Easy Restaurant Style Salsa

I do not like salsa from a jar and believe me, I’ve tried several different kinds and pretty much find it inedible. Fresh, restaurant style salsa is where it’s at and it’s taken me several years to perfect my own recipe, which I modeled after my favorite Mexican restaurant Los Bravos.

Making your own is so easy and can easily be adapted to taste.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

1 Can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes (I like Kroger brand)
1 Can of Whole Tomatoes OR 2 cans of Diced Tomatoes
Garlic to taste
Fresh Cilantro
Juice of 1 Lime
Salt
Onions or hot peppers

Directions:

Combine everything in a food processor or blender (I used my Ninja). I don’t add much salt, so I just recommend a pinch or two to taste. Pulse on a low speed for a minute or two until everything is mixed well.

You can eat immediately! I like to put mine in the fridge for a few hours at least until chilled. Serve with your favorite chips and enjoy.

 

In search of the best donut in Indy

National Donut Day is June 7th, and for the past couple months, I’ve been on a quest to find the best donut in the Indianapolis area. I’m pretty partial to Donut Bank in southern Indiana – I grew up near Evansville and nothing can quite compare to that glazed yeast donut perfection that they’ve got going on.

But Indianapolis has some great options too, and my first stop was Long’s Bakery in Southport. People consistently tell you that Long’s is the best in town; they’ve been a staple in the area for over 50 years and only accept cash, so be prepared for that if you plan to go. Their glazed yeast donut was pretty delicious, but still couldn’t quite compare to the memory of Donut Bank.

So, I kept searching. My next stop took me to Rise ‘n’ Roll in Greenwood. They’re not exactly local – after an Amish couple franchised their bakery, locations began popping up in other Indiana towns, and this new establishment took over an old veterinarian clinic on the south side little over a year ago.

I’m going to say something now that will anger the Indy locals: Rise “n” Roll was better than Long’s. This donut was a fluffy and perfect yeast donut with caramel icing and rainbow sprinkles. Absolutely delicious, and I could have eaten several more.

Sorry guys, sometimes the truth hurts!

My next stop was The Dancing Donut in Broad Ripple. They definitely get bonus points for having an adorable shop and donut truck!

However, the donut itself wasn’t really anything special. I had the brown butter crumble which I thought might taste similar to the topping on a Dutch apple pie, but really didn’t. It was kind of bland, so I’m not sure that I would get that flavor again.

After that, I tried Donut Refinery in Carmel, which has one of the most instagrammable aesthetics in their shop.

They also have a fun ordering process – you grab a pink clipboard, fill out your order form, turn it in and wait for your creation to be done! All of Donut Refinery’s donuts are cake donuts, but you can add all kinds of fun toppings like cereal, bacon, oreos, M&Ms or sprinkles.

I went race weekend and they put adorable checkered flags on my donuts! The cake donut with vanilla glaze and sprinkles tasted a lot like birthday cake, so I was pretty thrilled with that. So cute!

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Many people also suggested that I try Jacks’s Donuts, which I’d kind of had before when I tried TeeJay’s Ice Cream Donut Sandwich. They use their donuts when making their sweet creations, but to be fair when ranking, I had to stop in and eat an ice cream-less donut.

It was fine – comparable to Long’s. Maybe not AS good, but better than Dancing Donut. I had two glazed yeast donuts at Jack’s and they seemed quite a bit bigger than Long’s. I would definitely go back and try another kind as well – there was a bacon maple donut that looked pretty tasty!

Next, my quest took me to Rebellion Donuts in the downtown City Market. I’d never actually been inside the market before but it was really cool! So many food vendors and it smelled divine inside. The market itself is a renovated historical landmark and every booth is locally owned, so you’re getting something homegrown and unique.

Rebellion’s first location is in Noblesville and they opened the City Market location earlier this year. Their selection is more upscale and the flavors range from lemon tart to spiced caramel apple in the fall.

I went with the ever popular Nutella and OH MY GOODNESS was it ever good. Coated with sugar and cinnamon and filled with a rich chocolate hazelnut spread. I only had one and totally could have eaten more. This one is definitely a contender for first place!

And finally, the great donut search ended with Titus Bakery in Westfield. It was quite the haul up there from the south side, so I don’t know if I will go back anytime soon, but they seemed to be a pretty popular spot on the north side.

Titus has a TON of different flavors and also serve sandwiches, so you can have lunch or breakfast at their Westfield location. The original location is in Lebanon, and it has a cute donut mural on the side of the building, but I just didn’t have time to go all the way up there.

The donut I went with here was the maple bacon. I wanted to try something different and while it was really good, it was SO sweet that it was hard to finish. It tasted a lot like pancakes and syrup! I’m not sure I’d get this kind of donut again because of how sweet it was.

I’m sure there are many other fine donut establishments in town, and if I’ve missed any you think are worth checking out, please let me know! This was a lot of fun and something I worked on for several months and while I’m pretty donuted out, I do have a verdict to share.

Drum roll please…Rise ‘n’ Roll is the best donut in Indianapolis! That caramel sprinkle donut just couldn’t be topped. Long’s comes in second place, followed by Rebellion, Donut Refinery, Jack’s, Titus, then Dancing Donut.

Public Greens

Since 2014, Public Greens has been giving back to the community through its one of a kind restaurant model. Started by the Patachou Foundation, their mission is to “feed wholesome meals to food-insecure school children in our community and teach them to create healthy habits.”

100% of their restaurant profits go to The Patachou Foundation, which in turn serves children prepackaged breakfast and lunch meals to children in schools who fall below the poverty line.

Public Greens employs a local farmer to tend to the gardens and they grow their own produce to be used in their restaurant kitchens. The garden stretches for several blocks through Indianapolis’ Broad Ripple Village and it’s fully planted with crops and edible flowers.

They also have bees on the property near the Monon Trail.

The menu changes monthly, depending on what’s in season and what’s not grown on the property is sourced from other local farmers with special attention paid to humanely raised proteins and house made desserts.

Martha Hoover, owner of The Patachou Foundation said the inspiration behind Public Greens was to do more than just making a donation somewhere. “We felt that it was time to stop asking the same questions in the community – it was time to make a real difference by doing, rather than just writing a check.”

I ate at the Broad Ripple location and had a delicious lunch of Israeli couscous with roasted cauliflower and a chili lime brisket taco.

Since the original location opened in Broad Ripple, two other cafeterias have opened in the Indianapolis area. The second opened last spring at the Fashion Mall and a third location this January in the downtown Cummins Inc.

Easy Cheesy Mexican Skillet Rice

I think I could eat Mexican food every night of the week. Tacos, burritos, chimichangas, chips, salsa, queso…need I go on? I also love the Mexican rice that goes along with these dishes in the more traditional Mexican restaurants, so when we have a taco night at home, I usually try to make a version of it myself.

After trying several similar recipes I found on Pinterest, I just wasn’t all that satisfied with the final product, so I started adapting them to my liking. What I ended up with is a staple that’s good enough to eat by itself!

My recipe makes enough for two people plus a little extra for leftovers. If your family is bigger, you’ll need to double up on ingredients.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 cup of white rice
1 16 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 cup of water OR chicken broth (you can use vegetable broth too)
Fresh cilantro
Frozen corn (I like Trader Joe’s Mexican Style Roasted Corn)
Frozen peas and carrots
Chili powder seasoning (I also like Trader Joe’s chili lime seasoning)
Salt
Pepper
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

How to make it:

Add your rice and water or chicken broth to a large, deep dish skillet. Cook for 5 – 10 minutes, then add in the tomato sauce, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. Mix and cover; cook on medium high heat for another 10 – 15 minutes.

Make sure you stir the mixture from time to time so it doesn’t stick to the pan.

Add in the corn, peas and carrots. Cook 5 – 10 minutes more until the rice and vegetables are cooked through.

Top with fresh cilantro, shredded cheese, serve and enjoy!

*You could probably also make this in an Instant Pot. My suggestion for that would be to throw everything in the pot, cook for 8 minutes, then do a natural release for 10. I have not tested this with this recipe, but if you did do the Instant Pot instead, I would up the amount of water or broth that you use so it doesn’t dry it out.