Category Archives: Salvadoreños
Ask an American what a “quesadilla” is and most likely they’ll tell you it’s thin flour tortillas with cheese melted in between – but that’s a Mexican quesadilla, and not the one I’m talking about today. Salvadoran quesadilla is a rich cheese-flavored pound-cake-like sweet bread which is perfect with a cup of coffee. You can buy them at some bakeries and Latino markets in the United States but often times, you’ll find they aren’t fresh and have gotten a bit dry. The good news is, you can make your own “quesadilla salvadoreña” at home, and believe me, it’s even more amazing than the store bought ones.
I’ve actually been meaning to share a quesadilla recipe here for years, but the first one I tried was given to me by a friend who generously emailed me her family’s recipe, and thus it wasn’t mine to give away. Over the years I tried other quesadilla recipes, and eventually, tweaking here and there as I do, I ended up with a recipe all my own, but it still wasn’t perfect. I continued baking and changing things, and the quesadillas were usually good, but I definitely had some complete failures along the way, too. Last week I decided to make another attempt and, (bendito sea!) success! Finally! Delicious success!
We ate every last crumb of the one in the photos, and days later, I made another just to double check my recipe, (and because we wanted more quesadilla!)
So here it is, just in time for making as a holiday gift for family, friends and neighbors, (if you can stand the idea of parting with it.)
1 stick (8 tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
3 eggs, separated
1 (slightly rounded) cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup 1% milk, room temperature
1 tsp. baking powder
1. Combine sugar, flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside. Note: The cup of sugar should be rounded, so it’s slightly more than 1 cup.
2. In a medium bowl mix the cheese and butter and then add the milk. Set aside. Note: The cheese can be cheap non-brand name Parmesan. Grated “queso duro blando” or “queso duro viejo” can probably be substituted for Parmesan but I haven’t tried it yet. You could also use 2% or whole milk in place of the 1% milk, but I do not advise skim milk.
3. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Beat in the yolks, then add the cheese mixture. Beat at medium speed, slowly adding in the bowl of dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.
4. Pour into a greased 9 inch springform pan or round pie pan. You can also use a 7×11 rectangular pan, which is what I used the second time. Sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds. Note: Springform pans tend to leak a little until the batter has set up, so put a baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven to catch any drips.
5. Bake on the middle rack of your oven at 300 to 325 F for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. (Actual cooking time will vary slightly depending on the size and type of pan. My oven runs a little hot, so I baked mine at 300 F.) Keep an eye on it starting at 30 minutes as it continues to bake to make sure you remove it before it begins to burn. It goes from yellow/unbaked to golden brown to burnt pretty quickly.
6. Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan. (It tastes better the next day, actually.) Cut into slices and serve with coffee.
“Pasteles” or “pastelitos” in El Salvador, may be different than what you’re expecting.
In middle school Spanish class I learned that “pasteles” are “pastries”, as in dessert – So years ago when my suegra told me she was making pasteles and then served meat-filled turnovers, I was perplexed.
As many of you know, (and as I found out), in El Salvador, pasteles can refer to savory empanada-like main dishes like the turnovers my suegra served, but it differs from country to country.
Served with curtido, Salvadoran pasteles easily became one of my favorite meals. Here’s my recipe so you can make them, too!
1 lb. ground beef
2 cups potatoes, cooked and diced
1 cup green beans, cooked and chopped (optional)
1/4 cup onion, chopped fine
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped
1-2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. achiote molido (ground annatto)
reduced sodium Worcestershire sauce, to taste
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion and raw carrot, stirring for about 2 minutes.
2. Season ground beef with oregano, salt, pepper and achiote and then add it to the pot, stirring occasionally until brown.
3. Drain the grease once the beef is cooked, and then return to heat. Add in potatoes (and green beans if using.) Stir to combine and remove from heat. Season with a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce and additional salt to taste. Set aside and allow to cool.
3 cups MASECA masa harina
1 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon achiote molido/ground annatto
3 cups water
1. Mix the dry ingredients and then add the water a cup at a time, mixing by hand until combined. Set aside. Keep a bowl of fresh water nearby for wetting your hands as you form the pasteles.
Forming the Pasteles:
1. With moist hands, take a handful of masa, slightly larger than a golf ball, and shape it into a tortilla.
2. Put a large spoonful of filling in the middle and then bring the sides of the tortilla together like a taco and seal by closing your hand gently to form the pastel into a half-moon shape as shown below.
3. Fry pasteles in a large, deep pan with plenty of canola oil over medium-high heat, flipping to slightly brown on each side. Remove to paper towel-lined pyrex or plate.
4. Serve pasteles with curtido and salsa. Makes approximately 18 with leftover filling (which is great the next day over rice as picadillo!)
Notes on Curtido and Salsa:
While I already have two curtido recipes (here and here) – as well as salsa recipes (here and here) – I’m always experimenting and I’d like to share new versions I have for each since both turned out great. The salsa recipe, while using canned tomatoes (which I know some are opposed to) actually tastes more authentically Salvadoran in flavor than previous salsas I’ve made – much closer to what you typically get with pupusas and other dishes at Salvadoran restaurants. The new curtido recipe is great because it minimizes chopping vegetables by hand if you’re in a hurry, comes together quickly, and has a nice texture similar to coleslaw thanks to a little help from the food processor.
Salsa Roja Salvadoreña
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (and the liquid)
1/8 cup diced onion
1/8 cup diced green pepper
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
salt, pepper and oregano to taste
1. In a food processor set to mince, add tomatoes and liquid, onion and green pepper. Process until completely combined.
2. Pour tomato sauce into a pot on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then simmer one minute. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. Add salt, pepper and oregano to taste. Cool and serve or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Quick Curtido Salvadoreño
1/2 a small cabbage, washed and chopped in large pieces
2 large carrots, washed, peeled and chopped in large pieces
1/2 small onion, chopped
apple cider vinegar
oregano, salt and pepper
1. In a food processor set to chop, add cabbage, carrots and onion all at once. Process just until chopped. (The texture will resemble coleslaw for this curtido.)
2. Put cabbage mixture into a large bowl, add apple cider vinegar and a little warm water to taste. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Serve or keep covered in the refrigerator.
It’s that time of year again – Día Nacional de la Pupusa! I hope that you’re all celebrating by eating some delicious pupusas either from your favorite pupusería or homemade.
While you’re waiting to eat, here’s a National Pupusa Day crossword to keep you busy. How much of a pupusa expert are you? You can download the crossword as a PDF or Word document to print and share as you like, or you can even play it online! Click the image below to be taken to the National Pupusa Day crossword puzzle!
(If you get stumped, “Latinaish” is the answer key password.)
If you want more pupusa fun, here’s an easy index to my favorite pupusa blog posts here on Latinaish. (Quite frankly, I was a little shocked by how many there are. If El Salvador’s Tourism Department is looking for an Official Pupusa Blog Ambassador, I’m your gringa.)
Humorous Pupusa Blog Posts:
You down with O.P.P? (Yeah, you know me!) (A suegra story.)
Feliz Día Nacional de la Pupusa  (This post includes “ORACIÓN A LA PUPUSA SALVADOREÑA.”)
El Salvador: The Mariachi Story (The time we ate pupusas in Planes de Renderos and my acting like a tourist cost Carlos a lot of money!)
Pupusa Day 2011 (My son’s funny answer to how Salvadorans celebrate National Pupusa Day.)
How to eat a pupusa (video)
The first time I made picadillo, I had no idea I was making picadillo. I remember that I threw some ground beef into a pan and started cooking it up without knowing what I was making for dinner. I looked around the kitchen to see what else I had on hand. Diced potatoes and green beans went into the pan, along with some salt and pepper but it was missing something to tie it together and add some more flavor. I found a jar of salsa and dumped some in.
As I mixed everything around in the sizzling pan, Carlos came up behind me. Now, when Carlos is hungry, he isn’t fond of what he calls my “inventions” – so I was ready for him to complain, but to my surprise he said, “Oh! You’re making picadillo. I love picadillo. Are you going to make rice, too?”
“Yes, of course,” I said, grabbing the rice from the cabinet.
And that’s how I found out the dish that I “invented” that night, had already been invented, (and that thankfully, Carlos likes it.) So, here’s my recipe which I have changed here and there over the years for an easy and affordable mid-week picadillo that will fill you up and satisfy even picky eaters.
Picadillo, (Carne Molida con Verduras Picadas)
1 lb. ground beef
2 to 3 cups potatoes, cooked and diced
1 cup green beans, cooked
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1/4 green bell pepper, diced
1 tbs. minced garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tsp. oregano
2 bay leaves
1 cup hot water
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pan, brown the ground beef. If using very lean ground beef, you may need to add a little oil to the pan. Add garlic and onion when the meat is almost finished browning. Season with a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.
2. Add potatoes, green beans, carrot, and green pepper to the pan. Stir to combine. (Remove temporarily from heat if you haven’t already prepared the tomato sauce.)
Note: We like the carrot to be a little crunchy, but if you prefer it tender, you may want to pre-cook the carrot before adding in.
3. In a bowl, combine tomato paste with hot water, oregano, and bay leaves. Taste and correct with salt as needed (I used about 1/4 tsp. of salt) then add to the pan with meat and vegetables over medium-high heat.
4. Simmer on high for 1 to 2 minutes, allowing some of the liquid to cook away, then cover and remove from heat. Allow to sit a minute or two then taste and correct with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with white rice.
I asked all of you if you wanted me to make sweet pumpkin tamales or savory pumpkin tamales. The results were pretty evenly split, so after I made the sweet tamales, I began to figure out what I wanted in my savory tamales.
I began to brainstorm – Pumpkin reminds me of autumn and autumn reminds me of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving reminds me of turkey and turkey reminds me of Salvadoran panes con pavo – and that is when I knew exactly what I wanted to make.
I didn’t have any turkey on hand, but I had chicken, (and honestly that’s what we often use because it’s more affordable.) So I prepared the chicken for filling the tamales the way I do Salvadoran Pavo, complete with the savory Salvadoran salsa spiced with relajo (see the notes about relajo in the recipe below.)
What this means is that these tamales are perfect for your Salvadoran pavo leftovers this holiday season! Even if you have only regular roast turkey leftover from Thanksgiving you could just add a little mustard, Worcestershire sauce, the salsa with relajo, and you’ll be ready to start assembling these tamales.
As for the pumpkin, I incorporated that into the masa and the flavor ends up not being very noticeable as the delicious chicken and salsa steal the show. I do think that the pumpkin lends a very pretty color and moisture to the masa though, plus it’s full of vitamins – so I will absolutely include it again next time I make these tamales.
Warning: These are pretty amazing and the recipe below only makes about 10 regular-sized tamales. You may want to double or even triple the ingredients!
Savory Pumpkin Tamales de Calabaza y Pollo (o Pavo!)
1 cup Maseca
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
4 tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup pumpkin puree
1. In a medium-sized bowl combine the Maseca, salt and oregano, then add the pumpkin and butter. Mix to combine. Add the chicken stock and mix until completely combined. Set aside.
3 large chicken thighs (or the equivalent dark meat turkey)
1/2 tsp. yellow mustard
a few shakes Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
1/2 small onion
1 tbs. minced garlic
1 – 2 cups water
1. In a medium pot, coat the chicken or turkey pieces in mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Add water, garlic and onion. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, cover and lower to a simmer. Cook until the meat is cooked through and juices run clear. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool, remove meat from bones and shred. Discard skin, bone, onion and any liquid left in the pot – you just want the meat which you will be mixing into the salsa later.
1 cup diced tomato
½ tsp. fresh minced garlic
1/4 small onion, diced
1/4 small green pepper, diced
1/3 cup chicken stock
1-2 large tablespoons Salvadoran relajo spice mixture (see note below)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon achiote
salt and pepper to taste
Note – If you can’t find Salvadoran relajo spice mixture, the following can be substituted: 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, a few shakes dry oregano, 4 dry roasted peanuts, 6 dry roasted pumpkin seeds, 2 large bay leaves – crushed, 6 whole cloves and/or allspice.
1. In a blender combine all ingredients except salt and pepper. Blend until mostly smooth, about one minute. (The sesame seeds and other spices will give this salsa texture – that’s how it’s supposed to be.)
2. Pour the salsa into a small pot and simmer over medium-high heat for a few minutes, stirring. Add salt and pepper to taste. (You can remove the allspice and/or whole cloves if you like at this point.) Mix the shredded chicken into the salsa. Set aside to cool.
Assemble the tamales:
Take 10 to 12 dried corn husks and soak them in a large bowl of hot water to soften. Once softened, remove one by one and gently shake dry before using.
In the middle of each corn husk, spoon a few tablespoons of the masa and spread out with the back of a spoon, but stay towards the middle of the husk – don’t go to the edges.
In the middle of the masa, put a large spoonful of the chicken and salsa mixture.
Fold corn husk closed as described in this post. Optional: Wrap the tamales inside aluminum foil.
Stack tamales in a tamalera and steam about 2 to 3 hours. Makes about 10 regular-sized tamales.
(Carlos eating his fourth tamal for breakfast this morning!)
Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation is in italics!
Me di cuenta de que no he compartido mis fotos del Festival Salvadoreño Americano que fuimos el mes pasado en Wheaton, Maryland y hoy es un buen día para compartirlas, ya que viene el Día de la Independencia de El Salvador este fin de semana.
I realized that I haven’t shared my photos from the Salvadoran American Festival we went to last month in Wheaton, Maryland and today is a good day to share them since El Salvador’s Independence Day is this weekend.
El Festival fue muy bien organizado por Salvadoran-American Transnational Communities y el Condado de Montgomery. Había suficiente estacionamiento a poca distancia y estaba cerca de la estación de METRO si uno no viene en carro.
Salvadoreños caminaban en grupos grandes por las aceras hacia el sonido de la cumbia y el olor de las pupusas. Cruzamos las calles juntos, esquivamos el tráfico, intercambiamos miradas y nos reímos. “Todos vamos a ser atropellados”, alguien bromeó. Éramos como niños tras el flautista de Hamelín.
The Festival was very well organized by Salvadoran-American Transnational Communities and Montgomery County. There was sufficient parking nearby and it was close to a METRO station for those that did not come by car.
Salvadorans walked down the sidewalks in large groups toward the sound of cumbia and the smell of pupusas. We crossed streets together, dodged traffic, exchanged looks and laughed. “We’re all going to get run over,” someone joked. We were like children following the Pied Piper.
Por supuesto, la primera cosa que hicimos fue caminar alrededor para ver qué comidas queríamos comer.
Of course, the first thing we did was walk around to see which foods we wanted to eat.
(La camisa de este hombre me hizo reír: “La salsa que te hara llorar puro bichito.”)
(This guy’s shirt made me laugh: “The salsa will make you cry like a little kid.”)
Decidimos empezar con agua de coco. No sé por qué mi hijito siempre lo prueba cuando bien sabe que no le gusta. Después de que nos bebimos el agua de coco el hombre lo abrió y nosotros comimos la carne.
We decided to start with coconut water. I don’t know why my younger son always tries it when he knows very well that he doesn’t like it. After we drank the coconut water, the man cut it open and we ate the coconut meat.
El hombre que cortó los cocos con un machete fue muy gracioso. Todo el mundo estaba tomando su foto y se reía diciendo: “Yo voy a ser famoso!”
The man who cut the coconuts with a machete was hilarious. Everyone was taking his photo and he laughed, saying “I’m going to be famous!”
Siguiente compramos fruta fresca.
Next we bought fresh fruit.
Yo prefiero la piña pero quería probar algo nuevo, así que elegí mamones. Me encanta el sabor pero la textura de mamones es algo raro.
I prefer pineapple but I wanted to try something new so I chose mamones. I love the flavor but the texture of mamones is kind of yucky.
Las tostadas de plátano preperadas con curtido y salsa fueron deliciosas.
The tostadas de platano prepared with curtido and salsa were delicious.
¿Cómo podíamos resistir pupusas?
How could we resist pupusas?
A pesar de que estabamos llenos, hacía mucho calor, así que necesitábamos minutas para refrescarnos. El cartel tenía los nombres de las minutas en diferentes países. Fue muy interesante!
Snowcones – Los Estados Unidos
Minutas – El Salvador
Granizadas – Guatemala
Nieves – Honduras
Raspados – México
Raspadillas – SurAmerica
Piraguas – Puerto Rico
Frío-Frío – Rep. Dominicana
Mi hijito y yo decidimos que el nombre “frio-frio” es lo mejor.
Even though we were full, it was hot, so we needed Salvadoran snowcones to cool off. The sign had the name of snowcones in different countries. It was really interesting!
Snowcones – USA
Minutas – El Salvador
Granizadas – Guatemala
Nieves – Honduras
Raspados – Mexico
Raspadillas – South America
Piraguas – Puerto Rico
Frío-Frío – Dominican Republic
My younger son and I decided that the name “frío-frío” was the best.
Pedí leche condensada azucarada en mi minuta.
I asked for sweetened condensed milk on my snowcone.
Carlos pidió tamarindo en su minuta.
Carlos asked for tamarind on his snowcone.
Después de comer demasiado, nos fijamos en todo lo que tenían por venta.
After eating too much, we looked around at all the things they had for sale.
Fue un excelente festival. Si vives en la zona, te recomiendo que vayas el próximo verano. (Y ven con hambre!)
It’s an excellent festival. If you live in the area, I recommend you go next summer. (And come hungry!)
Feliz Día de la Independencia a El Salvador y a todos mis amigos de Centroamérica y México!
Happy Independence Day to El Salvador and to all of my Central American and Mexican friends!
I realized the other day that while I made a video on how to make pupusas de queso and recently shared a recipe for making mini pupusas de queso y frijol, I hadn’t posted a recipe or video for Carlos’s favorite – pupusas revueltas!
It was a little difficult for me to quantify everything and give clear directions because I make them a little differently each time, adjusting this and that to make them better – but here is how I made them this time. As you can see, I used ground pork instead of making authentic chicharrones with chunks of pork, but it works well like this and saves you from getting greasy meat all over your food processor when you grind it up.
Now, whenever I make a pupusa video, inevitably I get comments on YouTube asking for curtido and salsa recipes, so I decided to make a video of those too, even though I have variations of both posted here.
So, without further introduction, here are the videos and recipes for pupusas revueltas, salsa and curtido. (And as a special treat, in one of the videos you can see Carlos attempt to make a pupusa by himself!)
What you need:
1 lb. fresh ground pork (you can even use turkey or chicken if you don’t eat pork)
1 tbs. minced garlic
1-2 tbs. canola oil
1 medium tomato, washed and quartered
1 medium Poblano or the equivalent green pepper, washed, stem & seeds removed, and quartered
1/2 a medium onion, cut in half
1/2 cup refried beans
1 lb. whole milk mozzarella cheese, softened (directions below)
salt to taste
For the masa/dough:
3 cups MASECA
3 1/4 cups water
a little less than 1/2 tsp. salt
1. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and garlic. Stir for a few seconds before adding ground pork and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until browned. Remove from heat, set aside. (Note: Many people use chunks of pork in place of ground pork and after cooking, run it through the food processor. This is totally up to you. I’ve used both methods and both work.)
2. In the food processor set to “mince” – Process: the tomato, the Poblano or green pepper, and the onion. Add to the pork and mix to combine. Taste and correct with salt if needed.
3. Add the refried beans. Stir to combine.
4. To soften the cheese, place it in a warm water bath while it is still in the plastic packaging. After about 10 minutes, drain the water and open the package. Knead the cheese by hand until soft. Add to the pork mixture and stir to combine. This will be your pupusa filling. Set the mixture aside.
5. In a large bowl sprinkle salt over MASECA and then pour in water. Mix by hand until combined.
6. To form pupusas, take a large handful of dough, (slightly bigger than a golf ball but not as big as a baseball), and pat it into a tortilla. Cup your hand so the tortilla forms a bowl-like shape. In the hollow, place a large pinch of the pupusa filling. Close your hand gently to fold the sides up around the filling and form the ball again. Pat out into a thick tortilla shape and then place on a hot griddle, comal or non-stick frying pan. (No oil is needed!) Flip to cook on each side. Serve with salsa and curtido.
What you need:
3 to 4 fresh large tomatoes (Roma are best), chopped
1 handful fresh cilantro
1/2 of a medium-sized onion, chopped
1/4 of a medium Poblano pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon raw, minced garlic
Salt to taste
A few shakes of Worcestershire sauce (also known as “Salsa Perrins.”)
Combine in a blender. Blend until smooth, about one minute. Serve immediately or put in a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid and keep refrigerated. You can also pour the salsa into a pot and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes which will brighten the natural red color of the tomatoes and deepen the flavor a little. Use in almost any recipe calling for salsa, or as a side with Latin American dishes. Use within a few days or can it to keep longer.
Possible substitutions: A 32 ounce can of undrained whole tomatoes can be substituted for fresh tomatoes. Green bell pepper can be substituted for the Poblano pepper.
What you need:
1 small cabbage, washed and cut into large chunks
1 cup carrots, washed and peeled
1/2 a small onion
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup warm water
salt to taste
oregano to taste
1. With the food processor set to “shred” – Process the cabbage and carrots. Switch the food processor to “julienne” for the onion. Combine in a large bowl with remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.
Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!
Aunque no quería la responsibilidad de tener una mascota de nuevo, el año pasado adoptamos a Chico porque pensabamos que sería bueno por la salud de nuestra familia. Tener un perro ayuda a reducir el estrés, y si uno tiene un perro igual que Chico, le da sonrisas cada día con sus bayuncadas.
Aquí les muestro que hizo Chico de chistoso anteayer. Carlos estaba viendo las noticias cuando salio un reportaje sobre un día de celebración en El Salvador por los perros callejeros. (O como les dicen en El Salvador, “chuchos aguacateros.”)
Como lo pueden ver, bien le gusto el reportaje a Chico, y bien curioso está de sus primos en El Salvador.
Even though I didn’t want the responsibility of having another pet, we adopted Chico last year because we thought it would be good for the health of our family. Having a dog helps to reduce stress, and if you have a dog like Chico, he’ll give you smiles each day with the silly things he does.
Here I’ll show you what funny thing Chico did the day before yesterday. Carlos was watching the news when a report about a celebration for street dogs in El Salvador came on. (Or as street dogs are called in El Salvador, “chuchos aguacateros.”)
As you can see, Chico really liked the report and he’s very curious about his cousins in El Salvador.
It’s August which means it’s time to share my home improvement project of the month. This month Lowe’s challenged us to make our casita more energy efficient and to also get ready for autumn.
When I researched ways to make our home more energy efficient, I came up with a lot of options, but so much of the information pointed to one thing – “el refri” – (that’s Spanish for “the fridge.”) Check out some of these facts:
“Refrigerators and freezers consume about a sixth of all electricity in a typical American home – using more electricity than any other single household appliance.” – Source: ConsumerEnergyCenter.org
“ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators are required to use about 15% less energy than non-certified models…By properly recycling your old refrigerator and replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator, you can save from $200–$1,100 on energy costs over its lifetime.” – Source: EnergyStar.gov
“Refrigerators are the top-consuming kitchen appliance in U.S. households…” – Source: Science.HowStuffWorks.com
It didn’t take long for me to get the message – especially knowing that our refrigerator was over 10 years old and not functioning well – (Although according to Carlos, our old fridge wasn’t completely broken compared to his childhood refrigerator in El Salvador. He says the door of his refrigerator wouldn’t stay closed so they installed a latch on the outside of it.)
Anyway, we went to Lowe’s and after browsing for a few minutes, we found an Energy Star refrigerator in our price range that fit the dimensions of our kitchen. It’s not one of those fancy side-by-side refrigerators and it isn’t made of shiny stainless steel, but we’re happy with it.
The next day Lowe’s delivered the new fridge and took away the old one for free.
As you can see from the two photos so far, I have the new fridge organized inside and out – which brings me to the “getting ready for autumn” portion of the challenge. For most families, August means it’s time to get ready for “back-to-school” and the refrigerator is one of those parts of the household that is impacted. There will be school lunches to pack and store on the inside, while the outside serves as a message center for events, permission slips, menu plans, grocery lists, calenders, art work, and graded assignments we want to display to show our orgullo when our niños do well.
Sticking all these things on the fridge haphazardly with magnets from the local pizza place doesn’t set a very good example for the kids when you hand them new school supplies and tell them to keep organized, plus it just looks messy, so I came up with a few do-it-yourself crafts to de-clutter and keep organized. See the directions below to make your own!
Do-it-Yourself Magnetic Frames & Corkboards
What you need:
• Picture frames
• Magnets (I found these in the hardware aisle at Lowe’s, you can use circular discs or rectangular blocks, depending on the size of your frame.)
• Hot glue gun & glue sticks
• Style Selections 2′ x 4′ Cork Roll (at Lowe’s)
• Optional: Paint or spray paint
1. Gather your supplies. For the frames, lightweight frames work best since you’ll want the magnets to hold it securely on your fridge. Check your dollar store and second hand stores for great deals on frames and get them in a variety of sizes. Smaller ones can be used for photos, but you’ll want larger document-sized ones for the corkboard and for displaying papers your child brings home from school.
Note: I left my frames silver because I thought they looked nice like that, but if you want to paint or spray paint the frames, you should do that before anything else. Just remove the backing and the glass, place on newspaper, and then paint or spray paint. (Lowe’s has a Valspar brand spray paint specifically for plastic if you’re using plastic frames.) Allow to dry before continuing.
2. Cut the cardboard stand off the back of the frame – you won’t need it. This doesn’t have to look pretty.
3. For a corkboard frame, remove the glass and use it to trace the shape/size onto the corkboard with a pen. Cut the corkboard out with scissors. Set aside.
4. With the glass removed, trace the inside of your frame onto the cardboard backing with a pen. These marks are what will guide you for positioning the corkboard in the center of the frame if needed. Remove the cardboard backing from the frame and use hot glue to attach the cork material to the cardboard. When finished, put the backing, now covered with the cork material, back into the frame.
5. To make both magnetic corkboards and regular magnetic frames, flip the frame to the backside, and attach a magnet in each corner with hot glue. If your frame is heavier, you may need to attach more magnets for it to stick securely to the fridge.
Note: I recommend not using the glass at all when frames are displayed on the fridge. The glass makes the frames heavier and considerably more dangerous if one happens to fall when opening or closing the door.
Three Bonus Organizing and Energy-Saving Tips:
• Buy an expanding folder that closes securely. Hang this on your fridge using two strong magnetic clips. It’s great for keeping smaller clutter like business cards for local repair companies, coupons, frequently used recipes and restaurant menus, accessible but hidden.
• Label things and keep them organized inside your refrigerator to cut down on the amount of time you search for things. Keeping the refrigerator door open leads to higher energy bills.
• Keep a magnetic grocery list on the fridge and update it as needed throughout the week. This will save you from holding the fridge door open for an extended period on grocery shopping day to take inventory.
What is your best tip for keeping your electric bill down and staying organized? Díganos en comments!
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Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s to purchase products to complete projects. All opinions are my own.
With Back-to-school only weeks away and Día Nacional de la Herencia Salvadoreña Americana (National Salvadoran American Heritage Day) coming up on August 6th – I decided to make a Salvadoran themed bento box which would be ideal for packing for your child’s lunch.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a fan of packing traditional Salvadoran foods for my children when I get a chance. I feel that it roots the boys in their heritage and also gives them a chance to share their culture with classmates.
Although changes have been made to school lunch in the United States, I think they still have a long way to go. Making your child’s lunch gives you control over how much sodium, sugar, fat and calories they’re getting and it allows you to provide healthy foods you know your child likes. This particular bento box contains a balanced alternative to school bought lunches: Bean and cheese mini-pupusas provide plenty of fiber and protein and when cooked without oil, are lower in fat. In place of the traditional cabbage curtido and salsa we have a salad of finely chopped fresh spinach and grape tomatoes which are packed with vitamins. Potato chips are replaced with homemade baked plantain chips cooked without any oil and sprinkled lightly with salt. To drink, horchata stands in for chocolate milk – When made with skim or 1% milk, your child gets calcium for growing bones without extra calories, sugar and fat.
Ready to give this Salvadoran bento box lunch a try? Recipes are below!
Salvadoran horchata mix (find it at your local Latino Market)
Skim or 1% milk
A thermos or bottle that seals tightly
Optional: Sweetener of your choice
1. Put a couple tablespoons of the horchata mix into the thermos or bottle. (A funnel may make this easier.) Add a cup of milk – make sure you leave some space at the top so the drink can be shaken at lunch time.
2. Optional: Add sweetener of your choice, but depending on the mix you use, you may find it tastes great without these unneeded calories.
3. Another optional step is to pour the horchata through a sieve to remove any clumps of mix that didn’t dissolve. Otherwise, seal the bottle tightly so it doesn’t leak. At lunch time your child can give it a few shakes to make sure it’s well mixed before opening.
Mini-Pupusas de Queso y Frijol
A quarter cup softened mozzarella cheese
1/8 cup frijoles molidos or frijoles medio molidos
MASECA Instant Corn Masa Flour prepared as instructions on package indicate. (Use the proportions that yield 4 tortillas: 1/2 cup Maseca, 1/3 cup water, pinch of salt.)
1. Mix the cheese and beans by hand until well blended. The beans you use can be molidos (completely pureed) or you can use frijoles medio molidos, (which leaves some of the beans mostly intact or slightly smashed.) I used Salvadoran frijol rojo de seda, which I prepared medio molidos.
2. Now just assemble the pupusas as usual, but using a smaller amount of masa and filling so that the pupusas come out mini-sized. Cook on a hot comal (griddle), flipping once. No need to use any oil on the comal. This will make about 6 mini-pupusas.
(Need pupusa-making tips? Click here.)
Homemade Sweet and Salty Plantain Chips
1 ripe plantain (yellow with black markings)
1. Cut the peel off the plantain. Slice the plantain into thin coins. Put the plantain rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (No need to add any oil!)
2. Bake at 350 F, turning once to brown on both sides for about 10 to 15 minutes. Optional: Lightly sprinkle with salt. This makes enough for two servings.