México en tus sentidos

While I’m away this weekend traveling in Mexico, here’s a cool tourism video that I wanted to share. One of our cousins from Mexico shared it with me on Facebook this past week and I’ve got to say, it’s definitely worth watching the whole eight minutes. If it doesn’t tug at your heartstrings, put a tear in your eye, have you glued to the screen, make you want to visit Mexico ahora …you might not have a soul. Just kidding. But really, if nothing in this video moves you or gets you excited, you probably don’t love Mexico very much or don’t know enough about it to know what you’re missing! :P

Happy virtual travels! We’ll be back to the grind on Monday.

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  • Leave a comment to let me know: What’s your favorite part? I love the voladores de Papantla (at about the 4-minute mark) and the Ángel de la Independencia (around the 5-minute mark).

Crema batida con cajeta

I love, love, love homemade whipped cream. So, when I figured out a way to improve upon a classic by giving it a little Mexican touch, I knew it’d be a hit at my table. I’ll be serving this version of homemade whipped cream on my pumpkin pie later this week for Thanksgiving. Check out the video to see how easy it is!

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Cajeta whipped cream

Goat's milk caramel (cajeta) gives classic homemade whipped cream a Mexican touch, perfect for topping desserts for the holidays.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (1 pint) of whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cajeta

Instructions

  1. Chill the whipping cream in the freezer for up to an hour, making sure to shake the container every 10-15 minutes so that the cream doesn’t freeze. Some ice crystals will form along the sides. After an hour, pour the whipping cream into your food processor and secure the top.
  2. Run the processor for about a minute, then add the 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar. Keep running the processor for another minute or two. You may want to stop the motor briefly and open the lid to make sure that the cream is beginning to thicken. If necessary, use a spatula to push any whipped cream down the wall of the bowl.
  3. Turn the processor back on and let it run for about 30 seconds. Begin to slowly add the cajeta. I prefer about 2 tablespoons so it’s not as sweet, but you can add up to 3 tablespoons if you like. Run the processor until the cajeta is fully incorporated. Unplug your food processor and use a rubber spatula to spoon the whipped cream out of the bowl.

Notes

Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

http://theothersideofthetortilla.com/2011/11/crema-batida-con-cajeta/

You can head over to the Kenmore Genius Blog for the full story and my recipe for cajeta whipped cream, the perfect pie-topper for your holiday.

  • What kind of special touches do you add to the holiday dinner table?

Camotes al chipotle: A Mexican twist on a Thanksgiving classic

If you’ve spent even one Thanksgiving at an average American dinner table, you’ve likely encountered sweet potatoes or yams with some kind of brown sugar or maple syrup and a marshmallow topping. I’m not knocking the tradition—in fact, I grew up eating it and usually get a craving around this time of year—but there are lots of other interesting things you can do with sweet potatoes, in my honest opinion.

Now that everyone in my family knows about my culinary skills, I’ve felt the need to give my menu a few new touches to keep things interesting. Though Thanksgiving is not a Mexican holiday, I decided this year to give a few traditional dishes a Mexican twist to surprise my family.

Here’s a recipe I developed to dress up the traditional sweet potatoes we usually serve on our Thanksgiving table. And, with the calorie-rich menus typically served around the holidays, this recipe is a bit healthier than traditional mashed potatoes that may be made with tons of butter and heavy cream. The marsala is a non-traditional ingredient to Mexican cooking but adds an interesting depth and sweet, nutty flavor to this dish. The chipotle should add a smoky flavor, but not be too spicy. If you’re afraid your troops will stage a revolt at the dinner table for doing something too different, you can always cut out the chipotle and add twice the adobo sauce to weaken the chile flavor so they don’t notice too much that you’ve given them the old switcheroo on the sweet potatoes.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!

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Celebrating Día de Los Muertos

¡Feliz Día de Los Muertos!

Today is a day to celebrate the lives of our deceased loved ones. We keep the tradition alive in our house by constructing an altar to honor them, and leaving ofrendas—offerings—to entice the souls home.

You can visit my Día de Los Muertos post from last year if you’d like to see the altar we made in 2010.

This holiday goes back more than 3,000 years to the time of the Aztecs. Originally, it was celebrated in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar (what is now August). When the conquistadores arrived from Spain and felt the month-long celebrations of Día de Los Muertos mocked death, and being that they wanted to convert the native people to honor their own religion, they tried to put a stop to the ritual. But they were met with resistance and instead, the ritual was moved to coincide with the Christian calendar’s All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2).

Today, many who celebrate this holiday use el Día de Todos los Santos to honor deceased children and Día de Los Muertos for honoring adults. There is no wrong way to do it, though, and you can honor whomever you like on both days if you wish. In some places in Mexico, families visit cemeteries, clean and decorate grave sites and leave their ofrendas there. Many families, like ours, build an altar in their home.

There’s also no wrong way to make an altar—there are common methods (constructing three levels) and typical ofrendas (offerings that represent earth, wind, water and fire), but the point is that you make the altar personal and meaningful to you to honor your deceased loved ones.

I haven’t talked about it here on the blog, but in September, José’s last living grandparent, my suegro‘s mother, passed away in Aguascalientes. Abuelita Ana was 91 years old, and we flew to Mexico to be there with family for the velatorio and entierro. It has been a sad time for our family, but being together with everyone in Mexico made it a little easier. This year our altar is especially dedicated to her memory.

It was difficult when I was going through photos trying to decide which photo of her to use, but definitely therapeutic in a way once I was finished. This year, I even purchased special sugar skulls for my ofrenda from the famous Mondragon family of Toluca; they are one of less than a dozen families in Mexico still dedicated to the art form of alfeñique, and you can read more about them on my post from the other day.

To me, el Día de Los Muertos is one of the most beautiful and meaningful holidays not only in Mexico, but in the world. Tomorrow, I’ll share more about the individual elements on my altar and what they mean, but for today, just a few photos and a short video so you can check it out.

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  • What do you leave as ofrendas on your altar de muertos?

Antojos de la calle: Chicharrones de harina

Have you ever wondered how to make your own chicharrones de harina? You know, the crunchy, salty and mysteriously orange-colored street food snack eaten with lime juice and drizzles of salsa?

Us too. So we decided to learn and make a video to show you so you can make them at home too.

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Head on over to the Kenmore Genius blog for the full recipe and low-down on chicharrones de harina.

And don’t forget: you can also have a similar snack on the go with potato chips! Check out my easy instructions on how to make your own papitas con limón y salsa.

  • Have you ever made your own chicharrones de harina before? Do you do anything differently?

Sopa de frijol negro con chipotle

Check out this fantastic and hearty black bean and chipotle chile soup I made this week. There are three reasons I love this recipe: First, you can make it in the blender—so it’s very easy to clean up afterward. Second, the whole recipe from prep to bowl can be made in 15 minutes or less! And last but not least, this recipe is very healthy—it’s low-fat and high in fiber. It makes a great first course if you divide into smaller portions, or with a little bolillo roll and butter, it can make an excellent and filling lunch or dinner.

black bean chipotle soup… 

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