Mason Jar Salads and Mason Jar Dressings

These Mason jar salads are all the rage nowadays, and I am happy to say, I made these before they were cool.

Nothing to it, really, just get all of your favorite salad fixings together, plus a few mason jars. I like to use the wide-mouth pint jars (Ball and other companies even have them in pretty colors), and if you can obtain a few reusable plastic lids (like these), that would be even better.

mason jar salad

I generally like to keep it simple, so I make the same salad for every day. You can obviously change it up so you can have a different salad every day.

Once you have all of your supplies and ingredients, there are only two rules:

  1. Keep the dry stuff dry.
  2. Keep the wet stuff wet.

So, start with the dressing. Fill each jar with a tablespoon or two of your favorite or chosen dressing.

Next, add other wet salad ingredients: fresh tomatoes, legumes, fruits, beans or corn, pre-cooked (and pre-cooled) pasta, avocados, feta cheese, tofu, hardboiled eggs, etc.

Then try to put a “barrier” like chickpeas, quinoa, cucumbers or beets, but if you can’t create a barrier, just make sure the layers cover the whole jar.

Put your greens (lettuce, romaine, spinach, kale, etc.) at the top along with anything else that needs to stay dry, like tortilla crisps or crispy bacon bits.

That’s it!

Now you have premade, healthy meals that are ready to go all week.

beforenaftersalad

Mason Jar Dressings

OK, so these aren’t popular (yet, anyway) but they should be. You know that jar of strawberry jam or raspberry preserves in your fridge that you never use? The one that has just enough that you can’t use it for anything else? What about that one jar of mustard that only has a few teaspoons left? Do you have a container of yogurt that you need to use before it goes bad?

Oh yeah. We’re using up your fridge leftovers with this one.

First, take that almost-empty jar out of the fridge. Shake it around a little. Make sure it isn’t filled with toast crumbs from the last time you used it. The contents of this jar will be your binder.

Next, determine what flavors go well with that binder. Raspberry or strawberry (or other berries) go well with balsamic or dark vinegars. Mustard – particularly spicy mustard – is best accented with white or white wine vinegar. Then add fresh or dried herbs.

Here are a few ideas to mix it up:

  • Berry jam/jelly  +    Balsamic vinegar       +   fresh rosemary or basil = Balsamic Berry Dressing
  • Greek yogurt      +     White wine vinegar   +  fresh dill and lemon = Creamy Dill Dressing
  • Dijon mustard    +     White vinegar +  fresh or dried oregano = Herby Mustard Dressing
  • Pure Honey    +    Apple Cider vinegar  +  sriracha and lime = Spicy Honey Vinaigrette
  • Greek yogurt  + cilantro, lime, hot sauce + fresh, mashed avocado  = Baja Goddess Dressing
  • Creamy peanut butter + soy sauce, rice vinegar + cilantro, ginger = Peanut Ginger Dressing
  • Fresh hummus + white vinegar + feta cheese and fresh basil/herbs = Greek Hummus Dressing

Once you have established the flavors and the binder, simply add a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and put the lid on the mason jar and shake vigorously until completely blended.

Baja Goddess Dressing

Baja Goddess Dressing

Spicy Roasted Tomato Soup with Pupusa Dippers

This is my second year participating in the Del Real Foods food blogger recipe contest. Last year, I was lucky enough to have been selected by the company to make a video for my Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe, even though I wasn’t a winner. It was so much fun!

(Check out my video and post about my awesome trip to Los Angeles here.)

Anyway, it didn’t take much for me to become a fan of Del Real Foods. Their products are all minimally processed – for example, chicken and pork that is marinated and fully cooked, but without all of the additives (and tons of salt) that you typically find in premade, frozen “convenience” foods.

This year, I hope I win the contest, instead of just making a video! I am a huge fan of pupusas (I’ve made my own before), and the Del Real brand pupusas are really delicious. Since a pupusa is basically a handheld, self-contained grilled cheese sandwich, I decided to do a Mexican-style play on the typical grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup combo.

If you can, try to use fresh tomatoes. You can use canned tomatoes if necessary, and it will still be delicious, but the extra sweetness that comes from a fresh tomato is a perfect compliment to the spices in the soup. And don’t be afraid of that whole jalapeno pepper — this soup is a little spicy, but it compliments the pupusas perfectly!

 

Spicy Roasted Tomato Soup with Pupusa Dippers

 

Spicy Roasted Tomato Soup with Pupusa Dippers

(Serves 5)

  • 10 fresh tomatoes (or two big cans of stewed tomatoes)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 avocado
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 cube of tomato chicken bouillon (Caldo de Tomate)
  • 1 package of Del Real Foods Pupusas (5 individual pupusas)
  • 2 tbsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 cups water
  • salt and pepper
  • Cotija cheese (for garnish)

Spicy Tomato Soup ingredients

First, begin with the fresh tomatoes and roast them whole in a broiler or over an open flame. (If at all possible, use fresh instead of canned tomatoes for the best flavor.)

Roast the tomatoes until the flesh starts to shrivel and blister, then set aside to cool.

Roasted tomatoes

While the tomatoes are cooling, sautee the jalapeno, onion, garlic and celery in a large pot, and cook for a few minutes until slightly soft. Then trim the stems off of the tomatoes and add to the pot.

 

Veggies for soup base

Next, add the spices, water and bouillon, and bring to a boil. Then cover and let boil gently for about 15 minutes, or until all of the vegetables are soft. While the soup is boiling, prepare the pupusas — it’s really easy, just cook them in a pan for a few minutes on each side.

Pupusas

When the soup is finished, use an immersion blender to blend all of the ingredients, and serve immediately with a hot pupusa, garnished with cotija cheese and avocado.

Spicy Roasted Tomato Soup with Pupusa Dippers

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Disclaimer: I was provided Del Real Foods products free of charge as part of the food blogger contest, but received no other compensation, financial or otherwise, for this post. The opinions expressed herein are my own.

Fresh finds at the new Ceviche House

This month, I got to check out San Diego’s newest and freshest spot. The Ceviche House in North Park combines a family atmosphere with fresh and fast food.

For the last four months, I’ve been on intense chemotherapy, so my doctors didn’t let me eat any raw fish or other foods that might present a greater risk of illness. I finally got the All-Clear to eat some, and I am so excited to be able to enjoy beautiful dishes like this again.

And it was perfect.

I got the Ensenada (yellowtail, watermelon, pomegranate seeds, microgreens, avocado, and chili-sesame oil) on a tostada — but you can get any of their menu items on a lettuce wrap or bowl if you want to skip the carbs. I was concerned that the chili-sesame oil might be too spicy (my mouth is still a little sensitive to spice after chemo), but it’s a perfect compliment to the sweetness of the watermelon and the saltiness of the fresh yellowtail. I could have eaten 2 or 3 of these!

ensenada tostada

And just look at how pretty it is! I’d never had ceviche without peppers and onions before, or with fruit, but the combination of flavors in this dish is amazing … I can see why it’s one of their most popular dishes.

I had a hard time deciding, because all of the options looks amazingly delicious. Tuna, cucumber and orange zest? Yes, please. Shrimp and mango? Totally.

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Owners Viviana and Juan Carlos make sure to procure only the best from sustainable sources like superstar seafood mongers Catalina Offshore Products. You can taste the quality in every piece of fish and produce.

acapulco ceviche

To show off their new store, The Ceviche House is giving an Acapulco Ceviche away to two lucky winners. Be sure to follow Starbright’s Kitchen and The Ceviche House for more chances to win:

ENTER CONTEST HERE:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/2f9e1bf95/?hh

Pan de Cazon

Pan de Cazon is a regional specialty of the Campeche region of Mexico; a region bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Guatemala on the other. As I’m sure you can imagine, the other regional specialties of the area include some amazing seafood dishes – I know that soon, want to try some recipes like Siete Barbas and seafood tamales.

I rarely get the chance to cook with great fish, and lately I’ve had a bunch of it from Catalina Offshore Products here in San Diego. These guys are incredible! I had an amazing filet of spiny dogfish shark, caught wild in Mexican waters. If you are unable to get a decent piece of shark, this recipe will also work with any white, flaky fish.

I based my recipe off of this one from El Cielo Foods, but mine isn’t quite as spicy. Instead of using whole habanero peppers, I seasoned mine with a really good hot sauce. Feel free to add more if you can handle more spice than I can.

 

pan de cazon

Pan de Cazon

  • 1-2 filets of shark or other white fish, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 7-8 small corn tortillas, slightly crispy
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. California chile powder or chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp. habanero pepper hot sauce (I like El Yucateco)
  • olive oil for sauteeing
  • salt and pepper

In a small saucepan, heat the black beans with a little oil, and half of the cumin and chile powder, plus salt and pepper. Mash the beans slightly as they cook. Set on low heat to keep warm.

In another small saucepan, sautee the onion and garlic with oil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with the rest of the cumin and chile powder. Mash the tomatoes slightly as they cook, and add the pieces of fish and the hot sauce to taste. Add the dill and half of the cilantro. Let simmer for about 5 minutes.

Assemble the pan de cazon by spreading the beans on a crispy tortilla, then putting another tortilla on top, then adding the shark and tomato mixture. Alternate the beans and the shark to make a tall stack, then serve warm with cilantro and fresh avocado.

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Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

I love this recipe! I had no idea beer batter was so easy. Literally … just four simple ingredients for the batter, a few more for the perfect white sauce, a little bit of cabbage and cheese and all of the fixins, and you’re on your way to Taco Heaven.

Residing in San Diego, it’s pretty easy for me to find a good fish taco, but frankly, I had always assumed that the delicate-yet-heavy-duty coating most people use for their fried fish tacos was way more complicated.

And the white sauce HAS to be more than just mayo and yogurt, right? Not really.

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Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

For the fish/ batter:

  • 1 lb white fish filets
  • 1 cup, plus 3-4 tbsp., Bisquick mix
  • 1/2 cup good beer
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Oil for frying

For the white sauce:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. sriracha or good hot sauce
  • the juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chipotle powder
  • salt and pepper

For the garnish / assembling your tacos:

  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, shredded
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • chopped cilantro
  • diced tomatoes
  • warm flour or corn tortillas
  • fresh limes
  • hot sauce

Start with the white sauce: Blend all of the ingredients together thoroughly and refrigerate. This can be made up to a day ahead of time.

Then set two shallow dishes in front of you, the first one with 3-4 tablespoons of Bisquick, plus a little salt and pepper. The second dish should have another cup of Bisquick, plus 1/2 cup of beer and 1 egg. (You may need a little bit more beer if the mixture is too sticky.)

Start to heat your oil in a frying pan or deep skillet.

Cut the fish into small pieces and dredge each piece in the first dish (dry ingredients only) and coat thoroughly. Do not skip this step! This is what seals in all of the fish’s moisture, and keeps the beer batter stuck to the fish.

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When the oil is hot, dredge the fish pieces in the beer batter – right before you drop them in the hot oil. Fry each piece for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown, and place on a paper towel when done.

Serve fish hot and fresh in tortillas and with all of the fixins.

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