Friday, July 25, 2014

Cilantro Pesto

I leave you this week with a simple recipe for an incredibly versatile condiment. I do this for you, my dear friends, because I know that we (you and I) have entered into that state of being I like to call Garden Guilt.

Garden Guilt is what happens when you've been waiting eight or nine months for food to start growing footsteps away from your backdoor and then finally it does, in such massive amounts that you rush the Jehovah's Witnesses who have come to deliver the Word of God and beg them to please, please take some lettuce.

You gaze out there at said yard with a guilty conscious, you can't bare to let anything wilt or wither or go to waste because you know in a fleeting moment it will all be gone and the ground that is, at present, so bountiful will soon be covered in deep, deep, deep, deep snow. So you gather all that is about to burst into seed form and wash and chop and can and freeze until the wee hours of the night.

You know I'm doing it. I know you're doing it too. If you are like me you have so much cilantro you could supply all the Chipotle's in the contiguous United States (did you know they serve margaritas?!!!). So expect to see some serious cilantro business coming from this here website in the next few weeks—who am I kidding? Months! 

Don't worry if you are knee deep in basil, that will work here just fine. Same goes for parsley, chives, arugula, chard, kale, or beet greens too. Once you've got your pesto made you can slather it on toast, toss it with pasta, stir it into risotto, or use it as a marinade for anything about to hit the grill. You can even put it in a freezer-safe container, cover it with a layer of oil, then seal and freeze for up to 6 months. No doubt you will enjoy the fruits of your labor come mid-winter.

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Cilantro Pesto {Dairy Free}
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Makes 1 1/4 cups

1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
4 cups packed cilantro leaves
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
3/4 cup olive oil

1. Combine pumpkin seeds, cilantro, garlic, salt, and chile flakes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse to blend.

2. With the machine running slowly add the olive oil until all has been added and a smooth puree has formed. Taste and add more salt if needed.

3. Use immediately or keep covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mid-July's Garden

This picture perfectly represents my garden; towering slate-colored cauliflower leaves with swatches of cilantro peaking through. I let my cilantro go to seed last year and it did a perfectly good job of replanting itself......everywhere.

My backyard is broken up into four patches. Above is the largest patch with the tomatoes and winter squashes. Below was where I planted my first garden four years ago that now holds the melons, potatoes, corn, and a few other things.

I also planted a few strawberry plants in another patch this year that hopefully will give us some berries in the years to come.

And the fourth patch was my impromptu attempt to fend off pesky ants which tend to invade our house every summer. Apparently they don't like the smell of lavender or mint so I planted a few plants close to the house, which hopefully will grown and I can transplant next summer. Here's some other shots of what a North Dakota garden looks like in Mid-July.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Soy Sriracha Chicken Fajitas

As much as I love throwing a party and feeding all my friends I have to be honest—it kind of stresses me out. I try to remind myself that people will help and it doesn't have to be perfect, but deep down I still want it to be. I do not try to be Martha Stewart but, okay, maybe I do....just a little.

To help me retain some degree of composure come party time I try to make food that tastes amazing but is super easy. Fajitas and tacos are my go to foods for summer entertaining. All the magic happens in the marinade which is done hours or even a day in advance then come party time you just hang out by the grill, chit chatting, drinking a nice cocktail and ideally not burning the meat.

These Soy Sriracha Chicken Fajitas were inspired by the good people at Kikkoman who asked me to come up with a favorite family recipe using their meticulously brewed soy sauce. It took me about two seconds to decide which of our favorites to hack because grilled chicken and soy are universal besties.

I really had a hard time not eating all the chicken as I was slicing it to bring to the table—it was that good. But because I love my family and had invited people over to my house with the promise of feeding them I resisted. Next time I'll just make an extra thigh or two for the chef (me, I'm talking about me here).

This post was sponsored by Kikkoman and Latina Bloggers Connect. All opinions however are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies who help make this blog possible. 

Want more comida for your vida? Follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, or bloglovin. If you have a cooking question (or any other kind of question) leave me a comment below, they kind of make my day! xo

Soy Sriracha Chicken Fajitas
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Makes 4 servings

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
2 teaspoons lime zest
2 bell peppers (preferably red, orange, or yellow)
1 tablespoon olive oil
warm tortillas, to serve

Other optional garnishes:
grilled zucchini
grilled jalapeños
lime wedges

1. Place chicken in a resealable plastic bag. Mix soy, lime juice, cilantro, Sriracha, and lime zest together in a small bowl. Pour over chicken and toss in the marinade until evenly coated. Seal bag and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 8 hours.

2. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high. Cut peppers into wedges and toss with olive oil. Season with salt a pepper. If you want to do zucchini, jalapeños, or any other vegetables on the grill you can add them to the peppers.

3. Brush the grates of the grill with oil and remove the chicken from the marinade letting any excess drip back into the bag. Grill chicken until lightly charred and cooked through, about 10 minutes total. Remove to a clean platter, cover and keep warm.

4. Grill the vegetables until lightly charred and tender, about 10 minutes. Slice the chicken and vegetables into thin slices and serve with warm tortillas and optional garnishes.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mexican Rarebit

I have a thing for going to bad antique stores. 

Does it smell like a nursing home? You'll find me there.

Are they selling decrepit plastic fruit from the 1950's? Count me in.

I found myself in just such a place a couple weeks ago perusing through an Irish Pub cookbook from the 80's. Why was this in an antique store? More importantly, why was I looking at it? I turned to a recipe for Welsh rarebit, a recipe that on any other day I would've passed off as another toasted cheese sandwich but this one called for pickles and there is something about that cheesy-pickle combination that stops me in my tracks every time .

It's been going 'round and 'round in my head ever since and I've finally come up with something that feels closer to home and even more decadent with stringy chihuahua cheese, Pacifico, and thick slices of cornbread as the base. I loaded it not with pickles, but pickled jalapeños. Bring. It. On.

While I was making this my husband asked me what I was doing. When I told him I was making a Mexican version of a Welsh rarebit he gave me a look like "Oh no you didn" but his opinion is neither here nor there since he can't even eat it. I'm almost positive any other Latin person would totally approve. Maybe I've developed the next hottest food trend; Welsh-Mex. Maybe 30 years from now you'll find my Welsh-Mex cookbook at some broke-ass antique store...... time will tell.

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Mexican Rarebit
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Makes 4-6 servings

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups shredded chihuahua cheese
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Mexican pilsner-style beer, such as Pacifico
1 tablespoon pickled jalapeño juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 loaf Easy Cornbread
Pickled jalapeño slices, for garnish
Chopped tomato, for garnish
Cilantro leaves, for garnish

1. Heat broiler to high and arrange a rack about 5 inches away from the heat.

2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and soft, about 10 minutes.

3. Add cheese, milk, and beer and cook until cheese is melted. Add pickle juice and cumin and stir until smooth. Remove from heat, add season with salt and pepper as needed. Cover to keep warm.

4. Slice cornbread into thick slices and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Toast cornbread under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Flip and cover each slice with cheese sauce. Return to the broiler to until cheese is golden, about 2 minutes more.

5. Top with pickled jalapeño slices, tomatoes, and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Paletas

I missed popsicle week. I must've been busy scrubbing the hard water stains off my shower or googling "washer and dryer best deal." I could've also been listening to Let It Go Radio  or setting a date with my husband to clean the basement because those are the kind of dates we go on now. But that's okay because I didn't make popsicles, I made paletas (just kidding—same thing).

These swelteringly sour paletas are great for when you are eating outside not because you are enjoying some al fresco dining but because you don't want your kids to know you are eating a popsicle at ten in the morning.

The rhubarb I foraged from my friend Holly's neighbor who had an abundant bush growing by her garbage cans in the alley. There was also some milkweed and dandelions but I guarantee you neither of those would've made paletas as beautiful or delicious as these.

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Strawberry-Rhubarb Paletas
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Makes 8 small paletas

5 cups chopped rhubarb (about 1 1/4 pounds)
3/4 cup tangerine juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sliced strawberries

1. Combine rhubarb, juice, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is very soft, about 5 minutes.

2. Pour mixture into a blender and cover with a dish towel (don't put the lid on, the mixture is too hot and the lid might blow off when you turn on the machine). Hold the dish towel over the blender and blend until smooth.

3. Strain rhubarb mixture through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. Press down on the solids to extract all the juice. You can also just make the paletas with the unstrained mixture, they won't be a clear pink color but you probably will get an extra paleta or two. If you do strain it you can save the rhubarb pulp (which at this point is really more like a sauce) and spread it on toast, mix into oatmeal, or spoon over ice cream.

4. Place a few strawberry slices in the bottom of each paleta mold, evenly distribute the rhubarb mixture between the molds, insert the popsicle sticks and freeze at least 4 hours or until solid.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chorizo and Egg Breakfast Gorditas

It was a big weekend out here on the prairie. The Professor and I got roped into judging the local 4-H competition (he: art, me: food) and sending Barnes County's best of the best onto the State Fair.

Armando got to judge by himself (luckeeeeeee) but as you can imagine, food is a much bigger competition than art (sorry, Honey). I had a co-judge, Margaret, who was no newbie to the rules and regulations set down by the 4-H hierarchy and was in no mood to be dealing with the likes of me and my chef coat. It was clear from the first plate of chocolate chip cookies that she will be the one to hand out the ribbons and I could make myself useful by filling out the forms (with a pencil, in case she changed her mind).

Aside from the endless entries of banana bread and chocolate chip cookies there was some good stuff—salted caramel apple pie complete with a lattice crust and homemade salted caramel sauce (Margaret thought that was......different), very nice beef jerky made by an 8-year-old, two different homemade Snickers bars (both good), and sugar cookies made in the microwave (those filled the category of "Microwave Magic").

In the end I think I won Margaret over by asking if she would take her picture with me. After that she said she was glad I had volunteered and that hopefully next year I could fill in for Bev who has to drive all the way from Enderlin . I don't know who Bev is but I hope she wasn't standing near by...... awkward. 

After all that sugar intake I was in desperate need of some real food. We hustled home and hung out in the kitchen making batch after batch of these deeply satisfying breakfast gorditas. Making your own gorditas may sound complicated, but they're really not. You just mix all the dough ingredients together and flatten balls of dough into thick tortillas. Heat a cast iron skillet or a comal until it is hot, then place the gorditas on the hot, dry surface until they are golden and crisp. They will stick at first, just leave them be until they form a crisp crust, then they will release easily and you can cook the other side.

Once they are cooked they will have formed a little pocket in the middle like pita bread. Just slice a slit in the top with a sharp knife to open the pocket but don't cut all the way through. Stuff the gorditas with the chorizo mixture or you could do beans and eggs if you're vegetarian or potatoes and beans if your vegan or carnitas if it's dinner time and eat them while they are still warm and that's some blue ribbon shiznitz right there.

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Chorizo and Eggs Breakfast Gorditas
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Makes 12-14 gorditas

For the gorditas
2 cups Maseca
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil

For the filling
12 ounces Mexican-style chorizo
4 large eggs
chopped cilantro
lime wedges
sliced radishes

1. To make the gorditas, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until evenly moist. You may need to knead the mixture with your hands to make sure there are no dry spots. If the dough seems crumbly and doesn't hold together well you can add more water, a tablespoon at a time, until it is well combined.

2. Heat a cast iron skillet or comal over medium heat. Meanwhile, scoop 1/4 cup-size balls of dough and knead briefly in your hands. Form the dough into a smooth ball then flatten between your palms into a disk. Pass the disk back and forth between your hands, slapping the dough from one hand to the other to flatten further into a 4-5 inch circle.

3. Once the skillet is hot, but not smoking, add 2 or 3 gorditas at a time to the dry skillet. Leave undisturbed until the bottoms are browned and crisp, about 4-5 minutes. The skillet should be hot but if it starts to smoke turn the heat down to medium-low. Flip the gorditas and cook on the other side until golden, about 3-4 minutes more. Remove gorditas to a clean dish towel, cover and keep warm.

4. Meanwhile, remove chorizo from the casing, if necessary, and brown in a large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. Squeeze some lime juice over the top and keep warm.

5. Heat a clean medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Crack eggs into a medium bowl, season with salt and pepper and beat with a fork until combined and smooth. Drizzle a tablespoon of oil in the skillet and spread it around with a rubber spatula to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the eggs and immediately turn the heat to low. Leave eggs undisturbed for a minute then gently fold them in on them selves to scramble. Keep stirring occasionally until cooked through.

6. Make a pocket in each gordita with a sharp knife like a pita. Fill with chorizo, eggs, cilantro, radishes and your favorite salsa. Serve immediately.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Coconut Milk Crepes with Lemon-Streaked Strawberries

I first made these crepes back in May for Mother's Day......for myself (and my family, I left one for the three of them to share).  I am a firm believer in making yourself what you want on special days and not waiting around to be disappointed by what your loved ones think you want (which is never what you really want, let's be honest).

They were so beautifully crisp on the edges with the slightest hint of coconut and perfectly sweet when layered with macerated strawberries and toasty coconut. These crepes are the perfect dessert (or breakfast). They are bursting with summer flavors and light as air with a subtle coconut flavor that comes from using coconut milk in place of the more traditional whole milk (also making them dairy free—bonus!).

Lemon-flecked strawberries and a sprinkling of toasted coconut lend a textural contrast to the all at once chewy, crispy crepes. If you are not so concerned with the whole dairy thing you can serve them with a heaping dollop of vanilla-scented whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream—you can't ever go wrong with that.

Coconut Milk Crepes with Lemon-Streaked Strawberries
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8-10 crepes (4-6 servings)

2 large eggs
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 quart strawberries, hulled
2 teaspoons lemon juice
peanut oil, for frying
toasted sweetened coconut flakes, for garnish
lemon zest strips, for garnish


1. Combine eggs, coconut milk, flour, half the sugar, and salt in a blender.

2. Cover and blend on high until smooth. Place in the refrigerator to rest while you prepare the strawberries.

3. Slice the strawberries and combine with remaining sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Stir until strawberries are coated in sugar, set aside.

4. Heat 1/2 teaspoon of peanut oil in a medium nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Once oil is shimmering, pour in 1/4 cup of the batter, swirling so the batter covers the entire surface in a thin layer.

5. Cook the crepe undisturbed for 2 minutes or until the bottom is lightly browned and crisp and the top seams almost dry with a few wet spots. Flip or turn the crepe and cook about 1 minute more or until toasted on the other side. Repeat with the remaining batter, stacking the crepes with parchment paper in between to prevent them from sticking together; you should have 8-10 crepes.

6. Give the strawberries a stir and taste, adding more lemon juice or sugar as needed. Lay one crepe on a plate and put a spoonful of strawberries with some of their juice and a sprinkling of toasted coconut and lemon zest in one corner of the crepe. Fold the crepe in half to cover the berries and spoon some more berries and coconut on top of that. Fold the crepe over one more time to enclose the filling and top the crepe with a final spoonful of berries, a sprinkling of coconut and a few lemon zest strips. Serve immediately.