Salsas and Moles, A Cookbook Review

Salsas and Moles cookbook

Fresh and Authentic Recipes for Pico de Gallo, Mole Poblano, Chimichurri, Guacamole, and More

Salsas and Moles cookbook

I knew when this book arrived in the mail (from Blogging for Books for a cookbook review), that I was going to love it.

It closely resembled one of my favorite cookbooks that I adore and also, like Tacolicious, featured many salsa and mole recipes using dried chiles, which I’ve fallen in love with!

One thing Salsas and Moles does well, and is completely necessary for anyone who wishes to start playing around with dried chiles. is it gives a go-to-guide for dried chiles. This helps when you experiment with the recipes, because, as I’ve found, you can use the guide to adjust the recipes to your heat-preference. The book gives reference to most of the common dried chiles complete with photos, descriptions, and taste and heat offerings (although I would have liked the Scoville rating added).

There are more sections with tutorials following the chile reference like how to work with the chiles, and some common pantry staples to have on hand to make the recipes in the book.

The following chapters contain sections on Classic Table Salsa, Hot Salsas, Mole and Enchilada Sauces, Salsas for Tacos and Chunky Salsas and Botanas.  Botanas are sort of like the Mexican version of Tapas, and feature different appetizers, similar to nachos, but more like a crazy wonderful layered dip of various sorts.

I adore Moles and can’t wait to try a few of the recipes like the Quick Mole and the Mole Poblano and Negro. These last two will probably take the better part of a Saturday or Sunday to make.

Being the salsa freak that I am, it’s a given I”ll be trying most of them!  This is a great cookbook if you love authentic Mexican flavors.

 

Sisters

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Sisters.

Miles may separate them but they pick up right where they left off when they are reunited once more.

It was such a treat to have both my girls in the same place the other night. Mr. Wonderful and I are currently empty nested and it’s been a little tough on me at times.

How do you go about life differently, when for the past 25 years, you’ve been all about a series of things like diapers, ball games, birthday parties, school functions, band concerts and the like?

Photo Jun 23, 7 25 20 AM

Okay, I will confess that coming home at night and not having a schedule to keep is pretty darn nice at times. Also pulling random leftovers out of the refrigerator for dinner (something that probably wouldn’t have flown with the kids there) has been awfully cool as well.

“Hey Babe, tonight we’re having Tacos Al Pastor, green beans and ummmm….leftover Korean bulgogi okay?”

No, that seriously happened last night. You think I’m kidding?

But there are nights I miss my kids endlessly.

Conner is away in Chicago with the Navy now and Kayla lives in California and will start her third year of ministry school soon.

When Tori moved out last year, I think I expected her to be dropping by every night but apparently she has friends and a life…can you imagine?

However, Kayla is home this week and the girls sat in our new hot tub the other night and it was just …fun.

 

My girls are old enough and have somehow become really wonderful grown-ups …and also —my friends.

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Except sometimes they are not grown-ups and asked me to try to do the “hair flip” picture.  And yeahhhhh….it didn’t quite work out.

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It’s supposed to be one of those…hair flying upward beautiful faces kind of pics….

So ummmm….

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We didn’t quite get the hang of it.

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But laughing, however…we did do.

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Sisters…it’s so nice having them together.

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Southwest Hatch Chile Salmon Burgers

Southwest Hatch Chile Salmon Burgers

Southwest Hatch Chile Salmon Burgers

 

So last month was National Hamburger Month.

Who knew there was such a thing?  To celebrate, the good people of TOURISM Sante Fe sent me some Hatch green chile goodies and asked me to feature them in a hamburger recipe.

Hatch green chiles

You may remember my post titled “How to Roast Hatch Green Chiles” from last August.  August is the time when these bright green chiles start showing up in our grocery stores and there is quite the craze for them.

Hatch Chiles Whole Foods

So follow my lead and roast some yourselves or buy a bag of them already done for you like the picture I shared above. They impart major deliciousness in any recipe you put them in. If you can’t find them, try substituting Anaheim peppers for them instead. My friend Kelly (from Red Dirt Chronicles and Every Point on the Map) pointed out the similarities to me last year and I have to say, I agree!

Last night we used them to make salmon burgers.

Salmon Burgers with Hatch Chiles

And oh were they good!

Whole food Salmon Burger recipe with Hatch Chiles

To begin, get some really good salmon. I usually get Coho or Sockeye salmon and look for sales at Whole Foods and stock up.

Coho salmon filet

Have your fish monger remove the skin from the salmon, or gently pull or slice it off with a filet knife.

Then cut half of the salmon into chunks and put it into your food processor fitted with the attachment blade.

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Pulse it several times so that the consistency is pretty fine. This will help hold your burgers together.

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Next take the remaining salmon and chop it up into small chunks.

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Scrape the pulverized mixture from the food processor into a bowl along with the half you chopped.

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Take 3-4 of your chiles and cut off the ends, slice them in half and either scrape out the seeds, or just rinse them off under running water.  Cut each half of chile into thin slices then rotate your knife and cut them into little pieces.

Hatch Chiles cut

Add them into the bowl with the salmon, along with some other ingredients.

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Add in one pressed or chopped garlic clove.

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Add in a beaten egg.

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Also add in 2/3 cup of Panko bread crumbs (or almond meal if lo-carbing), Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 of a medium-sized lime and also its zest.Add in about 2-3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro and a pinch of salt and pepper.

salmon burger ingredients

Take a spoon or spatula and gently mix this up well taking care not to smash it too hard.

mix salmon burgers

Take your spatula and lightly press down to make the top of the mixture level in your bowl.

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Then draw two lines in the shape of a plus sign which will allow you to make even-sized patties.

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Take one pie section out of the bowl and roll it into a ball in your hands.

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Then flatten it on a platter or cutting board into a patty.

shape salmon burgers

Now this is important. Make sure you put your patties into the refrigerator for at least an hour or more so they can set up and solidify from the cold again. This helps keep them together when grilling.

Salmon burgers

At this point you can grill your salmon burgers in a skillet with a tiny bit of oil coating the bottom, toss them onto a grill pan, or my personal favorite – putting them in a burger basket and flipping them onto the grill outside.

Top them with some light mayo mixed with tabasco and layer on some lettuce, tomato and avocado slices for a truly different southwest-style burger!

Salmon Burgers with Hatch Chile Recipe

I really love the lightness of these burgers…and the flavor as well!

And aren’t the colors absolutely GORGEOUS?
Southwest Hatch Chile Salmon Burgers

Hatch Chile Salmon Burgers
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. wild salmon like coho, sockeye or king, skin removed
  • ½ c, roasted Hatch Chiles, seeded and chopped
  • ⅔ c. Panko bread crumbs or almond meal
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ½ medium-sized lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 T. cilantro, chopped
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ t. pepper
  • ½ c. light mayonaisse
  • 1 t. tabasco sauce
  • Good quality buns, avocado, lettuce, tomato for servin
Instructions
  1. Place ½ of salmon, cut into chunks in food processor. Pulse until pulvarized.
  2. Chop remaining salmon with knife into small bits
  3. Mix both salmon mixtures together in bowl with chiles, Panko, egg, lime juice and zest, garlic, salt and pepper
  4. Lightly press salmon mixture evenly into bottom of bowl then divide with spatula marking a plus sign across bowl to evenly divide patties.
  5. Form each patty into ball in hands then lightly smash into patty
  6. Refrigerate at least an hour for patties to solidify
  7. Grill or pan grill or fry about 4-6 minutes per side.
  8. Works very well on outdoor grill using a grill basket.
  9. Mix mayo and tabasco sauce together
  10. Serve on buns with tabasco mayo, lettuce, tomato and sliced avocados

See what other wonderful bloggers are making featuring delicious burgers for Food Network’s Summer Soiree below!

Feed Me Phoebe: Greek Lamb Burgers with Mint Tzatziki
The Lemon Bowl: Filet Burgers with Tahini Garlic Mayo
Creative Culinary: The Canyon Creek Burger from Ted’s Montana Grill
Healthy Eats: Beef and Beyond: 6 Reasons to Cook More Burger
Weelicious: BBQ Chicken Burgers
The Wimpy Vegetarian: Crispy Mexican Black Bean Burgers
Homemade Delish: Stuffed Bleu Cheese Burger with Buffalo Sauce
The Mom 100: Buffalo Turkey Burger Sliders
FN Dish: Now, That’s the Stuff: Stellar Stuffed Burgers

Southwest Salmon Burger collage

How to Make an Inexpensive Fire Pit

How to build a firepit

How to build a firepit

For the past couple of years, as we lay in bed with our iPads at night, I have been trying to get Mr. Wonderful to see the light about Pinterest.   I would “ooo” and “aaaaah” over some other things…I even tried to lure him into its addictive ways by showing him there were cars on it, but he would simply nod, put his headphones back on and go back to his usual watching of YouTube videos that often lead him down the rabbit trail of everything from water ski tricks to hot rod races to those horrible “fail” videos that always make me cringe.

And then one day I showed him how one could search for “how to make a fire pit” and with all the ideas that came up, the man was hooked.

He is slowly transforming our backyard into something special with everything from raised garden beds to a new deck made out of pallets. But this was his first project and I just think it’s beautiful.

He started out by buying these stones at our local Home Depot. They are called Pavestone Rumblestone and with a sale and some finagling by Mr. W., he ended getting them for about $2.00/each I believe.

firepit stones

Next came the leveling of the area. He had to dig up grass and using pieces of wood with a level on them, worked on scraping the soil and getting it level.  Then he laid down his first ring of stones.

Lay first ring of firepit

He used 12 in all.

Firepit DIY

As you can see, Max helped by sniffing his approval.

Next he poured pebbles inside and about a foot around the outside of the first ring of bricks.   If you aren’t using flagstone like we did, you could use pebbles as the base of your fire pit ring and pour it out three or four feet to make the “patio” aspect of the fire pit area for a seating area.

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Again he laid the board across the first layer and check for it to be level.

Level one firepit

Next came the second ring. You place one stone directly centered on two stones below making sure the space between the two lower stones is directly down the middle of the stone you’re placing on top.

We opted not to glue these as the stones are heavy enough to stand by themselves and just in case someday we wanted to move them.  Like I said, we’ve never had a problem with them shifting or moving. They are pretty darn heavy. I would also like to say, I didn’t get may pictures from this point on, because I was helping place rocks. I do help with something every once in a while other than taking pictures ya know.

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Next came the third layer of the stones and then Mr. Wonderful add a couple of bags more of the pebbles, to provide a nice thick rock bottom for the pit.

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And then we set about placing all the stones…I say “we” because, again I helped!

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We will probably fill in the dirt spaces around the flagstone at some point with more pea gravel or even cement to make it more stable for benches or chairs.

We have a path leading down the backyard made out of the same flagstone.

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Mr. Wonderful also laid the flagstone from the fire pit area leading out to the main path going down the backyard so it matches.

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And then strategically, he placed some iron tiki torches around the pit area and walkway.

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The end result has been really nice.

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We tested it out that first weekend.

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And man, was I ever glad Mr. W. found Pinterest.

 

 

Cobb Salad

Cobb Salad 3

Classic Cobb Salad Recipe

There are conflicting stories about the origins of the Cobb Salad.

Cobb Salad Recipe 4

One boasts that one late night in 1937, Hollywood Brown Derby owner Robert Cobb was hungry (or he was feeding Sid Grauman, the creator of the Grauman Chinese Theater)  and tossed together some components leftover from the restaurant to form this legendary salad. I love that this restaurant was shaped like a derby hat and was old Hollywood glam inside.

Brown_Derby_on_Wilshire_entrance_1956

Another is that Cobb’s executive chef at the time, Robert Kreis created the recipe and named it in honor of the restaurant’s owner.

Whatever the true story is, one thing is for sure, this salad has spanned across the decades to become a beloved classic in the salad world.

The original recipe used various greens like watercress, chicory and romaine and something akin to a classic vinaigrette. Over the years, however,  the dressing of popularity seems to have changed to Bleu Cheese dressing in restaurants across the globe.  There seems to be a few ingredients in common that everyone uses, so here are  what I believe to be the necessary components of a good Cobb Salad.

mean, a salad this popular is beloved for a reason right?  So it goes without saying that we should not deviate too far from the original.

Cobb Salad Recipe 2 Greens – The original called for romaine, watercress and chicory. Everyone has their favorite lettuces, but try to stick with two or three and tear or chop them up to make a nice line down your plate or platter at least an inch or two wide. I favor one soft buttery type like buttercrunch and one crunchy type like thinly sliced kale or spinach.

Tomatoes – (don’t forget to lightly salt and pepper) they are an important acidic note to balance the richness of the following ingredients…

Bacon – need I say more? Just…bacon. Crumbled, but not too fine.  All things chunky are good in this salad.

Avocado – again…no reason necessary. It would be the last known food I’d love to have before I die. A good guac could take me straight to heaven happily.

Bleu Cheese – find one you like, whether mild or stinky and pungent enough to knock your socks off. This is important stuff.

Hard Boiled Eggs – Sliced, chopped, however you want them. Just do it.

Chicken – It just always seems to be on the plate. That is all.

For the dressing, I find Bleu Cheese to be redundant and I’m not a huge fan of thick, creamy dressings anymore. The salad already has the bleu cheese so I prefer a nice vinaigrette, like the original called for to cap it off and also the acidity again cuts through some of the rich ingredients. I saw a recipe for Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette in Food & Wine magazine and after making it, revised it to my taste and opted to use that as I had a brand new bag of Vidalias in my pantry that I was dying to use.  (I’ve included my dressing recipe with the printable recipe at the end of this post.)

Vidalia Vinaigrette 1

We also had our first harvest of peas this week.

peas from garden

Man are those lil buggers a pain to shell!

fresh peas

I also used some “stuff” that was leftover in my refrigerator in tradition with Cobb’s original creation. Sometimes those thrown together things end up being a culinary masterpiece you end up coming back to time and time again.

We ate this salad as a main the first night, then used the leftovers to make a smaller version as a side for shish-ka-bobs the next night. We loved it both nights.  Here is my version!

Cobb Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
This salad makes enough for two although the salad dressing would be enough easily for four. Double the salad ingredients if you want to make for four!
Ingredients
FOR THE SALAD!
  • 2 chicken breasts, (or 2 c. rotisserie chicken)
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled in medium pieces
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 c. toasted walnuts
  • 4 cups chopped buttercrunch lettuce
  • 2 cups finely shredded kale
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • ⅔ c. blue cheese crumbled
  • 1 c. frozen or fresh peas (dethawed if frozen)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 c. fresh or frozen corn (cooked and cooled if frozen)
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
FOR THE DRESSING:
  • 3 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 1 large Vidalia onions. peeled and quartered
  • ½ c. olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • ¼ c. apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ c. pure maple syrup or honey
  • 1 t. fresh herbs (I used tarragon)
  • 1 T. fresh chives
  • ½ t. Kosher salt
  • ¼ t. Freshly ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and grill, then slice thinly. Or shred rotisserie chicken
  2. Fry, bake or microwave bacon to become crispy, let drain on paper towels, then break in medium pieces
  3. Toast walnuts in a dry pan over medium heat just until you smell them then let cool. Chop if preferred (I left them whole)
  4. Chop the lettuces
  5. Chop or slice the eggs (Boil eggs starting in pan with cold water. When water boils, remove pan from heat and let set, covered for 14 minutes. Drain hot water in pan and add cold water and about 8-10 ice cubes to chill, peel immediately)
  6. Run warm water over peas to thaw if not using fresh
  7. Cook corn according to package directions. Or slice fresh corn off cob and boil about 5 minutes. Rinse with cold water and drain
  8. Chop tomatoes and lightly salt and pepper
  9. Chop green onions
  10. Chop avocado
TO ASSEMBLE SALAD
  1. Take each ingredient and make a line from top to bottom of platter or plate almost overlapping with next ingredient. Assemble so like colors don't adjoin one another for it to be the prettiest!
FOR THE DRESSING:
  1. Preheat oven to 425º
  2. Place onion (cut side down) and garlic on pan. Brush onion tops with olive oil. Roast until onion gets slightly charred, about 45 minutes to one hour. Remove to cool.
  3. Squeeze garlic out of cloves into blender. Add onions and all remaining ingredients except oil and blend about 30 seconds. Slowly drizzle in olive oil. (Dressing can be made ahead 4-5 days and kept in refrigerator). Drizzle over assembled salads

 

 

 

 

 

Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

How to make Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette

How to make Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette

A few days back I bought some Vidalia Onions. I’m like a giddy little kid who reacts to the sounds of the ice cream truck when I see these sweet onions arrive at the store. I go running over, peer through the bags for the one I think most perfect and lay it in my grocery cart with a goofy smile all over my face.

Vidalia onions are grown in Vidalia, Georgia and are usually only available in late-spring/early summer in grocery stores or by ordering them online. Due to the makeup of the sulfur in the soil they are grown in, the onions are incredibly sweet and some onion lovers swear you can eat them like an apple. I’m not alone in my love of them – these onions which were almost grown by accident in the 1930’s, have their own mascot…

Yumion

They have also inspired state and federal protection, have an actual committee,  and are the official vegetable of the state of Georgia.

I’m not alone in my adoration…see?

My absolute favorite thing to do with the onions is really showcase them by themselves, like sauteing them down until they are caramel-colored, brown and sugary, and topping grilled meat, tacos or hamburgers with them. I also adore them in fried potatoes. The ratio of onions to potatoes should be 50/50 because…again…they are the star.

However, I am Fitbitting, and have thus lost five pounds from walking diligently and lightening up my diet, so I was looking for a new way to utilize my Vidalias. We are also picking scads of lettuce from our garden right now, so I thought about a Vidalia onion vinaigrette. I’ve used onions before in dressings, like my Homemade Poppy Seed Dressing so I thought …why not?

I had seen a recipe in Food & Wine recently that used Vidalia onions and they roasted them along with onions and garlic but upon making it, it just wasn’t right for me. I tweaked it somewhat by adding some fresh herbs and pure maple syrup and the result was perfect for the Cobb Salads we made that night (recipe will be posted for that tomorrow!)

I halved the recipe since it’s only the two of us and it was still enough for four large salads with some leftover.

Start by peeling and quartering one large Vidalia onion. Place it on a lined cookie sheet with three cloves of unpeeled garlic.  Don’t peel the garlic because the skin will keep it from drying out too much while roasting in the oven.

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Brush the onion with a little olive oil and pop the pan into a 425º oven for forty five minutes to one hour or just until the onion edges are browning and the garlic is soft but not turning hard.

After they are done, let them cool and then squeeze the garlic out of its skin, or simply peel it off and put the ooey gooey cloves into a blender and toss in the onions.

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Add in 1/4 cup each of apple cider vinegar and fresh squeezed lemon juice (about one large lemon), 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup (or honey), a dash of salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Vidalia vinaigrette ingredients

Pop the lid on your blender and whiz this up for about 30 seconds.

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Then take off the inserted round lid on top of the blender and slowly pour in the olive oil.

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Blend another 30 seconds or so and you’re done! Pour it into a pretty container to serve it.

Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette Salad Dressing Recipe

Because if you go to all that work, why put it in an unattractive serving piece right?

Vidalia Vinaigrette 1

I beg you to stay tuned for the Cobb Salad recipe I’m posting tomorrow to put this dressing on. And remember, you can keep this in the refrigerator for up to four days!

Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
Author: 
Recipe type: Dressing
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large Vidalia onion
  • 3 cloves garlic with skin ON
  • ¼ c. fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ c. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ c. pure maple syrup
  • 1 t. roughly chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 T. chopped chives
  • ½ c. (or to taste) olive oil (I typically like less in my dressings) plus more for brushing
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425º
  2. LIne a baking sheet and peel and quarter onion. Lay cut side down on baking sheet with garlic cloves and brush the onion tops and sides with olive oil
  3. Roast in oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the edges are browning and garlic is soft, then let cool
  4. Place onion and garlic in blender and add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT for olive oil
  5. Blend 30 seconds then slowly drizzle olive oil thru top of blender to thicken
  6. Keeps up to four days in the refrigerator

 

 

Baked or Grilled Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapeno popper recipe

 

Jalapeno popper recipe

Saturday we hosted a cookout/birthday party for my BFF’s hubby Dale.  We made hamburgers and hotdogs and everyone brought delicious sides to go with them.  I never quite made it through most of my hamburger and never touched a hot dog however, because of these…

Grilled jalapeno popper recipe

Jalapeno Poppers.

I have shied away from making these because, even though I am loving spicier things of late,  I thought these would be blazing hot and unbearable.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Baked jalapeno poppers

These are amazing and really not overly hot at all. What they are is just plain dangerous!

jalapeno popper

And since Mr. Wonderful has been on a DIY palette kick, he made us this awesome pepper raised bed planter on the side of the house. It’s devoted to jalapenos, habaneros and even a few green/red pepper plants as well.  This will solve our over-watering problem from last year since the peppers and tomatoes were in the same beds.

raised bed for peppers

If we do well, and get scads of peppers, this is what we’ll be making all summer long with them!

Here is my version of Jalapeno Poppers! The recipe calls for 20 whole jalapenos which makes 40 poppers. There were eight of us Saturday night and they didn’t last long!

Cut each jalapeno in half long ways and scrape out the seeds with a spoon tip.

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Please use gloves when doing this or you’ll end up rubbing your nose or eyes or face and end up in a state of major discomfort.

Gloves jalapeños

Mix together 2 packages of cream cheese (8 oz) with a cup of shredded medium sharp cheddar cheese, four chopped green onions, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

jalapeno popper stuffing

Take twenty slices of bacon and cut them in half. Just slice across all of them at once.

Using a spoon, stuff each jalapeno half with the cream cheese mixture – right even with the top or maybe mounded a tad over.

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Then take a slice of bacon and wrap it snugly around the entire thing. Start with the bacon on the bottom side and loop it over top and around, tucking the end back around the bottom.

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Some people insert toothpicks to hold the bacon, but I don’t find it necessary as long as you tuck both ends underneath the pepper.

Photo May 29, 10 43 40 PM

Make the other nineteen the same exact way, spacing them evenly on a baking pan.  You can also grill them but I made them ahead of time in the oven, then took them out to Mr. Wonderful to toss on the grill just to reheat and crisp up the bacon a tad while he made the rest of the food.

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I completely forgot to take a picture out on the grill, because once I tasted one of these, I ate another…and then another…and so did everyone else. And they were flat gone in about five minutes.

I foresee these becoming a regular at any and all cookouts we do in the future.

And everyone said…AMEN.

How to make jalapeno poppers

5.0 from 1 reviews
Jalapeno Poppers
Author: 
Recipe type: appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 40
 
Ingredients
  • 20 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 (8oz) blocks cream cheese, room temperature and softened
  • 1 c. shredded medium cheddar cheese
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ t. pepper
  • 20 slices bacon, cut in half
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350º
  2. Cut peppers in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds and ribs with tip of spoon (wear gloves!)
  3. Mix together cheeses, garlic powder, salt and pepper
  4. Using a spoon, stuff each pepper half with cream cheese mixture to make it slightly above being level with the top of the pepper.
  5. Wrap each pepper with a piece of bacon, starting with the bacon underneath the jalapeno then looping the top over top of the jalapeno and ending up with the other end tucked under the jalapeno as well. Try to make bacon surface cover as much of the cream cheese as possible.
OVEN BAKING METHOD:
  1. Bake in oven 15-20 minutes or until bacon has crisped.
GRILLING METHOD:
  1. Place on grill over medium heat cut side up and grill about 6 minutes then flip and grill on other side another 6 minutes or until bacon is crisp.

 

Sesame Sugar Snap Peas

Sugar Snap Peas Asian recipe

I picked up a package of these the sugar snap peas the other day.

Sugar snap peas cook SUPER quick and are a fast addition to any meat dish on a week night when you just don’t have much time to cook.  I served them alongside these wonderful Tuna Steaks with Dijon Honey Mustard Sauce , which, incidentally was also very quick cooking as well.

Drizzle a little olive oil into a pan, maybe around 1 tablespoon.

Then press in or just mince up 2 cloves of garlic. If you feel really adventurous, add in 1/4 teaspoon or just a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Put this over medium heat for just about a minute, letting the garlic flavor the oil and get all golden and happy.

Then add in your sugar snap peas.

Pour in one tablespoon of light soy sauce.  I always use light soy sauce.  Regular makes my fingers swell up the size of a baseball bat.

Then add in 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. I prefer the darker brown toasted sesame oil, if you can find it.

Almost every grocery store carries sesame oil, in one form or the other in the Asian aisle.

Toss this all up with some tongs.

Leave these over the heat for maybe a minute, two at the most.  And then remove to a plate and sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds.

Now that wasn’t so hard was it?

I love the crunch and the sweetness of these little babies.  And the time factor is a plus we all need!

Sugar Snap Peas With a Kick -A Super Quick Side Dish
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas
  • 1 T. light soy sauce
  • 1 t. sesame oil (toasted)
  • 2 t. toasted sesame seeds
  • ¼ t. red pepper flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. Over medium heat in medium skillet, heat olive oil, then add in garlic. If using, add red pepper flakes. Let cook about one minute, then add in the sugar snap peas. Stir one more minute then add in soy sauce and sesame oil. Cook 1-2 minutes more then pour onto platter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Love these other recipes that wonderful food bloggers made using Peas for Food Network’s Spring Sensational Sides!

Creative Culinary: Peas with Bacon and Crispy Leeks
Daisy at Home: No-Cook Spring Succotash
Weelicious: Summer Pea Salad
Virtually Homemade: Green Pea Hummus
Homemade Delish: Peas That Please
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Marinated Peas & Peppers Salad
Red or Green: English Pea Mash on Garlic Rubbed Bruschetta
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Cauliflower and Peas Stir-Fry
Taste with the Eyes: Pasta with Peas, Bacon, Mint, and Ricotta
The Mom 100: Spring Ramp and Pea Risotto
Dishin & Dishes: Sesame Sugar Snap Peas
FN Dish: The Freshest Ways to Pass the Peas, Please

Iron Skillet Mulberry, Raspberry or Blackberry Upside Cake

SKillet Blackberry Upside Down Cake

mulberry recipes

In the back left corner of our yard every year we have a dilemna.

The dilemna involves dark red, almost plum-colored berries dropping over the fence from a large tree that is literally chock FULL of birds.

what does a mulberry tree look like

The birds love the trees because of the berries but what we don’t love is the mess of a thousand berries every year for our snow-white dogs and us to step on and smoosh and bring into the house. close up mulberry cake

The tree is a mulberry tree.

I don’t recall knowing what a mulberry tree was when I live in the north.

Mulberry tree photos

I first encountered one at a friend’s ranch when their teenage kids rode horses out to the tree, spread out a large and faded old bed sheet underneath it, then climbed up onto the branches and shook them.

Mulberries on tree

The berries came pouring out of the tree onto the sheet and then we gathered the corners up, rode back to the house and rinsed them off to bake in a pie.

When I’ve mentioned mulberries to my friends, some seem to have a memory of their grandma baking them into pies or cobblers, but many have never tried one.

Skillet Upside Down Mullberry Cake 2

Mulberries greatest fame seems to come from the old nursery rhyme “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush”, although I don’t know why it mentions a bush instead of a tree. And there was that crazy monkey that chased the weasel….and even Vincent Van Gogh must have loved mulberries as he featured them in his paintings, even naming one  after the tree. although personally, I think this looks more like it should be called The Autumn Tree.

Vincent Van Gogh's Mulberry Tree

Vincent Van Gogh’s Mulberry Tree

Perhaps the most important thing about mulberries to know is that they are outperforming other berries in phytoactive ingredients including much higher levels of antioxidants than blueberries and even cranberries. Long story short, these berries will help you resist disease.

After I read about the messy berries laying in our backyard, we decided that the best solution was to gather them up and eat them. I mean, why leave hundreds of perfectly edible berries that are going to make me Superwoman in the grass?

Here is an old recipe for an upside down cake that I tossed my first gathered cup of mulberries into. You could totally make this with blackberries or raspberries as well!

Iron Skillet Mulberry or Blackberry Upside Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
FOR THE BATTER
  • 6 T. butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3⁄4 c. milk
  • 1 3⁄4 c. flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1⁄2 t. salt
  • FOR THE TOPPING (or bottom of skillet)
  • 4 T. butter
  • ¾ c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. fresh mulberries or blackberries
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about a minute.
  2. Add eggs and beat about 20 seconds.
  3. Add milk and beat another 30 seconds or so until well-mixed.
  4. Whisk dry ingredients together and add half to wet batter and mix just until well blended
  5. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix
  6. Melt the remaining remaining butter and brown sugar in cast iron skillet on low heat.
  7. Stir together and try to spread evenly over entire bottom of skillet
  8. When sugar and butter are melted, sprinkle in mulberries, blackberries or raspberries
  9. Pour batter mixture on top so that all fruit is covered.
  10. Bake in center of oven at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until center of cake tests done.
  11. Remove skillet from oven, run knife around outside and immediately invert the skillet onto platter.
  12. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream or fresh whipped cream

Would you like to see more recipes featuring picnic foods for summer? Check out what other wonderful food bloggers made for Food Network’s Summer Soiree!

Feed Me Phoebe: Baked Quinoa Cakes with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli
Buckwheat Double Dark Chocolate Brownie Cookies: Buckwheat Double Dark Chocolate Brownie Cookies
Bacon and Soufflé: Classic Tomato and Garlic Bruschetta
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Fruit Sandwich
Napa Farmhouse 1885: White & Dark Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Red or Green: Corn & Sweet Red Pepper Casserole
Homemade Delish: Mini Tea Sandwiches
Taste with the Eyes: Rice Noodles with Miso Butter and Ramen-Style Toppings
Virtually Homemade: Virtually Homemade Gluten Free Blueberry Crumble Bars
Dishin & Dishes: Iron Skillet Upside Down Mulberry (or Blackberry or Raspberry) Cake
The Wimpy Vegetarian: Strawberries and Skinny Yogurt Cheesecake Dip
Healthy Eats: How to Pack a Healthy Picnic — Summer Soiree
The Mom 100: Creamy Corn and Potato Salad with Bacon

Asian Noodle Salad

salad7

salad7

Mmmmmmmmmm….this salad is…yum, yum, yummmmmy!

Cold salads are a true blessing for these scorching summer days, and those days are coming soon.  This one is so flavorful and wonderful, I could eat it a couple of times a week.

This week when presented with the challenge of “pasta salad” for Food Network’s Spring Sensation Side recipes, I was stumped because I really don’t like mayonnaise based pasta salads anymore.  So here’s to thinking outside the mayo-box and making a salad that won’t spoil as quickly at picnics and is way healthier and more flavorful as well!

This salad has a wonderful Asian dressing on it that uses basic Asian ingredients you can get in most grocery stores nowadays.  I’ve tweaked it and improvised it to some stuff that I prefer but in all, I love this salad!  Add some grilled chicken or Asian marinated flank steak, and you have a meal.  Grilled shrimp would also be fabulous in this!  (Side note -this makes a HUGE recipe, so if you don’t want leftovers or aren’t taking it to a party, you  my want to half the recipe!).

While this might seem like a LOT of ingredients, I promise you the end result will have you smiling.  So let’s make a summer salad shall we?

Bring one regular size package of linguine or wheat spaghetti to a boil and finish cooking according to package directions. If you can find soba noodles, EVEN BETTER!   Drain and rinse to cool.  This is a cold salad, hot noodles are not allowed.

Finely slice your cabbages.  First the Napa.  I did about 4 cups of each.  This made a pretty big salad, so adjust accordingly.  You don’t have to be precise.

napa

Then the purple.

purple

Rinse your spinach. I used again, about 4 cups.

spinach

Slice up thinly, a red and orange bell pepper.

peppers

Also slice up some green onions and a bunch of cilantro.  I don’t have pictures of those.  Sometimes I check out like that..please forgive me.  I love cilantro so I used an entire bunch in this salad.  I threw some in the salad and more into the dressing.

Dump all your ingredients into a large bowl, including your noodles.

Now, let’s make some dressing.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together the juice of 1 lime, 1/3 c. olive oil, 1-3 T. sesame oil (this stuff is strong – I use one), 1/3 c. soy sauce, 1/3 c. brown sugar, 3 T. fresh grated ginger, 2 cloves of garlic and a jalapeno finely chopped.  Adjust the pepper according to how hot you can handle things.  Add about 1/3 c. chopped cilantro and whisk.

dressing

Pour the dressing over salad.  If you want to make ahead of time, don’t add the cilantro or the spinach until the last minute.  Mix it all up so everything is coated in the dressing.  Sprinkle your choice of nuts overtop.

salad2

Change your mind about the Chinese spoon and get the chopsticks.

salad7

I have a confession, I can NOT use chopsticks for the life of me, but they looked cool in the picture.  Jason and Lindsay bought me cheater chopsticks that look like a giant clothes pin and I can use those.  I’ve been practicing and …I’m getting better.

I’m telling you, this salad is so doggone good, it will be gone in no time.  I can’t wait to make it again.

salad51

 

Asian Noodle Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
SALAD INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 lb package Spaghetti noodles
  • 4 c. Nappa cabbage (about ½ the cabbage)
  • 4 c. purple cabbage (about ½ the cabbage)
  • 4 c. fresh spinach
  • 1 Red Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Yellow Pepper, chopped
  • 2 c. Bean Sprouts
  • 1½ c. cilantro (before chopping)
  • 4 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1 c. shaved almonds
DRESSING INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 Lime, Juiced
  • 8 T. Olive Oil
  • 8 T.Soy Sauce
  • 1 T. Sesame Oil
  • ⅓ cup Brown Sugar
  • 3 T. Fresh Ginger Chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic Chopped
  • 2 Jalapenos or fresno Chilies, Chopped
  • ⅓ c. chopped Cilantro
Instructions
  1. Cook spaghettin according to package directions. Drain and cool in refrigerator. Slice both cabbages thinly into large mixing bowl.
  2. Chop peppers thinly into bite-size pieces (small strips).
  3. Chop green onions.
  4. Add all salad ingredients into the bowl with the noodles except for the cilantro and almonds.
  5. Make the dressing by mixing all ingredients together but only add the cilantro when you're ready to serve.
  6. Toss the salad with the dressing and serve chilled.
  7. If you're planning on keeping some for leftovers, don't add the spinach and the cilantro until you're ready to serve.
  8. Add just the amount for current serving and add more for leftovers later to prevent wilting.

See what other fabulous food blogger pasta salad recipes were created this week below for Food Network’s Spring Sensation Side Dishes!

Feed Me Phoebe: Spicy Shrimp Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Sundried Tomatoes
The Lemon Bowl: Roasted Garlic Vegetable Pasta
TasteBook: Quick & Easy BLT Pasta Salad
Dishin & Dishes: Asian Noodle Salad
Weelicious: Summer Succotash Pasta Salad
Homemade Delish: Red Lentil Pasta Salad
The Mom 100: Pasta Salad and Salmon with Ramp Dressing
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Spring Pasta Salad With Sundried Tomatoes, Broccoli & Spinach
Taste with the Eyes: Lemon Ricotta Pasta Salad with Figs and Mint
FN Dish: Picnic Pasta Salad Season Is Here

 

Asian Noodle Salad

Creating a Fairy Garden

creating a fairy garden

creating a fairy garden

Buttercups in the sunshine look like little cups of gold.
Perhaps the Faeries come to drink the raindrops that they hold.
~Elizabeth T. Dillingham, “A Faery Song”

Ever since I visited Michigan last year and saw the new trend toward fairy gardens at several places up there, I’ve been wanting to create a fairy garden for my grand babies.

Okay, and maybe a little for myself.

how to make a fairy garden

This is a description for anyone wishing to make a fairy garden for a basic landscaping design to begin its first stages.

To begin, you’ll need to decide on whether you want to create your fairy garden as part of your existing flowerbeds or find a pot or other container for it.

My original idea was to put mine in an old Radio Flyer wagon my mom and dad had out in their shed in Michigan but we completely forgot to bring it home after a recent trip there.

Because of our extreme and crazy Oklahoma heat and wind here (not to mention toranadoes!), I wanted to put mine in a container that could be moved so I ordered these cute Amish wagons off of Amazon that cost about $23.00 each. Thanks to Mr. Wonderful for assembling these and putting them together for me.

fairy garden in wagon

I loved that my wagons have a top and bottom level as one of the additions I have in mind for the g-babies to help me with is a rope ladder. The ladder will lead over the separation piece and allow our fairies access down to the bottom level.  Never-mind that fairies have wings and can fly, I just think the rope ladders are adorable in fairy gardens! (See the end of my post for a list of places to buy fairy garden accessories!)

I had to drill some drainage holes in the bottom of each wagon so the water from watering my live plants would drain out.

Photo Apr 30, 4 18 27 AM

And then I filled each with several inches of potting soil.

I purchased some inexpensive plants in different textures and colors.

what plants to buy for fairy garden

Most of these were ground covers. For my fairy garden “lawn” I bought Irish moss and for my trees and bushes, I purchased a few small succulents and some varying ground covers that said they wouldn’t grow higher than a few inches at most.

I also found this which I thought was pretty cool.

mini succulents fairy garden

I got it at Home Depot and there was no card telling what it was (I think they are called mini “Hens and Chicks”), but it seems to be a carpet of small succulents and you can use scissors and cut it easily into whatever shape you want. This came in very handy when trying to fill small spaces and corners in the fairy garden.

Also, when purchasing plants for a fairy garden, you almost want to get plants that are root bound so they won’t grow much. You don’t want to use Miracle Grow potting soil either or anything that will boost the plants to grow a lot, because well, you are planting a miniature garden and want it to remain miniature.

Next, you’ll need a theme and some sort of a focal point in your garden and I found it helpful to put this in first before anything else. Your theme could be like mine which is just a typical English garden/cottage type theme but I have seen all kinds of themes from Disney princesses to The Wizard of Oz to even gardens for boys that involve super heroes or dinosaur gardens.

I found this cottage house at a garage sale for $1 and thought it looked very “fairyish” with it’s ivy, flowers and cobblestone quaintness.

focal point for fairy garden

I put my house in first and then began to add plant elements like the grass, “bushes” and “trees”.

Irish moss for grass for fairy garden

I started with the “lawn” of the cottage and split one plant of Irish moss in two and left room for a pathway.

For my pathway to the house, I wanted it to look rustic and cobblestone-like so I grabbed a handful of pebbles from the floor of my greenhouse.

rock driveway for fairy garden

And just lined them in between the grass and tried to center it from the front door of the cottage.

driveway pathway fairy garden rocks

Next I tucked my different plants into the remaining areas.

Fairy Garden landscaping plants

I added the larger succulents to look like bushes or trees and I added the ground cover that had tiny white flowers (PRATIA puberola alba ‘Mini White Star’) towards the back of the cottage so it would look like a little flower garden. The tiny succulent “carpet” was just cut up and placed in the bare spots for a “forest look”.

I did purchase a few additions for my fairy garden, but I had to use restraint as you could drop a small fortune on tiny adorable miniature everything! I couldn’t resist this little firepit and cooking pot, complete with a red LED light to light it up because, hello, fairies have to EAT right? Unfortunately, I have to go rescue it every time it rains outside.

miniature garden firepit and cooking pot

So, welcome to my new basic fairy garden!

The g-babies and I will make some homemade accessories to put in it when they come to visit.  I might just be obsessed with all the miniatures one can make. Just have a gander at my Pinterest board!

I got a rough start on my second fairy wagon garden when Mr. Wonderful came home from another garage sale with another cute house.

Fairy garden cottage house

We added a bench and a swimming hole to this garden.  I surrounded our “pond” or swimming hole with more rocks and a yellow tinted ground cover (I think it’s creeping sedum?).

bench and swimming pool pond fairy garden

Oh! And what is a fairy garden without fairies?

If you build it, they will come!  I did dash over to TLC, our local garden nursery center,  and pick up four darling little unbreakable fairies so that each g-baby could have their very own fairy.

unbreakable fairies for fairy garden

We are looking forward to lots of crafting and adding to our fairy gardens! I can already tell you they will probably be expanding to other pots and containers!  After all, why not just have an entire fairy village for the maximum amount of fairy fun!???

Photo May 01, 5 58 53 PM

Stay tuned for updates and remember…

The fairies went from the world, dear,
Because men’s hearts grew cold:
And only the eyes of children see
What is hidden from the old…
~Kathleen Foyle

how to make a fairy garden

Here is a resource list for purchasing fairy garden accessories:

In Oklahoma City surround area:

On the Web:

how to create a fairy garden in a wagon

Spaghetti Squash Bacon Hash

IMG_7164

 

IMG_7164

I made this dish last Wednesday night for a quick on the fly with some leftover spaghetti squash I had baked the night before.  It came together really quick and was delicious.  Because we were in a hurry to get to our Lifegroup shortly after work, a quick breakfast-for-dinner seemed appropriate and sounded yummy. I didn’t take many pictures but the recipe is listed for you below!

OH! After I made my Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns a few weeks ago, my sister in law Cheryl told me I was baking my squash wrong. I corrected my technique and believe I like it better this way and it’s not as wet which makes for better hash browns and crispier hash.

Cut your spaghetti squash in half long ways and place it cut side up on a lined baking sheet. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper and bake for 45 minutes. Gently scoop out seeds from the top. Take a fork or spoon and pull the squash out of the shell. A large spoon works great for me.

Enjoy the recipe below!

Spaghetti Squash Hash
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped in 1 inch pieces
  • ½ large spaghetti squash, baked in shell and strands scooped out (about 4 cups)
  • ½ large yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ large poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ t. pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400º
  2. In large oven safe skillet with heavy bottom, place skillet on medium heat and add bacon.
  3. Cook bacon for 5-7 minutes until almost crispy. Remove with slotted spoon to paper towel line plate.
  4. Drain bacon fat and wipe out pan (or leave 1 T. bacon fat is desired)
  5. Add 1 T. olive oil or coconut oil to skillet and add onion and poblanos.
  6. Stir fry for 5 minutes or until beginning to soften, then add in squash.
  7. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix well, then press squash lightly down evenly into pan.
  8. Sprinkle bacon over top evenly.
  9. Let squash set for 1-2 minutes to let bottom begin to crisp but not burn.
  10. Using a spoon, make a well (or indention) large enough to hold one egg, then make three more wells evenly spaced from the others.
  11. Crack an egg into each of the four holes
  12. Place skillet in oven and bake about 7-10 minutes or until whites are set and yolks are still soft.
  13. Remove and spoon onto plates.
  14. Makes 2 large servings or small small.
  15. *To bake spaghetti squash - cut in half long ways, place cut side UP on lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes at 350º. Let cool a bit then gently scoop out seeds. Scoop out spaghetti strands all the way to the shell and fluff with fork.