Friday, August 26, 2016

A Special Offer from our Affiliate: 25% OFF Nespresso Sale!!

Sur la Table has been amazing at providing daily deals I can share with you. They had a Staub Steam Grill offer yesterday, a Vitamix for a crazy discount two days ago, and today's offer is a discount on Nespresso!!

If you're a coffee lover like me, and you've never had Nespresso're missing out. It is delicious! In fact, that's what I'm having right, this is how good it is, I've gone through it already.

The Nespresso VirtuoLine is what I have in my kitchen and I absolutely love it. It looks clean and chic on the counter, and is so super easy to use. I love that Nespresso provides a prepaid UPS bag to send your used pods back in for recycling.

If you've been contemplating a single use coffee maker, now is the time. Offer ends 9/12 so don't wait too long!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Culinary Garden Update- 15 Weeks Later

It's been a good 3 1/2 months since I planted my very first Culinary Garden and it's been a much different adventure than anticipated. It was so overwhelming to just get started. Deciding what to plant and where, how far apart, will they survive, will I they not, etc. I finally took the plunge as I shared in my blog post about planting my first culinary garden and the results have been surprising.

If you want to look back on the first two updates I shared, you can find them here at 2 weeks and here at 5 weeks.

First and foremost, it has been such a meditative experience. I thoroughly enjoy going out to my vegetable and herb garden daily to make sure it's getting enough water (since I don't have a watering system here yet). It allows me time to take a breathe from the daily hustle and bustle and just be with nature, even if it's just 10 minutes. It gives me time to see what new is growing, what is dying, what has visitors and what I need to Google. It reminds me of the many hours I spent with my grandmother, my Nina Chayo, in her jungle of fruit trees, plants and flowers in her ranch home in El Chante, Jalisco, Mexico. We lost my Nina Chayo last Monday, August 15th, 2016. And although I will miss her very, very much, I know she's now with my grandfather, Nino Daniel, in heaven. Because of her Alzheimer's, she never really knew he had past. I will cherish our memories forever...including the time we spent in her jungle of fruit trees and plants.

My Nina Chayo - Mother's Day 2016

Aside from my herb and vegetable gardening becoming a therapeutic activity, I've learned to just let things happen and let them grow as they wish, and make adjustments as necessary. And to my surprise, my bf and the boys have also enjoyed the garden, even suggesting what else I should plant next. So here's the update.

Tomatillos- finally growing tomatillos. The husk has sprouted and they definitely have tomatillos inside. Just waiting for the right time to pick them off. I can see why the recommendation is to plant a few plants, because it's only giving me a handful of tomatillos. And if my plan is to rely solely on my homegrown plants to make my salsa every week, I'm definitely going to need more. Unfortunately, I haven't found them at Home Depot again which is where I found this one. I'll probably have to place an order online.

Check out these beauties!!

Mint, Parsley Chives- The mint has grown quite well and the parsley has grown crazy good! I use it a few times a happy I don't have to go out and buy it anymore. Chives have done ok. Not grown crazy but not died. I also don't use it much, so that's just fine.

Cilantro- Cilantro didn't do well last time around. I found in my research that when I planted the cilantro, the season was coming to an end and that the best time to replant is in September. Now, I realize it's still August, but I figured if Home Depot has them in stock, then it's time to take them home. If they die, HD has a great return policy. So here they are newly planted. Really hoping for great success with these because I use cilantro at least 4-5 times a week.

Arugula- this one really surprised me. It grew enormously. I planted two little packets of seeds and they grew about 3 feet tall. And, became way to bitter to eat. When it was little and barely growing, perfect salads. But afterwards it was too much.  I tried them in my smoothies in replacement of my spinach and it was so bitter it hurt my throat. Weirdest feeling ever. So I cut the completely down to the root. I had planted 4 rows of arugula, so I took two out of the soil completely to plant something else. I don't think we can eat that much arugula in such short amount of time if it decides to grow back. So we're down to 2 rows of arugula.

And to the left of the arugula, where I pulled out the old arugula, I planted kale and spinach seeds. That way I'll have a larger variety of greens to use in salads and smoothies.

Jalapenos- these have done OK. I mean it has given me just the right amount of jalapenos I need. I don't use a ton, so it's been fine. The front plant gave me about 5 jalapenos. I picked them and used them, and it doesn't seem to be growing anymore. The back one has a few now, which I will pick soon. Did I let them go too long? Some are turning red!!! Not sure if this is normal...will have to research that! I sometimes wonder if it's neighbor the zucchini is too close and too powerful for it?

Zucchini- Oh the zucchini. I planted 2 zucchini plants and what an adventure. The size of these zucchinis was crazy...see??

I made zucchini chips, grilled zucchini, chopped zucchini in omelettes, zucchini soup...and I'm not tired of it yet! I love it. And not only were the zucchini large, but the plant itself just takes over the entire area!! I guess I should've taken the spacing requirements seriously...oops! Lesson learned.

The back plant seems to be dieing off. And at one point the zucchini started turning yellow...all of them. Some just seem to stopped growing all together, only to about 3 inches and they sounded hollow. So I just cut those off and threw them out. I fertilized, nursed them, and kept watering. I thought maybe it wasn't getting enough water in our 100+ degree weather here in SoCal. And the front one seems to be doing a lot better :-) Happy dance!

Red Bell Peppers- These have been quite disappointing, but I'm afraid the zucchini is to blame, perhaps. I get a sense that it's taking the nutrients from it, but who knows. This is the 3rd pepper that grows on it and look at it's state!!! Not sure if birds are eating it, or if it just can't grow healthy due to it feeling suffocated...or???....the soil is good as I made sure the whole area got new, organic soil before I planted anything. Not sure...will have to research that as well.

Basil- This is a newly replanted basil. For those of you who have been keeping up with my garden, you'll remember the first spot I planted in just didn't do well and one of our readers told me it needs a new spot, different from last year's. So I bought a new one and gave it a new spot. I have used it several times, but it doesn't quite seem to be growing. Perhaps it's been too hot....scorching 100+ degrees!! (the one in the front in the picture under Rosemary)

Rosemary- also doesn't seem like it's grown not an inch! I'll keep nursing it. (the one in the back in the picture below)

Pumpkin- this is new!! I bought two small plants and knowing what I know now with the zucchini, I gave it it's space. And boy does it like to spread out!! No fruit is growing yet, but I'm really looking forward to these babies.

Carrots and Peas- these have not been planted yet, but we have picked up seed packets! Just need to move some dirt and make room for them ;-)

Oh, and one final addition. Since I'm spending so much more time in the garden, planting, and tending, and loving, and watering and all that my Nina Chayo taught me to do with my garden...I picked up this little beauty to use as a potting bench. It sits just across from my culinary garden so it's easy to access dirt, shears, gloves, fertilizer, etc. It will definitely be getting a makeover with a fresh, new coat of paint, new knobs, hooks on the sides and perhaps I'll add a shelf on the bottom, so it looks neater. I'm thinking a bright Kelly green or maybe a sunny yellow.

So this is my Culinary Garden Update, 3 months since planted. Again, if you're interested in catching up on my journey, this is where you can read more on my herb and vegetable garden:
Culinary Garde Update, 5 Weeks

Thanks for taking this ride with me. And if you have any comments, feedback, ideas, or maybe even questions, please feel free to share in the comments below, or on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

Until next time!


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ultimate Beef Nachos

I was recently on my regular shopping trip to Costco with my BF. One of the things I like to do once we have all our necessary food and drinks in the cart, is to swing by the boutique (ahem...tables of clothes) and the books. I love looking through their selection of if I don't have enough already!! And I always think....I haven't even tried a third of the recipes sitting on my bookshelf. But every new cookbook, with all it's beautiful and colorful pictures, takes me back to the wonderful aromas, and flavors and happy, smiling faces of satisfied diners in my kitchen. I'm usually impressed by The Pioneer Woman's and The Barefoot Contessa's cookbooks...I just love them, and I only have one of each. Hint, hint....

But this time my BF gravitated towards a Mexican recipes cookbook. He loves Mexican food....thank goodness, right? And I kinda thought to myself....really?? You want to buy ME a Mexican cookbook???...And in an offended but reserved manner, I proceeded to open it and flip through it...and I thought....hmmmm...maybe this isn't too bad. I mean I can't remember ever having 7-layer dip, pumpkin seed dip or even chimichangas for that matter, in Mexico City. But I figured these recipes looked yummy and I'm sure the boys can use a break from my regular Mexican Traditional Recipes and try something a little different. So we bought it.

The cookbook is American's Test Kitchen Special Collector's Edition, The Best Mexican Recipes.

As soon as we arrived home, my BF requested the nachos in the cookbook, so I got to work. It was a My BF loved them, my teenage boys loved them...and heck, I loved them. So here's the recipe for The Ultimate Beef Nachos.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (I didn't have this so I skipped it)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 ounces 90 percent lean ground beef (next time I'll use turkey...we just like it better)
8 ounces tortilla chips
1 pound cheddar cheese, shredded (4 cups)...I would use more!
2 large jalapeno chiles, stemmed and sliced thin
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 1/2 cups guacamole, here's my recipe
1 cup fresh tomato salsa (I skipped this and used our salsa verde)
1/2 cup sour cream
lime wedges

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat over to 400 degrees.

Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in chili powder, garlic, oregano, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Spread half tortilla chips evenly into 13" x 9" baking dish. Sprinkle 2 cups evenly over chips, actually I will do more next time, then top evenly with half of beef mixture, followed by half of jalapeno slices. Repeat layering with remaining chips, cheddar beef mixture, and jalapenos. Bake until cheese is melted and just beginning to brown, 7 to 10 minutes.

Let nachos cool for 2 minutes, then sprinkle with scallions. Drop scoops of guacamole, salsa and sour cream around the edges of the nachos. Serve immediately, passing lime wedges separately.

Perfect recipe for lots of boys and during football games. Crowd pleaser! I'll definitely be making these again.


Check out items you might need for this recipe at Sur La Table:

OXO Wooden Spoon Scanpan� Classic Nonstick Skillet Le Creuset® Heritage Flame Baker

Friday, July 8, 2016

Enchiladas Rojas / Red Sauce Enchiladas

These enchiladas rojas (red sauce enchiladas) are a favorite in my home. They're super simple, filling and delicious. These are perfect for those days when you have left over chicken from a previous night's dinner. I usually have the ingredients necessary in my pantry at all times, so it's easy to whip these up.

- 2 dried chile guajillo 
- 1/2 onion
- small can tomato sauce
- 2 cloves garlic 
- shredded chicken (grilled or roasted or any leftovers)
- tortillas
- oil for frying the tortillas
queso fresco 
- crema mexicana or sour cream

Soak the dried chile guajillo in hot water for a couple of hours, or even overnight. If you don't have much time to soak them, you can always boil them in hot water until they're somewhat soft.

Once soaked, cut off the stem and place the guajillos in a blender with the onion, tomato sauce, garlic cloves and some of the water the chile soaked in, enough to reduce the thickness of the sauce. Blend until smooth. Add more of the water as needed to get it to a saucy consistency that will stay on the tortillas. Strain and put aside on a shallow bowl or soup plate.

Heat up a couple tablespoons of oil in a pan. Once heated, place a tortilla in the pan and saute for about a minute, then turn over and saute for another minute. Just until it looks like it's soft enough to roll without breaking. Place on a plate with a paper towel. Do the same with all the tortillas you're going to use, adding a tablespoon of oil at a time as needed.

To assemble, soak a tortilla in the sauce and place on your baking sheet. Place shredded chicken down the middle in a line and roll the tortilla closed. Place the enchilada at the edge of the baking sheet with the seam down. Do the same for the remaining tortillas.
Tip: If you don't have a lot of chicken, or simply love cheese, you can add cheese along with the chicken. A mozzarella works well.

Once all the tortillas are lined up, pour the remaining sauce over them.

Bake at 250 F degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes. Just enough to melt the cheese and warm everything up, since the chicken is already cooked.

Top with queso fresco and drizzle with crema mexicana or sour cream. You can add any other toppings you might like, like chopped onions, shredded lettuce/cabbage, salsa, etc. Your choice!

And don't forget to serve alongside some delicious refried beans.

If you feel inclined to share your creations with us, you can do so on our Facebook Page or Instagram, and use #mexicanfamilyrecipes.



Friday, July 1, 2016

Top 5 Recipes for 4th of July

We will be celebrating Fourth of July at mom's. Surrounded of course by family and great food. Our get-togethers always revolve around food!! And as is usually the case, it is expected to be SUPER hot in Southern California. Easy and quick cooking is the way to go on a hot summer day, specially when we're with family and friends. I rather spend the time with them than cooking.

So what are the best meals for 4th of July? I gathered our best hot weather friendly recipes:

1.- Tostadas- these are a hit. Easy to prep, and great to eat on a hot day. Just don't fry your own tostada shells because that's the time consuming and hot part about this recipe. Yes they're delicious home-fried but not necessary specially on a hot summer day. Make the refried beans a day or two ahead of time and just warm up the day of.

2.- Fish Tacos- so good and refreshing with the fresh homemade salsa, and just enough crunch with the cabbage slaw. Mouth watering!

3.- Mexican Style Corn- this is almost a no brainer. They're in season. They're cheap. They're delicious. Nuff said.

4.- Camarones a la Diabla- YUM! Personally looking forward to making these this weekend. Camarones a la Diabla always remind me of the vacations we took when we were young to the beaches in Mexico. Being the shrimp lover that I am, I always ordered the Camarones a la Diabla. So it's appropriate that I always crave these on hot days by the pool.

5.- Micheladas- and to wash everything down and attempt to stay cool, here's a michelada recipe sure to please on a hot summer day. It's my cousin's recipe from Mexico City. 

And of course you can always make a great guacamole and some salsa for chips or to add to your meals. These are the two most made recipes in my home!

What are your cooking plans for 4th of July?