Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cilantro Sour Cream Dip and Tostadas

We have been having a lot of conversations lately in our house about whether foods are finger foods or fork foods.  My 12 year old is the chief offender of eating with his hands.  In his defense, he is a great eater and his messy eating struggles really have to do with the passion with which he eats his food! (He comes by this passion honestly.)  He wants to get more in a bite than the fork sometimes can capture.  We occasionally joke about sending our family to manners classes or Cotillion… but we are not really serious about this.   We just remind them, when necessary, that "this is a fork food", or "put your other hand in your lap while you are eating to keep it out of the food".  I tell my son that, perhaps he just lives in the wrong country. "In India they eat with their hands as a normal custom.  They scoop the food with Naan and use their hands as their main utensils.  It is culturally appropriate." He nods. "In India."

A favorite meal lately in our house has been Tostadas.  People define them differently, but basically- in our home - they are a flat, open faced taco pile.  I don't know if you make them, but I like that they are a change of pace from soft tacos and burritos and yet a lot easier to fill and eat than hard shell tacos. AND they can be eaten with your hands (forks are optional).

They are so delicious, quick and made-to-order!  We made them with leftover rotisserie chicken and refried beans last week.
We make them by putting the meat or beans on a flat taco shell and top with shredded cheese

and warm on a baking sheet in the oven for a few minutes until it's warm and the cheese is melted.  

Guacamole- [My favorite way to whip up some guac is: 2 ripe avocados, smashed; 2 cloves of minced garlic; the juice of one lime; a sprinkle of coarse salt; and a large spoonful of salsa (whatever is nearby). Stir and eat. YUMMY!]
Then we remove it from the oven, place on plates, and top with lettuce, tomato, sour cream and guacamole.  

We typically use tostada shells that you buy in a bag (or a box) at the grocery, though sometimes we bake tortillas for a few minutes to crisp them up and use them when we don't have hard shells.  I have never fried tortillas to make my own tostada shells (because a large motivation for me to make this meal is the EASE of it), but you could.
And to add some excitement to the meal you need to try this dip!

A few weeks ago, at the Social Work department Chili supper that I wrote about, my student Bryan brought this delicious dip to share! He had asked me at class earlier in the week if the students were to bring anything.  I told him that he was free to bring anything if he wanted to, but nothing was required, or expected.  He brought a bowl of this dip and we were glad he did!

It's tangy, creamy and so flavorful.  You can alter the amount of kick it has to your liking.

It's similar to Chuy's Creamy Jalapeño dip, if you have ever had it (just a little thicker).

Cilantro Sour Cream Dip

16 oz. sour cream
1 jalapeno
1 bunch of cilantro
1 clove garlic
1/2 package of dry Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
juice of 1 lime

Seed and chop the jalapeños (You can leave in just a bit of the seeds and membrane if you like the dip to be spicier.)
Wash and trim the cilantro of thick or long sections of stem.
Chop garlic cloves
Juice lime
In a food processor or blender, add all of the ingredients.  Pulse till it is a soft and creamy constancy.
Serve with chips, on tacos, as a mexican taco salad dressing.  


P.S. I asked my son's permission to write about this "eating fork food with hands situation" on my blog. He said,  "well, it's true, so yes, you have my permission". 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

S'Mores Treats

Every day has highs and lows.  We usually process these at the dinner table each evening.  And at times the highs are the top stories of the night and other times the lows are more dominant themes, but both seem to always co-exist.  This week was that – a mixed bag– some good moments, some terrible ones.  And that’s okay. 

I want to move through the rough patches and learn what there is to learn from them, but then embrace the joys!  There is a quote in a piece we read for my Spirituality in Social Work class that says, “Don’t obsess about the past, or worry about the future, all you need is right here now.”   I think of this quote often.  It has become somewhat of a mantra for me.  

This week, my friend Emily, who continually inspires me, put this Emerson quote on her blog and it stirred me up.  My heart quickened as I read and it made me crave this! I don’t live like this on most days, but I earnestly desire to. 

“Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.
This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

This weekend, full of activities, ranged from chaos to sweet, and fun to maddening- with weather that matched-  rainy, cold days and a gorgeous sunny day on Saturday.  One of the highlights was these S'Mores Treats that I made – twice, actually.  I made them, along with Banana Pudding and Stop Light Chili for the social work chili supper on Friday night, which is always a fun time.   And then we were going to a neighbor’s house for a Super Bowl gathering and I thought I would take the leftover S'Mores Treats, when I realized there were only a couple left in the container.  Dave confessed to being the culprit and graciously offered to go pick up the ingredients to make another batch.  Which I did.  

They are ridiculously easy... I'm talking 6 minutes. Asher was going to help me make them.  I asked him to wash his hands.  He left the room to wash his hands, must have gotten distracted, came back about 5 minutes later and said, "Where are the ingredients?" And I said, "They are done! I already made them."

They are that fast. Melt, stir, pour, stir, add, stir, dump, press, sprinkle, done!

These bars are like Rice Krispie Treat S'Mores.  My family adores them, which I think is mostly because they love Golden Grahams cereal- which we don’t buy very often.

S'Mores Treats
adapted from Country Clever

6 Tbsp. butter
1 bag (10 oz.) mini marshmallows
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/4 cup for topping
1 box (12 oz.) Golden Graham Cereal
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
non-stick cooking spray

You can make this in a pan on the stove top or in a glass bowl in the microwave- it's up to you! Melt butter in pan (or bowl) add marshmallows, stir and continue to heat until melted. (Keep your eye on it, as it can quickly get overdone). Add vanilla. Stir.  Add Golden Grahams and 1 cup chocolate chips.  Stir until well combined and marshmallow goo is fully incorporated into the cereal.  Coat 13 X 9 inch pan lightly with cooking spray.  Dump cereal mixture into the pan and press well.   Place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or until firm enough to slice.  Slice into bars and serve. 

In the midst of this winter week (cold, dreary, and rainy here in Nashville) will you join me in fighting for joy- joining Emerson's hopeful outlook- that "this new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays"?!