Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cilantro Rice Pilaf

When cooking for my family day in and day out, sometimes the food I look forward to most are the side dishes. Who doesn't love a good side dish?! There are some side dishes that I could easily eat as my main meal, no main dish necessary. Some of my favorite side dishes include Mexican Rice, mashed potatoes, Frijoles Adobados, any kind of macaroni & cheese, Chopped Salad, and Cilantro Rice Pilaf.

This Cilantro Rice Pilaf is my go-to side dish when I want something a little fancier to serve with dinner. It just looks so pretty and elegant when served next to Chicken Pipián Rojo or Pollo a la Cacerola (Mexican Chicken Cacciatore). But the only thing really fancy about this recipe is the name. Made with just long-grain rice, fideo (or vermicelli), cilantro, and pecans, rice dishes don't get much easier than this.

Cilantro Rice Pilaf -

Cilantro Rice Pilaf

  • 3 cups chicken broth or water 
  • 1/2 medium onion 
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1/4 cup fideo or vermicelli, broken up
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped (optional) 

Puree the chicken broth with the onion and garlic in a blender or food processor until smooth; set aside. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the butter melts completely. Saute rice and fideo, stirring constantly, until light golden brown. Carefully add the puree mixture and stir gently just to combine. (Note: Stop stirring after this point! We're not making risotto.)

Once rice begins to boil reduce heat to low; season with salt, if necessary. Cover skillet and let simmer over low heat until all of the chicken broth has been absorbed. Remove from heat and gently stir in the chopped cilantro and pecans (if using). Cover and let set for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Mexican Rice Pilaf -

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Spinach & Requesón Squares

Spinach, requesón, mushrooms, and manchego cheese combine to make these irresistible Spinach Squares that can be served for brunch, a light lunch, or even as an appetizer.

Spinach Squares w/ Requesón -

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Atole de Galleta (Cookie Atole) #AtoleWeek

If you like cookies and milk, then you are going to love this Atole de Galleta made with Galletas Marias (a very popular cookie here in Mexico).

Atole de Galleta -

Our second atole for #AtoleWeek is one everyone (young and old) enjoys, because who doesn't like Galletas Maria's? When I first heard of Atole de Galleta, I thought it was going to be a hot, mushy mess, but I couldn't have been more wrong. The cookies completely dissolve resulting in a creamy sweet atole that you'd never guess was made with cookies.

Traditionally Atole de Galleta is made with Galletas Maria's, but any kind of cookie can be used. My kiddies also love what I call Cookies & Cream Atole made with Oreo's. If you'd like the recipe, let me know in the comments below.

Atole de Galletas Marias -

Atole de Galleta

  • 1 pkg. Maria's cookies (I use Gamesa brand) 
  • 8 cups of milk, divided
  • 1 cinnamon stick 
  • 2/3 to 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Break the Maria's cookies into pieces and let soak in 3 cups milk in a blender cup for 5 minutes; puree until smooth. Heat the 5 remaining cups of milk and the cinnamon stick in a 3-quart pot over medium heat until very warm. Pour in the cookie puree and stir to combine. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until the atole has started to thicken slightly. Sweeten with desired amount of sugar. Ladle into mugs. Enjoy!

Cookie Atole made with Marias Cookies -

Monday, November 10, 2014

Comfort Food Classics: Atole de Avena (Oatmeal Atole) #AtoleWeek

One of my favorite things about fall and the crisp cooler weather that comes with it is the wide variety of hot beverages available to help keep you warm like coffee, ponche, and atole. (Just to name a few.) My heart will always belong to coffee. (I'm drinking a cup as I write.) And ponche will always be a holiday favorite. But atolein all it's creaminess, is the epitome of comfort in a cup during the cold fall and winter months. I love atole SO much that I thought it would be fun to devote this entire week (which I'm calling #AtoleWeek) in my Cocina to sharing some of my favorite atole recipes.

Atole de Avena / Mexican Oatmeal -

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Cajeta Swirled Pretzel M&M Blondies

When trying to decide which recipe to make from my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month I had two things in mind: Halloween and candy! Because that's pretty much what the month of October was all about, in addition to celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary, my Hubby's 42nd birthday, and my eldest son's 15th birthday.

My assignment this month was Ilona's Kitchen, written by a wife and mom who loves to travel and cook. Reading Ilona's blog is like reading a letter or email from a trusted friend because she tells you straight up whether a recipe has way too much butter or not enough. The kiddies and I had a hard time narrowing down our choices. I was tempted to get an early start on my holiday baking with her Cranberry Bundt Cake and Cinnamon Apple Pie Cake, but the search was over as soon as my kiddies saw her Caramel Swirled Pretzel M&M Blondies. My kiddies LOVE anything with m&m's and thought this would be the perfect Halloween dessert. And they were SO right!

I did make one small change by substituting Mexican cajeta for the caramel sauce. I also added in more pretzels, that I lucked upon at one of the farmacias here in town, because I love desserts that are the perfect balance between sweet and salty. And the blondies were so soft and tender. Very cake-like, but also kind of fudgy in the middle because of the cajeta. These Cajeta Swirled Pretzel M&M Blondies were a big hit in our house, and I'm sure they'll be a big hit in your's too.

Cajeta Swirled Pretzel M&M Blondies -

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 -

Atole de Cajeta

  • 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)

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 -

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 -


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