Jalapeño Beer

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El Heffe from Banger Brewing

Today is National Beer Day making it the perfect day to tell you about an exotic little Hefeweizen I tried a while back.

A couple of months ago I visited my sister in Las Vegas. We went to Freemont specifically to check out Banger Brewing; and even more specifically because I was on a mission to try their infamous Jalapeño Hefeweizen aptly called El Heffe (which is Spanish means the boss). It did not disappoint.

El Heffe is infused with jalapeño and serrano peppers. It has a strong spicy aroma, but don’t let it that fool you. It is bold and flavourful, yet not spicy. It does have a subtle kick to it but it can easily be enjoyed by bohth chili beer lovers and non-chili beer fans alike.

The brewery offers 10 of their brews on tap and has some great specials. They also offer free tours. Like most good taprooms, it is quiant with a handful of tables and board games at your disposal. The bar is fun to sit at if you feel like chatting to others or the bartenders. Being on Freemont (450 Freemont Street), makes it a fun place to sit and people watch out on the patio. Speaking of the patio, they offer a small snack menu which includes perogies! Coming from Winnipeg, that certainly caught my eye.

El Heffe is a well-blanced beer that has me craving it this National Beer Day.

What are you drinking to celebrate? Cheers!

 

 

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Cilantro Margarita

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I’ve always said combat the winter blahs with a festive spirit. Bring the tropics to yourself for a little motivation if only for a moment.

Try cooking up your favourite summer meal. Have a BBQ (or faux BBQ), or make a summery cocktail.

We all know the margarita is one of my favourites. I’m fortunate enough to spend some time in paradise this winter where I discovered this year’s margarita gem. The only catch is you must like cilantro!

Cilantro is one of the most used herbs in Latin American cooking. I am borderline obsessed with it and add it to EVERYTHING, especially this month where I have the fresh, fresh stuff at my disposal. You can make –chimol (chirmol?) and this year’s anti-January blahs remedy – a Cilantro Margarita!

I ordered it at a place called Si Senor in Punta Mita, Nayarit and fell in love!

So if you’re feeling cold and perhaps blue and you can’t get away to a tropical location, let it come to you in the form a of a delicious, foamy beverage.

Cilantro Margarita

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces of fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces of agave or simple syrup
  • 2 ounces of tequila
  • Ice
  • Bunch of cilantro (about 20 sprigs)
  • Course salt
  • Lime wedges

Directions

  1. Squeeze lime onto lid of glass. Dip in the course salt for rimmer.
  2. Divide cilantro into two glasses. Press with a muddler.
  3. Fill shaker with lime juice, syrup and tequila. Add ice. Shake.
  4. Pour into two glasses and garnish with a wedge of lime.

Salud!

Christmas Bucket List

I know, I know, it’s still November but Christmas is my favourite time of year and I am especially looking forward to making my babies’ first Christmas a memorable one.

Every year, I come up with an unofficial Christmas bucket list and this year I’ve decided to share it. Turns out, quite a few items happen to be food-related so it will give me a chance to share some recipes.

1. Skate on the river. 

Here in Winnipeg, the Red River Mutual Trail is a ice rink on the frozen Red and Assiniboine River, located in the heart of the city. It is packed with skaters on any given Winnipeg winter weekend (say that fast three times) and I have to make up for last year when I was pregnant and had to pass up on it.

2. Give back by donating time or money. 

My mom got my sisters and I into packaging Christmas boxes for Operation Christmas Child. We’d have so much fun buying things to pack into shoe boxes for children in developing countries. I’ve continued the tradition every Christmas. On occasions where I haven’t been able to fill shoe boxes, I’ve donated to Operation Christmas Child. It’s a reminder of how much we have to be thankful for.

During the holidays I also like to give back in time. I’ve wrapped presents at those booths in the mall. Usually a different organizes volunteers to wrap presents for donations going towards their cause.

Another favourite is volunteering at Winnipeg Harvest.

I also usually organize putting a hamper together for a family in need through the Christmas Cheer Board at work.

Not sure what I’m doing this year, but I will find a way to give back to my community.

Homemade sweet and spicy popcorn

Fancy homemade popcorn is a must to go with Christmas movie binge-watching. Photo source: canolaeatwell.com

3. Have a Christmas movie marathon complete with homemade popcorn.

I LOVE Christmas movies and nothing screams Christmas like a snowy day spent indoors, cuddled in a blanket drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies while watching Christmas classics. I have my favourites (The Holiday, Love Actually, The Family Stone, Home Alone) but this year I want to watch some classics. I have a confession…I have never seen A Christmas Story in full! I have seen parts here and there but never from start to finish, to this is the year. I’m also adding It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street to the list.

Popcorn and binge-movie-watching go together and I’ve been looking for an excuse to try some popcorn recipes on a Whirley Popper I got for Christmas last year. I’ve got this recipe, this one and this one  in mind.

Making mulled wine is on my Christmas to-do list.

Making mulled wine is on my Christmas to-do list.

4. Make mulled wine. 

I associate mulled with Christmas cheer but I’ve never made it, so this is

Fancy homemade popcorn is a must to go with Christmas movie binge-watching.

the year. I’m still looking for a recipe is anyone has one they’d like to share!

5. See a lights or Christmas tree display. 

Lights, trees, wreaths, snow flakes, holly, mistletoe, nativity scenes, I love all Christmas decor. I know there are plenty of Christmas tree and light displays so I think it’ll be nice to make an afternoon of it with my family and immerse ourselves in the non-commercial joys of Christmas.

6. DIY gift giving. 

Speaking of non-commercial, I plan to purchase gifts at craft shows with local fares and/or at Ten Thousand Villages because who doesn’t love a socially conscious gift?

I do plan to make a couple of gifts of my own. I’m thinking the popcorn above would make a yummy gift for a host.

7. Attend a cookie swap.

I love the idea of a cookie swap: you bake one kind of cookie (1 dozen per attendee) and then you just swap so that each person goes home with various kinds of baked goods!

This year especially, I don’t have a lot of time so anything that saves me time sounds good to me.

One of the cute nativity scene decorations from Ten Thousand Villages I have my eye on.

One of the cute nativity scene decorations from Ten Thousand Villages I have my eye on.

8. Start my nativity scene collection.

In El Salvador and other Central American countries, nativity scenes, nacimientos are THE Christmas icon. In fact, in my parents’ hometown, they would turn it into a friendly competition. People go all out creating whole villages with the nativity scene at the centre of course. There is a panel of judges and a winner is crowned, usually purely for bragging rights. They are set up near the doorway, making it easy to see for neighbours and others passing by. My grandma won the competition in her neighbourhood one year. I wish I had pictures!

My parents carried the tradition on when we moved to Canada. Every time they went back to El Salvador for a visit, they’d bring back a new piece. Baby Jesus is not placed in the manger until midnight on December 24th, representing his birth.

I don’t have the room to go all out but I have wanted to start a small collection for years now so what better time than the present to get started.

9. Start a new family tradition.

This Christmas is extra special for my husband and I because of the two new little ones in our family (read about it here). I have nothing but the fondest memories of my childhood Christmases and I only hope to be able to provide memories as warm and loving to our kids. So I’ve decided to start a tradition unique to our family this year. I’m not sure what it is yet so I’m curious — what are your holiday family traditions?

10. Get my music fix.

B.A. (before babies) my husband and I used to go out to live shows and concerts all the time. While we’ve managed to get out for dinner a few times, none of those outings have involved live music and I miss it. There is no shortage of shows here so my goal is to get out and get my music fix at some point this holiday season.

What are your Christmas/holiday must-dos this year? I’d love to hear them!

Cafe con leche

Cafe con leche, with an horchata twist.

Cafe con leche, with an horchata twist.

Like in many other cultures and countries, in Latin America, we take our coffee seriously. It’s no wonder as it produces some of the world’s best coffee, but I may be biased. Unlike in North America, coffee is often not forbidden to children.

Such was the case in my childhood. My dad would often tell us about his coffee picking days (read about how that led to my preference for fair and direct trade coffee here) and would give us sips of his coffee. When we were young and we visited our homeland, El Salvador, our grandma would give us freshly made cafe con leche (coffee with milk).

A steaming hot cup of cafe con leche is much more than a cup of coffee. To me, it represents slowing down to savour the moment and sharing it with loved ones. It carries with it a very different aura that the rushed, daily cup of before-work coffee does. While I usually prefer my coffee black, once in a while (usually on chilly fall or winter weekends) I prefer to slow down and savour a cafe con leche. It always brings me back to my days spent with my grandmothers in El Salvador.

It’s now officially fall and with it comes the annual plethora of pumpkin spice everything. I’m no against a good pumpkin spiced latte, but this year I am starting a new trend. I am making horchata the new taste of fall!

How am I doing this? With my new delicious obsession – RumChata! A few weeks ago I made a Horchata Tres Leches and I’ve been looking for new ways to use it since. Lucky for me, the RumChata website offers plenty of recipes, including a Cafe con Chata recipe. It’s basically a cafe con leche with RumChata; almost like a pumpkin spiced latte.

I used my own cafe con leche recipe and just added the RumChata. Cafe con leche is usually on the sweet side and the coffee to milk ratio is 1:1 but feel free to adjust according to your taste (I use 2:1 coffee to milk ratio). The Cafe con Chata recipe on the RumChata website calls for 2 parts of cafe con leche and one part RumChata (don’t forget it is a liqueur).

It is perfection on fall weekend mornings. Just add the weekend paper, a good book or netflix and enjoy life!

Cafe con Leche (Cafe con Chata*)

Makes 4 cups 

*Follow directions for cafe con leche and add the 5th step in the directions to make it a Cafe con Chata.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups of freshly prepared, strong coffee (or espresso) made preferably in a french press
  • 2 cups of milk
  • sugar to taste
  • ground cinnamon or 4 cinnamon sticks

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place milk in a saucepan bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to just simmering and let simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Meanwhile, divide coffee between four cups.
  4. Sweeten with sugar to taste (if adding RumChata, add only a little first as the RumChata is also sweet).
  5. Add 1 oz of RumChata*.
  6. Add milk to each cup. The ratio for cafe con leche is 1:1 BUT you can adjust according to your preference.
  7. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick.
Cafe con leche + RumChata

Cafe con leche + RumChata

National Tequila Day Luxury Margarita

The Don Julio Blanco Luxury Tequila

The Don Julio Blanco Luxury Tequila.

Tequila. Oh, how I love it so. One of my most memorable tequila experiences was visiting the town of Tequila, Mexico.

I never get sick of tequila because the cocktail possibilities are endless but when in doubt a classic margarita is the way to go. I usually find drink and food inspirations on Instagram and the Don Julio Instagram account is one of my favourites. It never disappoints. Last weekend they posted a recipe for the Don Julio Blanco Luxury Margarita. Don Julio tequila is one of my favourites; it is smooth for sipping and this recipe is refreshing on a hot summer.

Today is #NationalTequilaDay and it’s Friday. Need I say more? Give it a whirl and start your weekend out right. Before you head out to buy tequila, make sure you check out my top 5 things to know when choosing a tequila.

Get the recipe for the Don Julio Blanco Luxury Margarita from their instagram account.

Cheers! Salud!

Salud!

Salud!

Agua fresca de melon

Agua fresca The summer solstice occurred this past week and days are getting hot. If you’re in need of a super refreshing drink, agua fresca is a good way to go. Made up of mainly fruit and water, it’s fruity, frothy and a good way to cool down on a hot summer day. In Latin American countries, agua fresca is sold mainly by street vendors or corner store (bodegas). Luckily for you, it’s super simple to make. This recipe came to me as mostly all recipes on this blog do – reminiscing about the food and drinks my mom used to make when she was alive. My mom always used cantaloupe, I usually make it with cantaloupe or watermelon. Grab some fruit, ice and water and make a batch to enjoy on the deck or balcony with a good book!

Turn this bowl of cantaloupe into a refreshing glass of agua fresca.

Turn this bowl of cantaloupe into a refreshing glass of agua fresca.

Agua fresca de melon

(makes 8 cups)

  • 8 cups of diced cantaloupe (approximately two medium-sized cantaloupes)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 TBSP fresh lime juice
  • 2 TBSP of honey OR agave syrup OR simple syrup (or other liquid sweetener of choice)
  • handful of fresh mint leaves
  • ice

Directions

  1. Place the fruit and water in the blender. Blend for one minute or your desired consistency as it will be pulpy. (If using any kind of melon it will be frothy).
  2. Add the lime juice, liquid sweetener and mint leaves. Blend for another 30 seconds.
  3. Refrigerate and serve over ice.
Agua fresca de melon, popular in Latin American streets.

Agua fresca de melon, popular in Latin American streets.

2 Ingredient Milkshake

Banana milkshake, perfect for breakfast on the go.

Banana milkshake, perfect for breakfast on the go.

It has come to my attention that I am not getting enough calcium. Although there are many ways to get calcium, I know milk is a good source but I am just not a fan. I like it in cereal but just can’t drink a glass of it on its own.

Because I am trying to get a glass in every morning, I tried to think of creative ways to drink it and then it just hit me. When I was young, my mom always used to make a simple milkshake in order to get my sisters and I to drink our milk. It consists of only two ingredients and because of its simplicity is very popular in Latin American countries. It consists of milk, a banana (in some countries referred to as platano) and a dash of cinnamon. It’s called licuado de leche con guineo (or platano).

The combination of banana and milk is a popular due to its health benefits. Bananas contain beneficial vitamins and minerals, in particular potassium and fibre; add milk and you’ve got calcium and protein. It make a quick to-go breakfast for those busy weekday mornings, or a post-gym snack. Canada’s Food Guide recommends two cups (500 ml) of milk everyday to get the adequate of vitamin D our body needs. Double the recipe up and you’ve got your daily dose!

licuado de leche con guineo

I like mine with lots of cinnamon!

Banana Milkshake

Ingredients:

  • One glass (250 ml) of milk of your choice
  • one banana
  • a dash of cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. In a blender combine milk and banana.
  2. Pour into glass; top with a dash of cinnamon to taste.
banana milkshake

An easy, quick way to get your recommended serving of calcium.

Make it a Fair Trade Month

Last fall I entered a photo contest through Ten Thousand Villages. They were looking for photos that depicted your love for fair trade coffee. My photo won and the prize was an entire year of free fair trade coffee from Level Ground Trading, a Fair Trade importer, wholesaler and specialty coffee roaster based in Victoria, B.C.

This was the photo that won me a year’s supply of Fair Trade coffee from Ten Thousand Villages.

Fair Trade Coffee

The winning photo.

Buying fair trade products is important to me. Fair Trade Canada describes Fair Trade as seeking to change the terms of trade for the products we buy “…to ensure the farmers and artisans behind those products get a better deal. Most often this is understood to mean better prices for producers, but it often means longer-term and more meaningful trading relationships as well. For consumers and businesses, it’s also about information. Fair Trade is a way for all of us to identify products that meet our values so we can make choices that have a positive impact on the world.” Visit the Fair Trade Canada website to learn more.

Why is it important to me? My story is really my dad’s story and it has made me a conscious consumer of coffee for years now.

Coffee beans on a plant like the ones my dad used to pick.

Coffee beans on a plant like the ones my dad used to pick.

My dad was born and raised in El Salvador. At the age of eight years old, he worked hand harvesting coffee as a full time job between the months of November to January. Eight years old! He worked 12 hours for three straight months making 40 cents per arroba (arroba is the unit of measurement coffee beans are measured in El Salvador, it is the equivalent of 25 lbs). Keep in mind, this was during the 60’s but even at the time, those were not fair wages, not to mention it was child labour. He picked coffee until he was 14 years old and when I was eight years old he told me stories about the days he spent harvesting and it’s had an impact on me since.

Fair Trade products costs a tad more but the difference in quality and social responsibility is worth it. I always buy Fair Trade coffee but I’m into my third month of my free coffee winnings and I am loving it! I pick up my coffee from my local Ten Thousand Villages every month and enjoy exploring other fair trade products while I’m there.

You can do your part by making informed consumer choices and buying Fair Trade. Whether its coffee, tea, chocolate, soccer balls, sugar, oil or clothing, everything we consume or use on a daily basis been harvested, or processed or made by someone somewhere. While it’s challenging to convert to a 100% Fair Trade lifestyle, you can make a difference by starting with one item, such as coffee. Just like buying local foods, the more you learn about where your food and products come from, the better informed decisions you make as a consumer.

I heart coffeeI invite you to join me and take the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation’s (MCIC) Fair Trade Challenge. It’s easy – the challenge lasts for one month, starting February 14.  They have a variety of challenges to choose from, such as the Office Challenge where you pledge to drink Fair Trade coffee and tea and promote awareness at work, the Baker’s Challenge where you pledge to bake with Fair Trade products, or you can create your own challenge for the month. All you have to is register for free and take the pledge. I recommend the Office Challenge. Pick up some Fair Trade coffee and tea for work, or ditch the long lines at the coffee shops that don’t offer Fair Trade and buy it from one that does instead – trust me it’ll taste so much better! The challenge comes in when you’re in social settings that don’t offer fair trade options (friend’s houses, meetings, hotels, restaurants). Take this as an opportunity to talk about the challenge and the need for fair trade support. Most of my favourite independently owned restaurants already offer fair trade. The MCIC website lists stores and restaurants that offer Fair Trade products, making it easy for you. Here is the list for Fair Trade coffee in Winnipeg, check it out, you might be surprised to see how many places offer Fair Trade coffee in the city.

You might discover you have learned a lot throughout the challenge. It may lead to more socially conscious consumer decisions overall.

And if you’ve never been to Ten Thousand VIllages, I highly recommend you take a stroll in one day and learn about all the Fair Trade products you can buy; it’s the perfect place to buy a gift!