Monday, September 15, 2014

Toasted Coconut Cold Brew Horchata {Dairy-Free}

Happy Monday!!! If you celebrated 'Dies Y Seis' this past weekend then read slowly. I'm sure you'll get through this day just fine, it certainly isn't the first time you've gone to work hungover, right?!

I'll bet there were many of you who celebrated Mexican Independence Day last weekend and I know a few of you who will be continuing to live it up for the next couple days. You're going to eat some Chiles en Nogada, maybe some Pozole, have a margarita or two. I know you've got all that covered. The unfortunate part is that this is not Mexico. You still have to show up at work. But no worries, I've got you.

I fixed up a cold, lightly sweetened horchata with a caffeine kick that will get you through the day. It is the best worlds of iced coffee and creamy horchata mixed together with the tropical flavors of toasted coconut. So stop what you're doing, drag your booties to the kitchen and make a batch right now. It requires four ingredients and five minutes of your time, but you do have to let it sit overnight so make it now and it will be waiting for you tomorrow morning.....just like your boss at the office. ¡Viva México!

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 (insert smiley face here). ¡Gracias!

Toasted Coconut Cold Brew Horchata {Dairy-Free}
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The sugar from the sweetened coconut makes this drink lightly sweet. If you are looking for more sweetness you can add agave syrup to taste or mix in a little sweetened condensed milk. 

Makes 4 servings

1 cup whole coffee beans
1 1/4 cups rice (any kind will work)
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes, toasted
5 cups water

1. In a coffee grinder coarsely grind the coffee beans. Pour into a large pitcher.

2. In the same coffee grinder finely grind the rice. You want it to be almost like a flour, depending on the grinder you may need to do this in batches. Pour the ground rice into the pitcher with the coffee.

3. Add the toasted coconut and the water. Stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight, or at least 12 hours.

4. The next day give the mixture a stir, then strain through a coffee filter into a clean pitcher (I used my regular pour over set up, but you'll have to do a little at a time, it could take up to 30 minutes for it all to go through. Give the mixture a stir if it gets clogged.)

5. Seve immediately over ice or cover and keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Mexi Turkey Burgers

For years I've been deciphering the language of my husband. It is not that his English isn't up to par or that he speaks with an accent (Texas, Mexican, or otherwise). It is that he has his own lexicon where the pronunciation of words (particularly names) or the correct word for the context is just a little askew. To speak with him requires the adherence to two very important rules, what he says and what he actually means are two different things, and don't interrupt, because if you listen long enough he usually comes full circle and it will all eventually makes sense.

This may sound very confusing (and it can be) but after 14 years of togetherness I know how he takes his tea, I know that in most cases he'd rather eat with a soup spoon, and I know when he emails me about execution dates he means exhibition dates. In other words, we don't need to talk as much, we speak the language of love (go ahead roll your eyes, it's okay).

But there are times when confusion still reigns supreme. As we lay in bed last night, recapping our day, he starts telling me this story about a new adjunct professor at the college, Barack. Or at least that's what it sounded like his name was.

"Wait a minute. Barack?" I say. Completely taken aback that someone in North Dakota would name their white son after the President.

"Barack." He says

"The guy's name is Barack, like the President?"

"No, Barack"




"No, Brrrrr-ock"

"Oh, Brock!"

"Yes!" annoyed. "That's what I said."

And this, my friends, is what keeps our marriage alive. The constant reminder that I have no idea what he's saying—it's very mysterious.

What does any of this have to do with burgers? Nothing. Other than the fact that we also had these burgers last night and it went very smoothly because I know what everybody likes on their burger and no one had to say a word.

I love a good burger, but don't always love the gut bomb that follows. Turkey is a great option to avoid that stuffed sensation, but can sometimes be dry and tough. When we were in Michigan last month we had turkey burgers with my uncles' at their cabin and they added ground bacon to make them more juicy and flavorful. I'm to lazy to actually grind the bacon, finely chopped seemed to work just fine. I've also found that a little egg and bread crumbs can boost a turkey burger's ego and a little spicy jalapeño never hurts either.

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 (insert smiley face here). ¡Gracias!

Mexi Turkey Burgers

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Makes 4 burgers

1 pound ground turkey
4 ounces bacon, finely diced (about 4 slices)
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 large jalapeno, stem and seeds removed, finely diced
1 large egg
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup panko
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Combine all ingredients except oil in a large bowl and gently stir to incorporate all ingredients evenly. Divide evenly into 4 patties. If you have time, it is best to do this a couple hours in advance and let them chill in the refrigerator.

2. To grill, heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high heat. Lightly oil the grates then cook the burgers about 5-8 minutes per side or until the patties are firm and cooked through.

3. To cook in a pan, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Once shimmering place burgers in the pan and let cook, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom, about 6 minutes. Flip and cook about 5 to 6 minutes on the other side, or until cooked through. Serve on toasted hamburger buns with your favorite condiments.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mexican Street Corn Soup with Blue Cheese-Chile Crumble

This is the last of the corn from our garden. Which I guess means I have to face the fact that summer is drawing to a close. I think the temperature dropping to near freezing last night might also have been an indicator I chose to ignore this morning when I about froze my butt off while walking Louisa to school in a sundress. Goose pimple skin. Not cute.

If you have surfed the interwebs any time in the last 6 months you might have come across a few hundred thousand recipes for that cheesy, spicy, mayonnaisey Mexican treat called elote. It seemed to me that the only rational thing to do in this scenario is to bump it up to a hundred thousand and one with a soup rendition, because if there is one thing I believe in, it's that everything is better in a bowl.

What's that? You think so too? Okay, here we go. First you go to your backyard and pull 4 or so ears of corn out of your garden.....or procure it from some other place. I understand not everyone needs a 24 hour corn supply like I do.

Then you gather up some onions, garlic, jalapeños, chile powder, and cream which will be standing in for the mayonnaise in this version. You might want a lime too.

You shuck the corn and remove all the juicy little kernels by holding the corn upright with one hand and carefully sliding your knife down the cob (a few might fall on the floor and then you might step on them and get corn juice all over your feet, it's okay, just let it happen).

But wait, don't throw those cobs away! We are going to use them to make the stock for the soup. Corn kernels + corn cobs = super-d-dooper corn soup.

What else goes in corn stock you might ask? Well the onion skin and ends you just took off and the core from the jalapeño. The papery skins from the garlic too, and the garlic ends (which I know you removed because ain't nobody got time for garlic butts.

Then you let that simmer until the corn infuses the water with sweetness and your kitchen smells like it's been transplanted to the middle of a field somewhere in Iowa.....or about an hour. Meanwhile you can start sautéing up all those veggies you chopped—multitasking, yes!

Then you strain the wet into the dry and get rid of that first pot, cause really, who's idea was it to make soup with two pots? Oh wait, never mind.

Then all that's left is cook, cook, cook. And blend, blend, blend. And while your cooking and blending you make a little cheesy crumble (look at you still multitasking!!). I went for blue cheese here even though no proud Mexican would ever put blue cheese on their elote. But, hear me out my Mexican pragmatists, the blue cheese adds that necessary tang that is essential to good street corn. Give it a try or use more traditional Cotija or even Parm, it's okay, I won't be mad.

And that's it! Spicy, tangy, cheesy corn-on-a-stick, in a bowl.

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 (insert smiley face here). ¡Gracias!

Mexican Street Corn Soup with Blue Cheese-Chile Crumble
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This soup utilizes the corn in all its parts by making a stock with the cobs. If you'd rather use store-bought vegetable or chicken broth instead go right ahead, it will still be delicious. 

Makes 4 servings

4 ears corn, shucked
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 small red onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jalapeños, cored and chopped (seeds removed if you want less heat)
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 cayenne or thai bird chile, thinly sliced
Lime wedges, for serving

1. Remove all the kernels from the corn by sliding your knife down the cob of the corn. Save the kernels (you should have about 3 cups) and place the cobs in a pot.

2. To make the corn stock, cover the cobs with 8 cups of water then add the onion trimmings, garlic skins, jalapeño core, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. You can add more aromatics if you want, things like chopped celery, bay leaf, black peppercorns, or fresh parsley would be good. Bring it all to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour.

3. When the stock is ready, heat oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Let cook for a few minutes to soften then add garlic and jalapeños, and corn. Season again with salt and pepper. Let cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add chile powder and let toast for a minute or two.

4. Place a fine mesh strainer over the vegetables in the pot and carefully pour the stock through the strainer. Discard the solids.

5. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

6. Ladle soup into a blender and cover the top with a clean dish towel (you may need to do this in batches). Purée on low, then slowly increase the speed until the mixture is smooth. Return the puréed soup to the pot, add the cream and reheat. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

7. While you are waiting for the soup to reheat you can make the crumble by combining the blue cheese, cilantro, and chile in a small bowl.

8. Ladle soup into bowls and top with a spoonful of the crumble and serve immediately.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Tiny House Solutions: Mud Room

Last Thursday we got up, made scrambled eggs, sent the kids off to school, and bought a house. 

It's nothing fancy, pretty small, tiny in fact, not even 900 square feet, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character. Built 100 years ago it has the original hardwood floors, plaster walls, high ceilings, and woodwork. It has a great front porch where the kids can play even when it gets too cold to be outside and a nice size yard to fulfill my gardening needs. We didn't just buy any house, we bought our house. The same one we've been renting for the last five years.

A tiny house has its benefits; less to clean, easier to eavesdrop on your kids, less area to navigate when someone is crying in the middle of the night. It also has its disadvantages; less privacy, a little more chaotic, and a lot more clutter. In anticipation of the big purchase we've spent the last couple weekends clearing out all—okay, some—of the crap we've been accumulating for the last five years and tried to get more organized.

I thought I'd share with you our renovations as we started on this path of home ownership and offer any tips we stumble upon on how to make our tiny home more livable. I don't fancy myself a design blogger by any means but I'm always on the lookout for ideas so I'd love to hear your solutions too. Promise?

One area that gets massively messy is our back porch, aka mud room, aka dirty shoe and junk area. We used to have this janky table in there and some random chairs and everyone would just kick their shoes off into a sand and mud infused pile. The Professor (genius that he is) made this super simple shoe cubby system and placed a nice piece of reclaimed wood on top.

Now everything is so organized and neat and beautiful I want to squeal it makes me so happy when I walk in there. We also hung some low hooks so the kids will have no excuses when I yell, I mean ask them politely, to hang up their crap.

 It's wonderful and I love it. One tiny house solution accomplished 23,573,947 to go!

Check out my Tiny House board on Pinterest for hundreds of more great ideas and don't forget to share your ideas—you promised!

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 (insert smiley face here). ¡Gracias!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Brown Sugar and Chipotle Rubbed Salmon

Last month while lounging around on vacation I actually read the New York Times food section cover to cover. It was a vacation miracle. I say this with complete knowledge of how annoying people with children are who yammer on about how they have no time to do anything enjoyable. And yes, I completely realize that it was my decision to have these children when I could've found plenty of other ways to suck up all my money and time.........but they're so cute!!!

Anywhosers, I was reading the NY Times and I came across this recipe for Brown Sugar-Cured Salmon that looked so simple and good. It was a recipe from Betty Fussell, one of the last great food writers of her era who can get away with honestly writing about the beauty of food without having to bore us half to death with the glories of einkorn or some other obscure ingredient just to prove they know something.

This salmon is a perfect example, it is simple, straightforward food that is neither boring nor fussy. It sounds super complicated but its not. It requires eight ingredients, two steps, and and a little waiting time. Here's how it goes.

First, the salmon gets a good rub down with a cure of brown sugar, salt and spices. Betty used allspice and mace but I used chipotle chili powder for a hint of heat. I also used a little lime zest, 'cause you know, lime zest.

 Then you let that sit for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. The salt kind of cooks the salmon as it sits and intensifies its flavor. It firms up the flesh and looks like this.

After the salmon has cured you want to rinse some of that rub off otherwise it will be too sweet then grill it with a mixture of charcoal and hickory chips which add a hint of smokiness. Serve with a garlicky greens and baguette for a light dinner or enjoy it as I did, as a snack, with a squeeze of lime.

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 (insert smiley face here). ¡Gracias!

Brown Sugar and Chipotle Rubbed Salmon
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Recipe adapted from Betty Fussell and Melissa Clark

I have been sitting on a bag of hickory chips for over a year now and haven't used them because I thought it would be too complicated. But this recipe has you soak them for 30 minutes then drain them and toss them right on top of the hot charcoal—that's it! But make sure you close the lid to your grill to trap in the smoke and also keep it out of your face. 

Makes 6 servings

2 1/2 pounds salmon
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
finely grated zest of 1 lime, plus a few lime wedges for serving
Olive oil, for brushing
1 1/2 cups hickory chips, soaked for 30 minutes

1. Cut salmon into 6 fillets, if necessary and pat dry. Combine sugar, salt, pepper, chile powder, and lime zest in a small bowl. The rub fish on all sides with the cure. Let sit at least 4 hours or overnight.

2. Lightly rinse salmon and brush with a little olive oil.

3. Light a charcoal grill to medium heat (it is best to pile the charcoal in the middle of the grill leaving a ring around the outside where you will place the salmon) and scatter the hickory chips over the top. Cover the grill leaving a slight gap in the vent for 1-2 minutes to let the chips start smoking.

4. Place the salmon fillets, flesh side down, around the outside of the grill, not over direct heat and cover the grill. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the salmon easily releases from the grill. Flip and cover grill again, cooking the other side until done to your liking, about 3-4 more minutes for a dark pink middle.

5. Serve immediately with lime wedges for squeezing.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Charred Pasilla Corn Crepes {Dairy Free}

I'd say as a parent one of the hardest things is saying "no". 

Once is fine. Twice I can even deal with. But it is the constant, all day, every day full of no's is exhausting. (!!!!)

"Can I have a piece of candy" (at 7:30am)  "No".

"Can I take my shoes off at the park"   "No".

"Can we have pizza for dinner" (again)   "No".

"Can we watch a movie"   "No".

I mean those suckers know how to wear you down to the point that you start second guessing yourself and your no's. Am I being too harsh? Maybe I should just let them watch a movie, I mean they'll stop talking to me if I do?! This is the inner dialog that I have with myself on a daily basis. But then I think, this is my job. To sculpt these children into people that other people want to be around. Not a couple of candy-eating, dirty-feeted monsters that no one wants to touch with a ten-foot pole.

So I'm stuck with my series of no's which I'm banking on for my children's future happiness, 'cause they sure as hell aren't happy now. Sometimes they're so pissed that by the end of the day after I tuck their sweet, angry faces into bed, I turn off the light, close the door and whisper "I love you, don't Menendez me".

To celebrate my totalitarian form of parenting I thought I'd share with you a recipe for a civilized, proper dinner that celebrates the end of summer in all its glory that my children inevitably got their chance to say "No" to. Which in response I got to say, "Good, more for me".

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 (insert smiley face here). ¡Gracias!

Charred Pasilla Corn Crepes {Dairy Free}

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I like to serve these savory crepes as a light meal with a plate of fresh tomatoes, avocado, and thinly sliced red onion drizzled with olive oil, lime juice, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. 

Makes 8 crepes

1 large pasilla chile
1 ear sweet corn, shucked
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond, soy milk (or whole milk)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 teaspoon chili powder

1. To char the pasilla you can place on an outdoor grill over a medium flame and turn every few minutes until the skin is blackened. You can also char it over a gas stove, under the broiler, or in a grill pan.

2. After the pasilla is nicely charred all over let sit a few minutes until it is cool enough to handle. Then peel off the blackened skin and remove the core and seeds. Chop, and set aside.

3. Remove the kernels from the corn by slicing off the bottom to make an even surface then stand the corn upright and move your knife down the cob removing the kernels on all sides.

4. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

5. Heat a medium nonstick frying pan or crepe pan over medium-low heat. Once hot add 1/4 teaspoon of vegetable oil and spread it around so it covers all the surfaces. Drizzle 1/4-1/3 cup of the batter into the pan and swirl it around so it covers the entire surface of the pan.

6. Cook until the edges are brown and the top looks almost dry, about 2-3 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to loosen the bottom and then flip and cook until crisp on the bottom, about another minute.

7. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter, placing a piece of parchment paper in between each crepe. Serve immediately with a tomato-avocado salad if desired.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Grilled Achiote-Lime Chicken

What are your Labor Day plans? 

I don't know if I've ever had Labor Day plans.

Until this year that is.......this year we are going to........clean out the garage!!!! Yay! Thrilling, I know.

Clean out the garage and grill and maybe (hopefully) make s'mores. I will more than likely grill chicken as it is my favorite way to eat chicken and I never tire of those little charred pieces even though they will probably give me cancer. This recipe is one of my all time favs. It is made with achiote paste and tons 'o lime.

Achiote Paste is made from annatto seeds, garlic, and spices and is commonly used in the Yucatán to make dishes like Cochinita Pibil, carnes adobabas y asadas and pollos rostizados (just like the box says). It is a very mild seasoning and is used more to impart a deep red color than a lot of spice or heat. Most of you know annatto seeds as the orange part in what otherwise would be white cheddar. Apparently the father of our friend's sister-in-law (stay with me) went down to Ecuador thirty years ago and discovered their potent color. He brought it back to Wisconsin and used it to color his cheese and history was made (or so she says, I have no proof to back that story up, other than her family is very deep in cheese money so it could be true).

And now you all have a story to tell at this weekend's backyard bbq. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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 (insert smiley face here). ¡Gracias!

Grilled Achiote-Lime Chicken
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Achiote paste can be found in any Latin market and in many Asian markets or you can buy it online.

Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon lime zest (about 3-4 limes)
1/2 cup lime juice (about 7 small limes)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 tablespoons achiote paste
8 pieces chicken (you can cut up a whole chicken or use 8 thighs, drumsticks, bone-in breasts, whatever you'd like)

1. Combine lime zest, lime juice, oil, egg, and achiote paste in a blender and puree until smooth.

2. Place chicken in a large resealable bag or large bowl and pour marinade over chicken. Toss to coat thoroughly. Seal (or cover) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

3. Heat grill to medium and grill chicken until juices run clear and it is no longer pink in the middle, about 20-30 minutes. You can also roast in a 425°F oven for 30 minutes.