Salsa Roja Mexicana – Red Mexican Salsa

One of my mom’s favorite thing to make has always been salsa. Spicy or mild; you name it, she makes it.

The ingredients can also be roasted in the oven instead of over the stove.

During the summer, my mom likes making salsa that can complement an outdoor meal. Usually, this consists of a spicy salsa that combines well with carne asada and arroz.

I have never been able to get into salsa, especially the spicy ones. I can barely handle eating Hot Cheetos on good days, and even Tapatio makes me start sweating.

However, my aversion to spicy salsa has never stopped me from enjoying the process of how it’s made.

Salsa roja (red salsa) is one of my mom’s favorites.

One of my mom’s favorite salsa to make has always ben salsa Mexicana. It’s a little on the milder side, according to my mom, and by the smell alone, I trust that.

Normally, if salsa is spicy you can smell it from a distance. There are a few salsas that my mom has made that have made my eyes water just by being close to it.

This salsa is usually just to liven up a dish, to give it that extra kick. The process of making this salsa is simple, and it only requires three main ingredients.

The salsa is made by roasting the tomatoes, chiles and garlic together and then blending everything and it will be ready.

Ingredients

  • A small basket of cherry tomatoes
  • 10 chiles serranos
  • 4 garlics
  • a pinch of sea salt
Add more water if you want the salsa to be a little more runny and less water if you want it to be chunkier.

Method

  • Toast all of the ingredients together on the stovetop until thoroughly cooked. the darker the better.
  • When everything is ready add to a blender, carefully!
  • Add a pinch of sea salt and a bit of water to make it your desired texture.
  • Blend everything together and tada!
  • Salsa is ready!

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes

When I was younger, I used to eat chocolate like it was the only food option available.

I would go into the pantry and sneak bites from the chocolate that my mom would use for champurrado.

The cupcakes came out sweet and moist and had the distinctive flavor of Nestles Abuelita chocolate.

Nestles Abuelita has always been my mom’s chocolate of choice and my favorite to eat.

It comes in a circular tablet that can be broken down into smaller triangle tablets. Usually, my mom uses it to make champurrado or hot chocolate, however I wanted to do something different with this Mexican chocolate.

Instead of using it to make a drink, I ground it down into a fine powder and used it to make cupcakes.

Be warned however, this is not easy to grind down. It took me a few tries before I could get the chocolate to the consistency I wanted.

For the frosting I stuck to a basic vanilla and decorated the top with leftover chocolate crumbles.

However, the end result was worth the hard work. My mom enjoyed trying these Mexican chocolate cupcakes and they disappeared quickly.

I think that I would have enjoyed eating these cupcakes as a child. Especially, because eating the chocolate in cupcake form has to be healthier than just gnawing on a pure chocolate tablet like a wild animal.

Recipe: Cupcakes

  • 1 disk of Abuelita (or your choice) chocolate (ground down. If needed soften in microwave a little before grinding)
  • 1/4 cup of butter at room temp
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

Recipe: Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter – softened
  • 3 cups (or less) confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream

Method: Cupcakes

1.Preheat oven to 350F

2.Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and cocoa. Set aside

My mom really enjoyed eating these cupcakes and she’s not a big fan of chocolate.

3.In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar and butter together until well combined.

4.Add the eggs, vanilla and oil one at a time until well blended.

5.Add the Mexican chocolate powder.

6.With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients until just combined. Make sure not to overmix.

7.Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full.

8.Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

9.Let the cupcakes cool down before frosting.

I chose vanilla frosting to balance the chocolate but any frosting can be used! I recommend caramel or even marshmallow.

Method : Frosting

1.In a stand mixer, whisk butter until light and fluffy on low. Slowly add the sugar.

2.Mix on low speed until combined, then increase speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes.

3.Add vanilla and cream and beat for an additional minute. Add more cream if needed.

Arroz con Leche – Rice Milk Pudding

When I was little, I would always get excited when I would see my mom washing rice in the kitchen. Rice has always been one of my favorite things to eat.

Arroz con Leche can be topped with different things, I prefer cinnamon.

I don’t care how it’s prepared, I love rice. It can be arroz rojo (red rice), steamed rice or even horchata. Horchata is a drink that is often prepared by using rice, strawberry horchata is just as good as the original.

As long as something has rice in it, I’m all for it, especially because I have been a pescatarian for nine years.  A pescatarian is someone who eats fish but no other forms of meat or birds, this is why most of the recipes I share here don’t have any meat in them.

One of my favorite desserts that my mom makes will always be arroz con leche. Arroz con leche is literally rice with milk. It is a sweet rice pudding that can be eaten as either a dessert or breakfast.

This is an easy Mexican dessert that can be made for any occasion.

Every household makes arroz con leche differently. It would be hard to point at a specific recipe and say that’s the original recipe.

Arroz con leche is literally rice with milk. It is a sweet rice pudding that can be eaten as either a dessert or breakfast.

My mom has always preferred adding cinnamon sticks and a pinch of cloves to her recipe. In my opinion, this makes the arroz con leche warmer, so I often add cinnamon sticks and some cloves to my arroz con leche as well.

I have always loved this dish because it can be served either warm or cold. Because it can be served at any temperature, my mom often makes arroz con leche year-round. No matter what season it is, there might be some arroz con leche being made in my house.

It can be enjoyed warm or cold but I prefer this dessert warm.

I prefer my arroz con leche warm, it brings back memories of when I was little. I always think about when my mom and I would curl up in bed on cold winter nights and eat some freshly made arroz con leche, while watching TV.

For this recipe, I added leche condesada (sweetened condensed milk) instead of the normal white sugar that my mom normally adds, because I love sweet things. The leche condesada made the arroz con leche sweeter but not to an unbearable degree.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups of white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 can of leche condesada
  • 1 can of leche evaporada
  • 1 or 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • A pinch of cloves

Recipe

1.Wash the rice and set aside.

2.In a medium or large pot set to medium-high heat, boil cinnamon sticks, cloves, rice and water. Reduce heat to simmer and cook the rice for about 15 to 20 minutes.

You can always toast the cinnamon and cloves before adding them to the mixture.

3. Add the milk, leche condesada and leche evaporada. Stir everything together cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook for another 5 or so minutes or until the rice has the consistency you desire.

The cloves are optional but I always prefer them.

5.Serve warm or refrigerate for 2 hours and serve cold.

6.Garnish with any toppings you want.

Atole de Vainilla – Vanilla Atole

October is soon coming to an end and there are a few festivities around the corner. Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) which is celebrated between October 31 and November 2.

This is a super simple recipe that can be adjusted for separate needs.

It’s important to remember that while Dia de Muertos falls around the same time as Halloween it isn’t the same holiday. Dia de Muertos is about welcoming the spirits of the departed joyfully.

My mom hasn’t always participated in Dia de Muertos festivities, since we are a small family. However, my mom has started to make altars for people who have passed away in the past few years.

One of the traditional drinks that is often present during breakfast on Dia de Muertos is atole.

I like adding a little cinnamon to the top of my atole and then mixing it with the drink.

Atole is a traditional hot beverage made from masa harina, the corn flour that is often used to make corn tortillas.

My mom likes to make her atole a little lighter with less masa harina. I prefer my atole to be thicker with more masa harina.

Todays helper of the day award goes to my excited dog milky, who always tries helping in the kitchen.

I like the consistency and for me it’s more filling.

Atole can be made with many different flavors from orange to vanilla, there are plenty of ways to make atole.

My family prefers a simple vanilla atole or chocolate atole which is also known as champurrado.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 TBS of vanilla
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 small piloncillos (or about 1 cup brown sugar)
  • a mixture of 1/2 cup of Maseca and 1 cup of warm water (can be blended for a better texture)

Method

1.Boil the water, vanilla and cinnamon together. Add a pinch of salt.

The boiling water should be mixed a little to incorporate all of the ingredients.

2. Optional: You can add about 1/4 cup of white sugar for a bit of extra taste.

3. When everything boils, slowly pour in the milk

4. Constantly stir the mixture until it boils. (If it’s not stirred, the milk will stick and burn on the bottom)

5. After it boils again add the masa harina. (If you want the drink to be thicker, add more masa harina)

Careful! The milk makes the mixture boil faster!

6. Stir it again until it boils.

7. Ready to drink!

Enchiladas de Queso – Cheese Enchiladas

In my house, there’s always a mystery to be solved. There is always the smell of chile; either boiling, baking or pan frying. The mystery is always trying to find out what those chiles are going to be used for. Often, the answer to this mystery is salsa but, that’s not always the answer. Chiles are a big part of my household. When the spicy scent of these throat closing wonders wafts through the house, there can be many different dishes that my mom might be preparing. Often, the mystery can be solved by how watery my eyes get and how many windows we have to open in the house to get rid of the scent.

The chiles are deveined and deseeded, ready to be boiled.

I love when the smell of boiling chile ancho and chile California wafts through the house. It isn’t an overwhelming throat itching smell, its gentler than that. We don’t have to open all the windows of the house to get rid of the smell, only the windows in the kitchen because soon my mom will need to start heating up oil.

My mom often boils the chile ancho and chile California together because she says it gives the salsa for the enchiladas a deeper flavor. After letting the chiles boil together she lets them sit there for about 15 minutes just for an extra soak.

While the chiles soak my mom has always been in the habit of cleaning up the area around her. It’s a habit I picked up from her when I was younger. Cleaning as you go helps make the process go by faster because you don’t have a sink full of dishes expecting you once you’re finished.

The salsa takes on a beautiful red color.

When the chiles are done soaking and the kitchen somehow looks cleaner than when we started, my mom put the soaked chiles in to a blender. Just the chiles and a cup of clean water and some salt for taste. The water the chiles was boiled in can be thrown out because if used it can make the salsa darker.

After the salsa is ready, crumble some queso fresco and mix it with some chopped onions. Then all you need to do is gently fry a tortilla in the oil. Now everything is ready to be put together. Dip the tortilla into the salsa so it’s all covered, add some of the ques fresco and onion mixture to the tortilla, roll up and now it’s ready to serve!

All of the ingredients ready to go.

Now go ahead and create your own mystery at home, let your family members try and guess what you’re cooking tonight.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 chiles California
  • 3 chiles ancho
  • 3 chiles pasilla
  • 15 – 20 corn tortillas
  • ¼ of a white onion (diced)
  • 1 ½ of queso fresco

Recipe

1.Devein and deseed the chiles.

2. Put the chiles into a pot and let it boil. Turn off the water after it boils and let the chiles sit for 15 minutes. Put the chiles in a blender, a cup of water, add some salt to taste and blend together. Throw out the water the chiles were boiled in.

3. Heat some oil in medium heat and add the blended salsa. Let it cook f

4. Set the salsa aside.

5. Heat up oil in a pan over medium high heat, make sure it’s enough to be able to comfortably fry the tortillas.

These are the enchiladas before I added the garnish and extra sauce.

6.Fry the tortillas about ten seconds on each side or until they just start to crisp.

7. Optional: You can drain the tortillas on paper towels if you don’t want them to have a lot of oil on them.

8. Dip the tortillas on each side to coat the whole surface, ensure it’s all evenly distributed.

9. Fill the tortillas with the queso fresco and onion mixture. Roll up and set aside.

10. Place the enchiladas seam down.

11. Add any remaining sauce on top and garnish with some fresh cheese.

Enchiladas ready to serve!

12.Ready to serve!

Sopa de Conchas – (Mexican Shell Pasta Soup)

My favorite comfort food of all time has always been sopa (soup). I haven’t been feeling well these past few weeks; I caught the flu and have been suffering from a little bit of back pain.

This has been my favorite soup since childhood.

Because of this, I decided to enlist my mom’s help in making some sopa. There are many different kinds of sopa; from sopa de albondigas to menudo.

My all-time favorite will always be sopa de fideo, which is basically a Mexican noodle soup. The best thing about this dish, is that it has a lot of different varieties. It’s also easy to add or leave out ingredients.

I prefer using the star version of sopa e fideo but conchas are always accepted.

Since we only had little concha shells available at my house, my mom and I decided to make a sopa de conchas. This is one of the many variations available for sopa de fideo.

This recipe can be simple, but my mom likes to put her own spin on this dish. We added some extra ingredients; such as diced carrots and potatoes. The rest of the recipe is pretty standard and when I tried it, I started to feel better.

It’s easy to leave out or add ingredients to this recipe

My mom claims that her sopa is the reason I don’t have the flu anymore and why my back pain has lessened. I don’t know how scientific that is, but I can’t deny that I began feeling better after I had some.

Ingredients

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 cup carrots (diced)
  • 1 cup potatoes (diced)
  • 2 cups small conchas
  • 1 TBS Knorr (Chicken/beef/or vegetable)
  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic (minced or whole)
  • 1 cup canned tomato sauce
  • 6 cups of broth (chicken/beef/or vegetable)
  • ½ cup of herbs (rosemary, mint, etc.)

Directions

Warm the olive oil in pot at medium heat. Add the conchas. Stir frequently.

It takes a few minutes for the conchas to brown, but make sure they don’t burn!

Toast until browned and aromatic.

Add garlic sauté for about 2 minutes.

Add tomato sauce, Knorr, and broth.

My mom and I always add herbs to our soups for that extra flavor.

Let the soup come to a simmer

Add carrots and potatoes.

Add any herbs you’d like, or none if you don’t want any.

Careful when serving the soup it’s going to be hot!!

Add salt to taste.

Let the soup come to a boil.

Ready to serve!

Polvorones Tri-Color

I have always had a big sweet tooth. From cookies to candy, I love them all. One of my favorite memories, from my childhood, has always been spending Saturday mornings in my mom’s bed.

Polvorones are both soft and crumbly.

This was the only day of the week when my mom would lift the “no food on the bed” rule. She would wake up early in the morning to go to our local panaderia(bakery) and get an assortment of freshly baked pan dulce and galletas. Traditional Mexican pan dulce and galletas are the best thing in my opinion.

My mom would make some hot, steaming coffee for both of us during these Saturday mornings. It’s no surprise that I’m addicted to caffeine now. Our traditional cafecito con pan every Saturday morning was something I always looked forward to as a child. Now that I’m older, we aren’t able to do Saturday morning coffee and pan dulce every week but we do it whenever we have a chance.

To make these cookies take up a lot of time.

My favorite thing to dip into my coffee is considered blasphemy by a lot of people. I prefer galletas over pan dulce. While pan dulce will always hold a special place in my heart, and in my stomach, galletas are my favorite. From the packaged Maravillas to freshly baked galletas grageas, I will always prefer them over pan dulce.

My favorite galleta hands down will always be polvorones tri-color. Not to be confused with polvorones which traditional sugar-dusted cookies are served at weddings. Polvorones tri-color are a Mexican sugar cookie that, as the name suggest, have three different colors usually in the shape of a triangle. The best ones are soft yet crumble easily once you bite them.

You can make these cookies with any three colors you want.

As I’ve gotten older and my love for baking has flourished, I decided that tackling my favorite galleta would be a fun challenge. I never realized how much time consuming and labor intensive a lot of Mexican desserts can be.

The recipe for these polvorones tri-color took me a while to perfect because I wanted to make what I considered to be the perfect galleta. After hunting down recipe after recipe and subjecting my mom to taste-testing what must have been hundreds of cookies, I achieved what my mom and I consider to be the perfect recipe for polvorones tri-color. They are soft yet manage to melt in your mouth once you bite into them.

Recipe:

1/2 cup butter (at room temp)

1/2 cup vegetable shortening (at room temp)

1 cup powdered sugar (add 1/2 cup more if you want them a little sweeter)

1 egg (at room temp)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups of all purpose flour

2 tbs cocoa powder

6 drops of yellow food coloring

6 drops of purple food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

Grease and flour two baking sheets and set aside.

In a stand mixer, beat the butter,shortening and powdered sugar on medium speed until combined.

Add the egg and vanilla, beat util combined.

It’s easier to weigh the different dough balls so that they can be even.

Slowly add the salt and flour, beat until incorporated.

Divide the dough into 3 equal parts, add the cocoa powder to one and yellow to the second and purple to the third.

Make all three dough sections equal in size to have an even triangle.

For a triangle with the dough and “glue” together with water.

Put in fridge for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cut the cookies in equal size and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Let cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes.

All pictures were taken by me

Horchata de Fresa

Strawberry horchata is sweeter than regular horchata.

My mom has always loved making her own drinks at home, from Agua de Jamaica to pineapple water, if she could make it into a drink, she would.

One of my favorite drinks has always been the classic horchata, a Mexican agua fresca typically made with rice, milk, cinnamon sticks, and water.

It is a crazy simple drink, but it has always been my favorite.

My mom has always stuck with the traditional horchata. She lets the rice soak for a full day before she actually makes the drink.

The recipe remains simple with only 4 main ingredients.

To get the best possible flavor, the rice needs to soak in the water for at least 8-10 hours.

The horchata still tastes great if the rice only soaks for a few hours, but the flavor might not be as concentrated.

While my mom loves to make her horchata the traditional way, horchata can be customized in a few ways.

Horchata de Fresa (Strawberry Horchata) is one of the only Mexican agua frescas that I’ve never tried before.

My mom loved trying this new drink.

After making this with my mom though, I know that horchata de fresa will become a frequent visitor in my own house.

To make this agua fresca you will need a fine mesh strainer and a blender.

Recipe

1 1/2 cups of rice

1 cinnamon stick

1 lb of strawberies

1 cup of sugar

Method

Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer to clean it before using it.

Afterwards, put the rice in a bowl and fill the bowl with water until the rice is covered at least. Usually about 2 or 3 cups of water.

Add the cinnamon stick(s).

Let the rice soak for overnight or at least 1 hour.

I like to take out the cinnamon sticks before blending because cinnamon tends to be a very overpowering flavor.

Blend the rice water together until it is a very fine mixture. This could take a few minutes.

Set this aside and rinse the blender well.

Add the strawberries and 1 cup of the sugar with about 4 cups of water. Blend well.

Put the strawberry mixture through the strainer and add to the horchata mix.

Stir together well and taste for sweetness. If it’s not sweet enough add a cup or two with the ladle and mix together. If it’s too sweet add more water to lessen the sweetness.

All pictures were taken by me.

Tamales de Sinaloa

The seasons at my house have never been defined by the temperature. They have always been defined by what my mom cooks. There are four different seasons at my house: caldo (soup) season, tamale season, carne asada season, and marisco (seafood) season.

My mom grew up in Sinaloa, Mexico and she often makes dishes she remembers eating at a young age. One of her favorite things to cook is tamales.

Tamales are a complete meal available in a portable form. They travel easily and if you’re adventurous you might not even need utensils to eat them.

 Most traditional tamales are made from masa (corn dough) and some sort of filling and wrapped in either a corn husk or banana leaf.

Embed from Getty Images Source: Nicolas Vallejos Photography and Design

Not all tamales are made the same. Different locations make tamales in their own way. My mom’s tamales are jam-packed with veggies and meats – they’re a work of love.

As a child, I would watch my mom prepare the ingredients for the tamales. She would cook the meat and boil it until it was soft and tender, ready to be shredded. As my mom’s star assistant, I would often get the duty of shredding the meat.

Like many young children, I would try my best to make my mom proud and spent a lot of time perfecting the art of meat shredding.

While I attempted to create a work of art out of meat my mom would be busy cutting the veggies, creating the salsa for the meat and soaking the corn husks. She would be a flurry of movement, often looking like the sole participant in a dance only she knows.

Embed from Getty Images Source: Dana Gallagher

After all the ingredients are ready, my mom sets them out in a specific order. First, the big bowl filled with masa, then her choice of meat. Her veggies are laid out from biggest to smallest: carrots, potatoes, jalapenos, peas, green olives. Then she starts her work. She grabs the corn husks from the kitchen sink and begins slathering them with masa. After she’s done, she passes the tamale to me and I tie the end of each one. This holds the tamale together and allows for a much neater presentation.

When we’re done with this little dance, my mom stacks the tamales in a big steamer and covers the tamales with the unused corn husks to help with the steaming and flavor process.

Embed from Getty Images Source: Jupiterimages

To learn my mothers dance, enjoy the recipe below.

Tamales Estilo Sinaloa

Ingredients:

Corn husk leaves

1 lb of masa (can be found at most Latin-American supermarkets)

4 california chiles (cooked without skin and deseeded)

 1 ½ lb pork leg

1 onion

3 garlic cloves

Salt to taste

4 potoes julienned

4 carots julienned

1 can peas

A jar of green olives (with pit)

A small jar of jalapenos

Method:

Put the corn husks in warm water to soak an hour or two before starting. Separate the small ones from the big ones. The small ones will be used to makes strings and the big ones for the tamale itself.

Put the pork, half the onion, garlic and optional salt in a medium pot filled with water. Boil until soft, about 20 minutes. Shred and set aside.

Boil the chiles in water for 5 minutes and then drain.

Blend the chile with the rest of the onion, and tomatoes. Mix the pork and the salsa together and set aside.

Peel and cut the potatoes and carrots. Put potatoes in water so that they won’t brown up.

To Prepare:

Take one of the corn husks and slather the masa on top with a spoon or with your hand.After add a medium spoonful of the meat covered in salsa. Add veggies inside. Cover with another one of the corn husks.

Shred some of the corn husks and use to tie the end of the tamales.

Arrange the tamales in a steamer, don’t forget to add water to the bottom. Cover with any remaining corn husks. Cook for 10 minutes with high heat then turn down the heat. Cook the tamales on low heat for about an hour or until ready.

If the tamale comes out easily from the corn husk when opened it’s ready.