Asparagus Tamales at Los Hernandez Tamales

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May 282014

a collage of pictures of Los Hernandez Tamales shop

This past weekend we loaded up the kids and dogs into the ol’ family truckster and headed east toward Union Gap and the land of sunny skies and desert vistas in search of asparagus tamales. Union Gap is in the Yakima Valley in Eastern Washington (one of the premier asparagus growing regions in the US) and the season for asparagus is a short one – it can be just six weeks long. Earlier this winter I saw a blurb in the AAA magazine for the asparagus tamales at Los Hernandez Tamales. I love tamales in general, and asparagus too, so I pinned up the article to save for springtime.

When we got there there was a steady stream of customers, and all of the seats in the small restaurant were full. I had a brief moment of panic when the counter woman said the asparagus tamales were sold out, but it turned out she just meant the frozen ones. We ordered a dozen asaparagus, plus two pork and two chicken tamales for the kids.

asparagus and pork tamales from Los Hernandez Tamales

The tamales were delicious – stuffed with chunks of fat asparagus spears and subtly spicy pepper jack cheese. We ate our picnic lunch at a shady table near the playground at the lovely Yakima Greenway and then took a leisurely drive home via Chinook Pass, where there was still a good 10 feet of snow on the sides of the road.  Who knows how much longer the season will go this year, but we’re sure happy we got a chance to sample the tamales!

May 262014

clean spinach and white bean hummus recipe

Because I’m on a health and fitness kick right now, I’ve been trying to come up with healthier versions of things I love to eat. I’m trying to follow some clean eating principles like less processed foods and leaner proteins. Regular hummus is pretty healthy as is, but I developed this clean spinach and white bean hummus to eliminate some of the fat (so that I can eat it in something else in the day!). It’s got a great earthy flavor that works well paired with vegetables or crackers, and also tastes delicious as a condiment in a wrap or sandwich.

clean spinach and white bean hummus recipe

Clean Spinach and White Bean Hummus

  • 1 can (15 oz.) white beans (Great Northern or Cannellini beans work well)
  • 5 oz. fresh baby spinach (1/2 of the typical clamshell or bag of washed spinach you find at the supermarket)
  • 1 large clove of garlic (peeled but whole)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch of cayenne


1. In a small saucepan heat a quarter cup of water to a simmer, then add the garlic clove to the water and let it blanch for 30 seconds or so. Leave the garlic clove whole so that it’s easier to fish out later.

2. Add the spinach to the water and cook it briefly until it wilts – then scoop it out with a slotted spoon or tongs (to let the water drain off) and transfer it to a bowl or directly to your blender/food processor. Make sure you get the garlic clove out as well. Save the water in the pan for now in case you need to add more liquid to the hummus – you probably won’t need to but if you do it will be tastier to add the spinach/garlic water than plain water.

3. Now it’s time to blend. In the bowl of your food processor or blender, combine the white beans, spinach (make sure to leave behind any extra water in the bowl), garlic, salt, cumin and cayenne and blend until it reaches the consistency you prefer. You might need to start out by pulsing the machine to get going, and depending on the ingredients you might need to add a bit more water to thin it out, but make sure not to add more liquid right away or it will be too runny.

4. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, and enjoy!

Note: If you’re making this ahead to serve later, you’ll want to add a bit of olive oil to prevent it from darkening slightly. Otherwise, keep it in the fridge well covered or in a airtight container and it will be good for a few days.

clean spinach and white bean hummus recipe with breadstick garnish

Embellished Burp Cloths for a New Baby Gift

 make it  Comments Off on Embellished Burp Cloths for a New Baby Gift
May 092014

burp cloths 4

All mamas with new babies need burp cloths, and generally they need a lot of them (unless they enjoy doing laundry). We recently welcomed a special little one into our extended family and I wanted to make her mama a little welcome home baby gift. I know that with my littles I used a ton of prefold cloth diapers as burp cloths and while they’re functional they’re not very attractive. Instead I made the new mom a set of embellished burp cloths, using plain prefold diapers as a base.

burp cloths 1

Fortunately there’s an easy way to embellish burp cloths to make them cuter (and even a bit softer for that new baby skin). I found some attractive cotton flannel at my local fabric shop, and using the folds in the diapers as a guide I sewed panels of flannel on top. Two of the embellished burp cloths ended up with a center panel of flannel, and one of the cloths has a flannel border. The border I stitched on in a similar method to binding a quilt – sewing one side on and then turning the binding over and sewing it to the other side.

burp cloths 3

With the wide range of flannels available at the average craft or fabric store, you can find prints to match any nursery, outfit or mood. These burp cloths were made with mom’s style in mind, but of course there are a million cute baby prints as well. This is a fun project to make, from picking out the accent flannel to sewing the panels.

burp cloths 2

One last tip: If you do make these for a gift, consider sewing them without pre-washing the diapers and flannel – the washing caused the flannel to pill a bit and they would have been more attractive without it (although it also made the flannel softer).

burp cloth Collage


May 022014

clean eating turkey chile recipe

Since it’s springtime and summer’s just around the corner, I’ve been trying to eat a little healthier and shed some of my winter padding. Luckily for me I have a preschool friend who’s become a Beachbody rep (the company behind P90X and Insanity) and she recently hosted a clean eating challenge on Facebook complete with a meal plan and ‘clean’ recipes. All of the recipes she shared were quite good, but the Clean Eating Turkey Chili was the recipe my whole family enjoyed the most. Now the idea behind the clean eating movement (at least as I understand it) is to eat fresh, unrefined food with lots of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins and to avoid most processed, premade foods, caffeine, alcohol and refined grains and sugars. Sounds pretty sensible and it’s the way we usually tend to eat at home anyways but it’s always nice to have a little more accountability and encouragement, especially around weight loss, so I joined in for the week.

Of course I have trouble sticking exactly to any recipe, so like always I put my own spin on this one. I mean, what’s the fun in cooking if you can’t improvise a bit? I kept the heat from the spices pretty low so that I didn’t get any complaints from the little ones, but I like to add pickled jalapenos to my own serving for extra kick – a little hot sauce or salsa would work nicely as well. If you really want to make this recipe ‘clean’ you can cook the beans from scratch and roast the green chiles (use Anaheim or Poblano chiles) instead of using canned ones.

Clean Eating Turkey Chili
Serves 6

  • 1 TBS Vegetable oil
  • 2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange) chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tomatillos, peeled, rinsed and chopped
  • 1.5 lbs lean turkey, ground
  • 1 TBS cumin
  • 1 TBS chili powder
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 7oz. can diced green chiles (with their juice)
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed (or use other beans of your choice)
  • 2 cups water
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a dutch oven or other large pan over medium high heat and add the onion and bell peppers, sauteing for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are softened and browned.  Add the minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more, then add the diced tomatillos and cook, stirring constantly until the tomatillos start to soften and give up some of their juice. Remove the vegetables to a bowl and return the pan to the heat.

2. Add the ground turkey to the pan and season with kosher salt, pepper, and the cumin and chili powder. While stirring, use a spoon or spatula to break up the turkey into small pieces. Once the turkey is cooked through and browned in some spots, add back the vegetables along with the crushed tomatoes.

3. Stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix in the browned bits from the vegetables and turkey. Add the diced green chiles with their liquid, the beans and the two cups of water, mix well and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.

4. Serve as is, or accompanied with pickled jalapenos, minced scallions and sliced black olives as toppings.


clean turkey chili

I’m sharing this post at some of these great link parties – check ‘em out!