Monday, May 20, 2013
Since I've dedicated a whole month to Mexican food, you've probably figured out that I love it. I think one of the reasons I am so enamored of Mexican food is the toppings factor. I can really get on board with a cuisine that has so many tempting ways to dress up delicious food. Salsas, sauces, sour cream, thinly shredded lettuce, chunks of juicy tomato, salty cheese, a squirt of lime. And the king of condiments, guacamole! Good guacamole is a beautiful thing. It has a fresh, green color and the mild, creamy flavor to match. You can use it as a topping for your favorite burrito or quesadilla (which is exactly what I did after taking these pictures), or you can cozy up to a big bag of chips and just dig in!
I'm not super picky when it comes to guacamole; as long as the avocados are fresh and you go easy on the spices, I'm a happy girl. But my absolute favorite way to make it takes less than 5 minutes and only calls for 4 ingredients: avocados, lime, garlic salt, and pepper. That's it! It's so fast and so fresh and so delicious that I don't know why I ever bother to make guacamole any other way. But just in case you like it chunky, I've included a few optional ingredients below that add to the flavor without adding to the fuss.
Friday, May 17, 2013
When I was in college, a restaurant named Tucanos opened up in town. It was kind of a big deal. It was the kind of place that was expensive for college students, didn't take reservations, and made you wait for ridiculous amounts of time before you could be seated. When your parents came to town for Homecoming weekend or graduation, of course you made them take you (and your very luckiest friends) out to dinner there, and if a boy took you to Tucanos on a date, you knew he was really trying to impress you. They served what seemed like a million different kinds of delicious grilled meats on dangerously long skewers, and little carafes of this intoxicating brazilian lemonade. It was sweet and tart and creamy and refreshing--delicious enough to make those hefty prices, long waits, and awkward first dates worth it.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
clockwise from top left: adorable cows; bossy Lavender Orpingtons; pretty eggs for sale; Spring is here!; baby boy meets baby pigs; jumping in the sprinklers; stripes this year instead of polka dots; a bumper crop of carrots; the sweetest little piggy (center photo)
Monday, May 13, 2013
Isn't it strange how Mexican restaurants all over the country consistently make delicious spanish rice, and yet we lay-folk who try to make it at home can't ever seem to get it right? Over the years, I've tried lots of different recipes for this popular side dish--rice with salsa stirred in, rice with cilantro and green enchilada sauce stirred in, rice from a rice-a-roni box--but they always turn out really wet and gloopy, and not at all like restaurant rice. I'm usually the only one who eats these sticky concoctions, and that's mostly out of a sense of duty to myself. But hallelujah the search is over! It's all blue skies and sunshine and dry, fluffy rice speckled with bits of tomato and cilantro from here on out because I have found a winner!
The secret's in the starch--or rather, the lack of starch. By rinsing the rice in cold water, you wash away all of that lovely, potentially sticky starch, and you get nice fluffy rice just like the restaurants make. I've made this recipe lots of times since I discovered it at the beginning of the year, and it's a hit every time. I made it for our big family Cinco de Mayo dinner a few weekends ago, and the rice was the star of the show. I would have cried tears of joy if I hadn't been so busy helping myself to another serving of rice.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Are you in the same boat as me? Between Earth Day, Cinco de Mayo, and Teacher Appreciation Week, did Mother's Day sort of sneak up on you? Never fear! Thanks to creative and talented souls all over the blogosphere, there are plenty of beautiful Mother's Day cards, prints, gift tags, and more that you can print up at home in a pinch. Some of my favorites...
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
"When we moved into our last apartment, a dear friend brought us these Jonathan Adler salt and pepper shakers as a housewarming gift. We fell in love with them and wanted to use them right away, but we had a better idea--we hid them away until our wedding day and used them as our cake toppers! It was so lovely to include our friend's gift that way, and now we get a daily reminder of not just him, but the day we got married. Salt and pepper were never so sweet.
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Monday, May 6, 2013
We moved around a lot when I was little because my dad was in the Army, but the summer before third grade, we moved to Las Vegas, where we lived in the same house until I was in college. For the longest time, we lived around the corner from the Olson family, who had daughters almost exactly the same ages as me and two of my little sisters. We didn't go to the same schools, so weekends and summer vacations were especially exciting because we got to hang out with them a lot. They had a beautiful backyard with a big pool and a pink and white plastic playhouse, and their fridge was always stocked with New York Seltzers, which were the very height of sophistication to my 8 year-old mind. We always dreamed of cutting a big whole in the cinderblock wall separating our backyards so that we could go back and forth between houses more easily. And oh, the funny childhood stories I could tell you about us and the Olson girls! They're better told in person.
I haven't seen any of the Olsons in years, but very deeply etched in my memory is a meal Mrs. Olson made for my family when they invited us over to their lush backyard for a bbq not long after we moved to the neighborhood. We had honey dijon ranch-marinated grilled chicken, blueberry crisp for dessert, and this delicious cheese and avocado dip that my family has been making ever since. Whenever we get together for Mexican food, which is actually pretty often, someone insists on making it. And after one bite, it's no surprise why. It has the most wonderful, fresh flavor, with ingredients that complement each other in fantastic ways. Tangy cheddar and mild mozzarella; subtle, creamy avocado and sharp, piquant red onion. I've never had anything else like it, and I'm forever indebted to Mrs. Olson for introducing it to us way back when.