Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pork Tamales

Before tackling tamales, keep in mind that they are NOT hard to make, they are TIME CONSUMING.  The process takes hours. That said, they are well worth it.

5 lbs. of pork shoulder/pork butt
2 bay leaves
1 bag of corn husks
1 bag chilies (the green bag @ Fry's seem to be the best)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 t. salt
6 c. Maseca
6 c. chicken broth
2 c. vegetable oil
3 t. baking powder
3 t. salt
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (optional)
Jalapenos, sliced (optional)

Cooking the Pork:

  1. Put the pork in the crock pot with bay leaves.  
  2. Cook on high, overnight the night before you plan on making your tamales.
  3. The pork is ready when it shreds easily; you should be able to pull the bone out easily.

Soak the Corn Husks:

  1. Fill one side of your clean kitchen sink with cold water.
  2. Clean off any corn silk from the husks and separate them (try not to tear them as you separate them)
  3. Put the corn husks in the cold water.
  4. The husks will tend to float.  I usually weigh them down with a glass measuring cup.  This is not necessary, just a tip I use.
  5. Soak for 30-40 minutes.

Make the Chili Sauce:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Remove the stem from each individual chili and sake out the seeds from the inside.
  3. Once the stems and seeds are removed, put the chilies in the boiling pot of water.
  4. Boil the chilies until they are soft and a bright pink, about 10 minutes.
  5. Transfer the chilies to the blender, add 2-3 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and some of the chili water.
  6. Blend the chili mixture.
  7. Add more chili water if needed.  The goal is to have a nice consistency that is not too thick, yet not too runny.
  8. Pour the chili mixture into a strainer and strain into a bowl.  You may need to take the back of a spoon and force the liquid through.  Straining is not required, but I like my chili sauce smooth and free of the "skin" particles.

Make the Masa Mixture

  1. In a large bowl, mix Maseca, chicken broth, vegetable oil, baking powder, and 3 teaspoons salt.
  2. Stir until everything is well blended.  It should be a nice consistency, not too thin, but not too pasty.  Add more oil if your mixture needs more moisture.

Drain the Corn Husks
  1. Remove the corn husks from the water and shake off any excess water.
  2. Place them on a cookie sheet.

Assemble the Tamales

  1. Line up all of your components:  corn husks, masa mixutre, meat, chili sauce, cheese/jalapenos
  2. Open a single husk with the wide end at the top.  Spread masa on the husk, about 1/4" thick.  There is no need to spread masa all the way down to the point as this will be folded up.
  3. Lay a fair amount of pork along the center (top to bottom) of the masa covered husk.
  4. Spoon 2 or 3 spoonfuls of chili sauce on top of the meat.
  5. Sprinkle a small amount of cheese along the sauce/meat (if using).
  6. Place jalapenos on top of the cheese (if using).  I make about half with jalapenos and half without.  I make sure to put 1 - 2 slices very near the top so the ones with jalapenos are very distinguishable.
  7. Fold the left side over about 2/3 of the way.
  8. Fold the right side over about 2/3 of the way, the masa will help act as a glue to help hold it together.
  9. Fold the bottom up.
  10. Place the folded tamale open end up in your steamer basket.  Note:  initially you may need to place a bowl or something else in your steamer basket to help support the tamales until you have wrapped up enough of them to support each other.  You may also find a way to position your pot and steamer basket at an angle (generally, I have not added any water to the pot at this point).  You do not want the tamales to slide down and lose the contents.
  11. Do not put too many tamales into the steamer basket or they will not cook properly.
  12. Add water to the steamer pot and place it on the stove.
  13. Cover the pot and steamer basket and turn it on high.
  14. Once a good steam is being generated, turn the heat down to medium-low.
  15. Continue steaming for 1 1/2 to 2 hour.
  16. The tamales are done when you open one up and the masa has hardened.  If the masa is still too soft, continue steaming.

Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes


  • 1 1/2 c. sweet corn, frozen
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 3 T. granulated sugar
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. masa harina
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour


  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 avocados, chopped
  • 2 T. cilantro, fresh chopped


  1. Coarsely puree 1 cup of the frozen corn in a food processor.
  2. Combine pureed corn with softened butter, sugar and salt.
  3. Blend well with electric mixer until smooth.
  4. Add masa and flour and bled well.
  5. Mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of frozen corn by hand.
  6. Measure 1/2 cup portions and form into 3-inch patties.
  7. Arrange patties on a baking sheet and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until the cakes are browned on the bottom.
  8. Carefully flip cakes with a spatula and bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, or until other side is browned.
  9. Arrange cakes on a plate and sever with garnish.

BBQ Ribs


  1. Wrap ribs in 3 layers of aluminum foil
  2. Turn grill on maximum heat for 10 minutes
  3. Put ribs on for grill for 10 minutes
  4. Flip rib packets and turn heat to low
  5. Cook for 20-30 minutes
  6. Flip and cook for 20-30 minutes longer.

Pumpkin Bread

Years ago I found a wonderful Pumpkin Bread recipe.  After a couple of moves, the recipe has gone missing.  I'm still searching for the missing recipe since I don't have it memorized.

4 eggs
3 c. sugar
1 c. raisins
1 1/2 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
2 c. pumpkin (1 can)
2 t. baking soda
1 t. nutmeg
1 c. pecans
3 1/3 c. flour
1 c. vegetable oil
2/3 c. water or orange juice

  1. Mix sugar, eggs, salt, oil, and pumpkin.
  2. Sift flour, soda and spices.
  3. Add water and flour to mix.
  4. Stir in nuts and raisins.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour in greased and floured baking pans.

Gnocchi Bolognese


  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 3/4 lb. ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 t. dried basil
  • 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (16 oz.)  bag frozen potato gnocchi
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the beef and cook, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned, 4-5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and basil; cook stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes; bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 12-14 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, cook the gnocchi according to package directions, omitting the salt if desired, drain.
  7. Add the gnocchi and cheese to the skillet and cook, tossing, until hot, 1-2 minutes.
Prep Time = 15 minutes
Cook Time = 25 minutes
Serves 6

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Chicken and Spinach Casserole

1/2 C. mayonnaise
1/2 C. sour cream
1/2 t. garlic powder
pinch of black pepper
1/3 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 C. shredded mozzarella
2 C. diced, cooked chicken breast
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
Cooking spray

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray a 9" x 9" baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic powder, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese in a medium bowl.
  4. In another bowl, toss 1/3 of the sauce with the chicken and spinach.
  5. Spread in the casserole dish.
  6. Pour the rest of the sauce mixture over the chicken and spinach.
  7. Bake, uncovered 40 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
Serves 6

TIP: Shred Chicken Quickly

My aunt was visiting a few months ago and I pulled out my Kitchen Aid mixer to make some dinner rolls.  She asked me if I knew the mixer was great for shredding cooked chicken.  To be honest, I had never thought of this.  The next time I needed to shred a couple of chicken breasts I gave it a try.

I have to agree, it works great.  I've tried both the mixing paddle and the dough hook and both do the job.

Chicken Pizza Crist

2 C. cooked, shredded chicken breast
2 C. mozzarella, shredded
1 T. parsley, dried
1 t. basil
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Process chicken and cheese together. Mixture will resemble a meal/thick, dense crumb consistency. (I use my Ninja blender to accomplish this)
  3. Press chicken/cheese mixture on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
  4. Top with parsley, basil, onion and garlic powder.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes.
  6. Let cool for five minutes.
  7. Top with sauce, cheese, and then toppings.
  8. Bake for 6-8 minutes more, or until toppings are melted.
  9. Let cool for five minutes.
  10. Slice and serve.