Recipes from my home
Learn how to make Mexican food the Sonoran Way! Recipes inspired by the unique mix of cultures that create Tucson’s incredible Sonoran/Mexican regional cuisine.
Sweet and sparkly tortilla snowflakes – an edible version of the popular Mexican folk art, papel picado which will brighten any winter holiday table.
Because I’ve been known to eat a Thanksgiving meal that consists almost entirely of mashed potatoes and gravy, I replace the cream and some of the butter in the recipe with an aromatic garlic and chile infused broth that I cook the potatoes in, resulting in lighter mashed potatoes that are BIG on flavor.
My version of Elote en Vaso. Roasted corn kernels in a creamy, cheesy sauce seasoned with chile, lime and chives.
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.
Old West style spicy vegan chili recipe made with plant-based meat, black beans and mushrooms. Served with vegan shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.
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.
When life gives me lemons I make spicy shrimp ceviche tostadas. A bright and light Sonoran style Mexican treat.
This easy Mexican shrimp cocktail is made with Bloody Mary mix, along with crisp cucumber, avocado, red onion and hot sauce and it’s ready in about 5 minutes.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
Sweet bell peppers stuffed with creamy nacho cheese, avocado, pickled jalapeños, black beans and crunchy tortilla chips.
I first met most of them while on photography and food writing assignment for various publications over the years, and they are a big part of why I wanted to create the Taste of Tucson cookbook.
This infused tequila makes a mean margarita or straight-up sipper.
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.
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.
This crispy matzo based breakfast is a cross between molletes and huevos rancheros. I used beans from a can and my homemade chiltepin salsa.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Tucson Sonoran craft cocktail made with Earl Grey tea and whisky muddled with pomegranate seeds, finished with bitters and fresh ground pepper.
Making authentic cowboy steaks is really easy. When I asked Bryan Keith, the Grill Master from Pinnacle Peak Steak House if he had any additional tips he said, “Put some love in it!”
I marinated myself a flank steak using my mom’s recipe from the 80s, adding in some Mexican oregano and extra citrus to #sonoranize it a bit so now it’s an Ohio meets Tucson recipe.
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.
Spicy Ranch French Onion Dip. Two Dips That Live As One, Together At Last!
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.
Healthy burrito bowl recipe with quinoa, black beans and avocado tossed in a chipotle lime vinaigrette dressing.
Biscotti means “twice baked” in Italian. First you form the crumbly dough into one stiff mass and bake it whole. Then you let it cool, slice it, and bake it again at a lower temperature. That’s what gives biscotti an almost cracker-like quality, which goes especially well with coffee. This triple-chocolate double-baked treat is dipped in a dark chocolate coating with sprinkles on top.
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.
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.
Start your day with this Tucson Sonoran style power breakfast bowl. It’s high in protein, complex carbs and healthy fats.
How To Make Sweet Mini Pepper Poppers. I first developed this recipe for the Food Network.
Tacos for breakfast? Of course! Especially when it’s these pretty breakfast taco cups filled with eggs, bacon, pinto beans, cheese and salsa.
Ohio meets Arizona! Cincinnati style chili cheese nachos, “Cincinnachos” as they will henceforth be known. The best of everything for snacking season. Start with My Recipe for Cincinnati Style Turkey Chili, substituting ground grass-fed beef or vegetarian ground beef crumbles if you prefer.
This spicy and crunchy Sonoran chipotle chicken salad can be served in lettuce taco wraps, tortas and sandwiches or meal sized salads.
Visually stunning sugared cranberries are a study in contrast. The tart, dark berries which appear to have been encrusted in tiny jewels, add a magical quality to these brie crostini.
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.
My Mexican Day of the Dead house was inspired by the sugar skulls that typically signify the holiday.
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.
I want some figgy pudding! How could I not after hearing that song year after year. So, I came up with this recipe for Chocolate & Coffee Figgy Pudding. Make your Christmas past a Christmas present.
My choice for snack of the day is a crunchy Sonoran style Mexican and Jewish deli mashup. Try it, you’ll like it.
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.
Shakshuka is very popular in the Middle East and Israel and it’s somewhat similar to Huevos Rancheros minus the beans and tortilla.
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.
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.
Here’s an easy summer beverage. Lavender Limeade is super easy and you don’t need to add a bunch of sugar. The lavender flowers add their own sweetness.
I’m a bit muddled thanks to the help of my friends, and it smells a little bit like tequila in here. Lately, people have been sending me wonderful presents and coincidentally two of them were based on smashing citrus fruits and various high quality liquids together.
My Arizona Cowboy Caviar recipe is made with lentils, chile peppers and red onion in a spicy citrus vinaigrette.
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.
Every year on the 4th of July I make a different version Mexican grilled corn, along with the Sonoran style hot dog is a popular Tucson Sonoran street food. Grilled Chipotle-Lime Mexican Style Corn Recipe for Sonoran style elotes 2 T light mayonnaise2 T non-fat Greek...
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!
Wake, roll and bake for breakfast with these crispy rolled and baked sausage, egg and cheese breakfast tacos.
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.
Recipe for a hearty, spicy Sonoran style Mexican Rice with Chayote and Black Beans.
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.
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.
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.
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.