Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Easy Cinnamon Buñuelos & Cafe con Leche

Flour Tortilla Cinnamon Buñuelos - lacocinadeleslie.com

Today was one of those days.  It was cold, windy and overcast in central Mexico.  And my mood seemed just as gray as the sky. And even the kiddies were feeling it too. I've had days like this before, many, many years ago.  Back then my gloomy days were always brightened by a good helping of Pappy's comfort food.

Feeling a little nostalgic, I stepped into the kitchen to see what I could conjure up.  I looked inside my fridge and pantry for inspiration, but nothing came to mind. So I asked myself, "What would Pappy do?" A few seconds later I noticed a package of flour tortillas sitting in the back corner of my fridge, then all of a sudden I knew exactly what I wanted to make...Buñuelos! 

Buñuelos are crispy, flaky, golden fried tortillas covered with cinnamon and sugar. My grandparents usually only made them around Christmastime to share with friends and neighbors. I remember how their tiny kitchen seemed to overflow with stacks and stack of Buñuelos.

There are two ways you can make Buñuelos.  The tradtional way is to make the dough from scratch, like my grandmother always did.  OR...you can make them the easy way like Pappy did, using store-bought flour tortillas.

Until today I don't think I've ever made this kind of Buñuelo for my kiddies. Usually when we're craving Buñuelos my suegra will make them from scratch or we'll walk down to the market to pick some up.

These easy cinnamon Buñuelos were just what we needed to brighten our day. My kiddies watched in amazement as I fried tortilla after tortilla.  They weren't too convinced that you could make good Buñuelos from flour tortillas, but after one bite they were convinced. To quote my kiddies, "Están buenísimas!" (They're really, really good!)

Easy Cinnamon Buñuelos - lacocinadeleslie.com

Flour Tortilla Buñuelos
lacocinadeleslie.com

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 12 flour tortillas
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable oil

Directions:
In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and the cinnamon.  Set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Carefully, place a tortilla in the hot oil.  Fry the tortilla until light golden brown on both sides. Transfer fried tortilla to a plate lined with paper towels.  Let it sit for a minute to absorb the excess oil. Place the tortilla in the bowl with the cinnamon and sugar.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the tortilla, making sure that both sides are evenly coated.  Repeat with remaining tortillas. Enjoy!


Flour Tortilla Buñuelos - lacocinadeleslie.com


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Cafe con Leche

Nothing warms me up on a cold winter's day like a cup of Cafe con Leche (coffee with milk). It's a childhood favorite that will always be near and dear to my heart. My grandpa used to make it for me almost every morning from the time I was 10 years old until the day I got married. And now I make it for my kiddies.  

Cafe con Leche - lacocinadeleslie.com

Cafe con Leche
lacocinadeleslie.com

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 (4 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules (Regular or Decaf)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Ground nutmeg (optional)

Directions:
Heat the milk and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan until very warm, stirring constantly with a wire whisk or molinillo until frothy. Spoon desired amount of instant coffee granules and sugar into a coffee cup.  (I only use 1 teaspoon of coffee because it's for the kiddies. Feel free to make yours a little stronger.) Pour the warm, frothy milk into the coffee cup. Stir slightly to dissolve the instant coffee granules and sugar. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Enjoy!

Cafe con Leche - lacocinadeleslie.com










Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ponche Navideño (Mexican Christmas Cider) & Ensalada Navideño (Apple Christmas Salad)

I love the week leading up to Christmas.  I'm usually busy baking wonderful goodies to share with my family. Christmas in Mexico is filled with all sorts of yummy treats.  Everything from Buñuelos to Tamales to Ponche Navideño. Sigh...Ponche Navideño!  Christmas wouldn't be complete without it.  I can't recall a Christmas that Ponche Navideño wasn't served.  (Both in Mexico and the US.)

Ponche Navideño is a hot beverage, laden with fruits, served during the holidays. The base for Ponche Navideño can be made with either Flor de Jamaica (hibiscus flower) or Tamarindo.  Both are absolutely delicious, but the color of Ponche Navideño made with hibiscus flowers is so bright and festive. It's the perfect beverage to serve with Christmas dinner.

But I have a confession to make.  As much as I love to drink Ponche Navideño, I've never actually made it.  This was my first time and it was delicious!  My hubby couldn't believe that I had never made Ponche before.

A key ingredient in making Ponche Navideño are tejocotes, a bright yellow-orange fruit which are sold at mercados (markets) all over Mexico during the holidays just to be used in Ponche. Another ingredient used in making Ponche is sugarcane.  It's been awhile since I've been to the States, so I don't know if sugarcane is even available.  I'm lucky because we have a vendor just around the corner that sells bags of cañas (sugarcane) already peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks.  But don't let these hard to find ingredients stop you from trying this delicious beverage.  As with most recipes, use what you like and try to incorporate what is in season. (Did someone say cranberries?!)

Ponche Navideño de Flor de Jamaica - Hibiscus Flower Mexican Christmas Punch

Ponche Navideño de Jamaica

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup dried Jamaica flowers
  • 3-1/2 quarts water (14 cups)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (3-inches in length)
  • 6 ounces tejocotes
  • 6 ounces sugarcane (cut in 1-inch chunks)
  • 6 ounces pitted prunes
  • 6 ounces pecan halves
  • 6 ounces guava (quartered)
  • 6 ounces apple (cut in 1-inch cubes)

Directions:
In 4 quart stockpot, bring water and the dried hibiscus flowers to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer 10 minutes or until the water is a deep wine color. Using a slotted spoon, remove the hibiscus flowers from the pot; discard.  Stir in the sugar and add the remaining ingredients. Cover and let simmer over low heat for 60 to 90 minutes or until the fruits are tender. (This is the best holiday air freshener!)
                                    
Taste for sweetness. Add more sugar, if necessary. To serve, ladle Ponche and fruits into cups.  (For an Adults Only beverage, add a shot of tequila to each cup!)  Enjoy!!!

      
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Ensalada Navideña

Ensalada Navideña is a traditional fruit salad served as a side dish or dessert with any Christmas dinner.  This is one of those recipes that varies from family to family.  I've had it with shredded cabbage, shredded carrot, celery, guava, and even coconut.  But in our family, less is best!  (This version would be a great palate cleanser between courses!)

Ensalada Navideña

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups apple, finely chopped
  • 1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped (I love pecans, so I used 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup Mexican crema
  • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (optional)


Directions:
In large mixing bowl, mix the apple, pineapple, pecans, crema and sweetened condensed milk, until well combined.  (I'd add the raisins, but no one else likes them!)

      

Transfer to serving bowl.  Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and garnish with pecan halves.  Enjoy!!!

   

With Love,
Leslie Limon

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bolillo Snack Pizzas

Friday nights are our family movie night.  We either rent a movie, watch a DVD we already own or watch a movie on T.V. 

While there is always popcorn a plenty to be enjoyed, my kids (and Hubby) always want something a little more filling. But, I would prefer to sit and watch the movie with my family than spend most of that time in the kitchen.  So what's a mom to do? 

Pop a few Bolillo Snack Pizzas in the oven!!!  All you need are Bolillos, a jar of pizza sauce and whatever you can find in your fridge and/or pantry.  My girls and I love veggies such as mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, zucchini and bellpepper on our bolillos pizzas. Hubby prefers deli ham, canned pineapple and jalapeño peppers.  And my boys are partial to salami or pepperoni.  The possibilities are endless!  The entire family can help put these together and best of all, it allows you more free time to spend with your family.

Bolillo Snack Pizzas

Ingredients:

  • Bolillos (about 1 per person)
  • 1 jar pizza sauce
  • Your choice of toppings (I used salami)
  • Oaxaca or Mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded


Directions:
Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Slice the bolillo rolls in half lengthwise.  Spoon pizza sauce over cut sides of bolillo.  Garnish with your favorite toppings.  Top with lots of shredded or sliced cheese.

Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 10 to 15 minutes.  Enjoy!!!


With Love,
Leslie Limon

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Red & Green Chicken Enchiladas

When I think of Mexican food, a few things come to mind; tortillas, beans, tamales, and enchiladas.  I love a good enchilada! 

Enchiladas can be made with a number of sauces and fillings.  Today, I am sharing with you, my favorites...Red and Green enchiladas.

My grandmother only prepared enchiladas for certain occasions; my birthday and potlucks.

My grandparents ALWAYS used canned enchilada sauce and their enchiladas always turned out great.  It wasn't until I got married that I began to experiment with different sauces.  My favorite "go to" sauce is made with dried ancho and guajillo chilies, onion and garlic.  I always cook the chilies in hot water to rehydrate them, but depending on my mood, I will either boil or toast the onion and garlic.  (Both methods result in a delicious sauce.)

For both of the recipes featured today, I used shredded chicken, but you can use shredded beef or pork.  To cook the chicken, I cover it with water and add half of a medium onion, a clove of garlic and a sprig of cilantro.  (Don't forget to season with salt and pepper.)

The last and one of the most important ingredients is the cheese.  There are so many cheeses that work well with enchiladas.  I say, have some fun and use your favorite.  I used queso fresco and Oaxaca cheese. 

Red Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients:

  • 3 dried ancho chilies
  • 2 dried guajillo chilies
  • Half of a medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 pound shredded chicken breast
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 2 dozen corn tortillas
  • Queso fresco
  • Oaxaca cheese


Directions:
Combine the shredded chicken and 3 tablespoons of chopped onion; season with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Place the dried chilies, onion and garlic in a medium saucepan; cover with water.  Cook over medium heat until chilies have been completely rehydrated. (About 15 to 20 minutes.)



After chilies are done, let them cool slightly.  Remove the stems and seeds from chilies.  Puree chilies, onion and garlic with 3 cups of hot water or chicken broth in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Pour into a glass bowl and season sauce with salt; set aside until ready to use.  (I don't recommend that you pour the sauce into a plastic bowl, because the sauce with stain the bowl.)


Heat the corn tortillas on a griddle or comal until warm and soft.  (Traditionally, the tortillas are fried in oil, then dipped in the enchilada sauce.  But I prefer to heat my tortillas on a comal with just a teaspoon of vegetable oil.)


Spoon 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish.  (This prevents the enchiladas from sticking to the pan.)


Before getting started on the assembly, make sure you have all of your ingredients ready and grouped together.


To assemble the enchiladas, dip a corn tortilla in the enchilada sauce.  Transfer tortilla to a plate.



Spoon equal amounts of shredded chicken and queso fresco down center of the tortilla.


Roll up tortilla and place seam-side down in baking dish.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.

After the first layer is completed, spoon an additional 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce over enchiladas and top with shredded Oaxaca cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients for the second layer.


Once the second layer is completed, pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. Top with shredded Oaxaca cheese.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350ºF for 30 to 35 minutes.   Enjoy!!!


*Yields 18 to 24 enchiladas.
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Green Enchiladas

Green enchiladas are my favorite! 

Gramm usually prepared hers with corn tortillas.  But that all changed one day, when she was whipping up a batch of enchiladas to take to a church potluck.  She opened the refrigerator door to find that she only had flour tortillas.  Not wanting to let the folks at church down, she "altered" her recipe.  Of course, they were a big hit and I have made green enchiladas with flour tortillas ever since!

My Green Enchilada Sauce has evolved over the years.  I used to prepare it with Serrano chilies, but sometimes the heat was too hot to handle.  I finally discovered that roasted poblano peppers add just enough heat and tons of flavor to the sauce.  Roasting all of the ingredients is the key to an excellent sauce!

Green Enchiladas are traditionally filled with shredded chicken.  I like to add a little chopped onion and Mexican crema. 

If you´re a fan of Green Enchiladas, I recommend you try them with flour tortillas!

Green Enchiladas

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound shredded chicken
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
  • 2 Poblano peppers
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed
  • Half of a medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig cilantro
  • 1 dozen flour tortillas
  • Queso Fresco
  • Oaxaca cheese


Directions:
In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken, 3 tablespoons chopped onion and Mexican crema; season with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to use.


In a large skillet, griddle or comal, toast the tomatillos over medium heat, until soft and slightly browned.  Transfer to a blender or food processor.


 Toast the Poblano peppers, onion and garlic.  Toast the peppers until they are nice and charred.  Place peppers in a plastic or paper bag for 5 minutes.  Remove burnt skin, stems and seeds from peppers.  


Place the peppers, onion and garlic in blender or food processor with the tomatillos.  Add the sprig of cilantro and 3 cups of chicken broth: puree until smooth. Transfer to large bowl and season sauce with salt.  (Sauce should be the consistency of pea soup.)


Spoon 1/3 cup of sauce into bottom of 9-inch baking dish or pan. (I used a larger pan because I doubled the recipe.)

Heat the tortillas on a griddle or comal.  (I'm an old pro, so I heat them directly over the flame.)

Arrange all of your ingredients.


Dip tortilla in sauce, making sure to coat both sides.


Transfer to a plate.  Spoon equal amounts of chicken and cheese down center of tortilla.


Roll up tightly and place seam-side down in baking dish.


After first layer is completed, spoon 1/3 cup of sauce over enchiladas.  Top with shredded Oaxaca cheese.  Repeat with remaining ingredients for the second layer.


Spoon 1/2 cup of sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle generously with shredded cheese.  Bake at 350ºF for 30 to 35 minutes.  Enjoy!!!


*Yields 1 dozen enchiladas.

With Love,
Leslie Limon

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tacos de Chorizo & Frijoles con Chorizo

Chorizo!!!  I first fell in love with chorizo when I was 5 years old.  (Well, that's the first memory I have of eating chorizo.)  But the fondest of my chorizo memories is of my grandmother and her sister-in-law, my dear aunt Jessie, making their own chorizo.  Gramm and Tia Jessie would get together a couple times of year for the sole purpose of  making their homemade chorizo.  I loved to watch them work their magic in the kitchen.  Tia Jessie would mix everything together with her hands, while Gramm added the spices and vinegar.  Oh, how I wish I had paid more attention to the process.  I would LOVE to try my hand at making my own chorizo.   Hmmmm!  Now that I mention it, making my own chorizo sounds like a good project for after the holidays.  

When I was younger, Gramm used her chorizo in 3 dishes; chorizo con huevo (chorizo with eggs), chorizo con papas (chorizo with potatoes) and chorizo con frijoles (chorizo with beans).  It wasn't until I got married that I discovered the endless culinary possibilities of chorizo.  I could even write a book...101 ways with Chorizo.  But I'll just continue to share my recipes here on the blog. 

The first recipe is for Tacos de Chorizo.  I discovered these super delicious tacos when we first moved to Mexico.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Tacos de Chorizo printed on the menu at our favorite taquería.  It was like I had died and gone to Chorizo lover's heaven!  I've loved them ever since. 

Like most tacos, Tacos de Chorizo can be eaten at anytime of day; breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Yes, even for breakfast!  Tacos de Chorizo for breakfast are always a hit at our house.
  

Tacos de Chorizo

Ingredients:
Directions:
  1. Remove casing from chorizo, if necessary.  Brown the chorizo in a medium skillet over high heat, until completely cooked.  
  2. Heat the corn tortillas, a few at a time, on a comal or griddle, over medium-high heat, just until soft and pliable. (I used taco-sized corn tortillas, which are about 2-inches smaller than regular 6-inch tortillas.  Either can be used for this recipe.) 
  3. For each taco, stack two corn tortillas.  Serve desired amout of chorizo in the center of the tortillas.  
  4. Top with cooked beans (optional), chopped onion and/or cilantro.  Serve with your favorite salsa.  Enjoy!!! 

*Canned beans can be used.

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And now for Frijoles con Chorizo.  This is one of those tried and true basic recipes that is a staple in every Mexican kitchen.  Spicy and fragrant Frijoles con Chorizo are more than just a side dish.  They can be served as a filling for tacos, gorditas, and/or burritos.  Frijoles con Chorizo wrapped in a flour tortilla makes one quick and tasty breakfast burrito.  But my favorite way to eat Frijoles con Chorizo is served atop cruncy homemade tostada shells and topped with Queso Fresco.  Tostadas de Frijoles con Chorizo are great to serve as a game-day snack when watching football or futbol!


Tostadas de Chorizo con Frijoles

Ingredients:
  • 6 oz. Mexican Chorizo
  • 3 cups Cooked Beans with bean broth
  • Flour or Corn Tortillas or Tostada shells
Directions:

  1. Remove the outer casing from chorizo, if necessary.  Brown the chorizo in a non-stick skillet until completely cooked.
  2. Add the cooked beans with about 2 cups of bean broth.  Cover and let cook until the beans start to boil. 
  3. Using your handy-dandy potato masher, or the back of a large serving spoon, mash the beans until desired consistency.  Season with salt, if necessary.  (If using canned beans, you probably won't need to add salt.) 
  4. Serve as a side dish, or spoon a couple tablespoons of Frijoles con Chorizo onto tostada shells.  Top with Queso Fresco, Pico de Gallo, or your favorite salsa.  I love mine with a splash of canned jalapeño vinagre.  Enjoy!!!


What's your favorite way to eat chorizo?  Answer below in the comments! 



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Monday, December 7, 2009

Mole Ranchero

While my favorite Mole will always be Mole Dulce, Hubby's favorite is Mole Ranchero.  Mole Ranchero is probably one of the easiest Mole sauces to prepare with very few ingredients.  This is the perfect recipe, if you've never made Mole from scratch.  Traditionally, Mole Ranchero is thickened with masa (corn tortilla dough), but corn tortillas can be used instead. 

Mole Ranchero can be made with either pork or chicken.  Tamales in Jalisco are filled with shredded pork and Mole Ranchero.  We prefer our Mole with chicken breasts, but drumsticks and/or thighs work well with this recipe.

Mole Ranchero

Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds skinless chicken, cut up
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig cilantro
  • 3 ancho chilies
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 2 tomatillos
  • 2 whole black peppercorns
  • 3 corn tortillas, cut in wedges
  • 3 cups chicken broth


Directions:
Place the chicken, 1/2 medium onion, garlic and cilantro in a 2 quart stockpot.  Add enough water to cover chicken. (About 4-6 cups.)  Season with salt and black pepper.  Cover and cook over medium heat until chicken is cooked.


After the chicken has cooked, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.  Toast the black peppercorns for 15 seconds; remove and place in a heatproof bowl.  Toast the chilies, tomatoes and tomatillos for 5 minutes; remove to heatproof bowl.


Toast tortillas in skillet until slightly crispy; remove to heatproof bowl.


Pour 3 cups of the broth from the cooked chicken over the chilies, tomatoes, tortillas and peppercorns.  Let sit 10 minutes.


Pour contents of bowl into a blender cup or food processor.  Puree until smooth.  Strain into skillet where the chilies were toasted.  Stir to blend the ingredients.


Arrange chicken slices in Mole sauce.  Let simmer over low heat until sauce thickens slightly.  (If the sauce is too thick, stir in no more than 1 cup of chicken broth.)


Serve with Mexican rice and plenty of warm corn tortillas.  Enjoy!!!


With Love,
Leslie Limon

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Going Bananas for Agua de Platano & Buñuelos de Platano

Bananas are one of my favorite fruits.  I always have bananas on hand.  And I usually end up with a few that get too over-ripe.  Thankfully, I have a few recipes that help me use up all of the bananas, because I really hate to throw food away.

The first recipe is my hubby's favorite Agua Fresca of ALL-TIME...Agua de Platano.  It's quick, easy and delicious!  And it's the perfect way to use up those overripe bananas sitting on the counter, especially when it's too hot to make banana bread.


Agua de Platano
(Banana Agua Fresca)

Ingredients:
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3-inch)
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Directions:
Puree the bananas, cinnamon stick and 3 cups of the water in a blender until smooth.  Strain the puree into a 1-gallon pitcher.  Add the remaining water and sweetened condensed milk; stir until well combined.  (The sweetened condensed milk is all the sugar I need, but you can sweeten your Agua de Platano with white sugar if it's not sweet enough for you.)

Serve with or without ice.  Enjoy!!!


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Growing up, my Pappy loved to make Banana Fritters and I loved to eat them.  Pappy called them Buñuelos de Platano. 

Like me, my kiddies love Buñuelos de Platano.  I like to serve them with a variety of dipping sauces; chocolate, caramel, cajeta and even peanut butter that has been heated slightly.  Use whatever you have in your pantry.  Today, I used a small can of sweetened condensed milk.  (Hubby and the kiddies were thrilled!) 

Buñuelos de Platano

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups flour, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup cold milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Heat enough vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, to measure 1-inch.

Place 1/2 cup of the flour in a small bowl; set aside. 


In a medium bowl, combine the remaining flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.


Add the egg, milk and vanilla extract.  Whisk together until well combined.




Slice the bananas diagonally.


Coat the bananas lightly with flour.


Dip the flour coated bananas into the batter and carefully drop them into the hot oil.  Let cook until golden brown.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil.


Serve with your choice of dipping sauces.  Enjoy!!!



With Love,
Leslie Limon

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