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A Simply Sweet Treat

12 California Dried Apricots
12 Roasted California Grown Pistachios (lightly salted) Chopped
12 Honey-Wheat Pretzel Rods (lightly salted)
12 Dark, Sweet Summer Cherries
1 Cup Dark Chocolate Morsels
1 Tbsp Organic Hawaiian Coconut Oil
1/8 Tsp Pure Lemon Extract (or other flavor)

Melt Chocolate and Coconut Oil.

Dip Apricots in chocolate first on both sides, then dip one side (the plumpest side) in a plate of chopped pistachios.

Lay flat on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

Add 1/8 Tsp Lemon extract dip pretzels and cherries.

Lay flat on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Place all goodies in the fridge for at least one hour to set and then gently peel and wrap in a goodie bag or gift box.

It’s really that simple and really makes a sweet gift to a good friend.

Prepping the pistachios

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Melting the chocolate

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Lining them up onto parchment paper
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Place them in the fridge to set
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Enjoy!
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And, with the extra pistachios…do it all over again!

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Beefy Nachos with Guacamole: A Satisfying and Fun Last Minute Dish

Beefy Nachos with Guacamole, Photo by Jason Homa

Beefy Nachos with Guacamole, Photo by Jason Homa

Monday nights a lot of friends go to a NYC Mexican restaurant for “Fajita Night,” but this is not the Mexican food I grew up on in California. Fajitas came later and were more common in the Texas region that was once Mexico (ode to Joaquin Murrieta Carrillo).  I was raised on handmade tortillas, (my friend Amy Sierra’s mom used to make them) with chorizo and eggs, chile relleno, refried beans, tacos, salsa picante and enchiladas.  This is what I considered “real Mexican food.”  Everyone is entitled to their taste.

One of my favorite (and real simple to make) snacks was nachos.  I thought about them last night on our way home and stopped and grabbed a couple of avocados, vine tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, lime and a variety of corn and sweet potato chips and here is what I came up with.

Again, before I let Jason go at them, he took this beautiful photograph.  It was one of our quicker shoots, since, by the time we ate, we were starving. This recipe is for my brothers, my mom and dad and all my friends in Cali!!!  Good eats, good times and good memories!

Oh, and if you’re in the Bay Area of northern California, here were some of my favorite spots:

La Pinata

Tito’s Mexican Restaurant

La Taqueria

Beefy Enchiladas with Guacamole

Preheat Oven to 325

1 Lb. Ground Beef
1 Cup Beef Broth
1 Tbsp. Flour or Cornstarch
1/2 Lb. Sharp Cheddar Grated
1/2 Lb. Monterey Jack with Peppers Grated
1 Yellow Onion Minced
3 Cloves of Garlic chopped
1/8 Tsp. Hot Hungarian Paprika
1/8 Tsp. Smoked Spanish Paprika
1/8 Tsp. Cumin
1/8 Tsp. Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1/2 Small Jalapeno or Serrano Chile (more if you like to sweat a little)
Salt & Pepper

Guacamole
1 Large Haas Avacado
1 Tsp. Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1/2 Small Jalapeno or Serrano Chile
1/2 Juice of Lime
Dash of Cumin
1/4 Yellow Onion Chopped
1 to 1 1/2 Tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Chopped and Seeded Vine Tomato
Salt & Pepper

Final Topping
1 and 1/2 Medium Vine Tomatoes Chopped
1 Tsp. Chopped Fresh Cilantro

Be creative:  Add your favorites at this point.  I have to be careful with how spicy I make it for some guests and others love it when I load on more chile peppers.

In a skillet coat bottom of pan with olive oil.  Saute onions and garlic until caramelized. Brown meat in a separate oiled skillet (I coat the meat with a tablespoon of flour or cornstarch).  Once browned, add to caramelized onion mixture and adding jalapeno, paprikas, cumin, and oregano, mixing well.  Add beef broth, while stirring, add the cilantro and bring to a boil.  Simmer on low while preparing guacamole and chips.

For the guacamole I simply cut my ingredients into quarters and throw into my food processor until the texture is to my liking.  (I prefer a slightly chunky guac).

Assemble chips of your choice in a pyrex baking pan, layer with grated cheeses, repeat and pop in oven for about 5 minutes until cheese is melted through. Using a slotted spoon, top with beef mixture and put the nachos back in the oven for another 5 or 10 minutes (watch closely).  Take out and top with guacamole and tomatoes.  Serve immediately while catching up on Game of Thrones or The Good Wife!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Portuguese Beef Stew

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This is the perfect dish for feeding hungry friends and family!  Whenever I make it I imagine my two brothers pushing past me to get firsts, then seconds of this stew.  My granny Mary used to make it during the colder months in California and bring it over on a Tuesday night – her day off.

Granny Mary

Hugs & Kisses wtih Granny Mary

Ingredients:

4 pounds bottom round, well-trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup olive oil (plus more if needed)
2 large onions, diced (2 cups)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup Portuguese dry red wine
1 pound potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
1/2 pound baby carrots (about 2 cups)
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon Portuguese sea salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas, thawed or 1/2 pound fresh haricot verts trimmed and halved
1 pound cooked egg noodles

Preparation:

In a large glass bowl, coat the beef in the flour. Heat a few tablespoons of the oil in a large French Oven over medium-high heat. I prefer using the Le Creuset French Oven.  Brown the meat, a few pieces at a time, adding more oil as necessary. If not using a French or Dutch Oven, transfer to a 4- 6-quart slow cooker, otherwise remove meat, set aside to add back later. Add the onions to your French Oven and cook over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and coat the onions; remove and set aside to be added back with the beef or transfer to slow cooker. Pour the wine into the French Oven and scrape up any browned bits; add to the cooker or leave in French Oven, adding back your beef and onions and stir in your potatoes, carrots, haricot verts broth, salt, thyme, and bay leaf. Cover and cook in the oven on 325°F for 7 hours.  If you’re using a slow cooker cook on low for 7 ½ hours or on high for 4 hours. Add the peas and heat through.

Serve over egg noodles.

Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

Prep time: 35 Minutes

Other: 7 Hours, 25 Minutes

Beef Stew

Beef Stew, Photo by Jason Homa