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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie with Pecan Crust A feel good alternative Gluten Free and Sugar Free

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Its coming… It’s here… the most wonderful time of the year, you can drop the ball, and roll around with it or you can just keep it simple and delicious.

No guilt trips, no counting calories, just decide what makes you feel good before, during and after you eat it. I think that will be my mantra for the season and the year to come. I do not know if I will survive but I know that at least by asking this question it will make me chose better options with happy endings and no regrets like this Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie with Pecan Crust. To tell you the truth, when I was creating the recipe I was a little skeptical about if was going to be a recipe that will stand up side by side to all the goodness on a Thanksgiving table. Because after all it is “that time of the year” to be grateful and enjoy.
Trying a slice, this delicious creamy pumpkin pie that made me feel good while eating, before, during and after. I was hooked.

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Grilled Lamb and Autumn Chimichurri

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This recipe is one from our grill. It was inspired by that fire kiss char flavor one gets from cooking over coals. Francis Mallmann, one of my culinary heroes, discovered his true culinary craft in his birthplace, Argentina. He embraced his roots, and cooks from the primal force: Fire. Taming this element is what he does best, his instincts and knowledge based on French disciplinary techniques gives him the perfect alibi to be one with fire. It’s his passion, intuition, and adventurousness that make him the king of char. I had the opportunity to meet him at the presentation of his book “Seven Fires” here in Austin, Texas. Its a cookbook I can recommend to anyone who wants to explore and understand open fire cooking.

It wasn’t until I tried his technique on my own little grill that I experienced Mallmann’s big flavor world. Besides discovering and loving the char flavor, one of my favorite recipes from his book is the Chimichurri. It is made, gaucho style with fresh herbs married to the extra virgin olive oil and a salt solution called salmuera. This kind of chimichurri is not the one that resembles pesto, the herbs are finely chopped transforming the oil and brine into a magical loose herbed infusion in which you can taste all the herbs in harmony and discord at the same time.

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Mariana’s Pipian Verde

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One of the most iconic and traditional Mexican dishes, Mole Poblano, gets all the fame and glory, but what about the rest of the Moles? There are at least another 7 moles from Oaxaca, imagine that is just one state… equally delicious, easier, different chiles and seeds combinations, seasonal, upon what is available in different regions and Grandmas’, Moms’, and Aunts’ taste. Each family has their own traditions, style and way to prepare them. Which one is more authentic?.. The one that is more you-er than you. I do not like to refer to a dish as authentic, I believe its more about tradition. Unless we go authenticating Grandmas, Moms and Aunts out there…unless it’s a Picasso painting.

Tradition is what a dish should reflect. The way and manner it was prepared in your family, at a place in time and history that has carry on within. That’s what resonates more with a recipe, like that yellowish piece of paper that has butter spots and crunchy edges, you can barely read from your grandmas handwriting, and that you have slightly adapted because of personal preferences but its done and evokes you memories and flavors that ground you, and hold a spot in your family history.

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Bonanza Bowl

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One Zucchini, one sweet potato, 1/3 of avocado, 11 cherry tomatoes, some spinach, the heel of a red onion and 2 pieces left from different cabbages, that was what I had in my fridge.
It happens to every fridge. These lonely rangers, the forgotten vegetables that get a little sad and tired looking. You really do not have a plan for them but you know you better eat them before you reload your fridge. All this bits and ends not enough for a complete recipe, you know how it feels when you have potatoes, but not butter, you have pasta but no sauce, or garlic but not oil sometimes your cooking just gets stuck. Some times you have to shake up your fridge and pantry to see what comes out of it.

This is the kind of Non-recipe that saves you. Sometimes if your fridge feels like this, its contagious and you’ll find that your Pantry has the same dilemma. But when your cooking bulb goes on, this bits and ends can be transformed on a blink of an eye and will turn into, perhaps the best dinner of the week.

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Sweet and Handsome Farro Salad

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Sweet peppers are what you can find at the markets in Austin, Texas right now. Beautiful varieties, colorful, different shapes and sizes. Perhaps one or two sassy ones among the bunch, but mostly they are fleshy, sweet and flavorful.

For me, grilling these kind of sweet peppers bring the best flavors in them. The sweet mild flesh with the charred pieces of skin are what inspired me to make this salad. We love to grill at this time of the year when it does not feel like you are grilling your self over, September its a better Grilling Time for us.

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Hibiscus Mint Fruit Punch

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While growing up, Hibiscus-Jamaica agua fresca was often the drink of choice to refresh on a Summery day.  I remember my mom and grandma buying the dry flowers in bulk. Hibiscus-flor de Jamaica or Roselle should not be confused by the ornamental hibiscus plants, these ruby red flowers come from a different plant scientific name Hibiscus sabdariffa which are dried and used in many preparations, from sweet to savory dishes. The flavor profile of this Hibiscus is highly acidic, almost citrus like. It contains high doses of vitamin C and a unique flowery citrus flavor that is just right for refreshing drinks and tames the thirst on hot summer days. For me, growing up in Mexico, Agua fresca de Jamaica was my “cool”aid.

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With this in mind and thinking of something refreshing and fun to drink, I thought of making a fruit punch, or the good Sister of Sangria. This Hibiscus Mint Fruit Punch  just got loaded with lots of fresh fruit, and SVETIA sweetener which makes this Fruit punch the good sister of Sangria, or the healthiest Agua Fresca!

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Black Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos

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I’ve been craving Fish Tacos. But not any kind of Fish Taco, I mean Ensenada, Baja California Mexico Fish Tacos. The real deal. These “the” original fish tacos are often imitated, and sad to say but rarely duplicated. How can something so simple in principle, can be so hard to replicate? I really believe its all in the ingredients and the particular sazon of the cook. Have you ever tried the authentic Baja tacos?… If not, please do. Tale says that the Baja tacos were created by the street stand “Tacos El Fenix” in Ensenada Baja California, Mexico. What is so special about a Baja taco? Well, let me describe it. Imagine a tempura-like battered piece of the freshest morning pacific caught white flesh flaky fish, on a Mexican corn tortilla, light mayo-crema, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, and a spoonful of spicy green or red spicy salsa and a squeeze of lime. The bite is ethereal, crunchy, tender, fresh, savory, acid, spicy your tastebuds go on ecstasy.
I have not eaten Baja Fish Tacos in almost 10 years!, would you believe that?…No?, me neither.

Recreating a craving from a memory of flavor could be a little daunting. I did not want to even attempt to relay into my 10-year taste buds memories to try to replicate these unique Baja tacos.

So I opted for a 360 degree of separation alternative recipe to tease and ease up my Fish Taco craving. I made these Black Sesame Seared Tuna Tacos. Sometimes my taste buds act in mischievous ways. On these tacos, I opted to seared Ahi Tuna steaks covered in Black sesame seeds instead of the deep frying battered fish.

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Fig Honey Kefir Tart with Pecan Date Crust

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Figs…an  inverted flower fruit, sweet, with a sexy shape. I often crave their flowery delicate sweetness and incredible texture. I remember the first time I had a fig I was at a little orchard on a “Family Sunday Comida” in a little town out side the city. My Grandpa Alfredo had a cousin with a great house, a ridiculously oversized pool, and a fruit orchard. You can imagine that for a kid this combination was heaven. I had a place to run, to swim, discover fruits, plants while the adults were too busy playing dominos, cards, laughing out loud, and macerating their happy Sunday souls in Tequila. Hehehe… no worries Mexican mothers were always around watching over us.  Moms, aunts, great-aunts were in the kitchen serving food plates, and every so often screamed at us “Be careful!, get down from that tree!, No more!, A comer!… you get the family situation.

Trino, was my Grandpa’s cousin’s name. I remember he gathered all the kids and told us we could cut every fruit we want, as long we ate it. Then he cut a handful of figs and handed one fig to each kid, whiled he explained what we needed to look for on a ripe fig; “Look for a dark purple color and a honey smell”. With that little said, we all kids had a mission, but first we tried the figs he handed us. At first I did not know what to do, how to eat it, or what to think about this strange looking black-purpled fruit, but when I decided to bite into it, my eyes opened wide and my taste buds went crazy.  After one fig bite, I wondered where have figs  been all my short life and why don’t all fruits taste like figs. Soft and warm from the sun, utterly sweet and floral, all in one cosmic bite; it made me think that the bees around the area could start chasing me if I kept eating the figs from the tree.

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Since then figs have stolen my heart. I look for them when in season, if possible. Black Mission figs are my favorite because of their flavor, texture, color and because it brings back these memories. Figs are one of the few things I like in purple. Texas has a brief fig season June-July mostly. It is August I know but I ran into these California Mission figs and I could not say no to them.

This tart is a no-bake fresh dessert. It combines all what I love in a Summer dessert; fresh fruit, something light, creamy, and cold with out being overly sweet. The crust its a combination of Pecans and Walnuts, dates cardamom and orange blossom water. A breeze to make with the help of a food processor. Despite the use of dates, this crust is just sweet enough. For the creamy component I chose Kefir Cheese and a drizzle of honey mixed into it. This makes a silky and tangy cloud for the fig slices to snuggle.  Two layers of fresh fig slices, chopped, toasted pecans, salt flakes, a drizzle of honey or Balsamic, make this irresistible. Besides it is a really good source of delicious healthy treat. Despite the figs and the dates, this little tart is made with 8-10 dates which amounts around one date per person, A good handful of nuts and good oils, and the tastiest creamy, dreamy, probiotic Kefir cheese its a must! sorry I would not dare to suggest a substitution on this one, trust me.

An incredible dessert and simple to make this Summer, this Fig Tart is truly love at first bite.

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Just make it its delicious!, for the recipe you will need….

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