Guys, The Findlay Market in OTR is an awesome Farmer’s Market! It is Cincinnati’s only surviving municipal market house, and oldest market to the state of Ohio. The market is built on land donated to the city of Cincinnati by the estate of General James Findlay. The market house bell, rung at the start of each market day, was brought from Cincinnati’s Pearl Street Market when the facility was torn down in 1934. The Findlay Market has been renovated at least 4 times since its erection in 1855. There’s your history lesson for the day! Yay!
The market about a block wide, with a long, enclosed building that houses dozens of local Cincinnati vendors: from meats and cheeses, made from scratch spices and fresh pastas, bakeries, prepared foods like pizza, Indian and Thai foods, and prepared salads. It was really cool, with tables provided throughout so people can come and eat lunch while they shop.
On the south side of the market, are older buildings, houses turned businsees with a lot of local shops in them. From smaller grocery stores, to bake shops and holistic therapies, there was something for everyone there.
On the north side, outside under white tents, is where all the magic happens: this is where all of the fresh fruits and veggies were.
I realized that I didn’t have any food with me in my hotel for snacks or supplementation. I bought a “bag” of assorted apples of my choosing for $5. Pixie Crunch Apples, Susie Apples, Paduchah Aplles to name a few. And they tasted so fresh, crispy and sweet (I have already had like 3). I bought the apples from Niemeyer Farm, local husband and wife farmers here in Cincinnati. As it turns out, they have hundreds of apple trees, with over 80 apple varieties. Who knew there are so many variations of apples!?? One apple they have, has the skin of a russet potato, but the inside is a sweet, crisp, intense apple flavor. I haven’t had an apple quite like that one!
I spoke with them for a few minutes, really kind people. I told them I am a huge foodie, and turns out they were too! The wife plays around with all kinds of recipes, mostly using the produce from their farm. People come to her at the market needing recipes for a certain dish and she’s right there to help them. She had folders full of recipes.
The apple farmer introduced me to the EMC, The Epicurean Merchantile CO. Located just to the east of the market, the EMC is an organic grocery store, selling all kinds of organic produce and packaged foods, reminded me of a smaller Whole Foods. I bought a package of rainbow carrots.
To the back is their in-house restaurant, more of a deli, called The Counter. Locals to the market say it’s a must try.
The owners of the EMC also had a spot in the enclosed building in the Market, called The Fresh Table. Ironically, they were on my list of vendors to visit! Small world eh? That a random apple farmer would point me in their direction not knowing I wanted to visit them. They had dozens of prepared salads, all house made with organic ingredients. I bought their black bean and corn salad with lime cilantro sauce and their lentil salad with pistachio. The lentil salad is very peppery and spicy, really good flavor. It has pistachios and dried fruit, really really delicious. I immediately called my hotel and asked for a fridge in my room after this venture.
I was very happy I made the trip up to Findlay Market, even in the rain! I love Farmer’s Markets. The culture that they bring, and the awareness that so many local farmers, businesses and entrepeneurs are trying to make their way in your community. If you’re out and about and see a local farmer’s maret, stop by! Support the small businsses in your community. And if your local to Cincinnati, make the Findlay Market a regualr stop for your shopping list.
More to come on my Cincinnati weekend! And thanks for the read
I am going to let you in on a little secret….I have a pretty real fear of flying. Which, for those who know me and know my family, is pretty odd, because I am not new to flying. Far from it, actually. My grandpa worked for United Airlines his whole career and we flew a lot growing up. I loved it when the airplane would take off, it’s the coolest feeling. But, ever since I had my first child, the fear of flying has crept in. With every bit of turbulence and glances out the window, my blood pressure goes up, I clinch my seat and pray.
My grams told me, when I confided in her about this new fear of mine, that the reason I am now afraid to fly is because I now have something (or someone) I would be leaving behind if I were to suddenly die. Those someones she’s talking about are my 3 little kids. I was married to Levi, my husband for 7 years before having kids, so I guess she doesn’t think I would be leaving him behind if I died hahaha! But, I learned very quickly, that once that little cart comes down the aisle and those lovely airline attendants are offering me my in flight beverage, that a glass of red wine makes that fear go away very quickly. I am just saying….don’t judge.
Well, I made it to my hotel last night a little bit after 8, checked out my amazing view of the city with a backdrop of the Ohio River, and both sports stadiums poking in my city view on the left and right sides. I hadn’t eaten all day, so I ordered a quick veggie sandwich from an outside restaurant (room service is just too expensive for what you get!), watched the movie “Because I Said So” and crashed at 10pm. I really don’t think I moved once, with those poofy down pillows, tight hotel sheets hugging me, and the silence….awwwww. I woke up at 945 this morning, and began planning my day today…after coffee of course.
I had planned my trip, tentatively before I left Colorado, but today it’s cloudy and cool. The buildings and the old architecture in this city are so beautiful! I really could look out my window all day, reading a book and drinking coffee. It really would be the perfect day. But, I am writing a food and travel blog, so I probably should eat a few things and maybe discover what this wonderful city has to offer don’t you think??!! The last time I was in this beautiful city I was smack dab in the middle of my eating disorder, so I am looking forward to going out into the city with a healthy view of life and food. My plan is to head out and walk about 18 blocks, or the equivalent of 25 minutes according to Google Maps, to Findlay Market which is a Farmer’s Market in the middle of the city. I also plan to visit the OTR-Over the Rhine neighborhood- a well-known neighborhood right by the market. More detail to come on both of those. Stop back and see what I am up to this weekend! And thanks for the read!
Oh this last weekend was busy! Company, work, more company and a going away party for our former pastor and his family, as they are moving on to the next chapter in their lives: to be missionaries in Marseille, France. The party was held at our old church in Brighton, CO, and it made venturing back up there bittersweet. The church building looked amazing, and being there brought back a lot of memories. But seeing all of the people we used to go to church with, was worth the drive for sure. The dinner was a potluck, and I signed up to bring a salad. I was going to bring my go to kale salad, but as I got my kale out to make the salad 20 minutes before we had to leave, I noticed it was bad. And I had no other greens to make a full salad. Soooooo now what??? I looked in my pantry and found the perfect solution: I could make a pasta salad. But the only noodles I had that weren’t spaghetti noodles, were either red lentil noodles or black bean noodles from Trader Joe’s. I went with the red lentil noodles, and with a little creativity (and what some may call their kitchen sink) I through this bad boy together. I was very happy with the noodles, as they already had a slight peppery taste, perfect for a pasta salad. Yum!!
Cook the red lentil pasta according to the instructions on the package and rinse with cold water to cool. Do not over cook. Then, add chopped cucumbers, radishes, carrot peels, one can sliced black olives, and chopped fresh cilantro and parsley.
Mix up your salad dressing (olive oil, apple cider vinegar, agave nectar, lemon juice from one lemon and two garlic cloves, pressed). Add dressing to salad and toss to combine, making sure all of the noodles are covered with the dressing. Nothing worse than a dry noodle!
After you toss your salad with the dressing, add your last ingredient. Your secret ingredient….baby arugula. Bam!!! Arugula just adds another dimension to this salad. With the noodles having a slight peppery taste, the arugula compliments this salad well, and really adds to the flavor of the fresh herbs hiding in the background of this salad. And the pucker tartness from the vinegar and lemon juice in the dressing, mixed with the noodles and crunch from the cucumber, really made this salad refreshing and flavorful.
Red Lentil Pasta Salad- Gluten Free! Serves 6:
1 bag red lentil pasta from Trader Joe’s
1-4 ounce can sliced black olives
1 cucumber chopped
4 radishes sliced
2 large carrots peeled
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 handfuls of baby arugula
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 TBS olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
1 TBS agave nectar
2 garlic cloves, pressed
Cook the red lentil noodles according to the package. Do not over cook. Drain and rinse with cold water to chill noodles. Put noodles in a large mixing bowl.
Add olives, cucumber, radishes, carrots, chopped cilantro and parsley.
Mix dressing ingredients in a mason jar, then toss with salad well to combine.
I was going thru the archives of my other blog, www.beautifullyorganic.wordpress.com, and found this post from the beginning of last summer. I hosted a tea party for some very important ladies in my life. I just love having people over, although I’m not sure how much I’m going to host things going forward, as lives change, and people change, and it’s been difficult for me lately hosting people in my home. My heart and mind have been going through some battles over the past several months. But going through my thoughts and experiences from the past year or so, made me really appreciate where I’ve come, and what I have. So, please give this a read….there are some really great ideas in here if you’re hosting a tea party yourself!
Our church has been hosting some international business students the past couple of weeks, and some of the congregation have been helping in providing meals for them. I signed up to provide them with lunch after church on Sunday. And of course, given my passion to please everyone’s tummy, I couldn’t just bring them sandwiches. Nope. And I also wanted to show them that American food doesn’t have to be fried, salty and processed. So I put my thinking cap on and thru this bad boy salad together. And in the process, I created another recipe for my recipe vault….that can be viewed by anyone on the World Wide Web. Huh, I may need to think about changing the name….
Any who, everyone knows that BBQ pairs well with all types of meat, but what about beans? And quinoa? You bet it does!! Paired with cilantro, avocado and scallions, you have a wonderful, fiber and protein packed salad that’s sure to keep you full, and of course make your tummy happy! Mmmhmmmm! I love this recipe: it’s simple, clean (especially if you want make your own BBQ sauce!) This salad works great as a potluck addition, or as a nice Sunday afternoon lunch. I hope you enjoy it!
First, toss quinoa, corn, black beans, chickpeas, chopped cilantro, and scallions in a large bowl and toss well to combine. If you’re making this salad ahead of time (day before), and if you’re like me and you worry about ingredients spoiling too soon, hold off on adding your scallions until you serve the salad.
When ready to serve the salad, mix BBQ sauce into the entire salad or per serving, it’s up to you. I add it per serving if I’m eating it at home, but obviously at a potluck it may be a good idea to toss the salad with the BBQ sauce, unless you want to stand there while everyone goes thru the line and give instructions. That may be fun 😉. Top the salad with scallions (if made ahead of time), avocado and dairy free white cheddar cheese.
BBQ Chickpea Quinoa Salad
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup cooked black beans
1 cup fresh corn
1-2 cups cooked chickpeas (amount to taste)
Your Fave BBQ sauce
1 bunch cilantro
Optional: dairy free shredded white cheddar cheese for topping
In a large bowl, toss together all of the ingredients except BBQ sauce and avocado
When ready to serve salad, toss with BBQ or add sauce per serving. Top with avocado and dairy free cheese, if using. Eat up!
Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart.
Ok, so it’s the end of July. It’s hot, kids are starting to get bored, and moms are getting, well, anxious for school start. Which for us, is about 3 weeks away….so why not think about how to reorganize life when the little “monsters” go back to school?? Yes, we mom’s long for the days when the house is quiet again, and we have the “me time” we seem to have less of during those warm, summer days. But, with those quiet days, come the hectic evening schedules…sports, after school activities, youth group, band practices; all the coming and going from “thing to thing”. And the craziness leaves a lot of moms feeling unorganized around meal time, asking the age old question: “what’s for dinner?” I find that if I don’t plan ahead, have my meals planned out and ingredients bought, we are hitting Chipotle or Panera Bread for dinner, or even ordering pizza. And as yummy as those places are, it shouldn’t be our go to meal during our busy season.
I am a list maker. I make lists for everything. I feel a huge accomplishment in my days when I can cross something off of a list. Lately, I have been making a to do list at the beginning of the week, listing all of my chores, food prep and meals I need to make for the week. I keep it on the counter right next to the coffee pot (the fuel to power my madness). And each day, I cross off a few items, and by the end of the week, my house is clean (well mostly, I’m not superwoman), my meals are made, food is prepped and a relaxing weekend awaits. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of life worked out so wonderfully? At the mercy of lists?
Meal planning has been one of the legs I stand on in life. It’s helped me learn to just buy only the ingredients I need for those meals and not over spend….okay sometimes (most of the time) I indulge in some kind of chocolate, but that’s neither here nor there. One thing I have found is that, for me, the more simple my meals are, the more likely I am to make them on a regular basis. Rice and beans, for example, is a very simple thing to make, and have in my pantry on a regular basis. Something else that works well for my family, is making meals that I know my kids will eat. Why add the stress of making something for dinner you know your kids will push away and not eat? Now I’m not saying to make a week of chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese and pizza for dinner, no sir! But if your kids like, oh spaghetti for example, make a point to keep a back stock of noodles and sauce in your arsenal of food, for those busy nights you need a 10 minute miracle dinner. Make life easy on you, while you are still keeping your kiddos fed with healthy, home cooked meals.
When planning out my meals for the week, I again, make a list! Also, I find what works for me is to plan out meals for the whole month. What?!! I bet you’re thinking I’m crazy, how can I plan out 30 meals ahead of time?? I mean, how much time do I have??? Well, not much, I promise you. But what if I told you I only plan out meals for one week, 7 days, and repeated those meals for the month?? It doesn’t sound so hard now, right? It almost sounds doable… Well, that is how I plan my meals, I figure out a week’s worth of easy, healthy and sometimes fun meals for dinner, and stick to it on a weekly basis for about a month or so, which is usually when we are all sick of them and we are forced to move on!
Now, the only way that this type of meal planning works, is if you pick meals that are easy to make, and most importantly, meals that you enjoy. Dinner becomes very stressful real quick when you have hungry young, kids who refuse to eat what is on their plates. Too many nights have been spent in my house teaching kids to eat what’s on their plates. So I try and cook what I know they will eat, and go from there. Busy ,week night dinners are also not the time to make a 50 step, 20 Ingredient dinner. You will make it once, and cry because you had to cook it while juggling homework, kids arguing, bottom wiping and diaper changing. No way. Save those meals for when your husband is home and he can man the battle station while you cook with ease…and a glass of wine 😝. Busy weeknight meals should consist of 1-2 crockpot OR pressure cooker meals, you know that new contraption that can cook any meal in 3.5 seconds?? Teehee SIDE NOTE: about presssure cookers, who doesn’t think of the scene from Back to the Future II, when the future McFlys “hydrate” a pizza in their super machine in like 10 seconds… while cooking with their pressure cooker? I know I do, and chuckle. Bah! Ok, back to work… Next, your weekly meal plan should also include at least one maximum of 5 Ingredients meal, something simple, healthy and yummy. This is where rice and beans come in for us. Rice, beans, salsa, avocado and done! Next, utilize your leftovers! Intentionally make more food so the hubby can have lunch the next day or two at work, or plan a leftover night to devour what you’ve made throughout the week. That’s less cooking for you! Lastly, plan for one night a week eating out. Trust me, if you don’t plan to eat out, odds are that that’s all you’ll do because you’ll need that break. But if it’s planned, you have something to look forward to, and you know that break is coming. Ok, lets meal plan!
One Month of Meals:
Breakfast and lunch are usually some variation of the same meals, everyday, 7 days a week. That way, I know exactly what to buy at the store, and know every morning what my kids are having for breakfast, and what I’m packing for school lunch. No frantic pantry search, just an easy morning (hopefully). Every now and then, I’ll pack something special in their school lunch, or buy muffins for breakfast (gasp!), but those times don’t happen often.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with dried fruit and honey, and bowl of fresh fruit
*weekends only: cereal with almond milk OR homemade pancakes. My kiddos like the pumpkin seed, flax and granola cereal from Nature Valley at Costco. And I buy Coaches Oats from Costco as well. I buy 2 bags at a time to keep my pantry stocked for a while.
Lunch: Sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly/or honey, OR veggie sandwiches), veggies and fruit
I start my meal plan on Saturdays for a couple of reasons: I do my shopping on Fridays, and we get paid on Friday, so my grocery budget resets. It’s just easier for me to have meals start when the budget starts.
Saturday: Pressure Cooker/Crockpot Meal OR Freezer Meal *
Sunday: Pecan “Meatballs” with Sweet and Sour Sauce
Monday: Rice and Beans
Tuesday : New Recipe Night!**
Wednesday: Rice and Beans
Thursday: Pressure Cooker/Crockpot Meal OR Freezer Meal
Friday: Eat out!
*Freezer Meals, along with crockpot meals, should be a staple in any busy mom’s meal plan. They help relieve the stress of cooking, and are always a good option when you need that quick, go to healthy meal. I utilize frozen meals on nights I have to work. They work perfect for me when I’m tired or if the hubby is in charge of dinner. If you can, try and find meals that freeze and cook in your crockpot when you’re ready to use them. Here’s a good freezer meal resource. A lot of the meals that you already make on a regular basis; soups, pancakes, burgers, casseroles, even vegan “meatballs” can be made in advance and frozen for later use. I usually pick a meal or two I like to make, triple the recipe and make it for dinner one night, while freezing the other two portions. Or pick a weekend day and spend an hour or two prepping freezer meals. Whatever works best for you! Sure does help this busy mom to have freezer inventory!
**Tuesday night is the one night of the week that we don’t have anything going on; no sports, church, work, school activities and such. It’s the perfect night for me to try out a new recipe! And who knows, I may find a new family staple to add to the meal plan 😉 I don’t do this type of thing with every meal plan, but some days I need a change and to try something new.
I stick my meal plan on the fridge, right next to my chores list and under my grocery list. 😝🤗 they should all really be together, don’t you think??
I hope this helps all of the busy moms out there, or at least gives you an idea of how to start meal planning. It is so worth it to have meals planned out for those busy times in life!
Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart.
Ok, I’ve got to spill the beans about a company here in Denver, CO: Plant Based Kitchen. Founded by Chef Kelley Williamson, back in 2013, this gem has been offering cooking demonstrations all over the Denver Metro area. I have attended a few of them, at Whole Foods, Natural Grocers and local companies in my town of Parker. I have tasted her yummy nummy foods, made from recipes that she’s created, and I usually can’t wait to get home and make them myself (note to reader: her tofu ricotta is outta this world good!). She also offers cooking classes, open to the public for a very low cost. Offered in a very intimate setting, in the kitchen of a local church, only 12 people can participate in a class at a time. These classes offer the chance to cook with Chef Kelley, and make her recipes, while eating, conversing and just enjoying the company of other food enthusiasts. Did I mention you get to eat yummy food while in these classes?? Teehee 😝 Chef Kelley specializes in plant based recipes, and partners with Jerry Casados, a plant based nutritionist that offers advice and education at her demos and classes.
This past weekend, I attended my first cooking class of Chef Kelley’s. The theme: Freezer Friendly Meals. Having never been to one of her classes, I didn’t know what to expect. I walked into the kitchen of the church, and I immediately had butterflies; the kitchen and set up were a dream!
12 of us were all gathered around the kitchen’s center chop block, met with our own knives and recipes.
And in the middle of the table, was a large bowl of berries and Chef Kelley’s coffee cake. It was gorgeous! And yes, we did get to eat it. Devour it, I mean 😋
With 5 recipes to make and only 2 1/2 hours to make them, the 12 of us divided into 5 groups of 2-3 people and each group made one recipe. My group made Good Morning Muffins, which were loaded with fresh cut apples and carrots, dates and chopped nuts…oh yum!
We had to make enough food for everyone to taste it in the class, as well as enough to take home with us. So we quadrupled the recipes. Every recipe was vegan, plant based, salt and oil free. We all had a lot of fun navigating a kitchen we’ve never been in before, and making recipes that we had never made. We joked, asked a lot of questions about food, health and wellness with Jerry, and got to know one another a little bit. It was a really good time!
With a 1/2 an hour left, we all sat down and enjoyed the food we created. We discussed our experiences making them, as well as complimenting one another on a job well done. We all had our faves of what was made of course (mine was the cowboy lasagne: layers of beans, fresh veggies and cashew cream with a fresh garlic bite….drooolllll), but all in all every recipe was a hit. We all got to take leftovers home to share, or save for a midnight snack. 😝 I gave my muffins to my kiddos for an afternoon snack. They didn’t last long.
I had never been to something like this before and was really glad that I went! If you’re ever in the mood to eat some good food, learn a few new recipes or try your cooking skills out with Chef Kelley, look up Plant Based Kitchen and attend a class. Chef Kelley does not disappoint!
Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart.
I adapted this recipe from one I found online by Gluten Free Vegan Pantry. It’s amaaazzziing. Though it doesn’t have that true carnival, heavily processed nacho cheese flavor, it gets the job done. We dip anything and everything in it, and cover almost everything you can think to cover cheese with, with it. And the best thing? It’s simple to make. And it’s actually healthy for you! Packed with veggies, nuts and nutritional yeast, this is your next go to recipe for a potluck, or party. Or a Tuesday. 😝
First start with boiling your carrots, onions, shallots and potatoes until soft.
While your veggies are cooking, add the rest of your ingredients to your blender.
When your veggies are cooked and soft, add them WITH the remaining broth to the blender. Blend until smooth.
The sauce will be hot, so serve right away! You can also make this sauce ahead of time, just give it a quick blend in your blender and reheat on the stove. Top potatoes, broccoli, rice, nachos, burritos and bowls with the sauce. Or dip your veggies or chips in it. Eat it with a spoon! The options are endless! I hope you enjoy this recipe!
Creamy Vegan Nacho Cheese
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup onion of choice, chopped
2 cups potato, chopped (Yukon gold or creamers work best, but any will be fine)
1/4 cup shallot
2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed
8 TBS nutritional yeast
2 cups of vegetable broth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2-4 TBS whole grain Dijon mustard
1/3 cup vegan margarine
Black pepper to taste
Optional Spices/Variations: add pickled jalapeños (1/4-1/2 cup), chipotle seasoning, chipotle peppers in adobo (1-2 peppers is usually enough) or smoked paprika to taste for a little spice. All is measured to taste based on desired spice level. Of course add more if you like your sauce spicy!
Add your carrots, onion, shallot, potatoes and broth to a pot and bring to a boil.
While your veggies are cooking, add remaining ingredients to your blender.
When veggies are cooked all the way through, add them with remaining broth to the bel dear and blend until smooth.
Add any desired add ins for spice. Enjoy!
NOTE: if you aren’t using a high powered blender like a Vitamix, soak your cashews for at least 30 mins to 1 hour before blending to soften. Also, you will most likely need to blend ingredients for up to 5 minutes for the sauce to come out smooth like nacho cheese.
Until next time….
For the duration of the summer, every Friday our babysitter comes over and watches my kiddos for me, so the hubby and I can go out, or so I can go grocery shopping. Being a mom of three kids, trying to do all my grocery shopping with my kids, it’s well, hard. I feel rushed, and therefore buy more unnecessary items. Then there’s the “mom can we buy this? Or, “don’t touch that!” And of course, the needing to potty whilst mid shopping or needing to change a diaper. During the school year, I did my shopping while two of my kids were in school. So nice. So, having 4 hours to myself, every other Friday, to get my grocery shopping done (I’m actually buying what we need for two weeks, making only having to go to the store once every two weeks amazing!), makes me feel almost functional.
During my latest grocery outing, I snuck in lunch as well. Every time I drive to work, I drive by a little taco place that’s located in the neighborhood right by the hospital. Remodeled out of an old gas station, and known for its eclectic mix of Mexican street food, Cochino Taco has become a real go to place for lunch and dinner, and are now open for brunch on the weekends. Every time I drive by, I think to myself “man, I need try that place out”, while looking at a packed house. Founded by 3 guys who know and love food and have roots to Mexico City, as well as Denver CO, Cochino Taco has definitely become a must try taco place.
Walking into the establishment, I was surprised to see it was an actual restaurant. I thought, because of its size, that it would be more like a Chipotle, order your food at the counter then sit and eat or take it with you.
They have a generous size dining room, with a smaller open kitchen off to the right of the dining area, an outside patio, and a bar, which is where I sat as it was just me. And of course, I had to try one of their house margaritas. What’s a taco without a margarita? 🍹😀
I tried one of their orange and cucumber margaritas, with triplesec, tequila, agave nectar and freshly squeezed orange and cucumber juice. No one ingredient over powered the other, which can be the case when you use really strong flavors in a drink. Oh man….it was refreshingly outstanding! And it may have been a little strong…😋
Their menu is pretty simple: starters, a couple salads and a whole page devoted to….Tacos! Under witty titles, their tacos are divided into categories on the menu, based on what meat is in them. I of course, chose to eat from the “ain’t no meat tacos” category.
I was told that if I was super hungry to order three tacos, as the tacos come one to an order. Well, I was super hungry, so I ordered two tacos and an avocado tostada. I indulged in tacos called the “fungus among us” hahaha! And filled with grilled shiitaki and cremini mushrooms, crispy onions, corn, tomato salsa and cilantro, I gotta tell ya, these tacos were so delicious and flavorful! There was a little crunch from the onions and corn, but the bite was creamy and smoky from the grilled mushrooms. The tacos came out by themselves on a small plate, and each taco had 2 mini corn tortillas to it, which I learned is how traditional soft corn tacos come in Mexico. It allows for extra “structure” to the taco as corn tortillas can be soft. I just used the extra shell for the stuff that fell out of my taco as I ate it to make another one! I know we’ve all wished to have an extra shell for the leftovers that fall out of our taco….I know I’m not alone in that, because who wants to eat taco filling with a fork? 😝😝
Now, when I order a tostada or make one at home, there’s not much crunch to it and it actually can be a little one dimensional with the re fried beans or guacamole making the tostada shell soft as it sits. Well, this avocado tostada was anything but your typical soggy tostada. Let’s first start with the shell…it was again, made from the mini corn tortillas, and dusted with a spice mixture made in house. And nope, they wouldn’t let me know what was in it. This dust turned my fingers red but I didn’t care! It also added a nice spice to my tostada. On top of the shell was a heaping amount of guacamole, lime, and 3 ingredients that added that extra crunch to my bite: jicama, radish and seasoned quico crunch, which tasted just like corn nuts to me. This was far from a soggy tostada! Every bite had crunch and flavor, a little spice thanks to that little bit of red dust you lick off your fingers at the end. So good.
The bartender set a bottle of Mexican hot sauce right in front of me when my food came, and I topped my tacos and tostada with it. Normally I prefer a more traditional salsa on my Mexican food, but I could not get enough of this stuff, it was sooooo good! And not too spicy. However, the food by itself didn’t really need help in the flavor department. 😜
While I was devouring my meal, I couldn’t help but notice that the wall behind the bar was lined with different kinds of pigs…a lot of pigs. I inquired, of course, and the bartender told me that Cochino means “pig” in Spanish. But not a traditional pig, more like a naughty word you call someone during a brawl, a “filthy pig”. I thought to myself “ok, you named your restaurant after a filthy word”…awesome. But the food still rocks tho! I learned after doing more research on this awesome place, that the pig actually holds special meaning to the restaurant’s founders, who have been dubbed “the 3 pig heads” on social media. 😆
Sitting by myself at the bar, not needing to rush through my meal, was such a recharging experience. Which brings me to dessert. Dessert was a must for me, as who could pass up what was on their dessert menu: caramel filled churros and Mexican spiced chocolate ice cream.
I asked the bartender if he could make me a half order, as I couldn’t eat a full one. He totally hooked me up! The churro was filled with a delicate, creamy caramel, and paired with the crunchy, cinnamon sugar outside, it was the perfect sweet bite my mouth needed.
Then, there was the ice cream. Telling my husband about this ice cream, my mouth began to salivate. 🤤 Spiced with ancho-chili and cinnamon, the ice cream was so creamy with a subtle spice that left a burn in the back of my throat. The dairy that was in the ice cream was just enough to tame the heat factor of the spices, but kept you wanting more and more with the rich chocolate. It was literally a spicy, rich, chocolatey ice cream. And I was told that the company who makes the ice cream, makes it just for Cochino Taco. Such a perfect end to my lunch!
If you’re ever in the neighborhood by Swedish Medical Center in Engelwood, CO take the time to stop and try a taco or two at Cochino Taco, your tummy will be very happy you did!
There’s a restaurant in Denver, CO called True Food Kitchen. It’s exactly what the name suggests, they serve real food, from sustainable ingredients. They are a non- GMO facility and their food is mostly local and based on season. Needless to say, it’s a real gem in the Cherry Creek community!
They have a salad on their menu, a shredded kale salad, that is really, really, tasty. It is mostly ordered as a side salad, or before the entree salad, but I believe you can order a meal portion as well. The salad is made with shredded kale, and is tossed with parmesan cheese and a lemon vinaigrette. Seriously, amazing. One of the best kale salads I’ve had in a restaurant hands down. The zest from the lemon hits your tongue almost instantly and the crunch of the kale and saltiness from the cheese leave you wanting more and more. Yum. I’ve seen copycat versions of this salad on the internet and they actually come pretty close to the real deal. But I have my own I’d like to share with you. It’s not exactly like the masterpiece at True Food Kitchen, but let’s just say it’s inspired by it!
First, we need our kale. I say this because there’s so many kinds of kale out there, that picking which one to use for a shredded kale salad is important. Lacinato Kale aka dinosaur kale is my fave for this salad. It gives you the perfect shred. Depending on the size of salad you’re making, you will need anywhere from 2 to 4 bunches of kale. The nice thing about this salad is that your cuts don’t have t be perfect. Shredding your kale can be messy, neat, long ways or short ways, whatever suits you. No one will know!
For contrast, I usually will had some chopped romaine lettuce or baby spinach, to help create a fuller salad, and of course get more greens into it!
After you shred your kale, make your dressing. I use about a tablespoon of olive oil to balance out my balsamic vinegar, a squeeze of agave nectar and juice from 1-2 oranges. Don’t you just love my exact measurements!!?? The amount of dressing you make will depend on the size of salad you have, so the amount is really up to you.
I know True Food Kitchen uses a lemon vinaigrette for their salad, and yes it is yummy, but I find that orange goes better with balsamic vinegar and lemon goes better with rice or apple cider vinegar. Just my taste.
Toss the kale with the dressing and massage it for a good 2 minutes. The acidity from the balsamic vinegar will actually help break down the kale and make it softer to chew.
After massaging the kale, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours, but no longer. You want soft kale, not soggy kale!
Now here comes the exciting part to the salad, the cheese/nut crumble. The salad at True Food Kitchen uses parmesean cheese; we are going to make a vegan nut crumble that will mimic the taste of cheese. And we will do that with 3 lovely ingredients: nuts (pecans work best, but walnuts would work well too), nutritional yeast and a touch of olive oil to help bind the two.
Blend them up in your food processor until fine. I got the idea from this kale salad recipe. It’s really simple and adds amazing flavor to the salad.
We are almost done! When ready to serve the salad, top the kale with the cheese/nut crumble and dried craisins, or raisins work really well too. I almost like them better than the craisins myself.
This salad is a good option for a potluck, dinner parties or Tuesday salad night. Hope you like it!
Shredded Kale Salad with Citrus Vinigarette
2-4 bunches of lacinato kale
1/2 cup craisins or raisins
Cheese Nut Crumble:
1 cup of pecans
1 TBS olive oil
2-3 TBS nutritional yeast
1 TBS olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Juice from 2 oranges
Squeeze of agaves nectar, or other liquid sweetener
Shred your kale
Make your dressing and toss kale, massaging the kale for 2 minutes to soften it up. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.
Make your nut crumble by placing all ingredients into a food processor and grind 15 to 30 seconds. You want the nuts somewhat fine, but still have some texture.
When ready to serve the salad, top kale with nut crumble and craisins. Enjoy!
NOTE: add dimension that your salad by adding a couple heads of romaine or baby spinach. Do not, however, add the extra greens until ready to serve the salad, as they will get too soggy sitting in the dressing for 3 hours.