Thursday, April 30, 2015

Top 10 Cinco de Mayo Menu Ideas

Having lived in California my whole life with a Mexican-American step-dad, I have always celebrated Cinco de Mayo to some degree.  Which it actually commemorates an important battle the Mexican Army won against the French on May 5, 1862, not the Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16.  And in San Diego, it is basically a city wide holiday that most of us observe.  In college it may have involved one too many tequila shots but now it is more about the food (and the margaritas, who I am kidding?).  So I thought I would round up a list of some of my favorite Mexican inspired appetizers, meals and drinks for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers

I'm no stranger to enchiladas or stuffed peppers and since I have made it a life goal to turn all my favorite dishes into a low-carb version of themselves, I decided to see what would happen if I stuffed a pepper with enchilada filling.  And you know what?  I am really glad I did.  The bell pepper is such a wonderfully healthy and delicious vessel for just about anything, so much so that you won't even miss the tortillas.  Especially when they are stuffed with so much flavor and goodness.  This a completely  versatile recipe as far as what meat you choose if any and can also be made dairy free.  I love to use my Crock-Pot Salsa Chicken and mix it with black beans, corn and roasted chillies.  However, you can use ground beef or turkey or quinoa or rice and any beans you prefer.  The idea behind this recipe to allow us to enjoy a healthier version of enchiladas with any kind of fillings.  Not only is this seriously easy to make, but is gorgeous and makes enough to feed a family of four, with leftovers.  Give this one a shot next time you have enchilada like tonight, right?

This is what you need:

5 Bell Peppers (any color)
1 lb of Meat or 2-3 cups of Rice or Quinoa (any meat you like, salsa chicken, ground meat or turkey)
2 cups Enchilada Sauce (any kind)
1 can of Black Beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can of Corn (drained)
1 small can of Fire Roasted Chillies
1 cup of Sour Cream (Light or Greek Yogurt works great too)
1 cup of Shredded Cheese
1/2 cup Chopped Green Onions
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper

Optional Garnish
Sour Cream

This is what you do:
Cook or prepare the meat however you want.  If you are using ground beef or turkey, cook and season with taco seasonings for best flavor.  Once meat is prepared, preheat oven to 375 degrees and slice the peppers in half.  Remove the stem, ribs and seeds and season with olive oil, salt and pepper then place in a glass baking dish.  Mix the cooked meat, cans of rinsed and drained beans and corn, the can of fire roasted chillies, 1/2 cup shredded cheese and the green onions in a large bowl.  The add 1 cup of enchilada sauce and 1 cup of sour sour cream to the bowl.  Mix well and scoop mixture into each pepper, fill really well.  Top with the remaining cheese and back at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.  Let sit for a few minutes, top with the garnishes of your choice and serve!
Prep Time: 20-25 minutes if cooking ground meat or rice.  (Salsa chicken takes 3-4 hours in the crock-pot, you can prepare this ahead of time)
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 5 People, 1 full pepper each

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fix Sriracha Hot Sauce **GIVEAWAY**

I like to think of myself as somewhat of a hot sauce aficionado since my pantry and fridge are filled with countless types and brands.  Honestly, I like them all, from the Mexican to the Asian to the American varieties, I don't discriminate and use them all.  So I was obviously over-joyed when I was contacted by Fix Sriracha to try their special brand of hot sauce.  They are incredibly passionate about sourcing and bottling directly from Vietnam and using organic chili peppers with no artificial or processed foods.  And let me tell you, this sriracha sauce is absolutely delicious.  It is spicy and garlicky with a touch of tang and a bit of sweetness.  It literally tastes good on everything from eggs to rice to Mexican food to pizza and everything in between.  I can't get enough of it and I am super excited that Fix Sriracha is giving away a bottle to one of you!  All you have to do is sign up through the Rafflecopter giveaway below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can also check out their product on their website or on Amazon.

 ***Product was gifted to me for review and giveaway, opinions are all mine***
****Post contains affiliate links****

Monday, April 20, 2015

Crock-Pot Salsa Chicken

Remember my friend from Little BumbleBees who inspired my Chicken, Avocado and Goat Cheese Salad in Endive Cups recipe?  Well she has inspired yet another amazing recipe and this may be the simplest and most versatile one yet.  It literally consists of having a crock-pot and putting chicken breasts, a jar of any salsa and a bit of seasoning in it and pressing the On button.  The end result is a the most tender, juicy and flavorful chicken ever that shreds almost just by looking it at.  This chicken can be used in tacos, enchiladas, burritos, on salads or sandwhichs, anything.  I love to make this when I have a casual dinner or lunch at my house and do a "Burrito Bar" where I line it up tortillas, beans, rice and all the fixings one could want.  It is always a hit and lets each guest personalize their own burrito however they want.  It is also a very affordable way to feed a lot of people because the chicken goes so far when cooked this way.  This is one recipe that you will go back to time and time again.

This is what you need:

3-4 Chicken Breasts (1-1.5 lbs)
1 Jar of Salsa (any 12-14 oz jar you like)
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

This is what you do:
Pour a small amount of the salsa on the bottom of the crock-pot, then add the chicken, the olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Cover the chicken with the remaining salsa.  Turn the crock-pot on high and cook for 3-4 hours or low and cook for 6-8 hours.  When finished cooking, take a fork and shred the chicken, mix all around to pick up all the salsa and serve.  Perfect taco, burrito or salad meat.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3-8 hours depending on crock-pot
Serves 6-10

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Grilled Romaine Salad

I can see how the idea of hot, charred lettuce may sound a bit odd at first but after trying this salad, you may never go back.  All of the sudden, the romaine is crispy and crunchy but juicy and tender, and it takes on the all the flavors of what it is seasoned with.  I had eaten different grilled romaine salads in restaurants here and there, and always enjoyed them, but the thought of actually making it at home hadn't really occurred to me.  Mostly because I tend to eat more spinach and spring mix salads, so I do not have a lot of heads of romaine lettuce around often.  That however has changed because this gorgeous, healthy and super simple salad has become a staple in my home and hopefully will in yours too.  Romaine lettuce is considered a dark leafy green which contains many antioxidants and is packed with Vitamins A and C.  Not only is it healthy, it is also very affordable which makes this a wonderful salad to serve at a dinner party.  This recipe calls for so few ingredients, takes just minutes to prepare and is delicious hot or room temperature.  Next time you are busting out the grill, make sure to include this on your menu.  I promise you will not be disappointed!

This is what you need:

3 Hearts of Romaine
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 Lemon - juiced
Parmesan Shavings (or grated would be great too)

This is what you do:
Preheat grill to high and oil the racks so the lettuce does not stick.  You can also a grill pan for this too.  Wash and dry the romaine and remove the outer leaves with any bruising or other damage.  Cut the tips of the root off that are brown, leaving the majority on the head of lettuce and slice each in half.  Drizzle the oil, salt and pepper evenly over each half head of lettuce.  Place the lettuce cut side down right over the flame on the grill and let cook for 5-7 minutes, then flip.  Continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so, until the lettuce reached desired char.  Remove from heat, squeeze the lemon juice all over the lettuce and top with Parmesan shavings. Enjoy!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10-13 minutes
Serves: 1/2 to 1 full head per person

Monday, April 13, 2015

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Vegetables with Shaved Parmesan

I may have an addiction to roasting vegetables.  It is so simple, so delicious and makes for an easy clean up.  I am constantly trying different vegetables together with different herbs or sauces and honestly nothing ever turns out bad.  For this recipe, you can literally use any veggies you have on hand and toss with fresh or dried rosemary and chunks of garlic then top with shaved Parmesan and be done.  This particular night I was lucky enough to have some of my favorites on hand; asparagus and mushrooms then I added some golden baby tomatoes because I had them.  The woody asparagus with the meaty mushroom was a perfect balance to the sweet and acidic bite of the tomato.  The chunky pieces of garlic roast up sweet and delicious and it gives the whole dish such a rich favor.  This recipe works as a beautiful side dish to grilled chicken or steak and would also be fantastic on top of quinoa or my Crispy Cauliflower Rice.  A healthy, simple beautiful dish that would be perfect for a busy weeknight or a dinner party.

This is what you need:

1 bunch of Asparagus
3 cups Mushrooms - sliced
1 cup of Cherry Tomatoes
3 cloves of Garlic - rough chopped
2 tbsp of Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tbsp fresh Rosemary or 1/2 tsp dried Rosemary
3 tbsp Parmesan Shavings

Sub any veggies you prefer or have on hand such as bell peppers, zucchini, Brussels sprouts or leeks.

This is what you do:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and trim the bottom of the asparagus off and cut into thirds.  Slice or quarter the mushrooms and rough chop the garlic and rosemary.  Combine in a bowl with the tomatoes, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp each of Salt and Pepper and mix well.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Lay the veggies out in a flat layer and roast for about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and shave a Parmesan cheese block with a vegetable peeper to get thin strips over the veggies.  Serve and Enjoy!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4 as a side dish

Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Top 10 Lifestyle Products I Can't Live Without

I love to try new things, but when I find something I love and that works well for me, I am weirdly loyal to it.  Mostly because it is easier to go with what I know and it allows me to concentrate on my kids, my husband, my cooking and my wine.  Being a stay at home mom to two little kids doesn't afford me much time or reason to get all dolled up, so I go with a pretty casual look on most days.  Here is a list of my favorite products that get me through the day- from morning to night- allowing me to look and feel somewhat put together in the fastest way possible. 

1.  Keurig Brewing System

Honestly, I don't function at my best without coffee.  I love everything about it and it truly helps me get out of bed and get moving.  I absolutely adore the Keurig, because it is just so easy to use and my coffee is ready in less than in minute at any time of the day.  It is a bit of an investment and the K-Cups are not cheap, but my husband and I find we actually waste less coffee by making only what we are going to drink at that time.  Get yours here!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Top 10 Appetizers for Your Holiday Weekend

We have a big holiday weekend coming up and for most of us, that means an appetizer or several will need to be prepared.  It is always good to have a couple in your recipe file that are homemade and store bought.  No one wants to be stuck in the kitchen for hours and miss out on the party, but you also want to put a little effort into making something delicious and pleasing to the eye.  It is a holiday after all!  Whether you are hosting an event, or bringing an appetizer to a potluck, I got you covered on what to prepare.  All recipes are easy to make and my personal tried and true favorites.  For good measure, I threw in my cocktail of choice for a daytime holiday party. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Smoked Salmon Appetizer Plate

There was a time in my life when I could eat bagels like it was going out of style.  You know, those teenage to early twenties years.  And when I did, it had to be bagels and lox (cold-smoked salmon) with all the fixings.  The soft yet crunchy Everything Bagel, the juicy tomato, the spicy red onion, the salty capers and of course, the wonderfully smoky and rich salmon.  It. Is. Heaven.  Sadly, the bagel free for all had to come to end, so I needed to figure out how to get my smoked salmon fix handled.  Enter my Smoked Salmon Appetizer Plate.  It has everything you could want on a bagel with lox, except it is served with crackers and cucumber slices for a low-carb option.  I serve this at every holiday because it looks kind of fancy but really could be simpler.  The trick is you want to buy high quality Nova Scotia Salmon (Trader Joe's and Costco both have delicious and affordable choices) and everything else just falls into place.  This is a fast, no-cook appetizer that looks impressive and is super delicious.  Perfect for a busy holiday or dinner party!

This is what you need:

1 package of Nova Scotia Smoked Salmon
1 block of Cream Cheese
1 English Cucumber
1 Tomato
1 Red Onion
1 jar of Capers
1 package of large Crackers

This what you do:
Slice the tomato and the red onion into thin rounds, then slice the cucumber into 1/2 inch slices.  Arrange all the fixings on a platter to allow you and your guests to build their own cracker or cucumber how they like it. 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 8-10 guests as an appetizer