January Cookoff 2010: Mexican

You will remember the Cook Off Monthly Challenges, with its rules and regulations stated here.

And it wouldn’t be fair if I were to suggest a challenge… and not fulfill it myself. Therefore….

The January Cook off was a success!! I think the sounds of the painful (from stomach explosions..) but contented groans coming from the diners after the meal was more than enough testament to an amazing dinner. But let us proceed with the dishes of the night.

There were 3 cooks for the night, and 6 diners in all. The cooks were: S, T and myself. (Please pardon the lack of personal names). Please note that none of the cooks had made any of these dishes or desserts before.

Let us start with the entry from S:

Stuffed Capsicums with Mexican Rice

The original recipe was from The Pioneer Woman. Have a read through and then come back and have a look through the comments that S made about her cooking experience:

Chef notes:

  • The rice was cooked in a rice cooker – 4 cups jasmine rice, 4 cups water and vegie stock powder. Only half the amount of rice suggested was actually used for the dish and in future, more stock powder will be added as the intial tasting merely tasted like plain rice.
  • Only 1 onion, 4 cloves garlic and 3 tomatoes were used.
  • I used 1 tablespoon chilli powder, and 1/2 tablespoon cumin and paprika… when I first tasted it, I felt like my mouth was on fire. But the next day, it actually became lovely and mild. So consider if you’re going to serve it fresh or not.
  • I added a small can of 4-Bean Mix… if I was just making the rice by itself, I would have added a bigger can.
  • As for the capsicums, I just washed them, cut them in half and sprayed both the pan and the outer skin with olive oil spray. Stuff as much rice as you like in (cold or hot), and bake for 30-45mins at 180C. Top with grated cheese and bake for another 5 mins. I just used plain cheddar cheese, but next time I think I’ll use half cheddar, half mozzarella for melty goodness!

S also contributed Guacamole to the table, which unfortunately I do not have a photo of.


* 1 large avocado, scooped out of shell and mashed
* 2 tablespoons sour cream
* 1 tablespoon salsa
* 1 garlic clove, pressed
* 1 tablespoon sweet onion, finely diced
* 1 teaspoon cilantro or parsley (note, some people find it vile)
* 1 tablespoon tomato, finely diced
* 2 teaspoons black olives, minced
* 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or lime juice or balsamic vinegar
* salt, use less if you’ll refrigerate (you shouldn’t need much)


1. Cut the avocado in half, scoop out the flesh with a spoon; mash 3/4 of it well and chop the remaining 1/4 coarsely (I do this with the spoon, in the avocado shell, before scooping the last bit out).
2. Mix it into the mashed portion.
3. Mix all remaining ingredients together.
4. Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap firmly to surface of guacamole (or it will turn color due to oxidation) and refrigerate up to 4 hours before serving.

Source: Recipezaar.com

Chef notes:

  • No olives were used.

  • No salsa was readily available, so a tablespoon of chopped tomatoes and a bit more onion and garlic was added instead.
  • Preferable to sit around for about 20 minutes for the flavours to mix together.

From T we had:

Beef Enchilada & Bean Enchilada


*8 ounces ground beef
*1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce
*8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (2 cups)
*2 tablespoons cooking oil
*8 6-inch corn tortillas
*1 tomato, chopped


1. In a medium skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain fat. Stir in 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce and heat through. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese. Keep warm.
2. In another medium skillet or in a large heavy skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil over low heat. Quickly dip tortillas, one at a time, in hot oil for 10 seconds or until just limp, adding more oil if needed. Drain on paper towels.
3. To assemble, brush one side of each tortilla with some enchilada sauce. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture atop sauce near the edge of the tortilla; roll up. Place the enchiladas in a greased 12x7x2-inch baking dish (a 2-quart rectangular baking dish). Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the top.
4. Cover the baking dish with foil. Bake in a 350 degree F oven about 25 minutes or until mixture is heated through.
5. Remove foil. Sprinkle remaining cheese over enchiladas. Bake enchiladas for 2 minutes more or till cheese melts.
6. Serve enchiladas with chopped tomato and lettuce. Makes 4 servings.

Source: Recipe.com

Chef notes:

Basically the same as above recipe, we just added more spices for better kick. And we had a separate pan for beans and did the same thing.

And from myself, we had:

Chihuahua Rice


* 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves, crushed
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled jalapeno chillies
* 1 brown onion, finely chopped
* 1 carrot, finely chopped
* 1 yellow capsicum, finely chopped
* 200g green beans, cut into 3cm lengths
* 400g can lentils, drained, rinsed
* 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves


1. Cook rice following packet directions. Cool. Stir with a fork to separate grains.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic, chillies, onion, carrot and capsicum. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are just tender.
3. Add beans and lentils. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until beans are tender and lentils heated through. Stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add vegetable mixture to rice. Stir gently to combine. Serve.

Source: Taste.com.au

Chef notes:

This was so easy! Perfect for a quick dinner especially if you have all the ingredients prepared the previous day. Just toss it together at the end of a busy day and you will have a really yummy dinner all done up.

And that sums up the three main dishes that were presented for the very first Cook Off! My personal favourite was the Enchiladas. Every bite was an explosion of flavour and I’d gladly have that on my table again. Next post: the desserts!


  1. i like reading food blogs because i am always seeking for new recipes.`,:

  2. I really like your writing style, excellent info, thanks for posting :D.

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