Cilantro Rice Pilaf

When cooking for my family day in and day out, sometimes the food I look forward to most are the side dishes. Who doesn't love a good side dish?! There are some side dishes that I could easily eat as my main meal, no main dish necessary. Some of my favorite side dishes include Mexican Rice, mashed potatoes, Frijoles Adobados, any kind of macaroni & cheese, Chopped Salad, and Cilantro Rice Pilaf.

This Cilantro Rice Pilaf is my go-to side dish when I want something a little fancier to serve with dinner. It just looks so pretty and elegant when served next to Chicken Pipián Rojo or Pollo a la Cacerola (Mexican Chicken Cacciatore). But the only thing really fancy about this recipe is the name. Made with just long-grain rice, fideo (or vermicelli), cilantro, and pecans, rice dishes don't get much easier than this.

Cilantro Rice Pilaf -

Secret Recipe Club: Spinach & Requesón Squares

Spinach, requesón, mushrooms, and manchego cheese combine to make these irresistible Spinach Squares that can be served for brunch, a light lunch, or even as an appetizer.

Spinach Squares w/ Requesón -

Atole de Galleta (Cookie Atole) #AtoleWeek

If you like cookies and milk, then you are going to love this Atole de Galleta made with Galletas Marias (a very popular cookie here in Mexico).

Atole de Galleta -

Our second atole for #AtoleWeek is one everyone (young and old) enjoys, because who doesn't like Galletas Maria's? When I first heard of Atole de Galleta, I thought it was going to be a hot, mushy mess, but I couldn't have been more wrong. The cookies completely dissolve resulting in a creamy sweet atole that you'd never guess was made with cookies.

Traditionally Atole de Galleta is made with Galletas Maria's, but any kind of cookie can be used. My kiddies also love what I call Cookies & Cream Atole made with Oreo's. If you'd like the recipe, let me know in the comments below.

Atole de Galletas Marias -

Atole de Galleta

  • 1 pkg. Maria's cookies (I use Gamesa brand) 
  • 8 cups of milk, divided
  • 1 cinnamon stick 
  • 2/3 to 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Break the Maria's cookies into pieces and let soak in 3 cups milk in a blender cup for 5 minutes; puree until smooth. Heat the 5 remaining cups of milk and the cinnamon stick in a 3-quart pot over medium heat until very warm. Pour in the cookie puree and stir to combine. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until the atole has started to thicken slightly. Sweeten with desired amount of sugar. Ladle into mugs. Enjoy!

Cookie Atole made with Marias Cookies -

Comfort Food Classics: Atole de Avena (Oatmeal Atole) #AtoleWeek

One of my favorite things about fall and the crisp cooler weather that comes with it is the wide variety of hot beverages available to help keep you warm like coffee, ponche, and atole. (Just to name a few.) My heart will always belong to coffee. (I'm drinking a cup as I write.) And ponche will always be a holiday favorite. But atolein all it's creaminess, is the epitome of comfort in a cup during the cold fall and winter months. I love atole SO much that I thought it would be fun to devote this entire week (which I'm calling #AtoleWeek) in my Cocina to sharing some of my favorite atole recipes.

Atole de Avena / Mexican Oatmeal -

Secret Recipe Club: Cajeta Swirled Pretzel M&M Blondies

When trying to decide which recipe to make from my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month I had two things in mind: Halloween and candy! Because that's pretty much what the month of October was all about, in addition to celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary, my Hubby's 42nd birthday, and my eldest son's 15th birthday.

My assignment this month was Ilona's Kitchen, written by a wife and mom who loves to travel and cook. Reading Ilona's blog is like reading a letter or email from a trusted friend because she tells you straight up whether a recipe has way too much butter or not enough. The kiddies and I had a hard time narrowing down our choices. I was tempted to get an early start on my holiday baking with her Cranberry Bundt Cake and Cinnamon Apple Pie Cake, but the search was over as soon as my kiddies saw her Caramel Swirled Pretzel M&M Blondies. My kiddies LOVE anything with m&m's and thought this would be the perfect Halloween dessert. And they were SO right!

I did make one small change by substituting Mexican cajeta for the caramel sauce. I also added in more pretzels, that I lucked upon at one of the farmacias here in town, because I love desserts that are the perfect balance between sweet and salty. And the blondies were so soft and tender. Very cake-like, but also kind of fudgy in the middle because of the cajeta. These Cajeta Swirled Pretzel M&M Blondies were a big hit in our house, and I'm sure they'll be a big hit in your's too.

Cajeta Swirled Pretzel M&M Blondies -

Atole de Cajeta

Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is just around the corner. (As is Halloween!) Last year, for Día de Muertos we visited our dearly departed at el panteón (the cemetery), then stayed to watch a one-woman play called "La Muerte Irridenta". We all loved visiting el panteón on a cold and eerie night, but the whole time we were there I kept thinking to myself that I should've taken a thermos of something warm to drink to keep us all warm. Thankfully the city officials served hot chocolate and tea when the show was over, but I made a mental to note to remember to bring along something warm to drink for next year.

Well, it's next year already, and I have just the beverage for our annual Día de Muertos outing at the cemetery this year... Atole de Cajeta! Atole is a warm, creamy milk-based beverage that is slightly thickened with cornstarch (aka corn flour) or masa harina. Now I love thick atoles like my Sweet Potato Atole and Champurrado that get their grainy texture from the masa harina. But there is something to be said for the silky smooth creaminess of atoles thickened with cornstarch, like my Atole de Nuez (pecan). Those are the kind of atoles I remember my grandpa making me when I was growing up. And that is just the kind of atolito that will keep us warm at the cemetery come Día de Muertos.

You'll notice in the recipe that I don't sweeten this atole with sugar or piloncillo, like you see in other atole recipes. That's because this atole is made with cajeta, which is a sweet Mexican caramel sauce made from goat's milk. Cajeta is all the sweetness you need! No need to add more sugar, but you can always add more cajeta. If you're lucky enough to find cajeta envinada (spiked cajeta - Woohoo!), then by all means go ahead and use that instead of regular cajeta. But if you are unable to find cajeta of any kind and you really want to try this Atole de Cajeta, you can substitute a can of dulce de leche or a cup of caramel topping for the cajeta.

And finally, if you're looking to try more atole recipes to try be sure to tune in to my Cocina next month for a special #AtoleWeek (Nov. 10th - 14th)!

Atole de Cajeta -

Atole de Cajeta

  • 5 cups milk, divided
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick 
  • 1 cup Mexican cajeta or dulce de leche 
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch (I used unflavored Maizena)

In a 2-quart stockpot, heat 4 cups of the milk with the cinnamon stick and Mexican cajeta over medium heat until very warm, stirring constantly to dissolve the cajeta. While the milk is heating on the stove, dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining cup of milk. Just before the milk on the stove starts to bubble, add the cold milk and continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the atole has thickened slightly. Ladle into mugs. Enjoy!

Cajeta Atole -

Secret Recipe Club: Spicy Salmon & Spinach Tacos

About a month ago one of my sisters-in-law brought me a bag of frozen salmon fillets on one of her visits from the city. I was beyond ecstatic to receive the frozen salmon, because up until that moment it had been some 14+ years since I last ate and/or cooked salmon. Back then Hubby and I weren't big on seafood, and salmon was something we only ate on special occasions like Valentine's Day, our wedding anniversary, or when Hubby got a raise at work. But for the life of me I couldn't remember what my go-to salmon recipe was oh so many years ago. As excited as I was to finally be able to introduce my kiddies to salmon, I decided to leave the salmon in the freezer until I could find a salmon recipe that Hubby, the kiddies, and my suegro (father-in-law) would love.

But when it came time to choose a recipe for this month's installment of The Secret Recipe Club, I didn't have anything specific in mind. My blog assignment this month was bcmom's kitchen, a food blog full of quick, easy, delicious recipes. Anna (aka always bcmom) also has a personal blog by the same name where she writes about her two grown kids, her grandson, and her hubby of 28 years. Some of Anna's recipe that caught my eye were her Oatmeal BreadSoft Raisin Cookies, and Pineapple Coconut Rum French Toast. But what really won me over was her recipe for Chile Lime Salmon Tacos. We all love tacos, the seasoning is similar to my recipe for Pollo a la Plancha (grilled chicken), and it was just the recipe I was looking for to use the salmon my sister-in-law gave me.

We were not disappointed. Just as Anna promises on her bcmom's kitchen blog, the recipe was easy to prepare and absolutely delectable. The salmon was flaky and perfectly seasoned. And the fresh lime juice and the creamy white sauce made with Mexican crema and Valentina hot sauce were the perfect way to finish off the tacos. I know I will be making these again soon, even if I have to personally drive out to the city to buy the frozen salmon.

Spicy Salmon & Spinach Tacos -

Bacon Chipotle Macaroni & Cheese

When sitting down to plan our weekly dinner menu I can count on two things...

  1. Hubby will always request either Tacos de Papa (Potato Tacos) or BBQ Ribs with all the fixin's (including my Creamed Corn a la Mexicana).
  2. Hope (my 16 year old daughter) will always request Macaroni & Cheese. 

Hope LOVES Macaroni & Cheese! She's loved macaroni & cheese ever since she was almost 2 years old and I'm pretty sure she always will. And I can't say that I blame her. Who doesn't love a bowl of creamy macaroni & cheese whether it be from that famous little blue box or homemade?!

Now as much as I love macaroni & cheese, I don't always want to eat the same thing over and over again day after day, or week after week. So, I try to mix things up a bit by stirring in different ingredients I have in the fridge or pantry to spice things up and hope that Hubby and the kiddies will like it. That is where the idea for this Bacon Chipotle Macaroni & Cheese came from. All of my kiddies love chipotle peppers and everybody loves bacon. Stir it all together with some homemade macaroni and cheese, and it's no surprise that it quickly became one of my go-to recipes. 

Bacon Chipotle Macaroni Cheese -

Chorizo Stuffed Zucchini #SundaySupper

I am so excited about this week's #SundaySupper theme (hosted by Alice of A Mama, Baby & Shar-pei in the Kitchen and Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva) because it includes my all-time favorite vegetable in the whole wide world... Zucchini! Actually it's a Squash Fest, which includes all types of squash like acorn and butternut squash, and also pumpkin (which I adore), but for me it's all about zucchini. It's such a versatile squash, and it's subtle flavor works so well with just about anything, be it sweet or savory.

Now as much as I love zucchini, not everyone in my family feels the same way. (Gasp!) My girls share my love for zucchini, but Hubby and our boys, will only eat zucchini if it's battered and fried (fried zucchini), breaded and baked (zucchini fries), or as part of a dessert. They also eat it in my Homemade Bolognese Sauce, but since I sneak it in there, they have no idea they're eating zucchini. The only time I've seen Hubby and my boys excited to eat zucchini is when I stuff it with Mexican chorizo. They're love for spicy Mexican chorizo combined together with my love for fresh zucchini makes us all one very happy family. And I'm sure you'll be just as happy when you try these Chorizo Stuffed Zucchini.

Chorizo Stuffed Zucchini -

Secret Recipe Club: Oatmeal Cranberry Bars

Who am I trying to kid? Once I get something stuck in my head, there's just no convincing me otherwise. For the last couple of weeks I have tried not to think about the upcoming fall season. I have really tried to enjoy the last precious few weeks of summer, and not think about fall, but I'm fighting a losing battle. I am ready for fall. To me the beginning of September and Labor Day weekend will always be the unofficial beginning of  the fall season. That's how it was for the first 26 years of my life that I lived in the US, and it's still the same way now that I'm about to turn 40 and have been living in Mexico for almost 14 years. I want apples, pumpkins (I bought my first pumpkin of the season on Friday), rich spices, cooler days and warm bevvies. So, when trying to decide which recipe to make this month for The Secret Recipe ClubI was looking for something fall inspired.

My blog assignment this month was Food Ramblings, written by Elizabeth, who loves to cook, travel, and eat. (A woman after my own heart!) Elizabeth's blog has plenty of fall inspired recipes to choose from like Apple Cinnamon Pancakes, Pumpkin Apple Muffins, and Pumpkin Butter Swirled Blondies (swoon!). Ultimately I ended up choosing to make her Oatmeal Craisin Cookies, because I thought not only would they taste like fall, but they'd also make for a great lunchbox treat for my kiddies. And because Jack, my youngest, absolutely LOVES dried cranberries.

I was not disappointed. I've always loved the combination of oats and cinnamon, and the ruby red dried cranberries added a slight tartness that made these Oatmeal Cranberry Bars hard to resist. My kiddies requested these in their lunch boxes every day last week. And on Saturday, my girls and I whipped up another batch for the coming week, but they disappeared before the end of the day. And I'm pretty sure that

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars -

Bacon Fried Rice {She Made/Ella Hace}

If you like bacon, then you are going to LOVE what girlichef (my foodie BFF) and I have cooked up for you in this month's installment of She Made/Ella Hace. Because everybody knows that bacon makes everything better!

The hardest part for me this month was deciding on what to make. I mean, really, the possibilities are endless. Did I want to make something sweet, try something new, or make one of the mouthwatering bacon recipes Heather (girlichef) has been sharing this month for #BaconMonth (hosted by Julie from White Lights on Wednesday)? (Hello, Flourless Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies!)

Then I got to thinking about what my grandparents used to make that had bacon in it, and I remembered this Bacon Fried Rice that Gramm only made on those rare occasions when she'd prepare a can of Chun King chicken chow mein for dinner. (Does anyone remember Chun King? Or am I just that old?!) Unlike traditional fried rice, Gramm didn't use cooked white rice. She'd actually make her Sopa de Arroz (Mexican Rice) and just add veggies, some scrambled eggs, and lots and lots of crisp, crumbly bacon. I made a few changes to Gramm's recipe, like omitting the chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce, but the flavor was just as I remembered it. And I'm pretty sure Hubby, the kiddies, and even my suegro (father-in-law) liked it, because they all asked for seconds.

Thank you, Heather, for suggesting bacon as our theme this month because it reminded me of this childhood favorite. I can't wait to see your Black Bean and Bacon Flautas

Arroz Frito/Bacon Fried Rice -

Peanut Butter & Jelly Paletas (Popsicles) #SundaySupper

It's still summer... It's still summer... It's still summer... I have been repeating these words to
myself all week because in my mind it's already fall. The leaves are falling off the tree outside my bedroom window. I'm already dreaming about making all sorts of delicious fall goodies. Just yesterday I cooked 3 kilos (like 6 pounds) of Camotes Enmielados (Candied Sweet Potatoes in Piloncillo Syrup), which made my house smell like one of those Bath & Body Works fall candles. And my kiddies all go back to school tomorrow.

But as excited as I am about fall, a part of me isn't ready to let go of summer just yet. It's probably because the kiddies' summer break was only 5 weeks long this year, which has to be the shortest. summer. break. EVER! Thankfully Hubby kindly reminded me that just because school starts tomorrow doesn't mean that summer season is officially over. My calendar clearly marks that we still have one whole month of summer to enjoy. So with that in mind and because peanut butter and jelly is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of back-to-school lunches, I made the kiddies these PB&J Paletas (popsicles) as a cool (and delicious) afterschool snack to help beat the heat of the dog days of summer.

One bite of these Peanut Butter & Jelly Paletas and I'm sure you'll agree that they taste like a pb&j sandwich on a stick. Only way cooler!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Popsicles -

Secret Recipe Club: Homemade Fig Jam

When it comes to deciding on which recipe to choose for the Secret Recipe Club each month it usually takes me a couple of days, because I like to look through each and every recipe my assignments have posted to see what catches my attention. Then I ask Hubby and the kiddies to help me narrow down my long list of recipes to just one. But this month, I did things a little differently... (I'll explain how in just a minute.)

My Secret Recipe Club assignment this month was The Keenan Cookbook, a blog by husband and wife team Chris and Rachel. Chris does the cooking and writing, while Rachel is the one responsible for the gorgeous photography. And they have two very cute little boys.

The month of July was pretty much all about figs in our casita. Our friendly neighborhood ice cream man has been bringing us large bags of figs once or twice a week. We are major fig lovers so the figs usually don't last very long to use them in any recipes, even though I have quite a few fig recipes on my never-ending list of recipes to try.

On the day I sat down to start perusing The Keenan Cookbook blog, one of the first recipes on the breakfast recipes index was Fresh Fig Refrigerator Jam. I looked over at the huge bag that our ice cream man had just delivered with like 6 pounds of fresh figs and knew that I had found THE recipe. Five minutes later, I was in my father-in-law's kitchen cooking my very first batch of homemade fig jam. And now homemade fig jam is my favorite jam ever. It's delicious on toast, freshly baked biscuits, peanut butter & jelly burritos, pancakes, and it's even great on savory sandwiches too. (I'll be sharing one such recipe very soon, so stay tuned!) I haven't bought or made any other kind of jam since. It's that good!

If you have an abundance of figs and aren't sure what to do with them, this is the recipe for you. And don't forget to check out The Keenan Cookbook for more mouth-watering recipes like Arugula, Watermelon & Feta Salad, Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake, and Grilled Marinated Salmon.

Homemade Fresh Fig Jam -

Secret Recipe Club: Mango Milkshake

It's summer, the sun is scorching hot, and all I really want is something to help me stay cool. So when it came time to pick a recipe from my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month, I knew I wanted something along those lines. I think it's awesome that my blog assignment this month hails all the way from Australia. My Hobbie Lobbie is a new-to-me blog written by Trisha who loves to craft and travel. Although Trisha is a baker, she had plenty of recipes that fit my desire to stay cool perfectly. Her Mango (no-churn) Ice Cream immediately caught my attention, as did her Choco-Fudge Pops, and Melon-Cucumber Smoothie. And once the weather cools down a bit I'll be trying her Baked Naan, Japanese Cheesecake, and Sweet & Salty Cumin Cookies, because I never would have thought to add cumin (one of my favorite spices) to cookies. But the recipe that won me over was her Mango Milkshake, because who doesn't love a thick and creamy milkshake in the summer?

As much as my family loves milkshakes, we tend to stick to our favorite flavors like strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, cookies & cream, and peanut butter & banana. But as soon as I read the words "mango milkshake" I thought, "I love mangos in my licuados (smoothies), but why have I never thought to add them to a milkshake?!" These Mango Milkshakes were such a hit with my Hubby and kiddies, that I've already made them 5 or 6 times in the last 4 weeks. The first couple of times I followed Trisha's recipe to a tee using only vanilla ice cream. But after a visit to our local paleteria (popsicle/ice cream parlor) and seeing that they had mango ice cream, I forewent buying just a scoop and bought an entire liter to use just for mango milkshakes and that's all I've used ever since.

Once you try these Mango Milkshakes, I think you'll agree that they are sunshine in a glass.

Mango Milkshake -

Grapefruit-Cactus Paddle Smoothie {She Made/Ella Hace}

Howdy there, strangers! I know that it's been forever and a day since I last posted, and for that I apologize. But I'm back today for another installment of She Made/Ella Hace with my partner-in-crime, girlichef. Heather (girlichef) chose nopales (cactus paddles) as our theme this month and I couldn't be happier. Not only are nopales a staple ingredient in the Mexican kitchen, but they're also one of the few foods that make an appearance in my kitchen almost daily. I add nopales to just about everything: soups, moles, tacos, huevos con chorizo, and even smoothies. Yes, you read that correctly....smoothies!

Licuados de Nopal (cactus paddle smoothies) are very popular at the juice bars in el mercado (the market), because they're believed to lower blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and help you lose weight. At the juice bars you can choose to have your Licuado de Nopal made with either orange juice or grapefruit juice. I prefer mine with grapefruit juice because it really plays well with the pineapple, celery, and parsley that are also in this smoothie. Licuados de Nopal are a nice balance between a sweet smoothie and a savory smoothie. But if you prefer your smoothies on the sweeter side you can sweeten this smoothie with either honey or agave nectar. Served over ice, this Grapefruit-Cactus Paddle Smoothie is a delicious and refreshing way to start your day.

For a complete nopales filled breakfast, be sure to visit girlichef's blog to check out her Migas con Nopales!

Grapefruit-Cactus Paddle Smoothie (Licuado de Nopal y Toronja) -

Secret Recipe Club: Mango Pie Bars

Happy June, amigos! It's the beginning of a new month, which means that it's time for The Secret Recipe Club big reveal. I don't know about you, but one of my favorite things about blogging is discovering new blogs to follow and making new friends. This month I was assigned a new-to-me blog called Sweet as Sugar Cookies written by Lisa. True to it's title, Lisa's blog is full of sweet and delicious treats. Some of the recipes that caught my attention were the Baked Pears w/ Feta Cheese Lisa made last month for SRC, Honey Yogurt Bread, Spicy Peach BBQ Chicken, Mango Bread, and Peach Pie Bars. I finally decided to go with the Peach Pie Bars, because they just sounded like the perfect summer dessert.

My only problem was that I couldn't find fresh peaches, and I really didn't want to use canned peaches for this dessert nor did I want to make something else. My heart, mind, and stomach were set on having the Peach Pie Bars. So, I turned to one of my favorite summer fruits and made Mango Pie Bars instead.

Oh my goodness! This just might be my new go-to mango dessert. I still can't get over how amazing they were. They tasted like Peach Pie and Peach Cobbler all rolled into one. Thank you so much for this recipe, Lisa! My Hubby & kiddies thank you too.

Mango Pie Bars -

Paletas de Cajeta y Nuez (Caramel-Pecan Paletas) {She Made/Ella Hace}

With summer just around the corner, my foodie BFF girlichef and I thought it only fitting that we make paletas for this month's She Made/Ella Hace. Both Heather (girlichef) and I both have a fondness for paletas. I think they are the perfect summer dessert, so cool, sweet, and refreshing. And they look so cute on those little wooden sticks. I don't know about you, but I've always thought foods on a stick just taste better than foods not on a stick.

Again, girlichef and I were on the same wavelength with this month's theme. She made Dulce de Leche Paletas and I made Caramel Pecan Paletas with cajeta (a Mexican caramel sauce). These paletas were inspired by one of my favorite snacks: plain yogurt with a sprinkling of chopped pecans and cajeta drizzled on top. As much as I enjoy my mid-morning snack, I love these Caramel Pecan Paletas even more! The tartness of the yogurt, the sweet creaminess of the cajeta, and the crunchy nutty flavor of the pecans combine together to make the perfect summer dessert.

Caramel Pecan Paletas -

Empanadas de Piña (Pineapple Empanadas) #SundaySupper

I have a confession to make... As much as I love empanadas, there is a certain empanada that I rarely ever make - Empanadas de Piña (Pineapple Empanadas). Not because I don't love them (which I totally do), but because there are the only two kinds of empanadas sold at most panaderías (bakeries) in my small town: pineapple and vanilla. Usually when I make empanadas at home, it's because I'm craving a kind that I just can't find here in Small Town, Mexico. But pineapple empanadas are so sweet and delicious, that every once in a while, I just HAVE to make them at home, because homemade pineapple empanadas are that good.

Homemade Pineapple Empanadas -

Poblano Chicken Enchiladas Blancas #WeekdaySupper

I've shared many a recipe for enchiladas here in my cocina over the years: Potato EnchiladasEnchiladas de Mole, Bean & Cheese Enchiladas, Scrambled Egg Enchiladas, Pumpkin Chicken Enchiladas, and even Swiss Chard Enchiladas. But there are still quite a few enchilada recipes that I haven't shared yet, like these Poblano Chicken Enchiladas Blancas. Creamy and cheesy enchiladas stuffed with shredded chicken, roasted poblano peppers, and golden corn kernels. They get the name Enchiladas Blancas because instead of a red or green chile enchilada sauce, they are made with sour cream.

This is a great recipe to use leftover shredded chicken, but I'm including how to cook the chicken if you'd like to make this recipe from scratch.

Mango Lime Agua Fresca

Last week when we got back from our annual Semana Santa camping trip, we came home with a ton of food because we ended up cutting our trip short by a whole day and a half. We brought home enough food that I didn't have to do my grocery shopping until the end of the week. Among the food we brought home that needed to be used up ASAP, were some very ripe mangos. Like too ripe to enjoy with salt, lime, and chile powder. So, we decided to make mango agua fresca.

It was a Sunday, so Hubby had time to lend me a hand in the kitchen. He peeled and cut the mangos, then pureed them in the blender with some water. All I had to do was add the sugar. But...when it came time to taste the agua fresca, I realized that one of the mangos was on the verge of spoiling. The good thing is that none of the mangos had actually spoiled. That would have been disastrous. To lighten that overly ripe mango taste, which can taste a little medicinal, I added a little fresh lime juice. (Lime juice is a great way to lighten strong flavors be it in an agua fresca or soup.) This resulted in a delicious and refreshing agua fresca, perfect for these it's-so-hot-it-feels-like-summer kind of days. My hubby loved this Mango Lime Agua Fresca so much he asked me to make it again for him this weekend, but with mangos that weren't so ripe.

Mango Lime Agua Fresca -

Menu Plan Monday #2

We had a ton of food leftover from our annual Semana Santa (Holy Week) camping trip, so this week was all about using up that food before doing our regular grocery shopping. We had so much food leftover, we didn't have to do any shopping, with the exception of milk, until Friday. Here is what we ate this week...

She Made/Ella Hace: Margaritas de Cerveza (Beer Margarita)

This month for She Made/Ella Hace, my foodie BFF girlichef and I are whipping up cocktails with limón. Oddly enough, we both chose to make margaritas. That just goes to show that it's true what they say about great minds thinking alike. Girlichef used lemons to make her Raspberry Lemonade Margaritas, and I used limes to make my Margaritas de Cerveza.

I made these Beer Margaritas during our recent camping trip. We had limes, we had beer, and we had lots of tequila. So a margarita de cerveza seemed like the obvious cocktail to make. While I was mixing up this margarita, everyone was looking at me like I was out of my mind, because most of the time we either drink tequila or we drink beer, but they'd never mixed the two together. But they quickly learned what they had been missing out on. Tequila and beer pair together nicely, but it's the lime juice that really makes this margarita spectacular.

Margaritas de Cerveza sound pretty fancy, but you wouldn't believe how incredibly easy they are to make. A little tequila, some fresh lime juice, and an icy cold Mexican beer. That's it. If you like your margaritas on the sweet side, you can always add a splash of simple syrup, but I actually preferred these unsweetened. The choice is up to you. Just be prepared, because as delicious as these Beer Margaritas are, they pack quite a punch.

Wordless Wednesday: Camping Food

Last week we went on our annual Semana Santa (Holy Week) camping trip at el rancho with Hubby's siblings and their families. Three days of food, fun, and family. It was a blast! And did I mention the food? Here are a few photos of some of the delicious food we ate on our camping trip...

Camping Food -

Tamales de Rajas y Requeson (Roasted Poblano Tamales) #SundaySupper

Homemade Tamales de Rajas from scratch -

This week's #SundaySupper is Stuffed, Rolled, and Wrapped, hosted by kimchi MOM. Here in Mexico we have plenty of stuffed, rolled, and wrapped foods to choose from like tacos, gorditas, burritos, and enchiladas. The possibilities are endless. But honestly there was really only one thing I had in mind for this week's #SundaySupper theme...tamales! Tamales de Rajas con Requeson to be exact. Rajas are roasted poblano pepper strips, and requeson is like a Mexican ricotta cheese. Together they are a match made in heaven.

I know that the idea of making tamales from scratch can seem intimidating. If that's been the case for you, then this is the tamal recipe for you. Seriously, I don't think recipes for tamales can get any easier. (For easy to follow step-by-step instructions with photos on how to make tamales, see my recipe for Shredded Pork Tamales.) 

Tamales de Rajas con Requeson are a delicious meatless alternative for Lent.

Chipotle Ham, Cheese & Broccoli Biscuit Empanadas #WeekdaySupper

Ham & Cheese Biscuit Empanadas -

Even after having lived in Mexico for 13 years, every once in a while Hubby and I still get cravings for foods we ate when we lived in the US. Whenever that happens, I head into the kitchen and whip up a homemade version made from scratch that not only satisfies our craving, but also tastes a million times better than the original food we were craving. That is how today's recipe came to be. Hubby was craving Hot Pockets, which for those of you unfamiliar with them are savory turnovers sold in the frozen food section of the grocery store.

I first made these shortly after we moved to Mexico. I remember the first time I made them, I used my regular pie dough recipe for the crust. They were okay, but I wanted something flakier like a biscuit. After a couple of tries, I finally got it right. This biscuit empanada dough is buttery, tender and flaky. I make my biscuit dough from scratch, but for a quick and easy weeknight supper you could use refrigerated biscuit dough. (Oh how I miss the "pop" of those tubes.)

Menu Plan Monday #1

Once a week I sit down with my Hubby and kiddies, and sometimes even my suegro (father-in-law) to plan our menu for the coming week. (Read more about How I Plan My Weekly Menu here.) Those 10 to 15 minutes we take planning our menu each week make my life as a wife & mom so much easier. Not only does it save us money, because we only buy what we're going to need for the week, but it also saves me time since I already have what I need on hand and I don't have to spend any time at all wondering about what I'm going to make. Since menu planning is something I already do on a weekly basis, I thought it would be a great idea to share those menu plans here on the blog in hopes that it'll offer you some inspiration in planning your own weekly menu.

Secret Recipe Club: Manchego Cheese Straws

Last month I participated in my first ever Secret Recipe Club and absolutely loved it. (My kiddies are still talking about how much they loved that Peanut Butter Fun Snack Cake.) For those of you unfamiliar with the Secret Recipe Club it's like a virtual recipe swap with another blogger, except I'm assigned a different blog each month, and the participants have no idea who is cooking something from their blog until reveal day. 

This month the blog I was assigned was Searching for Dessert, which is written by a former pastry chef. There are so many tempting, mouth-watering sweet treats to choose from, like Inside Out Cinnamon Rolls, Orange Creamsicle Rolls, and Banana Brownies w/ Peanut Butter Drizzle. But ultimately I went with a savory appetizer. Ashley's 6th grade graduation plans are underway and I'm trying out and looking for appetizer recipes to serve at the party.

These Manchego Cheese Straws were a huge hit. And you wouldn't believe how easy they are to make. I made some again today for our Sunday lunch with my in-laws and they disappeared within minutes. So clearly we have a keeper on our hands.

Manchego Cheese Straws -

Wordless Wednesday: Peanut Butter & Jelly Day!

No recipe today, just sharing a photo to wish you all a happy Peanut Butter & Jelly Day! (I ♥ food holidays!)

Peanut Butter & Jelly Marias Cookies Snack Sandwiches -

We love to eat PB&J on Galletas Marias. It's one of my kiddies' favorite afterschool snacks. What's your favorite way to enjoy peanut butter & jelly? And what's your favorite flavor jelly to pair with peanut butter?

She Made/Ella Hace: Chicken Pipián Rojo

This month for She Made/Ella Hace my partner-in-crime girlichef and I chose Pipian as our theme, which couldn't be more perfect for me as I've had a bit of an obsession with pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) the last couple of weeks. I can't seem to resist stirring them into everything and anything like salads, yogurt, cookies, homemade granola... The list goes on and on. But one of my favorite ways to enjoy pepitas is in Pipián.

Pipián is a traditional Mexican sauce that gets its distinct grainy texture from the pepitas. Pipián can be made in one of two ways: Pipián Verde made with tomatillos and roasted poblano peppers and Pipián Rojo made with tomatoes and dried ancho chiles. Pipián can be served over fish (girlichef made Salmon in Pipián Verde), shrimp, roasted pork, or chicken. Whether you choose to make Pipián Verde or Rojo, you'll love the nutty flavor the pepitas adds to this exquisite sauce.

Pipian Rojo Sauce made w/ Pepitas -

Creamed Corn a la Mexicana

If you were to ask my husband what his favorite food is, he wouldn't be able to answer you because he has no idea whatsoever what his favorite food is. Most of the time he'll just say, "Everything my wife makes," which is sweet and totally true. But I've been married to the man for 19 years and I know exactly what his favorite food really is. It's the one meal he requests week after week when we sit down to plan our weekly menu. Even the kiddies know what he's going to request before he utters a single word: BBQ Ribs with creamed corn and glazed carrots.

Creamed corn is another one of those canned foods that I grew up eating when I lived with my mom. I really loved me some creamed corn. But again, Hubby didn't care much for the canned stuff. So I had to figure out a way to please us both. Luckily I quickly found a way to change Hubby's mind about creamed corn. Now Creamed Corn a la Mexicana is the first side dish, followed by Piloncillo Caramelized Carrots (recipe on Que Rica Vida), Hubby requests when he wants BBQ Ribs.

Creamed Corn a la Mexicana is so much better than that canned stuff I grew up eating. This creamed corn has a little bit of everything: sweet golden corn kernels, spicy serrano chilies, and creamy Mexican crema.

Creamed Corn a la Mexicana -

Espinacas con Crema (Creamed Spinach) #SundaySupper

This week's #SundaySupper theme is Eat Your Greens hosted by Foodie Stuntman! Whenever I think of greens, I immediately think of my favorite green, one I've loved since I was a little, itty, bitty baby...spinach! Spinach was the first baby food I ever tried, and after that no other baby food came close to being as good as my mushed spinach. (I was a cute, but very strange baby!) 

Even though I've come along way from those days, I still love me some spinach. Just not in a jar. My favorite way to eat spinach is in what I call Espinacas con Crema, which is just another way of saying Creamed Spinach. What I love most about my Espinacas con Crema, aside from it's incredible flavor, is that I can make it with either fresh or frozen spinach. Another awesome thing about this recipe, is that it has changed just about every one I know into spinach lovers, including my suegro (father-in-law), who used to cringe at the mere mention of spinach. Now he asks for it a couple of times a month. And that in my book makes this recipe a winner.

Espinacas con Crema (Creamed Spinach) -

Secret Recipe Club: Peanut Butter Fun Snack Cake

One of my favorite things about the world of food blogging are the various groups I've joined over the years. There is always much fun to be had discovering new blogs, trying new recipes, and making new friends. Some of my closest friends are friends I've made through bloggging. Well, I've gone and joined another group called The Secret Recipe Club (SRC). It's like a virtual recipe swap with another blogger, except I'll be assigned a different food blog each month, and the participants have no idea who is cooking something from their blog until reveal day. Sounds fun, right? I think so. The blog I was given this month was Things I Make (for Dinner) written by Sarah.

After reading through Sarah's blog about the recipes she prepares for herself and her hubby, I had a list of recipes I wanted to try: Shirley Temple Cupcakes, Pineapple Sangria, Peanut Butter Crunch Cake, Pecan Pie Muffins, Monkey Muffins, Pork Fried Rice, and Chicken Gyros. I was leaning heavily towards the Chicken Gyros because I haven't had one in like 15+ years, but I decided to ask Hubby and kiddies for their opinions as to what I should make. As soon as I said the words "peanut butter" they were sold. So, Peanut Butter Crunch Cake it was! But those Chicken Gyros are high on my list of things to make.

Oh, where do I start with this cake? I've always loved peanut butter, but it's been way too long since I've made (and eaten) a peanut butter dessert. I had forgotten how much I love peanut butter desserts. This snack cake reminded me of one of my favorite cookies, Nutter Butters, that I haven't had since I moved to Mexico 13 years ago. I couldn't stop tasting the cake batter, it was that good.

I did have to make one change to this cake. The original recipe calls for chocolate chips and peanut butter chips, but since I don't have access to those I decided to substitute plain m&m candies. The result was a major hit with my family. Jack, my youngest, has already requested I make this cake again for El Día del Niño (Children's Day) in April, and Hope and Nick, my teenagers, have both requested this cake for their birthdays. Thank you, Sarah, for sharing this recipe!

Peanut Butter Fun Snack Cake -

Mushroom Poblano Tacos #SundaySupper

Meatless Mushroom Poblano Tacos -

For this week's #SundaySupper theme, hosted by Tammi of Momma's Meals, we are going meatless. Personally, I couldn't be any happier because I'm always looking for new meatless recipes to serve during Lent for our meat-free Fridays.

The recipe I'm sharing today is one I make often, even when we're not observing Cuaresma (Lent). My favorite thing about these tacos, aside from their spicy and earthy flavor, is how incredibly easy they are to put together. All it takes is 3 ingredients: onion, mushrooms, and roasted poblano peppers. Recipes don't get much easier than that.

Chicken Pipián Verde #WeekdaySupper

Chicken Pipian Verde -

Have you ever said, "I feel like chicken tonight!" only to be greeted with cries of, "No, not chicken again!" from your family? Well it happens to me. Sometimes. And on those rare occasions, I turn to a recipe that I like to call my secret weapon, because my family cannot resist it's charm, nor it's deliciousness.

Pipián Verde is an exquisite traditional Mexican sauce made with roasted poblano peppers, tomatillos, and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) that can be served over chicken or turkey. The pepitas are what give Pipián it's distinctive texture. There's also a Pipián Rojo made with tomatoes and dried ancho chiles, that I promise to share with you very soon. (Look for it next week.)

Mexican Chocolate Coffee Cake #SundaySupper

When I think of Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday my mind immediately wanders to all the rich, decadent foods I want to enjoy before the seriousness of Cuaresma (Lent) starts the very next day. Here in Mexico we take Cuaresma very seriously. Most people, myself included, give up eating meat on Miercoles de Ceniza (Ash Wednesday) and every Friday until Easter Sunday. Martes de Carnaval (Fat Tuesday) is my last day to indulge in the rich and sinfully delicious foods I might be giving up for the 40+ day Lenten period. Not that I've decided to give anything up this year, but in years past I've given up Mexican Coca-Cola (which I no longer drink) and coffee (which I promised to never give up again).

Aside from coffee, my one guilty pleasure that I could never give up is chocolate, Mexican Chocolate to be exact. It can be used for so much more than just Mexican Hot Chocolate and Mole Dulce. One of my new favorite ways to enjoy sweet, cinnamon scented Mexican chocolate is in this Mexican Chocolate Coffee Cake. The cake is tender, and melt-in-your-mouth buttery delicious.

Mexican Chocolate Coffee Cake -

Fat Sunday Sneak Peek #SundaySupper

Fat Sunday/Mardi Gras logo -

I've never been to a Mardi Gras celebration, but that's all about to change because this Sunday my #SundaySupper friends and I are bringing the festivities to you with a Fat Sunday party.

Mardi Gras is the annual celebration of Carnival with festivities in major cities around the world like Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Mazatlán (here in Mexico), and New Orleans (US). The festivities conclude on Fat Tuesday, which is our last day to binge on rich, decadent foods (and beverages) before the Lenten season starts on Ash Wednesday.

Masa Harina Cornbread

This recipe/post might look a little familiar to you. It was originally posted with my recipe for Cocido Rojo (Mexican Beef Soup) back in the early days of this blog. I love cornbread (I make it at least twice a month) and have such great memories associated with it that I felt it deserved to have it's very own post. I hope you don't mind. 

My first and fondest memory of cornbread dates back many years ago when I was about 7 or 8 years old, when my dad and I lived with my great-grandmother Pearl in Amarillo, Texas. I don't remember much about my great-grandmother, but what I do remember is that she loved to watch her stories (The Young & The Restless) and that she was an amazing cook. She made absolutely everything completely from scratch. The two foods that stick out most in my mind are her Peach Cobbler (a recipe I'm still trying to duplicate) and her buttery melt-in-your-mouth cornbread. I remember that she always used to bake cornbread on the same day she'd cook a pot of pinto beans. For dinner she'd serve a slice of buttered cornbread in a bowl, then she'd ladle some of her freshly cooked pinto beans and broth over the cornbread. Such a simple meal, but it was one of my favorite meals EVER! 

Cake Slice Bakers: Lime Velvet Squares

I know it's been a couple of months since I last baked with my friends from The Cake Slice Bakers, let's just say work & life took precedence, but the important thing is that I'm back this month with our latest cake. And oh what a delicious cake it was!

This month's cake selection from the Great Cakes cookbook by Carole Walter was Lemon Velvet Squares, but since lemons aren't easy to come by in my small town, I turned these into Lime Velvet Squares. I really don't know what kind of cake I was expecting, but the end result was way better than I could have hoped for. It was velvety smooth, buttery, and mildly citrusy without being too tart. Within minutes of removing this cake from the oven, it completely disappeared. I take that as a very good sign and will be adding this cake to our regular dessert rotation.

This would be great spring/summer dessert served with whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

Lime Velvet Squares -

Leslie's Best Chili w/ Beans #SundaySupper #ChiliCookOff

Leslie's Best Chili -

Grab a spoon and bring your appetite, because this week we're having a Chili Cook-Off #SundaySupper style!

Growing up chili was something we always got from a can. As unappetizing and unappealing as that sounds to me now, back then I considered it a treat. I loved that canned chili. It wasn't until years later after Hubby and I got married that I tried my hand at making my own chili from scratch, in hopes of changing my Hubby's mind about chili. Thankfully it was just the canned stuff that Hubby had a problem with, and once I had my first taste of real homemade chili I never went back to the canned stuff.

The Great Grapefruit Margarita #NationalMargaritaDay

Happy National Margarita Day!

My good friend Heather (aka girlichef) is hosting a virtual margarita party and has invited a few of her food blogging friends, myself included. It's a virtual potluck with lots of tequila, lime juice and salt. Of course there are plenty of cocktails, but we also have some tasty margarita-inspired goodies like cupcakes, donuts, tacos, and chicken wings. Swoon! 

My contribution to this Margarita-palooza is my recipe for Grapefruit Margaritas sweetened with a Brown Sugar Simple Syrup.

I LOVE grapefruit juice, and have one with my breakfast almost every morning. My hubby on the other hand does not care for grapefruit juice at all. Or so he thought. After mixing him up one of these grapefruit margaritas one evening with some leftover grapefruit juice I had, Hubby quickly changed his tune. Now whenever I make (or buy) grapefruit juice Hubby always asks that I make extra for him, although I'm pretty sure he just wants to make sure there's enough juice leftover to make a margarita at the end of the day. And I can't say that I blame him. These margaritas are tart and sweet and absolutely delicious.

Grapefruit Margarita / Margarita de Toronja -