Albóndigas Mexican Meatballs

Mexican Meatballs (1 of 1) (1 of 1)

I’m so embarrassed! I was in the midst of photographing these Mexican Meatballs when my camera shutter button jammed. I was stuck- no more pictures! I was worried that my meatballs would go stale on me, so I drove 17 miles to a camera repair shop, only to be told that my camera worked fine. I just needed to recharge the camera batteries! That was one of those embarrassing moments that I’d like to forget.

Now back to the Mexican Meatballs. ‘Albóndigas’ means ‘meatballs’ in Spanish and are a popular Spanish tapas dish. The thing that makes them Mexican Meatballs is the addition of a chipotle chile in the sauce. Chipotles are smoked jalapeno peppers and they give a nice smoky taste to the dish. I’ve used chipotles in several other of my dishes: Smoky Chipotle Chicken with Chorizo and Smoky Chipotle Eggs Baked in a Skillet. You can find chipotles in various supermarkets (particularly in Southern California) or in Mexican specialty markets.

To make the meatballs, you combine minced beef and pork together with diced onion, breadcrumbs, egg, cumin and oregano. After browning the meatballs, the mouth watering sauce or ‘soup’ is made with diced tomatoes, a chipotle pepper, beef stock and seasonings. It’s enough to make you want to grab that nearby piece of bread and sop up the juices.

Words to describe this dish would be ‘spicy, delicious, appetizing, inviting, tasty, delectable and toothsome’… oh hell, I’m running out of words here. But be sure and have your camera batteries charged before photographing this dish!

 Mexican Meatballs (2 of 2) (1 of 1)


Albóndigas Mexican Meatballs
Serves 6
Spicy meatballs served in a mouth watering chipotle sauce
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For the Mexican Meatballs
  1. 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  2. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  3. 1/2 lb ground beef
  4. 1/2 lb ground pork
  5. 3 tbsp. Mexican beef or pork chorizo (optional)
  6. 1/4 cup ground breadcrumbs
  7. 1 raw egg
  8. 1 tsp ground cumin
  9. 1/2 tsp oregano
  10. 1 tsp salt
For the sauce/soup
  1. 1 small onion, diced
  2. 2 cloves garlic, diced
  3. 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped
  4. 1/4 tsp cumin
  5. 2 cups beef stock
  6. 1 can chopped tomatoes
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. juice from 1 lime
To serve
  1. 1 - 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced
  2. cooked white rice
For the meatballs
  1. Sauté the chopped onions and garlic in olive or vegetable oil for several minutes until soft.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the raw beef, pork and Mexican chorizo, breadcrumbs, raw egg, cooked onions and garlic, cumin, oregano and salt.
  3. Form the mixture into meatballs about 1 - 1.5 inches wide and brown for several minutes over medium heat for several minutes. Set aside.
For the sauce/soup
  1. In a large skillet or casserole dish, sauté the chopped onions and garlic in olive or vegetable oil until soft. Add the chopped chipotle chile, cumin, beef stock, diced tomatoes, salt and lime juice to the pan. Stir over medium heat for several minutes.
  2. Add the browned meatballs to the pan, cover and let simmer for at least 10 minutes until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Serve over rice and garnish with chopped coriander.
  1. Adjust the amount of cumin and chipotle chile according to your personal taste. The addition of the 3 tbsp. of Mexican chorizo to the meatballs is optional- I added the chorizo to give the meat more flavour.
G'day Soufflé

Spiced Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls 6 of 6) (1 of 1)Cinnamon Rolls 7 of 7) (1 of 1)Cinnamon Rolls (2 of 2) (1 of 1)

It’s that time of year when we are apt to say, “Oh God, not another pumpkin recipe!” Now that we are approaching Halloween and Thanksgiving, we are flooded with pumpkin recipes: McDonalds has pumpkin pancakes, there’s pumpkin beer and I’ve even seen a recipe called Red Curry Pig’s Feet with Pumpkin. But the one that amuses me the most is the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, complete with a jack-o-lantern image on top:

Pumpkin latteHowever, some people think we have gone too far with our pumpkin-loving recipes, as shown here:


What do you think, have we gone too far with pumpkin flavored everything? In my view, pumpkins remind me of the approaching Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. and brings on images of being with family and friends and stuffing ourselves with turkey and pumpkin pie. Nice warm fuzzy feelings tucked in my mind and ‘stomach memory.’ So excuse me, here is one more pumpkin recipe to digest, Spiced Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

With this recipe, you first form a yeast dough and then let it rise and double in size. Then roll out the dough in a rectangle shape and spread the spiced pumpkin filling on top. The dough is then rolled up lengthwise and sliced into pieces 1.5 inches thick and allowed to rise again. Bake and then top with a delicious cream cheese icing- you’ll never feel bad about making just one more pumpkin recipe!

 Glaze with Sour Cream Icing:



Spiced Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Yields 10
Cinnamon rolls filled with spiced pumpkin and slathered with a delicious cream cheese icing
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For the dough
  1. 1 cup milk
  2. 1/2 cup (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter
  3. 1 packet dry yeast (1/4 oz or 5 g)
  4. 1/4 cup white sugar
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. 1 tsp cinnamon
  7. 3 cups plain white flour
For the pumpkin filling
  1. 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  2. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  3. 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (or 3/4 tsp cinnamon + 1/8 tsp nutmeg)
For the icing
  1. 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  2. 3 tbsp. melted butter
  3. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 3/4 cup powdered sugar
For the pumpkin pie filling
  1. Combine the pumpkin puree with the brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice until smooth. Set aside
For the dough
  1. Heat the milk and butter on the stovetop until hot but not boiling. Let cool to about 110 F. Add the packet of yeast and let rest for about 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar,salt and cinnamon and stir in the yeast/butter mixture until smooth. Gradually add the flour to the mixture, working it in with your hands or using the dough hook of your electric mixer. The dough should be rather moist and elastic.
  3. Form a ball with the dough and knead on a lightly-floured surface for several minutes. Place the dough in a bowl that has been oiled with a light coat of vegetable oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let rise for about 1 hour until double in size.
  4. Punch down the dough and rollout into a thin rectangular shape on a lightly-floured surface. Brush the surface of the dough with melted butter (about 3 tbsp.) Then spread a thin layer of the pumpkin filling on top. Roll-up the dough tightly lengthwise into a tube shape then slice into pieces about 1.5 to 2 inches thick using a serrated bread knife. This should yield about 10 rolls.
  5. Place the rolls into a buttered round (or square) dish and let rise for another 1 hour. Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 350 F. until the rolls are light brown. Turn the rolls out onto a large plate, let cool and glaze with the cream cheese icing.
For the icing
  1. Combine the melted butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract and powdered sugar until smooth, using an electric mixer. The mixture should be silky and smooth. If the icing is too dry, moisten with a little milk or cream.
  1. Note: I used Butternut Pumpkin (squash) for my filling since it is easier to handle than the typical larger pumpkin.
G'day Soufflé




Pork Pot Stickers with Achiote Sauce and Pineapple Salsa


Pot Stickers (1 of 1) (1 of 1) How do you spell A-C-H-I-O-T-E please?

I grew up in Chula Vista, California near the Mexican border so Mexican food was a regular part of my life. I frequently downed tacos, enchiladas, refried beans and fried rice and sometimes snuck in a chimichanga or two. I even considered myself somewhat of an expert on Mexican food until I was invited to a preview tasting for the annual Taste of Downtown event held in San Diego on October 2, 2014.

With over 30 restaurants taking part in this event, several other food bloggers and I were given preliminary tastings at 8 of these venues, including several Mexican bar and grill restaurants. I was expecting the waiters to bring out the usual tacos and enchiladas, but instead was presented with dishes like Pot Stickers with Achiote Sauce and Grilled Pineapple Salsa and Hicama Sticks with Sriracha-Lime Aioli.

“Whatever happened to the simple old Mexican dishes?” I asked myself. Leaning over towards a fellow blogger I whispered, “How do you spell ‘achiote’? What is sriacha sauce? HICAMA WHO?”  The other bloggers were scribbling away like old hands as they took notes and were eying me with suspicion. “Where has she been all these years?” they were probably asking themselves.

Anyway, I had to fast-foward 10 years really quickly and get up-to-scratch on what’s been happening to Mexican food, at least in SoCal and some other parts of the US. Traditional Mexican food has now morphed into something called Baja Med, a blend of Mexican food with Asian and Merditerranean influences, often blending the magnificent seafood of Baja California with olive oils, fruits and vegetables found in the San Quintin Valley and Guadalupe Valley of Baja.

I’d love to do a full blog post one day on Baja Med cuisine, but for now I’d like to present the recipe for Pork Pot Stickers with Achiote Sauce and Grilled Pineapple Salsa. This was one of the tasting dishes from the San Diego restaurant Comun Grill and Tavern so here is my version of the dish.

A pork shoulder roast is first cooked for several hours on the stovetop until the meat falls apart and is then blended with some achiote paste. The mixture is then placed inside a wonton wrapper (called a ‘pot sticker’) and baked in the oven and finally served with a spicy grilled pineapple salsa. This dish makes a great appetiser.

Achiote paste is made from ground annatto seeds and is mixed with cumin and other spices. It is used as flavouring in Mexico, the Carribbeans and in the Philippines and gives a nice smoky taste and vibrant red coloring to food. You can purchase achiote paste in Mexican food specialty stores or online at or

 Olé! Who said that Mexican food was still stuck in the past?

 Pot Stickers 2 of 2) (1 of 1)      Pork Pot Stickers with Achiote Sauce and Grilled Pineapple Salsa  


    Pork Pot Stickers

  • 1 pork shoulder roast
  • water to cover the roast in a pot or Dutch Oven
  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, whole
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 3 cups of the pork cooking liquid
  • 3 tbsp. achiote paste
  • 2 -3 tsp Mexican chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • wonton wrappers

  Grilled Pineapple Salsa

  • 1 fresh pineapple, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (coriander)
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 red chili, seeded and finely diced
  • salt to taste


  • Place the pork, garlic, salt, peppercorns and onion in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and simmer until the meat is tender and falls off the bone (about 2 hours).
  • When the meat is cooked, transfer to a bowl and set aside. Strain the remaining cooking broth through a sieve; there should be at least three cups of broth remaining (if not, top-up with more water).
  • After the meat cools, shred using several forks. Add the reserved pork cooking broth to the shredded pork; start by adding 2 cups of the broth and then gradually add the remaining broth until the meat becomes moist but not runny.
  • Add the achiote paste and Mexican chili powder to the meat; add more seasoning if required. Add salt to taste.
  • Place a small ball of the pork mixture on top of each wanton wrapper (about 1 tsp) then brush the outter edge of the wrapper with water. Fold the edges of each wrapper together and then pinch the sides together.


  •  Brush the pot stickers with olive oil and bake for 6 – 7 minutes at 350 F. on a parchment-lined tray until the outsides turn golden brown. Turn each one several times while baking for even coloration.

For the Grilled Pineapple Salsa

  • Peel and core a fresh pineapple and dice into 1/2 inch cubes. Combine with the chopped onions, cilantro, lime juice, diced chili and salt.
  • Serve the salsa on top of a banana leaf (optional) and arrange the pot stickers around the side of he dish.