America’s Food-Mexican


Mexican Americans have lived in the United States for most of the country’s history. Ethnically, Mexican Americans are a diverse population, but the majority are Mestizo, which in colonial times meant to be a person of half European and half Native American ancestry. Nonetheless, the meaning of the word has changed through time and currently refers to the segment of the Mexican population who do not speak indigenous languages.

The United States is home to the second-largest Mexican community in the world, second only to Mexico itself, and comprising more than 24% of the entire Mexican population of the world. Mexican American families of indigenous heritage have been in the country for at least 15,000 years, and Mestizo Mexican American history spans more than 400 years, since the 1598 founding of Spanish New Mexico. Spanish residents of New Spain in the Southwest included New Mexican Hispanos and Pueblo Indians and Genizaros, Tejanos, Californios and Mission Indians. Approximately ten percent of the current Mexican-American population are descended from the early colonial settlers who became U.S. citizens in 1848 following the conditions of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican–American War.

Generally, when Americans speak about Mexican food, they are usually referring to Tex-Mex (or Cal-Mex) cooking, an extremely popular cuisine that follows the long border between the United States and Mexico. The food of the southwestern US state of New Mexico and the dishes of many of the Native American peoples of the southwestern US have similar names to many Tex-Mex and some Mexican dishes but they use different flavorings and cooking techniques.

Dishes like chili, fajitas, salsa, tortilla chips, chimichangas, quesadillas, burritos, and nachos are actually homegrown American inventions. Even dishes that exist in Mexico like enchiladas, tacos, and tamales are cooked and served differently in the United States. True Mexican dishes are not as spicy as many US versions. American versions of Mexican entrees add prodigious quantities of cheese, either shredded or melted, to nearly every dish, a practice rare in Mexico. The same heavy hand applies to the American use of sauces of all kinds. North of the border portions are larger, plates are filled so that the food items tend to run one into the other. In Mexico, the soft corn tortilla performs the function that bread on the table performs in the United States; it is a side starch. In the United States, fried tortillas, become an ingredient in nearly every dish.

Like most immigrant groups, Mexican Americans have remained loyal to the food traditions of their homeland. Many shops in small ethnic markets carry Mexican specialty foods. When they cook, they follow recipes handed down to them by their parents and grandparents and their cooking styles have certain things in common. Meat, usually pork or beef, is central to the diet. It is often eaten with salsa on the side. Corn, beans, rice, and root vegetables are also staples, especially sweet potatoes, yams, yucca, jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, and taro. Also popular is a pear-shaped squash called chayote. Here are some Mexican American recipes for you to make at home.

Carne Asada

Carne asada means grilled beef in Spanish. The best cuts for making carne asada is Arrachera or skirt steak. It’s the taste that comes to mind when you think carne asada.

In Mexico, there are several marinating techniques that vary depending on the region of the country.
In the south and in the Gulf of Mexico area, where bitter oranges are grown, cooks will add some of its juice to the meat they are using to make Carne Asada; in other regions, they will add lime juice, and others will add a splash of beer.

Carne asada is traditionally made using a skirt or flank steak. The two cuts are very similar, but I prefer flank steak. When cutting the cooked meat, be sure to cut against the grain. It is quite easy to see the grain running through the meat in both of these cuts. It looks like long lines. Do not cut parallel to these lines, always cut perpendicular to them.


Carne Asada

Adapted from Rick Bayless, Chicago Chef

Servings: 6

2 limes juiced
4 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 jalapeno minced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 pounds flank steak


In a gallon size resealable bag, combine the lime juice, crushed garlic, orange juice, cilantro, salt, pepper, olive oil, jalapeno, and vinegar. Squeeze the bag to mix it up.
Put the entire flank steak into the resealable bag. Seal it up tight. Make sure all the meat is exposed to the marinade, squashing the bag around to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight is better.
Heat an outdoor grill or grill pan over high heat.
Remove the flank steak from the marinade, and discard the excess marinade. Cook on the grill for 7 to 10 minutes per side.
Once done, remove from the heat and let rest 10 minutes. Slice against the grain, and serve.

For Carne Asada Tacos

Thinly sliced grilled flank steak
Sliced tomato
Sliced avocado
Sliced red onion
Shredded lettuce
Cotija cheese, crumbled
6 tortillas
Blood oranges, cut into eighths

Grilled or Roasted Corn On the Cob


4 ears corn
2 tablespoons butter (softened)
Parmesan cheese, grated
Chopped herbs (your choice)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F or use the grill when cooking the meat.
Remove husks and silks from the corn. Place the corn on sheets of foil.
Butter corn and sprinkle with herbs and Parmesan cheese. Enclose the corn in foil and press the edges to seal.
Place wrapped corn on a cookie sheet or on the grill and roast for 25-30 minutes.

Mexican Red Rice

Arroz Rojo Mexicano
Adapted from Rick Bayless, Chicago Chef


2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ cups long-grain white rice
1 ¾ cups unsalted chicken broth or water
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (roughly 1 to 2 serranos or 1 large jalapeño), stemmed and cut a slit down the side of each one
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into ¼-inch cubes
1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro


Place the garlic into a blender or food processor, add the canned tomatoes and process to a smooth puree.

In a large saucepan, stir together the oil and rice. When the rice is thoroughly coated, stir in the tomato puree, broth (or water), carrots and 1 teaspoon salt. Nestle in the chiles. Cover the pan, bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Gently stir the rice, re-cover and let the rice cook about 20 minutes. or until tender Taste a grain of rice: It should be very close to done at the core. If not, sprinkle in a little water, re-cover and cook 5 minutes more.

When the rice is done, uncover it and sprinkle in the peas and the parsley or cilantro. Use a fork to gently fluff the rice, reaching all the way to the edges of the bottom, to release steam and slow the cooking. Re-cover, let stand 5 minutes.

Black Beans with Chiles


1 pound dried black beans
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
2 whole serrano chiles or 1 jalapeño chile
1 tablespoon ground cumin
4 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Rinse beans. Place beans in a large bowl. Cover with water by several inches. Let soak overnight.
Place oil, onion, and carrot in a Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat until the onion is tender. Drain beans and add to the Dutch Oven. Add whole chiles, cumin, chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1 hour. Uncover and simmer until beans are very tender, about 15 minutes more.

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The Crushing Truth About Cooking a Whole Pig at Home

Is it really possible to turn a legendary smoked whole hog into a recipe that home cooks—not just experienced pitmasters—can make at home? Sam Jones has been cooking whole hogs over wood coals for most of his life. His family’s barbecue joint, Skylight Inn, has been serving the small community of Ayden, North Carolina, since […]

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Your New Favorite Spaghetti Sauce

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce is a simple and classic recipe that can be used in so many different ways! This sauce has both ground beef and Italian sausage simmered in a zesty seaoned tomato sauce for the perfect spaghetti topper!

A great spaghetti sauce is a must have for any home chef, perfect over pasta, added to Lasagna or Baked Ziti and perfect for dipping Cheesy Bread Sticks! 

Homemade spaghetti sauce on pasta topped with parsley

Homemade Sauce is Best

This sauce happens to be so fragrant, flavorful and oh-so-easy to put together! But the best spaghetti sauce is a one-size-fits-all sauce that can be used over pasta, eggplant parmigiana, or even as a sauce over your favorite Pizza Dough! This recipes check off all of those boxes!

This pasta sauce is very simple and straightforward but is a great base to add in your favorite veggies if you’d like! Mushrooms, zucchini, or bell peppers are great additions. If you’d prefer a little spice, add extra chili flakes.

Stove Top or Slow Cooker

This recipe can even be made into an easy crockpot spaghetti sauce! Just pre-cook the meat and drain off the fat before adding all the other ingredients to the crockpot.

On the stove top, set on simmer and let the wonderful aromas drift throughout the house! Nothing says ‘mangia bene’ (eat well) like a homemade spaghetti sauce!

A pot of homemade spaghetti sauce with two bowls of spaghetti ready to serve

How to Make Spaghetti Sauce

This easy homemade spaghetti sauce uses just one skillet and a few savory ingredients. While I do make pasta sauce with just beef or ground turkey, the combination of beef and pork gives it a little more flavor oomph in this recipe. If you are using sausage, try getting Italian sausage since it is pre-seasoned with fennel seeds, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes, so don’t miss out on that if you can find it!

Shredded carrot may seem a bit odd but I add it to my Easy Marinara Sauce as well. It adds a bit of sweetness to offset the tart flavor of the tomatoes and I prefer it to sugar.

  1. Cook all your ingredients in the same skillet! Be sure to crumble up the meat as finely as you prefer while cooking it.
  2. Let it simmer until the sauce is bubbly and the delicious aroma fills your house! Don’t forget to stir frequently.
  3. When the sauce is deliciously thick, ladle over your spaghetti and enjoy!

To really impress your family serve with freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, grana padano, or parmesan cheese. A hot, fresh baguette of garlic bread and a crisp Italian salad will round out this hearty dinner any day of the week!

How to Thicken Spaghetti Sauce

The easiest way to thicken a spaghetti meat sauce is to let it continue to simmer on a low heat (uncovered) until the fluids evaporate a little more.  You can make a cornstarch slurry (equal parts cornstarch/water) and add a little at a time but for the best flavor, just let it simmer.

Also make sure you don’t rinse your spaghetti, the starches in the pasta will thicken the sauce slightly too!

How Long Does Spaghetti Sauce Last in the Fridge?

Spaghetti sauce will last up to about two weeks in the fridge but may start to lose its flavor. But don’t worry, just add a little more garlic and some extra Italian seasoning before reheating and you will be good to go! Just as delicious as the first time!

To freeze spaghetti sauce, simply cool completely, pour into freezer bags, label and lay flat in the freezer. How simple is that! Since one serving is never enough when making spaghetti sauce, double or triple this for freezing so you’ll always have plenty on hand!

More Zesty Pasta Recipes

  • Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole – delicious and budget friendly!
  • Baked Ziti – The perfect easy baked pasta casserole recipe!
  • Baked Rigatoni Pasta – must try with this sauce!
  • Lazy Crock Pot Lasagna (Ravioli) – use your homemade sauce to keep this recipe quick and simple
  • Baked Spaghetti – Zesty sauce and spaghetti baked to perfection!

Easy Spaghetti Sauce

This spaghetti sauce is versatile and filled with flavorful and fragrant ingredients! Perfect for any home chef!

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 small onions (diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup carrot (grated)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  1. Cook sauce, beef, onion and garlic in a skillet until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered 30 minutes or until thickened.

  3. Serve over spaghetti.

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Garlic Lime Shrimp

This Garlic Lime Shrimp recipe is quite unique, and very good. For a hungry family of 4, you may wish to triple the recipe!

Garlic Lime Shrimp

We’re soon-to-be empty nesters, so I’m always looking for “recipes for two” to make for my husband and me.  This Garlic Lime Shrimp is one of those recipes.  It serves just two (though you can double or triple it quite easily), and it’s very simple to make.  You can serve it on its own as a low carb meal or serve it over hot steamed rice with all of the garlic-lime juices drizzled over the top.

Garlic Lime Shrimp

How to make Garlic Lime Shrimp:

You’ll need a heavy, medium skillet.  Cast iron is great, but if you don’t have one then it’s okay to use another heavy skillet.  Over medium heat, melt butter, and add lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, a little sugar, lime zest and cayenne pepper.  Fresh shrimp is sauteed in this delicious mixture until it’s opaque and done.  Add a little salt and pepper, and that’s it.  It’s so easy to make!

I like to serve this dish with some extra lime wedges for squeezing.  And rice is my favorite pairing with the shrimp and its juices.  You can make regular steamed white or brown rice for serving, or you can go all-out-low-carb and make my Cauliflower Rice recipe.

Garlic Lime Shrimp

How do you know when shrimp is done cooking?

Shrimp cooked very quickly, but you don’t want to eat it undercooked and you definitely don’t want it overcooked either!  The best timing for cooking shrimp is about three or four minutes.  Make sure you add all of the shrimp to the pan at the same time, and make sure they’re spread out in the pan evenly.

When properly cooked, the exterior should be pink with red tails and the flesh is slightly opaque and a little “white” in color.  The shrimp will curl as they cook.   Don’t let them cook so long that they curl tightly into a round ball.  A more “C” shaped curl is what you’re looking for in perfectly cooked shrimp.  It takes some practice!

Garlic Lime Shrimp served over rice

If you are looking for a few more great shrimp recipes, try these:

  • Pad Thai Shrimp
  • Barbecued Shrimp with Remoulade Sauce
  • Grilled Cilantro Lime Shrimp
  • Easy Creamy Tuscan Shrimp
  • Rotini with Shrimp
  • Cheesy Shrimp and Grits
  • Grilled Jerk Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers
  • Honey Walnut Shrimp


Garlic Lime Shrimp

Delicious shrimp dinner recipe!

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 10 large uncooked shrimp, (peeled & de-veined)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper, (to taste)
  1. Melt the butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add in the next 6 ingredients (through cayenne pepper). Sauté 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and sauté until opaque in the center, turning occasionally, about 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

  2. Serve the shrimp on its own or over hot cooked rice.

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Sausage and Bean Soup

This Sausage and Bean Soup is hearty, cozy and delicious that’s quick to make and perfect for a weeknight! It’s a total meal in a bowl, not only comforting, but leaves your home smelling amazing! A Delicious Sausage and Bean Soup I’m a soup kind of girl, what can I say. I love a good […]

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