Watermelon Rosemary Agua Fresca

Hello, friends. I’m going to give you a quick little recipe for something often I drink to avoid drinking actual water (because water sucks).

I love watermelon and usually have it in my refrigerator at all times if possible. Most of the time I’ll eat some and then use the rest to make agua de sandía (watermelon water). This has always been my favorite agua fresca (aside from horchata of course), and I’ve played around with a few variations, but this is one of my favorites for this time of year because it incorporates lemon and rosemary. I don’t like mine to be too sweet, but you can adjust the sugar to your taste depending on how naturally sweet your melon is.

Watermelon Rosemary Agua Fresca

Ingredients:

Half of a large ripe watermelon
Juice from half of a large lemon
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 sprig rosemary
Ice

Inside of a large pitcher, muddle the sugar and sprig rosemary. In a blender, blend watermelon and water together. Pour watermelon mixture through a strainer into your pitcher (sometimes I skip this part if I’m feeling pulpy) and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add ice and serve cold.

(Optional: Add a shot of tequila and sing Beyonce’s lyric “I’ve been drinkin…watermelonnnn”.)

Enjoy!

 

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DIY: Día de los Muertos Sugar Skull Pumpkin Idea

Growing up Mexican-American I grew up celebrating Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). I remember visiting my family in Mexico and going to the cemetery where families would bring gifts, food, and build colorful, elaborate altars (ofrendas) for their loved ones. People would stay all night, often dressing up and painting their faces like skulls.

This tradition is especially popular in LA. For the past 15 years the Hollywood Forever cemetery has been holding yearly Día de los Muertos events with food, contests, and live entertainment. It’s the perfect opportunity to join in and learn more about Mexican culture. 

I always try to bring elements of Dia de los Muertos into my October decorating, so for my first pumpkin of the season I decided on a Día de los Muertos theme.
Dia de los Muertos themed pumpkin #12monthsofmartha

If you celebrate Día de los Muertos and want to make this for your ofrenda, or maybe just want to show some love for Mexican culture at your home, here’s how to make your own skull pumpkin. You can use a real pumpkin or a faux pumpkin. I want to keep mine long term, so I chose faux.

I started by painting a calavera (skull) on to the pumpkin. If you’re bad at drawing, just search Google for “sugar skull templates” and use it to trace a skull on. Then paint it in with lots of color.

Finish your calaca (skeleton character) off by gluing a crown of flowers around the skull. Marigolds, roses, and other colorful flowers are most authentic. 

And that’s it!
Dia de los Muertos themed pumpkin #12monthsofmartha

DIY: Mexican Papel Picado

No Mexican themed party is a real fiesta without papel picado. Papel picado is a Mexican folk art where designs are cut into paper and displayed for different special occasions.

Professional papel picado is really impressive and can feature different elaborate scenes. Commonly seen designs are skeletons, birds, and flowers for Day of the Dead celebrations. You don’t have to be a pro to make your own pretty papel picado though. Here’s how to do it.

Using colored tissue paper, you’re going to fold and cut different shapes out. It’s similar to making paper snowflakes. You know the ones.

Papel Picado Steps

1. Cut a rectangle of tissue paper. 6″x8″ is a good size.

2. Fold the paper in quarters, width wise.

3-4. Make an curvy cut at the bottom.

5-6. Cut shapes into folds. Try folding at different angles to get as much variety as possible.

I like to iron mine with low heat when they’re finished. This smooths the fold lines out nicely.

Use as many different colors and designs as possible!

DIY Mexican Papel Picado

Use clear tape to attach them to a ribbon or string and hang them like a garland.

DIY Mexican Papel PicadoThat’s it! Now your fiestas will be super authentic. Trust me, I’m Mexican.

 

Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie with Maria Cookie Crust

One of my favorite treats when I was a kid was Abuelita Mexican hot chocolate and Maria cookies. I would always dip the cookies in my hot chocolate, just like my grandma did with her coffee, and experience the pure joy that only food gives me. I was having a late night craving and had the wild I had the idea of putting the flavors together in pie form. Sometimes I don’t want to drink hot chocolate, but I pretty much always want to eat pie. So I made my dream a reality.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie

This pie has a crispy buttery cookie crust, much like a graham cracker crust. The filling is fudgey and gooey with a crackled top, and has all the flavor of Mexican hot chocolate.

Mexican Hot Chocolate PieQuick Note about Pie Pan Size:

For this recipe I used a 9 inch pie pan. You can use whatever you have, but if you use smaller pans you may not end up using all of your crust mixture or filling. But that’s ok, it’s better to make more and have some left over than not have enough.

Maria Cookie Crust

2 cups Maria cookie crumbs (1-2 packages of Maria cookies)

1 stick butter, melted

Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Use a blender or food processor to finely crush your cookies into crumbs. (If you don’t have either of those appliances, put the cookies in a large ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin.) Melt butter on stove stop or microwave. Mix melted butter and crumbs together until it has a wet sand consistency. It should hold together when you pinch it. If your crust is still a little dry and won’t hold together, you can add a bit more melted butter until it does. Put in pie pan and use your hands or a measuring cup to press and flatten the crumbs to the bottom and up against the sides.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie

Bake at 350 degrees for about 7-10 minutes until it has just set to the touch. You don’t want to over-bake or over brown it, since it’ll bake more with the filling. Set it aside to cool.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Filling

4 ounces Mexican Hot Chocolate, such as Abuelita

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1.5 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cinnamon stick

Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat eggs in a small bowl and set aside. Chop chocolate to make it easier to melt. Melt butter and chocolate together in a sauce pan with cinnamon stick over medium-low heat. Add the sugar and remove from heat. Remove cinnamon stick. While stirring constantly, add eggs and beat well until smooth.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie

Pour filling mixture into prepared pie crust until it almost hits the top edge of the crust. Do not over fill the pan.

Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes on center rack. The pie should be just barely set but remain gooey in the middle, and have a crackled top. It will set more as it cools.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie

Serve warm or room temp with ice cream or whipped cream. YUM!

Homemade Horchata Mexican Drink Recipe

Mmmm horchata!  [Pronounced “or-cha-ta”]. The recipe varies depending on the region of origin, but this is how I grew up seeing it made. It’s what is known as Aguas Frescas. Usually fruits, grains, or seeds blended with sugar and water to make a delicious beverage. I was raised on this stuff and I love it. It’s my special treat. Part of my culture. Liquid golden calories of joy.

This Mexican horchata is made with rice, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Almonds are also sometimes used, and since my husband likes “the body it gives the drink” I use them in this version. You can omit almonds and replace with rice if you want (my preferred way). If someone ever gives you horchata made with milk…they can’t be trusted.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 cups long grain white rice, uncooked (1/2 cup more if you omit the almonds)

1/2 cup blanched, skinless almonds (can be omitted and replaced with rice)

4 cups water; plus 4 cups

1 cup sugar, plus more to taste

2 cinnamon sticks; plus more to garnish

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Grind rice and almonds in a blender or spice grinder until it makes a fine powder.

Blend the almond and rice powder with 3 cups of water until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Add cinnamon sticks and vanilla. Set aside, covered, for at least 8 hours.

Use a fine mesh seive or cover your strainer with a layer of good cheesecloth.

Add 1 cup of water to your mixture and strain into a large bowl. You want to strain as much grit out as possible. Discard the solids.

Add sugar. Stir thoroughly.

Pour into a pitcher. Stir in 4 cups of cold water, sweeten to taste, and add lots of ice. Garnish with grated cinnamon and cinnamon sticks.

You can spike it if you want. Rum, anejo tequila, or vodka adds a nice extra kick. Enjoy!