Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving for the Dogs

I found a new favorite store last weekend. The River Dog Bakery in West Knoxville had the coolest dog-friendly, turkey-shaped cookies. I just couldn't resist a special Thanksgiving treat for my pups. Tiger and Sofia loved them!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tortilla Chips

When I have time, I love to make homemade tortilla chips. Most Mexican restaurants don't serve the same chips that most Mexicans make at home. These are fairly easy to make, if you're brave enough to face the hot oil.

corn tortillas
Canola oil (or other cooking oil)

  1. Cut tortilla in half, then cut each half into thirds. It's usually safe to stack 5-7 of these to cut at a time.
  2. When tortillas are cut, pour Canola oil into pan and fry a few tortillas at a time. Add salt just after you put the tortillas in.
  3. Remove tortillas from oil when they turn a golden brown. Be careful because they all seem to turn at the same time and some can get burnt.
  4. Let chips drain well as they cool.

Serve with guacamole or another homemade salsa.


The kind of quesadilla you get depends on where you're at and who made it. Most gringo-made and Tex-Mex (Taco Bell) quesadillas use flour tortillas and a blend of Kraft's Mexican shredded cheeses.

The quesadillas made in most Mexican homes are a little different. Most Mexicans use corn tortillas and a specific cheese- queso quesadilla. Most grocery stores sell both items.

  • Microwave a stack of tortillas for about 2 minutes or longer to make tortillas easy to fold. Be careful with steaming tortillas.
  • Cut cheese into small pieces and place desired amount on on side of tortilla.
  • Fold tortilla in half over cheese. If the tortilla crumbs along the crease, it needs to be microwaved longer. If the tortilla folds well but doesn't remain closed, use a toothpick to hold it closed while it cooks.
  • The Mexican woman that taught me how to make these fried them in a skillet. I usually bake mine now so they won't be so greasy. If you decide to fry them, use a little oil and do a few at a time. Watch out for cheese that oozes into the oil.
  • To bake them, spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place quesadillas on cookie sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  • Bake quesadillas at 350 degrees until lightly brown and crispy.

You can also add chicken or beef to the quesadillas.

These are great with a salsa, especially guacamole.

Arroz Con Leche- Rice Milk

This is the easiest Mexican dish I've ever made! I like this for breakfast, especially in the wintertime. It looks a little like oatmeal, but tastes much better!

long grain white rice
sweetened condensed milk
whole milk
ground cinnamon

  • Boil 1-2 cups of rice (depending on how many people you plan to serve) in sauce pan. Keep heat medium to low once the rice boils because it will stick easily.
  • When rice is tender, add a can of sweetened condensed milk. Lower the heat.
  • Stir in desired amount of ground cinnamon.
  • Use whole milk to thin the rice to the consistency you desire.

This is fairly easy to take somewhere if you have a crock pot. Keep the pot on its lowest setting and add milk and ground cinnamon as needed so the rice doesn't get too thick.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sweetened Condensed Milk in a Squeeze Bottle

About a year ago I discovered one of the coolest things ever in the Hispanic section of Kroger. Nestle's Hispanic version of sweetened condensed milk, La Lechera, is usually cheaper than its tradional American counterparts. The cool thing is that it now comes in a squeeze bottle. One of the most annoying things about canned sweetened condensed milk, to me at least, is scraping it out of the can and getting it all over the place. And what if you don't need a whole can? It's pretty hard to save it for later.

I love the squeeze bottle version because I don't get it all over me and I can use as much as I need and store the rest in the fridge.

I've seen it at local Kroger and Food City stores. It is also available at

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Snow in Late October

I found this in Tiger's kennel a couple weekends ago. I went outside and saw Tiger laying by the door of his kennel with his head on his new bed I bought him after his "surgery." (Since he was a puppy, Tiger has been OCD about having his towel or bed in his house during the daytime.) I wish I'd had my phone with me to take a picture of the adorable way he was sleeping with only his head and paws on the bed.

This is what I found in his kennel the next time I went outside. Tiger doesn't normally destroy things like this. That's Sofia's job. It's a good thing Tiger is a fur ball because I won't be buying him another bed at Target for quite a while.

The Best Seat in the House

Sofia and Tiger know that a trip inside the house is a rare specialty reserved for extenuating circumstances. Tiger came in some on rainy days in the summer before we bought his kennel. Sofia had been banned from the house until she hurt her hind leg jumping for a ball. Both dogs had their inside toys and towels for those occaisional trips inside. They never sat on furniture (that time I rocked Tiger during a storm doesn't count since he was on my lap), bothered the fish tanks, or messed with things that weren't "theirs."

I think Tiger and Sofia left those rules out of new dog orientation when they met their new cousin Cholo. Cholo must have been an inside dog before he met me. As soon as he gets in the house, which is rare, he heads straight for the couch. He lays down in the middle of the couch and takes up the best space in front of the television.

I found Cholo asleep in a deck chair on his first day with me.

Hypoallergenic Peruvian Hairless Dog for the Obamas?

Peruvian woman is offering a special Peruvian dog to the Obama family.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cholo, My House Guest

I never would've thought I'd have one dog and be crazy about it. Then I got Sofia. Then I got Tiger. And now I'm dog-sitting Cholo, my brother-in-law's newly acquired pit bull. I was terrified of dogs growing up. Just the name "pit bull" is scary in itself. I don't think this dog realizes that he's a pit bull and the reputation that comes with it. He's one of the sweetest dogs I've ever seen. (Somedays he competes with Tiger for that title.) I let him in the house with me last week to watch Grey's Anatomy. He hopped up beside me on the couch and watched Meredith and Dr. McDreamy. I never woulda thought I'd be watching television with a pit bull.

Cholo is named after the song, Lean Like a Cholo, because of this weird limp he's got.

Beware of Puppy's First Toy

I think this first toy gave Sofia a subconscious message about her role as a hunter. She LOVED this duck. It's only fitting that a chocolate lab's first toy be a Remington duck, right? Sofia's parents are both duck hunters down in Southeast Tennessee. So I thought it only fitting to get this for her first toy.

Problem is, those hunter instincts have been going strong from the beginning. At nine months now, she has already engaged with a doe, almost engaged with a neighborhood cat, and tonight she chased a neighbor's baby goat around its yard (she's bigger than the baby goat). Plus she ate her first bite of deer meat last night, so I'm worried about what the rest of the winter holds for my little hunter.

Republican is NOT Synonym for Racist Redneck

Sevier County- A Resident's View

Latino wanted in death of Sevierville teen

At KnoxNews blog;
Preaching to the Choir

White Teens Stab Latino Man

On KnoxNews blog:

Mexican rice

Mexican rice is one of my favorite foods. It goes great with any meal. The drawback is the time it takes to prepare it. I've gotten recipes from several Mexican women and watched two women make it regularly.

Rice Basics:
For every cup of dry rice you use, you will need two cups of water to cook it in. It is very important to measure the rice out in the same thing you will use to measure the water. I use the small tumblers that come in Wedding Oats oatmeal.

package of long grain white rice
chicken bullion cubes
Roma tomatoes (I can tomatoes in the summer to make this a little easier. I have used canned tomato sauce from the store, but it isn't as good as fresh tomatoes.)
frozen mixed vegetables, if desired
Canola oil

Use a cup to measure out the amount of rice you desire. (I always use two cups of rice.) As you measure the rice out, place it in a bowl or medium sized container. Cover the rice with very hot tap water. Let the rice soak while you prepare the salsa.

Into the blender put: 1-2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 onion, 2 cubes of chicken bullion (1 cube per cup of dry rice), and tomatoes. Add a very small amount of water if necessary. Blend well.

Drain water from rice. In deep skillet or pot, pour about a cup of canola oil. Place rice in pot and cook on medium high. Stir well frequently so rice doesn't stick and it browns evenly. When rice is golden, drain excess oil. Pour mixture from blender into pan and add water according to amount of dry rice used. (2 cups dry rice= 4 cups water) You can also add frozen mixed vegetables if desired.

Cook on medium-low unil rice is tender.

Salsa for Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros, or ranch style eggs, are one of the cheapest things on the lunch menu at a Mexican restaurant. They're also pretty easy to make at home. You need eggs (duh), salsa, Mexican rice, and refried beans.

The salsa makes this dish. You might need to play around with it a little to get it just the way you like it. You can find both chiles at local grocery stores, Hispanic stores, and WalMart.

You need:
Roma tomatoes
chile guajillo - This adds a flavor to the salsa.
chile de arbol- This adds spice to the salsa.

In a small sauce pan, add 5-6 guajillo peppers and 2-3 chiles de arbol. It is better to start with fewer chiles de arbol the first time you make it. Add water and boil until chiles are large and soft.

In blender, mix 1-2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 to 1/3 an onion, tomatoes, and chiles. If the sauce is too thick, add a few spoonfuls of the water you boiled the chiles in. Add salt.