Super Carnitas Chipotle Chili Bowl

Before I drop this massive blog of my New York & Washington D.C. trip that I took last month, let me entertain you guys with this chili that I made for the family last weekend. Pondering what I should make for the big game, I wanted something hearty and fulfilling yet with a kick of heat. I’ve been on a love of Mexican food lately so I’ve been experimenting with a bunch of ingredients and flavors. This one was a winner and I think you’d agree once you give it a try. In spirit of the Super Bowl, I called it the Super Carnitas Chipotle Chili Bowl.

This recipe takes a bunch of mise en place (everything in its place) and requires that you have your prep ready before you begin. If you have all the items laid out as I have pictured above, trust me, this dish will be easy to execute.

The night before you need to rinse and soak the black eyed peas. It’s pretty inexpensive and easy to do. Drain the water and set aside.

With poblano peppers, there’s a trick to doing this. You’re going to roast them on an open flame on your stove top. Have a plastic bag ready because once you roast all sides you’re going to throw the poblanos in the bag to steam them so the skin comes of and cooks the peppers.

With the guajillo chilis all you need to do is boil them in a pot of water until softened and then mince.

Next step is the pork. Cut the pork butt in 1 inch cubes and brown in a pot with oil, salt and pepper. Once that’s done, set aside before shredding.

From here on out, all you basically have to do is throw everything in the pot. In the same pot you browned the pork, add oil and saute the onions and garlic.

Now throw in all the peppers and spices plus the corn meal. The corn meal will be your thickener.

Toss in your favorite type of beer. Yes beer! One can.

Bring that up to a simmer then add the pork sausage.

Next you’re going to add your chicken stock. It’s helpful to have it warmed in a separate pot so that you don’t have to wait for the chili to bring it up to boil.

Now you’re going to add your shredded pork aka carnitas!

Then the black eyed peas.

You’ll then have something like this as your finished product. Be sure to taste and add salt if needed.

Garnish with all the toppings and you’re done! Enjoy!

Super Carnitas Chipotle Chili Bowl


● 1/2 onion diced
● 1/2 green bell pepper diced
● 4-5 tomatillos diced
● 2 large poblanos roasted and diced
● 1/2 lb black eyed peas
● 2 lbs pork butt
● 1 lb breakfast sausage
● 1 T cumin
● 2 guajillo chilis
● 3 cloves garlic minced
● 1/4 c corn meal
● 1 qt chicken stock (not pictured)
● 1 t red pepper flakes (optional)


● Sour cream
● Green onions
● Cilantro, Queso fresco
● Lime
● Tortilla chips (optional)


Happy New Year!


My blog is a year old! It’s pretty crazy how I started this thing over a year ago when my passion for food has always been around. The past few months have been pretty crazy with some nonstop cooking and eating. I’ve been neglecting the blog though because I’ve found a program called Instagram. Most of my food photos have been finding their way there so if you have Instagram you can follow me there @MJO23DAN

I will not forget my fans though as I have just recently gotten back from Washington D.C. and New York City. The experience and food there has been amazing and I hope to document my travels on here shortly. Stay tuned for more food of love as the journey continues…HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna w/ a Watermelon Basil Slaw

Summertime is over and the weather is changing. Time to start bundling up and to start eating more stick to your rib meals right? Not! Well, maybe in another episode but today, here is a light, healthy and refreshing dish you can make at home in less than 30 minutes.

This is a sesame crusted ahi tuna with a watermelon & basil slaw. Ahi tuna is best fresh. I couldn’t really find it at the regular grocery store so I went to a specialty Japanese market. They charge an arm and a leg a pound ($24.99) but a 1/2 pound is about all you’re going to need for this meal. If you can get fresh fish and produce, by all means go for it. Your body and mind will thank you later. Let’s start with the ingredients.

You can start by making the soy sauce. We’re going to be using a thicker consistency soy sauce so the best way to do this is with a little corn starch and water. Heat the soy sauce in a sauce pan and wait for it to bubble. Once that’s going, add your corn starch and water until the soy sauce starts to thicken. If it ends up becoming too thick, don’t panic. Add a little more water until you have a loose (not too loose) consistency. You want it to start looking like teriyaki sauce.

Now we can slice up some watermelon. Tiny cubes look good.

Now to chiffonade some basil. You may be thinking to yourself basil and watermelon go together? The two are an awesome pair!

Use a separate bowl to place the watermelon. Add some black cracked pepper, sea salt and the basil.

With the ahi tuna you’re going to want to ask your butcher to slice up a 1/2 pound of ahi tuna lengthwise. When you slice it up as the finished project, it’s going to look like sushi rolls. On a separate plate, mix both white and dark sesame seeds. I have both colors because the contrast between the two with the red of the fish looks great. You’re going to want to completely cover the entire fish with sesame seeds. Add some oil to a hot pan and add the fish searing all 4 sides no more than 45 secs each side.

When you take it out of the pan, place it on a cutting board and let rest for 2 mins and slice on the bias to get that fanned out look. Make sure you have a sharp knife! I had to sharpen mine after I messed up on some cuts.

Next grab a pretty plate and the soy sauce you made earlier, place it in a squeeze bottle and make some cool lines.

Mix the watermelon slaw up with your hands lightly and add it on top of the soy sauce.

Last but not least, line the ahi tuna on top of the watermelon and you’re all set to enjoy a wonderful meal in less than 30 minutes. Impress your friends and make this dish tonight! They’ll swear this was made in a restaurant!

Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna w/ a Watermelon Basil Slaw


● 6 oz fresh Ahi tuna
● 1/4 top of a ripe watermelon
● 5-6 leaves basil chiffonade
● 1/2 c soy sauce
● 1 tsp corn starch
● Fresh cracked pepper
● Sea salt
● Black sesame seeds
● White sesame seeds

Korean Tacos with Homemade Salsas

One of my favorite tacos out there when I first took a bite into one and with love of fusion cooking is the Korean taco. If you’ve ever had Korean food before it’s sweet, savory, vinegary and mighty tasty. Mexican food on the other hand is tart, fresh and fulfilling. Why not mix the two and have a great marriage? Here we go with an awesome recipe you will love to make for yourself and/or your family tonight. I guarantee it will be a hit!

What we want to do first is make the marinade. I’ve tried the overnight version and the 4 hour version and to me there isn’t a difference. You’re going to be cutting the meat up just like you would carne asada but you’ll be cooking it in it’s own marinade. Here’s what you’ll need:

I forgot to picture the kiwi so here it is.

To work with a blender, you’ll want to pre cut your ingredients so the blender doesn’t have to work too hard. I’ve broken a few blenders in my day because I overworked it. You don’t want to break your blender. The liquid you add in your blender will also help move the items around. Remember this when working with salsa which we will discuss right now.

Everybody in the pool!

While you wait for your meat to marinate in the refrigerator, you can prepare an assortment of salsas. Before you I have prepared 4 different kinds. You don’t have to use all 4. One or two will do the trick. For the Korean taco recipe itself, I usually make a spicy mayo sauce but I have omitted this. I felt that this particular recipe did not need it but if you still would like to use it it’s basically:

3 T Mayo
1 1/2 T powdered sugar
1 T sriracha
1 tsp paprika

The first salsa is pretty basic. It’s tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, red onion, white onion, cilantro, 1 small jalapeno, 1 lime, salt

The second salsa is a tomatillo salsa. It’s tomatillos, white onion, cilantro, lime, 2 cloves roasted garlic, 1/2 c of water and salt. The best way to bring out the flavor to this salsa is to roast or grill the tomatillos. The tomatillos will begin to char and soften. To roast garlic, basically put garlic in foil with some olive oil. Wrap it up and put it on the grill. The garlic is done when the tomatillos are done.

The third salsa is a guajillo chile salsa and probably my favorite one to put on a taco because of the heat and it’s flavor. There is a series of steps you need to take in order for this salsa to work. It pretty much borders the tomatillo salsa with the same ingredients just that you add reconstituted dried chiles. As you’ll see in the pictures below you’ll be roasting the guajillo chiles and reconstituting them in boiling water to soften them, blend them and then adding the tomatillo salsa to it.

The fourth salsa is as basic as the first. It’s tomato, avocado, cilantro, lime, salt.

I will go ahead and let the pictures do the explaining…

The finished product!

Korean Tacos
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Korean Tacos

by mjbarias


● 3lbs cubed beef
● 1 small onion quartered
● ½ Asian pear quartered
● 1 kiwi quartered
● 8 garlic cloves
● ¼ c chopped ginger
● ½ c brown sugar
● ½ c sugar
● 2 T sesame oil
● ¾ c soy sauce
● 1 ½ c water
● ½ small cabbage julienned
● ½ c vinegar
● 2 T sugar
● ¼ c vinegar
● 2 T sugar
● ¼ tsp salt
● ½ cabbage julienned


Prepare marinade with onion, asian pear, kiwi, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce and water. Working with a blender works best if you pre cut ingredients beforehand. I marinate everything and anything in 1 gallon plastic bags. Once you cube up beef you will be using, pour marinade in the plastic bag and marinate 4 hours or overnight.

Drain some of the liquid and use a hot wok. No oil is necessary and allow the marinade to dry up with the beef during the cooking process. Once the beef begins to caramelize and soak up all the liquid, you’re done.

Quinoa & Arugula Salad

Since it’s still summer, I wanted to create something fresh, with a little bite and incredibly delicious. I fell in love with this salad I had recently ate at a local restaurant. I figured why spend the money on a restaurant quality salad when i can make something similar at home? I’m one of those that won’t order a salad if I’m super hungry but this was something I wanted to try. It’s very easy to make and you can make it any day of the week! So get to the grocery store and pick up these ingredients!

You’ll want to start with 2 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa. This measurement will yield at least 3 cups of cooked quinoa.

With a particular grain, you’ll want to rinse with cold water. Use a fine mesh strainer.

Add the quinoa to boiling water and salt. Fluff up the quinoa with a fork.

Next you’ll want to toast up some pine nuts.

Now on to julienne the fresh veggies. Armenian cucumber is treated just like a regular cucumber. The difference is the skin is a bit more palatable (no bitterness) and the seeds are smaller as you don’t need to scrape them off. They are perfect as is.

Now champagne vinegar is a bit expensive. For a 6.8 fl oz bottle it cost me about $10 at the grocery store. You can find it in the salad dressing aisle. If you can’t find it, white wine vinegar will suffice.

Now that you have your items ready to go, it’s time to assemble.

Spoon over dressing before you add the feta and you’re set!

Quinoa & Arugula Salad
Printer-friendly PDF version


● Quinoa
● Baby arugula
● Pine nuts
● Sun dried tomatoes
● Red onion
● Feta cheese
● Armenian cucumber
● Champagne vinegar
● Extra virgin olive oil
● Salt
● Fresh cracked pepper


In a pot of 2 cups of boiling water add 1 cup of quinoa on a medium to medium low heat. Add a pinch of salt and cook for about 15 minutes and fork quinoa to tenderness. In a sauté pan toast a ½ cup of pine nuts under a medium flame and set aside. Start to julienne the red onion, Armenian cucumber and sun dried tomatoes and set aside.

In a separate bowl for your dressing add 2 tablespoons of champagne vinegar to about a ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil with a pinch of salt to taste. Dressing should be slightly thick but have a good tartness to it.

Begin to build your salad with baby arugula, quinoa, pine nuts, Armenian cucumber, sun dried tomatoes, red onions and feta cheese on top. Spoon over champagne vinaigrette and add some fresh cracked black pepper.

Bravo’s Top Chef The Tour – Brentwood, CA

So piggy backing on the Napa Valley visit we did a couple weeks ago, Karen and 2 of our friends, Alma and Albert, decided to hit up Bravo’s Top Chef The Tour in Brentwood, CA. It is a 16 city tour in which Brentwood ended up being the 10th stop. I stumbled upon the announcement a few weeks back and since Top Chef is one of my favorite shows, why not give it a shot and head out. Especially since it was only an hour away and a free event.

I wasn’t able to grab pre-sale tickets during the announcement online quick enough but that was okay because I had emailed the host of the event and she said to just show up for a chance to catch the demo. We decided to head out early because it was going to be nearly 100 degrees outside. Show times were 10:30am, 12pm, 1:30pm and 3pm. We caught the 10:30am show and good thing we got there early because we were able to put our names at the top of the wait list. We were fortunate enough to sit front row and two chefs from the show that were showcasing were Angelo Sosa and Casey Thompson.

The host of the show basically explained that the two chefs were going to go head to head on a quickfire challenge (just like the show) and incorporate 1 main ingredient for their dish. Before they were introduced though, the host had asked if 3 lucky participants from the audience would like to be guest judges. I quickly raised my hand (actually I raised both) and Karen, Alma and Albert were all pointing in my direction so I was chosen first to come up. Such a surreal experience as the host had told us that we were able to taste and judge the food at the end of the demo. Audience members were also able to sample dishes that were showcased in the quickfire.

Here are two snippets of videos I took while up on the judges table. One explains Casey’s plan to open her new restaurant in Napa Valley in 2013 called Carnivora. I think I covered up part of the mic on the video. Sorry about that.

The other video Angelo answers why he loves Asian food so much.

Both chefs were given 15 minutes for the quickfire challenge. The main ingredient was pork loin. Angelo made a chorizo seared pork loin with fried egg puree and Korean apple chutney while Casey played off a street fair corndog wrapped in shoestring potatoes in 2 types of sauces. A sriracha base sauce and a mayonnaise aioli. I was in total awe but the winner for this challenge was Angelo.

I leave this blog with the rest of the pictures taken at the event. Games, activities and autograph session. Such a fun and rewarding experience and a great addition to my food blog. Enjoy!

Napa Valley

My birthday is coming up in a couple of days and last year I had the opportunity to dine at one of the Iron Chef’s restaurants, Masaharu Morimoto, deep in the heart of Napa, CA which is simply called, Morimoto.

This year, my food travels take me back to Napa Valley to eat at another fabulous restaurant and the 2011 2nd runner up to Food Network’s, The Next Iron Chef, Michael Chiarello and his restaurant named, Bottega.

Since I’ve been living in Northern California and my interest is always food, I figured, why not travel and eat at celebrity chef restaurants and joints? Might as well take advantage and Napa Valley is just so lush and inviting to visit. There are other restaurants on my list but I’ll save them for next time. Here is how the day was planned out.

I knew I wanted to get my hands dirty and get the day started with some fun. I always wanted to do a cooking class. Not so much to learn a new recipe but to also test my skills back in a professional kitchen, meet other people and gather techniques and styles. Well meeting other people didn’t fair so well as my wife and I were the only ones to show up for the class at the Whole Foods in Napa, CA. Still perfect because not only did we get a one on one with the chef, but we also got to keep all the food we made!

I had a buy one bring a partner for free coupon off the web. The class was $35 and what better partner than my wife of which we recently celebrated 12 years of togetherness. We were greeted by Chef Scott Davis aka The Culinary Dude and the recipes he aligned us with for the day. We were going to be making 3 different types of tamales which were sweet corn, chicken and sweet pineapple along with 2 different sauces. One was a base tamale sauce and the other a mole (mo-lay) sauce.

This was the nice kitchen we worked from. If only my kitchen looked like this at home I’d be set!

My wife and I hammered out 3 different types of masa for the tamales which were pretty simple. The prep work such as boiling the corn husks and preparing ties were done by Chef Scott. All we had to do was create the dough, prepare the sauces and make the tamales. We spent a nice 2 1/2 hours just talking food and life. It was quite relaxing!

Next up, we had some time to check out the Jelly Belly Factory which was nearby south of Napa in Fairfield, CA. We took the free tour which was supposed to be 35-40 minutes but ended up being over an hour long. We didn’t stay the entire time due to time constraints and having to make our dinner reservation at 5pm so we had to cut the tour short half way through. We did happen to take some samples and a few pictures. Here those are.

We finally get to the creme de la creme, Bottega. I’ve been a fan of Michael Chiarello since I saw him on the Food Network last season. I had googled other things about him and really wanted to try his restaurant. How convenient that it was somewhat close so I decided to make a reservation. Here is exactly what also got me hooked!

I told the staff when I made the reservation that I was celebrating my birthday but it wasn’t for a few days (yeah I kinda cheated) but I do consider it being an anniversary dinner since it’s been 12 years since I asked my wife to be mine.

Here with my card. The photo was off focus so I didn’t get a good shot. Realized this after we had left Napa.

The plates are awesome and I love how Chef Chiarello’s Bottega and logo are on the plate so you KNOW where this food is coming from. The copper type drinking cups keep the drinks cold!

We didn’t get to meet Chef Chiarello since he wasn’t in house but here are some take home flyers.

Okay so appetizer is up. Did you get to see the video yet? If you haven’t, please watch it first before continuing!! You’ll understand why the items were ordered!

First up is the Pasta Fritta. Organic Prosciutto “house cured”, white balsamic strawberries, lambrusco “nuvola”, pickled crosnes & basil.

Lambrusco is a type of Italian wine which is the foam. Notice how this foam is purple in color while the one in the video is white. Two different kinds of wine. Crosnes are grown wild in Northern China and are referred as Chinese artichokes. They are tubers and considered a sign of good luck and longevity.

So you put it all together and you get this awesome punch of flavor in one bite!

Some wood grilled bread with some olive oil, garlic and I forget what else was in it but it was delicious!

The view up above from the west end of the restaurant which gave some awesome light and ambiance.

Potato dough Raviolo filled with spinach and ricotta, black truffles, farm fresh egg yolk, sage browned butter.

Wood Grilled Loin of Grass-Fed Lamb, saffron braised potatoes, green onions, pistachio pesto & rosemary scented lamb jus

MmmmMMm, MmmMMmmm, MmmmMMMMmmmmMM!

We ended the experience with this highly reviewed bakery just across the street called Bouchon Bakery. There was a line out the door but not so bad.

I thought the coke bottles were pretty interesting lined up above the espresso machine so I decided to snap a pic of them.

Here is what we took home. Four different flavors of macarons, espresso, pistachio, coconut and hazelnut. A chocolate ganache tart, one of their famous chocolate chip brownies and a sticky bun.

The day ended with a picture of me and my honey just outside the restaurant. There was this vine wrapped walkway that just looked fitting to say thank you to my wife for sharing the day with me. Until next time!