Saturday, October 26, 2013

Our beautiful fall color

I love the fall! We've been pretty lucky this year to get some great color before the snow arrives and all the leaves fall off.

For some reason my linden tree is as deep green as it was in July, it makes for a great contract against the other trees though.

This is the first year I've noticed that one of our crabapple trees turns red, and it looks so pretty right now!

Our burning bush is at it's peak right now, which was the main reason for these pictures, is that amazing?

We had originally planned on pulling these out the winter we moved in, but we soon saw the following fall that these beauties are so gorgeous we will design our landscape around them!

Oh and I can't remember a lawn being so green at the end of October, so beautiful this year!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Grilled Skirt Steak with Poblano Pesto

Grilled Skirt Steak (Carne Asada) with Poblano Pesto
Serves: 2

Let me just start by saying YUM! This recipe is so tasty you'll want to eat it every week if not more!

My husband is from El Salvador, and grilled skirt steak, or carne asada, is probably his most favorite food in the world. It is a thin stip of meat found on the underside of a cow, and there is only 1 skirt steak per cow, so it is sometimes hard to find, but it is insanely cheap at about $6 per pound. I usually buy a few at a time to keep on hand for a quick meal.

A marinade and a quick high temp sear is all you need to make this delicious steak in your house. It can be served with rice, potatoes, any veggie, or in a taco or burrito, and with this creamy slightly spicy poblano pesto you really can't go wrong, the combinations are endless!


2- half lb skirt steaks
1 lime 
1 Serrano (or jalapeƱo) halved
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 tablespoon adobo seasoning (if you can't find, substitute with garlic powder, onion powder and oregano)
Salt and pepper

Poblano Pesto:
2 large poblano peppers, roasted, skins removed and diced.
1/4 cup walnuts (or pine nuts, pecans or almonds)
1/4 cup cojita cheese (or grated Parmesan)
3 tablespoons E.V. Olive oil
1 garlic clove
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of cilantro
Salt and pepper


Your meat should marinate for 4-6 hours to break down the tissue and infuse flavor. You'll want to squeeze your lime juice and throw in the lime, smashed garlic, halved pepper, seasonings and olive oil into a large bowl, or ziplock bag, add your meat, give it a shake and refrigerate.

Take out about 20 minutes before cooking to come to an even temperature. 
While that is happening, make your poblano pesto.

I harvested the last of my peppers earlier this week, so I had lots of little baby poblanos, so that's what I'm using, but the equivalent of 2 large peppers is what you're after. Remove the seeds and stems and dice.

Assemble all of your ingredients, you'll be putting them into a processor or blender together. 

I used walnuts because at the moment they are my favorite nut, but anything you like will work.

Process all of your ingredients, except your olive oil, until it's nice and smooth, then drizzle in your olive oil until it is a nice consistency, tasting to make sure it doesn't need anything.

This recipe made about 1 cup of pesto, which will keep in the fridge for a few weeks, or you can freeze it! This pesto would be a great addition in tacos, burritos, mixed into guacamole, in your scrambled eggs, smeared in a sandwich, the options are endless!

Now to the steaks, take your steaks out of the marinate and wipe off any excess liquid, and chunks of garlic. You'll need to get your grill pan smoking hot, so if you leave garlic on it will burn, and excess liquid will steam not sear.

I seared 2 minutes on the first side and just 1 minute on the second side and took it off the heat. It was medium-rare, you can do an additional minute for medium-well, but anything beyond that will be tough.
 Let your meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing, and then slice it against the grain of the meat. This is the key to a tender fall apart steak. This is also not optional, do it!

I topped my steak with the pesto, and typical of my husbands style, some extra lime slices on the side. The pesto was also delicious with the roasted red potatoes I served on the side.

Make this, enjoy this and love this!

Easing back into painting

Long ago I used to paint, like 10 years ago, I would paint on my tabletop easel late at night, and create these cute Bob Ross style landscape paintings. They are hanging all over my parents house, literally, they are hanging ALL OVER my parents house. I love it, it think it's cool to see my progression and skills increase over time, but alas, I soon grew tired of this style painting, and the enormous expense involved with oil painting.

Now that I own my own home, and am at an ever desperate attempt to decorate and fill the vast empty walls my home contains, I've began thinking about painting again. I would love to have original unique artwork instead of your typical reproduction prints you pick up in the home department at Target. I also like the idea of creating something that truly complements the colors in your home.

So, here we are, I found myself at hobby lobby picking up a few canvases and some acrylic paints this time. My husband bought me a free standing easel, and we got a few new brushes. I've decided to try my hand at a more abstract style painting, I still love the idea of painting landscapes, but I feel the desire to be more open in my interpretation of what a landscape is. My first painting was a lose interpretation of two doves on a wire, something my hunting husband loved, and the colors compliment our master bedroom, so it's a win-win. 

I used acrylics and it is a highly textured canvas, using a texture medium. Not too bad for a 10 year hiatus if I do say so myself! More to come I'm sure!

Two Doves. Textured acrylic on canvas 2013. © Rene Lopez 2013.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

40 Clove Garlic Soup

Serves: 4


2 1/2-3 tbl Olive oil 
3 heads of garlic cloves, peeled
1-2 large cloves sliced thin, for frying
3 1/2 cups Chicken stock (or veggie broth if vegetarian)
1/2 cup Heavy cream- warmed (if going paleo substitute coconut milk)
3 Egg yolks
1 tsp ground Nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste
Thick slices of bread, toasted (optional)
Shaved Parmesan to top soup (optional)

Peel all of your garlic cloves.

Take your thin sliced garlic chips and heat in pot with the 2 tbsps olive oil on medium high until browned. Remove.

Then turn the heat to medium-low. Add the whole peeled garlic cloves and cook until softened considerably (could take from twenty minutes to a half hour).

When softened take 2 tablespoons of the oil and the cloves and put into a stock pot.

Pour in the chicken stock.

Season with salt and pepper, thyme and grate in the nutmeg. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer and then heat for fifteen to twenty minutes.

- Blend the soup until it is smooth. Return to the heat.

In a bowl, beat the egg yolks together.

Then slowly beat in about 1/4 cup of the heated soup mixture into the eggs, whisking continuously.

- Now, pour the egg yolk mixture into the soup, beating continuously. In a minute or two, the soup will thicken slightly.

Continue to heat at a low temperature until cooked through, then turn heat off and stir in the 1/2 of warmed heavy cream.

Take off of heat.

- Pour the soup into a bowl and put a few pinches of shaved Parmesan and a toasted piece of bread on top, then sprinkle fried olive oil chips on top. Serve immediately.

Nutrition estimated on

This recipe was adapted from the James Beard garlic soup recipe. Soup Recipe

Kale Parmesan Salad

Serves: 4

1 bunch of lacinato or dinosaur kale, stems removed, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons raisins or dried cherries
juice of one lemon
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp local honey
1/4 cup pine nuts toasted, or sliced almonds
salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp grated raw parmesan cheese


In a food processor, process kale into small chopped pieces

Your not making kale puree, so only a few seconds should do it.

To make dressing, stir lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper together in a large bowl
I added my dried cherries to the dressing so that they could plump up in the dressing.
Add chopped kale, pine nuts and parmesan to bowl with dressing
Stir all ingredients together and serve

This recipe was adapted from: Melt In your mouth Kale Salad

Creamy Kale Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Roasted Goat Cheese Tomatoes

Serves: 2

Chicken Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts, boneless skinless
1/2 package of cream cheese. I used Greek Yogurt cream cheese for the increased protein
2 tablespoons Finely shredded mozzarella cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-2 large kale leaves, stems removed and diced.
3 tablespoons of grated or shaved Parmesan 
Salt and pepper
Let your cream cheese come up to room temperature, mix in salt, pepper, cayenne, minced garlic and chopped kale.
Using a paring knife make a 3 inch pocket into the thickest part of the breast.

Stuff the filling into the breast, trying to distribute evenly. You may need to stick a few toothpicks in the breast to seal it.

Using a grill pan brown chicken on all sides over high heat,

 then turn down to medium heat and cook about 14 minutes with a lid on the pan until done,

 careful not to burn either side. Juices will run clear and it should be 165 degrees in the meatiest part of the breast.

Roasted Goat Cheese Tomatoes Ingredients:
2 Roma tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons goat cheese
A couple of fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper


Half your roma tomatoes and spray with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and place under broiler on high for 5-8 minutes until softened.

 Place a teaspoon or so of the goat cheese on top and place under the broiler for another 3-5 minutes until melty and browned.

I served this with some quick broiled asparagus that had some S&P and olive oil on top. Total Calories for this meal were only 360 calories and it was so filling!