Fresh Mex + A Life Update

I cannot believe I haven’t posted since Christmas break. I think about it a lot, but somehow never actually sat down and posted. I don’t think there’s any way I could possibly summarize this spring semester, except to say it’s been quite insane. Just since April 24th a few things that have happened: state tennis tournament, prom, a wonderful trip to NYC, a dramatic physics boat race, multiple lake trips with both family and friends, a wedding shower for my sister, helping pack and move my other sister (while also moving my stuff and sending much of it up to where I’ll be living in the fall), I turned 18, graduated high school, drove to Colorado (which included spending some time in Santa Fe which was awesome), where I now am and am enjoying spending time with my parents. So, quite a few things going on.

I feel so fortunate to have been able to do and experience so many things this year. I know I’m truly blessed. Of course, it hasn’t all been perfect. There’s been the not so great stuff, too. This whole partially living in Texas while my dad works in Colorado has been challenging on my family. There was an unexpected college acceptance letter that actually caused more tears than a rejection letter ever would have. There’s been AP tests and other school stuff that brought upon plenty of stress. The realization that I really am an adult, 18 and done with highschool,  brings both sadness and excitement. In just a few days, I’ll be boarding an airplane by myself and spending six weeks in a place with all brand new people. I’ll be a day camp counselor for kids from an Indian tribe as part of a mission set up in North Dakota. I’m greatly looking forward to it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a bit nervous. Your prayers would be lovely!

Anyway, last night I decided to cook dinner for my parents.

The Menu:

  • Homemade guacamole and homemade salsa with chips
  • Spinach Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing,red onion and jicama
  • Flambéed Margarita Shrimp

Basically, a cover everything in lime and cilantro kind of dinner! My favorite thing about all of it is that none really requires formal recipes or exactness, but a more add stuff in until it taste good type meal.

 This salsa with the juice of one lime added (it makes everything better!) and guacamole (avocado + lime juice + kosher salt + tomato + onion + garlic). Delicious, but pretty ordinary.

Mexican Summer Salad

This delicious salad is fresh, bright and bursting with summer flavor. My apologies for not being able to give amounts. But, it’s not an exact science. I could try, but I never measure making salads. Just combine the amounts that feel right to you!

Ingredients:

Baby Spinach

Jicama, sliced into thin strips

Crispy, tricolored tortilla strips

Red onion, sliced into thin strips.

Cilantro Lime Dressing:

Olive oil

Fresh lime juice

Chopped fresh cilantro (lots!)

Drizzle of honey

Sprinkle of kosher salt

Minced garlic

Dash of chili powder.

Instructions

Combine salad dressing ingredients well. Taste and add more of desired ingredients. Toss with spinach, tortilla strips, jicama, and onion. Serve Immediately.

Next up Margarita shrimp. Don’t worry if you aren’t of age, the alcohol cooks off just leaving delicious flavor. Combined with two of my favorite things ever (cilantro and lime) this shrimp is light and tasty.

Margarita Shrimp

Ingredients:

Medium sized raw shrimp, peeled with veins removed and tails still on

Butter

Cilantro, cleaned and shopped

Fresh Limes

Tequila

Instructions:

In a medium skilled, melt about one tablespoon of butter. Add about 10-12 shrimp. When shrimp are pink and almost completely cooked through, pour in a couple of table spoons tequila. Tilt skilled towards flame. If this doesn’t work or you do not have a gas stove, light with lighter. At this point, the pain should flame up a decent amount. Shake the pain as this is happening, the alcohol will burn out and the flame will go out quickly. Add this point, toss into the pan a small handful of cilantro and squeeze in the juice of half a lime. Toss to coat shrimp. Make sure shrimp is cooked through, remove from pan and serve. Repeat process with remaining shrimp.

The cilantro has not been added at this point, some just remains in the pain from the previous batch

You can sort of see a tiny flame in this picture, it should definitely get way bigger than this.

Cilantro and lime are added

Shrimp is ready to eat!

Dinner is served.

Not too shabby, eh? Serve up some limeade or even a Margarita and you’ve got yourself a nice summer evening.

What is your favorite type of cuisine?

I’ve definitely been loving using some Mexican flavors. Espically during summer, I like to use them in a fresher, lighter way than traditional Mexican cuisine (not that that isn’t delicious too).

Just a Dinner

I’ve spent the last 12 days enjoying Christmas break by spending time in Colorado. Snowmobiling, sledding, hiking, skiing, cooking and, most importantly, spending time with family has occupied much of my time.

Homemade pasta for Christmas Eve Dinner

Sunset as Thunder Mountain

 Yesterday morning my grandmother, aunt, uncle and two cousins departed leaving only my immediate family here. My oldest sister, Sara, and I decided that a gourmet home cooked meal was in order. After debate and planning, a menu was set.

Appetizer: Stuffed Mushrooms

Soup: Japanese Pumpkin, Vanilla, and Garlic Soup

Salad: Baby Spinach, goat cheese, pom seeds, pears and a citrus vinaigrette

Entrée: Cider brined pork tenderloin with rosemary roasted potatoes

Dessert: Chocolate mouse with espresso whip cream and raspberries

 Portobello mushrooms stuffed, baked and cut into triangles

based off of this recipe

The table was set and it was time for the real food to begin….

Japanese Pumpkin, Vanilla and Garlic Soup

Last Friday, we actually went out for a nice dinner to celebrate my sister Katherine’s graduation. The restaurant served this soup and luckily for you and me, they featured the recipe on their website. There was no kabocha squash at the grocery store here so I used acorn. The soup ended up being pretty thick so we thinned with some chicken broth during the final step (part of this might have been because I used an immersion blender to blend the squash so I didn’t add any water then). It was a delicious and flavorful soup!

Main dish

 Cider Brined Pork Tenderloin with Dijon Brown Sugar Glaze

Ina Garten’s Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Salad with spinach, pom arils, goat cheese, pears and a random dressing of orange juice concentrate (leftover from pork brine), olive oil, red wine vinegar, drizzle of honey, rosemary, dry mustard, salt, pepper, etc….just threw stuff in until it tasted good!

The meal ended with a delicious chocolate mousse. Yum!

Although I’d recommend serving much smaller portions of it than we did….so rich!

 Overall, a delicious dinner!! I highly recommend all of these recipes. I seriously love planning, preparing, and eating fancy meals! I especially love plating the food and setting the table to make it look nice! I seriously can’t wait to be married and have other couples over for dinner parties. Is that weird?

I’m so normal. Weeeeee

The only thing I don’t like is doing dishes and cleaning up. I’ll cook, you do the dishes. Sound like a plan?

What’s your favorite thing to do when you have free time?

I love cooking nice meals. I also love playing games. Quelf, Catch Phrase, spades, Last Word, and Bananagrams are just a few of my favorites!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this holiday season?

The chocolate mouse above definitely ranks high on my list!

Vegan Week Summary + Trader Joe’s

Hello!!

Just wanted to check in and report to you about my 5 days of being vegan. Sorry for the minimal posting; my sister flew in Saturday and we spent the weekend camping and white water rafting and I’m now getting ready to head back to Texas.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, last Monday-Friday I decided to go vegan. I thoroughly enjoyed my short run with veganism. Before the week began, I decided that I was not going to be using any substitutes. No tofu, or vegan cream “cheese” or anything like that for me. I understand the use of these things for long-term vegans, but I knew I could live without them for 5 days. I did use some almond milk and made muffins with soymilk, but I don’t really count that since I always use almond milk.

The week went great! I loved trying new foods and never missed meat or dairy. I don’t think 5 days is enough to totally change the way I feel or for me to fully experience veganism, but I did feel good. I did find myself a little hungrier during the day, but I would just have a little snack and that fixed that. Of course, I probably wouldn’t have had that problem except that I’m a total carb girl. Sure, I could have had beans or nuts or whatever, but I’d much rather have fruit or bread or something.

I always felt surprisingly full after dinner. Three nights starred Momma Pea’s recipes. Noodle Salad with Peanut Mmm Sauce started the week on a good note and made me realize the challenge wouldn’t be too hard. The next night we had black bean burgers.  

I loved these and will definitely be making them again. I always love a good black bean burger. Wednesday we had Red Lentil Enchiladas sans cheese/”cheese” and topped with guacamole. Avocado is better than cheese anyway, right?

I’m glad I went vegan as it totally got me to experiment and try new things while eating nutritiously. I may even consider going vegan for a longer period of time (lent???). If I felt it was necessary, I do think I could be totally vegan, but I’ve mentioned before why I’m ethically okay with eating meat. I do think eating away from home, whether a restaurant or another person’s house, could pose a challenge. Anyone who is a long-term vegan/vegetarian have any tips for doing so?

Source

Totally changing subjects, but I’m going to Trader Joes’s in Sante Fe on Wednesday. I’ve never been before so I’m pretty excited as I know many of you love it and I have heard many of y’all talk about great products you get there.

If you are an omniovore, would you ever consider going vegan for a while?

If you’re a vegan/vegetarian, do you have any tips for maintaining your diet in social situations? How often do you use vegan substitutes for non-vegan food (Daiya cheese, fak’n bacon, etc.)?

EVERYONE: What is your favorite thing from Trader Joe’s? What should I get while I’m there? Any good car snacks?

Blog Updates

Happy Monday!

I just wanted to stop in and let you know that I added a Blog Roll. I also updated my About Me tab and added an Important Posts tab. Be sure to check it all out!!

Also, I have a question for y’all. I’m thinking about going vegan for a week sometime this summer and I was just wondering, What is your favorite vegan dinner? (feel free to leave breakfast, lunch, and dessert suggestions too, but I am specifically looking for dinner ideas).

Overflowing Portabellos, either made with Daiya or no cheese is one of mine!

 

Thanks!!

~Ann Claire

Summer Plans: an explanatory and personal post

I’ve been out of school for a week and a half now so I thought it might be fun to discuss my summer plans with you. This Thursday through Sunday I will be helping with a retreat (I was a retreatant on this retreat last year, you may recall). After the retreat is over I will be heading to Colorado for two months. Why will I be spending such a long time in Colorado, you ask?

Texas is way too ridiculously hot!

Colorado is awesome!

Mountains are beautiful!

In CO when you hang your towel up to dry after showering it’s actually dry the next time you come back (darn you Texas humidity!)

My kitchen in Colorado is way better than my current kitchen!

White water rafting in CO sounds like so much fun!

Did I  mention Texas is hot?

And humid?

While all the above are true, none are the reason why I’m going to be spending the majority of my summer in Colorado. To explain I’ll have to tell you about something I’ve been putting off telling you since September. Why? I’m not sure. I just never mentioned it. I’ve taken several trips to Colorado lately, most of which I’ve neglected to mention to you. Please forgive me for neglecting to share such a big occurrence in my life (I’ll post a delicious recipe tomorrow to make up for it).

You see, in August 2010, my dad accepted a position working at a hospital in Western Colorado. My parents decided it would be best for our family to have me finish high school in Texas. My mom travels back and forth between Texas and Colorado. In January, my sister who is 6 years older than me and graduated college in December ’09 accepted a job as a wedding planner back home. Having my sister here has been great since that way my mom can leave and I’m not by myself. In February, we sold our house and moved into an apartment (we had already bought a house in CO).

The situation hasn’t been perfect. I know it makes my dad sad when he can’t be with the rest of our family. And of course I miss him dearly. I have even felt guilty that my parents are sacrificing so much for me so that I can finish high-school at my current school. But, I know that it was the right decision for our family.

So, come Sunday afternoon, my mother and I will be heading up to Colorado and I will be spending the remainder of the summer there. Don’t worry though, I have big plans for blogging from CO! In fact, many of my favorite kitchen gadgets have been moved there and I love the kitchen there and I have about a million recipes book marked. It shall be a fun summer!

What are your summer plans? What is your favorite summer recipe?