Friday, November 30, 2012

Sopa de Fideo - Recipe

Hey There:

One of my favorite quick lunch meals is Sopa de Fideo, a pasta soup in a tomato & chicken broth. Even though this is a staple in most Mexican homes, so far only El Camino in Little Italy has it in its menu, and by the way, it's very good!

mexican food


1 cup macaroni pasta (in your choice of stars, letters, elbows, etc)
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp oil
1/2 can tomato sauce
4 cups of water
1 tbsp Knorr chicken bouillon (to make this recipe vegan you can substitute with tomato bouillon)
Cilantro (optional)


1 - Heat oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.
2 - Slightly saute garlic and pasta, stirring constantly so pasta doesn't burn. Pasta will look golden within a few minutes.
3 - Add the 1/2 cup of tomato sauce stirring until all the pasta is coated.
4 - Add the 4 cups of water, the water can be at room temperature or slightly warm.
5 - Add the bouillon, one tablespoon should be enough, but taste the broth and add more if you want a stronger flavor. At this point you can add a few sprigs of cilantro, if you have any.
6 - Let the soup simmer over low heat for 20 minutes or until the pasta is fully cooked.

Once the soup is done, ladle it into a bowl and you can spice it up with hot sauce or lime, then sit back and eat while you watch a movie. It's a quick and satisfying lunch.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fresh & Easy Holiday Cooking Event - Salad Recipes

Hey There:

A few weeks ago my dear friend Darlene Horn, writer of the awesome food blog My Burning Kitchen, had me as her +1 to an invitation from Fresh & Easy to kick start the holiday season with some cooking and lots of eating with Chef Cindy Perez!

We met at Sur La Table, a place where you can find every kind of cooking tool, the staff is very knowledgeable on techniques and they also offer cooking classes right in the store! This was my first time there and I was very impressed.

The cooking area has plenty of space for the chefs and the students, no matter where you are, you will be able to see the chef either by standing near or by looking at the strategically placed camera and monitor or giant mirror on top of the prep area.

The class I attended was provided by Fresh & Easy, so when Darlene invited me I jumped at the opportunity. I'm a big fan of the grocery store and go there several times a week for their ready-made meals, they are such a time saver!

Coming in, we were greeted with a selection of fruits, cheeses and crackers, as well as our choice of white wine, red wine or beer. I choose beer and I was very impressed with it, Hopper Whitman Winter Brew, so good!

The format of the class was for us to prepare a few things (salads,pastry cream and chocolate ganache), Chef Cindy would cook and show us other things (gravy, eclairs and cauliflower gratin) and finally we would have some ready-made food to complement all the "hard" work we did.

The ingredients and recipes were all ready for us to begin cooking, and we did so while we chatted with our fellow San Diego bloggers, had some drinks, took pictures, tweeted, posted and tried to pay attention to Chef Cindy while she cooked and taught us a few tricks.

Each table had a different salad (recipes will be at the bottom) and we were able to sample them all until it was time for the big meal, with turkey, butternut squash risotto, stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes and bread. These dishes and more can be ordered in advance for Thanksgiving dinner, of course by the date of this post it is too late to pre-order, but you can still go to the store on Thanksgiving day for some last minute shopping!

Finally, the dessert table was set, most of us were way to stuffed so they provided little take-out boxes where I put my yummy desserts. 

On our way out we were given a goodies bag filled with Fresh & Easy items like chocolate, premium coffee, wine, seasonal pita chips, pumpkin pecan pancake mix, gingerbread mix, and other products. But what got me very excited was their brand of Dry Brine Rub, this promises the great tasted the brine process gives, without having to confiscate an ice chest or igloo from our significant others.

And now the salad recipes, all of them were very good, but I did have my favorites...

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette

Serves 4


·         16 oz. package fresh&easy butternut squash, cubed
·         2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         ½ teaspoon pepper
·         6 oz. bag romaine and radicchio salad
·         ½ cup pomegranate seeds
·         ¼ cup toasted pepitas
·         ¼ cup goat cheese, crumbled
·         3 tablespoons pumpkin seed oil
·         2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
·         3 tablespoons orange juice
·         2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
·         1 shallot, finely chopped
·         1 teaspoon honey
·         Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking Directions:

1.       Preheat oven to 400F.
2.       In a lined baking sheet, toss butternut squash with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast for about 30 minutes, until brown.  Remove from oven; allow to cool.
3.       In a jar, add pumpkin seed oil, white wine vinegar, orange juice, Dijon mustard, shallots, honey, salt and pepper.  Seal jar with a tightly fitting lid and shake until all ingredients are combined.
4.       In a large bowl, place romaine and radicchio salad, butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, pepitas and goat cheese.
5.       Pour dressing over salad and toss lightly.

Italian Sausage Ravioli Salad with Warm Brown Butter Dressing
(Second Favorite!)

Serves 4


·         1 package fresh&easy Italian Sausage Ravioli
·         1/3 cup roasted pepitas
·         1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
·         12 oz. bag fresh, washed spinach
·         ¼ cup, thinly sliced red onion
·         4 tablespoons butter
·         1 shallot, chopped
·         1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
·         2 teaspoons honey
·         Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions:
1.       Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil; salt generously.  Add ravioli and cook as per instructions on package.  Drain immediately and set aside.
2.       Place spinach in a large bowl, top with ravioli, pepitas, red onion and goat cheese.
3.       In a small skillet over medium heat, melt butter.
4.       Add shallots and cook until tender and the butter turns a light brown color, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Pour over the spinach in a bowl and toss lightly.

Wedge Salad with Pear and Blue Cheese Dressing

Serves 4


·         1 head red leaf lettuce
·         ½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
·         ½ cup dried cranberries
·         ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oilextra virgin olive oil⅓
·         3 tablespoons pear nectarpear nectar3
·         1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegarwhite balsamic vinegar1 ½
·         1 tablespoon fresh lemon juicelemon juice½
·         ½ teaspoon Dijon mustarddijon mustard¼
·         1 Bartlett pear, peeled, cored and dividedbartlett pears1
·         ½ cup coarsely crumbled blue cheesegorgonzola cheese½
·         Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions:

1.       In a blender, add oil, pear nectar, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, ½ pear (diced), blue cheese, salt and pepper until smooth.
2.       Cut red leaf lettuce into wedges and thinly slice remaining ½ pear lengthwise. Place the lettuce wedges on a salad plate.  Top with pear slices, hazelnuts and cranberries.
3.       Top with dressing and serve.

Winter Fruit Salad with Honey Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Serves 4


·         6 oz. bag fresh&easy European Blend Salad
·         ¼ cup thinly sliced red onions
·         2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
·         1 granny smith apple, cored and diced
·         2 carrots, peeled and shaved into strips with a peeler
·         ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
·         ¼ cup sliced and toasted almonds
·         1/3 cup dried cherries
·         1 garlic clove, minced
·         2 tablespoons honey
·         3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
·         ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
·         Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions:

1.       In a large bowl combine salad blend, red onions, celery, apple, carrots, feta cheese, toasted almonds and cherries.
2.       In a jar, combine garlic, honey, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Cover tightly and shake until fully combined. 
Pour dressing over salad, toss lightly and enjoy!

When it comes to Thanksgiving Day my cousin will take care of everything, but I'll be putting my new found recipes to use on Christmas Eve.

Happy Holidays!

The cooking class, meal and product were provided compliments of Fresh & Easy. I was not compensated for my review and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Garden Window Decoration - Thanksgiving

Hey There:

This may not have been my initial idea for Thanksgiving / Fall decoration, but I like the end result, even if I got it done way too close to Thanksgiving Day. The first thing I did a few weeks ago was buy gourds from my local farmer's market, my idea was to get a cornucopia and have it looking all abundant with the gourds, glass grapes and big fall leaves.

Nice idea, but couldn't find the cornucopia. At the beginning of the month got so busy I didn't have time to go to craft stores and by the time I did, there were no cornucopias in sight...and maybe they don't sell them in Southern California, next year I'll look online.

Anyway, so last weekend it was a mad dash at Michael's, Ross and Marshall's, looking for the last fall items they had and I was able to put this together:

fall decoration, gourds

My neighbor also gets in the decorating mood and here is her garden window decoration:

 The reason why I am so pleased with my decorations is that I was able to do a quick craft. If you've ever been to Michael's craft store, you may have noticed they have $2 "grab bags", the bags are sealed and you can't see inside, so its a gamble and a surprise to see what you'll get. This time I saw a very big grab bag and I took it, among several items there was a plaque ready to be painted.

I thought about writing "Welcome", "Ellie's Place", and other nice and cute things...then it hit me, and I decided on the best line ever written:

fall craft