Monday, December 31, 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Peace Postcard

My December postcard for my year-long postcard project. 

  Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu; Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi 

Translation: May the entire world know peace, happiness, and love;
Om peace, peace, perfect peace

May all beings be happy
May all beings be healthy
May all beings live in peace and harmony today, in 2013, and always.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bear and Polar Bear Toast

What a cute and simple way to serve toast!  I turned regular whole wheat toast into bear toast with soy butter, bananas, and chocolate chips, then added powdered sugar to create polar bear toast.  You could even substitute the chocolate chips for raisins, make a circular bear head with an English muffin, or change the soy butter to peanut butter.  What's on your bear toast?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Leek Potato Soup with Coconut Milk

On Christmas morning I made leek potato soup, thanks to some inspiration from my Dad.  It's a hearty winter soup with (you guessed it) - leeks, potatoes, and coconut milk, which reminds me of home and Thai food all in one bowl.

It's delicious.  Unfortunately, I don't think the picture does this soup justice.  

For this recipe you'll need:
several tablespoons of vegetable oil 
3 cloves of garlic, minced
small onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
3 leeks, cleaned and chopped
2 14-ounce cans of chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup regular or light coconut milk (I used light)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound potatoes, chopped in bite-size pieces, cooked
1 tablespoon Trader Joe's garlic and herb butter, or regular butter

Servings: Makes 6-8 bowls  

1. In a stock pot, add the vegetable oil and sauté the onion, garlic, and celery for several minutes.  Salt and pepper this layer. 

2. Add the chopped leeks and garlic butter* and sauté until they wither down. Again, add salt and pepper.

3. Next add the broth, coconut milk, cooked potatoes, and another dash of salt and pepper.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Remembering to stir often so the coconut milk does not burn or stick to the bottom of the stock pot.

4. Serve hot and enjoy!

* We bought some Trader Joe's garlic and herb butter for our Christmas Eve lobster ravioli so I decided to throw some into the soup for another layer of flavor instead of regular butter.  Who am I kidding, we only had one stick of butter left and I needed the whole stick for Yum-Yum Cake

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Felt Monster Ornament

While I was making our felt ornaments for our Christmas card tree, I asked M which ornament I should make next and he selected this monster from my Pinterest board. Isn't he so cute with his one off-center eye, red spikes, jagged tooth, and blue foot? There's a tutorial for a fabric and felt monster here. However, I didn't follow the tutorial; I made a few adjustments from the original picture/pattern and only used felt. 

What should we name our little felt monster?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Card Tree

Merry Christmas!  This morning I finally put the finishing touches on the birch tree and displayed the last of our Christmas cards and felt ornaments.  Thanks to Martha Stewart for the inspiration; now our cards hang like ornaments on the branches.  

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Macadamia Nut Cookies with White and Chocolate Chips

M and I made these Macadamia Nut Cookies with White and Chocolate Chips for my Christmas Cookie Exchange.  The original recipe was here, but we tweaked it a bit. We tested the recipe first, which stated that it yielded 4 dozen, but those were TINY cookies.... so the second time around we formed much larger cookies - about 20. 

1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. 
2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter, shortening, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. 

3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a fork.  Then add them to the above mixture. Stir in the vanilla extract. 

4. Combine the flours, baking soda, and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the macadamia nuts and chips.

5.  Roll the dough into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten and shape the cookies with your hands or fork. 

6. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Noel Cross Stitch

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel.... 

This NOEL tea towel for my Mom was inexpensive and quick to stitch - I completed it in one night.  While I was Christmas shopping I saw a cross stitched NOEL ornament  (around $20) in a little French boutique and knew I could replicate it on a tea towel for much less. A package of three blank towels was around $8 at Joann's.  Even with the cost of the water soluble canvas, which I used to stitch the red DMC thread onto the towel, the price was still no way near $20. 

I found the letters here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Felt Christmas Tree Ornament

I'm on a roll with my ornaments - three in one night.  For this felt Christmas tree, I used three pieces of olive green felt for the tree tiers and magenta felt for the heart, similar to the design for this envelope; and I cut a circular piece of pink felt for the background like this simple felt tree. The rick rack, heart, and stitching around the outside all match. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Heart felt ornament

'Tis the season to decorate the Christmas tree and this year I am making felt ornaments.  
Here's my first one - a felt heart in red, olive, and white with an olive button. 

 I was inspired by this picture.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Turkey Soup

Last night I turned the remaining turkey into turkey soup.  I filled a large stock pot with the turkey breast and covered it with water.  Then I added: chopped celery, carrots, and onions, as well as garlic, fresh thyme and sage, bay leaves, salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, and the leftover Thanksgiving gravy and beef broth.  I brought the soup to a boil and then reduced the heat to a simmer.  After an hour and a half, the meat fell right off the bones (which I removed). 

Tonight we had turkey soup and grilled cheese sandwiches - a perfect dinner for a rainy Friday night.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving Turkey Breast

Our Thanksgiving dinner was delicious!  Everything was from scratch - stuffing, party potatoes, cranberry sauce with pomegranates, and turkey. We even made butternut squash soup for our appetizer. 

For the turkey breast we used a recipe inspired from Ina Garten; surprisingly she did not include any butter to her recipe, so we added some in ours.

Serves: 6 

You'll need:
6 lb. turkey breast 
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup red wine
1 cup orange juice
1 cup beef broth


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the turkey breast, skin side up, in a roasting pan.

2. In a separate bowl, make a paste for the turkey by combining the garlic, mustard, fresh herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, butter and lemon juice. Smear the paste under the skin and on top of the skin.  You may have to gently loosen the skin away from the meat. 

3. Pour the wine, orange juice, and broth into the roasting pan.

4. Roast the turkey for 2 hours (20 minutes/pound) uncovered.  At the one hour mark, baste the turkey with the wine/broth/juice mixture that is in the bottom of the roasting pan.  Baste the turkey again every 15 minutes.  (We basted our turkey four times.)

The turkey skin was a beautiful brown from the red wine.  It was also super moist and flavorful.  I highly recommend this turkey breast recipe for your next turkey dinner. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Party Potatoes

Party Potatoes are a traditional side dish in M's family.  Boil, mash, and then bake the potatoes.  What's not to love about potatoes, sour cream, cream cheese, and butter! They're a party in your mouth!

For party potatoes, you'll need:
5 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into equal-size pieces
4 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. sour cream
4 tablespoons butter, plus a few pats of butter for the top
salt and pepper

About 8 servings 

1. Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft, about 15-20 minutes. 

2. Smash or mash your potatoes.  Add butter, sour cream, cream cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.  Blend together.

3. Place the party potato mixture in an oven-safe casserole dish, adding a few pats of butter on top.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350°F.  Then we broiled ours for a few minutes on high to get a golden brown top layer.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Pomegranates

I saw a cranberry sauce recipe here and decided to give this homemade cranberry sauce with pomegranates a try for Thanksgiving. It was tangy with a crunch from the pomegranate seeds.  M tried it, but preferred the canned cranberry sauce. 

For this side dish you'll need:
12 ounces fresh cranberries
1 apple, diced with the skin on
juice from orange (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
honey, to taste
1/2 cup of  pomegranate seeds plus 1/4 cup for garnish (about one whole pomegranate)
orange zest
less than a shot of whiskey

1. Place washed cranberries, juice, apple, water, orange zest, and spices in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the whiskey.
2. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Don't be alarmed when cranberries pop and open. Add honey to taste and adjust spices if needed.
3. Add 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds and gently stir them into the sauce. As this sauce cools it will continue to thicken.
4. Cool in the refrigerator.  When you're ready to serve, add the remaining 1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup garnished with nutmeg and croutons.

This butternut soup recipe is always a favorite in our house for holidays and in the cooler months. It's savory and a bit spicy. I have collected and tried several different squash soup recipes over the years - selecting the best aspects of each - and blending them into my own version.  

For this recipe you'll need:
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 small jalapeño, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic
2 carrots, grated
1 12 oz package of butternut squash, fresh or frozen
2 14.5 oz cans of chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with nutmeg and croutons 

1. In a stock pot, sauté the diced onion and jalapeño in butter.  Once these ingredients are translucent add the olive oil, garlic, and grated carrots.  Salt and pepper this layer and sauté for a few more minutes.

2. Next add all the other ingredients (including another dash of salt and pepper) and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.

3. Once the soup has cooled a bit, puree the soup with a hand blender or in the blender. (If using a blender for hot liquids, remember to remove the middle lid and place a towel over the hole so the soup does not go flying everywhere.)

4. Serve hot soup with a dash of nutmeg and croutons. 

Cooking Notes: You could always use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to make this a vegetarian meal.  Also, this soup tastes better the next day when the flavors have had more time to develop. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Be ok

While practicing yoga in my friend's studio, I noticed her be ok candle and decided to use these words for my November postcard.  As part of our yearlong postcard project, another friend and I make and send a postcard to one another each month.

Using a watercolor postcard, watercolors, and a Sharpie, I designed this be ok postcard.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Kielbasa, Shrimp, and Chicken Gumbo

M made a heavenly, scrumptious gumbo for our camping trip; he prepared it at home and then we reheated it over the campfire.  This hearty dish warmed our bones and we'll be eating it again - camping or no-camping.

The base recipe was from and M added a few other ingredients, like kielbasa, chicken, diced tomatoes, sauces, and spices. 

For Kielbasa, Shrimp, and Chicken Gumbo you'll need:
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 box (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
1 box (14.5 oz) beef broth
4 cups water
1/2 lb. kielbasa, cut into bite-size pieces
diced chicken breast from 2 chicken breasts
1 can diced tomatoes, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon celery flakes
1 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay Style seasoning 
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 lb. medium shrimp, seasoned with Chesapeake Bay Style seasoning and cooked
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
Splash of Tabasco 
1 box Zataran's jambalaya rice cooked, or rice of your choice
cornbread muffin

1. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Gradually add in flour and stir. Cook until it's light brown, stirring often so the mixture does not burn, about 10 minutes. Pour in the chicken and beef broths and mix until blended.

2. In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil and heat until hot. Add celery, garlic, green pepper, and onion.  Cook until vegetables are tender.

3. Add all veggies, including the diced tomatoes, to the broth.  Next add the kielbasa, chicken, herbs, salt and pepper, Worcestershire and Tabasco.  Simmer for 15 minutes. 

4. Then add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for about 1 hour.

5. In another pan, season the shrimp with Chesapeake Bay Style seasoning and cook.  Add to the gumbo.  Simmer for another 20 minutes.

6. Place the rice at the bottom of your bowl.  Top with Kielbasa, Shrimp, and Chicken Gumbo and serve with a corn muffin.  (We used Trader's Joe cornbread mix and made it into a dozen muffins.)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Quilts for Kids

Happy Thanksgiving!  I am thankful that I know how to sew.  Thanks, Mom! 

My Mom and I collaborated on two projects for Quilts for Kids - an organization where volunteer quilters make quilts for children in need.  


I selected fabric scraps from previous projects and made six blocks for each quilt; then I attached the blocks with complementary fabrics.  My Mom quilted the blankets and delivered them to her local Quilts for Kids chapter.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Vanilla Extract for Cleaning

Last weekend I was busy... I cleaned the microwave, oven, and refrigerator; I even reorganized our closet.  These were all long overdue tasks. 

For the microwave I placed a cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl and added a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Then I microwaved the mixture for 2 minutes and wiped the inside of the microwave with a damp cloth.  All the food particles came right off and onto cloth. AMAZING!

I also placed some vanilla extract on a wet paper towel to remove the freezer burn smell in the freezer.  Vanilla is much more pleasant than freezer funk.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gluten Free Brownies

Over the weekend, I made these Betty Crocker gluten free brownies for a potluck, in particular for a friend who is gluten free, and they were DELICIOUS!  They were moist and gooey, just the way I like my brownies.  If I didn't tell you and everyone else at the gathering that they were gluten free nobody would have know the difference, they were that convincing!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


             Happy Halloween!  M and I carved jack-o-lanterns to celebrate the holiday. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

M's Meatloaf

M made a delicious meatloaf with our leftover carrots, celery, tomatoes, and bread among the other usual ingredients and spices.  He blended everything in the food processor, placed the meatloaf a glass loaf pan, and glazed it with ketchup, mustard, bbq sauce, and brown sugar. Next he placed the pan in a bigger 13x9 pan with one inch of water and cooked it for over an hour.  It was super moist and flavorful.  How wonderful to come home to a homemade dinner made with love!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Let Go

My east coast, yogi friend and I are doing a yearlong post card project.  Each month we make and send a postcard to one another.  We learned about this project from our mutual friend A. who's creating and sending 52 postcards (one/week) to her friend in the Garden State.  That seems overly ambitious to me because one postcard/month is challenging enough.

This is my October postcard, which reminds us all to breathe, let go, be present in the moment, and let God. I used newspaper, permanent markers, Modge Podge, and a blank postcard.

Thanks to Keri Speidel's dictionary art over at creativegeniusart for the inspiration.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Glue Line Pumpkin Note Card

This weekend I made a Halloween card for Baci and Dziadziu from a  glue line pumpkin project I saw on Pinterest. I drew the pumpkins in pencil on watercolor paper. Then traced over the pencil lines with Elmer's glue.  Once the glue was dried, I painted the card with watercolors.  Voilà! A Halloween pumpkin card!  I'll definitely use this glue technique to make other note cards. 

For This Project You'll Need: watercolor paper or watercolor note card, pencil, Elmer's glue, watercolors

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pumpkin Yogurt

I bought some Trader Joe's pumpkin butter and have been thinking of different ways to use it.  My colleague made pumpkin Greek yogurt with hers and I thought I'd do the same with nonfat plain yogurt. TJ's pumpkin butter isn't really butter, but a pumpkin puree.  It's fat free and cholesterol free and has less sugar; this pumpkin yogurt has less sugar than many of the pumpkin yogurts in the stores.  I mixed about 6 ounces of yogurt with a serving of pumpkin butter - one tablespoon.

What will you make with your pumpkin butter? I'm sure I'll have more recipes to share in the upcoming weeks.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Italian Sub

Look at this ginormous Italian sub!  Last night M made this grinder with all Boarshead products including: roast beef, Genoa salami, hot capicola, mortadella, and provolone cheese on a soft, fresh French loaf.  He also added olive oil and balsamic vinegar, thinly sliced onions, leaf lettuce, and tomatoes lightly salt and peppered.  We had enough for dinner and lunch.  It was even better today because the flavors had more time to develop. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Matryoshka Doll

M's Bapchi celebrated her 89th birthday this month!  Sto Lat! (May you live to be 100 years).  In honor of this milestone, I used the matryoshka ornament pattern and presented her with a handmade gift.  Doesn't this nesting doll look so content on the Ukrainian tea towel?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Banana Nut Muffins

Today I turned our overripe bananas and left-over coconut milk into healthy, wholesome banana nut muffins. 

For this recipe you'll need:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup ground flax seed meal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup coconut milk
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg
Optional - about 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon sugar mixed with a tablespoon of melted butter 

Makes 1 dozen muffins.

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Add paper liners to muffin tins.

2. In a large bowl, mix flour, walnuts, ground flax seed meal, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.

3. In a separate bowl, add mashed bananas, coconut milk, butter and egg.  Mix together.

4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix just until blended.

5. Evenly place the batter into the paper tins - filling about 2/3 of the way.

6. Bake for about 20-22 minutes. 

7.  (Optional) When the muffins come out of the oven, immediately top with cinnamon/sugar/butter mixture.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Kale and Potato Zuppa

Looking for a new kale dish?  This was a delicious and hearty soup. Last week,  I ate it for lunch everyday.  The potatoes absorbed most of the broth, so I might add more chicken broth next time.  Here's the recipe.

Cooking Notes: I added salt and pepper, which wasn't in the recipe and used russet potatoes, not Yukon Gold, because that's what we had in the pantry.  Also I didn't sprinkle any cheese on top and it was still tasty. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mushroom Cross Stitch for Memory Jar

As I was putting away Friday night's concert tickets in my movie and concert memory jar, I realized that I never shared this project.  I originally saw both ideas (the memory jar and mushroom cross stitch pattern) on Pinterest and decided to combine the two.

Putting concert, movie, and sporting event tickets in a mason jar is an easy and creative way to keep your ticket stubs together.  You could keep the lid as is, but I thought I would go that extra step and cross stitch something small - like a mushroom - for the top.  The free pattern is here.  I added some batting to make the lid puffy. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chicken Bacon Alfredo Pasta

For this dish you'll need:
1/4 box of pasta
olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup butter
1 cup cream
1 and 1/2 freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup cream cheese
Salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
1 can peas
2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped 
4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
handful of fresh chopped basil


1. Boil your choice of pasta in salted water.  We used angel hair.  Drain and lightly toss is olive oil.

2. Saute 2 cups of sliced mushrooms and onions.  Set aside. 

2. In a separate sauce pan, melt a 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat.  Whisk in cream, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and cream cheese.  Add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste.  Add a can of peas, cooked chicken, mushrooms and onions. 

3. Add cooked noodles to the sauce pan and toss to coat.

4. Plate and add crispy, chopped bacon and basil. 

Cooking note - The Parmesan cheese was challenging to melt.  Next time we might use a cheese that melts easier, like Provolone, an Asiago blend, or Gruyere. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Seven Layer Cookies

For Seven Layer Cookies you only need seven ingredients and the whole dessert is made in one 13x9 pan.  It couldn't be easier!

1 stick of butter or margarine
1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup butterscotch flavored chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 and 1/3 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup chopped nuts

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (325°F for glass dish).

2. In the 13x9 baking pan melt butter in the oven.

3. Sprinkle the crumbs over butter. With a fork, form the crumbs into a crust. 

4. Pour condensed milk evenly on top of crust.

4. Top with remaining ingredients in order listed; press down firmly with fork.

5. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

6. Cool or chill if desired.  Cut into bars.  Take your time cutting to make nice neat pieces.   Cover and  store at room temperature.

Makes 24-36 bars.

Cooking Note - These were a hit at work.  M suggested peanut butter chips; next time I think I will substitute the butterscotch ones for pb chips, or maybe even use dark chocolate chips.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hummingbird Cross Stitch Lavender Sachet

Within an afternoon, I completed this hummingbird cross stitch sachet for my photographer friend's birthday present.  She's been interested in capturing these fast-winged creatures on film, plus she enjoys lavender.  I thought it would be fitting to incorporate the two into her gift.

I found the free pattern here. Looks like it's for pin cushion, so I omitted the "needles" and transformed it into a sachet filled with lavender. I finished the back with a red and white polka dot fabric, which really brings out the red in the flowers. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Nectarine Caprese Salad

Put a little spin on the classic caprese salad by substituting tomatoes with sweet, end-of-summer nectarines or peaches.

During the summer, my friend noticed a peach caprese salad on the menu at a local restaurant/tavern.  That night, we only ordered stouts; however, I have been curious about this app for months.  Sunday I bought some fresh mozzarella and basil at the farmers market and finally decided to give this salad a try. 

For an appetizer size for two you'll need:
1 large nectarine or peach
1 ball of fresh mozzarella
2-3 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
few teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
sea salt

Slice the fruit and cheese and arrange on a plate.  Top with basil leaves.  Drizzle with vinegar and salt to taste. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chile Relleno

We heart Mexican cuisine.  Many Mexican restaurants only add cheese and fry their chile rellenos.   However, we saw a segment on "Rescue Chef" to grill the poblano peppers and fill them with lots of  yummy goodness.  Ever since that episode, we have been baking a heartier, healthier chile relleno.  It's a hit in our bellies.

First we grill the pasilla chiles (also known as poblano peppers) and remove the outer skin.   (Note -  I have also made this dish with red peppers).  For the filling we mix grilled onion and jalapeño, carnitas, rice, fresh tomatoes (you could use canned diced tomatoes), salsa, cilantro, chile powder, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper.  After baking them, we top the chile rellenos with shredded cheese and more fresh cilantro.  ¡Buen apetito!