The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Mexican Wedding Cookies

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I can’t put my finger on why, but this year I’ve had trouble getting into the Christmas spirit. I’m watching the movies, listening to the music, wrapping the presents, going to the parties…but for some reason this year has felt a bit…off to me. 

However, there’s nothing like some Christmas baking to lift one’s spirits, and thanks to my participation in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I had three dozen reasons to get covered in powdered sugar and dance along to my Glee Christmas Pandora station (-10 cool points).

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An African Love Letter to Disney: Ethiopian Chickpea Wat

Why, hello there.

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It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Seems like it.  I’m back and settled into my kitchen (and my sweatpants) post vacation, and while I technically have been home since Wednesday evening, I’ve been busy with work and life and Christmas and today I finally had the day to myself to just do the things that I like to do: yoga, cook, bake, blog and decorate, all with Christmas music in the background. Does a Saturday get much better than that?

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Cajeta Shortbread Sandwich Cookies

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It seems like not much and so much has happened this week and it’s only Wednesday. Not much meaning no earth-shattering developments, but so much meaning cookies. Lots of cookies. And Disney, but more on that later.

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The cookies started because I’m taking part in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I love baking for people and I love making care packages so it was obviously destined that I partake in the extravaganza. Anyhow, I tried to think of something to make that 1) would tie in with Mexico 2) would travel well and 3) would be well, yummy.

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My Favorite Things

Happy Sunday! I will not be cooking this week because THIS:

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Thanksgiving Leftovers. What’s in here:

Cabbage Rolls

Short Ribs with Slow Cooked Polenta

Ham

Turkey

Stuffing

Gravy

Bacon

Turkey Stock

Indian Breakfast

Mostachones

Also, I’m heading to Disney on Thursday (yay!) so too much food for too little time. Still, I bake on.

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A Love Story: Mostachones, or Mexican Milk Candy

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It’s pre-holiday week which inevitably causes one of two problems for those of us partake in the festivities.

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Turkey Twist: Sopa de Albondigas, or Meatball Soup

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Happy almost Thanksgiving!

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I love turkey day and today I get a head start on the holidays because my friend Meatball is throwing a friends-giving pot luck tonight. Turkey, stuffing, booze…all the goods will be there and I see it as a way to get my stomach into tip top shape for Thanksgiving Day back home this Thursday. Thanksgiving eating is a marathon, not a sprint and I take race training very seriously. Anyway, the point behind the above ramble is that my house smells like Thanksgiving as my pumpkin pie finishes up in the oven, with a new pecan crust recipe courtesy of Ambitious Kitchen that I’m test driving. I do love me some pecans.

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Beans, Bacon and Beer: Frijoles Borrachos, or Mexican Drunken Beans

I don’t know about you, but there are certain people that I have on speed email. They’re my daily “check-in” and it’s reassuring to know that if one of is still MIA by say, 11 AM, it’s possible search and rescue will be called. Those people for me are Lettuce and Yam, and these emails can be from deep meaning-of-life conversation to the banal “what’s for lunch today?” Food is very often a daily topic and today’s went on to discuss the “rank” of certain starchy sides at mealtime.

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It started because Yam commented on how she had couscous for dinner last night.

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Steak and Eggs, Reinterpreted: Machaca con Huevos

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Lose your load, leave your mind behind, Baby James.

Woh, Mexico, it sounds so simple, I just got to go.

The sun’s so hot I forgot to go home, guess I’ll have to go now.

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Who doesn’t love a little James Taylor (the original JT, though I still love the current JT)? I grew up listening to the peaceful strumming of his guitar on every single road trip as a kid, and even now when I hear any of his songs pop up on my iPod, I’m transported back to the backseat of that ugly red Volvo station wagon, driving through the West Virginia Appalachians with the family on summer vacation.

Just like that classic tune implies, this classic Mexico dish sounds so simple…and it is. For my convenience, it’s re-purposed as a slow cooker dish, and rarely does it get any easier. BUT, have you ever used a slow cooker for breakfast?

Now you can! I bring to you machaca con huevos.

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Northern Mexico

Full belly. That seems to be the theme to my weekend. Having been out of town so much recently, I spent a lot of the last two days catching up with friends, so lots of food and drink was had. Good times, great oldies.

Looking forward at the next few weeks, it’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is here in less than fourteen days. We all know that means lots of our favorite foods that, despite how easy some of them are to make, only make a ceremonial appearance that one day a year. I am guilty of the above, when in reality, how easy is stuffing to make? I should be eating it more than just on Thanksgiving Day.   That’s a tangent, but what I’m really here to tell you today is that I’m finally finally moving onward on my worldwide culinary trek to Mexico.  And, taking note of the upcoming holiday, I’m putting a bit of a thanksgiving twist on some of the upcoming dishes.  Seasonal tweaks, if you will.

Something tells me I’m into something good…

Anyway. MEXICO.  I’ve only been once and I fully appreciate that a resort in Playa del Carmen is hardly a true representation of a country. And, despite the fact that I absolutely adore Mexican food (there is a constant debate in my head about whether Mexican or Mediterranean is my favorite), Mexico is not nor has it ever been high on my “to travel” list.  I just really hate hot weather and that causes me to, shamefully, rule out entire areas of the world. I mean, if someone is going to give me a trip to Mexico for free I’m not high and mighty enough where I’d turn it down, but I’m less likely to fund a trip there myself.  Another tangent.  Moving on…

Despite the love of Mexican food, I’m aware that my skill set is limited to the familiar: tacos, fajitas, tortilla soup, burritos. I think for many of us, that’s Mexican cuisine in a nutshell. However, upon further review, it appears that Mexico’s culinary regions are as distinct as those of France, Italy, Spain and India and thus is deserving of three full weeks of attention: Norte, Central and Sud.

First, the north.  Northern Mexico for my purposes consists of an enormous area spanning dry and semi-arid regions from the Baja area on the Pacific coast to the Gulf of Mexico and expanding southwards toward central Mexico.  The climate and conditions in this region lends itself to cattle ranching and dependence on wheat. Therefore, in this area, the food actually is the familiar: flour tortillas, meat, beans and cheese, but get excited when I tell you that I’m not making just tacos this week (though, if I were, would you really hate me that much? Didn’t think so.)

Machaca con huevos (spiced beef with eggs)

Frijoles Borrachos (drunken beans)

Mostachónes (milk candy)

Albondigas (meatball soup)

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Apple Crisp, me and Lettuce on our Mexico trip. BABIES.

Into the Thai Files: Green Papaya Salad and Fried Cashew Nut Chicken

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People, I’m back!

Well, sort of back. I’m currently in San Francisco waiting to fly home into the Polar Vortex. It’s been quite a whirlwind couple of weeks and I’m starting to feel not quite like myself. As much as I do love to travel (and travel I do, often), there comes a point that I’m over my trip and ready to head back to life as I know it. I’m such a creature of routine and being out of it, I start to long for the comfort of my apartment, the peace of my yoga mat, the serenity of the pool, and the bounty of my kitchen. I haven’t properly cooked in close to two weeks (TWO WEEKS!) and with a few more days of settling back into life, it won’t be until next week’s adventures in Mexican cooking when I start to see if still know how.

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