Aside from this being an especially tasty dip, our first experience with elote holds a special meaning to us.  The fiance' and I both had elote for the first time during our New Year's trip to Sedona.
Just in case you forgot, that's where we got engaged.

During our vacation, we ate at this Mexican restaurant that was highly recommended by the locals.  Our tour guide through the famous vortex sites was the first to let us know that if we were looking for a great meal, we needed to head on over to Elote Cafe.  He seemed like a cool guy, had lived in the area for several years, so we decided to go with his suggestion.

When we later arrived at the restaurant, we started to have doubts in our trusted tour guide.  The restaurant's exterior left a lot to be desired.  It sits atop a 70's style motel/inn which made us think twice about the type of meal we were about to experience.

But we felt adventurous...and the prospect of a lovely margarita always seems to do a body good.

This experience was the perfect reminder that looks can be deceiving.  The food was fresh, unique and delicious.  The staff was friendly, providing exceptional service despite the restaurant being packed full of hungry patrons.  We were lucky that we arrived before the dinner rush, giving us a minimal wait time.  The restaurant doesn't seat that many and they don't take reservations but the wait is so worth it.  We even attempted to go back for a second meal before we left.

Although we were unsuccessful in our second attempt, I did manage to purchase a copy of the chef's cookbook, the Elote Cafe Cookbook.

Elote, which the fiance' and I so fondly remembered from our meal there, was the first thing I made from the cookbook.  Elote typically refers to roasted ears of corn with cotija cheese, mayo and chili powder, which is a common street food in Mexico.  The chef has turned this into a tasty dip served with tortilla chips.  He was on target when he decided the fresh roasted corn kernels would pair well with the cheese and mayonnaise in the form of a dip served with tortilla chips.

Can I just say...so good!! And easy to replicate at home.

Move over guacamole, it's time to share the tortilla chips with a new dip in rotation.

Printable Recipe

6 ears of corn, in their husks
1 cup of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon hot sauce, preferably Cholula brand
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons cilanto
chili powder, to taste
tortilla chips for serving

Prepare grill by heating to medium-high.  Roast the corn in their husks until the husks are well charred, about 5 minutes.  Make sure to turn the corn occasionally to avoid burning either side.  Set the roasted corn aside until cool enough to handle.  Shuck the corn (remove the husks) and the cut the kernels off the cobs using a sharp knife.

When ready to eat, mix the mayonnaise, hot sauce, lime juice, salt, pepper, sugar and chicken stock in a saute pan over medium heat.  Stir for 4-5 minutes until the mayonnaise is incorporated and sauce is mix through.  Add the corn kernel and stir together to warm through.  Pour into a bowl and mix in half of the cheese.  Garnish with remaining cheese, cilantro and chili powder.  Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

adapted from Elote Cafe Cookbook


Brown Rice Salad

I have been wanting to share this with you since I first made it for Easter Sunday dinner.
I know, I know. That was two months ago. I'm working on my follow through.
But I promise, it is better to be introduced to this dish a little late than never.

I found this recipe after searching for vegetarian options for one of my friends joining us for dinner. I thought it was really going to be a shame that she couldn't partake in the roasted chicken and herbed crusted lamb chops.  But she hasn't eaten meat or chicken for over ten years and cut seafood out of her diet two years ago, so I guess she didn't feel like she would miss out on anything.

She could have just eaten the side dishes (macaroni & cheese, skillet asparagus, potatoes au gratin, spring salad) but being the budding hostess that I am, I wanted her to have her own "entree". Except it wasn't hers alone for very long.

Once us meat eating folks had a taste of this salad, there was not much left for the to go containers.  Mr. Foodie and I enjoyed our leftover portion for lunch the next day but I ended up making this salad the following week because it was that good.  Slightly sweet from the dried cranberries, a hint of freshness in each bite from the parsley, crunch from the slivered almonds on top of the use of brown rice, makes this a pleasant healthy alternative.  

So if you want to make something for the vegetarians in your life or are looking for a lunch alternative to the typical sandwich, I say give this "salad" a try. It just might convince you to go meatless. 
Well, at least every now and then.

Brown Rice Salad

1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, finely minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 generous teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup brown rice, rinsed
1/2 cup raw nuts (I used sliced almonds but feel free to use cashews or peanuts)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 clementine or small orange
extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped
salt & pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook, stirring until soft and opaque, approximately 3 minutes. Add the garlic to saucepan and season with coriander and pinch of salt, cooking for 30 more seconds

Add the rice, stirring to coat it all with the butter. Toast for another 30 seconds.  Then add water and cook according to directions on the box

While the rice is cooking, lightly toast the nuts in a small, dry skillet. Toss the nuts often to prevent them from burning or turning too dark.  When the nuts are toasted, remove from the pan and set aside in a small bowl.

When the rice is done, pour rice into a large serving bowl and fluff with a fork.  Add the dried cranberries to the rice. Zest the clementine/orange to the rice while the rice is still warm and then add ta little if the juice from the fruit to the rice mixture.  Drizzle the olive oil over the mixture and continue to fluff with the fork. Season with salt and pepper.

The rice is ready to be served warm or at warm temperature.  Add the nuts and parsley and mix in with the rice just before serving. Garnish with some nuts and parsley.

adapted by sevenspoons


Grilled Shrimp with Cilantro & Lime

This was the last minute addition to our first grilled summer meal.  And it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.

I can only describe these grilled shrimp skewers as quick, simple and Oh so tasty.  Just marinate the shrimp in a mixture of cilantro, lime juice, ginger and olive oil (and a few other ingredients, just see below) for 15 minutes, grill for approximately 5 minutes and you're done.

My only complaint was that we didn't have more. I only bought 1/2 pound of shrimp because the focus of the meal was supposed to be the chimuchurri chicken and steak.  These were only going to be a small appetizer, just so I could sample the recipe.

I should have known better.  You really can't go to wrong when shrimp is involved.  This could really be the star of the meal.

Hey, if you're feeling frisky, these could be the meal all by themselves. I won't judge. Just thank me later

Grilled Shrimp w/ Cilantro and Lime
Printable Recipe

1 lime
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon cilantro, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 dried red thai chile pepper, finely minced
1 tablespoon minced shallot
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

In a small bowl, mix together lime, ginger, cilantro, garlic, chile pepper and shallot.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Then whisk the olive oil into the mixture until all ingredients are combined.

Rinse the shrimp and pat dry.  Add the shrimp to the marinade, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

While the shrimp are marinating, prepare your wooden skewers by soaking them in warm water.

After 15 minutes, turn the grill to high heat.  Remove the shrimp and slide them onto the skewers through the tail and the head of the shrimp.  Approximately 4-5 shrimp per skewer.  Leave a little room between each shrimp.  Grill the skewers for 2 minutes per side.  Remove from heat and serve with extra limes.

adapted from daily adventures in cooking


Asian Cole Slaw

Cole Slaw is one of those side dishes that I generally tend to pass when its offered.  I will maybe try someone's homemade slaw, but it ends up being 1 or 2 bites before "I'm done".  And I never order it when eating out.  Whenever I hear cole slaw, I immediately begin to envision cabbage in a heavily mayonnaise based sauce, which then becomes watered down, with little flavor or crunch to indicate the freshness of the vegetables.  Something very similar to what I think would be served at KFC.

Before I go any further, I want to say that I am sorry if I offend anyones preference in slaw but these are my tastebuds talking and cole slaw just doesn't excite them.  Although I really do want to like cole slaw.  I like all the ingredients involved plus it is a quintiscential side dish for the summer bbq's and cookouts.

Then I came across this Asian slaw and my tastebuds began to tingle.  Could it finally be?  Had I found a cole slaw that would allow me to fully enjoy the complete summer meal.  It was a cole slaw that looked so fresh and crunchy. Plus there was no mayo in the ingredient list.  Oh, I was sold.

So with our first grilled summer meal, this slaw was promptly added to the menu.  Simply put, it is excellent. It has a similar taste to this noodle salad but with fewer ingredients. It is very simple to prepare and adds a new spin to your traditional cole slaw.  

I bet you can guess what I'm bringing to all the summer cookouts.  

Asian Cole Slaw

1/2 small green cabbage, shredded
1/2 small red cabbage, shredded
1 cup spinach leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shredded carrots, approximately 4-5 carrots
2 green onions, minced
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
juice from 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1-2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

In a large bowl, toss together all the vegetables, green and red cabbage, spinach, carrots and green onions. 

In a separate bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients.  Mix together well.

Toss the dressing with the vegetables until well coated.  Season with black pepper

adapted from ezrapoundcake.com


All about the Chimichurri

It is finally summertime and that means it is time to break out the grill.  Mr. Foodie and I had our first grilled meal of the season this weekend and boy was it good.  Although I did prepare a couple of new things, which I will also share with you, it was all about the chimichurri sauce!

Mr. Foodie and I were first introduced to this spectacular sauce a few years ago when we traveled to Argentina.  This chimichurri sauce is a staple for their grilled meats and was offered at just about every restaurant.  Needless to say, we wanted to enjoy every bit of the culture during our stay and gladly indulged in the authentic cuisine.  And after the first tasting, it was with great pleasure that we ordered it with every subsequent meal.

Upon our return home, we found ourselves craving that green Argentinean "chimichurri" sauce.  But neither of us knew where we could get our fix, let alone what was in it to try and recreate it.  Soon thereafter we made a trip to Miami for my 30th birthday celebration. And low and behold this great little diner offered an Argentinean steak with Chimichurri sauce.  I was immediately taken straight back to Argentina and haven't looked back since.

Determined to add it to my collection, I searched many recipes to come up with this simple and delicious marinade / sauce very reminiscent of the very first time.  Loaded with parsley, a handful of cilantro and oregano, combined with olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and a few other ingredients (just see below), you now have yourself an authentic Argentinean condiment.

I love it with skirt steak but Mr. Foodie enjoys it with chicken.  I even once tossed some leftover chimichurri with pasta and it was delish.  Now that I've given you a few options, go ahead and get grilling.  You can thank me later :)

Chimichurri Sauce
Printable Recipe

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, stems removed
1/2 bunch of cilantro, stems removed
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
juice from one lemon
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 cup olive oil

Combine parsley, cilantro, oregano, garlic and shallot in the bowl of the food processor or blender.  Pulse a few times until the ingredients are minced and combined but not pureed.  Add the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and pulse again.

You will have a fresh, bright green mixture.  When you add the olive oil in the processor or blender, it will begin to emulsify and the mixture will begin to loose it's bright green color.  So you can either put the mixture in another bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil. Or you can add the olive oil to the processor or blender and pulse once, quickly (I did the latter because I figure I'm going to use most of it for a marinade and it still has a pretty green color)

If using as a marinade, put half of the sauce in a resealable bag with the meat and marinate for at least 2 hours.

If you're only using it for a sauce, well...enjoy

Just a sneak peak of our weekend dinner and what's to come. This is yummy stuff I tell ya'