December 21, 2010

Where to Eat on Vacation

View Cancun Eats in a larger map

I love planning where I'm going to eat on vacation.  Last year in Italy, I carried around a piece of paper with lists organized by type, price, neighborhood etc.  This little list went with me everywhere!!  This year I've gotten a little more "with it".  

I started making my list not with pen and paper but my iphone.  I then realized I should be doing this in google, so I could pull up the list on my phone, Chris's phone or any computer!  So I started plugging my list into google and voila, my running list of where to eat in Cancun!  This is where my inner geek totally comes out.  Now wherever I am, I can pull my map up on my phone and I will see exactly where I am in relation to my next meal - brilliant.

This is my little gift from me to you!  

There is also a feature which allows other people to add destinations to the map.  So by all means, I welcome suggestions of where to eat on my next trip!

December 6, 2010

Hearty Beef Vegetable Soup

One of my good friends recently broke her foot.  We had dinner plans to go out but once she broke it, I thought it might be most comforting to pamper her with a homemade Beef & Vegetable soup.  The nice thing about homemade stock either beef or chicken is that it's extremely nourishing.  Since the stock begins with bones that are then cooked for hours, the nutrients from both the bone and the marrow fill the wonderful broth.  Once the stock was made, I packed the soup with lots of veggies.

You will notice I cooked the meat separate from the stock.  I like to make a stock and strain out any solids so the broth is beautiful and smooth.  Of course you don't have to do this, it is an extra step but I think it's worth it!

Beef Stock:
4 Beef Marrow bones (mine were split)
1/2 onion roughly chopped
5-10 cloves of garlic
1 carrot roughly chopped
3 stalks of celery roughly chopped
salt & pepper to taste
lots of fresh herbs, these can be left whole (I used rosemary, thyme, parsley & sage)
olive oil

Heat a large stock pot over medium heat - Add a tablespoon of olive oil to coat bottom.
Add bones and brown all sides
Add veggies, herbs, salt and pepper
Cook for 10 minutes allowing some color on the veggies
Fill pot with 6 cups of water - this should be enough water to cover bones & veggies
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat to a simmer and cover, the longer the better.  I left mine one for 6 hours
Once fat has solidified, skim the fat and strain. Discard the solids
Stock is now ready for soup!

1 pound top round - trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
2 carrots - cut into bite size pieces
2 stalks of celery - cut into bite size pieces
1 can peeled chopped tomatoes
1 onion finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic sliced
3 - 4 white potatoes cut into bite size pieces
1 can string beans
1 zucchini cut into bite size pieces
1 small package of sliced white mushrooms
salt and pepper
3/4 cup pearl barley
2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary (stemmed & finely minced)
4 sprigs of fresh thyme (stemmed & finely minced)

Heat a small pot over medium heat, add olive oil & meat
Continue to brown meat for 5 minutes
Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil
Reduce heat to a simmer and cover.  
This can cook along side the stock 4 - 6 hours

Heat a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add onions and mushrooms and cook until the onions turn translucent.
Add garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes, and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the rest of the vegetables, herbs, salt and pepper, and barley along with the stock and chopped meat and cooking juices.
Cook soup for an hour or until barley is tender
Serve with a great bread & butter.

This will taste better the next day - like most soups.  I can also be topped with a great Parmesan, the salt in the cheese helps to bring out the flavors!  I found a loaf of locally made hearty white bread from Whole Foods, this was wonderful for sopping up the broth.