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Apps, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes

Meat-Stuffed Grape Leaves

September 21, 2017
These meat-stuffed grape leaves make a tasty appetizer or the spotlight to a special dinner with warm pita bread, lemony cucumber salad, and creamy hummus.

I’m always on the lookout for something different to switch up the dinner doldrums. Similar to I’m sure many of you I fall into weeknight ruts of either picking up something or making the same old things over and over again. So when the lovely Liz Della Croce asked if I would want to take a peek at the newest edition to her Food From Our Ancestors series: The Ultimate Syrian Sunday Dinner I jumped at the chance. This beautiful compilation of family recipes drive home why they are favorites; comfort food, full of flavor, the dishes our mothers have been making forever, for good reason.

I’ve a weakness for stuffed grape leaves so as soon as I saw Liz’s recipe I knew that those would most certainly make the cut. I’m the gal who buys the Trader Joe’s grape leaves for just about every summer picnic but have never actually made them myself. The recipe looked simple enough and culinary challenges are pretty much my jam so in I dove.

I’ve only ever eaten rice-stuffed grape leaves and was excited that I could actually rationalize these meat-stuffed grape leaves as dinner. Add a salad (I made Liz’s Syrian salad from the book) and a side (again Liz to the rescue with Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions—I told you this book was good!) and now, man I’m getting excited about dinner!

These meat-stuffed grape leaves weren’t even all that hard to pull off. The jar of grape leaves I found at Whole Foods and they easily unfurl to create perfect little wrappers for the meat and rice mixture. One jar was plenty and I even has some leftover, so you know whose going to be making stuffed grape leaves again. Yay, yes, ME!

As far as stuffing and rolling I fell right into rhythm. They were like rolling up tiny little burritos: two sides in, bottom over filling, roll, roll, roll.

Then you pile them in a pot, cover with water, and weigh them down with a plate. Simmer until the rice is cooked—they only take about 15 minutes! They are excellent hot, room temperature, or cold. It’s the lemon that I love, no the mint, no the lemon. Either way, so good.

Liz’s Food From Our Ancestors series are real treasures. You can get the Syrian ebook or buy a bundle of all four: Mexican, Jewish Shabbat, Italian, and Syrian for basically a steal.

Meat-Stuffed Grape Leaves
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 (2-pound) jar of grape leaves (roughly 50 leaves)
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • ½ cup lon-grain white rice, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into thirds, optional
  • 5 cabbage leaves, optional
  • 2 tablespoons dried mint
Instructions
  1. Line a large pot with celery stalks and loose cabbage leaves (I used extra grape leaves).
  2. Place grape leaves on a plate and trim any large, thick stems off bottom.
  3. In a large bowl, combine ground meat, rice, juice of 1 lemon, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  4. Working one grape leaf at a time, place the leaf flat on a plate and add 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture near stem.
  5. Form meat into thin cigar shapes, then roll the grape leaf starting at the stem all the way to the top. No need to fold in sides but they'll look nicer if you do.
  6. Line stuffed grape leaves in pot, alternating direction with each layer, until the pot is filled ¾ of the way or you've used all your leaves.
  7. Cover the grape leaves with water, making sure there's at least one inch of liquid above the grape leaves. Pour in remaining lemon juice and add dried mint.
  8. Cover grape leaves with a small plate turned upside down to keep them from moving and to weigh them down.
  9. Cover pot with lid and bring to a simmer.
  10. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is fully cooked. Serve with pita bread and cucumber laban.
Notes
Liz suggests lining the cooking pot with celery stalks and cabbage leaves. I didn't have either, so I used a few of the torn and tiny grape leaves instead

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

Apps, Breakfast, Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Recipes, Side Dishes, Snacks, Sweets

The Ultimate Summer Fruit Board

June 12, 2017
One thing Mexico and Italy have in common is their love of fresh fruit. This ultimate summer fruit board combines the two different styles in one board!

This evening precisely at 6pm we will board a plane to Italy where we will stay for the next five weeks, then it is off to London for another week before returning home.

I am so incredibly excited and honestly never thought this day would come. Armando and I spent three months in Italy 15 years ago and I truly thought that I would never be back. There are just so many places on Earth to see I didn’t think (as much as I absolutely fell in love with the country) that I would have the luxury to visit the same place twice. Now, here we are, packing—albeit a much bigger—suitcase, with some of our clothes we bought there last time, and not only returning to Italy but bringing our children with us too.

I will try to post here while I’m gone but I’ll be honest with you, I’m actually looking forward to having a break. I hope to spend most of the time replenishing my creative juices and stocking up on inspiration. I will be posting our journey on Instagram in stories and pictures so make sure to check us out there.

Before I take off however, I wanted to leave you with an idea I’m pretty sure you’ll use all summer long. It is not really a recipe but simply an easy idea that will make every party you throw or attend from Father’s Day to Labor Day. We took this ultimate summer fruit board to our friend’s last night where they were celebrating their son’s 4th birthday and it was loved by everyone from the smallest munchkin to the most sophisticated adult (who was not me, BTW).

This fruit board also ties in to our upcoming trip because if there is one thing Italians and Mexicans have in common it is their love of fresh fruit. I’ve separated the board to highlight the different ways fruit is enjoyed in both places and strangely enough they go very well together; a little sweet, a little spicy, something creamy, something salty. I guess there’s a reason I have such an admiration for both cultures, they are very much in lock step with each other in so many ways.

HOW TO PUT TOGETHER THE ULTIMATE SUMMER FRUIT BOARD

The most important detail of putting together a delectable fruit board is to choose the ripest, most beautiful fruit you can find. Ideally the Farmer’s Market is the place to shop, but wherever you go, make sure the fruit is fragrant and at it’s peak.

Anything goes as far as which fruits to select. Here’s what I chose:

  • black grapes, mango, kiwi, blueberries, raspberries, papaya, oranges, cherries, red grapes, cantaloupe, watermelon, green grapes, nectarines

For the Italian side of the board I added:

For the Mexican side of the board I added:

Have a wonderful summer my loves!!

Oh, and if you have any recommendations for things to see, do, eat, enjoy in Italy I’d love to hear them. Anyone want to meet up?

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

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Apps, Mains, Recipes

Friends Who Fete: How to Throw a Whimsical Bridal Shower for the Globetrotting Girl

June 8, 2017
How to throw a whimsical bridal shower for a travel loving girl who, oh yeah...already eloped! With a menu, decor ideas, florals, and a DIY champagne bar.

** Click here to enter THE ULTIMATE BRIDAL SHOWER GIVEAWAY worth over $1000 or scroll to the bottom of the story to enter!!**

How do you throw the perfect bridal shower for the girl who’s been everywhere, seen everything, and oh yeah….already eloped?

Well that is just what my dear friend Meg (from This Mess Is Ours) and I set out to do a couple weeks ago for our friend and partner in party-making, Aida Mollenkamp (from Salt & Wind). Aida is so fabulously sophisticated it was no easy task. We had to find the choicest of locations, put together the most elegant of menus, and of course some sort of fancy cocktail situation. Not to toot my own horn; but I think we nailed it! Let’s take a peek.


THE MENU

Aida is the queen of travel so we wanted to create a menu that reflected her worldly view with flavors from around the globe. Instead of a sit-down lunch, we opted for finger foods offered up buffet style so everyone could not only help themselves but mingle and talk while they nibbled.

Moroccan Passionfruit Minimalist Iced Tea || Salt & Wind

Spring Asparagus and New Potatoes with Harissa Goat Cheese Dip

  Gougeres Tea Sandwiches with Moroccan Chicken || Salt & Wind

Gougeres Tea Sandwiches with Mint, Date Paste, and Goat Cheese || Salt & Wind

Gougeres Tea Sandwiches with Spiced Carrots, Tapenade, and Ricotta || Salt & Wind

Avocado Deviled Eggs with Dukkah

Spicy Papaya Lime Shrimp Skewers

Easy Watermelon Canapés || This Mess Is Ours

Individual Pistachio Pavlovas with Strawberries || This Mess Is Ours

THE ULTIMATE CHAMPAGNE BAR

Nothing is more festive than champagne so we needed bubbles….and lots of them. Meg put together a DIY bar with homemade syrups, fruits, and edible flowers to really knock it out of the park.

How to Build the Ultimate Champagne Bar || This Mess Is Ours

Vanilla Bean and Plum Syrup || This Mess Is Ours

Apricot and Orange Blossom Syrup || This Mess Is Ours

Hibiscus Syrup


SETTING THE SCENE WITH THE HUNTED FOX

 

We needed to find a space that echoed Aida’s luxurious and colorful flare. The Hunted Fox studio in downtown LA brought our dream to life. With their bright, airy space and rich textiles, our intimate gathering celebrated the bride in style. Their handmade ottomans, pillows, and linens added unique elements to the party making it feel cozy and charming. If you want to read more about The Hunted Fox check out Meg’s shopping guide!

THE FLORALS

Meredith Ambruso mimicked the party’s whimsical feel with arrangements of edibles like button chamomile and dill flowers along with roses and olive leaf. A long table runner of flowers, herbs, and fresh fruits from Melissa’s Produce adorned the buffet.

She also created a stunning floral wreath, similar to the individual ones she created for our Italian Polenta Party. The wreath, made of Willow Eucalyptus, Spray Roses, Fern, and Statice, all of which she dried and reshaped and gave to Aida as a keepsake for her front door.

WATERCOLOR WHIMSY

This delightful watercolor menu filled with elements from the buffet was created by artist Jessica Weymouth.


SHOWER GIFTS….AND A SURPRISE

To be completely honest, I’m a little bit jealous of Aida’s fabulous bridal shower gifts. She received one of the brand spanking new, recently released miniature Kitchen Aid Mixers, a beautiful selection of cookbooks, and a handmade Hunted Fox pillow which are all wonderful presents to start a new home. Not to mention a gorgeous 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset Dutch Oven, a hand-painted card, and an artisan foods gift basket from Melissa’s Produce.

Now for the truly exciting part: I might not be able to have these gifts but guess what? YOU CAN!! As part of our bridal shower celebration we wanted you to be part of the fun too! Whether you need gifts for an upcoming wedding or want to keep them for yourself, we are giving away all these gifts to one lucky winner, a prize package valued at over $1000!

ENTER NOW!

Click here to view this promotion.

FRIENDS WHO FETE

If you know anything about me, you know I love to get together with friends and family and celebrate for any reason…or no reason at all. That’s why every few months I join forces with Salt & Wind and This Mess Is Ours to throw a party and give you all the details so you can too! We call it Friends Who Fete and you can find all our fiestas here!


SOURCES

Many thanks to Salt & Wind and This Mess Is Ours for all the gorgeous photography and Melissa’s Produce for the beautiful fruits and vegetables.

And a big thank you to our giveaway sponsors: Le Creuset, Kitchen Aid, Melissa’s Produce, The Hunted Fox, and Jessica Weymouth.

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

 

Apps, Condiments and Salsas, Recipes, Snacks

Spring Asparagus and New Potatoes with Harissa Goat Cheese Dip

June 5, 2017
Learn how to make homemade harissa then use it in this creamy Harissa Goat Cheese Dip; perfect for tender asparagus spears and summer's first new potatoes.

** Click here to enter THE ULTIMATE BRIDAL SHOWER GIVEAWAY worth over $1000!!**

It always intrigues me how cuisines from one culture can be worlds apart physically yet be exact replicas in almost every other way. The Tunisian spice paste harissa and the mole pastes of Mexico are a perfect example.

I hadn’t really thought too much about their similarities until last week when I decided to make harissa from scratch for the first time. Dried chiles got toasted and soaked, whole spices were warmed filling the entire house with their fragrance, vegetables were charred under an open flame until their skins crackled and blackened. The entire process felt like second nature, incredibly familiar to one I’ve done many times making homemade mole sauces and ground chile salsas.

My inclinations probably gave my harissa more of a Mexican flavor than is traditional—smoked morita chiles and charred tomatoes I don’t think are authentic. But it made a lovely dip on it’s own and when mixed with soft chèvre goat cheese and a little bit of cream cheese to ensure lusciousness in a harissa goat cheese dip.

I made this creepingly spicy dip for gently blanched asparagus and new potatoes; a very special seasonal crudite-style platter I brought to the Friends Who Fete Bridal Shower Meg and I threw for Aida over Memorial Day weekend.  Any leftover harissa goat cheese dip was quickly consumed with tortilla chips and as a drizzle over a big plate of carne asada, grilled vegetables, and rice.

All the party details will be coming out this week so make sure you follow along the #FriendsWhoFete hashtag for lots of effortlessly elegant party tips!


Spring Asparagus and New Potatoes with Harissa Goat Cheese Dip
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
For the Harissa:
  • 4 dried morita chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 3 dried arbol chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, halved, and seeded
  • 1 serrano chile
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1½ teaspoons cumin seed
  • 1½ teaspoons coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ⅓ cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Dip:
  • 8 ounces soft goat cheese (chèvre)
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • Juice of 1 lemon
For the Veggies:
  • 1 pound new potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed
Instructions
To Make the Harissa:
  1. Heat broiler to high. Place dried chiles, red bell pepper, serrano chile, and cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet.
  2. Place baking sheet directly under the broiler and char the vegetables. Watch the dried chiles carefully as they will toast first, turn them occasionally until they are darkened on all sides, then remove and let the remaining vegetables broil.
  3. Remove the vegetables from the baking sheet as their skins char on all sides, the cherry tomatoes will be done next followed by the serrano and red bell pepper which could take up to 10 minutes.
  4. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the toasted dried chiles and let soak at least 15 minutes.
  5. Combine cumin, coriander, and caraway in a small frying pan and toast, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until fragrant and starting to brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to a mortar and pestle, let cool, then grind into a powder. This can also be done in a clean coffee grinder.
  6. Once the charred veggies are cool enough to handle, remove all charred skin and the stem of the serrano chile. Remove the serrano seeds too if you don't want it very spicy.
  7. Drain the dried chiles and combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until very smooth. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt if needed. Harissa can be made up to 3 days in advance. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use. Makes 1½ cups of sauce.
To Make the Dip:
  1. Combine harissa, goat cheese, cream cheese, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Blend until smooth and well combined. Taste and add salt as needed. Transfer to a serving bowl. Dip can be made up to a day in advance, covered in the refrigerator.
To prepare the Veggies:
  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, whole and cook at a gentle boil until just tender when poked with the tip of a knife. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate.
  2. Add asparagus to the boiling water and cook until vibrant green and just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and submerge in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
  3. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half or quarters if they are big.
  4. Arrange the vegetables on a tray with the dip and serve.
Notes
Substitute store-bought harissa for the homemade if you'd like; you will need 1½ cups for this recipe but don't add it all at once. Because the flavor of store-bought will be different you might need more or less depending on the brand and how spicy it is.

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

A big thanks goes out to Salt & Wind and This Mess Is Ours for the beautiful photography and to Melissa’s for supplying the fresh produce!

Apps, Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes

Spicy Papaya Lime Shrimp Skewers

June 2, 2017
These spicy papaya lime shrimp skewers are the perfect summertime grilled skewer. Small bites of lime and chili marinated shrimp with juicy papaya.

** Click here to enter THE ULTIMATE BRIDAL SHOWER GIVEAWAY worth over $1000!!**

The girls and I got together again. You know how we do every few months. Throw a fabulous party, take a bunch of pictures, tell you all about it. Follow #friendswhofete for all the details.

This time it was to celebrate Aida’s elopement and future wedded bliss in an effortlessly elegant bridal shower. We got together at my friend Moana’s studio, drank champagne cocktails, and nibbled on finger foods. It was all kinds of fancy and I’ll be sharing lots of photos and recipes and party tips with you over the next week or so because I know there are at least one or two of you who will be hosting a bridal or baby shower this summer.

One of my contributions were these shrimp and papaya skewers that I had marinated, and skewered in advance and then grilled right before we ate. Which p.s. means they can absolutely be made in advance and are excellent party food.

Let’s talk shrimp

I am a gal who prefers super fresh local shrimp with the heads and shells left on. I was able to get some at the local fish market on the harbor in Santa Barbara. That being said (knowing full well you are probably in mid eye roll right now) this recipe will work perfectly perfect with headless, peeled and deveined shrimp. But if you have access to local shrimp and can get those bad boys with the head on–do it!

The shrimp gets marinated in loads of lime zest, fresh squeeze lime juice, ground California chili powder (or whichever chili powder you prefer) and sugar. In this instance it is a marinade but there is no reason this would not make an amazing dip for spring rolls or pot stickers, so keep that in mind next time you want to doctor up a bag of Trader Joe’s gyoza.

Because these are supposed to be dainty bites I skewered one shrimp between two papaya wedges but if you are serving them as more of a main course situation you can add as many to the skewer as you’d like.

Let’s talk papaya

For this recipe you want a ripe, sweet papaya…but not too ripe. If the papaya is like super duper, kinda starting to mold on the outside ripe, it will fall apart the second you try to skewer it. Look for one that is almost to that stage, but not quite.

Peeling a papaya is best done with a y-peeler. If you don’t have one—what the heck are you waiting for?!! They cost like two cents and perform miracles. Peel it, cut it in half and scoop out the creepy looking black seeds–eat them if you want, they taste like pepper.

The final touch for these skewers was a sprinkle of Jacobsen Salt Company’s habanero salt, just to add a touch of heat. By the way, they are not paying me to say this, but I really do love their salts, and honeys, and oh my god their salty candies which basically taste like the best salt water taffy you’ve ever had. But for these skewers the habanero salt is where its at. If you are not that into spicy, just leave it off but it does give the skewers that perfect je ne sais quoi.

Spicy Papaya Lime Shrimp Skewers
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 24 bamboo or metal skewers
  • 2 tablespoons lime zest
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground California chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound shrimp, preferably head-on with shells
  • 2 pounds ripe papaya, peeled, seeded and cut into wedges
  • Habanero salt, for garnish (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for serving (optional)
Instructions
  1. If using bamboo or wooden skewers, cover with water and let soak for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Combine lime zest, lime juice, sugar, oil, chili powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to dissolve sugar.
  3. I like to use head-on shrimp as I find they have more flavor. I leave the heads and shells on and rinse them well in cold water. If you'd rather get headless shrimp that's fine too. Peel and devein the shrimp if you'd like, either way works. Toss shrimp in marinade, cover, and refrigerate for an hour.
  4. Start the grill and let it heat to medium-high.
  5. Drain the skewers if soaking and thread papaya and shrimp (1 shrimp and 2 papaya pieces per skewer for appetizer bites and more for meal-sized portions) on the skewers. Saving any leftover marinade for brushing.
  6. Grill skewers, brushing with marinade occasionally until shrimp are pink, firm, and cooked through. The timing on these will depend on how hot your grill is. Mine was pretty cool, so they took about 10 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle skewers with a little habanero salt if you'd like and serve with lime wedges.

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

A big thanks goes out to Salt & Wind and This Mess Is Ours for the beautiful photography and to Melissa’s for supplying the fresh produce!

Apps, Dairy Free, Recipes

Avocado Deviled Eggs with Dukkah

May 30, 2017
These irresistible avocado deviled eggs are use fresh, ripe avocado instead of mayonnaise. The Egyptian spice blend, dukkah gives them a nutty finish.

** Click here to enter THE ULTIMATE BRIDAL SHOWER GIVEAWAY worth over $1000!!**

If you are going to have one thing on your summer rotation these deviled eggs should be it. I say this with complete confidence because I made them for last weekend’s Friends Who Fete Bridal Shower (lots more on that to come) and they were a huge hit.

They are like Mexican deviled eggs with an Egyptian twist. What does that even mean? I don’t know. All I know is they are damn good and you’re about to eat a dozen by yourself in one sitting. Trust.

First things first: What the heck is dukkah?

Okay, so dukkah is kind of like sprinkling heaven on your food. If you are a nut-enthusiast like I am than you will be putting this Egyptian spice blend on just about errrything. You can buy dukkah already made, Trader Joe’s used to sell a good mix but they have since discontinued selling it–err.  But you can find plenty of options online or in the spice section of your grocery store.

I, however, like to make my own because this allows me to control the flavor profile and salt level. For example, dukkah’s main ingredient is typically hazelnuts but I wanted to go with something less assertive to let the flavor of the deviled eggs shine through so I used almonds in this recipe instead.

Any leftover dukkah can be used to coat fish before roasting, mixed with olive oil for a quick dip for flatbread or, how I use it most often: For lunch, sprinkled over a bowl of quickly fried rice and sliced avocado.

Second things First: What the heck are avocado deviled eggs?

A while back I made these guacamole deviled eggs where I substituted ripe avocado for the mayonnaise. They were so good I decided to go with that little maneuver from now on. The avocado makes the deviled eggs just creamy enough without being heavy and if you hate mayonnaise (which I don’t, but a lot of people do) than you can have your deviled egg and eat it too!

On a kind of related, kind of completely unrelated note; the results from our first ever ¡Hola! Jalapeño Reader Survey are coming in (if you haven’t taken it yet, please take a few minutes to give your feedback). I am pleasantly surprised to see you guys want more entertaining ideas! Which is YAY!! Because Meg (from This Mess Is Ours) and Aida (from Salt and Wind) and I got together last weekend to celebrate Aida’s recent elopement with a Friends Who Fete Bridal Shower. I’ll be sharing all the details with you over the next couple weeks but it was an effortlessly elegant party and I know one you are going to want to recreate this time of year with all the weddings and baby showers and such going on so I’ve got all the details from the recipes down to the decorations to make your next party absolutely perfect!

So there you go, your wish is my command. Now go make yourself some deviled eggs!

 

Avocado Deviled Eggs with Dukkah
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These irresistible avocado deviled eggs are use fresh, ripe avocado instead of mayonnaise. The Egyptian spice blend, dukkah gives them a nutty finish.
Author:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
For the Dukkah:
  • ¾ cup slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • ¼ teaspoon caraway seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
For the Deviled Eggs:
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the eggs
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup fresh dill
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Thinly sliced scallion for garnish, optional
Instructions
To make the Dukkah:
  1. Place almonds in a medium frying pan and place over medium heat. Toast until fragrant and golden, about 4 minutes. Remove to a plate to let cool.
  2. Toast pumpkin seeds in the same pan over medium heat until starting to brown and pop, about 2 minutes. Remove to the plate with the almonds.
  3. Toast sesame seeds in the same pan over medium heat, stirring continuously until golden, about a minute or two. Remove to a separate plate to cool.
  4. Add fennel seeds, peppercorns, caraway, cumin, and coriander to the pan to toast until they are fragrant, stirring frequently, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the almonds and let cool.
  5. Once all the almonds, pumpkin seeds, and spices are cool, grind them in a mortar and pestle or food processor until finely chopped, but not a paste.
  6. Place in a medium bowl and add sesame seeds, salt, and marjoram and stir to combine. Dukkah can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month or up to 6 months in the freezer. Makes 1 cup.
For the Deviled Eggs:
  1. Place eggs in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Pour a generous amount of salt into the water (about a handful) and place over medium-high heat.
  2. Bring the water to a boil then cover and remove from heat. Let eggs sit covered for 8 minutes. Drain and chill with ice water.
  3. Once cool enough to handle, peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks and place in a food processor.
  4. Add the flesh of the avocado, cilantro, dill, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Blend until smooth. Taste to see if it needs more salt or lemon juice.
  5. Spoon filling back into the eggs and sprinkle a pinch of dukkah over each egg and a few slices of scallion if you'd like. Enjoy!
Notes
Eggs can be made and filled up to 3-4 hours in advance. Sprinkle with dukkah just before serving.

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

A big thanks goes out to Salt & Wind and This Mess Is Ours for the beautiful photography and to Melissa’s for supplying the fresh produce!

Apps, Comida Latina, Condiments and Salsas, Dairy Free, Recipes, Snacks

Salsa de Cacahuate {Creamy Peanut and Chile Salsa}

May 5, 2017
Salsa de Cacahuate is a creamy, spicy salsa made from ground peanuts, arbol chiles, charred tomatoes, garlic, & onions. Goes amazing with margaritas!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

I couldn’t leave you with nothing to nibble on! This peanut salsa is exactly what you want to go with your Pineapple Hibiscus Margarita.

Pineapple Hibiscus Margarita

It is a spicy little number, full of dried arbol chiles but creamy with ground peanuts to calm the heat.  I like to add a couple of charred tomatoes to add some smoke and make it just thick enough to coat a salty tortilla chip but not so gloppy it just runs right off.

The sweet margarita calms the spice from the salsa de cacahuate and it is an incredible pairing with blanco tequila bringing out the darker, earthier flavors in the spirit.

Salsa de Cacahuate

Have a fun and safe Cinco de Mayo and be sure to check out the over 60 Margarita-inspired recipes we have on the Margarita Week page!!

Salsa de Cacahuate {Creamy Peanut and Chile Salsa}
 
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Salsa de Cacahuate is a creamy, spicy salsa made from ground peanuts, arbol chiles, charred tomatoes, garlic, & onions. Goes amazing with margaritas!
Author:
Serves: 3 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 small tomatoes, cored
  • 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup raw peanuts, plus ¼ cup toasted and chopped, for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 6 dried arbol chiles, stems removed
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Place tomatoes, onion, and garlic cloves in a dry comal or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides. The garlic will cook sooner than the other vegetables, remove them as they are done cooking.
  2. When cool enough to handle, peel the skin off the garlic and place in the blender with the other vegetables. Blend on high until smooth and keep in blender.
  3. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the ½ cup peanuts, oregano, chiles, peppercorns, and cloves. Fry, stirring occasionally, until peanuts are toasted and chiles are fragrant. Let cool slightly.
  4. Add peanut mixture to blender with the tomato mixture and the lime juice and salt and blend on high until smooth. Taste and add more salt as needed. Top with remaining chopped peanuts.

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Apps, Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Recipes, Snacks

Mint and Sweet Pea Guacamole with Sweet Potato Chips

April 25, 2017
Mint and pea guacamole may seem odd at first but the two flavors are naturals with ripe avocado. Try it for Cinco de Mayo when fresh peas are at their peek!

We have a winner! CONGRATULATIONS to Daniela Cho!! And thank you to everyone who entered. We had over 700 entries!! Come right back here next Tuesday for a Mother’s Day giveaway with Wolf Gourmet! 

With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner (and knowing full well all I’ll talk about then are margaritas) is there any better time than now to talk about guacamole? Specifically mint and pea guacamole?

This is, by all means, a break from the norm, but we are officially in spring and I seem to be all about health-ing stuff up these days (much to Armando’s chagrin). Last week when I brought home the tortilla press, then promptly made lentil turmeric tortillas with it…well.

mint and pea guacamole

“Corn tortillas”, he asked, “why can’t you just make corn tortillas?”. I really shouldn’t have gotten his hopes up like that. He did not, not eat them though (because they were very tasty, thankyouverymuch) and we had no problem finishing off this guacamole and sweet potato chips last night over some margaritas.

These chips are really fun, initially I was going to make plantain chips to go with the guacamole but got the idea for using white sweet potatoes while browsing an old issue of Bon Appetit that talked about having thin strips of sweet potato they initially thought were pappardelle at Lord Stanley in San Francisco. I know it sounds complicated but they are super easy to make, you just peel the skin off a white sweet potato (I don’t know if it works with other kinds of sweet potatoes/yams but let me know if you try) and then keep peeling it into thin strips with the vegetable peeler. Crisp them up in just a drizzle of hot oil on a comal or griddle pan for a minute or two and then sprinkle with salt.

pea and mint guacamole

The guacamole is dreamy too, a bit sweeter than you might expect but if you use really fresh Farmer’s market peas you’ll be really surprised at how delicious the pea-avocado combo is. The mint is a nice touch—just screams spring—making this the perfect guacamole to make at your Cinco de Mayo party next week!

Oh, by the way, do you like the sizzle platter and bowl I used in the images? Because they could be yours!! To celebrate Cinco de Mayo I’ve partnered with Le Creuset to give one lucky winner a Le Creuset Sizzle Platter and Round Multi Bowl….enter below for a chance to win! One lucky winner will be picked, at random on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Open to US residents only. 1 winner total. Good Luck!

pea and mint guacamole

Mint and Sweet Pea Guacamole with Sweet Potato Chips
 
Prep time
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Mint and pea guacamole may seem odd at first but the two flavors are naturals with ripe avocado. Try it for Cinco de Mayo when fresh peas are at their peak!
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
For the guacamole:
  • ¾ cup sweet peas, fresh or frozen
  • 3 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1-2 serrano chiles, stemmed and chopped (add more or less, depending on how spicy you like things. Remove the seeds if you'd like it less spicy)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup chopped mint
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
For the chips:
  • 1 large white sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • salt
Instructions
To make the guacamole:
  1. If using fresh peas, remove them from the pod and blanch them in boiling water for 1 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath until cold, then drain. If using frozen peas, microwave them until thawed, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Place peas, avocado, scallions, serranos, cilantro, mint, lime juice, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until well combined, but not completely smooth.
  3. Scrape into a serving bowl, taste to see if it needs more lime juice or salt. If not serving right away, press a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the guacamole (touching it) and refrigerate until ready to eat.
For the chips:
  1. Peel sweet potatoes then using the peeler, peel the sweet potato into large strips until all of it has been used.
  2. Heat oil in a large griddle or frying pan over medium heat. Add sweet potato strips, a few at a time; don't crowd until starting to brown and get crispy, about 1 minute. Flip and cook the other side, about a minute more.
  3. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt.
  4. Chips are best eaten the day they are made.

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One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

Apps, Comida Latina, Mains, Recipes

Loaded Black Mole Braised Beef Fries

March 21, 2017
Loaded Black Mole Braised Beef Fries Recipe from @holajalapeno

How do you moms out there deal with getting stuff done? I’m serious, I need your advice because I’m dealing with a constant tug-of-war between working and being (and I mean mentally present) with my kids.

I’m not talking about the daily chore stuff of laundry, dinner, etc but the work from home stuff, the I need to do this for me and only me kind of stuff. I’ve been doing this work from home thing with various levels of success for a long time now and I’m still not sure how to do it right. To do it in a way that I feel honors my role of being a mother and a woman with an independent career. Any tips? I’d really like to hear them. I know from the outside it’s easy to think other women have their shit all kinds of together but that’s what’s so beautiful about having these conversations and being real with each other, so in all honesty I’d love your help.

Loaded Black Mole Braised Beef Fries Recipe from @holajalapeno

This all relates to black mole fries, I promise and here’s how: Being real and honest women is also what I adore about one my favorite podcasts Super Mamás. The show is hosted by sisters Paulina Lopez Velazquez and Bricia Lopez-Maytorena. They get down to the real nitty-gritty of life and cover every topic under the sun from bilingual struggles to miscarriage to shitty mom moments. These two incredible women also help run their families other businesses; the James Beard award winning Oaxacan restaurant, Guelaguetza, their Mole business, and their Michelada mix business. Long story short, I can imagine they both know what I’m talking about you can imagine how honored and psyched I was when they asked if I would like to come up with a little something-something using their mole! See? Fries!

Please, please, please don’t be intimidated about these fries. I know just looking at the recipe it looks crazy. I mean who spends over 4 hours making fries?!! But most of it is time you are chilling, waiting for the beef to slowly braise in the oven (a step you can also do the day before if you want to). Let’s break them down piece by piece shall we?

How to Make the Black Mole Sauce

Loaded Black Mole Braised Beef Fries Recipes from @holajalapeno

Using Guelaguetza’s Black Mole Paste makes preparing the mole sauce super easy, you just need to add a bit of tomato, some broth, a hunk of chocolate, and some salt. After the sauce is made pour it over some browned boneless short ribs, cover, and slowly braise in the oven until they are tender and falling apart.

Loaded Black Mole Braised Beef Fries Recipe from @holajalapeno

How To Make the Fries

Loaded Black Mole Braised Beef Fries

Making the fries are pretty simple, just toss some frozen French fries with a few spices and salt and bake in the oven. Once they are done you can move on to the fun part—the toppings!!

Loaded Black Mole Braised Beef Fries Recipe from @holajalapeno

The Toppings

This recipe looks really long because I wanted to give you guys several ideas for toppings. I added big, fat lima beans, caramelized onions, aged white Cheddar cheese, and sour cream. I also made some quick marinated tomatoes with sliced serrano chiles, cilantro, and scallions. You can be as creative as you’d like or make them super simple too, make them your own!

Loaded Black Mole Braised Beef Fries Recipe from @holajalapeno

To find out more about all three Guelaguetza mole pastes, how to buy it and more recipes using it, check out their store.

Loaded Black Mole Braised Beef Fries
 
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Oven-baked French fries topped with Oaxacan black mole braised beef, giant white beans, Cheddar, sour cream and more.
Author:
Serves: 6-8 Servings
Ingredients
For the Beef:
  • 1 large tomato, cored and quartered
  • 3 tablespoons Oaxacan Black Mole Paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 quarter piece Ibarra chocolate
  • 1 pound boneless short ribs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the Beans:
  • ½ cup dried lima beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
For the Onions:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
For the Tomatoes:
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
For the Fries:
  • 1 (24-ounce) bag frozen French fries
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground California chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 cup grated sharp white Cheddar cheese
Additional Toppings:
  • Crumbled queso fresco
  • micro greens
  • sour cream
  • lime wedges
Instructions
To Make the Beef:
  1. Heat oven to 300°F.
  2. Place the tomato in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Strain and blend until smooth in a blender (careful to cover the blender with a folded paper towel and not the lid which could explode with the hot liquid).
  3. Strain tomato liquid back into the saucepan. Add mole paste, broth, chocolate, and season with salt (about ½ teaspoon depending on your broth, paste, tastes, etc.) Bring to a simmer and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat.
  4. Season beef generously with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat oil in a frying pan until shimmering. Add beef and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Transfer to a baking dish, pour mole sauce over the beef and cover the dish with foil.
  5. Braise the beef in the oven until very tender and falling apart, about 1½- 2 hours. Shred beef in the pan then set aside. This step can be done a day in advance, uncover, let cool, then cover again with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
For the Beans:
  1. Rinse beans and place in a small saucepan. Cover with about 2 inches of water. Add bay leaf and black peppercorns and bring to a simmer. Cook until soft, about 30 minutes. Season the cooking water with salt and let cool in the liquid until ready to use. Strain beans before adding to the fries.
For the Onions:
  1. Heat oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and brown, about 10 minutes, adjusting the heat if necessary so they don't burn. Set aside.
For the Tomatoes:
  1. Toss the tomatoes with the scallion, chile, cilantro, and lime juice. Season with salt and set aside.
For the Fries:
  1. Heat oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the upper third.
  2. Combine fries, oil, salt, chile powder, coriander, and white pepper in a large bowl. Toss until fries are well coated then spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake until crisp and browned, about 30 minutes.
  4. Leave on the baking sheet or transfer to a large serving dish and cover with beef, some of the mole sauce, strained beans, caramelized onions, and Cheddar cheese.
  5. Return fries to oven and bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Remove and top with tomatoes, and any or all of the additional toppings.
Notes
You may or may not use all the toppings for the fries. Add the braised beef, beans, onions, and cheese to your liking. Leftovers of any of these make awesome tacos!

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Knowing that this recipe worked for you is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

Apps, Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Recipes, Snacks

Smoked Maple Butter Popcorn with Habanero Salt

March 14, 2017
Smoked Maple Butter Popcorn with Habanero Salt

This post was sponsored by Uncommon Goods but all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that help to support this blog!

Smoked Maple Butter Popcorn with Habanero Salt Recipe

I feel like I’ve left a lot of myself out of this blog lately. I don’t know why exactly. Uninspired to talk about my life I guess but here’s a rundown of what’s going on with us:

  • We’ve entered the life of school choice and have been waiting to see what the lottery hands us. Also, I’ll have both kids in school next year—mixed emotions on that subject.
  • We’ve been capturing (and killing) a lot of snails lately. Any tips on keeping snails alive? Probably not capturing them in the first place, huh?
  • We are planning our trip to Italy this summer. Here’s what I need to know:
    • How to entertain kids on an overseas flight besides buying them their own devices and/or Benadryl?
    • What/how much to pack for an extended stay? We’re also going to London, is it cold there in July? Do I need to pack jackets, scarves, and sweaters?
    • Affordable, kid-friendly Air B&B recs for Rome and really anywhere in Italy, we’ll have lots of time to travel.

There’s lots of other stuff too, like all of us, my life is relentless in the details but right now I’d rather have some fun and talk about a luxurious little snack. Something like popcorn drenched in pecan wood-smoked maple syrup, butter, and habanero salt. What about something like that?

Smoked Maple Butter Popcorn with Habanero Salt Recipe

I was asked to partner with Uncommon Goods a few weeks back and was excited to find some really fun gift ideas to share with you. If you are unfamiliar with Uncommon Goods they are an online retailer selling unique handmade goods from makers big and small all over the world. They have a bit of everything and are a one-stop shop for gift giving. They even put together gift collections to make it super simple. They have ideas for everything from Weddings to Graduations.

But of course me, I stuck firmly in my comfort zone—the kitchen. When I saw this microwave popcorn popper in their graduation gift guide, I knew immediately I had to have it. We eat a lot of popcorn but I usually pop it in a pan. With this nifty popper however, the kids can do it themselves! The lid doubles as a measuring cup for the popcorn kernels then you just pour them in, cover it with the lid, and put it in the microwave.

Smoked Maple Butter Popcorn with Habanero Salt Recipe

With my brain firmly stuck in popcorn mode I had to find something to put on it. At first I was leaning toward hot sauce (which they have plenty of in their Gifts for Dudes section) but then I spotted the Pecan Wood Smoked Maple Syrup, Oo la la!

I also loved these glasses made in Colombia from recycled car windshields and windows. They are just what I needed to sip my icy beer, but the green-hued glass would also make beautiful little vases for low table centerpieces.

Smoked Maple Butter Popcorn with Habanero Salt
 
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Smoked Maple Butter Popcorn with Habanero Salt is the ultimate luxurious snack for any party. Popcorn drenched in smoked maple syrup, butter, & spicy salt!
Author:
Serves: 4-6 Servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegan butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon smoked maple syrup or regular maple syrup and a dash of liquid smoke
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons habanero salt (depending on how hot you like it) or 1 teaspoon habanero salt and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 9 cups popped popcorn
Instructions
  1. Stir together melted butter, maple syrup, and salt.
  2. Pour over popped popcorn and toss to coat.
Notes
To make the habanero salt; combine 2 tablespoons kosher salt with ¼ teaspoon ground habanero chile powder.

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!