Mexican Seasoning – tacos or fajitas

This makes enough seasoning or rub for a few meals – use it on anything you want to barbecue, grill or saute.  We like to keep it on hand for so many purposes.  Add some to your favorite vinaigrette and you instantly have a salad with a Mexican twist.   Hayley and Mike perfected this one to create a well balanced flavour but you should experiment with the seasonings to make it your own.

3 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 tbsp cumin
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp black pepper

(feel free to use ancho or chipotle chili powder for a richer taste)

Tonight this seasoning mix created some delicious fajitas for the family, but it is just as easily transformed into fantastic tacos – using the ground meat of your choice – and if you should crave vegetables it is marvelous with those too! 

Go ahead and try it your way …

Pork in Salsa Verde

This is so unbelievably good you will suddenly think … oh no, maybe we should keep it for ourselves and order pizza for the company tonight …. something I hear from my husband regularly … Seriously, not many ingredients, a bit of prep time at the start, and then nothing but relaxing while your kitchen smells so inviting.  

Preheat oven to 350 and get out a heavy bottom saucepan suitable for cook top as well as braising.  Total prep, and cooking time should be about 3 hours – give or take a bit as you like.

SALSA VERDE (Green sauce)                

1 pound tomatillos – husks removed

4 -5 whole serrano chiles (to your taste)

1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 medium bunch fresh cilantro – tough stems removed

sea salt to taste  (and not much!)


2.2 lbs (1 kg) pork shoulder, or butt, cut into 2″ pieces

1/4 cup flour


oil or lard

Honestly, I don’t often use lard, but in this case I think it just adds such a depth of flavour and gets such a crisp finish on the pork pieces that I think it is worth it.


In a large pot of boiling water bring tomatillos, onions, chiles and garlic back to a boil.  Boil just until tomatillos begin to crack – watch carefully as you don’t want them to fall apart. Once they have started to crack scoop out all ingredients to your blender and reserve the cooking liquid in case you need to thin out your salsa verde.  I like to just leave it sit in my blender at this point to cool down – NEVER blend hot items unless you leave a spot for the steam to escape.

While the tomatillo mixture is cooling – prep your pork.

Toss pork cubes in a bag with flour and salt – shake as much flour off as possible and allow to sit.  In small batches of hot oil or lard (using the same saucepan you boiled the vegetables in) brown pork pieces on all sides, removing to a plate to keep warm while you work with the rest of the pieces.

Pour out the remaining oil or lard – again BE VERY CAREFUL with hot oil or lard.

Now that your tomatillo mixture has cooled down, blend it, adding some of the cooking liquid if you need to so it thins out a bit.  Once you have it blending – push the cilantro down through the lid opening – you want to blend it enough to have a liquid, but not so much you lose the color of the bits of cilantro.  Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.

All chiles are so unique for the heat level – I like to add just 1/2 the whole cooked chile – seeds and all.  Then taste it, and if you like more heat go ahead and add it. IT IS SO MUCH EASIER TO ADD HEAT THAN REDUCE IT!  (Just ask my unsuspecting family – they often get handed a spoonful of something …”Here just taste this” … and then run for something to cool them down.)

Once you are happy with your salsa verde, pour it over the pork and place the whole thing in the oven to cook for at least 2 hours – check it at that point, adding more liquid as necessary and even turn the heat down if you need to.  By the time you eat it (I like to allow 3 hours total) the meat should be melt in your mouth tender and delicious enough for you to also wonder if you should feed your guests pizza…

Our Fathers Day Mexican Fiesta was perfect with this, Spanish Rice, Roasted Cauliflower, Asparagus with lime, feta and almonds, Nationalist Guacamole and Mexican Black Beans. – try it yourself!

Asparagus with lime, feta and almonds

There is nothing like asparagus season!  During that brief time we eat it most days … for our Fathers Day Mexican Fiesta I wanted to give it a Mexican twist – complimented our main of Pork in Salsa Verde –  just the way we wanted it to.

Asparagus – break off woody parts at the end


feta cheese

extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

juice of 1/2 a lime

Asparagus is best if you dress it after it has been grilled or roasted.  If you are able to grill it – so much the better.  Just grill on the surface of your grill until just fork tender.  This does, of course, require a grill master – someone who actually stays with the grill and looks after it!  If you don’t have either that luxury or the weather – preheat an oven to 375 and then roast it for about 20 minutes – just until fork tender – do not overcook.

When you take it off the heat, arrange on serving dish, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, then sprinkle toasted almonds and feta cheese over top – finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.


Roasted Cauliflower

Tonight I wanted cauliflower that would allow me to relax with family  and would taste great with my Mexican Fiesta themed Father’s Day dinner – this was perfect!

Preheat oven to 375

I head of cauliflower, broken into florets

3 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil            

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1 heaping tbsp grainy mustard

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

juice of 1 lemon

Garnish with cilantro and scallions (green onions)

In a ziplock bag, combine all ingredients and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Turn vegetables onto baking sheet – I love my clay baking sheet – no matter what I roast on it we get the perfect color and roasting carmelization.

Roast for about 30 minutes – this will depend on the size of your florets, so at 20 minutes, poke them with a fork or sharp knife … nobody likes overcooked cauliflower!

When they are just fork tender, turn into serving dish and sprinkle with roughly chopped cilantro and green onions.

Mexican Fiesta

Wow.  Sometimes I even surprise myself.  

Check out this Mexican Fiesta for Fathers Day …

Pork in Salsa Verde

Spanish Rice

Mexican Black Beans

Nationalist Guacamole

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Asparagus with lime, feta and almonds

It was amazing!  Try out the recipes and let me know what you think …

Chicken Schnitzel – Panko Crusted

3/4  cup flour

2 eggs, beaten

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts halves – butterflied and pounded 1/4 ” thick

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup canola oil

6 tbsp butter

1 tbsp capers

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 heaping tbsp chopped parsley

Take 3 separate shallow bowls, and in each one put the flour, egg, and panko.  Now you MIGHT think it is okay to just coat the chicken in panko, but trust me … these 3 bowls will make such a difference!  Once you have pounded out the chicken, season with a light dusting of salt and pepper, then dredge in flour.  Shake off any excess and dip in beaten egg.  Drip off, then coat really well with panko, pressing lightly.  Set aside.

In a large skillet heat the canola oil over moderately high heat.  Add chicken pieces, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.  Fry for about 3 min on each side, until golden brown and oh so crispy.  Keep a baking sheet handy, lined with paper towels, and let chicken rest while you cook the rest of your chicken.  Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Meanwhile ….. in a small pan, melt the butter and watching carefully … allow it to cook over moderate heat until the butter is brown … (that will give you a really nutty delicious flavour).  Remove from heat and stir in capers, lemon juice and parsley.

Spoon over chicken and serve.

Tan Tan Noodles

This has been one of our family favorites for years, and one the girls always request when coming home – I hope you like it just as much!

Cooking with Asian ingredients may look intimidating at first, mainly because the ingredient list is so lengthy, but once you have all the supplies it is quick and easy to do so many different dishes.  I always recommend having all the ingredients chopped, and at hand before you start cooking.  Wok cookery is quick!



2 tbsp peanut oil

6 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

8 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp chile oil

8 tbsp chinese black beans (in the jar)

6 scallions (green onions) chopped finely

2 tbsp Chinese chile paste

5 tbsp LOW SODIUM soy sauce

6 tbsp peanut butter

4 tbsp tahini paste

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

For Tan Tan deluxe – 1 pound extra lean ground beef


thin asian noodles, cooked and drained

green onions – sliced thin

cilantro – chopped

peanuts – chopped and toasted

bean sprouts – rinsed well

In a medium saucepan, with heavy bottom, heat the oil over moderate heat.  Add the ginger and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes – or until they begin to turn golden brown – watch carefully so they don’t overcook.  Add sesame oil, chili oil and the black beans.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add green onions and cook 2 minutes.  Stir in the chile paste and soy sauce – stir to create a smooth sauce.  Add the peanut butter and tahini, again stirring to create a smooth paste.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add the broth slowly and reduce the heat to medium low.  Let the sauce simmer for at least 15 minutes to allow flavours to blend and the broth to thicken.  Taste, taste, taste!!  You should have a rich broth, full of flavour and layers of tastes.  If you like it richer, play  with all the broth ingredients until you get the balance you personally prefer – you may like it spicier so go ahead and add more chili oil or even some chili flakes.  If you like more of a peanut flavour, add more peanut butter – all so easy to do and get your preferred flavour balance.

To serve place noodles in bowl, add broth.  Scatter green onions, cilantro, bean sprouts and peanuts over top.

If you like the Deluxe Version – brown the ground beef and drain off any fat – add 1 or 2 ladles of the broth and allow the beef to soak up the liquid.  When serving, sprinkle the beef on top of the noodles before adding the broth.

Kung Pao Chicken

1 1/2 # boneless, skinless chicken thighs – cut into bite size pieces

1/4 cup roasted peanuts

8 dried, red chilies (deseeded and cut in half) 

peanut oil

5 slices fresh ginger, sliced thinly and into thin strips

3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced on the diagonal

1 cup red pepper, cut into aprox 1/2 ” pieces

1 stalk scallion (green onion) – sliced in 1/2″ pieces


1 tbsp corn starch

3 tbsp LOW SODIUM soy sauce

2 tbsp chile paste

3 tbsp rice vinegar

Combine all marinade ingredients – mix well – and stir in chicken pieces.  Keep in fridge until ready for use (at least 30 min)


2 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tbsp oyster sauce

2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter

1/2 tsp chile flakes

2 tbsp chile paste

1 tbsp corn starch

Put all sauce ingredients in jar and shake well – set aside.

Heat wok – add oil – remove chicken from marinade, trying to leave behind most of the liquid, stir fry chicken pieces until about cooked half way.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Wipe out wok, add fresh oil – then garlic, ginger and red pepper – saute until just tender – remove from heat and add to reserved chicken.

Wipe out wok (yes, again) and stir fry dried chiles along with peanuts just until they are aromatic. Add to chicken/veg mixture.

Wipe out wok, add sauce and cook quickly until the sauce has thickened and become shiny (corn starch will always taste kind of murky in a dish unless you achieve that glossy look)  Return the rest of the ingredients to the wok and toss quickly to coat.

Garnish with scallion slices and serve over rice.

Sesame Soy Vinaigrette

Give this vinaigrette a try – it will quickly become a household favorite – we love it on salads, as a marinade for grilling vegetables, and is the reason “Red Rice Rocks” is such a popular one dish meal.

1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes      

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

2 generous tbsp tahini paste

2 cloves garlic, crushed

red chili flakes (optional)

1 1/4 – 1/2 cups vegetable oil

Using small processor, or immersion blender combine all ingredients except the oil and blend until smooth – then gradually add the oil until you have a delicious creamy dressing.

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

soft and chewy, these cookies are a sweet treat

Cold and rainy here today, so baking cookies filled the house with delicious smells!

Preheat oven to 350, grease baking sheet

1 1/4 cups butter                

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

4 eggs

4 tsp vanilla

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

4 1/2 cups flour

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup toffee bits (Skor type)

Beat together butter and sugar until well blended with electric hand mixer – beat in eggs until light and fluffy – add vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together (minus the chips and toffee).  Blend everything together well, then add chocolate chips and toffee bits.

Drop by teaspoons onto greased baking sheet – leaving about 1 inch between them as they do spread out.

Bake @ 350 for 10 minutes.