Spiced Mini Churros and Mayan Hot Chocolate

Spiced Mini Churros w/ Dulce de Leche Dipping Sauce

I served these charming Mini Churros for dessert at my Mexican Inspired Dinner Party along with spicy Mayan Hot Chocolate.

Churros are Mexican doughnuts that are piped from a star tipped pastry bag and deep fried. I made a mini version with warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, rolled in sugar. The sugar gives them a crisply, crackly coating that is completely addicting. And makes eating them plain just as good as dipping them in dulce de leche. Or in hot chocolate.

Mayan Hot Chocolate packs a spicy, warming punch of heat. It is made with Mexican chocolate and chile peppers. Mexican chocolate has cinnamon in it and a gritty texture. A lot richer and thicker than hot cocoa, it comes in little discs that require melting. But it doesn’t melt entirely, that’s where the gritty texture comes in with little specks of chocolate deliciously swimming around. You might remember the chocolate goddess making it in the movie Chocolat. A movie, if you haven’t seen, that I highly recommend. You can find the chocolate in the Spanish section of your market. The one that I see most often says Abuelita across the front and is in a yellow box.

My Mom and I share deep love for this hot chocolate. An afternoon tradition has developed between us since the dinner party, not only of drinking the hot chocolate but one where I am responsible for delivering this pleasure. There’s something satisfying about making it, much like the ceremony of brewing a pot of tea. Without this afternoon chocolate soiree our days feel somewhat incomplete. It’s a luxurious habit I look forward to.

Spiced Mini Churros
Spiced Mini Churros Recipe
Spiced Mini Churros Recipe w/ Dulce de Leche

Printable Recipe

Recipe adapted from Baking Bites

Dulce de Leche Recipe/Method

Mayan Hot Chocolate
Mayan Hot Chocolate Recipe
Mayan Hot Chocolate Recipe

Printable Recipe

Adapted from Mexican Chocolate Lore and More

Spiced Mini Churros w/ Dulce de Leche

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Chocolate Flan Cake with Caramel and Walnuts

Chocoflan with Duce de Leche and Walnuts

Chocoflan combines the very, very best of two worlds! This cake features a moist chocolate cake topped with a rich and silky flan with sticky dulce de leche sauce and crunchy walnuts. It’s a double decker dessert that is sinfully decadent and is certain to satisfy any, if not all of your dessert cravings.

Flan is a creamy, somewhat delicate, cooked egg custard made with condensed and evaporated milks, typically flavored with vanilla. To make this chocoflan caramel is added to a bundt pan first, followed by the cake batter, then the flan is poured over top and baked in a bain marie or water bath. Where magic happens. The flan sinks to the bottom and the cake rises to the top. When turned out of the pan the flan winds up on top with the oozing caramel.

Dulce de Leche is a milk caramel made from condensed milk. You can make your own or find it in the Spanish food section of your market with the baking products, it comes in a can and sometimes a plastic squeeze bottle. You can also use a thick caramel dessert sauce.

The soft, milky custard and dark, dense cake may seem like an unlikely combination but are insanely good together. Very sweet, a small piece is all it takes to be satisfied. This is an impressive cake to make for a special occasion and I already have plans to make it for the holidays.

This is sometimes served warm but is best served after chilling for 24 hours so plan ahead if you are making it for a special occasion.

Chocoflan with Caramel and Walnuts

Chocolate Cake Flan Recipe
Chocolate Cake Flan Recipe
Chocolate Cake Flan Recipe

Printable Recipe

Dulce de Leche Method/Recipe

Chocolate Cake Flan with Caramel and Dulce de Leche

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Spicy Shredded Flank Steak Puffy Tacos with Crema

Slow Cooked Shredded Flank Steak

Flank steak is dry rubbed, seared and then slow-cooked all day long in a crock-pot with taco spices, beef broth, lime and tomato paste until it’s fall-apart tender. I cooked this for my Mexican Inspired Dinner Party – the day before – so that all I would need to do was heat it up before the party. My crockpot kept it warm for me until we were ready to eat, without drying it out. I ♥ my crock pot.

In Mexico this steak is called “ropa vieja” meaning old clothes or rags, because of its stringy appearance. But don’t let the name throw you off, that’s as far as the resemblance goes. As it slow-cooks it soaks up all those incredible seasonings and the broth itself to render the most incredibly juicy, moist and melt-in-your mouth delicious steak that I have ever tasted. In my entire life.
Puffy tacos are made my deep frying corn tortillas until puffy pockets of air form. Light and crispy, they are a cross between a soft taco and a crunchy taco shell, yet un-like either. They are indescribably delicious and shed a whole new light on what I’ve come to know as a taco. Everyone at the dinner party loved them.

I like my shredded steak tacos unadulterated. Truly all that is needed is a dollop of fresh, crisp, clean-tasting crema to fully enjoy these. And maybe a bit of cool, crunchy lettuce. The steak can be used for puffy tacos, soft tacos, enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, to make chili, nachos or even sandwiches.

Shredded Steak Puffy Tacos with Flank Steak

Shredded Steak Puffy Taco Recipe
Shredded Steak Puffy Taco Recipe
Puffy Taco Recipe

Dry Rubbed Flank Steak

Mexican Crema Recipe

Printable Recipe

Link to Puffy Tacos Made from Scratch Recipe

Shredded Steak Nachos

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Spicy Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Meatballs

 Spicy Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Meatballs

A bold and sassy soup recipe for vermicelli noodles with meatballs and chile peppers. Whole chile peppers simmer away in a freshly pureed tomato broth to give this soup outrageous flavor. The vermicelli is also cooked right in this spicy sauce where it imbues itself right into the noodle. The meatballs are simply seasoned and simmered separately in water which later gets mixed into the tomato broth to finish the soup.

You might think the meatballs would be the star of the show here. But truly the chile peppers fill that role. Without them this soup is nothing. The chile peppers are cooked whole with the stems left on so the seeds don’t escape to make it unbearably hot. For some. Serve up a pepper to anyone who wants to make their soup hotter. They can break open the pepper and stir the seeds right in. It’s all about control. 

Spicy Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Meatballs

If in fact you have leftovers, the noodles will slurp up every bit of the liquid. But it’s ok. This is so insanely good I can promise you won’t care. You can get two meals out of it, the first will be a soup, the second will be spaghetti and meatballs. Tex-Mex style.

I admit I didn’t like the ‘looks’ of this once it was finished. And I was concerned about the meatballs being bland. I had taken liberties with the very simply seasoned recipe adding spices to it like oregano and chile powder. But I was very surprised. I can’t convey how good this is. The sauce is everything, adding to the meatball exactly what it needs. If you like fiery hot foods you will love this. It packs an explosion of flavor that’s spicy, hearty, warming and just indescribably delicious.

Spicy Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Meatballs

Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Meatballs: Fideos con Albondigas
(adapted from The Los Barrios Family Cookbook)

1 + 1/2 pounds ground beef (80-85%) or turkey
1/2 cup white rice, cooked
2 eggs
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon oregano, crushed between fingers
1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 small onion, sliced in half moons
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
4-6 fresh chile peppers with stems attached, Serranos are recommended
12 ounces vermicelli, broken into 1-2 inch pieces
4 medium tomatoes, quartered
2 cloves garlic, rough chopped
2 teaspoons Chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1-2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
fresh cilantro, chopped, optional, for serving

1. Fill a large soup or stock pot with 3 quarts (12 cups) of water and bring to a boil.

2. Meanwhile in a large bowl combine all the meatball ingredients. Form into golf ball sized meatballs. Add carefully to the boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Heat oil in a separate large soup pot or sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add onion, green peppers and the whole chile peppers. Saute until onion is translucent. Add the vermicelli. Toss the vermicelli around for 5-6 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from heat.

4. Add tomatoes, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin and pepper to a blender along with a cup or two of the meatball broth. Use a towel to hold top of blender down and puree until smooth. Add to the vermicelli and put back on medium-low heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes until vermicelli are cooked through, stirring often and adding meatball broth as needed. Taste broth and season with salt if desired.

5. Carefully add meatballs and their broth to the vermicelli mixture, stirring well. Serve immediately garnished with cilantro and with warm corn tortillas or thick, crusty bread.

*I used green cayenne peppers.

Printable Recipe

Spicy Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Meatballs

I‘m sending this to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper (Soup, Salad or Sammie) Sundays Round-up!

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A South-of-the-Border Taco Lasagna

Taco Tortilla Lasagna

A casserole that is certain to perk up a routine taco night and make it extra special! The ‘lasagna’ is made by layering seasoned taco meat in a baking pan between corn tortillas with black beans, corn, cheddar cheese and taco sauce, then baked off. The result is a hearty and rustic dish reminiscent of a taco. Only better.

The recipe is versatile and highly adaptable to any changes you make. Don’t hesitate to make it your own. You can easily swap out the beans for another kind like pinto or make it vegetarian by doubling up on them and leaving out the meat. A layer of refried beans would be a nice, creamy addition too. Personalize it the way you would your taco. I’ve made it many times before, each time different, but every time a winner! It’s virtually fail-proof. And will please even the most finicky of eaters.

 Taco Tortilla Lasagna

Taco Lasagna
(by Reeni)
(serves 4-6)

1 + 1/4 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 yellow onion, diced
1 envelope taco seasoning or my seasoning mix (recipe to follow)
2/3 cup water
9 corn tortillas
2/3 cup taco sauce or 1 cup salsa
1 – 14 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn, thawed if frozen
1 + 1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 large tomatoes, sliced, seeds removed
taco fixings like lettuce, sour cream, avocado and/or quacamole for serving

1. In a large skillet brown ground beef with onion, drain grease and add taco seasoning with 2/3 cup water. Cook over medium-low heat about 5-6 minutes or until most of the water is cooked off.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 8×8 deep-sided casserole or baking pan.

3. Add a light layer of the salsa/taco sauce to the bottom of the pan then double line the bottom with 3-5 tortillas, cutting them up to cover the gaps. Spoon on half of the taco meat in an even layer, drop on half of the taco sauce by spoonfuls, top with half of the beans, half of the corn and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Cover with a single layer of tortillas and layer all ingredients again ending with a top layer of tortillas, sprinkle remaining cheese and then a layer of tomatoes.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let set for five minutes. Serve with taco fixings.

Taco Seasoning
(by Reeni)

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
red pepper, optional, according to your own taste)
3/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Printable Recipe

Taco Tortilla Lasagna


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Spicy Gazpacho with Lime Shrimp

Gazpacho with Lime Chicken

Gazpacho is a raw, cold soup made with the freshest tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers you can lay your hands on.

This version is spiced up with jalapenos and seasoned with cilantro and limes.

Not only is it a Spanish classic but it’s one of the most refreshing, no-cook, summer soups I know of.

You can serve gazpacho as an appetizer shooter-style or kick it up to main dish status with the addition of grilled shrimp or chicken marinated in lime and cilantro.

The silky base of the soup is made of tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper and jalapeno pureed along with stale bread, olive oil and lime juice.

For serving it’s topped with diced vegetables, croutons and in this case, shrimp.

It’s super fast to make and can be made ahead of time, the flavors only intensify further when allowed to mingle overnight. Eating it right away isn’t a bad idea either! It has addicting qualities.

Even with the addition of chile peppers it has thirst-quenching, cooling properties that make it the perfect soup for hellish  weather.

Gazpacho with Lime Chicken
Spicy Gazpacho with Lime Shrimp
(adapted from Food Network Magazine)
bamboo or metal skewers
Juice of 3 limes, divided, plus wedges for serving
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
sea or kosher salt and freshly black pepper
1 pound shrimp, cleaned, tails removed
1/2 cup large-cut croutons or cubed stale bread
4 large tomatoes, diced
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 bell pepper (any color), stemmed, seeded and diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced, optional

1. Soak bamboo skewers in water. Meanwhile mix the juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon of cilantro, salt and pepper to taste in a shallow dish; add shrimp and turn to coat. Marinate for 1/2 hour.

2. Crush half of the croutons and set aside. Soak remaining croutons in 1/4 cup water about 5 minutes, squeeze out the water and add to blender along with tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper and jalapenos. With the motor running, drizzle in 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add 2 cups ice and blend until smooth. Stir in half of the cilantro and the remaining lime juice; season well with salt and pepper.

3. Skewer the shrimp and grill over medium-high heat until pink and opaque.

4. Divide the soup into bowls. Serve garnished with shrimp, the remaining tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, cilantro and the crushed croutons. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with lime wedges.

(Serves 3-4)

Gazpacho with Lime Chicken

I’m sending this to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays and linking to Heather of Girlichef for Two for Tuesdays: Celebrate Real Food.


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Picadillo with Mexican Rice

Picadillo with Mexican Rice

A set of Tex-Mex style recipes for Picadillo and Mexican Rice adapted from the Los Barrios Family Cookbook straight from the heart of San Antonio, Texas. Picadillo is found in Spanish and Latin American cooking and every country has their own version. Made from ground beef with garlic, onions, bell peppers and tomatoes; it’s delicious all on it’s own, served over Mexican rice or as a filling for tacos and chalupas. Or nachos.

I made lettuce wraps with mine, tacos and ate it spooned over rice. It’s so mildly seasoned that I needed to slap my hand away from the spice cabinet. Many times. I was committed to experiencing the recipe as is. And while everyone loved it, myself included, I would of liked it to be spicier. Next time.

The vegetable packed Mexican rice echoes the picadillo by using garlic, onion, tomato, bell pepper and my own addition, fresh corn. Traditionally made with white rice I used brown. I use any and every opportunity to sneak in nutrition where I can. The rice soaks up all the juices from the vegetables especially the tomato resulting in a seriously flavorful and somewhat addicting rice.

You may recognize the author of this cookbook, Diane Barrios Trevino, from Bobby Flay’s ‘Puffy Taco’ Showdown. She owns the Los Barrios restaurant in San Antonio famous for making some of the best puffy tacos. A puffy taco is made by deep frying corn tortillas until they bubble up to become light, airy and crisp. It’s then filled as a traditional taco shell would be. I hope to tackle the puffy taco someday soon, and naturally, share it with you. Trevino says “You are in for the treat of a lifetime.”

Mexican Rice

(adapted from Los Barrios Family Cookbook pg. 129)

1 pound Ground Beef
1 + 1/2 cups warm Water
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Chile Powder
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Sea or Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 Onion, diced
1 Tomato, diced
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, diced

1. In a large skillet cook the beef over medium heat, breaking up any lumps until browned. Drain grease. Stir in 1/2 cup of water and the dry spices including salt and pepper. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes over medium-low heat.

2. Add garlic, onion, tomato, and bell pepper. Cook until tender about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining cup of water and simmer for 10 more minutes or until most of the water is cooked off. Turn up heat slightly if needed to cook off water. Serve as is with Mexican Rice or use to make tacos, nachos or chalupas.

Variation: Add pecans and raisins two minutes before it’s done.

Printable Picadillo Recipe

Mexican Rice
(adapted from Los Barrios Family Cookbook pg. 159)

3 tablespoons Canola oil
1/2 Onion, diced
1 Garlic clove, minced
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, diced
2 Tomatoes, diced
1 large ear of Corn, kernels removed (about 3/4 cup)
3/4 teaspoon Sea or Kosher Salt
1 + 1/2 cup White or Brown Rice, cooked

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and saute until tender. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add pepper, tomatoes, and corn saute 7-8 minutes.

2. Stir in rice and season with salt. Heat through.

Printable Rice Recipe

Printable Recipes (Both)

I would like to send a huge thank-you over to Sweetlife for sending me this cookbook! I love it. Everyone who loves or even likes Tex-Mex food should own it.



Please link your side dishes using corn here for Side Dish Saturdays.

Link your Bobby Flay burgers here for the Burger Club.

I’m sending this to Two for Tuesdays: Celebrate Real Food hosted by my friend Heather of Girlichef.


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Pan Fried Red Potato and Beef Tacos with Avocado Salsa

Pan-Fried Red Potato and Beef Tacos with Avocado Salsa

This is an easy way to perk up the humble, everyday taco. Crispy, pan-fried red potatoes are seasoned with oregano and Chile powder, then tossed with seasoned ground beef and served the traditional way: stuffed in a taco shell and piled high with fixin’s like this quick and simple avocado salsa. Creamy, tart and delicious it balances out the taco filling and gives it a huge helping of freshness.

Using potatoes allows you to cut down on some of the ground beef for a healthy money-saver. I also like to make my own taco seasoning because most of the packets have MSG in them and my family prefers my mix. It’s up to you – either way.

You can also use this to make a Taco ‘bowl’ or salad. Start with a generous amount of salad greens, top with the ground beef mixture, cheese, avocado salsa, tortilla chips and any other fixin’s you like. It is also excellent with a fried or poached egg over top.

Pan-Fried Potato and Beef Tacos with Avocado Salsa

Beef and Potato Tacos
(by Reeni)

3 tablespoons Vegetable/Canola oil
2 cups Red Potatoes, diced
1 small Yellow Onion, diced
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Chile Powder
Sea or Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper
3/4 to 1 pound Ground Beef
1 taco seasoning packet
(2 teaspoons Chile powder, 1 teaspoon Oregano, 1/2 teaspoon Paprika (smoked or regular), 1/2 teaspoon Cumin, 1/2 teaspoon Onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder)
1/2 cup water
Taco Shells or Tortillas
Taco fixin’s like Avocado Salsa (recipe to follow), sour cream, shredded cheese, lettuce, diced tomatoes, onion

1. In a large heavy bottomed skillet heat oil over medium low heat, add the potato, onion, oregano, chile powder and season well with salt and pepper. Allow the potatoes to cook on one side until brown/crispy and then toss/turn them allowing all sides to brown. When potatoes are tender and brown remove from pan and set aside.

2. In the same skillet add the ground beef and brown, breaking it apart as it cooks. Drain or scoop out the excess grease with a spoon. Add seasoning packet or my taco seasonings and water. Mix well, add potatoes and heat through. Serve on taco shells or tortillas with plenty of fixin’s.

Avocado Salsa
(by Reeni)

1 Tomato, deseeded, diced
1 Avocado, diced
1/4 cup Red or Yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped Fresh Cilantro or Parsley
1/2 Lime, juiced
Sea or Kosher Salt and Fresh Black Pepper

In a medium bowl gently toss all the ingredients together, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Printable Recipe

Pan-Fried Red Potato and Beef Tacos with Avocado Salsa

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