M&M Blondies

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Two dessert posts in a row… what is happening?  Well i’ll tell you.

We’ve got some interesting stuff happening behind the scenes here.  First, Nuria’s camera was damaged on her trip to Mexico so she’s been stuck without a camera. 

Second, and what’s exciting, is that we’re looking into moving!  We want to set up our own website, as we’re running out of room here on the free wordpress site.  We’ll keep you updated as we move further along, but for now, let’s talk blondies.

I think it’s really more of an east coast treat.  People on the west coast tend to look at me funny when I say i’m bringing blondies to the party.  I think they’re waiting for the punch line.

A blondie is basically a brownie without chocolate.  Or, maybe a chocolate chip cookie in bar form?  Whatever it is, it’s delicious.

I have been looking for the perfect blondie recipe for years, and when I was living in NYC I heard about this little dessert spot in Brooklyn that was all the rage.  I went out to try it and was hooked.

It’s called Baked and the second they had a cookbook out I bought it.  Their chocolate chip cookie recipe and blondie recipes are two of my go-tos.  I also love their cheddar biscuits. 

Their second cookbook has a homemade oreo that has been the hit of many a party I have gone to, and I don’t think I can say enough about the black and white cookies.  I love those things. 

Their blondie recipe uses malted milk powder as the little something different that makes it so much better. 

I twisted it up this time with some leftover M&Ms from the princess party we had last weekend. 

Bake it on up and eat the deliciousness.  Also, nevermind that little corner that maybe I was too excited about eating to remember to take a picture before I took a square.  Luckily I remembered before taking a big ‘ol bite.

Or maybe I took the bite from the underside so you wouldn’t see it.  I guess we’ll never know. 

M&M Blondies

Adapted from the Baked Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons malted milk powder (like Ovaltine)
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 3/4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4cup M&Ms
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Butter a 9×13 pan
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients; flour, baking powder, salt and malted milk powder
  4. In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar
  5. Add in the eggs one at a time, letting each egg get fully incorporated before you add in the next egg.
  6. Add in the vanilla; mix to combine then scrape down sides and bottom and mix again
  7. Add in the dry ingredients: 1/2 of dry, mix, second 1/2 of dry, mix until just incorporated
  8. Add in chocolate chips and M&Ms.  Mix for a second until incorporated.
  9. Spread into your 9×13 pan. 
  10. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. 
  11. Cool and eat. 
  12. For a special treat, head it up for 10-15 seconds in the microwave and add ice cream.
Advertisements

Individual Chocolate Chip Cookie, Rolo and Coffee Ice Cream Cakes

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

It’s a mouthful.  Both to say and eat.  But it got rave reviews from the birthday girl!

This is an easy and excellent dessert for a birthday or any other occasion when you need some ice cream and cookies and rolos all in one!

The best part is that it’s super simple to make and you don’t have to worry about flavors because you can make all different kinds to suit different palates.

It was Mary’s 30th birthday not too long ago and we were going camping.  I knew that lugging a big knife and cake was going to be a hassle, so I sat there and pondered.

I asked: “Are you pondering what i’m pondering Pinky?”  And by Pinky I mean Jack who was supervising my kitchen endeavours from his seat on the island. 

Somehow I wanted to combine an ice cream cake and candy and cookies together, as Mary’s favorite flavors are mocha (hence the dog’s name), caramel and chocolate.   

Thus, the individual chocolate chip cookie, rolo, coffee ice cream cakes were born.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many different combinations of flavors I have in my head right now.  Want to invite me over for a party? 

I thought so.

Individual Chocolate Chip Cookie, Rolo and Coffee Ice Cream Cakes

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe
  • 24 Rolos, unwrapped (I know there’s a trademark here but I don’t know how to do the symbol)
  • Coffee Ice cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 (or whatever temp your recipe calls for).
  2. Whip up your chocolate chip cookie dough.
  3. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  4. Add a tbsp of cookie dough to each cupcake liner, making sure it’s enough to cover the bottom when it bakes up.
  5. Put in the oven and bake 10-12, or until ALMOST done.  You want it slightly under-baked in the center.
  6. As they come out of the oven, stick a rolo in the center of the cookie and press slightly.
  7. Set on a cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. Once they are COMPLETELY cooled, take your ice cream out of the freezer.  Let it sit out until it gets kinda melty, about 10 minutes.
  9. Using an ice cream scoop, place 1 scoop of ice cream in each cupcake liner.  You want to fill it to the brim.  Take a knife or offset spatula and gently work it so it is pressed down evenly.
  10. Once filled, put it on a cookie tray in the freezer.
  11. After all are finished freeze for about 5-10 minutes so they harden a bit, then throw on some saran wrap.  Let it sit in the freezer until ready to serve.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Or ‘the pasta salad I totally copied from New Seasons’.

If you don’t know New Seasons, it’s a supermarket here akin to Whole Foods. 

Their deli case is filled with delicious looking food, mostly healthy, and the kung pao tofu is amazing. 

But I was feeling a little peckish after a soccer game and figured I needed some bulk with my meal so I got the pasta salad. 

This pasta salad is unlike normal ones swimming in mayo (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  It has some unique flavors and it makes it feel a little healthier since I add in a bunch of spinach. 

The dressing is a combination of buttermilk, sour cream, mayo, vinegar, salt and some sugar. 

When you make it you’ll have to taste test it to see if it needs any more of this or that.  I played with it a lot so my measurements are not going to be exact.  They are more of a ballpark. 

Plus, some people like more or less tang.  I like tang.  Not the orange powder of unknown flavor and chemical makeup.  Tangy flavors. Like goat cheese and feta cheese. And sour cream.  I love sour cream.  I’ll get back on point now.

You could play around with the flavors a bit and add in some olives or red onions, but I was trying to replicate the recipe first, and I will play later.

I brought this to Mary’s 30th birthday campout and it was a huge success. 

Apparently such a success that one girl told me she couldn’t be friends with me because I would make her fat.  Sadly, this is not the first time i’ve heard that…

Although the last time the guy I was seeing kept eating entire pans of my banana bread and then would blame me for his lack of a six-pack.  I can’t help that I love to bake, or that you insist on eating it every time you come over.  I’m just saying.  Not my fault.

What is my fault?  Introducing you to the best pasta salad in the world.  You’re welcome.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Again, this make a lot. Like enough for 10+ people on a camping trip, with people having second and third helpings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 big bag any kind of macaroni (probably about 4-6 cups when cooked).
  • 2 cups partially cooked spinach (which is about 1/2 a bag of fresh spinach before it wilts.)
  • 1 bunch scallions (also called green onions)
  • 2 packages feta (you may only use 1, but I ended up using 1 1/2)
  • 2 cups Sour Cream (approximately)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (do I have enough parentheticals yet?)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (not the evil chemical imposter)
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Boil the macaroni until it is done.
  2. Turn off the stove and drain the macaroni.
  3. While still hot, put the spinach in the macaroni pot and put the hot and drained macaroni right on top to wilt the spinach.  That’s all the cooking it should need.
  4. While that’s cooking/drying out, mix together the sour cream, mayo, buttermilk, sugar, vinegar and some salt.  Taste to see if it needs any additional flavors, and make sure it’s a good consistency to coat the macaroni. 
  5. Slice up your scallions.
  6. Once the dressing meets your approval, add in 1/2 block of crumbled feta and 3/4 of the sliced scallions.
  7. Put the noodles and spinach in a large bowl.  Add in the liquid and stir to coat evenly.  Add in the rest of the block of feta.  Taste.  If it needs more feta, add it.  You want a little feta in every single bite.
  8. Once it has met your approval, pour into a serving bowl and top with remaining scallions, cover and let rest at least a few hours if not overnight.  Taste it again the next day to make sure it still tastes good.  It will. 
  9. Serve it up cold or at room temperature. 

Eating my way through Tulum, Q. Roo, MX

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

30 de mayo del 2012 – Sale y Pepe and Complimentary Breakfast

Today, we made another make-shift breakfast in our kitchenette quickly and checked out of our hotel in Playa del Carmen at 11am. We got a taxi for $50 Pesos to the ADO bus station and bought two one-way tickets to Tulum for $124 Pesos. The bus came within 20 minutes and we were on our way.

We finally arrived to iTour Mexico, our tiny hotel (only 6 rooms). It looked awful on the outside and I though to myself, “Oh my god, what did I get us into?” But there had to be a reason I booked this place! I TripAdvisor’ed every place we stay on this trip. Once we got inside, we realized why I’d booked it. The outside does no justice to the quality of this place. Did I mention a bunch of Italians run this place and serve free espresso, croissants and ham and cheese sandwiches? Score!

Sale y Pepe

This little restaurant is actually connected to iTour Mexico hotel. Ironically, being as all Italians run this hotel, the restaurant serves Italian food. We only had to walk, literally, 20 feet to reach our table. We sat on the patio. The temperature was about 85 degrees but it was raining/thunderstorms. It was beautiful! We ordered a Bohemia and a Lime Aguas Frescas. Our drinks were $55 Pesos or about $4.

And a “Cesare Ensalada,” which was tastier than a regular Caesar because they had fresh toasted croutons and smokey bacon on top. This was $80 Pesos or about $6.

For dinner, I got the special, which was Espageti con Almejas or Spaghetti with Clams in a white wine, garlic, butter and parsley sauce. Delicious! $120 Pesos.

Finally, we ordered what our host Marcos recommended, which was the Pizza. We got a half Proscuitto and half Estrema (pepperoni and garlic). This was really tasty and Rafa killed the whole thing by himself. mmMM. I’m sure we’ll eat here again in the next few days because we’ll be here until June 2nd.

31 de mayo del 2012 – El Camello Jr. & Mangos Filipinos

El Camello Jr.

El Camello was recommended to us within the first fifteen minutes were arrived to our hotel and it has been the best food Mexico so far (trumpting the Polloa Asadero). It was so good, in fact, we went back the next day and ordered a different combo of dishes. First of all, El Camello gets rave reviews from trip advisor. It is at the end of town before small town Tulum turns into thick jungle. We walked the first time because we didn’t realize how far it was, then after consuming the MOST delicious fried fish, the MOST delicious and HUGE ceviche mixto and 2 aguas frescas plus 4 Bohemio Oscuros…we were two happy people!

El Camello Jr. is just a bunch of plastic tables (inside and out) with male servers. They receive shrimp and fresh fish as you sit there. It is comforting to know that the turn-around for fish is high so you know you’re not eating old fish…I can’t say I feel the same about the Chinese food place I saw in Playa del Carmen…

First, each table is served what our server called “cazado,” which he says is implied that a dish prepared in a “cazuela” or a stew pot. Instead of serving you the typical chips and salsa, they bring you cazado, which is warm fish stew. I could point out a handfull of ingredients – tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, white fish. It’s warm and is served with fried corn chips. A LOT of fried corn chips.

Next, I saw everyone eating ceviche. There was no way I was leaving this place without stuffing myself full of ceviche. Unfortunately, you eat with your eyes and I ordered a large. Oh well- I was still happy.

Rafa ordered a fried whole fish. It came with pureed black beans, salad, tomatoes/cucmbers and rice. They also brought some diced tomatoes for him and a couple of hot sauces (both habanero based – neither were tasted).

Final dishes on the table…

Mangos Filipinos

On the way back from the restaurant we stopped at this little old man’s fruit and veggie shop (open air). The owners name is Raymundo and he is 80 years old with only 4 or 5 grey hairs. He speaks Mayan and we sat with him for a while. I fed his cat my leftover Ceviche and he taught Rafa some important life lessons. He was a kind and incredibly intelligent old man.

1 de junio del 2012 – Tulum Ruins and Round Two at El Camello Jr.

Today we woke up and grabbed some free bikes from our hotel. We headed to El Asadero, which out hotel guide also recommened but they were closed. Because the sun was beginning to fade, we decided to skip lunch all together and go see the Tulum Ruins and go to the beach first. We’d eat later.

After we saw the ruins and a ton of HUGE lizards up close and too personal, we decided to head to El Asadero to eat, but it was still closed. They didn’t open until 6pm! What the heck! Well, we hadn’t eaten all day and El Camello was sounding pretty darn good again, so we headed there.

I ordered the Camarones al ajillo or Garlic Shrimp and Rafa ordered the fried fish again. Delicious as usual.

The food here is consistent and delicious. Our meal today, including a Coca Cola and a Lime Aguas Frescas was only $249 Pesos or around $18-19!!

Tomorrow we head to Chichen Itza. We’ll be watching the Light and Sound Show at night, since the trip is 3 hours from Tulum and we don’t arrive until mid-day. The following morning, we’ll see Chichen Itza in the day. Food will surely be different and less seafood based far from the coast.

Stuffed Patty Pan Squash

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

I told you I had something very special from the farmers market to share with you.  And this is it.

Quinoa stuffed patty pan squash.  Go on, let that sink in. 

The delicious cheesy quinoa… the zucchini-like taste of the squash… the gloriousness when it all comes together… 

It’s a party in your mouth.  A healthy party.  Which sounds like an oxymoron but mouth parties can be had with healthy food too.  Not just chocolate sugary delight.

You can stuff these bad boys with anything your heart desires, and mine was desiring some mac’n’cheese. 

I had some leftover Gruyère to use and some sharp cheddar cheese, so I figured if I was gonna go so high fat, I needed to pair it with some veggies.  Because then the fat doesn’t count.  Or something like that.

I had no idea what patty pan squash was when I saw it, but it was so cute I had to try playing with it.  Apparently i’m in the minority because I was describing them to my mom and she was all like, oh, duh, patty pan squash!  Then I was showing it off to Mary and she was like duh!  My urbanite is showing.

Patty pan squash are incredibly easy to work with. 

You just par boil them for about 8 minutes, then scoop them out, fill them, and pop them back in the oven for 15-20 minutes.  What you end up with is a vegetable that still has substance to it, but the skin is completely edible and it yields to a knife without a fight.

So go on, grab some from your local farmers market and get stuffing!

Stuffed Patty Pan Squash

Ingredients:

  • 4 Patty Pan Squash
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, 4 tbsp reserved
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. First, you want to par boil your squash.  Give them a quick rinse, and fill a large pot with about an inch of water.  Bring the water to a boil and put the squash in.  Cover with the lid and let boil for 8-10 minutes. 
  2. While the squash are cooking, start the quinoa.  Boil the quinoa with a 3:1 ratio of water to quinoa.  So for 1 cup quinoa use 3 cups water.  Bring it to a simmer with the lid on and let all the moisture absorb.
  3. Once the squash are boiled, lay them on a clean surface to cool. 
  4. While the quinoa is cooking, dice up the onion and garlic and start it browning in a pan with some olive oil or butter.
  5. Once it is nice and brown, take it off the stove and let it cool. 
  6. By this time your cheese should be shredded and waiting and your quiona should be done cooking.  Combine the warm quinoa with the cheese, onions, garlic and mustard powder.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Try to resist eating all this concoction before you even stuff the squash.  It will be hard, but I believe in you.
  7. Preheat your oven to 375
  8. Now that the squash is easy to handle, cut a round hole in the top and using a melon baller or a cookie scoop, take out some of the insides to form a nice hole to stuff.
  9. Stuff those squash.  Let the stuffing come out the top a bit. 
  10. If you want to be cutesie you can keep the stem tops you’ve cut off to make little caps for the squash.  It is too cute for me. 
  11. Once they are filled, throw them in a pan and cover each with 1 tbsp of that reserved cheddar cheese.
  12. Cover loosely with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 5 so the cheese gets nice and bubbly.
  13. Eat warm and enjoy!

Eating my way through Playa del Carmen, Q. Roo, MX

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

26 de mayo del 2012 – Primera Noche and El Chivito”

Oh goodness, where do I start? I feel like I have died and gone to heaven with all of the amazing assortments of international food available in Playa del Carmen. In case you’re going, “Where is Playa del Carmen?” – click on the link. So why did I choose Playa del Carmen? Actually, my friend Laura (from work) mentioned the name once or twice and so I started looking it up. I knew Cancun would be fun, but I wanted to try something different. I created our itinerary based on recommendations online and in person, and a new method: asking locals where to go, what to eat and what there is to do. The locals are awesome, friendly, simple and humble people. You can tell that outside of Playa, there is not a lot of money. We drive by some poor areas on the way in. We realized tourism is the one and only thing that brings money to this area and big agencies usually get the most clients, so my goal was to focus on the small businesses.

El Chivito

Our first meal was sort of a spontaneous “what do you think is still open and serving food at this hour?” kind of moment. We got to our hotel about an hour and half after leaving CUN airport. We took the bus ($20 total) and a taxi ($7 w/ tip). We checked in and then walked around and ended up a place on the corner a block away. We ordered this sandwich called “El Chivito” that had about 12 ingredients. It was Paraguayan food, go figure. Nonetheless, we were impressed. They said it came with Papa Francesas, so we asked “what are Papas Francesas” and the girl says “the little round ones.” Little round ones? Round ones of what? Well, that’s odd, but whatever. It was only $170 MX Pesos* and HUGE. Turns out Papas Francesas literally translates to “FRENCH FRIES.” DUH! Don’t ask WHY I couldn’t figure that out on my own.

Ingredients: baguette, swiss cheese, skirt steak, ham, hard-boiled egg, pimento olives, tomatoes, lettuce and sauce. Pimento olives now rule my sandwich world.

NOTE* At the time, 170 MX Pesos seemed cheap, but looking back now on my 4th day in Mexico, 170 for a sandwich is a lot of money. We have found much better deals.

We ordered it to-go and used our kitchenette to dish ourselves up!

Later, we went to bed and woke up early for two people who got NO sleep the night before. We got up at around 9am and wanted to go explore “El Pueblo.” The night before we stopped at the Farmacia to buy some water, vaseline (both of us had lips that resembled the desert floor), and other miscellaneous things we forgot. I asked the cashier where the real Playa is. He said we need to go to “el Pueblo.” Coincidentally, I thought I knew where that was. I said, “Is that where the ADO bus station is?” He said yes. Why did I know that? Well, when we got to Playa on the ADO, we noticed there were NOOOOO tourists, just Mexican people. I thought, wow, this area doesn’t get a lot of tourism. Well, we were just were the locals live. THAT is where I wanted to eat.

27 de mayo del 2012 – Crushing Almonds, Eating Pollo Asadero and Parrijjjaa Argentina”

Almonds

On our way to “el Pueblo” there were a lot of tropical trees, including palm trees with coconuts, and almond trees. The great thing about traveling with Rafa to a place like Playa is that he is from a tropical country also, Cuba. We found an almond tree and he was able to crack some almonds for me to eat. They were creamy and soft and had an amazing after-taste. Locals certainly looked at us funny, but then again, they must see tourists do weird stuff all of the time.

 

Jugo de Guayaba (Guava Juice)

It’s not that I don’t like guava juice, it’s just that I am not used to the taste. Apparently Rafa said this juice was really good, but it was really acidic and not really my thang. That’s the other thing, I’m really picky about juice. I don’t drink bottled juice much anymore. I searched high and low for “aguas frescas” and “jugos naturales” all over Playa today. We went around in so many circles we started recognizing and becoming familiar with the entire town. I finally stopped at FrutiYogurth and got a “Refrescado” which is pineapple juice with melon juice. It was 1/2 liter and I drank it all in about 2.5 seconds flat. SO DELICIOUS it didn’t last long enough to take a picture. It was 35 MX Pesos, or $2.50. Again, at this point that seemed cheap to me, until I later found a real aguas frescas stand in the middle of the “boonies” of Playa. The women served me and Rafa 2 liters (1 liter each), for $1 per liter. She had flavors like sandia, guanabana, pina colada, fresca, naranja y limon.We ordered the pina colada. Amazing! And only $1.

These pictures are of the bottled stuff, which in NO way compared to the fresh aguas.

Asadero de Pollo

Finally, we get to the entire reason we left the house today – breakfast! At this point, we’d gone around town 4-5 hours and still couldn’t find something authentic enough to eat that sounded good. There was a lot of authentic, and lots of good, but we wanted both and most importantly, local/small. Then we hit the jackpot. We turned a corner and smelled this amazing smell of chicken, like bbq chicken. But not American BBQ, more like grilllllllleedd chicken. There was a man with his family working a tiny restaurant with a HUGE charcoal grill outside. There were about 30 WHOLE chickens (chopped down the middle) all roasty, toasty with crispy skin and covered in this incredible red abodo (seasoning). We took the picture below a couple of days later (we came back 3 times for the chicken during our stay in Playa and actually saved a lot of money by eating here.)

It was delicious looking and so we passed on doing a “sit-down” lunch and bought a whole chicken off the guy. It was 75 MX Pesos, or around $6.25. We didn’t think it came with sides, but he went and got a bag from his wife and chopped the chicken up and covered it in foil. He closed the bag and gave it to us. We walked to the beach to eat. We sat about 5 feet from the water and with our fingers dug into this…

If we would have done “sit-down” they would have dished us up like this…(when you take your order to-go, it all comes in baggies).

Ingredients included a whole chicken, black beans, rice, hot sauce, 20 tortillas (or more), cabbage salad,  pickled onions. Amazing deal! And it was only a dollar more to have it all dished up for you nicely at the restaurant.

El Diez (el 10) – Parrilla Argentina

What is up with all the Argentinian people in Playa? There are more Argentinians here than there are white people OR Mexican people. The majority of the restaurants are ALSO from Argentina. You know how many Mexican restaurants there are in our hotel’s area? 1! Yes, ONE! ONEEEEE. I can’t believe it.

So, Rafa and I have gone to “el Pueblo” then to the beach to eat, then back to the hotel to rest for about an hour (he slept on the hammock outside after drinking some Flor de Cana rum, and I slept inside). Then we woke up and went to the beach again. The water was warrrmm and the sand is as smooth as a baby’s bottom. At this point it’s around 7pm. We played at the beach and then walked more. Actually, we snuck into a resort and swam in their pool a while. Then we got lost in the resort and security escorted us out. We played dumb and said we were lost. They believed us.

As we walked down “Quinta” or 5th Avenue, we wanted meat. Grilled meat is an overwhelming smell all over Playa. We were craving steak and nothing sounded better than an Argentinian grill with Chimichurri. Yummmm. We ended up at “El 10” or “El Diez” or “The Ten.” I’m sure that has something to do with the food being a 10/10, and it really was.

Dinner included Steak “Arrachera”, tomato/onion/lettuce salad with vinaigrette, garlic & parsley fries with mayonnaise, and for dessert I ordered Dulce de Leche and a cappuccino.

I gave my leftover steak to a stray dog named “Cairo” who is well-known in at this restaurant and eats there every day. He was adorable I took about 10 pictures of him. I thought he looked too healthy to be a stray and that’s because everyone feeds him, he sleeps at the beach and no one owns him.

28 de mayo del 2012 – La Tragata”

Today we woke up at noon and headed straight to the beach. We had not had anything to eat though, and didn’t want to bring food to the beach, so we stopped at a local restaurant called La Tragata.

La Tragata – Seabass al Ajillo and a Proscuitto & Machego Baguette

This place was a cute sit-down restaurant we walked by on our way to the beach. We were hungry and it was late so we wanted to eat something before we went to the beach so we wouldn’t cover our food in sand. I ordered Seabass al Ajillo (Seabass in a garlic sauce and subbed in veggies and rice), and Rafa ordered a Manchego and Prosciutto Baguette with fries. We also split a guacamole to start.

When we look back on it, we should have ordered the “menu del dia.” It was three courses for $80 MX Pesos. That would have been like $6 per person for appetizer, entrée and dessert and instead we paid around $15 per person ordering a la carte…

29 de mayo del 2012 – Hotel-cooked Breakfast, Pan Dulce and Cookies Named After Me”

Hotel Cooking in Playa del Carmen – Breakfast

Rafa was able to use the small kitchenette in our hotel room to whip up an amazing breakfast. We ate leftover chicken, toast, eggs and skillet turkey. We drank pineapple juice and milk. Speaking of milk, most milk in Mexico comes in shelf-stable liter boxes. If you want fresh milk, you have like 2 options and it’s expensive. We opted for fresh milk, but when we tasted it, we realized it had no flavor. It was like water. It wasn’t gross, but it wasn’t good either. The pineapple juice was great. It was a brand called Jumex – Nectar de Pina. Actually they sell it in the US, but I never buy it. Now that I’ve tasted it though, I’m going to stalk up because that stuff is delicious! It was $1 or $12 MX Pesos.

Also, the grocery stores have these incredible displays of pan dulce. You can find pan dulce at any Mexican store in Portland, but lots of people do not venture out in that direction. Here, the pan dulces have their own section of the store (like “dairy,” “meat counter,” “pan dulce.”). There are so many varieties, flavors, colors, fillings, shapes. I was in heaven! Unfortunately, my pallett is bland these days and I like plain old vanilla flavored stuff. I opted for an Elephant Ear, Crossaint and this Bread thing with cream filling and sugar crumble.

Did I mention I also found these? They were pricey, imported cookies from Spain. What else was I supposed to do? I had to buy them!

Well everyone, that’s it for Playa del Carmen. Tomorrow morning we head to Tulum, about one hour south of Playa del Carmen. See you there!

Country Scramble

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Making a scramble for the week is a great way to have a healthy and super quick breakfast.

I like to eat breakfast at work and I need something quick that I can just throw in the microwave and not have to fuss with.  That’s where scrambles come in.

Using mostly egg whites with a few yolks, I add in whatever veggies i’m feeling that week and some cheese and possibly meat and scramble it all together. 

I put it all together in a tupperware and leave it in the fridge at work.  Every day that week I have breakfast already done and I don’t have to think about it.

Plus, I have no excuse to stop at Starbucks for a hot chocolate or Great Harvest for a scone since I have food waiting for me at the office.  And it’s free.  It’s a win-win!

The best thing about a scramble is you can change the flavors to suit your mood. 

Feeling mediterranean?  How about feta, olives and spinach.  Spanish?  Chorizo and cotija. The week, I felt like cheddar. 

This recipe is enough for 1 person for about 5 days.  Unless you eat a lot in the morning then make sure to double it, or add toast and fruit with it.

Country Scramble

Ingredients:

  • 10 eggs (4 whole, 6 whites)
  • 1/3 lb country chicken sausage
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar (do yourself a favor and shred it by head.  The pre-shredded stuff has its place, but the fillers can ruin a good dish)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a medium skillet on medium-low heat put the sausage to begin to brown.  This is a lean chicken sausage so add a little olive oil.  If you’re using a fattier sausage you can omit the oil.
  2. While that’s browning, chop up the onion and garlic. 
  3. Take out the cooked and crumbled sausage, and use the oil and any rendered fat in the pan to brown the onion and garlic.  You could also add other veggies at this stage, like bell peppers.
  4. While the veggies are cooking, take your eggs and add them to a bowl.  I used 4 whole eggs and 6 whites, but you can use any combination you like.  Whip those up with some salt and pepper.
  5. Grate your cheese and set it aside. 
  6. Once the onions and garlic are cooked, add them to the sausage and add a few tbsp of water to the pan.  throw in the spinach and cover.  Let it wilt and cook.
  7. Once the spinach is cooked drain everything off and add back in the veggies and sausage.  Let everything mix together for a minute or two on the heat to evaporate any leftover moisture.
  8. Throw in the eggs and cook them up.  Stirring occasionally.
  9. Turn off the heat and add the cheese on top.  The heat from the eggs will melt it.
  10. Once it’s cooled, put in a tupperware and reheat a serving at a time.

Farmers Market Monday

Tags

, , , , , ,

I had the BEST find at the farmer’s market this weekend!

I took my nephew and we went to the Cedar Hills Market in the parking lot of Safeway off Murray and Cornell (if you know the area).  It was small but really fun.  It had a good vibe to it, and while there wasn’t the selection there was at Beaverton, it held some excellent produce.

The lettuce is perfect this time of year, and I love nothing more than a good head of butter lettuce.

It is green and looks like a flower and tastes buttery and soft.

The strawberries are just starting to come out, the “hoodies” (as my mom calls them) are starting to come into their own, so I got a serving to snack on.

Finally, I found these. 

Patty pan squash.  They look like flowers but are actually a squash very similar to zucchini!

I am so excited to play with these; maybe stuff them with cheese and quinoa.  Oh, I love new produce!

 

Arroz con Pollo y Gandules

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ahhh…arroz con pollo and arroz con gandules alllll rolled into one dish. My mom spoiled me when I was little cooking for me the dishes she learned while living in Puerto Rico with my father. In case you’re wondering gandules are Green Pigeon Peas. They taste nothing like regular slimey green things you hated eating when you were little…Oh wait – it’s the only vegetable I STILL CAN’T STAND EATING. Ugh! The things remind me of…

Well, I won’t go there. I’m trying to stimulate your appetite- not make you lose it!

Back to gandules. Arroz con Gandules are basically the Puerto Rican version of the Cuban Arroz Con Gris, or the Lousiana version of Jambalaya. Creole cuisine is derived from its Spanish ancestors, so you’ll see similar ingredients in Arroz con Gandules that you’ll see in Jambalaya including but not little to: onions, rice, tomatoes, spices, green peppers, olives, garlic, meats. Wow- that pretty much cover the whole dish!

Arroz con Pollo y Gandules

Ingredients:

  • half of a large white onion
  • half large green bell pepper
  • 4 oz. jar of red pimentos
  • 12-15 oz. chicken breast, cut into cubes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 can Gandules (Green Pigeon Peas) “Goya”
  • 1/2 cup green olives with red pepper centers
  • 3 cups white rice
  • EVOO (2 tablespoons)
  • 5 cups water
  • Sazon Goya “Culantro y Achiote” – one envelope
  • half a can of tomato paste (small cans)
  • salt & pepper

Instructions:

1.  Chop your onion, green bell pepper and mince your garlic.

2.  Cut your chicken into cubes.

3. Set your pressure cooker or whatever you’ll be cooking in (dutch oven would be awesome) on ‘brown’ and then brown your chicken for about 15 minutes or until golden. Salt & pepper the chicken.

4.  Throw in the onions, peppers and garlic and brown a little more. Throw in your diced pimentos and envelope of Sazon.

5.  Now, dissolve the tomato paste in 1/2 cup of water. Add that and the rest of the water and the remaining ingredients. Stir well.

6.  Cover well and cook the rice the way you would normally cook rice. I hit ‘rice cooker’ on the pressure cooker. However, I had to cook in two times on ‘rice cooker’ because there’s just too much stuff in there. Then, release the pressure and just leave it on warm for about 20 minutes to rest and dry out a bit.

Chile Cheddar Corn Muffins

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What better to accompany a fresh and simple soup than some cheesy, slightly spicy corn muffins?

I had been dying to try this combination for a while and I have only one thing to say on the subject…

Turns out i’m not a big fan of corn muffins.  I like the cheddar and chile combination just fine, and even have some ideas of other areas to combine them.  But really I can’t get behind corn muffins.

Maybe it was the wrong recipe, but really i’ve tried them several times in my life and I just can never seem to get past the dry, crumb-y texture.

Next time i’ll try a cornbread.  I do like a nice fluffy cornbread.  With butter and honey.  Yum.

What’s the difference?  I’m not sure I know.  Maybe because the muffins are small I overbake them, or maybe they are meant to be drier.  Whatever it is, I probably won’t repeat this recipe ever again. 

That’s not to say the muffins weren’t good.  Served hot out of the oven with some butter they were yummy, the roommates liked them just fine. 

Although Mary bit into a jalapeno seed I think; she claimed they were just too spicy for her.  Watching her struggle with the heat was funny.  I’m mean like that.  But then she ate the rest of the muffin so I didn’t feel so badly for finding her pain amusing.

I was going to give you the recipe anyway, but let’s face it: it’s not worth it this time.  Until next time maybe try one of these recipes from some trusted sources: Ina Garten or Brown Eyed Baker.