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I missed Cinco de Mayo, but it’s as good time a time as any to share my recipe for taco soup. It’s what you get when you cross tacos with black bean soup. I really enjoy it and hope you will, too.

TACO SOUP
olive oil to coat the bottom of your pan
1 pound ground chicken or pork
1/2 a large sweet onion
1 teaspoon adobo seasoning
2 15-oz. cans of beans, drained in rinsed (1 black, 1 white or pink)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño, chopped
1 14.5 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup of your favorite salsa (I love Frontera’s chipotle)
1 cup beer
1 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder (or my way: 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder, 1 teaspoon chipotle powder)
1 teaspoon epazote
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1/2 lime, squeezed (optional)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5-6 minutes. Add ground pork or chicken, sprinkle with adobo, breaking the meat into small pieces as you cook it. Add beans, both peppers, fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa, beer, water, spices and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the corn at the end–just for maybe 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice if you like.

Garnish with any or all of the following for a true taco in a bowl:
fresh cilantro
diced grape tomatoes
chopped green onion
sour cream
crumbled tortilla chips

It makes plenty and freezes beautifully, so you can enjoy it now and later. Though for now, the closest I’ll get to Mexico again anytime soon will be musically with JT. Wanna come with? :D

 

Native strawberries will be ripe for the pickin’ just around the corner here in the Land of Steady Habits. Gotta make sure our recipe’s right for soon-to-be summer sippin’, strawberry margarita-style!

You can make “normal” simple syrup by boiling equal parts sugar and water, but rhubarb’s in season, and I wanted to get that in on the cocktail party. So why be normal? First, let’s make the rhubarb syrup!

RHUBARB SIMPLE SYRUP WITH CARDAMOM
adapted from the Flourishing Foodie and Toby Cecchini (New York Times)

2 cups rhubarb, chopped
as a guide: for me, 2.5 stalks yielded two cups, but some of my stalks were HUGE (see above)
2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 a lemon, squeezed
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
Wash the rhubarb; remove and throw away any leaves. Chop stalks into small 1/2 pieces.

To a medium saucepan, add rhubarb, water, sugar, lemon juice, cardamom and vanilla bean.

Stir to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a boil.
Reduce to simmer for 20 minutes. Stir just every so often. Remove from burner; let cool for 20 minutes. Strain and gently press through a fine mesh strainer. Pour the syrup into a glass container; store in the fridge.
It will keep for a week, and you’ll have plenty, so try it with seltzer as rhubarb soda or make a rhubarb Collins: 2 oz. gin, 1 oz. rhubarb syrup, squeeze of fresh lime, shake-a-shake-a, then top with seltzer…or maybe make a rhubarb bellini if you’re feelin’ fancy! One more for my friend Jay who rolls on the sweet side of the street and does NOT like gin: the rhubarb Julius! 2 oz. Stoli Vanil, 2 oz. rhubarb syrup, squeeze of fresh lime, shake and top with seltzer.

You can eat the leftover rhubarb (pick the vanilla bean out, of course)–it’s a bit like tart applesauce.

But, hey, let’s not forget the main reason we’re here: it’s time to go for a spin in the blender to Margaritaville. Fasten yer seatbelts!

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB MARGARITAS

1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled
3/4 cup rhubarb syrup
1/2 lime, squeezed
1 cup your favorite tequila (I’m diggin’ Milagro of late)
1/2 cup your favorite orange liqueur*
*I used Agavero, tho’ I’m also a big Patron Citronge fan–both are delish. Citronge is slightly stronger by way of proof (64 proof vs. 80 proof).

Ready? Go! See the ingredients above? Place them all in a blender.

Blend! Like magic, margaritas are made. I don’t know if it’s my new blender, or just the texture of fresh strawbs blended with rhubarb syrup, but these are exceptionally SMOOTH and DELICIOUS! Serve in sugar-rimmed glasses filled with ice.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom–CENT’ANNI to Janey!

Oh, and how did Janey like them? :)

On Mother’s Day, let’s just say these ‘ritas were kid tested–mother approved. Love you, Mom!

With Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, the idea of a Mexican hot chocolate snickerdoodle caught my attention. Of course, the recipe I saw was vegan and I’m not, so it’s back to the ol’ Steady Habits-style with butter and eggs à  la the same trusted recipe I modified for the chai spice version. This time the snickerdoodle gets a Mexi-twist with chocolate, almond extract, ground chipotle and ancho chili powders. ¡Vámonos!

I spied the vegan version of these cookies on Foodbuzz and loved the concept. Thanks kindly to Two Bites in Suburbia for the inspiration! http://twobites.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/mexican-chocolate-snickerdoodles

The aroma of Mexican hot chocolate as you remove these little treats from the oven is something I wish I could bottle and send your way. Since I can’t, you’ll have to bake a batch for yourself and see.

MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE SNICKERDOODLES
(STEADY HABITS-STYLE, NON-VEGAN!)
A riff on Mrs. Nelson’s recipe, circa 1975, The Hartford Courant, tested by the Connecticut Light & Power Test Kitchen–with twists, of course, from Katty’s Kitchen!

2 sticks butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cup flour
½ cup Dutch-process cocoa (I used Valrhona)
1 tablespoon baking powder (I used Paneangeli lievito vaniglinato per dolci)*
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground chipotle
¼ teaspoon ground ancho chile

*Thanks to my friend Joanna for explaining  this is a double-acting baking powder, incorporating both baking soda and cream of tartar.

SUGAR ‘N SPICE FOR ROLLING 

1½ tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

Cream sugar, shortening, extracts and eggs. Add dry ingredients. Combine and chill in the fridge for approximately 1.5 hours. 

Use rounded teaspoonful of dough to form small balls. Roll in sugar ‘n spice mixture. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees F about 9 to 10 minutes.

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