Making Friends And Picadillo

I remember being 23 and thinking that I would never again in my life be capable of making such amazing, smart, sweet, crafty, kind-hearted friends as I had then. Fortunately, I still have those incredible friends in my life and am thankful every day for that.

But one part of that thought that I am glad seems to have faded with the wisdom of being 32, is the idea that I would never be able to make friends like that again. In hindsight, it was such a sad thought! Who was I to say there weren’t lots more amazing potential friends in the world or that I would somehow grow bitter and wretched and incapable of cultivating new relationships with humans and not just cats?

I think it was partly that I was 23, a little unsure of myself, and a little terrified of the world, although I’m sure I didn’t realize that at the moment. Another part of it was that all of my “free time” — the time I allotted for socializing — was consumed by hanging out at bars and getting real drunk and making poor choices (that were also really, really fun).

Kinda over it now. Not over drinking, and not over bars, and undoubtedly not over making poor choices, I am sure. Rather, I mean, I’m over giving ALL of my free time up to those activities. It seems like most of my friends are headed the same direction. Everyone’s got goals and careers and going back to schooling on the horizon. It’s wonderful.

But it leaves me feeling a little lacking sometimes. Lacking in goof-around, hang-out time. Lacking in yard-beers and dance-routines and karaoke parties and strange girls on the street that we name “Veronica”.

So I’ve been trying to branch out. Trying to “make new friends” by “being myself”. One thing that works remarkably well is to invite potential friends over for dinner or drinks. It’s not as hard as I expected. People are nice. People are friendly. And fortunately I’ve met a bunch of new, nice, smart, fascinating people through making this show.

I had a girl-date with one the other night. Ostensibly for an interview but she brought her dog and our dogs played in the yard and we ate picadillo tacos and talked about stuff. It was fun. It was like making a new friend. Here’s my picadillo recipe. May it get you in the door with some new friends, too.


Beef Picadillo

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

No reviews

  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 small tomato, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup minced celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 carrot, grated (about 1/2 a cup)
  • 1 small zucchini, grated (about a cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • pinch ground cinnamon (less than 1/8 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons raisins or currants
  • 45 green olives, sliced


  1. Heat a large skillet over high heat and saute the onion for about 5 minutes until softened and slightly browned.
  2. Add the meat and water and break it up with a spoon until it’s in little chunks. You want the picadillo to be as crumbly as possible
  3. Add the tomato, celery, garlic, and chili pepper. Stir that around until the meat is no longer pink.
  4. Add the carrot and zucchini, spices and raisins. Stir and reduce heat to low.
  5. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.
  6. Add olives and cook uncovered another 5 minutes.
  7. Serve in tortillas or use to stuff chile rellenos!


For Tex-Mex style, add one potato, boiled and diced, when you add the carrot and zucchini.

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!


  1. Andrea on August 8, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Yum! These look so good. I’m hungry.

    • Hilah on August 8, 2011 at 10:48 am

      Thanks, Andrea! I’m hungry too. I wish I had some left over for breakfast!

  2. Jane on August 8, 2011 at 8:54 am

    I want to make this AND I want to SMOOCH YER FACE.

    I love this post – it hit all the right chords with me – I’m looking forward to some awesome girl dates with you next month!

    • Hilah on August 8, 2011 at 10:48 am

      Jane, we are going to have so many girl-dates next month, you will never want another taco or another French braid, EVER.

      I’m real glad you liked the post. It made me think of you, too, when I was writing it. Awesomification of LIFE!

  3. Bev Weidner on August 8, 2011 at 9:08 am

    I completely relate! I’m 35 in a few days and I just went to the movies alone for the first time the other day. It was awesome.

    I really don’t know where I was going with that.

    Is there room in that food for me to snuggle?

    • Hilah on August 8, 2011 at 10:46 am

      Yes! Going places alone without feeling embarrassed or lame is one of the many awesome things about being in your 30s!

      Please crawl into my tacos any time! (Ahem. That sounded… funny.)

  4. Randy on August 8, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I was deeply touched and inspired by your commentary for this recipe. It seems trivial to say that I will try it tonight.

    • Hilah on August 8, 2011 at 10:41 am

      Thank you, Randy. It’s not trivial to say that! I’m very honored that you try every recipe of mine, in fact.

      I’m glad you liked the post. I’m really enjoying writing these days and it means a lot that it resonates with people.

      Let me know how it turns out!

      • Randy on August 10, 2011 at 11:54 am

        Absolutely delicious. I’ll be making it every month from now on and freezing small portions of it to have throughout the month. Otherwise, I’d eat half of it in one sitting. Which is what I did for the first batch.

        I was doing pretty good at making all of your recipes, but then along came Learn to Cook. Now I’m seriously behind. I’ll need to take drastic measures to catch up. I know! I’ll start cooking a recipe a day and start a blog to document my efforts. Who knows. I might get a book deal. Hollywood might come knocking to make a Randy and Hilah movie. I’d want you to play yourself, of course, but I’m calling Johnny Depp right now about playing me. Damn! Had to leave a voice message with his agent. Okay, now I’m calling Scorsese about directing it. Oh crap…hold on…my phone is ringing. Drat! Depp’s agent said “No way will he portray a nerdy geek”. Ok, I guess I’ll try to get Woody Allen, instead. Oh, here we go…finally got through to Marty…What!?!…he says it’s already been done. Already been done? WTF!?!

        Seriously, though, you’ve created something very special with Learn to Cook. Besides looking forward to cooking every recipe in it, I’m so glad to have a cookbook to recommend to non-cooking friends. The organization is sheer genius. I don’t think that anyone will come up with a less intimidating and more inspiring introduction to cooking.

        • Hilah on August 10, 2011 at 1:25 pm

          Hooray! I’m so happy you made it! That’s a great idea about freezing it.

          No pressure on making all the recipes in the book right away! I’m happy as long as you make everything on the website. 😉 And I’m totally gonna quote you on that last paragraph of pure flattery.

          P.S. Maybe we could get John Cusack. I’ll text him and see.

  5. Brady Hamilton on August 8, 2011 at 10:21 am

    That is one of the yummiest pictures I’ve ever seen!

    • Hilah on August 8, 2011 at 10:37 am

      Thanks, Brady! They were yummy in real-life, too! 😉

  6. Kurt on August 9, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Sweet Mother Of Jesus!!!! Nice looking Tacos….
    Going to store after work…forget the lasagna

    Glad to see your back…And 30’s are better then 20’s.haha

    • Hilah on August 9, 2011 at 11:25 am

      Yay! Lemme know how you like em, Kurt.

      And I totally agree. So far my 30s have been super-awesome overall. 🙂

  7. MichelleWilli29 on August 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    These tacos look delicioso!! I look forward to trying these out, along with many others I have not got to yet (I’m right on top of that Rose). Love your videos, recipes, blogs, etc. Oh and he is Great!!! Thanks for all you share 😉

    • Hilah on August 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm

      Eek! Michelle I love you!
      Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead REPRESENT!!!
      Let me know how you like my picadillo, gurl.

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.