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Creamy Basil-Zucchini Noodle Soup

Creamy-Basil-Zucchini-Noodle-Soup_Yes,-more-please!

Welcome Spring! and its amazing crazy weather, hehehe… here in Austin, Tx it’s rainy, cloudy and around 60 degrees that feels like 50 degrees. So I think a vegetable noodle soup, with a bright green hue, light, creamy and bright will lift up any cloudy weather… If you live in a part of the world where the weather feels accordingly with the Spring season, hey! this Creamy Basil-Zucchini Noodle Soup it’s also for you since it can be served warm or cold.

Describing this soup is a dreamy pleasure, it is creamy, fragrant, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, green, calorie friendly and easy to make. The basil, ginger,  and coconut give this soup an aromatic spring flare. The raw zucchini noodles add bite and texture to the soup. For me, it always has been interesting to enhance one flavor by combining different cooking variations of it. Raw, steamed, roasted, sautéed, two or three variations in one dish with the same ingredient. I believe that by maximizing one subtle ingredient like zucchini you can achieve maximum dept of flavor, textures, temperatures and add lots of character to the dish by focusing on “the” one ingredient.

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Six ingredients joining one pot, and the fun task of making zucchini noodles. By the way, have you made Zucchini noodles before? It is awesome. This little apparatus called the vegetable spiralizer it is the bomb!. As you know, I’m not very fond of unitaskers in the kitchen, the only uni-tasker gadget I owned and loved was the Julienne peeler, until now. (which by the way you can use if you do not own a spiralizer) This vegetable spiralizer belongs into the FUN category, it transforms any meaty root vegetable or fruit into the most beautiful curly noodles. I’ve used, zucchini, carrots, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cucumbers, rutabagas, green papaya, apples, pears, uff! you name it. It’s really easy to use and clean up. If you have heard of it, yes it is awesome! (No, I’m not getting paid to say this, what you are reading it is my honest opinion, in fact, I did not even buy this beautiful red spiralizer ha! It was a Christmas present from my friend Andrea…Thank you, Drea! I love it! Hehehe.)

So, dear friends, whether you are experiencing a warm or cold Spring; Begin by making this delicious soup and enjoy the Spring ride!

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Let’s cook! for the recipe, you will need…

Creamy Basil-Zucchini Noodle Soup

Serves 4

2 lbs. zucchini.  I combined half dark green zucchini, half Mexican calabazita aka zucchini. Use what is best available.
1 -16 oz. can organic coconut cream unsweetened
1/2 small onion
2 garlic clove
6 large, fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Zest
1  teaspoon kosher salt
4-6 Cranks of fresh ground Black Pepper

Preparation:

1. Reserve ½ of a large green zucchini for the raw zucchini noodles. Cut the rest of the zucchini into cubes.
2. Make the zucchini curls following the directions of your spiralizer, or use a Julienne peeler. Set the curls aside.
3. In a medium-size pot, add the zucchini cubes and the rest of the ingredients. Cover and bring to a slow simmer, cook for 20 minutes until the zucchini is fork tender but not mushy.
4. With an immersion blender, a blender or food processor, puree until smooth. At this point add a bit of water, or vegetable stock to adjust the soup to your desired thickness. Keep soup warm, and serve a couple of ladles into each bowl, add a handful of the raw zucchini noodles on top. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and fresh black pepper. Enjoy!

Note: You can add little tofu squares, corn kernels, queso panela or mozzarella little squares if you want to make it into a complete lunch or dinner… This soup makes for a fabulous beginning of a meal, for lunch or if you dare for brunch…put an egg on it!

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Enjoy!

Music pairing:https://youtu.be/C-1mYXVP1Ok

Creamy Basil-Zucchini Noodle Soup

Serves 4
Course Soup
Cuisine FUSION
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. zucchini. I combined half dark green zucchini half Mexican calabazita. Use what is best seasonal available.
  • 1 -16 oz. Can Organic unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves
  • ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Zest
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
  • 4-6 Cranks of fresh ground Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preparation:
  2. Reserve ½ of a large green zucchini for the raw zucchini noodles. Cut the rest of the zucchini into cubes.
  3. Make the zucchini curls following the directions of your spiralizer, or use a Julienne peeler. Set the curls a side.
  4. In a medium-size pot, add the zucchini cubes and the rest of the ingredients. Cover and bring to a slow simmer, cook for 20 minutes until the zucchini is fork tender but not mushy.
  5. With an immersion blender, a blender or food processor, pure until smooth. At this point you can add a bit of water, or vegetable stock to adjust the soup to your desired thickness. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust to your taste if necessary. 

    Keep soup warm, serve a couple of ladles into each bowl, add a handful of the raw zucchini noodles on top. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Note: You can add little tofu squares, corn kernels, queso panela or mozzarella little squares if you want to make it into a complete lunch or dinner… This soup makes for a fabulous beginning of a meal, for lunch or if you dare for brunch…put an egg on it!

 

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Spinach Ambrosia Salad with Dijon-honey-grapefruit vinaigrette

 

Spinach-Ambrosia-Salad-with-Honey-Dijon-Grapefruit-Vinaigrette_ingredients_Yes,-more-please!

Semantically Ambrosia is a powerful word, the food or drink of the immortals, Greek goodess, sweet luscious juicy fruits, sweet honey smells, something that will bring  youth, pleasure, and health. In my crazy fantasy food world I imagine Homer, Penelope, Aphrodite, and Sappho and their ambrosia offerings of sweet and incredible nectars.  But the enchanted elixir got shattered when I Googled “ambrosia salad” and the record sounded broken. To my surprise his ambrosia salad it is an abominable concoction from the 50’s. Where all the Greek Gods must of been under the marshmallow influence, along with cans of syrupy fruits like cherries red no.5, pineapple chunks of yellow no.5 undistinguished cubes of fruit matter, bright green grapes and that fluffy component all tied up into a sweet coma. That’s what I call fulminating love…(Pepé Le Pew style hehhee)

Being lost in translation and trying to rescue the origins of the word,  this salad came to my mind. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of “no wimpy salads” and a lot of encouragement to try and thrive while you feed not only your body, but the enticing act of eating consciously present and awake.

Althoug, I can not promise all of this matters in just one salad, I will assure you that this is not a wimpy one. In fact it does have the Ambrosia elements, fruits, smells textures, sweet, salty, acidic, juicy, creamy, crunchy all the components that make a salad a memorable meal, and the kind of salad you will crave the next day and perhaps the next weekend too. Spinach, strawberries, avocado, grapefruit segments, cucumbers, salty, creamy feta cheese, and crunchy nutty and meaty walnuts, all carefully combined and drizzled with a simple three ingredient Dijon-honey -grapefruit juice vinaigrette.  Needless to say the salad is healthy, energetic, nutritious, beautiful  and delicious.

This Spinach Ambrosia Salad with Dijon-honey-grapefruit vinaigrette  is what you need to welcome Spring and feel like a greek goddess, Enjoy!

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For the recipe you will need…

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Matcha Date and Almond Smoothie

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Loong time no see my friends! We apologize for the post delay, we have been dealing with some household chaos. I’ve been out of order for about 10 days, rough times I’ll tell you Back issues can be really painful I heart for people who have chronic pain. Thanks to Ian and his caring I’m feeling much better these days. In the meantime I hope you had time to make all the soup and all those recipes that you wanted to make last year , but you didn’t, because you can’t, but you want to, and you will and today is a good day to start. I hear you…. all this time in bed and I wanted to cook so bad, and I couldn’t. I made an awesome 3 1/2 minute soup that tasted just like it 3 1/2 minutes of big effort and glory! For me it tasted like if it had been simmering for hours. I guess when you are sick you just want some warm comfort. Any way this smoothie made my morning one of these sicky days it just put a smile on my face it felt like I was having a healthy dessert in a glass.

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Let me tell you all about this green creamy smoothie. The matcha and dates are a combination made in heaven; the sweet caramel dates play so well with the bright intense green tea flavor. The supporting cast: the almond milk, a couple of tablespoons of almonds and of course for texture and body a frozen banana. A small squeeze of lemon to brighten all those flavors, all goes to the blender….bleeeehhtzzz, blitzzzz, a little more blitzzz blitzzz …then pour it in a chilled glass and add a straw or two if you are willing to share… Enjoy!

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Matcha Date and Almond Smoothie

Makes 1 large non-sharable smoothie or two skinny glasses for a little afternoon snack.

1 cup almond milk
1 medium frozen banana peeled.
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
1 1/2 teaspoon matcha green tea powder cooking grade
2-3 medjool dates / remove the pits. Start with 2 dates and from there decide if you want it more sweet, add another date.
1 small squeeze of lemon
4-5 ice cubes

Directions:

Place all ingredients on a blender, bleeeeeeeeehhtzzz.
Pause then pulse Blitzzzz, blitzzzz just to make sure the dates are completely blend in.

Serve on chilled glasses with a straw.

Enjoy!

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Cauliflower Chowder

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After enjoying these days of caloric ecstasy and extravagances, it’s hard to immediately switch to the light and healthier road. It feels like you are giving a kid a candy and 5 minutes later you change that to a cucumber… it is just plain hard. All my taste buds are still in frantic mode and my serotonin levels are a roll a coaster. But Nature is wise, and perhaps knows these facts by sprouting a great Winter abundance of greens, root vegetables, cabbages and cauliflowers among other vegetables.

These are my saviors for this caloric transitional period. I need soup to warm me up and fill up my belly with out the extra filling out of my pants.. ahem.

Last weekend at my farmers market I ran into these beauties, a warm yellow and a purple cauliflower, rainbow carrots, sweet potatoes and fresh dill. How can you not be inspired when you see all this colors? Soup it is, I was craving the creamy textures and luxurious caloric meals, but with no guilt. So I decided to make an all vegetable chowder using all these winter bounty.

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Cauliflower has a delicate flavor. When it is cooked and pureed it resembles potatoes. You would be surprised how close you can prepare it to mimic the potato. I’m sure you’ve heard of cauliflower mashed, cauliflower rice or cauliflower mac & cheese in which this humble Brassica acts like a carb-chameleon. With this premise I started my vegetable chowder by cooking and pureeing part of the cauliflower as the soup base to give that rich starchy like consistency that characterizes a chowder. I reserved some of the cauliflower into little florets which are added latter to the soup to add texture and enhance the cauliflower flavor. The extra creamy chowderiness comes from unsweetened coconut milk which gives this soup the luxurious velvety chowder texture and it adds lots of good healthy fats that are well needed at this point of the healthy road transition. Do not fear about the coconut over taking the flavor on the soup, you barely can tell is here. Carrots, sweet potatoes and onions add sweetness, texture and light flavor. Fresh dill adds a great herbal aroma to the soup and complements the cauliflower flavor in a very delicate way.

I recommend organically grown vegetables if possible. I know that’s not easy, but increasingly supermarkets are adding those options if you don’t have access to a farmer’s market. In my opinion the flavor is better and I think with a lightly seasoned dish like this one, those flavors are going to shine through.

This Cauliflower chowder will warm you up, fulfill your starchy desires, and settle down your taste buds. I would say this soup is the ticket to redemption road.  Time to tame the growling carb lions…

You also might like this recipes:

 Grilled Cauliflower with Garlic and Cumin rub or My favorite Cauliflower Ceviche …check them out!

If you want to know more about the wonderful benefits of Cauliflower, please check out this unique and complete article, written by Helen Nichols, 28 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Cauliflower  Enjoy!

Cauliflower-Chowder_how-to-cut-Florets

Cauliflower Chowder

Serves 4 or 2 hungry Vegans.

2 small or 1 medium Cauliflower heads. Any color is great about 6-7 cups of small cauliflower florets total, use organic if possible they have the best flavor.
6-7 small carrots, diced or sliced into rounds.
I used red, yellow, and orange, use what ever is freshest available at your market.
1 medium sweet potato peeled and diced.
1/2 large sweet onion
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups vegetable stock
1 – 14oz can unsweetened coconut milk/cream
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 sprig fresh dill, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon if using dry and upon your taste.
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika or 2 sundry tomatoes**
6-8 good cranks of fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon Sea salt

Garnish with:

Fresh dill/not fan of dill?… Basil, Thyme, Chives, Tarragon are great substitutions.
smoked paprika
(Crostini or toast drizzled with olive oil and Parmesan cheese optional)

*I used water instead of vegetable stock, because I wanted the cauliflower flavor to come through. The first time I made this soup I used vegetable stock and I felt it masked the cauliflower flavor to much. Feel free to use whatever you prefer.
** Recently I made this soup adding 2 sundry tomatoes. It was a delicious variation, it gave the chowder a slight tint of color and deep of flavor.If using sundry tomatoes add them on step four so they can soften up before pureeing the chowder.

Preparation method:

1. Chop and diced your vegetables. With a small paring knife cut the cauliflower into small florets. Reserve about 2 cups of the little florets to add to the soup at last. For this soup I used the yellow cauliflower for the soup base and the purple florets to add whole to the soup, it adds eye appeal.

Cauliflower-Chowder_Carrots-and-sweetpotatoes_cooked
2. In a small pot, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Pre-cook the diced carrots and sweet potatoes for 4-5 minutes, until al-dente, rinse with cold water. Set aside.
3. Over medium-low heat in a medium size pot, add the extra virgin olive oil, and sauté the chopped onions and garlic until translucent, season with salt and pepper.
4. Once the onions are translucent, add ¾ of the cauliflower florets. Toss and add 2 cups of vegetable stock or just enough to cover the florets. Add bay leaf, thyme, fresh sprig of dill/or dry,  salt, and pepper, cover with a lid and let them cook for 7-8 minutes or until very soft and tender. Once cooked, purée them in a food processor, blender, or use an immersion blender until smooth.
5. Place this cauliflower purée back into the pot, add the coconut milk and stir well until blended. Season with celery salt, salt, paprika and black pepper. Add a bit more vegetable stock if the consistency is too thick.
6. Add the reserved mini cauliflower florets, and the pre-cooked carrots and sweet potatoes. Cover with a lid and bring to a slow simmer cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Check for doneness on the vegetables; I like my vegetables on the al-dente side, not hard but not mushy. Taste them and decide if you like them softer keep cooking them for another 2-3 minutes.

Serve immediately into warm bowls, sprinkle fresh dill, a little drizzle of olive oil, salt, and fresh cracked pepper.  One or two whole wheat crostinis won’t hurt right?… Enjoy!

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Cauliflower Chowder

Course Soup
Cuisine wholesome
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 small Cauliflower heads, Any color is great about 6-7 cups of small cauliflower florets total, use organic if possible they have the best flavor.
  • 6-7 small Carrots, diced or sliced into rounds.
  • 1 medium Sweet potato, peeled and diced.
  • 1/2 large Sweet onion diced
  • 2 medium Garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups Vegetable stock*
  • 1 14-0z can Unsweetened coconut milk/cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme, dry or fresh
  • 1 sprig fresh dill, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon if using dry upon your taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika or 2 sundry tomatoes
  • 6-8 cranks Fresh Black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt, or more upon your taste

Instructions

  1. 1. Chop and diced your vegetables. With a small pairing knife cut the cauliflower into small florets. Reserve about 2 cups of the little florets to add to the soup at last. For this soup I used the yellow cauliflower for the soup base and the purple florets to add whole to the soup, it adds eye appeal.

    2. In a small pot, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Pre-cook the diced carrots and sweet potatoes for 4-5 minutes, until al-dente, rinse with cold water. Set aside.

    3. Over medium low heat in a medium size pot, add the extra virgin olive oil, and sauté the chopped onions and garlic until translucent, season with salt and pepper.  

    4. Once the onions are translucent, add ¾ of the cauliflower florets. Toss and add 2 cups of vegetable stock or just enough to cover the florets. Add bay leaf, thyme, fresh sprig of dill or dry, salt and pepper, cover with a lid and let them cook for 7-8 minutes or until very soft and tender. Once cooked, purée them in a food processor, blender, or use an immersion blender until smooth.

    5. Place this cauliflower purée back into the pot, add the coconut milk and stir well until blended. Season with celery salt, salt, paprika and black pepper. Add a bit more vegetable stock if the consistency is to thick.

    6. Add the reserved mini cauliflower florets, and the pre cooked carrots and sweet potatoes. Cover with a lid and bring to a slow simmer cook for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Check for doneness on the vegetables; I like my vegetables on the al-dente side, not hard but not mushy. Taste them and decide if you like them softer keep cooking them for another 2-3 minutes.

    *If using sundry tomatoes add them on step 4 so they can soften before pureeing the chowder.

Music Pairing:Paris Combo- Je te vois partout”

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Huevos Rancheros

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This is the perfect breakfast on a rainy weekend morning. Or a even cold snowy morning, if you live north of Texas. The origin of this dish is unknown to me yet very familiar. It’s a classic everywhere in Mexico. There are dozens of variations with different toppings and seasonings from various regions, families, grandmas,  mercados, or restaurants. This is the dish in its purest form. All principles items include fried eggs, dried chiles, tomato sauce, tortillas, and that last onion section that you didn’t quite finish on Thursday. This Mexican one pan wonder is the weekend antidote when you wake up extra hungry and craving a breakfast worth making. Imagine the creamy runniness of a sunny side up egg, smothered with savory spicy warm salsa over soft fried corn tortillas, a side of black beans, crema, and queso fresco. I would wake up to that in a flash!

My Huevos Rancheros version gets a side of black beans which I prepare almost every month by cooking a large batch in a slow cooker. I make little portion bags that I freeze for quick use. It makes my life easier and tastier. Ian calls them “Beansicles”. They are very easy to defrost and use either whole or smashed when ever needed they are there for you. Now, what you need from the pantry is that forgotten can of tomatoes. Please check your refrigerator drawers for a couple of fresh ones if in season. I always have my staple dry chiles in the pantry. Dried chiles are miracle workers. I can make salsa in a flash, or spice up soups or even hot cocoa like this. Fresh chiles? Yes, please! Serranos, jalapeños, chipotles en adobo; for me all variations are delicious as long you follow the ranchero principle: simple sauce + fried egg + corn tortilla + beans = Best Huevos Rancheros. Please no melty cheese in my Rancheros, save it for a quesadilla.

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One of my favorite version of Huevos Rancheros Its the one you are about to see, easy enough to prepare them before coffee, and the spicy kick to the sauce will add to your morning wake up.
Huevos Rancheros cures hangovers, rainy mornings, helps you forget weekly stress, and fuels the most ambitious of Caudillos. Its uncomplicated preparation will give you a boost of confidence and culinary accomplishment. The way I prepare them could work for bigger crowds if arranged on a large platter or  for a brunch with friends or neighbors. All you have to do is learn how to fry an egg and combine 4 ingredients for a killer salsa. Enjoy!

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Huevos Rancheros

Serves 1 Güerito and 1 Mexican

4 Eggs (ranchero faces drawing optional)
4 corn tortillas best kind you kind find.
Corn oil or your frying oil of preference enough to fry the eggs. about 2-3 glugs.
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup Black beans whole or fried is up to your preference.

For the Sauce:

1-1/2 cups roasted tomatoes I used roasted canned, if using fresh when in season you will need about 4 Roma tomatoes.
6-8 Chiles de Arbol  (For amateurs please start with 3-4 chiles. When this dry chiles get toasted, the flavor profile is a bit smoky and much milder in spice, so do not fear them!)
1 garlic clove
1/8 onion
Salt and black pepper

Toppings:

1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco
2 tablespoons Mexican crema
1-2 fresh cilantro sprigs

Quick pickled onions:

1/8 onion slivered and rinsed*, 1/2 lime juice, one good pinch of salt, one good pinch Mexican dry oregano, combine everything on a small dish, wait for 10 minutes, serve. * I always like to rinse my onions when they gonna be eaten raw, it smooths away that sharp taste, and you will not have to brush your teeth five times before the flavor on your palate is gone.

 

Preparation:

1. Start by preparing all your toppings, warm up your beans, make the quick pickled onions, set a side.

2. Remove the stems of all your dry chiles de arbol. On a medium size frying pan, (good enough o fry some sunny side up eggs) place about two glugs of Corn oil over medium high heat, add the chiles and toast them tossing often, until a deep dark red. Remove the chiles, and add 1/8 of an onion for a quick sauté. Remove the onion, turn of the pan. In a Blender or with the help of an immersion blender Combine the roasted tomatoes, the toasted chiles, one garlic clove, the sautéed onion, 1/2 cup water,salt and a bit of black pepper. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

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3. Warm up over medium high heat the same pan and oil you use to toast the chiles and onion. There should be plenty of oil to sauté the corn tortillas. If not enough add a bit more oil. Oil must be hot before soft frying the tortillas. Cook the tortillas in the oil one by one both sides. Tortillas should have a toasty color and they should be playable. Place the tortillas as you go into the plates; one tortilla per egg.

4. Using the same pan and oil fry your eggs. I like to fry 2 eggs at the time, so they have lots of room and the temperature of the pan does not drop. I like my eggs with a bit of crunchy edges but soft runny yolks. It’s really up to you, cook them up to your preference. Place the eggs on top of the tortillas one egg per tortilla as you go. Remember that it is important letting the pan and oil to come up to hot temperature in-between egg batches. Like I said, I like sunny side up eggs in this recipe so I do not over cook the yolks. In fact I leave them a little under done, so when I pour the warm sauce over the eggs, it will warm them up and finish the cooking  to a perfect creamy runniness. Take this in consideration when your cooking your eggs.

5. Once your eggs are ready, in the same pan with the remaining oil and while it warm add the sauce. (Be careful sauce might get a bit feisty, you might end up with a polka dot pajama!). Lower the heat. Stir and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Sauce should be rich and at the same time lose enough to cover the eggs. If the sauce is too tick add a bit of water or chicken stock, if to loose keep reducing it.

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6. Taste your sauce for seasonings and adjust if needed. Sauce your eggs with plenty of warm sauce. Place leftover sauce in a small bowl and take it to the table for an extra spoon or two.
Serve a couple of tablespoons of  black beans on the side, top with queso fresco, crema, cilantro for garnish and the quick pickled onions on the side. Enjoy!

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 Huevos Rancheros, A great rainy weekend breakfast!

Music Pairing: Pedro Infante – El Ranchero

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Mexican Hot Chocolate

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“If there’s no chocolate in Heaven, I’m not going.”
― Jane Seabrook

 

Chocolate must be, with out a doubt, one of the best gifts from Mexico to the world: Xocolat, Kakawa, Chocolate. Mayan and Aztec gods “seed of love and generosity”, manifested in a cacao bean, which they transformed into a beverage known as xocolatl meaning “bitter water”. Modern drinking chocolate is the result of the 17th century European addition of milk and sugar.

One of my favorite guilty pleasures is a cup of Mexican hot chocolate. It lifts my spirit, brings happiness, joy, comfort, warmth, peace, and a great sensation of fulfillment. Love in a cup Mexican hot cocoa also features amazing warm cinnamon notes, vanilla, and frothed milk.

I have fond memories of my Grandma preparing a cup of frothy hot cocoa as dinner. It was almost like an adrenalin shot when we could hear her in the kitchen frothing the milk with her molinillo, the arousing aroma of chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla coming out of the kitchen was heavenly. What is the molinillo?…it  is a wood handled tool that is used to froth and dissolve the chocolate into warm milk. By spinning the long handle between two hands, air is churned into the liquid turning it into a light cloud of goodness. My Grandma definitely knew how to use her molinillo. Her hot chocolate was like sipping a light cloud.

The following recipe is a delicious Mexican Hot Chocolate which provides an exciting experience much different from the little packets to which you add water. In my opinion, this preparation is well worth the extra time and a few ingredients added to your shopping list.
In this recipe I made the addition of chile ancho powder and a hint of pasilla negro, which tickle and warm the throat and enhance the chocolate flavor. I know you will love the recipe. Serve it at your next get-together on a chilly day and watch faces light up with surprise and satisfaction.

Keep warm and enjoy the weather!

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Mexican-Hot-chocolate_ingredients

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Makes 2 generous large mugs, serves two yetis.

2 cups of whole milk
1 cup almond milk
2 chocolate tablets Taza Chocolate brand Chocolate Mexicano 70% Cacao Puro*
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or Mexican vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoon ancho powder. Start with one, taste and decide if you need the second one.
2 generous pinches of pasilla negro powder, cayenne or one dry chile de arbol
1 stick of mexican cinnamon
Agave nectar, turbinado sugar or piloncillo to your taste. This is totally up to you, I like mine barely sweet, some people like it sweet, or extra sweet. I would say start with 2 tablespoons and move from there up to your desire sweetness. 

1 wood molinillo or blender.
1 tall pot will work best.

Why Mexican Vanilla and Cinnamon?
Everything that grows together, for me it translates in flavors that belong together. Vanilla comes from an orchid endemic from Veracruz, Mexico and the Mexican cinnamon flavor is delicate and extremely fragrant , if you can get this two your hot cocoa will taste divine!.

Vegan or Lactose intolerance substitutions: Soy milk and Almond Milk/ Rice milk and Almond Milk 
Nut allergies?: Soy milk and coconut / Rice milk and Coconut

Preparation:

1. Place all the ingredients into a tall pot, over medium low heat. With a wood spoon stir until the chocolate tablet becomes a soft paste and the heat starts dissolving the chocolate.
2. Increase the heat to medium and watch the pot at all times. (Believe me the worst spillages on the stove are from milk it can haven in a franc of a second, so watch out!)
3. As soon as you start seen bubbles on the edge of the milk, and the color of the milk has change, star frothing the chocolate with the molinillo.
Place both hands and star swirling around, making sure the molinillo is half into the milk and half out to incorporate as much air as possible into the milk. Once you see a thick layer of chocolate foam , it’s time to serve the chocolate. I usually poor it from high to achieve even more foam. At this point everything goes, sprinkle  some cinnamon and extra cayenne powder or spike it up with some mezcal, rum, hazelnut liquor, coffee liquor…Keep warm!
Mexican-Hot-chocolate_Swirl-up!

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Lets talk about chocolate:


Other Mexican chocolate brands that I find extremely good, and they all can be purchased online:
Moctezuma, this chocolate comes from Michoacan, Mexico, it has an intense chocolate flavor, notes of cinnamon and vanilla.
Mayordomo, this legendary chocolate paste is from Oaxaca, and part of a production is still made by hand, absolutely divine.
Rancho Gordo, this chocolate comes from Guerrero, Mexico, its stone ground 70% cacao and its sweetened with piloncillo! amazing, be aware it goes fast on line, but if you are on their website, check for their beans, and multiple other goodies, you can scape!
La taza, hecho en Mexico, I like its strong but balanced flavor, and their varieties. Try other flavors like clove, rose petals, anis (my favorite!), canela, almendras.. etc..
This is a list of my favorite choices, for Mexican chocolate.

Great Chocolate Sources:

Taza CacaoXocolatlMayordomo ClasicoStone Ground Chocolate from Guerrero Mexico,

Chocolate Abuelita:
This is the most common used chocolate tablets for hot cocoa in Mexico. Unfortunately and to my surprise last time I prepared some, the flavor was not the same as it used to. I had to use almost double the amount to give the punch of chocolate and cinnamon flavor that was so characteristic of Abuelita brand…

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Music Pairing: Naufragar – Ana Ferper/Constantini

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Add a new side this Thanksgiving

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Not your 101 Classic Thanksgiving Side dish recipes… Just 6 new side dishes to add this Thanksgiving or any up coming Holiday dinner.

I really get distracted and kind of dizzy when I see these compilations of recipes where there’s too many options. I’m indecisive by nature and these extreme multiple option posts can be overwhelming. I can’t focus. I offer one of my own this year in an effort to add variety rather than replace one of those dear Thanksgiving classics. I narrowed it down to six recipes from the blog that I would love to add to a traditional menu. Some of them are more versatile and unusual to pair with the traditional Turkey dinner but several add pleasant variation in texture or the acid note to balance the richness of traditional dishes. Sometimes “gravyness” can overwhelm us, if you know what I mean.

Something new on the table may attract attention and possibly resistance. Allow your guests to discover the dish on their own terms. This will help you avoid any tension or “pushback” because you have decided to add variation to the meal. With that in mind, I know you will enjoy these dishes and have fun preparing them. During this special meal, please remember to focus on what matters the most at the table: family, friends and being grateful for what we have.

Happy Holidays
Ian and Mariana

Have a wonderful Holiday!

 Add a new side this Thanksgiving

1. Warm Acorn Squash Salad

2. Sweet Potato Salad with Caper Vinaigrette

3. Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Garlic, Herbs & Almonds

4. Root-a–touille a Ratatouille made with root vegetables

5. Sweet Potato Kale and Quinoa Fritters

6. Kale and Lentil Salad with Honey- Mustard Vinaigrette

 

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Gluten free Cornbread Muffins with Poblano Peppers and Smoked Gouda

Corn-Bread-Muffins-with-Poblano-peppers-and-Smoked-Gouda-ready-to-serve-Yes,-more-please!

This is the time of the year when quick breads like this fill up the house with warmth and delicious comforting aromas. MAKE THEM, It’s a must.
I have had this recipe for about 25 years …from one of my grandma’s best friends. It is one of the first encounters I had with baking. My modern grandma Ana Fernanda used to make this cornbread; she used some canned goods and different chiles from the north part of Mexico including chile California a bright green chile mild in spice. Also she used Chihuahua style cheese and baked it in a big rectangular dish. By the time this corn bread hit the table it was pretty much gone, absolutely delicious.

I decided to adjust the recipe and replace the canned goods by using fresh ingredients. For me it makes such a big difference in flavor and in texture. I used corn meal instead of corn mix, and interchanged the flour for gluten-free flour mix, which gives them a lighter and fluffier texture. The recipe works great with both types of flour, whether if you are using all-purpose flour, or a gluten-free all-purpose mix.

Now, instead of a big rectangular bread, I think to portion them out it’s the ticket! It cuts down the cooking time and each muffin gets an irresistible crusty top. I used Poblano peppers instead of California, Hatch chiles would be also great if you happen to have some frozen ones from this last season. Now, do not worry about the Poblanos, they are mild with just a hint of heat that play really well with the sweet corn. Instead of Chihuahua cheese, since I could not find one of a good quality and flavor, I used Smoked Gouda. Use what you like, perhaps something local, mild with good melting qualities.

These Cornbread Muffins with Poblano peppers and Smoked Gouda will make everybody happy at the table, including your gluten-free guests, they are moist , fluffy and  flavorful, I assure you this babies can be the hit at your Thanksgiving table or any given baking night!…Or Breakfast…Ian and I split them in half, warmed them on the pan with a dash of butter and topped them with a sunny side up egg…you’ve got to love the leftovers, if there are any…

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Corn-Bread-Muffins_ingredients

Gluten free Cornbread Muffins with Poblano Peppers and Smoked Gouda

Makes 12 muffins or one 9×13 rectangular baking dish.

1-1/2 cups organic corn meal flour *
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour ** Not gluten-free fan? you can use regular all-purpose flour.
2 teaspoons baking powder***
1 teaspoon plus one pinch kosher salt
4 eggs
½ cup greek yogurt
1-1/2 tablespoons honey
¾ cup corn oil. Grape seed oil, sunflower will work too.
4 tablespoons melted butter
4 small medium fresh ears of sweet corn
1 cup shredded smoked gouda cheese
2 Poblano peppers roasted, skinned, de seeded and sliced into strips. Remember to save some strips to top the muffins!
1 pinch smoked paprika

Topping with:

½ cup shredded cheese
12 thin Poblano strips
smoked paprika to sprinkle on top
12 baking liners

*If you are in Austin, Boggy Creek Farm has the best one, Lamb’s stone ground meal, or Bob’s Red Mill for a national brand.
**The brands I prefer for gluten-free all-purpose flour: Cup4Cup, King Arthur all-purpose gluten-free mix.Not a gluten-free fan, you can use regular unbleached all-purpose flour.

*** I always use aluminum free Baking Powder.

Preparation Method:

1. De-kernel 3 ears of corn and blend on the food processor or immersion hand blender, until a coarse purée. De-kernel the 4th ear of corn and add the kernels to the purée.

Corn-Bread-Muffins_Corn-puree
2. Preheat your oven at 375F. Line two muffin baking pans with the large muffin liners 6 on each pan alternating spots. (Please: Read bottom note about baking liners and baking times.)
3. In a medium size bowl mix all DRY ingredients, whisk well to incorporate. Add cheese and toss.
4. In another medium size bowl, mix all your WET ingredients, including the corn kernel purée and the poblano strips. Remember to save some poblano strips to top the muffins.

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5. Combine wet ingredients into Dry with a wood spatula, until well incorporated, do not over mix.

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6. Apply a little oil to a standard size Ice cream scooper, and fill each cup with a well-rounded heaping scoop of the batter. If you are using smaller cups use a leveled scoop.

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7. Sprinkle a little cheese, a poblano strip and a dash of paprika on each muffin.

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8. Place them into the oven on the lower third rack and LOWER the temperature to 350F.
9. Bake at 350F for 17-20 minutes until golden brown tops and a toothpick comes out almost clean with a few crumbs. Remove from oven and wait for 1-2 minutes, remove from pan into a baking rack or a basket and take them to the table. Enjoy.

Note:
Baking liners: I used a large paper cups that overlap if you bake them to close. That’s why I alternate them, and I used two trays. I love the medium size muffins and the raised muffin tops. They take about 17-20 minutes to bake.
If you are using regular cupcake liners I would say you might have more than a dozen, since they are smaller, and they will bake faster, perhaps 12-15 minutes. So, watch out and keep an eye on them.
If you are using dark muffin pans you might have to lower down your oven temperature at 325F since the darker pans retain more heat.

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Enjoy!

Music Pairing: Billie Holiday – The very thought of you

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