Homemade Tamales (A How To)

If anyone asks what my favorite food is, I would have to say tamales. I remember once getting tamales as a Christmas present from a co-worker and thinking, this is heaven!! I don't just like any tamale though, and I have tried many processed kinds from the store, which I can't stand. I love me a homemade tamale and without the lard. This recipe was adapted from the Food Network Magazine for December. I adapted it with no lard, and they turned out perfect. My first time making tamales, I was a little intimidated, thinking this has got to be a tedious job, but what I found out, is after placing the prepared dough in the corn-husk, then into the rice steamer, I was suprised at how much the tamales keep together. They really work themselves out with the steam keeping the dough together. Their is no training required to make tamales, just a little practice, and its's worth it in the end. I used chicken, but you can use shredded pork as well.
Homemade Chicken Tamales
About 20 corn husks (reserve more just in case
1 pound of shredded chicken breast
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 small can of diced green chiles (mild)
4 c. masa harina instant corn flour
1 1/2 c. melted butter
1. soak the corn husks in a cassorole pan in hot water, use a plate to keep them down, do this for one hour
2. Make the filling. Bring bouillon cube and 4 c. hot water to a boil in water over medium heat. Simmer and add chicken until cooked through. You can use already shredded chicken and forget this step. Reserve chicken broth
3. Puree the cilantro and 1 1/4 c. reserved broth in a food processor until smooth. Save remaining broth for another use. Transfer to a pot. Add the cumin and green chilis and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in chickcen and remove from heat and cool.
4. Make the dough. with the second can of mild green chilis, make a paste out of them. This will be added to the dough. Combine the chili paste, masa flour and butter with 2 2/3 c. warm water and 1 tsp., salt in a large bowl. Mix with your hands until dough forms. Should be thick.
5. Drain the husks and pat dry with towel. Starting 1/2 inch from the wide end, spread about 3 T. of dough down a husk, leaving a 1 inch border on sides. Then spoon the chicken filling down the center of the dough. Fold the sides of the husk, wrapping the dough around the filling. Fold as if you are making a burrito. Repeat this process.
6. place about 2-3 tamales in the steamer. Bring water to boil. Make sure the tamales are folded side down. Cover and steam for about one hour. Let cool, uwrap and top with your choice of favorites.


Pomegranate Quinoa Salad

I made this salad recently and thought it was post worthy. This salad is so refreshing and even though more of a summer salad, pomegranates do have a Christmas look to them. With this particular salad, I recommend you save yourself the work of seeding a pomegranate and just buy the seeds at the store. Yes, they are more costly (4.00 at Harmons for about 1 c. but its so worth it to have them for this salad.
1 c. pomegranate seeds
1 c. cooked quinoa
1 1/4 c. yellow or red cherry tomatoes
1/2 c. chopped cucumber
1/4 c. fresh cilantro
1/4 c. fresh mint
1 T. fresh chopped parsley
1 T. fresh chopped basil leaves
For Dressing
1/4 c. olive oil (extra virgin)
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 T. lemon juice
Combine all ingrediants for dressing and set aside. Next, toss herbs, tomatoes, cucumber and pomegrante into quinoa. Mix well and then add dressing and mix. chill for an hour and serve.

Fresh Herbs, Try them!

We just returned home from 10 days in St. George for Christmas! It was fun and it made me wish vacations could last forever! While down visiting my mom and my step-dad, my husband and I cooked gourmet looking meals for them just about every night. I have loved experimenting with fresh herbs and I came across a meal that I love and want to share. I love the combinatins of fresh mint, parseley, and cilantro chopped up and mixed together. When you use this combination of herbs, you get a lot of vitamins, flavor, and one good gourmet looking meal.
I also love to use fresh squeezed lemon juice (not the lemon juice you buy), but with real lemons and use large amounts in most everything I eat, but with this meal the lemon juice really compliments the herbs. You can add more to this meal such as fresh basil if you prefer, but here is a combination I recommend.
1 c. of brown sticky rice. (You want the rice to be a soft, short grain, so their may be others names to this rice that I am unaware of). You can also use pre-cooked brown rice from the store, but I recommend a soft, light, and fluffy rice for this particular meal).
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 c. chopped fresh mint
a few sprigs of fresh parsley chopped
1-2 T. fresh lemon juice (or more if you are like me)
1/2 c. black beans
1 c. chopped steak
cooked shrimp
cook rice, next blend herbs together and set aside. Top rice with beans and meat/shrimp and then toss in herbs and lemon juice.


Mango Salsa (see January archive on right for recipe)