Mediterranean night: Hummus, Tabbouleh, and Zucchini and Feta Balls

Seriously, I could eat Mediterranean food every night if I could get away with it. After trying a local Mediterranean restaurant in front of our school campus, my hubby decided that what and how I make at home was better than the restaurant's recipes. What a compliment, eh?

Instead of taking a lunch break today, I prepared our dinner. I was going to be away at a meeting and knew that I would NOT have any time to prepare dinner when I came back. These are the quickest meals and only require the most essential of kitchen appliances: your food processor! It cuts the cooking time by a lot and allows the freedom to refrigerate the goods.

After many taste testings, I believe that I have come up with the best hummus recipe for our family. I tastes very much like the many restaurants prepare them. The zucchini and feta balls, known in Greek as kolokithokeftedes, was a recipe I found on a cool blog, called Closet Cooking. Thanks to the author, I was able to have a warm dish to go with all the other salads. This is a perfect vegetarian meal!


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serves 4

1 15-oz can chickpeas, reserve 1/4 cup of liquid
1 Tbsp Tahini butter (sesame seed butter)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
2 tsp cumin
1 garlic clove
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
olive oil for drizzling

Place beans in processor and add chickpea liquid, lemon juice, and tahini. Process. Keep processor on and little by little add the olive oil until the mixture becomes smooth. it should not be grainy. Taste. This should not taste too lemony, or peanuty because of the tahini, but a blend of flavors. Serve immediately or refrigerate.


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serves 3

1 cup cracked bulghur wheat
2 bunches parsley, chopped
1/2 cup mint, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
2 roma tomatoes, diced
4-6 radishes, diced

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt or to taste

Cover cracked wheat with a little more than 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Let sit for 10 minutes or until the water has been mostly absorbed. When the wheat is soft to touch, drain the excess water in a sieve.

Roughly chop parsley and mint in food processor. Place in a bowl and add onions, tomatoes, and
wheat. Add spices and then pour vinagrette over salad. Keeps for only a day.

Kolokythokeftedes (Zucchini and Feta Balls)

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adapted from Closet Cooking

makes 20 zucchini balls

2 cups zucchini, grated and squeezed
1/4 cup of feta, crumbled
1 splash ouzo (
I omitted)
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 handful mint and dill, chopped
1 egg
1.5 tsp salt
pepper to taste
breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
oil for frying (I used sesame oil)

1. Mix the zucchini, feta, garlic, green onion, herbs and egg and season with salt and pepper.
2. Mix in equal parts flour and breadcrumbs until you can work with the mixture to form balls.
3. Form the mixture into balls and dust in flour.
4. Fry in oil until golden brown and set aside to cool.


Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry-Honey Syrup

So I woke up not feeling oh so well the other day and thought I would have to stay in. I came back from church and took a nap and somehow my stomach felt a little settled. During the afternoon, my stomach was still upset so, while I was doing my grocery shopping I purchased a fizzy drink I had forgotten about. If you like ginger ale, you just have NOT had the right one. I tried this most delicious brand by REED's called REED's Ginger Brew. I actually grabbed the one called EXTRA ginger brew. WOW! My stomach felt soooo happy after that. I am telling you, you gotta get!
Despite this fact, I finally felt well enough something light for the day. My hubby and I have been wanting pancakes for a while and after watching a some ULTIMATE challenge on Food Network, we felt we needed to try our at Ricotta Pancakes. Giada De Laurentiis has been a favorite of mine when it comes to trying new recipes, so I decided to go with her recipe instead of Bobby Flay's. The only thing I added to the recipe was with the syrup. I had extra bluberries I wanted to use, so I added the bluberries to the boiled honey and sugar syrup for an extra blueberryyyyy taste! Enjoy!

Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry-Honey Syrup

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis' Everyday Italian

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serves 4 (16 pancakes)

2 cups water
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used almond extract)
2 cups pancake and waffle mix (I used Jiffy)
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
2/3 cup frozen blueberries (I used fresh berries)
1/2 cup extra blueberries for syrup
Melted butter

Stir 1/3 cup of water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stir in the honey until it dissolves. Add 1/2 cup blueberries to the pan and boil for 5 minutes, until the mixture has turned blue-purple. Set aside and keep the honey syrup warm.

Using a rubber spatula, stir the remaining 1 2/3 cups of water and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the pancake mix and stir just until moistened but still lumpy. Stir in the ricotta into the pancake mixture, then stir gently to incorporate the ricotta but maintain a lumpy batter. Fold in the blueberries.

Heat a griddle over medium heat. Brush with the melted butter. Working in batches, spoon 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Serve with the honey syrup.

Farmer's Market

On Saturday, I woke up early and ventured out to our area farmer's market. I really enjoyed seeing all the vendors and farmer's excited to show their harvest and produce. I meant to take more pictures but I somehow forgot my camera. I was able to capture the goods I purchased when I came back home.

As you can see from the picture, I am enjoying the tomatoes, especially the heirloom tomatoes. They taste like no other tomato I have ever tasted. Looking forward using all these veggies in upcoming dishes!


Ricotta Gnocchi and Sausage Meatballs with Tomato-Pepper Sauce

It was Friday and the weekend had officially arrived. I gotta tell you it was the longest week for me and my hubby and I knew that the best way was to go out and celebrate the week's end, but I felt like cooking! We were due to go to a evening gathering with desserts and cocktails, so I knew our meal had to be quick yet fantastic. I found a great recipe for gnocchi that only takes 15 minutes to prepare. YES, I said 15 minutes. Between preparing them and making a sauce AND a salad, I was done within 30 minutes! Take that Rachel Ray! :)

Thanks to a new blog I stumbled upon on Foodbuzz, I was able make a great meal to finish the week! It was the easiest pasta I have ever attempted to make in my life, so go ahead, make it this week and impress your family.

Ricotta Gnocchi and Sausage Meatballs with Tomato-Pepper Sauce

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serves 3

Sausage Meatballs (my creation)

1/2 lb ground Italian sausage
1 Tbsp parlsey
2 tsp Italian seasonings
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together and form meatballs. Brown the meatballs for 8 minutes. Remove meatballs and place in a covered bowl. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.

Tomato-Pepper Sauce (My creation)

5 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 Red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 galic cloves, minced
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

Heat olive oil in pan. Add the chopped tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic and sauté. Add the pepper and salt and continue cooking until the tomato mixture has softened. Place in a blender and blend the sauce. Add the sauce back into the pan and add the sausage meatballs. Boil the sauce for 10 minutes on medium-high. Remove from heat and cook gnocchi.

Ricotta Gnocchi

adapted from The Noshery

1 Cup Ricotta Cheese
1 cup flour, have extra for dusting
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (I only had Romano, which worked really well)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp fine sea salt

Drain any excess liquid from the ricotta cheese. Combine ricotta cheese, Parmesan, yolk and salt in a large bowl. Mix well using a wooden or plastic spoon. Add the flour and stir until just combined. Do not over work. The dough will be very sticky.

Put a pot of water to boil. Flour you work area generously with flour and your hands. Divide the dough in half and roll out to till it is about as thick as a finger. Take sharp knife, dip in flour and cut the the rolls into about 1 inch pillows. Transfer pillows to baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough, work quickly so that the gnocchi on the baking sheet doesn’t get sticky.

You water should have come to a slow boil by now, add a generous pinch of salt to the water. Drop your gnocchi into the water and stir to keep them from sticking to the bottom. The gnocchi will float to the top when done, about 2 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer remove from water and serve immediately with your choice of sauce.


Chilean Charquicán and Tomato Salad

This is another quick meal for the week without getting artificial on ya! It has so many fresh ingredients and they are right from your kitchen. I decided to cook another favorite dish of mine. We usually had this once or twice a month when we went to my grandmother's house. I just realized that the last few dishes start with a C. You pronounce this dish as Char-KEE-khan.

The only thing I was not TOO thrilled about was that the photo I thought does not make the dish seem delectable, BUT let me assure you, it IS! If you are looking for a dish where you can hide veggies, this is the one! The charquicán is Chile's version of the pot pie in a sense. It would take peas, if my husband like them, but I left that out. Wikipedia explains the origins as my grandmother would have explained them:

Charquican is a Chilean dish. It is a stew made form cooking chunks of potato and squashs. It may contain different kinds of vegetables as carrots, corn, green beans, tomato, etc. In its origen, it was made with horse dried meat (charqui), but actually, it may be prepared with any kind of meat. On top may go a mid-fried egg.

A variation of the charquican contains the marine common Chilean algae cochayuyo (Durvillaea antarctica), that is cooked in the same stew.

This is not how my grandmother made it, so DO NOT fret. Mine is savory and simple at the same time, without using the horse meat, yikes!

By the way, before you leave my site, please read the Contest and info below!

Chilean Charquicán
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serves 4

3 cups butternut squash, diced
3 cups potatoes, diced
2 small onions, diced
1/2 lb ground beef (I made mine with ground turkey to limit the red meat)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp parsley flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 tsp groung cumin

After cutting up the sqaush and potatoes, place in a pot and cover with water. Salt the water and boil for 10 minutes until veggies are softened.

Meanwhile, sauté the onions and garlic with the olive oil and add the meat. Then add the spices to the meat after it has cooked for 5 minutes. Continue to cook the meat mixture for 15 minutes and cover. Leaving the pan covered allows the meat not to dry.

Drain the vegetables and mash the potatoes and squash like mashed potatoes. Add the meat mixture and stir.

Chilean Tomato Salad
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serves 4

3 beef tomatoes, sliced
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

Slice the tomatoes and place in a bowl. After cutting the onions, place in a colander and add salt. Wash the onions under cold water in order for the onions not to be so strong. It is a cold sauté, in order to subdue the strong white onion flavor. Add the onions and parsley to the tomatoes. Lastly, add the vinagrette and serve with the chariquicán.


O Foods Contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and for the second year in a row, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are hosting the O Foods Contest to raise awareness of this important health issue.

There are TWO WAYS to take part in the O Foods Contest:

ONE: Post a recipe to your blog using a food that starts or ends with the letter O (e.g., oatmeal, orange, okra, octopus, olive, onion, potato, tomato); include this entire text box in the post; and send your post url along with a photo (100 x 100) to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.

PRIZES for recipe posts:

•1st: Signed copy of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma, Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who is currently battling ovarian cancer, inspired this event, and will be choosing her favorite recipe for this prize;
•2nd: Signed copy of Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home by Mario Batali (winner chosen by Sara);
•3rd: Signed copy of Vino Italiano: The Regional Italian Wines of Italy by Joseph Bastianich (winner chosen by Michelle).
TWO: If you’re not into the recipe thing, simply post this entire text box in a post on your blog to help spread the word and send your post url to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.

Awareness posts PRIZE:

•One winner chosen at random will receive a Teal Toes tote bag filled with ovarian cancer awareness goodies that you can spread around amongst your friends and family.

From the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund:

•Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.
•The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose, but include bloating, pelvic and/or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).
•There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.
•In spite of this, patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.
•When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.
And remember, you can also always donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at our page through FirstGiving!

Please help spread the word about ovarian cancer.
Together we can make enough noise to kill this silent killer.


Mushroom Rigatoni

Today I was listening to Puccini for an upcoming competition: listen to what I will be singing this Saturday.

Since I was inspired by Puccini, I knew today would be a pasta day, but other than that, I did not have a recipe for dinner. All I knew was that I was going to cook something quick since we were going to Holland, MI for voice lessons and my hubby's meetings.

This is what I normally do on certain days. I am usually inspired by what I have in the refrigerator or pantry. I came out with this lovely light, vegetarian dish that made my hubby savor each bite. I hope you are able to enjoy it on some weekday night too!

Mushroom Rigatoni

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serves 4

1/2 pound Barilla rigatoni
10 baby portabella mushrooms, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
2 1/2 cups broccoli florets
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts
1/3 cup sliced green olives
1/2 cup
Cotija cheese (fresh cheese)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp
Herb de Provence (Rosemary, Thyme, Marjoram, Basil, Oregano and Lavender)

Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and broth and sauté for 3-5 minutes.

Next, add the broccoli florets and the red bell pepper and continue stir frying. The broccoli florets should not be overcooked so that they continue to keep their essential vitamins. Add spices and pickled items and cook for 5 more minutes.

Meanwhile, boil water for the pasta and add salt and olive oil to the water. Add the pasta once the water starts boiling and cook for 10-11 minutes, as instructed.
Pasta should be cooked by this time. Add the pasta and cheese to the veggie mixture. Serve hot.


Mexican Chilaquiles

While working today and listening to Romantic and Classical Opera on Pandora, I was again inspired to make another authentic dish often cooked by my Mexican grandmother. Well.....not it did not exactly happen like that! Thursdays we usually have a LONG day with usually no time to eat dinner beforehand. I thought that it was at least important to have one good meal before we left for the day.

Chilaquiles are a quick meal to make and very tasty, especially for a mid-week lunch or dinner. This dish, along with Molé, are one of my favorite to dishes to eat when I go back to Mexico. There is nothing as good as having authentic Mexican food. This was my first time making this dish and I gotta say that I was pleased with the results. My hubby wiped his plate clean! Another winner for the week. No more cooking for the week since we have many singing engagements.

Mexican Chilaquilés

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serves 2

9 tomatoes, diced
1 onion, medium and diced
3 garlic cloves, whole
1 jalapeño, seeded
Sunflower oil
12-15 corn tortillas, cut like tortilla chips
2 chicken breasts
1 garlic clove
salt and pepper

Cotija cheese
Sour cream
Thinly sliced white onions

Place chicken breasts in a pot of water and add garlic clove and 1 tsp salt. Boil for 15 minutes and dispose of water. Shred the chicken breast and set aside. Meanwhile, deep dry tortilla chips in sunflower oil until nice and toasty. Drain on a paper towel.
In a separate pan, heat sunflower or olive oil and fry the onions, garlic, and pepper until transparent. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add ingredients to a blender and purée. Return to pan and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
Add the chicken. Add the fried tortilla chips and fold sauce gently. Serve on plates and top with cheese, cream, and onions.
Very filling!

Ensalada de Papa Rusa (Russian Potato Salad)

Lately I have craved different recipes cooked by my grandmothers. Even though I do not have written recipes, I remember flavors and seeing the way my grandmother prepared these tasty dishes.

Despite the name of the salad, I am not half Russian and it is not a Russian recipe. :) This is not a typical potato salad or usually a salad served at a picnic. My Chilean grandmother made this very often accompanied with Carne Asada, or savory grilled beef and a tomato salad with marinated onions and parsley. My recipe turned out very nice! I think my grandmother would be very proud of me!

Ensalada de Papa Rusa (Russian Potato Salad)
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Serves 4

8 red potatoes
5 carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground pepper
1 cup parsley, chopped

Boil the potatoes whole for 15 minutes. Then add the carrots with the potatoes and cook additional 10 minutes. Stick a knife in the potatoes to test if cooked. Drain the water and cool the vegetables. As soon as their warm to the touch, peel the skin off the potatoes and carrots. Cut the potatoes in 1 inch cubes and dice the carrots. Add the rest of the ingredients and refridgerate for 1-2 hours. The salad CAN be eaten when finished but it tastes better cooled.


Eggplant Timbale and Peach Phyllo Tarts

So I have not had time to post my latest recipe, because, between music rehearsals and work, it seems like I have had one thing after the other, but I am just glad that I am able to cook this week, am I right?

We had company over on Tuesday and I was totally inspired to make something I had seen Giada De Laurentiis cook on her show Everyday Italian. If you have not seen her show, you are missing a lot! Well, anyway, 2 weeks ago she demonstrated how to assemble and cook a timbale. What is a timbale, you ask? Well, a timbale is a savory pie traditionally made of meats or vegetables and cooked in a drum-shaped mold, according to FoodWords.com . Even though the recipe was rated as difficult, I refused to let that get in my way. Giada made it seem so simple! The only thing you do need for this recipe is time. Between preparing, cooking and assembling, the total process takes about an hour. Since company was already over, I was not able to take a picture of the finished product, but I borrowed Food Network's picture that somewhat looked like mine.

Eggplant Timbale
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis' Everyday Italian
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Serves 6

2 medium eggplants, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound penne pasta
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Italian pork sausage
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (I left out the peas since my husband dislikes them with a passion)
2 cups store-bought marinara sauce (I used 6in1 all-purpose sauce which is all natural)
2 tsp Italian seasoning (My own addition)
3 garlic cloves (My addition)
1 1/2 cups diced smoked mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces) (Smoked not available; used reg)
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1/4 cup (left it out, trying to reduce calories)
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Special equipment: 9-inch springform pan

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or pre-heat a gas or charcoal grill. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the eggplant slices with 1/3 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant until tender and colored with grill marks, about 4 minutes per side. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, warm the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the beef and pork, and brown the meat, breaking it into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Add the Marsala and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the peas and marinara sauce and stir to combine. Add the cheeses, basil, and cooked pasta. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the springform pan with the grilled eggplant. Be sure that the slices overlap and hang over the edge of the pan.

Fill the pan with the pasta mixture, pressing down to make sure the pan is filling up evenly.
Fold the eggplant slices up over the top of the pasta and add a few more slices on top to completely enclose the timbale. Bake the timbale until warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes. Let rest on the counter for 10 minutes to set.

To serve, invert the timbale onto a serving plate and remove the springform pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese over the top. Slice and serve.
I then proceeded to make dessert, which was my own creation!
Peach Phyllo Tarts
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Peach compote filling
20 ripe fresh peaches, peeled and pitted
1 cup sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp apple fiber (optional: it makes it thicker)
Boil peaches in a big pot for 5-10 minutes. This makes the peeling easier. Drain the peaches and cool until a warm to the touch. Peel all the peaches and remove the pits. Slice the peaches and place in a pot. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the fiber. Let the mixture boil on medium-high heat for 30-45 minutes. Add the fiber and boil for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and place in a glass jar. Cool until lukewarm.
Phyllo Cups
8 phyllo sheets, thawed and divided in 2 piles of 4 sheets
2 Tbsp melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place one Phyllo sheet on wooden cutting board. Brush melted butter over the entire layer. Place the second sheet on top and repeat. Do the same for the rest of the phyllo sheets. Makes 2 sets of 4 sheets. Cut 4x4 inch squares and place each section in a regular muffin pan. Fill each cup with the peach compote and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet and refrigerate. Top with whipped cream and cinnamon. Makes a dozen.


Mexican Sopes and Watermelon Margaritas

So since I knew that my hubby would have to study I thought I would prepare a treat. Actually, I had a craving for some Mexican food, which, to be specific, I wanted sopes. Now what are sopes you may ask? Well, Google helped me with a great definition:

Definitions of sopes on the Web:

•A sope (pronounced "SOH-peh") is a traditional Mexican dish originating in the city of Culiacán, Si. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sopes

•Miniature fried corn-dough bowls filled with beans and sauce and topped with cheese. Many varieties can be found.

I remember my mom and grandmother making this at one point, but I mostly remember trying them at this great restaurant in Houston called 100% Taquito.

I proceeded to mix and match ingredients I remembered my family using and what this restaurant used. I think the result was delicious!!!

Mexican Sopes
2 cups instant corn mix (Masa preparada)

1 1/4 cup water

2 tsp salt

2 cups of shredded cabbage (red or green)

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 lime, juiced

2 tomatoes, diced (I used heirloom tomatoes from the Farmer's Market)

3/4 cup fresh cheese (Queso fresco) I used this brand

1 can refried black or pinto beans

Salsa of your choice

First prepare the masa by mixing the instant corn mix, salt, and water in a mixing bowl. Let the dough sit for 5 minutes. Grab some dough and roll it until golf ball size. Press the dough on a mat or on your hand until flattened. Not the tortilla thinness, but a little thicker. Here is a picture:

You should then heat a pan on med-high with a 1/4 inch oil. Fry each dough pattie about 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Keep the corn patties warm by placing them on a baking sheet in the oven at 300 degrees F.

Warm the beans in the same pan after frying the patties and set aside.

Now comes the assembling of the sopes. Take one corn pattie and layer with 1 tablespoon beans. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon fresh cheese and then add the tomatoes. The cabbage salad is the last thing to add.
  1. In a small bowl, add the cabbage, 1 tsp salt, red onion, and lime juice.
Here is the finished product:

Watermelon Margaritas

3 cups of watermelon chunks
1 cup pineapple juice
1 lime, juiced
1 cup tequila
1 cup triple sec
ice and cocktail shaker
Blend the watermelon, seeds and all. Sieve the pulp and keep the watermelon juice. Add the rest of the ingredients and place in a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour over ice and garnish with a lime wedge. Yummy results!


Caramelized Onion, Garlic and Green Olive Focaccia

I have had pretty hectic days this week, but I was DEAD set in making this focaccia no matter what! The good thing is that we have been eating dinner way before 7, so it did not matter if we had a light or heavy dinner. I made meaty tomato sauce and thin spaghetti for dinner, so I knew the focaccia would be a grand slam. Thanks Katie for a wonderful recipe!

The only thing I DID not do on this recipe was not let the dough rise an extra hour after adding the onions and fixin's on top. We had a choir rehearsal and needed to be at another rehearsal at 6pm. I left the dough rising the first time at 2:30 until 4:15pm. I punched the dough and proceeded to add the toppings and just bake. My husband and I liked it ALOT! I did not have the lemon and the fresh thyme so I opted for choices that I had available. I will make it again as Katie intended.

Adapted from: Good Things Catered

1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water, 110 degrees
1 1/2 c. milk, room temp
4 Tbsp olive oil, plus 2 tsp for onion
5 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dried thyme (I didn't have fresh thyme, so I used what I had)
3 small yellow onions, peeled, halved and sliced
5 garlic cloves, roasted (or roasted while dough is rising) and halved from end to end
1/2 cup green olives(I decided that I wanted something tart but not lemony so I omitted the
1/2 lemon, sliced very thin)
kosher salt

-In medium bowl, combine warm water and sprinkle with yeast.
-Let stand until frothy, about 5-10 minutes.
-Meanwhile combine flour, salt and thyme in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.
-Once yeast mixture is frothy, add milk and olive oil and stir to combine well
-Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and turn mixer on low to combine well.
-Fit mixer with bread hook and knead until mixture is not sticky, but springy and elastic, about 5 minutes.
-Remove dough from bowl, wipe out, spray with non-stick spray, knead dough on counter into a ball.
-Place dough back into bowl, cover with a cloth and let sit in a warm area until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
-Meanwhile, in a small pan over medium low heat, add an additional olive oil until hot.
-Add onions to pan as well as a hefty pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, on low until caramelized, about 25-30 minutes.
-Place in bowl and set aside.
-Once dough is risen, spray a large jelly roll pan with nonstick spray.
-Punch dough down and spread out over jelly roll pan evenly.
-Top with caramelized onions, halved roasted garlic, and lemon slices.
-Cover with towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
-Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
-Using finger tips, make small indentations across the dough.
-Drizzle very lightly with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle top with kosher salt to taste, and place in oven to bake.
-Bake until turning slightly golden brown, about 25-30minutes.
-Remove from oven, let cool for at least 5 minutes, cut and serve.


Black Bean Tortilla Casserole and Fennel Salad

After such a restful weekend, I did not feel like cooking something gourmet! Actually, my husband and I have not had Mexican food since moving to Michigan. We were told not even to waste our time so we have not dared try any new place. As a result, I decided to make something Tex-Mex. I have been looking at Cooking This and and That's blog over the weekend and I decided I needed to try one of her recipes. Even though my husband prefers authentic Mexican food, he also like the occasional Tex-mex dish.

Since we have been having a lot of meat lately, I thought I would try Colleen's yummy adapted recipe from Reading, 'Riting, and Recipes blog. Here are the results:

Even though this was my first time making this recipe, I thought I would put either more beans or a few more tortillas. My husband and I enjoyed the flavors, especially with the salad I created on the side.

I know it might not sound like a GREAT combination, but it the Fennel Salad was lovely! Here is the recipe:

Fennel Salad

1/4 fennel, sliced

4 romaine lettuce leaves, sliced thinly

1/2 red onion, sliced thinly

1 roma tomato, diced

1 lime, juiced

2 tbsp cold-pressed olive oil

salt and pepper

Toss the first 4 ingredients, then make the vinagrette with the last 3 ingredients.

The salad was SO good. This was actually my first time using fennel and I have to say I was not NOT disappointed.


Moonstone madness

Here is non-edible creation by yours truly. I have been out of practive the last year since being married but I decided to do something about the idea that had been stuck in my head for quite a while now.

The following creation:

1. Pendant: Moonstone
2. Cord: Black leather
3. Charms: Smoky quartz, citrine and a copper bead.

    I recently learned how to wire, so all the charms have been hand-wired. I am planning to place this on Etsy.com after creating an account.

    Tamales to die for

    Even though I am half Chilean / half Mexican, I hardly learned to cook authentic cuisines from each country. Since I married 16 months ago, I decided that I would try looking for recipes online that sounded familiar to foods I had either in Mexico or in Chile.

    One of my latest tests was making Northern tamales about a 2 months ago. I decided after making them that I would only make them for special occasions because the whole process took 4 hours! My hubby took the opportunity to request them for his upcoming birthday in November, that is how good these tamales were!

    I thank this website for having a great demonstration for making tamales. Here is the finished product.


    Japanese-themed night, tempura style!

    So, I had planned many moons ago that I was going to make sushi or cooked sushi rolls this week. We decided to have homemade Japanese food tonight so that we do not have an excuse going to the new place in town that Ryan reviewed in his blog. The one thing that I really did not plan was making shrimp tempura. I really do not like frying to0 much because I do not like being burned but I guess I am going to have to put one of those spatter shields on my Christmas list, hint hint.

    I began my search starting with the type of frying oil used for tempura and I realized that I already had sesame oil and wondered if it was ok. I found out that this was the ideal oil to use for frying.

    I then proceeded with a great recipe for the tempura batter. The only thing that someone would need to know is the the blogger forgot to add that the recipe needed 3/4 cup of flour! Luckily I looked up other recipes to double check myself.

    The frying process began then with the lovely shrimp. I then saw that I had plenty of batter left so I fried baby portabella mushrooms! Yum! I was so pleased with how it turned out. Ryan got to taste test the goods during the process. Here is a pic of the finished product:

    Voila! We were happy with the process! I then proceeded to make the cooked sushi using the following fillings: avocado, cream cheese, smoked salmon, cucumber, and the fried goods.

    And the finished product, 2 hours later!

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