Happy Pinning!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Just simply be...

I wanted to make my family a lovely little dinner for a Wednesday, helps that hard middle of the week day pass with a little more ease.  Of course being the middle of the week I never want it to be too time consuming and I had a lot to do today.  Book club is on Friday and I am a book procrastinator of the worst kind.  I basically needed to get the majority of a 225 pg book read today, so basically dinner needed to be quick and easy. 

My kids are pasta fiends, they would eat noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I fed it to them.  I like a good pasta meal as much as the next but again some can be time consuming with preparing and baking.  I decided to whip up a carbonara of sorts
Simple Chicken Carbonara
To me carbonara must have peas, bacon and pasta; the rest is optional.  This was simple, yummy and delicious and had the kids clamoring for more more more.

4 chicken breasts, marinated in Lawry's Herb & Garlic marinade
1 box of your choice pasta, I am a rotini fan
2 cups frozen peas, micro steamed
1/2 lb bacon cooked and crumbled (Don't ask how many pieces we burnt!)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup cream cheese (I used chive/onion)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
Cayenne pepper
Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper

Grill chicken and slice.  Cook pasta set aside.  Steam peas, set aside.  Cook/crumble bacon, set aside.  Melt together cream cheese and cream in saucepan whisking until bubbling, turn off heat. Add Parmesan  cheese and eggs and seasoning.  Let thicken and pour over al dente pasta, mix in peas, bacon and top with grilled chicken.  It was good and will go along way for those big families, don't need a big bowl of this to feel full. 

I saw a yummy salad dressing recipe on Pinterest and whipped up a batch from here.  The only difference is I forgot to get plain yogurt and had only one yogurt in the fridge left, would have been nice if it was strawberry, but it wasn't it was peach.  We'll say in the words of American Idol judges that was my way of "making it my own."  It was so good this dressing and luckily I now have a big old stock pile of that so we shall be having a few strawberry salads over the next few weeks! This was how I decorated my salad:

Strawberry Basil Summer Salad
Feta crumbles
Butter Toffee Almonds
(If you are an onion person I bet it would be good but I hate raw onions!)

So I spent practically all day reading my book which is One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  I actually started off hating it, wondering why it was popular, struggling through her unique writing style, feeling rushed and impatient.  Those of you who have read it are chuckling with me at the irony of this discord in my soul. Then as surely as I turned a page like an arrow piercing my heart Jesus showed up and in his way that is both gentle and forceful it was strongly suggested that I snap out of it and sit up and pay atttention.  And keep reading this book.  This book that is challenging me.  This book that is changing me.  This book that is teaching me.  It's calling me to live my life less in a hurry and with a more grateful heart.  Double ouch.  I am reading and admiring and vowing for reform and we rush out the door to school and the urgency of the moment takes over and I feel myself chastising my impatient heart in the same breath I scold my kids for being "turtles." I need to read more.  I read and read and read and then it's time to make dinner and they are swirling and dancing underfoot and my husband is asking for everything to be repeated instead of jumping into action and I rage against burnt bacon and pasta that makes it to the table less than hot waiting for the slow chicken breasts that he patiently grills to perfection and I flash in hot anger that there is no time to be slow and careful and calm.   Even as I attempt to retreat to write this blog, they bop past me dancing every few minutes, "Momma don't you want to read my Ispy book again?", their beeping electronic games finding new and modern ways to interrupt the quiet and their inability to put on their pajamas without fighting with fists and tears and hugs seems a disruptive ritual I could do without.  Why is it so hard for me to appreciate these little gifts? To switch my perspective from rushed and exhausted to fully present and fully thankful?  I don't think it will happen over night. Especially since part of me wonders if this author is even legit.  Is she asking us to do something that is even possible? 

My daughter had her ballet recital on Saturday.  It was more than a ballet recital, it was a worship service.  Led by 4 year olds to the throne room of the almighty King.  They were all limbs akimbo and lace and tulle and shining eyes and full hearts.  She is blessed to be a part of this Christian dance studio where they are led by Scripture not just form, and their routines come from a heart of worship as they dance with a higher purpose, to bring glory to God.  And what could have been an amusing display of parental adoration for each one's one offspring "doing their best" even while being off step and forgetting their cues and being distracted as young ballerinas can so easily.  Instead I carried a lump in my throat as I experienced children partaking in something at it's purest and most basic form, worship in dance with a heart of thankfulness and grace.  I was so moved I made my daughter a soundtrack from the songs from her show to dance to and it is I who cannot stop listening to this music.  The sweet Kindergartner within lying deep and buried under the scars and ugliness that this world slowly opens you up to, robbing you of that beauty and innocence that you once held dear and didn't realize that the adults around you envied.  Some squander their kids youth, dressing them too provactively too soon, exposing them needlessly to the worlds influences.  For this one brief afternoon I was able to return to their world and bask in it's perfection, in my mind's eye dancing as fervently for my King.  One song that I love and have probably listened to 20 times today perfectly captures what the book is trying to beat through my thick head.  As the singer repeatedly asks her Savior what gift there is to offer he gives her a simple solution;
"You don't have to do a thing, just simply be with me and let those things go, they can wait another minute. Wait, this moment is too sweet, would you please stay here with me, and love on me a little longer. I'd like to be with you a little longer, I'm in love with you." You must listen to the whole thing.  Feel free to get up and twirl while you listen or if you have a little twirler in your house twirl with her, her heart will soar and yours will too!

I have been so floundering for over six months.  In my head thumping out a mantra "one foot in front of the other" like Nemo's Dory I figured if I just keep swimming I will get to where I need to be and somehow the things that need to get done, will. Somehow.  But maybe just maybe I need to silence my inner Little Engine That Could and to "just simply be".  To do things like "be" and "bask", to "stay a little longer." Summer is coming.  Things always slow down in the summer and these practices become easier to perfect.  But fall comes again eventually. I can't spend every school year whirling like a kite in a violent windstorm.  I need to find my anchor. My Lord. And simply be.  That's what I am working on.  And I haven't even finished the book yet, so I best go back to reading....

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A little something for everyone....

OK the theme of this entry is All-Inclusive! That brings back flashbacks to my honeymoon.....

(The poor quality of the picture has to do with because my wedding predated my digital days and I was too lazy to scan the photos tonight so I took a picture of our pictures from our honeymoon scrapbook. Nice right?)

Oh my word can't you practically feel the tropical breezes.  We were cute too. Love memory lane.

But all inclusive is the theme because this entry will cover a little of everything; food, feelings, and future.  All inclusive because that is the theme of the recipe.  

So let's start with the food.  I am not sure if this recipe is strangely awesome or awesomely strange. But regardless I am taking the plunge and sharing it with you. 

My husband is a very traditional Meat-n'-Potatoes kind of a guy and he loves nothing better than a dinner at a good steakhouse. We don't go out much, it's the "small kids at home" thing, just doesn't happen.  If you are thinking "we have small kids and my husband and I still take time/energy/money to go on regular dates" well I say more power to you Sister.  Logistically that just doesn't happen often for us.  My husband has been warned, I plan on dating him like crazy when our kids are older but I don't want to wish these years away either, I am extremely happy in this moment.  All that to say we have been a little more creative with our "dates" recently.  This week we celebrated 9 years of wedded bliss.  Almost a decade since those two adorable people up there were sitting chillaxin at that ocean-side All Inclusive.  Having an anniversary adjacent to Mother's Day has also added a interesting scheduling dynamic over the years and this year we thought it best not to try to squeeze in a night out also.  I suggested we do what we did for Valentines day which was put the kids to bed and wait to eat until then and eat a nice dinner just the two of us.  So I asked him "in" instead of out and set out to plan our menu.  What does my husband like? Steak house food.  Even up until as I was cooking I did not realize I was going to do what I did but I thought it was kind of unique and well as I said before strangely awesome.  I had a variety of recipes compiled and as I thought about them there was a familiar vein winding through them and that was because they were very "all-inclusive" of steak house food.  If you eat at a steak house what are the most likely foods you will partake in? Obviously steak and potatoes, probably a salad, some warm bread, maybe an appetizer like a bloomin onion with some dipping sauce.  Oh what about toppers for your steak like grilled veges? Somewhere in all that mess a light bulb went off over my head (instead of a traditional 60 watt incandescent light bulb this may have been a blue light bulb set to blink at various speeds and patterns that can be set to music) "How about mixing it all together?" How about it? Are you ready for this......

Amanda's All Inclusive Ultimate Steak House Salad
As I said I wasn't originally going to add all this together but finally I gave in and the result was as my husband describes "a taste explosion." He was quite happy and so was I but if you read this and think "she has lost her mind!" feel free to take parts of it and ignore the weirdness of it all. 
As I was building the salad there was a lot of zesty,tangy and peppery flavors going on and I like all big salads to have at least a trace of sweetness to them to balance it out.  That is where my unusual maybe Non-Steakhouse ingredient came in but once again I swear it worked and it was just sort of picked because it is what I had on hand.  It was....

Pineapple! I started with cut up romaine and added chunked pineapple!

Then I stir-fried colored peppers and mushrooms in a little EVOO and garlic salt and steak seasoning until tender
I had been wanting to try Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potatoes for a long time, this was where I felt like things got strange. I was going to serve them on the side and in the 11th hour I thought, oh what the heck throw them on the salad, it was definitely a little odd because potato just isn't a typical salad topping but it really was cool how the flavors came together to give you a Steak House Meal All In One Dish feeling to it.  The only thing I may have changed had I known I was loading it all together would be to not use rosemary on the potatoes since I don't know if that completely blended with the other flavors as well. I used her recipe as is and that link can be found here. Thanks Ree!

Now we definitely need the steak, my favorite cut is the Flank, yum yum yum.  If I were rich I may eat it every day. 
I used Molly's Marinade (which I am sure I have mentioned on my blog before - my sister's friend Molly passed on this gem, it's short enough I won't link it but lay it out for you again!)  Marinade in A1 Steak sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil and minced garlic.  I don't really measure I just dump a bunch of each on the meat.  It's amazing. 

Now we are getting to the top of the salad.  I made a batch of Comeback sauce to use as dressing.  I saw it on Pinterest. It's supposedly in line with the type of sauce you dip a bloomin onion in.  I used this blogger's recipe here. It has quite a kick to it but in a good way and that was why I hired the pineapple, to mellow out the sauce.  I thought we also needed something crunchy, crouton-like for our salad.  We used tortilla chips crushed the first time as pictured but we discussed what other options might fit the theme and for leftovers I used crushed Pita Chips (have you tried Stacy's, they are incredible!) I actually liked the Pita chips better.  Another optioned we considered would be those french fried onions.  But this was date night so we stayed away from those! Lastly we garnished with a little green onion (for some reason they are never quite as breath-busting as some other types of onion!)

Add a little candlelight, flowers from my daughters dance recital, a diet coke (although the waiter coming by with refills was sorely missed) and the kitchen radio playing softly to drown out any shenanigans coming from upstairs where the kids have a nightly routine of getting out of bed a hundred times before finally going to sleep and we were able to have a nice long conversation and a relaxing Steakhouse meal.  I think we talked uninterrupted for over an hour.   It was awesome. So there you have it.  Be sure to weigh in and tell me what you think; weird? or awesome? or both?

I can't be done though.  I also made a dessert, not for our date but for Mother's Day.  It is not diet friendly.  I'm sorry.  It was a special occasion. My special occasion.  I wanted chocolate and peanut butter so I went for it, deal with it. 

Reece's Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
This was the picture after my family devoured 2/3 of the pan.  My extended family not just us four, in case you were horrified.  Pretty easy start by baking your favorite type of brownies.  You know my rule, once you go Ghiradelli's there is no going back.  Then strategically place PB cups on top and stick back in oven for 3 min.

In as much as they melted spread them around.  Then whip up a batch of amazing Chocolate PB Frosting that I found a la Pinterest here. I seriously may spend the rest of my life trying to come up with new excuses to make this frosting.  It is the best thing I have ever eaten in my life.  Pour over brownies while hot (I think that makes it spread nicer!)
Do you want to see something cool?

Look at those layers, I see blobs of peanut butter.  There is nothing wrong with that. Then I took a few more PB cups and froze them so they would break apart and crumbled them on top. Happy Mother's day to me! Chocolate heaven.

Which brings me to another meaning of all-inclusive.  I need to talk about more than just food.  I was reading another blogger talking about how they sometimes build up Mother's Day so big in their mind that the actual holiday seems to fall short. And I totally do that too.  And having it always butting up against my anniversary I practically expect parades in my honor and to be carried around on one of those elevated chair thingies.  That hasn't happened. Not yet anyway.  But it occurred to me late last night that one of the reasons that I was feeling like this day didn't feel different enough is because my kids and especially my husband treat me pretty darn awesome all of the time!! I am a very blessed lady (I think blessed sounds nicer than spoiled don't you?) Breakfast in bed? There are many days when I wake to a breakfast in my room even if it's just a protein shake or a cup of coffee just the way I like it.  Help around the house? My husband helps me with the dishes and the laundry (he even cleans toilets -- no you can't have him, he's mine!) and my oldest is getting really helpful now too (the three year old definitely still messes more than cleans) so I know I am blessed in that regard.  Showered with gifts? I don't go a day without kisses and "I love you(s)" and "You're beautiful(s)" and "Look at what I made for you" (largely in the shape of arts and crafts) being thrown my way.  We joked today with my niece who said "when is Daughter's day?" that every day is daughter's day because Mother's (and Dad's too!) are constantly giving of themselves to their kids tirelessly and often with little thanks and appreciation.  Or are they? See when I think of it this way, everyday is Mother's day too. If I am loved and cared for by these little munchkins and my Big Hunky Man day in and day out even when I'm cranky and have a short fuse or burn dinner or don't want to read Go Dogs Go for the 9 Millionth time isn't that treating me special tirelessly on their part in their own way that they know how.

This morning I opened my eyes and the first thing I saw was my beautiful daughter who declared that I her Queen would be receiving my Royal Breakfast In Bed momentarily and then that face disappeared and the next cherub appeared and said "Momma!" very excitedly as if she to had a very important proclamation.  "What is it sweetie?" "Ummmmmm.....I lub you!" Big toothy grin from her. My heart melted. Even now as I can hear the sound in her voice replaying in my ears I well up with tears.  That is all I need to have the Happiest Mother's Day ever.  I can think of scores of women who have struggled with fertility and miscarriages and on Mother's Day I often shed a tear and share a prayer for them.  There is no more thanks that I need or deserve that being made to feel loved as I am EVERY day if I sit up and pay attention. 

After church this morning my husband had to stay behind for the second service to fulfill ushering duties and would be along to help prepare for our guests shortly.  I hadn't thought we had left that much for the last minute! And I had jokingly told him yesterday that "tomorrow I won't be lifting a finger so be ready for that." When I arrived home he called to say that he had extra stuff to do at church and wouldn't make it home before guests. So I swept the porch and walkway, vacuumed the couch, picked up all random last minute items, finished the dessert prep, emptied and then loaded the dishwasher, washed down all the kitchen surfaces (although I feel like I never truly get it clean!), cleaned up the back door area which always is cluttered, vacuumed the kitchen (because every time the slider opens 8 million maple tree seeds come flying in), and attended to an invisible boo-boo that the three year old sobbed needed a band aid which she promptly removed 5 min later as the boo-boo was now "all done".  Meanwhile my "helpers" gave their best efforts to assist me. And I was impressed, they put stuff away, emptied the low-reachable-non breakable items from the dishwasher, swept with assistance, vacuumed with assistance and best of all apologized multiple times that I was having to work on Mother's day.  When my husband came home after this was all done I think he was expecting the "angry wife unappreciated and ignored on Mother's day" speech.  But I smiled and gave him a kiss.  You see the whole time I was doing that work I was thinking about all the single mom's out there who never have a helpmate for chores or mom's whose husbands bravely serve our nation stationed far from home what help do they have on these day to day activities.  Being a mom and having a loving and supportive family is my privilege and the greatest blessing in my life.  Thinking of all they do for me flashes in front of my mind's eye like the parade I felt in year's past that I had earned.  When I think back to why I started this blog, to be a better me for myself but also and more importantly for them, to sow a legacy of right living into their lives.  What better way to continue that pattern then to change my perspective on Mother's Day.  I am humbled by the blessings in my life. 

We needed sunglasses, so Grandma, the photographer contributed!

And of course I think about my Mom on Mother's Day, who would I be without her and her driving influence in my life (and no Mom I don't mean modeling how you drive, you sort of have a reputation in that regard!) She is so special to me and I honor her today.  Every day I spend loving my girls I think of how she loved me and pray they feel the same way about me when they are grown as I feel about them now!

My oldest sister couldn't be with us this year so here is a picture from last Mother's Day of my lovely Momma and her girls, and we are all Momma's ourselves now. 

Happy Mother's Day ladies!! Count your blessings.

And as for the future, this is too long already so that will have to be "included" next time. Peace.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Buenas Noches

My third (and last) installment of the Cinco de Mayo series was an old favorite, with a pineapple twist!

I gave you one of my hands-down favorite recipes last summer on this post here.  These sweet pork tacos are my favorite but they were always so messy.  Hmmmm.....what to do?

Sweet and Tangy Pork Sandwiches

The only things I changed from the original recipe was I added crushed pineapple in juice (about 1/2 cup) to the slaw and lime zest in the slaw.  Then instead of chunked avocado I made guacamole as a condiment. 

I loaded it like this....

Guac and slaw on one side, sweet and tangy pork on the other and stack em up.  Now here is where the magic happens, the thick and fluffy bun soaks up all that glorious juice from the meat.  Where the tortilla got soaked and sort of fell apart resulting in dripping mess everywhere (granted it was worth it) the bun significantly reduced the mess.  It was kind of like a Mexican Sloppy Joe.  It was so good.  And the slaw I always felt was missing something, the pineapple added the perfect sweetness. Made it good enough to eat as a stand alone slaw.  These are so good, if you have made them before with tortillas you need to make the switch.  Our 5lb roast we split in half and froze half and we still had enough for 4 meals out of the other half! It was awesome! I seriously could eat that stuff weekly! We paired it with chips and salsa. And then the BEST dessert ever! (Especially when you factor in how easy it was!)

Mexican Sopapilla Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

I had to keep the title of the dessert a secret until we were already eating it! You know what? I have this strange man I am married to who does NOT like cheesecake.  I think that might be part of the reason I liked this so much I never make cheesecake because he is very firm on his hatred of it and if he won't eat it then I will eat the whole thing and that doesn't seem like a good idea.  But sometimes he will eat desserts that are cheesecake-esque and not make mention of it. His problem is things that are too sweet.  As it is, he is known far and wide for his need for a glass of milk with every dessert he eats to cut the sweetness.  I guess where I have a major sweet tooth, he has an it's-too-sweet tooth.  When I was crushing on him in college and desperate for him to ask me out, my Mom and I baked him some cookies and I brought them to him and his roommates as a care package.  Weeks later I discovered rock hard petrified cookies in his room, untouched.  I was so upset that he hadn't eaten my gift.  Then I find out, he doesn't really like sweets but he also wouldn't let his roommates eat them because he liked me too and felt like they were too special to just be devoured by his roommates.   We were cute and a little weird.  I guess we still are.  Ok enough memory lane, the recipe!!

2 pkg crescent rolls
2 pkg cream cheese
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Cinnamon sugar mix
1 stick of butter
1/2 bag dark chocolate chips

Roll 1 tube of crescent rolls in 9 x 13. Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla.  Spread over crescents.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips and top with other tupe of rolls.  Melt butter and pour over top and sprinkle heavily with cinnamon sugar.  Bake at 350 for 30 min. Cool at least 10 min before eating.

This is like Monkey Bread and Chocolate Cheesecake fell in love and had a baby and the baby is RIDICULOUS! I was in heaven.  So as I type this I ask my adorable husband with whom I just celebrated 9 years of wedded bliss, "Why is it that you can eat this but you hate cheesecake so much? Or did you just eat it for me?" Sheepish grin. "Well you worked so hard on it. I wanted to be nice.  It's just SO sweet." Really? We ate it three times and he was just being nice.  Shoot next time I won't waste it on him.  It was rich but it was heavenly rich in my opinion.  I think despite his glowing endorsement you will thank me for this one.  Want a closer look....

Delicioso, muy muy delicioso. 

I hope you have enjoyed our Mexican themed series. 
I hope this doesn't mean I have to talk about feelings yet.
I hope Pinterest and my slacker lifestyle haven't driven all of my readers away.
I guess you can say I'm hopeful!

Buenos Noches Amigos!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mas Fiesta Por Favor!

With my original all day fiesta planned I was going to make a yummy Mexican lunch last Saturday (along with last posts "breakfast" and a dinner recipe!) As I said last time I decided to share the love and we had the lunch meal for a beyond filling and utterly scrumptious dinner. I was quite pleased when my three year old literally piped up "This is so good Momma, I am so happy to be eating this!" That is all the approval I need. 

So for Cinco de Mayo -  Part Dos we have:
Sopa Mexicana Deliciosa

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 can fiesta corn
2 cans black beans
4 cups chicken broth
1 can lite coconut milk
Zest and juice of two limes
Cumin, Mrs. Dash's Fiesta Lime, Salt, Pepper, Garlic salt to taste
2 avocado's sliced
Tortilla strips
Cilantro and green onion for garnish
Prepared rice

Start by sauteing diced onion, can of corn and garlic in olive oil.  When tender add diced chicken cook until done.  Add Chipotle peppers (***see instructions below), beans, broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil.  Add zest/lime juice.  Cover and let simmer for about, well honestly, as long as it takes for you to get everything else ready.  Prepare rice (about 4 cups at least), you could just prepare regular old rice OR you could continue out the flavor and whip up a batch of this...
Cilantro Lime Rice
Link to the recipe found here.

Before serving grab your seasonings and stark sprinkling and tasting and sprinkling and tasting till you get the flavor where you want it. That's the best I can tell you. Spices are rarely measured in my house!

To plate, or bowl rather, put about 1/3-1/2 cup rice in your bowl first. Rachel Ray taught me you don't actually want to put rice in soup or it will get too water logged so I do what Rachel says.  Then ladle your soup over the rice.  Mmmmmm.... Toppings!!! You get to top this beauty with a couple avocado slices, fresh cilantro and green onion and I used these:
But you could just use some crushed chips too! This soup was so good! Seriously.  Did I mention my children were inhaling it! And it makes a big pot so you could always do the work once and freeze 1/2 or it would be great for entertaining.  Me I am just looking way forward to the leftovers.  Want to see one more picture??

Nice right?

*** I owe you a little further explanation on the Chipotle Peppers in adobo sauce.  I have used these many times.  Sometimes I have made things WAY hotter than my kids could handle because I didn't "get" it.  Here I was reading recipes where it called for 2 cans and one pepper was nearly killing us with heat which sometimes left my kids crying that things were too spicy.  Then I found an awesome tutorial on how to handle them.  The link is here on one of my favorite food blogs.  Now I have a supply in my freezer, need to add some authentic heat, just take out one of my Red Hot Ice Cubes and I am good to go.  Check it out. For most recipes (like this one) I will only use one cube although honestly I probably could have done 2 but less is always safer when it comes to these hot n' spicy things. 

What to serve it with though? How about another twist on corn muffins. 

Cheesy Corn Dog Muffins

I was seeing these pop up all over Pinterest and everyone had elaborate made from scratch recipes and I was like, really? What I did above was elaborate enough! So I chose the easy route.  I took a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix and added the called for 1/3 cup milk and 1 egg and ADDED 1 cup of shredded Mexican cheese and 4 hot dogs cut into pieces. And it stretched the recipe too so it made like 10 muffins and these were AWESOME!!!!

Don't forget to serve with a dollop of ketchup and mustard for dipping! Yummy!!!

Finally we needed something sweet and fruity!
How about a refreshment?

Kid Friendly Sangria

1 qt CranRaspberry Juice
1 L Diet Ruby Red Squirt
1/3 cup of powdered lemonade
3 Tbsp lime juice
1 cup OJ
Tons of ice
Cut up fruit of your choice (we used cherries with juice, pineapple, strawberries and oranges) - this is awesome because at the bottom of your cup you have really juicy fruit salad too!

On a side note.  A few years ago we tried to sell our house and I made this punch for an open house and when we came back our realtor said we had no offers on the house but many requests for the punch recipe. It's a definite hit with the kiddos too, fun little festive touch!

So there you have it, another fiesta filled meal at my house, see it again all together!

Enjoy! One more Mexican meal to tell you about next time and a dessert that took my breath away! (Yeah that's how I feel about desserts!) Adios!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Muy Caliente!

I have egg on my face (pun intended as a hint about today's post) over my despicable blogging.  I have a lot of "issues" I have been dealing with.  I am a flawed human (I know you all knew this, I am saying it out loud/writing it for myself in a cathartic kind of way).  I would like to discuss more of the emotional/spiritual stuff that has been going on....but I am not ready yet.  I am trying to dip my toe back into the pool of blogging and it's much easier to start with the fun stuff isn't it? So let's shelve the issues for now and I will gather some emotional dusting supplies and we will tackle those some day when I grow some gumption.

Thanks. I knew you would understand.

So I never do anything small. Especially when it comes to the kitchen.  You have noticed this haven't you? And I have a husband who is a HUGE fan of Mexican food, so am I if you think about nearly every other meal I make is covered in cilantro :) So every year I sort of make a big deal about the Cinco de Mayo.  Although I confess I have no idea what May 5th means to the Mexican people I am sure I could find out between mouthfuls of flavor bliss if I asked my historian husband. But to me it's sort of just an excuse to make awesome food.  This year I went way overboard.  I was planning a huge meal for Breakfast, Lunch AND Dinner. It was after all a Saturday.  But then I realized we would have eaten ourselves sick, I would have spent the entire Saturday in the kitchen and each meal was literally big enough to be a main course so no need to cram it all into one day.  Which was actually an exciting prospect, celebrating the Cinco de Mayo....all week long!!! So you get a three part series CHOCK full of Mexican flair.  And it gave me a reason to blog three times and get over my fear and trepidation of getting "back in the saddle", I guess of a burro in this case. So here you go, prepare to dance to some Mariachi music and shout Ole'!!

Mexican Breakfast Feast (that's good enough for dinner!)

Amanda's South of the Border Benny

I love Eggs Benedict, my husband loves anything Southwest themed on his eggs (he is one of those people who always puts salsa on his eggs and if he doesn't have salsa he uses - gag - ketchup!) So this meal is literally a marriage of our tastes.   And this meal was a team effort. I don't make the eggs in our house, my husband possesses that skill and I could not have done this meal without his excellent Sou Chef skills.  If you are working solo it will take lots of planning to orchestrate but you can do it.  First assemble toppings, that's the easy part!

I will mention I had totally intended to also include black beans but forgot until the meal was all plated.  You have to remember I also have the additional chaos of trying to photograph food too! Ai Yi Yi! So include beans if you wish. Or if you are a vegetarian you could substitute the meat for beans.  Here we have 2 avocados diced and sprinkled with garlic salt and a capful of lime juice, chopped green onion, and salsa (I always buy Jack's fresh salsa but if you wanted even more fresh you could make or buy your own pico de gallo).  For the meat I wanted Chorizo however every package of Chorizo at the store said Hot! on it and that didn't seem like a good plan with kiddos.  So I opted to buy plain pork sausage (ala Jimmy Dean) and season it myself.  I used 1/2 of one of those tube pkgs of sausage and browned it and then sprinkled the following: Cumin, Garlic Salt, Mrs. Dash's Fiesta Lime, Ancho Chili Pepper and Roasted Ground Coriander.  This is what I added and you can come up with a Mexican flair without having this specific combo. I was worried about it being too hot and only did a dash of each and it was perfect!! Less is more, you can always add more if it is bland but once you have gone overboard it's too late. The kids gobbled it up with no mention of it being "too spicy" and yet I thought it was full of smoky flavor with a touch of a kick so I luckily got it just right.  Any adult that wants a touch more heat a handy bottle of Tabasco would make a nice condiment.
To layer/stack your Benny: 1/2 toasted English muffin, egg (I don't do eggs and have never attempted poached, my Hubby made us perfectly expertly cooked over-easy eggs for this!), toppings (see above + beans if you wish), drizzle with Hollandaise sauce (I just use the packet, I am all about cutting corners) and dust with paprika, or cumin or coriander (more or less for looks!) But don't dig in yet we have 2 side dishes (see why I needed help!)

Amanda's Hacienda Hash

OK I am getting carried away with my titles.  I diced up redskins and sauteed them in EVOO (covered) for about 10-15 min stirring occasionally. Then I sprinkled them with all the spices I put on the meat above.  And sprinkled lightly with Mexican blend cheese.  These are awesome!
Finally I figured we needed something sweet. And corn bread is traditionally a Tex-Mex influenced bread (actually originated with the Native Americans but is now more associated with Southern cooking!) and when I was growing up my Momma would make corn bread muffins and serve them to us for dessert with butter and syrup on it and we called it

Johnny Cake 

 According to Wikipedia (for whatever that is worth):

Johnnycakes: Pouring a batter similar to that of skillet-fried cornbread, but slightly thinner, into hot grease atop a griddle or a skillet produces a pancake-like bread called a johnnycake. This type of cornbread is prevalent in New England, particularly in Rhode Island, and also in the American Midwest and the American South. It is reminiscent of the term hoecake, used in the American South for fried cornbread pancakes, which may date back to stories about some people on the frontier making cornbread patties on the blade of a hoe.

So there you go, don't you feel informed! And Holy Fiesta this was like a party for the mouth! Worthy of a big Saturday Morning breakfast or filling enough for a breakfast-style dinner.  It was awesome! Want to see one more pic, in CinemaScope even...

Since I am apparently teaching History in this blog entry I felt guilted into looking this up. Again thanks to my friends at Wikipedia:
Cinco de Mayo: The date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, and to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War.  In the state of Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin. Contrary to widespread popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day -- the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico—which is actually celebrated on September 16.

For the record I asked my husband to summarize the significance of May 5th in one sentence and his "brief" explanation was three times as long as the above and the sort of mind-numbing eyes-roll-back-in-my-head kind of answer that is the reason I don't ask him these things.  When I read their much more concise explanation to him, he shrugged, "That's what I said!" Sure honey, exactly. So there you go. Hope you all had some yummy Mexican grub this weekend also.  Prepare yourself for the two more entries coming your way you will have more than enough ideas for your next Mexican craving. Hasta La Vista, Baby!