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).

Monday Matters

1. My brief lack of blogging is because I spent the weekend (err Wednesday through Saturday) in Keystone. My dad has a conference there, the basic theme for the event was “making Colorado the healthiest state.” There were a few sessions about nutrition and my dad invited me to attend snuck me into one of them. I’ll be discussing it more in a future post.  Look forward to that soon!

2. We climbed our first fourteener on Saturday! The atlitude + rockiness + steep incline made this a tough hike, but we made it!

3. I totally lied to you the other day when I said something about 61 songs. It was an accident. The number is actually higher. STOP JUDGING ME.

4. I start school in 11 days. Nooooooooooo. Summer reading, College apps, SAT stuff, and service hour sheets will be occupying my week. It shall be lots of fun (what is this, opposite day??).

5. I’m going vegan for the week. Actually, 5 days. The thing that is making it most difficult is I’m refusing to use any substitutes. No margarine, tofu, or soy yogurt for me. I’m sure if I was a long-term vegan I would use those things on occasion (except for margarine, I would NEVER cheat on butter like that) but I figure I can go without them for 5 days. I will be making lots of Mama Pea recipes.

Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love

6. I head back to Texas a week from Wednesday. I’m going to die in the heat.

7. I have a super easy, tasty, healthy, breakfast to share with you.

Trail Tacos

Whole-wheat tortilla + natural pb + granola + honey + apple slices + cinnamon

Try ittttttttttt.

Seal with peanut butter (it help it stay closed!) and love.

Make ahead, store in the fridge, grab when you’re hungry.

Perfect thing to eat while climbing mountains, listening to teeny bopper music, or reading borrrring books.

Can you believe it’s August 1st???

Thankful Thursday : Turn That Frown Upside-Down (and cake!)

I’ve haven’t done Thankful Thursday in practically forever. I can’t believe I let it fall by the wayside for so long. It is long past time for it to be reinstituted. Only this week’s addition is a tad different. I like to call it Turn that Frown Upside-down.

All you have to do is take something negative and turn it into a positive. Take a complaint and turn it into an appreciation.

:( These Strawberry cherries don’t taste much like strawberries.

:) These strawberries cherries are delicious.

Source

:( I can’t believe summer ends in a month.

:) Senior year officially begins in a month!

:( I am so sore I can hardly move.

:) That was a great workout: I’m so glad I worked hard.

:( It’s so hot outside.

:) The Sun is shining; it’s a beautiful day!

:( This cake has so much butter and sugar.

:) This cake is soooo delicious and besides, Michael Polan says to eat as much junk food as you want….as  long as you make it yourself. (The logic is that you won’t take the time to make stuff  yourself very often; clearly he doesn’t know me.)

:( My sister made it.

:) We are of the same flesh and blood….did I mention the cake is delicious?

 

Mimi’s Cream Cheese Pound Cake

This decadent cake which has been in my family for years will be the star of an meal you serve it with. A small piece on ocassion can certainly be part of a nutritious and balanced lifestyle.

Ingredients:

3 sticks of butter

8oz cream cheese

3 cups sugar

6 eggs

3 cups flour

1 Tablespoon vanilla

Instructions:

Cream butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Add eggs and flour alternately. Mix in vanilla. Pour into a greased angel food(tube) pan*. Bake at 325 degrees for 90-120 minutes or until wooden stick interested comes out clean. Let cool and serve with homemade whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

*2 loaf pans may be used  in place of 1 angel food (tube) pan. If so, check cakes after one hour.

What is a frown in your life that you can turn upside down?

                                                                                                                                                              

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Dinner Tonight

 

The above was tonight’s dinner.

Marinated pork chops grilled on a soaked plank (seriously the most tender, flavorful, juicy pork chops I’ve ever had)

Prosciutto wrapped asparagus filled with farm fresh cheese (also plank grilled)

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Sooo delicious

And you know what?

I took no part in the planning or preparation of the meal.

I have awesome parents.

For realz.

Best thing you have eaten this weekend?

Summer BBQ Sauce

Today is the first official day of summer. Back in Texas, it has felt like summer since April. Here in Colorado (where I’m spending my summer), it actually is just starting to feel like summer. In the week that I’ve been here, most of it has been unusually cool. On our hike Sunday, it was 59 degrees. Today though, the sun is shining and it’s a nice 78 degrees. Perfect summer weather if you ask me. I don’t miss the 100+ degree weather of Texas.

To me, BBQ sauce just says summer. For you maybe it’s the feeling of sand between your toes or eating a popsicle on your back porch with the popsicle dripping on the ground due to the heat or maybe splashing in a pool. A warm plate of BBQ-ed meat (or veggies!) with the sun beating upon my back as I sip a glass of cool lemonade, that just says summer to me. Of course, not just any BBQ sauce will do.

Homemade barbecue sauce is 3,222 times better than store-bought.

I can’t explain why.

You’re just going to have to trust me.

Not So Basic Barbecue Sauce

Sweet and smoky, this sauce is perfect on ribs, pork, chicken, veggies, and just about anything you might put it on.

From the How to Grill cookbook by Steven Raichlen

2 cups ketchup

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons molasses

2 tablespoons prepared mustard

1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce ( I used this kind)

1 tablespoon of your favorite barbecue rub

2 teaspoons liquid smoke

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan and bring slowly to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and gently simmer the sauce until dark, thick and richly flavored, 10-15 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a clean jar and store in the refrigerator. It will keep for several months.

Mmm perfect summer barbecue sauce

Now I just need some lemonade and sun and my summer will be complete. I guess I should really put the sauce on something….besides a spoon :)

While I highly recommend you make homemade barbecue sauce, if you can’t, here’s a little tip for ya when serving store bought barbecue sauce: either allow the sauce to sit out until it reaches room temperature or heat in the microwave for a few seconds. Cold barbecue sauce is not a good thing.

What says summer to you?

BBQ or Barbecue?