Updated: Dec 19, 2018
This post is sponsored by Capital One
Hola Familia! Como están? Do you miss me as much as I miss you? Well, I’m back here and checking in because I’ve done some serious traveling over the past two months that I’d love to share with you guys. If you follow on Instagram @chefmarcela you know not only every single detail about me and my kids’ life, but you also know how much we move around as a family. Stability is important, for sure, but by traveling I feel we are giving our kids life skills they can’t necessarily learn at home. Not only will it teach them how to adapt to new environments but it opens their hearts and minds to new ideas, cultures, languages and people.
Furthermore, travel helps them understand that there is a great, big, wonderful, magical world out there with people that, even though can seem very different from us, are pretty much searching for the same thing; a meaningful, fulfilling and happy life.
My first stop was New Orleans! I teamed up with the Purpose Project by Capital One, a program launched by Capital One to illustrate the power and the impact of purposeful travel on our lives, because, hello, that’s what I live for. I’d never been to New Orleans and I was there with the incredibly talented Noelle Scaggs, who I first met at the Capital One launch event in October and we were so excited to reunite in New Orleans. We visited an incredible establishment called Café Reconcile that works with the youth in the community to teach them life skills through cooking and serving meals at the café. More on that experience in a blog post early next year but my visit inspired a new recipe that would be perfect serve during the holidays.
While there I snuck my hand in the hot line and sampled a jalapeño corn biscuit that instantly transported me to my youth in Mexico. I grew up with corn bread topped with creamed rajas, so the combination of sweet corn and smoky chile was something not only recognized by my palate but embraced by my soul. Another reminder that we all have so much more in common than we think. I hope you enjoy the cornbread with creamed rajas as much as I do!
Cornbread and Creamed Rajas
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup fresh corn kernels (scraped from 3 cobs)
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ tablespoon kosher salt
3 egg whites, beaten into soft peaks
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 white onion, thinly sliced
2 ears fresh corn kernels
6 charred, peeled, stemmed, seeded Poblano peppers, cut into thin strips
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup Mexican crema or Sour Cream
½ cup shredded Oaxaca cheese or Mozzarella cheese
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven at 350 F. Prepare 12 muffin tins by greasing with oil.
In a food processor, combine all the cornbread ingredients, except egg whites. Process everything until smoothly mixed. Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the beaten egg whites. Pour the filling into the prepared muffin cups. Bake cornbread muffins for 40-45 minutes, or until golden. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut an X in the top of each cornbread muffin.
Heat oil on medium in a skillet. Sauté onion for about five minutes. Add corn, cooking another three minutes. Add strips of poblano peppers to the skillet and cook another five minutes. The corn should be tender at this point. Add heavy cream and Mexican crema. Cook about eight minutes, or until bubbling. Stir in cheese until smoothly melted; salt and pepper. Top each cornbread with creamed rajas and serve immediately.
The vibrant colors, textures, and smells of New Orleans are parallel to the enchanting characteristics of my Mexico. The food is filled with history and personality and the heavy French presence and influence in EVERYTHING New Orleans captures my favorite food and design period in Mexican History, The Porfiriato, where to be of the elite meant basically being a Francophile! It was a work trip but MAN I need to come back with my children, so they can see with their own little eyes the common threads between us and so much of the world around them! Can’t wait to share more about my trip to New Orleans with you in 2019!
Now onto my next trip! We decided that for the first time EVER we were going to spend Thanksgiving traveling. Since our kids are getting older, it is harder to pull them out of school to travel, so we wanted to take advantage of the time off. We chose San Miguel de Allende; a magical town about three hours from Mexico City that is a mix of European architecture, Mexican tradition, ridiculously good food and home, décor, and tabletop stores that can drive someone like myself WILD. We had a very clear purpose when planning this trip; to expose our children to even more of the Mexico that we know and love. Our culture is very much alive and thriving in our Chula Vista community (shout out to the 91910) as well as in our homes but there is NOTHING like wandering the streets, eating the food, and speaking to the locals. The city is so gorgeous and safe that I seriously was looking at real estate on the trip back home!
As soon as we arrived, everyone fell in love with San Miguel, especially the children. We stayed in the most beautiful home a few minutes from the town’s center and rented four-wheelers to explore the city. We enjoyed day trips to Guanajuato and Queretaro, ate every flavor ice cream at the plaza, went into every single art gallery and museum we could find, teens AND babies in tow! Exhausting? At times. But mostly exhilarating. I’ll put all the San Miguel info up in a few days on my Instagram stories (you all really want info on the rental!!!) but I really just wanted to share what a great trip it was for us as a family.
I bought more tableware items that I can fit in my home, all of which are being delivered. A hand-carved wooden bench with a horse on one end is also on its way. The plates that will adorn my Christmas table traveled with me on the plane back home and I’ve lit all my veladoras (a.k.a. candles) in the hope that the bust of Porfirio Díaz that is en route will also make it in one piece. There is meaning behind my madness, in short: I need my culture to be alive in my home. For my children. For me. For my followers, especially the ones that have struggles to find the courage to live their heritage loudly because of fear of not being accepted. I am grateful every single day that I get to pass these very important things down to our children. Just a plate or a textile to some but, for me, centuries of artistry from a country that are still preserved in that one little piece that sits on my dining room table. History lives in this home and they may not realize it now, but my kids breathe it in every day, as do my friends and family when they come over for gatherings. My home, like my travels, has a purpose and that is something that I am incredibly proud of!
Please enjoy the recipe above, I hope the warm and comforting scents of corn and sweetened condensed milk transport you to Mexico and fill you with inspiration to book your next purposeful adventure! Every trip can have a purpose, whether you’re motivated by an appetite or teaching your family about your heritage and other cultures (like me!). Find more tips on how to travel with purpose on the Capital One Purpose Project Hub, in collaboration with The Points Guy.
Not sure what I’m making for Christmas dinner, but I sure do know what my table is going to look like. But, you know me… there’s a million photos coming to the gram as soon as it’s set. Gracias familia! Keep traveling and exploring! I’d love to hear from you about how travel has made an impact on your traditions, so please share your stories with #MeaningfulMoments.