Mexican Ceviche

Mexican Ceviche

Mexican Ceviche

Mexican Ceviche is out of this world!  It is usually served as an appetizer with tortilla chips but I think it would also be lovely served as a main dish salad on lettuce leaves.  I just returned from a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and while I was there, I had the opportunity to take a Mexican Cooking Class.  This is a popular method of “cooking” fish and shellfish in Mexico by marinating it in either lemon or lime juice.  Mexican Ceviche is a very popular appetizer served everywhere in Mexico and it is gaining popularity here as well.  I have to admit that I did not think I would like Ceviche because I have tried Sushi many times and I just don’t like it.  However, Ceviche is totally different both in taste and texture.  It is quick to make, only has a few ingredients and makes a perfect addition to your next party!  Here is how we made it:

Mexican Ceviche
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Here is a quick and easy appetizer straight from Cabo San Lucas!
Author:
Recipe type: appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Ingredients
  • 4 fresh shrimp, cleaned, shelled and de-veined, and finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh tomato
  • ⅛ cup chopped fresh cucumber (peeled)
  • ⅛ cup chopped red onion
  • ⅛ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh chopped jalapeno pepper
Instructions
  1. Clean, shell and de-vein 4 large shrimp. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with 4 tablespoons of lemon juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Add ¼ cup chopped tomatoes, ⅛ cup peeled and chopped fresh cucumber, ⅛ cup chopped fresh cilantro, ⅛ cup chopped red onion and 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh chopped jalapeno pepper (to taste).
  3. Marinate no longer than 30 minutes.

Villa del Arco Chef in Cabo

Villa del Arco Chef in Cabo

Here is the chef at Villa del Arco preparing for the Mexican Cooking Class.

Vickie and Jodi Weber…..ready for the cooking class

Vickie and Jodi at Cabo Cooking Class 2

Clean, peel and de-vein 4 fresh shrimp.

Cabo Cooking Class 4

 

Chop the shrimp and place in a bowl.  Sprinkle with 4 tablespoons of lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Cabo Cooking Class 8

 

 

Add chopped tomato, chopped peeled cucumber, chopped red onion and chopped fresh cilantro.

Cabo Cooking Class 12

Add chopped jalapeno to taste…

Cabo Cooking Class 13

Mexican Ceviche!

Mexican Ceviche!

Mexican Ceviche!

I would love to serve this as a first course for a dinner party — in martini glasses!

Here is a sampling of some of the other great appetizers we enjoyed on our trip:

Food at Wine Tasting 1 Food at wine Tasting 2

 

Remember, let’s share great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy! 

 

 

 

 

Summer Recipes …And The Livin’ Is Easy!

Zinnias

 Summer recipes that are quick and easy help us enjoy sharing great food with our family and friends!

Summer is in full swing and everyone is looking for easy summer recipes!  I can’t wait to share the new recipes I’ve been cooking for the blog and YouTube channel!  The bouquet above is from my flower garden and if you remember last summer, I shared the success secret for garnishing your food creations with fresh flowers…. “Edible Flowers for Garnishing”  Be sure to check out those tips!

Here is a preview of upcoming summer recipes that I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks:

  • Easy 7-Up Biscuits
  • Bananas Foster….It’s a real WOW!
  • Vickie’s Almost Famous Bloomin’ Onion
  • Baby Shower Ideas
  • Crock Pot Overnight Oatmeal
  • Easy Skillet Green Beans
  • Flower Petal Ice Cubes
  • Summertime Lemonade……Plus more!!!!

Many of you have probably been wondering why I have not been posting recipes lately.  Well, when my youngest daughter, Kacy, left home to do an internship in Cancun , I decided that I needed to:

1) Get a job and

2) Be around teenagers

I checked the job board and there was a teaching position open in my immediate area.  I applied for the position…and they hired me. I thought I would be able to blog and teach….but my first year back in the teaching arena proved to be a FULL TIME job!  I loved every minute of it and I can’t wait for school to start again in the fall and now I think it will be possible for me to keep up with my classroom work, blogging and my YouTube channel.  I must say, I have missed my Make Life Special work.

So…on with Make Life Special!  Let’s continue our journey …let’s enjoy some easy summer recipes and  share great food with our family and friends!

Summer Bouquet 2

 

 

 

 

The Juice Lady’s Big Book of Juices

The Juice Lady’s Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies

By: Cherie Calbom, MS, CN

 Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies

Gift Guide Age Recommendation:­  13+

 

Review

A few years ago I tried juicing.  I loved it!  But, my juicer didn’t make it through one of our many moves and I let my new juicer linger in my Amazon Wish List for far too long.  Reading thru The Juice Lady’s Big Book of Juices & Green Smoothies was a great reminder to purchase my new juicer and re-enter the world of juicing.  As a novice juicer, this book discussed all the things I needed to know; how juicing is beneficial, the nutritional perks to juicing, how to store homemade juice, how much homemade juice costs (less than a latte), and pages upon pages of recipes are all contained in this fantastic book.

Green Pina Colada

I sampled Calbom’s Green Pina Colada Smoothie.    I was skeptical that it would taste anything like a Pina Colada.  Yes, it contained coconut, banana and pineapple.  But, it also contained spinach.  I drank spinach! And, it was delicious!  Had someone just rattled off the list of ingredients, I doubt this recipe would have worked.  Calbom is very precise in how much of each ingredient to use (this recipe, for instance, called for 6 ice cubes) and her little tidbits of information placed throughout the book really make it one to read and not just skim thru.

 

Who would like this gift?

 

This is a great book for the health conscious, the friend or family member who owns a juicer, that friend who always talks about needing to remove toxins from their bodies, or someone looking to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables.  For those looking to give a bigger gift, I would recommend this book be given with a new juicer.

 

Where to Buy

 

For $13.60 you can purchase this cookbook at Amazon.

 

For More Information

You can visit The Juice Lady’s Website.

 

Reviewed by: Nicole

 

Note:  News & Experts graciously supplied me with a copy of The Juice Lady’s Big Book of Juices & Green Smoothies  for review.  No other compensation was received.  The review in this post is honest and my own.

Kitchenability 101: The College Student’s Guide

Kitchenability 101: The College Student’s Guide to Easy, Healthy, and Delicious Meals
By Nisa Burns

Kitchenability 101

Gift Guide Age Recommendation:  10+

Review

Kitchenability 101 by Nisa Burns is a fantastic cookbook geared towards college students. But, I think it would be well received by any child who likes to cook or the novice chef looking for a great introductory book.

What’s so great about the cookbook? For starters, ever single recipe has a full color photograph which makes it excellent for someone starting out in the kitchen. It also gives an excellent tutorial that walks the reader thru a basic kitchen, the appliances, the techniques needed to prepare a meal, cooking terminology, staple items to keep on hand, and an overview of meal planning. I wish this cookbook had been around when I left home for the first time. Not kidding. I had way too many meals of canned soup and pizza in my early years.

I had a hard time selecting which recipe I wanted to prepare from Kitchenability 101. The Chocolate-Drenched Marshmallow Brownies called my name early on (I started reading in the Party! section. Please, don’t judge). Then I found the Chili Burritos and remembered all the meals I ate out of a food cart in college. I almost picked the Strawberry Crepes because they use Nutella and I LOVE Nutella. But, 30 minutes into my love obsession with this cookbook and its layout, I settled on Gnochi with Pesto. It’s simple. It’s elegant. And, Nisa Burns didn’t wimp out and tell you to grab a jar of your favorite pesto. It has a recipe for homemade pesto. Yum!

Pesto Gnochi

 

For those who think a college student couldn’t afford this type of cuisine, the whole recipe cost me less than $25 and I had enough pesto for a whole package of gnocchi, a whole package of tortellini and I still have enough pesto for another box or two of pasta or gnocchi.  I consider this very economical since pesto keeps well in the fridge and freezer!  

Where to Buy

For $14.46 you can purchase this delightful book at Amazon.

For More Information

Please visit Nisa Burns’ Website.

Reviewed by: Nicole

Note: PR by the Book graciously supplied me with a copy of Kitchenability 101: The College Student’s Guide to Easy, Healthy, and Delicious Food for review. No other compensation was received. The review in this post is honest and my own.

Potato Smashers for Easy Potato Recipes

Looking for some easy potato recipes?

Potato Smashers are like Potato Skins, covered with crisp bacon and sharp cheddar cheese…but on a grander scale!  You can make these in about 15 minutes and your family and friends will rave!

Print the recipe here:

Potato Smashers
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 small new red potatoes, about 2 inches in diameter
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons Zesty Italian Salad Dressing
  • ½ to 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Place potatoes and water in 2 quart microwavable bowl. Microwave, uncovered, om HIGH for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Let stand a couple of minutes to cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in large skillet 8 minutes or so..until crisp, turning frequently. Drain on paper towels, leaving the grease in the skillet.
  3. Drain the potatoes, press each potato with the bottom of a small bowl or saucer to flatten to ½ inch thickness.
  4. Heat Italian dressing in the skillet with the bacon grease. Add potatoes; cook 4 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown.
  5. Meanwhile, crumble bacon. Turn the potatoes over; sprinkle with the cheese and bacon.
  6. Cover skillet with lid and cook an additional 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Potato Smashers Ingredients 

Place potatoes and water in 2 quart microwavable dish.  Microwave, uncovered on HIGH for 10 minutes…

Microwave Potatoes

Cook the bacon…and save the grease!  You are going to brown the cooked potatoes in that grease in a few minutes!

Cook Bacon

 

Drain the potatoes and “smash” each one with the bottom of a small bowl or saucer..

Smash Potatoes

 

Heat the dressing in a large skillet with the bacon grease..add the potatoes. 

Add Italian Dressing to Potato Smashers

 

Use kitchen scissors to crumble the crisp bacon.

Crumble Bacon with Kitchen Scissors

 

Cook the potatoes 4  minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown.  Turn the potatoes over.

Flip Potato Smashers

 

Top with bacon and cheese.

Top Potato Smashers with Bacon and cheddar Cheese

 

Serve….

Potato Smashers

This is one of my favorite potato recipes!

Video: Potato Smashers

Potato Smashers are loaded with bacon and cheddar cheese.

Praline Topped Brie

Praline Topped Brie is a decadent appetizer that can be whipped up in 5 minutes and is sure to impress your guests!  What could be better than the gooey savory flavor of warm brie hot out of the oven – topped with the sweet delight of orange praline topping!

To view the YouTube step by step cooking tutorial for this recipe, click here:  Praline Topped Brie


Praline Topped Brie
 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 8 oz OR 13 oz round of brie cheese
  • ½ cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup pecans, chopped and toasted
  • Crackers or toasted baguette-style French bread for serving
Instructions
  1. Place pecans in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes to toast.
  2. Trim top rind from brie round .
  3. Place brie in baking dish.
  4. Mix the orange marmalade and brown sugar together in a small bowl, Spread on top of the cheese.
  5. Sprinkle with toasted pecans.
  6. Bake in a 350 degree oven about 15 minutes or until cheese is slightly softened and topping is bubbly.
  7. Serve with crackers or bread slices.

 

Place the pecans in a baking dish and lightly toast in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.

Trim the top off of the brie round.

Place the round in an ovenproof baking dish.

Mix the orange marmalade and brown sugar together in a small bowl.

Spread the topping on the brie.

Sprinkle with toasted pecans.

Bake in a 350 degree oven about 15 minutes or until cheese is slightly softened and topping is bubbly.

Remove from oven and serve.

Praline Topped Brie hot out of the oven:

Serve with crackers or hot bread.  Enjoy!

Remember, let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  

 

Vickie’s Almost Famous Chili

Fall is for football games, pumpkins and mums at the front door and a big pot of Chili simmering on the stove.   I was in a Chili Cook Off  years ago with several girlfriends and I discovered that there are about as many recipes for Chili as there are people who love it!  We called our team “The Red Hot Chili Peppers”.  Our recipe had about 25 ingredients and cooked all afternoon.  We won the Chili Cook Off but I’m sure none of us ever made that Chili recipe again because it had too many ingredients and cooked too long for all of our busy schedules.  That’s why I call my recipe “Almost Famous”.  I never won a Chili Cook Off with this recipe – but it scored big with everyone who has ever tasted it.

This recipe only has to simmer 15 minutes – so it can easily be cooked after a long day at work.  So, grab your Chili pot and get ready to round up some great chili for your gang!

 

Vickie's Almost Famous Chili
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 16 ounces tomato sauce
  • 15 ounces chili beans ( I use medium, but feel free to use mild or hot)
  • 15 ounces dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons instant dried onion flakes
  • 2 packages chili seasoning packets ( that are supposed to each season 1 pound of beef)
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Condiments to sprinkle on top of each bowl of chili: chopped onions, Fritos corn chips, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Brown ground beef and drain well.
  2. Add remaining ingredients. Stir to blend well.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve piping hot with the condiments sprinkled on top. Enjoy!

Brown the ground beef and drain well.

Add the remaining chili ingredients and stir to blend well.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

Ladle up a big bowl of this yummy chili and serve it topped with chopped onions, Fritos corn chips, a big dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

Remember, let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!

 

 

Quick Chicken Corn Chowder

Fall is in the air and it’s time to get a big pot of Quick Chicken Corn Chowder simmering on the stove!   

Chowder is typically a thick, rich soup that is made with cream.  This Quick Chicken Corn Chowder is chocked full of vegetables and meat to make a delicious and warming meal on a chilly Fall or Winter evening.  You can have this on the table in less than 30 minutes—-that’s less time than it takes to get a carry-out pizza!   

To view the complete video recipe, click here:   http://youtu.be/OKAjAlvFRPE

To print the recipe with all of the how-to photos, click here:  Quick Chicken Corn Chowder

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup chopped onions

1/4 cup chopped celery

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped or 2 tablespoons canned chopped jalapeno peppers ( not pickled)

2 tablespoons flour

3 cups milk

2 cups chopped deli rotisserie  chicken

1 1/2 cups frozen corn

1 can cream style corn

1 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 /8 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion, celery and jalapeno; cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.

Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  

Stir in milk and blend well.  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Serve up a big steaming bowl of Quick Chicken Corn Chowder topped with crumbled pieces of my Microwaved Bacon ( See Success Secret under a separate post).

Remember — Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!

 Happy Fall…Y’all!


Quick Chicken Corn Chowder
 
Recipe type: Soups
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup chopped onions
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped OR 2 tablespoons canned chopped jalapeno peppers ( not pickled )
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk or a combination of milk and half and half
  • 2 cups chopped deli rotisserie chicken
  • 1½ cup frozen corn
  • 1 can cream style corn
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red peppers
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and jalapeno; cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
  2. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Stir in milk and remaining ingredients.
  4. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!

Crab Cake Lunch on Kaanapali Beach

What could be better than a crab cake lunch on Kaanapali Beach?

Next week I will feature my Crab Cake recipe with the trick I use to keep the crab cakes from falling apart when I cook them.  Crab cakes are really very easy to make and you can either use fresh crab or canned crab.  My recipe uses canned crab since it’s not always easy to buy fresh crab.   

Here are the wonderful crab cakes I had for lunch on Kaanapali Beach.  I like how they served them on wilted fresh spinach and I’ll be using that same idea when I feature my Crab Cake recipe next week.  I also liked the grilled lemon half as an extra nice touch…

Here are some pictures of my beautiful walk along Kaanapali Beach….

 

I think a trip to Maui is really a trip of a lifetime!  The beauty is abundant.  Walks along the pristine beaches are invigorating and there is so much to enjoy in the nature around us.  Kaanapali Beach has a lot to offer in not only beauty but also things to do.  You can stay busy every minute if you want to.  The Westin has scenic helicopter tours, hiking trips, shopping tours plus much more.   I have decided not to do a lot of the tours and activities.  I just want to soak up some relaxation while I am here.  

Remember — Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!

Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks with Brandy Sauce

Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks are super easy to make in less than 10 minutes.  The steaks are lightly pressed with crushed peppercorns and then sauteed quickly in butter and oil.  Then you combine white wine, lemon juice and a little brandy in the pan drippings for the sauce.  So easy and so good!   

 

Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons peppercorns
  • 2 to 4 rib eye steaks
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons oil
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • little lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Crush the peppercorns and press well into steaks using a wooden spoon.
  2. Heat oil and butter in pan, add half the butter. When foaming, saute steaks 4 to 6 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the steaks and how done you like them. Add remaining butter if needed.
  3. Remove to heated platter to keep warm.
  4. Add wine, brandy and lemon juice to the drippings in the pan and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Pour the sauce over the steaks. Serve at once.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons peppercorns

2 to 4 rib eye steaks

3 to 4 tablespoons oil

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup white wine

2 tablespoons brandy

little lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Crush the peppercorns and press well into the steaks using a wooden spoon.  You can crush the peppercorns as I am doing, or put them in a Zip lock bag and pound with the flat side of a meat mallet.

Heat oil in pan, add half the butter.  When foaming, saute steaks 4 to 6 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the steaks and how well done you like them.  Add remaining butter if needed.

Remove to a heated dish to keep warm.  Add wine, brandy and lemon juice to the pan and bring to a boil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce over the steaks.  Enjoy!

 

 

Video: Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks


Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks are lightly pressed with crushed peppercorns, sauteed in butter and oil and then splashed with white wine, lemon juice and brandy

Make Life Special
2 Cypress Rd Litchfield, IL 62056 US
Phone: 217-556-8297 Website: http://www.makelifespecial.com