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Some of my favorite Mexican food recipes

Updated on February 13, 2015
Whidbeywriter profile image

Mary's hubs are inspired by her many hobbies and love for the Lord. She loves writing, art, photography, crafting, and being a grandmother.

I grew up enjoying these delicious tamales!!!

As a little girl growing up in South Texas, the best smell from the kitchen that I can remember, is the smell of homemade "chicken tamales". My mom used to get up very early in the morning to begin the long process of making these tasty creations. She usually made 10 to 20 dozen at a time and shared them with neighbors and family. Everyone loved it when mom made tamales, I certainly looked forward to it, especially during the holidays. She used to also make them after our turkey dinner with leftover turkey, those were pretty good too. I now love to make them also each Thanksgiving and Christmas time and have modified the recipe a bit.

It's a lot more fun when you can have a few friends or family members helping you make them. In the past few years I have had my friends over to make these and it's literally a day long process. We have so much fun making them, because it's a great time to share stories and laughter, especially when your hands begin to cramp up from spreading that masa - it's priceless. But when you are done, it is so worth it. You can freeze these for up to 6 months and they are so easy to heat up for a last minute type of meal.

The other awesome smell in the kitchen I can recall was the smell of homemade "Empanadas" or pumpkin pastries. My mom made these of pumpkin or sweet potatoes. They were absolutely delicious. I will also share a very easy mexican candy recipe that we loved as kids called "penoche". You can make tons of these and give as gifts for the holidays in pretty packages, get creative.

I am grateful to have a mother who prepared some of these awesome dishes for our family. It is an honor to be able to pass them on to my children and grandchildren, and to all of you!

Here are the steps and ingredients to make tamales.....

1st Step:
You will need a crock pot - slow cook the following for approx. 6 hrs. on low:
7 chicken breasts, any fat removed
3 cups chicken broth
5 cups water
2 chicken bullion cubes
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. salt

You will also need a large electric steamer for steaming the tamales later.

* Sometime before chicken is done take 2 teaspoons minced garlic and roast in a tsp. of butter till nice and toasty and set aside to be used for filling in step 4.*

When chicken is done take out of the crock pot and shred. Take the broth from crock pot and pour through a strainer to get rid of the loose fat particles. Set aside you will use this hot broth to add to the masa mixture in the third step.

2nd Step:
You will need one bag of dry corn husks - Soak the bag of corn husks for about 30 minutes in very hot water. I do this in my deep sink - making sure it is very clean and just soak them in there.

3rd Step:
You will need for the masa mix:
6 cups Corn masa mix (Maseca is a good brand)
Approx. 5 cups hot chicken broth
2 tsp. chile powder
1-1/2 cup vegetable shortening
¼ tsp. salt

In a large (I mean largest bowl) you can find add the masa, add salt, chile powder and blend. Then cut in the shortening in small chunks, add a few cups of the hot broth one at a time, with a large wooden spoon or your hands (I use my hands it's just easier) mix the masa until you have a soft consistency that you can work with, soft dough. If you run out of broth you can use hot water too. Set aside covered.

4th Step:
For filling: shredded chicken
2 cans (of your favorite mexican style salsa - hot or mild) I used La Costenia Mexican
style salsa (mild) if you like hot tamales you can use the hot one

½ -tsp pepper
2-tsp. chile powder
2 cans green chiles
2 tsp. roasted minced garlic you prepared earlier - the more garlic the better I always say
¼ cup chicken broth

1/4 cup of chipolte sauce canned (not the peppers just the sauce) these are very hot

For the mixture you will need a large frying pan, add the shredded chicken, salsa, pepper, chili powder, roasted garlic, green chilies, chipolte sauce and broth and cook on medium heat until liquid is evaporated. If you like mild tamales you may want to leave the chipolte sauce out or just add a small amount. Drain any excess liquid before you begin to make the tamales, filling should be dry.

5th Step:
After the corn husks have softened go ahead and begin to clean the husks removing all the dark threads in the center of the husk. Take some of the cleaned corn husks out of the sink and place in a large bowl full of hot water for use on the table. I highly suggest you sit and make these tamales at your kitchen table or breakfast bar. It will take a few hours to make them. If you have left over masa or filling you can always freeze for another time.

6th Step:
Spreading the masa - make a small ball of masa and then spread with your hands onto the corn husk. You can use your thumbs to spread the masa in a circular motion by pressing the masa in the center of the corn husk. It takes some getting used to but after you do this enough times your thumbs will be all you need to spread the masa. Some people use a spoon, at first try both and see what works better for you. I personally do not like thick tamales like the ones they serve at restaurants. I prefer mine to be thinner and you can add more filling that way.

Then take a tablespoon of the chicken filling and evenly place in the center of the tamale laying it lengthwise on the tamale, making sure you don't spread it too close to the end at the bottom, this will help when you go to fold them. You want the filling thin so you can fold easier and for it not to spill out at the bottom. Fold the sides to the center over the filling so they overlap, then take the top "pointed" longer edge of the husk and fold down behind the tamale, this will keep it secure. Some people tie a thin piece of the corn husk around the whole husk, that works good too, you just want to keep the tamale secure from opening up during steaming.

7th Step:
Place tamales in a steamer for approximately 35 minutes. Check every 20 minutes, they are cooked when they separate easily from the corn husk. You can serve hot just plain or with your favorite topping such as guacamole, pico de gallo or sour cream. They will keep in fridge for a few days and can be re-heated in the microwave on high for about 2 minutes. They can also be frozen for no longer than 6 months time. Amount of tamales varies depending on how much filling you add to each and how large you make them, but I am sure you will make at least 6 dozen - Delicioso

Prep time: 2 hours
Cook time: 35 min
Ready in: 2 hours 35 min
Yields: Approximately 6 dozen +, -
Delicious homemade penoche
Delicious homemade penoche | Source

Easy instructions for making Penoche

You will need:

  • 2-cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups (walnuts or pecans)
  • 18 half walnuts for top

Boil sugar and milk to the soft-ball stage, 236 degrees F. Remove from heat and add the butter, flavoring, and nuts. Cool to lukewarm. Beat till creamy and thickened; press onto greased pan, and when firm cut into squares. Makes approx. 18 squares.

Homemade pumpkin empanadas!
Homemade pumpkin empanadas! | Source

These empanadas are great heated up for breakfast!

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder for crispier
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

(make 1/4 cup more of sugar & cinnamon for sprinkling the top of the pastries and set aside)

Note : You can also use ready made pie pastries in the fridge section to make these.

Combine flour, salt & baking powder, sugar & sift together. Then cut in the shortening until it is well mixed, add water to make a dough consistency. Mix with spoon or hand, again I use my hands - my mom taught me that way and it works great for me. It should be easy to handle. If it is too sticky just add a bit of flour.

For filling: 1 can (15 oz.)pumpkin (chunks or sweet potatoes) not the pumpkin mix....or
1 can (15 oz) sweet yams or 1 can sweet potatoe chunks already cooked whatever your taste buds are craving for!

  • 1/2 cup splenda or regular sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamin
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk

Add all these ingredients in the electric mixer and whip til really creamy. Be sure to taste at this point - you won't be able to resist anyway!

Take small amount of flour and roll into a ball, in your hand shape into a round patty then spread with a roller to make a thin circle. Make sure you use a little flour to keep from sticking to the rolling pin. Take about a teaspoon and a half of the filling and spread onto the pasty dough on one side of the circle only, keeping it towards the center. Fold the top over the filling and press down with fingertips so that the dough does not open up while baking. Then take a fork and press down all the way around the half circle. Take some softened butter and brush the tops and then sprinkle a little of the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake for approx. 25 minutes in a 375 degree oven.

You will not be able to ever make enough of these I guarantee it.

Check out the video for easy step by step instructions!

Here is a video I found on youtube with a homemade tamale recipe. It's different from mine so you can choose, which to use. The video is great to get a better idea on the process to make these delicious tamales. I believe her tamales maybe a little on the spicy side, so whatever your taste buds crave for, go for it!

Hope you enjoyed some of my moms Mexican food recipes - until next time.


Cast your vote for Chicken tamales

Let me know if you enjoyed these recipes!!!!

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    • Whidbeywriter profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Gaines 

      5 years ago from Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, Washington

      Thanks ladyjane1, yeah the candy mom made was a little different, this one is really good too! Love ya!

    • ladyjane1 profile image


      5 years ago from Texas

      Your tamales look great...i don't remember the candy but would like to try...thanks for this sis love you!

    • ladyjane1 profile image


      5 years ago from Texas

      Sounds good....i don't remember the candy you posted here but looks very good....cheers!

    • Whidbeywriter profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Gaines 

      5 years ago from Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, Washington

      Hi DDE, yes they are very tasty indeed - total comfort food! Thanks for stopping by!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Some of my favorite Mexican food recipes sounds tasty and so full of unique ingredients

    • Whidbeywriter profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Gaines 

      5 years ago from Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, Washington

      Hello billybuc, you are so welcome hope you get to try them. Thanks for stopping in and enjoy!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow! I could eat for a month just on this article. Thank you for sharing some great recipes.


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