Happy Holidays!

I know it has been a little over a month since I have shared a new recipe and for that I apologize.  But I have lots and lots of delicious recipes to share with all of you in 2011, starting with Cinnamon Twosday on January 4th. 

Until then, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!


Pastel de Guayaba {Guava Cake}

Pastel de Guayaba (Guava Cake) is a moist and delicious cake that I love to make for the holidays.  From the moment you start making the Guava-sauce up until you take this cake out the oven, your house will smell SO unbelievably delicious.  I just love the combination of cinnamon and guavas.  To me, that is what Christmas should smell like.  It's amazing.

The taste is similar to a spice cake.  The first time my sister-in-law tried this cake, she said it was like biting into a guava. 

Pastel de Guayaba


  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups Guava-sauce
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 10-inch round pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar.

Add the eggs, one at a time, until well combined.

Whisk in the guava-sauce.

Add one third of the flour mixture, stirring well until the flour disappears.  Repeat with the remaining flour.

Stir in the chopped pecans.

Pour batter into the prepared cake pan.

Bake at 350F for  or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 to 55 minutes.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Remove cake from pan and place on a wire rack to cool until room temperature.

Place cake on serving platter and top with powdered sugar.  Enjoy!!!

Wrap any leftover cake in aluminum foil.  This cake tastes even better the next day!



Another one of my favorite Fall fruits are guayabas (guavas).  Guavas are a delicious fruit with an intense aroma.  Just having them in my kitchen makes the whole house smell absolutely yummy.

But if you really want your house to smell good, especially for the holidays, then I recommend making guava-sauce.  It's like applesauce, but made with guavas instead.   You can use guava-sauce in cakes, muffins, danishes and empanadas

*Guavas are rich in Vitamin C.  One guava contains 4 times the amount of Vitamin C as an orange.  (Thank you, Wikipedia!)


  • 2 pounds guavas
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cut guavas in half cross-wise.

With a small spoon or melon baller, scoop out the guava seeds.  Don't throw them away!  Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator to use in another recipe, I will share in the next couple of days.  (Guava seeds are edible, but I prefer my guavasauce without seeds.)

Place the guavas in a 2qt. saucepan.  Add the sugar, cinnamon and water.  (The cinnamon really enhances the guava flavor.) 

Cook the guavas over medium heat for 20 minutes, or until the guavas are very tender.  Use a potato masher to break up the guayaba into little pieces.  If you don't like a chunky guava-sauce, puree with an immersion blender, food processor or blender.



Pumpkin Pie Atole

Nothing screams Fall like pumpkin!  The weather here has cooled considerably.  By mid-afternoon, I want nothing more than to curl up on the couch with something warm to drink.  A seasonal favorite in our house is Pumpkin Pie Atole!!!  The delicious combination of pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in pumpkin pie was the inspiration for this heart warming beverage.
Pumpkin Pie Atole


  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree or 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Whipped Cream (Optional)

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat 4 cups of milk over medium heat.

In a blender, puree the pumpkin with the evaporated milk, sugar and spices.

Pour the pumpkin puree into the warm milk.  Stir until well combined.  Continue cooking over medium heat until atole is very warm.

Serve in individual mugs.  For an extra special treat, top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with ground cinnamon.  Enjoy!!! 


Pumpkin-Chocolate Chunk Pound Cake

I can't believe it's been a year since I joined The Cake Slice Bakers.  I've enjoyed baking with this wonderful group of women from around the world, some of whom have become very dear friends of mine.  It was because of The Cake Slice Baker's that I discovered and fell in love with the Southern Cakes cookbook by Nancie McDermott.  It has become one of my favorites.

But a new year has begun with the CSB's and that means that we will now be baking from a new book...Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman.  Earlier this year, I received this book as part of a Cookbook Swap from fellow Cake Slice Baker Monica of Lick the Bowl Good.

The first recipe from Cake Keeper Cakes is a Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Pound Cake.  A moist cake studded with chocolate chips and chopped pecans.  I only made two small changes in the recipe.  I substituted chunks of Carlos V chocolate bars for the chocolate chips and used pecans instead of walnuts.

I would never have thought to combine pumpkin with chocolate, but in this cake they really worked well together.  And I can't wait to make this recipe again.   

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Pound Cake
(from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattham)


  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used Carlos V chocolate bars)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Coat the inside of a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and dust with flour.  Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, cloves and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, scraping the bowl occasionally.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Stir in the pumpkin puree, vanilla and milk.

Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts (or pecans).

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. 

Bake the cake until it is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 minutes to 1 hour.  Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, invert it onto a wire rack and then turn it right-side up on the rack to cool completely.


Printable Version


How to peel a pomegranate

We received a large bag of granadas (pomegranates) today from one of my Hubby's cousins.  My kiddies love granadas and have been eating them ALL afternoon. 

A lot of people like to eat pomegranates, but they don't like to peel them because they think it's too much of a hassle and too messy.  But I'm here to tell you that pomegranates are very easy to peel, with very little mess.

The first messy mistake many make is cutting the pomegranate into wedges with a knife.  Don't do it!  By cutting the pomegranate, you're also cutting the arils (seed), causing them to release their bright red juices.  Juice equals mess.  Only use the knife to make a 1/4-inch incision down the side of the pomegranate.

Using the cut as your guide, break open the pomegranate with your hands like you would break off a piece of bread.

Use your fingertips to loosen the arils.  *Keep a damp washcloth nearby to wipe your hands every once and awhile, as well as a lime wedge.  The lime will come in handy to eliminate any accidental stains on your clothes.

Pomegranate seeds can be eaten plain or topped with salt and lime juice.  Enjoy!!!


Gringas {Carne Asada Quesadillas/Tacos}

I love today's recipe and not just because of the name.  The word Gringa is usually used in reference to American women.  But it's also a delicious taco.

Gringas are the perfect combination of real Mexican tacos and quesadillas made with flour tortillas.  My favorite restaurant offers both Gringas and Caprichos. (And Sincronizadas!)

Caprichos are made with corn tortillas.

I prefer to cook el bistec (thin cut steak) whole, then chop it into bite-size pieces.  But you can chop the meat first.  It's entirely up to you.  As is your choice of cheese.  I use either Queso Fresco or Oaxaca cheese, but mozzarella or your favorite Mexican blend will work.

I also use a large griddle that fits over two burners.  On one half I cook the meat and on the other I use to heat the quesadillas.  You can use two griddles or skillets.  No special equipment necessary. 



  • 2 pounds thin cut beef steak (I use filete)
  • 6 to 8 oz.  Queso Fresco or Oaxaca or Mozzarella cheese
  • Flour Tortillas
  • 2 cups Cooked Beans
  • Chopped Onion
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Red and Green Salsas

Heat a large skillet, griddle or comal over medium-high heat.  Season the steaks with salt and pepper.  Cook the thin steaks on the griddle until cooked the way you like them.  (I like medium-rare, Hubby and the kiddies like them well-done.)  Transfer the meat to a cutting board and chop into bite size pieces.  *While the meat is cooking, heat the cooked beans. 

While the meat is cooking, heat the flour tortillas, in a separate skillet, until soft and pliable.  Top one flour tortilla with desired amount of cheese.  (Not too much, because you are going to add meat and fixings.)

Place another heated flour tortilla on top of the cheese.  Continue heating on the griddle until cheese has melted completely.  (This is where I like to add a little butter.  It helps give the quesadillas a nice golden color.)

Transfer the quesadillas to a plate.  Spoon 3 to 4 tablespoon of chopped bistec (meat) in center of quesadilla.  Top with desired amount of cooked beans.

Fold your quesadilla in half and voila...your taco/quesadilla is now a Gringa.  Garnish with chopped onion and cilantro.  Serve with Red and Green Salsas


Agua de Avena (Oat Horchata)

Agua de Avena is hands down my absolute, all-time favorite agua fresca. I could drink the stuff every day and never get bored. And I'm not one of those people that likes to eat (or drink) the same thing day after day. But Agua de Avena is so good, I would gladly drink it every day for the rest of my life. Agua de Avena is very similar to Horchata, a traditional Mexican agua fresca made with rice and cinnamon, hence why some people refer to this agua fresca as Horchata de Avena. Agua de Avena is made with oats, cinnamon, and sweetened condensed milk. If you like Horchata, you are going to love Agua de Avena.

Agua de Avena (Oat Horchata) - lacocinadeleslie.com

Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

Leftovers for dinner?  Doesn't sound too appealing does it?  But it doesn't have to be that way.  With a little imagination, I was able to turn some of my leftovers into something amazing.

I was perusing my fridge this morning, hoping to find a little inspiration.  All I found was a stack of corn tortillas from earlier this week and a plastic container of cooked beans.  (Well, that and a few other things!)

After glancing through my pantry to make sure I still had dried chilies, I decided to make Bean and Cheese Enchiladas.  Simple, delicious and best of all, Hubby and the kiddies would never guess that I was using leftovers.

Bean and Cheese Enchiladas


  • 4 dried ancho chilies
  • 4 dried guajillo chilies
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups Cooked Beans, pureed with 1/4 to 1/2 cup bean broth
  • Queso Fresco or your favorite cheese blend
  • Corn Tortillas (Cold tortillas work best)

Bring chilies and 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Let boil for 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Remove the stems and seeds from the chilies.

In a blender, puree the chilies and the cooking liquid until smooth.  Pour chile puree into a medium bowl or saucepan.  Season with salt; set aside.

Dip the corn tortillas in the dried chile sauce, making sure that both sides are evenly coated.  (If you haven't done so already, puree the beans, before proceeding with the recipe!)

Carefully place the tortilla in the oil and fry for no more than one minute per side.  (You want the tortillas to be soft an pliable, not crisp and stiff!) 

Transfer the fried tortilla to a plate (not your serving plate) and top with generous amounts of beans and cheese. 

Transfer the Enchiladas to a serving plate or platter.  Garnish with Queso Fresco and serve with Sopa de Arroz (Mexican Rice).  Enjoy!!!