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It’s no surprise that Blanco Tacos + Tequila in the Foothills’ La Encantada Shopping Center is packed in the hours between 4 and 6 p.m. given reasonable Happy Hour prices for drinks, and a wide variety of appetizers.Whether it’s a meeting with a friend, a break after shopping or a pit stop with co-workers before heading home, Blanco Tacos + Tequila has something for everyone.Mexican beers are half off during Happy Hour, a lengthy cocktail menu also includes a discount.A few popular drinks to choose from include the summertime favorite Cucumber Fresca, which includes Don Julio Blanco, Triple Sec and fresh mint. While the drink has a lot going on in terms of floating fruit and mint, it does work well in the monsoon humidity Southern Arizona experiences the this time of year.Other cocktails include mojitos, bloody marys and a variety of margarita choices.The White Peach Hibiscus Margarita is also a hit, consisting of Jose Cuervo Silver, white peach, and hibiscus syrup. The drink is said to be refreshing in the summer heat, and has the taste and feeling of a light lemonade.
Many families face hectic schedules and tight budgets, especially when kids go back to school. A few quick meal solutions can help you spend less at the store and enjoy more time with your family this school year.Comforting and convenient, a store-bought rotisserie chicken -- with a few other additions -- can help you create a complete meal for the family in 30 minutes or less. However, quality is important.Theo Weening, global meat buyer for Whole Foods Market believes that the best tasting meat comes from chickens raised the old fashioned way.“Preparing great tasting meat starts long before you bring it home from the store. It starts on the farm,” Weening said. “Check the label and opt for chicken that was raised the way nature intended -- on a vegetarian diet with no added growth hormones and no antibiotics ever.”For example, the rotisserie chickens at Whole Foods Market come from farms that have been certified to the Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating System, so consumers can know exactly how the animal was raised.While rotisserie chicken on its own is a delicious, easy go-to meal any night of the week, don’t forget to shake things up. Try these simple ideas:
Join staff of Tucson Local Media for the monthly Sippin’ Social on Thursday, Sept. 18 at The Gallery Grille, located at the La Encantada Mall, 14000 Dove Mountain Blvd. from 4 to 6 p.m.Pitch story ideas, discuss current news, or relax and enjoy food or drink.Tucson Local Media does not pay for food or drink.
A little extra time – and a special recipe – is all you need to set the tone for a great day, especially on weekend mornings.It all begins with a tasty and fun breakfast. Pancakes are a food everyone will flip for, no matter how old! And it’s a versatile breakfast, too, when you can add-in tasty ingredients ranging from blueberries to bananas to buckwheat; just about anything goes when it comes to stirring up a piping hot stack. You can even use your favorite cereals to add a dash of deliciousness to pancakes.Try this creative recipe that infuses a fruity flavor into your batter by using new fruitier-tasting Trix cereal. Shawn Syphus at the popular blog “I Wash…You Dry,” whipped up some fun when she created Trix Pancakes:Ingredients• 3 cups buttermilk (not low fat if possible)• 1 cup Trix cereal
Even if you’re a well-versed cook, there are certain foods you may not have ever considered making yourself. For example, when is the last time you made your own apple sauce, jam or chutney?While preparing these staples from scratch does take more time than picking up a store-bought variety, the benefits to DIY are numerous, say experts.“Making the foods you typically buy means you can skip the artificial flavors, preservatives and generous additions of sodium, sugar and fat that many store-bought foods use to ensure shelf life and profitability,” says Ivy Manning, food writer and author of the new cookbook “Better from Scratch,” a collection of more than 60 do-it-yourself recipes of kitchen staples. “Homemade foods can be more healthful and easier on the wallet.”To give this a try at home, Manning is offering her recipe for Apple-Onion Chutney to be served as an accompaniment to roast pork loin or roast beef:Ingredients• 2 cups raisins
The Southern Arizona Salsa and Tequila Challenge has shaken up the summers in Tucson for three years, bringing the region’s cultural garden to modern day tastes buds. The culinary event brings up to 50 chefs and restaurants preparing unique salsa recipes and mixologists creating innovative tequila-based drinks along with sweet and savory menu pairings. Proceeds benefit the Food Bank of Southern Arizona and SAACA’s arts therapy and education programs.On Saturday, Aug. 16 at 6 p.m., the culinary competition will once again support Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA) and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, two much-needed charitable causes raising money for hunger relief and the arts in our community.For the second year, the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation has added another ingredient to the charity mix with Viva Piñata!, raffling off sponsored decorative piñatas to raise money supporting scholarships to benefit Hispanic students seeking higher education.More than 20 piñatas will line the arches of La Encantada’s courtyard, each sponsored by a business and created by a local artist. Attendees will buy raffle tickets to use as a vote for their personal favorite piñata design.A taste of heritageStraight from the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, the authentic tastes of premium tequila will travel to Tucson this August, giving hundreds of people the chance to indulge in this ancient agave beverage along with some of the best salsas and culinary cuisine in the region.
One of the most nutrient-dense foods available, kiwifruit are low-calorie, low-fat, high in fiber—and delicious. According to registered dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield, there are a few things to know about enjoying this tasty fruit:• Nearly 70 percent of Americans don’t eat the daily-recommended amount of fruit. Kiwifruit is a delicious and healthy way to boost fresh fruit consumption.• Kiwifruit are a great source of micronutrients including folate, vitamin E and antioxidants, which promote health and vitality.• Kiwifruit are as versatile as they are flavorful. They’re perfect for everything from on-the-go snacks and smoothies to salads and salsas.• The easiest way to enjoy kiwifruit is to simply cut in half, scoop out the fruit, and enjoy!• New to produce sections this summer, Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit have golden yellow flesh and a sweet, refreshing, tropical flavor.
In this month’s Sippin’ Social, members of the public accompanied staff of Tucson Local Media for happy hour and conversation at Sushi Garden, located at 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd.With two locations in town, Sushi Garden features an extensive front and back stand-alone happy hour menu with dozens of discounted food and drink items. Sushi Garden’s happy hour spans from 4-7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. A decent-sized crowd filled the bar and outer tables upon arrival, but our group was nonetheless seated and ordering within minutes.Sushi Garden features a well-lit, casual atmosphere that makes creative use of Japanese-style décor throughout the facility. To kick the afternoon off, I began with a locally brewed 32-ounce Barrio IPA draft ($5.75), which, due to its volume, comes with a glass and pitcher. Yes, I was thirsty. The draft was perfectly chilled, making its hoppy, clean flavor that much more refreshing considering the day’s heat.
Join staff from Tucson Local Media for happy hour at Sushi Garden on Thursday, July 17 from 4 to 6 p.m. Discuss story ideas, current news, or just relax and enjoy an appetizer or beverage. Sushi Garden is located at 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd.Tucson Local Media does not pay for food or drinks.
As the craft beer movement has taken a well-established hold within the grocery and liquor stores, craft cider has been making its move onto the shelves. One of the companies doing just that is Tieton Cider Works.Tieton Cider Works is aptly named from where its apples are grown, juiced, and bottled in Tieton, Wash. and its beverages are now available in Tucson. While some people choose other drink options to simply try something new, others who are sensitive to gluten can indulge in Tieton’s cider as their varieties are gluten-free and a nice alternative to the gluten-free beer variety.Combining numerous varieties of apples, the company is able to achieve a wide arrange of notes comparable to wine and beer. They use apples like the Kingston Black and Wickson Crab for a bitter and sharp taste that is high in acid and tannin. Dabinett and Yarlington Mill apples are low in acid but high in tannin. The company also blends in dessert apples and sweet apples into its ciders for body and depth, rather than simply bottling a really sweet hard cider like that, which has been found on shelves for quite some time now.Tieton Cider Works has 10 varieties, some of which are offered year-round, while others are seasonal. Six of its varieties were sent to the Explorer to sample, as we regularly sample and critique drinks during the paper’s monthly Sippin’ Social happy hour review.The ciders sampled were Apricot, Blossom Nectar, Cherry Blend, Wild Washington Apple, Tieton Blend, and its Yakima Valley Dry Hopped ciders.The Apricot cider comes in at 6.9 percent and was absolutely outstanding. It was crisp and light, with a tart dry finish, along with beautiful and subtle apricot notes. It did not taste like there was any alcohol in it, which made this drink disappear quickly after a long and hot day of work.
Summer dinner series includes a wine-paired gourmet meal, with help from apprentice chefs and sommeliers to raise funds supporting services for Tucson's homeless and working poor at Feast restaurant.June 18, 2014Event Location: 3719 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85716 Venue: Feast Time: Please see website or call for details. Admission: $125 per person ($50 is tax deductible) All reservations are made with Primavera directly and not with the host restaurants. Payment must be made in advance of the dinner through Primavera.
It’s time for fun outdoor afternoons spent with family and friends.If you’re looking for frugal fun this summer, the experts at Dollar General are offering some great tips for gathering around the grill on a budget:• Get organized: With a little preparation, you can better enjoy your evening of entertaining and avoid running around getting everything together. A few days before your event, determine what items you already have so you don’t buy duplicates and make a task list of all that needs to be done before your party. You may find you can accomplish some items well in advance of your barbeque. Plus, the best part of getting organized is that it doesn’t cost you anything!• Use Charcoal: Charcoal grills are less expensive, more interactive and tend to burn hotter for a nice, deep-brown sear that also gives your food a natural smoky flavor.Use the grill to also flavor fruits and vegetables like peaches and sweet potatoes. You can remove the pit from fresh summer peaches and grill for a tasty and healthy dessert or lay sweet potatoes directly on the coals for a great roasted vegetable side dish. • Decorate: Use a festive and seasonal color palette to give your party an extra fun factor. Accent your outdoor table with a colorful tablecloth, small solar-powered lights that can last throughout summer and small planters with flowers and herbs that can grow all season long.