Monday, November 15, 2010

Party Decorations- $6, Festive Taco Bar Party- Priceless

I’m still finding salt in every corner of our home. Thus is the result of our Make-Your-Own-Margarita and Taco Bar party over the weekend. It’s my new favorite party theme; talk about simple!

All I did was set out a little buffet of:  1)  Taco meat- Sauté some hamburger with lots of cumin, chili powder, Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy and a little salt. 2) Black beans- My friend Rebekah gave me the following set-it-and-forget-it Slow Cooker Black Beans recipe. (I’ll be cooking garbanzo, pinto, and all my beans this way from now on.)   3)Condiments in festive little bowls: Chopped cilantro, sliced green onions, crumbled Queso Fresco cheese, a jar of nopalitos (spicy cactus pickles,) chopped lettuce and salsa from a can with the addition of fresh cilantro and tomatoes and frozen corn.

The margaritas were a breeze: Sauza makes a great pre-mixed variety that comes in an easy-pour box; we also put out a bottle of Sauza Tequila Silver (it has a clean, fresh, lovely fruit flavor/aroma), ice, lots of lime wedges and for dipping the rims of glasses, a wet paper towel on a plate with another plate of kosher salt. While this was probably not the most authentic Make-Your-Own-Margarita set-up, guests were happy to mix in tequila and limes to their liking. And most folks would rather chat than stand at the bar trying to remember the correct proportion of Triple Sec to tequila and lime juice.

But I was most happy with my $6.00 decorations. They were all edible! I filled an old straw hat (that looked rather sombrero-ish) with produce from our local Hispanic grocery store: Cactus paddles (nopales), prickly pears, chayote squash and peppers of every color and shape.  (Emeril's Cactus Salad is delicious!)

Slow Cooker Black Beans (adapted from Rebekah)

3 c. dried black beans

1 red onion quartered

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, chopped

2 teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon cumin

¾ teaspoon black pepper

9 cups water

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Pumpkin and Chayote squash

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Real Popcorn

Popcorn with Baby's pumpkin hat!
Of course all pop corn is a real whole grain.  In fact pop corn is one of the easiest ways to get more whole grains into your diet.  Even smothered in salt and butter, it's still a whole grain with about 2 grams of fiber per cup.  And who eats just 1 cup.  So before you've finished a bowl, you've consumed A LOT of fiber. 

According Jolly Time there are two types of kernel shapes: Mushroom and butterfly.  Interesting.

Unpopped cob in front of popped corn
It was rather difficult to discern if the kernals on these cobs from the Farmers Market were mushrooms or butterflies.  But I can tell you that popping them was absolutely the most exciting two minutes of kitchen fun the girls and I have had!  We just threw the cob into a glass bowl and covered with plastic wrap, venting 1/2 inch.  Then we all watched the show through the microwave door as the kernals shot in rapid fire off the corn cob blowing and stretching the plastic wrap like a balloon!  (The dear farmers forgot to give us cooking directions - so it was an experiment!). 

The taste was so fresh and sweet!  It didn't even need salt. 

To find your own fresh pop corn fun, try Whole Foods or this Big Red Popcorn:  I can't personally vouch for either, but I've heard both are good.
It was fun to pull some of the remaining corn right off the cob