Sunday, April 29, 2012

Salsa SPECTACULAR !!

I was trying to think of creative ideas that would not only benefit my stomach, but hopefully benefit/be useful to my readers. A lot of times my go to for dinner parties is a taco night so I was trying to expand on that and decided upon a Salsa Spectacular themed party- and what better time to do it, Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner.

I was thrilled when I got the acceptance email from Foodbuzz for their 24x24. 24x24 is a program in which Foodbuzz sponsors 24 people to throw dinner parties with in a 24 hour period. 

I just have to say I would not have been able to get everything ready in time if it weren't for these two awesome people, Rommie and Lili (ok I would have, had I not started at 4 instead of 1). Either way a big shout out to them :)
The whole idea was to showcase a whole bunch of different salsas using fresh spring/summer produce (besides celebrating my birthday...Happy Big 2-5 *sigh* to me!). I have never made my own salsa before this and I was surprised at how easy it all was, and how easy it could be to create your own salsa.
For a vessel for the salsas, I used Tostitos scoops and Frito Scoops, perfect for their namesake...scooping up the dips. I also made slow cooker chicken tacos...wow, just wow, this needs to be made again ASAP. 
One of the favorites of the night was the Texas Caviar, recipe given to me by the wonderful Lili. 
Next up was the Mango Salsa, a wonderful fruity salsa that can be eaten with chips or be great on some grilled chicken or fish.
Salsa Verde. I used Serrano peppers in the original, but I adapted it to Jalapenos...recipe at the bottom
Fire-Roasted Tomato Chipotle Salsa. I really liked this salsa, I was impressed out how well it turned out and that I could make something this complex. I guess I have always been intimidated a little by salsas. One of my friends actually recommended that you could put this salsa over pasta, and I could see her reasoning, its thick enough to be a sauce-Mexican themed pasta?? Recipe at the bottom. 
Pico de Gallo. I think this is one of the easiest salsa to effectively use your fresh summer produce. Delicious, light and fresh.
Pineapple Avocado Salsa. Recipe found here. This would have been a perfect spring/summer dish, but I followed the recipe exactly and used canned pineapple...fresh is the only way to go and you have a winner- charring the fresh pineapple on the grill would be a nice touch as well.
Strawberry Salsa. This wasn't bad but probably my least favorite of the night. If you take away the idea that it is salsa, and just scoop it on your plate with some whipped cream it would make a lovely dessert. Recipe at the bottom. 
AND what fiesta is complete without GUACAMOLE. 
Margaritas. I just made bulk margaritas and put in this adorable container I got from Target and left it in the fridge. That way people could serve themselves and no one had to worry about making them in the middle of the party. My combo was 1 cup tequila + 1 cup marg mix + 1/4 cup triple sec and times that by 4. This tasted great but it was a dangerous mixture because it was strong. I would may recommend using 3/4 cup tequila for the ratio if you want them less strong.
Mango Margaritas. This is what I was most excited about but they didn't turn out good. I will be working on making a delicious recipe for these and share it once I nail it. 
Afterwards we went to a Korean Karaoke bar, a wonderful yet very different experience. It was very exciting to have your own room (click photo below to enlarge and see how intense karaoke gets).
Check out this creepy hallway, doesn't in remind you of some scary horror movie?
Anyways I hope y'all enjoyed my Salsa Spectacular! Have a wonderful start to your week and thank you once again Foodbuzz for sponsoring this wonderful party!!

Recipes not posted below will be posted throughout the next week!

Salsa Verde adapted from The Great Salsa Book by Mark Miller
- 1 lb tomatillos...about 12-15 husked, rinsed and chopped
- 3 jalapeno peppers
- 3/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse together until blended. Let chill in refrigerator for an hour or so to let all of the flavors combine.

Strawberry Salsa  from The Great Salsa Book by Mark Miller
-1 pint chopped strawberries
-4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
-1 Tablespoon red wine
-1 teaspoon sugar
-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Serve with whip cream or cinnamon pita chips.

Fire Roasted Tomato Chipotle Salsa adapted from The Great Salsa Book by Mark Miller
-2 lb Roma tomatoes blackened...I believe I used about 6-7
-1/2 onion chopped
-4 roasted garlic cloves
-1/2 cup chopped cilantro
-4 Chipotle Chiles in Adobo
-1/4 cup red wine vinegar ( I actually forgot about this ingredient, prob why my salsa could have been used as a pasta sauce)
-Tablespoon salt (left this ingredient out as well)
-1/4 cup olive oil

1. To blacken tomatoes, select the broil oven on your oven. When the skins blacken, rotate them. Make sure you don't burn them, leaving them with a bitter taste.
2. Saute chopped onions in olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
3. Pulse everything except the vinegar, oil and salt together until mixed. The stir in the vinegar, oil and salt. Chill in fridge for about an hour.

Stratford-upon-Avon, Barnaby's Fish + Shakespeare's Mom's

I was in England for 3 weeks so it would have been a crime if I didn't have Fish and Chips ATLEAST once. I managed to eat when I spent the day at Stratford-upon-Avon at Barnaby's Fish Restaurant and Takeaway, a fish and chips touristy dining attraction-right by the avon (river). 
Portions were huge-you definitely get your moneys worth. I was not able to finish all of my dish and for my first Fish and Chips experience, it was pretty good. 
Barnaby's Fish Restaurant and Takeaway on Urbanspoon


25 Sheep Street
Stratford Upon Avon CV37 6EF
01789 261485 

Upon avon means on the river. Stratford upon Avon is famous because it is Shakespeare's birthplace. It is yet another quaint town on the English countryside.

Before you can actual tour Shakespeare's birthplace (photos were not allowed inside, and I abided by those rules) you went through a little video tour of his life and saw some fascinating artifacts from his life. 
Unaware at the beginning of our journey, we learned that Stratford upon Avon is his resting place as well. We stumbled upon the Church he was buried as we were wandering around town. 
Other touristy pictures/view of the town.
We also visited Shakespeare's mothers house, located a little out side Stratford-upon-Avon. 
A lovely little farm where I almost got choked out by the owl show. When he was flying, it flew straight by where I was sitting and the string attached to its foot went across my neck. Made for a very interesting story. This is the little guy that did it. 
View of the courtyard.
So many animals...excuse the slightly inappropriate photo below. 
Look how short people were back then, I am about average height now. And their sleepy arrangements...my how times have changed. 
This was an adorable town/birthplace full of lot's of fascinating history. If you are visiting England it should be added to your list.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Oxford, Eagle and Child Pub + then some

I miss London. This was my first visit outside of the big city, and I was charmed by the smaller towns and countrysides of England. 

For lunch the group decided to go to the famous Eagle and Child Pub, a hangout for J.R. Tolkein and CS Lewis. Yes, total tourist trap, but I mean come on, who would miss a chance to geek it up and experience this? Luckily we didn't have to end up waiting and we found a cute corner table. They have a new menu featured so I am not sure if the beef and chicken pies my roommate and ordered were the exact same thing.
I ordered a beef pie...holy moley it was amazing. The meat was tender, the crust was flaky and the meaty filling was full of flavor. A popular tourist destination it may be, but the food was stellar.
The roommate ordered the chicken pie which she fully enjoyed and everyone else was pleased with their choices. 
I tried a Strawberry Lime Cider and quickly fell in love with, and must find somewhere in the US that sells it asap.
I am not an expert on British Food, but Eagle and Child seemed like it had all the makings of a great pub-history, food and environment. The beef pie I had here was one of my favorite meals of my three weeks in England. Worth stopping by and grabbing a meal.

49 St Giles'
OxfordUK OX1 3LU
(018) 653-0292 
Eagle and Child on Urbanspoon 
  

Enough about food, I mean I was in Oxford wasn't I. Great destination, a def must see if you are in England...parts of Harry Potter were filmed here (need I say more). Perfect place to be. I loved the architecture, the history and the overall environment. I wish we had more towns like this in the US. It was also graduation time so we got to see all the students walking around in their awesome Caps and Gowns...makes me wish I went to a more prestigious school so I could have the same attire.
Harry Potter Dining Hall
more of the HP dining hall

Cheers!