All I need in life is good guacamole and a strong margarita. Sure, I would miss chocolate, tacos, and coffee, but I don’t think I could survive off just those things. However, guacamole and margaritas could sustain me forever.
In case you live in a hole, it’s Cinco de Mayo tomorrow. I used to assume this was Mexico’s Independence Day, but according to Wikipedia the date, “commemorate(s) the Mexican Army’s difficult victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla”. While their Independence from Spain is celebrated September 16th.
For me, I’m grateful it means I get to enjoy some good Mexican food! I was in elementary school – maybe 4th grade – when I first tried Mexican food with one of my best friends that year. Her mom picked us up after school and took as to Taco Bell a couple of blocks away. I know, Taco Bell, sounds questionable. I was mortified at the time: I’d never eaten a taco or burrito, or any of these things on the menu. I decided I’d order whatever she had and just eat it. She ordered two, I ordered one. After I was done I wished I had ordered two like she had. It was so good I started asking my mom to take me to Taco Bell.
I suppose that’s how my love for Mexican food started: through positive peer pressure to eat a bean and cheese burrito in the 4th grade.
My love for guacamole (and avocados) came a little later in life during my college years. But it was like meeting my food soul mate if you will. It was while devouring a bowl of guacamole and chips that it first crossed my mind that I could, maybe, in some crazy crazy way be pregnant with our first over 6 years ago. It’s what I ate the most of while I was pregnant with him and later our daughter, along with all forms of chocolate and avocados in general. Guac is our jam around here. Sometimes we just mash some avocado, add a little salt, a splash of lime or lemon or both. Sometimes we mash it and add a few spoonfuls of our favorite salsa. Sometimes we make it this way:
- 3 large avocados
- 1/4 cup of finely diced red onion
- 1 medium tomato, about half a cup, diced.
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
- salt to taste, I used 1/2 teaspoon
- Cut the avocados in half, remove the seed. Scoop out the avocado flesh into a medium sized bowl. Or a molcajete, as I used in the pictures.
- Mash with a fork or pestle. I like to leave a few chunky bits, it doesn’t have to be completely smooth.
- Add salt and lemon juice. I prefer to add the lemon juice immediately, because the acid from the lemon juice will keep the green avocado flesh from turning brown too quickly.
- Add the red onion, tomato, and cilantro and stir together until fully mixed.
- Enjoy with your favorite chips!
- Typically, I try not to store my guacamole in the fridge for more than 20 minutes before serving. However, if you must store it, whether for 20 minutes or an hour, make sure you put plastic wrap right on the guacamole to cover it. If the plastic wrap is touching all the guacamole and pressed onto it, it will prevent air from reaching the guacamole. If air reaches the guacamole it causes oxidation and the guacamole to brown.
- Guacamole is based on preference, so feel free to add a pinch of lime juice, chili, green onion, more tomato, etc. … in the summertime I love to add a little corn to my guacamole. Delicious!
These delicious little souffles deflated faster than the camera could go “click!” by the time they were ready for their close up. It was rather sad, but such is life. Gotta take hold of the reigns before they fly past: life stops for no one and we always have to keep pressing forward. So press forward I did, and here we are with a delicious and surprisingly easy dessert!
Saturday night Chris went to the SMC/Gonzaga game at our alma mater (and also where we got married!) so I made these for the kids and I to enjoy as a consolation. To be honest, we might have devoured these before dinner. Oops! On another note, I made a couple of these without raspberries, and I must say they are not nearly as good without the raspberries! The great thing about souffle is that you can prepare the batter and pour into the ramekins the day before, because it will keep in the fridge overnight. This saves a lot of time, and breaks up the work quite nicely.
Don’t forget: if you’re going to put a cute, little powdered sugar heart or other design on top make sure your stencil and powdered sugar are ready to go as soon as they come out of the oven – the longer it takes for you to serve these babies the more likely they’ll deflate before they make it to the table! A lesson learned for next time. 😉
*recipe from William Sonoma’s book Home Baked Comfort
- 7 tbsp granulated sugar, plus more for dusting the ramekins
- 6 oz package of raspberries
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped. I highly suggest using a high quality chocolate! It makes all the difference for this decadent, chocolate based dessert.
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 large eggs, separated plus 2 egg whites
- pinch of salt – about a 1/4 tsp
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- confectioners’ sugar for dustin
- Place rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 375F.
- The recipe calls for six 1-cup ramekins, but I found the recipe made 8. Hence, butter 8 ramekins and lightly dust each with granulated sugar.
- In a small bowl toss the raspberries with a tablespoon of the sugar and divide among the ramekins.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring as you go. Don’t let the chocolate burn. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
- In your mixer, with the whip attachment, beat the egg yolks and 3 tablespoons of the sugar on medium speed until it’s thickened. Fold the chocolate mixture in.
- In a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar on medium-high speed. When the egg whites are getting fluffy, add the remaining 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and beat until you have thick, stiff egg white peaks.
- Fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins.
- Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until they are set and puffed, about 18, but not more than 20 minutes.
- Dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy before they fall!
cheers! and Happy Valentine’s Day ♥
I used to make these all the time, I don’t know why it’s been a good year or so since I last made them. It’s been a pretty busy holiday season: lots of holiday parties, birthday parties, a quick trip to Hawaii, upcoming holiday travel preparations, and other general life going-on’s, that I realized I needed an easy, reliable, and festive holiday cookie. Cue: The One and Only M&M Holiday Cookie!
I’ve had this recipe for so many years that I don’t even recall where I got it. However, it’s a tried and true staple in my book, tested time and time again. I make them during Valentine’s Day with the pink, white, reddish colored M&M’s, on St. Patrick’s Day with green M&M’s, and even with your boring, everyday colored M&M’s when needed. If you scoop the dough out in 1 tablespoon scoops, as I do, you end up with a solid 36 cookies. In our house, that means there’s plenty for us, and even more left over to share with the sweet neighbors who live in our little court with us. Merry Christmas!
- 2 cups plus 2 tblsps all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 12 tblsps salted butter, melted
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 white sugar
- 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, room temperature
- 2 tsps vanilla extract
- 1 cup M&M’s, I used Christmas colors on these
Preheat oven to 375 and place rack on upper third of the oven.
- Mix the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and all the sugars until they are thoroughly combined.
- Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Stir until mixed together.
- Gradually add the flour and mix until a dough forms. You may want to use your hands to bring it all together, because it tends be a little crumbly.
- Fold in the M&M’s.
- Scoop about a tablespoon of dough out at a time and roll into balls, place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for about 10 minutes. I know to take them out when the edges are just barely beginning to turn brown.
- Let cool and enjoy!
- This a cookie that I personally prefer slightly undercooked, and that 10 minutes at 375 in the upper third of the oven does the trick!
- Also, these cookies are so forgiving! You can melt the butter low and slow in a pan, in the microwave on high, in the microwave on low where you still have chunks of whole butter and it will come out the same, every time.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I am a fan of rice krispie treats. They’re so easy to make, cut into shapes, turn into all kinds of colors, and kids typically love them. This particular rice krispie treat first came up on my Facebook feed late one night in September, and I knew I had to make them!
Little did I know, that in total, I would make close to 100 of these little happy monsters! I’ve come to call them “Happy Little Monsters” because I find they put a smile on most people’s face 😉 We gave them to friends, family, and neighbors. I made most of them for Jack’s pre school Halloween Party, and wrapped them in these cellophane bags with crinkle paper and a trick or treat tag. They were pretty cute, and every now and then you could follow a trail of crinkle paper to the child who was eating his or her treat on the go.
It’s been quite fun making these festive treat throughout the month. Spreading the colored spread, placing the eyeballs, even making the stamped “trick or treat” tags keeps me entertained as I sit next to Chris, while he watches whatever sports game is on tv that particular night after the kids have gone to bed.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 10oz bag of marshmallows
- 6 cups of Rice Krispies
- ChocoMaker Candy Wafers, choice of color
- Candy eyes
Rice Krispie Treats:
- In a pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add milk, vanilla extract and marshmallows. Allow the marshmallows to melt over low heat. Don’t let the marshmallows burn, keep your heat on low and stir often.
- While they melt, prepare a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper along the bottom.
- Once the marshmallows are melted, remove from heat and mix in the rice krispies.
- Pour the marshmallow/rice krispie mix into the prepared baking dish and spread out in an even layer.
- Put them into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to cool and set.
- Cut the rice krispies into desired size. I roughly cut mine into 2×4 or 2×3 inch pieces.
- Melt the ChocoMaker wafers in the microwave, use a silicon spatula to stir. One treat at a time, use the spatula to help spread the colored chocomaker spread onto half of the rice krispie.
- Place on parchment paper and add candy eyes.
- Repeat until done!
- Put treats in cellophane bags, with crinkle cut paper. Tie with trick or treat tags!
- I made my trick or treat tags using a stamp, paper and glue. So easy, and like I said, keeps me preoccupied next to Chris while he watches sports after the kids have gone to bed.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not going to guarantee that these are “no mess” pulled pork tacos. But they are quick, easy to clean up, and a crowd pleaser on a hot Tuesday (or any day of the week) when the last thing you want to do is worry about turning on the stove, let alone the oven!
Mexican food has always been one of those things that I enjoy going out for much more than I enjoy making for myself or my family. There’s something fun, and almost comforting about going to a Mexican restaurant. Perhaps it’s because when I was a kid my brothers and I would always request to go to Chevys for our birthday dinners. Each of us always got a batch of tortilla dough to play with while we waited for our food to arrive, and at the end of the meal the waiters would all stand around your table and sing you the most fun, loud, exuberant, hands-clapping Happy Birthday! And pop a big ol’ sombrero on your head at the end! Sometimes, if we went on a Friday or Saturday night there was a balloon man who would stop at each table offering to make any animal figure/sword/doll/whatever out of his balloons. Our parents always obliged – how could they have said no?! It was incredibly fun; celebratory, really. And made our birthday feel special because these strange waiters would sing happy birthday to us!
These, and many other Chevy dinners were my first experience with Mexican food. I believe that since it was such an enjoyable experience it made me fall in love with Mexican food. Fajitas, burritos, tacos, enchiladas, tortilla chips and salsa, guacamole!! You name it…
With these tacos I wanted to recreate, the simple, festive feeling of going to a restaurant right at home. We make this BBQ Pulled Pork every now and then. We should make it more often because it’s so easy! This time we turned it into tacos, and I wish we were having it for dinner again tonight.
- 2 lb pork shoulder
- salt to season
- 1 can of your favorite BBQ sauce – we used Kinder’s Mild BBQ Sauce
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
- Guacamole, I prefer to make my own – though store bought would work fine
- favorite salsa, we used Casa Sanchez Fire Roasted Medium salsa
- 1 package of tortillas
- I lied, you will have to turn on your stove for 2 minutes. Get out a big pan and put it on medium high, place your pork shoulder on the pan to sear the sides. Season with plenty of salt.
- Immediately transfer into a crockpot. Pour a 20oz bottle of BBQ sauce into the crockpot to coat the pork shoulder. Put the lid on and set on high for 6-8 hours.
- Meanwhile, chop your onion, cilantro, and salsa. Place in individual ramekins. If you are making your guacamole, prepare no more than 20-30 minutes before serving so that it stays fresh!
- When your pork shoulder is done, remove and place on cutting board. Using two forks begin to tear the meat off the bone. It will literally fall off the bone into delicious pieces.
Easter is always my favorite holiday. Christmas is wonderful and special, and has so much anticipation built up to it that makes for so much fun and excitement. However, because it’s couched between Thanksgiving, New Years, and the general holiday craze, it can be a bit overwhelming with so much activity. But, not Easter! Instead, Easter has a quiet start with the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday and slowly builds up with the coming of Spring, before Easter Sunday.
Chris volunteered me to bring carrot cake for Easter dinner this year. I was more than happy to oblige because I love any excuse to bake 😉 In our home carrot cake season starts in February when Chris requests it as his birthday cake – it’s his favorite so I’m making it my duty to find (or create) the most perfect carrot cake recipe in the world. If you have one, feel free to send it my way. So far, this recipe is as close as we’ve gotten. I’ve made it a handful of times now and it comes out moist and delicious every time — even when I think “uh oh, this time it’s going to fail me” it doesn’t! It’s a great cake for every spring occasion: bridal showers, baby showers, engagement parties, dinner parties, baptisms etc…
I call it a “beginners” carrot cake because I have actually memorized this recipe – that’s how easy it is! It’s a one bowl recipe. Mix the oil and sugar, add the eggs, sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, add the grated carrots, raisins, pecans – and boom you’re done! …. well, after it spends almost an hour in the oven. 🙂
INGREDIENTS: *Recipe adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking Layered Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 cups finely grated and peeled carrots – I peel them and then place in my mini Cuisinart food processor to grind. I use my mini food processor more than I ever would have imagined, it’s one of my favorites.
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 8oz packages of cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325F. Grease 2 8inch round cake pans.
- Using a stand mixer, or large bowl and hand mixer, beat the sugar and vegetable oil until thoroughly combined. Add the eggs 1 at a time. I make sure each egg has been entirely mixed in before adding the next. It only takes a few seconds for each egg.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into the sugar/oil/egg mixture. I place this strainer over my stand mixer and put all the dry ingredients into the strainer to “sift” through to the sugar/oil/egg mixture. Stir in the carrots, raisins, and pecans.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Try to divid the batter equally between both pans! Bake about 50-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting: use either the wire whip attachment on your stand mixer, or a handheld mixer, and whip together the powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract until it is creamy and smooth.
- Put one cake layer on a cake plate and spread with frosting. Then put the other cake on top and spread with frosting. Enjoy!