Christmas Tamales and Holiday Pozole 2016

That’s the way the holiday starts!

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Another year of Tamales and Pozole. I am so grateful that I could continue to share these amazing little delicious packages of yumminess with my family. It’s pretty amazing how many tamales I made and always make but when you go through the work of making stocks, sauces, braising meats, roasting veggies and getting everything done you can’t just make 12 tamales. So we ate Tamales and Pozole for a long time and enjoyed them I have some in the freezer for later which is nice too.

This year I made

Beef with red and green chili

Carnitas with Red and green chili

Green chili and cheese

Green chili and chicken


Pork Pozole


We also had carnitas street tacos with fresh tortillas because if you have everything out already why not.

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Sauces came out great and I was really happy with everything. Family enjoyed the fruits of tamale labor and we had a fantastic Christmas. I know that it seems like awhile ago but I truly loved every moment of the holiday season and I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2017.

img_6850 img_6836Cheers



Dinner for 8: Happy Birthday Big Sister Keek‏

Birthdays are my favorite occasions to celebrate. I always have some extravagant plan for someone I love, if it’s at all possible to get done.  The weekend of the 12th my big sister, Kristen, had a birthday celebration for the family, and myself and Brandon cooked for everyone. We decided on a last-minute venture all over the place, including a trip to Oxnard farmer’s market and a couple of other grocery stores on the way home. We cut the preparation pretty close, but my family is always pretty flexible when it comes to me cooking. I honestly came up with the menu last-minute, so it’s good I had Brandon with me so he could fill in my brain gaps with the menu. So here’s what we decided on for the fun of it all. (Some photos are missing)

Appetizers: Buffalo mozzarella, melon, olives, humus, and pita
Whole sautéed head on prawns with garlic
Three color: white, candy cane, and golden beet salad, with prosciutto chips, goat cheese and mixed greens with honey balsamic vinaigrette
Cabernet and Italian herb braised beef and ricotta stuffed shells
Homemade pasta filled with spinach and chicken ricotta and herbs
Homemade basil spinach pesto with pine nuts and aged Parmesan
Vine-ripened red heirloom pomodoro fresco with basil and extra virgin olive oil
Alfredo sauce over chicken-filled fresh tortelli
Tuile cookie with orange pastry cream and fresh blueberries and blackberries
I think my sister was happily stuffed and opening presents like we used to when we were kids. I loved everyone being together and seeing our little addition, Maleeya, join in the fun.  I love my family very much and my sister is a huge part of that love. I love you Keek. Happy birthday, you old lady! Just remember, I’ll always look up to you just like I did when we were little like monkey. You’re the best sister ever.

Sloppy Joes Transformation into Messy Moes with Red Cabbage, Peanut and Carrot Molasses Coleslaw

Yes, I said it: sloppy Joes! Okay, so it’s a guilty pleasure, but I see no guilt in eating it when I really want something to satisfy my childhood craving. The subtle spices of sloppy Joes can be something to master, although once you do, I’m telling you, you won’t think twice about making that ground beef in your fridge into one of these. This is almost like southwest style Bolognese on bread with cheese. I know it’s more probable that the spices for the once eaten sloppy Joes of your childhood would squander in comparison to the sophisticated spice rack you now have, but I’m saying, forsake it all and go with your gut. Eat until your heart’s content, just like the youngster you once were.

My brother-in-law enjoys sloppy Joes and as a kid, my parents would make them on occasion. They were those thick tomato and greasy beef types, where we were more excited to make a mess than actually eat the things. I know my sister wasn’t a big fan of them at all, but I changed her mind today. These sloppy Joes are slow simmered, with fresh tomatoes and tomato paste, herbs and spices, and the slight sweetness that no sloppy Joes can be without. Lots of fresh veggies are added to this mix in order to make a more flavorful and substantial meal. So win over the kiddies, and even the inner kid in yourself, by making these Messy Moes!

Messy Moes


½ red bell pepper, minced

½ white onion, minced

2 stalks celery, minced

3 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon dry parsley

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 ½ pounds of ground beef

8 roma tomatoes

6-ounce can of tomato paste

3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup of loose brown sugar

2 tablespoons of ketchup

Black pepper


1/2 cup of water

2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil


In a blender, add water, tomatoes, brown sugar and a couple pinches of black pepper. Liquefy for about 3 minutes until everything is nicely incorporated and the tomatoes are completely smooth, creating the tomato puree.


In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and heat until warm.


Add white onions, bell pepper, green onions, dry parsley, and celery.

Cook for about 5-7 minutes until softened slightly.

Add smoked paprika and garlic powder and incorporate with vegetables, cooking for a couple minutes more.

Add beef to skillet. Mix-in completely, breaking up the meat with a spoon or a whisk, into small pieces and mixing in the vegetables together well.


Cook for 8 -10 minutes until meat is completely browned.


Reduce heat to medium, add 6 ounces of tomato paste to the meat. Cook for about 5 minutes.


Now add tomato puree mixture to the skillet.


Check to see how much liquid is in the mixture, after you stir everything together. Depending on how big and how juicy your tomatoes are, you may need to add more water to your Messy Moes mixture.


Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. About 20 minutes in, add Worcestershire sauce and ketchup to sauce.

Adjust salt content and sweetness to your desired preference.

The sauce should now be thickened and ready to serve with American cheese and a white potato bun or white bun of your preference.

If the mixture looks too thin, continue to cook the sauce until most of the liquid has evaporated.



When creating Messy Moes the balance of spice, salt and sweetness is critical to their success. I like my Messy Moes with the addition of a small pinch of cayenne and a little extra salt, aside from the salt content in the Worcestershire and ketchup. If you’re looking to cut out some excess calories or salt content, take out both of those items and the sugar and you can have a very nice veggie meat spread for a sandwich. But then it’s not really a Messy Moe; it’s closer to a Bolognese sauce, which can be good with pasta.


This can be made with tofu, ground turkey or ground chicken. Decrease cooking time for leaner protein so they don’t dry out by about 10 minutes. Tofu will have excess liquid, so be sure to decrease the water to1/4 – 1/2 a cup. Messy Moes can be made ahead of time and cooled and stored in the fridge. The flavor will develop even more the next day.


Also, if you’re making these for children, you can puree the vegetables onions, celery and red peppers into the tomato mixture so they won’t be able to see them; a very handy trick.


If you don’t have the additional ingredients or the time to make the tomato puree, you can use canned tomato sauce (about 24 ounces) and 1 cup of water instead, but reduce the salt content and taste it because canned tomato sauce has added salt to it. The fresh tomatoes from the puree add natural sweetness and balance well with the meat, adding nutrition without preservatives, but I’m all for quality canned tomato sauce as well.


Also, I added this sweet vinegar coleslaw to contrast to the hearty thick sandwich.


Red Cabbage, Peanut and Carrot Molasses Coleslaw


½ small head of red cabbage, shredded

2 stalks of celery, minced

½ red pepper

¼ red onion, minced

3 carrots, shredded finely

1 ½ pinches of black pepper


2 tablespoons of molasses

½ lime, juiced

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

8 ounces roasted peanuts

2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


In a small bowl add vinegars, lime juice, oil, black pepper, molasses, brown sugar and a pinch of salt to this mixture, then add the minced red onions and set aside.

In a large bowl, grate red cabbage using the larger holes of the box grater. Then, using the medium to small holes of the box grater, grate the carrots. Note: If you don’t have any different sides, just grate it all the same. You can also use a food processor with a grating attachment, in place of the box grater.

Add minced pepper and celery.

Add the dressing to the mixture of vegetables and mix together thoroughly. Add roasted peanuts. If necessary, season with a bit more salt to taste.

Let flavors meld together for at least 20 minutes; the longer it sits in the fridge the better.


I hope you enjoy some Messy Moes, the way you like it.



Life and Pita Pizza with Spinach Pomodoro Sauce

Life, I’m sure is overwhelming at times for us all. And if it’s not, please tell me what planet you’re residing on, I’ll take a ticket there any time. My life over the last 10 months has become a place where I frequently feel at peace and content with the path I have decided to take, that will ready me for the next phases of my life. The simple pleasures and the brief moments shared with friends and family where peace and laughter are the focal point of our meetings are the times I truly enjoy.

My sister is supposed to be having my niece any day now, today April 6th was her doctors said due date. The family and friends are pouring in over text messages, lunch dates, and outings while we’re trying to stay peaceful and calm till Maleeya gets here. I can’t help but feel the pressure myself so I know my sister is tirelessly counting the seconds till her lovely baby girl meets us all.

As for me I’ve been running my mind over the whole situation, I’ve never lived with a small child and this is my big sister we grew up together going crazy over one another and the whole situation for me makes me a little scared but very excited. I know I’m really happy to help but this does really change everything. So my peace maybe interrupted a bit, well more than a bit but it will all be worth it to see this beautiful little girl bring so much happiness and joy to so many people’s lives.

Lately I’ve been cooking simple meals and not photographing too much, too many people around, too many things to do, and so much on my mind.

Yesterday I must have been a bit unkind to my body in yoga because it was screaming at me all day and very unhappy, luckily my back seems to be doing much better today after a good night’s rest. Tonight will be my 30th Yoga class in a row. I will of completed my challenge but I’m pretty sure until I for some reason (AKA BABY BIRTH) can’t make it to class I’ll keep going every day. My yoga studio has this wonderful program where you work about 4 hours a week volunteering your time helping at the desk and you receive yoga classes for free. I think things do happen for a reason, the precious gift of yoga has been placed in my life for a wonderful reason and I’m glad I can be a part of the experience.

So for you today I have these lovely easy pizzas, they are made atop thicker pita pockets that I found in my local Middle Eastern market. I love to scour that place for new breads, spices, herbs, and pickled vegetables whenever I can. These pizzas were thought of with a touch a veggie friendly influence as well as just making simple cheese pizzas for my brother in law. My sister loves pizza and she loved these little pockets. The pizza sauce is made with spinach instead of basil to achieve the veggie goodness that I love and to hide it from those suspecting doubters, plus i had no fresh basil. This sauce will also make a wonderful pasta sauce as well and can be used in recipes where you’d like a vegan tomato base. I hope you enjoy!

Pita Pizza’s with Spinach Pomodoro Sauce

Pita Pizza

4 thick pita’s
1 ½ cups of mozzarella cheese shredded
Kalamata olives
Sundried tomatoes
Roasted bell peppers
Spinach leaves thinly sliced for topping
(choose whatever type of toppings you would like!)

Spinach Pomodoro Sauce

1 large can of peeled whole tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 large pinches of salt
1 pinch of black pepper
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of chopped spinach
8 oz of tomato paste

Place all the items in a large blender leaving aside the tomato paste

Oregano and parsley




Salt and pepper

Blend till the tomatoes are mashed and ingredients well incorporated about 2 minutes of blending.

If there are still large chunks of tomato puree for longer depending on your blender

Place mixture in a medium sauce pan one medium heat

Add to the mixture the tomato paste

Cook till incorporated about 10 minutes

Color should be vibrant red, check seasoning to your preference, and set aside

Preheat oven to 450

On a sheet tray with parchment paper place pitas on top
Spread sauce over the top keeping a rim along the edge of the pizza


Place cheese on top of sauce and toppings to your liking

Place in the oven cook about 10-12 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and browned
If you’re still not getting the bubbling brown effect put them in the broiler for a minute or two and you got it


Twitter and Foodbuzz

Dinner… Ricotta, piselli, di pollo cannelloni con pana

Ricotta, piselli, di pollo cannelloni con pana
Ricotta, peas, and chicken filled rolled pasta with cream

This is a super lush fantastic way to have filled pasta.
I used a bunch of crap i had at home
and made is snazzy

Italian my go to under pressure…

So here’s whats inside

3/4 bag frozen peas
1/2 lg container of ricotta cheese
about 1 1/2 cups of grated mozzarella
3 cups of heavy cream
2 chicken breast cut in half
1/2 box of lasagna sheets
about 2 tablespoons of dried parsley
about 2 tablespoons of dried basil
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of onion powder
1/2 white onion minced
1 tablespoon of red chili flake
black cracked pepper

this is what you get when your done

okay here’s the deal kiddies
get a big pot of water boiling away add some salt to it so that you can taste it in the water
preheat oven to 400 degrees
Clean up the chicken breasts so there’s none of that nasty connective chewy stuff on them or fat. Then slice them across the center not down the middle but length wise so you have flat pieces of chicken this will help you to cook the breast more evenly and faster
looking like this

now season the hell out of em
use the basil, parsley onion powder and garlic powder as well as some salt and pepper and get those babies lookin coated but not too much salt there’s enough salt in the cheese and both sides mind you

okay now i always sear my chicken in a pan 1st getting those nice juices locked into that chicken. so you get a real hot pan put enough extra virgin olive oil in the bottom to just coat it a bit. and place the chicken in the pot. you should have 4 pieces don’t crowd the chicken or it will cool the pot down too much and you’ll get white chicken that looks boiled not what you going for.

so you can do 2 at a time if your pots not big enough. Okay good now cook each breast about 3 minutes each side. They should still be kinda raw your gonna put them on a sheet tray or you can use a casserole dish cause your gonna need it anyway. so one less dish and put them in the preheated oven   cook for an additional 5-6 minutes till cooked through out.

I always cook my chicken this way it comes out much more moist. if you have an old ass oven or its not hot enough just make sure your chicken isn’t raw when you take it out.  check the thickest part of the breast, also it doesn’t have to be dry as a bone which most people believe chicken has to be which is disgusting so don’t do that… you want nice tender pieces of chicken so keep to the time table. take the chicken out and let it rest on the counter. the juices should run clear . when the chicken cools down so your fingers can handle it your gonna then shred it. I use two forks with a back and forth movement over the chicken that makes for nice shredded pieces. If you find a part of your chicken you think is still not cooked just throw it in that pan you used and cook it a little more. No harm, no foul…

if you already had chicken from a left over meal this is a good use for it as well just chop it up and use it

your pasta water should be boiling have a bowl with ice water ready along side of it and put the pasta in the water. Cook per instruction about 8-10 minutes and then drain the noodles and put them in the ice water so they don’t get over cooked

Tada noodles

So now the sauce. In the pan you seared the chicken in add just a tiny bit more oil if it seems like there is enough still left in the bottom of the pan to cook the onions in it then you don’t have to add anymore just use the chicken juice to cook the onions. so anyways add the onions to the pot cook till translucent add chili flake. more or less depending on if you like spicy or not. crack some pepper in that bad boy… now add the cream let the sauce simmer so turn down the heat and make sure you stir every once in a while or the cream will bubble over and thats not a nice mess to clean up at all…

oolala panna… this is what the sauce should look like. Its not supposed to be thick like Alfredo its supposed to be just a cooked cream so it should reduce about 1/4 its previous volume…

Now the pea mixture… easy get frozen peas and run them under warm water until they are no longer frozen… add the ricotta and peas together crack some pepper in that bad boy and add about a 1/2 of a cup of mozzarella

and this is what that looks like

So now you got noodles you got chicken cheese and peas

put it together

Alrite now to make the cannelloni is the tricky part and i made a video of how to do it but I’m to embarrassed to post it cause i sound like a chipmunk

So you’ll have to envision it
and to help you envision it i’ve made this ms paint horrible diagram hahahahahahaha!

you lay the pasta out flat on a board now take a tablespoon and a half of the pea mixture and place it 2 inches away from  the end of the pasta add a few slices of the shredded chicken on top

then as the picture clearly shows you fold over the pasta so that it covers the filling and do it on both sides till the meet in the middle
Keep going til you make them all and they fit in a 9 13 dish

PS if you aint got time or patience to roll em up just layer the fuck out of it and you’ll be fine

when their all done
add the sauce over the top of the noodles
then add reminder of cheese and if you have left over pea filling and chicken through it on top there too waste not want not


now put it back in the oven for about 15 minutes until the whole thing gets melty and delicious

and looks like this

holy fuck after all that you got yourself a boat load of pasta

get some bread and carb it up my good friends

Veggie it up with broccoli and eggplant or whatever else you’d like
have fun
and eat well…

oh i also figured out what the hell was wrong with me today

I hadn’t been cooking. and its like my crack i have to do it often and a lot of it in order to feel good about myself. 😀

Because you can make pasta too! Farfalle with tomato poached chicken and broccoli

Cheers…Here’s to the most unconventional of recipes where I’m talking a lot instead of only showing you how to make something… ahahaha

Easy pasta in case one day you’re a little hungry

just cause it says poached don’t get scared
its just tactics for fancy cooking
tell someone you poached something for them
their gonna be like holy hell this kid can

plus it eliminates use of a lot of oil and I’m trying to not be 1000 pounds before the end of my life

Farfalle with Tomato Poached Chicken and Broccoli

one box of whatever short kinda pasta you like
i used farfalle… i mean just look at that name… it sounds… delicious

anyway i digress like always
this is why i don’t write recipes
geezus get going…

The Stuff

4 Roma tomatoes chopped
1/2 medium white onion minced
3 cloves of garlic
about 1/2 bunch of basil chopped
2 cups of broccoli washed cleaned and chopped into bit sized pieces my bits are pretty big i don’t like the broccoli to get lost or too smushy!
2 chicken breasts sliced into small pieces now when you do this make sure you go against the gain of the chicken so the pieces remain tender and try and make them as similar in size as possible otherwise you’ll have some dry pieces and some raw ones
1 tablespoon of oregano
2 small cans of tomato sauce
1/2 cup of milk
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
black pepper to taste
a little smoked paprika if you got it
and a dab of cayenne pepper for kicks

large pot of salted boiling water
1 box of you choose it

The Way

okay so now

I add the olive oil to the pan… heat it up
then add the onions
cook them for about 4 minutes
then add the tomatoes
sir em a bit till their good and warm
add the garlic
let that cook some more till everything smells pretty good about 3-4 minutes making sure the fire isn’t too high so your not burning anything
there’s nothing worse than burnt garlic so if you burn it throw it away or else your whole dish is gonna be disgusting
okay so now that’s look in good
pour in the broccoli
mix mix mix
add to this the tomato sauce
and mix it all about
simmer a couple of minutes
then add milk and seasonings
good news is were almost done

okay now that the sauce is bubbling away lower the heat and bubble some more for about 5 minutes
add the chopped chicken to the liquid
mix mix mix again
i know but cooking is repetitive just do it
okay so by this time you can stop mixing
put a lid on the sauce and let it cook
about 6-7 minutes
chicken is quick don’t over cook it
and your not gonna die if you get a tiny little piece of raw chicken so don’t be so paranoid your house isn’t the health department and I’m sure your cleaner then your average taco stand so don’t worry plus everything cooks a little longer when you toss it in. Best bet is make sure the pieces of chicken are the same size for even cooking.
anyway the chickens gonna let go of a lot of nice juices into your sauce
so after you got all that cooked up
your gonna cook your pasta in the water
nice and al dente now
none of this over cooked pasta bullshit
that’s disgusting
my none existent Italian grandmother would be rolling over in her grave
drain the pasta
add a little good extra virgin olive oil to it
i know i said not too much oil but i don’t even think of olive oil as fat really cause its so good for your skin and your life honestly

you need more olive oil in your life

add the pasta to the sauce
mix mix and let all those juices stick to that yummy goodness
adjust for seasoning
always always always taste and put freaking salt in your food!
lesson number one if you got through all this fucking taste your food
it will help
you know what you like
if you want it spicy
if you want it more tomatoey
if you want it to have candies inside i don’t care your gonna eat it fix it the way you like
At the very end put in the basil
because fresh herbs have the most power when fresh meaning at the end always
and sprinkle with a little parmigiano reggiano or maybe you just have a little packet of cheese from take out pizza the other night
whatever floats your boat
and you got it homies



ps I’m down to vegetarianize… veganize this
get rid of the chicken and milk add an extra can of tomato sauce and a little bit of veggie stock or water 1/2 cup instead of milk
chop up some extra broccoli maybe even some peppers or eggplant would be awesome
cook it in the sauce like you would the chicken
and you got the veggie pasta of your dreams