Ben is out of town this week, so I have been left to my own devices. Last night I got home and decided to read the first chapter or two of the kids’ novel Because of Winn-Dixie, which I needed to preview before using it in a lesson. Turns out the book is really good, and also a bit sad. A girl named India Opal, whose mother left when she was little, moves to Naomi, Florida with her dad and ends up adopting a stray dog who helps her make all kinds of interesting friends. Each friend has their own poignant story. I may have ended up crying several times (just enough to need a tissue, not straight-up bawling), and finishing the whole book in less than two hours. Now, that’s what I call a fun evening! Tonight I might watch the film version.
These brownies are SO good! Rich and fudgy in the middle and irresistibly crunchy around the edges–I can’t stop thinking about them. Their flavor is enhanced by a dose of a cinnamon and a hint of cayenne pepper, but you can totally leave those out if you want a more classic brownie.
I made a big pan of these (doubled the below recipe) for the first meeting of my school’s Spanish Club, and they were a huge hit! The meeting was at ten am, but nobody complained about being served brownies for breakfast. I made them again day before yesterday in these Christmas molds, and I was going to give them as gifts . . . but we ate them all. Restraint is futile when faced with Mexican brownies, especially if they are shaped like Christmas trees.
These brownies don’t taste gluten-free to me at all! The original recipe called for a relatively small amount of flour, so I knew it would be a great candidate for using my paleo flour blend. If you don’t have the flour blend on hand, I’ve also provided measurements for each individual type of flour. The ratio is slightly different from that of the flour blend for ease of measurement, but I have made the brownies both ways and did not notice a difference in taste or texture.
If you’re looking for a last-minute edible gift, why not whip up a batch of these Mexican brownies? Just make sure to give them away quickly before you break down and eat them all. Or, go ahead and make them for yourself for breakfast! ¡Feliz navidad a todos!
When I lived in Houston, I loved to stop at El Rey Taquería for a big bowl of their tortilla soup, which was packed with chicken, shredded cheese, corn, avocado, and crispy tortilla strips, and also called caldo tlalpeño. The restaurant is open until 3 am on the weekends, and has a drive-through. I miss living the easy life in H-town, with all the drive-throughs, cheap prices, and delicious Mexican food! I decided it was time to make my own caldo tlalpeño up here in the frosty north.
A little research revealed that caldo tlalpeño and tortilla soup are not really the same thing. Tortilla soup usually has tortilla strips in it (shocking, right?), and caldo tlalpeño often has chickpeas and other vegetables like chayote. This is my version of the soup, which combines the best of both worlds. If you can’t find chayote (I found mine at the Vietnamese market), you can use zucchini instead or leave it out.
This summer, my vegan & paleo strawberry ice cream was a runner-up in Rodelle Vanilla‘s Great American Ice Cream Contest, and the prize was a basket of Rodelle Baking Goodies. I asked the wonderful folks at Rodelle if they would include a few extra goodies for you all, and they said yes! I picked up a couple of other treats over at Taza Chocolate yesterday, and am beyond excited to bring you a vanilla and chocolate giveaway.
One winner will receive a prize basket including:
- Two whole Madagascar Vanilla Beans from Rodelle
- A 6-ounce bottle of Rodelle Pure Madagascar Vanilla Extract
- A 2-ounce bottle of Rodelle Organic Chocolate Extract
- A 2-ounce bottle of Rodelle Anise Extract
- Two discs of Taza Chocolate’s Organic Fire Puncher 70% Dark Chocolate Mexicano (2.7 ounces)
- A bag of Taza’s Organic 55% Dark Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs (2 ounces)
- A recipe card for Molten Spiced Chocolate cake and a Direct Trade pamphlet from Taza
We had a party last night! The main feature was the decorate-your-own cupcake station (more on that later). However, we did have one delicious thing from the savory side–this queso! I highly recommend it.
This is adapted from a recipe on How Sweet It Is, one of my very favorite food blogs. I was so excited that Jessica posted this just in time for me to make it for my party! All the recipes I’ve tried from her site have been fabulous. Plus, her blog is really fun to read. I had to take out the chorizo because of all my vegetarian friends. I’m sure it would be fabulous with sausage, but it’s hard to imagine it being more fabulous than it already is!
This morning, I used the leftover queso to make delicious chilaquiles. I fried up some onions and garlic, added two eggs and a handful of crushed tortilla chips, and stirred in a few big dollops of this queso. I served it with sliced avocado, cilantro, and scallions with a squeeze of lime. Most delicious hangover cure ever!
Ingredients (serves 8 as an appetizer):
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapeños, deseeded and diced (I used 1, but the dip was not very hot. Try 2 for more spice, or use the seeds.)
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups beer (your favorite kind–or use a Mexican beer)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 ounces freshly grated white cheddar cheese
Chopped scallions and cilantro for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallot, jalapeño and garlic and saute until fragrant. Stir in the black beans, and raise the heat to medium. Add the beer and cumin and stir to combine. Cook for five more minutes, until some of the beer has bubbled away.
Add the cream cheese, and stir until melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the cheddar and stir until smooth and creamy.
Serve with scallions and cilantro on top, and a big basket of chips for dipping.
If the queso hardens up, you can microwave it for a minute or so with a bit of water and stir until it’s creamy again.
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This is a delicious pantry soup, meaning you can make it with ingredients that might already be in your pantry. It’s healthy and filling, and topped with lots of good stuff. Also, it comes together in less than half an hour and packs a little mini punch. Yum!
P.S. I am calling this a bisque, because it sounds so much fancier than soup. However, according to Wikipedia, bisques have to be made with seafood stock. Oh well! No seafood here, but still delicious.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic paste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 15 ounce cans of black beans
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 packet Sazón Adobo seasoning
A few pinches cayenne pepper, to taste
1 cup water
Splash of silver tequila (optional)
3 tablespoons cream or coconut milk
Chopped fresh cilantro and scallions, for serving
Heat the butter or olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and corn, and raise the heat to medium high. Stir in the garlic paste and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about ten minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the beans along with their liquid. Add the oregano, cumin, Adobo seasoning, cayenne, and water. Stir to combine. Simmer for ten minutes. Towards the end of the cooking time, stir in the tequila and let it bubble away for another minute or so.
Remove soup from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove about half of the beans and puree them in a food processor until smooth. Return the puree to the saucepan, add the cream, and stir to combine.
Serve the soup with a generous scoop of corn and onions, and a sprinkling of scallions and cilantro.