Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches CakeViva Cake! 
We eat Mexican food a lot—easily twice a week if not more. So, when Cinco de Mayo rolls around it makes it kinda difficult to come up with something “special” to mark the occasion. The easiest way to do something different, in my opinion, is with dessert. (And don’t forget the tequila…)

About four years ago we took a trip to Mexico and while down there I came across a gorgeous neon pink tome of a cookbook called, appropriately, Mexico, The Cookbook. It is 704 pages long and filled with recipes that come from all regions and categories—like classic, everyday, and special occasions. Since it has been part of my collection, I haven’t even come close to making a dent. But, when I am looking for something authentically Mexican, this is where I turn.

I chose the recipe because it’s tasty and also because very few desserts scream Mexico as much as this one. (Except maybe flan.) If you have never had a truly good Tres Leches Cake you are in for a treat. (Plus it’s way less frustrating than flan…)

This particular recipe has strawberries in it. You could leave them out if you wish. I’ve eaten it both ways. If you are planning a get together for Cinco de Mayo, or even if you are not, I highly encourage you to give this cake a shot.

Tres Leches Cake
Adapted from Mexico, The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte Read more…

Citrus Marinated Chicken Tacos

Citrus Marinated Chicken TacosFiesta De Mayo
May is a month of celebrations. There are five birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day. It’s a busy month and the official kick off is Cinco de Mayo.

For the record, I do not have one single drop of Mexican blood in me. Not even a little. (I’ve done the Ancestry DNA test. I’m pretty boring.) What I do have is an insane love for Mexican cuisine, which is why Cinco de Mayo is a big deal in my house. My husband went so far as to remind me last night that Cinco de Mayo was this Friday. As if I hadn’t already started planning? Dude, it’s like you don’t even know me…

Cinco de Mayo falling on a weekday can be somewhat problematic. Sure, the fact that it’s on Friday is a good thing since you can sleep in on Saturday. But, it makes menu planning a bit more limiting. For a lot of people, Mexican food means tacos and burritos. And, while this is a part of Mexican cuisine, there is so much more to it. Mexican cuisine has boundless diversity and flavor that varies from region to region. You could spend years trying to experience all of its nuances and hidden tastes. Which is exactly the problem. Some of the best food Mexico has to offer takes time and does not lend itself to a Friday night meal after work.

So, tacos it is with fresh tortillas, preferably homemade. (If you have never made your own tortillas, grab a bag of Maseca and give it a try. You’ll never go back to packaged.)

This Citrus Marinated Chicken Tacos recipe is one I made for my very first Cinco de Mayo celebration 20 years ago. It’s an oldie but a goodie. I have been known to add a little tequila to the marinade when I’m feeling sassy…

Citrus Marinated Chicken Tacos
Yields filling for about eight tacos

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Grilled Tuna with Spicy Garden Salsa

Grilled Tuna with Spicy Garden SalsaSwimmin’ with the Fishes
Anytime the weather turns sunny and a smidge warmer, I tend to start eating more fish. Maybe it’s the looming promise of bathing suit season but at the first signs of spring, I feel the need to eat a bit lighter.

To say that I dramatically increase my fish intake would be a stretch. It’s a relative thing because I’m not a big lover of fish. I tend to gravitate more towards a cheeseburger.

When I do make fish, I like to go simple with a lot of flavor. That may sound contradictory but let me explain. If I had to pick my favorite fish recipe it would be this one, Salmon Roasted in Butter. It’s so quick to make and with some really fresh Salmon—it melts in your mouth.  One cannot live on Salmon alone, though. It would be boring.
Next best way to make fish? Grill it.

Next best way to make fish? Grill it.

Not all fish does well on the grill. But, Tuna is one of them. Because they are hearty and firm, Tuna steaks are perfect for the grill, and are a great alternative to red meat. They even work well as a burger (for those times when you crave a burger but have to be good). And it happens more than you think…

I usually just brush on some olive oil and sprinkle the steaks with a little salt and pepper. If I want to brighten the flavor up a bit I will top them with mango salsa or even better, with real salsa.

Grilled Tuna with Spicy Garden Salsa
Adapted from Rick Bayless

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Red Chilaquiles

Red ChilaquilesBreakfast, It’s What’s for Dinner
I have long been a fan of breakfast for dinner—it kind of feels like you’re breaking the rules a bit. A rebel without a spoon, if you will…

We would have breakfast for dinner once in a while when I was growing up, usually waffles ‘cause Dad was a big fan. When I moved out on my own, scrambled eggs and toast made for and easy and cheap dinner. Throw a little salsa on there, and it was a fiesta. Ole!

Nowadays we have breakfast for dinner at least 3 times a month. It’s my culinary equivalent to running up the white flag. Whether it is because of time constraints, over-achieving chickens or the inability to string an idea together beyond eggs, breakfast is a great way to avoid extreme pizza, Chinese take-out, burger fatigue.

Breakfast for dinner almost always involves whatever I have on hand. Sometimes that means straight up scrambled eggs and toast. Sometimes there’s bacon or sausage. Pancakes have been known to make an appearance, with or without pecans and bananas. Other times there might be drop biscuits and honey instead of toast. My favorite though, is when there are leftover tortilla chips because that means one thing: Chilaquiles.

My love of Mexican food is well documented which is why it should come as no surprise that my favorite breakfast for dinner dish is basically Mexican breakfast. If you have never had Chilaquiles you have been missing out on the ultimate comfort food and hangover cure (or so I have been told). It’s spicy, cheesy, crispy goodness piled high on your plate. Sometimes there is shredded chicken. Sometimes I use salsa verde or regular salsa instead of making a red sauce…just depends on mood and my previous shopping trips.

So next time you find yourself with a half-eaten bag of stale tortilla chips, give this a shot!

Red Chilaquiles
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Charro Beans

Charro BeansThe Great Southwest
Whenever the weather gets warm, my taste buds automatically go on a road trip through the southwest. It’s a strange phenomenon. The minute the mercury hits 85º, I’ve got chilies on my mind, and margaritas in my hand. Cumin and lime juice find their way into everything I make.

I have often said that I can eat Mexican food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—then wash, rinse repeat. But I also love Tex-Mex and New Mexican cuisine. (Nope. They are not the same thing.) Tex-Mex is mainly about larger cuts of meat, mostly pork and beef with a little chicken thrown in for good measure, and usually grilled. In New Mexican cuisine the chilies reign supreme…so much so that the question “Red or Green?” is almost the state motto…

Needless to say these past few days of warm weather have been somewhat spicy. I’ve been doing a lot of grilling ‘cause it’s fast, and there’s been a lot of baseball, so fast is bueno.

I try (key word, try) to have some side dishes prepared ahead of time, so that we’re not just eating slabs of meat in tortillas. (Though I am totally cool with that). Beans are a favorite in all forms. Refried. Black. Ranchero, or these yummy things — Charro Beans.

Feel free to experiment with bean varieties though stay with the larger ones for best results.

Charro Beans
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