The Cheesecake Addiction

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Archive for the category “Mexican”

Staycation Tacos

It is that time of year again; the time of the year where I (and many of you, I’m sure) slowly sink into the throws of seasonal affective disorder. It is that time of year where I spend an hour on Facebook, looking at those photos from my trip to Tahiti seven years ago, and long to wait out the winter in the tropics. To snorkel in the crystal clear 80 degree water, eat fish out of coconuts, and watch fire dancers…ah, the life.

Usually, it is around this time that I bounce over to Bath and Body Works and pick up my favorite tropical scented body lotions, candles, and bath salts and give myself a little Island staycation. Well, I haven’t had a chance to fully create the happy, island vibes, but I did manage to get in touch with those warm, Hispanic roots of mine.

Heading south of the border last night, we made veggie tacos for our dinner guest, Geoff.

I thought it would be nice to make a mango salsa-fresh and tropical with a little kick.

Chop up some mango–about 1 cup, diced, with half of a jalapeño, 1/4 cup diced red onion, 1 diced roma tomato, a few tablespoons of cilantro, and the juice of 1/2 lime. Also, salt and pepper to taste.


Mix and serve with chips OR as a taco topping! Mmmyum!

Mix and serve with chips OR as a taco topping! Mmmyum!

The rest of the meal was pretty simple. I sautéed three bell peppers and one red onion, thinly sliced. I made white rice and tossed that with cilantro and lime. I mixed up black beans with some black refried beans (and again, lime and cilantro), and sliced up some avocado. We built our plates…

A corn tortilla, topped with beans, peppers, onions, mango salsa, and avocado!

A corn tortilla, topped with beans, peppers, onions, mango salsa, and avocado!

…and had some delightful conversation and we shared many laughs.

Phew. That certainly helped pull me out of my funk. I’ve awakened refreshed, reenergized, and ready to begin again.


Real Estate, New Apartment, Menu Planning, and Seafood Tacos

Well hi there! And again, OH MY GOD SO MUCH HAPPENED.

CDR and I have moved into our new apartment and we have an adorable kitchen with stupid high cabinets, great counter space, and a dance floor.

I got a job at Weichert, Realtors-Nickel Group–a firm in Oak Park and I am open for business. The site is still under construction and will soon include a DIY Blog, but take a look here and I don’t know…maybe call me? I need clients (buyers, renters, and sellers!).

Ok, so two huge new things. Both have meant that CDR and I have to live pretty tightly. My new income is commission based, so I’m living off of savings and a little bit of support from my parents. Pretty tight living, but good living. To keep costs down, we’ve been planning our menus a week in advance. I teased him about this, for his meticulous planning, but really–it saves a ton of money. Other money savers: Buying a whole chicken, butchering it yourself, and then making your own stock. Seriously, guys. Chicken is so expensive. You probably will save between$3-$6 just buying it whole, and then butchering it yourself. And you’ll save $3-$4 dollars by making your own stock and you’ll get twice as much. Just throw the back bone and gizzards into a pot or slow cooker with herbs, lemon, garlic, onions, veggies (really whatever you want) and cover with water. Simmer in a pot for an hour, or slow cook as long as you want, strain and jar it up. Keep in the fridge for a week or store it in the freezer for a couple months. Totally worth it. I’ve found that my favorite stock was made with a sliced lemon, a bunch of fresh cilantro, and a couple cloves of unpeeled garlic (salt and pepper to taste). Yep. That’s it. And you’ve saved about $10 total. Do this once a week and each month you’ll have enough wings to do a “wing night” for two. 🙂

Do the same with leftover veggies and make vegetable stock.

OK. Food time. Before we moved and on a night when the weather was particularly awesome and we were feeling close to our SoCal roots, we decided that seafood tacos with a chipotle sauce were the only way to go. SO, we went to Whole Foods and bought some calamari and shrimp. We let them marinate for about 15 minutes in some lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.marinatingseafood

And meanwhile, CDR made the chipotle sauce. Pretty sure it’s just mayo mixed with a bit of dijon and some adobo sauce from a can of chipotles. And maybe some lime juice and cider vinegar.



Then we skewered the seafood and grilled it (I, as always, was in charge of the grilling–because, you, know…I’m a grillin’ machine).grillintime



We created our taco assembly line.

Red onion, tomato, cilantro, avocado, limes, seafood, and corn tortillas

Red onion, tomato, cilantro, avocado, limes, seafood, and corn tortillas

And assembled some bad-ass SoCal tacos. Drizzle with fresh lime juice and chipotle sauce. Serve with beans and rice and you got yourself the best damn tacos ever!

These babies fell from Heaven and right into my tum tum!

These babies fell from Heaven and right into my tum tum!

Ok, actually, the shrimp was a little weird. But I’m very particular about my shrimp. I think it was slightly under-done or something, but the calamari was perfect. The trouble is that when you’re skewering shrimp, it curls up. And usually, a curled shrimp is the way to tell doneness, but if it starts out curly it’s all a timing thing. But typically 3 minutes on one side and 2-3 on the other is pretty good for shrimp.

So yeah. Seafood tacos. A win.

Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to tell your friends I’m a fancy realtor in Chicago now. 🙂

Love and Foodie Hugs.

It’s a photo blog!

Hey everyone!
It’s been a few days. Tonight, I will attempt to roast a chicken (and I will succeed).
But it has certainly been a food-filled couple of days. Yesterday, while baby sitting I made kale quesadillas…and got little Janine to eat them. We also made really yummy vegan brownies. Lots of fun.

And a couple days earlier, I made a Mexican feast! Marinated flank steak, lemon-cilantro rice, peppers and onions, and mango avocado salsa. I won’t lie to you. I rocked the shit out of that night’s dinner. See below.

So, a more heartfelt blog post is coming at you either tonight or tomorrow. Tomorrow morning I have an interview for a part time teaching position at a preschool. I’m wildly excited and horribly nervous, but hopefully I’ll have good things to report. Last night was a wonderfully therapeutic night out with friends. We caught up and laughed and seethed about the happenings of Summer 2012. I hope you enjoyed the photos, people. Back soon.







3 C’s Pork Chops

Hey guys!

I’m not even going to try explaining why I haven’t been writing. Well, I’ve been writing–just not about food. Life is crazy. I feel that I am overbooked, overwhelmed, and over-stimulated. So how’s a crazy girl to calm herself down? She cooks, of course.

Tonight was an “everything but the kitchen sink” kind of night. I had some garlic, peppers, carrots, and tomatoes that needed to be used up and I didn’t feel like putting a whole bunch of work into dinner. A quick look in the freezer and I found two pork chops. I don’t usually enjoy defrosting meat in the microwave, but I went ahead and did it anyway (just 2 minutes). I seasoned them–LIGHTLY– with salt, pepper, cayenne, and cumin. YES, cayenne and cumin are two of the three C’s in this recipe. I let the chops hang out while I chopped up 3 HUGE cloves of garlic, 1 red pepper, 2 small carrots, and 2 tomatoes. I also opened, drained, and rinsed a can of black beans.

When my ingredients were ready to go, I heated about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the big dutch oven and when it was screamin’ hot, I put the chops in-seasoned side down to sear them. I dusted the other side with cayenne, cumin, and onion powder. When both sides were seared (about 2-3 minutes a side), I pulled the meat out and set it aside. In went the peppers and carrots and I let those saute a few minutes and then I added tomatoes, salt, and all the garlic. Get ready for garlic aroma heaven! Let those go a minute or two before you add black beans.

Then I saw my 3rd C hiding in the cupboard. Cinnamon sticks. I figured the spice would round out the smoky cayenne and cumin flavors nicely, as well as add an element of seasonal flair. In went one cinnamon stick. I put the meat back in the pot and then added about 3/4 cup red wine (try to add a wine that goes well with those Mexican spices) and 3/4 cup of vegetable broth. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. I garnished with basil and scallion.


Beautiful, right?

My thoughts? It was really good. It was spice-y, fall-y, smokey. I liked the garnish of the scallions and basil, though I can see where the scallions might taste a bit off for some people. Maybe basil and red onions? That sure would be yummy!

Until next time, and hopefully that won’t be too far off.

Spring, is that you?

Wow. Hello everyone. It’s been a while, huh? I finished another show, so again, that’s my excuse.

I don’t have an excuse for a lack of pictures for what I made last night. Last night, I made a Mexican birthday feast for Jack, who turned 21. It was alcohol free, as I cooked for the rest of his family, and I have yet to turn the legal age. But anyway, I made my usual white rice that’s flavored with garlic, cilantro and lemon juice (usually I use lime juice which I think is better, but I was saving my limes). I made black beans (by “make” of course I mean I drained two cans of black beans and put them in a sauce pan) flavored with cilantro and lemon juice (again, usually use lime juice). I made a mild salsa that consisted of one red onion, minced, two cloves of minced garlic, 4 (or maybe 5) diced tomatoes, about 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, almost a whole jalapeno pepper (it was a big one), salt, pepper, and the juice of two limes. I pan-fried some salt-pepper-cumin spiced chicken and had Jack shred it. PB, Jack’s brother, made a bowl of guac–and some awesome cookie bars (which I’ll have to get the recipe for before sharing it). The night was a total success.

But here’s a few pictures of some things I made in the last few weeks. Excuse the paper plates. The first was a pulled pork sandwich with broccoli cole slaw on the side, served with homemade corn bread. The corn bread had a cup of white sharp cheddar and chopped jalapeno in it. Delish. The second, I baked chicken breasts with a spinach tomato sauce on top. It was really good! On the side, I served a caprese salad.

On another note, have you all felt the call of Spring. I think she’s on her way. We’ve had some lovely warm days in the middle of these “not as cold as it’s been” days. I think the days of citrus and fish and mint and basil and pasta salads are returning, and I couldn’t be more happy. Here comes the sun.

Mexican Comfort Food

Hey guys! Now, I honestly made this food on Saturday, but I had been meaning to tell you about it for a while. I’ve said before that when I’m feeling down or stressed I usually go for foods that remind me of California or Cape Cod. Saturday, I went for California. The pictures I took were not that great, so you’ll have to use your imagination. I made salsa and guacamole along with all the fixins for chicken burritos. The chicken was seasoned with salt, pepper, and cumin and then pan fried in a VERY hot and olive-oiled pan. When it was done cooking, my mom shredded it using the two forks method.

For the salsa, I halved A LOT of cherry tomatoes and finely diced one and a half small white onions. In went three or four finely minced cloves of garlic, a couple tablespoons of  chopped cilantro, and half of a jalapeno pepper–de-seeded and diced. About a teaspoon of red wine vinegar, the juice of one and a half limes, and salt and pepper finished off this salsa nicely. Let it sit for about twenty minutes before digging in so the flavors can mingle. The guacamole was made up of four avocados, three cloves of garlic, half of a finely diced white onion (though red onions work really well too), one chopped roma tomato, some chopped cilantro, salt, pepper, and the juice of a lemon. Mash the avocado with a fork, and mix together. Voila.

For the burritos I also made rice, which was seasoned with lime juice, garlic, and cilantro. I made a side of black beans, also seasoned with lime juice and cilantro. Cheese to top it off and it was one helluva comfort meal.

I have a feeling that the next few days will yield a lot of baked goods. Cheers!

A Culinary Ass-Kicking

Ladies and Gentleman, I have completed my second year at Columbia College!! I am so excited as to what that means for the next three months. Food, theatre, food, reading for pleasure, and FOOD!! But on Monday–yes, Monday, I was too busy to blog about it then–I kicked culinary ass by making a delicious chicken mexitalian dish. “Mexitalian?” you ask. I’ll explain.

You read about how I like to sear some chicken or pork and then make a tomato based sauce–usually italian–and then return the chicken to the pot or skillet and simmer it until its done. Well, same idea. This sauce, however, was a lot thicker than usual. So, going through the pantry I found onions, mushrooms, canned tomatoes, lemons, avocados, and salsa. Were you with me until avocados showed up? Trust me.

So, I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, and cumin. Then in a screaming hot olive-oiled skillet, I seared them. About three minutes a side. I took them out and set them aside. In the same skillet I dropped one chopped onion and let that go for about five or six minutes, sprinkling in a bit of salt to draw out the moisture. Then I added chopped mushrooms and a large can of tomatoes. So, so far, it’s sounding pretty Italian except for the cumin part. So, I added a bit more cumin to the sauce. I let this simmer for about ten minutes , just so it could reduce. In went the chicken, and then I stirred in the salsa. Oh ,yes, I did. All of a sudden this Italian dinner was headed south of the border. When the chicken was nearly cooked (about five minutes later), I zested a whole lemon over the top of the chicken and sauce. BAM! Oh, sorry guys! For a second I thought I was Emeril.

But I still had to use the avocados. So what did I do? I sliced them up, and put a few of the slices on top of the chicken upon serving it, squeezed some lemon juice over the top, and voila! Kudos to mom, who thought to boil some little red potatoes. Those were a delicious addition!

Unfortunately, camera cord is still MIA. I will tear the house apart today in search for it, because this was a glorious piece of chicken.

Other culinary accomplishments that occurred this week: Tim and Dave both turned 21, so I made them each a cake. Dave got the standard chocolate cake, with dark chocolate frosting and some strawberries on top. Tim got strawberry cake (yes, homemade!) with vanilla frosting. From what I understood, they were both good. Thursday evening, I made butterscotch chocolate chip cookies for a friend. I hate butterscotch, but I’m going to say that the cookie itself was pretty good.

Alright guys, back soon! Tuesday night, homemade pizza is on the menu. But I’m sure I’ll cook something up before then.

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