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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

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Archive for Cinco de Mayo & Dia De Los Muertos

CINCO DE MAYO: Mexican Chicken & Rice Soup Recipe

Soup for Cinco de Mayo. Photo courtesy
Dole.

 

You could whip up some tortilla soup for Cinco de Mayo. Or, try this Mexican Chicken & Rice Soup.

There are dozens of “Mexican-style” Chicken Soup recipes out there. This one is tasty and easy to make. Don’t omit the lime or the cilantro; both provide authentic (and delicious) Mexican flavors.

MEXICAN CHICKEN & RICE SOUP RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs (6 ounces)
  • 2 small carrots
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Fresh lime juice for garnish
  • 1/2 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE chicken thighs, carrots, onion, bay leaf and salt in a large stockpot and cover with 8 cups of cold water. Cook over medium-high heat just until the mixture begins to boil. (NOTE: We remove the skin from the thighs to reduce the fat and cholesterol in the soup.)

    2. REDUCE heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until chicken is tender. Remove all the ingredients from the stock. Discard the onion and bay leaf. When cool enough to handle, remove the chicken from the bone and chop the chicken and carrots into bite-sized pieces.

    3. PLACE 1/4 cup rice in the bottom of each of 4 bowls. Distribute the chicken, carrots, chopped red onion and cilantro evenly among them and top with 1 cup of stock. Squeeze some lime juice on top and serve, garnished with a lime wedge.

    Makes: 4 Servings | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Biscochitos, Cinco De Mayo Cookies

    Cookie maven Ann Clark of Make More Cookies wants more people to bake biscochitos. Crisp and crunchy, biscochitos are a cinnamon cookies, “a cross between shortbread and cinnamon toast,” says Ann. You don’t have to shape them like cactus or chiles; biscochitos are traditionally cut in a diamond shape for weddings or in a fleur de lis shape. Any cookie cutter will do. (The cactus and chili pepper cookie cutters are available on Amazon or at AnnClark.com.)

    These classic Mexican cookies are “the perfect cookies to nibble on during Cinco de Mayo,” says Ann. Often served at Christmas and at weddings, biscochitos came to Mexico by way of Spain; the inclusion of anise seed and brandy or wine or wine attests to their European heritage. They are beloved in the southwestern U.S., and are the official state cookie of New Mexico.

     

    Cactus- and chile-shaped cookies are a fun option for Cinco de Mayo. Photo courtesy Ann Clark.

     

    Recipes for biscochitos often state that you must use lard to make them authentic. Ann says that lard does, indeed, make cookies with a uniquely light, crisp texture. But it also makes them taste like lard. Her recipe uses a combination of shortening and butter.

    Two other departures from tradition: To help the cookies keep their shape, Ann’s recipe uses less baking powder than is usually called for. And, to reduce the risk of breakage, instead of dipping the baked cookies in cinnamon sugar they get a coating before going into the oven.

    This recipe makes about 20 cookies.

     

    Make biscochitos in your favorite shapes.
    Photo courtesy Cowgirl Way | Pinterest.

     

    BISCOCHITOS RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons brandy or sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon anise seed or 1/2 teaspoon anise
    extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. STIR sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside.

    2. BEAT butter and shortening together in a bowl; add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until fluffy.

    3. ADD egg, brandy, vanilla and anise; mix until completely incorporated.

    4. WHISK together and add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix just until all ingredients are well blended; do not overmix. Chill dough for 3-4 hours before rolling.

    5. PREHEAT oven to 350ºF. Roll dough out on a lightly floured counter to 1/4-inch thickness and cut with cookie cutters. Transfer cookies onto cookie sheets that have been lined with parchment paper or silicone liners.

    6. BRUSH each cookie lightly with water, using a pastry brush; sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly colored. Let cookies cool slightly on cookie sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

     
    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE COOKIE RECIPES.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Agua Fresca For Cinco De Mayo

    Make agua fresca for Cinco de Mayo. Photo
    © Raptor Captor | Fotolia.

     

    In Spanish, agua fresca means fresh water. In culinary terms, it refers to a variety of refreshing cold drinks that are sold by street vendors and at cafés throughout Latin America; they’re also sold bottled and are whipped up at home.

    A traditional agua fresca is an infused, sweetened water, flavored with fruits and/or vegetables—often a more complex layering of flavors than lemonade and limeade. It is nonalcoholic and noncarbonated.

    The recipes can include a combination of fruits or veggies, flowers (like hibiscus), herbs and/or spices, cereals (barley, oats, rice), seeds (chia), even almond flour. Agua de horchata, a very popular recipe, is made of rice spiced with cinnamon.

    While some look forward to Margaritas and other alcoholic libations to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, kids and adults who refrain from drinking should indulge in an agua fresca or two. Of course, you can add a shot of rum, tequila or other spirit for those who want to celebrate with it.

    Three of our favorite combinations:

  • Watermelon (or any melon) and basil
  • Cucumber with basil and mint
  • Hibiscus (made with hibiscus herbal tea) and honeydew
  •  

    They’re as easy to make as lemonade. Try different recipes and develop your own signature. You’ll be certain to have people dropping by through the warm spring and summer months.

    TIP: To ensure that the sugar dissolves, use simple syrup or ultrafine sugar (which you can make by pulsing regular sugar in the food processor or spice mill). You can infuse the simple sugar with herbs (we like basil or rosemary). Here’s the simple syrup recipe.

    And here’s the agua fresca recipe we had recently at Tres Carnes, a wonderful new Texican smoked meat spot in New York City (more about it below). The house agua fresca, a combination of apple, cucumber and lime, was so refreshing that we had a second. Thanks to executive chef Sasha Shor for sharing her recipe.

     

    TRES CARNES AGUA FRESCA RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 3 cucumbers (English or other thin-skinned cucumbers), unpeeled
  • 6 granny smith apples, unpeeled
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup, made from 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water (or use agave)
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • Sliced limes and/or cucumber for garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE a basic simple syrup by boiling water and dissolving sugar in it. Reduce by 1/3 until a syrup forms. Cool completely.

    2. TRIM ends from cucumbers and chop into large chunks.

    3. CORE apples and remove stems, discard cores and seeds.

     

    Smoked pork shoulder, our favorite among three delicious smoked meats at Tres Carnes restaurant. Photo © Chris Gardiner | Fotolia.

    4. PURÉE cucumbers and apples with lime juice in a blender or food processor until all is incorporated and you have a thick purée. The consistency should be similar to thinned applesauce.

    5. STRAIN the purée mixture through a fine mesh strainer, removing all fruit and vegetable pulp. You may have to strain twice depending on your strainer.

    6. ADD simple syrup and water and stir well. You may have some sediment but that’s ok!

    7. CHILL the agua fresca and serve over ice. Garnish and serve.
     

    TRES CARNES RESTAURANT: TEXICAN SMOKED MEATS IN A FAST FOOD VENUE

    Tres Carnes is the newest best thing to happen to fast food. The first outpost launched recently in New York City (at Sixth Avenue and 22nd Street). If the great food and lines snaked out the door are any indication, it’s a smash hit.

    You move through a line past the hot table, where personable counter staff put whatever you want in a bowl, in a burrito wrap or onto a plate with two soft tortillas. You choose from three kinds of smoked meat (the “tres carnes”) prepared by Mike Rodriguez, an award-winning pitmaster—smoked brisket, chicken adobo and BBQ pork shoulder—and revel in the delicious sides of beans, corn, greens, guacamole and squash. Chili is Texas-style: all meat, no beans.

    There are so many delicious sides that vegetarians can have as wonderful a meal as carnivores. Everything is seasoned with great finesse, and the food is of a quality that doesn’t get any better at far fancier, white tablecloth restaurants. In fact, we can’t think of any other Tex-Mex restaurant we’d rather return to.

    The eatery is so new that there are no photos of the fab food on the website, no place to sign up for information, not even a Facebook page or Twitter. But keep checking at TresCarnes.com, and hope that a Tres Carnes comes to you, soon.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Stoli Hot & Infused Jalapeño Vodka

    Thinking ahead to Cinco de Mayo? Bring something hot to the party—a bottle of Stoli Hot vodka, with jalapeño flavor and a hint of chipotle smoke. You can also make your own (recipe below).

    Introduced last year as a new flavor, Stoli Hot is a reformulated version of the 1962 flavor, Pepper (Pertsovka). Another 1962 flavor, Honey and Herb (Okhotnichya), is now called Stoli Sticki. They were the brand’s first flavored vodkas, and the freshening up of the concepts was a 50th anniversary celebration.

    Stoli Hot mixes well with lime juice, mango nectar, orange juice and pineapple juice. We loved it in a frozen mango Margarita, the flavors echoing our favorite flavor of paleta (Mexican ice pop), mango chili lime.

    The distiller has developed Stoli Hot cocktail recipes, including, among others:

  • Stoli Hot & Sour: 1 part Stoli Hot, 1 part Rose’s Lime Juice
  • Stoli Bubbly Hot: 2 parts each Stoli Hot and tonic water
  • Stoli Hot Bloody Shot: 2 parts Stoli Hot, 2 parts tomato juice, 1/2 parts fresh lemon juice, pinch prepared horseradish, dash Worcestershire sauce
  •  

    Some like it hot. They should enjoy drinking shots of Stoli Hot. Photo courtesy Stolichnaya Vodka.

  • Stoli Hot Shot: 1 shot Stoli Hot with a jalapeño garnish (we used a pickled jalapeño slice)
  • Stoli Hot Screw: 2 parts Stoli Hot, 1 part orange juice
  • Stoli Red Hot: 2 parts Stoli Hot, 1 part cranberry juice
  •  
    There are plenty of ways to have a hot time on Cinco de Mayo!

    MAKE YOUR OWN INFUSED JALAPEÑO VODKA

    You can infuse your own vodka with jalapeños, and can also play around with a touch of chipotle or liquid smoke flavor. Home-infused vodka will have a different flavor from Stolichnaya’s, since commercial vodkas are flavored with extracts instead of infused with fresh fruit.

    Just because you’ll be infusing jalapeños doesn’t mean you can buy the cheapest vodka on the shelf: The impurities will still be apparent. Of course, you don’t have to infuse the most expensive vodka, either, unless you want to.

    Ingredients

  • 1 750ml bottle quality vodka
  • 4 large jalapeno chiles, washed and patted dry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE stems from jalapeños and cut into quarters lengthwise. Add to vodka bottle.

    2. STEEP in a cool, dark place for one week; then taste. If you’d like a hotter flavor, continue steeping and check weekly.

    3. REMOVE the jalapeños. You can keep them in the bottle for a picturesque touch, and they will continue to add flavor for a few months until their flavors are thoroughly incorporated.

    TIP: It’s not easy to remove the fruit from the bottle. Instead, keep an empty vodka bottle around for making infused vodka. Transfer the vodka you’re infusing into that bottle and add the fruit. Then, when your infusion is complete, decant the flavored vodka into the original bottle.
     
    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE SPIRITS & COCKTAIL RECIPES.

      

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    RECIPE: The World’s Best Margarita Is The Tamarindo (Tamarind) Margarita

    Is this the best Margarita in the world? It’s pretty special. Photo courtesy Tequila Avión.

     

    Margaritas come in all shapes, sizes, and in a variety of expressions—from the classic straight up to frozen to flavors such as mango and passionfruit. Some are made with mixes (good, bad and average). The best are made with fresh-squeezed lime juice (ask the server or bartender to be sure you’re not getting reconstituted lime juice).

    And then there’s the Tequila. While there are many fine Tequilas on the market (the word is capitalized as it’s the name of the city and state where the spirit is produced), Tequila Avión took five honors* at this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

    And, Tequila Avión was the Tequila of choice for the World’s Greatest Margarita. At the Sixth Annual World Margarita Championship held in February in Tucson, Arizona. Gustavo del Toro of the La Fuente Restaurant in Tuscon won the award with a recipe that used Tequila Avión. Here‘s the recipe, in time for weekend leisure.

     

    *Tequila Avión Silver won the Double Gold (higher than a mere gold medal) and Best Tequila awards as well as the Best Unaged White Spirit category (beating not only the other tequilas but all vodkas, gins, and rums). The brand also won two silver medals for its aged tequilas, Avión Reposado Tequila and Avión Añejo Tequila.

    You’ll need to rustle up some fresh tamarind (tamarindo) or buy tamarind purée (check Asian market or online). Fresh-squeezed orange juice will also contribute to a “world’s greatest” flavor.

    Sourced from the world’s highest quality agave and produced using a rare distillation process, Tequila Avión makes Silver, Reposado and Añejo Tequilas (here’s the scoop on the different types of Tequila). For more information about the brand, visit TequilaAvion.com.

    TAMARINDO MARGARITA RECIPE

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Tequila Avión Silver
  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier or other premium orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or GranGala
  • 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce orange juice
  • 1/2 ounce tamarindo/tamarind purée (see recipe below)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Coarse salt and chili powder to rim glass
  • Lime wheel and tamarindo peel for garnish (if you’re not using fresh tamarind, you can substitute orange peel)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. Combine tequila, Grand Marnier, lime juice, orange juice, tamarind purée and sugar in a blender with cup of ice. Blend thoroughly.

    2. Serve in a Margarita or Martini glass rimmed with coarse salt and chili powder.

    3. Garnish with a lime wheel and speared tamarind peel.

    Tamarind Puree Recipe

    1. Boil 1-1/2 pounds of fresh tamarinds for approximately 45 minutes or until tender.

    2. Allow the fruit to cool; then strain to remove the seeds. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and sugar and then blend the fruit pulp into a purée.

    Makes enough for four Margaritas.

     

    Pods, which grow on the tamarind tree, hold the fruit inside. Photo by M.L. Valentin | Wikimedia.

     

    WHAT IS TAMARIND?

    While many people might think of tamarind as an Asian fruit, it is actually indigenous to the Sudan—in eastern North Africa right below Egypt—from where it spread throughout tropical Africa.

    In the 16th century, tamarind was introduced to Mexico by Spanish and Portuguese colonists, and then to South America. Today, the pod-like fruit is used extensively in cuisines around the world. Mexico and South Asia are the largest growers and consumers of tamarind.

    The fruit got its name from British sailors, who first discovered it in Oman, on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. where they disembarked en route to India. It was sold processed into dark brown slabs of sticky paste that looked similar to the ripe dates. The sellers inaccurately referred to it as thamer hind, literally “dates from India,” which the sailors heard as “tamarind.”

    Known for its sweet-and-sour taste, tamarind is used in both savory dishes and in sweets: jam, juice drinks, ice cream, sorbet and candies. It is an ingredient of Worcestershire sauce, which originated in India: a fermentation of anchovies, chiles, cloves, corn syrup (sugar in the original recipe and the U.K. version), garlic, molasses, onions, pepper, shallots, soy sauce, tamarind, vinegar and water.

    The History Of Worcestershire Sauce

    It is believed that a Captain Henry Lewis Edwardes (1788–1866) brought the recipe for the sauce home after travels in India. It is not known how the recipe got to Lea and Perrins, but John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, two dispensing chemists (pharmacists) in Worcester, England, created a recipe that was first sold commercially in 1837.

    Known as “The Original Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce,” the brand was purchased by H.J. Heinz Company in 2005.

      

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Make Jalapeño Poppers On The Grill

     

    This year is the 20th anniversary of the jalapeño popper, a hot little nugget that enjoys a cold beer.

    The original poppers were jalapeño chiles stuffed with cheese, battered and deep-fried—a spicy American snack version of the Mexican dish, chiles rellenos (stuffed bell peppers). They were created by McCain Foods for the restaurant/foodservice industry. You can find them in supermarket frozen foods aisles as Anchor Poppers.

    Chefs and home cooks embraced poppers, and stuffing variations have expanded to include different cheeses, crabmeat, ground meat, chopped sautéed mushroom and whatever appeals to the cook (we like polenta and sausage). While restaurants tend to serve the battered and fried poppers, it’s easy—and less caloric—to grill them at home.

    It’s A Snap!

    The video below shows just how easy it is to grill jalapeños. The toughest part (and it isn’t tough) is scooping out the ribs and the seeds from whole jalapeños with the tops cut off, to create the vessel for filling.

    To that end, this inexpensive jalapeño corer is a good investment. You can get one “free” when you buy a jalapeño roasting rack to set atop your grill (about $17.00 for both items).

    You don’t need either to make the bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers in this video: Simply slice the chile in two, scoop, fill and use a raw bacon slice to wrap the two sides together. Fold in a foil packet and grill.

    But if this is your type of food, the grilling rack speeds up the process—and is the green alternative to sending sheets of foil into the landfill.

    More Ideas

    Dip Or Sauce: Poppers don’t need a dip or a sauce, but people tend to like them. We combine melted pepper jelly with plain Greek yogurt. Salsa, marinara sauce or any favorite will do as well.

    Cookbook: There’s also a cookbook for you: Jalapeño Poppers: and Other Stuffed Chili Peppers which has 100+ recipes, from jalapeño poppers to armadillo eggs to stuffed chili peppers galore.

    Pop on!

       

       

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve Punch To A Crowd

    Punch is a festive and easy way to serve a
    crowd. Photo courtesy El Jimador.

     

    If you’re expecting a large crowd on Cinco de Mayo, a bowl of punch can make your life easier. It holds a large amount and guests serve themselves, sparing you from the mixologist job. And, guests love a good punch.

    Here are two punch recipes, including a frozen Margarita punch. Separately, here are 10 punch making tips.

    The first punch recipe is courtesy El Jimador tequila. It combines tequila with bubbly—in this case, Prosecco.

    PUNCH #1: CINCO PUNCH

    Ingredients

  • 1 bottle silver/blanco tequila
  • 1 bottle Prosecco
  • 4 ounces Aperol (substitute: Campari)
  • 48 ounces/1.5 liters pink grapefruit juice
  • 25 ounces/750ml honey syrup (recipe below, or substitute simple syrup)
  • Garnishes: pomegrante seeds, raspberries, lime discs and pink grapefruit discs
  • Equipment: punch bowl,* glasses and ladle
  •  

    *You can pick up a plastic punch bowl at a party store for around $10.00. Or, you can use a large pitcher.

    Preparation

    1. MAKE ICE. The best ice for punch bowls is lump or block ice. It melts slowly, keeps the punch much colder for longer and reduces the dilution. Make it by filling a balloon with water; tie off the balloon and place it in a bowl in the freezer the night before.

    2. PLACE BOWL. Place the punch bowl on the table you intend to serve from. A full punch bowl is very heavy to move (not to mention, it sloshes).

    3. ADD ICE. Place ice carefully into the punch bowl.

    4. ADD LIQUIDS. Next, add all the liquid ingredients. Stir gently but thoroughly.

    5. GARNISH. Garnish with raspberries, pomegranate seeds, lime discs and pink grapefruit discs.

    HONEY SYRUP INGREDIENTS

    Like simple syrup, honey syrup is made in a 1:1 proportion of sugar/honey to water. There are about 3 cups in 750 ml.

    Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups honey
  • 1.5 cups water
  •  
    Preparation

    1. In a small saucepan, heat honey over low-medium heat.

    2. Add water bit by bit, whisking until fully incorporated.

    3. Cool, then refrigerate until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before adding to punch.

    PUNCH #2: FROZEN MARGARITA PUNCH RECIPE

    Turn the staple frozen Margarita into a punch with this recipe.

    Ingredients

  • 4 cans (12 ounces each) frozen limeade concentrate, thawed and undiluted
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 cups Cointreau, Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • 3 cups silver/blanco tequila
  • 2 bottles (2 liters each) lemon-lime soda
  • Garnishes: lemon slices, orange slices, berries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX. Combine the limeade, water, orange liqueur and tequila. Freeze at least 8 hours, stirring twice during the freezing process.

    2. THAW. Remove from freezer 30 minutes before serving.

    3. ASSEMBLE. Break into chunks in punch bowl. Add soda and stir until slushy.

    3. GARNISH. Garnish with lime and orange slices and berries.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Michelada For Cinco de Mayo

    A tall, cold michelada is begging for your
    attention on Cinco de Mayo. Photo courtesy
    Bohemia Beer.

     

    Not everyone wants a Margarita on Cinco de Mayo: Some people would rather have a beer.

    If you enjoy a little heat, don’t reach for your regular beer. Have a michelada, a traditional Mexican beer cocktail (“cerveza preparada,” in Spanish).

    Pronounced mee-cha-LAH-dah, a basic michelada consists of beer, lime and hot sauce served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass.

    Michelada is the combination of the words “mix” and “chela.” Chela is Mexican slang for a cold beer. “Mix” refers to the mix of ingredients added to the beer.

    Thanks to Bohemia Beer—one of our favorite Mexican beers—for the recipe.

     

    MICHELADA #1: CHIPOTLE MICHELADA

    Ingredients

  • 2 fresh lime wedges, cut in half
  • Chipotle rimming salt (recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce (we use the Frontera brand) or 1 teaspoon puréed canned chipotles en adobo
  • Ice
  • 6 ounces chilled Bohemia beer or other Mexican beer*
  • 1 slice cucumber for garnish
  •  
    *You can use any lager you have on hand, but Mexican beer celebrates the spirit of the holiday.

    Preparation

    1. Use a piece of lime wedge to wet the rim of a tall glass. Dip the rim of the glass into the chipotle rimming salt.

    2. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lime pieces into the glass and then add all the lime pieces. Stir in the chipotle hot sauce or puréed chipotles in adobo. Fill the glass with ice.

    3. Pour in the beer. Mix gently. Garnish the glass rim with a notched cucumber slice. Serve.

    Chipotle Rimming Salt Recipe

    Thoroughly mix 2 tablespoons coarse (kosher or sea) salt and 1 tablespoon ground chipotle chile powder in a small bowl. Pour out onto a small plate to use for rimming beer glasses.

    MICHELADA #2: CHELADA

    Short for michelada, the chelada is a michelada variation with sauce, spices and chile. This version uses the fixings of a Bloody Mary.

  • 3 ounces cold Mexican beer
  • 3 ounces chilled tomato juice
  • Several dashes Worcestershire Sauce, Maggi Sauce† and hot sauce
  • Pour into a tall glass filled with ice and stir.

    †Maggi Sauce, made by Nestlé, is a seasoning of salt, spices and pepper. The recipe varies around the world, based on local tastes. You can substitute soy sauce and freshly-ground pepper.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Spicy Lemonade

    Someone gave us a box of Crystal Light On The Go Natural Flavor Lemonade, in individual-portion packets.

    They let you mix up a refreshing lemonade wherever you find a glass or bottle of cold water. We’ve become hooked—a surprise to us, as we haven’t liked other mixes we’ve tried—and this one has just five calories per glass! So congrats to Crystal Light for the excellent lemon flavor.

    After we used up the individual packets—in one day—we raced to the supermarket to buy the pitcher-size packets, which make two quarts. While 64 ounces of lemonade sounds like a lot, it’s the equivalent of four 16-ounce bottles. We’ve been going through a pitcher a day.

    We’ve also been playing with flavor variations.

  • Mint. A sprig of crushed fresh mint is great, but you can also use a drop of mint extract.
  •  


    It’s really delicious! Spice it up for flavor fun. Photo courtesy Crystal Light.

     

  • Cayenne. A pinch of cayenne makes spicy lemonade. Add it pinch by pinch to the glass until you get your desired level of heat; or start with 1/2 teaspoon in a pitcher.
  • Ginger. The same works with ginger, which has a tastier spiciness than cayenne.
  • Pink peppercorns. Not actual pepper but a berry from another tree (the Baies rose plant—details), these add a very mild flavor at best. But they look pretty in the glass. You can add them to the cayenne and ginger recipes.
  • Savory Herbs. If you have fresh basil, rosemary or thyme, you can also add a sprig to your lemonade. Lightly crushing the herbs before adding them to the glass or pitcher will release the flavorful oils.
  •  
    We love all the variations, but will be serving pitchers of spicy lemonade on Cinco de Mayo. Yes, you can add Tequila…and gin and vodka.

    Want To Make Lemonade From Scratch?

    Here’s the recipe.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How Make Tacos At Home (It’s Easy)

     

    Many people enjoy tacos at restaurants, but far fewer make them at home. It’s really easy.

    You don’t need a holiday to make this family and party favorite. But if you haven’t made tacos before, use the upcoming Cinco de Mayo as the occasion.

    Tacos require a relatively long list of ingredients, but they’re all easy to gather: chopped beef or diced/shredded chicken, canned black beans and corn, onion, taco seasoning (packaged, or use the recipe below) and an optional jalapeño—remove the white ribs and the seeds unless you like things really hot.

    Then, it’s simply into the skillet for these ingredients. When the meat is cooked (20 minutes), set the skillet on the table, buffet style, along with taco shells, chopped lettuce, salsa, shredded cheese and sour cream.

    Then, everyone can build his/her own taco.

    Tacos can be nutritious food, especially when you:

  • Switch the beef for chicken or lean beef.
  • Substitute nonfat Greek yogurt for the sour cream.
  • Go easy on the shredded cheese.
  •  
    Beans, lettuce, onions and salsa contribute fiber (in addition to nutritients), and corn taco shells are whole grain.

       

       

    MAKE YOUR OWN TACO SEASONING

    McCormick’s Taco Seasoning includes chili pepper, cumin, paprika, oregano, onion, whey, salt, sugar, garlic, potato starch and citric acid.

    You can eliminate the whey and sugar by making your own taco seasoning from ingredients you already have on the shelf. And you’ll save money in the process.

    ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon each, cumin, garlic powder, paprika and oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper (optional)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Combine ingredients in a small bowl.

    2. Substitute for a 1.25-ounce package of commercial taco seasoning.

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