National Hispanic Heritage Month September 15 -October 15 2016

Did you guys know that September is my favorite month of the year?? It's my favorite month for two main reasons. 

First, because September is the start of fall, and I love everything about fall.  I love the cooler weather, I love the fun activities - such as fall harvests and pumpkin picking, and I love making fall scented soaps and candles.  You can view my post on how to make fall scented soap on my beauty blog here: Easy Fall Soap Recipe, and how to make homemade candles here: The ONLY DIY Scented Candles Post You Need!

I also love to wear fall themed makeup - you can view my post on my favorite fall eyeshadows for 2016 here: 6 Must Have ColourPop Eyeshadows for Fall 2016

Second, September is my favorite month because it is National Hispanic Heritage month - Mes de la Herencia Hispana!!

I did a post on Hispanic Heritage Month a few years back - you can view it here: 15 de Septiembre, Dia de la Independencia El Salvador , but I think it's definitely time for a new post since it's been a while.

This year Hispanic Heritage month starts Thursday, September 15, 2016, and runs to Saturday, October 15, 2016.   

During this month we recognize the important contributions of Latino Americans to our country and we celebrate the beautiful Hispanic culture through festivals which highlight traditional dance, dress, food, music, and much more.  Hispanic Heritage Month starts on September 15th because that is the day five countries in Central America - Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, gained their independence from Spain. 

Not only are fiestas and festivals fun and enjoyable, they are also a great and easy way to teach children about the culture that they come from.  As most of you know,  my smoking hot husband, Mr. Cipote,  is from El Salvador, and it is important that my children understand the beautiful culture they are a part of. 

Below  is a beautiful photo of a celebration going on in Sherman, Texas. I found this photo on the awesome site,  which lists tons of Hispanic heritage festivals going on each year:

My family is very fortunate because we live in a place where we have multiple Hispanic Heritage festivals going on.  

Please make sure to check back to this post because I will be uploading all my pictures of the Hispanic heritage festivals we go to this year as they happen!!!

Here are just a few pictures I was able to snap from our first festival:

Spanish Rice

Do you know that I just realized that I do not have a recipe for standard Spanish rice??!  I don't know how this happened since rice is such a staple of all Latin food and definitely comida tipica from El Salvador.  Rice is almost always served with lunch or dinner and most mommy's have a pot of cooked rice in their kitchen on a daily basis just in case somebody gets hungry and wants some.  Traditional "Spanish Rice" is honestly  really easy to make.  You just need to know a few secrets that will make it taste authentic just like abuelita's.  Once you know the secrets, making Spanish rice will take you no time at all.

To start you will need three main ingredients.  You can add others to add more flavor or texture, but the main three you need to make rice are:  Oil, rice, and seasoning.  Today I used a vegetarian seasoning that is very flavorful and also commonly used in Spanish rice.  It contains no animals products so for all my vegetarians out there please know that you can still eat flavorful food if you are vegetarian or vegan.  The seasoning I used is called Sazon Goya con Azafran (sassafras).  Sassafras is what what gives the rice that traditional "yellow rice" color seen in Spanish dishes.  My only warning is that because sassafras is yellow, this seasoning will give your fingers a yellow color.  And please do not wear any clothes that you don't want splashed with yellow drops.  I always try to wear and old shirt when I use this seasoning, and definitely not anything white!  Here is what my recipe looks like:

Spanish Rice Ingredients:

-1/4 cup oil (my husband likes corn oil, I like olive oil, you can really use whatever you like)
-1 cup parboiled rice
-1 packet of sazon goya
-1 tsp of salt (sprinkle in more if feel it needs more, use less if like less salt)
-4.5 cups of cold water (add little more later on if you feel rice not tender enough)

Now let's get to talking about some of the secrets you need to know if you want authentic tasting Spanish rice.  The first secret is that you need to use a specific type of rice.  You want to use parboiled rice.  If you use a different type of rice, the rice will either turn out super mushy, or it will take forever and ever to cook, and probably turn out undercooked or overcooked and mushy.  Parboiled rice is a very important for ingredient for restaurant quality rice.

The second secret is that you want to cook, or "toast", the rice in hot oil BEFORE you add water to it.  This helps to harden up the rice and prevent it from being super mushy or watery when it's finished cooking.  

The third secret is not mandatory but helps to add flavor.  It is sauteing vegetables, such as onions and tomatoes, in the hot oil before you toast the rice.  This flavors the oil and when you toast the rice in it, the rice absorbs even more flavor.  You can saute pretty much any vegetables you like.  In the pictures below you see me sauteing onions and a tomato together in oil, then toasting the rice in this oil before I add the water.

Once you have toasted your rice for a minute or two, you are now free to add your water.  It is better to add less water than more, and you can always add more water if you need it, but if you start by putting way too much water in, it will ruin the rice and reduce the flavor of it.  I like to add a little water as I go, so when the rice looks like it has soaked up all the water and still isn't tender enough, I add a little more, and keep going until the rice tastes tender enough.  Then I just cover the pot and turn the stove off, and let the rice continue to cook slowly for a little longer until somebody wants some.   My family like butter in their rice, so sometimes I will add a few pats of butter into the cooking rice, but this is not necessary and abuelita would not approve of this, so this is really up to you to do this.  

If your rice doesn't come out perfect, don't panic! After a few times of making it you should be a pro!

Buen Provecho!

La Cipota.

Elotes Locos

Hey everyone! Hope you guys are all staying cool during this heat wave ! We've been in triple digits for about a week now, it has been very hot!  What has everyone been doing to stay cool?  We've been in the pool almost everyday even thought it pretty much feels like bath water now.
Over the weekend my father gave us a bunch of fresh sweet corn from a neighbors farm.  The heat was going to ruin the corn so the neighbor had too much left over and needed people to come pick it.  So naturally we had to make elotes locos, translated as crazy corn in English, out of them.  There is a picture of the elotes locos we made up at the top (pardon my kids pirate Legos in the picture!).  And here is a picture of my son eating the corn down below.

Elotes locos are basically just corn covered in any number of toppings, the most common being mayonnaise, ketchup, chili powder, cuajada fresca, and cilantro, but you can literally coat the corn with anything.  You usually see elotes locos at carnivals, street fairs, and other fun outdoor events.  I love finding elotes locos at hispanic heritage festivals, which you can read about on my post here: National Hispanic Heritage Month September 15-October 15.

My kids love all things corn, whether it's elotes locos, atol de elote, or tameles de elote.  You can view my other recipes for corn here:  Atol de Elote, Tamales de Elote. What is your favorite thing to do with corn when you buy it? Comment and let me know!   

Buen Provecho!

The Secret Seasoning !

It's funny how your thoughts change as your circumstances change.  

I have known Mr. Cipote for a looong time.  I wish I had known him for longer actually, but that was impossible I guess because when we were kids we were thousands of miles apart in different countries.  He came to the United States when he was a teenager.  He lived in a neighboring state, so I didn't get the pleasure of going to the same school as him, though he is four years older than me, so we probably wouldn't have gone to the same school anyway.  I finally met my future husband when I was 19.  He was working for a company that sent him to my state, and I just so happened to be working for the exact same company and at the exact same location he was sent to.  Trouble was brewing...

I will never forget the day I saw my future Mr. Cipote.  I would say that laying eyes on him was like having a sexy and mysterious ocean breeze slap me right in the face.  I was a lovesick puppy after that and there was no turning back for me. 

I remember how I would visit his mother while I was dating him and could only call him my 'novio'.  When we would arrive, his mom would sit us down at her kitchen table and give us each a plate full of hot, delicious food.  I remember thinking it was so tasty.  But that was about all I thought.  I didn't really think anything else, other than that she was a great cook.  Then....then I got married.

Okay now we were talking a TOTALLY different ball game here.  When I would visit my suegra after getting married, I would eat her food and think totally different thoughts.  Mostly, I would say to myself in my head, "how on earth does she get her food to taste this flavorful??!!".  I had already been trying to cook some rice like she did and I wasn't being very successful at it - Mr. Cipote was not a fan of it and honestly neither was I.  Mr. Cipote looked about as excited to eat my food as he does in this picture on the right here - like I said, not too excited.   "What is her secret???",  I would ask myself. 

Thankfully, one thing I have learned is that all things get better with time.  I finally learned my suegras secret after much asking (begging) to be taught her recipes, and also secretly searching her spice drawer.  I finally realized that it was her Maggi container that was giving everything all that flavor! Ladies, if you have not used Maggi, you should be.  I have not found a seasoning that equals this one yet to date.  If you know of another one, please let me know, I'd be happy to use it.

Maggi chicken seasoning is used in literally like everything in Latin food. And I mean like ERRRYTHANG!  To prove this, here is just a short list of some foods I have cooked that I use Maggi seasoning in:
  1. Tamales de pollo
  2. Spanish Rice
  3. Arroz Curtido - Purple Rice
  4. Tamales Pisques
  5. Any type of sopa you can think of basically
  6. Pollo Guisado
...and I know there is more i am probably forgetting. 

Maggi seasoning is incredibly flavorful and a little pinch packs a serious punch.  Maggi will take even the most boring of foods, lets say a can of beans, and turn it into a five star meal.  This is not a joke. I don't say this lightly. 

And just like Maggi is the secret seasoning to almost all Latin food and comida tipica, can I just say that Mr. Cipote is my secret seasoning too?? (Sorry guys, I just had to throw that in there hahaha :-P )

Feliz Sabado a todos!  And Buen Provecho! 

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