Archive for spicy

Spicy Sweet Potato Pot Pie

Posted in American with tags , , , , , on September 24, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

If there was a time where I wish you could taste pictures, this would be it.  Mainly because you can’t see what’s underneath that flaky pastry, but also because it very very tasty, and according to Mark, “one of my top 5 this month”. Hmm, I will take that as a compliment considering Mark hates soups and pot pies. But not this one!  This pot pie was made with the nutritional all star sweet potato, fresh corn, juicy mushrooms, and chipotles! The melody of flavors explodes in your mouth, with excitement and a little bit of hatred, wondering why other pot pies taste like bland old people food. But not this one I’m telling you!

I usually don’t like telling Mark what I’m making for dinner. Mostly because it’s veggie this…or lentil and veggie that. And when I say that I know his heart sinks a little, and he wants to take a sneaky trip up to Taco Bell.  So most of the time I keep it a surprise so he doesn’t have time to think about it. And 98% of the time he absolutely loves the meat-less meals I prepare. This time, however, it slipped out that I was making veggie pot pie, and I felt his eyes roll…not physically but mentally (really!). He is usually excited for dinner, and I felt zero motivation from him.  When he saw the individual bowls with his own flaky buttery crust, there was a glimmer of hope. He took his first bite, said nothing, but started eating a little more enthusiastically. When he was 1/4 way into he bursted out saying it was “soo good”. When he finished off the entire bowl, he raved…about pot pie! As soon as I realized he was being serious I hurried and wrote down the recipe before I forgot. It’s the little things that make me happy, like having Mark enjoy something he would have otherwise hated. Successful night.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • Olive oil, to coat pan
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 fennel
  • 2 sweet potatoes (or regular), chopped
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 sticks of celery
  • 2 corn cobs
  • Salt + pepper
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 can chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2-1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 tbsp chipotle sauce
  • 2 tsp Franks Red Hot Buffalo Sauce
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill
  • 2 tbsp fresh fennel leaves
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 package mushrooms, cut in 4ths
  • 1/2 c. parmesan cheese


  • Cut all veggies
  • Saute onions in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add fennel, garlic and potatoes and cook on med/high for about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add carrots, celery, and corn, cook for a few minutes and season.
  • Spread flour over veggies and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add broth and milk, chipotle sauce, hot sauce, paprika, dill and fennel leaves. Taste and adjust salt.
  • Let vegetables simmer for about 10 mites.
  • For the last few minutes add mushrooms. Turn off heat and add parmesan cheese. Set aside.

Pastry Dough Ingredients:

  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 c. cold butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a few tbsp cold water, add slowly until dough comes together
  • Egg wash for brushing on top of pastry before baking

Directions: Combine dry ingredients.  Incorporate butter, and mix cold water slowly until dough comes together.  Divide dough in 4 pieces (if making individual pies). Place dough in freezer for 10 mutes. Quickly roll out dough, place on top of veggie bowl (or casserole), and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.


Tortas Ahogadas & Margaritas!

Posted in Mexican with tags , , , , , , , on September 17, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

Yesterday, September 16th was Mexican Independence Day–celebrating 200 years of independence! On September 15, 1810, el Grito de Dolores or “Cry of Dolores” was instigated by Hidalgo who ordered the church bells to be rung to address his people, who stated:

“My children: a new dispensation comes to us today. Will you receive it? Will you free yourselves? Will you recover the lands stolen by three hundred years ago from your forefathers by the hated Spaniards? We must act at once… Will you defend your religion and your rights as true patriots? Long live our Lady of Guadalupe! Death to bad government! Death to the gachupines!”

And how can you celebrate this day without delicious Mexican food!  I decided to make a classic dish native to Jalisco. More specifically, Guadalajara, my home town. Tortas Ahogadas, or “drowned sandwiches” , are delicious spicy sandwiches thought to be a cure for hangovers. They are made from “bolillos” (hard french bread style) filled with beans and “carnitas” (pork), and then it’s drenched with a very mild tomato salsa AND a very spicy chile de arbol salsa. However, since Mark nor my brother Danny like carnitas they requested shredded chicken tortas, which is fine by me since it’s much easier to prepare.  And for me, I came up with a chile relleno torta which was delicious!

To make this meal you will have to visit your local mexican store.  There you will find the “bolillos” or “birote” (hard bread), and you can also buy already made “carnitas” if you don’t want to take the time to cook it yourself.

We also can’t have a Mexican party without the Tequila!  I made some delicious Margaritas implementing the “brazilian lemonade” method (made famous my Tucanos). Entire limes are blended together along with sweetened condensed milk, triple sec, tequila, and ice.  You can also get creative and add guava or frozen fruit to the drinks. Yum!

Tortas Ahogadas Ingredients:

  • Bolillos (french-bread style with a crunchy outside to prevent bread from getting soggy). Toast bread before serving if it’s hot hard enough.
  • Tomato sauce, recipe below
  • Spicy chile de arbol sauce, recipe below
  • Beans
  • Avocado
  • Red onions in vinegar, recipe below
  • Filling (either carnitas, your favorite shredded meat, or a veggie option. We used shredded chicken and chile relleno).

Tomato Sauce Ingredients:

  • 4 tomatoes, boiled until soft + about 1/3 c. of water from the tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Oregano
  • Cumin
  • Pepper
  • Salt

Directions: Blend everything together and strain the salsa

Spicy Torta Sauce Ingredients:

  • About 2 big handfuls chiles de arbol, boiled until soft + about 1/3 c. of cooking liquid
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • salt

Directions: Blend everything together and strain. Set aside

Pickled Onions Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly
  • Vinegar (white or apple cider, or pineapple)
  • Lime juice
  • Salt + pepper

Marinate for 1 hour

Veggie option: Chile Relleno Torta without the egg batter

Chile Relleno Ingredients:

  • Chile Pasilla
  • Oaxaca cheese (or mozzarella)

Directions: Broil chile until the outside is burnt. Make sure to turn the chile, it should only take about 4 minutes. Remove from oven and peel off skin, rinse under cold water.  Slice it open and remove the seeds.  Fill with cheese and bake until cheese melts.


Dessert Margaritas!


  • Lime (wash and cut off ends. Then cut in 4th’s and blend) –about 2
  • Bit of Water
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Triple sec
  • Tequila
  • Lots of Ice
  • Fruit of choice (optional)
  • Sugar for glass rim

Directions: Blend washed limes (with ends cut off) with a little water. Strain and place juice back in blender.  Add rest of ingredients. Serve immediately. (Don’t save leftovers because lime peel with make it bitter if it sits too long).

Note: I didn’t measure ingredients…I just added until I liked the flavor.  But when I make this again (hopefully soon), I will pay attention to measurements 🙂

Roasted Tomato, Basil, and Barley Soup

Posted in American with tags , , , , , on September 13, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

A healthy and hearty roasted tomato soup; the perfect start to fall. This is no ordinary tomato soup, however.  It is packed with sweet basil, roasted garlic, nutritious barley, smoked chipotles and creamy tangy greek yogurt.  Yes, it was delicious.


  • 4 big tomatoes, cut in wedges
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • Salt, pepper, and olive oil

Directions: place tomatoes, onion, and garlic on baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for about 20-35 minutes

  • Handful of fresh basil
  • 3-4 c. vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp caned chipotle sauce
  • 1 c. barley, cooked according to directions
  • 3/4 c. thick greek yogurt or heavy cream or sour cream, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 c. parmesan cheese


  1. Take roasted tomatoes out of oven and place in pot.  Add basil and blend together.
  2. Add vegetable broth and chipotle sauce and cook on medium heat until hot.
  3. Add cooked barley
  4. Just before serving, add yogurt or cream and parmesan cheese to soup to make it creamy.  Garnish with more yogurt, basil, and cheese.

Spicy Red Hot Fish Street Tacos

Posted in Mexican, Seafood with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

I was inspired to make little street tacos after accidentally coming across the best Taqueria in Seattle.  Their tacos are 99 cents and they have veggie tacos, which is extremely rare in mexican restaurants.  They also have all the other legit mex tacos like lengua/tounge (my dad’s fave), tripa/intestines (my sis fave), cabeza/head, and other gross and unnecessary “delicacies”.  Best of all, they have draft beer for $1!! I had a meal and a beer for $3! Craziness! Mark and I have already been there twice this week. We are in love…with TACOS!!

Anyways, I digress.  Although those veggie tacos were good, my favorite tacos are the ones with fish.  Sometimes it’s hard finding fish tacos that you absolutely love, so I find it’s best to make them myself.  And these fish tacos, my friends, is exactly what I wanted. And if it wasn’t for fear of mercury poisoning I would eat these every day…seriously! The cod fish was marinated in a spicy chile de arbol salsa and grilled with onions and garlic.  The little corn tortillas were hand made and rolled out by Mark, and the salsa was…well, it was near perfect.  (Second to Chipotle’s hot salsa, which I’m still trying to recreate, but this one comes pretty darn close!) If any of you know how to make that salsa or think they know how to make it, please please let me know!

Enjoy these awesome tacos, and serve them with a Corona or Pacifico for the perfect meal.

Chile De Arbol Red Hot Salsa

Chile De Arbol Red Hot Salsa Ingredients:

  • 2 tomatoes, seeds and juice removed
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • 20-30 dry chiles de arbol, cooked and drained (semi-seded)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • zest of 1 lime


  1. Place chiles in boiling water and cook until they are plump and soft.
  2. Drain chiles and pat dry with towel
  3. Depending on your spicy level, either remove some of the seeds or keep them.  I removed the seeds in about 1/3 of the chiles by squeezing out the seeds after they were cooked
  4. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.


Spicy Grilled “Wild Caught Cod”

Grilled Cod Fish Ingredients:

  • 1/2 red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 lb cod fish, marinated in Chile de Arbol Salsa (at least 1 hour)

Directions: In lightly oiled pan, saute onions and garlic.  Add marinated fish and a bit more salt on med heat. Cook thoroughly, about 7 minutes.


Spicy Red Hot Fish Street Tacos

Street Taco Ingredients:

  • Fresh Corn Tortillas
  • Grilled fish
  • Cabbage
  • Cilantro
  • Chile de Arbol Red Hot Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Cheese
  • Lime wedge

Asian Pan-Fried Noodles

Posted in Asian with tags , , , , , on August 4, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

Rome meets Shanghai and Bangkok style-noodles. These Asian noodles combine Italian pasta, chinese lettuce wraps, and spicy thai peanut sauce.  The result is an economical use of staple items to make a fantastic asian meal in no time.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1/2 package Spaghetti (cooked al dente and drained with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking together)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 can water chestnuts, chopped
  • 1 package mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 package extra firm tofu, cut into small pieces (or chicken breast)
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • Juice of 1/2-1 lime
  • 1 tbsp garlic chili sauce
  • 1 tbsp asian chili sauce
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Handfull of peanuts
  • Veggies: carrots, cucumber, snow peas
  • Garnish: cilantro, green onion, and lime

Directions: In pan with 1 tbsp oil, saute onions. Add garlic and ginger. Add rest chestnuts, zucchini, mushrooms and tofu and cook for a few minutes. Add soy sauce and rest of ingredients. When veggies are cooked through, taste and adjust to own liking. Add pasta and serve with raw veggies and garnish with cilantro, green onion and wedge of lime.

Martha’s Fire Roasted Salsa with Homemade Achiote Chips

Posted in Mexican with tags , , , , on August 3, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

Martha Stewart? Please! Martha does not make salsas…at least not like this. This salsa comes from the kitchen of my Aunt, or my “Tia Martha”. This salsa is the real deal. My aunt is an awesome cook and I always looked forward to her “carne asada” get togethers.  Not only did they always have great carne asada tacos, there was always an assortment of awesome salsas, quacamole, and traditional mexican desserts. Now that we moved to Seattle I am going to have to learn to make the authentic Mexican food I always took for granted.

This particular salsa was made a few months ago for my cousin’s 20th birthday. My aunt made the mistake of setting this salsa right next to Mark and my brother Danny…before all the other guests had arrived. As she set down the salsa I foresaw what was about to happen. From the very beginning I kept telling them to control themselves, and reminded them that not everyone had arrived yet. Fully ignoring me they would  take a chip dipped full of salsa, and every time they would say “OK, last one, I promise!”. With each bite they would groan and say this was the best salsa they had ever had. About 5 minutes and 1/3 of the salsa gone, I finally took it and set it on the opposite side of the table. This only deterred them for a few more minutes.

Mark still mentions that salsa to me, in hopes that I will try making it for him. And I did! I was hesitant because I am not the best at making salsas. I think it roots to one bad experience when my mom assigned me the task of making the salsa for dinner. She had all the ingredients ready to go and I just had to blend them. Since it was my first time I didn’t know what I was doing and I added water. A lot of water, actually. I thought it needed liquid to blend. Yes, I was so naive and I ended up with a soupy disaster. Since then, I have very seldomly attempted to make salsa.

I don’t know why I didn’t attempt sooner, because salsas are truly so easy to make. This salsa turned out so freakin good, although I’m not sure it was as good as my aunts. But she is the salsa pro, and I was extremely happy with my first good salsa.


  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 jalapeno peppers + *1-2 serrano peppers
  • 1 big tomato, or 2 medium ones
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • *1 Chipotle pepper from can
  • Salt + pepper, to taste
  • *1 tsp cumin
  • Handfull of cilantro
  • *1 tsp lime juice

Note: * Indicate my additions


  • Grill all of the veggies (except cilantro & chipotle).
  • Place in blender. Add cilantro, chipotle, seasoning, and lime
  • Taste and adjust seasoning

Achiote Chips:

  • Cut corn tortillas into triangles
  • Sprinkle with achiote powder (or paprika)
  • Fry the chips
  • Place on paper towel. Sprinkle more achiote powder and salt.

Spicy Avocado Caesar Salad

Posted in Salads with tags , , , , on July 28, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

Take your ordinary caesar salad, and jazz it up with spicy Serrano peppers, creamy avocado, fragrant cilantro and fresh citrusy lime–and you will get the BEST caesar salad EVER!

In order to make this awesome version of the caesar salad, you must know how to make the slightly boring and ordinary caesar salad. And please don’t use store-bought dressing. It will ruin the taste, and there is no reason to spend $4 on a bottle of dressing when you can make your own in just a couple of minutes.

Up until about a year ago I had no idea caesar salad dressings contained egg yolks and anchovies. I have since learned to love anchovies, but I still have a hard time with the eggs.  The thought of raw eggs makes me a little queazy, to say the least. Even so, I have made the traditional recipe multiple times and I must admit, the dressing is great–but I can’t seem can’t enjoy it. So, I like to omit the yolks and it tastes just as good. If you don’t mind raw eggs, however, feel free to add one to the recipe. It does make it a bit creamy, and you can omit the sour cream. Although the avocado in the dressing already makes it very creamy. You could get away with omitting both the egg and the sour cream to make it lighter and healthier.

Unfortunately, most people reading this probably will have a problem with the anchovies, though. But let me just tell you they are not at all fishy. Their role in the dressing gives it a unique and salty depth of flavor that you just can’t replace with anything else. So don’t be a chicken and give it a chance. And remember, if you’ve ever ordered this salad in a restaurant chances are that you enjoyed the anchovies on there.

Caesar Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste or 1-2 anchovy filets
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • Salt + pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 tbsp Olive oil

Spicy Zesty Component:

  • 1/2 handful cilantro
  • Chopped serrano or jalapeno pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 – 1/2 avocado
  • And maybe a bit more lime.

NOTE: You may want to double the recipe. This makes 2-4 servings.

Dressing Directions:

  1. Put everything into blender except olive oil. Blend for 30 seconds. Slowly add olive oil until you have the desired consistency.

Salad Ingredients:

  • Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Croutons
  • Either shredded parmesan/romano/asiago cheese
  • Avocado