Browsing Tag

fiesta

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!

Recipes, Sweets

Friends Who Fete: 20 Essentials For A One-of-a-Kind Ice Cream Social

August 21, 2017
Celebrate summer with a one-of-a-kind ice cream social! Complete with recipes for homemade ice cream, caramel and chocolate sauces, and even DIY tattoos.

As summer draws to a close my merriment-making crew, Friends Who Fete—Aida of Salt & Wind and Meg of This Mess Is Ours—were dying to get together one last time and celebrate with the whole family. An ice cream social seemed like the perfect excuse to soak in the summer sun, play games, eat ice cream until our bellies burst, and give one last hurrah before the kiddos head back to school and life gets busy again. Here’s how we made it happen!

1.No-Churn Vanilla Cream Cheese Ice Cream: There is nothing more essential to an Ice Cream Social than vanilla ice cream. This homemade version requires no fancy ice cream machine and is extra tangy and rich thanks to the addition of cream cheese.

2. Chocolate Chocolate Ice Cream: Aida mixed up a batch of decadent homemade chocolate ice cream to satisfy the chocolate lovers in the crowd. Perfect for topping with a s’more—you know how we do.

3. No-Churn Churros Con Chocolate Ice Cream: I took my No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream base and add a swirl of Mexican Hot Chocolate Sauce and churros, no biggie.

4. Chocolate Almond Butter Cup Ice Cream with Almond Butter Swirl: Aida recreated her sister’s childhood obsession with this decadent combo. She took her extra chocolatey ice cream and swirled in a ribbon of almond butter then added miniature almond butter cups.

5. No-Churn Blueberry Mezcal Swirl Ice Cream: I felt it very important that the adults didn’t feel left out. Rich vanilla no-churn with a ripple of mescal-infused blueberry sauce; warning, this ice cream will make you swoon.

6. Hazelnut Chocolate “Baci” Ice Cream: This luxurious ice cream was inspired by Aida’s love for Baci Perugina, the Italian chocolate-hazelnut truffles.

7. Strawberry Aperol Spritz Poptails: These grown-up boozy pops are Meg’s ode to Italy’s signature summer cocktail, but with fresh strawberries added for an extra fruity kick.

8. Mexican Hot Chocolate Sauce: Impromptu sundae making calls for chocolate sauce. This is the sauce (with a touch of almond and cinnamon) that I swirled into my churros ice cream. I made a double batch so we’d have extra to drizzle on  top.

9. Coffee Salted Caramel Sauce: No ice cream party is complete without caramel sauce. Aida upped the ante with this topper. Rich caramel gets a boost from a shot of dark espresso for a sauce you will want to drizzle on everything.

 

10. Homemade Waffle Cones: Meg made these sweet cones in chocolate and vanilla. They were the perfect size for little hands—and gluten-free!

11. Toppings: You really can’t have too many toppings. Sprinkles are obviously a must, but we also lined the table with rainbow marshmallows, chocolate-covered candies, mini stroopwafels, macarons, graham crackers, and more!

12. Metal Ice Bins: Unless you want to be running back and forth from the freezer every five seconds you should have a plan on how to keep the ice cream as cold as possible. A metal bin filled with ice worked well for us, even in the LA heat.

13. Ice Cream Pints and Ice Cream Cups: We packed our homemade ice cream in these cute paper pint-sized containers (which, by the way, makes leftovers really easy to take home) and used colorful cups for sundaes.

14. Ice Cream Scoops: Invest in more than one ice cream scoop so multiple hands can be scooping at once. Sturdy scoops like this stainless steel one are my favorite but the spring-loaded scoops work well too.

15. Colorful Candy: Okay, I’ll admit having candy at an ice cream social is a little overkill…but its so pretty!! Try Twisty Rainbow Candy Lollipops, Swirl Pops, or Candy Ice Cream Cones.

16. Garland, Tassels, and Honeycombs–Oh My!: Colorful decorations are a must at any ice cream social but you don’t have to be a crafter to create a IG-worthy background. We used vibrant Tassel Garland and Honeycomb Balls from Sweet Lulu to set the scene. But PS, they also have Honeycomb Ice Cream Cones which are ohmygod so cute!

17. Punch Balloons: Let’s face it, kids who are eating tons of sugar need somewhere to put their energies, punch balloons to the rescue! Plus, they look really sweet too.

18. DIY Tattoos: Partying with uber-creatives like Meg and Todd has it’s perks. Like getting a full sleeve of handmade temporary ice cream tattoos. Click the link for instructions on how to make your own!

19. Ice Cream Cone Piñata: Word to the wise, filling the piñata with confetti makes the moment of explosion extra special.

20. Pin the Cherry on the Ice Cream Cone: This was a cute game that Meg and Todd came up with and the kids just loved.

A big THANK YOU to This Mess Is Ours and Salt & Wind for all the photography!

Friends Who Fete are three gals (¡Hola! Jalapeño, Salt & Wind, and This Mess Is Ours) who love to throw parties big and small. Every season we do something new–find them all here!

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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Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Drinks, Popular, Recipes

How to Make a DIY Chambord Sangria Bar

August 17, 2017
A DIY Chambord Sangria Bar is where it's at this summer! You make the fruity sangria base with Chambord and nectarines and let your friends do the rest.

This post has been sponsored by Chambord. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Must be 21 or older to consume alcohol. Please drink responsibly.

A DIY Chambord Sangria Bar is where it's at this summer! You make the fruity sangria base with Chambord and nectarines and let your friends do the rest.

How much time have you spent with your girlfriends this summer? If you have young kids home from school, the answer is probably none. We’ve been off traveling through Europe all summer long which was magical, amazing, memories I will cherish forever, and all that, but I really miss shooting the breeze with my ladies.

There is nothing like an out-and-out pow-wow with your girls. It is something I’m almost positive no mom does enough. So before summer is out I want to encourage you to call up a few friends, kick your adorable husband and children out the house, and have some serious girl time. It feels good to remind yourself every once in a while what life was like before your heart belonged to another.

When my pals at Chambord asked if I would come up with a summer drink recipe it seemed a perfect opportunity to offer up a fun idea for an easy Girls Night Out. These last days of summer always seem to be the hottest so ice-cold sangria is basically all I’m thinking about where entertaining is concerned. But instead of making one pitcher how about you let your friends make their own combinations by putting together a sangria bar?

Here’s the deal: You make a fruity nectar for the sangria by cooking down some fresh nectarines with a little sugar, water and lavender then blending the nectarine mixture with Chambord.

If you’ve never tried Chambord, girl it is time. Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur made with XO cognac. It has a dark berry flavor with hints of vanilla. Aside from making delicious sangria, you can also add a splash or two in a glass of sparkling wine to make one of my favorite Champagne cocktails.  

This nectarine-black raspberry puree will be the base from which everyone can add their preferred type of wine (red or white), their favorite sparkling juice or ginger beer, and their choice of fruits and herbs.

I went for stone fruits because my stone fruit guy was at the Farmer’s market and you’d have to be crazy to pass up his selection of black plums, nectarines, and peaches. But really whatever fruit looks good where you are is game. Other options would be berries of all sorts, watermelon, or really any kind of melon, you get the idea. As for the herbs I like to use fresh basil and mint. The Chambord sangria base has lavender in it, so you could pick up on those notes and have some fresh lavender flowers for adding to the drinks as well. I have lots of lavender growing in my yard, so I pick the flowers to use in my cooking all the time. You can buy lavender online or if you can’t find any, that’s okay, just leave it out.

Cut all the fruit in pieces small enough to fit in the glass and set it out on a table or bar along with the Chambord Sangria Base, washed and dried herb leaves, glasses, ice, open bottles of wine, and a nice selection of sparkling juices and/or ginger beer. The final touch is drink stirrers for combining the cocktail and a cute little recipe card to help everyone know what to add to mix the perfect drink!


Chambord Sangria Bar
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A DIY Chambord Sangria Bar is where it's at this summer! You make the fruity sangria base with Chambord and nectarines and let your friends do the rest.
Author:
Serves: 6 drinks
Ingredients
For the Chambord Sangria Base:
  • 3 ripe nectarines, pitted, peeled, and chopped
  • 1½ cups water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 5 lavender buds
  • 1 cup Chambord
  • For the Bar:
  • 1 bottle chilled white wine
  • 1 bottle chilled red wine
  • 1-3 bottles chilled sparkling juice (get a couple of different kinds for variation. I got sparkling lemonade and sparkling berry lemonade)
  • 1-4 bottles chilled ginger beer
  • 3-4 different types of ripe fresh fruit, sliced
  • 1-2 types of fresh herb leaves (about 1 bunch each)
Instructions
  1. To make the Chambord base, combine nectarines, water, sugar, and lavender in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until fruit is soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Let cool then transfer mixture to a blender, add Chambord, and blend until smooth. Transfer to a serving pitcher, cover, and chill until cold. You can do this the day before if you’d like.
  3. Arrange all the elements on a table or bar for everyone to help themselves.
  4. To make a drink, add a few pieces of ice to a wine glass. Then add 1 part Chambord base with 1 part wine and 1 part sparkling juice or ginger beer. Add a few pieces of fruit and some herb leaves, stir and enjoy.

 

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Recipes, Sweets

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Cake

August 1, 2017
Make a Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Cake for your next birthday celebration! It has layers of chocolate cake, cookies and cream ice cream, and Oreo cookies.

Before even opening my eyes on the morning of my children’s birthdays I have a ritual I perform. I have to keep my eyes shut because it helps me remember. I can’t let my brain get flooded with any new information which might impede on my memory, forgetting important details of the events I wish to conjure up.

I go through each birthday, starting with their birth, trying my best to remember each detail, what their faces looked like, what they were wearing, what Armando was wearing, who was there. Some have been huge celebrations, some have been small family affairs. As the years go on, this has started to become a harder and harder task. It takes me a moment to separate the third birthday from the fourth but in the end I succeed, watching them grow right before my eyes.

This past Saturday Louisa turned nine. She is growing in ways I wish she wouldn’t but I know she has to; needing her space, separating herself from me. I remember her sweet little pumpkin face at two and wish I could wrap that little body up in my arms again.

This year she wanted to be in charge of every aspect of her birthday from picking out her presents—long gone are the days when I can buy her clothes that she will actually wear—to making the cake. She couldn’t decide between our favorite chocolate cake and an ice cream cake, so we decided to do both!

The chocolate cake is Ashley’s recipe which is so perfectly perfect there is nothing I can improve upon, so you will need to hop over to her site to get the recipe. For the ice cream cake you will only need to make the cake part, not the frosting. Bake the cake in 3 (9-inch) cake pans. You will only use two of them for this recipe but you’ll have no problem finishing off the third layer by itself.

To assemble the cake, I used a 10in-x-3in springform cake pan. This is wide and deep enough to fit all the layers. Center the cake layers in the middle and then the ice cream has room to cover the cake completely. Let one quart of ice cream sit out and soften at a time. You only need to let it sit out 10-15 minutes so it is still solid, but soft enough to mold into the pan. If it is too soft, put it back in the freezer and let it get hard again.

Oh, and it goes without saying that this doesn’t have to be a Cookies and Cream ice cream cake. Use whatever flavor ice cream is your favorite, the possibilities are infinite.

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Cake
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 12 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 recipe Not Without Salt's Chocolate Cake made in 3 (9-inch) cake pans, cooled completely
  • 2 quarts Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
  • 1 (14-ounce) package Oreos, crushed
  • sprinkles and candles of your liking
Instructions
  1. Spray a 10-inch (ideally 3-inches deep) springform pan. Place one layer of chocolate cake in the center and cover with 1 quart softened ice cream.
  2. Evenly spread over the top with a large offset spatula, pressing into the edges between the cake and the side of the pan. Cover with a half of the crushed cookies. Freeze until hard.
  3. Place another cake layer, then the second quart of ice cream smoothing it into all the empty spaces. Sprinkle remaining cookies on top and sprinkles if your using them. Freeze until solid.
  4. To serve, pop the sides off the pan, slice and serve. After singing Happy Birthday, of course.
Notes
The prep time is minimal but you will have to wait about an hour for the cake to freeze in-between layers so plan accordingly.

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.

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Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Drinks, Recipes

Pink Grapefruit & Cilantro Spanish Gin Tonic

July 9, 2017
This pink grapefruit Spanish gin tonic is an ultra-refreshing sipper for summer. Flavored with cilantro-grapefruit syrup and a hefty splash of tonic.

Are you familiar with Spanish Gin Tonics? I wasn’t until a few months ago, and now I can’t stop drinking them. I am normally late to the game. I rely on my well-healed, childless friends to keep me up to date on what happens in the world after 9pm and apparently its Spain, Gin, and Tonic Water, plus other stuff.

Spanish gin tonics are like regular ‘ol English gin and tonics except lighter, more flavorful, and without that bothersome and word in the middle. They are frequently served with lots of garnishes so you can mix and match what you’d like in your drink. They also switch up the tonic and sometimes substitute mineral water, soda water, or (in this case) fresh fruit juice.

pink grapefruit Spanish gin tonics

Here’s how I like to Spanish-up my GT

First, make a herbal syrup. It is pretty common in a Spanish gin tonic bar to have a variety of herbs to choose from when making this style of cocktail because they highlight the flavors in gin. I made a syrup with cilantro and grapefruit rind. At first it might seem like a ridiculous amount of cilantro, but trust me, just do it.

Second part: use a big balloon wine glass. This will make all the difference I swear. Fill the glass halfway with ice then add some of the chilled syrup, your favorite gin, and fresh-squeezed, kinda sour, kinda sweet pink grapefruit juice. Stir until the syrup dissolves and top with fizzy tonic water. Do not use the stuff in the little cans from Trader Joes—it was gross (sorry Trader Joes).

pink grapefruit gin tonic

That’s it. Drink. Repeat. Sit in the sun. Enjoy.

Pink Grapefruit and Cilantro Spanish Gin & Tonic
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This pink grapefruit Spanish gin tonic is an ultra-refreshing sipper for summer. Flavored with cilantro-grapefruit syrup and a hefty splash of tonic.
Author:
Serves: 1 drink
Ingredients
For the Grapefruit-Cilantro Syrup:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3 thick pieces grapefruit rind
For the drink:
  • ice
  • 2 ounces fresh-squeezed pink grapefruit juice
  • 2 ounces gin
  • ½ ounce grapefruit-cilantro syrup
  • 2 ounces tonic water
Instructions
To make the syrup:
  1. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add cilantro and grapefruit rind and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Cover and remove from heat. Let cool completely. Strain and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. Keep syrup covered in the refrigerator for up to a month.
To make the drink:
  1. Combine all the ingredients in the order they're listed in a large wine glass. Stir to combine and garnish with a pink grapefruit slice and sprig of cilantro if you'd like.

pink grapefruit gin tonic

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, 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, 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!

Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Drinks, Recipes

Skinny Cherry & Lime Leaf Margaritas

May 22, 2017
This skinny cherry margarita made with fresh sweet cherries and fragrant lime leaves is a cocktail you can sip on all summer and not feel an ounce of guilt.

Hello! Hello! Who’s interested in kicking off a Monday with a margarita? Heeyyyy!

I’m partnering up, once again, with my pals at Powell and Mahoney to create a summer cocktail that tastes amazing and will keep you looking good in that bikini, you little beach vixens. Meet the Skinny Cherry and Lime Leaf Margarita.

WHAT IS A SKINNY MARGARITA ANYWAY?

Amongst Powell and Mahoney’s many delicious cocktail mixers is their Skinny Margarita Mix and it is the key ingredient to having your margarita and drinking it too. Their Skinny Margarita Mix is a low-cal mixer made with lemon and key lime juice then sweetened with agave syrup and a little pear juice to cut down on the sugar and keep it refreshing.

I wanted to use fresh fruit to accent all the fruit flavors in the mix and settled on big, juice-packed sweet cherries because they are just coming into season and, more importantly, require basically no work other than plucking out the stems and tossing them in the shaker—it’s important to keep the work level low when making a cocktail, amiright?

The lime leaves are an addition that if you don’t have a lime tree might seem a tad obnoxious but let me explain. I adore cooking with kaffir lime leaves. Also known as Thai lime leaves they are the very distinctive flowery-sour flavor in Thai curries and noodle dishes. They can be found in most Asian grocery stores or easily ordered from Amazon, so substitute them in this margarita if you don’t have a lime tree in your backyard.

However, if you happen to have a lime tree or know someone who does, did you know you can use the leaves to cook with? Snap one off a stem and break it in half, stick it up to your nose and be prepared to inhale a most sublime fragrance. That is what you add to your food (or in this case, cocktail) when you use the leaves.

HOW TO MAKE A SKINNY CHERRY MARGARITA

To make the margarita combine the cherries and leaves in a cocktail shaker and crush them with all your might until the cherries are mostly pulp and the leaves are bent and smashed into submission. Add the margarita mix, a good handful of ice (I like crushed), and the tequila. Then shake-a-shake-a lots of times.

At this point you can strain the drink over fresh ice in a salt-rimmed glass (salt not optional). It will be sharp with cherry flavor and bright shots of lime. You can also just pour the whole shebang into the glass; bits of cherry, lime leaf, and all. A warning on this method though; the pits will still be in there which doesn’t really bother me and I like the added flavor from having the fruit in my drink but if it bothers you, you can either pick out the pits (which is rather cumbersome) or just go with the straining method, up to you.


Skinny Cherry & Lime Leaf Margarita
 
Prep time
Total time
 
This skinny cherry margarita made with fresh sweet cherries and fragrant lime leaves is a cocktail you can sip on all summer and not feel an ounce of guilt.
Author:
Serves: 1 drink
Ingredients
  • 12 sweet cherries, stems removed
  • 4 lime leaves (or kaffir lime leaves)
  • crushed ice
  • 2 ounces Powell & Mahoney's Skinny Margarita mix
  • 2 ounces silver tequila
Instructions
  1. Rim a large glass with salt and fill with ice.
  2. Combine cherries and lime leaves in a cocktail shaker and crush with a muddler until cherries are smashed and have released their juice.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and shake until cocktail shaker is beaded with sweat. Strain margarita into prepared glass and drink 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!

This cocktail post is sponsored by Powell & Mahoney, all opinions are my own.