Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ultimate Comfort Food {Macaroni & Cheese}


I have a confession to make.  When Hope was two years old, I introduced her to a new food, that quickly became her favorite...Macaroni and Cheese.  But not just any macaroni and cheese, it was the kind that comes in a blue box.  She loved it!  And every time we went to the grocery store, she would spot the blue box and scream "Mac-Cheese".  Whenever I wasn't sure of what to make her for lunch or dinner, she would say "Mac-Cheese!"  She was crazy about the stuff.

Fast forward to almost a year later, when we moved to Mexico.  Sure, Hope liked the food that my suegra prepared for her, but she still wanted her Macaroni-and-cheese.  This being a small town, far from the big city and large grocery stores, the little blue box was no where to be found.  I did buy a few boxes of the different Mexican brands, but none of them came close to the yummy goodness of the stuff in the blue box.

Then began my desperate search for the perfect homemade version.  Some were baked.  Some had a bechamel sauce base.  But still, I hadn't found a recipe that was pleasing to my little girls taste buds.

Finally, one day, I really didn't feel like making yet another bechamel sauce, so I decided to use a few shortcuts.  I cooked my macaroni according to package directions.  Then in a separate bowl,  I melted a little bit of butter, added some Mexican Crema and a few slices of good ol' American cheese.  To finish it off, I seasoned it with a little salt and pepper and presented it to Hope.   

I waited with bated breath as she tasted her Mac-n-Cheese.

She turned to me with a very serious look, then flashed me the biggest smile and said, "Mommy, this is the BEST Mac-n-cheese!"



Coditos con Queso (Macaroni and Cheese)

Ingredients:
  • 6 to 8oz. elbow macaroni (I use 200 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup Mexican Crema
  • 6 slices American Cheese, cut in large pieces (make sure it's the good stuff!)

Directions:
Cook the macaroni according to package directions.  Pour the macaroni into a strainer to drain the hot water; set aside.

In the same pot you cooked the macaroni, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Stir in the Mexican Crema and the cheese.



Continue cooking, stirring often, until the cheese has melted completely.



Stir in the cooked macaroni.  Season with salt and pepper.



Enjoy!!!



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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Agua de Sandía (Watermelon Agua Fresca)

Nothing says summer to me like a big slice of watermelon. It's the quintessential summer snack. It's sweet, refreshing and absolutely delicious. Hubby and the kiddies love to eat it with salt, lime juice, and chile Tajin (a ground chile powder). I prefer mine plain, but sometimes I'll add a little salt to mine just to mix it up a bit. But sometimes the watermelons are so big that we can't finish it all in one serving, so I chop it up into large pieces and save in the fridge to use another day. One of my favorite ways to use up the leftover watermelon is in Agua de Sandía (watermelon agua fresca). There really is nothing sweeter and more refreshing on a hot summer day than a tall glass of Agua de Sandía.

Watermelon Agua Fresca - lacocinadeleslie.com

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tres Leches Cake...Très Magnifique!

How embarrassing! I thought I published this post on Friday. 

It's time for another installment of The Cake Slice Baker's!  I know it has been a while since I've participated and all because of my computer problems.  (Still waiting on the computer tech!)

This month's cake is one of my favorites...Tres Leches (Three Milks).  I loved it!

The actual cake was a little denser than I prefer for a Tres Leches cake, but it was delicious and held together very nicely after the addition of the three milks.
 
After tasting this cake, Hubby declared that it was the best Tres Leches cake he has ever tasted.  And Hubby isn't a big fan of Tres Leches.  The kiddies loved it too.  My daughter Ashley liked it so much that she wants me to make it again for her birthday next month!

Be sure to check out the rest of The Cake Slice Baker's to see how they liked this cake! 


Johnny C's Tres Leches Cake 
(from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott)

Ingredients:
Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk


Three-Milk Sauce

  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (I used the whole can!)
  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon grated lime zest


Garnish

  • Sweetened whipped cream
  • Fresh Fruit


Directions:
Heat the oven to 350 F.  Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch pan.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking powder and stir with a fork to mix well.



In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar; beat with a mixer at high speed to mix well.



Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well each time and stopping to scrape down the bowl occasionally, until the batter is light, fluffy and smooth.



Add one-third of the flour mixture.  Then half of the milk.  Beating at low speed each time, just until the flour or milk disappears into the batter.



Add another third of the flour, the remaining milk and the remaining flour in the same way.



Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 F for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown, springs back when touched lightly in the center and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.



Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle the lime zest over the cake.  Punch holes with a toothpick in the top of the cake about 1 inch apart.



While the cake is cooling, make the sauce by combining the milk, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan.  Heat gently over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture forms a smooth, steaming hot sauce.  DO NOT LET IT COME TO A BOIL! 



Slowly pour the warm milk sauce over the warm cake in stages, stopping to let the cake absorb some of the sauce before adding more. 



Let stand for 1 hour.  Cover and refrigerate, allowing the cake to come to room temperature before serving.  Cut into square and serve right from the pan.  Garnish with sweetened whipped cream and fresh fruit, if you like.

Enjoy!!!


Printable Version


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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ceviche de Camaron {Shrimp Ceviche}


There are still a few days of summer left to enjoy and I'm sure don't want to spend them slaving over a hot stove.  So today, I am going to share a quick and easy way to prepare Ceviche de Camaron.  It might not be the "traditional" way of preparing it, but it tastes just as delicious! (I promise to post the traditional recipe soon!)

Ceviche de Camaron
(Shrimp Ceviche)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined and finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 serrano chilies, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice


Directions:
Combine the tomato, onion, cilantro and serrano chilies.



Stir in the shrimp and lime juice.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.  Serve with plenty of tostadas. 

Enjoy!!!



You might also like these delicious Mexican shrimp dishes: 



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Friday, August 13, 2010

Tortitas de Calabacita {Zucchini Patties}

The other night, Hubby and I were having a profound conversation, trying to answer the age-old question of...If you could only eat one comida (food) for the rest of your life, what would it be? Hubby quickly chose chicken, because it can be prepared in a variety of ways.

I, on the other hand, found it very difficult to answer the question. I love food too much. How could I possibly choose just one food to eat for the rest of my life? But today, after a visit to our local fruteria (produce market), I finally came up with an answer...Zucchini!  Not only is it my favorite veggie, it also happens to be way more versatile than chicken. Can you imagine eating a chicken dessert? No, gracias! But zucchini is so versatile it can be eaten both sweet AND savory.

One of my favorite ways to eat zucchini is in Tortitas de Calabacita (Zucchini Fritters/Latkes).  I love them for breakfast or as a side dish with a little Jalapeño Lime Mexican Crema or Chile de Molcajete on the side. During Cuaresma (Lent) I like to serve my tortitas in Mole Ranchero. But Tortitas de Calabacita also make for a great meatless filling for a veggie burger.


Zucchini Latkes (Tortas de Calabacita) - lacocinadeleslie.com

Tortitas de Calabacita
(Zucchini Fritters/Latkes)

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons masa harina (I use Maseca brand) 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • Butter or vegetable oil (for frying)

Directions:
Place the shredded zucchini in a fine-sieve strainer.  Using the back of a spoon, press on the zucchini, to drain all of the liquid.  Transfer the zucchini to a medium bowl.  Add the eggs, masa harina, and onion.  Season with salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.

Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter or vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat.  Spoon 1/4 cupfuls of batter into skillet; flatten the patties slightly.  (Cook 3 or 4 patties at a time.) Cover skillet and let cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side until golden brown. Serve with Mexican crema or your favorite salsa. Enjoy!


Tortitas de Calabacita (Zucchini Fritters) - lacocinadeleslie.com


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Monday, August 9, 2010

Philly Cheesesteak Molletes

We spent the weekend at El Rancho this weekend helping my brother-in-law and his family harvest bell peppers. I love the smell of fresh bell peppers, but the aroma of these homegrown bell peppers was so intoxicating. I wanted to bite into those bell peppers as if they were a juicy apple. And the entire time we were gathering the bell peppers, all I could think of was getting home to make my Philly Cheesesteak Molletes. If you like Philly Cheesesteaks, you're going to love these Philly Cheesesteak Molletes. Open faced sandwiches made with sauteed onion and bellpepper, tender cuts of beef on a crusty bolillo roll with refried beans and topped with delicious melted Manchego cheese.

Philly Cheesesteak Molletes - lacocinadeleslie.com

Philly Cheesesteaks

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil 
  • 4 large bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 1-1/2 pounds thin-cut beef steak, cut in strips
  • 6 bolillo rolls, cut in half lenghtwise
  • 2 cups Refried beans (homemade or canned) 
  • 2 cups shredded Manchego cheese

Directions:
Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet, over high heat. Add the sliced bell pepper and onion; saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and saute for an additional 30 seconds. Add the thin-cut beef steak; season generously with salt and pepper. Saute the meat until no longer pink. Cover the skillet and reduce heat to low. Let simmer until all of the juices from the meat have been absorbed and the meat is tender.

While the meat is cooking, heat the refried beans in a small saucepan; set aside. Spread the bolillo slices with Refried Beans. Spoon meat and bell pepper mixture on top of the refried beans. Top each mollete with cheese. Arrange the molletes on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or just until the cheese has completely melted and started to bubble. Enjoy!




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