Mexican Recipes | Tucson Sonoran Style

Carne Asada Crunch Quesadillas

Carne Asada Crunch Quesadillas

Soft flour tortillas on the outside, crispy corn tortilla chips inside! Grilled meat! Cheese! Everything you always wanted in a quesadilla, and more.

Tortilla Snowflakes

Tortilla Snowflakes

Sweet and sparkly tortilla snowflakes – an edible version of the popular Mexican folk art, papel picado which will brighten any winter holiday table.

Street Corn Cups

Street Corn Cups

My version of Elote en Vaso. Roasted corn kernels in a creamy, cheesy sauce seasoned with chile, lime and chives.

Homemade Chile Powder

Homemade Chile Powder

How to dehydrate and grind chile peppers for chili powder and custom spice blends using fresh homegrown and/or exotic store bought chiles. Preserve expensive and/or hard to find chiles.

One Pot Arroz Con Pollo

One Pot Arroz Con Pollo

When I asked locals which Tucson centric recipes they would most like to see included in my cookbook quite a few people mentioned arroz con pollo and I’ve always found chicken and rice to be a comforting combo  This is a great make ahead recipe for work day lunches. At first glance salsa de chile fresco may look like pureed tomato sauce 
but it’s got a medium spicy kick of heat that will convince you otherwise.

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

So quick and easy; you can make this satisfying Sonoran Style Mexican chicken tortilla soup from my Taste of Tucson cookbook in 30 minutes or less!

Spicy Thai-Mex Slaw

Spicy Thai-Mex Slaw

This crunchy, salty, and spicy no-mayo Thai-Mexican coleslaw is an excellent companion to Sonoran style dishes is inspired by Som Tum (green papaya salad).

Chile Colorado Tostadas with Crispy Tofu

Chile Colorado Tostadas with Crispy Tofu

I replaced the beef with crispy tofu, which adds just the right amount of heft and bite, and served it on crunchy baked tostada shells topped with Queso Fresco, scallions, radish and sliced pimento-stuffed olives. Recipe link in profile.

Taste of Tucson Cookbook: Resource Guide

Taste of Tucson Cookbook: Resource Guide

Sonoran cooking resource and shopping guide for the Taste of Tucson cookbook by Jackie Alpers, with lists of ingredients, pantry staples and photography equipment recommendations.

Molletes

Molletes

These open-faced breakfast sandwiches are made by slathering refried beans onto toasted bolillo rolls and then heaping avocado slices, a fried egg, hot sauce, and lots of cheese on top.

Chiltepin Hot Salsa Recipe From the Taste of Tucson Cookbook

Chiltepin Hot Salsa Recipe From the Taste of Tucson Cookbook

Chiltepin salsa is an all-purpose salsa that can be used for dipping, for seasoning, and as a taco sauce. A little goes a long way, so if you prefer a milder salsa, cut the amount of chiles down by a half or a third. This recipe is from the Taste of Tucson cookbook by Jackie Alpers.

Chorizo, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Taco

Chorizo, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Taco

I ate this for breakfast every day for weeks while writing my Taste of Tucson cookbook. The fat from the chorizo makes the egg really crispy and adds a lot of flavor without too many extra calories.

Matzoh Molletes Rancheros

Matzoh Molletes Rancheros

This crispy matzo based breakfast is a cross between molletes and huevos rancheros. I used beans from a can and my homemade chiltepin salsa.

Beef Patty Tacos

Beef Patty Tacos

Teresa Matias told me that to help satisfy her children’s cries for burgers when buns weren’t handy, she would fold a hamburger patty into a tortilla and fry it. Topped with cheese, lettuce, and tomato, it later became a regular menu item at her restaurant, Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe.
Apparently, a lot of moms had the same experience, because the beef patty taco has been standard restaurant fare around southern Arizona since at least the mid-1970s.

Chicken Molé Amarillo

Chicken Molé Amarillo

Nuttier and less sweet than its chocolate based cousin, this version of Molé Amarillo is the personal creation of Chef Suzana Davila of Tucson’s Cafe Poca Cosa. She specializes in these complex sauces, and her recipes are longtime local favorites which is one reason why I wanted to feature the recipe in my upcoming cookbook Taste of Tucson: Sonoran Style Recipes Inspired by the Rich Culture of Southern Arizona. Serve this dish with tortillas and a pretty, salad, as Suzana would. 

Sonoran Style Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

Sonoran Style Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

There are Southwestern regional influences that vary from New Mexico to Arizona, Texas, and Southern California. Here in Tucson, our regional cuisine is defined by fresh veggies, grilled meats and all of the delicacies that a mid-sized, sunshine filled desert city/college town, 60 miles from Mexico, has to offer. It’s summertime eating all year round.

Chelada Beer Cocktail

Chelada Beer Cocktail

This super-refreshing citrus beer cocktail is served in a chile and salt rimmed glass over ice. It’s kinda like a beer margarita. I love it because it’s a big drink that lasts a long time and it has considerably less sugar and calories than a margarita. 

Hibiscus Agua Fresca

Hibiscus Agua Fresca

This recipe is an outtake from my new cookbook Taste of Tucson that was cut for space. It comes from Erika and Jake of Seis Kitchen, who said to be sure and not throw out the hibiscus flowers after you boil them, eat them instead! They said, “They are still super tasty and similar in texture to fruit leather.” This agua fresca isn’t too sweet, so you can drink it all day long and even into the night (perhaps with vodka!) Plus, hibiscus flowers have a myriad of health benefits.

Pomegranate & Earl Grey Whisky Smash

Pomegranate & Earl Grey Whisky Smash

A Tucson Sonoran craft cocktail made with Earl Grey tea and whisky muddled with pomegranate seeds, finished with bitters and fresh ground pepper.

The Elote Hot Dog

The Elote Hot Dog

Inspired by Mexican Street Corn, this whole beef jumbo hot dog is topped with roasted corn, mayo, lime and spices and served in a top-cut, whole grain bolillo roll. Food photo and recipe by Jackie Alpers.

The Cheesiest Cheese Crisp with Chipotle Ranch Drizzle

The Cheesiest Cheese Crisp with Chipotle Ranch Drizzle

The cheese crisp is the perfect comfort food. A cross between a Mexican pizza an an open-faced quesadilla, Southern Arizona restaurants started selling the dish more than 50 years ago and it’s become a staple of our local Sonoran style cuisine. 

Sweet Corn Paletas

Sweet Corn Paletas

Why isn’t corn used in more desserts? It’s naturally sweet, and the kernels add a nice pop! There is a popular sweet drink called Atole sold by street vendors that’s made with corn masa and flavored with cinnamon, which served as inspiration for this flavor combination. 

Three Sisters Pizza With Corn Masa Crust

Three Sisters Pizza With Corn Masa Crust

Corn, beans and squash are three of the earliest domesticated crops grown by Native Americans in the Sonoran region. For this recipe, prepared corn masa, which is usually used to make tortillas or gorditas, is pressed into a cast iron skillet for the crust. If you’ve never tried tepary beans, this recipe is an excellent way to experiment with them, but you can substitute black beans instead if you want.

Breakfast Taco Cups

Breakfast Taco Cups

Pretty breakfast taco cups filled with eggs, bacon, pinto beans, cheese and salsa.

Spicy Sonoran Chicken Salad

Spicy Sonoran Chicken Salad

This spicy and crunchy Sonoran chipotle chicken salad can be served in lettuce taco wraps, tortas and sandwiches or meal sized salads.

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Chicken Wings

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Chicken Wings

These wings are hot! The spiciness will vary greatly though, depending on the heat of the chili flakes you are using, and the barbecue sauce you select. This recipe also works well for boneless skinless breasts or thighs.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Apparently, in the olden days, every casino in Las Vegas offered a $1.79 chicken dinner. If you won a $2.00 bet, you’d have enough money to buy one, so the dealer would shout, “Winner, winner chicken dinner “. Chicken is still pretty cheap, so you, dear reader, can be a winner every time you make one of these recipes.

Carne Asada Tacos

Carne Asada Tacos

Yay! It’s National Taco Day! Here’s a recipe of one of my favorite kinds – Carne Asada, from the book Knack Mexican Cooking by Chelsie Kenyon. Please note: these are not the Sonoran Style carne asada tacos from my Taste of Tucson cookbook but they are damn good none the less! Photos by me.

Scrambled Eggs With Gorgonzola & Salsa

Scrambled Eggs With Gorgonzola & Salsa

This recipe is the result of an early morning haze wherein I emptied random things from the refrigerator into a pan in a blurry attempt to make breakfast. It came out better than I expected, and now my husband and I eat scrambled eggs for breakfast this way almost every day. Sometimes just a little twist on a traditional dish really makes it shine.

Salsa Chicken Lettuce Tacos

Salsa Chicken Lettuce Tacos

One of my favorite Mexican restaurants now offers their famous tacos nestled in a large lettuce leaf instead of a tortilla. I was amazed at how much I enjoyed them served that way; I didn’t miss the tortilla at all. So I’ve started experimenting with the idea at home. I modified this recipe from one in a cookbook that I photographed for Chelsie Kenyon a couple of years ago.

Arizona Cowboy Caviar

Arizona Cowboy Caviar

My Arizona Cowboy Caviar recipe is made with lentils, chile peppers and red onion in a spicy citrus vinaigrette.

Spicy Sonoran Potato Salad

Spicy Sonoran Potato Salad

Here in Southern Arizona, our famous Sonoran style Mexican food is often garnished with pickled red onions and Mexican limes. I’ve incorporated those flavors into this spicy potato salad tossed with a chile-lime vinaigrette.

Sonoran Style Chunky Guacamole

Sonoran Style Chunky Guacamole

Chunky Guacamole for the win! I swear the recipe from my cookbook Taste of Tucson is the best ever… it’s spicy, salty and creamy yet crisp and bright with lots of citrus and just a tiny bit of crunch from the fresh Serranos.

Some people avoid avocados because they are higher in calories than other fruit, but they are filled with the good fat, the kind that’s been shown to actually help you lose weight and lower cholesterol levels. Here’s some more information on avocado nutrition from Hass. Avocados are really good for you!

Black and White Nachos

Black and White Nachos

This recipe makes a white nacho cheese sauce instead of the traditional yellow. Black beans add contrast, fiber and a bit more protein. There are more colors here than just black and white. but you get the point.

Chipotle Deviled Eggs

Chipotle Deviled Eggs

I’ve been having an unyielding urge for deviled eggs. Since I like a salty-spicy combo I’ll use caviar for a garnish when I’m feeling fancy. Otherwise I’ll just use capers. I feel that it’s important to buy organic eggs and I always try to buy eggs that come from chickens that are fed flax seed, giving their eggs a healthy dose of Omega3. They’re a great idea for vegetarians.I learned how to make hard boiled eggs from Martha Stewart (not in person… on her website). Here’s the link if you want to check out her instructions.This recipe serves one as a snack. For a crowd, multiply the recipe by the number of people expected to eat them.

Jackie’s Famous Gazpacho

Jackie’s Famous Gazpacho

My husband woke up, looked at me in from his side of the bed and declared this the “Week of Gazpacho”. And so, it is.

Classic Caesar Salad Recipe

Classic Caesar Salad Recipe

CAESAR SALAD DAYS | This is a story about choices, creativity, personal power, and a salad. Specifically, the Caesar salad from the 1967 Joy of Cooking.

Who Needs Green Beer When There Are Margaritas?

In Arizona we tend to forgo the green beer in favor of a lovely pale green margarita on St. Patrick’s Day. You can make them easily at home without the high-sugar mix. If you use high end tequila and Grand Manier instead of tripe sec it’s called a Cadillac margarita which are usually served in bigger proportions than a regular margarita.

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