Monthly Archives: December 2011

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Cochinita Pibil Tacos with Queso Fresco and Pickled Onions


Cochinita Pibil tacos is a traditional Mexican/Central American dish that is made by slowly roasting pork shoulder with a savory spice blend that consists of cumin seed, annatto seed, cloves and allspice berries.  The pork is marinated in spices and orange juice over night, wrapped in banana leaves, and baked in the oven.  Thankfully it was easy to find the annatto seeds and banana leaves at a latin grocery store.  After several hours, my kitchen smelled amazing from the spices and the pork was ready to be shredded and wrapped in warm corn tacos.  I added a little crumbled queso fresco and Mexican pickled onions for garnish.  To add a substantial amount of heat I put a tiny bit of roasted habanero salsa on them as well.  I topped the tacos with fresh cilantro. If the salsa is just too firey, add a little sour cream to cool the heat.
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Mexican Pickled Red Onions

I had never tried pickling anything for a recipe before but it turned out to be surprisingly easy and was a delicious condiment on tacos.  A simple pickling technique is to submerge the onions in vinegar, salt, and sugar for several hours.  You can also add acidic juices and spices to provide more flavor.  In this recipe I used orange, lime, and apple cider vinegar for a vibrant citrus flavor.  I also added a little fresh oregano which tasted great with the onions.  After a few hours, the onions soften and turn an even brighter shade of red.  Another way to get the onions even softer is to blanch them prior to pickling.  This will be a great condiment on mexican food and even sandwiches so I plan to use it again soon!

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Roasted Habanero Salsa

Habanero Chilis are one of the hottest peppers in the world–just a few steps down from pure concentrated capsaicin (the ingredient found in pepper spray).  I had never tried the habanero and I was looking forward to this very hot salsa.  I recently made Cochinita Pibil tacos but the tacos had very minimal heat.  I decided to try the habanero salsa with the tacos and the results were great, though I only needed a tiny bit (1/4 tsp per taco) to add the right amount of heat.  The heat from the habanero sneaks up on you while eating so make sure to have sour cream, milk, or yogurt around to cool down the mouth.  Water won’t do much when eating a habanero, and dairy or bread are the only things that really help.  I can’t wait to use the habanero in tex-mex dishes like chili for some added heat.

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Gruyere Tuna Melt Sandwich

A great way to spice up a sandwich is using just slightly different ingredients to give it a different twist.  I’ve been making tuna melts for a while now as they are one of my favorite sandwiches and I normally just use sharp cheddar cheese.  In this sandwich I used an apple smoked gruyere and it tasted great melted in between the layers of bread and tuna.  It took an otherwise plain sandwich into a really tasty dinner.  I added a little dill and dijon mustard to the tuna which gave the tuna a nice flavor too.

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Pumpkin and Banana Bread


I have really been enjoying the results of adding pumpkin to different recipes.  This bread is just like a banana bread with a hint of pumpkin flavor.  The bread is seasoned with ginger, allspice and cinnamon and this recipe works great for the holidays.  With the addition of the pumpkin to the mashed banana the result was a very soft, moist bread. I can’t wait to make this again!

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Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta and Bean Soup)

Pasta e Fagioli is a traditional Italian peasant soup that translates to “pasta and beans.”  It’s a soup that can be made with several types of pasta, usually tubettini, ditalini, or conchigliette. Prosciutto or pancetta is used for the base to give it a nice smoky flavor. I wanted to make a big batch so I used a slow cooker to cook the beans and broth. It turned out great, though I forgot to cut up the rosemary and it should really be finely chopped. Just before serving I mixed in the cooked pasta. I strained the rest of the noodles out before putting it away to prevent them from absorbing all the broth over night. The soup was great with a warm, crusty baguette and grated parmigiano reggiano.

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