Month: December 2012

Crock Pot Vegetarian Lasagna #MamaSabeMas

Crock Pot Vegetarian Lasagna #MamaSabeMas

I adore Italian food.  It is one of my favorite things to eat.  I dream of pasta and a gorgeous sauce smothered in cheese all the time but for some reason can never get my hands around a decent bowl or plate of pasta.  I think of the simple ways I’ve enjoyed Italian sauce in the past with just garlic a little basil and Hunt’s tomato sauce….  I fantasized about eating lasagna then realize I will have to make it myself if I want it done as it is in my dreams.  Then my good friend Average Betty released her video of a crock pot lasagna. I thought “That’s it? I’ll make my version and let the Crock pot do all the work.”  I’ll take my stress level down a notch and enjoy lovely lasagna and life will be happy!  Next thing I know my Momma comes along and says she wants some lasagna as well.  Great!  Just so you know my Momma is a vegetarian, so I start building a meatless sauce in my head.  Nothing too fussy or complicated, just simple and delicious.  Plus I want my son to have a serving and he’s only 3 so I’m trying to be  mindful of his young palate.  I’ll definitely need Hunt’s chopped tomatoes, a few veggies, and a variety of yummy cheeses.  That was the hardest part about this recipe, making the sauce, the rest is a walk in the park.  I used raw noodles as I always do when making lasagna even in the oven, grated some cheese, assembled, put the lid on the crock pot, and set the timer to 2 1/2 hours on high.  Walked away a carefree Momma, knowing dinner was taking care of it’s self tonight.  My family was thrilled, and I will be using this method for lasagna making from here on out.

Ingredients for Vegetarian Lasagna:

  • 1 – tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 – whole onion (chopped into small cubes)
  • 1 – whole yellow bell pepper (chopped into small cubes)
  • 1 – tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 – teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 – pinch dried oregano
  • 2 – cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 – can (14.5 – ounce) Hunt’s diced tomatoes
  • 1 – can (29 – ounce) Hunt’s tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a box of lasagna noodles ( I use Barilla)
  • 1 1/4 – cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/4 – cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 1/2 – cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 15 – ounces ricotta cheese


  1. In a pot over a medium flame add in olive oil and allow to get hot. Then add in onion and yellow bell pepper. Saute for 5 till 10 minutes.
  2. Add in garlic, basil, oregano, and mushrooms. Mix well and continue to saute for another 5 to 10 minutes. 
  3. Add in diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove sauce from flame and set to the side. 
  4. Pour a cup and half of sauce on the bottom of the Crock Pot.
  5. Then break the lasagna noodles to fit the crock pot. Place them in snuggly. 
  6. Then add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, and 5 tablespoons ricotta cheese to the top of the lasagna noodles. 
  7. Add another layer of lasagna noodles (this time going in the opposite direction). 
  8.  Then add a cup and a half sauce, then the cheese (same measurements as before), then lasagna noodles and so forth until you end with the cheese layer on top. Place lid on top of Crock pot and cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. 
  9. Enjoy! Your lasagna will be deep dish and delicious.
This post is part of a campaign sponsored by ConAgra Foods, I received compensation for my participation. All opinions expressed are 100% my own. 
Baked Artichoke Avocado Dip

Baked Artichoke Avocado Dip

There is a certain decadence that Avocados from Mexico brings to my table all year long, but that creamy decadence is most treasured during the holidays. My holiday celebrations would not feel right without the representation of Avocados. Should I serve guacamole with flour tortilla chips? Shrimp ceviche in an avocado shell? Or will it be avocado tacos with red salsa for the vegetarians? I could always make a green chile infused with avocado or a avocado sauce for chicken enchiladas. The choices are boundless, and that’s exactly like I want it. I didn’t want to serve the same thing I had put on the table in the past for Christmas so I peeked at the Avocados from Mexico Posada page to see what Chef Pepín had going on, and of course everything looked delicious, I became overwhelmed. That’s what happens when you’re a serious Avocado fan. Then I started dreaming about a dip I had at a friends house a while back…. a creamy Artichoke dip, and at the time all I kept thinking was it was missing avocado and a little spice. Eureka! That’s what I’ll make and it will be my new Christmas tradition. I tested it out, and I was so beyond pleased. I hate to confess I almost ate the whole batch, well actually I had to elbow my Mom and fiance to the last few bites. We were simply taken with this Baked Artichoke Avocado Dip, in a good way. Happy Holidays, I hope your Christmas and Posadas are as decadent as this beautiful dip!

Ingredients for Baked Artichoke Avocado Dip:

  • 4 – tablespoons cream cheese (room temp)
  • 1/4 – cup mayo
  • 1/4 – cup sour cream
  • 1 – teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 – cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 – teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 – teaspoon Lawry’s seasoning salt
  • 1/2 – teaspoon chile flakes (the kind you put on pizza)
  • 1 – 14 ounce can of artichokes (in water) (drained and cut into 1/4 inch pieces)
  • 2 1/2 – large avocados from Mexico
  • 1/2 – teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 – cup grated colby jack cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl combine cream cheese, mayo, sour cream, garlic, parmesan cheese, black pepper, Lawry’s, and chile flakes. Mix well. 
  3. Then mix in artichoke pieces and 2- avocados cut into 1/2 inch chunks into cream cheese mixture. Reserve the additional 1/2 avocado for the top of the dip.
  4. Mix well. Then add into a 5 cup baking dish. Top with 1/2 of an avocado cut into long strips and sprinkle with paprika.
  5. Then top dish with colby jack cheese, and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown on top. Enjoy with tostadas or sliced bread. 

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Avocados From Mexico and  Latina Bloggers Connect. Recipe and opinions are 100% my own.

Webisode 5: Christmas Special: How to make Tamales

Webisode 5: Christmas Special: How to make Tamales

Merry Christmas Everyone!  We decided to put this webisode together to help anyone out who is anxious to start making tamales this holiday season or just wondered how it’s done.  Without further ado…. Here’s our Christmas Special (Everyone loves a Christmas Special, right!?)

Tamale Tips:

Buy your masa prepared from your local Mexican/Latin Market or use Maseca Masa for Tamale flour.  For those of you that live in Los Angeles, I buy my masa at a place called “La Favorita,” and have been buying from them for YEARS!  They are located at 600 N. Brannick Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90063.  The best in Los Angeles. 🙂

I wrap my tamales in corn husks but take it a step further and wrap them additionally in a grease resistant 12 x 12 sandwich wrap paper.

A friend asked where do you pour the water when you are steaming your tamales and want to replenish the water?  You pour it right on the side of the tamale pot.  The tamales are covered in corn husks on top and damp towels.  The water is NOT going to disturb them at all.

If you are looking to be less stressed right before the holidays, make your tamales in advanced and freeze them in a ziplock raw (make sure to mark them so you know which side is the opening). Then the day you are ready to enjoy them, take them directly from the freezer and straight into the steamer and steam them for 5 1/2 to 6 hours.

If you are unable to find a tamale steamer pot, you can always make your own.  Use a smaller pot with a vegetable steamer basket placed at the bottom or flipped upside down.  Place enough water and a penny at the bottom of the pot, when you hear the penny bouncing that means the water level is low and time to replenish.  Make note, the water level will go low.  Also, you don’t want the water level to ever surpass the vegetable steamer.  Then follow the directions in the video. Make sure to cover in corn husks on top and a damp towel.

Place the Idaho potato in the tamale raw, it will cook as the tamale steams.  The potato is the perfect addition to a meat tamale or a vegetarian one.

In the vegetarian tamales on the video, I used green anaheim chile strips, but I personally use jalapenos in place of the green chile strips for more heat. Feel free to swap them out if you love the heat or don’t at all.

I usually season my masa with green chile for the vegetarian tamales and for my green chile pork tamales.  For my red chile beef tamales (which were not featured in this video) I season the masa with the red chile.  I also use the red chile inside the vegetarian tamales.  I am adding the recipes for both chiles below.

I make my chiles the day before I’m going to make my tamales.  I also chop everything I’ll need and cook my meat in the crock pot. For the pork, I use the pork shoulder.

Feel free to leave me any questions and I will follow up with you right away.  This is a very traditional recipe but also a very ambitious one….. but heck, give it a whirl.  This is such a fun recipe to attempt.

Here is my green chile recipe:

  • 9 – tomatillos
  • 6 – guero chiles (yellow chiles)
  • 8 – serrano chiles
  • 7 – jalapeno chiles
  • 5 – garlic cloves (browned/fried)
  • 3 – cups of water (from water chiles boiled in)
  • 1 – teaspoon of vinegar
  • 2 – teaspoons chicken bouillon (I use Knorr)
  • 1 – teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 – teaspoon black pepper

Fill two pots halfway with water and place over a medium high flame.  Bring water to a boil.  Then put tomatillos in one pot and in the other put all chiles.  Boil tomatillos for 15 minutes, you will know they are ready when they go from light green to a greenish yellow color.  Remove from flame and set to the side.


Boil chiles for 30 minutes or until soft and a bit limp.  While chiles are boiling place garlic cloves in a frying pan with a little oil and fry till browned.  Set to the side.  Once chiles are boiled remove from flame but DO NOT discard water… you will need it to blend chile.


You will have to work in batches.  In a blender add chiles (discard stem), browned garlic cloves, water from the pot the chiles boiled in, vinegar, chicken bouillon, oregano, black pepper and tomatillos.  Blend until smooth about 1 minute.  Pour into a bowl.  Set to the side.



Here is my red chile recipe:

  • 1 – large onion peeled
  • 5 – garlic cloves peeled
  • 3 – ounces new mexico dried chile (I use Don Enrique)
  • 3 – ounces california dried chile (I use Don Enrique)
  • 1 – large dried pasilla chile (I use Don Enrique)
  • 3 – tablespoons salt
  • 7 – cups water

In a big pot add water, 2 tablespoons of salt, all chiles, onion, and garlic cloves. Bring to a boil.  Boil for 30 minutes. Water will turn dark brown.


Remove chiles and garlic cloves from water.  Discard onion.  Do not discard water, you will be using it in the next step.  Remove stems from chiles, then add to a blender along with 1 cup of water from the pot, garlic cloves, and a tablespoon of salt.  Blend for 2 minutes.


Once blended get a big bowl and add 1/2 cup of water from pot into the bowl, then take the blended chile and put through a strainer. It will be thick.  Add a little bit of water from pot to chile strainer and scrape with a spoon.  Use up to 1 3/4 cups of water for the entire process. It’s time consuming but your red chile will be clean and super tasty.  Set to the side.


A hundred hugs to my crew for all the hard work we put in together!  A special thank you to the Idaho Potato Commission for believing in us! Thank you to the Zardeneta Family for being the best! xoxoxox! Love you guys and Merry Christmas!

Stanley Kubrick Exhibit and a bowl of Chicharones in Red Chile.

Stanley Kubrick Exhibit and a bowl of Chicharones in Red Chile.

It was a fabulous Saturday.  It reminded me of my adventures many moons ago when cinema and art ruled my life.  It seems I don’t get to indulge in the world of cinema nearly as much as I use to, but still have a grand appreciation for film.  My Mom and Dad introduced me to one of their favorite directors, Stanley Kubrick, at an early age. I remember watching some of his most controversial films and being happy I was exposed to his genius.  His work expanded my mind and made me open thinking doors that maybe would have stayed closed for a few years more.  Stanley is one of the many directors that I celebrate as an adult.  I was thrilled to see that the LACMA had dedicated an exhibit to his body of work and legacy.  A few of my closest friends gathered and we headed off to find out more about Mr. Kubrick.


Okay, so we geeked out a little on the director’s chair and all his cool lenses.  Surprised to see so many handheld rigs and awesome vintage cameras on display.

Sue Lyon as Lolita….  1962. I love the expression on Kubricks face, it looks like he’s in love with her too.

The old in out in out!  A Clockwork Orange – 1971. Malcolm McDowell (who played Alex in the film) has said that him and Kubrick were insanely close during the filming of A Clockwork Orange and when the film wrapped he never heard from the director again.

The Shining- 1980.  In my opinion, the best psychological horror movie ever made.  It can still scare the crap out of me to this day, especially those awful twins.  For the maze scene at the end of the film they used salt for the snow and misted olive oil to make fog.

Red (which happens to be my favorite color) was a recurring color that Stanley used in many of his films.

Full Metal Jacket- 1987

At the end of the exhibit, I turn and look to my friends…. Kristen, Lacey, Ford, and Mando and ask if anyone felt like taking this amazing Kubrick afternoon to the next level with a bowl of Chicharones?  To my surprise, with the exception of Mando, none of them had ever tried the dish so we all met back at my place and I whipped up a batch.  I usually make them with a green chile but since we were celebrating Stanley K, I made them in RED.  Here’s the recipe to friends, Kubrick, phenomenal filmmaking and a bowl of RED chicharones!


Ingredients for Red Chicharrones: 

  • 3 – tomatoes
  • 2- ounces of Guajillo dried chile
  • 2 – ounces of Ancho dried chile
  • 1 – ounce of New Mexico dried chile
  • water
  • 1 -teaspoon olive oil
  • 5  – cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 – onion
  • 2 – chipotle chiles with a teaspoon of adobo sauce
  • 1 – teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 1/2 – teaspoon oregano
  • 2 – pounds of chicharones ( I buy the kind that still have a little meat on them, from the Mexican markets, but if not you can use the bagged kind, Break them up into 2 inch pieces)


  1. In a pot filled halfway with water over a medium high flame bring to a boil.  Add tomatoes, guajillo chile, ancho chile, and new mexico chile, and let boil for 30 minutes in covered pot.
  2. In a small frying pan with with olive oil over a medium flame add garlic and onion and brown slightly. Set to the side.
  3. Add tomatoes, chiles (stems removed, and seeds if you don’t like food extra spicy), garlic, onion, chipotle chiles, chicken bouillon, oregano, and one cup of water (that chiles boiled in) to a blender and blend until smooth.  Set to the side.
  4. In a large frying pan over a medium flame, add in chicarones and let them brown a little.
  5. Pour the blended chile mixture from the blender into a sieve to strain out all the seeds.  Then pour the chile into the pan with the chicharones and let them simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. MMMMMmmmmmm.
  6. Serve hot. Enjoy with a side of beans or with an avocado, take your choice with a corn or flour tortilla.