Paletas de Jamaica y Limón {She Made/Ella Hace}

We're only two weeks in, but I am really loving summer vacation.  Sleeping in until 8am, hanging out all day with my 4 favorite people in the world (my kiddies), and spending time with visiting friends & relatives from the US...It really doesn't get much better!  Mid-morning, the kiddies and I walk downtown to do our grocery shopping for the day.  Once we're done, we sit in El Jardin (the town square/plaza) to do a little people watching.  Sometimes, when it's really hot, we'll stop at the paleteria (ice cream & popsicle shop) for agua fresca, ice cream and/or paletas (ice pops) to help us keep our cool.

In the afternoons, I'll sit out on the sidewalk enjoying the cool afternoon breeze while watching the kiddies play with all the neighborhood kids.   Again, when it's really hot, we'll buy an icy cool treat from whoever stops by first: the ice cream truck or the paletero (popsicle vendor).  But sometimes when it's too hot to walk the two blocks to the nearest paleteria and we don't even feel like venturing out to our sidewalk, the kiddies and I head into the kitchen to make our own paletas.  And that's just what Girlichef and I are making for this month's installment of She Made / Ella Hace.

Our favorite paletas to make this summer have been these Paletas de Jamaica y Limón (Hibiscus Flower & Lime Ice Pops).  The subtle floral taste and aroma from the dried hibiscus flowers combined with the tartness of the lime juice make for one tart and refreshing paleta.  And the color is just stunning.   

Paletas de Jamaica y Limón (Hibiscus Flower & Lime Ice Pops) 
(Recipe adapted from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless)

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar; mix together until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Cook the dried hibiscus flowers in the sugar water over medium-low heat until  .  Let cool to room temperature.  Stir in lime juice.  Pour into paleta molds or small plastic/paper cups.  Let freeze for about 35 to 40 minutes before inserting sticks.  (Or if you're using plastic cups and are afraid you'll forget to insert the sticks, cover the plastic cups with a small piece of aluminum foil.  Pierce the center just barely with the tip of a knife.  Insert popsicle sticks or plastic spoons.)  

Freeze for 3 hours or overnight.  Enjoy!!! 

Now go visit Girlichef's blog to check out her recipe for Paletas de Crema y Cereza con Tequila (Sour Cream, Cherry & Tequila Ice Pops)!  

If you're looking for more paleta recipes or have a popsicle recipe you would like to share, Girlichef is hosting The Summer of the Popsicle 2012.  Visit her blog for more details. 


Also sharing this post with:

IHCC Theme: Nieves!
The Summer of the Popsicle 2012

The Summer of the Popsicle 2012 at girlichef.comRick Bayless @IHCC button rounded

Arroz con Pollo y Frijoles {Rice w/ Chicken & Beans}

It's I Heart Cooking Clubs time again, and this week's theme is Potluck!   As I was flipping through my Rick Bayless cookbook, trying to decide on what to make, I came across a recipe title that brought a few memories flooding back to my mind...Arroz con Pollo.   

The first and funniest memory of Arroz con Pollo being this clip of I Love Lucy, in which Lucy tries to explain to her suegra (mother-in-law), who doesn't speak or understand a word of English, what they will be having for dinner.

Arroz con Pollo also reminds me of Pappy, my grandfather.  He loved Arroz con Pollo!  It was his idea of the perfect meal, because you could make it in one pot, and add as much or as little of anything you wanted.  Pappy's recipe was constantly changing.  In all the years I lived with my grandparents, I don't think Pappy ever made his Arroz con Pollo the same way twice.  Sometimes he'd use chicken thighs, sometimes he'd use drumsticks, and sometimes he'd use a whole, cut-up chicken.  Sometimes he'd make it soupy.  Sometimes he'd make it in his trusty crockpot.  And sometimes he'd even make it with enchilada sauce.  The only constant with Pappy's Arroz con Pollo was that it was always delicious.

But my favorite memory of Arroz con Pollo is from back when Hubby and I were dating and only saw each other on Sundays.  After church, we'd drop my grandparents off at home, then head out for our weekly lunch date.  One of our favorite stops was the El Pollo Loco drive-thru, because we only had a few short hours to spend together, and we didn't want to spend those precious hours in a noisy, crowded restaurant.  Once our order was ready, we'd head to one of the local parks for a romantic picnic under the biggest tree we could find, where we'd eat our Pollo Bowls and stare into each other's eyes for hours.  (Sigh!)   Que romanticos!  I remember those Sundays like it was yesterday, even though it all happened some 19 years ago.  

As expected, Rick's recipe for Arroz con Pollo did not disappoint.  I did make a few changes, like adding tomatoes and cumin to the mix.  But what really helped bring it all together was topping it off with a little Pico de Gallo. The important thing to remember whenever making any Mexican rice dish is not to stir after adding the liquid, doing so hace que el arroz se bate which simply means it results in a soupy mess and that is not what we want.The kiddies loved it, and I'm pretty sure Hubby too was reminded of our Sunday picnics all those years ago, because as soon as he took the first bite of his Arroz con Pollo, he looked up at me from across the table and said, "You know, we really should go on a picnic soon."   

Total success, if you ask me.   

Arroz con Pollo y Frijoles
(Recipe adapted from Everyday Mexican by Rick Bayless)


  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in bite-size pieces (1-inch cubes)
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons ground chile powder, divided (Rick recommends ancho chile powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, cut in quarters
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-1/2 to 3 cups chicken broth or water
  • 1-3/4 cups of Cooked Beans, drained (You can also use a 15 oz. can of cooked beans) 
  • Pico de Gallo 

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken; season with salt and 1-1/2 tablespoons of ground chile powder.  Cook until all of the chicken is well-browned.   Transfer the chicken to a heat proof-plate; set aside.

Heat an additional 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat in the same skillet the chicken was cooked in.  Saute the rice until golden brown, stirring frequently.  While the rice is browning, puree the onion, tomatoes, and garlic with in 2-1/2 cups of the chicken broth in a blender cup until smooth.

Carefully, pour the puree mixture over the browned rice.  Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of ground chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin.  Season lightly with salt.  Stir gently, just until everything is combined. Do NOT stir after this point! Cover skillet and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and let the rice simmer for 10 minutes.

Gently stir in the cooked chicken and beans.  (I used Pinto beans, but Rick recommends using black beans.)  Cover and continue to simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed. If the rice still looks uncooked, add a splash more of water and continue to simmer until fully cooked. (Remember to resist the urge to stir!) Remove from heat. Let set for about 10 minutes before serving.

Top with Pico de Gallo or your favorite salsa and serve with warm flour tortillas.  Enjoy!!! 

*FYI: Arroz con Pollo also makes a great filling for burritos! 


IHCC Theme: Potluck!

Food of the Month Club: July & August

For this month's Food of the Month Club, we're going to be doing things a little differently.  Instead of focusing on just one ingredient this month, I thought it would be fun to do some kind of theme.
And being that it's summer and many of us are trying our hardest to stay cool and beat the heat, I've come up with a theme that I'm sure everyone will love....Summer Beverages!   

Aguas Frescas.

Iced teas.




So many delicious possibilities!

La Cocina de Leslie

How to participate:
1.)  Visit La Cocina de Leslie every month to find out the Food of the Month.

2.)  Head to the kitchen and whip up a cool, refreshing Summer Beverage.

3.)  Post the recipe(s) on your blog. 

4.)  Link to this page in your blog post(s) and/or add the Food of the Month Club badge to your post and/or sidebar.  

5.)  Email your Summer Beverage entries to me at by August 30th.  Be sure to  include:
~your name
~your blog name
~permalink to your post
~a photo of your recipe or permission to pull one from your post

6.)  Visit La Cocina de Leslie at the end of month for the recipe round-up.  


Where's the Beef? {FOTMC Ground Beef Round-Up}

If you've ever found yourself standing in your kitchen, asking "Ground beef, again???  What can I possibly make with it today that my family will love?", then you've come to the right place.  Ground Beef was our feature ingredient for the Food of the Month Club last month, and today, I am finally getting around to posting the delicious Round-Up.  (So sorry for the delay.)

To start things off, our friends from Peru Delights introduce us to Rocoto Relleno.  Rocotos may look like your ordinary bell pepper, but after one bite, you'll definitely taste the difference, because these gorgeous little peppers are definitely packing heat.  Stuffed with minced or ground meat and lots of ooey, gooey melted cheese, my mouth is watering just thinking about them.

Corina from Searching for Spice puts a flavorful twist on a family favorite with these Mediterranean Meatballs, that includes a little chorizo in the mix.

Sarah shares her spicy New Mexican Meatloaf , on her new blog, A Kitchen Canvas.

Girlichef is serving up big bowls of spicy Pasilla Bolognese Spaghetti.

Elizabeth from The Law Student's Cookbook prepared Baker's Edge Lasagna, that she baked in a special pan that guarantees that everyone gets an edge piece.

Heather from Malice in Dunderland has a meat-free alternative with these Native American Sweet Meatballs that are actually made with tofu!  

And last but not least, I made Sloppy Jose's; a slightly spicier version of Sloppy Joe's.

A big thank you to all of my foodie friends for sharing their favorite Ground Beef recipes.  If you would like to be featured in the next Food of the Month Club Round-Up, tune in later today to find out what ingredient (or theme) will be our next Food of the Month. 


Shirley Temples

Growing up, summer meant two things to me:

  1. Going on vacation to Mexico with my grandparents.
  2. Going to work with my mom.

As much as I loved visiting Mexico with my grandparents, going to work with my mom was always the option that promised the most fun.   For most of my childhood, my mom worked as a bartender at various bars around town and at the local bowling alley.  

I know that nowadays taking a kid to a bar is just unthinkable, but back in the late 70's / early 80's it wasn't that frowned upon, and this little girl thought it was a blast.  There was the jukebox to play with, and since my mom worked there, I knew what buttons to push to get free songs.  Then of course there was my favorite of all toys...the big pool tables.  I was barely tall enough to see over the top of the pool tables when I learned to play.   And on the off-chance I got bored, I had my coloring books to keep me occupied or I'd go back to the "office" to watch TV.  

But the best part for me was helping my mom.  I'd wipe down the bar and tables, fill the snack bowls with pretzels and peanuts, and add newly boiled eggs to the pickling jar.  After I was done working, my mom would let me "help" her prepare drinks, which consisted mostly in just watching her and occasionally pass her a swizzle stick or garnish.  Then after all of the customers had been served, my mom would make me an extra special cocktail as a reward for all my hard work...a Shirley Temple with extra cherries.   I was crazy about the bright red, cherry flavored mocktail.  I loved it even more than milk & pepsi.  (Yes, I watched way too many episodes of Laverne & Shirley!)

I was reminded of my love for Shirley Temples, when Girlichef posted about them last year.  I've been making them ever since.  Every time I drink one, I remember the good ol' days of sitting at the bar while watching my mom, feeling so grown-up and sophisticated with my special cocktail.  It's these precious memories of my mom that I want my kiddies to know and remember her by. 

Shirley Temples
(Recipe inspired by Girlichef)

  • Grenadine Syrup
  • Lemon-Lime soda (I used 7-Up)
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Ice

Fill a chilled glass with ice.   Pour a splash of grenadine syrup over the ice.  (About 1 to 2 oz. depending on the size of your glass.)  Add a few maraschino cherries and a couple tablespoons of maraschino liquid, then fill the glass with lemon-lime soda.  Stir gently.  Top with an extra cherry.  Enjoy!!!

*For a grown-up Shirley Temple, add a shot of rum with the grenadine syrup.  


Cheers to Summer! {Banana Daiquiris}

Even though Hope's & Nick's graduations have come and gone, I still feel like celebrating.  I mean, it is summer vacation, after all!  That in itself is a huge reason to celebrate.

No more waking up before the sun comes out.  No more kiddies to send off to school.  No more rushing to pick them up on time.  No more graduation planning committee meetings to attend.  And no more stress or worries about it all to keep me up at night.

And best of all, my life will finally return to some kind of normalcy.  (I hope!)  I couldn't be happier!

So, to celebrate I am jumping right back in with my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs.  This week's theme is "Salud!" (Cheers!)   I chose to make Rick's Banana Daiquiris.  They're sweet, cool and creamy.  And the bright color is so bright and cheery.   Banana Daiquiris are wonderful way to toast to family, friends and just about anything else on a sunny, summer afternoon.


Banana Daiquiris
(Recipe slightly adapted from Rick Bayless)

  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 ripe banana, peeled
  • 1/2 cup orange juice 
  • 1/4 cup white rum
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • A splash of vanilla extract (optional) 
  • Orange slices, for garnish
Puree the ice cubes, banana, orange juice, rum, sugar, and vanilla in a blender until smooth. Pour into chilled glasses.  Garnish with orange slices.  Enjoy!!!

* For a sweet & fruity Strawberry Daiquiri substitute 1 cup of sliced fresh strawberries in place of the banana; omit the vanilla extract.  


IHCC theme: Salud!

Celebrating the end of the school year with Sloppy Jose's

♫ Celebrate good times, c'mon!  Let's celebrate! ♪ 

After weeks of planning and months of stressing, the two days that my family have been looking forward to are finally here...

Nick & Hope on their first day of school August 2011

My babies are graduating.  

Tomorrow, my son Nick will be graduating from Primaria (elementary school/6th grade). And on Friday, my daughter Hope will be graduating from Secundaria (junior high/9th grade).

Just writing about it is making me tear up.

Over the next two days, we will be busy attending commencement ceremonies and graduation masses at church, snapping countless photos of the kiddies with their madrina and padrino (godparents for the graduation mass), and celebrating it all with one heck of a graduation party.

I couldn't be any prouder of my kiddies.    And I couldn't be any happier to be celebrate them and these precious academic milestones.  Not to mention the end of yet another great school year.  I've been celebrating that for a little over a week now.   

And what better way to celebrate the end of the school year than with a sandwich my kiddies love...Sloppy Joe's.  Or as we like to call them,  Sloppy Jose's.  

Sloppy Jose's
(recipe adapted from The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches)

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 3 big roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced 
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 to 2 serrano chilies, finely chopped (optional) 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (8oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup catsup
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar (I used azucar mascabado
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Salsa Maggi (optional)
  • Seasoning Salt & Black Pepper
  • Hamburger Buns

Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the ground beef in the skillet until completely brown; season with seasoning salt and black pepper.  Add the tomato, onion, bellpepper, serrano chilies, and garlic.  Cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until the onion and bellpepper have softened.  Stir in the tomato sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and Salsa Maggi.  Reduce heat to low, cover skillet and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

Spoon filling onto toasted hamburger buns.  Enjoy!!!