Enfrijoladas and an Egg

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The first time I had enfrijoladas was in Mexico City. It was a long day of sightseeing and we were roaming around colonia Roma and I was starving. It was time for lunch. We found a cute cafe whose menu sounded both appetizing and homey. I decided to try something new (to me) and meatless so enfrijoladas it was. Bathed in a creamy refried bean sauce, steamed corn tortillas were rolled and topped with sour cream and cheese. It was satisfying delicious all at once.

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Enfrijoladas:

yield: 2 servings

2 cups refried beans

6 tortillas

2 eggs, fried

sour cream

cotija cheese

jalapeno hot sauce

Add 1/2 cup water or stock to the refried beans and heat until hot. Beans should be very loose.

Heat tortillas on a comal or in a hot, dry skillet. Place in a dish and cover with plastic wrap to steam. Dip each tortilla into the beans and place on a plate, folded in half. Continue until all tortillas are coated. Serve with a fried egg and three tortillas per serving. Pour the excess beans over the tortillas before serving. Garnish with sour cream, hot sauce, and spicy peppers.

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52 Weeks: 46/52

How was you weekend? Hope it was a good one. We spent it working on the house and doing chores, nothing special but all stuff that needed to get done. As you’ll see here, photos of the week have been sparse and that’s because there’s been a lot of non-exciting activity going on but I’m hoping to change that soon.

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One of the best kitchen appliances is my slow cooker. Since summer, I’ve been making beans in the slow cooker and it’s changed everything. Not only is it hands off, but it’s a set-it-and-forget-it situation that doesn’t make the kitchen hot and humid. A win-win for us.

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Cheers! I learned the hard way, unfiltered sake is not my favorite. It’s sweet and that is not a flavor I enjoy in my sake. I’ll take it dry any day, thank you very much.

Happy weekend!

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Eggs en Cocotte

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I was never what you would call a “breakfast person”. I suspect it’s because I’m not a morning person. Makes sense, right? I could stay up all night, but come morning it’s a disaster. One the other hand, I could go to sleep very early and still not be able to drag myself out of bed. But eventually, we all must get up and face the day, so why not eat something delicious? These baked eggs will give you something to look forward to and are mostly hands off once the prep is done.

All of the “extras” like herbs, mushrooms, cheese, and toppings can be prepared in the ramekins the night before and just crack the eggs into each and pop into the oven on the morning of. I’m thinking this would make an excellent and somewhat fancy brunch addition that is easy to prepare.

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Eggs en Cocotte:

yield: 1 serving but easily converts to as many as needed.

1 egg

1 tsp grapeseed oil (or any neutral oil)

2 cremini mushrooms, quartered

1/4 piece of shallot, sliced thin

splash Maderia wine

1 tsp shredded white cheddar cheese

1/2 stalk of green onion, sliced thin

splash of milk or heavy cream

1 sprig fresh thyme

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Saute the mushrooms in oil with shallots, salt, and pepper until just browned. Add the thyme and a splash of Maderia and cook until the alcohol evaporates, about 45 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool.

Butter 1 ramekin and place the cheese, mushrooms, and green onions on the bottom. Crack the egg on top and add a splash of milk or heavy cream. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

In a baking pan deep enough to accommodate water, place a towel on the bottom and the ramekin on top. Add hot water to the pan, enough to reach half way up the side of the ramekin. Bake for 11-12 minutes for soft and runny yolk and a couple of minutes more for slightly more firm and creamy yolks.

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52 Weeks: 45/52

It was as if summer returned this past week just as I was getting plenty comfortable with the cooler weather. All of a sudden, it was back to turning on the a/c and wearing shorts. In November! Anyhow, this week was about getting through IT and a bit of general horsing around.

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Shoe shot and four different pairs of blue jeans.

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Rosemary ice cube. I’m totally stealing this idea.

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Macaron dessert that I could not pass up. No matter how full I am, I will always say “yes” to the macaron. But only if it looks good.

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Pistachio flavor macaron + earl gray tea= fulfillment.

Happy weekend!

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Butternut Squash and Toasted Chile Soup

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I have a favorite butternut squash soup that I make multiple times each fall, a sort of stand-by that’s always guaranteed to be delicious. This is comforting because I can wing the recipe more or less and adjust seasonings depending on how much squash I have on hand and it’s always consistently satisfying. Every time. This was not that time.

This time, I wanted new flavors and a refreshing twist on my classic. I was craving toasty, smokey flavors and created this variation that’s just as good, dare I say better? It’s naturally sweet from the butternut squash with the addition of dried chiles to compliment that sweetness of the squash. They paired amazingly well. The addition of cumin and paprika rounded out the flavor profile and added a subtle smokiness. Just right for these cooler November nights we’ve been enjoying.

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Butternut Squash Soup:

serves 6-8 as a first course or 4 as a main course

2 butternut squashes, peeled and cubed

1 onion, rough chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

8 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water

1 dried chile California, toasted, seeds removed and crumbled

1 dried chile Negro, toasted, seeds removed and crumbled

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 teaspoons salt (more or less to taste)

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tablespoon olive oil

Garnishes:

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted

chili oil

sauteed corn

sour cream

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil and add squash, onion, and garlic. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent browning for 5-8 minutes just to soften the onions. Add the cumin, salt, and toasted chiles and stir until incorporated.

Add all of the liquid (chicken or vegetable stock or water) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the thyme. Place the lid loosely over the pot, leaving a little opening for steam to escape. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender when soup cools down enough to handle.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with a teaspoon of sour cream, a spoonful of sauteed corn, a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, and a drizzle of chile oil.

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52 Weeks: 44/52

It’s finally starting to feel like fall and I love it! We even got a tiny bit of much needed rain and all of the plants are looking rejuvenated.

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Love the blue sky and fluffy clouds.

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Butternut squash for an upcoming recipe I’ll share this week.

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Cocktail time and a snack.

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A narrow view of our Dia de los Muertos set up.

Have a great rest of the weekend!

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Dia de los Muertos Sugar Skulls Tutorial

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By now, almost everyone knows of Dia de los Muertos or has at least seen the colorful altars and ornately decorated sugar skills that are emblematic of this Mexican holiday. Interestingly, it’s origins are ancient, rooted in a pre-Columbian past. Modern day festivities take place on November 2 and include visiting graves of deceased family members and bringing them some of their favorite foods and beverages for offerings. This holiday is all about celebrating the dearly departed.

At home, a simple altar can be created with sugar skulls, marigolds, and photos of the deceased. We also include some of their favorite food items in the form of clay representations. Here you will find a simple tutorial on how to assemble sugar skulls.

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Since they will be decorated, sugar skulls are usually made of plain white sugar. This time, I made two batches- one plain as usual and the other got a hit of glitter for extra sparkle.

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You’ll need a plastic skull mold, cardboard squares, utensil for mixing, bench scraper or the back of a large knife, granulated sugar, meringue powder, water, and glitter if you’re want to make ‘em flashy (optional).

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Combine sugar, meringue powder, and water and thoroughly incorporate until the mixture resembles beach sand. It should be damp and when squeezed in your hand it should hold its shape. If you can see your finger marks, it’s ready.

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Pack the mold and scrape the excess sugar off with a bench scraper or use the back of a large knife.

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You will want a completely smooth surface.

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Invert onto a cardboard square and place onto a paper lined sheetpan. Let dry uncovered for 24 hours. The following day, they will be rock hard and ready to attach the front and back of the heads with royal icing. The decorative elements for faces are made with colored royal icing, glitter, and colorful pieces of foil.

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Sugar Skulls

yield: 2 small- medium size skulls

2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons meringue powder

2 teaspoon water, more if necessary

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52 Weeks: 43/52

Oh, it was a busy week this time around. Not only did we get a lot of mundane stuff checked off the “to- do” list but we also went camping!

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“Are there any showers? How about running water?” This is my response when I get asked about going camping. I’m good for a day, that’s 1 day without a shower and I will be counting down the hours until it’s time to come home and take a hot shower and free myself from the dust and grime. Since there are long stretches between camping trips, each time is like starting new again for me. Meaning, I need to be eased in, starting with an overnight.

We went to Paso Picacho near Julian for my first camping trip in I don’t remember how many years. I am happy to report that there are hot showers, clean restrooms, and the car parking is right next to each camp site. We were off to a good start.

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Catching moths while keeping mosquitos away.

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I can sometimes be convinced to camp if there are marshmallows involved. I like mine charred.

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Early morning walk up Stonewall Peak. It looks a lot bigger in real life. Thankfully it was very early in the morning and the trail was mostly shaded.

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We saw a lot of manzanita and these gnarled trees with white bark.

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Success! Made it to the summit and this nice panorama view was rewarding and so was a few minutes’ rest before my favorite part… downhill!

I have to say, this turned out to be a nice quick trip and I can add it to my mental list of acceptable camp sites which I would return to. Maybe next time it can be stretched for 2 days, but let’s not rush it just yet.

Hope you’re weekend was great.

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The Strange and Unusual

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It’s that time again. Time for pumpkins, goblins, and ghouls. I like Halloween for the creative costumes, candy, decorations, but most of all, I love the creep factor. I’m drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I can’t resist a good ghost story, a tour of historic houses with stories of hauntings and strange goings-ons, and old graveyards with tombstones and mausoleums. The older, the better.

In the spirit of Halloween and my fascination with the strange, here’s a roundup of some of the interesting and worthwhile creepy places I’ve visited, some more than once.

La Isla de Las Munecas

Xochimilco/Mexico City

Original Post here

No trip to Mexico City is complete without a visit to Xochimilco (for me). I always insist on a visit to this lake and an even further excursion via trajinera out to the remote chinampa of Don Julian. Obviously, it’s the hanging baby dolls, doll parts, and hallowed out eyes of heads that are the main draw here as they seem to have multiplied in recent years. The shack is where you’ll find the oldest and creepiest ones.

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 Castillo Torre Salvana

Colonia Guell/Santa Coloma de Cervelló

Original Post here

We spotted this castle from a distance and decided to do some trespassing. It’s magnificent from the outside, but inside is where you’ll get the chills. It’s downright dilapidated, but what can one expect afterall, it dates from 992. That’s 992, folks! Among many claims of paranormal activity, the scariest of all is the claim that it has a portal to hell.

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Sorrell Weed House

6 W Harris Street/Savannah, GA/ 31401

Original post here

Wealthy plantation owner, infidelity, suicide, and grisly deaths… the Sorrell Weed House has all the elements of a tragic story. The midnight ghost tour further entices morbid curiosities with all the trappings of a spooky haunting and the possibility of experiencing hair-raising paranormal activity for yourself. If you dare…

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Basilica Sants Just i Pastor

Pl Sant Just, 6/ Barri Gòtic/Barcelona

Original Post here

This is the church to visit if you want to view a nightmarish altar of unfortunate souls aglow in the pit of hell. Actually, this gothic church is a marvel of its own and quite eerie if you’re the only one in there. Don’t miss the skulls etched into the floor that also serve as headstones.

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Hotel Connor

164 Main Street/Jerome, AZ

Whispers in the night, cold sensations, doors opening by themselves, and laughter coming from empty rooms are just a few of the ghostly reports associated with rooms in this hotel. Located in the ghost town of Jerome, Arizona, the Connor Hotel and Spirit Room was built during the mining heyday only to suffer repeated destruction from fire and eventual abandonment after the decline in mining. Luckily, the hotel was reopened and once again hosts visitors of this historic town.

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 House of the Devil

Calle Josep Torres 20/Barcelona

Original Post here

Who wants to sell their soul to the devil in exchange for a profitable business? Augustin Atzerias, that’s who. As one might guess, shortly after making a pact with the devil, Mr. Atzerias hit it big with a winning lottery ticket and held up his end of the bargain. To show his undying loyalty, Mr. Atzerias went about decorating his palatial home with ghoulish demon heads much to the chagrin of his neighbors. As if the terrifying heads were not enough, there were also murals depicting hell on the facade that have long since been destroyed and covered up.

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Chicken Tomatillo Tacos

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As the nights get a bit cooler, the grill gets far less action and the slow cooker makes its grand appearance. I love my slow cooker and am always looking for new recipes that practically cook themselves. I tend to prep everything at night before bedtime and right before I retire for the night, the slow cooker gets switched on and voila! By morning, dinner is made.

This recipe is more labor intensive as it calls for de-boning chicken breast and thighs and making a quick chicken stock from scratch. If you’re pressed for time and want a quicker way, you can brown the chicken, bones on and all, add the vegetables and saute for a few minutes. Remove and place the whole lot into a slow cooker and cover with water. It will still yield a flavorful dish and is perfectly acceptable when short on time and who isn’t, right? But for the times when you have some extra to spare, you’ll love the full blown homemade chicken stock version and bonus! Extra stock for future delicious dishes like soups, sauces, braises, etc… But, be warned, this recipe is spicy so if you’re sensitive to spicy foods, just scale back the chiles to 2-3 and you should be fine.

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For the Chicken:

yield: 4 servings

1 breast, bone in

2 thighs, bone in

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

1 teaspoon peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

6 cups water

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Remove the bones from the chicken pieces and set the meat aside. Make a simple chicken stock by browning chicken bones in a neutral oil such a grapeseed oil. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are softened but not brown. Add the water, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and cover partially with the lid, simmer on low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Add salt, stir to dissolve and strain into a clean container.

Place the boneless chicken breast and thighs into a slow cooker. Pour in chicken stock, enough to just cover the chicken. You will have leftover stock to save for a soup or freeze for future use.

Set the slow cooker for 6-8 hours (depending on how much time you have).

Tomatillo Salsa:

8 tomatillos, husked and washed

10 red chile peppers

1 clove garlic

splash of white vinegar

salt to taste

Blacken the tomatillos, peppers, and garlic over a gas flame, dry skillet, or on a comal. Place all in a blender and process until smooth.

When the chicken is done in the slow cooker, shread the meat and add about 1/4 cup of the salsa. Gently mix to combine. Serve with cubed avocado and cilantro.

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