Shredded Beef Tostada

Do you ever crave Mexican food?

I do, often!  Just last night I was craving a shredded beef tostada.

 I’m very lucky, where I live there are many great Mexican restaurants close by.  But this  craving yesterday was one of those days when you don’t feel like getting out of your P.J’s. kinda day! {Do you ever have those days?} Then I remembered, the last time I made this shredded beef recipe, I made a double batch just for times like this.  And “well la” I was on my way to satisfy my Mexican food craving.

I love the crunchy texture of freshly fried hot from the oil tortilla.  Most of the time I eat at least 3 tortillas before I ever start assembling the tostadas.  They are just so good!

Shredded beef Tostada
  • Shredded Beef Recipe
  • Vegetable Oil for frying
  • 6 Corn Tortillas
  • ¼ head Shredded Iceberg Lettuce
  • 1 Chopped Tomatoes
  • I Avocado diced
  • 1 Cup Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese {or your favorite cheese}
  • ¼ Cup Sour Cream
  • A Handful of Cilantro leaves {optional}
  1. To fry tortillas, pour enough oil into a large skillet so there is a 2 inch depth of oil. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Fry tortillas one at a time until light golden brown in color. Place cooked tortilla on a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
  2. To assemble Tostadas, Place a small amount of sour cream down {this make the shredded beef stay put a little better on the tortilla} on the cooked tortillas, top the sour cream with shredded beef. Next, place the lettuce over the beef, top the lettuce with the avocado and tomato. Then top with the shredded cheese, sour cream and cilantro.

Enjoy this shredded beef tostada with a Margarita or an ice cold beer!

Cafe Jardin at Sherman Gardens & Library

 Do you ever get in a restaurant rut when you are going out to lunch with friends?  No one can decide where to go, so you end up going to the same restaurant every time.  The same restaurant where you order the same item each time you eat there.

Last week a friend and I were meeting for lunch and she had the most brilliant idea!  We had lunch in the hidden gem of Cafe Jardin at Sherman Gardens and Library in Corona Del Mar, California.

Sherman Gardens Cafe Jardin Seating (1 of 1)

This lovely cafe located right in the middle of 2.2 acres of breathtaking gardens with more than 1500 plants. Spring is the perfect time to visit {although there is not bad time}. The flowers are all blooming and the sweet floral fragrance wafting through the air made this a lunch I will not soon forget, and I couldn’t have asked for better company.

Sherman Gardens Cafe Jardin Beet Salad (1 of 1)

We both enjoyed the baked beet salad with herb feta, roasted hazelnuts, balsamic reduction, frisse, and a lemon vinaigrette.  If you like beets, you will love this salad. The blending of the mild beets with the herb feta cheese is a tasty combination and the frisse added that perfect amount of freshness. I think I could have drank a glass of the balsamic reduction, is was so delicious!

Sherman Gardens Cafe Jardin Salmon (1 of 1)

My dear friend had the grilled irish salmon over bean provencal, kale and catelvetrano olive pesto.  It looked and smelled amazing.  I’m defiantly going to give this a try the next time I’m having lunch here.

Sherman Gardens Cafe Jardin Crab Cake

I am not one to ever pass up a crab cake, especially when it is lying on a bed of herb risotto and yuzu beurre blanc.  This scrumptious dish was so divine there was not one bite left on the plate!  The crab cake was large and full of crab meat and the risotto was cooked perfectly.

Check your area for out of the way little gems like this restaurant.  You will be glad you did.

There is no reason to ever fall into a restaurant rut!

If you would like to see the spring flowers at the botanical gardens, check out my post at Its All About The Pretty.

Cafe Jardin

2647 East Pacific Coast Highway, Corona Del Mar, California 92625

Hours Monday through Friday 11:30 am to 2:00 pm

Saturday and Sunday 11:30am to 2:30 pm

For Reservations call ~ 949.673.003

Mixed Greens with Chia Seed and Orange Vinaigrette

Mixed Greens with chia seeds and orange vinaigrette Spring is that wonderful time of year when we all get outside with a bounce in our step to enjoy the lovely spring weather.  Flowers are blooming and their sweet fragrance is wafting through the air.  It’s a perfect time to get your hands dirty in the soil with a little gardening, enjoying kisses from the sun {don’t forget to use sunscreen}.

It’s also time to eat lighter and healthier, and with all the grocery stores and farmers markets carrying an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables it’s silly not to.

Mix Greens with vinaigrette with Chia Seeds

It’s a perfect time to eat this mixed greens with chia seed and orange vinaigrette salad.  This salad is light, yet filling.  It’s perfect for lunch, or you can add chicken and make this salad a easy weeknight dinner, just add some crusty bread and butter, of course {that is just a pair we shouldn’t break up}!  And this dressing…Oh my.  It has become one of my favorites!  I’ve even used this dressing instead of mayo on sandwiches, it would also be scrumptious on a pasta salad. This dressing has the perfect amount of tart and sweetness.  I double the recipe and store it in a mason jar in the fridge.  It should keep for about a week there, although I always run out of it before the week is over.

Mixed Greens with Chia Seed and Orange Vinaigrette
Serves: 4
  • 1 Package of organic mixed greens
  • ¼ Cup silvered almonds
  • 1 Cup blueberries
  • Orange slices from 1½ oranges
  • For Vinaigrette
  • Zest from 1 orange
  • Juice from ½ an orange
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ½ Teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
  • ⅛ teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a bowl combine zest, orange juice, vinegar, mustard, olive oil, chia seeds, sugar, salt and pepper.
  2. Place mixed greens on salad plates and add almonds, blueberries, and orange slices.
  3. Pour vinaigrette over mixed greens.

I know I have talked about chia seed before but, there are many reason why you should add these little seeds to your diet.  For more information about the nutritional benefits of chia seeds, see what Dr. Oz says about them.

Mix Greens with Vinegrette with Chia Seeds


A Day of Shopping & Lunch at Surfas

A while back I spent day shopping and lunching with a friend.  We didn’t want to do the typical girlie type clothes shopping, we wanted to go do something different.  We found our way to this out of the way, you can only see the shops off the freeway, but can’t figure out how to actually get to them shopping plaza.

All I could say is…thanks goodness for maps on smart phones!!!

It was our kind of shops, home accessories, furniture stores,  ”she she” gardening boutiques and the icing on the cake…wait for it…my favorite kind of store…A Cookware/Gourmet Food Store.

Surfas Culinary District

Surfas Culinary District in Costa Mesa, CA

Surfas Cheese Counter

When you first walk in the cheese section is staring right back at you, with all its glorious cheeses from all over the world.

Surfas Coconut Cheese

 The very sweet lady behind the counter gave us a sample of a cheese made with coconut, I know that might sound strange but it was yummy…so very yummy.  All three of us were talking about the wonderful ways we would eat the Coconut Gouda cheese, and thought our favorite would be with a Marcona Almond and a bit of honey drizzled over the top.  Once we decided the coconut cheeses’ fate, we went along shopping on our merry way.  There are so many places to look in this store we decided we would systemacically go up and down every isle just so we wouldn’t miss a thing.

Surfas Cheese Table

Right next to the cheese case is a sit down area where you can have cheese pairings with wine.  I would love to do this with a bunch of girlfriends!  How fun would it be instead of the usual birthday lunch with friends?

Surfas fresh bread

I think I could have eaten a loaf of the fresh baked bread while we were walking around looking at all the items I want.

Surfas Fresh black and white striped ravoli

Surfas has wonderful packaged homemade pastas.  Don’t you love this black and white stripped ravioli?

Surfas decorative colored sugars

We could have spent hours just looking a the bright and beautiful decorative sugar colors.

Surfas cake pans

If there is a certain size of cake pan you’re looking for, they have it!

Surfas black dried pasta

How fun would it be to have a dinner party and serve this black pasta, especially for Halloween!

We were about half way through the store when the sweet lady from the cheese counter came from around the corner and greeted each of us with..guess what??? A spoon with a piece of Coconut Gouda cheese, a Marcona Almond and a drizzle of honey from a local bee farmer.  It was an even more tasty combination than I thought.  The mild coconut taste in combination with the sweet honey and the slight saltiness of the Marcona Almond made my mouth do the happy dance.  Since then I have serve that same combination at dinner parities, everyone is always surprised at the mild Coconut Gouda’s flavor, it even wins over people who don’t like the flavor of coconut.  If you ever get the chance give this combination a try.

Surfas old stove

Surfas has antique items throughout the store.

Surfas black truffle salt

Yum…What would you do with this Black Truffle Salt?

After all this shopping we both got hungry and had lunch in the Surfas Cafe.

Surfas grilled vegetable sandwich

We both ordered the vegetable sandwich on grilled fresh baked bread.  I love the edible posies they put on the salad.

Surfas restaurant outdoor tables

They have indoor tables, but we preferred the outdoor seating.

If you are in the Orange County, California area go check out Surfas.  Check out their website they have over 1,000 online products.


Culinary District

3309 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626

{714} 453-COOK {2665}

Chocolate Chip Cookies with M&M’s

chocolate chip cookies with MMs stacked

There is nothing like a cookie right out of the oven, with a warm gooey center and a crispy outer rim along side a huge glass of ice cold milk.  I never get tired of eating that first hot cookie from each batch. I like to eat it right off the baking sheet before the rest of the cookies go on the cooling rack.

Right now, my favorite mix-in ingredients are chocolate chips and M&M’s.  Don’t you love when the chocolate gets all melty and oozes all over your fingers and you lick your fingers clean {that can’t just be me}?

Lately, I have noticed on Pinterest there a many cookie recipes that include cream cheese as one of the ingredients.

 I’ve made cookies with pudding mix in the dough and I’ve made cookies with cake mix in the dough.  So when I saw so many recipes using a combination of cream cheese and butter, I knew I had to give it a try.

I’m always willing to try something new, especially when it’s a new ingredient in my cookie recipe!

The cream cheese makes the cookies tender and moist, just like a soft batch cookie.  The cookie has slight crisp edges with a slightly chewy middle.  I really like the way this cookie came out.  The only thing I don’t like is having to let the cookie dough rest in the fridge for a of couple hours prior to baking.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with MMs batter
                      Plastic wrap over cookie dough.
Chocolate Chip Cookie with MMs batter with scoop
             Once cookie dough is softened, its ready to scoop!

Chocolate chip cookie with MMs making balls

chocolate chip cookies with MMs on baking sheet
       Awww… cookies right out of the oven, nothing beats a hot cookie!
chocolate chip cookie with MMs fresh out of the oven
            Place semi-cooled cookies on a cooking rack to finish cooling.
Chocolate Chip Cookies with M&M’s
  • ¼ cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup M&M’s
  1. Beat butter, cream cheese and sugar until combined {I use my stand mixer for these}.
  2. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
  3. In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt. Stir ingredients.
  4. With a large spoon add 2 spoonfuls of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and continue with this until all the flour mixture is incorporated into the sugar mixture.
  5. Add the chocolate chips and the M&M’s and fold in by hand.
  6. Place plastic wrap over the cookie dough and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, up to 3 days.
  7. —After dough has chilled—
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Place parchment paper or a silpat mat on a cookie sheet.
  10. Allow dough to soften just until a cookie scoop can be used.
  11. Using a small cookie scoop place mounds of dough onto cookie sheet. Do not crowd.
  12. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes depending upon your oven. Cookies should be just turning brown at the edges but still look soft in the center.
  13. Remove cookies from oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes prior to moving cookies to a cooking rack.


Mango Salsa

I’ve been invited to a potluck this week-end.

Do you like potlucks?

I have friends who love potlucks and then I have friends who despise potlucks.  They won’t go near them with a 10 foot poll.  Me?…I’m kinda on the fence.  I don’t really have a extreme feeling either way about them.  I can tell you I absolutely love, love, love dessert potlucks!  But then again, who doesn’t?

Anyways, back to the potluck ideas for this weekend…

When I asked the hostess what I should bring she replied “a side”! …a side of what?   Does that mean a side of green beans? or does it mean a side of beef?  I know, I know, it doesn’t mean a side of beef.  But her answer to my question “a side” is just so very vague.

When I’m deciding what to make I’m also thinking of the other invited guests.  Will they like what I bring?  I try to make something that is a bit unusual, not the ordinary potluck dish.

So I put my thinking cap on and came up with what I was going to bring…

Mango Salsa

My Mango Salsa recipe

It’s the perfect side.  It can be eaten as a dip for chips or it can be a topping for hot dogs, hamburgers, steak or chicken.  Or…it can be eaten just as a “side” salad.  It has a fresh sweet and spicy tropical flavor.

Mango Salsa
  • 1 large ripe but firm mango, peeled and diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • ½ a red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cucumber, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and membrane removed, diced
  • ½ cup diced Jicama
  • 1 handful cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon agave
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
  1. In a large bowl combine all ingredients together, gently toss.
  2. Cover and place in the refrigerator until use.
  3. Can be made up to 6 hours ahead.


Roast Beef and Avocado Sandwich

Roast Beef and avocado sandwich

I love bread!

There I said it, now everyone knows, it’s finally out!  I love any and all bread. No longer do I need to hide behind my obsession!  I especially love bread when there are wonderful delectable goodies stuffed inside, I love savory and sweet ingredients.

Remember when my girlies sweet teacher gave them one of her Bacon Avocados for me to try?

Just in case you were wondering,

this is what I did with the other half…

I made a subway sandwich of sorts.  I made a roast beef and avocado sandwich.  A Roast Beef and Avocado sandwich with pepper Jack Cheese and mixed greens with a touch of peach preserves…that is!  Of course all of those delectable ingredients gently tucked inside a  tender french roll.

This is the most scrumptious sandwich ever!  It is one of those sandwiches that you keep thinking about days after you’ve eaten it. The spiciness of the pepper jack cheese along with the sweetness of the peach preserves is a combination made in taste bud heaven.

I purchased the roast beef along with the pepper jack cheese at the deli counter.  I wanted to make sure the beef and cheese were as fresh as possible.

Roast Beef and Avocado Sandwich
Serves: 2
  • 2 french rolls
  • 8 slices of roast beef
  • 4 slices of pepper jack cheese
  • ½ avocado ~ Bacon Avocado, if you can get your hands on one.
  • 4 tablespoons peach preserves
  • 2 handfuls organic spring mix greens
  1. Cut each french roll lengthwise.
  2. Spread 2 tablespoons of preserves on the top half of each roll.
  3. Add 4 slices of roast beef to the bottom half of each roll.
  4. Top roast beef with 2 slices of cheese and a handful of the greens.
  5. Cut ½ of the avocado into 6 slices and place 3 slices on top of the greens.


The Bacon Avocado

Isn’t it funny how our tastes buds change so dramatically as we get older?

Food you couldn’t stand to eat as a child, you can’t wait to get your hands on now!

The buttery nutty flavored Bacon Avocado

Avocados are like that for me.

My Nonna had 2 huge avocado trees in her yard.  They produced hundreds of avocados each year.  Our family, the neighbors, and any passerby was given a bag full of the delectable fruit from my Nonna’s trees.  I remember the giddiness of my parents every year when the first of the avocados each season, ripened.  My mom would put them in salads and sandwiches and my dad would cut them in half, shake a bit of salt over the top of them, take a spoon and dig right in.  He would say “the beauty of the avocado is it’s built in bowl”!  Back then, I never understood the delight my family had in the weird green fruit.

I guess my mind changed the first time I had guacamole.  Now, I love avocados!  Just like my family I can not get enough of them.

So imagine my delight when my daughters walked in to the house from school holding a perfectly shaped beautiful avocado.  They explained to me they were talking to their teacher and on her desk was a large basket of bacon avocados {yes, I did say bacon avocado’s} to which she explained that she buys the delectable fruit from someone who works at the school.  They are not usually available in stores due to their delicate skin that would be bruised in the process of being shipped.  When my daughters mentioned that I loved avocados to her, she was sweet enough to give them one especially for me to try.  I can’t thank her enough.  It was absolutely delicious!

Bacon Avocado

Have you ever heard of a Bacon Avocado?

The Bacon Avocado has a thin green skin, it is a fruit that is available from late fall into spring.  If you can get your hands on one of these velvety smooth Bacon Avocados you are in for a treat.  I wasn’t expecting the lovely subtle buttery-nutty flavor that the Bacon Avocado possesses.  This one tasting has left me craving more.  I will now be on the look out for these delicate Bacon Avocados.

Some fun avocado facts from California Avocado.

  • Avocados are a fruit, not a vegetable
  • Avocados were once a luxury food reserved for the tables of royalty, but now California Avocados are enjoyed around the world by people from all walks of life
  • The avocado is also called an Alligator Pear because of its pear-like shape and green skin
  • Brazilians add avocados to ice cream
  • Filipinos puree avocados with sugar and milk for a dessert drink
  • California produces about 90 percent of the nation’s avocado crop

I ate half of my Bacon Avocado just like my dad.  Check back in a few days to see how I ate the other half.

French Toast Love

The spicy scent of cinnamon and sweet vanilla is wafting around your home. Then you get a whiff of the maple syrup that is warming on the stove.  As you get closer to the kitchen you can hear the sizzle of the griddle.

Ahhh… It’s French Toast Love.

Thick, fluffy, rich, triangles of griddle goodness.  This tasty breakfast delight is my favorite current Sunday morning obsession!

French Toast 1

Making this French Toast is so super easy.

  Most of us have all the ingredients right in our fridge and pantry.

This French Toast is triangles of savory and sweet goodness

Lately, I have been buying a thick- cut loaf of bread at the bakery {because, as I said, I’m obsessed} but, it is totally unnecessary.

This easy recipe makes any type of bread super delicious.

French Toast
  • 8 Slices of Bread, your choice
  • 3 Eggs
  • ½ Cup Whole Milk
  • ½ Teaspoon Pure Vanilla
  • ¼ Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ¼ Cup Melted Butter, plus some for the griddle.
  • Pure Maple Syrup
  1. Cut bread slices into triangle halves.
  2. Combine eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and melted butter in a bowl wide enough to be able to dip the bread completely.
  3. Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add enough butter to lightly cover the entire skillet.
  5. Heat maple syrup in a pan over low heat.
  6. Dunk triangles of bread into egg mixture, making sure all sides are coated completely.
  7. Place triangles on to the heated griddle or skillet.
  8. Cook triangles until all sides of the bread are golden brown.
  9. Top with warm maple syrup.
  10. Serve immediately.

Savory sweet ffrench toast with warm maple syrup and bananas

What is your favorite fruit with French Toast?


Shredded Beef Taquitos

Where does Mexican food rank on your favorite food list?

Shredded beef Taquitos

  On my list, it ranks close to the top.  I love it.  Burritos, taquitos, tacos, chili rellenos, and of course, chips and salsa.

There is nothing better than going to Sunday brunch at a Mexican restaurant with a large group of friends.  The festive music of a mariachi band playing loudly, the brightly colored restaurant decor, waitresses walking by with pitchers full of margaritas, are all apart of the mexican restaurant atmosphere.

If you can’t get away for Sunday brunch, I have the perfect recipe that will taste just like your favorite mexican restaurant.

Shredded Beef Taquitos

I don’t often make mexican food at home, at least not the deep fried type, but these taquitos are so quick and easy, they make a fast delicious meal on those busy nights. If you pair them with a margarita, who needs a mexican restaurant?

And, there are no preservatives, unlike like the taquitos you buy in the frozen food section at your grocery store.

When I was thinking of recipes to make with my shredded beef recipe, I knew these shredded beef taquitos would be a perfect match.  All you need is some of the shredded beef, corn tortillas, a bit of cheese and your favorite garnishes. I like to use sour cream, lettuce, salsa, avocados, for that mexican restaurant experience at home, and don’t forget the margaritas.

Taquitos Shredded Beef and Cheese

Shredded Beef Taquitos
  • Shredded Beef, 1½ pounds, see recipe above
  • 18 – 20 small corn tortilla
  • Peanut Oil for frying, you can also use vegetable oil
  • Queso Fresco, you can also use shredded Jack cheese
  • Sides
  • Sour Cream
  • Avocados or guacamole
  • salsa
  1. Pour oil in to large heavy pan {cast iron works well when frying}.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat until it reaches 350 degrees.
  3. If shredded beef was in the refrigerator warm through in the oven or microwave. If it was frozen, defrost and then warm through. Set aside.
  4. Dip one tortilla at a time in the hot oil so that the tortilla becomes bendable. Remove from oil and place on paper towel to absorb oil.
  5. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  6. One at a time, fill the tortilla with 2 tablespoons of the warmed shredded beef. Spread the shredded beef across the middle of the tortilla.
  7. Add a small amount of cheese to the top of the shredded beef.
  8. Fold the bottom half of the tortilla over the shredded beef cheese mixture, tucking the end of the tortilla under the shredded beef and pull the tortilla snug, continue rolling the tortilla in the taquito shape.
  9. Place a toothpick to secure the rolled taquito.
  10. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  11. *If you a making them for a later date, at this point you can freeze them.
  12. Working in small batches, fry the taquitos until they are golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  13. Remove from oil and place on a wire rack.
  14. Serve with your favorite mexican sides.

Disfrute {Enjoy}!