingredients I use for tacos. This is also very healthy – baked, not fried. They can be prepared ahead of time, and then popped into the oven right before dinner!

  • 2 chicken breasts (skip this if you’d like a vegetarian option)
  • 1 Tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained until the beans are no longer wet
  • 1/2 bag spinach (could be fresh, chopped up well or frozen also chopped…thaw spinach and dry as much as possible with a towel)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
  • 2 cups frozen corn (de frost by sitting at room temperature, dry with a towel as much as possible)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or 2 frozen cubes, equal to 2 tsp (Trader Joe’s has little frozen cubes – heat slightly to melt the cubes)
  • 3-5 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional) Use more or less, depending on your spice-liking
  • 1 package egg roll wrappers (I used 15 wrappers for this recipe)
  • Heat a pan over medium-high heat, pour 1 Tablespoon olive oil in, add chicken breasts to cook. Brown both sides, sprinkle taco seasoning (half on each side) and cook until chicken is cooked all the way through (approximately 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness). Let the chicken cool on a cutting board but keep the pan handy. Dice the chicken into small pieces once it is not too hot to handle.
  • In a large bowl, combine all other ingredients. After the chicken is cooked, pour the veggie mixture into the same pan, and over low heat, stir while more of the moisture is heated and hopefully reduced even further. Basically, you don’t want the filling to be too wet because it will make your egg rolls soggy. Once it looks good to you, return to the bowl and add the diced chicken.

  • Open the egg roll wrappers and place one onto a clean hand towel, in the orientation of a diamond. Have a small bowl of water handy to seal each egg roll. Use a 1/3 measuring cup and scoop 1/3 cup of the filling and place it in the bottom third of the wrapper (see image). Fold the bottom corner up over the filling, roll slightly, fold in the corners (see image) and roll some more. When about 1 inch of the top corner is remaining, stop and dip your finger in the water, wet the corner and finish rolling up. Place egg rolls on a greased cookie sheet, seam down.

  • When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 425 degrees, spray all of the egg rolls lightly with cooking spray and bake for 8 minutes, turn each egg roll, bake another 8 minutes. Check them after that time and if they are golden brown, they are ready. But if the wrapper still looks soft and white, keep baking for a couple of minutes at a time…keeping an eye on them. Serve with salsa, guacamole and/or sour cream.

Bell Pepper Stew

I found this recipe from a “famous” mom who has written a book, appeared on the Today Show, and has a website…Hannah Keeley. She calls it “Stoplight Stew” because of the colorful bell peppers. It’s such a great recipe that I can’t help but pass it on! I don’t know if she made it up or what, but I have made a few small adjustments to it. It’s a favorite around our house and there are actually days that I crave it. Enjoy!

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBSP olive oil
3 whole bell peppers, diced (red, yellow, orange or green)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 cups chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander (this adds an awesome flavor)
3 TBSP lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
Toppings: crushed tortilla chips, diced avocado, sliced black olives, sour cream, cheese
  • Season the chopped chicken with the a sprinkling of salt.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until slightly browned. Remove from the pot and then cook the onion and bell peppers for 4-5 minutes.
  • Add garlic and saute for another minute.
  • Add the chicken.
  • Stir in the broth, cumin, coriander, and lime juice.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the cilantro and tomatoes, simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Serve in bowls and let everyone garnish with desired toppings.

Grandma Jeanie’s Tex-Mex Chili

In Texas it makes no difference if it is chili today or hot tamale. 🙂 Chili is great any day.  In Minnesota, I have now learned that this meal is most well-accepted in colder weather.  So now I present this family gem.  I can remember my grandma making this recipe as early as I can remember.  She passed away before I could record it.  For many years I did my best to imitate.  I had the taste SO CLOSE…but something was still missing.  Then one day I happened upon cumin in a different recipe, and I realized I had discovered the missing link to Grandma Jeanie’s chili.  Now I can recreate a taste from my past.
Although this recipe does involve a few cans, the base is still freshly cooked pinto and black beans.  Fresh is always the secret…just a pot of water, a bag of dry beans, a few spices, and there ya have flavor, real and robust.
A few years ago, I was stressing out that my kids would not eat chili, and then I made one small revision: I left out the bell pepper.  And now it’s a winner.  So if that’s an issue in your house…my conviction is that a little bell pepper is not worth sacrificing the love of chili…

1 lb. dry pinto beans
12 cups water
1 tsp. salt…or more if you like
2 Tbs. chili powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 lb. ground beef, cooked
4 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 14 oz. can black beans, drained
1 14 oz. can kidney beans, drained
1 14 oz. can sweet corn, drained (or 2 cups frozen corn)
2 tsp. cumin
1 bell pepper, chopped (optional)

sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese


  1. For quicker cooking, soak beans in water double their volume overnight.  Drain water.
  2. Add beans, 12 cups water, salt, chili powder, and sugar to a large pot and bring to a boil over stove.  Allow to simmer over low heat for approximately 2 hours if beans were dry.  If beans were soaked, cooking time is approximately one hour. Beans are done when they are soft and not at all crunchy.
  3. Brown beef in skill over med-high heat. Drain fat.
  4. Add remaining ingredients, bring chili to a boil and allow to simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Add more salt to taste.
  6. Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and shredded cheese, and Mamacita’s Corn Muffins.
Note: Instead of using canned black beans, I sometimes add 1 cup of dry black beans in with the dry pinto beans and cook them all together.  This at least eliminates one of the cans. 🙂  Also, the year I lived in Mexico, because fresh tomatoes were sold for fractions of pesos on street corners, I always used diced roma tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes.  If that is the case…go fresh! 🙂

Mamacita’s 7-Layer Dip

My mom has made this stuff as early as I can remember.  It’s always a great appetizer or side to bring to a party.  The truth is, we sometimes have it for dinner with chips at our house.  This time I made it without olives…for my husband who cannot handle them.  Then Gramma introduced them to my kids a couple weeks ago.  My oldest son went so far as to say olives are now his favorite food. I will never again omit the 7th layer!  Husband will have to pick them off for himself. 🙂
1 16 oz can refried beans or mashed pinto or black beans…(I used black beans for this recipe.)
1 cup sour cream
1 packet (2 Tbs.) taco seasoning
2-3 chunky mashed avocados
(see Real Mexican Guacamole for mashing avocados Mexican style)
1 cup chunky salsa…your favorite kind.  (I like Archer Farms Corn and Black Bean Salsa.)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2-3 green onions, sliced
1 6 oz. can sliced olives, drained

This one is pretty simple: spread the layers.
1. beans
2. sour cream (mixed with taco seasoning)
3. avocados
4. salsa
5. cheese
6. green onions
7. olives

Serve with tortilla chips.  Enjoy!

Mamacita’s Fajita Marinade

My mom has been making meals with this marinade since I can first remember.  It’s great on flank steak too.  She usually uses the chicken or steak for fajitas, but I’ve used it as a chicken meal over rice, or even over a bed of lettuce.  We just made chicken fajitas for our family reunion with this marinade and it was wonderful.  Simple ingredients, great flavor.  And of course, the most important detail is that the kids eat it!  

1 1/2 -2 lbs. skirt steak, lean flank steak, or 6 chicken breast halves
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. chopped scallions
1 clove garlic, minced (or pressed)
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. celery salt (or kosher salt)
1 tsp. tabasco sauce (optional)

Combine all marinade ingredients in metal or glass bowl and allow meat to soak for at least an hour if not 6!  Grill or cook in a cast-iron skillet over stovetop on high heat or placed in oven on broil until edges become crisp and inside is no longer pink.

Serve over rice, chilled and sliced in a salad, or in fajitas with guacamole, cheese, rice, beans, sour cream, salsa, chopped lettuce and tomatoes, and stir-fried peppers and onions.  At least that’s how fajitas are done in our house!

For the kids: try serving all fajita contents in a bowl with tortilla on the side

Texas Caviar

The funny part is that I first had “Texas Caviar” in Minnesota.  This is a sweeter variation of the stuff everyone calls “salsa” in Texas.  My friend, Cari, gave me a version of this recipe a few years ago to help satisfy my pregnancy craving.  Maybe that’s why my kids love it so much…it seems so familiar.


1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies (or plain diced tomatoes if the kids are not accustomed to spice)
1 14 oz. can sweet corn
1 14 oz. can black beans
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients. Serve with corn chips.

Taco Stew

In the mood for tacos but wish you could just throw all the ingredients together? Here is your solution! I found a similar recipe from Whole Foods but made some adjustments to it. It’s a great dairy-free meal option and delicious as leftovers.

1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 Tablespoons taco seasoning (or 2 packets)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1-2 large zucchini, cubed
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes , or 2 large tomatoes diced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 cups medium or mild salsa
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, juiced
Topping Options:
2 avocados chopped
1 can black olives, diced
sour cream
shredded cheese
Brown the meat in a large pot, over medium high heat. Drain, remove and set aside. In the same pot, saute the onion and garlic for approximately 3-5 minutes. Add the meat back to the pot and sprinkle with taco seasoning. Add remaining ingredients (except for the avocados and olives, if using) and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally for 15 – 20 minutes. Spoon the stew into bowls, serve with the avocados, black olives, chips, and any other toppings you would enjoy!

Real Mexican Guacamole

I may have grown up eating guac in South Texas, but I never really learned the art of making it until my husband and I lived in Mexico for a year.  We also learned all about how to keep it fresh. There is a secret.  Chipotle doesn’t even come close.  Since yesterday was Cinco de Mayo it seems appropriate to share.  We just made this with our lunch yesterday.  Avocados are packed with all kinds of nutrients and the good kind of fat.  Get the kids liking guac sooner rather than later!

Ingredients (all measurements can be varied to your own preference):
  • 3-4  ripe avocados (They are ripe when they feel soft when you squeeze them and you leave fingerprints.  They are NOT ripe if they are at all crunchy.)
  • juice of ½ lime
  • ½ tomato, chopped
  • ¼ – ½ onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt to taste
  • Cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • jalepeño, diced, as much as you dare (optional)
First take your ripe avocados, cut them in halves and score them like so:
Then scoop out the avocado meat with a spoon, leaving the chunks.  And be sure to save the pits! They are magic!  Then add the rest of the ingredients. (I don’t try jalepeño with our kids.)
Now you can either put everything in a food processor or blender like Chipotle and settle for generic guac, or for real Mexican guac, you can mix and ever-so-gently mash all ingredients with a fork.  Be sure to leave lots of chunks (see first photo).  Those are the best part.  And leave in the pits!  They keep it fresh.  That’s the way they do it in Mexico.
Then make sure the leftovers are stored air-tight with plastic wrap so your guac stays green the next day.  My 2-year-old is pointing to the pit.  Make sure you leave the pit. 🙂
Enjoy in tacos, burritos, turkey wraps, with Easy Mexican Lasagna, or just snarf it plain with chips! 🙂

For a cheaper option, (when avocados are ridiculously expensive) try Lindsey’s Budget Guacamole— also very yummy!

Salsa Chicken

Easiest recipe you will ever make…2 ingredients! You end up with delicious, shredded chicken that can be eaten alone, as tacos, on nachos, or on taco pizza! This recipe serves approximately 4-5 people, so double it if you have more people or would like leftovers.

  • 1 pound chicken breasts
  • 1 jar of your favorite salsa
Place chicken breasts in a crock pot and pour the salsa over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for approximately 6 hours. It is finished cooking when you can shred the chicken easily with a fork.

Budget Guacamole (with Peas)

I discovered this recipe this winter when I had a craving for guacamole but didn’t have enough avocado. It doesn’t beat Sarah’s authentic guacamole recipe, but I hope you are as pleasantly surprised by it as I was!

1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 (16 oz) bag frozen green peas (try not to get sweet ones), thawed
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
3 green onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic
6-8 Tablespoons lime juice (2-3 limes)
2 tsp kosher salt
Set aside 1 Tablespoon cilantro, and then transfer remaining ingredients to a food processor. You could use a blender if you don’t have a food processor…just stir often to avoid clogging. Puree until smooth. Add more salt or lime if needed. Transfer the mixture to a serving dish and garnish with the reserve cilantro. Serve with your favorite chips, veggies, or as a topping with tacos!

Easy Mexican Lasagna

Here is a Tex-Mex favorite. This one is always a hit with our kids. Even my 17-month-old loves it! We’ve got one in the freezer ready to go right now!
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion chopped
1 bell pepper chopped (My kids won’t eat this so I scrap it.)
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. sugar
1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes (Sometimes I use the roltel diced tomatoes with green chilies for extra spice–our kids can handle it!)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 14 oz. can pinto beans (or black beans), drained
1 14 oz can sweet corn
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cottage cheese
1 egg
10-14 flour tortillas, whole wheat or white (or for gluten free, use corn tortillas)
1 1/2 cups grated monterey jack cheese
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese on top
chopped tomatoes
green onions, sliced
black olives, sliced
avocado, sliced
sour cream
Brown meat with onion and next 5 ingredients. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and water. Simmer 5 min. over medium heat. Add beans and corn.
Process (I put in blender) sour cream, cottage cheese, and egg until smooth.
Cut each tortilla into long strips. I make them about as wide as a normal lasagna noodle, about 2 1/2 in., so you are cutting 3 strips out of each tortilla.
For the layering:
  • Place small amount of meat mixture in bottom of greased 9×13 dish.
  • Layer 1/2 tortilla strips over meat. (You will be laying the strips on top of each other so that the covering is about 2 tortillas thick.)
  • Then layer half of remaining meat mixture.
  • Next add all the sour cream mixture.
  • Then sprinkle with half the cheese (I mix both kinds of cheeses together).
  • Layer the rest of the tortillas.
  • Add rest of meat mixture.
  • Top with last of cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 min. (I usually stick my finger in the middle to see if the tortillas are soaked and well cooked. :)
Add toppings. Enjoy!!!
Tip: I make these two at a time and freeze one (before I bake it). Just thaw it in the fridge the night before and then bake for the normal time.

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