Pan de muerto Revisited

This weekend (el primero y 2 de noviembre), the day after Halloween, a very sacred holiday will take place – El día de los muertos. Although I am not Mexican, I celebrate and respect this holiday even more than Halloween. Why? Because I am comforted by the idea of honoring loved ones who have passed on and “bringing them back” into the present world via a multitude of tangible symbols such as altars showcasing loved ones’ photos and momentos, skullface paintings, sugar skulls. I especially enjoy the culinary dishes that are usually present around these two days, such as mole and pan de muerto.
In 2009 (whoa!), I made pan de muerto for the first time. I enjoyed forming the “bones” on top of the round domes of dough. The bread was delicious as well :o). This year, however, I decided to make pan de muerto using a different recipe that has now overshadowed the previous pan de muerto.

The inside of this bread is dense yet soft; the texture reminds one of the inside of panettone. It is best to eat warm and with leche, atole, champurrado, café, or chocolate caliente, but the bread is good cold as well (my students can attest to that!). I also preferred this recipe over the previous one for another reason: the simplicity of ingredients. In the old recipe, I remember driving everywhere for special ingredients that I never used again. With the current pan de muertorecipe, however, the only non-everyday ingredient, for some, is anise seeds, and many of you probably already have this ingredient sitting in your pantry and waiting to be used by you in such a recipe as this one ;o)!

Even if you’re not Mexican, try out this lovely bread and dedicate it to a loved one who is no longer physically present on this earth. You two can enjoy eating it together. 🙂 In the meantime, watch this video I show to my students every year around this time. It is a cute way to express the importance of this 2-day holiday of remembrance. Then come back here and make this bread! 😀

I am submitting this post to Yeastspotting!

translated and slightly adapted by All Recipes México (en español)
  • ¼ taza de mantequilla / ¼ cup of butter
  • ¼ taza de leche / ¼ cup of milk
  • ¼ taza de agua tibia (45°C/113°F) / ¼ cup of warm water (45°C/113°F)
  • 3 tazas harina / 3 cups all-purpose/plain flour
  • 1 ¼ cucharadita de levadura / 1 ¼ tsp yeast 
  • ½ cucharadita de sal / ½ tsp of salt
  • 2 cucharaditas de semillas de anís / 2 tsp anise seeds
  • ¼ taza de azúcar blanca / ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 huevos batidos / 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cucharaditas de ralladura de naranja / 2 tsp of grated orange peel

 Para el barniz / For the glaze:

  • ¼ taza de azúcar blanca / ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ taza de jugo de naranja / ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cucharadita de ralladura de naranja / 1 tsp grated orange peel
  • 2 cucharaditas de azúcar blanca / 2 tsp of white sugar
  • 2 cucharaditas de canela (opcional) / 2 tsp of cinnamon (optional)
1.     Calienta la leche y la mantequilla en una cacerola mediana, hasta que la mantequilla se derrita. Retira del fuego y agrega el agua tibia. La mezcla deberá tener una temperatura de 45 °C.
      Heat the milk and butter in a medium-sized pot until the butter has melted completely. Remove the pot from the burner. Add the warm water, and allow the mixture to cool to 45 °C/113 °F.
2.     Mezcla 1 taza de harina, levadura, sal, semillas de anís y ¼ de taza de azúcar en un tazón grande. Envuelve la mezcla de leche tibia, luego los huevos y 2 cucharaditas de ralladura de naranja, hasta que estén bien mezclados. Incorpora ½ taza de harina y sigue agregando más harina hasta que la masa esté suave.
      In a large mixing bowl, mix 1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt, anise seeds, and ¼ cup of sugar. Blend well before mixing in the room-temperature eggs and 2 tsp. of grated orange peel. Mix well. Next, incorporate ½ cup of flour and keep adding more flour (½ cup at a time) until the dough becomes soft and manageable.
3.     Coloca la masa en una superficie enharinada y amasa hasta que alcance una consistencia suave y elástica.
      If using a stand mixer, change to a dough hook and knead the dough for 6-8 minutes. If not using a stand mixer, place the dough on a floured-surface and knead the bread for 10 minutes or until the dough is soft and elastic and strong strands of gluten have formed.
The freshly kneaded dough before I placed it in the refrigerator for a few hours. Look at the specks of orange & anise seeds!
4.     Pon la masa en un recipiente ligeramente engrasado, cubre plástico adherente y deja reposar de 1 a 2 horas hasta que duplique su volumen. “Poncha” la masa con tu puño y forma una bola redonda con una bolita en el centro. Coloca la masa en una charola para hornear, cubre con plástico adherente y deja que repose de nuevo en un lugar tibio durante 1 hora o hasta que duplique su tamaño.
      [SUPPLEMENTARY INSTRUCTIONS] Once the dough has been well-kneaded, place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl (I use my stand mixer bowl) and cover it with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Allow it to rest and rise for 1-2 hours (I left my dough in the refrigerator for about 5-6 hours, and it was fine. The dough is supposed to rise slower in the fridge. You could also leave it in the fridge overnight (check the dough level every few hours though!) and do the next steps on the following day. Allow the dough to come to room temperature first, which should take about 2 hours.).
      Once the dough has risen, deflate the dough and form 7 small dough balls or 4 large balls (I doubled this recipe, so I had seven large dough balls).
Pardon the bad lighting. I made these photos at night.
      BREAD AND BONES FORMATION: Divide dough in 7 small equal parts (or 4 large) (I weighed the dough and divided the total weight by 7 (222 grams/dough ball for me). 6 of those parts will become your loaves and the last one will be used to make the decorations. Form the 6 loaves (or 4 large), place them on a greased baking sheet and let them double in size, covered.
      To form the “bones”, take the extra ball of dough and separate it into 14 parts (I weighed the dough and divided the total weight by 14) roll 12 of the dough balls into a snake-like shape (2 per dough ball). Then roll the “snake” with your finger while applying pressure to form separations in the snake/dough. For the remaining two small balls of dough, divide them into 6 parts and roll them into a ball.
      The recipe doesn’t call for an egg wash, but I used one (one egg + 1 tsp heavy cream), but you can use just water, milk, or egg. The egg wash is needed not only for color, but also to attach the bones and ball to the bread ball.
      Once the dough ball has been brushed with the egg wash, place the bones on the bread in a crisscross fashion. Then place the ball of dough on top.
Shaped dough with “bones” and egg wash.
5.     Hornea a 180 °C durante de 35 a 45 minutos. Retira del horno, deja que se enfríe un poco y barniza la superficie.
      Bake the bread in a preheated oven of 180 °C/350 °F. Remove from oven and allow it to cool on a cooling rack. While it cools or near the end of the baking time, prepare the glaze . . .
Fresh from the oven w/o glaze. For the first 10 minutes, the loaves were too high in the oven! Don’t make my mistake!
6.     BARNIZ: Para preparar el barniz, mezcla ¼ de azúcar, jugo de naranja y 1 cucharadita de ralladura de naranja en una cacerola pequeña. Deja que hierva a fuego medio durante 2 minutos. Barniza el pan con una brocha mientras aún está tibio. Espolvorea el pan barnizado con el resto del azúcar blanca.
      GLAZE: To prepare the glaze, mix ¼ sugar, orange juice, and 1 tsp. of grated orange peel in a small pot. Allow the sugar mixture to boil on medium heat for 2 minutes. Brush the warm bread with this glaze and then roll the bread in sugar and cinnamon (if using).
Copyright – Memoria James –

Baked Turkey Tacos

When I’m on track with my diet, I prefer to eat raw in the mornings and evenings and eat a healthy, cooked meal for lunch. When I’m craving something a bit more naughty, I make these guiltless, turkey tacos.

They are comprised of extra lean ground turkey with a blend of seasonings, pico de gallo, a bit of cheese, and corn tortillas. To make the taco shells, I heat up the tortillas in the microwave to soften them up, then I spray the grates in the oven, and lay them there to form the shell. They come out crunchy and oh so flavorful that I sometimes feel like I’m eating something full of calories and fat.

The cheese is the only true guilty ingredient, so control how much you put on your tacos.

When I made the tacos this time around, I baked the finished tacos in the oven for a few minutes in my oval French oven to allow the cheese to melt and to become one with the rest of the ingredients. Because this extra step was impromptu, the pico de gallo was warm so I had to add a bit more at the end. If you decide to make a baked version of these tacos, add the cold pico de gallo after they’ve baked. I enjoyed the contrast of flavors and temperatures of the cold salsa and hot, meat filling.

When I made the tacos this time around, I baked the finished tacos in the oven for a few minutes in my oval French oven to allow the cheese to melt and to become one with the rest of the ingredients. Because this extra step was impromptu, the pico de gallo was warm so I had to add a bit more at the end. If you decide to make a baked version of these tacos, add the pico de gallo after they’ve baked. I enjoyed the contrast of flavors and temperatures of the cold salsa and hot, meat filling.

Baked Turkey Tacos

[For the PICO DE GALLO, I chopped up and mixed together 2-3 roma tomatoes, a handful of green onions and cilantro, and one partly deseeded jalapeño. I seasoned the mixture with 1/4-1/2 tsp of salt (to taste) and the juice of 2 limes. Store the pico de gallo in the refrigerator before making the tacos.]

Make the taco seasoning:
(go to allrecipe for a smaller version of this recipe; however, I suggest making a large portion of the seasoning to keep on hand. Below is the recipe based on a serving size of 50, which still isn’t much since you’ll be using 3 Tbsp of the mixture for the taco filling.)

1/4 cup & 1 Tbsp chili powder
1 1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/4 tsp onion powder
1 14 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/4 tsp dried oregano or “Italian seasoning” mix
2 1/2 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp & 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp & 2 tsp sea salt (or Kosher or table salt)
1 Tbsp & 2 tsp black pepper (freshly ground or powder)

Mix all ingredients in an airtight container. You will need only 3 Tbsp of this mixture for this recipe.

Ground turkey filling

1 lb of extra lean ground turkey (around 3 grams of fat/serving), regular ground turkey, chicken, beef, or minced mushrooms or other veggies
3 Tbsp of taco seasoning (see recipe above)
1-2 Tbsp water (optional; use only to make the seasoning less intense for children or sensitive folks)

Taco preparation
Meat or veggie filling
Block of your favorite cheese(s), grated (not the pre-grated stuff, please!)
6-8 corn tortillas
Olive oil, oil spray, or Pam

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C. For two people, microwave 6-8 tortillas in a wet paper towel for about 45 seconds. Separate the tortillas carefully (I use a brush dipped in oil to separate and coat them). Brush or spray the tortillas with oil on both sides and sprinkle salt, if using, on both sides as well.

Spay the oven grates with Pam really well! Place the oil- and salt-coated tortillas on the grates of the oven. For wider tacos as the ones shown in this post, place the tortillas over two rows. Baked the tortillas for 7-10 minutes or until the taco is crunchy throughout. Take out the shells CAREFULLY by pushing them up from underneath the grates. They should pop right up if you sprayed the grates well enough.

Now fill the taco shells with your meat/veggie mixture, cheese, pico de gallo or salsa, and any other fixings you prefer. ENJOY!

Copyright – Memoria James –

Mexican Chocolate Cheesecake

Mexican Chocolate Cheesecake

Doesn’t this Mexican Chocolate Cheesecake look tempting? For the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences of my university hosted a celebratory luncheon where each department within the college was required to bring a certain type of dish. The languages department was in charge of desserts. I eagerly signed up and scribbled simply “cheesecake” below a scanty list promising a batch of chocolate chip cookies, a gluten-free dessert, and a plate of brownies all on behalf of my fellow colleagues.
For days I pondered over what type of cheesecake I would deliver. It would have to be unique, department-related, and more complicated than necessary, because that’s how I prefer to make display desserts in the midst of this processed-food culture in which I reside. Then I finally opted to allow the less-popular Mexican chocolate cookies I had stowed away in the freezer to guide my choice – a cheesecake with the cookies as a base, cinnamon and ancho chile-infused cheesecake and Chantilly/whipped cream, and a Mexican-chocolate ganache. Cinnamon and ancho chile were in every single layer. I was going to add a mousse layer, but because I was in the middle of grading exams and other assignments, I thought it’d be wise to provide a “simpler” cheesecake for the masses.
I had ignored the inner voice that told me to cut and freeze the cheesecake the night before delivery. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow my conscience in hopes that the people at the dean’s office would take good care of it. After reluctantly relinquishing my cheesecake to the secretary and kindly instructing her to store it in the refrigerator, in the back of my mind I knew something unfavorable was going to happen to my little labor of love. . .
Mexican Chocolate Cheesecake: Before the piping

The event started at 11am; I finished teaching by 12:15 noon. Throughout my class I wondered how the cheesecake had turned out and if there would be any left upon my arrival *hah!*. I rushed to the Thanksgiving luncheon and scanned the large auditorium for the dessert table. Since I did not immediately locate said table, I made my way to the savory items provided from other departments within the college, which were comprised of casseroles in crockpots and 9×13 baking dishes and turkey in foiled, roasting pans. As I meandered toward a table to relax and eat, I spotted the dessert table in the back of the auditorium. Not wanting to appear overly anxious, I decided to enjoy the main course meals before checking on my cheesecake and the other sugar-laden creations supplied by my colleagues.

Piping done!

Upon completion of the main course (which was pretty good by the way!), I nervously headed toward the back of the room. After passing over mostly store-bought desserts in their plastic containers and bakery price tags, a mushy-looking, unappetizing cake, and overly spread cookies, I resolved that my cheesecake was not there. I looked over the desserts again desperately looking for anything that resembled my cheesecake and finally found it. It was the mushy looking, unappetizing cake I had passed over the first time around.

Instead of being cut with a sharp knife, it was mutilated by a dull, butter knife that was not wiped between slices. Upon consumption of my first bite, I quickly realized my cheesecake had not been refrigerated, so it was very warm as if it had never spent the night in my fridge. Quiet tears yearned to leak out of my eyes with each bite I took of my little, mushy cheesecake. I reflected on how much effort I had put into the cheesecake and was thankful I had not added a mousse layer. I then reminded myself to be better prepared for such things to happen by cutting and freezing cheesecakes before delivering them to people who may not be accustomed to homemade, culinary creations.

The Aftermath

On the positive side, my colleagues said they enjoyed the cheesecake. Also, when I finally remembered to pick up my (unwashed) springform pan and cake carrier from the dean’s office (almost 2 weeks later!), the secretary paused her phone conversation to tell me “your cake was REALLY good.” 🙂 Just that one sentence erased all the anxiety and dismay I had felt upon seeing and eating my mutilated cheesecake haha. I’m already looking forward and am prepared for the next luncheon :).


First layer: Mexican-Chocolate Cookies for the Crust layer

 2 1/4 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cream of tartar*
1 teaspoon baking soda* (I used 3 tsp of baking powder in place of the cream of tarter AND baking soda)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature 
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chile powder (I used ancho chile powder. Make sure there is no salt or garlic in it!)
If not refrigerating the dough, preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda (or just baking powder in place of the cream of tartar and baking soda), and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Next, add eggs and beat to combine. With mixer on low or with a spoon, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour for better cookies.
In a small bowl or a sealable bag, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and chile powder. Using heaping tablespoons (or 25-26 grams of dough), form balls of dough and roll in cinnamon/chile/sugar mixture. Place, about 3 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set in center and begin to crack, about 10 minutes (for a soft cookie, bake for 7-8 minutes), rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze the dough for months. I crushed about 15 cookies in the food processor to create crumbs. Next melt one Tablespoon of butter, mix it with the cookies, press the mixture in the springform pan, and store in the freezer while preparing the cheesecake filling.


 Second layer: Tall and Creamy Cheesecake (my go-to recipe forever and ever amen!)

HALVED & adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

1 pound (two 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (I always use kosher salt)
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup heavy cream (or sour cream or combination)

Put a kettle or pot of water on to boil. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Working in a stand mixer (or large bowl with hand mixer), preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft for about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt, and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition to yield a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and stir in the heavy cream or sour cream.

Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter should fill only half of the pan. Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour the the boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. (I pour half of the boiling water before putting in the pan to reduce my chances of dripping water in the cheesecake.)

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, at which point the top will be lightly browned and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat, and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
After 1 hour, carefully pull the roast pan/springform pan setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there WILL be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours or overnight. 


Third layer: Mexican-Chocolate Ganache

 QUARTERED and adapted from

1/4 cup heavy cream

2.25 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate)
1-2 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 tsp ancho chile powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat (or microwave it for 30-60 seconds). For stove option, heat cream just BEFORE it boils. Place the chocolate in the cream, and remove from heat. Stir the mixture until smooth. Stir in the cinnamon and ancho chile powders and vanilla extract. Allow the ganache to cool for about 15 minutes before pouring the mixture on top of the CHILLED cheesecake.

Release the springform pan. With an offset spatula, smooth the ganache while starting at the center of the cake and working outward. Keep in mind that the cold temperature of the cake will cause the ganache to firm up quickly, and you may have to pour more on top to make it spread evenly.

Topmost layer: Cinnamon and Ancho-Chile Chantilly or Whipped Cream

1 cup COLD whipping, heavy, or double cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar (or fine or granulated sugar if you don’t have powdered)
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ancho chile powder
1/2 – 1 tsp of vanilla extract (clear vanilla extract is best in this case, but I didn’t have it on hand)
For decoration: piping bag with tips, chocolate shards, cinnamon, ancho chile powder
Chill bowl and beaters in the freezer at least 5-10 minutes before making the Chantilly. Pour the cream in the chilled bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients when the cream becomes more voluminous. Continue whipping until the cream forms firm peaks. Do not create butter by over-mixing!
Final Preparation: Scoop the Chantilly/whipped cream into a piping bag with a 1M star tip or any other tip you have. Sprinkle shards of chocolate and more cinnamon and ancho chile powder on top to showcase what type of cheesecake you are serving :). Enjoy!
Copyright – Memoria James –

Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies: A Comparison of Two Recipes

A comparison of Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies: adapted version of Everyday Food Magazine on the left/Cooking Channel on the right.

El día de los muertos

A Comparison of two Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies recipes. For El Día de Muertos (The Day of the Dead), I’ve made Pan de muerto (Bread of the Dead) in the past. This time, however, I decided to make Mexican Chocolate Cookies for my students because the cookies were portable and pleasant hybrids between Mexican and U.S. desserts. I tried out two recipes: 1) a heavily adapted version from Everyday Food Magazine on Martha Stewart’s website and 2) a recipe from the Cooking Channel website. While both recipes yielded delicious cookies, one was clearly better than the other. Before I reveal the winner, let’s talk about the pros and cons of each recipe and its end product.

Continue reading “Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies: A Comparison of Two Recipes”

Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Quesadillas and An Award!

My lame attempt to “tell a story” through a food photo. Before leaving for Brazil, his home country, my friend lent me this collection of works from Mark Twain. I cannot wait to read it!

I rarely eat bacon, but I had some in the refrigerator that needed to be used up. Also, I never buy store-bought flour tortillas since homemade ones are so much better, but my mom was too impatient to wait for me to make some for her, so she bought some instead. Therefore, I took advantage of her impatience and frustration with my laziness by making these quesadillas with her tortillas.

While they tasted amazing. I was just missing one thing – salsa. There weren’t anymore tomatoes in the house, and I didn’t feel like going anywhere, so I had to eat them as is. If you decide to make these yummy, simple quesadillas, please make sure you have some homemade or store-bought salsa on hand. I’m sure that cold, red, flavorful concoction would amp these quesadillas up a few notches.

Versatile Blogger Award: 

I was so blessed to be awarded by Lynne of Cook and Be Merry a few days ago, and I feel so honored to be awarded by such a talented blogger and food photographer. Her photos are so bright and clear; the presentation is lovely as well. I can only wish that I could photograph as well and consistently good as she does. One day I’ll get there, though. Anyway, thank you so much for the award, Lynne!!

The guidelines for accepting this award are:

Thank the person who gave it to you.
Tell 7 things about yourself.
Pass the award on to 15 bloggers whom you have recently discovered and think are fantastic.

So, here are seven facts about me:

1. On my mother’s side of the family, I am an only child and was raised as such since my dad wasn’t around.
2a. I changed my last name to my mother’s last name so that she could get all the credit for how awesome I was to become! 😀
2b. I am humble. LOL
3. Despite what I wrote in #2, I have very low self-esteem.
4. When people write or say “anyway” with an “s” at the end, my mother and I cringe.
5. I have been in a tumultuous, yet amorous relationship with a woman for more than 10 years off and on.
6. Even though I don’t write well, I love to talk about grammar more than any other topic, including cooking and baking.
7. I detest watermelon and very rarely eat fried chicken despite the racial stereotype ;).

I am passing along this award to the following 15 bloggers I have recently discovered. However, I won’t be hurt if you were chosen yet don’t feel like participating. I know how it is.

  1. Hilah Cooking – I love her personality on the videos and the fact that we live in the same city.
  2. Namely Marly – The lady obsessed with names (including mine!) and vegan cooking. She is so lovely!
  3. Asopaipas – He comments on each and every post I create, and I adore him for that, the fact that his native language is Spanish, and that he shares great, simple dishes. ¡Este premio es especialmente para ti, José Manuel! Gracias por ser un lector tan fiel.
  4. Like Mother Like Daughters – One of the daughters of this blog was a student of mine! I adore her and the fact that this blog is written by her, her sister, and her mother. 
  5. Jessiker Bakes – This woman loves sweets even more than I do! I love to see what she makes.
  6. Scrambledhenfruit – I discovered her lovely blog because of the paella pan giveaway, and she actually won! 
  7. Baked Bree – I’ve been going to Bree’s lovely blog for a little while now. I love how bright and clear her process photos are. I’m constantly envious of how much light she gets in her kitchen.
  8. Frieda Loves Bread – She makes bread as much I wish I could make bread. Seriously.
  9. Ambrosia e Nettare – Check out the lemon cheesecake on this blog! Complimenti, Lucia!
  10. Cake on the Brain – The name of the blog itself tells you why I included this one on the list. YUM!
  11. Jolts & Jollies – Another fellow Daring Cook! I love her process photos.
  12. One Cake Two Cake – The blog title lured me in. Then the photos of yummy desserts kept me there.
  13. TheArdentEpicure – Run, not walk to this website, and check out the enchiladas. Goodness!
  14. Baking Powders – I love the title and the blog. Fantastic large photos and delectable treats. YUM!
  15. i am mommy – I’m sure just about everyone knows about this blog. Her treats are so AMAZING!

And there you have it! Remember, this is a list of recently-discovered blogs, so there are a LOAD of amazing blogs I’ve known about for a long time that I didn’t include here. Have a great week, everyone!

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Quesadillas
Yield: 2-3 quesadillas

3 – 4 strips of bacon
1 1/2 – 2 Tbsps unsalted butter, separated
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste (don’t use too much salt because of the bacon and cheese)
1/2 – 3/4 cups of monterey jack or cheddar cheese
4-6 taco-sized flour tortillas (homemade or storebought)

Prepare the bacon on a clean skillet. At the same time, prepare the eggs in another skillet after melting the half a Tbsp of butter. Lightly season the eggs with salt and pepper. Set the bacon and eggs aside.

Wipe the skillet that had the bacon in it clean with a paper towel, and place half of a Tbsp of butter in there. After the butter has melted, place one tortilla in the skillet; add some of the eggs and bacon. Add half (or a third if making 3 quesadillas) of the cheese on top of the bacon and eggs. Place a second tortilla on top of the mixture. Grill the tortilla for about 2-4 minutes per side until both sides have browned and the insides are melted. Repeat the process with the other tortillas. Serve with fresh salsa. YUM!

Copyright – Memoria James –

Daring Cooks: Stacked Enchiladas and Giveaway Winner

¡Hola! from the land of Daring Cooks. Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce, was found on and written by Robb Walsh.

Yes, I’m a Daring Cook. Yes, I’m late. Yes, I’ve been a Daring Cook for a long time without posting anything. Shame on me. I saw this dish, though and knew I had to make it. It didn’t come out as pretty as I’d like, but the enchilada sauce was amazing. Click here for more!

I first made everything with a juicy cut of beef, and it was amazing. However, the sun had gone down by the time I was done setting up everything, so I just made some soft tacos with the meat.
I also made frijoles refritos (refried beans) and arroz mexicano (Mexican rice).
For the challenge, I stuck with all the basic and made the stacked enchiladas with chicken. I used chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts for added flavor but later found that I would have preferred the breast for this particular dish b/c the thigh’s flavor took over the dish. It was still good, but the beef tacos with the same enchiladas sauce were a million times better.

I know I don’t shred my chicken up very finely. I don’t have time or patience for such shenanigans haha.

As I stated already, I really liked the recipe for the enchilada sauce. I will be making it over and over again. It was surprisingly mild but still very good. Next time I will add a couple of jalapeños along with the Anaheim peppers and tomatillos instead of hot sauce.

I altered the instructions for the sauce a bit by following what I’ve seen my (Mexican) ex-girlfriend’s mother did when she prepared salsa verde (pronounced sort of like “BEHR-day”).

I first grilled and scorched the Anaheim peppers and tomatillos.Then, I placed the hot peppers in a bag and peeled the skin off. These photos look gross!!Then, I used the blender for all the for scorched peppers and tomatillos along with garlic, cumin, Mexican oregano, salt, and lime juice. After blending everything I poured the contents in the saucepan and followed the instructions for Daring Cooks from there. Here is the Mexican Oregano I used in the sauce.

Of course, I made my own flour tortillas. Barbara, the co-host of this challenge was kind enough to link back to my site for the tortillas, and I used that very same recipe. I already blogged about how to make these tortillas ahead of time, so if you missed that post, you can go here.

Stacking the enchiladas was easy. (The sun had really gone down by now.)
It was nice to use homemade tortillas, sauce, and fresh monterey jack cheese…
…and fresh cilantro.This was a fantastic challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I haven’t participated in the past challenge b/c it is more expensive to cook than bake. Also, I’m a picky eater, so many of the past dishes consisted of foods that I would not want to or could not eat. So I have to pick and choose my challenges. I wish I had the money to participate in all the challenges, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Nevertheless, I enjoy looking at what others have done and see their interpretations on the dishes. I hope to be more active in the Daring Cooks and Bakers Groups this summer.

I used the Random Generator to pick out the winner of the “Bittersweet” giveaway, and the number was #7, which is WIZZY THE STICK of Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Punch and One Thousand Faces (both BEAUTIFUL blogs) who stated:

What would I make? You mean what wouldn’t I make with these chocolates! I would love to try the two cocoa powders most of all. Goodness there is ice-cream, mousse, truffles, brownies, ohhhhhhh molten cakes. Listen I don’t live in any of the above countries but I do have a US address that I use for my Internet shopping can I participate in this giveaway?

Wow! Congratulations!! I’m really glad you won, chica! Send me an e-mail with your address information!

Copyright – Memoria James –

Store and Make Ahead Flour Tortillas *UPDATE*

From the fridge to the skillet to the calentador de tortillas hecho en México
(tortilla warmer made in Mexico)!

I make these flour tortillas quite often enough that I have the recipe memorized, and I know just how the masa or dough should feel. It should be very warm from the hot water, moist but not too wet that it leaves remnants of dough on your hands, and it should not feel dry anywhere on the dough. If it is, keep fiddling with the dough ball until it is all moist. Click here for more…

When I add too much water to the dough, which can happen due to weather changes, I usually have to add a bit more flour to get it to the right consistency. If I add too much flour, however, I have to adjust the rest of the ingredients as well. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often, and when it does, it isn’t a big deal since there are only 4-5 ingredients.

The only part of making tortillas that causes me to want to buy them instead is the time it takes to flatten out the balls of dough and cook them. I usually set up my rolling pin, Silpat mat, and mixer bowl of masa in front of the television or laptop and get them ready for the skillet. Doing it this way as opposed to standing up for a long time next to the hot stove, has made the process a bit more desirable but increases the time to make them since I have more distractions.

I love the process of weighing out (35-40 grams each) and rolling out the masa into balls!

However, I have found a way to make the tortilla-making process a bit less daunting. Instead of rolling the tortillas out for the skillet on the same day, I now prep them out for the next day (or you could do it a few hours before you need them!). That way, on the next day, I usually forget about all the work I did the day before and just plop the uncooked, moist tortillas on the hot skillet or comal for a few minutes. They still come out just as perfectly as when you cook the tortilla right after you roll out the dough ball.
I’ve only done this process twice (including for this post), so this is all an experiment in progress. I know that you can store raw, rolled-out tortillas for one day, and I will find out if they are still good after a 2-day rest. I will update this post with that information later.

I took the rest of the tortillas out today, and they looked a bit different than the previous day but I forged on. Fortunately, they yielded delicious tortillas, but the texture was slightly different (a bit more grainy?) than the very first (I made some on the day I made these but didn’t post photos of them) and next day (the ones posted) tortillas. Here are the photos of the 2-day tortillas. I would not recommend going beyond 2 days to cook your tortillas.Lastly, two commenters asked me about using a tortilla press or tortilladora to facilitate the process. I have a tortilladora, but based on my experience, I am unable to get a thin, flour tortilla when using one. Tortilladoras are good for flattening out and shaping corn tortillas and to make gorditas (fatter flour tortillas), but not for thin, flour tortillas. Also, even when I use the tortilladora for my corn tortillas, it can at times be a bit daunting as well, so the press is not a huge time-saver; however, it does shape the tortillas much better.

So, the next time you want to make homemade tortillas, weigh them, roll them, and shape them the day before. Use wax paper (or something more economically-friendly) to keep the tortillas separate. I accidentally found out that you can stack two tortillas on top of each other, and they will not stick together, but I wouldn’t put too many of them like that.

I aimed for separating each tortilla with a sheet of wax paper. I made the wax paper sections bigger than I would have liked for the purposes of this blog, but after taking photos of the first few, I made the papers much smaller (closer to the size of the tortilla). REUSE these wax papers; it will be fine. Just let them sit out to dry, and use them again for the next time. Store the covered, raw tortillas in a clear, Ziploc bag, and leave them in the refrigerator for the next day.

Process of stacking the uncooked tortillas. The last two photos show them fresh out of the refrigerator. The tortillas are a bit moist but come out just fine in the skillet.

On the day you cook the tortillas, you do not need to let them warm to room temperature. Just take the cold tortillas out, remove the wax paper as you go, and place them on a pre-heated comal or skillet. As soon as you see a few bubbles, turn them over with your hand if you dare (the way many Mexican households and I do it.) or with a spatula (I recommend the latter if you’re new at this). Then once the other side bubbles up (the bubbles will be bigger), turn it over one more time for a few seconds, and then place the cooked tortilla in a covered container.

I bought this calentador de tortillas for fewer than 5 dollars (and the $1 pasta plate for the carbonara) at Fiesta Mart, a store that caters to Latin-American foods and products, but you can buy one online here.

Many use paper towels in addition to the container, but I’m trying to lower my use of paper products (hence the reason I reuse the wax paper).

For the recipe for my go-to flour tortillas, go here. I hope you find this post helpful!Dear Mom,

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!! I thank you for being the best role model a daughter could have. I love you so much. You’re my best friend and my best mom. I hope you enjoy the 60-minute massage and the rest of your gifts hehe!

-Love your FAVORITE and ONLY child 😀

Dear Mothers,

Happy Mother’s Day to all the female, parental-figured readers out there! 😀 Have a fantastic day; you deserve it!

-Love Memoria

Copyright – Memoria James –

Shredded Beef Tacos

I cannot believe I forgot to blog about this dish! Remember when I made the adobo sauce many moons ago?! Well, there was a purpose for that sauce, and I was supposed to share with you all this dish I’m posting today.

What a bad food blogger I am!! I must have been distracted by something sweet or something because this dish was fantastic. Along with this flavorful beef, I made arroz mexicano (yes, I used the same recipe. I guess I used more red tomatoes the first time and tomatillos/regular tomatoes this time. I don’t remember.) and tortillas de harina or flour tortillas.
The good thing about the beef is that you make it in the crockpot. You could also make the tortillas the day before by rolling them out, placing the uncooked, flattened discs of dough between wax paper, place them all in a freezer bag, and keep them in the refrigerator (or freezer for a longer amount of storage). The next day, you take them out and cook them on a comal, cast-iron skillet, or some very hot oven-top surface.
The arroz can be made ahead of time, too, but it tastes better when it is first made. I grated monterey jack and lots of cheddar cheese. I also used a bunch of jalapeños. These jalapeños weren’t very spicy, so I could handle a bunch of them for added flavor and zing.

I apologize for holding out on this amazing dish. It was truly perfect. I wish I could make some more right now, but I haven’t been in the kitchen much these days. I think I’ve lost my mojo for now. I hope to get back in the kitchen very soon.

Shredded Beef Tacos
adapted from Gimme Some Oven and Baking Addiction

1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds beef (boneless chuck roast)
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 cup beef stock or broth
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (homemade version here!)
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Flour tortillas, homemade or store-bought

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine the chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika in a small bowl.

Rub the spice mix into the beef, covering each side evenly. Once the oil is hot (it will shimmer a bit in the skillet), place the beef in the skillet and sear on each side. Do NOT MOVE the meat while it cooks for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Remove the beef from the skillet, and place in the bottom of a slow cooker. Leave the pan on the heat, and add in the beef stock to deglaze, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato paste and minced chipotle or adobo sauce, and whisk into the pan sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.

Add the diced onion and minced garlic on top of the seared beef in the slow cooker. Pour the pan sauce down over the onions, garlic, and beef. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

Remove the beef from the slow cooker, and shred with two forks. Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions from the slow cooker, and mix into the shredded beef.

Serve the beef in the flour tortillas, topped with your favorite taco toppings, such as fresh salsa like pico de gallo, frijoles refritos, arroz mexicano, etc.

Copyright – Memoria James –

Churros con chocolate caliente al estilo español

Let me first tell you that I hesitated on making these churros because of the source of the recipe. My photos cannot even come close to her photos. I don’t aspire to get to her level, but the caliber of her photos makes my photos look more like they did when I first started blogging LOL! But you know, I had to get over the intimidation and just make these. In fact, I thought about making these churros for so long that I’d memorized the recipe!

When doing research on different churro recipes, I found many variations. Some did not call for eggs while others did. Also, some Spanish churros do not have a cinnamon/sugar topping because of its dependence on the thick, hot chocolate drink that serves as a sugary accompaniment. Although these doughnut-like pastries originated in Spain, one can find many churros and variations (e.g., filled with dulce de leche) in México, Argentina, Perú, and other places as well. The recipe for the churros is very easy and is like making a pâte à choux.

If you’re planning to make this just for yourself and/or one other person, please half this recipe. I had so much dough leftover that I ended up throwing it all away because I am not crazy about a lot of fried foods (except for French Fries!! hehe). However, you could use the rest for éclairs or gourgères, which I forgot to do!

For the chocolate caliente, I had to look for a recipe from another source because I didn’t want to make a bisque or an egg custard. I wanted my hot chocolate to be similar to the hot drink found in Spain that normally accompanies and coats the churros. Sadly, my chocolate didn’t get as thick as the drinks in Spain, but it was thick enough to coat my churros fairly well. Next time, I will use either another recipe or add more cornstarch. Nevertheless, this drink was so rich and delicious. I absolutely loved it. I’m glad I have another cup’s worth left. I think I’ll end this post and drink it right now.


from the honorable Cannelle et Vanille

125 ml (1/2 cup) water
125 ml (1/2 cup) whole milk
110 grams (about 1 stick) of butter
1 Tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
150 grams (about 1 cup + 2 Tbsp) AP flour
3 large eggs, room temperature
canola oil, for frying
cinnamon and sugar, for coating


Pour water, milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan, and heat just up to boiling point. Turn off heat, and immediately add all of the flour (español: en un golpe). Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until it becomes a moist ball of dough (It will smell sort of like buttery, mashed potatoes YUM!).

Pour the oil in a cast-iron skillet or a deep fryer, and heat it up on medium heat until it reaches 365 degrees Farenheit.

Meanwile, transfer this flour/butter mixture to a stand mixer (or mix by hand), and mix the dough for a few minutes to cool it down.

Add the eggs one at a time. Once the dough is uniform, turn off the mixer, and transfer some of the dough to a pastry bag with a #5 tip (I used #21 b/c I didn’t have the other tip) or churrera.

Once the oil is hot, squeeze portions of the dough into the hot oil, and use a knife, scissors, or your finger to break off the pieces. Fry for about 2-3 minutes each side. Remove with a slotted spoon, and place churros on a paper towel. Add cinnamon or sugar to the hot churros, if using.

Chocolate caliente al estilo español
adapted from

16 oz (2 cups) whole milk
1/2 tsp cornstarch (I suggest adding more)
pinch of salt
4 oz milk chocolate (I used Callebaut)

Pour in the milk and cornstarch into a small or medium saucepan, and stir well with a whisk. Turn on the heat and heat just to boiling point. Once the milk boils, take it off of the heat, and add the chocolate. Stir well with a whisk or wooden spoon. Once the chocolate has melted, return the mixture to low heat until it thickens. If it doesn’t thicken, add more cornstarch to a small amount of cold milk. Stir the cornstarch mixture well and then add it to the chocolate mixture. Continue to heat on low heat until it thickens more.


Copyright – Memoria James –

Adobo Sauce

A few weeks ago, I made shredded beef tacos that called for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I didn’t have a can of that sauce on hand, but I had two or three bags of guajillo, ancho, and pasilla peppers leftover from a mole sauce I made a long time ago.

As I always do when I don’t have a store-bought version of something, I started searching for recipes for the real thing to see if I could make it at home. I decided to use a recipe from Emeril Lagasse (did you know that he has a cooking blog?), and it worked out perfectly. I didn’t taste it b/c of all the chiles, but the smell and look of the sauce looked perfect.
I re-used this sauce in the tamal/tamale pie I made the other day. Since my good friend requested that I post the recipe, I figured I would do it ASAP. (Love you, TSB!!) This sauce doesn’t take long to make, and I’m sure it tastes better than the store-bought variety. Enjoy!

Adobo Sauce
adapted from Emerial Lagasse on Food Network

4 dried ancho chiles
6 dried guajillo chiles
2 Tbsp minced onion, divided
3/4 tsp minced garlic, divided
1 1/2 tsp salt (I used Kosher)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (I used Mexican oregano)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch ground cloves
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and toast the chiles, turning frequently, until very pliable and soft; do not allow to char. Remove from the skillet, and transfer to a plate. Remove the stems and seeds and place in a saucepan.
Add enough hot water to just cover, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan, remove from the heat, and allow chiles to soak until very soft and plumped for about 20 minutes. Strain in a fine mesh sieve over a bowl, and reserve soaking liquid separately.

In a blender, combine the chiles, onion, garlic, salt, teaspoon sugar, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, cloves, and vinegar and puree until smooth, adding a little of the chile soaking liquid (only as much as is needed) to enable the mixture to blend. The consistency should be thick but smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Copyright – Memoria James –