Saturday, April 30, 2011

For the Kid In All of Us {Rainbow Cake}


One of things I love about living in Mexico is that there is always something to celebrate.  And today is not the exception.

Today is a particularly festive day all throughout Mexico and in the Limón household.  It is El Dia del Niño (Children's Day). 

In our family, the kiddies get the day off.  No chores.  No homework.  They have the entire day to do as they please.  And they decide what we will be having for lunch...an extra large pizza with pepperoni, chorizo and jalapeño peppers.

Our Dia del Niño celebration wouldn't be complete without a cake.  This year, my kiddies chose a Rainbow Cake.  I made them one for St. Patrick's day and they loved it so much that they requested it again for El Dia del Niño.

Making a rainbow cake couldn't be easier.  You start with a box mix, prepare according to package directions and color the batter with food coloring.  See?  Piece of cake.  (Pun totally intended.) 

Before we start, let's talk about food coloring.  I recommend that you use gel food coloring.  You get great color results and it won't water down your batter like using the liquid food coloring.

If you're like me and your living in a small town in Mexico, where gel food coloring isn't available, fear not.  Just head to one of the local mom & pop farmacias (pharmacy) and ask them for pintura vegetal.  It's powdered food coloring and comes in tiny brown paper envelopes in a variety of colors including: Azul (blue), Verde (green), Rojo (red) and Amarillo Huevo (egg yellow).  And best of all it's very inexpensive.  I bought 8 envelopes for 4 pesos.  (Less than 40 cents). 
   


Rainbow Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Betty Crocker French Vanilla cake mix
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • Gel food coloring (red, orange, yellow, blue, green, purple)
  • White Frosting 


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare the cake mix according to package directions.



Divide the cake batter into 6 bowls.  (About 3/4 cup of batter per bowl.)



Tint the cake batter with food coloring.



Pour the cake batter, one color at a time, into the center of a greased and floured cake pan.  I started with the purple, then continued to pour each color of batter directly into the center of the previous color.



I used two 9-inch rounds, but you could also use one 10 x 3 round pan. 
 


Bake at 350F, according to package directions.  I baked my two rounds for 25 minutes.



Fill and frost with your choice of frosting.  I prefer using a cream cheese frosting, but for this particular cake, I used ready made white frosting.  (Gasp!) (Hangs head in shame.)  In my defense, my electric mixer died on New Year's and I'm hoping the "kiddies" will gift me a new one for Mother's Day.   



Enjoy!!!


And watch how your kiddies will gobble this cake right up!


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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spicy Valentina Chicken Sandwiches



A bottle of hot sauce is an important staple in any Mexican pantry.  I always have two bottles on hand.  One is a local brand of hot sauce made with Yahualica chiles de arbol (the best chile de arbol in the world) that my Hubby can't live without.  And the other is one both my kiddies and I love...Valentina hot sauce.

Salsa Valentina isn't one of those hot sauces that will burn your tongue off.  It's mildly spicy, but it has a sweetness to it that adds to the delicious flavor.

As I've said before, my kiddies love to put Salsa Valentina on everything from scrambled eggs to a platter of chopped fruit.  I like to incorporate Salsa Valentina into my recipes, like Valentina Hot Wings and this spicy chicken sandwich that I'm going to share with you today.

If you like spicy buffalo wings, then you are going to love this recipe.

For this recipe, I asked my butcher to slice my boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1/4-inch thick slices.  But you could also use chicken cutlets. 


Valentina Chicken Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds chicken breast cutlets
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup Valentina hot sauce
  • Bolillo Rolls
  • Ranch or Bleu Cheese Dressing
  • Lettuce
  • Sliced tomato
  • Sliced red onion


Directions:
Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper; refrigerate until ready to use.  Combine the flour and seasoning salt in a medium bowl.  Pour the milk into a separate bowl.

Dip the chicken cutlets in the milk.



Then dip the chicken cutlets in the flour, making sure that both sides are evenly coated.



For a lower fat version of this recipe, you can brown the cutlets on a non-stick griddle over medium high heat.



Or heat 1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil in a large skillet.
 


Fry the chicken cutlets in the skillet until golden brown on both sides.  Transfer the cooked chicken to a heatproof plate and continue cooking the remaining chicken cutlets.



Once all of the chicken cutlets have been cooked, carefully wipe the skillet with a paper towel to remove any excess oil.  Pour the Valentina hot sauce into the skillet and bring to a simmer over low heat.


Carefully add the chicken cutlets to the hot sauce, making sure to turn the cutlets over to coat both sides with plenty of hot sauce. Cover and let simmer until the sauce has reduced slightly.



Cut the bolillo rolls in half lengthwise and lightly toast them on a griddle or comal.  Spread your choice of ranch or bleu cheese dressing on the cut sides of the bolillo rolls.



Top one bolillo half with lettuce, tomato and onion and the other with one to two chicken cutlets.



Close the sandwiches and serve with carrot sticks and additional dressing for dipping.  Enjoy!!!



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Linking up this week with:

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage




Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Arroz Verde

I don't know about you, but I really don't like serving the same side dishes over and over, no matter how delicious they are.  I like to mix things up a bit.  One of my favorite ways of doing so is by serving Arroz Verde (green rice).  A savory rice dish with an explosion of flavors. 

Arroz Verde

Ingredients:

  • 2 tomatillos
  • 1 poblano chile
  • 1 sprig cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2-1/2 cups chicken broth or water
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro



Directions:
Place the tomatillos, poblano chile, cilantro, garlic, chicken bouillon, onion and chicken broth in a blender cup.



Puree until smooth.  Set aside.



In a medium skillet or saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Brown the rice in the oil until it turns a light golden brown.
 


Carefully pour the puree mixture into the skillet with the rice; season with salt.  Cover skillet and bring rice to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed.  (Remember: You MUST resist the urge to stir.  You want a nice fluffy rice, not a creamy risotto.) 



Once rice has finished cooking, remove from heat and let set for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.  Toss with chopped cilantro.  Enjoy!!!




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Pollo a la Naranja 1.0



Today for lunch, I decided to surprise my hard working Hubby with one of his favorite dishes...Pollo a la Naranja.  As my grandpa used to say, this dish esta para chuparse los dedos (finger lickin' good).

The reason I refer to this recipe as 1.0 is because I have two delicious recipes for Pollo a la Naranja: the one I am going to share with you today and an Asian inspired dish that I will share soon.

Pollo a la Naranja is one of those dishes that looks and tastes like you spent a lot of time in the kitchen, but it is so easy to put together.

Today, I used bone-in chicken breasts, but you can also use drumsticks or thighs.

In the picture of the final product, you will notice that I served my Pollo a la Naranja with Arroz Verde.  The recipe isn't here on the blog yet, but I will try to post it ASAP.  

Pollo a la Naranja

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Seasoning salt
  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken breast, cut in large chunks
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Zest of 2 oranges



Directions:
In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat until butter has completely melted.  Season the the chicken breasts with seasoning salt.  Fry the chicken breasts in the oil/butter mixture until golden brown; turn the chicken over and continue to fry until the other side is also golden brown. 



Pour the freshly squeezed orange juice over the chicken.



Sprinkle the orange zest over the chicken.  Cover the skillet and reduce heat to low.



Simmer the chicken over low heat.  Turn the chicken over after about 20 minutes.  Continue to simmer until the chicken is tender and most of the juice has reduced and caramelized. 



Serve with Arroz Blanco or Arroz Verde and garnish with orange slices.  Enjoy!!!



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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

La Cocina de Leslie Turns 2 {Enchiladas Suizas}


Today is a very special day here at La Cocina de Leslie.  It's my 2nd Blogiversary!  In honor of such a special occasion, I'm going to share one of my all-time favorite recipes...Enchiladas Suizas.

This is a recipe I have been wanting to share for quite some time now, but for one reason or another, I wasn't able to.  On a couple of occasions, my camera batteries were dead, so I couldn't take pics.  On other occasions, I was in too much of a rush to take pictures.  And then when I finally did take the pics, the notebook I had written my recipe measurements in disappeared.  But today, finally, everything came together and I am able to celebrate my 2nd Blogiversary with a spectacular recipe.  

Literally translated, Enchiladas Suizas means Swiss Enchiladas.  To my knowledge these aren't Swiss in origin, but are called Suizas because Mexican crema is added to the tomatillo salsa.  This is one recipe where I don't recommend substituting sour cream for the Mexican crema.  Doing so would result in a thicker sauce.  I recommend using heavy whipping cream or evaporated milk.

Here in Mexico, I use a combination of Manchego and Chihuaha cheese.  But when I lived in the United States I used both mild cheddar and swiss cheese.  Whichever cheese you decide to use, the results are absolutely deliciosos!  

Enchiladas Suizas


Ingredients:

  • 6 cups water 
  • 2 pounds chicken breast
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • Cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon (I use Knorr Suiza)
  • 1 poblano chile
  • 24 tomatillos, husks removed
  • 2 serrano chilies
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup Mexican crema
  • 24 Corn Tortillas
  • 8 oz. Chihuahua cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz. Manchego cheese, shredded


Directions:
Place the chicken, onion, garlic, cilantro and 1 teaspoon of the chicken bouillon in a large saucepan.  Cover with 6 cups of water and season with salt and pepper.  Simmer over medium heat until chicken is tender.  Shred the chicken, once it cools.  (This step can be done the day before.)






To make the Enchilada sauce, place the tomatillos, serrano chilies, garlic and 3 cups of water.  Simmer over medium heat until tomatillos are fully cooked.  Let cool slightly.







While the tomatillos are cooking, roast the poblano pepper in a small skillet or comal over medium-high heat, until all of the skin has blistered.  The poblano pepper will look charred. 





Wrap the roasted poblano pepper in a plastic bag and let sit for about 5 minutes.  This allows the pepper to sweat, making it much easier to remove the skin. 






Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, remove the charred skin and carefully remove the seeds and stem.





In a blender, puree the tomatillos, serrano chilies, garlic and poblano pepper with 2 cups of the water the tomatillos were cooked in and the remaining teaspoon of chicken bouillon.




Pour the puree mixture into a medium saucepan.  Stir in the Mexican crema and season with salt, if necessary.




Pour 1/3 cup of the creamy sauce into a 9-inch square baking dish.



Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Fry the corn tortillas one at a time, for about 20 to 30 seconds per side.  Add more oil, as needed.  You don't want to fry the tortillas until crisp, because then you won't be able to roll up your enchiladas.  (Don't skip this part, because the tortillas will break and your enchiladas won't hold their shape if you don't fry the tortillas.)  




Transfer the tortillas to a heatproof plate.  Top each tortilla with a couple tablespoons of shredded chicken and cheese.




Roll up the tortillas and place seam side down in the baking dish.  Spoon another 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sauce over the Enchiladas and shredded cheese.



Repeat with another layer of Enchiladas, sauce and cheese.




Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 25 minutes or until the cheese has melted and turns golden brown around the edges.  Serve with Refried Beans and Mexican RiceEnjoy!!!





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