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

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

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

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

Café 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 aren’t 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.


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 🙂 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 añojo which translates to 1 year old fillet or yearling (oh no 😕). 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 añojo 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.

Crispy Chili in Oil

I’ve also seen this product labeled as Crunchy Chili Oil and Spicy Chili Crisp .

This stuff is awesome and has a great back story. The pictured woman (yes, it’s a woman) is (was) a widow who came from humble beginnings, never finished school, and can’t read. But she knew how to make awesome sauce(s) and that’s how she was able to raise her two boys. Within 20 years she had built a world famous brand. Apparently the name Lao Gan Ma translates to “The Godmother”. Watch out Al Pacino.

Toast with butter and crispy chili oil

I love this stuff. I eat it most often on top of slices of french bread or toast and in my morning veggie egg scrambles.

Veggie egg scramble with a dollop of crispy chili oil

I also used it in place of sesame oil in the marinade for Spicy Pepper Beef.

Spicy Pepper Beef

I’ll basically try it in just about anything. When I googled “what to use crispy chili oil in, I found an article by someone who suggested it’s great as an ice cream topping. Err, what? I’m not so sure about that one.

You can find this “wherever you find Chinese people” says Lao Gan Ma proudly.

It’s available at the Hiper Asia store here in Valencia. It’s a good size store and they have a good selection of products, except their produce aisle is lacking. They also carry some interesting snacks and treats.

Crema Catalana

Before testing white granular vs brown turbinado sugars for caramelizing

This recipe was inspired by my friend Brent from SnackChatLive, who recently posted a story with a delicious looking Crema Catalana he had in Barcelona. I’ve had Creme Brulee on numerous occasions and enjoy it immensely, but I’ve never had the pleasure of Crema Catalana until now. Que Magnific!

The main differences between Crema Catalana and Creme Brulee are the types of milk and spices used. Crema Catalana is made with whole milk, cinnamon, and lemon peel (or orange peel, or both), whereas with Creme Brulee, it calls for heavy cream, vanilla bean, and is cooked in a water bath. Also Crema Catalana is traditionally a little more liquidy than it’s counterpart. It can all depend on the chef’s preference.

If you recall in my earlier post for Fried Milk, it also used whole milk, sugar, cornstarch, lemon peel, and cinnamon stick. I really liked how the lemon peel and cinnamon flavored the milk. I was looking forward to that flavor combination again.

My favorite part of Creme Brulee and/or Crema Catalana is the crunchy caramelized sugar topping. Am I right? Come on, who doesn’t enjoy cracking their spoon into that hard sugary crust? Today most people use hand-held kitchen torches to make the topping but traditionally a hot iron or stamp, also called a salamander, was used. As luck would have it, I was able to find (ie., borrow from a friend’s kitchen cabinet) a cute little heart-shaped ramekin set that included a heart-shaped iron. Perfect for Valentine’s day but there was no way I was waiting till then…

I tried both white granulated sugar and brown turbinado sugar for the topping and the turbinado was the clear winner.

After caramelized

Crema Catalana

Serves: 3 to 4

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks **we buy small eggs, if you use large eggs you may just need 3 yolks**
  • 1 small heaping tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 long slice of lemon peel (with as little of the white pith as possible)
  • 1 long slice of orange peel (with as little of the white pith as possible)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • turbinado or raw sugar for caramelizing

Add the milk, cinnamon stick, lemon and orange peel to a small saucepan, preferable stainless steal. On medium-low heat, heat up milk to just beginning to boil. While milk is heating up, separate the egg yolks. In another bowl combine cornstarch in just enough water to dissolve it. Stir the sugar into the egg yolks than add the dissolved cornstarch, and stir until well combined.

When the milk is just beginning to boil, remove from heat and remove the cinnamon stick, lemon and orange peels. Place back on heat and slowly add the yolk mixture into the milk while continuously stirring. Stir continuously with energy until mixture gets to a slightly runny pudding consistency. It will thicken up a bit more once it cools down. Take off heat and pour into your ramekins. Let them sit out until they are room temp, than cover with plastic wrap to keep the moisture in. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, 4 hours is better, and overnight is the best.

Sprinkle a tablespoon of turbinado or raw sugar on top of each ramekin. Use a hand-held culinary torch or if you’re lucky enough to have an old-fashioned iron or know someone you can borrow one from, use that instead. I’ve read mixed reviews on using the broiler method, some mentioning it can cause lumping and others just discouraging that method. It’s usually served cold or at room temp.

**If you are using an iron, here are some notes from my experience using one. I realize that not all irons are the same so this is just what I’ve experienced. Firstly, it appears that the iron is only hot long enough to caramelize one ramekin at a time. Once you’ve caramelized one ramekin put the iron in a bowl with water. Once it has cooled down and the burnt sugar easily falls off iron, dab dry it and put iron back on burner until hot than caramelize the next ramekin. And so on.

Now go get your favorite spoon and get to crackin’.

Chunky Sausage Lentil Soup

This recipe has been the most asked for meal EVER in my household. It’s safe to say that this is my love’s all time favorite. It’s super tasty, easy, and filling. Definitely a great recipe to add to your list for fall and winter meals.

The original recipe came from Taste of Home. At first, I thought there were a few things about it that seemed a bit off. The first being the 2 medium onions. “Whoa!”, that seemed like a whole lat-tah onion.” Second was the 1 red potato . “That’s all? Just 1? Are you sure about that?”, it didn’t sound like enough. Thirdly was the optional salad croutons. “What the heck? Who ever heard of adding salad croutons to soup? ” Ok, ok, maybe it makes some sense. People do add crackers to their soup so I guess it’s not a huge leap. I’m not crazy about the idea so I’ve always left them out.

I’ll be honest, the first few times I made this I tried altering the amount of onion and potato. Eventually, I went ahead and made the recipe as written. It worked just fine. No adjustments needed, except those pesky croutons.

For the sausages, we would alternate between Spicy Italian Sausages and Sweet Italian Sausages, or do a combination of both. Here in Spain however I haven’t seen any Italian Turkey Sausages, which has led to trying some new sausage alternatives. One of those alternatives was Chistorra, which is a smokey sausage that originates from the Basque Country. I loved it! This time we tried something different. We used two different kinds of fresh sausages. Both of them are Longaniza, but was called Longaniza Rojo and was red in color (with paprika maybe?? package only said “spices”). They are both similar to chorizo and the Portuguese linguica. They worked great!

I’m still getting used to European measurements. Converting my recipes from home has been a bit of a learning curve. The packages of dried lentils here come in 1 kilogram bags. 1 kilogram equals 35 or so ounces, so I eyeballed half a bag. There was a bit more lentils and less broth than I would normally like but it was still really good. Maybe my eyeball was a little big this time. My suggestion is to trust your instincts. When you’re adding in the cooked lentils, if it looks like you may have too much, leave the rest out.

What’s most important is that this recipe was as good as expected. It will definitely continue to be on our fall/winter rotation. I hope you will give it a try and will enjoy it as much as we do!

Chunky Sausage Lentil Soup

Serves: 8 to 10, depending on how big a bowl you want

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 16 oz package (1/2 of a 1 kg bag) of dried lentils, rinsed
  • 1 19.5 oz (550 g) package Italian Sausage, Chistorra, or Longaniza , casings removed , if possible
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 43.5 oz (1.25 liters) reduced-sodium (if possible) beef broth
  • 28 oz (800 g) crushed (triturado) tomatoes
  • 1 medium red potato or a few new potatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

In a large saucepan, bring water and lentils to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 18 to 22 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan, cook the sausages, onions, celery, and carrots over medium heat until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.

Stir in the broth, tomatoes, potatoes, thyme and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, uncovered, for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in cooked lentils and heat through. Serve!

Carne Asada Burritos

I was born and raised in San Diego, California where Mexican food is front and center. Tacos, burritos, margaritas….you get it.

Carne Asada Burrito

Lots of people ask us what we miss the most from home. Besides the obvious family and friends, it would have to be Mexican Food. I mean, the kind you find in Southern California, like Carne Asada Burritos.

Ever since we arrived in Valencia we made it our mission to find a good Mexican Restaurant. Surprisingly, there are quite a few Mexican restaurants here. We’ve tried three so far. Two of them really stood out (Enchilame and Taqueria La Llorona).

Margarita On the Rocks

Enchilame had some tasty tacos and an interesting margarita on the rocks. Imagine a fresh, homemade margarita using freshly squeezed limes and a shot of tequila. No sugar. Served like a martini. Maybe someone forgot to make the simple syrup?? It was interesting. A little tart but interesting. They didn’t have anything like carne asada burritos but we really enjoyed their tacos.

Tacos from Enchilame

Taqueria La Llorona had some really good tacos too but no carne asada burritos. We would definitely go back to either place for tacos.

Tacos from Taqueria La Llorna

I’ve really been craving a good ‘ole Southern California Carne Asada Burrito. Sometimes you just need to take matters into your own hands. So this Southern Cali girl decided to make her own. I set out to Mercat Central where there are butchers and International food vendors. For flank steak go see Carnicas Maria Lloria and ask for Falda/Vacio. We got the chipotle in adobo sauce from Mr. Chipotle and right next door at Tropicalmente Herbasana we found fresh jalapeno, a large bunch of cilantro, and huge avocados. Now, I just needed to put it all together.

Carne Asada Marinade

Serves 6

  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder – optional
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs (1/2 kilo) flank steak (falda/vasio in Spain)
  • 6 Burrito sized tortillas
  • Pico de Gallo (see below)
  • Guacamole (see below)
  1. Combine orange, lemon, and lime juices in a large bowl along with the garlic, soy sauce, chipotle pepper, spices, and cilantro. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until well combined in marinade. Reserve 1/2 cup for use after the meat is cooked.
  2. Place the flank steak between heavy plastic or paper (zip-lock bag or butcher paper) on a solid surface. Firmly pound the stead with the smooth side of a meat mallet to a thickness of 1/4 inch. After pounding, poke steak all over with a fork. Add the meat to the marinade in the large bowl, cover, and marinade in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

The next day prepare the guacamole and pico de gallo salsa, before cooking the meat.


  • 2 medium or 1 large ripe avocado – cubed
  • 1 1/2 roma tomatoes – diced
  • 1/4 red onion – finely chopped
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeno – finely diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro – chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients, being careful not to over mix. You want it to be a little chunky.

Pico de Gallo

  • 1/4 red onion – finely diced
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeno – finely diced
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 roma tomatoes – finely diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro – finely diced

Combine the red onion, jalapeno, lime and salt. Let marinate while you dice the tomato and cilantro. This will combine the flavors a bit more. Add chopped tomatoes and cilantro, combine. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Pico de gallo will be good for 4 days in the refrigerator. Serve with a slotted spoon or fork. You don’t want too much moisture from the lime juice and /or tomato juice when adding to your burrito.

Cook Meat

You want to cook your meat over a quick, high heat. You can:

  • Grill – approximately 4 to 8 minutes per side
  • Broil – approximately 4 to 8 minutes per side
  • On the stove – approximately 4 to 8 minutes per side

Cooking time can vary depending on the thickness of the meat. If you use an instant read thermometer you’ll want a reading of 130-140 F for medium rare. We like to cook to medium rare.

Lightly oil the cooking vessel you choose. Remove the steak from the marinade and grill to desired doneness. Discard used marinade. Remove meat from heat and slice across the grain. Than chop. Add reserved marinade to warm steak.

Warm up a tortilla, 30 seconds in microwave or stovetop (flipping over several times). Add about a half cup of meat into the middle of tortilla. Add about 2 tablespoons of pico de gallo, to taste and add about a 1/4 cup of guacamole. Fold in sides of tortilla and roll tortilla over filling.

What’s one of your favorite Mexican dishes or recipes?

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