I am Yvette, a Tejana of Mexican decent. I despised cooking when I was a teenager! After my grandmother passed away I realized I wanted to pass along the recipes and traditions I grew up with to my children. My cooking inspiration came from my grandmother’s old-world northern Mexican recipes and my mother’s comforting south of the border home-style dishes. Now I am a cookbook author, food blogger, and food writer. I live in Colorado with my husband and two children.
When I started out cooking I was drawn to all the products by IMUSA. Being that they carry Hispanic cookware it was a match made in heaven. I continue to use many of their products in my everyday cooking. I develop recipes not only for my blog but also for websites such as Betty Crocker and Parade.com — you can always find me en la cocina.
My mom (Vangie) and I will share with you our culinary journey using IMUSA cookware to make our dishes come to life. I’m hoping our cooking inspires you to pick up a tortilla press or a lime squeezer and virtually cook with us. Mi casa es su casa.
Don’t forget to check out my blog at muybuenocookbook.com!
Guacamole de Molcajete
My grandmother owned a large metate (mealing stone) to grind fresh corn to make dough for tortillas or tamales. A molcajete is very similar looking but smaller. It’s a traditional Mexican mortar and pestle to crush and grind spices, and prepare salsas and guacamole. A molcajete might be intimidating at first because it needs to be “broken in”. A tradional way to season one is to grind white rice in the molcajete, a handful at a time. When the crushed rice flour has no visible grains of basalt in it, the molcajete is ready to use.
An easy and quick method to season a molcajete is to spray it down with a power washer making it grit free and ready to use.
I love avocados and although there are many ways of preparing them my favorite is a pure and simple guacamole. Stay away from powders or imitation anything on this recipe and the end result will be a delicious combination of seven simple ingredients. Chunks of avocado, onions, and tomatoes make a beautiful, delicious presentation, so be careful not to over mash.
- 4 ripe avocados
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup minced white onion
- 1 jalapeño pepper, minced (optional)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
If you own a molcajete (lava-stone mortar), using the tejolote (lava-stone pestle) grind the garlic, onion, jalapeño, and salt until all the ingredients are well ground. Dice the avocados and gently fold into the garlic-onion-chile paste, keeping the avocados fairly intact. Add tomatoes and squeeze the lime juice over the avocado and gently stir until the mixture is chunky. Taste and add salt, if necessary. Serve immediately, directly from the molcajete (or bowl), with tortilla chips.
Using a Tortilla Press
My mother recently made a video making homemade flour tortillas and it made me think about a tortilla press. Flour tortilla dough is too stretchy and elastic to be pressed out in a tortilla press. Flour tortillas must be rolled out with a palote (rolling pin). We do not use a tortilla press to make flour tortillas, but we do use a tortilla press to make delicious homemade corn tortillas and lots of other great recipes.
Many of the common tortilla presses I have encountered use cheap finishes and hardware that wears out quickly and rusts. Personally, I really like the IMUSA cast iron tortilla press. The plates are heavy, which means you don’t need to physically apply as much force to the handle to get a good even press. The cast iron has a non-stick finish, and the pivot pin is aluminum, so you don’t have to worry about rust.
With a tortilla press you can make huaraches — A huarache is flat bread made with masa. It looks slightly like a thin sandal sole, hence the name huarache. Molotes (Oaxacan Masa Empanadas) can also be made using a tortilla press. Molotes are made with a disk of fresh masa then usually filled with a chorizo and potato filling, fried, then topped with salsa, crema, queso fresco, and garnished with sliced radishes. Sopes can also be made in a tortilla press. They are small, round, tartlet-like cakes made with masa.
If you need other ideas on what to make with a tortilla press please be sure to check out this great video by Zarela Martinez: Corn Tortillas, Picadas, Sopes and Tlacoyos Demonstration.
Flour tortillas are so yummy, especially homemade! If you are trying to watch calories or are on a gluten free diet then you might to switch to corn tortillas, which I also love.
When I was a little girl I would run to my grandma’s house after school knowing that she would be rolling and cooking tortillas. She would give me a small ball of dough and I’d roll out my own tortilla. Mine was always shaped like an oval, never perfectly round like grandmas.
My grandma didn’t have a tortilla warmer – she would keep her warm tortillas under a clean limpiador (dish towel). I remember always sneaking a tortilla when she wasn’t watching. When I received this tortilla warmer I couldn’t help but smile and remember being mesmerized as my grandma would knead the dough, form perfect little balls, roll them out with her small wooden rolling pin, and then cook the tortillas on a comal. I’d sit and wait patiently and loved watching a tall pile of fresh tortillas accumulate. One of my favorite parts was when the tortilla would rise and she would press down on the trapped air inside it, creating a hissing sound. I can still see her doing this with a rolled up limpiador in her hand. I always looked forward to eating the first warm tortilla spread with butter or fresh salsa.
Celebrating the Holidays and Muy Bueno Accomplishments
The holidays are around the corner and my kiddos are very excited. They have their costumes and they are ready to trick or treat. We have also set up our home altar and look forward to celebrating Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and honor our dearly departed. And before we know it we’ll be on a road trip to El Paso for Thanksgiving to visit my side of the family and on a flight to Boise for Christmas to visit my hubby’s family. The calendar for the rest of this year is filling up quickly.
Not only will I be celebrating the upcoming holidays, but I’ll also be celebrating some exciting events to promote the Muy Bueno cookbook. It was first published one year ago in paperback and now by popular demand it has been reprinted in a beautiful hardcover. My mom and I will be signing books in Colorado November 9 and then again one week before Thanksgiving in El Paso.
This morning I was reflecting on one year of accomplishments and the exciting places I’ve been. I traveled to New York twice, had the opportunity to meet up with my sister in Cancun, Mexico for the annual wine & food festival. Visited San Antonio during fiesta season, and I went to California to learn all about strawberries. I also traveled to Florida and cooked alongside my mom on a nationally syndicated TV show. Not to mention my mom, sister, and I have signed thousands of cookbooks along the way in various cites. And with my sister living in Germany she has even signed Muy Bueno cookbooks in Europe.
I sit here in my kitchen sipping on a freshly squeezed glass of grapefruit juice, gazing out my kitchen window, and thanking God for all the wonderful travel opportunities. I’m also reflecting on all the astonishing press on TV, radio, publications, as well as all the honors and awards, but most importantly I am thankful for all the new amigos we’ve made along the way.
It’s been a wonderful year and I look forward to seeing what the future brings. Writing a cookbook was and has been a very challenging journey, but one I will never regret.
Wishing you and your loved ones happiness and prosperity this holiday season and in the coming New Year. Salud!
Arepas. It’s What’s For Dinner
Saturday night I invited friends over for dinner. It was a very casual dinner, but I wanted to have them over before everyone gets too hectic with the upcoming holidays. We munched on chips and salsa and just talked as our kiddos played outside.
Then it was time for dinner – We don’t have a formal dining room, just one table in our kitchen, so the kiddos squished in with us at the same table. I made open face arepas and topped them with slow-cooked brisket, pico de gallo, avocado and tomatillo salsa, and queso fresco. I also made refried beans and red quinoa salad with roasted corn and avocado as side dishes.
The conversation first turned to the arepas – What is an arepa? Arepas look very similar to English muffins or gorditas and can be eaten warm with butter as a snack, or split open like a pita pocket and filled with cheese, meats, or other fillings. If you don’t have an arepa maker you can still make this recipe and cook them on a skillet with a little oil on medium heat until they are browned and sound hollow when thumped.
I gave my arepas a Mexican twist by using masa harina (corn flour) instead of the traditional Venezuelan and Colombian cornmeal. I also added some cream cheese and shredded cheese to the dough to give it a creamy and rich flavor. Everyone loved them!
After dinner the kids went off to play and us grownups stayed at the table and just talked. We talked about our homes, kiddos, and just life in general. It was a very nice casual night in.
After everyone left my hubby and I were cleaning up the kitchen and I was starting to miss date nights and dinners out at fancy restaurants. I soon realized that’s just not my life anymore. I am married with children, and our friends are married with children. And after thinking about it, I’d much rather wear comfy clothes, drink a glass of wine at home, and have friends over for a quiet homemade dinner, even if our kids are joining us.
I have lots of memories of family dinners and that’s what we did – we all squished in at the same table and heard the grownups talk and once we were finished eating we would go off and play and the grownups stayed at the dinner table and talk the night away.
I can only hope that my children will remember the days that we had many home cooked meals and opened our home to friends and family rather that hiring a babysitter so that we can escape our real life.
- ¾ cup milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup softened cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup masa harina flour (recommend Maseca Corn Flour Masa)
- ¼ cup Monterrey Jack cheese (shredded)
- Turn on the arepa maker.
- Add milk, salt, and cream cheese to a mixing bowl and whisk until creamy.
- Add sugar, flour, and cheese. Hand mix well until the flour absorbs most of the liquid.
- Divide the dough into four balls. Using slightly moistened hands flatten the dough with your hands and soften the edges so you don’t have any cracks on the edges.
- Spray the arepa maker lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
- Add the arepas to the hot arepa maker, close the cover, and allow the arepas to cook for about 15 minutes.
- Using a wooden spoon, remove the arepas from the hot plate and while still warm, split the arepas in half.
- Top each arepa with your choice of toppings.
Soup for the Soul
My mom was visiting me for a month and just recently returned to her home in El Paso, Texas. It was so hard to say goodbye. It was wonderful having her visit for so long. She was a huge help and although we were very busy, we had a blast developing recipes, making cooking videos, and just laughing in the kitchen together.
Now that she is back home, I continued at full speed testing and writing recipes for the upcoming holidays. My hubby took a day off from work to help me catch-up around the house – gathering outgrown clothes and toys to give to charity. If you are a parent you know what an exhausting chore this can be!
After a morning of parent teacher conferences, de-cluttering, and cleaning the house, I decided to lie down and watch some TV. I never take naps, but one hour later I woke up in a panic because it was time to pick up the kiddos from school and I hadn’t even planned dinner yet. When I woke up my hubby was walking in the door with kids in tow. As I walked down the stairs I smelled a wonderful aroma.
While I was napping my hubby was in the kitchen making his mothers recipe for vegetable soup along with ham and cheese panini’s for dinner. It was such a wonderful feeling to know that everything was taken care of and that I had a night off from the kitchen. That comforting bowl of soup and those warm panini’s literally warmed my heart and my soul.
Sometimes a simple bowl of soup and eating at your dinner table with your family is a good reminder to slow down and just enjoy life, enjoy family, and appreciate all the little things.
Cooking with Electricity
The holidays are just around the corner and you know what that means…food, food, and more food. As you can imagine as a food writer I have to be ahead of the curveball and develop holiday recipes months before the actual holidays. My kitchen smelled like Thanksgiving and Christmas over the summer. I think I gained 5 pounds testing and tasting – someone’s gotta do it.
I am constantly experimenting in the kitchen and sometimes run out of burners on my stovetop. I’ve always said I need two kitchens – one for my day job and another kitchen for everyday cooking. Obviously I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon, but getting my hands on an electric burner is a close second.
First of all it’s a double burner – bonus! It’s perfect for entertaining for the holidays. I can already imagine a big pot of pozole or tamales on it for a big fiesta. This burner will definitely be put to good use.
This burner would also be great to take camping or tailgating. I live in Colorado and I love to go camping and if you have electricity at your campsite its perfect to heat up your morning coffee or to make your morning breakfast.
I also plan to use this burner for cooking demos and videos. The options are endless with this little genius appliance.
Chimichurri Sauce using the Wood Mortar and Pestle
I was in a conference in New York and luckily my mom stayed home helping my hubby with the kiddos. She is so much help and it’s been wonderful having her visit us for so long.
I am on an airplane home and all I can think about is the home-cooked meals we made together before I left out of town. Do you remember the steak fajitas we made? Well, we also made a delicious chimichurri sauce, similar to pesto. The condiment is an Argentina sauce that I tasted for the first time at a Tapas restaurant. Ever since then I wanted to recreate it at home.
The simple sauce is made with fresh basil and cilantro all marinated with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and garlic. It’s a wonderful earthy and Mediterranean flavor, and in Argentina it is used both as a marinade and a sauce for grilled steak, but you can use it also with fish, chicken, or even pasta. I used the IMUSA mortar and pestle to grind up the garlic into a paste with the spices. If you don’t have this beautiful and simple tool you can also use a food processor. Either way this simple recipe is worth making at home.
- 1 cup (packed) fresh Italian parsley
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Puree all ingredients in your IMUSA Mortar and Pestle or a food processor. Transfer to bowl. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)
Steak Fajitas using the Fajita Skillet Pan
My mom has been visiting me and it’s been a blast cooking with her. Its not often we get to cook together so having her visit me for an entire month is a treat in itself.
We have been making lots of recipes that remind me of home (El Paso). One of the first recipes we made together was steak fajitas. And of course you can’t make fajitas without a cool skillet, so this skillet by IMUSA really made our fajitas look like a rock star on our dinner table. My hubby and kiddos loved the meal and have already requested it again.
It’s amazing how a simple dish can bring up so many wonderful memories. Fajitas are a Tex-Mex classic and it’s a dish that reminds me of home. There was a restaurant in El Paso that served the best sizzling fajitas in town and we would go there often. We celebrated many happy occasions there. The fajitas we made were so tender and all the topping we made to accompany the meal was a perfect weeknight meal that can be made in a short amount of time.
So many people ask me how I have the time to cook every night. This meal is an example of a simple weeknight meal. I always tell people that cooking isn’t what takes time – its the planning, shopping, and prepping. Once you have all that in place then cooking is a snap. I suggest making a menu plan over the weekend and buying your groceries once a week for the entire week.
Don’t treat cooking like a chore. Treat it like a playground and just have fun. Get cooking and have joy in the kitchen.
Steak Fajitas with Grilled Onions, Peppers, and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Do me a favor and don’t use packaged fajita seasoning blends. You don’t need them when making this recipe – this marinade is 100% natural and delicious. For a fast dinner, try this Tex-Mex classic with the addition of this Argentinean condiment for a dinner with tons of flavor.
- 2 pounds beef flank steak
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup lime juice
- ¼ cup vegetable oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 large red bell pepper, sliced into strips
- 1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
- 12 large green onions, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal
- Flour tortillas
Roasted cherry tomatoes
Crema Mexicana or sour cream
Salsa of choice
- Place steak in a large resealable plastic bag; set aside.
- In a small bowl combine garlic, salt, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of the oil, the chili powder, cumin, and black pepper. Pour marinade over steak. Seal bag and turn to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator about 1 hour, turning bag once or twice.
- Remove steak from the marinade and thinly slice steak diagonally across the grain, then and add strips back into the marinade while you cook bell peppers and onions.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and onion; cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from skillet.
- In the same skillet add 1 tablespoon of the oil on medium-high heat and add meat; cook and stir 3 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove from skillet.
- Fill warm tortillas with steak, peppers, and onion.
Muy Bueno in the Daytime Kitchen
Cooking with my mom is always an exciting adventure and I look forward to having her visit me for one month. We enjoy watching cooking shows and looking at food magazines for culinary inspiration. I live in Colorado and she lives in El Paso, Texas, so it’s not often we are en la cocina together, so I treasure when she visits.
We were just in Florida and had a ball cooking not for ourselves, but for a nationally syndicated TV show called Daytime. We were invited to share a simple summer picnic menu with recipes from the Muy Bueno cookbook we co-authored.
I made a delicious black bean salad using my IMUSA lime squeezer. I love that little green gadget and use it frequently. I love to see the reaction of people’s faces when I use it. Check out Jerry Penacoli, the host of Daytime — I think he had a lot of fun squeezing limes. You can see the segment here and the full recipes here.
My mom made ham and avocado tortas (classic Mexican sandwiches) and we also shared our agua de jamaica (hibiscus tea) recipe. All the these recipes are simple to make and are perfect for a picnic or to score some extra points at your tailgating party whether you are celebrating at home or away.
For the month of September my mom and I will be cooking up a storm together — we have lots of yummy surprises up our sleeves. We look forward to sharing our cooking adventures with all of you.