Bacon Tostilocos

Bacon Tostilocos

Oh man do I have a fun recipe for you today!  Tostilocos, a Mexican street food specialty, are typically made by cutting open a bag of flavored corn chips and piling on toppings such as pickled pig skin, tamarind candies, Japanese peanuts, jicama, cucumber, lime juice, chamoy and hot sauce.  I first had Tostilocos last year at our San Diego LGBT Pride festival.  Jorge and I had been walking around all day, and I was getting huuuungry.  We stopped to sit for a moment in the shade, when Jorge hopped up and said, “I’ll be right back.”  Several minutes later, he returned with a bag of Tostilocos.  After just one bite my taste buds were all like, “Whaaaaaaat???”  Such a crazy combination of flavors that just completely work well together.  Sweet.  Salt.  Sour.  Crunch.  I’ll have to say the one element I’m still not completely sold on is the pickled pig skin.  It’s like savory gummy worms.  But wet and slippery.  Not my fav.  So when I was coming up with a homemade version of Tostilocos, I decided to substituted thin strips of smoky bacon for the pickled pig skin.  I also included some quick pickled cucumber and red onion to add another note of sweet, sour and salt.  You can easily make these pickles at home in just one hour (mainly inactive wait time).  Jorge and I will still get Tostilocos each year at the festival, but now I can easily satisfy cravings in between with my bacon version!

If you don’t live in San Diego (or any other City bordering Mexico), some of these ingredients may look very foreign to you.  Try to find a Mexican market in town.  They should have everything you need.  Or you can easily purchase these items online.  I purchased everything at Pancho Villa’s Farmer’s Market here in SD.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Tamarind Trail Mix

Jarring Tamarind Trail Mix

Jorge and I are headed off for Portland and Seattle in several days, and I’m currently in the process of preparing for this 9 day trip.  Today will be spent doing laundry, and purchasing any last minute items like my cologne that’s just about to run out (Jo Malone Assam & Grapefruit), hiking shoes, new jeans and a gift for a friend’s wedding we’ll be attending on Saturday.  Tomorrow, I’ll be organizing my belongings and starting the packing process.  I’m one of those people who packs waaaaay too much stuff for vacation.  Whatever, I like outfit options!  On Thursday, I’ll be baking another batch of this Tamarind Trail Mix.  Traveling without substantially delicious snacks is something I rarely do.  Airport food is typically the worst.  Hi, $11 sandwich that tastes moderate at best.  And don’t even get me started on airplane food.

Sweet, salty and wonderfully complex, this Tamarind Trail Mix is flavored with cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, honey, brown sugar, tomato and tamarind.  Roasted nuts, seeds and coconut are then tossed with sweet dried mango and citrusy chopped cilantro.  The finished mix is incredibly savory and undeniably addictive.  I like to pack up my travel trail mixes in mason jars to keep the contents from getting crushed in my bag.  I should note that I’ll be making most of the trail mix in advance.  On Saturday, right before we leave for the airport, I’ll add the chopped cilantro.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Kale and Avocado Summer Rolls

Spring Roll Making During San Diego’s June Gloom, the weather is rarely ideal for going to the beach.  Which makes me sad, because it’s around this time of the year that I start yearning for a beach day.  The beach is one of the main reasons why I moved from New Jersey to San Diego.  Each year while I was growing up, I would spend a week or two at my Aunt’s beach house on Long Beach Island (eating many of these).  It was one of my favorite times of the year.  So naturally, when it was time for me to move out on my own, I picked a city with easy beach access.

On the rare occasion in June when the sun decides to break through the marine layer, I immediate make plans to go to the beach.  I pack my bag with a book, iPad, iPhone, tanning oil (I am a New Jerseyite at heart), water and snacks, like these Kale and Avocado Summer Rolls.  Kale is marinated in a dressing of honey, lime, fish sauce, garlic and chile, then wrapped up with a fresh mix of carrot, cucumber, avocado, mint and cilantro.  These flavors are bold and bright.  Portable gourmet, this summer roll can easily stay in my bag for a few hours without worry of spoilage.

So it ends up that today is actually one of those rare beautiful days in June.  I’ve got my bag almost all packed up, so I’m going to finish here.  I’ll be on the beach enjoying a few of these tasty rolls.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Pulled Pork Tamales with Corn Salsa

Pulled Pork Tamales with Corn Salsa Several days ago, temperatures in San Diego shot up to the mid 80’s and 90’s, causing an almost instantaneous craving for summer flavors.  Fresh berries, sweet corn, juicy tomatoes, grilled meats and gloriously green herbs.  I immediately got in my car to do some grocery shopping.  Windows down.  A warm breeze blowing.  Spotify on full blast.  Pulled Pork Tamales with Corn Salsa in mind.

This recipe captures the essence of summer.  Smoky, succulent pulled pork is encased in corn masa, then steamed until light and tender.  Accompanying the tamal is a corn salsa spiked with red onion, serrano chile and chopped cilantro.  This salsa is fresh, fresh, fresh.  A perfect counter to the richness of the tamal.  Summer, I am ready for you.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Pear Salsa

Pear Salsa

Fragrant chunks of crisp, Bartlett pear are tossed with sweet red onion, fiery bits of serrano chile, fresh mint and verdant cilantro.  This beautiful bowl of purple and green is then dressed in a simple mix of olive oil and lime juice.  Fresh, bright and SO yum, this recipe makes a lot of salsa, so make sure you have friends or family around to help you finish it.  I love to serve this up with some tortilla strips, but you could also spoon atop a seared piece of fish or mix in with steamed rice.

We’re all familiar with tropical fruit salsas like pineapple and mango, but really, you can use any type of fruit.  I’m getting a little giddy just thinking of the possibilities!  Apple and thyme salsa?  White peach and tarragon?  Berries and sage?  So many options!  What’s your favorite type of fruit salsa?  Continue reading for the recipe and share your thoughts below!

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Bacon and Tomato Guacamole

Bacon and Tomato Guacamole

Classic guacamole is really hard to beat.  But I’ll have to say, this Bacon and Tomato Guacamole wins out.  It’s really not that fair though.  Adding bacon to just about anything makes it better.  This recipe starts with curls of creamy, ripe avocado mashed into a coarse mess.  Crispy crumbled bacon, chopped tomato, white onion, vibrant cilantro, lime juice and smoked chipotle chiles are then mixed in to create a festive dip that is nothing short of scrumptious.  With each bite you’ll enjoy a moment of green, grassy richness cut with fresh tomato, cilantro and lime.  Pops of crunchy bacon offer a nice counter in texture and flavor, and a smokey heat, courtesy of the chipotles, is faintly present in the background.  Craveworthy to the max.  You really won’t be able to stop yourself from finishing the entire bowl.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Yucatan-Style Slow-Roasted Pork [Video]

Yucatan-Style Slow-Roasted Pork

With autumn each year, cravings for slow-cooked pork and beef always seem to work their way into my thoughts, creating an almost insatiable hunger for tender, spiced meat.  I find that nothing banishes the dreariness of a cold, dark evening quite like a warm plate of succulent, slow-cooked meat.  This Yucatan-Style Slow-Roasted Pork, a newer addition to my repertoire, is the perfect cure to my cool weather cravings.  The pork rub is made of a tantalizing array of spices including annatto, cumin, allspice, red pepper flake, smoked paprika and ground ancho chile.  Slathered and sealed, the 3 pound hunk of Boston butt slowly cooks for 4 to 5 hours nestled in an aluminum foil package.  The finished meat is boldly spiced and fall-apart tender.  So, so delicious.

Be sure to check out the video below for step-by-step instruction on how to make Yucatan-Style Slow-Roasted Pork.  This video is a fairly good representation of how long it would take to prepare this recipe (i.e. minimal editing and advanced prep work).  You really can prepare this dish in about 15 – 20 minutes (not including 4 – 5 hours of inactive wait time).  Continue reading for the recipe!

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Roasted Beets with Red Onion, Poblano and Lime

Roasted Beets with Red Onion, Poblano and Lime

Roasted Beets with Red Onion, Poblano and Lime is another dish I will be serving at my friend’s wedding coming up in October.  Not the most universally liked vegetable, beets may seem like a risky option for a wedding; however, this particular preparation of beets is seriously legit.  A guaranteed crowd-pleaser.  Really the best beets I have ever tasted.  Vibrant wedges of sweet, colorful beets are tossed with poblanos and sliced red onion then roasted in a dressing made of olive oil and Worcestershire sauce.  Finished with bright lime juice and fresh cilantro, these beets are bold, balanced and packed with the most amazing depth of flavor.  The Worcestershire infuses the vegetables with a rich, complex meatiness that works well with the natural earthiness of the beets.  The lime and cilantro cut through the heavy flavors and round out each bite.  Whether you like beets or not, you must give this recipe a try.  It’s one I’m sure both you and the wedding guests will love!  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Chile and Lime

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Chile and Lime

Fall, my favorite season, is rapidly approaching.  I am eagerly looking forward to cooler temperatures, stunning sunsets and especially… fall produce.  After spotting an early display of butternut squash at the market, I immediately purchased one with thoughts of this recipe in my head.  Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Chile and Lime is a perfect transition side dish between summer and fall.  Earthy butternut squash is brushed with olive oil, home ground cardamom, allspice and flaky sea salt then roasted til tender and creamy.  The sweet spiced squash is then arranged with lime slices, serrano chiles, cilantro and a cool yogurt-tahini dressing.  The contrasting flavors and textures of this dish are just spectacular.  Continue reading for an early taste of fall.

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Cornmeal Crusted Fish Tacos with Rhubarb Salsa

Cornmeal Crusted Fish Tacos with Rhubarb Salsa

I recently saw a recipe in The New York Times for Chicken Liver Tacos with Rhubarb Salsa.  The chicken liver component made me cringe a bit, but my interest was certainly piqued by the rhubarb salsa!  Tart, fresh rhubarb is mixed with spring onion, spicy jalapeño, cider vinegar and smoky chipotle powder.  I paired this adventurous salsa with strips of cornmeal crusted white fish and creamy, caramelized onions.  The finished taco was definitely like nothing I have ever tasted before.  An enjoyable array of bold, bright flavors and varying textures that is sure to arouse your taste buds.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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