We had company for dinner tonight, and the theme was Mexican. In one hour, I had made Mexican Roast Chicken, homemade guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Sausage Con Queso and Mexican Rice. I had emptied and filled the dishwasher. The kitchen was all cleaned up. The table was set and I was making a tray of food to send next door to my neighbor. She’s having her baby tomorrow – no cooking for her!
With minutes to go before our guests were due to arrive, I breathed a sigh of relief. No crazy stress, everything was done, and I could relax for a few minutes. And then Madeline starts to call me. She was playing while I was cooking and had gone to explore the dining room. The good part about when she’s doing something she’s not supposed to be doing is that she calls me right away to help save her from whatever mess she has created. The bad part is, well, whatever she’s doing that she’s not supposed to be doing. I walk into the dining room to find her standing on a chair, motioning over to the table. The table I just set, mind you. Next to her hands, on the table, was a pitcher of juice that I had just made. On its side. Completely and positively empty. Not one speck left in the TWO GALLON pitcher. Why, you ask? Because she had knocked it over and it.was.all.over. Everywhere. In all the plates. All over the table. Dripping through the leaf of the table onto the floor. All over the chair. One big sticky, icky mess.
“Mommy?” she asks, looking up at me with those big brown eyes. She motions that she wants to get down from the chair. OH REALLY?
So minutes after the guests are ringing the doorbell, they’re all on the floor with me cleaning up the mess. Come on in, get comfortable, grab a paper towel or two or forty. Fifteen minutes later, the mess cleaned up, the plates washed, we finally got to start all over. Of course, the floor is ultra-sticky now and needs to be scrubbed down again, but moving on…
Mexican night. Nothing better to kick off a night of Mexican food than a bowl of fresh salsa or pico de gallo (really, what is the difference between the two?), and with the crazy fresh summer produce ripe for the picking, this is one of my favorite ways to use tomatoes. It really is summer in a bowl. Yes, there is a bit of chopping involved, but ten minutes later, you’re tasting something that is better than any jar you can get at the grocery store. I absolutely promise.
This is a Sweetnicks’ Greatest Hit, originally hitting our table two years ago. Still just as delicious then as it is now… go get ’em.
Pico de Gallo
Recipe courtesy of Latina magazine
1 lb ripe tomatoes, finely diced (with juice)
1/2 cup finely diced white onion
1/2 cup seeded, finely diced cucumber
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 serrano chiles, seeded and very finely diced (I skipped)
1-1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
In medium, nonreactive bowl, stir together all ingredients to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste. Let stand about 30 minutes before serving. Serve with tortilla chips or use in any recipe that calls for fresh salsa. Makes about 2-1/2 cups.