Weekday Fiesta

¡Ay Caramba! Another week, another set of Mexican recipes from Rachael Ray. This woman really has a thing for Mexican food, and I commend her for coming up with so many of these delicious ethnic recipes. When Rachael Ray is craving Mexican she makes a new recipe. When everyone else craves Mexican they go to Chipotle. I usually just follow the Chipotle train, but not tonight. I am having a Weekday Fiesta (OLAY!) which consists of: Rio Grande Spice Rub Strip Steaks, Cracked Corn and Cheese Squares, and Mexican Fiesta Salad. ¡Consigamos de cocinar ! (That means lets get cooking in Spanish…according to Google Translate).

This week’s adventure started yesterday (Tuesday) with my trip to Trader Joe’s. I had a buddy who accompanied me on this trip: one of my good friends, George. George had a break between classes and offered to go to the store with me. He met me outside my dorm and we walked to Trader Joe’s together. George lives on Long Island and had never been to a Trader Joe’s in Manhattan before…needless to say he was shocked, just like everyone else’s reaction when they first enter the store. At first, I pushed the cart and he read off the list of ingredients I needed, but that was killing my groove so I made him push the cart. I felt like a mom telling him where to go; I even led the cart from the front like a mom would. About halfway through the trip he was really questioning why he came and kept saying “you better save some steak for me.” He lost it whenever I told him to park himself somewhere, and so he left. That wasn’t the only reason he left, though, his class also started in 10 minutes (he wasn’t actually mad at me, he never gets mad at me cause I’m awesome). It’s funny, for the only reason he came with me was because he wanted to be a super hero and carry my bag of heavy groceries home. Curse the long line of Trader Joe’s, but thank God my grocery bag wasn’t heavy this trip.

Of course there were a few things I couldn’t get at Trader Joe’s so I stopped by Fairway for two specific spices. I was surprised both stores were out of cilantro, but I was not in the mood to go to Whole Foods and decided to pick up the last ingredient on Wednesday.

Fast forward to today (Wednesday). I had an hour break from 2-3 so I ran some errands. One of the errands was to pick up cilantro at Whole Foods. I picked the worst time of day to go because the check out lines were insane! Not as insane as Trader Joe’s, but still ridiculous. I made it back just in time for my 3 o’clock class. Phew.

After class I had to run two more errands before it was cooking time. I mistakenly bought a spice from Trader Joe’s that I already had, so I returned it. Then I ran to Bed Bath & Beyond for a glass baking dish. I was so unbelievably happy because I purchased a value pack of 4 different sized glass dishes. It was like Christmas morning for me. Nothing makes me happier than new kitchen supplies. NOTHING.

It was somewhat of a struggle carrying the set home 8 blocks… I have no upper body strength, and was dripping sweat on the way home. Workout of the day: complete thanks to my new dish set.

As soon as I got home, Nicolette came over and we got to cooking. First we made the batter for the Cracked Corn and Cheese Squares. We threw in so much cheese, then put it in the oven. Mmmm I love cheese, so I was pumped to eat the squares.

Next, Nicolette prepared the salad and I prepared the steaks. The amount of spice I put on the steaks freaked me out a bit. I was basically setting my mouth up for a 5-alarm fire. I rubbed 4 different spices into the steaks: ancho chili powder, cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper. HOT HOT HOT.

Guess who was ecstatic to use the stove this week…that’s right, me. You know why? Because maintenance finally fixed our front burner. HALLELUIAH. This burner had literally been broken since October. To finally have a fully working stove was a God sent gift. Looking back now…I didn’t even use the fixed burner tonight, but I was still so happy that it was fixed.

As I cooked the steaks, Nicolette worked on the salad. I don’t even want to call it a salad because it was just some avocado and tomato wedges piled on a plate and drizzled with lime. I don’t know, to me that is not a salad, just a plate piled with some Mexican-ish veggies. Whatever.

Well, everything was finished at just about the same time. We piled our plates with steak, onions, salad, and cracked corn and cheese squares. As we scooped the squares out of the dish, all of the cheese oozed out. It was truly a beautiful sight. After cutting the steak, we realized that 5 minutes on each side was not enough time, so we put the steaks back on the stove for about 2 minutes.

Now it was time for the moment of truth…well almost. Nicolette touched her finger to her steak then onto her mouth and started gagging because of the spice…

Nicolette’s gagging scared both of us, so I poured us glasses of water. Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying any attention while I was pouring and I overfilled my cup. It seemed as if we would never get to try our meal. We mopped up the water, and then, after a bit of a delay it was time for the moment of truth.

3..2..1….YUM YUM YUM DELICIOSO. The steak was nowhere near too spicy, it had the perfect subtle kick to it. The cracked corn and cheese squares…don’t even get me started on those…MMM. They were slightly sweet and complimented the spiciness of the steaks to a T. As for the salad…It was an avocado drenched in lime juice. Can you really call that a salad? I mean, I ate it and it was good, but is that really a salad? I don’t think so. At least it fit the Mexican theme.

After Nicolette and I cleaned up, she treated me to frozen yogurt…she is the best sous chef ever. I wouldn’t want anyone else cooking by my side.

Now here we have another Mexican fiesta to rate. I swear, the Mexican recipes are always the hardest (or easiest?) to rate because they are consistently delicious. Let’s start with the steaks. I’d give the Rio Grande Spice Rub Strip Steaks ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts. I can’t complain about them. Like I said above, they had the right amount of spice. This recipe would’ve received 5 hearts if we wouldn’t have had to throw them back on the stove to cook some more. I’m learning that with Rachael’s recipes, about 5 more minutes of cook time needs to be added. Nicolette and I both gave the Cracked Corn and Cheese Squares ♥♥♥♥♥(5) stars. All I can say is it really brought out the essence of Mexican food and when I put a square in my mouth, my taste buds began to salsa dance. Lastly, the Mexican Fiesta Salad receives ♥♥♥ (3) hearts. I’m still so confused on how this was a salad??? That was the lamest salad ever, but it still tasted good, so I’ll give it a thumbs up for flavor. I can definitely see why Rachael Ray has so many Mexican recipes: she is hellah good at creating them. I want to thank her for exposing me to food from such a beautiful culture. I look forward to my next fiesta meal. Gracias, Rachael Ray, mucho gracias.

P.S. As I was writing this blog post, my friends Chela and Morgan came in asking to try the food. I took the steak and cheese squares down to Chela’s room so Purple Ashley could have some too. I swear, the way they ate the squares looked as if they were malnourished children and this was the first food they had seen in weeks! I had to pry the dish out of their hands to get them to stop eating my squares, they were hypnotized by the taste. Morgan had some steak and she fell in love with it too. I guess if a career in advertising doesn’t work out for me, I could always become a cook!

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

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