Month: June 2012

Whole Foods Market- May the Best Butcher Win!

Whole Foods Market- May the Best Butcher Win!

There’s a reason I buy my meat at Whole Foods Market, it’s not just the gorgeousness of the market.  Or the fact that I love the deli section, or that everything in the display cases looks as if it’s been placed by a meticulous artist.  I could go on and on about the cheese area and the perfect produce, but then we would never get to the meat section….

Tuesday I was in Whole Foods Market in Pasadena for a Best Butcher Competition.  I watched as 8 butcher’s from the southern pacific region cut and displayed their meats with such accurate craftsmanship, sophistication and speed!

The defending champion was said to be the favorite but a different butcher who had humbleness on his side and skill in his hands won my vote right away.  I walked around photographing the skilled butchers and talking to the judges.  Before I knew it, their 30 minutes of allotted time was up and the competition was over.  I credited myself for picking my own favorite early in the game, the butcher I was rooting for won!  Rafa Rodriguez is the champion of the Southern Pacific Region.  Here’s a photo of him going over his work with the judges.

Rafa will now move on to the next phase in the competition.  11 different regions of Whole Foods markets will move on to Portland, Oregon July 21st to compete in the semifinals against the regional champions from Northern California and Pacific Northwest!

Three butchers will emerge victorious from the national semifinals and will move on to compete at Meatopia, the nation’s largest celebration of meat, on Sept. 8 in New York City.

Whole Foods Market’s quality standards for meat include no antibiotics – ever, no added hormones, and no animal byproducts in feed.  All of the beef, pork and chicken sold in Whole Foods Market’s meat department comes from farms and ranches that are certified to Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating program.  There’s my reason for buying my meat at Whole Foods!

A photo diary from the competition:

  

  

All photos taken by: Nicole Presley
Honey Brie Cups

Honey Brie Cups

Bonjour Juliette!
     What’s new in your neck of the woods?  Just wanted to let you know that these little honey brie cups remind me of our visit to Seine-et-Marne.  Remember the insane laugh attacks we had roaming the streets of France?  What really sticks out in my mind from that trip was your Mom’s Mom making us the honey brie tart, and snickering at us for eating it all.   I had to recreate your grandmother’s delicious afternoon snack tracing my memory bank for the exact taste.  Now we have a flavor to timestamp that point in time for us.  This is my version.   I hope the touch of orange in the honey takes you back to your grandma’s kitchen and  the side splitting giggles we shared.
Amitiés…..
Nicole
 
 

Ingredients for Honey Brie Cups:

1 – uncooked pie crust (I use pillsbury)

6 – oz. brie cheese

1/8 – cup honey

2 – tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit

Spray a mini muffin pan with a non-stick baking spray. Set to the side.

Unroll pie crust and cut with a star cookie cutter.

Then place little stars in mini muffin pan to form your cup.

Cut your brie cheese into cubes large enough to fit in center.

  

Then place in the oven for 9 to 12 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

While cups are baking take honey and orange juice and mix well.

 

Once you remove brie cups from oven,  drizzle orange honey generously over each cup.

Enjoy them on their own or with a bowl of fresh cherries!

 All photos taken by: Nicole Presley
Maestro, I had a Block Party and we danced to El Paso Positivo!

Maestro, I had a Block Party and we danced to El Paso Positivo!

I’ve been doing so well this early into Summer with my Shape Up regimen.  I have a good exercise routine in place…. Either a hot dose of Bikram Yoga or dancing to El Paso Positivo song with my arms flailing from side to side and a jump just to show my enthusiasm.  Me and the Maestro del vaso Medio Lleno have this routine in common.

My son and I were dancing to “EL Paso Positivo” on our front lawn and before I knew it we had a group of neighbors staring at our dance moves.  I told them to come in and we could all practice and get in shape together.  Soon, everyone felt they had the  signature moves attached to the dance down.  Whether they did or didn’t wasn’t the point, we were all having a blast dancing together.  It was such a joyful experience, my son Max invited everyone back for a BLOCK PARTY the next day.  I made a big batch of Cherry Coconut Chocolate Milk Shakes so once we were done shaking our behinds, we could drink down our shakes!  We had such a magnificent time.  I told the two cute school aged boys from across the street to come back and dance with us whenever they fancy.  The sweet punk rock girl next store let her inner dance princess loose and found her way to enjoy El Paso Positivo.  The two senior ladies were really happy to be reliving some youth and hanging out with fun people.  El Maestro and I highly recommend this neighborly love!

Here’s a video of us doing “El Paso Positivo”

Shake it up Baby!  This summer when you find yourself dancing to the awesome sounds of El Paso Positivio to get in shape, remember to drink a BIG TALL GLASS of MILK right after.  This will help your muscles to recover after a good workout.  Or have one of my Cherry Coconut Chocolate Milk Shakes!

Ingredients for Cherry Coconut Milk Shakes:

1 1/2 – cups of fresh pitted cherries

3 – coconut paletas

1 – pint of Ben and Jerry’s “Cherry Garcia” ice cream

2 – cups of milk

1 – cup of ice

Add all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth.  Divide among glasses and add a straw for fun drinking. 🙂

  

    

In the words of my son Maxie: Toma Leche!

All photos taken by: Mando Lopez and Nicole Presley
Disclosure: This is part of a sponsored campaign with the California Milk Processor Board and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed and recipe are my own.
Float away with me Peachy Peach

Float away with me Peachy Peach

If I could float away into the world of soda and ice cream I would.  I love the foamy substance a float produces up top, it makes scooping out the ice cream with a spoon and gulping down the soda with a straw a heavenly experience.  I’ve been feeling rather peachy lately and it isn’t a coincidence that Melissa’s Produce and I are on the same wave of sentiments.  They were kind enough to send me over a batch of stone fruits. Pictured below.

After sinking my teeth into their skin and marveling over the sweetness of their flesh I wanted to enjoy them as many ways as possible.  I recently had a delicious float and was inspired to make a peach version.  Something to cool down my summer and quench my sweet tooth at the same time.  Peach and cream float with ginger cookie crumbs would definitely do the trick.

Ingredients for Peach & Cream Float:

peach ice cream

1 – peach (cored and sliced)

cream soda

ginger cookies

In a big cup add 3 to 5 scoops of ice cream.

Then take your sliced peaches and add them in!

Then pour cream soda over the top till filled, then crumble ginger cookie on top!

     

Stick a straw and a spoon in it, and SLURP till your heart’s content!

All photos taken by: Nicole Presley and Mando Lopez

Lavender Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta – Toma Leche!

Lavender Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta – Toma Leche!

I dream of sweets all the time but in the warmest season of the year, they seem like such a task to make.  I picture the sweaty kitchen and think twice about dessert creating.  Until recently that was the case…

A little while back I had a hands on lesson with Danielle Keene ( you may remember her from Top Desserts) and Chef Michelle Quiles (gelatin queen extraordinaire).  I learned a few sweet Milk based recipes to keep cool with in the dead of heat… Creamy Summer Desserts.

Pictured below: The desserts we ate and made. 🙂

All photos taken by: Nicole Presley

  

  

  

Ingredients for Lavender Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta:    (Pictured at top)

1 – vanilla bean, split

2 1/4 – teaspoons dried lavender

1/2 – cup sugar

1- cup milk

3 – cups heavy cream

1/2 – cup creme fraiche

1 – tablespoon powdered gelatin

In a saucepan over medium heat bring vanilla bean, lavender, sugar, 1/2 cup milk and 1 1/2 cups heavy cream to a simmer.  Cover, remove from heat and set aside to steep for 30 minutes.  In a separate bowl, mix gelatin powder in remaining 1/2 cup milk to hydrate.  Reheat vanilla mixture and pour over gelatin mixture.  Whisk until combined and gelatin is dissolved.  Whisk in creme fraiche and strain.  Cool to room temperature.  With a electric mixer whisk remaining 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream to soft peaks.  Gently fold in vanilla bean mixture in two parts.  Pour into small greased ramekins and chill for 6 hours or overnight.  Unmold and serve with blueberry caramel and fresh fruit.

Ingredients for Berry Caramel Sauce:

1 -cup sugar 

1/4 – cup water

1 3/4 – cup fresh berries pureed

1 – tablespoon butter

 

In a saucepan over high heat, combine sugar and water.  Boil until mixture is an amber color.  Add berry puree and butter.  Whisk until dissolved.  Strain and serve over panna cotta.

Glazed Donut Strawberry Burger

Glazed Donut Strawberry Burger

 Me, screaming out my window:

“Forget about National Jelly Filled Donut Day, which happens to be June 8th, I have glazed donut strawberry burgers.  Sappily Sugary Sweet donuts STUFFED with my favorite berry…. Strawberries!  Serve them on a plate for a party or make a few for your favorite TV show and sit there and eat it with both hands, overindulging and loving every minute of it!”

 

Ingredients for Glazed Donut Strawberry Burger:

2 – cups chopped strawberries

2 – teaspoons of sugar

3 – glazed donuts

Add chopped strawberries to a bowl and add sugar.  Mix well. Set to the side.

Cut a donut in half lengthwise.

Then fill donut with sliced strawberries.

Cover strawberries with half of the donut and enjoy with two hands….. or if you want to be PROPER eat with a knife and fork.

ENJOY YOUR FAR-OUT DONUT!

Photos taken by: Nicole Presley and Mando Lopez

The Nation’s Top Latina Bloggers visit the White House

The Nation’s Top Latina Bloggers visit the White House

You can imagine the excitement that ran through my bones when I opened my official invite to the White House through LATISM.  “Wow! Really? I was chosen as one of the TOP 70 LATINA BLOGGERS in the NATION!”  Out of that 70 only 5 were food bloggers, including me!  I was honored and completely in disbelief.  I packed my bags and headed to D.C. to meet up with all my fellow Blogueras.

 

We went through thorough background checks and miles of red tape just to be allowed to enter the gates of the White House, but once we were in, we were free to roam the halls and make ourselves at home.  I’m serious.  We were all certainly snap-happy shutter bugs.

Here are a few pictures of what I captured just on my walk to the designated conference room:

  

    

  

Once in the conference room we listened with open ears as Liz Fowler (Special Assistant to the President, National Economic Council), Alejandra Ceja (Chief of Staff, Office of the Under Secretary, Department of Education), Lisa Pino (Deputy Administrator, Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program, Department of Agriculture), Marissa Duswalt (Associate Director for Policy and Events, Let’s Move Initiative), and Julie Rodriguez (Associate Director, Office of Public Engagement) took the floor with keynotes on what the nation could expect from health initiatives, and public school food programing.

Many startling statistics were shared.  For Latino children it literally is feast or famine.  30% of Latino children are obese and 30% are struggling to find their next meal.  I was touched to find out how the White House plans to remedy this problem. Did you know that 1000 public schools currently have a salad bars in their cafeterias? They are mainly being placed in elementary schools to introduce salad and vegetables to the younger children so they can grow up making healthier choices.  The goal is to have 6000 salad bars in public schools by Fall of 2012, and double that by Fall of 2013.  Thumbs up! I loved hearing that.  Also many farmers markets are now excepting EBT cards as a form of payment to make sure families of all walks of life are able to obtain healthy wholesome foods and provide their families with fresh fruit and leafy greens.  They will also accept EBT cards where seeds are sold in order to allow people to grow their own garden and have a bounty of fresh veggies to put on their dinner table.  This brought tears to my eyes.  One of the best things I heard was that awful pink slime would be forbidden from being served in any meat products in public schools.  Hooray!  For more info of food initiates go to ChooseMyPlate.gov .

It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget and was humbled by all the amazing women I was privileged enough to experience this with.  I will keep these memories close to my heart…. para siempre.  Thank you LATISM and Latina Bloggers Connect for the beautiful adventure.

More photos from the White House and other Monuments:

  

  

    

  

  

All photos taken by: Nicole Presley, Ericka Sanchez and Mama Latina Tips.