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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mexican Haystacks


The night I developed this recipe, I had no intentions of coming up with an end product that would be good enough to blog about. But once my family and I had tasted it, I knew I HAD to share it with you! It was one of those happy accidents that was born out of desperation...that desperation we've all felt (and perhaps feel on a daily basis)..."What in the WORLD am I making for dinner tonight?" We all know the familiar feeling of panic. I created this easy recipe based on what I had on hand, and it turned out so...darn...good...I just had to photograph it and tell you about it. It was also very simple to make!


My inspiration for this dish was a memory of how the church I grew up in would often have luncheons and serve what they called "haystacks". I don't even remember what all went into this dish, but the base was always rice, with chicken on top in a Hawaiian-inspired sauce (if I'm remembering correctly). Then, there were all kinds of additional toppings available, like pineapple, fresh tomatoes, raisins, and a bunch of other stuff you could stack on top of your "haystack". I decided to try a version of my own that celebrated Mexican flavors instead of Hawaiian, but it still has that tasty combination of spicy and sweet. It's also a healthier version with brown rice, low-fat ground turkey, and a yummy salsa-based sauce that doesn't contain sugar (as most Hawaiian sauces do).


The kids and I ate dinner before my husband did, as he was out doing some yard work. When I first tasted it, I said, "Wow! This is like a party in my mouth!" Later, when my husband came in and ate his, the first thing he said - no joke - was "Wow! This is a party in my mouth!" Great minds think alike, I guess?!

So I present to you my version of the haystacks of my youth, Mexican Haystacks. You start with a base of cilantro rice, which is simply fresh cilantro stirred into brown rice. Next, add a layer of tender ground turkey that has been browned, then simmered with onions, garlic, and salsa to make it full of flavor. Then, top with the fun stuff: smooth avocado, crunchy red pepper, and sweet, juicy mango. Last, a few sprinkles of fresh cilantro on top, and voila! Or perhaps I should say...ole!

Mexican Haystacks

RICE
2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 bunch fresh cilantro

MEAT
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste
4 cups salsa (I used Kirkland organic salsa from Costco)

TOPPINGS
1-2 avocados, chopped
1-2 red peppers, chopped
1-2 ripe mangoes, chopped
fresh cilantro for garnish

Start your brown rice in a pot on the stove, or in a rice maker. Next, add ground turkey and chopped onion to a large saute pan. Add garlic powder and salt and pepper. When the turkey is browned, add 4 cups of salsa. Bring the salsa to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, chop the cilantro, pepper, avocado, and mango. When the rice is done, simply stir in almost all of the fresh cilantro, leaving just enough to garnish each dish.

I served each person with the rice and meat already on the plate, and everybody had fun adding their own toppings. Kids always like to feel that they "made" their own dinner!

I'd recommend serving this with a nice big green salad on the side.

*Also, the recipe above made enough for our family of five to have leftovers the next day. If you are cooking for a smaller family, just chop one avocado, pepper, and mango. You can also make less rice and only 1 lb. of turkey. If you do this, reduce the salsa used to only 2-3 cups.

Enjoy, mi amigos! :-)

linking up to Allergy-Free Wednesdays!


27 comments:

  1. Wow, looks so beautiful!! Nice work on your pictures...mmmmm and the flavors here!!

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    1. Thanks Tessa! I admit I had fun plating the dish Food Network style. ;) It was so tasty and fun I made it twice in one week.

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    2. I am featuring your recipe this week!

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    3. WOW - thanks Tessa! I'm honored@

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    4. So this is "free" everything but not meat free? This makes no sense.Would be awesome,positive and healthier if they were:)

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    5. It seems pretty easy though to leave out the meat, or possibly substitute tofu. I am always substituting stuff in recipes if it has something I don't like or just forgot to get.

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    6. I substituted the meat for vegetarian chicken breast, baked and grated, then followed all the other instructions. With a recipe as simple and easy going as this, substituting meat is not an issue :) thanks for the fabulous recipe!

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  2. ooooh - can't wait to try this! I'll let ya know how it goes!

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    1. please do, Anna! We had fun with it. :-)

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  3. Stunning pictures. This looks like one delicious dinner recipe!

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    1. Thank you Laura! Easy and delish. :-)

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  4. I saw this recipe featured over at Allergy Free Wednesdays and just had to pop over to check it out! Absolutely gorgeous! Great to meet another fun real foodie! What beautiful photography too! Blessings, Kelly

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    1. Thank you Kelly, for your kind words...you just made my day!!! It's great to meet you too!! :-)

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    2. :) thanks for your note on my page! :)

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  5. I saw this recipe pinned on Pinterest and the "haystacks" title made me curious! And sure enough, a reference to church luncheons (an SDA classic!). My memories of haystacks are on a base of corn chips, and this looks so grown up and delicious, and better for you. I will definitely have to try this out. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. I never come back to comment on a recipe that I make but I had to! This was amazing, I loved every bit of it. I made it tonight because I didn't think that my husband would like it and he is out of town. I had to take a picture like you and send it to him. He said it looked amazing, and he is a picky eater. He can't wait for me to make it when he gets home! Thanks for sharing!

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  7. This looks so yummy! Anyone tried a vegetarian version? Maybe with beans instead of meat?

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    1. Black beans or kidney beans would be delicious this way too - I've done it myself in the past and it works!

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  8. Made this last night. It was incredible and I didn't even realize how healthy it was until I was done and I'm thinking "wait, no cheese? No sour cream?" thanks for the this!

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  9. Wow! That looks delicious! Can't wait to try it out!

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  10. I made this the other night for my husband and I and we both LOVED it! Thanks for the recipe!

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  11. Apparently some see constructive criticism as a negative.BTW,animal products are the foundation of a cruel and violent industry.Please Go Vegan!

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  12. Hi everyone, thanks for your comments! I have sadly neglected this blog for a while now and was stunned to come back and find there were so many comments awaiting moderation! Sorry I'm late to the party, glad you liked it.

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  13. My family loves haystacks, so this will be a great addition to the dinner rotation. Thanks! I'm adding this to a Pinterest board, but if you'd rather I remove it, please let me know!

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  14. I just made this for dinner and it was soooo delicious! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. :)

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  15. Made this for my boyfriend tonight, first time I've cooked for him. I'm veggie, so black beans instead of meat. But he said, no joke, "There's a party going on in my mouth!" Thanks for helping me impress him :-)

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Thank you SO much for your comment! Have a fabulous day! :-)