Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More exciting changes! Another new face!


We're thrilled to let you know we're adding another new face this week! It's a week of changes. :) We're so glad Virginia Munoz will be joining us, posting on Wednesdays! We're dubbing her The Fresh Pioneer, bringing us fresh, healthy food from the West Coast. Virginia, we're glad to have you!


Here's a quick bio, and then I'll turn it over to Virginia with her post...


Virginia was born near the Rocky Mountains and although she has traveled around the world, the wilds of Colorado run in her veins. A big fan of the wide open sky and all four seasons, she believes in embracing the small moments of everyday life. A home schooling mom of six young children who rarely wear shoes, those moments usually involve a lot of noise, a lot of mess, or a whole bunch of warm cookies. Virginia holds degrees in Linguistics and Religious Studies from the University of Oregon. She lives with her habanero-eating husband, Crusberto, who is her polar opposite in all things except faith. They’ve learned to speak in short-hand code and look forward to the day they can actually finish a sentence. In the meantime, Virginia thanks God for the laughter and abundance of hugs that fill her day as she plots her next book.




Hi, guys!  

   This is Virginia, over here in the Pacific Northwest. I’m soooo excited to be posting in Yankee Belle Café with the lot of youse. (Didn’t know I was multilingual, did you?)

  Over in these parts we’re all about the fresh food this time of year. Everybody’s got a garden, the Farmer’s Markets are out in force. It gets so bad we have to lock our cars or we find bags full of zucchini in the back seat. And you know there are only so many things to make with zucchini.

 
                                Okay, since it’s summer and a bazillion degrees, we try to keep the cooking to a minimum. That doesn’t mean we don’t eat like absolute royalty! I’m tellin’ you, this is the place to be in the summer.

  I also have lots of kiddos around who like to ‘help’ (I see you moms and dads and grandmas and babysitters nodding) so it’s also nice to have something they can do. Tasty AND educational!             

  Something we make fairly often is a twist on the usual nachos. We would love to eat full fat sour cream, loads of melted cheese, and deep fried everything but unfortunately it makes you CHUBBY. (Who knew??) So, we try to dial down the calories and dial up the flavor. Hot melty cheese and cool, fresh veggies on top of crunchy chips and a few small changes make it a healthy dish you can feel good about. Plus, it’s just YUM.

                                  First order of business: find yourself some tasty tomatoes. Preferably from someone’s garden. (Ask permission, I don’t want to hear about anyone getting arrested for produce thievery.)

                       And we live near Walla Walla, so we’re drowning in sweet onions. But if you’re in the south, a Vidalia will do nicely.

  We love avocados, but they can be spendy, so make sure you buy them on sale. And make sure they’re ripe. Because hard, unripe ‘cados are the worst.

                                   Now, for the sour cream, we use Greek plain yoghurt that’s left in a paper towel, in a colander, for an hour in the fridge. (With a bowl underneath. Don’t forget the bowl, like one of my kids did once. Big mess.) The whey (didn’t I say this was educational??) drains out and the yoghurt becomes the consistency of sour cream. Then it has WAY FEWER calories and a lot less fat. Here’s a handy link, if you want to see for yourself. http://www.livestrong.com/article/526634-nutritional-values-of-greek-yogurt-vs-sour-cream/

                                     While that’s draining (because you do everything last minute like I do, right?) we’ll work on the beans. Now, I personally LOVE those old cans of pinto bean mush. LOVE THEM. My husband, not so much. But he does seem to think the black beans in the can are okay, and the kids think they’re cool, so… into a small pan they go. ( I know there are three varieties there. They just came out of the pantry that way. Weird, isn’t it?)

 

                      Add some garlic, salt, a little water and let them boil so they’re nice and soft. (Mush. Squish. Five minutes of anger therapy on the cheap.)

 Next, we shred cheese. You can use low fat and get away with it here. Some recipes just fall apart with low fat food. But here it’s not as noticeable. Usually we stick with cheddar, because kids are picky, but you can use pepper jack. Slice the peppers that you all want to put on your nachos… No? Not even these?
 

                                    Well, if you’re a big scaredy cat like me, let’s move on to the base, which is tortilla chips (of COURSE), but we’re going to do something a little funner and make them BLUE. Yay for blue chips! You knew there were white, and yellow, but blue? Yes, indeedy. In most grocery stores, in the chip aisle, are blue tortilla chips. I’m not convinced they’re healthier, even the organics, but the kids love ‘em, so we get them. They say there’s more fiber, but really, I just think it’s great to eat blue food.

                   At this point you can add low fat hamburger meat, taco flavored. Or chicken breast shredded. But we’re going for simple so we’re doing it all veggies.

   Now, for the assembly. This is where the kids love to help. (“Wash your hands. Wash your hands! Wash your hands!!”)  See, Yankee-Belle café is like being in my own house, nagging and all. Lucky you!

                                My husband loves fresh lime on everything so we usually slice a few of those. Then we let whichever baby is around taste it. Then we laugh at their expression and take pictures. Of course, they learn pretty fast so that only works once or twice. Try the neighbor’s kids. Maybe they’ll fall for it.

 





                 For the chopped veggies, you can mix them altogether or have separate dishes. I usually keep them separate to avoid the picky eaters starving to death.

   Plus, I’m not a fan of cilantro. It smells like feet. And when my husband eats it his BREATH smells like feet. It’s a wonder we have six kids. Anyway, I was going to say, some people love cilantro. It’s usually pretty cheap and will go for several meals, and keep in the fridge. If you can get past the feet smell.

 


                       With a nice glass of iced tea, we’re all set to go! Happy nachos, everybody!

  P.S. I know this is a doubled post (don't look below!! Hey, you looked.) but the other pictures weren't showing. Hopefully, we'll get that fixed right up! Just enjoy this one while we iron out the wrinkles...

 




58 comments:

  1. I love, love, love avocados!! And you totally had me until you said cilantro smelled like feet. How in the world does cilantro smell like feet? Maybe if they were stomping around in the cilantro garden . . . I love cilantro, in my salsa, my eggs, my salads, taco soup, absolutely yum!

    And zucchini, I can eat that and squash every day.

    I make my own taco seasoning since I'm gluten free. It gives me more control. I use cajun belle peppers when I can, along with red onion and green chiles, with a bit of sea salt. And we use spinach instead of lettuce.

    I look forward to many more recipes from you.

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  2. Love sea salt! And spinach is amazing, but I usually cook it after the e coli scare a few eyars ago. (Oh, man. Did I just write E Coli on a food blog?? What is WRONG with me??)

    And I'm glad you don't live in my house, Christina. I get enough cilantro breath around here. :D But you'd find lots to eat.

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    Replies
    1. LOL! A woman after my own heart--who worries about E. coli! :) (Yes, the microbiologist in me raises her head on a consistent basis!)

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    2. If I let it worry me too much, I might just end up on a cheesecake diet. So, for the sake of my pants, I will ignore the dangers of E Coli once in a while!

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    3. I knew I liked you two!

      I ALWAYS cook my spinach. If I want spinach salad, I cook it and then chill it. How sick is that? Well better than sick with E Coli, right?

      I read that if you cook spinach in boiling water for just 1 minute, it kills E Coli. So I boil the water, dunk the leaves for a minute (or 2 if I'm being nuts), then dunk in cold water.

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    4. Hmmmm, I just wash my spinach. Guess I better try boiling.

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    5. I'll check with my food service professional husband on this and get back to you. He doesn't eat fresh spinach, but I'm pretty sure he serves it...

      I'll ask him how they handle it.

      He's the pickiest person I know when it comes to food-borne illness. Nothing gets past him. He even calibrates all my thermometers for me.

      Yes, I said "all". It drives him nuts that I don't calibrate them every day :)

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    6. Well, for all my paranoia, I still buy the pre-washed salad greens and spinach and eat them right out of the bag! I should try blanching the spinach, though. It might be more tender anyway.

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    7. Missy, I think that is the way to go. I love having them available at will.

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    8. Oh my stars, it's amazing the food horror stories that are out there... I took the food handler's course this spring and if you think too much you'll never eat again.

      Thank heavens I'm brainless, LOL!

      I will eat raw cookie dough FOREVER. And if it kills me, I will die happy.

      And French Silk Frosting????

      Melt-in-your-mouth good!

      Eggnog?????

      Oh. Yum.

      I figure eventually something's going to kill all of us, and not eating stuff I love cannot enter into the choices.

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    9. They say that farm fresh eggs have a much lower incidence of salmonella. You probably already know that! We still try to keep the raw egging to a minimum, but when I lose control over the cookei dough, I just remind myself we're probably okay.

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    10. Okay, here's the scoop from the food service professional, multiple safety courses graduate and veteran of many, many health inspections.

      Not to mention really paranoid about food safety (literally hundreds of meals a week are kept safe by this guy.)

      Buy the bagged fresh spinach, rinse it well under running water, and you're good to go.

      Don't worry about lurking bacteria unless there's been a recall.

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  3. Well look who they're letting in now!

    Hola, Virginia.

    So this is cool. Congratulations!

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  4. Welcome virginia, some tomato would be nice. I tried growing then again last summer and they didn't do very well at all. not sure where to try them this coming summer.

    I am having me some roast beef for tea/dinner/supper courtsey of the neighbours.

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    1. Hi, Jenny!!

      I'm so glad you're getting tea/dinner/supper (you're trilingual) from neighbors. You need some good eats!!

      Praying for your quick recovery.

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  5. Thanks, Mary! Isn't it amazing who they let in the cafe?? Open door policy and all that. :D

    What else have I got to do while I wait for more Mary pages? :D

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    Replies
    1. So, do you two critique together?? How fun!

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    2. Fun for me. Poor Virginia!

      She's got six hundred kids but she still manages to turn pages around faster than I do.

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    3. Yes, Mary, but yours are BETTER. I would switch with you. (Not the kids, I'll keep those.)

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    4. LOL! Sounds like you are perfect for each other. :)

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    5. Hey, our cafe is an open-door-policy establishment! We needed a little kids-fingers-in-the-food Pacific Coast advice. Heaven knows we've got little nose-wipers helping in my kitchen, non-stop. Figured we'd see if the West Coast can do it better!

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  7. Hey, I think I can actually make this one today (even have the blue corn chips) except that I don't have cilantro (shucks no smelly feet in this heat -- how sad) and I'm missing the lime too. I don't have any babies to test it on but I do have a dog who might enjoy a culinary surprise. Must add lime to my shopping list. But I have one important question: How can you tell if an avocado is ripe?

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  8. Well, unripe avocados are super, super hard. The tip whouls be a little soft if you're going to use it in the next few days. Otherwise, make sure it has a bit of give. I usually get the smaller ones because they have a nicer flavor, but these were on sale. I had to leave them on the window sill for 4 days beofre they had any give at all. Another way to tell is when you open the skin, the tasty part should come back from the skin pretty easily when you scoop it out. If you have to scrape ans scrape, it's not ready.

    And Kav, if you give your dog a lime, please get pictures. We won't let you come back without them. :D

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  9. Hey Virginia! We're newbies together!

    (You didn't take my parking space did you?)

    These nachos look super good! And I'll take all the cilantro. It's so yummy, and gives everything it touches some extra zing.

    No, not feet zing. Good zing.

    I learned to love avocados when my grandmother married her college sweetheart. She had been a widow for 25 years and he had been a widower for 3 when they ran into each other at the wedding of her cousin to his brother. It was a whirlwind romance, both of them in their 70's, and everyone was extremely happy...except for one thing. He lived in California near his kids and she lived in Indiana near hers. So they lived in California for 10 years and traveled back to Indiana to spend several weeks with us each summer.

    Anyway, Grandpa Paul had an avocado tree in his front yard, and every summer Grandma would pack a suitcase full of ripe avocados to bring back to Indiana. We ate them at every meal for about a week.

    Oh, they were so good!

    (After the 10 California years were over, Paul sold his house and they moved to Indiana. So his family got them for 10 years, and we got the rest -- )

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    1. Jan, what a sweet story!!

      And I, too, love avocados!

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    2. That's such a great story!! And yes, an avocado tree would be perfect! Because even 3/$1 can get spend with as many as we eat!

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    3. Jan, that's such a wonderful story!

      Love, love, love it!

      I adore avocados but I HATE trying to buy them. I don't think I've ever bought an unripe avocado that actually ripened! So when I need one I walk from store to store to store to find one that's ripe. Pathetic, right?

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    4. People really eat avocados? Without chocolate? Because I may be somewhat appalled.

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  10. Fabulous! Great idea for summer meal and I love your writing style. You and I sound like we're in the same boat, husband-wise. My hubby and I are opposites, too. He's a cilantro fan and I think it smells like feet. Love finds a way.

    Avocado tip: If you put an unripe avocado in a brown paper bag, it ripens faster. Don't forget about it in there.

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    1. Kathryn, I had forgotten about that tip! Thanks for sharing it!

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    2. See? See? SEE???? I'm telling you! FEET!!!

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    3. Mandy, my beautiful niece, had me smell cilantro at the Public Market two weeks ago because her husband hates the smell. Only he doesn't equate it anatomically to feet...

      I liked the smell. Isn't it interesting how weird our noses are? Patchouli oil...

      Hate it. It smells worse than a dead body to me. Suffocating. But smells and olfactory senses are odd things. And women, after having been pregnant? Our olfactory sense jumps to "HIGH" to protect our young from the danger of approaching Patchoulis and Cilantros.

      :)

      The human body is an amazing vehicle.

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    4. My husband says I have 'the bionic nose'. I hate patchouli, too. And most smells, actually. But give me real citrus or vanilla and I'm good to go.

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  11. I'm sorry for a post that went up with no photos! They showed on the preview. Virginia, thanks for re-doing it! :)

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    1. Haha! I knew it was sabotage! Probably some weird computer virus that attacks blog posts about cilantro.

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  12. Christina, I agree!! I adore cilantro! It smells earthy. NOT LIKE FEET. LOL! Although my family might agree with you, Virginia. :)

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    1. Well, since you live so far away and I certainly not kissing you any time soon (as far as I can predict), go ahead and have the cilantro, Missy.

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    2. Now I'm craving pico de gallo.

      V, I think my youngest would agree with you about cilantro, she'll eat asparagus but not cilantro. Go figure.

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    3. Doesn't it look tasty?? And when you make it yourself you can make it as hot as you like. Hubby is a salsa lover, but not chunky, just the runny stuff. I think pico de gallo usually has fresh cabbage and he prefers it that way,

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    4. Never had it with cabbage. Sounds interesting enough to try it.

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    5. Just a little shredded in, adds a crunch and a base to it. You know, with the cabbage for nutrition and the hot peppers to kill bacteria, I can see how you can live in some unusual places and not get sick!

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  13. Virginia, I think you've been hanging out with Ruthy too much. I fully expect her to try out the lime trick.

    I actually just bought some limes to have in my water. Refreshing!

    So, my husband asked for tacos for dinner tonight. Have you been talking to him?

    We usually have the blue corn chips too. Love blue food. Sort of makes me feel like Dr. Seuss. Although then I guess it should be green. Don't think I want green corn chips.

    Okay, time to stop being silly and get to the new pages.

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    1. Ha! Yes, your hubby and I were chatting and I suggested tacos!

      And we get our limes 20/$1 so we use them in everything.

      No scurvy for these kids!!

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    2. Limes 20/$1????

      Oy.

      Remember the scene from Little Women with Amy and the limes? The fruit may have changed, but girls haven't. They're still clicquie and somewhat obnoxious at times... ! Hey, can you talk with my hubbie and suggest a restaurant? Because I could get down with that!

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    3. My kids loved that scene in the book! They said we'd be SO RICH!!

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  14. Dropping off a birthday cake for Jan!

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Jan!

    http://weddingcake.name/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/BigBirthdayCakeCandles.jpg

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Mary! It's beautiful!

      Much better than the one I bought for myself at Sam's Club this morning.

      And how did you know? The number of candles is SO close to being right!

      (Now that last sentence was an outright lie. I admit it.)

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    2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUOUOUOUOUOUOU!!!!!

      :)

      Hey, have a piece for me. A big one. With lots of frosting!

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  15. Jan!!! Happy birthday!!! you should have let Ruthy bake you a cake instead of buying one.

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    1. Oh, great idea! Are we all invited to the party??

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    2. I know, I would have made a beautiful cake, Janny! And we'd have had a big blast, but that darn Virginia came by and she bribed me to give her your birthday...

      Who knew????

      I blame her.

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    3. Oh, man. Better watch out, Ruthy. New York isn't THAT far from Orygun.

      Oh, wait. Yes, it is.

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    4. Cake for everybody, and ice cream, too! Dig in :)

      Oh, and of course, it's chocolate.

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  16. Ruthy, I'm also a patchouli lover! Am I weird or what??

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  17. sorry didn't get around to posting yesterday when this was fresh! I've never worried about spinach adn e-coli - figured I was being virtuos even eating spinach...and someone told me cooking the food won't kill e-coli anyways...though come to think of it some of my fave restaurants received a C from the inspector and one was , um , temporarily shut down a few days(think that was political since she didn't use the tap water for cooking - just grease!)
    anyways I love blue tortilla chips- taco cabana even has pink ones! I need some meat on mine though but have never been able to get the 2% cheese melted just right without burning my chips :-(
    and cilantro doesn't smell like feet to me - that cheese at olive garden smells like feet - parmesan? my friend thinks cilantro tastes like soap and wont' touch the stuff..of course she hates avocado too - I think she's nuts- once a coworker got me hooked on avocados I"ve been hooked!


    Susanna

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  18. JUST ONE WORD. YUM>

    And oh a few more. Welcome to Yankee Belle.

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