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Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes

Tahini Potato and Kale Tamales + Your Favorites from 2017

January 2, 2018
These tahini Potato and Kale Tamales are a vegan tamale that doesn't skimp on flavor. Fluffy masa surround a filling of tahini-garlic potatoes and kale.

Happy New Year Friends!!

How were your holidays? More importantly, what was the BEST thing you ate? For me it was lovely chunks of smoked salmon from Santa Rosa Seafood  that we enjoyed before our Christmas dinner with an equally lovely glass of Stony Hill Chardonnay, rye bread, and cremé fraiche. I could’ve easily stopped there but you know I didn’t.

2018 is upon us and you know what? I’m entering my 40th year on this crazy spinning planet! Holy Moly! So I’d like to set the intention to dream big and while I’m working towards those dreams, live the moments as they come with compassion, gratitude, and pride for who I am, what I have, and how far I’ve already come. With that in mind I’d like to say, thank you. Whether you visit every week or you stop by every once in a while, I am so incredibly grateful that you are here.

Before we move forward into a new year of cooking and parties and fun, let’s take a look back at 2017 and which posts you loved best from the past year.

10. How To Throw An Italian Polenta Party

9. Masa Harina Pancakes with Vanilla Strawberries

8. Red Lentil Picnic Salad with Sweet Cider Dressing

7. Loaded Black Mole Braised Beef Fries

6. Beer-Braised Beef Barbacoa

5. Smoky Chile Relleno Rice Bowl with Chicken

4. Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas with Coconut and Lime

3. Hibiscus Mimosa Kits: The Perfect Hostess Gift for the Brunch Lover In Your Life

2. How to Make a DIY Chambord Sangria Bar

1. Cinnamon Roll Capirotada

I hope you get a chance to try some of these favorites from last year. I love that you love the variety, everything from party posts to the more traditional stuff and here’s one more before I say good-bye.

Tahini Potato and Kale Tamales

These tahini Potato and Kale Tamales are a vegan tamale that doesn't skimp on flavor. Fluffy masa surround a filling of tahini-garlic potatoes and kale.

These unique tamales were ones I created for a tamale feast I threw with my pals at Municipal Winemakers in Santa Barbara. The potato-tahini combination is one I learned from the imaginative Susana Villasuso and it seemed like a natural fit for a vegan tamale. I added a fresh touch of kale for something green and to break up the fluffy, glorious carb-load that is potatoes stuffed inside masa.

The recipe is straight-up tamales. They are a project people, but don’t let that stop you. For step-by-step with photos see this post over here. Serve the tamales with your favorite guacamole or salsa or pico. I like the Trader Joe’s salsa verde when I don’t feel like making my own.

These tahini Potato and Kale Tamales are a vegan tamale that doesn't skimp on flavor. Fluffy masa surround a filling of tahini-garlic potatoes and kale.

Tahini Potato and Kale Tamales
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These tahini Potato and Kale Tamales are a vegan tamale that doesn't skimp on flavor. Fluffy masa surround a filling of tahini-garlic potatoes and kale.
Author:
Serves: 3 dozen
Ingredients
  • For the Potato Filling:
  • 2 ½ pounds small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag chopped kale
  • For the Tamales:
  • 40 dried corn husks
  • 6 cups Maseca corn flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1½ cups lard or vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
  • 8-9 cups warm chicken or vegetable broth
Instructions
  1. Cover potatoes with cold, salted water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until just tender, about 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile combine tahini, garlic, smoked paprika, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Drain potatoes and immediately transfer to bowl with tahini mixture. Gently toss potatoes until they are coated, this needs to be done while the potatoes are still hot otherwise the tahini will be too stiff to mix in. Zap for a few seconds in a microwave to melt if necessary.
  3. Bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil. Add kale and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Drain and plunge kale into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and squeeze out any excess water.
To make the Tamales:
  1. Soak corn husks at least 2 hours in advance in hot water. Use a heavy plate to submerge husks in water.
  2. Combine Maseca, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add cubed lard or shortening rubbing it into the dry ingredients with your fingers until it in very small pieces. Add 7 cups of warm broth and mix into a dough making sure all Maseca has been incorporated and there are no dry spots. It is best to mix together with your hands so you can feel any dry Maseca.
  3. Add more liquid if the masa is too dry, you want it to be easily spreadable but not runny, like fluffy mashed potatoes. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.
Assemble:
  1. Fill a tamale steamer with water just until it reaches the rack where the tamales will sit. Use a few of the small or ripped soaked corn husks to line the rack. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, turn heat to medium and keep covered.
  2. Dry a soaked corn husk with a clean kitchen towel. Hold the corn husk with the wide end toward you. Using a large spoon or tamale spreader, evenly spread about ½ cup masa from the middle of the husk down leaving about ½-inch border on the sides.
  3. Place about 2-3 tablespoons of potatoes and 1 tablespoon of kale down the middle.
  4. Fold one side of masa over the filling until the two edges of the corn husk meet, and holding onto one side of corn husk, pull the other side toward the middle to press the two edges of masa together. Fold the pointy end of the corn husk up over the large end, and place on a clean baking sheet. Repeat with remaining corn husks. You can use a piece of corn husk to prevent them from opening, but it is not necessary.
  5. Place tamales vertically, open-side up in the tamale steamer, keeping them snug in the pot so they don't unravel during cooking. Make sure water is at a steady simmer and producing lots of steam. Cover tightly and steam until masa is cooked through and not doughy in the middle, about 45 minutes. Check occasionally and add more water if the pot looks dry.
  6. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 5 to 10 minutes before removing from the pot. Tamales can also be left in the pot, covered with a clean towel (and then covered with the steamer lid) for up to an hour before serving. They will stay warm and soft if you want to make them in advance.
  7. Serve with habanero salsa, pickled onions, and radishes.

 


A Winter Hibernation Party Menu

Salsa de Cacahuate {Creamy Peanut and Chile Salsa} with Chips

Tahini Potato and Kale Tamales

Braised Pork and Chile Stew

Prairie Garden Salad

Cookie Butter Muesli Cookies

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One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

 

All tamale images are by David Mendoza III

Breakfast, Comida Latina, Mains, Recipes

Savory Chorizo Breakfast Cake

December 26, 2017
This Savory Chorizo Breakfast Cake is your new favorite brunch dish, filled with spiced Mexican chorizo & Gruyere cheese and topped with crispy breadcrumbs.

On the surface savory coffee cake might sound weird, but hear me out. Think of this kind of like an egg dish but with a substantial crumb or like a chorizo cornbread, but with a lot more cheese and no corn. I think the best way to decide on the greatness of chorizo breakfast cake is to well, just make it!

This Savory Chorizo Breakfast Cake is your new favorite brunch dish, filled with spiced Mexican chorizo & Gruyere cheese and topped with crispy breadcrumbs.

In my limited internet searching, I believe sausage coffee cake is a Southern thing, Can anyone testify to this? I found a lovely sausage coffee cake created by the Runaway Spoon and combined that recipe with my Grandma’s coffee cake recipe to come up with this one. A soft, dense cake with a melting interior thanks to lots of cheese and eggs. There’s chorizo to spice things up and a lovely, crunchy topping for textural contrast. In my opinion, no coffee cake is complete without some kind of streusel-like something on top.

This Savory Chorizo Breakfast Cake is your new favorite brunch dish, filled with spiced Mexican chorizo & Gruyere cheese and topped with crispy breadcrumbs.

This pretty Sugar Pink Le Creuset skillet makes the perfect vessel for baking this chorizo breakfast cake. It is part of their new Sugar Pink Collection which has my heart all aflutter. The color is divine but the sturdy cast iron that Le Creuset is known for bakes like a dream.

This Savory Chorizo Breakfast Cake is your new favorite brunch dish, filled with spiced Mexican chorizo & Gruyere cheese and topped with crispy breadcrumbs.

A pan this cute basically begs to be shown off, so why not throw a Sugar Pink Boozy Brunch on New Year’s Day? You make the Chorizo Breakfast Cake and I’ll supply the booze in the form of chic sparkling wine cocktails from Pampelonne. Rosé Lime, Blood Orange Spritz, and my personal favorite the French 75, these drinks are all kinds of fancy.

This Savory Chorizo Breakfast Cake is your new favorite brunch dish, filled with spiced Mexican chorizo & Gruyere cheese and topped with crispy breadcrumbs.

Have a wonderful New Year’s friends! Check below for a full New Year’s Brunch menu.

Savory Chorizo Breakfast Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 9 ounces Mexican chorizo, casing removed
  • 1 small red onions, chopped
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle
  2. Grease an 10-inch cast iron skillet or an 8x8-inch baking dish or line with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper.
  3. Heat a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and onion and let cook until onion is soft, about 10 minutes, breaking chorizo up with the back of a wooden spoon as you go.
  4. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Add cheese, thyme, egg, milk, and melted butter. Stir to combine.
  5. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to break up any lumps. Add the dry mixture to the chorizo mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Scrape into the prepared pan.
  6. Mix together Panko and Pecorino in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the batter. Bake until firm in the middle and toasted, about 25-30 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Thank you to Le Creuset and Pampelonne for providing the cocktails and skillet for this post. 


NEW YEAR’S BRUNCH MENU

Pampelonne Sparkling Wine Cocktails

Fruit with Brown Sugar-Sour Cream Dip

Savory Chorizo Breakfast Cake

Lime Raspberry Poppy Seed Muffins

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One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes

Chile Verde Chicken Tamales

December 19, 2017
These Chile Verde Chicken Tamales are like fluffy masa present waiting to be unwrapped; stuffed with tender poached chicken and mild green tomatillo salsa.

A couple weeks ago I was asked to whip up a tamale spread for the good folks at Municipal Wine Makers. This being the Christmas tamale season I jumped at the chance to share some masa love with friends.

These Chile Verde Chicken Tamales are like fluffy masa present waiting to be unwrapped;   stuffed with tender poached chicken and mild green tomatillo salsa.

Chile Verde Chicken Tamales are a holiday classic; tender chicken stuffed inside a fluffy masa shell and drenched in green tomatillo salsa will bring just about anyone to the table and actually, my friends, go great with wine. Muni has some great options too (I’m especially fond of their sparkling selection) so check them out.

These Chile Verde Chicken Tamales are like fluffy masa present waiting to be unwrapped;   stuffed with tender poached chicken and mild green tomatillo salsa.

If you’re new to the tamale game this recipe is a great place to start. They are no less labor-intensive (that’s why you should always make them with friends…and wine) but they are pretty straight-forward, chicken, salsa, masa, wrap. I like to make a double batch of the salsa so I’ll have more to serve the tamales with. Other garnishes can include Mexican crema or sour cream, crumbled Cotija, pickled onions, and/or radishes tossed with lime juice and salt.

These Chile Verde Chicken Tamales are like fluffy masa present waiting to be unwrapped;   stuffed with tender poached chicken and mild green tomatillo salsa.

If you’d like a step-by-step tutorial on how to make tamales see this post for more photos and detailed description of each step.

Chile Verde Chicken Tamales
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 40 tamales
Ingredients
For the chicken:
  • 1 (3-4 pound) whole chicken
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
For the chile verde:
  • 2 pounds tomatillos
  • ½ white onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 jalapeños, stemmed (seeds removed if you’d like it less spicy)
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, tough stems removed
  • For the tamales:
  • 40 dried corn husks
  • 6 cups Maseca corn flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1½ cups lard or vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
  • 6-7 cups chicken cooking liquid or store-bought broth
Instructions
To Make the Chicken:
  1. Rinse chicken and remove any neck or giblets (save and freeze for later or discard).
  2. Place in a large stock pot with remaining chicken ingredients and cover by an inch or so with cold water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook until chicken is very tender and falling off the bone, about 1-11/2 hours.
  3. Remove chicken to a baking sheet and let cool. Strain broth into a clean stock pot, discard solids. Keep broth warm to use in the masa.
  4. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces removing any bone, skin, or fat, set aside.
To Make the Chile Verde:
  1. Combine tomatillos, onion, garlic, and jalapeños in a large saucepan. Cover with water by an inch or so and bring to a boil. Cook until tomatillos are soft but not falling apart, about 10 minutes.
  2. Drain and transfer vegetables to a blender, let cool slightly then add salt and cilantro and carefully blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt as needed.
  3. To make the Tamales:
  4. Soak corn husks at least 2 hours in advance in hot water. Use a heavy plate to submerge husks in water.
  5. Combine Maseca, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add cubed lard or shortening rubbing it into the dry ingredients with your fingers until it in very small pieces. Add 5 cups of reserved chicken cooking liquid and mix into a dough making sure all Maseca has been incorporated and there are no dry spots. It is best to mix together with your hands so you can feel any dry Maseca.
  6. Add more liquid if the masa is too dry, you want it to be easily spreadable but not runny, like fluffy mashed potatoes. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.
  7. Assemble:
  8. Fill a tamale steamer with water just until it reaches the rack where the tamales will sit. Use a few of the small or ripped soaked corn husks to line the rack. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, turn heat to medium and keep covered.
  9. Dry a soaked corn husk with a clean kitchen towel. Hold the corn husk with the wide end toward you. Using a large spoon or tamale spreader, evenly spread about ½ cup masa from the middle of the husk down leaving about ½-inch border on the sides.
  10. Place about 2-3 tablespoons of chicken and 1 tablespoon of chile verde down the middle.
  11. Fold one side of masa over the filling until the two edges of the corn husk meet, and holding onto one side of corn husk, pull the other side toward the middle to press the two edges of masa together. Fold the pointy end of the corn husk up over the large end, and place on a clean baking sheet. Repeat with remaining corn husks.
  12. Place tamales vertically, open-side up in the tamale steamer, keeping them snug in the pot so they don't unravel during cooking. Make sure water is at a steady simmer and producing lots of steam. Cover tightly and steam until masa is cooked through and not doughy in the middle, about 45 minutes. Check occasionally and add more water if the pot looks dry.
  13. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 5 to 10 minutes before removing from the pot. Tamales can also be left in the pot, covered with a clean towel (and then covered with the steamer lid) for up to an hour before serving. They will stay warm and soft if you want to make them in advance.
  14. Serve with remaining chile verde.

 


Holiday Tamale Menu

Chimayo Cocktails

Mexican Goat Cheese Dip and Salsa Morita with Chips

Chile Verde Chicken Tamales

Easy Black Beans

Baby Kale, Avocado, and Pear Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette

Coconut Tres Leches Cake

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One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

 

Photos courtesy of David Mendoza

 

Apps, Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Mains, Popular, Recipes

Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas with Coconut and Lime

December 8, 2017
A super easy, ultra healthy shrimp ceviche tostada recipe with fresh squeezed lime juice, coconut milk, chiles, cilantro, and thinly sliced scallions.

The idea for this recipe came from a double dose of inspiration. First from a restaurant dish made many years ago and secondly, a trip to Baja last year that changed the way I thought of tostadas forever.

A super easy, ultra healthy shrimp ceviche tostada recipe with fresh squeezed lime juice, coconut milk, chiles, cilantro, and thinly sliced scallions.

Back in my chefing days at Mustard’s Grill in Napa Valley we would frequently serve a ceviche very similar to this one made with scallops, coconut milk, an epic amount of lime juice, and lots of fresh herbs and chiles. Being a 80’s-raised, Midwestern girl I was new to the concept of eating raw seafood but this food was transformative. The lime juice “cooked” the scallops just so and the coconut milk added a buttery richness that calmed the chiles to a soothing hum.

I loved that ceviche and for as much as I think about it, you’d think I would’ve made it a million times by now, but alas, it took some subtle nudging from my partners at Guerrero Tortillas to get me to actually write it down.

When they asked me to collaborate with them on a recipe for their new Baked Tostadas with Sea Salt I immediately thought of that coconut milk ceviche and how delicious it would be piled high on their crispy tostada shells.

A super easy, ultra healthy shrimp ceviche tostada recipe with fresh squeezed lime juice, coconut milk, chiles, cilantro, and thinly sliced scallions.

 

Which leads me to my second source of inspiration. Up until last year I had only had tostadas (the flat, crisp corn tortillas) that were fried. I love them, they are deeply crunchy and have incredible corn flavor but then I took a little trip to Baja California and discovered the tostadas there were nothing like the ones I had eaten at home.

In Baja the tostadas are baked which gives the tortilla shells a completely different texture and flavor, one that is light as air, crisp, and subtle. Perfect for the delicately flavored seafood and fish they are known for. And this, my friends is what the Guerrero Baked Tostadas taste like. So good that you will eat them for their exquisite flavor, not because they are good for you—which they are, by the way, with less fat and calories than the traditional tostada shells.

A super easy, ultra healthy shrimp ceviche tostada recipe with fresh squeezed lime juice, coconut milk, chiles, cilantro, and thinly sliced scallions.

This ceviche makes a quick, easy meal during these busy holiday nights and is a great way to stay healthy during this indulgent season. It also is a chic appetizer for a cocktail party or sit down situation. Break the larger tostada shells into smaller mismatched portions and serve several on a larger tray. Bon Apetitos!

Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas with Coconut and Lime
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A super easy, ultra healthy shrimp ceviche tostada recipe with fresh squeezed lime juice, coconut milk, chiles, cilantro, and thinly sliced scallions.
Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound raw medium shrimp, peeled and diveined
  • ⅓ cup lime juice
  • ⅓ cup coconut milk
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped (seeds removed if you'd like it less spicy)
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 large radishes, sliced
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground chile de arbol
  • 4-6 Tostada shells, such as Guerrero Baked Tostadas with Sea Salt
  • ripe avocado slices, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add shrimp and cook until firm and opaque, about 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to stop cooking.
  2. Chop shrimp into small pieces and combine with lime juice, coconut milk, jalapeño, onion, cilantro, radishes, salt, and ground chile.
  3. Cover and let chill 1 hour. Taste and add more salt or lime juice as needed.
  4. Serve on tostada shells with slices of avocado on top.

This post was sponsored by Guerrero Tortillas, all opinions however are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible! 

 


Menu

Honey Grapefruit Margaritas

Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas with Coconut and Lime

Oven-Baked Avocado Fries with Harissa Ranch

Vegan Mexican Chocolate Popsicles

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One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

Comida Latina, Condiments and Salsas, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes, Side Dishes

Grilled Pumpkin Steaks with Black Beans and Jalapeño Pesto

November 15, 2017
Grilled pumpkin steaks are an excellent way to eat up that delicious Halloween Jack-O-Lantern with creamy black beans and spicy jalapeño pesto sauce!

I can tell it is starting to get cooler out when I start wearing a blanket like an elongated tube top around the house. I guess the shorter daylight hours just doesn’t give the sun enough time during the day to warm things up in here. It’s still not cold enough to turn the heat on, (I believe it was after Thanksgiving when that happened last year if I remember correctly), but still a slight chill in need of a blanket.

Grilled pumpkin steaks are an excellent way to eat up that delicious Halloween Jack-O-Lantern with creamy black beans and spicy jalapeño pesto sauce!

I was in touch with some friends back in North Dakota over the weekend and they filled me in on their recent snowfall. Comparatively I have nothing to complain about, just an observation that subtle seasonal changes do occur, even here in Southern California.

Grilled pumpkin steaks are an excellent way to eat up that delicious Halloween Jack-O-Lantern with creamy black beans and spicy jalapeño pesto sauce!

Aside from snowy, long distance texts, this past weekend was filled with eating up our Halloween Jack-O-Lantern before it got too old and moldy to do something with. It goes without saying that I’m my spirit-decade is the Great Depression and I can’t bear to throw anything remotely edible and I remembered this idea from when I was the Pastry Chef at Firefly Restaurant in San Francisco. These grilled pumpkin steaks were a staple on their fall menu and I always thought it was such a genius idea.

Grilled pumpkin steaks are an excellent way to eat up that delicious Halloween Jack-O-Lantern with creamy black beans and spicy jalapeño pesto sauce!

They are good with any type of winter squash— kabocha, butternut, sugar pie pumpkin—but in my opinion if you are going to eat a big, honkin’ Jack-O-Lantern, there’s no other way. You see, normally, those bigger pumpkins are super stringy and watery and really not that good to eat, but throwing them straight on the grill, uses that extra water to their advantage. As it cooks over the hot, direct heat the water bubbles up inside the flesh of the pumpkin, evaporating from the surface as it cooks and intensifying its flavor, while making it tender at the same time.

Grilled pumpkin steaks are an excellent way to eat up that delicious Halloween Jack-O-Lantern with creamy black beans and spicy jalapeño pesto sauce!

Dealing with a big pumpkin is a tad bit cumbersome, but we’ve all carved one at some point and this is much easier than that. You need a sharp, heavy knife and just slice it open. Scoop out the seeds and use a Y peeler to peel off as much skin as you can. I find it’s easier to cut the pumpkin into 4-inch “steaks” first, then peel. Don’t worry if every bit of skin doesn’t come off. Pumpkin skin is actually pretty thin and edible.

Grilled pumpkin steaks are an excellent way to eat up that delicious Halloween Jack-O-Lantern with creamy black beans and spicy jalapeño pesto sauce!

Then on the grill it goes. Thirty minutes is all it takes for a delicious vegan main or the pumpkin with the pesto sauce would make a lovely Thanksgiving side dish. Give it a try!

Grilled Pumpkin Steaks with Black Beans and Jalapeño Pesto
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Grilled pumpkin steaks are an excellent way to eat up that delicious Halloween Jack-O-Lantern with creamy black beans and spicy jalapeño pesto sauce!
Author:
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
For the pesto:
  • 3 jalapeños
  • ¾ cup packed mint leaves, plus more for garnish
  • ½ cup packed cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice from 1 lemon
For the pumpkin steaks:
  • 4 pounds pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 4-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish
  • salt and pepper
For the black beans:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground arbol chile
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans black beans
Instructions
For the pesto:
  1. Heat a dry skillet over high heat. Add jalapeños and char, turning occasionally, until blackened on all sides, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then remove stem, seeds, and charred skin. Chop and transfer to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.
  2. Add mint, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, garlic, salt, and blend. With the processor running add olive oil and lemon juice. Stop blade a few times to scrape down the sides. Blend until very smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed. If pesto is very thick add a tablespoon or two of hot water to thin out. You want to be able to spoon it over the pumpkin.
For the pumpkin:
  1. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high. Remove as much peel as you can from the pumpkin with a Y-style vegetable peeler. It's okay if not all of it comes off, pumpkin skin is actually pretty thin and edible. Rub with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Grill about 30 minutes or until pumpkin is easily pierced with a fork and is charred on the outside. Turn pumpkin about every 10 minutes or so.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the beans. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and jalapeño. Season with salt and let cook until tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add garlic, cumin, coriander, and ground arbol chile, and cook a minute more. Add black beans, juices and all and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Mash with a potato masher until about ½ of the beans are broken up. Taste and add more salt if needed.
To Serve: Spoon black beans on plates and top with a pumpkin steak. Drizzle pesto over the top and sprinkle with more toasted pumpkin seeds and mint. Dig in!
Notes
To toast your own pumpkin seeds, heat a generous teaspoon of oil in a hot frying pan. Add raw pumpkin seeds and toss in the oil. Cook until starting to pop and golden, stirring often. Season with salt and remove from heat.

 


Menu

La Bruja Cocktails (aka Tamarind Margaritas)

Pumpkin Steaks with Black Beans and Jalapeño Pesto

Grilled Achiote-Lime Chicken

Mexican Chocolate Pudding with Raspberries and Whipped Cream

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One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

 

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Comida Latina, Mains, Pasta and Noodles, Recipes

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Chipotle Cream

October 17, 2017
Baked spaghetti squash takes on a whole new meaning when draped in fiery chipotle cream sauce and sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs and Cotija cheese.

We had a couple of crisp days last week. Well as crisp as the air gets in early October in Southern California, let’s just say I needed a sweater…a light sweater.

Anyway, during those slightly chilly evenings I got the urge for all things rich and creamy and belly warming. I rarely do cream-based things around here due to the fact that I’m the only one who likes it and/or can eat it, but when the urge strikes, I find it’s best to just go with it before it becomes unwieldy and wildly out of control and the next thing you know you’ve eaten a pound of pasta covered in straight cream, parmesan, and butter—not that I’ve ever done that, I’m just saying, it could happen.

What was I talking about?

Oh yeah, right. So I wanted something rich and creamy, but also spicy and soul-satisfying so I turned to my favorite thing about fall, squash, and got to work. Do you have a favorite fall fruit/vegetable? The thing you wait all year for? Mine is absolutely the hard-skinned squashes of fall..all of them.

Baked spaghetti squash is much lighter in texture than other varieties so it was the perfect vehicle for the smoky, spicy chipotle cream sauce. Baked spaghetti squash is super easy to pull off, the hardest part is cutting the darn thing open—a heavy, sharp knife is essential. Then just scoop out the seeds, rub with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet and let the oven do the work.

While the squash is baking, sweat some onions and garlic and chopped chipotles en adobo in olive oil until soft and sweet, add the cream and thin a little with veggie broth so the cream isn’t overwhelming. If you don’t mind about keeping it veggie, you could use any kind of broth you want, also a little white wine would be nice here too. Once the sauce has simmered a little bit, you can blend it nice and smooth if you’d like. Leaving it as is, is just fine too.

Shred the squash into thin strands with a fork and gently mix with the sauce. Sprinkle each dish with crunchy toasted breadcrumbs, thin slices of scallion and a crumbling of sharp Cotija or grated Parmesan would be nice here too. Also cilantro, if you’re into to that kind of thing.

There you go. A dinner for when you need a little hug in the form of cream, spice, and cheese.

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Chipotle Cream
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 small spaghetti squash, about 2-3 pounds
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 chipotles en adobo, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • ½ cup crumbled Cotija cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Drizzle the cut sides with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.
  2. Lay on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cut side down. Bake in oven until knife tender and shreds easily with a fork, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and chipotles and cook a minute more. Add cream and broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Blend with a stick blender until smooth. Add teaspoon of salt, taste and add more salt if needed. Cover and keep warm.
  4. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan. Add breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly until toasted and golden. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  5. To serve: Shred squash into strands, add to cream sauce and gently fold to coat in sauce. Divide between four plates, top with toasted breadcrumbs, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, and Cotija cheese.

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Roasted Beet and Green Olive Salad

Sweet Molasses Apple Pie

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Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes, Side Dishes

Coconut Quinoa with Roasted Squash and Pumpkin Seeds

October 12, 2017
This coconut quinoa makes an excellent holiday side or vegan main dish with fluffy quinoa, big flakes of coconut, toasted pumpkin seeds, and roasted squash.

Here’s how you go big with quinoa: coconut, lots of fresh herbs, and roasted winter squash!

I’ll be the first to admit, quinoa doesn’t make me as jubilant as most carbs. It’s soapy nature doesn’t help. But I keep at it, because for one, it’s like megahealthy on the health charts and two, I think I’ve found the tastiest way to cook it yet.

I prefer the white quinoa to the other darker varieties. It cooks up light and fluffy and doesn’t squeak as much between your teeth. I simply boil the quinoa like you would pasta, then drain off any excess water. Toss the warm quinoa with coconut oil and here comes the best part: large slices of fragrant coconut. I find mine at Trader Joe’s but also Bob’s Red Mill sells bags of delicious big unsweetened flakes too and when I was living in North Dakota with not a Trader Joe’s in sight, those are the ones I would use.

This platter of goodness could be a healthy alternative for all the big holiday dinners coming up—working equally well as a side or a vegan main dish. But it also has #meatlessmonday written all over it.


Coconut Quinoa with Roasted Squash and Pumpkin Seeds
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This coconut quinoa makes an excellent holiday side or vegan main dish with fluffy quinoa, big flakes of coconut, toasted pumpkin seeds, and roasted squash.
Author:
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 small kabocha squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 cups quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
  • ½ cup chopped mixed herbs, such as basil, cilantro, mint, or parsley
  • ½ cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 large, ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 450°F and arrange a rack in the top of the oven.
  2. Carefully cut squash into 1-inch wedges with a sharp knife and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (you can also cover it with a Silpat or nothing at all, this just makes clean up easier).
  3. Drizzle squash with the tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil and season generously with salt. Toss to coat then place in the top of the oven to roast until knife tender, about 15-20 minutes. If you'd like a little extra char on the squash you can put them under the broiler for a minute or two once they are cooked through. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, place quinoa in a large saucepan and cover with water by 1-inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and return to pan. Add coconut oil, ½ teaspoon salt, coconut chips, and herbs and stir to combine.
  5. Transfer to a large serving dish, top with squash, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate, and avocado and serve.
Notes
If you can't find roasted, salted pumpkin seeds you can make your own by heating 1 teaspoon of oil (coconut, olive, vegetable) over medium heat in a medium frying pan. Add ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds and cook, stirring frequently until toasted and starting to pop. Season with a pinch of salt and remove from the pan.

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Apps, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes

Meat-Stuffed Grape Leaves

September 21, 2017
These meat-stuffed grape leaves make a tasty appetizer or the spotlight to a special dinner with warm pita bread, lemony cucumber salad, and creamy hummus.

I’m always on the lookout for something different to switch up the dinner doldrums. Similar to I’m sure many of you I fall into weeknight ruts of either picking up something or making the same old things over and over again. So when the lovely Liz Della Croce asked if I would want to take a peek at the newest edition to her Food From Our Ancestors series: The Ultimate Syrian Sunday Dinner I jumped at the chance. This beautiful compilation of family recipes drive home why they are favorites; comfort food, full of flavor, the dishes our mothers have been making forever, for good reason.

I’ve a weakness for stuffed grape leaves so as soon as I saw Liz’s recipe I knew that those would most certainly make the cut. I’m the gal who buys the Trader Joe’s grape leaves for just about every summer picnic but have never actually made them myself. The recipe looked simple enough and culinary challenges are pretty much my jam so in I dove.

I’ve only ever eaten rice-stuffed grape leaves and was excited that I could actually rationalize these meat-stuffed grape leaves as dinner. Add a salad (I made Liz’s Syrian salad from the book) and a side (again Liz to the rescue with Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions—I told you this book was good!) and now, man I’m getting excited about dinner!

These meat-stuffed grape leaves weren’t even all that hard to pull off. The jar of grape leaves I found at Whole Foods and they easily unfurl to create perfect little wrappers for the meat and rice mixture. One jar was plenty and I even has some leftover, so you know whose going to be making stuffed grape leaves again. Yay, yes, ME!

As far as stuffing and rolling I fell right into rhythm. They were like rolling up tiny little burritos: two sides in, bottom over filling, roll, roll, roll.

Then you pile them in a pot, cover with water, and weigh them down with a plate. Simmer until the rice is cooked—they only take about 15 minutes! They are excellent hot, room temperature, or cold. It’s the lemon that I love, no the mint, no the lemon. Either way, so good.

Liz’s Food From Our Ancestors series are real treasures. You can get the Syrian ebook or buy a bundle of all four: Mexican, Jewish Shabbat, Italian, and Syrian for basically a steal.

Meat-Stuffed Grape Leaves
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 (2-pound) jar of grape leaves (roughly 50 leaves)
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • ½ cup lon-grain white rice, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into thirds, optional
  • 5 cabbage leaves, optional
  • 2 tablespoons dried mint
Instructions
  1. Line a large pot with celery stalks and loose cabbage leaves (I used extra grape leaves).
  2. Place grape leaves on a plate and trim any large, thick stems off bottom.
  3. In a large bowl, combine ground meat, rice, juice of 1 lemon, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  4. Working one grape leaf at a time, place the leaf flat on a plate and add 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture near stem.
  5. Form meat into thin cigar shapes, then roll the grape leaf starting at the stem all the way to the top. No need to fold in sides but they'll look nicer if you do.
  6. Line stuffed grape leaves in pot, alternating direction with each layer, until the pot is filled ¾ of the way or you've used all your leaves.
  7. Cover the grape leaves with water, making sure there's at least one inch of liquid above the grape leaves. Pour in remaining lemon juice and add dried mint.
  8. Cover grape leaves with a small plate turned upside down to keep them from moving and to weigh them down.
  9. Cover pot with lid and bring to a simmer.
  10. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is fully cooked. Serve with pita bread and cucumber laban.
Notes
Liz suggests lining the cooking pot with celery stalks and cabbage leaves. I didn't have either, so I used a few of the torn and tiny grape leaves instead

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

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Comida Latina, Mains, Recipes, Sandwiches

Chiles en Nogada Grilled Cheese

September 12, 2017
This Chiles en Nogada Grilled Cheese recipe takes a complex dish of stuffed peppers and simplifies it into an easy, delicious grilled cheese sandwich.

This Saturday, September 16th, Mexicans everywhere will be celebrating their independence. It’s Mexican Independence Day! Also known as El Gritothe cry heard across Mexico that triggered the Mexican war of independence against the Spanish in 1810.

A traditional meal eaten during this holiday is Chiles en Nogada a dish representing the Mexican flag with dark green poblano chiles smothered in creamy white walnut sauce and topped with the sweet sprinkling crunch of pomegranate seeds.

This is a gorgeous, complex dish with flavors of cinnamon, and rich meat, chiles, and nuts. A beautiful representation of what true Mexican cuisine is and something you should make and try if not this weekend, then sometime this fall while pomegranates and apples are in season.

A much easier way to get a taste for what this dish represents is to make this simple grilled cheese sandwich with the flavors of chiles, walnuts, pomegranates, and cream all still there but in a much easier form to make. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to real chiles en nogada this grilled cheese will fit the bill.

This lazy lady’s chiles consist of country walnut bread, stuffed with charred poblano chiles, aged white cheddar cheese, and a drizzling of pomegranate molasses. This tangy, kinda sweet Middle Eastern sauce is never used in Mexican cooking but the spirit of the tart pop of pomegranates in the traditional dish is there. I like to dip a crispy edge of the sandwich in a bit more molasses. Some people do ketchup, I don’t know.

Chiles en Nogada Grilled Cheese
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This Chiles en Nogada Grilled Cheese recipe takes a complex dish of stuffed peppers and simplifies it into an easy, delicious grilled cheese sandwich.
Author:
Serves: 2 sandwiches
Ingredients
  • 1 poblano chile
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 4 slices walnut bread
  • 1 cup grated sharp white cheddar
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, plus more for dipping
Instructions
  1. Char poblano chile by laying over an open flame on your gas stove or placing under the broiler. Turn frequently until all sides are blackened and blistered, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle. Peel off charred skin and remove stem and seeds. Thinly slice.
  2. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Divide cheese and chiles between the interiors of two slices of bread. Drizzle each sandwich with pomegranate molasses and top with remaining two slices of bread; butter side out.
  3. Heat a large cast iron or heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Place sandwiches, butter side down in the frying pan. Once cheese starts to melt and the bottom is golden brown, flip and grill until other side is golden and cheese is fully melted. Cut in half and serve immediately with a little more pomegranate molasses for dipping, if desired.

One More Thing

Did you love this post? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!

Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes

How To Make A Beef and Bean Burrito

September 8, 2017
Step-by-step instructions will show you how to make a comfort food classic: the Beef and Bean Burrito. A supersized family favorite for hungry bellies!

I’m pretty sure my son’s the only kindergartener who takes a container of meat to school for lunch.

Yesterday I was cooking the meat for these beef and bean burritos when Hiro sauntered in nose-first. “That smells good Mama, can I have some for my lunch?” He asks. I thought about the logistics for a moment, fearing he wouldn’t be able to open the container, or that it would get cold by the time he got around to eating it, or worse, he’d get made fun of for having a tiny Tupperware of meat but then said, “I don’t have the rest of the burrito stuff ready, but I could put some meat in a container and you could eat it with a spoon?” “Thanks, Mama!” He said. And so it was, he took it. He ate it (the teacher did have to open the container for him) and what little was left he ate in the car on the way home from school. I don’t know why I worry.

It goes without saying that this beef and bean burrito recipe is kid approved.

Here’s how you make them!

First things first, make the filling. I loosely follow a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s The Best Mexican Recipes. If I’m feeling ambitious I’ll make Mexican rice instead of the garlic rice in the recipe. After your filling is ready to go then I feel it is essential to warm the tortillas in a hot, dry frying pan—not in the microwave. The pan lends a toasty flavor to the tortillas and the micro just makes them rubbery. You warm the tortillas because they need to be cooked a little before filling to get rid of that doughy flavor.

As far as the tortillas are concerned, I like to buy the extra-large (12-inch) flour tortillas that they use at the burrito truck. Most Latin markets sell them but most other grocery stores do not. Just buy the biggest ones you can find, but also know the big ones make HUGE burritos, so if you’re feeding little ones the smaller 8 or 10-inch ones are just fine.

After the tortillas are nice and toasty it is time to fill them up. The amount of filling you add will depend on how big you’d like your burrito to be. A hungry man burrito takes about 3/4 cup of beef and 3/4 cup of rice.

You can add other stuff to your burritos too, like cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa. We are a dairy-free house so I didn’t add any of the cheesy stuff and I don’t like hot guacamole so none of that inside my burrito either. Armando and Hiro like pico de gallo inside their burritos, but I do not. I think it makes the tortilla soggy and prefer to put mine on the outside, but it’s up to you.

Then its time to roll it up. Sides go in first, then the bottom goes over the filling.

Pull the tortilla tight over the filling then roll all the way up to seal.

The most essential step to a good burrito comes at the end. After you have rolled it up the burrito goes back in the hot, dry frying pan to get a nice, crispy crust. One that seals up the seam and turns that tortilla from rubbery to golden.

Don’t forget more fresh pico on top!

Beef and Bean Burrito Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups chicken broth
  • ¾ cup long-grain rice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 21 ounces 85 percent ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder (I used New Mexico chile powder, the recipe calls for chipotle--you decide)
  • 1½ cups cooked pinto beans (a 15-ounce can or cook your own )
  • Juice of ½ a lime
  • 6 flour tortillas (the biggest you can find, I used 12-inch)
  • Pico de Gallo or your favorite store-bought salsa
Instructions
  1. Bring chicken broth, rice, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes, fluff with fork, stir in cilantro and cover to keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook until starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add beef, tomato paste, cumin, oregano, and chile powder. Cook, breaking up meat with the back of a wooden spoon and cook until beef is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  5. Using a potato masher mash 1 cup of the beans in a bowl with ½ cup of the bean cooking liquid or the liquid from the can if you are using canned beans. Stir into the beef mixture along with remaining ½ cup whole beans and lime juice. Taste to see if it needs more salt then remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
  6. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Warm the tortillas on both sides for a minute or two but not until they are toasted. Transfer to a baking sheet and mound about ¾ cup beef and ¾ cup rice in the bottom third of the tortillas. Add some pico de gallo if you'd like.
  7. Fold in the sides then roll the bottom of the tortilla over the filling, pulling back on it firmly to tighten it around the filling then roll the rest of the way up to close. Set seam side down on a tray. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.
  8. Place burritos seam side down in a hot dry skillet to seal closed and get a nice golden crust. Flip and toast the other side. Serve immediately with pico de gallo or let cool and wrap tightly with plastic wrap and then foil. Burritos will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer and 5 days in the refrigerator.
  9. To rewarm: Unwrap burritos and place on a baking sheet if you are heating more than one or on a oven-safe frying pan for just one burrito. Heat in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes.

 

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