Fiesta de Tamales!


Yield: 4 servings


2 ripe Avocado

½ medium red Onion, minced

1 Jalapeño or Serrano, de-seeded, minced

1 clove Garlic, diced

Juice of 1 Lime

3 tablespoons Cilantro, rinsed, finely chopped

½ teaspoon Kosher Salt


  1. Mash avocados in a molcajete or bowl, add onion, jalapeño, garlic and salt and stir
  2. Add in lime juice a teaspoon at a time until desired flavor occurs
  3. Add in cilantro and gently fold
  4. Serve immediately


*Cover with plastic wrap, tightly sealed around the entire top of the guacamole so that no air can get it, will prevent browning for a longer period of time


Pico de Gallo (Beak of Rooster)

Yield: 6 servings



8 ripe Tomatoes, cored and diced (Roma preferred)

1 red Onion, diced

1 Jalapeño or Serrano, de-seeded, minced

1 bunch Cilantro, washed and rough chopped (half uses for pico and half set aside)

2 cloves Garlic, minced

Juice of 1-2 Lime

1 tsp Kosher Salt

*May be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week


Tamales Rojas de Puerco (Red Pork Tamales)

Yield: approximately 40 tamales

Dried corn husks:  Soak dried corn husks in warm water for at least 1 hour prior to assembly

Pork Ingredients

2 lb pork butt

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp oregano

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp celery salt

1 dried guajillo pepper

1 dried ancho pepper

2 T Kosher salt

2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

3 cups water

4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 onion, peeled and quartered

Pork Method (crock-pot)

  1. Rub pork with cumin, oregano, paprika, celery salt, salt and pepper
  2. Place in crock pot, cover with water and add garlic, onion and peppers
  3. Cook on low 8-10 hours or high 4-6 hours
  4. Remove from juice and let cool
  5. Reserve broth for sauce
  6. Shred and season meat to taste and set aside

Masa Ingredients

6 cups Masa Harina

1 cup Manteca (lard)

3/4 cup butter, unsalted, room temp

3-4 cups stock or broth from stewed meat made ahead

1 1/2 cup creamed corn

3 tsp baking powder

Kosher Salt to taste (approximately 1 tablespoon) 

Method for Masa

  1. In a large bowl or mixer, whip lard and butter until soft and very light in color
  2. Add salt and baking powder and whip another 20 seconds
  3. Add masa in ½ cup increments
  4. Add creamed corn and whip for another 20 seconds
  5. By hand slowly add in stock as needed to desired consistency (light and spongy)


Spoon a bit of dough into a bowl of water, if it floats, it’s done, if it sinks, it needs more liquid, more fat and more mixing, best when using stand mixer.

Tamale Assembly

Place corn husk wide end facing away from you, add enough masa to spread thin layer over entire husk

Place 1 T or more filling in a line down the middle of the husk on top of the masa

Begin to roll the husk into desired tamale shape like a burrito, enclosing all contents like a package

Tie a knot or bow around the husk to keep from opening up during the steaming process


Steam for 40-45 minutes, let cool for 5 minutes, open; add sauce and cheese and most of all…Enjoy!

Chile Rojo (Red Chile Sauce)

Yield: 3 cups

*Can be frozen in freezer bags or containers for up to 6 months


  • 2 dried guajillo and 2 dried ancho
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • Juice from pork or beef meat for tamales (see above recipe)


  1. Remove the top of the chiles and shake out most of the seeds.
  2. In a large pot, add the chiles and all of the spices.
  3. Add enough water to cover all of the chiles.
  4. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes.
  5. The following steps will be done in batches until all of the chiles are blended:
  1. Once the chiles are soft, transfer to a blender or food processor and add about 1 to 2 cups of water each batch. Start with 1 cup and add more if they are not blending well due to being dry.
  1. Add the pureed chiles through a strainer to remove the remaining seeds and skins.
  2. Push the chile mix with a spoon to get the most out of them.
  3. Once all of the chiles are strained, transfer to a big bowl and add more salt and pepper to taste.


 Tamales Verdes de Pollo (Green Chicken Tamales)

Yield: Approximately 40 tamales

Dried corn husks

-Soak dried corn husks in warm water for at least 1 hour prior to assembly

Chicken Ingredients

2 lb chicken

8-10 cups boiling water

1 onion, peeled and quartered

4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp oregano

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp celery salt

2 T Kosher salt

2 tsp fresh ground black pepper 

Chicken Method

  1. Boil water or chicken stock in large stock pot
  2. Add chicken, onion and garlic and simmer until chicken is tender (about 20 minutes)
  3. Remove from juice and let cool
  4. Reserve broth for sauce
  5. Shred and season with oregano, cumin, paprika, celery salt, salt and pepper to taste
  6. Set aside


Chile Verde (Green Chile Sauce)

Yield: 3 cups

*Can be frozen in freezer bags or containers for up to 6 months


1 ½ pound of tomatillos green tomatoes husk removed

3 Serrano peppers or 3 jalapenos

4 cloves of garlic peeled

3 cups broth from cooking chicken

Salt to taste



  1. Cook the tomatoes, peppers, and garlic in a pot with water until they are cooked and tender.
  2. Place the tomatoes, peppers and garlic in the blender and puree until smooth.
  3. Season with salt


Tamales de Chocolate y Frutas de Boscas (Chocolate Tamales with Berries)

Yield:  14 tamales


  • 14 large dry corn husks
  • 2 cans (7.6 fluid ounces each) NESTLÉ Media Crema, divided
  • 1/4 cup NESTLÉ La Lechera Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablets (90 grams each) NESTLÉ Abuelita Chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 cups masa harina flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm milk



  1. Soak husks in warm water for at least 1 hour or until softened and easy to fold.
  2. Combine 1 can media crema, sweetened condensed milk and cinnamon in small bowl; refrigerate.
  3. Place Abuelita chocolate and remaining 1 can media crema in medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat; set aside.
  4. Beat butter in large bowl until creamy. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Alternately add flour mixture, milk and Abuelita mixture to butter, mixing well after each addition until consistency of thick cake batter (masa). (If masa is dry add a few tablespoons of warm milk; mix well.)
  5. Spread 1/4 cup masa mixture, using back of a spoon, to form a square in the center of the lower wider portion of one husk. Fold right then left edge of husk over masa. Fold up bottom edge. Repeat with remaining masa mixture and husks.
  6. Place vegetable steamer in pot with lid; add water to just below steamer. Arrange tamales upright in steamer rack. Cover top of tamales with a damp towel; cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Steam, adding water as needed, for about 30 minutes or until masa pulls away from husks. Serve warm with media crema sauce and mixed berry coulis.


Mixed Berry Coulis

Yield: 2 cups coulis


2 cups mixed Berries

¼ cup caster Sugar*

Juice of ½ Lemon


Combine raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and heat until fruit is softened and berries release their juices. Continue to simmer until the liquid is reduce by half. Remove from heat and puree in food processor until smooth. Strain through a sieve to remove any seeds and stir in liqueur or orange juice.

*1 cup powdered sugar = ¾ cup superfine or caster sugar (also known as baking sugar)

Lamb Chops with Chimichurri

Lamb Chops with Chimichurri

Demonstrated at the Garlic Festival of Minnesota 2019 in Hutchinson, MN by yours truly, Jessica Tijerina.

Ingredients (Chimichurri)

Yield:  3 cups

12 cloves Garlic
2 cups Parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh Oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
2 tablespoons fresh Thyme
2 teaspoons fresh Rosemary
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons Red or White Wine Vinegar

Method (Chimichurri)

  1. Place all chimichurri sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until well chopped, but not pureed.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days

Ingredients (Lamb Chops)

Yield:  Serves 4

4 lamb chops, each about ¾ inch thick
¼ cup olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

Method (Lamb Chops)

  1. Combine all lamb seasoning and rub on lamb or toss around in a bowl.
  2. Heat grill or grill pan on high heat.
  3. Cook lamb chops on the first side for about 3 minutes.
  4. Flip to cook other side for 2-3 minutes or until desired doneness. (145 degrees = medium rare, 160 = well)
  5. Remove from heat and serve immediately with chimichurri and a sliced baguette.






4 lb pork shoulder (pork butt), skinless, boneless (If bone in – 5 lb)
1 tablespoon salt
3 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 cup juice from an orange
1 tablespoon oil

Spice Mix:  Use Jessica’s Carnitas Spice Mix!


1 White Onion, quartered
1 Jalapeño, de-seeded and chopped
3 cloves Garlic, diced
1 tablespoon Mexican Oregano
2 tablespoons ground Cumin
1 tablespoon Smoked Paprika
1 tablespoon Kosher Salt

Method (to cook the pork)

1. Rinse and pat dry the pork, rub all over with salt and pepper.
2.  Rub Jessica’s spice mix all over the pork.
3. Place the pork in a slow cooker (fat side up), top with juice of the orange.
4. In a slow cooker, cook on low for 10 hours or high for 7 hours.
5. Pork should be tender and fall apart with a fork.  Remove from slow cooker and let cool slightly, then shred using two forks.
6. If you have a lot more than 2 cups of juice, then reduce it down to about 2 cups. You want about 2 cups for the seasoning of the cooked pork. Set the liquid aside.

(to make the pork crispy and irresistible!) – well…you fry it of course.

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large non stick pan or well seasoned skillet over high heat.
  2. Spread about 1/4 of the pork into the pan.
  3. Add about 1/8 cup of juices to the pan.
  4. Wait until the meat is crispy, brown and fried on the bottom.
  5. Flip and sear the other side.
  6. Remove the pork from skillet and set aside.
  7. Repeat until all of the pork has been to the pan. Any remaining juice can be used to pour over the meat or saved to add later (If there are leftovers. Ha!)

**If you want to speed up the crisp, you can broil in an oven on high. Spread out the pork on a parchment lined sheet tray and broil 5-8 minutes or until edges of meat are crispy and brown. Then, pour over the remaining juices.

Pork with Green Pumpkin Seed Mole “Puerco En Mole Verde De Pepita” / Dia de los Muertos

Puerco En Mole Verde De Pepita “Pork in a Green Pumpkin Seed Mole”

Yield:  6 Servings


2 pounds Carnitas (little pieces of browned pork)

¾ cup raw pumpkin seeds

6 black peppercorns (may substitute ½ teaspoon ground black pepper)

1/8 teaspoon cumin seeds (may substitute 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin)

3 1/2 cups broth

1 cup tomate verde “green tomatoes” or tomatillos (cooked and drained)

5 serrano chiles, roughly chopped

If the peppers are hot: remove seeds & membrane, but remember they will be added to the thickened pumpkin mixture and 2 cups of broth

3 tablespoons roughly chopped white onion

2 garlic cloves, peeled

3 sprigs epazote (1 tablespoon dried)

5 sprigs cilantro leaves

1 bunch radish leaves

1 large romaine lettuce leaves

3 tablespoons pork fat

Salt to taste



Toast the pumpkin seeds in an ungreased skillet 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until they swell. (this part is really cool!)

Do not let them brown. Set aside to cool, then grind them finely with the peppercorns and cumin to later form a paste.

If using ground spices add them after you grind the pumpkin seeds.

Add these spices to a medium size bowl and stir in 1 cup of the broth until a smooth sauce is formed. Set aside.

In a food processor, blend the tomate verde, chiles, onion and garlic until smooth.

Add the greens, a handful at a time and blend until almost smooth. Set aside.

In a medium pan, heat pork fat and fry the spice mixture about 3 minutes, stirring to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add the blended greens and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally about 10 minutes.

Add 2 cups broth and continue to cook another 10 minutes.

Salt to taste.

Gradually add remaining broth and let the sauce cook over very low heat. When it is done, the mole will coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Add the pork pieces and warm them through.

Serve immediately with rice if you choose. I top mine with a bit of avocado and cilantro!

Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) Dia De Los Muertos

Pan de Muerto

Yield:  2 loaves (each serves 4-6)


For the bread

½ cup whole milk

5 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon orange zest

1 tablespoon orange blossom water (substitute: 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice)

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 ¾ teaspoon active dry yeast

3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose our; more as needed

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Vegetable oil as needed


For the topping

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

¼ cup granulated sugar



The Dough

Put the milk, butter and orange zest in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir until the butter melts, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let cool until warm.

Add the orange blossom water and whisk in the eggs.

Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup warm water (no warmer than 110°F) and let stand until the mixture bubbles slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. (If the yeast doesn’t bubble, discard it and start again with new yeast.)

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt on a work surface.

Make a well in the center.

Gradually pour the yeast mixture and the milk mixture into the well while mixing with your hand.

Knead until you have a nice, uniform dough 8-10 minutes.

The dough should be smooth but still slightly sticky. If it seems too sticky, add more flour as needed.

Put the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and leave in a warm place (about 70°F) until doubled in size, 1 to 1 ½ hours.


Shaping the Bread

Cut off a piece of dough about the size of a lemon and reserve.

Divide the remaining dough in half and shape the pieces on a lightly floured surface into 2 rounds.

Line a baking sheet with parchment; put the dough rounds on it and flatten the tops with your hands.

With some of the reserved dough, form 2 balls the size of large marbles; set aside and cover with plastic. Divide the remaining dough into 6 pieces and roll them with your hands from the center out, making ropes that are slightly longer than the width of the loaves. As you’re rolling, press with your index and middle fingers spread about 1 inch apart to make knobs that represent bones.

Arrange 3 of the ropes on top of each dough round, overlapping the ropes in the center.

Cover loosely with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Dab a little cold water on the top center of each round where the ropes meet and put the reserved dough balls on top, pressing slightly so they adhere.

Bake until the loaves have an even golden color, 30-35 minutes.

Cover the loaves loosely with foil and continue to bake until the bottoms are brown, and the internal temperature is 190°F, 10-12 minutes more.

Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes on a wire rack.

Brush the loaves all over with some of the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Repeat with the other loaf and remaining sugar.

Cool to room temperature before serving.

 Buen Provecho!

Greek Crostini in a pinch…πρέζα…préza

Greek Crostini

6 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Wayzata Bay Greek Seasoning
24 slices French bread baguette
1/4 cup Greek Vinaigrette (recipe below)
1 package cream cheese (8 oz), softened
1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, drained
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Garnish:  Chives, oregano or red pepper flakes


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees or broiler to high heat setting.
  2. Place baguette slices on a sheet tray
  3. For the Vinaigrette:  Mix olive oil, vinegar and herbs and shake vigorously in a mason jar with a tight lid or whisk in a bowl.
  4. Drizzle on top of the baguette, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Toast for 6-8 minutes or until lightly toasted and crispy. If broiling, toast for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and set aside.
  7. Whip together cream cheese, garlic, olives and red peppers.
  8. Top each baguette with the cream cheese mix. Sprinkle feta cheese and any other garnish you wish.


Empanada Dough: Fry or Bake?

Empanada Dough (Baking)

Yield: 10 Medium or 20 Small 

3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
6 oz unsalted butter (1 stick of butter = 4 oz)
1 egg
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water or milk adjust as needed for a soft and smooth dough


  1. Mix the flour and salt in a food processor.
  2. Add the butter and pulse.
  3. Add the egg and the water or milk (in small increments) and continue pulsing until a clumpy dough is formed.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 10 minutes until smooth dough if formed.
  5. Split the dough* into 2 large balls, flatten slightly into the shape of disks.
    1. *The dough can be used immediately or refrigerated until ready to use (1-2 days max).
  6. Roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas.
  7. You can also make small individual balls with the dough and roll out each individual ball to a round shape.

*Option: If you have a tortilla press you can use it to flatten the dough balls.

Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator/freezer to use later.


Empanada Dough (Frying)

Yield: 10 Medium or 20 Small

6 cups all-purpose flour + bench
1 teaspoon salt
5 oz oil
12 oz water
1 egg


  1. Combine flour and salt.
  2. Add oil and water and mix with a wooden spoon.
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Refrigerate in plastic wrap for 1-2 hours.

Chicken Bao (Chinese Steam Bun)

Chinese Chicken Bao 

¾ cups warm water
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Yeast
16 oz ground Chicken
4 Green Onion
1 teaspoon Ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
¼ teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon Sugar
¼ teaspoon Oyster Sauce
1 tablespoon Rice Wine
2 tablespoons Corn Starch
2 tablespoons Sesame Oil
½ cup water
Parchment paper (cut into squares for each dumpling)


  1. In a small bowl mix water, sugar and yeast. Set aside 10-15 minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl add 2 cups flour and in 3 intervals add yeast mixture.
  3. Knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes, cover and set aside for 1 hour to rise until double in size.
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine chicken, onion, ginger, soy, salt, sugar, oyster sauce, rice wine, corn starch and sesame oil. Slowly and in 3 intervals add in and mix water.
  5. Knead the dough to remove all the bubbles.
  6. Cut the dough into 2. Roll out each ball and cut into 12 even chunks.
  7. Roll out the edges of each ball to the size of the palm of your hand. You want the center to be thicker to hold all of the filling into a pillow like ball.
  8. Put 1 tablespoon or less onto a dumpling dough and fold edges about 10 times.
  9. Squeeze and twist the last piece of the dough, leaving a small hole at the top.
  10. Set aside.
  11. Fill the bottom of a large pot with warm to hot water and then place the steamer over water.
  12. Add the dumplings and cover, let sit 10 minutes to rise a bit more.
  13. Turn the heat to high and let boil 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit 5 minutes.
  14. Remove cover and serve with Hoisin dipping sauce.