Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Atole de Cajeta

Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is just around the corner. (As is Halloween!) Last year, for Día de Muertos we visited our dearly departed at el panteón (the cemetery), then stayed to watch a one-woman play called "La Muerte Irridenta". We all loved visiting el panteón on a cold and eerie night, but the whole time we were there I kept thinking to myself that I should've taken a thermos of something warm to drink to keep us all warm. Thankfully the city officials served hot chocolate and tea when the show was over, but I made a mental to note to remember to bring along something warm to drink for next year.

Well, it's next year already, and I have just the beverage for our annual Día de Muertos outing at the cemetery this year... Atole de Cajeta! Atole is a warm, creamy milk-based beverage that is slightly thickened with cornstarch (aka corn flour) or masa harina. Now I love thick atoles like my Sweet Potato Atole and Champurrado that get their grainy texture from the masa harina. But there is something to be said for the silky smooth creaminess of atoles thickened with cornstarch, like my Atole de Nuez (pecan). Those are the kind of atoles I remember my grandpa making me when I was growing up. And that is just the kind of atolito that will keep us warm at the cemetery come Día de Muertos.

You'll notice in the recipe that I don't sweeten this atole with sugar or piloncillo, like you see in other atole recipes. That's because this atole is made with cajeta, which is a sweet Mexican caramel sauce made from goat's milk. Cajeta is all the sweetness you need! No need to add more sugar, but you can always add more cajeta. If you're lucky enough to find cajeta envinada (spiked cajeta - Woohoo!), then by all means go ahead and use that instead of regular cajeta. But if you are unable to find cajeta of any kind and you really want to try this Atole de Cajeta, you can substitute a can of dulce de leche or a cup of caramel topping for the cajeta.

And finally, if you're looking to try more atole recipes to try be sure to tune in to my Cocina next month for a special #AtoleWeek (Nov. 10th - 14th)!

Atole de Cajeta - lacocinadeleslie.com

Atole de Cajeta
lacocinadeleslie.com

Ingredients:
  • 5 cups milk, divided
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick 
  • 1 cup Mexican cajeta or dulce de leche 
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch (I used unflavored Maizena)

Directions:
In a 2-quart stockpot, heat 4 cups of the milk with the cinnamon stick and Mexican cajeta over medium heat until very warm, stirring constantly to dissolve the cajeta. While the milk is heating on the stove, dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining cup of milk. Just before the milk on the stove starts to bubble, add the cold milk and continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the atole has thickened slightly. Ladle into mugs. Enjoy!

Cajeta Atole - lacocinadeleslie.com
















Sunday, October 5, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Spicy Salmon & Spinach Tacos

About a month ago one of my sisters-in-law brought me a bag of frozen salmon fillets on one of her visits from the city. I was beyond ecstatic to receive the frozen salmon, because up until that moment it had been some 14+ years since I last ate and/or cooked salmon. Back then Hubby and I weren't big on seafood, and salmon was something we only ate on special occasions like Valentine's Day, our wedding anniversary, or when Hubby got a raise at work. But for the life of me I couldn't remember what my go-to salmon recipe was oh so many years ago. As excited as I was to finally be able to introduce my kiddies to salmon, I decided to leave the salmon in the freezer until I could find a salmon recipe that Hubby, the kiddies, and my suegro (father-in-law) would love.

But when it came time to choose a recipe for this month's installment of The Secret Recipe Club, I didn't have anything specific in mind. My blog assignment this month was bcmom's kitchen, a food blog full of quick, easy, delicious recipes. Anna (aka always bcmom) also has a personal blog by the same name where she writes about her two grown kids, her grandson, and her hubby of 28 years. Some of Anna's recipe that caught my eye were her Oatmeal BreadSoft Raisin Cookies, and Pineapple Coconut Rum French Toast. But what really won me over was her recipe for Chile Lime Salmon Tacos. We all love tacos, the seasoning is similar to my recipe for Pollo a la Plancha (grilled chicken), and it was just the recipe I was looking for to use the salmon my sister-in-law gave me.

We were not disappointed. Just as Anna promises on her bcmom's kitchen blog, the recipe was easy to prepare and absolutely delectable. The salmon was flaky and perfectly seasoned. And the fresh lime juice and the creamy white sauce made with Mexican crema and Valentina hot sauce were the perfect way to finish off the tacos. I know I will be making these again soon, even if I have to personally drive out to the city to buy the frozen salmon.


Spicy Salmon & Spinach Tacos - lacocinadeleslie.com

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bacon Chipotle Macaroni & Cheese

When sitting down to plan our weekly dinner menu I can count on two things...

  1. Hubby will always request either Tacos de Papa (Potato Tacos) or BBQ Ribs with all the fixin's (including my Creamed Corn a la Mexicana).
  2. Hope (my 16 year old daughter) will always request Macaroni & Cheese. 

Hope LOVES Macaroni & Cheese! She's loved macaroni & cheese ever since she was almost 2 years old and I'm pretty sure she always will. And I can't say that I blame her. Who doesn't love a bowl of creamy macaroni & cheese whether it be from that famous little blue box or homemade?!

Now as much as I love macaroni & cheese, I don't always want to eat the same thing over and over again day after day, or week after week. So, I try to mix things up a bit by stirring in different ingredients I have in the fridge or pantry to spice things up and hope that Hubby and the kiddies will like it. That is where the idea for this Bacon Chipotle Macaroni & Cheese came from. All of my kiddies love chipotle peppers and everybody loves bacon. Stir it all together with some homemade macaroni and cheese, and it's no surprise that it quickly became one of my go-to recipes. 

Bacon Chipotle Macaroni Cheese - lacocinadeleslie.com

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Chorizo Stuffed Zucchini #SundaySupper

I am so excited about this week's #SundaySupper theme (hosted by Alice of A Mama, Baby & Shar-pei in the Kitchen and Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva) because it includes my all-time favorite vegetable in the whole wide world... Zucchini! Actually it's a Squash Fest, which includes all types of squash like acorn and butternut squash, and also pumpkin (which I adore), but for me it's all about zucchini. It's such a versatile squash, and it's subtle flavor works so well with just about anything, be it sweet or savory.

Now as much as I love zucchini, not everyone in my family feels the same way. (Gasp!) My girls share my love for zucchini, but Hubby and our boys, will only eat zucchini if it's battered and fried (fried zucchini), breaded and baked (zucchini fries), or as part of a dessert. They also eat it in my Homemade Bolognese Sauce, but since I sneak it in there, they have no idea they're eating zucchini. The only time I've seen Hubby and my boys excited to eat zucchini is when I stuff it with Mexican chorizo. They're love for spicy Mexican chorizo combined together with my love for fresh zucchini makes us all one very happy family. And I'm sure you'll be just as happy when you try these Chorizo Stuffed Zucchini.

Chorizo Stuffed Zucchini - lacocinadeleslie.com

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Oatmeal Cranberry Bars

Who am I trying to kid? Once I get something stuck in my head, there's just no convincing me otherwise. For the last couple of weeks I have tried not to think about the upcoming fall season. I have really tried to enjoy the last precious few weeks of summer, and not think about fall, but I'm fighting a losing battle. I am ready for fall. To me the beginning of September and Labor Day weekend will always be the unofficial beginning of  the fall season. That's how it was for the first 26 years of my life that I lived in the US, and it's still the same way now that I'm about to turn 40 and have been living in Mexico for almost 14 years. I want apples, pumpkins (I bought my first pumpkin of the season on Friday), rich spices, cooler days and warm bevvies. So, when trying to decide which recipe to make this month for The Secret Recipe ClubI was looking for something fall inspired.

My blog assignment this month was Food Ramblings, written by Elizabeth, who loves to cook, travel, and eat. (A woman after my own heart!) Elizabeth's blog has plenty of fall inspired recipes to choose from like Apple Cinnamon Pancakes, Pumpkin Apple Muffins, and Pumpkin Butter Swirled Blondies (swoon!). Ultimately I ended up choosing to make her Oatmeal Craisin Cookies, because I thought not only would they taste like fall, but they'd also make for a great lunchbox treat for my kiddies. And because Jack, my youngest, absolutely LOVES dried cranberries.

I was not disappointed. I've always loved the combination of oats and cinnamon, and the ruby red dried cranberries added a slight tartness that made these Oatmeal Cranberry Bars hard to resist. My kiddies requested these in their lunch boxes every day last week. And on Saturday, my girls and I whipped up another batch for the coming week, but they disappeared before the end of the day. And I'm pretty sure that

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars - lacocinadeleslie.com


Monday, August 18, 2014

Bacon Fried Rice {She Made/Ella Hace}

If you like bacon, then you are going to LOVE what girlichef (my foodie BFF) and I have cooked up for you in this month's installment of She Made/Ella Hace. Because everybody knows that bacon makes everything better!

The hardest part for me this month was deciding on what to make. I mean, really, the possibilities are endless. Did I want to make something sweet, try something new, or make one of the mouthwatering bacon recipes Heather (girlichef) has been sharing this month for #BaconMonth (hosted by Julie from White Lights on Wednesday)? (Hello, Flourless Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies!)

Then I got to thinking about what my grandparents used to make that had bacon in it, and I remembered this Bacon Fried Rice that Gramm only made on those rare occasions when she'd prepare a can of Chun King chicken chow mein for dinner. (Does anyone remember Chun King? Or am I just that old?!) Unlike traditional fried rice, Gramm didn't use cooked white rice. She'd actually make her Sopa de Arroz (Mexican Rice) and just add veggies, some scrambled eggs, and lots and lots of crisp, crumbly bacon. I made a few changes to Gramm's recipe, like omitting the chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce, but the flavor was just as I remembered it. And I'm pretty sure Hubby, the kiddies, and even my suegro (father-in-law) liked it, because they all asked for seconds.

Thank you, Heather, for suggesting bacon as our theme this month because it reminded me of this childhood favorite. I can't wait to see your Black Bean and Bacon Flautas

Arroz Frito/Bacon Fried Rice - lacocinadeleslie.com

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Peanut Butter & Jelly Paletas (Popsicles) #SundaySupper

It's still summer... It's still summer... It's still summer... I have been repeating these words to
myself all week because in my mind it's already fall. The leaves are falling off the tree outside my bedroom window. I'm already dreaming about making all sorts of delicious fall goodies. Just yesterday I cooked 3 kilos (like 6 pounds) of Camotes Enmielados (Candied Sweet Potatoes in Piloncillo Syrup), which made my house smell like one of those Bath & Body Works fall candles. And my kiddies all go back to school tomorrow.

But as excited as I am about fall, a part of me isn't ready to let go of summer just yet. It's probably because the kiddies' summer break was only 5 weeks long this year, which has to be the shortest. summer. break. EVER! Thankfully Hubby kindly reminded me that just because school starts tomorrow doesn't mean that summer season is officially over. My calendar clearly marks that we still have one whole month of summer to enjoy. So with that in mind and because peanut butter and jelly is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of back-to-school lunches, I made the kiddies these PB&J Paletas (popsicles) as a cool (and delicious) afterschool snack to help beat the heat of the dog days of summer.

One bite of these Peanut Butter & Jelly Paletas and I'm sure you'll agree that they taste like a pb&j sandwich on a stick. Only way cooler!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Popsicles - lacocinadeleslie.com

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