Calabacitas con elote

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and the California Milk Advisory Board.  The recipe and opinions are my own.

Calabacitas con elote is a traditional Mexican side dish, typically baked in the oven in a casserole dish or olla de barro. But I’m giving it a summer makeover by cooking it in easy-to-make foil packets for the grill.

Calabacitas con elote is a traditional Mexican side dish, typically baked in the oven in a casserole dish or olla de barro. Give the dish a makeover by cooking it in easy-to-make foil packets for the grill.  Recipe via theothersideofthetortilla.com

We’re spending tons of time outside with family and friends now that summer grilling season is here and this is a great dish to take to any parillada! This vegetarian dish is one of my favorites for serving as a quick dinner side dish as well as for taking to parrilladas (barbeques) that are typically full of meats but lacking enough veggies. If I’m making it for just the two of us, I refrigerate half the recipe and grill it later in the week so that it’s fresh off the grill at dinnertime.

Now that we live in California and have such a variety of fresh, local dairy, produce and meats available to us year-round thanks to the climate, I’ve been consciously trying to eat more locally (and by that, I mean seeking out locally grown produce at the farmers markets and other foods made in my new home state). California is the country’s leading producer of Hispanic dairy products, which are sold nationally, and is the nation’s second largest producer of cheese. In fact, California produces more than 25 kinds of Hispanic cheeses and many other dairy products. A Real California Milk seal means your dairy products are made from 100 percent California milk.

This is what the calabacitas should look like inside the foil packet when it’s done or almost done cooking:

calabacitas_con_elote_grill_packet_TOSOTT… 

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Ensalada Xec: Mayan Citrus and Jicama Salad

We’ve been making an extra effort to eat healthy in our house, especially since we moved across the country and have access to more local produce than ever before (hello, California citrus!). This crunchy, spicy, juicy citrus salad from the Yucatan area of Mexico is the perfect healthy snack. Ensalada xec (xec is Mayan for “mixed,” and is sometimes spelled as “xeec,” “xek” or “xe’ek” and is pronounced “shek”) is a staple dish in the region and is sometimes also made as a salsa without the jicama.

This recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan-friendly.

Ensalada xec: Spicy Mayan citrus salad made with orange, mandarin orange, grapefruit, jicama, lime juice, chile habanero, cilantro and sea salt. #Recipe on theothersideofthetortilla.com.

I served my ensalada xec for a salad-themed Food Bloggers LA meetup once, and it was a big hit. I love this recipe because it keeps crunchy in the refrigerator for a few days in the event that you have leftovers. I find this dish keeps best when refrigerated in a covered glass bowl. Some recipes for ensalada xec call for ground cayenne pepper, which is perfectly fine, but I prefer to use fresh chile. Habanero is frequently used in the regional cuisine in the Yucatan, so I used it in this recipe. If your tastebuds can’t handle the heat from a habanero pepper, you can substitute a finely chopped serrano chile or just use a dried chile powder of your choice. You could also use  Tajín (the popular Mexican chile, lime and salt seasoning) sprinkled on top if you don’t want to use fresh chiles; if you use Tajín, remember to leave the salt out of the recipe…. 

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Vegetarian tacos de hongo, chile poblano y cebolla

Vegetarian tacos made with sauteed mushrooms, poblano chile and onions. Recipe via theothersideofthetortilla.comI’ve really been wanting to reduce the amount of meat we eat on a daily basis in order to be a bit healthier. I love veggies and don’t mind vegetarian meals, but when you live with a serious carnivore, it’s sometimes really difficult to convince them that a vegetarian meal is a) good and b) filling enough to be a meal and not just an appetizer.  Enter the idea of vegetarian tacos.

Enter the idea of vegetarian tacos.

Sometimes the mere mention of serving a vegetarian meal summons an apocalyptic response in my household. If you can’t get your family to eat a full vegetarian meal, this dish makes a great appetizer to ease them into enjoying it; just double or triple the recipe depending on how many people you’re feeding. They may soon see that an all-veggie meal isn’t so bad after all.

And if you’re truly desperate to get them to eat veggies, you can always add a little crumbled chorizo to this dish. It’s not meatless, but hey, at least they’re eating veggies, right? (You could also attempt to substitute soyrizo for chorizo if you’re brave, but I can’t be held responsible if they figure you out and throw their chanclas at you.)

Regardless, whether you’re vegetarian, trying to get your family to eat less meat or just trying to observe meatless meals during Lent, this is a quick and easy recipe you’re bound to enjoy.

I like to use baby portabellas for this recipe, but you can use  just about any kind of regular medium-sized mushroom you like so long as you slice them somewhat thickly so that when they saute with the onions and butter, they don’t shrink too much, or get too thin when they’re fully cooked.

RELATED: How to roast poblano chiles

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RAJAS CON CREMA

rajas con crema

Rajas con crema, a hearty dish made with poblano chiles, onion, Mexican sour cream and a little bit of cheese, is a favorite in my house. And by favorite, I mean that over the last few months we’ve been eating it at least once a week. As one friend puts it, “anything that comes out of your kitchen at least once a week has got to be good.”

There are two tests for me to know if I’ve made a good batch: first, whether I get a “que rico,” and second, whether I get a “pica.” I know it’s particularly yummy when I get a groan with the first bite and a “pica bien rico!” According to José, rajas con crema are the best when the poblanos have a spicy bite, but they’re not too hot. Usually you can tell how hot the poblanos are when you’re removing the seeds after roasting because the heat will burn your skin and if you breathe in too deeply, you might cough. If those two things don’t happen, sometimes I skip the vinegar and water soak after roasting the chiles. If you soak them too long and all the heat dissipates, the chiles are a little sweet rather than spicy but still delicious nonetheless…. 

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