Friday, January 21, 2011

Caldo de Pollo con Calabasa

There's nothing like homemade chicken soup!  It comforts the soul, it's a cure for the blues and even a temporary cure for a cold (at least I think so).
Caldo de Pollo is Spanish for chicken soup and there are many, many varieties when it comes to the Mexican kitchen.  There is the famous tortilla soup that includes strips of corn tortilla, and there is also the classic caldo with different veggies.  Growing up, my mother made the classic caldo during the winter time with a side of Spanish rice  :)

My favorite version of Caldo de Pollo includes a good amount of calabasa, Spanish for squash.  I use zucchini and yellow squash in my caldo and believe me, it is DELICIOSO!

Making caldo is quite labor intensive and requires almost a full day of cooking.  This is because I make the chicken broth homemade.  Of course you can shave off about 3-4 hours of cooking time by using store bought chicken stock and buying a rotisserie chicken, but there is something about homemade broth that tastes so much better!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.
Chicken Stock:
1 whole chicken cut-up, about 3-4 lbs.
12 cups cold water (or enough water to cover the chicken and vegetables)
1 large yellow onion
2 carrots cut in half
3 stalks celery, cut in half
1 bay leaf
3 stems of thyme
3 stems of parsley
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse off the chicken and put in large stock pot.
Pour the cold water over the chicken.  Put the water on high heat and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for about 1 hour.  Foam will begin to form on top of the water so make sure to skim this off with a spoon.
After 1 hour, add the vegetables, salt and pepper, and herbs and cook for 3 more hours on low.  Continue to skim off the foam.

Take the chicken out of the pot and put aside (the meat might fall off the bones so be careful when taking the chicken out).  Strain the stock using a cheesecloth lined mesh strainer.  Pour the strained stock into a clean pot and set the chicken aside.  Discard the vegetables and herbs.

Caldo de Pollo con Calabasa
2-3 zucchini
2-3 yellow squash
1 medium yellow onion
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 small bag frozen corn
salt and pepper
Shredded Chicken
*This is from the chicken used when making the stock.  Once the chicken has cooled a little, start taking the meat off the bones and discard the bones and skin.  Shred the meat and put aside.

The strained chicken stock should be in the pot you want to use to make the caldo.  Put the heat on medium-low and allow the stock to warm up again.
Meanwhile, chop the onion and put into the pot.
Cut the zucchini and squash so that they are in the round shape (see picture).  Put into the pot and put heat on medium to medium-high.
Add the can of diced tomatoes and begin to add the tomato paste.  You can add as much tomato paste as you want, it just depends on how much you like the flavor of tomato.

Don't forget to add salt and pepper!
Let the vegetables cook  for about 20 minutes, then add the chicken and let simmer for about 30-40 minutes.
Add the frozen corn and let cook for about 10 minutes.  
Taste the caldo and add salt and pepper if needed.

I like to slice fresh avocado and add it to my soup.   I also make a fresh pico de gallo and add it to my soup.
If time permits, make some Spanish rice and put it in your bowl of soup along with the avocado and pico de gallo!
Oh yea, squeeze some fresh lime over your bowl of soup for that extra zing  :)


Friday, September 17, 2010

Refreshing Sangria

I have tried many versions of Sangria and I have to say, this is by far my most favorite!
When my hubby and I were in Spain we had Sangria and it was so refreshing that I couldn't wait to get back to the States and try out some recipes.

I serve this Sangria at all my parties and it is always a hit.  It is so simple, and I like to make it either the night before or the morning of my party to allow all the flavors to marry together and let the fruit soak up the alcohol.

1 bottle of red wine (I prefer using Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brandy
1/3 cup Cointreau
1/2 cup lemon flavored vodka
1 bottle (2 liter) lemon-lime soda
1 lemon
1 lime
1 orange
2 cups sliced strawberries

Combine all ingredients, except for the strawberries and soda, in a pitcher.
Put in the refrigerator over night (or a few hours before you serve).  Add the strawberries and pour the soda in the pitcher right before you serve.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Simple Salsa

I have been eating salsa since I was a young girl!  In my house we called it "chile" or "hot sauce."  It wasn't until I was older that I realized people were calling it salsa.  My family eats chile with just about everything, seriously.
I got this recipe from my dad.  He taught me this one so I am sharing it with you.  I added a couple things that my dad doesn't use, like cilantro and more garlic.  We like our chile spicy!  The good thing about this recipe is that you can adjust the spice level by the amount of jalapeños you use.  This is a simple, fresh salsa.

4 cups water
4-5 jalapeños, depending on how spicy you like it
2 14.5 oz. cans whole tomatoes (you might only use 1 depending on how spicy it is)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 medium white onion
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

In a medium sauce pan, boil water.
Add the jalapeños to the boiling water and reduce heat to medium.  Boil the jalapeños for about 30-35 minutes.  Take the jalapeños out of the water and let them sit on a plate to cool down.

Half the onion, then cut each half into thirds.  Place into a food processor.
Take the skin off the garlic cloves and put into the food processor.  Pulse a couple times to chop up the onion.

Cut the stems off the jalapeños and half each one.  If you want to reduce the heat you can take the seeds out. I usually leave the seeds.  Put the jalapeños into the food processor.
Add the whole tomatoes and the cilantro and blend until well blended.

At this point if it's too hot, add the tomato sauce.  Also you want to add the salt and blend again.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Carne Guisada (Mexican beef stew)

This dish is one of my absolute favorite meals to prepare and eat!  Carne guisada, or beef stew, is a Tex-Mex dish that is probably on every menu in any Mexican restaurant in Texas.
It is a beef stew that is slow cooked in a bath of herbs, jalapeños, spices, and cerveza!  Typically you use beef tips or "beef stew".  In this particular recipe, I used beef stew.

3 pounds beef stew meat
4-5 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
kosher salt
fresh cracked pepper
1 1/4 tablespoons comino (cumin)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 12 oz. bottle of Negro Modelo
2 - 2 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon flour

In a dutch oven, pour two tablespoons canola oil and turn the heat on medium-high.  Add the meat to the pot.  Season the meat with salt and pepper while it's in the pot (just a few sprinkles of both).  Brown the meat.

This process might need to be done in two batches because of the amount of meat.  I always brown the meat in two batches. Once all the meat has been browned, place the meat aside and add two more tablespoons of canola oil to the pot.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the pot and cook about 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
Next, put the beef back into the pot and begin to add all the spices, cilantro and bay leaf as well as the beer.

Mix it around and add the tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Take out some of the juice and pour it into a bowl.  Add the flour and whisk it in until it is completely mixed with the juice, then add back to the pot.

Simmer the carne guisada for about 4 hours, or until you like the texture of the meat.  About half way through the cooking time, you can add a tablespoon of salt.
The meat should be tender and almost falling apart.

Borracho Beans

Borracho beans were a staple in my house growing up.  Mom made a big pot of beans on Sunday and we would eat them Sunday-Wednesday (or Thursday) with our meals.  Usually by Wednesday she would mash them into refried beans  :)
As soon as the beans were ready, my mom would put some in a bowl for me and I would sprinkle some cheese on top (cheddar or queso fresco) and my goodness it was delicioso!

The recipe I am sharing with you is not the "traditional" one.  Most recipes call for pork bacon, tomatoes, onion, and bell pepper.  Since my husband is not a big pork eater I have omitted pork from my recipe.  I also have omitted tomatoes, onion, and bell pepper and use those items when I make frijoles a la charra.

1 pound pinto beans
4-5 cups of water
1 12oz. bottle of Negra Modelo
2-4 tablespoons kosher salt

Before you rinse the beans, look through them and make sure to take out any rocks and/or rotted beans.

Place the beans in a colander and rinse thoroughly.  The beans might have dirt on them so make sure you rub them together as you rinse them.

Put the rinsed beans in a dutch oven and add 4 cups of water.  Bring to a boil.
Add the beer and 2-3 tablespoons of salt.
Reduce to a simmer and cover the pot.  Let the beans simmer for 2 hours, and after the first hour check on them and make sure the liquid isn't low.  If it is, add another 1/2 - 1 cup water.
After about 1 1/2 hours, you can add 1-2 tablespoons if you want (just taste one of the beans and see if it needs more salt).
Beans should be done in 2 - 2 1/2 hours.

¡Buen provecho!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Perfect Pesto and Juanita's Spring Salad

I am posting this pesto recipe especially for my friend Jessica.  She visited me a few months ago and I made dinner for her and she loved my pesto so much that I promised I would post it on my blog  :)


I decided to bake some cupcakes, as this recent cupcake craze is driving me insane!  
I searched for some vanilla cake recipes and buttercream icing recipes and came up with a great vanilla cupcake and a SUPER sweet icing.