Hold the Pozole, Pozole Please!

Pozole is a deliciously spicy Mexican soup with hominy (Pozole). What I’m making is a Pozole without hominy, so is it still considered Pozole?

The consensus was a resounding “NO”, so I aptly renamed it “Hold the Pozole, Pozole Please!” OMgosh, I think I’ll be saying that word in my sleep for the next couple nights.

Anyway, it’s a really easy recipe. However, it does require a few hours to roast the pork loin. The pork will roast in the oven lo-ow and slo-ow. I’m also going to share a great dry rub for the pork and it works perfectly with this recipe.

Shall we get started?

Normally a Whole Pork Shoulder or a Whole Boston Butt (such a fun(ny) word) is used but today we’re going to be using a 1 lb Pork Loin (less fat, grease, and calories) with a homemade dry rub and we’re going to oven roast it “low and slow”. It’s going to turn out moist on the inside, slightly crispy on the outside, and deliciously savory throughout. Trust me!

Homemade Dry Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons spicy paprika, or mild, or smokey if you don’t like a lot of spicy (I got my paprika in Croatia and it’s sooo good), use the best quality you can afford
  • 1/2 tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients well in a small bowl. Put aside 2 tablespoons for the soup base. Store any leftovers in an airtight container. Keep out of light and away from heat, your rub will keep for at least 6 months. However, you probably won’t have much left over or any at all.

Next, rub your meat with the homemade dry rub:

­čśť

Grab a large roasting pan, and generously sprinkle the dry rub over all surface and ends of the pork loin so that every part is covered.

Place the pork loin with the fat layer facing up before roasting.

Let’s get to roasting:

Pre-heat your oven to 225 degrees F or 110 degrees C. Cook uncovered for 2 1/2 hours. Once it’s cooked for 2 1/2 hours, turn off the oven and let the pork roast cool for an hour before removing from the oven.

In the roasting pan, shred and pull the pork meat with two forks working in opposite directions. Toss in the rub and drippings if you’d like.

Chop up the shredded pork into mouth sized pieces. Don’t be like me and let your shredded pork slap you in your face. ­čśť

And finally, we continue on to make the Hold the Pozole, Pozole Please!:

Here’s what you’ll need.

  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons of the homemade dry rub
  • 3 ounces (85g) tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 cups (1 pint) water
  • 3 cups (1 1/2 pints) chicken broth
  • 1 cup (250 ml) dried quinoa
  • 1 lb (453 g)of shredded pork
  • 1 to 2 fresh limes
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro

Optional toppings: Shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado slices or chunks, sliced radishes, shredded cabbage

  1. Heat oil in large soup pot. Saute the onion in the oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender and translucent. Add the flour and 2 tablespoons of the leftover homemade dry rub and continue to saute for 2 minutes more. The mixture will be fairly dry so make sure to continue stirring to prevent burning.
  2. Add 2 cups water, tomato paste, and cumin. Whisk the ingredients together until the tomato paste is dissolved. Allow mixture to come to a simmer, at which point it will thicken.
  3. Add the chicken broth and quinoa. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Finally add the shredded pork and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes or until quinoa is tender and shredded pork is heated through.
  5. Cut the lime(s) into wedges or quarters and roughly chop the cilantro. Top each bowl with the chopped cilantro and a wedge of lime to squeeze over the top.

Serves: 6

See, that wasn’t hard at all! Pat yourself on the back for making another successfully delicious meal for you and your family. ­čÖî

3 Of The Best Cocktails To Commemorate Our 2019

With 2020 just a couple days away, I couldn’t help but to look back at the amazing year we had in 2019. We hit some major milestones. In late 2018/early 2019 we reached our FI (Financial Independence) number (which means having saved and invested 25 times expected annual expenses.) By the beginning of February, we had both quit our jobs and “retired”. We sold everything that wouldn’t fit in our suitcases and moved to Spain. It has been quite the year and definitely deserves some celebratory acknowledgment. Here are the cocktails I chose to represent our 2019.

FI’ied Spritzer (Green Chartreuse Spritzer)

Photo by Reign’n Spain

What better way to represent reaching our savings and investment goals than a cocktail with hues of green and a good helping of muddled mint. I knew I wanted something unique, sophisticated, and delicious without being overly sweet. In my search, I ran into Chartreuse, which I had never heard of before. It’s an herbal liqueur made by Monks in the Southern mountains of France, with 130 different herbs, plants, and flowers. The exact recipe is top secret. The initial recipe was presented to the monks in 1605 and was meant to be a medicine named the “elixir of long life”. Since I hadn’t had Chartreuse before, I decided to go to Cafe de las Horas and ask for a customized drink vs buying an entire bottle myself. It met all my expectations. It was delicious, not too sweet, definitely unique, and gorgeous. At 55% ABV this green elixir is not for the faint of heart, so proceed with caution.

  • 1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves, muddled with 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces Green Chartreuse
  • 4 ounces Cava
  • Ice, as needed
  • 1 ounces soda water, optional
  • Stirred
  • 1 fresh lime wheel, garnish
  • fresh mint, garnish

Riding Into The Sunset (Aperol Spritzer)

Photo by Reign’n Spain

I had a few ideas to commemorate quitting our jobs and “retiring”. The term Riding Into The Sunset came to mind, which lead me to cocktails the color(s) of sunsets. I considered a Sloe Gin Fiz and an Aperol Spritzer. I also considered a few coffee cocktails like an Espresso Martini (The Retiree’s Coffee Break). I decided to go with the Aperol Spritzer for a few reasons, 1) I had never heard of it and/or had one until this year and 2) We both had never been to Italy until this year and Aperol is an Italian bitter liqueur, and 3) It’s a beautiful and bright orange sunset color. Viola!

  • Ice
  • 3 ounces Aperol
  • 3 ounces Prosecco
  • 1 ounce club soda or unflavored sparkling water
  • Orange slice, for garnish
  • Stirred

Spanish Sunrise Sangria

Photo by Reign’n Spain

Last but certainly not least is the Spanish Sunrise Sangria to commemorate our move to Spain. Once we found and moved into our “forever” apartment, my new favorite thing is waking up and watching the sunrise while writing or working on my blog. It’s so beautiful and inspiring with its pinkish-orange hues against the light blue sky.

Mint Simple Syrup: Combine 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup packed mint leaves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let syrup steep, about 30 minutes. Use a mesh strainer to strain the mint leaves before adding to the pitcher.

  • Mint simple syrup
  • 1 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 to 2 mini bottle(s) of Cava (to taste), preferably pink Cava
  • Ice
  • Garnish: orange or grapefruit half wheels and fresh mint sprigs

Mix all together in small sangria pitcher. Add an orange or grapefruit half wheel and a fresh mint sprig to each glass. Serves approximately 2 to 4 if using one mini Cava bottle.

Honorable mentions:

Blasting Thru (Burnt Sky)

flickr.com

This fan girl got to meet and interview Instagram-er SnackChat Live. I haven’t figured out this recipe but learned a few tricks while doing some of the research. I love the look of this cocktail but I have a feeling it wouldn’t be in my taste palate.

Last Minute Christmas Cocktails

I know, I know, this is a bit late especially for those of you who have already had their Christmas parties and/or already have their Christmas menu planned but if you’re still looking for one or two Christmas cocktails than take a gander.

Maple Butter Kiss

foodnetwork.com

I mean, come on! You had me at “Maple Butter Kiss”. Am I right? Butterscotch schnapps and real maple syrup – what’s not to like?

  • Ice
  • 45 ml vodka
  • 30 ml DeKuyper Buttershots liqueur or butterscotch schnapps
  • 8 ml real maple syrup
  • 30 ml Half-and-half (can be substituted with 15 ml whole milk and 15 ml single cream)
  • Fresh-ground nutmeg – for garnish

Cranberry Sauced Margarita

cosmopolitan.com

I love the idea of using cranberry sauce. I’m not one to eat it with my meal but it sounds delicious in a cocktail.

  • 2 oz tequila
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1.5 tablespoons chunky cranberry sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • cranberries, fresh or frozen for garnish

Snow Cap

cosmopolitan.com

The other night we were invited out to drinks and I really wanted to order something hot but not super sweet. I scoured the internet for some ideas and found a few interesting options. This one included.

  • 1/2 oz vanilla vodka
  • 1/2 oz hazelnut liqueur
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • top with whipped cream
  • garnish with cinnamon and a raspberry

Tante’s Medicine

Sometimes you just need a nice warm comforting cocktail to go with your winter sweater and boots.

  • 5 ounces hot brewed Earl Grey tea
  • 2 ounces B&B Liqueur
  • 1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 ounce fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • Ground cinnamon, garnish
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, garnish
  • 1 cinnamon stick, garnish

Jingle Juice

And for those of you are looking for a party punch, why not try this gorgeous Jingle Juice.

  • 4 cups cran-apple juice
  • 2 (750ml) bottles of red moscato
  • 1 (750ml) bottle of prosecco
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/3 cup mint leaves
  • 2 limes, sliced

What are some of your favorite Christmas cocktails? Please leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you.

The New Office Christmas Party – Tested & Approved

The festive “Office Christmas Party”, was once something to look forward to. A chance to dress up, do a little networking (or not), eat, drink, dance, and be merry! All on the company’s dime. What’s not to like? However, as Ponyboy said so eloquently to Johnny or Robert Frost (whatever), “Nothing Gold Can Stay”.

Now a days , companies are doing away with Christmas parties all together. After the 2008 financial crisis, companies were and still are (in general) looking for more and more ways to save money. Also, employee participation numbers have declined. Employees no longer want to spend as much of their free time with their work family. They are more interested in a balanced personal and work life. Which ultimately lead to working from home and the virtual employee/job.

My sister is hilarious! A year or two after she started working virtually from home as a consultant, she made these hysterical photos of her having an “Office Christmas Party For One”. She shared them with her virtual co-workers and then with the rest of her friends and family on FB.

I not only found them LOL funny but a sign of the times.

I hope they will bring you some holiday cheer and a few laughs to brighten your day.

Office Christmas Party For One!

Open Wine Bar!

Open Wine Bar!

Over baked.. AGAIN!

Over Baked AGAIN!

The DJ was playing all my favorite tunes

The DJ Was Playing All My Favorite Tunes.

A Floor Mat Makes an Awesome Dance Floor For One

A Floor Mat Makes an Awesome Dance Floor For One.

In Disco Lights Your Name Will Be Seen

In Disco Lights Your Name Will Be Seen.

I Thanked Myself For All My Hard Work This Year, And Made An Inspirational Speech For Next Year

I Thanked Myself For All My Hard Work This Year, and Made an Inspirational Speech For Next Year.

I Won The Door Prize!

I Won The Door Prize!

Partied Too Hard

Partied Too Hard.

I want to wish all my family, friends and followers a very joyous holiday season and the happiest of new years!!

How to Make The Perfect Spanish Coffee

Caf├ę con leche – photo by Lane Beck

What is the quintessential Spanish Coffee, you ask? There are numerous choices, but what stands out front and center is the Cafe con Leche, of course! If you were to order the American equivalent to a Cafe con Leche, it would resemble a double shot Cappuccino or a Flat White coffee from Starbucks. It has equal parts espresso and milk, and finishes with a lovely milky foam at the top. There really is nothing quite like sitting in a charming little Spanish cafe while sipping on a delicious, soothing, hot cup. This may sound crazy but it is one of the things that endeared me to Spain.

Luckily, soon after we returned home from our very first trip to Spain, we asked the Google Gods: “Pray tell, how can I make my own Cafe con Leche at home?” Imagine my non-surprise when we received the answer. Follow these steps and you’ll never need to go to Starbucks ever again!

What you need:

  • Some good espresso, such as Cafe La LLave or Cafes Valiente Espresso Crema;
  • a Stovetop Espresso Maker (if you use an electric stovetop, make sure you get one that says “induction”)there are a few sizes you can purchase, we personally use the one pictured above , and
  • a manual milk frother

Instructions for stovetop espresso maker:

  1. Unscrew the top from the bottom piece of the pot. Set aside the top half.
  2. Remove the filter basket from the bottom half of the pot, and fill the reservoir with water just up to the round safety valve.
  3. Replace the filter basket in the bottom half, and fill the basket up to inner line with ground espresso. Ever so lightly press the coffee down with a small spoon. Be sure there arenÔÇÖt any lose grounds around the edge, and if so, wipe them away.
  4. Screw the top half of the pot back onto the bottom half.
  5. If using a gas stove top, set the espresso maker on the stove over a medium to low flame with the lid closed. You want to be sure that the flame is not larger than the pot itself. If you’re using an electric stove, you can use medium to high heat, but place it so that the handle is outside any direct heat.
  6. After a few minutes, you will hear the coffee start to percolate. Once the coffee stops percolating, remove from heat and let it rest for 30 seconds while you prepare the milk.

Instructions for manual milk frother:

  1. Fill the carafe with at least half a cup of milk but not as much to fill all the way to the top. (I haven’t had any success using any milk substitutes such as almond and soy milk. We use whole milk but 2%, and non-fat will also froth really well.)
  2. Place the plunger onto carafe, making sure it is secure. This is to insure that the milk doesn’t spill out and down the sides.
  3. While holding the lid, vigorously pump the plunger up and down for about 30 seconds. Once the milk starts to froth, you will feel the milk get a little thicker. Apply a little more pressure while continuing to pump. Occasionally check the consistency by lifting the plunger carefully. Continue pumping until the milk reaches your desired amount of froth for your drink. You may choose to pump longer to get a thicker texture and more froth.
  4. Remove plunger slowly and tap the whisk against the top of carafe to remove excess froth.
  5. Pour frothed milk in a microwave safe cup and microwave for 30 to 40 seconds.
  6. Top your prepared cup of espresso with the warm frothed milk.

Voila!

Introducing The Super Cool Guy Behind Snackchatlive

Brent Timm is a natural in front of the camera. His food videos and Instagram stories are wildly entertaining. He combined his wanderlust with his love of food and entertaining, creating his brand SnackChat Live. With his infectious personality and charming smile, you will quickly find yourself enthralled.

He is a super cool guy and I was really excited to meet him in person while he was here in VLC. We met for lunch at one of the highly recommended restaurants for traditional Valencian paella, Casa Carmela.

Paella Lunch with SnackChatLive

Reign’n Spain: Tell us a little bit about your background and what inspired SnackChatLive?

SCL: Before I created SCL, I would make little comedic skits on Snapchat, to entertain my friends. One day, I bought a bag of Snyders Hanover Gluten Free Buffalo Wing Pretzels, and thought it would be unique to review the snack. From there, Snackchat was born! I would change it to SnackChat Live about 9 months later, to avoid copyright issues, and to stand out more. The name was also inspired by Saturday Night Live, since all the reviews were impromptu and meant to make people laugh.

Reign’n Spain: Why did you decide to leave your home and job to travel for food?

SCL: We only have one life to live, and a paycheck can only make someone so happy. I had to take a chance to pursue my ultimate dream of world travel, and being able to entertain and inspire people from all around the world.

Reign’n Spain: What are some of your hopes, goals, and/or wishes for SCL?

SCL: My hope is that it inspires others to see the world, and break out of their comfort zone. In the short term, I hope it’s a welcome and entertaining distraction to all of the depressing and negative content we see alone.

Reign’n Spain: What’s the funniest, strangest, or most embarrassing thing to happen to you recently?

SCL: I ran into my neighbor on the other side of the world completely unplanned and unexpected. The world is truly small!

Reign’n Spain: To date, what was your best meal or snack in Europe?

SCL: I really loved the New Milka Strawberry Cheesecake Chocolate bar from Germany, and the KNOPPERS Nutbar. They’re my two fave snacks from the trip. My best meal so far was a delicious Chimichurri steak I had at a restaurant called KANTYNA in Prague.

Reign’n Spain: I’m curious, is there anything you would NEVER eat under any circumstances?

SCL: I could never bring myself to eat dog, or cat. I love them too much!

Reign’n Spain: What’s the worst thing you’ve EVER eaten?

SCL: Luckily I don’t encounter too many bad meals, but I recently was at a food festival and had a sausage that was pure fat and mostly raw. I instantly spit it out and threw it away. AWFUL!

Reign’n Spain: Where are you off to next?

SCL: Ending my 2019 travels in Morocco!

Reign’n Spain: What are your plans for 2020?

SCL: South Korea-Indonesia-Taiwan–Philippines–New Zealand–Australia–South America –???

A couple more important questions:

Reign’n Spain: Using only what you have on you right now, how many zombies could you kill before they take you down?

SCL: Yikes, can a water bottle kill a zombie? Also, isn’t killing a zombie a contradiction ­čÖé I think I could seriously injure 1 or 2 before I’d be eaten.

Reign’n Spain: If you had one superpower, what would it be and why?

SCL: The ability to fly! I could save so much money on car and air travel.

A huge thank you to Brent for taking the time for my itty bitty blog.

You can follow his food and travel adventures on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

Mushroom Lentil Ragu

This recipe is a great option for Meatless Mondays or any other day for that matter. It’s budget friendly, quick and easy to make, and satisfying. I had most of the ingredients already from making Chunky Sausage Lentil Soup.

I also had some left over chipolte peppers in adobo sauce that I LOVE and didn’t want to waste. I love the smokey and spicy flavor. I was just thinking today that maybe I need to change the name of my blog to Spicy’n Spain since I seem to make a lot of spicy dishes. I also have come to think that Valencian’s are more heat/spicy tolerant. That would explain all the Mexican restaurants here, right?

We initially made this recipe when we were “flexitarians”. The Spruce Eats describes the term as “those who eat mostly vegetarian but occasionally eat meat. We like the idea of being more earth conscience and healthy. Now we’re way more “flex” than we are “itarians”.

Whether or not you are vegetarian, pescetarian, vegan, flexitarian, or carnivore doesn’t really matter. This recipe is all inclusive. Add or subtract as you would like. That’s what makes cooking fun. Make it your own. Experiment! Whatever you decide to do I hope that you will give this recipe a try.

Mushroom Lentil Ragu

Serves: 6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 oz or 375 g button mushrooms,quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can (28 oz or 800g) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • spaghetti noodles

In a large saucepan, heat oil to medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, carrot, red bell pepper, and onion. Stirring frequently, saute vegetables until tender, and onion is translucent.

Stir in bay leaf, crushed tomatoes, water, lentils, oregano, salt, pepper, and chipotle. Heat to boiling, then reduce to a simmer using medium-low heat. Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes, stir occasionally. Add more water, if ragu is too thick. Remove bay leaf.

Meanwhile, prepare spaghetti noodles according to package directions.

Serve ragu over cooked spaghetti noodles.

Let’s EAT.

Spicy Pepper Beef

Spicy Pepper Beef

We’ve had this dish a few times now and we like it. Lane loves Asian food and I enjoy it as well. This recipe has a great spicy deliciousness. I just wish it made a few more leftover servings. It makes about 4 all together. So, that’s just one night off before having to figure out what to make next.

I adapted this recipe from The Woks of Life’s Beef and Pepper Stir-fry recipe. I had a lot of fun on her site. I went through one rabbit whole to the next with her “ping backs”(? is that what they’re called?). And just now, I realized that her recipe has a helpful little widget where you can adjust the servings, SMH.

When I saw these at my local supermercado I instantly thought of this recipe. To be honest, I didn’t hold out much hope that these would be hot. It’s my understanding that in general the Spanish don’t like a lot of spiciness in their food. Maybe I should have been a little more cautious…they do look like a hottish kind of pepper, they’re labeled “picante”, and they’re from Green Giant (an American company)…

Picante Peppers julienned

Initially I didn’t detect any spiciness by the smell or on my hands…yes I julienned all of the peppers without any gloves. Psh, who needs gloves? An hour later my fingers and hands were on FIRE! I really wanted to soak them in some nice cold milk but I hate being wasteful. Takeaway – grab a pair of those cheap plastic gloves you find in the produce aisle (picking up produce naked handed is a no no) and wear while preparing your peppers.

These types of peppers can be anywhere from mild to super spicy. Luckily, the cooked dish itself didn’t taste too terribly spicy. I thought it had just the right amount. Lane thought it was pretty spicy. If you’re worried about the spiciness, you can substitute some of the picante peppers with some more mild type peppers.

Translation: 1 year old fillet/yearling

For the beef we used Filete 1 A de a├▒ojo which translates to 1 year old fillet or yearling (oh no ­čśĽ). Poor thing , I’m sorry. You were very tasty. Oh my gosh, I feel so bad while writing this. Thank you, little thing! May you rest in peace. Now that we’ve all said grace, it’s time to move along.

Spicy Pepper Beef

Serves 4

For the beef and marinade:

  • 12 oz (0,366 kg) filete 1 A de a├▒ojo or flank steak – cut into 3″ strips
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon crispy chili in oil
  • 1 slightly heaped tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

For the remainder of the dish:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 long hot peppers, deseeded and julienned into 3″ strips
  • 1 tablespoon wine (we used red but white would be fine too) (original recipe calls for Shaoxing Wine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • fresh ground black pepper, or white if you have it
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock , optional (if you want a little more sauce)

Slice the beef into 3 to 5 inch strips, depending on your preference. Place in a bowl. Mix all the marinade ingredients together, than add to sliced beef. Combine until the beef is nicely coated. Let the beef sit out at room temp for 30 minutes.

Mince the garlic. Deseed and julien hot peppers into 3 inch strips. Set aside until you’re ready to cook.

When you’re ready to cook, add oil to a large sauce pan (or wok) and place over high heat until it’s almost smoking. Sear the beef until it’s browned but still a little rare. Turn off the heat while you transfer the beef to a bowl. Leave any oil or fat in the pan.

Heat the pan back up to medium high heat and add the garlic and peppers. Stir-fry for 20 seconds, then spread the wine around to de-glaze it. Stir-fry for another 20 seconds and add the beef back to the pan, including any juices from bowl. Add salt, sugar, soy sauce and freshly ground pepper. Turn heat back to high and stir-fry an additional 1 to 2 minutes.

If you would like a little extra sauce, add the chicken stock to further de-glaze the pan and reduce the liquid slightly. The cornstarch from the marinade will help thicken it up. Serve immediately over rice.

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