Month: September 2012

Webisode 4: Picadillo

Webisode 4: Picadillo

Welcome to September, National Potato Month and Latino Heritage Month.  I am a proud Latina who loves to eat papas and found this to be the perfect time to have my celebratory hat on for this Picadillo recipe.  It is a dish my family has cherished for years and now I am proudly sharing it with you. Watch the video for a quick how to, and if you like what you see….. subscribe to my You Tube channel by clicking here.

Ingredients for Picadillo:

3 – anaheim chiles

2 – huerito chiles

3 – Idaho Potatoes

2 – medium sized tomatoes

1 – yellow onion

2 – pounds ground beef (70/30)

1 – teaspoon Lawry’s seasoning salt

1/2 – teaspoon ground cumin

1 – teaspoon black pepper

a pinch of oregano

4 – garlic cloves

1 – cup beef broth

Char chiles on a comal (grill) until skin is completely burned. Then place in a ziplock bag to soften in their own moisture for about 30 minutes. Remove from bag and peel charred skin completely off. Then slice and chop chile. Set to the side

Peel, chop into big cubes, and boil Idaho Potatoes for 10 minutes. Drain and set to the side.

In a large frying pan over a medium high flame add 2 tablespoons of oil and allow to get hot for about 3 minutes. Then add in boiled potatoes and fry until crisp and golden brown for about 10 minutes. Once your potatoes are nice and crisp add in your chopped chiles, chopped tomato and onion. Let all the veggies get to know each other by cooking them for about 5 to 7 minutes. Set to the side.

In a different large frying pan over a medium high flame cook ground beef. Make sure to break up the beef into small pieces…. then add in the spice with Lawry, cumin, black pepper, oregano, and garlic. Cook until all ground beef is brown. If there is an excess of oil in the pan, now would be the time to drain most of it. Then add in potato mixture and beef broth. Cover pan with lid and lower flame to a simmer. Let picadillo simmer for 20 minutes. Serve hot with a corn or flour tortilla and let your meat and potato dreams come true.

Thank you with my entire heart and gratitude to my amazing crew! I Love you guys.

Directors:  Mando Lopez and James Ford
Director of Photography:  Tony Molina
Producer:  Lacey Reilly
 Editor:  James Ford
Set Design:  Mando Lopez
Still photos and camera assistant :  Max Azpiazu
On-set morale booster: Kristen Warren
Sound:  Evan Kendra
Equipment: Paul Hopkins
Opening Music: Anger Bros
Musicians: Andrea Bulletti and Mando Lopez
Vocals: Nicole Presley
Music Engineer: Manny Nieto
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Idaho Potato Commission. The recipe and opinions are my own. 
Riverside School Cafeterias are Changing for the Best

Riverside School Cafeterias are Changing for the Best

I don’t usually drive an hour and a half out of my way in the dead of heat to visit a high school cafeteria. That’s exactly what I did last month when  I was invited to come to Arlington High School in Riverside. The Riverside school district is being labeled “The New Heros of School Lunch Cafeterias.” What does that mean exactly? I was so curious myself and had to find out.

On July 1, 2012 new standards governing the nutrition level of food served in the United States schools went into effect under the 2010 Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act.  This is where Rodney Tyler comes in, Rodney is the Director of Nutrition Services, Riverside Unified School District ( They are the 15th largest school district in California).

This man had a vision and wanted to change the way kids were eating in his district by presenting them with healthy food options, and at the same time get the district out of the 3.1 million dollar deficit it was in. He incorporated salad bars in his schools, he started buying produce (veggies and fruit) from local farmers, put a ban on foods coming out of a can in his cafeterias… fresh was the new motto, and then he hired Chef Ryan Douglas from a nearby university to come and create and oversee all the food. This was a completely different approach. People snickered and told him his plan of healthy eating would not and could not work, but Rodney just kept his goals insight of making a better lunch meal and changing the perception of school foodservice. One of the first things he incorporated to entice his students to come and eat in the cafeteria was start daily bar-b-que. He had big grills built and to this day fires up the grills about 30 minutes before the students are released for lunch. This gets the students excited about coming out to eat. It tempts them for a good 30 minutes with the aroma of bar-b-que by smelling up the campus and makes them feel like there is a celebration going on in the cafeteria. When that bell rings, the students are met with grilled bar-b-que chicken and cheeseburgers fresh off the grill (pictured at the top). Can you imagine?

Then he realized if his district was ever going to overcome child obesity they would need to address a few issues. He noticed that many of the students were unable to identify fruit in it’s natural form, but could tell you the name of canned fruits once they were chopped up. With this being a serious problem in his eyes, he decided to not only tour local farms with students but start buying local produce for the pupils to eat everyday.

When he hired Chef Ryan Douglas he asked the chef to introduce food items you wouldn’t traditionally find in a school. Ryan took that to heart and stated preparing salads and fruit platters right away. Ryan also just finshed filming a 6 episode series for the WIC program where he is teaching parents to feed their families at home on a tight budget, but still make it healthy and simple.

Yes. The Riverside School district are the New Heros of the lunch cafeteria, not only did they manage to break all the rules and introduce an awesome healthy menu to their students…. but they were also able to prove to those who thought serving healthy food and climbing out of debt at the same time couldn’t be done…. they went from a 3.1 million dollars deficit in 2002 to paying it off and now sit in 2012 with a 5.7 million dollar reserve! Raise your fork to healthy eating and Riverside!!!!!

Photos taken by: Nicole Presley
It’s Bedtime…. Drink a glass of Milk to help you sleep better.

It’s Bedtime…. Drink a glass of Milk to help you sleep better.

A few months ago I was having a really difficult time getting my 3 year old son Max to lay down and go to sleep at night.  I use to allow him to take these ridiculously long naps during the day because I knew he wasn’t getting enough sleep during the hours of darkness.  I was extra worried about his routine of broken sleep because I realized he was starting school and would need to be alert and functioning in order to learn.  That’s when the wires in my brain sparked and I said “No more long naps.”  From that point on I started skipping on the nap entirely or just allowed a 30 minute nap and started putting him in bed by 7pm with a warm cup of milk and a full belly.  This method worked so well for me, I still can’t believe it.  Max now sleeps 12 solid hours!  When before the most he would sleep was around 8 to 9 hours total.  That warm glass of milk is like a magic lullaby that has worked wonders for my son, and in turn,  he’s made such an incredible progress at school.

If you watch Telemundo or Univision you’ll see the cutest California Milk Board spot called “Ya es hora de ir a la cama” between 7p.m. and 9p.m. nightly, as a reminder to parents and children…. It’s Bedtime.  I love the spot so much, I just have to post it here for you all to see!

After I swooned over this spot, I could only hope my son’s nighttime REM sleep is as calming, animated, and imaginative.

Disclosure: This is part of a sponsored campaign with the California Milk Processor Board and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own.
Eat your Greens to Give some Green… with Whole Foods Market.

Eat your Greens to Give some Green… with Whole Foods Market.

I usually ride the craving wave of what my body wants to eat, and 50% of the time it yearns for salad. Sometimes as a main meal and sometimes as a side. Now the same can’t be said for my son, and I’m having a difficult time introducing salad into his diet. I keep trying and looking for new ways to make this introduction a lifelong habit of his. I want to teach him young to eat healthy. Do I mix more red ingredients in the salad? Should I start with just lettuce? What if I cut all the vegetables up into cute shapes? I tell you it’s been a struggle. Long story short, I was absolutely thrilled when I heard Whole Foods Market (Southern Pacific Region- Southern California, Hawaii, Arizona, and Las Vegas) are donating $$$$$ to help put in salad bars at local schools. My son’s school doesn’t have a salad bar, but if they did this would help with my salad training efforts, not just for my boy but for kids all over the district. Sign me up… What do I have to do? On Sunday Sept. 9th, 2012 Whole Foods Market will donate $1.00 for every pound of food purchased from the salad bar and hot food bars to move salad bars into local schools through The Whole Kids Foundation.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Whole Foods Market, but is a cause I truly stand behind and am proud to be a part of. 
Mini Bundt Banana Almond Poppy Seed Cakes

Mini Bundt Banana Almond Poppy Seed Cakes

I’m officially in the “smaller servings” phase of my life.  Even though I’ve thrown in the towel on fitting into a bikini this summer, the holidays are right around the corner, and I still want to fit into my pants with a little wiggle room.  All along I refuse to give up cake, can’t do it, won’t happen…. here’s my solution….Mini Bundt Banana Almond Poppy Seed Cakes…. smaller but loaded with so much flavor. These little cakes are the best alternative to satisfying my sweet cravings , and being able to keep my girlish figure. 🙂

All photos taken by: Nicole Presley

Ingredients for Mini Bundt Almond Poppy Seed Cakes:

3 – cups ultragrain flour

2 – cups powdered sugar

3/4 – cup almond meal (ground almonds)

2 – teaspoons of baking powder

1/3 – cup poppy seeds

2 1/2 – Dole Ripe bananas (smashed)

1 – cup vegetable oil

3 – eggs

1/2 – cup buttermilk

1 – teaspoon almond extract

Ingredients for glaze:

3/4  – cup powered sugar (sifted)

2 – tablespoons of coconut milk

garnish with chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit

In a large bowl add flour, powdered sugar, almond meal, baking powder, and poppy seeds.

In a small bowl add bananas (smashed), vegetable oil, eggs, buttermilk and almond extract. Mix well.

Then add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix with an electric mixer until well combined.

Spray a mini bundt pan with a non-stick baking spray. Then pour a heaping 1/3 cup of batter into each 2 1/2 -inch bundt mold. Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool for 5 minutes in pan then invert onto a cooling rack, and cool completely.

Now for the glaze…. whisk powered sugar and coconut milk together until creamy smooth. Drizzle over top of cakes then garnish with chopped almonds.


Spicy Pickled Onions and Veggie Condiments

Spicy Pickled Onions and Veggie Condiments

Spicy is one of the preferred flavors in my library of taste, I reach for it and crave it more often than not. This is not a trait I was born with, but a preference I developed. Spice comes to me in an assortment of ways, and pickling happens to be a tradition both sides of my family have enjoyed for years. My Great Grandma Presley use to make her own pickles, and my Grandfather Sandoval always ate a pickled guero chile with his sandwich. My pickling recipe is a mish mash of many flavors pulled from my upbringing and travels rolled into one.  I used onions and veggies for this pickling and added a Red Savina Habanero Pepper from Melissa’s Produce to bring on the heat. Now my sandwiches, and veggie burgers…. will be complete.

Ingredients for Spicy Pickled Onions and Veggies:

1 – Red Savina Habanero Pepper (even a half of one will bring heat)

2 – cloves of garlic (smashed)

3 – 1 inch cubes of watermelon

2 – radish (sliced)

1 – carrot (sliced)

1 – red onion (sliced)

1/2 – teaspoon coriander seeds

1/4 – teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 – teaspoon oregano

1/4 – teaspoon black pepper

1/2 – teaspoon salt

1 – 8.5 oz bottle of Red Wine Vinegar

a large jar.

See video for instruction.

Store in fridge for 2 days minimum before eating.

Video shot with my iPhone by: Mando Lopez