Pan Dulce, Grande Style: Is It Really Better?

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Pan Dulce- grande y pequeño

Earlier this week I went shopping at Pancho Villa’s Market with a friend who knew her way around the Mexican grocery store better than I did. She shared a great tip- if you like pan dulce, try the larger version sold as “Concha Grande,” that look like a monster Pan Dulce. Dee Dee says that she thinks that the larger loaves are more moist than the little rolls.

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Going for a dunk…

We tried our big loaf o’ Pan Dulce this morning at breakfast with our chorizo burritos. We all agreed with Dee Dee… Yum! It was great dipped in coffee and nice on its own. Down right delicious like the little rolls, but the smaller Pan Dulces are definitely a bit more dry.

Haven’t had Pan Dulce before? Try them for breakfast or a snack. Look for them in most Mexican grocery stores with bakeries.

 

Girls’ Day Out #2- Frutilandia and more!

In June I went exploring Liberty Station with one of my most favorite friends- two moms on the loose having a lot of fun!

Six months is way too long to wait. Time for another “field trip,” this time with Dee Dee and Suzanne, friends from our church’s Bunco Club. Incidentally, Bunco Club needs to be renamed to “Let’s Have a Blast Chatting about All Our Favorite Things, Then Finally Get Around to Throwing Those Dice” Club (at least on the day it was held at my house, oops). Well, we chit-chatted about so many different favorite products, foods, restaurants and other places that we promised to go on a field trip to a few of these spots the very next week.

IMG_9304Which brings us to today: Fruitilandia, Pancho Villa’s Farmer’s Market, and Penzey’s Spices. Two of our stops I was very familiar with, but Fruitilandia was my new venture for today. This place was really neato-burrito.

According to Dee Dee, Fruitilandia was once a dumpy-looking small shop across the street from it’s current location at 4328 University Avenue in San Diego. Now it is located in a bright spot, still offering smoothies and all kinds of fabulous Mexican drink specialties.

We asked about the different snack options and were all in for sharing a Tostilocos, and tried the Strawberries and Cream (unfreakingbelievably delish), Pico de Gallo Fruit Salad, Fruit Salad with cottage cheese, raisins and honey, and a Licuado.

IMG_9313Holy cow, where has a Licuado been all my life? It is kind of like a Mexican milkshake, only lighter, like a smoothie. And tastier. And more refreshing. Choose which of many fruits you want blended into your drink with the milk- I chose pineapple and mango. Wow. Delish.

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Ermuhgersh! Tostilocos!

The three of us split a snack that we decided was like a Walking Taco… on steroids. We barely made a dent in the Tostilocos- served in one opened small bag of Tostitos was cucumbers, jicama, fried peanuts, tamarind bits, spicy sauce and chicharron strips. I’m pretty sure there were 42 other things in there, we just couldn’t get down to the bottom of the bag.

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Three forks-full of chicharron… not fried.

Imagine how sad I was to find that the chicharrones were not fried… boo hoo hoo! I definitely prefer my chicharrones fried. Pork skin cooked this way is like calamari, only a little more firm. Not bad, but not to my taste.

Fruit Salad Pico de Gallo- something I never had, but always meant to- chunks of fruit with chile. Definitely tasty, now all my So Cal and Mexican friends and family can get off my case. I think I liked the papaya and watermelon best.

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Fruit Salad Pico de Gallo

Fruitilandia could take over the country’s smoothie market. I hope it does.

And I NEED to get out with the women more often!

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Out and about, trouble times three, ha.

 

 

Pumpkin Extravaganza Continues- Tasting Trader Joe’s Waffles

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Waffles
Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Waffles are here for the season!

Pumpkin waffles crisp and warm from my toaster oven… waiting for my maple syrup and candied nuts (inspired by the box top).

IMG_8599No pie spices, so you can sprinkle on your own. But they do pack a big pumpkin-y flavor.

I like these waffles, and would definitely buy this product again.

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The Boy came downstairs, however, and politely turned down these waffles and asked if he could instead destroy my kitchen make waffles from scratch. The Delicious Level of his creations are directly proportional to the Remaining Mess in the kitchen.

Peruanos for Refried Beans, Because Eva Said So… Delish!

I’ve tried to make refried beans before, and mine are nowhere near as good as our favorite Mexican restaurant. I’ve followed The Mom-In-Law’s recipe and still, no better. I decided to try a different kind of bean as suggested by a phenomenal woman I met when we moved back to California. Eva suggested trying Peruano beans, she liked their texture.

I’d do just about any suggestion that Eva offers. She is one of the first people we met at our kids new school six years ago, and she treated us like family. What a wonderful gift that is when coming to a new city and school! I will never forget when Southern California had a massive power outage four years ago right when I was to pick up my son for the day. The school principal and I wisely decided to wait out the traffic jam, saving ourselves HOURS of traffic misery (HA! A wise decision, in hindsight, see yesterday’s post!). Eva made a fried chicken dinner for the four of us, and this is typical of her kindness.

So, peruanos it is!

Cooked beans on left, uncooked, right...
Cooked beans on left, uncooked, right…

Once the beans were cooked, I poured them into my cast iron skillet that had about a tablespoon of melted bacon grease and another tablespoon of corn oil. Next step is to mush away with a potato masher- I prefer the masher as pictured…

Voilà! Refried beans!
Voilà! Refried beans!

If you want to make these a more decadent dish, stir in about a half cup (or more!) grated cheddar, or even better/worse, crushed chicharrones. NOT the kind you get in the snack food aisle at the quickymart. Get real, freshly made chicharrones from a Mexican grocer, or don’t try it at all- there is no substitution. Curious? Here’s a link to a home made chicharron recipe:  SeriousEats.comTheNastyBits:HowToMakeChicharrones

Missing Friends but Still Eating the Tacos!

Be warned: if you make dinner plans with me and our get-together falls through, I’m still going to go out for that dinner. Especially if tacos are involved.

The smartest (and nicest) people work at El Ranchito
The smartest (and nicest) people work at El Ranchito
Yum.
Yum.

Tonight I learned a new word in Spanish- “antojitos” are “little cravings,” and the word is generally associated with street food snacks. I like how Wiki jives with the exact same thing that the cashier told me. El Ranchito hires the best people as food guides, I tell you.

Antojitos are on their menu, and it comes as two little enchiladas and four small tacos- two each of potatoes and beans, a lot of shredded cabbage, salsa and cream on top to stuff in your tacos. I honestly think that El Ranchito is hands down the best Mexican food in the county!

Antojitos from El Ranchito
Antojitos from El Ranchito

New Menu Monday- Carnitas… from Heaven!!

Pulled pork is fabulous in the crock pot; sprinkle a lot of onion and garlic powder, salt and pepper on a pork shoulder butt and 4-8 hours later you have a magnificent meal. With BBQ sauce for the meat, we round it out with a baked sweet potato and maybe green beans. We all love it.

Tonight we are making carnitas with the same cut of pork and swapping out the sweet potato and green beans for a boat load of cilantro, chopped onions, pinto beans and tortillas.

I love me some Pinterest- that’s where I dug around for the carnitas recipe. This is what I found:  http://www.afamilyfeast.com/carnitas/#_a5y_p=1366830

I changed up the recipe only a bit- freshly made mini corn tortillas instead of the suggested flour, and I tossed everything together on the baking sheet- the onions, garlic and I squeezed the citrus juices and 1/3 cup of bacon grease over everything. I only used oregano, salt and pepper, too, and skipped the other spices. I don’t think we missed the one pound of lard to cook the meat in, either… the bacon grease and pork fat from the meat was puh-lenty. But read the original recipe, it looks great as-is.

It was FABULOUS!! Seriously, try the recipe, and if someone really does cook it in the lard, I’d love to know how it turned out.

This was so good, I’m going to serve it to my mother-in-law. Yep. That good.

156,000 Calories + Fresh Tortillas = A New Kind of Happy

Pancho Villa Market is where you can head in San Diego for freshly made tortillas. We are out of torts, so, here I am. Instead of a usual post-grocery shopping snack of little,street-style carne asada soft tacos, today I’m looking for something different.

The fabulous woman behind the counter and I combined our Spanish and English and came up with these snacks: birria de res, and buche de puerco, a chile relleno, some carnitas, and a burrito with adobada de pollo. (Need to brush up on your high school Spanish? Here’s a great site for a cheat sheet- “A Gringo’s Guide to Mexican Food,” or, “Everything You Need to Know to Read a Taqueria Menu.” at http://doginspace.com/taqueriaspanish/).

Carnitas and rellenos I know, but the adobada, birria and buche were all new to me. And I will eat anything if it is something other people will regularly eat- no squeamishness in me. Bring on the tripas, medudo is one of my favorites.

WHERE HAVE THESE BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!? The birria and buche became little, soft tacos as fast as possible by toasting up the tiny corn tortillas and adding a little jack cheese and lettuce.

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Buche de Puerco on the left, birria de res on the right (ignore what the lids may say, we were too hungry to care about the details).
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Buche and birria soft tacos. YUM!
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Front- burrito with pollo de adobada, Back- husband swiping carnitas