Weekend fun

Our weekend was full of yard work, house cleaning, gardening (I pulled lots of green beans, tomatoes, onions, and some jalapeno and red peppers – enough to fill up a large colander), and bowling with friends. I have really enjoyed putting together mini flower arrangements in the house with things from our garden this summer – like nasturtium, marigolds, zinnias, hydrangea, coleus, and this purple basil in the photo below; not only does the purple basil look beautiful, it smells great too.

If you haven’t been to Chela’s in Ann Arbor and you’re looking for some tasty Mexican food, do yourself a favor and give this place a try – yum! Why are the Whole Foods cupcakes so good? I can’t resist them.

by Valerie | 08.26.13 | Around our home, Around town, For Funsies, Garden | No Comments »

not quite pozole soup

This is loosely based on the Mexican soup pozole (it is important to note that no humans were harmed in the making of this soup). Ryan grew up going to friends’ houses where this would be on the stove all day long and after a night of drinking this spicy soup, much like menudo, would serve as a perfect hangover cure. I was never much the fan of hominy, but Ryan always liked the taste of it because it reminds him of tortillas. We struck a deal that I would try hominy again so this soup was a compromise between the two of us, a bit of hominy and a bit of yellow corn in a spicy tomato broth.


  • 20 tomatoes on the vine, roasted and cored
  • 3 serrano peppers, roasted (note these died in the roasting, but their “juice” mixed with the tomatoes)
  • approximately 3 tbsp chipotle infused olive oil
  • 1 purple onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dark chili powder
  • 1 oz package pozole spice mix
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 15.25 oz can yellow corn
  • 1 29 oz can hominy
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 425. Lightly coat the tomatoes and serrano peppers in some of the olive oil (about 1-1 1/2 tbsp). Place in oven to roast for about 30-45 minutes or until they begin to split open and brown. One quick thing to note, this killed our serrano peppers; that said, the mixture of tomato juices and slightly disintegrated serrano did add flavor to the tomatoes with just a hint of a kick. Remove from oven to cool. Once cooled core the tomatoes and place in a blender to puree. Set aside.

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add in the remaining olive oil. Add in the onion, garlic, and pozole mix, cook onion until it begins to be slightly translucent. Add the bell peppers and chili powder. Cook until bell peppers are tender, enough for a fork to easily go into them. Add the tomato puree and the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add in the hominy and corn. Let cook for a little while longer. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pozole mix is meant traditionally for pork and most pre-made mixes make for a decently spicy pork rub long before it is added to the soup pot. So depending on what type of pozole spice mix you purchased or made for yourself it can make for a soup with quite the kick. If you are afraid of spicy things I’d check the mix or reduce the amount of spice mix you use. You can also let the mix soak and simmer in hot water for a little bit before adding  it to the pot and it might reconstitute some of the dried chiles in the mix.

by Valerie | 01.27.13 | Recipes | No Comments »

Hola! Frittata

We were planning on what to make for brunch recently and as I was pouring through cookbooks and looking online for inspiration I came across a frittata recipe which sounded promising. As we’ve never made a frittata before, and Ryan does love a challenge, that’s exactly what we decided to do. We took ideas from several online sources, but in the end he made it up as he went along and made it his own and it was delicious! We thought, with all the Mexican flavors and ingredients in the dish, naming it Hola! Frittata was a perfect fit. We served ours with breakfast potatoes – yum!


  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 3/4 lb chorizo sausage
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into thin slices
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 splash milk (about 1 tbsp+)
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped after measuring
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup monterrey jack cheese, shredded

Pre-heat an oven to 375. Lightly coat the peppers in olive oil and place in the oven to roast. You’ll roast them until the skin starts to brown and gets puffy. Be sure to flip them at some point in time. It usually takes me 15-20 minutes in our oven to get them nicely roasted. Once roasted, put them in a brown paper bag to steam. Steam for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the bag, remove the skins, and then core and deseed.

In a bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and cilantro together. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 450. Heat an oven-safe skillet to medium heat and add butter. Add garlic and onions and cook until translucent. Add chorizo and Mexican oregano then cook until chorizo is cooked through to your liking (we cooked ours medium-rare and it’s important to keep in mind that it will continue cooking in the oven). Add in egg mixture and cook until egg starts to set on edges and bottom of pan. Place in oven and cook until egg is cooked through. We cooked ours for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let set for about 5 minutes. Turn skillet over onto cutting board or platter and then slice and serve.

by Valerie | 02.18.12 | Recipes | No Comments »

tamales tamales tamales

A few years ago I decided to buy a book on tamales because I was disappointed by the tamale selection here in Southeast Michigan. That is not to say that there are no places to find tamales, and even some good ones, they just aren’t as good as they can be or what I was used to growing up. A few weekends ago I had a little more time on my hand so I decided it was time to dig in and cook some tamales. I made two kinds but the fillings—nopales and roasted poblanos with corn; one would probably be enough for the masa that this makes we had quite a bit of leftovers which made for some delicious quesadillas. The masa recipe is a slightly modified version of Daniel Hoyer’s whipped masa recipe.


  • Several corn husks (about 24 or more)

Soak the corn husks for about an hour or more. They need to be pliable.

The Masa:

  • 3 1/2 cups masa for tamales
  • 2 1/4 cups hot water
  • 1 1/4 cups butter @ room temp (I used Earth Balance, we had some vegan friends coming over)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups veggie stock
  • 2 tbsp green chile powder

To make the masa mix the hot water and masa to make a dough. Set aside for about 30 minutes covered. Using a stand mixer whip the butter until smooth and fluffy. Add about 1-inch size pinches of the masa dough at a time, waiting for each one to be incorporated into the mix. Once you’ve added about 1/3 of the masa add some of the veggie stock and then start to alternate adding the masa and veggie stock until both are well incorporated. Add the chile powder and salt, mix until completely combined. You can test the masa mix by seeing if a small pinch floats in water. If it doesn’t add more veggie stock. Set aside until ready to use.

For the nopales:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I used a chipotle infused one)
  • 3 large nopales (cactus pads) diced
  • 1 jalapeño minced
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tomatoes on the vine cored and deseeded and diced.
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt to taste

Heat a medium pan to medium heat. Add the olive oil; once the oil is heated add the garlic, jalapeño, and onion until they start to sweat. Add the nopales, Mexican oregano and thyme. Cook until nopales begin to soften, it will take a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook until the tomatoes begin to soften. Salt to taste. Remove from the pan and set aside.

For the roasted poblanos and corn:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 large poblano peppers
  • 1 small package frozen corn
  • 1 tsp butter (Earth Balance)
  • 1 tsp green chile powder
  • a sprinkle or two of granulated sugar to bring out/add to the sweetness of the corn
  • salt to taste

Pre-heat an oven to 375. Lightly coat the peppers in olive oil and place in the oven to roast. You’ll roast them until the skin starts to brown and gets puffy. Be sure to flip them at some point in time. It usually takes me 15-20 minutes in our oven to get them nicely roasted. While they roast, heat the corn up in salted water (we used a microwave, but you can use a pot if necessary). Drain and set aside. Once roasted put them in a brown paper bag to steam. Steam for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the bag, remove the skins, and then core and deseed. I usually like a little heat so I leave a few seeds in. Dice the peppers and mix in with the corn. Add the butter and green chile powder, mix until the butter is melted and well combined. Salt to taste. (Note you can add some good asadero cheese to this mix when you spoon it onto the tamale if you’d like (I did), or add some nu-yeast for a cheesy flavor (I did that for our vegan friends))

Putting it all together:

Prepare a pot or some sort of apparatus for steaming. Grab a well soaked corn husk, towel off excess moisture. In the upper half of it spoon some of the masa onto the husk and spread it about 1/4″ thick. Cover about 2/3rds of the top half starting from the center. Scoop a good spoonful or two of one of the fillings into the center of the masa. Fold/roll over the edges of the corn husk to form a tube. Fold the bottom half over the top half. Tie the tamale. Set aside. Once you have made all of your tamales place them in the steamer for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Once finished remove from steamer and let rest for about 10-15 minutes. Serve however you want. We topped ours with some homemade salsa (below) and guacamole.

Extra special bonus green salsa:

  • 1+ tsp of olive oil
  • 4-5 medium to large tomatillos
  • 1/2 purple onion finely diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2/3 cup cilantro chopped
  • salt to taste

Lightly coat the jalapeño and tomatillos in the oil. Place in a pan over medium heat. Roast until the tops, bottoms, sides (if they will stay on their side) brown and become soft. Set aside to cool. Core the tomatillos. Remove the stem of the jalapeño, deseed if you desire, and mince. In a food processor or blender add the tomatillos, onions, garlic, jalapeño, and lime juice. Blend to a consistency you like (best to pulse blend if you have that option). Add salt and cilantro. Serve.


by Ryan | 02.08.12 | Recipes | No Comments »

spicy chipotle taco time

A while back ago I made a post about the Rick Bayless taco sauces. At that time I had made it a goal to try to replicate them by making the sauce myself. Since posting about them I’ve had several successful attempts at replicating some of the sauces, but due to my inability to write things down and remember what I did I never made good on the promise to post them. So after a year I’ve abandoned the mission to replicate and just made my own versions of taco sauces. So here are two version for a spicy chipotle taco sauce.

Número uno:

  • 2 chipolte peppers (canned) and a tablespoon of adobo sauce from the can.
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 2 pan roasted tomatoes cored and deseeded
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Salt to taste

Número dos:

  • 2 chipotle peppers canned in a tablespoon of adobo sauce from the can
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tomatoes cord and deseeded
  • 1/3 bottle of beer (my Texan roots prefer Shiner Bock)

For the tacos themselves, we usually use some type of faux meat product (usually seitan). We start by cooking some onions (about 1/2 chopped, usually white or red), 2 cloves of garlic, and if we have them on hand some bell peppers either diced or sliced in some butter or olive oil over medium heat. We then add the meat and cook until heated all the way through, sometimes I let it brown a bit. Finally add the taco sauce lower the heat and cook for and additional 5-10 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

by Ryan | 01.29.12 | Recipes | No Comments »

Behold, the ultimate quesadilla!


The Simpson’s Comic Book Guy is perhaps one of my favorite critics on television. While I often channel his voice to express my disgust of things (“Worst post about a Mexican food product ever”) I rarely channel his witty sarcasm for good things, and then I remembered this proclamation in season 6, “Behold, the ultimate pog.” That statement pretty much summed up how I felt about these quesadillas.

Val and I had picked up some squash blossoms at the farmer’s market last Saturday with the intention to fry them. Since I had never cooked squash blossoms I hopped onto the internets to do some research on how to prepare them and stumbled across this post which lead me to this post. Those who read this blog (most likely just our family and friends) know that I am sucker for Mexican food, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that squash blossom quesadillas trumped fried squash blossoms. This is a slightly modified version of Homesick Texan’s quesadillas since I didn’t have the same ingredients on hand, but it was delightfully delicious and perhaps the best quesadillas I have ever had.


  • 12 squash blossoms
  • 2 green chiles roasted/grilled (Anaheim peppers would do the trick or even hungarian wax peppers if you can’t find green chiles)
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/3 red onion diced
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano (for those folks living near Ann Arbor, get it at the Spice Merchants – theirs is great)
  • 2-3 cups queso blanco shredded
  • 6 large flour tortillas (this will make 3 large quesadillas)
  • 1 tsp butter + more on hand to coat the tortillas

Start by roasting or grilling the green chiles. I lightly coated ours with some olive oil and grilled them over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes (when the skin began to puff up and lightly char around the entire pepper). Remove from the grill and place them in a paper bag to steam and cool so that you can handle them about 10-15 minutes.Remove the chiles from the paper bag once they have cooled enough to touch. Remove the skins and stems (and deseed if you are afraid of the heat). Set aside. Remove the stems and stamens from the squash blossoms, and gently wash them. Give the a rough chop when done. In a pan over medium heat, melt the butter, add the onions, chiles, garlic, and Mexican oregano. Cook until the onions begin to soften and become translucent. Add the squash blossoms, salt, and pepper and cook for an additional 5 minutes or so. So that they are heated all the way through. Remove mixture and set aside.

The next step is the simple part, put it all together. And just in case you have never made a quesadilla here is how:

Using the same skillet  or a griddle heat to medium heat (my go to choice  is a 2 burner griddle when making quesadillas). Lightly coat one side of a tortilla with a buttery spread of your choice. Slap the butter side down on the griddle, add about 1/3 of your cheese and squash blossom mixture on top. Watch until you begin to see the cheese on the bottom begin to melt. Top with another tortilla, buttery coating on the top, and flip the quesadilla. Cook until the cheese is melted through. Repeat 2 more times for a total of 3 quesadillas. My biggest advice is don’t skip the butter, butter (or buttery spread) is the key ingredient here, it adds flavor to the tortilla and helps create a nice golden crispy crust.

Once cooked, let cool for a second or two, slice them and serve. I added to these bad boys some green chile corn and a delicious homemade chipotle corn salsa on the side (recipes below).


Green Chile Corn:

  • 2 cobs of corn grilled
  • 1/2 tsp (or a little more) butter (or buttery spread)
  • 1+ tbsp green chile powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and coarse ground pepper to taste

To prepare the corn, peel back the husk so that you can remove the silk from the corn. Do not remove all of the husk, it is okay to remove some but you need to leave some of it on. Once you have removed the silk fold husk back over the cob and soak in cold water for a 30 minutes or more (for me it was about 2 hours as I got sidetracked doing other things). Place the corn on a grill over medium heat  and cook for about 15 to 25 minutes rotating it in a quarter turn every 5 minutes or so. If you like your corn to brown and char a bit (it looks pretty that way) peel the husk back some. Once cooked, shave off the corn kernels. In a bowl combine the kernels, chile powder, butter, sugar, salt and pepper.

Chipotle Corn Salsa:

  • 1 cob of corn grilled
  • 2 canned chipotle peppers
  • 4 grilled/roasted tomatoes cored and deseeded
  • 3 large cloves of garlic minced
  • the juice of 1/2 a lime
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • salt

Lightly coat the tomatoes in olive oil. Place on a grill over medium heat and cook for about 15 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to lightly char, skin peels, and start to soften. If you do this over high heat it takes about 5 to 10 minutes. Once finished remove from the grill and set aside to cool for a short while. You don’t want to burn yourself on hot tomato juices (trust me). Once you can handle the tomatoes remove the core and deseed them. In a food processor puree the tomatoes, garlic, chipotles, lime juice, and salt. Prepare and grill the corn in the same manner described above. Once grilled, shave off the kernels and add to the puree and you have salsa.


by Ryan | 06.24.11 | Recipes | No Comments »

Weekend fun (belated)

Cinco de Mayo

This post is belated, but I had to share some of the fun we had several weeks ago at our Cinco de Mayo (or Cinco de Seis as we jokingly called it) party on May 6th. We enjoyed (as has become a tradition in our house for Cinco de Mayo) amazing food, wonderful friends, & a really great time! Ryan made some really delicious vegan taco meat, grilled veggies, homemade salsa, taco sauce, guacamole, & margaritas & many others brought wonderful dishes to share too.


And on Sunday, May 8th we enjoyed a delicious brunch & enjoyed celebrating our dear friends Jen & Walter’s 1 year anniversary. They shared a slice of their yummy cake with us too – love & cake, what’s not to love!


And Melody was there, looking cute as always…


by Valerie | 05.22.11 | For Funsies, Holidaze, Princess Puppy Pants | No Comments »

Easy Fiesta Rice

Easy Fiesta Rice

I wanted some rice to make tacos with our leftover  seitan con mole, but was a bit uninspired to cook just plain white rice. While perusing the Mexican food section of Busch’s for some tortillas today I saw something called Fiesta rice. I actually don’t know what Fiesta rice really is, but I assume by the package of pre-cooked rice that it has corn and peppers in it. Long before we started cooking more often, and before we acquired a rice maker, I thought making rice was something that takes way too long and too much effort and would have bought that package of rice. But times have changed and my version of easy fiesta rice was born.


  • white rice (about 3/4 to 1 cup, we have a special cup measure for our rice maker)
  • veggie stock (about 1 cup, again it is based on our rice maker)
  • half a red bell pepper diced
  • half a can of corn (drained)
  • 1+ tbsp of buttery spread (eg. Earth Balance)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of green chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt and pepper

Cook the rice using whatever method you choose. We chose our Zojirushi Rice Maker and just substituted water for veggie stock. Let cook, fluff when finished. Leave it on warm.

In a pan over medium heat melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the red bell pepper and cook until soft. Add the corn, cumin, and green chile powder. Cook until corn is cooked all the way through and even starts to brown. Reduce heat to low, add the rice and some additional buttery spread (makes it yummy and helps prevent burning and sticking to the pan). Add salt and pepper to your taste preferences. Serve it when finished.

Rice Cooker

by Ryan | 02.20.11 | Recipes | No Comments »

Valentine’s Day Feast

Valentine's Day Roses

I cook a lot, so as one of my colleagues whose husband also cooks a lot noted, cooking isn’t something that is necessarily a special occasion. But for Valentine’s Day I usually try to up my game and make something that I have never made or try to experiment by making something a bit more complicated than normal. This year I wanted to turn up the heat, bring something sweet, and make a meal with food items known for the aphrodisiac qualities. So with that in mind chiles, avocados, and chocolate were in store. For a bit of food history these foods were commonly used by the Aztecs for their aphrodisiac properties. With that in mind I set out to make a Mexican inspired meal, far beyond any Mexican food I have ever made before. To accomplish that goal I served up a corn, black bean, and avocado salad with a creamy avocado citrus dressing followed by seitan in mole sauce with faux-rizo smashed potatoes. Without too much bragging, our dinner was a display of mad cooking skills. Mad props to me.

Dessert was not my creation, but our meal closed with a couple chocolate covered strawberries and a cookie. We couldn’t eat much more than that after the rest of the dinner.

Oh and why potatoes? They don’t seem to have any sex appeal. Well if you know Val, potatoes are well at the top of her favorite foods list, and a surefire way to her heart.

She loves flowers too, so I picked up this bouquet of pink roses & blooming eucalyptus for her from Pot & Box.

Valentine's Day Roses

by Ryan | 02.16.11 | Holidaze, Recipes | No Comments »

Faux-rizo Smashed Potatoes

Dinner plate

Val loves potatoes; I like them a lot too. I wanted to make them more than just plain potatoes, so with that our side dish for our Valentine’s day feast was born. Note that in the photo here, the potatoes are underneath our Mole Rojo con Seitan.


  • 2 baking potatoes (good Idaho ones), with the peel.
  • lots of buttery spread (2-3 tbsp worth)
  • 1 package of chorizo style seitan
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 tomatoes on the vine
  • 1 tbsp buttery spread
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (I used my smoked chili powder and La Mesa dark 50/50 blend)
  • 1 tsp of butcher’s pepper
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • some shredded mahon cheese (optional, but recommended)

Prepare the faux-rizo first. Heat an oven to 425 degrees.  Place the tomatoes (removed from the vine) on a baking sheet and into the oven. Roast the tomatoes until the skins begin to wrinkle and brown a bit. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit before handling. Once cooled to where you can handle it, core and deseed the tomatoes. Put the tomatoes in a food processor with the chili powder, salt, and pepper and puree. Heat a skillet up to medium heat, add the butter and melt. Add the garlic and sweat for a few minutes. Add the chorizo seitan and cook until it is cooked through. Add the tomato puree and cook until it is completely incorporated into the faux meat. If you need additional salt to taste you can add it.

Prepare the potatoes however you want – microwave, bake, or boil. Once cooked in a bowl cut them open (this cuts the peels into smaller pieces), add the buttery spread, and mash the potatoes to a texture of liking, I left ours somewhat chunky. Add in about a cup of the faux-rizo and mix into the potatoes until well incorporated.

When you plate the potatoes top with a fair amount of the shredded mahon (or for vegans find a good salty cheese substitute). Enjoy.

Note, this dish makes enough potatoes for 2-3 people with left over faux-rizo for the next day’s breakfast. Also if you wanted to make some rocking taco meat, this is a good first step in my attempts to deconstruct Rick Bayless’ taco skillet sauces. I’d add some additional things like mexican oregano and some kind of chile like a jalapeño or something if I went that route. More to come on that.

by Ryan | 02.16.11 | Recipes | 1 Comment »

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