Baked empanadas

Red peanut chicken empanadas (or what should have been tamales)

As the month of May is coming to a close, one of the final Mexican dishes I wanted to make was tamales. Tamales are one of the staples of Mexican cooking and one of the dishes I immediately think of when I think of Mexican food.

They remind of a year my mom and I had Christmas dinner over a friend’s (who’s also named Nicole) house and tamales were served with a variety of fillings. They are made from a corn flour dough and filled with anything you wish: pork, chicken, beef, vegetables, then wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed until done. The most important part of making this dish is getting the right corn flour/ meal – yes there are different kinds for making different dishes. And it just so happened I bought the kind to make arepas and not tamales. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to fix it, so I decided to move on to plan B.

Earlier that same day, I decided to prepare empanada dough (which needs to chill in the fridge for at least and hour), so a dinner of tamales turned into a dinner of empanadas with a side of homemade tortilla chips and chunky guacamole.

Baked empanadas
Baked empanadas.

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Paloma cocktail

A red paloma cocktail

When thinking of Mexican cocktails, you’ll most likely think of margaritas.

But, there are other options. And the Paloma is one of them.

The Paloma is made with tequila, lime juice, grapefruit soda (or fresh juice), and a pinch of salt. The grapefruit soda, Jarritos, that is used in this drink can be hard to find in the U.S. Alternatives are any lemon-lime soda (such as Fresca), or you can use fresh grapefruit juice and club soda instead.

To this day, I’m not a fan of grapefruit (although that doesn’t seem to apply to grapefruit-flavored candy) and so I decided to go the Fresca route. I also decided to add some cranberry juice for color and added flavor.

Paloma cocktail
Red paloma cocktail

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Chicken peanut mole tacos

Red peanut chicken tacos

I love tacos. I really do. But, I will have to admit that for most of my life whenever tacos have been made at home, it’s always been with the boxed taco shells and the packet seasoning. Horrible, I know.

But, with this dish I’m featuring that has changed and it’s the first time I didn’t use the box ones (and don’t think I ever will again). Granted, I didn’t quite make the leap to making my own tortillas just yet, but it is a step in the right direction as the Mission corn tortillas are better than the ones in a box (which I’m sure are full of wonderful preservatives).

Chicken peanut mole tacos
Red peanut chicken tacos

The sauce used for the chicken is the red peanut mole, that I highlighted over the weekend. Continue reading “Red peanut chicken tacos”

Red peanut mole sauce

I don’t usually just post a recipe for a sauce, but in the name of saving some space and giving you a wonderful sauce that you can use for any other recipe, that is what I will be doing.

Peanut butter has always been one of my favorite spreads, and a couple years ago I remember having a peanut noodle dish (found more in Thai cuisine) that I absolutely loved. So when I saw this recipe for a red peanut mole, I couldn’t wait to try it. I’ve adapted the one here from Truly Mexican.

Now, this recipes does take a little bit of time, but that’s mainly because the ingredients are fried individually (I’m sure you can try baking or maybe even sauteing if you like).

What you’ll need:

red peanut mole ingredients copy
Some of the ingredients you’ll need.

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Shrimp quesadillas

Now, that you’ve enjoyed that delicious lamb stew we made the other day, it’s time to use the leftovers. I promised you we would. First step, puree the remaining stew in a blender. The result will be a wonderfully thick sauce. You can pretty much use this for any dish your heart desires, but today I’m featuring shrimp quesadillas.

As Truly Mexican describes, quesadillas are the grilled cheese sandwich of Mexico. They can be served as a simple snack or as a meal (especially, the way I made them). You can make them with just cheese or make any kind of filling to go in them.

Shrimp quesadillas
Shrimp quesadillas

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Mexican lamb stew or lamb in a yellow mole sauce

This was my first time making a stew, ever! Ok, so the actual dish isn’t called a stew, but once I had finished making it that’s exactly what it looked like to me. And I have to say, this is one of the greatest ways to eat as many different vegetables as you can in one meal.

The recipe I’m sharing with you is adapted from the lamb in modern yellow mole recipe in my new favorite cookbook, Truly Mexican.

Moles are one of the main sauces of Mexican cooking and can range in their levels of difficulties as well as their consistency. They are made from a mixture of various ingredients that can include any of the following: chiles, spices/ herbs, tomatoes or tomatillos, and sometimes seeds (if they are mostly seed-base, they’re called pepianes).

Lamb loin chop stew
Lamb loin chop stew

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Lamb enchiladas with salsa verde

Ground lamb enchiladas with salsa verde

This weekend, I’m really starting to explore the art of Mexican cooking. And what better way than with enchiladas! The recipe I’m making is adapted from the lamb adobo enchiladas with cooked green salsa in Truly Mexican by Roberto SantibaƱez with JJ Goode and Shelley Wiseman.

What I really like about this cookbook is that it starts with the basic ingredients and techniques that are a part of Mexican cooking, and then continues with the other building blocks: salsas, guacamoles, adobos, moles and pipianes, and then putting it all together.

You can eat these enchiladas by themselves, or serve with a side of rice or any other side dish. I chose to serve them with homemade tortilla chips.

lamb enchiladas with salsa verde
Lamb enchiladas with salsa verde.

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margarita ingredients

The perfect frozen classic margarita

Whenever tequila is mentioned, I’ve found that inevitably someone says “I can’t stand tequila” or “Tequila and I aren’t friends.” Such people have obviously been victims of the one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor saying, which generally is only fulfilled when bad tequila is consumed at a quick pace.

They key to any tequila-based drink is, of course, good quality tequila (no, Jose Cuervo doesn’t count). You want to look for tequila made from 100% agave. There’s no better time like now to start appreciating good tequila, especially since Cinco de Mayo is this Saturday!

I have always been partial to the frozen margarita and since I have yet to acquire a drink shaker, I happily share this wonder recipe I found on epicurious. If your first thought is to run to the store to pick up a margarita mix, please don’t. Margaritas aren’t supposed to be neon in color. The perfect margarita can only be achieved by using freshly squeezed fruit juice. If, like me, you also don’t have a juicer, this also means you’re in for a great arm workout.

The perfect margarita

margarita ingredients
Margarita ingredients

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Sliced avocado

Seared ahi tuna and pasta with avocado pesto

This month, we’ll be traveling to Mexico, through food that is. I have been to the library and taken out some cookbooks to help me along the way. But, for this week the recipes I’m featuring are more Mexican-inspired than traditional and that’s what I love about cooking…you can experiment to your heart’s content.

Pesto is one of my favorite sauces and I had a couple avocados in my kitchen this week, so I decided to adapt the pesto recipe from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter. Adding avocado to the mix, gives the pesto an extra creaminess and I added the serrano chiles to give it a little kick.

Tuna is also a fish I really like and it doesn’t require much to bring out that

Sliced avocado
Sliced avocado

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Soaked chickpeas

Hummus for the first time

Hummus is one of my favorite dips/ spreads. I love to eat it with pita, on pita within a falafel sandwich or just to dip veggies in. I love the different flavors it comes in – olive and roasted red pepper are the best.

But, the problem I always have when trying to buy it at the store is what brand – and there are plenty – to choose from. Just because the tub says hummus doesn’t mean it will taste like hummus. Now I have a solution to this problem, thanks to a wonderful new cookbook that has joined my kitchen – I’ll make it myself!

I’ve always been told that hummus can be difficult and that you need to be careful, but after my first time making it I will be honest that it’s not that hard. As with most delicious recipes, it all comes down to the balance of flavors.

Adapted from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter

Part 1
Chickpeas (trust me, don’t buy the canned ones)

1 lb dried chickpeas

Soaked chickpeas
Soaked chickpeas – they double in size!

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