Tag Archive for 'Silicon Valley Moms Blog'

Just when you thought….

that I couldn’t come up with anything more unusual than my submission to the chocolate contest, BAM, here I come to try to inspire you to make Cactus Taco Filling. Why? Well it is a fun vegetarian main or side dish alternative and it is a dish that will be well enjoyed!

While I have attempted to cross post from my original piece done for the SV Mom’s Blog, technical difficulties have prevailed on my end and I am now going to just do my best to fill your foodie appetite for a new recipe. That said, for the full story behind this recipe please do read on at Silicon Valley Mom’s Blog: Mi Pueblo San Rafael’s Newest Latin Supermarket

Cactus Taco Filling (Nopales en Ensalada)


1 ½ lbs paddle cactus leaves (nopales), spines removed cut the size of French Green Beans
4 TBS white vinegar
½ tsp oregano, dried but not ground
¼ cup cilantro plus more for garnish, fresh chopped
1 large potato, peeled then cubed
salt and pepper, to taste
1 yellow onion, sliced length-wise
3 tomatoes, diced
2 TBS vegetable oil
1 package corn tortillas, cooked
sour cream (optional)
Panela or cotija cheese (optional)

Mexican and other Latino markets, like Mi Pueblo, often sell prepared cactus leaves, which is MUCH easier than having to wear gloves and use a paring knife to remove spines. If you would like to see a good video on how to do this I recommend Zarela Martinez’s son, Food Network star, Aaron Sanchez clip that shows you how to work with Nopales & Chayotes.


Cut the fresh cactus leaves into strips. In a saucepan, boil cactus with 1/2 cup water and a large pinch of salt, covered, for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain and rinse well in cold water to remove the slippery film which develops from boiling. In a bowl, combine cactus with white wine vinegar, oregano and cilantro. Let sit for 30 minutes.

I typically cook my tortillas on top of an oven burner, at low heat, for 15-25 seconds on each side. This does tend to mess up an electric burner — it is a bit less of a mess on a gas burner. You can also pan fry them by spraying a non-stick spray in a pan and turning once on each side or there is always the popular oil pan fry method. To keep cooked tortillas warm, place in a cloth or paper towel on a plate while preparing the remainder of tortillas. Set aside. Note: Plastic wrap or aluminum foil used to keep the tortillas warm often creates a damp tortilla unless there is an ample amount of paper/cloth involved to absorb the moisture.

Heat vegetable oil in a saute pan and add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent from sticking to bottom of pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Add in the onion and cook 5-7 minutes until translucent. Lower to medium heat and add in the tomatoes for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the cactus for 5 minutes to warm and absorb the flavors. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cheese and additional cilantro.

Serves 4-6

This is an original recipe post to Silicon Valley Moms Blog.

Just Let Me Lie Down

Have I stumped you yet? What on earth could I be talking about now? It all starts with an invitation to lunch at an adorable restaurant in Palo Alto called Vino Locale. The proprietor is the seventh son of a seventh son and had quite a personality. While the restaurant is typically closed on Monday, this colorful gentleman played host to a group of ladies serving his finest savory and sweet nibbles. The event was the then upcoming release of Just Let Me Lie Down – the necessary terms for the half-insane working mom – written by Kristin van Ogtrop, the editor of Real Simple.

The food-side chat not only gave great insight into her book, which is wonderfully witty and ironically realistic, she was kind enough to want to learn more about my first book and help me plan the next one! She had some great professional insight and ideas into the marketplace and now has me laser focused on book #2. Speaking of food, (go figure right? how unlike me- not!) one of my favorite excerpts from Kristin’s book Just Let Me Lie Down is a recipe…

Recipe for disaster: Things you believe you can accomplish in the kitchen during those deluded moments when you think devoting an entire day to cooking actually works with your schedule and lifestyle. Including, but not limited to, osso bucco, cassoulet, and pavlova. (She is a woman/mother after my own heart.)

And Kristin even manages to encapsulate my mobile dependency when she writes about Technical bipolarism: When you wake up in the morning and can’t imagine how you would get through life without your BlackBerry, but by bedtime, you want to strap a bomb to it and blow it to smithereens. (Heck yeah!)

I’ve selected this recipe from my treasure trove just might fit the bill- easy to make and allows time for the cook to ‘just lie down’ and take a nap. It makes a nice side dish or light stand alone meal. It is one of my favorite summer recipes taught to me by my Zia Maria Rosa when we spent some time one summer in La Maremma, Italy. The weather there is so hot in the summer that the dinner meal is typically prepared at breakfast when it is still cool enough to turn on the oven. This recipe can easily be modified to include most anything yummy in your fridge or pantry — the possibilities are endless, have fun with it and know that in some way this reflection of my time spent in Italy ties back to my chance meeting with Kristin to celebrate her new book and our discussion of my upcoming cook book – it’s really all just ‘Real Simple’.

Maremma Rice Salad


2 cups cooked rice
1 cup dry mozzarella, cubed
1/2 cup peas, cooked
1/2 cup pearl onions, cooked
6-10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
3 TBS red wine vinegar
2 TBS mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste


Cook rice according to package directions. Set aside to cool. Slightly under cook peas and onions and drain and set aside. In large size bowl, mix all prepared ingredients together. Then add Parmesan cheese olive oil, vinegar and mayonnaise.

Special thanks to my good friend Stacy Libby for all of her photos from the luncheon. For a great blog-time check her out on Laptop TV Mom at www.ltvmom.com. And thanks to the Silicon Valley Moms Blog for the wonderful opportunity to meet Kristin. You can order Kristin’s book on Amazon.

Gina von Esmarch, Kristin van Ogtrop & Stacy Libby