Our Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

I am in love with Mexican food. We must eat it at least once every two weeks.  Nothing beats the flavors, the comfort, the cheese.  In fact, I’ve often said that I’ve failed my Caribbean roots because if you ask Giggles what her favorite food, she’ll say “tacos!” without hesitation.

So when Cinco de Mayo rolls around, I am all too happy to indulge in a Mexican feast.  The holiday coincides with Hubby’s birthday (he’s May 7th), so he ends up having Mexican-themed birthday celebrations. Olé!

Another reason that I love preparing (and eating) Mexican food is because it’s so easy to do! Here’s what we’ll be noshing on tomorrow:

Recipe courtesy of Williams Sonoma

Raspberry-Mint Agua Fresca

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 22 raspberries
  • 22 fresh mint leaves, plus 4 sprigs for garnish
  • Ice cubes as needed
Directions:
Select 4 tumblers. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the sugar and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the sugar syrup from the heat and let cool. 

In a blender, combine 18 of the raspberries, the mint leaves and the sugar syrup and process until a smooth puree forms. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher. You should have about 2/3 cup. Add 1 1/3 cups water.

Fill the glasses with ice and divide the raspberry mixture among the glasses. Garnish with mint sprigs and the remaining raspberries speared on a cocktail pick. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

 

 

Recipe Courtesy of Southern Living

Grilled Cheesy Corn

Ingredients:

  • Ears of fresh corn
  • Salt
  • Melted butter
  • Chili powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • Grated Cotija or Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh lime wedges

Directions:

  • Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat. Pull back husks from ears of fresh corn; remove and discard silks. Tie husks together with kitchen string to form a handle. Soak in cold salted water to cover 10 minutes; drain. Grill corn, covered with grill lid, 15 minutes or until golden brown, turning occasionally. Remove from grill. Brush corn with melted butter; sprinkle with salt, chili powder, smoked paprika, and grated Cotija or Parmesan cheese. Serve with fresh lime wedges.

 


Recipe Courtesy of Food Network

 


Rachael’s Super Nachos
Ingredients

  • 2 bags corn tortilla chips in 2 colors or different flavors, such as blue corn, red corn, yellow corn, lime flavored, chili flavored or black bean chips — pick 2 favorites

Pico de Gallo Salsa:

  • 4 vine ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped, for medium to hot heat level
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup, 2 handfuls, cilantro leaves, finely chopped — substitute parsley if cilantro is not to your liking
  • Salt

Beef and Beans Topping:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dark chili powder
  • 1 1/2 ground cumin, half a palmful
  • 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper sauce, giving you medium to hot heat level
  • 1 can black beans, 15 ounces, drained

Cheese Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 pound pepper jack cheese, shredded, about 2 1/2 cups

Additional toppings to choose from, optional:

  • Sour cream
  • Chopped scallions
  • Chopped black olives
  • Diced pimento
  • Sliced avocado, dressed with lemon juice
  • Hot pepper sauces

Directions

Arrange a mixture of 2 varieties of corn chips on a very large platter or use your broiler pan as a platter.

Combine salsa ingredients in a bowl and set aside for flavors to marry.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add oil, garlic, onion and peppers to the pan and saute 2 minutes, then add meat and crumble with wooden spoon. Season meat with salt, chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper sauce. Cook meat 5 minutes, then stir in beans and reduce heat to low.

In a medium sauce pot, melt butter and add flour to it. Cook flour and butter 1 to 2 minutes over moderate heat, then whisk in milk. When milk comes to a bubble, stir in cheese with a wooden spoon. Remove cheese sauce from the heat.

Pour cheese sauce evenly over the massive spread of chips and top evenly with beef and beans and the pico de gallo. UBER NACHOS! Serve immediately as is or, garnish with your choice of extra toppings from the toppings list.

And then, if I’m feeling ambitious, we’ll give these bunuelos a try.

Party on!

Filed under Cinco de Mayo, Entertaining, Fiesta, Quickie Meals, Ready Set Eat, recipes, Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

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The Most Excited Student

I just got a special delivery of cookbooks from my friends at Everywhere as a thank you gift.  I’m already a fan of cookbooks, but my excitement level shot through the roof when I opened the envelope to find this big (4.36 lbs!), beautiful cooking bible in front of me:

500 photo-filled, glossy pages of lessons, recipes and techniques from Miss Martha herself.  In this book, she promises to teach the home cook a core set of cooking skills and techniques by providing guidance on the fundamentals on how to cook, rather than just what to cook.

I think I shall make this my summer project.

Filed under Cookbook Collection, I Got Mad Skillz, Martha Stewart, Something New, yo that's dope | 19 Comments »

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Vosges Haut Chocolate ~ Spring 2011 Collection

One look at these Easter chocolates from Vosges and I was a goner.  I am already a fan of gourmet candies, but these are divine.

I was sent two of the products to sample and let me tell you, they were too beautiful to eat. Well, almost.  I indulged in the Orchid Vanilla Bunny – 2.5 ounces of solid 62% dark chocolate confection flavored with Tahitian vanilla bean.  And here’s a sweet touch: if you rub the bunny’s ear, a floral perfume will be released.  I just can’t wait to give my Mom a gift of the Chocolate Eggs on Easter; decadent, gorgeous and delicious – a perfect gift!

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BlogHer Food’11!

I'm Speaking!
Next month, I’ll be at BlogHer Food in Atlanta! Besides looking forward to meeting tons of fellow foodies and to hear the latest about food blogging trends, I will also be presenting a session called:

Fast, Healthy, Family-friendly: Not the Oxymoron You Might Think!
Delicious dinners and “family friendly” need not be mutually exclusive. This session will provide tips on how the family cook can serve up quality food, even on a tight schedule. Bust out of your rut. FOOD”e” Justice Fergie will lead a discussion and brainstorm around how to: Shop and Stock the Pantry for Success, Meal Planning, Creative School Lunch Ideas, and even the joys of Bringing Back Sunday Dinner.

Can’t wait!  Check out the entire agenda here.

Filed under Droppin' Knowledge, Events, Healthy Eating, In My Pantry, jet setting, Quickie Meals, social media, wannabe foodie, yo that's dope | 14 Comments »

Sangria and Tapas and Girlfriends, Oh My!

This post is loooong overdue.  {Story of my life.}  Back in February, my buddy Twofer Mom organized a casual blogger tweetup at Jaleo in Bethesda.  It was a fun night out with the bloggy girls. I yakked it up with Jodifur and JessicaNow and Elena and Janine and Joanne and made a new friend in Liza.  The food was amazing (and the sangria even better).  I am proud to say that we were double-fisting in that joint, heh heh.

Head Chef Paul Yeck came out to say hello and indulged us with a few pics.  He was a sweetheart and educated us clueless Americans on the nuances of Spanish cuisine.

And if you’re looking for a good happy hour in the D.C. area? Jaleo is a sure thing.

Filed under Chefspotting, Events, Food Meets Social Media, Uncategorized | 20 Comments »

Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers

Image Credit: StolenMomentsCooking.com

 

I confess. I totally made this one up. (I thought I was so original – as it turns out, I wasn’t – but I was still proud!) But it came out really great!! I came home form work and had to come up with a quick dinner because, as usual, Giggles was “SO STARVING MOMMY!” A quick scan of the refrigerator showed that we had a defrosted package of ground turkey (score!) and my crisper produced a fresh red bell pepper. So I got to thinking…

With the help of my precious Joy of Cooking cookbook, within 45 minutes I had a scrumptious casserole on the table.  Here what I did:

Ingredients:

1lb ground beef or turkey
2 packages Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice
1 small onion (diced)
1 small bell pepper (diced)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 smashed clove of garlic
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 egg (I used 1/4 cup of Egg Beaters since we were out of eggs)
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 cup shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend)
Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Prepare rice according to package directions.  Sautee onion, pepper and garlic in a skillet.  Add the meat; brown and drain fat if necessary. Add rice, basil, thyme, Worcestershire, and egg. Stir to combine. Add meat mixture to casserole dish; top with cheese and breadcrumbs.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25 mins.

I served it with a salad. Everyone loved it!

Filed under Cookbook Collection, In My Pantry, recipes, somethin's cookin', Something New, Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

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This Week’s New Recipes

Staying in line with my newfound committment to healthy eating, I tried out two new recipes from the Ready, Set, Eat! site:

Sweet Orange Glazed Salmon

The salmon came out great. I ate with Uncle Ben’s Brown Rice and an easy side salad. Here is my review of the dish from RSE:

Loved this recipe! I’m always looking for new ways to prepare salmon since it seems like the only fish we get here in the Mid-Atlantic! It was so easy to make. I actually didn’t have Sweet and Sour sauce on hand, so I made some from scratch. Even with that hiccup, it was smooth sailing. My salmon was delicious and I ate it with brown rice and garlicky green beans. I will definitely make it again.

 

Then, for breakfast the next day, I tried these wraps:

Peanut Butter Apple Wraps

They were SO easy to make and surprisingly delicious.  This is definitely going into my breakfast recipe-rotation.

 

*Disclosure: I am a compensated member of the ReadySetEat Shared Tastes Panel.

Filed under ConAgra Foods, Mediterranean, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

New Weight Watchers Ice Cream Products

My name is Fergie and I am an ice cream addict.  Really, it’s true! If given the choice between cakes and cookies or ice cream, i will go ice cream every time.  But such a habit does not do well for a gal who needs to be watching her figure.  Enter Weight Watchers Ice Cream.  I was already a die-hard fan of their Ice Cream Candy Bars, and now Weight Watchers Ice Cream has six new products – and four of them are 100 calories or less!  Here are the new flavors:

  • Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Dessert Bar: Low fat strawberry ice cream with a strawberry swirl dipped in milk chocolate
  • Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Dessert Bar: Low fat cheesecake ice cream with a raspberry swirl dipped in dark chocolate
  • Dark Chocolate Dulcé de Leche Dessert Bar: Low fat dulcé de leche ice cream with a caramel swirl dipped in dark chocolate
  • Strawberry Fruit Bar: Made with real fruit and an excellent source of vitamin C with 15% fewer calories and 30% less sugar than other national leading brands of fruit bars
  • Snack Size Chocolate Fudge Bar: The award-winning Chocolate Fudge Bar now in a snack size
  • Snack Size Variety Pack of Ice Cream Sandwiches in Vanilla Bean and Dutch Chocolate: Snack size versions of the classic dessert

I am delighted to say that I’ve tried them all and they are each delicious.  I like my ice cream to be extra firm and quickly found out that I needed to keep these treats in an very cold freezer to get them to the consistency I like (i.e. a cement block).  They make a great dessert at the end of my long days and I look forward to curling up in bed with my Weight Watchers Ice Cream.  The fact that I can enjoy it guilt-free is SUCH a bonus.

*Disclosure: I was given product samples to enjoy for this review.

Filed under Healthy Eating, reviews, Uncategorized, Weight Watchers | 13 Comments »

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Bagels and Lox

Image Credit: Party Resources

I’m trying a new diet and this morning’s breakfast called for a whole-wheat thin bagel, lowfat cream cheese, tomato slices and…lox.  I’m not a huge lox fan, but past experience has taught me that if I don’t eat protein for breakfast, the rest of my day is doomed.  So I decided to brave the mushy/slimy texture of the fish – tell myself that it was not in fact raw, as it seemed, and assemble my Dr. Oz-prescribed breakfast sandwich.

I was pleasantly surprised! The flavor of the salmon was mild and not “fishy” as I had expected. And it added a touch of salt which is my weakness.

Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks?

Filed under Quickie Meals, Something New | 11 Comments »

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Girltime + Brunch = Recipe for Good Times

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Camille hosted a pre-Valentine’s Day brunch to reunite our old book club group.  We began back in 2003 and called ourselves “Sisters With Books.” Get it? SWB? Ahem.  Anyway, over the years some of us moved to different cities or had kids and fell off the map (me) and we drifted apart.  I was beyond excited when I got Camille’s invite to her SWB Reunion Brunch! This group of ladies is so amazing.  Everyone has their ish together and is so supportive and genuine.  After a couple hours of catching up, I literally left her place feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.  Another brunch is definitely in store.

 

Camille’s beautiful tablescape.

 

A valentine at each place setting added an adorable touch.

Yum.

The SWB Gals (minus 3 who couldn’t make it!)

Filed under chillin' out maxin' relaxin' | No Comments »