Nopalitos con Rajas en Salsa Verde (Cactus with Roasted Green Chiles in Tomatillo Salsa)

Nopalitos con Rajas en Salsa Verde was a typical dish prepared during Lent at our house. Another favorite way to enjoy nopalitos is for breakfast, scrambled with eggs, chorizo, onions and chile serrano! This past year, a couple of my foodie friends were nice enought to ship me fresh cactus paddles all the way from California! I was excited beyond words. It had been so long since I had enjoyed fresh nopalitos of any kind. When I get a craving for them, thank goodness the nopalitos in a jar are available in a variety of stores where I live. One of our local markets has been adding new products to their produce department. I walk in the other day, and what do i find??? Fresh cactus! Yay! I was like a kid in a candy store and the people around me were looking at me like I was crazy, lol! This was probably just my fourth time cleaning the cactus paddles and it wasn’t so bad, ha ha….I love a good cooking challenge!

Nopalitos con Rajas en Salsa Verde

4 cups cleaned nopales(cactus) sliced into strips
Salt
Water
1 pound tomatillos
1 small white onion, cut in half
5 serrano peppers
1 clove garlic
2 poblanos, roasted, peeled and sliced into rajas(strips)
2 Anaheim peppers, roasted, peeled and sliced into rajas(strips)

 

The cactus paddles before being cleaned
The cactus paddles before being cleaned
Use a small sharp knife to remove the needles
Use a small sharp knife to remove the needles

Tip~ When I clean the paddles, I hold the end tightly with a kitchen towel, lay the paddle on flat surface and slice or shave away from me into the sink to catch the needles.


You will also need
Cilantro for garnish
Queso panela or queso fresco, sliced or crumbled
Tortillas, Corn or flour

*oil if you decide to fry the tortillas

 

Slice into strips or dice the nopales. Use right away or freeze for another time.
Slice into strips or dice the nopales. Use right away or freeze for another time.
Blanched Nopales, Roasted Poblanos, Chilacas, Onions and Garlic
Blanched Nopales, Roasted Poblanos, Chilacas, Onions and Garlic
Blanched Tomatillos, Onions and Serrano Peppers for Salsa Verde
Blanched Tomatillos, Onions and Serrano Peppers for Salsa Verde
Nopalitos con Rajas en Salsa Verde
Tacos de Nopalitos con Rajas en Salsa Verde y Queso Panela

Nopalitos con Rajas en Salsa Verde

 

1. Using a small sharp knife, carefully shave or remove the needles from the cactus paddles.  Slice into strips and rinse well under cold water.  Combine the nopales with 1 teaspoon of salt in a sauce pan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and  again rinse well under cold water.

2. In another sauce pan, add the tomatillos, half of the onion and all of the serrano peppers. Cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain all the water and transfer to the blender. Add garlic and 3/4 teaspoon of salt or to taste. Blend on high until smooth, set aside.

3. Preheat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of oil to medium heat for a few minutes. Slice the remaining onion into thin strips. Add to skillet and cook for 3 minutes. Add the rajas and nopales and cook for another few minutes. Add half of the salsa from blender to the skillet. Cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with extra salsa, queso panela slices, avocado and warm tortillas. Yields 4 servings.

Prepare some homemade corn tortillas, add sliced queso panela to make a quesadilla or taco, add noplalitos!

Prepare some homemade corn tortillas, add sliced queso panela to make a quesadilla or taco, add noplalitos! The tacos above were fried with just the cheese inside first. The recipe for homemade tortillas is on the blog.

Crazy About Mangos! Spicy Mango Barbeque Chicken with Fresh Mango Salsa

Spicy Mango Barbeque Chicken with Fresh Mango Salsa. I used to think that only way to enjoy mango was on a stick with lots of limon, chile limon powder and hot sauce! Just like the ones you could buy at the swap meets (flea markets) in L.A. That truly was the only way I enjoyed fresh fruits as a kid. I do not recall any savory recipes where my Mom would use fresh fruit as an ingredient. As I developed my own style of cooking over the years, I had many request for salsa recipes prepared with fruit. For this chicken recipes I used mango both in the fresh and cooked form. It’s great for any dishes with a  spicy, sweet and sour  finish. I have to confess that fruit salsa’s were not my favorite in the beginning. I always add extra heat to mine and that makes this chilehead very happy! 

Spicy Mango Barbeque Chicken with Fresh Mango Salsa
Spicy Mango Barbeque Chicken with Fresh Mango Salsa


For Mango Barbeque Sauce
Olive oil
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
1 jalapeño, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced

 2 chipotles in adobo, minced
1 large mango, diced small
1 1/2 cups ketchup *I used a spicy ketchup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons molasses *I only used 1 tablspoon, since I like it more on the savory side
1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules or chicken base
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Salt to taste

 

Spicy Mango Barbeque Sauce with Smoky Chipotles and Sweet Mango
Spicy Mango Barbeque Sauce with Smoky Chipotles and Sweet Mango


For Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
Olive oil
1 sweet onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 hot peppers, I used serrano and fresno
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
small handful of cilantro, plus more for garnish

After browning and searing the chicken thighs, add onions, garlic, chiles, lemon juice, zest and cilantro
After browning and searing the chicken thighs, add onions, garlic, chiles, lemon juice, zest and cilantro


For Mango Salsa
2 mango, diced
1 habanero, minced
1 red fresno, minced
1 serrano, minced
1/2 cup white or red onion
1/4 cup cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons honey or agave
1 teaspoon chile limon powder (Tajin)
Salt and pepper to taste

 

Fresh Mango Salsa with Habanero, Fresno and Serrano Chiles
Fresh Mango Salsa with Habanero, Fresno and Serrano Chiles

 

1. Prepare barbeque sauce first. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium in sauce pan. Add onions, jalapeño and garlic. Cook for 8 minutes. Add all of the remaining ingredients for sauce. Stir well to combine, cook on low/medium heat for 20 minutes or until sauce reduces and becomes thick. Taste for salt and pepper. Cover and remove from heat.

2. While sauce is cooking, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Season the chicken lightly with salt, pepper and garlic powder on both sides, set aside. Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil to an oven safe skillet and preheat to medium for 5 minutes.

3. Brown the chicken for 5 minutes per side, add in the onions, garlic, chile peppers, zest and juice of lemon. Top with cilantro, season the veggies with salt and pepper, cover and transfer to preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

4. While chicken is baking, prepare the fresh mango salsa. Combine all ingredients listed, taste for salt, cover and set aside.

5. After 30 minutes, remove chicken from oven. remove cover and baste chicken generously with barbeque sauce. Turn broiler to high and broil the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes or until sauce begins to caramelize. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with extra sauce, vegetables from pan and garnish with mango salsa and cilantro. Yields 4 servings.

Tips~When picking fresh mangos, you want them to be a little soft to the touch. A hard mango will be extra sour. Those are good with lots of lime, chile limon powder and hot sauce!

Spicy Mango Barbeque Chicken Garnished with Fresh Cilantro
Spicy Mango Barbeque Chicken Garnished with Fresh Cilantro
Spicy Mango Barbeque chicken with Fresh Mango Salsa
Spicy Mango Barbeque chicken with Fresh Mango Salsa

Pan Dulce~Favorite Mexican Bakery Treats

Today’s blog post is dedicated to Pan Dulce, Mexican sweet breads and cookies. Trips to la panaderia (mexican bakery) were a Sunday ritual in our house.  Warm bolillos, pan de huevo, cuernitos, marranitos, hojarascas and semitas  were just some of the tasty fresh baked goods to choose from. My first job was at a Mexican panaderia, El Mejor Pan Bakery in Houston, Texas. I learned all the names and still remember that distinct aroma of breads baking when I walked in the door to go to work. 
After getting married and moving to central New York, la panaderia, and all of it’s delicious treats soon became a distant memory. No Mexican bakeries for hundreds of miles, ha ha!! It soon became my quest to try and recreate some of the recipes I loved the most. And because of the popularity of Mexican food, there are many, many recipes being published. It’s a great trip down memory lane! My first entry is Polvorones de Nuez…
Polvorones de Nuez, also known as the Mexican Wedding Cookies when rolled round and dredged in powdered sugar. My Mom would prepare an almost identical version of this cookie, but we grew up knowing them as hojarascas. The flavors and textures are all the same. The original recipe was prepared with pork manteca (lard), but eventually my Mom switched over to vegetable shortening. For this recipe I used butter and saved my manteca for my carnitas instead, lol!
Polvorones also known as  Wedding Cookies when left round and rolled in powdered sugar.
Polvorones also known as Wedding Cookies when left round and rolled in powdered sugar.

2 sticks unsalted butter, shortening or the traditional lard…yes, lard…lol!
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/3 teaspoon anise seeds
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 full teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
2 cups all purpose flour

* 1 cup finely crushed pecans, optional

Polvorones remind me of the holidays, but they are a great cookie for anytime!
Polvorones remind me of the holidays, but they are a great cookie for anytime!

 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cream the butter, add powdered sugar, anise, cinnamon, salt and vanilla bean paste. Mix until smooth and creamy. Gradually mix in the flour until dough forms. It will be crumbly. if adding pecans, add them in now and fold them in as best you can.

2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll 30 dough balls and divide between the two baking sheets. You could leave the polvorones round, or you could flatten them slightly as I did. I used the bottom of a glass.

3. Bake in preheated oven, one sheet at a time, for 13 to15 minutes, turning pan halfway through the baking time. This will help them bake more evenly.

4. If using sprinkles, they must go onto the cookies before baking. For cinnamon and sugar, gently dredge them in a mix of cinnamon/sugar while they are still slightly warm out of the oven. For powdered sugar, sift over cookies, or roll them in the powdered sugar once cooled. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Yields 30 cookies

 

Polvorenes~Galletas  Mexican Shortbread Cookies. Click onto picture for full recipe at the Hispanic Kitchen.

Polvorones Mexican Shortbread Cookies
Polvorones Mexican Shortbread Cookies

 

 

Empanadas de Manzana con Nuez y Pasas (Apple Pecan Raisin Empanadas)

Empanadas de Manzana con Nuez y Pasas
Empanadas de Manzana con Nuez y Pasas

For Dough
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground anise
1/2 cup shortening
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Apple Pecan Raisin Filling
Apple Pecan Raisin Filling

 

For Apple Pecan Raisin Filling
5 cups granny smith apples, peeled and diced fine
(I like to mix in some cortland apples if available)
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup raisins
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Apple Pecan Raisin Empanadas
Apple Pecan Raisin Empanadas

 

Directions

1. In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients for the dough. Cut in the shortening until well combined. Whisk the egg, milk and vanilla together. Gradually add the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until dough forms, adding a little flour if needed. Cover and let sit until ready to use.

2. For filling, combine all of the ingredients in a skillet. Cook at medium/low heat for 35 to 45 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce reduces and becomes thick. Remove from heat and let cool.

3. Once filling has cooled. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside. Divide the dough into 12 equal dough balls. Line a tortilla press with a plastic freezer bag, cut to fit. Flatten dough ball to about 4 inches in diameter. Fill with a couple of tablespoons of filling. Fold over and seal with fork or use your fingers to pinch and fold over.

4. Once all empanadas are filled, brush with milk and sprinkle immediately with turbinado sugar so it sticks. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Transfer to the broiler for just under a minute to caramelize the sugar a little bit more. remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Yields 12 large empanadas.

Baked Goodies!
Baked Goodies!

 

Gorditas de Canela/Anis y Piloncillo (Brown Sugar Gorditas with Cinnamon & Anise)

Gorditas de Azucar
Gorditas de Azucar de Piloncillo, Canela y Anis

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup  piloncillo, grated or light brown sugar (packed)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground anise
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Gorditas de Azucar
Gorditas de Azucar

 

1. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in the butter until small granules form. Whisk the milk,egg and vanilla together. Gradually add in the milk/egg mixture until dough forms. If too sticky, add a little more flour. Dough should be tacky, but not sticky, lol! Roll 14 to 16 dough balls, cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

2. Preheat a large comal or griddle pan to just below medium heat for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough balls to about 31/2 inches in diameter. Cook on hot comal/griddle for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until nicely browned. It should start to bubble as soon as it hits the hot surface. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel to keep warm. Make 14 to 16 gorditas.

Gorditas de Azucar
Gorditas de Azucar
Gorditas de Azucar
Gorditas de Azucar

 

La Panaderia’s Mexican Pink Cake, My version…. Click onto picture for full recipe at the Hispanic Kitchen.

La Panaderia's Mexican Pink Cake
La Panaderia’s Mexican Pink Cake

 

Marranitos~Cochinitos. Click onto picture for full recipe at the Hispanic Kitchen.

Marranito Cookies
Marranito Cookies

 

 

Hojarascas with Dark Mexican Chocolate and Orange Zest. On most days when I prepare a batch of Hojarascas, I like ato add a little twist. Not that the traditional way is not delicious enough, but a girls just gotta play in her own kitchen sometimes, lol! I enjoy testing out different combinations. Sometimes they work! But you won’t know until you try…

Hojarascas with Orange Zest and Dark Mexican Chocolate

Hojarascas with Orange Zest and Dark Mexican Chocolate


1 cup shortening or butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon of ground anise
1/3 teaspoon anise seeds
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups flour
3/4 cup finely crushed pecans, optional

For Chocolate topping
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 ounces Mexican chocolate (Abuelita brand), broken into smaller pieces
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons shortening
Zest of 1 large orange

*Turbinado sugar or sugar in the raw for sprinkling, optional

 

A decorative wooden/cork stopper made a great press for my hojarascas
A decorative wooden/cork stopper made a great press for my hojarascas
I really enjoy combining dark mexican chocolate with the special dark chips to make a quick topping for cookies
I really enjoy combining dark mexican chocolate with the special dark chips to make a quick topping for cookies

 

Directions 

1. Cream the shortening and sugar together. With the mixer running on low, add in the ingredients in the order listed while mixing. When you get to the flour, you may have to finish mixing by hand if it gets too thick. Fold in the pecans, cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll 24 balls and place on baking sheets evenly. Using a flat bottomed glass, flatten the hojarascas slighlty. If the glass sticks, dip it in a little flour before using to flatten cookies. Bake for 14 to 17 minutes or until the edges turn light brown. Rotate the pans halfway through baking time. Remove from oven and let cool.

3. For topping, add the Mexican chocolate to a glass bowl. Heat in microwave for 30 to 40 seconds to soften and melt.  Add 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, cinnamon and shortening. Microwave on high at 20 seconds intervals, mixing in between each time, until chocolate is smooth. Add a full teaspoon to each cookie, swirling around to spread out evenly. Add orange zest and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Yields 24 cookies. Let sit at room temperature until chocolate sets before storing in a loosely covered container.

Hojarascas with dark Mexican Chocolate and Orange Zest
Hojarascas with dark Mexican Chocolate and Orange Zest
Prepping and  measuring before cooking or baking is a must!
Prepping and measuring before cooking or baking is a must!
Dulce de Leche Macaroons with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt, not a traditional Panaderia treat, but still worth adding.
Dulce de Leche Macaroons with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt
Dulce de Leche Macaroons with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt


5 cups unsweetened coconut (you can use sweetened if you like)
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
13 ounce can La Lechera dulce de leche
1/8 cup milk
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla extract
18 dark chocolate kisses
Coarse sea salt, optional for sprinkling onto chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. In another bowl, whisk all the wet ingredients and add to the dry.

3. Using two spoons drop mounds onto lined baking sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 18 minutes.While still warm, top with chocolate kisses. When chocolate softens and melts, sprinkle with sea salt. I added sprinkles to some of them as well, just for fun! Yields 18 large macaroons.

Tips~ Let the macaroons cool at room temperature. Cover them loosley with wax paper. They will soften overnight.

Used my recipe for Polvorones and made Valentines Day Alfajores
Used my recipe for Polvorones and made Valentines Day Alfajores
 
How to Make Conchas/Pan de Huevo. This was a fun recipe I developed for Que Rica Vida. Step by step directions on how to prepare conchas or pan de huevo right in your own kitchen.
http://www.quericavida.com/en/recipes-cooking/how-to-make-conchas-mexicanas/
How to make conchas, step by step
How to make conchas, step by step, click onto picture for complete recipe
Empanadas de Piña. These perfect little empanadas filled with homemade pineapple filling is a family recipe that was shared with me by my Tía Minerva. On my last trip to Mexico, in 2011, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a whole month with her. We cooked together and she told me stories of my grandparents and their life together that I had never known. These family recipes hold a very special place in my heart. Entered May 14, 2014
Empanadas de Piña Dredged in Cinnamon and Sugar
Empanadas de Piña Dredged in Cinnamon and Sugar
 
For Dough
3½ cups flour
1¼ cups shortening
½ cup water
½ teaspoon anise seeds
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup sugar, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon for dusting
 
For Pineapple Filling
2 cups finely chopped, fresh pineapple
¾ cup dark brown sugar or piloncillo, if available
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup cold water

1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

 

 

1. Combine the anise seeds, cinnamon stick, and ½ cup of water. Steep (cook) in the microwave for  minutes, strain and set aside. Melt the shortening in a microwave-safe bowl, add the tea and stir gently stir. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, until the dough forms and is no longer sticky. You may need to add a little more flour. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest.2.  While the dough is resting, make your pineapple filling.  In a large nonstick skillet, add the  fresh pineapple and heat to medium heat. Add the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice, stir well to combine. Lower the heat and continue cooking for 20 to 25 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed.  In a small bowl, make a slurry of 1 tablespoon cornstarch with ¼ cup of cold water. Mix together, making sure there are no lumps. Add the slurry to the cooking pineapple, stir well. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Let filling cool.

3. When filling is cool and dough has rested, form  20 to 24(1½-inch) dough balls and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Take one dough ball at a time and press in tortilla press lined with wax paper, fill with 1½ to 2 tablespoons of filling. Fold over, and using a fork,  or your fingers, press edges together to seal empanada.4. Transfer empanadas to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. In a small bowl combine 1 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon. While still slightly warm, roll in a cinnamon/sugar mixture. Yields 24 small empanadas.
Tips~ I like to place the empanadas under the broiler just long enough to brown the tops of the empanadas before removing from oven.
Polvorones, "Mexican Wedding Cookies" dipped in chocolate
Polvorones, “Mexican Wedding Cookies” dipped in chocolate
Empanaditas de Cajeta y de Chocolate,  Blog Entry May 23, 2014. Every time I prepare this family recipe for empanada dough, I try something a little different. This time, instead of melting the shortening, I cut it into the flour. And instead of just using all shortening, I added manteca (lard) which is typically used in Mexican empanada dough recipes. I loved It!!!! This was a special batch prepared for a facebook friend Heather, that lives near Chicago. Shipping and hoping they arrive in one piece…#laboroflove
Mini empanadas, some filled with dulce de leche and some filled with semi sweet chocolate
Mini empanadas, some filled with dulce de leche and some filled with semi sweet chocolate


1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed anise seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons manteca, lard
3 1/2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2/3 cup warm water
1/3 to 1/2 cup dulce de leche caramel
1/3 to 1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup cinnamon/sugar mixture

1. Combine the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut in the manteca and shortening until you have pea size pieces.

2. Gradually add in water until dough forms, transfer to a flat surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes, adding water as needed. Cover and let dough rest for 30 minutes.

3. Make 16 equal dough balls, keep covered so they don’t dry out. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

4. Using a lined tortilla press or the bottom of a flat plate, press out disc. Fill with 1 tablespoon cajeta or mini chocolate chips. Fold over and seal with fork or pinch and fold up with you thumb and finger to seal. Pierce the tops gently to create vent holes.Top the chocolate ones with a few mini chips.

5. Bake in preheated 375 degree F. oven for 25 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes. While still warm, dredge the dulce de leche empanadas through cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle the chocolate empanadas with cinnamon and suagr. Yields 16 small empanadas. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Tips~ I like using a quart size freezer bag to line my tortilla press. The dulce de leche (cajeta) will usually leak out, so don’t panic, lol! I have not learned the secret to keep it from doing that yet.

Empanaditas de Cajeta y de Chocolate
Empanaditas de Cajeta y de Chocolate