Friday, April 29, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Means Easy Guacamole ♥

I promised you my easy, fresh and delicious guacamole in time for Cinco de Mayo.

Here's what you need:
4 ripe avocados, cut and scooped out of the skin
(Save the avocado pits for later)
1 medium tomato, cut into pieces
1/2 of a medium white onion, chopped
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
This is so easy and fresh it will add to any chips, tacos or Mexican dishes you have planned.

First, put avocados, tomato and onion in a medium sized mixing bowl. 
Then add salt and pepper to taste. I used about 1 1/2 tspns of salt and 1/2 tspn of pepper.
Squeeze the juice of a whole lemon into the bowl and stir well.
When you are finished, place the avocado pits into the guacamole.
This helps the guacamole to stay fresher longer, rather than browning quickly.

Now, go and enjoy so tortilla chips, tacos or quesadilla with this super easy,
fresh, tasty guacamole.  Simple and fresh - that's what I love about it.
Have a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

Waiting for our puppy...

Ours is the one in the middle with the dark brown patch
around her eye... 

Our story will follow...six weeks and she will be with us.
Coco is waiting to have a little sister.  ♥ 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Here's How to make Easy Spanish Rice

I had never made Spanish rice (also known as Mexican rice) until yesterday.
And guess what? It is super easy to do!
Here's what you need:
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or stock
1 - 15 oz. can cut tomatoes
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 raw onion, chopped
2 tbsps Cooking oil
(Prep time 5 mins., Cook time 30 mins)

Step one: Preheat oil in skillet, then add uncooked rice, onion and garlic.
 I use extra virgin olive oil, but use what you prefer.

 Step 2:  Stirring frequently, allow rice to brown a bit and onion to soften a little, about 3-5 mins.
Step 3: Add chicken broth and can of cut tomatoes, and increase 
heat to bring liquids to a boil.

Remember yesterday, when I make my chicken tacos, I saved the excess liquid from the chicken?  I used that instead of chicken broth for a little extra flavor!

I used First Street tomatoes from Smart & Final in my Spanish rice.  
Here's how your dish should look so far:

Yeah, you can see the steam coming up on my camera lens, huh?  

Step four: Once it comes to a boil, then you want to turn it down to very low heat and simmer for about twenty mins.

Step 5: Remove from heat and let dish stand for about ten mins.  Any excess liquid should absorb as the dish stands.
I can't believe it! I did it!  I made Spanish rice!  And you can see how easy it was.

I added some sweet golden corn to my dish and drizzled on a little salsa.
Of course, I had it with my Chicken tacos, muy delicioso! (OMG, it was so delicious!!!)

Hope you will let me know how it turns out for you!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Chicken es Delicioso ♥

I love Mexican foodSo when Smart & Final asked me to if I would make a recipe for Cinco de Mayo using their First Street brand products, I said "Si, si, si."
(For all you gringos out there, that means YES!!! )

So off I went to shop at my Santa Barbara Smart & Final.
Here's all you need to make my yummy mild South-Western style chicken tacos.   And shop Smart & Final next week to get the 2 main ingredients on sale!

First Street Whole Chicken 
Sold in a Twin Pack, Grade A, Limit 4 @ $ .79 PER LB.
Guerrero Corn Tortillas
80 CT., Just $1.99
Anaheim Chilis
Minced Garlic
8 ounce can tomato sauce

Prep time (which includes backing chicken and dicing veggies), one hour.
Cooking time, one hour.

 First, I cut up the chicken into pieces.  Well, I didn't do it, actually, Mike did.

Mike tells me he has known how to cut up a chicken since he was eight.  Apparently, back in the olden days, you could only buy whole chickens.  If you wanted them cut up, you had to pay the butcher extra to do it.  So his mom taught him how.

By the time I was eight, you could get a family pack of chicken legs.  Needless to say, my mom never had to teach me how to cut up a chicken.

Anyhow, I pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees.  
I sprinkled a little salt and pepper on the chicken and baked it in the oven for
about 50 minutes.  

If you prefer, you can cook the chicken whole (remember to remove the giblets), but increase your cooking time to 75 to 90 minutes.  Be sure the internal temperature of the bird reads on a meat thermometer at 175 to 180 degrees.

Now, I removed the bones from the chicken and cut it into small (think "bite-sized") pieces.
I set the chicken aside. 

In a large pot, I heated about 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat.

Next I cut up about 3 small to medium onions into nice pieces about 1/2' to an inch in size.  I like white or brown onions for this, but you could use red ones if you like.
I also cut up one Anaheim (mild green) chili into smaller pieces like about 1/4 to 1/2".

I added the onions and pepper to the oil, and also added 2 heaping tablespoons of fresh minced garlic.  (I LOVE GARLIC!!)  I let those simmer for about 6 to 8 minutes, then added the chicken to the pot.  

I sprinkled in 1/4 tsp of pepper and 1/2 tsp of salt in there, and stirred in the can of tomato sauce and 1/3 cup of water.  I brought that to a boil, then reduced the heat and let it simmer for about 45 minutes.  Man, it smells so good!!

FYI: I used El Pato Mexican style tomato sauce

It says it contains tomato puree, salt, garlic and "spices"...not too specific, but it smells yummy and spicy and that's what I was looking for...Thanks to Mike for the suggestion.

Once the chicken was done simmering and those onions got nice and soft, I drained off the excess liquid and set it aside. ( I will tell you how I use that liquid in my Spanish rice tomorrow.)

I spooned the mixture into warm corn tortillas and sprinkled on a little cheese and salsa. YUM!

Hint: When using warmed corn tortillas, use two per taco.  If you fry them, you only need one.

The great thing about this dish is that it is versatile.  You can put it in big burrito size flour tortillas for a delicious burrito or pile it high on some tortilla chips for deluxe nachos.  I have even thrown it on a bed of fresh greens with tomatos and cilantro for a warm chicken salad with salsa.

Be creative and you can customize this tasty mild chicken dish whatever you want it to be!

Now I'm gonna go eat! ♥

Please note:  This writer has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Do I actually have fans?

So today, my friend Traci (Traci'sMixedBag) writes on my Facebook wall :
          "WE WANT A NEW BLOG POST! *crowd chanting* ;-) I miss them. I know you were sick, I hope you're feeling better."
 Can I just say "Wow"? I didn't really realize that people noticed.  You know, when people are busy, and doing there own thing and all...I just didn't think it mattered.
 I have had some personal stuff going on, and just let the blog go.  I realize that when things happen, sometimes it is better to write, even if it isn't about your troubles...But I just wasn't feeling it. 
So,  I am officialy getting my shit together and rejoining the human race.  Well, I wasn't totally out. After all, I was still working my ass off and taking care of business, generally speaking.  But you know, sometimes in life, shit happens with family and such, and one struggles.
 I have a family member who is having a tough time making the right choices in life and there is nothing I can do about it.  So I just have to pray and "turn it over" and do the best I can to know?
Meanwhile....we have some news.
Mike and Coco and I are going to be adding to our little family! 
I know, you are thinking, Gina, seriously??  Well we are awaiting the arrival of a new puppy.  Mike has been dying to get a dog that he can make his backpacking/camping buddy, and has his sights set on a Queensland Heeler, also known as an Australian Cattle Dog.
Mike has his heart on a Blue Heeler, which looks like this:
I know, seriously, how effing cute is that?  They are energetic, loyal and really friggin' beautiful.  We are waiting like expectant parents for a puppy and will probably be taking a weekend adventure about four hours away in 8 weeks or so.
Aye, yi yi....right?  Now mind you, I have made it clear that this is Mike's dog.  He wanted this partner, and will be responsible for training and all that good stuff.
The beautiful thing about this is that Coco is now officially MY dog.  Well, in 8 weeks or so. 
So, we do have good things going on...And big changes.  A puppy is gong to be a challenge.  We adopted Coco .
And without further ado, I have to step away from the computer to make a big pot of chili and a pan of cornbread.  Yeah, you know you wish you were here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday

I miss my home town frozen yogurt place, The Yogurt Mill

If you are from my home town of El Cajon, California, you know this place.
Tons of amazing flavors, generous portions, and fond memories...♥

And if you are as old as I, then you remember that it used to be another business called 
"The Leaning Tower of Pizza".

Oh, how I love strolling down memory lane...♥

(All pictures courtesy of The Yogurt Mill)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Drizzly Day, Spicy Night

It's been drizzling all day today.  So gloomy.  
So I thought,  why not spice it up?

I just cleaned out the fridge. Boy, there were some leftovers in there that just had to go.
Here's what I found in there that's going into tonight's meal.  And remember, tonight, I am cooking for one (with a few tidbits for sweet little Coco):

Chicken breast
Red onion
Grape tomatoes
Asiago/Mild cheddar cheese, grated

Honestly, I have been waiting all week to use the Smart & Final First Street corn.  Call me crazy, but that's the honest truth.  My boyfriend, Mike, does not like corn much.  So what better time than now to use it in abundance?  He is gone for the weekend, he he he.

Okay, so I heated a little E.V.O.O. in a skillet and added the chicken cut into bite-sized pieces. Cook on medium heat and once it turned white, I added garlic, corn and tomatoes, cut in half.

 I probably added more corn than you would I added a bit of Cavender's and let the entire mixture simmer on medium to low heat

Meanwhile, Coco is dancing at my feet, wanting a taste.
I put the lettuce and red onion garnish on a plate with some guacamole and salsa, while 2 tortillas warmed in the microwave.  I spooned the chicken, corn, tomato, garlic mixture into the tortillas, and sprinkled with the cheese.

The whole process took less than fifteen minutes, and it was delicious.  I love the combination of sweet corn, tangy grape tomatoes and garlic.  Ooooh, Mike missed a really great meal!

For a low-carb/low fat alternative, you can skip the tortillas, cheese and guacamole.  Instead, throw the chicken, corn, tomatoes and garlic onto a bed of lettuce and garnish with red onion and salsa.  Or it would be delicious with a side of your favorite rice dish.
Coco and I are stuffed.  Now we are going to sit down and watch some "arresting television" - Cops and America's Most Wanted.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Night Special

So if you read my last few posts, you know that this is my weekend alone.
I worked until 7 p.m. and then in was off to Vons to pick up a few essentials for dinner.  I was inspired by The Misadventures of Mrs. B.

Grape tomatoes 
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Small jar of garlic (from the produce department, about 99 cents)
Fresh Basil 
Pasta of your choice
Seasoning to taste (I used oregano, Cavender's seasoning, ground black pepper)
Safeway Select Garlic Toast (or your favorite garlic bread) 

I got the pasta from the refrigerator section of the grocery store- I chose linguini - The fresh pasta only takes 3 to 4 minutes to cook.  As the water came to a boil, I sauteed the grape tomatoes in a little E.V.O.O. with a few heaping tablespoons of fresh garlic (I love garlic!)

When I dropped the pasta into the boiling water, I popped a few slices of garlic toast into a preheated oven.  In four minutes, everything would be ready.  (I love when I have the whole kitchen to myself!)  I added some Cavender's seasoning and oregano to the tomato/garlic mixture, and stirred in an 8-ounce can of First Street Tomato Sauce. Thank you, Smart & Final!

I added some torn leaves of fresh basil just before serving and...Abbondanza!! 
Add cheese if you like.  I added shredded Italian blend (parmesan, mozzarella and asiago cheeses)...And here's how it looked.
And I can tell you, it tasted magnificent.  I know I had it built up in my mind, and it lived up to all my expectations...Yummo!!

I spent my evening watching TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress" and I am DVR'ing some Adult Swim Favorites for after the computer shuts down (King of the Hill and Family Guy).  And sweet little Coco is already under the covers waiting for me.  

So I'm off to join her.  And I have to say, that I really enjoyed my dinner.
And I really miss Mike.
Yes, already. ♥


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