Tortilla Soup – Hola from the Mexican Sun

Have a spoonful of Tortilla Soup – the flavourful broth loaded with colourful, crunchy, creamy toppings is like a Mexican fiesta in a bowl. 

Mexican Tortilla Soup with all the toppings

I’ve been lolling in the Mexican sunshine.

Mexican Toes on the Beach, Puerto Vallarta

I don’t mean to make you jealous – but, oh . . . it was wonderful. Nothing but beautiful beaches, tropical breezes, and amazing new tastes, sights, and sounds to revel in.

Nuevo Vallarta, beach in front of where we stayed

Nuevo Vallarta, beach in front of where we stayed

beautiful beadwork

Mexican artisan doing beautiful native beadwork

Puerto Vallarta botanical garden

the grounds of the Vallarta Botanical Gardens

It was a wonderful holiday – I relaxed completely, but also got my fill of new taste experiences and cooking adventures.

stewed octopus dish at El Patron restaurant - so tender

stewed octopus, El Patron restaurant, Puerto Vallarta

tasting jackfruit at the Sayulita market

tasting fresh jackfruit at the market in Sayulita (it tastes like a cross between banana and mango – delicious)

Salsa Mole at tableside, Puerto Vallarta Eduardo selling his wares

During my two weeks in Mexico we stayed with friends at their beautiful condo on the beach in Nuevo Vallarta (Raymond was there with me for the first week, and my mom joined me for the second week).  That Mexican sunshine was rejuvenating and warmed up my Canadian, winter-chilled heart. (30°C sunshine for 14 straight days will warm anyone’s heart – and tootsies, too!)

The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Puerto Vallarta

The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Puerto Vallarta

roadside copper seller

roadside copper seller on the way to Sayulita (holding the pan I bought)

The Mexican food is amazing – full of bright colours and highlighting the freshest of flavours, from crisp sunshine-filled vegetables to pristine seafoods and meats. (Those soggy burritos we get in the fast food Mexican joints here in the north don’t even come close to the real thing!)

Sunday afternoon fisherman casting his net at Nuevo Vallarta

Sunday fisherman casting his net, Nuevo Vallarta

pot of simmering pig offal, Puerto Vallarta

simmering pot of pig offal in a back yard in Puerto Vallarta

artisan family at work in their outdoor shop, Bucerias

family pottery painting business, Bucerias, Mexico

door on home in Bucerias Mexican hat seller on the beach

We travelled around the area using local buses and taxis – a couple trips to the neighbouring town of Bucerias to poke around the markets there, a trip up the coast to the colourful surfer’s paradise of Sayulita to catch the weekly market and marvel at the boarders on the beach, rattling on the local bus to the beautiful botanical gardens to rhapsodize over the spectacular tropical vegetation, and numerous jaunts around Puerto Vallarta to try out local restaurants, people-watch on the Malecon (boardwalk), or to check out stunning architecture and colourful sights wherever we turned.

waves at beach, Nuevo Vallarta

beach at Nuevo Vallarta

colourful street in Sayulita, Mexico

colourful street in Sayulita, Mexico

Tortilla Soup, Mexican Mother with Baby

a mother’s love

sipping cervesa while watching surfers at the beach in Sayulita

sipping cervesa while watching surfers at the beach in Sayulita

the Malecon (boardwalk) in Puerto Vallarta, early in the morning before it gets too crowded

the Malecon (boardwalk) in Puerto Vallarta, early in the morning before it gets too crowded

Making fresh tortillas at a little family restaurant

making fresh tortillas at a little open-air, mom & pop restaurant

One of the highlights of my Mexican trip was a cooking class we took. The lovely instructors, Margarita and her daughter Kathia, came right to the condo and spent the day teaching us how to make some of that amazing Mexican food, including shrimp ceviche, tortilla soup, fish Veracruz style, Mexican flan, and a lesson in how to make tortillas, gorditas, and empanadas.

Oh, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. I cannot say enough how much fun it was to spend the day with friends old and new, cooking with these two great ladies and their fun-loving banter.

Margarita & her daughter Kathia teaching Mexican cooking class

our lovely instructors, Margarita and her daughter Kathia

Tortilla Soup has become my new favourite! The hunt to try different versions of it in numerous Mexican restaurants became a research mission on my trip. Margarita and Kathia taught us how to make this traditional soup using a broth of mild, dried Guajillo (gwah-hee′-oh) Chiles – so flavourful. However, since those chiles are not always easily available in our part of the world, I’ve included a version made with tomatoes, which is also very common in Mexico. (Though I did bring home several bags of Guajillos in my suitcase.)

You can make the soup with a base of either:

two different ways to make Tortilla Soup

This recipe is a combination of Margarita’s recipe and one given to me from the chef at Ernesto’s Good Grub restaurant in Nuevo Vallarta. (My Mexican/German friend Christine also makes hers with a tomato base, so I can attest that it is authentic). Margarita’s recipe is simple, with just peppers, garlic, and good chicken broth to flavour it, whereas Ernesto’s adds spices and uses chicken Maggi flavouring to make the broth, so I took the best elements from both recipes to make a tortilla soup that’s become an instant family favourite (I’ve made it twice already, and served it to family and friends to rave reviews.)

What makes Tortilla Soup so delicious is the flavourful broth poured over a bowl full of crispy tortilla strips and other fillings.

Preparing the bowls for tortilla soup

Kathia preparing the bowls with crispy tortilla chips

adding shredded chicken to Tortilla Soup

Margarita adding shredded cooked chicken

The broth is savoury, but not spicy. It can be amped up to taste with mild or fiery toppings. Chicken and/or cheese can be added to the bowls, but the soup can also be made simply with crunchy tortilla strips and creamy avocado cubes (as Christine makes it).

tortilla soup toppings Tortilla Soup in bowl

Kitchen Frau Notes: If using the tomato-based version of Tortilla Soup, the broth will not be as intensely red as when using the Guajillo Pepper version, but even though it’s paler in colour, it will still taste as delicious. Of course, if you want to make the tomato version, but have Guajillo chiles on hand, you can always add a couple soaked Guajillos to the soup to intensify the colour. (I used the Guajillo chile version in the photo below and at the top of this post.)

You can cook a chicken breast or two right in the broth when making this soup, or use leftover cooked chicken or a store-bought rotisserie chicken for shredding.

Omit cheese and sour cream topping for dairy-free.

This soup makes a large batch. Use half and freeze the rest for another time – you’ll be glad to pull it from the freezer to spice up a rainy day with a little Mexican sunshine!

Pouring the broth on the Tortilla Soup

Mexican Tortilla Soup (Two Ways)

  • 7 or 8 Chile Guahillos (2 oz/60gms dried Guahillo chile peppers) OR 10 to 12 Roma tomatoes (2½ lbs/1.15kg) plus ½ a medium onion
  • water
  • 2 quarts (2 litres) good quality chicken stock
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 6 whole allspice berries
  • salt to taste
  • ¾ kg (1½lbs) corn tortillas (about 26 tortillas which are 5½ inches/14cm in diameter)
  • oil for frying tortillas

for serving the Tortilla Soup:

  • fried tortilla strips
  • avocado (about ½ of a small avocado per serving of soup)
  • shredded cooked chicken breast – optional
  • shredded mozzarella cheese (or MexicanOaxaca cheese) – optional

optional toppings

  • poblano peppers, blistered, peeled, and cut into strips
  • finely diced raw white onion
  • Mexican Crema – or sour cream thinned with milk until of drizzling consistency
  • lime wedges
  • cilantro
  • your favourite hot sauce (we like Cholula) or finely diced fresh jalapeno pepper

Before you start, place the chicken stock in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. If you are cooking raw chicken breast to shred for the soup, add it to the stock now so it can cook with the stock. Once the stock comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot to simmer slowly while you prepare the rest of the soup.

If using Guajillo Chiles – Place the dried Guajillo peppers into a bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Let them soak for 15 minutes, pushing down on them occasionally with a spoon to make sure all parts get soaked, or place a smaller bowl on top of the peppers to keep them weighted under the water. Place a strainer in the kitchen sink under the tap. In the stream of running water (or in a large bowl of water), pull the stems out of each pepper, tear open the pepper and remove and discard all the seeds and membranes. Place the torn and cleaned pieces of the Guajillo peppers into a blender canister with 2 cups water. Proceed with Soup Instructions.

If using Roma (plum) tomatoes – Core the tomatoes and dice them into large chunks. Dice the onion half. Place the diced tomatoes and onion into a large saucepan with ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and lower the heat a bit. Boil the tomatoes for 10 minutes, removing the lid to stir them every couple minutes. Pour the cooked tomatoes and onion, and all their juices into a blender container. Proceed with Soup Instructions.

Soup Instructions:

To either the soaked guajillo peppers and water or the cooked tomato mixture in the blender, add the garlic cloves, bay leaves, cumin seeds, oregano, marjoram, peppercorns, and allspice berries. Blend until finely ground (in a Vitamix blender this will take 30 to 45 seconds, in a regular blender it can take up to 3 to 4 minutes).

Strain the blended mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into the hot chicken broth in the stock pot. (Don’t use a coarse-meshed sieve, or it will all go through). Don’t wash the blender canister yet. Use a silicone spatula to stir the mixture in the sieve and push against the solids left in the sieve until you’ve extracted as much of the juice as possible. If using the Guajillo peppers, you should only have 2 to 3 tablespoons pulp left in the sieve to discard, and if using the tomatoes and onion, you should only have about ½ cup of pulp left in the sieve to discard. If using the tomatoes, you can pour several ladles of the hot broth over the pulp left in the sieve to rinse more of the flavour out of it, and strain and press the pulp a second time.

Bring the tortilla soup back to a boil. Taste the broth and add salt if it needs it. The broth should be well salted, taking into account that the add-ins and toppings aren’t very salty.

Tear 5 or 6 of the corn tortillas into pieces and put them into the blender canister. Scoop several ladlefuls of soup from the stock pot and add them to the torn tortillas. Puree the tortillas and soup until smooth, and return the mixture to the stock pot. The pureed tortillas will add body to the stock, but it should still be quite thin. Bring to a boil again. Remove the cooked chicken breast (if using) and let cool slightly, then shred it into strips using two forks.

Keep the soup warm and covered while making the tortilla chips. (You can also prepare the tortilla chips up to a a week before, keeping them in an airtight container at room temperature.)

In a skillet heat about ¼ to ½ inch of frying oil (I like to use palm oil shortening) over medium high heat.

Stack 4 or 5 tortillas on a cutting board. Cut them in half, then cut each pile of halves into ½-inch (1cm) strips crosswise. Place one strip into the oil to see if it is hot enough. Bubbles should form instantly around the tortilla strip if the oil is ready. Add a small handful of strips to the oil. Fry the tortilla strips in batches in the hot oil, until they are crispy and golden. Bubbles will form furiously around the strips when you first place them into the oil, then subside as the moisture is cooked out of the tortilla strips. They are ready when they feel and sound crispy in the oil as you gently stir them. Remove the fried strips from the hot oil with a slotted spoon or spider as they are finished, and drain them on paper towels. I keep stacking a layer of paper towel on top of each batch on a platter to drain.

Alternately, you can crisp up the tortillas in a 450°F oven in a single layer on baking sheets, until golden (5 to 10 minutes). I find they don’t stay crispy as long in the soup this way, but they are still good, too.

To serve the soup: Set out small bowls with toppings of your choice. Into each soup bowl, place a handful of crispy tortilla strips at the bottom, top with about ½ of a small avocado, diced. Add a small handful of shredded chicken (if using) and a handful of shredded cheese (if using).

Ladle the hot soup over top and serve immediately. Guests can garnish the soup with whatever toppings they like, though a squeeze of lime juice should be added to each bowl for fresh zing. A bottle of your favourite hot sauce can add heat for whoever would like it spicier.

Makes 10 to 12 meal-sized servings, or more as appetizer-sized servings. The prepared broth also freezes well.

Buen Provecho and Guten Appetit!


You might also like:

Queso Fundido (Mexican Fondue and a Mexican Cooking Class)

Pico de Gallo (Mexican Salsa) Three Ways (and a Mexican Cooking Class)

Mexican Burgers with Smoky Chipotle Sauce

Agua Fresca de Chia (Chia Limeade)


cleaning the Guajillo Chiles

rinsing and cleaning the soaked Guajillo chile peppers

Posted in Soups & Stews, Travel | 8 Comments

Cooking with Kids: Two-Ingredient Banana Pancakes

These easy banana pancakes only need two ingredients and a fork, for the tenderest little morsels of sweet banana goodness. 

Cooking with Kids: 2 Ingredient Banana Pancakes

Cooking with Meredith

Kids love pancakes, and Meredith had fun making the easiest pancakes ever. You just need two ingredients:

All you need is an egg and a banana

That’s right – an egg and a banana – that’s all it takes.

So easy!

If your kids are old enough to use the stove, they can make these pancakes lickety split.

And if you’re a grown-up and looking for a quick snack for yourself, or to feed your kids after school, or if you need to feed the crew a breakfast in a hurry in the mornings, then these pancakes are for you, too! Plus they’re a good source of protein from the egg, and vitamin B6, manganese, and potassium from the banana! Good for any time of the day.

Mmm, Two Ingredient Banana Pancakes

they’re good to nibble on just plain, too

The bananas provide just the right amount of sweetness, so you can serve the little pancakes with some yogurt, unsweetened applesauce, or fresh fruit! Or if you want to gild the lily – go all out and serve them with a dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Cooking with Kids: Two Ingredient Banana Pancakes

Try adding a touch of cinnamon to the batter if you want to change it up, or beat in a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder to make chocolate banana pancakes. Toss in a few dried currants or cranberries, too. For grown-ups, add a touch of matcha powder. Let your imagination guide you.

a plateful of banana pancakes

Easy Peasy Two-Ingredient Banana Pancakes

serves 1

  • 1 egg
  • 1 banana
  • coconut oil or other oil for cooking the pancakes

In a shallow bowl, mash the banana with a fork or a potato masher until it is like pudding with a few lumps in it. Crack in the egg.

banana and egg for banana pancakes

Use a fork or a whisk to beat the banana and egg together until they start to get frothy.

Heat a heavy bottomed skillet or a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat (set the temperature one notch lower than you’d cook regular pancakes at). Place about ½ teaspoon of coconut oil into the pan and when it’s melted, spread it around to coat the bottom of the pan.

Pour a small amount of batter – about 1½ tablespoons – into the pan for each pancake. The batter should spread out into a 2 to 3 inch (5-7 cm) pancake. If you make the pancakes too big, they are hard to flip. Don’t cook more than 4 pancakes at once, and make sure they are spread out evenly in the pan.

Mashing bananas for banana pancakes cooking the banana pancakes

When the edges look set and the bottom is golden brown when you lift up one corner of a pancake to peek, flip them over. This takes a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not too hard. Use a spatula and slide it gently under the pancake as far as it will go, then only lift the pancake up until the bottom edge is still touching the pan, then quickly flip the pancake over into the same spot it was in on the first side.

Cook the other side until it is golden brown, too.

Makes 8 to 9 little pancakes (2½ inches), depending on how big the banana and the egg were.

Guten Appetit!

For more fun kitchen projects to make with kids, see the ‘Cooking With Kids’ series.


You might also like:

High Protein Pancakes

Cooking with Kids: Gingerbread Pancakes

Fluffy Oat Flour Pancakes

Cooking with Kids: Chicken and Waffles

Nibble on them just plain

Posted in Cooking with Kids, Fruit, Pancakes, Crepes & Fritters | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Moscow Mule Hits the Spot after a Day on the Slopes

The gingery zip of a Moscow Mule makes it an equally perfect drink after a day on the slopes or under the hot summer sun.

Moscow Mule

We’re just back from a few days skiing at Sun Peaks Ski Resort in beautiful British Columbia. What a wonderful getaway.

ready to unload the Crystal Chair, Sun Peaks Ski Resort

ready to unload at the Crystal Chair, Sun Peaks Ski Hill

Crystal Chair about to unload at Sun Peaks

lots of snow up at the top of the Crystal Chair Lift

I love going to Sun Peaks – you’re driving down the highway and the landscape is barren and brown. You turn off onto the road up to the mountain, and you think How can we ski? Where’s the snow? Then a couple kilometres before the ski hill, you start to see a bit of dirty snow lining the sides of the road, then there’s a bit more filling the ditches, and then suddenly you’re at the top, and the world is white.

ready to start skiing at the top of the 5 Mile rung

ready to start skiing at the top of the 5 Mile Run (nephew Simon, Raymond, & Andreas)

The homes and hotels in Canada’s Alpine Village are groaning under their heavy blanket of snow. It lays on roofs in 3 foot thick swathes, and drips off icicles as tall as a small child. Stationary cars are buried under fluffy marshmallow mounds and the covered bridge linking the three mountains is a pillowy white tunnel. You’ve reached some of Canada’s best skiing country. In the gathering dusk, the twinkling lights strung through the trees greet you as happy skiers swoosh down the streets of the village after an exhilarating day on the slopes.

snowy trees at Sun Peaks Ski Resort Dripping Icicles, Sun Peaks Ski Resort

starting out in the morning at Sun Peaks Ski Resort

5 Mile Run at Sun Peaks Ski Hill

top of the 5 Mile run at Sun Peaks Ski Hil

It’d been three years since we last went skiing, after my unfortunate accident the last time we were at Sun Peaks, so I took it pretty easy – stayed mostly on the green runs, and went sloooowww – which meant I got to enjoy the spectacular scenery in every direction.

The view from the ski hill , Sun Peaks

what a view!

Andreas, on the other hand, didn’t need to take the same precautions.

A Little Ski Jump at Sun Peaks

Andreas likes to find every little bump to jump over

I did what I usually do when we go skiing at Sun Peaks – packed coolers full of food (much easier with all our family’s food allergies). We stay in a unit with a small kitchen – it’s right on the hill and we can ski up to the door when it’s time to take a lunch break. I usually pack chilis, stews, and meaty pasta sauces, which I freeze ahead of time, then plunk into the slow cooker to simmer while we ski. When we come in feeling wiped out after a day of skiing, the delicious aromas of supper cooking greet us.

Skiing at Sun Peaks, British Columbia

Andreas, Raymond and I stopping for a little breather

snowy day skiing at Sun Peaks

the last day we had snow and poor visibility all day, but the skiing was still great

After a hot belly-warming meal, and a soak in the hot tub, it’s time for a nice drink and a game of cards or a bit of lounging around. This year we were mightily enjoying our Moscow Mules – those retro cocktails that are making a big comeback. They’re named Moscow after the vodka (historically a Russian spirit) and Mule after the kick they get from the fiery ginger beer.

Moscow Mule in Traditional Copper Mug

traditional copper mug for serving a Moscow Mule

I love the story of how the Moscow Mule was invented. I found this old copper Mule mug in a second hand store years ago, not realizing what it was for but liking its warm look. Now I can put it to its proper use.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: The brand of ginger beer you use can make quite a difference in this cocktail. Make sure you use a good quality Jamaican style ginger beer – which is a strong-ginger-flavoured, non-alcoholic, carbonated beverage. (I have had one brand, Fentimans, which actually tasted quite weak and watery when mixed in the cocktail.) We like The Great Jamaican Old Tyme brand which I can buy at Safeway, but I know I’ve used other good brands in the past – just can’t remember their names. When you try to drink the ginger beer straight it’s almost too strong to swallow – makes me cough – but somehow magic happens when you add the lime juice and vodka – mellows it out just perfectly.

If you want a stronger drink, use 2 oz/4 tablespoons/¼ cup vodka. If you really can’t get your hands on ginger beer (it is worth hunting down for this drink), you could make it with ginger ale, though then I think you’d have to call it a Moscow Pony, because it just wouldn’t have the same attitude .

Moscow Mule Cocktail with Lime

Moscow Mule Cocktail

makes 1 cocktail

  • 3 to 4 ice cubes
  • 1½ oz. (3 tablespoons/45ml) vodka
  • ½ oz. (1 tablespoon) fresh lime juice (about ½ of a lime)
  • 4 oz. (½ cup/120ml) Jamaican style ginger beer

Fill a cocktail glass or copper Moscow Mule mug with ice cubes. Splash in the vodka. Squeeze in the lime juice, then cut the spent lime peel in half and drop one of the pieces into the glass. (Or add a half slice of fresh lime.) Top with the ginger beer and stir gently.

Moscow Mule in cocktail glass


You might also like:

Jam Smash Cocktail

Poinsettia Cocktail

Meatzza Pizza and More Sunshine on the Mountains

Sunshine on the Mountains

Cranberry Mulled Wine (Glühwein)

vodka for the Moscow Mule

Alberta is known for making some great vodka with its prairie grain and glacier water

Posted in Drinks, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Strawberry Velvet Cake

The luscious red colour and fruity flavour of this strawberry velvet cake comes from a hit of strawberry jam and vibrant pureed beet.

Strawberry Velvet Cake for Valentine's Day

Love should be celebrated every day of the year, but since one big non-stop party isn’t a practical thing, it is nice to have a day of the year set aside to make us pause in our busy lives and actually think a little bit about what love means. There’s romantic love of course, but also the love of family, friends, pets, and mankind in general. Just as important is remembering to love ourselves – actually that comes first. We need to love ourselves before we can love anyone else fully.

So here today, I give you a simple and delicious cake – bake it for someone you love, or bake it just for yourself.

It’s based on an old-fashioned jam cake, but I added pureed cooked beet to deepen that lovely pink colour, a hit of citrus to freshen the flavour, and just a whisper of spice to warm it all up. It’s whispering love to you.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

* * * * *

Strawberries look kind of like a heart, don’t they?

Kitchen Frau Notes: It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to cook the beet until tender, so do that ahead of time if you can.

I cooked up a beet specially to make this cake, but next time I cook beets for dinner, I’ll cook an extra one, shred it or dice it, and put it into a baggie. I’ll squeeze out the excess air before I seal it, then label it and freeze it. When I want to make this cake again, I’ll just pull out that baggie, defrost it and use the ready-cooked beet to make the cake.

For the gluten free version: I haven’t made this cake with any other gluten-free flour except my Favourite Gluten Free Flour Mix, and it turns out great every time. If you’re using a different gluten free flour mix, you may have different results.

I find that sometimes this cake is not as red as other times I make it, and I’ve changed different variables to see what affects it – I think it must be the variety of beet, with some having more intense colouring than others.

Strawberry Velvet Cake for Valentine's Day

Strawberry Velvet Cake

  • 1 medium beet (6 oz/170gms) – about 2½ inches in diameter
  • ¼ cup (60ml) oil
  • 1 cup (240ml) strawberry jam
  • ½ cup (100gms) natural evaporated cane sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • grated zest of one orange (preferably organic)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ cups (210gms) flour (or this favourite gluten free flour mix)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

to garnish:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
  • fresh strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch (24cm) springform pan with a circle of parchment paper. Grease the paper and the inside of the pan with cooking oil spray.

Cook the beet until tender when pierced with a fork. Peel it and cut it into chunks. Puree it with the oil in a food processor or blender – I use my mini-processor – until smooth.

Scrape the beet puree into a bowl. Add the jam, sugar, eggs, orange zest and juice, and vanilla. Whisk until well blended.

Add the dry ingredients, then whisk well to combine. Pour into the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool 5 minutes, then remove the sides of the cake pan. Allow to cool on rack until completely cooled.

Whip the cream with the icing sugar. Spread on top of the cake and decorate with strawberries. Alternately, dust the top of the cake with icing sugar pushed through a sieve (you could lay a lace doily or cut-out paper heart on top to stencil a shape, then sieve the icing sugar over it) and serve with the whipped cream and strawberries on the side.

Makes one 9-inch (24cm) cake.

Guten Appetit!

You might also like:

Strawberry, White Chocolate, and Almond Flour Muffins for the Ones You Love

Chocolate Dipped Apricots – an Alternative to Chocolate Dipped Strawberries for Valentine’s Day

A Simple Way to Eat Strawberries

Raspberry Heart Marshmallows and Instant Hot Cocoa Mix


Posted in Cakes | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Refried Lentil Quesadillas {Video}

Who doesn’t love quesadillas? How about these Refried Lentil Quesadillas? They taste fantastic and are super high in fiber and nutrients, to boot!

Refried Lentil Quesadillas with salsa

Well, I took a big gulp, crossed both fingers and took the leap – I made a video!

I think I’m like many people in that I hate to see myself in pictures, and videos of myself are even more painful to watch . . . Does my voice really sound like that? My cheeks look so chubby! And why am I waving my hands around like an idiot?

But the reason for making this one was worth all the squirming and cringing . . . let me start at the beginning.

For the last couple years I’ve been submitting recipes to the Canadian Lentils recipe contests. I haven’t won, but last year three of my recipes were chosen as finalists and included in a lentil eBook on the Canadian Lentils site (Broccoli Lentil Salad, Lentil Polenta with Mushroom Ragu, and Chocolate Truffle Cake Pops).

Last month I received a package in the mail including a red apron and an invitation to participate in their Star of the Show contest. 5 lucky winners will be flown to Prince Edward Island to make a video and get tips and tricks from . . . Chef Michael Smith!!!!!    As I read the invitation, my heart stopping beating for a few seconds, and then started thumping loudly as I thought about it.

In my little food-centered world, Chef Michael is a rock star and I am a screaming groupie (only in my head, of course). I own all his cookbooks and watch his cooking show. His recipes always work and they taste fresh and fantastic. It would be an absolute high point for me if I could actually meat him and learn from him!

But . . . it meant I’d have to make a video. Yikes! Much as that struck terror in my heart, I knew right away I’d do it – the prize was worth the feeling of vulnerability and embarrassment from putting myself out there. (I am an introvert inside.)

So if you’d take few minutes to watch my video, and then click the little thumbs up ‘like’ icon underneath and leave a comment or share it, I would appreciate it SO much. It would help my chances to win – and that would be the thrill of a lifetime for me!

(You’ll need to click on the little ‘YouTube’ icon at the bottom of the video in order to ‘like’ it or comment.)

Here it is (she says with a huge cringe):

(In the video, I pause occasionally before speaking because my brain keeps wanting to say  ‘Lefried Rentil Quesadillas’ and I’m doing my darndest to say it properly and not bust out laughing!)

We really do love lentils in this household. I grew up eating them often – my mom put them into soups and stews all the time. I cook with them a lot, so coming up with a yummy original recipe starring these lovely little pulses was just a fun project for me. (The video was another story.)

My kids loved quesadillas when they were growing  up (they still do). Quesadillas were the most popular answer to the What do you want for lunch? request, and I was often churning out huge batches of them when they had friends over – they’d eat them as fast as I could make them. So quesadillas were a no-brainer for me to ‘lentilify‘.

Refried Lentil Quesadillas - take a bite

* * * * *

Note: The advantage of this recipe is that you can make the tortillas and the refried beans ahead of time (up to five or six days ahead) and prepare the quesadillas very quickly at serving time.

The recipe looks lengthy, but don’t let that put you off. Refried Lentil Quesadillas are really simple to make, and once you’ve made them the first time, I bet you’ll be whipping them up often. You can even use the tortillas as a base for all kinds of savoury crepe fillings (see the tip for adapting them at the bottom of the recipe).

Mmm, Refried Lentil Quesadillas

Refried Lentil Quesadillas

gluten free

For the Lentil Crepe Tortillas:

  • 1 cup (190 grams) split red lentils
  • 1⅓ cups (320 ml) milk
  • ½ of a medium onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1½ tablespoons butter or oil, for frying


For the Refried Lentils:

  • ½ cup (95 grams) big green lentils
  • ½ cup (95 grams) split red lentils
  • 2 cups (480 ml) water
  • 1 medium onion, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat, lard, or olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


To assemble the Quesadillas:

  • 8 Lentil Tortillas
  • a heaping cupful of Refried Lentils
  • 1 to 2 cups of your favourite chunky salsa
  • 1 cup of grated extra old cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  • chopped cilantro for garnish, optional


To make the Lentil Crepe Tortillas: In a blender container, combine the lentils, milk, onion, oil, paprika, and salt. Whiz until the lentils are finely ground. Add the eggs and black peppe,r and whiz for 2 or 3 seconds until they are blended in but you can still see the pepper flecks. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes to allow the ground lentils to absorb some liquid and the batter to thicken slightly.

Heat a crepe pan or skillet with an 8-inch (20cm) bottom over medium heat. Add ½ teaspoon of butter or oil and let it heat up. Add ⅓ cup (80ml) of the tortilla batter, and quickly lift and swirl the pan so the batter spreads to the edges. If you need to, use a silicone spatula to gently spread the batter to any edges that weren’t filled. Cook the tortilla until it is golden brown underneath (1½ to 2½ minutes). Flip and cook the other side until golden brown spots appear (30 to 45 seconds).

The tortillas can be used immediately, or stacked on a plate, left to cool and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. They keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

The recipe makes nine 8-inch crepes – the first one is usually a dud!


To make the Refried Lentils: Place both types of lentils in a medium saucepan with the water. Cut the onion in half and push it, cut-side-down, into the saucepan (reserve the other half of the onion for later). Add one of the garlic cloves and the bay leaf. Bring the lentils to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the saucepan and simmer the lentils for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring once in between, until the red lentils are completely broken down and the big green lentils are very soft when you squish one between your fingers. Most of the water should have been absorbed into the lentils. Remove and discard the onion, garlic, and bay leaf.

In a skillet over medium heat, melt the bacon fat, lard, or oil. Finely chop the remaining onion half, and mince the remaining 2 cloves of garlic. Cook them in the fat for 2 to 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the cumin, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 minute more. Dump in the cooked lentils, and cook and stir them until they are heated through. The refried lentils should be the consistency of loose porridge. If the mixture is too thick, add a few tablespoons water, if it is too runny, cook it for a few minutes longer.

Set the lentils aside and let them cool to lukewarm. They will stiffen up as they cool. Use them for the quesadillas once lukewarm as it’s easier to spread the salsa on top if the lentils are a bit more solid, or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Makes about 2½ cups.


To assemble the Refried Lentil Quesadillas: Heat a dry, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat. Lay one of the tortillas into it, lighter-coloured side down. Spread it with a generous ¼ cup of the Refried Lentils, leaving about a ½-inch border without lentils. (The filling will spread to the edges while cooking.) Top with about 3 tablespoons of salsa and spread it over the lentils with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with about ¼ cup of the shredded cheese. Top with another tortilla, lighter-coloured-side up.

Spread the Refried Lentils on the Tortilla

Loading up the Refried Lentil Quesadillas

Cook for a few minutes until the bottom is crisp and browned when you lift up an edge to peek. Slide a wide pancake flipper underneath the quesadilla and put your other hand on top. Flip the whole quesadilla quickly and carefully so the filling stays inside and the whole thing stays together. Cook the other side until it is brown and nicely crisped.

Brown and toasty, Refried Lentil Quesadillas

Slide the quesadilla onto a large cutting board. Let it rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then cut it into quarters with a large, sharp knife, cutting down into it rather than sawing through it.

Repeat with the remaining tortillas, or have 2 skillets going at once to do two at a time. The quesadillas are best when served immediately, but you can keep the first quesadillas warm in a low-heat-oven while finishing the rest.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro if you like, and serve with dollops of sour cream and additional salsa for dipping.

Serves 4.

Guten Appetit!


Tips: To make savoury lentil crepes for wrapping all sorts of delicious fillings, use the tortilla batter as above, except increase the oil to 3 tablespoons to make the crepes more pliable.

Use leftover refried beans to heat up as a side dish (you may need to add a splash of water to reheat them), stir them into soups, or mix them with salsa to a thinner consistency and use as a dip for tortilla chips.

You might also like:

Lentil Rice Bowl with ‘Knock Your Socks Off’ Tahini-Miso Dressing

Lentil Taco Tartlets Appetizers

Creamy, Cheesy Lentil Mashed Potatoes

Sweet ‘n Sour Lentil ‘Eintopf’ (German One-Pot Stew)

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