Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Tequilibre = Tequila Cocktail

My comadre was over with my beautiful goddaughter earlier this summer, and she came bearing gifts {happy dance}. An new libation she prepared fresh in my kitchen. It was so refreshing on a hot summer day in SoCal, I just couldn't wait to share with you all. It' super simple.


1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup Tequila Silver, like El Jimador
1/4 lemon juice
Chamoy (salsa)
Chunks of pineapple
Salt to taste

Fill a cup half ways with ice. Pour in pineapple, tequila, lemon juice and fill the cup with squirt. Add a dash of chamoy, a few chunks of pineapple and salt to taste. Stir. Drink. Repeat.

And there you have a refreshing tequilibre for an afternoon of cocktails and appetizers, a hot summer's day, a celebration, or heck, for relaxing after work.

I used my stemless wineglasses for these cocktails, but next time I'll use my Moscow Mule Copper Mugs, which I often use for more than just Moscow Mules.

Please share your feedback and pictures if you make this cocktail. #tequilibre

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