Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Dinner: Chipotle Pineapple Ribs

When the weather starts to cool down, my barbeque cravings inevitably follow. I attribute this to the hot Arizona summers I grew up with, and that knowing that come October, I just may be able to withstand the heat around the grill for longer than 30 seconds. For the past couple of days we’ve had temperatures with highs in the mid-60’s to lower 70’s and I’ve been itching to grill up some ribs.

Usually, when I make ribs, I prepare them 2 different ways. Half of the ribs get a traditional barbeque glaze (with my fave, Sweet Baby Ray’s), and the other half get smothered in a homemade salsa made of blended tomatillos, tomato, jalapenos, onions and garlic, which better suits my husband’s taste. This time around, we are going for something we both like which has become a family favorite over the years. Here we are, compromising again… although this time, it doesn’t feel like compromise at all.

About 5 years ago I decided to make Christmas dinner for my husband for the very first time. I knew from the get-go that the traditional ham glaze wasn’t going to work for him, so I went on the hunt for different recipes. I came across this baked ham recipe and it changed my world. Yes, food changes me. After some experimentation, I found that the glaze outlined above is much more involved than necessary and in my opinion, the chipotle/pineapple combination is bold enough on it’s own that there really isn’t a need to add any extra salt or spices. I have tweaked (and seriously simplified) the recipe over the years and make large amounts of the sauce during the holiday season because we love to have it with (leftover) ham and eggs after our Christmas and Easter dinners.

Super Simple Chipotle Pineapple Ribs

1 rack of pork spare ribs, cut St. Louis style (link for instructions below)
20 oz. can of pineapple in 100% pineapple juice
7 oz. can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
½ cup loosely packed brown sugar
Garlic salt & pepper to taste

After trimming them St. Louis style, cut the rack of ribs in half, sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper and put in your crock pot on low for about 8 hours. Carefully remove the ribs (they should be falling off the bone at this point) and transfer to a baking sheet. Throw pineapple, chipotle peppers and brown sugar in the blender and puree. The sauce is done! Top ribs with sauce and throw them (errr… carefully place) on the grill (or broil in the oven) until the sauce has caramelized and the ribs have developed a slight char. Carefully remove these from the grill (or baking sheet) and put them directly your plate. I don’t recommend bothering with a serving platter at this point, because they really do fall off the bone and with all that movement, you could quickly ruin your presentation.

There are a couple of things I would like to mention. I use pork spare ribs because they are so much cheaper than other cuts, and ever since I learned how to cut spareribs St. Louis style, I never went back to those pricey, baby back ribs. After trimming them St. Louis style, I still cook the scraps in the crock with the rest, but then set them aside to be shredded for pork tacos later on in the week.

Also, I think it is very important to point out that this recipe renders much more sauce than you will need to slather over your ribs. I probably only use 1 cup of sauce for the rack of ribs, but you should get about 4 cups of sauce from the above recipe. However, if you do it this way, there isn’t really any measuring involved (which the exception of the sugar) and you will have plenty left over to enjoy with your eggs in the morning. This sauce can be kept in the fridge for about 5-7 days and also freezes very well. I freeze the leftovers in half cup portions and use it for everything from topping our eggs at breakfast to a unique salsa for pork or chicken tacos.

The results of my invento:

I chose to serve these ribs with baked potatoes, roasted corn with grilled poblano chili strips and a salad. Of course I had to throw some tortillas on the comal for the Mr. as well. That’s a given.


This sauce made such an amazing addition to the rack of ribs; I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner! I wouldn’t change a thing. FYI, the chipotle pepper packs some serious heat, so if you are sensitive to spice, you might want to scale back to only use 1 pepper and about a teaspoon of the adobo sauce. You could also remove the seeds to make it a bit milder and/or add an extra ½ cup of brown sugar to balance out the effect of the chiles.

I enjoyed my dinner with one or 3 of these:

And, in celebration of Halloween, we’ll be following up la cena with this:

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I just wanted to update everyone on Lucy. She ended up having 5 puppies, despite the x-ray and the vet insisting that she would only have 2. Looks like it's time for a new vet?

On October 5th I was on my way to a parade that my work was in when my husband called to tell me that Lucy had 4 puppies while we were at work but one didn't make it. Of course I turned around and shot straight home. I was really worried that she might have problems with the births because she is just a little nugget. While he was telling me the story he started freaking out saying, "Tengo que colgar, tengo que colgar! Algo esta saliendo de la Lucy!!" And #5 was born. He said she didn't even make a sound as she delivered the pup. I'm not sure if that was because she is such a brave, strong girl, or if because after 4 births, the 5th is just like a fart. Who knows... Maybe Kate Gosselin will chime in?

I rushed home thinking about all the horrible things I had read that could happen to dogs while giving birth without assistance, and thought back to all the YouTube videos I watched over the last couple of months. I took so much time learning about everything, from how to help pull a pup out to how to cut the umbilical cord to when to let the dog have at the placentas and when to take them away. My husband told me I was nuts and that she was a dog that would be able to instinctually do it alone.

Of course he had to give some long speech about how in Mexico dogs don't go to the vet, and in Mexico dogs don't even get to sleep in the house and blah, blah, blah. Now I know that may be the case for many, but I don't care. Moving to Mexico isn't going to make me stop fretting over my doggies. No ifs ands or buts about it. But, when it came down to it he was right! She did every last bit on her own and didn't even leave the slightest mess.

The pups recently opened their eyes and started trying to crawl around. Soon we will be on the look out for people to adopt them. We've given them generic names and are trying our best not to get too attached. There's Patas, who has white feet, Raya, who has a white line on her chest, Gordo, who is the largest, and Chiquita, who is the youngest and by far the smallest. (Oddly enough she was the first to open her eyes!)

Hopefully it won't be too difficult to part ways and we will be able to find responsible owners. Cross your fingers!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Dinner: "I wish I was at Rubio's" Tacos

I am a predictable woman. The most spontaneous thing I have done in life was move to Mexico, and I spent 2 years planning that. I was crazy enough as a teenager, so now I like life to be something I can easily control. I like traditions and mundane activities. I like that I rent a movie every Tuesday night while I drink wine and try to pretend it’s Friday and that I wear the same shirt to work every Friday. I like that I put an orange in the toe of the Christmas stockings every year because that’s what my mom did and that I make my husband cinnamon rolls every year on his birthday because he hates cake... What can I say? I’m a sucker for tradition.

Of all of our silly Cruz/Bonderer traditions, my favorite is Sunday Dinner. I cook quite a bit. It’s the one part of the “housewife” label that I can wear proudly. I don’t mop the floors, I sulk as I put away the laundry, I burn clothes when I try to iron them, and I don’t even know where we keep the Fabuloso, but damned if I don’t make sure my husband eats a homemade meal almost every night. I know I lucked out with a man who is willing to do all those other household chores. I try to suck it up and pull my weight, but I must admit that he easily does 3 quarters of the housework. I do make all of our meals and keep the kitchen clean… but the rest? Not so much.

Anyway, back to the food. I love to cook. I know my blogs here have been few and far between (due to lack of inspiration) and because I’ve always wanted to start a food blog, I figured I’d combine the two. After all, a big part of being a “real housewife” is feeding your family, right? I will be blogging each week about our Sunday Dinner. I hope everyone enjoys it, and based on responses to my Facebook posts about Sunday dinners, you just might. Now I should warn you, I am no Leslie Limon. I cannot say I know what I am doing, because even after several years of cooking for my husband, I still feel as though every meal is an experiment. I just cook things I like to eat and make crap up as I go along. Fortunately, my mom is always just a phone call away if I need to know how long to cook a certain cut of meat, or what a certain herb is used for.

I aim to try out new things for Sunday dinner, because I have more time on my hands than I do during the week, but I like to stay true to my Midwestern roots with classic stand-by entrees, like fried chicken or pork chops or barbeque ribs. Speaking of my beloved BBQ, I also have the added struggle of being married to a Mexican man who doesn’t like “sweets, salsa marinara, or barbeque sauce” among many other things. You probably won’t find spaghetti or barbeque chicken on my Sunday dinner menu. My husband's hatred of barbeque sauce is what really boils my Kansas City blood, but he likes what he likes. I wouldn’t eat lengua or pulpo if you paid me, so I can’t gripe about his preferences either.

I promise I will be honest about how things turn out. It isn’t always pretty. I can only remember one thing that my mother cooked that we all hated. It was what I refer to as the "Turkey Rice Incident of 1997". We all gave her a hard time, and joked with her for years after the fact, but it wasn’t that bad. I have many more “incidents” that are practically catastrophic because they usually involve undercooked meat. There was a particular incident in 2005 where I made fried chicken and when my husband bit into it, blood squirted out. Oops. With that being said, please do not make any of the recipes I may post until you read my "afterthoughts" section where I will post what I thought about the recipe and what I would change for next time. I can say I have been doing better in the last couple of years and have even been able to get a bit more adventurous with my menus without putting anyone in the hospital. Score!

Tonight, I am seriously wishing I could teleport us back to Arizona, so we could go to Rubio’s. The Mexican food here in Juarez is not anything like what I was used to in Arizona. I think Arizona has more influences from the Baja than they have here in Chihuahua, or even Texas for that matter. The Mexican food is good in Juarez and El Paso, but I have yet to be blown away, with the exception of The Corona Special from Julio’s Cafe Corona in El Paso.

So here I am, wishing I could have a delicious 2 taco plate from Rubio’s, more than I wish to be 5’10” like Cindy Crawford. It’s not happening folks. All I could do was dig through my taste bud’s memories and see if I could recreate a recipe that would slightly resemble the OH.MY.GODness of Rubio’s chicken tacos and beans. The menu’s brief description of the tacos that my husband and I always ordered is “Grilled chicken, fresh guacamole, jack and cheddar cheese, lettuce and salsa. Served on your choice of a soft corn or thick flour tortilla.” My love of Rubio’s was formed long before we ever moved to Mexico, and before I ever learned to appreciate the delicacy that is the corn tortilla. I used to be an harina fan, all the way. So tonight, I stuck with our old traditions and used flour tortillas as I attempted to recreate the euphoria that is a Rubio’s taco.

“I wish I was at Rubio’s” Tacos Recipe:

Chicken Marinade (recipe to follow)
2 chicken breasts
Guacamole (avocado smashed with lime juice, garlic & salt to taste)
Lettuce (I prefer Romaine but can’t find it in Mexico so I had to use Iceberg)
Jack/Cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top of each taco
Chipotle White Sauce (recipe to follow)
Small flour tortillas, about 5-6” in diameter
Tortilla chips
Beans to dip your chips in (recipe to follow)

Marinate chicken over night. Before you throw them on the grill, pound out the breasts until they are about ½” thick. Pound it with whatever works. Your fist or maybe a hammer? I used a rolling pin because I have yet to add a cool meat mallet to my kitchen utensil collection. I will confess that I have (even recently) used the hammer from my husband’s toolbox and, 2 Sundays ago, I used a 2 lb. dumbbell. Whatever works. I like to pound out chicken breasts before grilling because then more of the chicken gets those yummy, crystallized/charred bits, and it cooks faster, which is always a plus. Grill the chicken a tu gusto. Let the grilled chicken rest for about 5-10 minutes before you give it a rough chop. Heat the tortillas on a comal or in a skillet on the stove or over the grill that you used to cook the chicken. Spread the tortillas with a bit of guac and then add your grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato and cheese. You can add salsa at this point (as my husband does) but I like to eat these tacos with just a bit of the Chipotle White Sauce.

Serve a small dish of beans to dip your tortillas chips in. We like to dip each chip in the beans, and then in the Chipotle White Sauce. Heaven.

Chicken Marinade Recipe:

½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp fresh cracked pepper

Mix all together in a Ziploc bag and add chicken to marinate as long as possible but no more than over night.

Chipotle White Sauce Recipe:

¼ cup Miracle Whip
¾ cup sour cream
2 chipotle chilis (in adobo sauce) + 1 tsp of adobo sauce
Juice of half a lime (use the other half for 2 tequila shots)
1 tbsp cilantro, finely diced
1 tsp Garlic salt
½ tsp onion powder

Add all ingredients to the blender and puree.

I have no clue what the Chipotle White Sauce from Rubio’s has in it, other than chipotle peppers (duh) and a bunch of chemicals (according to their website.) This recipe is my best guess. My husband and I had a lengthy debate as to whether or not I should use Mayonnaise or Ranch in this recipe and in the end, we compromised with Miracle Whip. For the record, I wanted to use ranch.

Bean Recipe:

1 lb dried pinto beans
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tbps bacon drippings
Salt to taste

After sorting and rinsing, cook pinto beans in the crock pot for about 10 hours on low. I do not presoak the beans or add anything to the crock with the beans. I’m sure some people will think that’s nuts, but I add my seasonings after the fact. After the beans are cooked drain all of the liquid. Put beans in the blender and mix to desired consistency. Some people like their refried beans thicker (my husband) and some like them very thin (me.) I usually set aside about half a cup of the beans and add them after the rest is blended. The whole beans added to the pureed beans provide a texture that we can both be happy with. Put the bacon drippings in a pot large enough to hold the amount of beans you have and heat on a medium low heat. Once the drippings are melted, add your minced garlic and sauté until slightly golden. At this point add your blended beans to the pot. Mix thoroughly and salt to taste.

This is way more beans than you will need for dipping your chips in, but I make these a pound at a time and freeze the leftovers in sandwich bags with ½-1 cup of beans in each bag for future meals.

The results of my “invento” (as my husband calls my made-up recipes):


The biggest changes that I would need to make with this meal would be to the Chipotle White Sauce. In the future I will nix the Miracle Whip all together and use a whole cup of sour cream. I would only use 1 chipotle chili in adobo because using 2 turned the white sauce orange and didn't lend enough to the overall flavor for it to be worth changing the color. . Kind of ruins the title, don't ya think? I would also cut the salt in half and leave the lime juice for my tequila. It didn't do much for me in the sauce.

The chicken was delicious although next time I don't think I will pound out the breasts. The texture was a little off compared to Rubio's and I think that was attributed to my pounding them out.

I know it's hard to achieve that same restaurant taste at home, but I had to try. My husband scarfed down 4 tacos and said, "No era como Rubio's, pero sacaste un 10." And he's right. All in all, this was a really good, restaurant quality meal, but it was not Rubio's. I think making those changes to the chicken and sauce will make a big difference next time I make this.

For dessert we had pecan bars, which I am excited to say that my husband declared he loved more than cinnamon rolls or Edward’s Hershey Pies which are the only 2 desserts he thinks he likes in the world. I suppose I should take back my previous mention of cinnamon rolls on my husband’s birthday because it looks like he’ll be getting candles in a pecan pie from here on out. Although I like to cook, I cannot stand baking, so the pecan bars were made from a Krusteaz box mix. I did try to make a pecan pie years ago but it was such a disaster (as are most of my baking attempts) that it ended up in the trash. I think I still have the corn syrup in my pantry from that pathetic attempt. Yes, I even moved my pantry stash from the United States to Mexico. :psycho: Does corn syrup expire?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

I suppose I should start this blog by mentioning that my husband and I have been together for almost 7 years and have no children together, much to his despair. Hence, our pets have become like children to us, whether we'd like to admit it or not.

We have 2 dogs. Meeko, our Pomeranian, has been a part of the family for 3 years now and about a year and a half ago, Lucy, our Miniature Pinscher, was added to the mix. I never thought we could handle 2 dogs, but my husband fell in love with Lucy and he was determined to bring her home. She was one of his friends many dogs and was treated poorly by some of the children in the house. I now can't imagine what it would be like without her.

An American's view on pets can be very different from that of a Mexican's. Growing up, my family's dogs went to the vet, had their shots, slept in our beds and ate Iaam's and the occasional (forbidden by mom) table scrap. My husband's dogs lived outside their front door, didn't know what a collar was, and got a crusty old tortilla or maybe some left over beans if they were lucky. When we adopted Meeko and I promptly made an appointment for him to be neutered, my husband thought I was crazy. When I announced that I was taking him to the dentist to have 2 stubborn baby teeth pulled, he thought I had officially lost my mind. He didn't get it then, and I don't think he gets it now.

So when Lucy came into our lives, he firmly announced that she was HIS dog and no veterinarian would be doing anything with her teeth or her lady bits. Well, I don't think he said lady bits, but you get the drift. I was floored by the idea of not getting her spayed. It wasn't in my realm of understanding. I responded to his demands by going out and purchasing a package of doggie diapers.

"What the hell are these?"

"I think it's obvious babe."

"Seriously? Diapers for a dog?"

"Well, yeah, what do you think we are going to do when she goes into heat?"

"Heat? Oh... ummm... yeah."

See it never really crossed his mind that we weren't in Mexico, and Lucy didn't live on the street out front, and that things really were different. He didn't think about things like her making a mess all over the house every few months, or having to pay 10 times as much to register an un-spayed dog in the State of Arizona because that's just not something he worried about with his dogs growing up in Hidalgo del Parral. Fast forward to the present.

The first night we moved into our new house, we hadn't put screens on the windows yet. Also, this is our first house in Mexico that isn't entirely tiled, so we secluded the dogs to the first floor so they couldn't ruin the pretty beige carpeting that covers the stairway and the upstairs. I expected Lucy to cry that first night, being that she is a hardcore cuddle bug and it was the first night she wasn't sleeping with us. So when I heard to whining and barking I thought nothing of it. I thought I'd implement a little canine version of The Ferber Method and she would calm down eventually.

After a couple of hours I grew restless and asked that Gordo go check on Lucy. When he got downstairs, he realized why she was crying. She was outside! She had shimmied behind the entertainment center and jumped out the cracked window and couldn't figure out how to get back into the house. And yes my friends, Lucy was in heat that night. Of course at the time we just brought her inside, shut the window, felt a little guilty for letting her cry so long, and went back to sleep.

It took about a month for me to realize she was pregnant and Gordo doubted it. Her nips and laziness were what gave it away for me. At 49 days gestation I took her to the vet for x-rays. My biggest fear comes from the fact that we have no idea who she hooked up with (that doesn't sound right) and if it was a larger dog, she could have issues with the birth. The images from the radiografia somewhat calmed me. It appears that she is only having 2 puppies and they are relatively small. But whatever comes out is going to be like a Kinder Sopresa.

I'm as prepared as I can be. I've got 2 whelping boxes set up and a little kit ready with scissors, rubber gloves, a nasal aspirator, alcohol, string, clean towels, etc. I've watched every dog birth video on the internet. I've read the reproduction chapter of Manual Para El Cuidado del Perro to my husband no less than 3 times. The couches are covered with old blankets. Lucy's been licking them like crazy and hell if she thinks she's having these puppies on my pretty couches! Gordo thinks I'm going overboard.

"What's this string for?"

"To tie off the umbilical cord."


It's been 55 days since she jumped out the window and my husband finally believes that she is pregnant. And of course it wasn't the x-rays that changed his mind. Los Cruz don't believe in all that Western medicine crap. Bring on the spells, bring on the brujas! Actually, when I showed him the x-rays, with the clearly defined spinal cords and rib cages of 2 dogs, he said, "I just don't see it." No, the x-ray didn't convince him. He finally believes me because Lucy is enormous. I feel horrible for her. She won't go on a walk anymore and when I took her outside to use the restroom this morning, she did her business, took 2 steps to get away from her business, and then practically collapsed in exhaustion. Poor girl. "This is all your daddy's fault," I tell her.

"Hey baby, if you thought cutting the umbilical cord was gross, wait till you watch Lucy eat a placenta."

"QUE?!" (Oh he's listening now, isn't he?)

"Yeah, you heard me right. Placenta. P-L-A-C-E-N-T-A."


"And make sure she doesn't eat more that one. She'll get diarrhea"


"Gordo, now do you see why we should have had her spayed?! Didn't you ever pay attention to Bob Barker?"