Strawberry Banana Smoothies

This weekend  over father’s day we decided  to go strawberry picking, I had never been  before  but   you say the word strawberry and I am there. Image

I love strawberries, they are easily my favorite berry.   I never expected to come away with so many strawberries though, it was the perfect day to go, we didn’t have to move very far in the field to  come away with two big crates filled with strawberries. We got  so many strawberries I don’t even know what to do with all of them. 

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I made a strawberry pie,  ate a couple dipped in Nutella and brought them for lunch all week long, good thing I decided to freeze over half over them  I don’t think I would  get sick of them if I had to eat them everyday until they were all gone.  Freezing strawberries, especially these fresh ones  will make delicious summer treats.  One treat we will have to make more of are these delicious Strawberry Banana Smoothies.

Strawberry Banana Smoothies

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makes 4

-2 cups of  frozen strawberries

-1 banana

-1/2 cup of yogurt

-1-2 teaspoons of honey

-1/4 cup or so of milk and/or water to thin it out

Mix in blender or vita-mix and  you have a delicious refreshing summer treat!

 

 

 

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Steak Tacos with Homemade Corn Tortillas

So  with Mr. Pea’s obsession with Mexican cuisine  we  eat a lot of tacos in our house, one of my favorite tacos he makes are his steak tacos.  I think I like his steak tacos even more when I make my homemade corn tortillas.  I think the  homemade corn tortillas have a better texture then the ones that  are in the packages in the stores, I don’t make homemade ones every time, but when I do  it makes it even better. As for the steak in a steak tacos , there is only one way to make them  that they are melt in your mouth delicious and that is  medium rare, so all you well done people out there  you might want to skip this recipe it is not for you. With steak tacos  it is all about the marinade,  you don’t use the best cut of meat for steak tacos, you use skirt steak  and  it needs a bit of flavor to make it delicious.

Chipolte Steak Sauce:

Ingredients:
1 Can(s) 14oz with juices diced tomatoes
3 Clove(s) peeled, halved garlic
3 chipotle chiles en adobo
1/2 Teaspoon(s) mexican oregano
2 Tablespoon(s) apple cider vinegar

Directions:
In a food processor or blender, combine, the tomatoes, garlic, chiles, oregano and vinegar. Process until smooth. Pour into a small (2-quart) saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer 15 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in water, if necessary, to give the sauce the consistency of steak sauce. Taste and season highly with salt, usually 1 1/2 teaspoons. Cool, pour into a bottle and refrigerate until needed.

Place skirt Steak in dis, drizzle with olive oil (2 tablespoons) and then  and spoon marinade over the steak, let marinade for 1  hour.

While the steak is marinading  it is a good time to start making your corn tortillas.

How to make Corn Tortillas:

Corn Tortillas

Makes 15 tortillas

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups powdered Masa harina for tortillas (Maseca brand is widely available)
OR  1 pound fresh-ground masa

Directions

1.  Mix dough.  If using powdered masa harina, measure into bowl and add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot tap water.  Mix with hand, kneading until thoroughly combined. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.  If using fresh masa, scoop into bowl.  Break up and knead a few times until smooth.

2.  Heat griddle or skillets.  Set large griddle (one that stretches of 2 burners) or 2 skillets on stovetop.  Set heat under one end of griddle (or one skillet) at medium.  Set heat under other end (or other skillet) at medium-high.

3.  Adjust consistency of dough.  Gently squeeze dough.  If it is stiff (it probably will be), knead in water 1 or 2 teaspoons at a time until the dough feels like soft cookie dough—not stiff, but not sticky.  Divide evenly into 15 pieces and roll each into a ball.  Cover with plastic.

4.  Press out dough balls.  Cut 2 pieces of plastic bag 1-inch larger than tortilla press.  Open press. Lay in one piece of plastic.  Lay dough ball in center.  Gently mash.  Top with second piece of plastic.  Close press.  Press gently—enough to mash dough into 1/8-inch disc. Pull off top piece of plastic.

5.  Unmold uncooked tortilla.  Flip tortilla onto right hand (if right-handed). IMPORTANT: top of tortilla should line up with top of index finger.  Lay on medium-hot griddle (or skillet) by letting bottom of tortilla touch griddle, then lowering your hand slightly and moving it away from you—the tortilla will stick to the hot surface so you can roll your hand out from under it as it rolls down flat.

6.  First flip.  After about 30 seconds, edges of tortilla will dry slightly and tortilla will release from griddle—before this moment, tortilla will be stuck. With metal spatula (or callused fingers), flip onto hotter side of griddle (or hotter skillet).

7.  Second flip.  After about 30 seconds, tortilla should be browned underneath.  Flip.  Cook 30 seconds more—tortilla should puff in places (or all over—a gentle press with metal spatula or fingers encourages puffing).  Transfer to basket lined with towel.

8.  Continue.  Press and bake remaining tortillas.  Stack each baked tortilla on previous one. Keep tortillas well wrapped in towel to keep warm.

***We keep our in this baking dish covered with foil in the oven on warm until ready to serve

Now it is time to cook the steak, and it doesn’t take long at all to cook it.

Cooking the Steak:

 Before you star cooking make sure you trim the fat off the skirt steak before cooking. Heat cast iron skillet medium high. Since the marinade already has oil in it no need to add oil to the pan. Let it cook on the one side for 5-7 minutes and then flip over the steak and cook it for 5-7 more minute.  Let it sit covered in foil  for 5 minutes to let it rest (this is an important step), and then  cut it into thin slices or chunks whatever you prefer.

then  you are ready to assemble your steak taco. There are many toppings for steak tacos,   but  the traditional ingredients for a  steak taco are chopped white onion and cilantro, I add avocado and hot  sauce  for some extra flavor.

Enjoy!

Fried Egg Breakfast Sandwhich

So  when  I was little I was never a big fan of eggs, I thought they were weird and slimy. I was a big  fan of the sweet breakfasts like french toast, pancakes and waffles,which are just vehicles  for butter and syrup.  It was until a few years ago that  I really started to appreciate the egg, and now I love  them. I am not even picky about how they are cooked, although I am partial to my poached eggs, I also like hard boiled, over easy, scrambled and of course the fried egg. Who doesn’t like a fried egg with all its buttery, creamy goodness. until you  try to cook a fried egg with my fool proof technique  you have never really had a fried egg.

My first tip would be to use the freshest eggs you can find, they make they produce the best shape when frying eggs.

Here is the technique I use for cooking the perfect fried egg:

1. Place a small non-stick frying pan over the lowest possible heat on your stove (if using gas, you should barely see the blue flame)

2. Add the butter and let slowly melt, making sure it doesn’t foam and is not sizzling

3. When all the butter has melted, crack the egg into a small bowl, dish, or saucer

4. Then gently slide the egg off the dish into the frying pan and cover with a lid

5.Continue cooking approximately 5 minutes until the egg white solidifies from transparency into snow-white cream; the yolk will thicken slightly as it heats. How quickly the egg cooks is dependent on how low you have the heat.

6. Do not flip the eggs but leave the egg sunny-side up and natural and salt and pepper taste.

Fried Egg Breakfast Sandwhich

-1 fried egg

– salt and pepper to taste

-1 Bolillo roll, cut in half and toasted

– 1-2 slices of Sharp Cheddar Cheese

-1-2 slices of tomato

– 2-3 slices of bacon

-slices of avacado (optional)

Greek Fest

So  this past year Mr. Pea and I have really gotten into cooking other kinds of cuisine.  One of our favorite cuisines  we have been exploring is Greek, so checking out  Greek Fest a the State Fair grounds  was a must, in order to check out the cuisine.  I have never been to Greek Fest before, it is usually one of the fests we decide to skip since every weekend  in the summertime in Milwaukee  there is a different festival  going on.  I am not complaining, it is my favorite time of the year,  so  you  get to Experience Greek Fest  through my eyes.  Greek Fest wasn’t very big   they have about 50 feet of great food, a couple of tents for Greek related merchandise, where Mr. pea and I picked up a new traditional Greek cookbook I am excited to try some new dishes out of.

One thing  you must have when you go to Greek Fest  is a gyro.  Around Milwaukee there are plenty  of gyro stands,  but they do not compare  to  a gyro  from  Greek Fest, this gyro is like no other gyro I have had before from any  stand, it was so fresh and juicy and it was topped with both red and white onions , fresh tomatoes and tzatziki sauce it was delicious.

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Mr. Pea and  I were very adventurous today and decided to try some things we have never had before. One thing we tried for the first time were dolmades which are essential stuffed grape leaves, they are filled with a rice, herb and  olive mixture. They were pretty good,  Mr. Pea liked them better then I did but I  thought they were okay.

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Then  we tried Spanakopita, which is Greek Spinach Pie. This is an authentic dish,  and is a really rich pie stuffed with spinach, onions, cheeses and herbs that are all enfolded by crispy, flaky phyllo dough.  I though it was  really good, but  and it must have been good because I ate it before it cooled and  burnt my tongue on it slightly.

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 Then we couldn’t leave Greek fest without dessert, so we decided to try  the dessert that had the longest line and that happened to be the Loukoumathes, the Greek honey puffs. These deep-fried puffs, drizzled with honey and cinnamon, are a New Year’s Eve tradition in many parts of Greece, and a sweet  treat enjoyed at Hanukkah. I thought they were pretty delicious,  they reminded me of a Italian doughnut that I like called Italian Sfingi’s only in a smaller size and a little lighter dough.

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 All in all we had a great time at Greek Fest and  I can’t wait to go back next year!

Memorial Day Weekend Camping

Every year Mr. Pea and I travel to Nelson Dewey State Park in Cassville, WI to go camping with our family and friends. It is always a great time, good for some rest and relaxation, good company and good food. This past Memorial Day Weekend camping was so much fun, minus the scary thunderstorms and sticky hot days, and the dreaded mosquitoes that came out after the rain. We still had a great time and did have some really good food this weekend, as we always do. I have never went camping like Mr. Pea’s family goes camping before, they go all out with the food. It’s like going to a fine dining restaurant in the middle of nature, candlesticks and all! I thought I would share with you all some of the food that we had this weekend.

First, I would like to start off talking about our tradition for Memorial Day Camping weekend, stopping in Madison, WI to go to Ella’s Deli. If you have never been to Ella’s Deli, you should visit this top notch kosher style deli, if only just once. This place has been around since 1976, and there is a reason why it is still around today, it is SOO good! They have good matzo ball soup but they also have sweet and sour cabbage soup and chili that are pretty amazing as well. If there is one thing you go to a deli for it is corned beef, and I think you all know my feelings on corned beef, since I declared it my favorite meal on St. Patty’s Day. But this corned beef sandwich piled high on rye bread is one of my favorite things to eat hands down. If you leave room for dessert, which I never can do, they have a twelve page dessert menu to fulfill your sweet tooth! It is not just the food that makes Ella’s one of my favorite places, it is also the atmosphere of all the animated displays, nostalgic trinkets and toys from years past, and the tabletop games to keep you entertained while you wait for food. Also, if you go there during the spring, summer and fall months, no trip to Ella’s is complete without a ride on the 1927 Parker Carousel! So much fun!

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Their burgers are pretty great also and I decided to change it up a bit and get a burger instead this time.

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Until next year Ella’s 🙂

Moving on to our camping trip….

Friday Night

Friday night meal is pretty easy peasy compared to the rest of the meals served the rest of the weekend. Friday night’s dinner used to be a fish fry, but without our fisherman there to prepare the fish fry, we have relied on a camp favorite, hot dogs and brats. Mr. Pea was the hero of the night with his brand new pitch forks, this made grilling up 2 packages of brats and 1 package of delicious Nathan’s hot dogs easy as pie. I have never been a huge fan of hot dogs, until I had a Nathan’s hot dog. Really, they are the only hot dogs I will ever eat, they are the hot dogs that are served on every corner in New York and I think that is why I make an exception for these delightful dogs.

Saturday

Saturday morning started off with a delicious hearty breakfast, but with the terrible thunderstorms the night before, we got a later start then we usually do for making breakfast. We made some eggs with mushrooms, onion and left over brats and cheese with some bacon, and of course a camping breakfast wouldn’t be complete without my homemade banana bread and O & H Kringle.

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Then for lunch, it is the highlight of the camping trip, a trip to the Potosi Brewery Company. This place is delicious, they have some really great brews, my personal favorite being the Heffeweizer, Mr. Pea, being a fan of the darker brews is a huge fan of the Cave Ale. If you aren’t sure what to get there is always the sampler that Mr. Pea’s mom got that lets you try 6 of their different brews. They also have really great food at the Potosi restaurant, my favorite thing they serve is their beer cheese soup, it is hands down the best beer cheese soup I have ever had. They also have some great fish (caught fresh locally), burger, barbeque and salads, anything I have had off their menu has been absolutely delicious! Also, a trip to Potosi wouldn’t be complete without checking out their National Beer Museum and Art gallery across the street. This great place located in the middle of nowhere, is one of my favorite places to visit.

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And if you weren’t full yet from breakfast and lunch, saving room for dinner is a must. Because dinner for Saturday night is grilled tenderloin, steamed asparagus, red potatoes with parsley and my contribution to the food a delicious Crunchy Romaine Toss Salad, of course. Dinners for camping are usually pretty fancy, candles and all, it is like you are fine dining in the middle of nature.

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Crunchy Romaine Toss

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Salad

1 1/2 Cups chopped broccoli

1 bunch of romaine, torn

4 green onions, chopped

1/2 Cup walnuts

1 pkg ramen noodles, broken

2 tablespoons of butter

Discard the seasoning packet for the ramen noodles. In a skillet, saute noodles in butter until golden. In a large bowl combine noodles, walnuts, broccoli, romaine and onions. Drizzle with the dressing before serving.

Dressing

1/2 Cup sugar

1/2 Cup vegetable oil

1/4 Cup cider vinegar

2 teaspoons soy sauce

salt and pepper to taste

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the sugar, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sal and pepper and shake well.

Sunday

Sunday’s breakfast was extra special this year, we made some blueberry pancakes, eggs bacon and had some fruit on the side. Blueberry pancakes are my favorite, and these were great!

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We had some left over salad from the night before and snacks for lunch, but for dinner we had Grilled Chicken, Spaghetti with a meat sauce and a tossed salad.

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To beat the rain in the morning we packed up really early and left to go home, but all in all I would say it was a successful camping trip, and I can’t wait to go back next year.

So every year for Mr. Pea’s birthday  I make  him a special birthday dessert. This year I decided  to make  some cupcakes for him, it turns out that it was someone’s birthday at work  so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and create a birthday treat for both.  The theme for my co-workers birthday was Halloween, so I tried to think of a dessert that Mr. Pea  would love and that  would fit the fall themed holiday as well. So I decided on these Carmel Apple Cupcakes, that seemed to fit the bill.  The only problem Mr. pea is not a fan of apples, although I have made some apple desserts for him in the past that he did like I didn’t want to chance ruining his birthday dessert, so I made them, minus the apples, but I highly recommend adding the apples to these delicious cupcakes.

 

Carmel Apple Cupcakes

For the Apple Cupcakes:

3 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup orange juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups grated apples**

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and sugars until creamy. Beat in the the orange juice, vanilla, and vegetable oil. Slowly add the flour mixture, mix until just combined. Stir in the grated apples. Bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Cool completely before frosting.

**Bakers Note – I prefer to use a mix of sweet and sour apples.  For my latest batch I used a mix of Granny Smith and Macintosh.

Caramel Buttercream Frosting:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons  vanilla extract

Bring 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Wash sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until caramel is dark amber. Immediately remove from heat, and slowly add cream, salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth. Let cool. If  you  are not familiar  with baking , making Carmel can be tricky, so  you  can also use a 1/3 Cup of the Carmel you can buy in a jar for ice cream toppings from your local store.

Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Place whites and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add beaten butter, cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla.   Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add caramel, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.

**Bakers Note –  When I made the caramel I doubled the recipe and used the leftover to drizzle caramel over the cupcakes.  You will still have some leftover which is great on ice cream!

 

 

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

So I think it is no secret by now that Mr. Pea loves Mexican food.  So  do you think it was any question that we had to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the best way possible, a Mexican fiesta of course!  We have been planning this for a while, and have been really excited to share our cooking skills with our friends.  The fiesta was a blast we had so much fun and the food turned out great! I think we will definitely have to have  another fiesta next year!

The first thing I want to talk about is the tequila we had, it is called Clase Azul and is the best tequila I have ever had! Mr. Pea brought this bottle  back  from Arizona were it is the only place we have found they sell it in the US. They come in hand painted bottles  and each bottle is unique to its own.  I am surprised  that  this bottle has lasted this long, you would  think that too if  you knew  how much Mr. Pea and I love tequila.  We agreed  when we got it though that we would only drink it on special occasions.  But don’t  put this in your margaritas, this is the kind of tequila that  you sip on and enjoy on the rocks, because it is that good.  For making margaritas  make sure you use any kind of clear 100% agave tequila, we used Camarena tequila. As for shots,  I wouldn’t use  the Camarena, I would  suggest using patron or a bottle of 1800.

Tequila

So we started off  with some chips, salsa, guacamole and Ben’s signature Margaritas.  We  made two different kind of salsas, the first one was the tomatillo salsa that  I have shared the recipe for in an earlier post. The second was a  Chipolte  salsa  that was so good that I blinked and it was gone, so unfortunately have no photo of it, but no worries I  will share the recipe.

Mr.Pea’s Signature Margaritas

Ingredients:

(serves 4)
3/4 Cup(s) juice (3 large limes) lime
6 Tablespoon(s) sugar
1 Cup(s) plus 2 tbs tequila blanco
1/4 Cup(s) cointreau
1 1/2 Cup(s) small ice cube

Directions:
Make limeade
Combine the lime juice, sugar and 1 cup water in a glass or plastic pitcher. Cover and refrigerate if not using right away (but no longer than 24 hours).

Finish and serve margaritas
Add the tequila and orange liqueur to the pitcher of limeade. Rub the rims of 6 martini glasses with a lime wedge, then dip them in a dish of coarse salt. In a large shaker, combine the half of the margarita mixture with half of the ice and shake 10 to 15 seconds, then strain into the prepared glasses. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

Chipolte Salsa

Ingredients:

1 Can(s) 14oz with juices diced tomatoes

3 Clove(s) peeled, halved garlic

3 chipotle chiles en adobo

1/2 Teaspoon(s) mexican oregano

2 Tablespoon(s) apple cider vinegar

1 rehydrated Gaujillo chile (rehydrate in water for 30 minutes), stem and seed

1 rehydrated Ancho chile  (rehydrate in water for 30 minutes), stem and seed

* * Note: You can also  use the water used to rehydrate the chiles  to stir into the salsa  to reach the desired consistency.

Directions:

In a food processor or blender, combine, the tomatoes, garlic, chiles, oregano and vinegar. Process until smooth. Pour into a small (2-quart) saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer 15 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in enough water to reach desired consistency. Taste and season highly with salt, usually 1 1/2 teaspoons. Cool, pour into a bottle and refrigerate until needed.

 ** Note: This recipe  can also be thinned out to use as a steak marinade or steak sauce. If used for this,  adding water more water is necessary, to give the sauce the consistency of steak sauce and/or marinade.

Guacamole

Ingredients:

-Frontera Guacamole Starter mix

-1 red onion

-lime juice (this is what keeps it green, not  the pit which most people think)

-cilantro

-4-5  ripe avacados ( The way  to tell if an avacado is ripe is to push with your thumb and if it is soft but not too soft then it it is perfect for making guacamole)

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and mash with a potato masher  and enjoy!

We then  decided  to make two different tacos, we each decided to make one. I  decided to make a New Mexican Chicken Taco with Black Beans and a Pineapple Orange Jalapeno Salsa. While Mr. Pea made a Chile Braised Pork Shoulder Taco with Pickled Red Onions.

New Mexican Chicken Taco with Black Beans and a Pineapple Orange Jalapeno Salsa

Ingredients:

(serves 12)

-2 Packets of Rick Bayless’s Frontera  New Mexico Taco Skillet Sauce  (with roasted tomato and mild red chile)

– 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

– 2 teaspoons of chipolte seasoning ( I used Penzeys chipolte seasoning)

-1 cup of water

Put all the ingredients into a crockpot, give it a little stir to blend the seasoning with the skillet sauce and water. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours ( I think low and slow is always the better choice). When done, the chicken should shred easily when stirred with a fork and/or tongs. When done , to assemble taco heat taco shell in a cast iron skillet, spread a little bit of black beans , place the chicken on top of the beans and then top it off with the Pineapple Orange Jalapeno Salsa.

Pineapple Orange Jalapeno Salsa

2  oranges, segmented and chopped

1/2 cup of pineapple

2 tablespoons chopped red onion

1/2 jalapeno, chopped

2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

pinch of salt

**Note:  I usually make this salsa  with blood oranges instead of regular oranges, but they are no longer in season :(.  I usually  use this with fish tacos or even some grilled fish that we make, it makes a good topping for seafood!

Chile Braised Pork Shoulder with Pickled Red Onions

Ingredients:

(makes 20 tacos)

•    2 medium dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
•    4 medium dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
•    1/3 cup Lime Juice
•    1/3 cup Orange Juice
•    1/3 cup Olive Oil
•    1 chipotle chile en adobo
•    1 jalepeno, stemmed, seeded and chopped
•    2 bay leaves
•    2 tablespoons cider vinegar
•    1/2 small white onion, roughly chopped (plus a few thinly sliced rings for garnish)
•    3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
•    1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
•    1 teaspoon dried thyme
•    1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
•    Pinch of ground cloves
•    1 1/2 tablespoon pork lard or bacon drippings
•    1/2 teaspoon table salt (plus more to taste)
•    3 pounds, boneless pork shoulder
•    Warm corn tortillas
•    Sour cream, hot sauce, pickled red onions, thinly sliced radishes and cilantro, for garnish

Directions:
•    Place the dried chiles in a small bowl, cover with very warm water and let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain, reserving 2/3 cup of the soaking liquid, then transfer the rehydrated chiles and the reserved liquid to a blender.
•    Pulverize the bay leaves in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and add them to the blender along with the vinegar, onion, garlic, oregano, thyme, orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, jalepeno, allspice and cloves.  Process to a smooth puree, adding water if needed to keep the mixture moving through the blades.  Press through a medium mesh strainer into a bowl.
•    Set a large, 6-quart pot with a lid over medium-high heat and add the pork lard.  When very hot and almost smoking, pour in the puree and stir constantly until it sears, concentrates and darkens into a spicy-smelling paste, about 5 minutes.  Remove the pot from heat and season the sauce with salt.
•    Preheat the oven to 325°.  Cut the pork shoulder into slabs about 3-inches thick.  Lay the meat into the pot with the chile paste, then flip it over to cover evenly, spooning on more sauce over the top to coat the pork well.  Pour 1/2 cup water around the meat, cover tightly and place in the oven.  Roast for 2 1/2 hours, basting the meat every 30 minutes with the liquid and rendered fat that accumulates.  If all of the moisture evaporates, feel free to add more water to the plan to allow you to continue basting. Let the pork rest for 20-30 minutes before serving.
•    Shred or pull the meat apart into-bite size pieces using two forks.  Toss the meat to incorporate any of the leftover chile braising liquid, check for seasoning and add more salt to taste.
•    Place the chile pork in a warm bowl and serve alongside the warm corn tortillas.  Have your guests assemble their own tacos, adding their own garnishes to taste.

Pickled Red Onions
•    1 Red Onion, thinly sliced
•    ¼ tsp Pepper
•    ¼ tsp Cumin
•    ¼ tsp Mexican dried oregano
•    ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
•    ¼ tsp Salt
•    1/3 cup Cider vinegar
•    2 tbs Lime Juice

•    Blanch the onion slices in salted, boiling water for 45 seconds, then drain and place in a medium container.

•    Combine Lime juice, vinegar and remaining spices then pour over the onions. Add enough water to cover the onions, stir well.

•    Let stand for several hours until onions are bright pink. Covered and refrigerated, these onions will last several weeks.

We also made two side dishes Green Poblano Rice (Arroz Verde al Poblano) and Refried Black Beans.

Green Poblano Rice (Arroz Verde al Poblano)

Ingredients:

(makes 4 servings)

1 2/3 cups chicken broth or water

2 fresh poblano chiles, stems and seeds removed, and roughly chopped

12 sprigs cilantro, plus extra for garnish

Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon if using salted broth, 1 teaspoon if using unsalted or water

1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

1 cup rice, preferably medium grain

1 small white onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

 Directions:

-In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the broth and chiles, bring to a boil, then partially cover and simmer gently over medium to medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the chiles are very soft. Pour the chile mixture into a food processor, add the cilantro (stems and all), and process to a smooth puree. Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl and stir in the salt.

-The rice: Wipe the pan clean, add the oil and heat over medium. Add the rice and onion, and cook, stirring regularly, until the rice is chalky looking and the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook a minute longer.

-Add the warm (or reheated) chile liquid to the hot rice pan, stir once, scrape down any rice kernels clinging to the side of the pan, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Uncover and check a grain of rice: It should be nearly cooked through. If the rice is just about ready, turn off the heat, re-cover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes longer to complete the cooking. If the rice seems far from done, continue cooking for 5 minutes or so, retest, then turn off the heat and let stand a few minutes longer. Fluff with a fork, scoop into a warm serving dish, decorate with cilantro sprigs and it’s ready to serve.

Re-fried Black Beans

Ingredients:

-2-3 can of black beans

-1 tablespoon pork lard

-1 tablespoon Penzeys Arizona Dreming seasoning

Directions:

Heat on medium heat and mash with potato masher,  when beans are mashed  and  heated through, stir  and they are ready to serve.

And  we couldn’t leave dessert off the menu, it’s my favorite part (well the baking and decorating part!)

Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes

Cupcakes-makes 24

 1 box Betty Crocker white cake mix 1 cup bottled strawberry margarita or daiquiri mix1/3 cup vegetable oil1/4 cup tequila3 egg whites or whole eggs Frosting1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 box (1 lb) powdered sugar (4 cups)

2 teaspoons of heavy whipping cream

2 to 3 tablespoons bottled strawberry margarita or daiquiri mix

 Garnish

12 slices lime, each cut in half

 HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO EVERYONE! 🙂

Poco Loco

Poco Loco  has been one of Mr. Pea’s favorite restaurants for quite some time, he has been talking about this place what seems like forever. This past week we were actually  in the area so we decided to stop there for dinner. Now I know why he raves abut this place so much, it is really, really good.

 Poco Loco is very unique on the inside, with two round bars  for  you to sit at the counter looking into  the kitchen area, it makes for an interesting dining experience.  I was impressed with the food the moment I walked through the door,  it smelled delicious, and that is usually a good sign  when a restaurant smells  delicious, chances are the food is delicious too! They have a smaller menu  but they have some really great options that you probably won’t find on very many Mexican restaurants menus, like Blue crab quesadilla and  various kinds of fish tacos.

I got  steak tacos, and was even more impressed  when they brought it to me and it was perfectly  cooked steak, usually when I go to a Mexican restaurant they have no clue  how to cook steak tacos and it is always tough and chewy.  They have a very good salsa to go with their chips and salsa they bring to the table,  it is on  the spicy side, so  be careful if spicy is not your thing.  My suggestion when eating Mexican food and you are not in the mood for a margarita of course, is to have a beer called Pacifico. It is light  and refreshing and goes really well with Mexican cuisine.

Poco Loco also has a patio for outdoor dining, I think we might have to go back there  on a nice summer afternoon!

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Sil’s Drive-Thru

Sil’s Drive-Thru  was one of my favorite places in Milwaukee, and I am sad to say that today was its last day open. It is a sad day to know that there will be no more delicious doughnuts, bagels or wasted weiners in my life.  It it located on  the corner of North Avenue and Oakland, just a few steps away from our last apartment, two houses in from what used to be the block where the Pizza Man, Cush and Grecian Delight once were  until a terrible fire took out the whole block.  I feel like this intersection in particular has been hit with some crazy disasters lately,  shortly after  the block burnt down in that terrible fire, Wisconsin was hit hard with some flooding and a massive sinkhole collapsed in the middle of that intersection and with it swallowed up an SUV, luckily everyone got out. I am not saying that Sil’s Drive Thru closing is a disaster, it just is another reason that this intersection is cursed (I am glad we moved when we did).  I am sad that Sil’d Drive Thru will  not be open anymore, it will be missed.

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RIP Sil’s Drive Thru 😦

The Old German Beer Hall

The Old German Beer Hall  is a popular bar in Downtown Milwaukee, located on Old 3rd Street. Mr. Pea and I have been there  multiple times and every time we go we have a blast.  We often take our friends and  out of town guests to this bar, because well it is a good time and it is not like other bars in Milwaukee.  This bar represents the spirit and tradition of Munich’s legendary Hofbräuhaus, the most famous beer hall in the world. Milwaukee’s Old German Beer Hall offers a glimpse of Bavarian social life, and 400 years of tradition and history. With replica tables and benches from the “Schwemme”, you will feel the connection to the original Munich beer hall. This bar has great beer, but you better put your drinking pants  on because these liters of beer will surely do the trick.

My favorite brew they have is a Hofbräu Hefe Weizen with Rasberry syrup, kind of girly I know but delicious. In my defense  though, when it comes  to drinking  a  liter of beer, I think that qualifies me to be able to hang with the guys.  This was the first wheat beer ever brewed, the standard by which all others judged.  Mr. Pea likes their darker brews though, which I am not particularly fond of, he usually goes with the Hofbräu Dunkel. The Hofbräu Dunkel is a rich walnut Brown color, dark roasted malts and subtle
hops. This beer  is by far one the easiest drinking dark beers in the world. This is historical  standard of  Bavarian beer, the  light lagers came much later.

I usually don’t eat their food  their  but  they do have great food. The Old German Beer Hall serves up traditional Bavarian festival food and specialties. Their menu showcases the world famous Usingers sausage, made daily just across the street. Their giant pretzels are made in Munich with flour from the Royal Bavarian Mill,  if you try one make sure to try it  with Obatzter, the traditional beer hall cheese spread. German food isn’t my favorite, but I have to at least try  to like it. Mr. Pea’s family is  German and they love German food, we go to Germanfest every year  and slowly but surly I am finding things that I can enjoy when we go there.

They also have a dish called Currywurst, which I tried for the first time the last time I went, thanks to a friend of mine  who has traveled to Germany on business a couple of times  and  and he told me I had to try it.  Currywurst is Germany’s popular spicy snack, it is  a sliced sausage  served with a zesty tomato-curry sauce. I was a little weary on trying it though I am not big on spicy foods. This Currywurst turned out to be delicious though,  and a little kick to it  but it had good flavor  to it, it wasn’t just spicy.

The  other reason we like going to the Old German Ber Hall is that  it  is fun,  they usually have a polka band playing and  every so often a guy will blow his horn which stretches as long ad one of the tables.   Also,  there is a really fun game that they have there called ‘Nails’. This  game is where  there is a tree stump  and everyone has a nail,  you pound the nail in just enough to make it stand up on its own. Then everyone takes a turn at hammering their nail in the stump one hit at a time. The person that is the last to get their nail into the stump has to buy a round of beers or shots. If you are buying shots they have this thing called  the ‘Shot-ski’ there, it is basically a ski that has holes drilled in it  to hold shot glasses, and 5 or 6 people line up and  take the shot all at the same time.

So next time you are going out and looking to have a good time, try the Old German Beer Hall  you are guaranteed to have a good time!

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