Friday, October 31, 2008

Mexican Food in Charlotte, NC

We are in Charlotte, North Carolina for the weekend to take more culinary classes at Johnson & Wales. For an early dinner today, we were extremely delighted that we stumbled upon Taqueria Guadalajara. We had never heard of it, but just had a gut feeling passing it that we needed to stop. We are glad we did!

This is the food we wish we were served at more Mexican restaurants in the United States. This is the real deal. I enjoy Tex Mex food once in a while. But usually when I want Mexican food, this is what I want. It is so simple, yet it is fresh and made with care. A bonus was that nothing came from a can, everything was made from scratch.

Look at all the salsas and condiments were were provided with, in the above photo. We were automatically served four of them with a basket of chips: the tomatillo salsa (green), the salsa made from chiles (dark red), the pico de gallo (the minced veggies) and a tomato sauce. We were also automatically given the bowl of lime wedges. Lime wedges!! I know I am in Mexico when I don't have to ask for lime. I asked for the chopped onion and the chopped cilantro. And the guacamole was a side dish we ordered.

Above is another side dish we ordered. It is such a typical dish in Mexico, and we rarely have seen it served in the US. Cebollinas. Roasted green onions.

Look, tacos with no cheese! Blessed delicious tacos! Most tacos in Mexico don't have cheese. I wanted mine with pinto beans, a slice of avocado, minced onion, minced cilantro, and some freshly made salsa on a corn tortilla. Was this exact taco on the menu? No! All I had to do was ask for what I wanted. No eyebrows were raised. This is a very normal thing to do, at least for me!

These are bean enchiladas rojas. The are topped with Cotija cheese and some cream. DH ended up pushing aside the cream, since he wasn't expecting it. But they were very good, the enchilada sauce was excellent.

Apple Snack

I babysit a kinder gardener last week and he asked me to make this specific snack for him. I had never had this before, but I followed his very clear instructions. I am sure there must some cute name for this snack, like Ants on a Rock or something. But he didn't call it anything special. Anyway it was a delicious snack and I have since made it for myself at home!

It needs no recipe. Just slice and apple, spread on some peanut butter or other nut butter, and then press chocolate chips into the nut butter. They stay in place nicely! You could use raisins or other dried fruit instead of the chocolate chips. Or you could dip them into chopped nuts. Really, there are lots of possibilities. It's less sweet than caramel apples, which I really appreciate. Happy Halloween!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pumpkin Muffins

Hello! I know I have not been posting many recipes lately! I truly have been cooking, I just keep forgetting to blog! I have posted a recipe for Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins in the past, but here is another recipe. I like having choices! Pumpkin muffins are so delicious! They really help me feel like it is autumn, despite living in Florida and not having the spectacular seasonal colors like I used to experience when I lived in Michigan.

I like this recipe because it suggests topping the muffins with pepitas, pumpkin seeds. I think it makes them look very cute. Plus it makes it more obvious they are pumpkin muffins as opposed to carrot, etc.

The recipe was published in the Washington Post blog a few years ago and can be found at this link. But I will post the recipe showing my alterations. I tend to like my baked goods to be less sweet than traditional recipes. I found that honey worked beautifully with this recipe, complimenting the natural sweetness of pumpkin very nicely. They turned out splendidly moist.

Pumpkin Muffins, double batch (made about 16 small, would make at least 8 large)

2 cups all purpose flour (I didn't have white flour, so I used a mixture of whole wheat and oat flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
optional up to 1 teaspoon nutmeg
optional dash of ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup honey, plus a tablespoon or two if you want it sweeter
2 eggs
2/3 cup plain yogurt (i used Greek style, but any would work)
1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (I used homemade, but you could use canned)
optional: up to one cup raisins or walnuts or combo of other chopped nuts or dried fruit (I used about 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots)
optional garnish: raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease muffin tins including the tops. Optionally line with paper muffin cups.

1. Stir together the dry ingredients into one mixing bowl (the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt).
2. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and add the oil, honey, yogurt, vanilla and pumpkin puree. Stir until combined. Fold in the dry fruit or nuts.
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring and folding gently. Mix until just blended.
4. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling to the top. Garnish each with some pepitas, if desired.
5. Bake for about 25 minutes, testing the center with a toothpick. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan. Then remove them from the pan to finish cooling on cooling racks.
Posted by Picasa