IXÁ organic tequila Paloma cocktail

IXÁ organic tequila Paloma cocktail



Cinco de Mayo is upon us, so it was perfect timing that I got my organic spirit samples from Greenbar craft distillery

Greenbar, Los Angeles’s first distillery since prohibition, represent the worlds largest portfolio of organic, hand crafted spirits including,  BAR KEEP organic bittersCRUSOE organic rumsFRUITLAB organic liquersIXÁ organic tequilaSLOW HAND organic whiskeyTRU organic gin and TRU organic vodkas.

In 2004, husband and wife Melkon Khosrovian and Litty Mathew started making award winning spirits. That eventually led them to using organic produce and so organics were held the key to better tasting spirits. 

Not only are Greenbar  organic, they are all about sustainability as well as making changes in the environment. You can read more about this here.

So thanks to them, we have organic tequila to help us celebrate Cinco de Mayo. IXÁ organic tequila is rich, complex and has the smoothest finish, which for me is very important because I don’t always want to drink my tequila in a mixed drink.  I like to sip tequila, so it has to be good on it’s own and if it’s not good on it’s own it’s not going to make a mixed drink good either. So if you’re going to use a good organic spirit to make a mixed drink, please use fresh juices and ingredients, that way the end result will be so much better.

IXÁ organic tequila Paloma cocktail

                 
Ingredients (2 servings)                                                     print                                                   

  • 1-3/4 ounces IXÁ organic tequila
  • 1/4 ounce FRUITLAB orange liqueur
  • 1-1/2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce agave  nectar
  • 2-3 ounces club soda
  • 2 sweet basil leaves
  • 4 dashes BAR K Swedish bitters


Directions

  1. Fill a martini shaker 3/4 full with ice.
  2. Add all the ingredients, except club soda and basil.
  3. Shake vigorously and count to ten.
  4. Strain into a tall glass.
  5. Top with club soda.
  6. Garnish with basil and lime slices.

IXÁ organic tequila Paloma cocktail


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Mexican breakfast lasagna



Mother’s Day brunch – give the gift of food


Mother’s Day doesn’t always have to be about giving flowers, why not give the gift of food?

Think about all those meals your mother cooked for you in  your life, well now you can pay her back  and you’ll delight her by making her something from this collection of 14 brunch items. Whether you’re giving her breakfast in bed, or celebrating with the rest of the family, this is a great brunch collection that has you covered, from sweet to savory, from french toast to frittata there’s something here for everyone.



Mother's Day brunch - give the gift of food

This is a sponsored opportunity with Foodie.com

Spicy coconut rice noodles with kale and basil

Spicy coconut rice noodles with kale and basil


Not everyone has time to plan their menu for the week, compile the shopping list and then go an buy all the ingredients. What if you could have all these steps done for you and the groceries delivered to your door? 

Well now you can, meet plated.com

Plated is a weekly food delivery service who ship all the ingredients along with the recipe and instructions and ordering can be done in 3 easy steps. With 7 chef designed dishes to choose from, the menu changes weekly so there’s always something new and exciting to try.

Spicy coconut rice noodles with kale and basil
The ingredients are all sourced from their specialized network of providers, packed fresh and pre-portioned to cut back on waste.

When  I received  my box  of  ingredients,  I was  very  impressed  that  everything  was individually  portioned, labeled and all  well packed in an  insulted box  with Nordic ice packs, which I recycled and come in very handy when I need to pack a cooler.

Spicy coconut rice noodles with kale and basil

Along with the ingredients, there comes included a 2-sided recipe sheet. 1 side has the glossary, servings, caloric count and cooking tips. The other side is the recipe along with progress pictures.
Spicy coconut rice noodles with kale and basil

Spicy coconut rice noodles with kale and basil

This particular recipe, was very easy to make and very easy to follow. As I was making the dish, I kept thinking about the spice level because there is chili powder and chili paste, but it turned out to be the perfect amount of spice, even for the most spice sensitive person. The most amazing part is, that there’s hardly any cooking involved, so even the non-cooks out there could make this. As a lover of Thai food, for me this is was a delicious, quick go-to dinner that would be so convenient to make on busy weeknight.

Spicy coconut rice noodles with kale and basil                  print

(2 servings)                                                                                                                      

Ingredients                                                          

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1/4 bunch Thai basil
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/2 bunch scallions
  • 6 ounces rice noodles, divided
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon gochujang paste
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 6 cups water
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place 6 cups of water in a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Rinse kale and cut leaves into 1/4 inch slices, discarding stems.
  4. Rinse Thai basil and pick leaves, discarding stems.
  5. Drain and rinse bean sprouts.
  6. Rinse scallions and thinly slice white and light green parts, discarding remainder.
  7. Place 3/4 rice noodles in a large bowl and pour over boiling water.
  8. Soak until tender, about 10 minutes.
  9. Then drain and rinse under cold water for 30 seconds.
  10. Set remaining rice noodles aside for another use.
  11. Meanwhile, heat sesame oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  12. When oil is shimmering, add kale and cook until bright green, 3-4 minutes.
  13. Increase heat to medium high and add coconut milk, tomato paste, chili powder and gochujang paste. Stir to combine.
  14. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt as needed.
  15. Meanwhile, on a parchment lined baking sheet, arrange coconut flakes in a singel layer. Toast until golden, 3-4 minutes.
  16. Add cooked rice noodles and Thai basil to sauce in pan and stir to combine.
  17. Cook until rice noodles are warmed through, about 1 minute.
  18. Divide evenly between 2 bowls and garnish with bean sprouts, scallion and toasted coconut.
  19. Serve hot.


Dining experience sponsored by Plated.com

Spicy coconut rice noodles with kale and basil

Spicy coconut rice noodles with kale and basil


Tagliatelle with mushrooms (Tagliatelle ai funghi)

Tagliatelle with mushrooms (Tagliatelle ai funghi)

If you like mushrooms this is the perfect dish for you. The softness of the fresh pasta paired with the meatiness of the mushrooms and a touch of wine. This is a great, quick dish to make on a busy weeknight.

Tagliatelle with mushrooms (Tagliatelle ai funghi)

My new favorite thing is homemade fresh pasta. For this recipe I used tagliatelle. Once you make it, you’ll never buy packaged again. I like to make a big batch and it keeps so well in the freezer, you can cook it right from frozen and it only takes about 3 minutes to cook.

Tagliatelle with mushrooms (Tagliatelle ai funghi)




Tagliatelle with mushrooms (Tagliatelle ai funghi)                             print

Ingredients    (serves 4)                                                                                        

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 pound porcini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine * see note
  • Pinch of salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, freshly grated (plus more for garnish)
  • 16 ounces/1 pound fresh tagliatelle (recipe) or pasta of your choice

Directions

  1. Bring a large pan full of salted water to a boil. 
  2. Add the dried porcini mushrooms and the boiling water to a bowl, soak for 5 minutes.
  3. Once the porcini mushrooms have reconstituted, remove the mushrooms and pour the liquid through a sieve to get rid of any grit.
  4. In a large sauté pan heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  5. Add the shallot and sauté until lightly browned.
  6. Add the sliced porcini mushrooms and cook until browned. You may find that the mushrooms absorb the oil, if this is the case add another tablespoon.
  7. Add 4 turns of freshly ground black pepper and a small pinch of salt.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and add the wine and scrape any bits that are stuck to the pan.
  9. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the wine has reduced slightly.
  10. Add the mushroom stock.
  11. Increase the heat to high and simmer until reduced slightly.
  12. You can add the dried reconstituted porcini mushrooms at this stage if you like.
  13. Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes for fresh pasta or according to the package directions.
  14. Add the parsley and parmesan cheese to the mushroom mixture, toss with the pasta and serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
* If you don’t want to use wine, you could substitute vegetable stock, or more mushroom stock.

Tagliatelle with mushrooms (Tagliatelle ai funghi)

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns


If there’s a food that reminds me of Easter as a child, it’s the hot cross bun. Warm and fresh out of the oven served with butter, is the best. The hot cross bun is a spiced, slightly sweet bun with currants, raisins or sultanas, traditionally eaten in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Canada for breakfast on Good Friday. 

Hot cross buns

We all know good food takes time, so there’s a little kneading involved and a little rising, the buns, not you. The dough is kneaded after mixing and then left to rise. The dough is then kneaded again, shaped into buns and then risen for the second time. Before they are baked a cross is cut the top with a sharp knife and a paste of flour, sugar and water  is piped into the cuts so when the buns are baked the cross is visible. 


Hot Cross Buns                                                    print

(yields 12 large buns)  

Ingredients                                                              

For the buns

  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons  unsalted butter, 1 cold cubed 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup currant
  • 2 ounces dried yeast
  • 1 cups milk, warmed
  • 2 medium eggs

For the crosses

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons cold water

For the bun glaze

  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon boiling water


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Sift the white flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the butter, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the spices, sugar, dried fruit and yeast. Make a well in the centre. Beat the milk and eggs together and pour into the flour. 
  3. Mix well to a soft dough. 
  4. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead for about 10 mins, until smooth and elastic. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place for about 45 mins to rise. 
  5. Turn out dough and knead lightly for a few minutes. 
  6. Divide into 12 and shape each piece into a bun. 
  7. Place well apart on the baking sheet, and cover loosely with oiled cling film. Leave in a warm place for 45 mins, until doubled in size then cut a cross in the top of each bun with a sharp knife.
  8. Mix the flour with 3-4 tbsp cold water to form a paste. 
  9. Pipe a cross on top of each bun inside the crosses.
  10. Bake the buns for 15-20 mins.
  11. Put the sugar into a cup with 1 tbsp boiling water and stir until syrupy. Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the glaze while still warm. Cool on a wire rack.
  12. To store the buns, keep in an air tight container for up to 4 days.
  13. If you find the buns getting too firm, I like to microwave them (one at a time) for about 20 seconds, this will soften them up and also make them nice and warm.

Hot Cross Buns



Hot cross buns

Mexican breakfast lasagna

Mexican breakfast lasagna
When a box of tortillas arrived from Mi Rancho and I opened the box, the smell can only be described as what I would imagine their tortilla factory smells like, freshly made tortillas. 

My husbands eyes lit up and he instantly said “enchiladas” with a smile, which are his favorite Mexican dish. But I was inspired in a different way, I wanted to make something different that regular Mexican entrees. For some reason a breakfast burrito came into my head, but that has been done so many times and you have to make each individual one. I wanted to develop a make ahead dish  that can be taken by on-the-go, and so the Mexican breakfast lasagna was born.

We all know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it energizes and fuels your body and brain. Hands up everyone who just grabs a coffee and hits the road? Yes, you know who you are. Just think, you could whip this dish up on Sunday afternoon, cut a piece off Monday morning, it takes 2 minutes to heat up in the microwave, breakfast, done. You will have breakfast all week long.
If you can chop tomatoes and scramble eggs, you can make this dish.

The quickest way to put this dish together is start by preparing your ingredients. Make the salsas, then scramble the eggs. 

I like to have an assembly line ready to build the lasagna, which makes for speedy work.
Mexican breakfast lasagna
Start by adding an even layer of tortillas into a buttered baking dish. I used flour tortillas since they are usually used for breakfast burritos, but you can use corn. Then you just start adding the layers.


With Easter just around the corner, this would make a great addition to your Easter brunch menu.


Mexican breakfast lasagna                               print

(serves 4)        

Ingredients                                                             

  • 10 ounces cherry tomatoes, chopped small
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper, chopped small
  • 2 teaspoons red onion, chopped small
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 large eggs, scrambled
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 10-12 flour or corn tortillas
  • 10 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
  • Quick and easy corn salsa (recipe)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, add the cherry tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeño and red onion, mix.
  2. Add the lime juice and a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Mix well and set aside for the flavors to combine.
  4. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, salt and pepper.
  5. Heat a skillet over medium low heat and add the butter.
  6. When the butter is melted pour in the beaten eggs and stir.
  7. Continue to stir the eggs until they are at the required doneness. I would recommend the eggs be slightly under done because they will be baked in the oven.
  8. Remove the eggs from the heat.
  9. Take a 8 x 8 casserole dish and butter the bottom.
  10. Take a flour tortilla and line the bottom of the dish. Make sure the entire area is covered. Break the tortillas if needed to get an even coverage.
  11. Spread 1/3 of the eggs over the tortillas.
  12. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the grated cheddar.
  13. Add 1/3 of the corn salsa.
  14. Add  another layer of tortilla.
  15. Spread another 1/3 of the eggs.
  16. Sprinkle with another 1/3 of the cheddar.
  17. Spread 1/3 of the corn salsa.
  18. Sprinkle with cheddar.
  19. Add the last layer of tortilla, the rest of the eggs, the rest of the corn and finish so the top layer is cheddar cheese.
  20. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  21. Allow to cool before cutting so it can set and makes it easier to slice.
  22. Serve with the tomato salsa and your favorite sides.

    Mexican breakfast lasagna

    Mexican breakfast lasagna
    Mexican breakfast lasagna

    Promotional consideration provided by Mi Rancho

    Mexican breakfast lasagna


    Hell’s fire chips

    Hell fire chips
    Hell’s Fire Chips, the name is a little crazy, but this is a great, quick snack or appetizer. I was first turned on to this dish years ago when my husband and I were dating. He took me to Scottsdale Arizona for the weekend where we ate at his favorite restaurant, well, it’s actually a bar that has tables and serves food, called AZ88.

    There are just 3 ingredients to Hell’s Fire Chips, baked chips, blue cheese and hot sauce. AZ88 uses Arizona Gunslinger Sauce (now that’s a great name), but that is not available to me here, so I substituted Franks Hot Sauce and it tastes just as good.
    The reason that I like to use baked chips is you just get a better crunch and there’s a lot less grease and salt. You don’t need either of those with the richness and saltiness of the blue cheese.  No, you’re not seeing things, you are seeing some purple potato chips in the bowl, in the pictures. I did bake my own chips for this recipe, that included purple potatoes. It is not necessary to do this and takes time, you can also use Kettle brand bakes sea salt. 
    A little fact: The restaurant used to call this appetizer Hell’s Fire Fries, where that has a good ring to it, I could see how that would be miss-leading to the customers thinking that they were getting fries instead of chips. Of course, if this dish was in England, they would be called Hell’s Fire Crisps.

    Hell’s fire chips                                           print
    (serves 4)              

    Ingredients                                               

    • 1-4 ounce bags of Kettle brand bakes sea salt chips
    • 1-4 ounce tub of blue cheese crumbles
    • Franks hot sauce, to taste

    Directions

    1. Preheat broiler.
    2. Using an ovenproof dish, arrange a handful of the chips in a single layer.
    3. Sprinkle 1/3 of the blue cheese crumbles over the chips.
    4. Arrange another layer of chips on top in an even layer, sprinkle with more blue cheese.
    5. Repeat one last time, a layer of chips and the rest of the blue cheese.
    6. Put the dish in the oven and heat under the broiler until the cheese starts to melt.
    7. Remove from the oven and add the hot sauce to taste.

    Hell's fire chips