La Gringa Weekly Meal Plan

La Gringa Meal Plan

Here are some of the fruits and vegetables that I bought at the Sunday Market this week. I paid 400 pesos ($22 US). I know it looks like a huge amount of produce but El Gringo and I will eat all of it.

Possible side dishes and lunches this week.
Fruit salads, caprese salad, cut carrot sticks, BBQ spicy green beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, red pepper strips.

Recipe Links:
Mushroom Tamales
Caesar Salad with Red snapper


Roasted Tomato Basil Pasta
Slice Roma tomatoes in half length wise. Spritz with olive oil, top with fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs and sea salt. Roast in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes until charred and partially dry. I added a head of garlic to the roasting pan. Cook any pasta as directed and save some of the cooking liquid. Toss chopped tomatoes, a handful of sliced basil, 1/4 cup olive oil or to taste, mashed roasted garlic and pasta water to lightly moisten the pasta. Toss with 1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese and serve with salad and fresh fruit.

Swiss Chard Wrapped Vegetarian Mushroom Tamales, La Gringa Original Recipe

You know how we foodies stumble around the Internet looking at recipes and Googling ingredients and we are struck by a lightening bolt of inspiration? No? Maybe that’s just me but stay with me because I have created a major Baja inspired vegetarian tamale that even a seasoned Mexicana abuela might love. I saw a post that used chard as a wrap for masa dough instead of corn husks and nothing else. “Why bother,” I thought “That’s too boring.” Then I thought mushrooms are a good meat substitute, so I stumbled around looking at mushroom fillings for ravioli because who doesn’t love mushroom ravioli? Right? And then…… I know it’s a long story.

I made vegan masa dough with olive oil, made mushroom/ Parmesan cheese filling and wrapped it in Swiss chard leaves instead of dusty corn hulks. (Corn husks here always look dusty to me, probably because they are.) A recipe was born and the results were devoured. I’m hoping mi amigas at Fiesta Friday enjoy tamales.

RECIPE
Servings: 12 tamales
Difficulty: Easy but time consuming.

Ingredients:

12 leaves of fresh Swiss chard

Mushroom Filling

1 pound mushrooms, I used cremimi
1/2 yellow onion
2 gloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
4 ounces Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Masa dough

2 cups Masa flour, not corn meal. You can buy masa dough but it is usually made with lard.
1/2 cup olive oil or coconut oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups vegetable broth

Preparation:
Finely chop onion and garlic. Sauté in olive oil until translucent. Finely chop mushrooms, I used a food processor. Add mushrooms, herbs, dash of salt, black pepper and wine. Sauté on medium heat until most of the water evaporates. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Process mushroom mixture in the food processor until paste like.

Mix masa ingredients with a spoon or by hand, adding water 1/2 cup at a time until dough is soft like thick frosting.

Pat dry the chard leaves. Remove stalk and cut 3 inches of tough stem from the remaining leaves. Place 2 tablespoons of masa dough on the top 1/3 of the chard leaf and pat down with your hand. Top with 2 tablespoons of mushroom mixture. Roll chard leave over masa and mushrooms, pulling in the sides and securing with a toothpick, making a envelope.

Steam in a steamer basket (I used a roasting pan with a rack.) for 60 minutes. Check your water level every 10 minutes. When cooked the masa will be firm and moist.

A Blue Day On The Baja

 

 

A blue, pink and yellow day on the Baja.

I’m a little blue today despite the sunshine. What’s la Gringa to do when she’s got the Baja Blues? Put on some music and dye eggs with colorful vegetables from the food bin, of course.

We have been in Mexico away from our family since early November 2016. I have celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day and now Easter away from Nevada. I didn’t expect to care so much about holidays when I moved to Mexico but I think it’s a reality of expat life. Holidays have always been family celebrations and I’m missing my family a lot today. It’s true that the kids are too busy adulting to miss us and they don’t actually care where we live but when a holiday is on the horizon they act as though they miss us too. My grandson was going to see the Easter Bunny, my sister will be hunting eggs with her grand children and attending mass, my sons and their mates might cook a ham or drop in at the in laws house. They are celebrating with comforting family traditions.

I’m celebrating by avoiding town. Our rural seaside village becomes a madhouse with Semanta Santa (Holy Week) revelry. It seems all of Mexico is on vacation this week.

Expat Blues?
I think the real answer for the Baja Blues is to make new traditions and stay in touch with everyone you love regardless of where you drop your flip flops.

Happy Easter to all who celebrate and Hoppy Easter to those who don’t.

I was inspired by this post at My Recipes.

Meal Plan April 10-16

Writing a meal plan for the week will help you eat healthier foods, save money by eating at home and use the fresh foods that you bought before everything goes to waste (you know you do this, right?) Besides who doesn’t love to be organized even on the laid back Baja?

Some days I can’t even find two flip flops that match, much less think up a fast nutritious meal. Believe me, at 4 pm, I need a plan.

La Gringa Cooks

Snacks and sides:
Roasted beets
Beet greens and Swiss chard
Deviled Easter eggs
Mesclun salad and goat cheese
Almonds
Apple and peanut butter

Roasted Red Pepper Salsa and Pico de Gallo recipes @Salsa Sunday

Recipes coming soon to Whatsfordinnerdoc.com
Loaded cauliflower bake
Taco zucchini boats
Roasted tomatoes, basil pasta
Vegan mushroom tostadas
Seared Yellow tail with mango and ginger

Make a plan to eat real food for your health and happiness.
If you must eat out here are some tips for staying healthy and maintaining your nutrition goals when aren’t at home. Healthy Eating.

Salsa Sunday in La Gringa’s Kitchen

Welcome to Salsa Sunday

Sunday is my market and prep day. Even beach girls need some organization in their foodie lives. I have the same problem as many of you do at 4 pm when I’ve been writing all day and I’m hungry, “What’s for dinner?”

If I have a plan and some veggies and fruits prepped in advance then I am much less likely to reach for the tortilla chips or a quick quesadilla. I don’t have the American luxury of buying pre-washed bags of salad or veggies, which is really a great fall back plan for busy cooks who want nutritious food on the table quickly. So I wash and cut up jicama, cucumbers, carrots, melon, pineapple and lettuce. Here’s a post about eating real food at home in a hurry.

Today I made four salsas for quick additions to tacos, grilled fish or meats, or for veggie dips. Once I started roasting and chopping I couldn’t help myself.

I’m taking my salsas to Fiesta Friday where you too can find delicious recipes for your weekend fiestas.

Simple Salsa Recipes:

Pico de Gallo

Chop 2 ripe tomatoes, 1/2 red onion, 1/2 to 1 Serrano chili to taste, and a generous hand full cilantro. Mix with a squeeze of 1/2 key lime or 1/4 Persian lime and a dash of salt. This salsa will keep in the refrigerator for at least 7 days. If you’re feeling creative try a different pepper like jalapeno or red bell pepper, or add chopped cucumber or jicama. Pico de gallo is always in my refrigerator.

Pineapple Salsa

Make pico de gallo and substitute chopped ripe pineapple for the tomatoes and add chopped orange, yellow or red bell pepper.

Mango Ginger Salsa

Make the pineapple salsa and substitute ripe mango for the pineapple. Then add 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger root.

Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

Cut 2 large red bell pepper into quarters, remove seeds and stem. Quarter a large yellow or white onion. Coat vegetables with olive oil and a dash of salt. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees or on the BBQ using indirect high heat, for 20-30 minutes until the peppers and onions are soft and charred. Cool and whirl in a food processor with 1 glove of garlic. Adjust salt to taste.

Pickled Red Onions with Serrano

Slice 1 red onion. Optional add 1/2 Serrano chili sliced into rings, depending on your heat tolerance. Add 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon Korean red pepper powder or paprika. Let marinate at least two hours or overnight.

Buena salud, disfrute de su comida. Good health, enjoy your meal.

Chorizo and Mushroom Tapas, La Gringa Steals a Recipe

Chorizo and Mushroom Tapas

We have a new upscale Mediterranean restaurant in my village, Gastroteca Azul. The chef, Mario Lopez is using local ingredients, inventive preparations and engaging flavors to create a gourmet experience in Loreto Bay, Mexico. I have to say that the best meals I’ve eaten have come from either La Gringa’s kitchen or Azul. I’m picky. Don’t bury my food in melted cheese, rich cream sauce or overwhelming salsa. Give me fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and/or seafood and don’t skimp on the flavor.

I have openly stolen and re-created Chef Mario’s Chorizo y Champiñones appetizer. Never fear, I always tell him when I’m stealing his ideas. The Chef uses portobello mushrooms and a dash of sherry. I added scallions and cilantro for a fresh green flavor. Adjust the herbs to your taste.

You can make this simple filling tapas recipe from readily available spicy meat. For example: Spanish or Mexican chorizo, any flavor of spicy sausage or soy chorizo for vegetarians. I think the mushrooms are critical for texture and taste. I have used this topping as a taco filling, with tortilla chips and on sliced baguette.
I’m sharing my tapas at Fiesta Friday.


Chorizo and Mushroom Tapas

Ingredients:
4 ounces chorizo, either ground texture or firm Spanish style chopped.
1 pound of mushrooms, any variety
1/4 cup sliced scallions, green only
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Sliced baguette

Preparation:
Brown chorizo and drain any oil. Add rough chopped mushrooms and simmer on medium heat until the mushrooms are soft and have released their water. Stir in scallions and cilantro just before serving. Serve on bread slices with a Mexican vino tinto (red wine) or a Spanish red wine.

Piña Colada No Churn Ice Cream, A Baja Flop

I can’t seem to find ice cream (helado, en español) that I like at any of our local grocery stores. I don’t eat ice cream very often but when I do it has to be delicious. My choices in town either have artificial sweeteners snuck in or high fructose corn syrup, ugh. I don’t eat either of those sweeteners. Frankly the HFCC surprised me because you don’t see it in many Mexican foods, unlike the U.S. I find sucralose in many of the Mexican processed foods like sodas and bakery junk food. You have to read the label because it’s hidden there without any mention about reduced sugar anywhere in the title.

La gringa’s struggle is real: I can’t find ice cream and I don’t have an ice cream churner/freezer. In true Baja kitchen hacks form, an Internet search ensued and a recipe was created.

I tried a simple vanilla recipe that uses whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. It was like eating frozen whipping cream which should have been delicious but frankly it’s so rich and fatty as to be unpleasant. In my experiments I found that the Mexican brand of whipping cream aka crema de batir doesn’t whip into firm peaks which it turns out doesn’t really matter much.

Back to the drawing room where I searched my cupboards and found coconut cream purchased at the liquor store, limes and pineapple juice and the  piña colada, no churn ice cream was born.
The taste was very good and reminescent of a piña colada and the lime cut through the richness of the creams but the sweetened coconut cream and pineapple juice have more water content so my ice cream was too solid and wouldn’t scoop. The experiment wasn’t a complete disaster because mi gringo cut it into squares and never complained once.
I’m taking my square ice cream to Fiesta Friday with co-hosts Mollie https://frugalhausfrau.com/ and Ginger http://www.gingerandbread.com/

Piña Colada No Churn Ice Cream

Ingredients:
2 cups whipping cream (crema para batir)
1 cup sweetened coconut cream (crema de coco)
1/2 cup pineapple juice (jugo de piña)
2 tablespoons key lime juice (jugo de limon)

Recipe:
Chill all ingredients. Whip cream into firm peaks. Whip coconut cream until soft peaks form. Stir pineapple and lime juices into coconut and then fold whipping cream into the coconut cream mixture. Spoon into a shallow glass dish and cover. Freezer until semi-solid or longer. Cut into squares to serve or leave out of the freezer until soft enough to scoop.

I’m tempted to blend a square with some rum for a tasty adult beverage.

Enjoy. I’m taking my ice cream flop to Fiesta Friday.

Whipping the cream. After 20 minutes, I gave up on trying to whip it into peaks. It might have been too warm in the house or the preservatives interfered. I have given up trying to understand kitchen flops in Mexico.

Surprise, the chilled coconut cream whipped better than the whipping cream.

Frozen piña colada squares!

La Gringa Cooks, Chorizo, Chard and Potato Chowder

Just a couple of Baja beach dogs enjoying the sunset, Biscuit, my Lhasapoo and his best poodle friend Moxy Mayham.

I’m growing organic Swiss chard on my deck in pots. Chard is a fast growing nutritious green vegetable that loves the Baja climate. It grew from seed to harvest in 4 weeks.


I planted Thai basil, parsley, oregano, chives, arugula, mesclun, two types of mint, rosemary, lovage and lavender. The herbs are always fresh and I know that they are organic. This garden is a definite Baja success.

Here’s a simple chowder made with readily available Mexican chorizo (Italian sausage would be a close substitution), potatoes, Swiss chard or spinach, chicken stock and a touch of cream. It’s a spicy re-creation of Zuppa Tuscana Soup. You can substitute any legume for a vegetarian meal but you’ll need to add red pepper and paprika to mimic the chorizo flare.
I’m taking my soup to Fiesta Friday where you can find more delicious recipes.

Chorizo, Chard and Potato Chowder

Ingredients:
4 ounces chorizo
2 medium potatoes, any variety, diced
1/2 chopped onion
4 cups chicken stock, unsalted
3 cups chopped fresh Swiss chard
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup la crema, or half and half

Preparation:
Brown chorizo, drain off the majority of grease. Add onion and sauté until opaque. Add chicken stock and potatoes. Boil 15 minutes until potatoes are soft. Add chard and cilantro, return to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in cream and serve with fresh bread or tortillas.

 

La Gringa Weekly Menu and Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken

Meal planning is a critical step in healthy eating. As I have said, I buy fresh produce from the outdoor market and I design our meals around the fruits and vegetables by adding proteins like chicken, fish, legumes and lean beef. Here is a real weekly menu with references for recipes I have written or I am interested in making from the web. I will post my flips and flops as the weeks progress. I hope you enjoy seeing how La Gringa and El Gringo really eat on the Baja.
For more delicious recipes check on Fiesta Friday.
La Gringa Cooks

 

I paid approximately $25 US for this produce, a huge whole chicken and 2 kilograms of shrimp.


Recipe locations:
Tequila Lime Shrimp:

Stuffed Baja Peppers

Chorizo Swiss Chard Soup: Loosely adapted from Zuppa Toscana I substitute Swiss chard for kale and chorizo for sausage. It is delicious but doesn’t photograph well.

Jalapeño Poppers

Asian Red Snapper: Coming soon to WhatsforDinnerDoc.com

Lemon, Thyme and Rosemary Roasted Chicken Recipe:

Rub a fresh whole chicken with butter, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, lemon juice and 2 gloves of garlic. Stuff with lemon and onion quarters. Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 to 2 hours with cubed carrots, potatoes and leeks.

I’m so proud of myself for buying this chicken at the open air market. The feet were free! Yeah me.

Snacks and lunch ideas:
Cut up melon and pineapple.
Apple slices with peanut or almond butter
Hummus with carrot and jicama slices. There are no canned chickpeas in Loreto so I cook them from dried beans and store them in smaller portions for sales or hummus. I cook pinto beans every week for quick side dishes, salads, or re-fried beans.
Quesadillas with leftover chicken and salsa
Leftover soup
Leftover cold shrimp over salad
Chicken salad with salsa and mayo

Baja Stuffed Peppers

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What inspires your cooking?
Smells, colors, freshness, memories, blog posts, magazine photos?
I’m inspired by all of these things and my weekly menu is designed around the freshest ingredients that I can find. This is a weeks worth of produce which costs me between $8-12 US depending on how much fruit I buy. Fruit is relatively expensive here because most of it has to travel farther than local vegetables. Mexico does grow a large amount of citrus, melons and tropical fruits which are available year round but I often splurge on American apples and pears which are expensive by Mexican standards. Apples can cost $1.50 each. Gasp. A huge cabbage costs about $.50 in comparison.

I buy produce at our outdoor market every Sunday and meat in town from a local grocery store or from the butcher. I confess that buying the meats on display on tables at the open air market makes my “food safety” radar go on high alert. I do realize that our local restaurants buy meat there, I’ve seen my favorite chef actually choosing meats, but I haven’t been able to get past the flys and feral dogs hovering about. I’m failing at complete Mexican cooking immersion but I’m sure there will be a blog post on the day that I give in.

This stuffed pepper recipe was inspired by these beautiful striped bell peppers. I choose the vegetables, add my aromatics, pick a cuisine or a combination of cuisines, add a protein source and start to design the dish.

Baja Stuffed Peppers

Mix and Match Ingredients for 4 servings:

4 bell peppers, any color
1 pound ground beef, chicken, turkey or pork. Vegans substitute legumes, tofu, nuts.
1/2 cup cooked “grains” quinoa, rice, bulgar. I used quinoa
1/2 cup diced onion
2 gloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cup chopped vegetables, I used carrots, tomatoes, and zucchini.
1/2 finely chopped chili pepper, serrano, poblano, jalepeno for heat
1/2 cup tomatoe sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs. I used flat leaf parsley, lovage and oregano. Cilantro or basil would be great too.
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation:

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Add lean protein and brown. Add remaining herbs, vegetables and seasonings. Simmer until vegetables are soft but still hold their shape.
Slice off the top of each pepper and remove seeds. Stuff peppers with meat mixture and replace the tops. I use any remaking meat mixture to pack around the peppers in a casserole dish to hold them upright.

Bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees until peppers are soft.
Serve with salsa, sour cream, more veggies (sautéed beet greens) and fruit.

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