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.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sour Cherry Caipirinha

These weeks have left me feeling completely drained, have you been feeling the same? After a couple hours of breakfast, bed-making, dishwashing, email checking, shirt-changing.....and changing again, I'm ready to call it quits—is it time for bed yet?


Not for another 8 hours?

Jeez Louise, I'm not going to make it.

I can't figure out how most of you do it. How are you all pulling off fantastic careers, beautiful, well-behaved children, great abs, and gorgeous, well written food blogs? Aren't you tired?!!

Is this what being a grown-ass woman is all about?! 'Cause I'm pretty sure in my 20's I thought it was about having tropical cocktails at happy hour and then a glorious dinner followed by maybe some dancing at the club then doing it all over again the next night. Now I can't even imagine doing that.....I can barely stay up 'til 9:30.

Louisa asked me the other day why I never wear my high heels and I pathetically told her that I never go anywhere where heels would be considered appropriate attire. Is it wrong to join a church just so you'll have a place to wear heels? Probably.

At least I can occasionally manage the tropical cocktail part during Casa Ramos Happy Hour, or in this case a tropical cocktail at 11am which the Professor and I drank while cleaning out the basement. Woohoo! Grown-ass woman indeed!!

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!

Sour Cherry Caipirinha
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For this recipe I juiced a few of the tart cherries I brought back from Michigan but tart cherry juice can be found in the juice aisle of most grocery stores. Try to buy the unsweetened kind, but if all they have is sweetened then adjust the simple syrup amount. Simple syrup is just equal parts granulated sugar and water heated up until the sugar dissolves, in this case I would use 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Let it cool before adding to the drink. 

Makes 6 drinks (1 pitcher)

2 limes, cut into small pieces, plus some extra lime wedges for serving
3/4 simple syrup
2 cups cachaca
1 1/2 cups sour cherry juice
Ice, to serve
Frozen cherries, to serve (optional)

1. Place limes in the bottom of a pitcher. Using a muddler or a wooden spoon, press down on the limes until they release their juice.

2. Add syrup, cachaca, and cherry juice and stir to combine. You can cover and refrigerate at this point up to an hour in advance or add ice and serve immediately with frozen cherries in each glass.

Monday, August 25, 2014

¡Vámanos! Michigan

Traveling with children is equal parts exhaustion and fun. The words road trip will understandably strike fear in many a parent's hearts but there are beloved moments you spend as a family that can only be had away from home.

A couple weeks ago the four of us packed up and headed out; 2000 miles, one ferry ride, and maybe an argument of two later I am here to tell you we had a great time. Wanna see what we did? ¡Vámanos!

Our first leg took us from North Dakota to Wisconsin where we stayed overnight with some friends before catching the SS Badger car ferry to Michigan.

Once on the Michigan side we spent 4 glorious days at my uncle's beach cottage in Holland. The cottage was built in the late 1800's and has all the charm of an airy Victorian lake house. I instantly fell in love with this place. 

The beautiful sandy beach was just a short walk away and that was where you could find us just about everyday we were there. The water was ffffffreezing, but the kids didn't care, they could've splashed and played and ate sandy sandwiches all day. 

I did manage to pull the kids away from the shore to visit the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park which had an incredible Children's Garden and an amazing sculpture collection (not to mention a gigantic horse).

Next we headed up to Leelanau County to visit our friends Tony and Jennifer who run Little Bee's Italian Ice shop in Sutton's Bay. We stayed not too far away for a ridiculously good deal in a cute house in Traverse City that I found on Airbnb. Leelanau County is just about as unpretentious and gorgeous as it gets with boats bobbing the water and trucks filled to the brim with tart red cherries. 

Aside from eating our weight in Italian ice we visited Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, gathered as many sour cherries as our cooler would hold and visited several self-serve farm stands. This one had a motion-detected recording from the farmer selling his wares and an unpictured boat that "runs good".  

Our next leg took us to Detroit where our friend Chris lives and works building high-design furniture and being an overall badass. He was recently featured in Vogue and this work shipped to a show in Paris shortly after our visit. Take a look inside his studio. 

He also arranged a private tour for us at the Cranbrook Art Museum where we not only got the entire museum to ourselves but also were able to peak inside their vault. It was kinda, sorta awesome. 

Detroit is crazy. That's the only way I know how to sum it up. While there we gazed at the full moon from a parking lot, took a tour of Pewabic Pottery Studios, fed our friends carne asada, and had a fantastic lunch at Vinsetta Garage

From Detroit we made our way back home, met up with my BFF who just so happened to be working in Milwaukee (what are the odds?!) and ate at this dang good (and maybe a tad bit hipster) taco joint called Bel Air Cantina.

And just like that it was over. I will admit.....I'm still recovering. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cilantro Pesto Vinaigrette

Do you all remember the cilantro pesto I posted a few weeks back? Well the cilantro infestation in my garden kinda got out of hand while we were out of town, and when I say kinda, I mean waaaayyyy out of hand, like I think it killed a few other plants—who knew cilantro could be so vicious!

I had no choice but to hack down stem after stem, machete-style, and make as many batches of that pesto as my freezer would hold. With all this pesto flying around I started getting a little creative with The Oh My God what am I going to do with all this pesto!!!!! I was also concerned that it was 4:00 and we were due at a backyard BBQ at 5 and I had yet to make the salad I had promised to bring and there might have been some exasperated sighs directed at my children when it dawned on me that if I took some of that pesto and made it into salad dressing all my problems would be solved.

I made the dressing, went to the party, came home, gave the kids a bath, put them to bed, collapsed into my pillows, and wondered why I never read any more, honestly! Maybe someday, in the meantime I'll be dreaming up new ways to use cilantro-pepita pesto.

Like on steamed green beans

Or avocado toast with green beans, red onion, and sweet cumin radish pickles. It happened.

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!

Cilantro Pesto Vinaigrette
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Makes 1/2 cup

1/4 cup cilantro pesto
1 medium shallot, minced
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 large lemon)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Combine pesto, shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt in a medium bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking continuously. Taste and add more salt or vinegar as needed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer Fruit Masa Cookie Crumble {Gluten-Free, Vegan}

Why do I always have such a hard time with the whole back-to-school thing? Does anyone else feel this way? The internet tells me I should be happy to see my child marching off for another year and I get it, I do, but I also feel such sadness at the thought of my little girl beginning a new grade, growing up, getting older, and all that other stuff I simultaneously do and don't want to happen. I think Hiro summed it up in his sweet 2-year-old voice when he looked straight at Louisa and said, "I'm going to miss you when you go to school Weesa." Yep, me too. In my last ditch attempts at denial I'll just pretend we are still firmly in July and continue posting summer recipes until at least mid-October.

If you are like me then you are a woman who enjoys a warm fruit cobbler/crisp/crumble situation more than anything in this whole wide world (you could also be a man who enjoys these things but then you wouldn't be exactly like me, just sayin').

One of the most troubling peculiarities of my family is that no one else shares my fruit-filled obsession, and while I'm not against making an individual peach cobbler just for myself (brilliant, so brilliant) its just not as fun as enjoying it with someone else. So when Sydney posted this Strawberry Oatmeal Cookie Crumble I thought the idea might just be different enough to peak at least The Professor's interest.

What happens is this: cookie dough instead of oat/nut/biscuit topping and the dough is not only a topping but a bottoming too (meaning two layers—you catch my drift). I used one of our favorite gluten-free, vegan cookie doughs and a jumble of fruit (sweet cherries, blueberries, strawberries) but this recipe is highly adaptable. Any sort of stone fruit would work, all berries would be good, and as apples and pears come into season they would be right at home too.

Some other ideas:

Bottom line is that I made this, took a picture of it, ate one serving, and my husband ate the rest—really, truly a man after my own heart.

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 emoji here). xo

Summer Fruit Masa Cookie Crumble {Gluten-Free, Vegan}
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While I enjoy most cobblers and crisps and things of those nature warm with ice cream The Professor and I both agreed this dessert was better chilled a little bit or at best room temperature. As for the lavender I had some in my garden and I love the lavender-berry combo, but you could omit it and add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract instead. 

Inspired by Crepes of Wrath

Makes 8 servings

1 recipe Coconut Masa Shortbread dough, chilled
5 cups chopped ripe fruit (I used pitted and halved bing cherries, whole blueberries, and quartered strawberries)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lavender buds, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1. Heat oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.  Grease a 7 x 11-inch baking dish and set aside.

2. Combine fruit, cornstarch, sugar, lavender, and lemon juice in a medium bowl and stir until cornstarch and sugar have coated the fruit.

3. Crumble two-thirds of the dough in the bottom of the baking dish. Spread fruit mixture evenly over the dough and then crumble remaining dough on top, covering evenly.

4. Bake until fruit is bubbly and top is golden brown, about 1 hour. Let sit at least 30 minutes before serving with ice cream and an extra sprinkling of lavender buds.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Simple Stewed Green Beans

This week marks the last full week of summer for us. The Professor starts teaching again next Monday and Louisa will start school Thursday. I'm mourning the end of summer and will miss having the two of them around. I feel like I should have some sort of last-week-of-summer blow-out but I'm too tired to plan or execute any such thing. Instead I'm just going to try to enjoy every last moment before—poof! Just like that its over.

I first posted this recipe all the way back in 2010 but find myself making it so often that I thought it deserved some new pictures and a face lift. I got it from Cat Cora who attributes it to her Greek upbringing but my Mexican mother-in-law makes a very similar dish, sometimes with green beans and on occasion with nopales or cactus paddles.

It's no surprise that this method of cooking crunchy green vegetables spans the globe, it's a wonderful, easy way to cook them. You completely skip the two-step blanching process normally done when sautéing fresh green beans, and simply toss all the ingredients together. As the green beans cook they soak up the flavors of the onions, garlic and herbs and best of all, you only dirtied one pot.

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). xo

Simple Stewed Green Beans
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Adapted from Cat Cora's Kitchen

Makes 6 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice or 2 medium fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup water
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook until translucent and just starting to brown.

2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let cook until beans are tender, but not mushy. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chopped Garden Salad with Queso Fresco and Crispy Tortilla Croutons

I'd like to have a moment of silence for my beloved pumpkin plant whose life was cut short by a very ugly white worm infestation. Time of death: approximately 8pm, Friday night; at least that's when I yanked the gigantic tangle of monster vines from the ground in hopes of saving its neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Delicata Squash.

I get a tinge of sadness now when I look out at the garden and see the huge empty spot and overgrown grass where it had once stretched out into the lawn, but it did manage to produce two very solid Jack 'O Lanterns before its passing, which was kind seeing as I have two children who would not be satisfied with one pumpkin to share.

Other than the pumpkin fatality the garden is producing in full August fashion, we've had three consecutive meals (breakfast included) of tomatoes and actually have watermelons (!!!!!). I'm really excited about that last one (can you tell?) because that was a complete shot in the dark. I'll take some garden pics next week so you can see how things are progressing.

I was so overwhelmed by the garden's bounty when we got home last week that there was nothing left to do but dive in head first with supper salad after supper salad. Salad for lunch! Salad for dinner! Salad for breakfast?! Yay!

This one is a riff off one of my very favorite salads where thick slabs of avocado meet crispy-fried tortilla strips all tossed in a sharp lime-cilantro vinaigrette but this time I used tarragon and red wine vinegar instead of the cilantro and lime juice guessed it—I've got tarragon coming out the wazoo. I used plenty of crunchy garden lettuce and lightly blanched green beans then finished it all off with a sprinkling of creamy queso fresco. Chop! Chop!

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

Chopped Garden Salad with Queso Fresco and Crispy Tortilla Croutons
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Makes 2 servings (as a main course)

1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 corn tortillas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 sprigs tarragon, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups torn lettuce
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into thick slices
3 radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup queso fresco, crumbled

1. Bring a medium saucepan of heavily-salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and submerge in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Set aside to cool completely then remove from water and pat dry.

2. In a medium bowl combine the red onion slices, teaspoon salt, vinegar, and lemon juice. Set aside to marinate while you make the tortilla strips.

3. Cut each tortilla in half vertically, then each half into strips horizontally. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Once oil is hot, add tortilla strips a few at at time and fry until browned and crisp on both sides, about 2-3 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining tortilla strips.

4. To finish the dressing, add tarragon, olive oil, and black pepper to the onion mixture and stir with a fork to combine.

5. Arrange lettuce, avocado, radishes, green beans on two large plates. Drizzle dressing over the top then sprinkle with tortilla croutons and queso fresco. Serve immediately.