Tagged Cristina Acosta recipes

Gingerbread cookie recipe

Vintage Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

Make these gingerbread cookies a few days ahead then invite friends to a decorating party during the Christmas holiday. These spicy gingerbread cookies are a vintage 1970’s gingerbread cookie recipe my sister Alisa and I have been making since we were young teenagers. It’s a family tradition we would love to pass to you. These cookies taste great when they are fresh and soft and also age well. They make great shaped cookies, but because they rise a teeny bit they won’t work for a gingerbread house.

These cookies age very well, lasting for weeks if well wrapped.

Time:  To mix: approx 15 min. To roll out and cut: about 5-10 minutes per tray.
To cook: approx 10 – 13 minutes at 350 F

Tools: Large mixer or very strong arms, a whisk and stout spoon. Rolling pin,
Cookie sheets, Oven. Cookie cutters or a cup to create shaped cookies.

Yield: Depends on the size of your cutters. With 4”-5” tall gingerbread people cutters makes about 4 – 5 dozen.

Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 ¼ Cup dark molasses
3 large eggs
1 cup butter, softened
1 T. baking soda
1 t. sea salt
2 Tablespoons ground Ginger
½ Cup finely chopped dried crystallized ginger pieces (I put chunks in a blender with 1/4 C. flour and grind till  pieces are between the size of a rice grain and a petite green pea)
1 t. ground allspice
3 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
7 to 8 Cups approx. white unbleached flour

1.    In the mixing bowl combine butter and sugar until whipped.
2.    Add the molasses and eggs. Beat until smooth.
3.    Mix the dry ingredients together with 3 cups of the flour. Add to the wet mixture until mixed. Use a mixer on medium for 2 minutes or so.
4.    Add in flour a 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is stiff.
5.    This may become too much for your mixer and you’ll have to add the last cup by hand. Don’t add the last 1/2 cup if mixture feels dry.
6.    Dough is stiff. Use immediately, or wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Rolling and Baking:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 12 minutes
1.    Lightly flour your work surface and with a rolling pin roll a baseball-sized chunk of dough until it’s about 1/8” thick. Cut with cookie cutters or the rim of a cup dipped in flour.
2.    Spray pans with non-stick spray or smear them with a thin layer of butter
3.    With a pancake spatula put cookies on pan and cook.
4.    Re-roll scraps and cut more cookies while the others bake. Cool on wire racks.


With a mixer beat the following ingredients till stiff. Spread frosting across cool cookies with a knife. While it’s still wet add candy decorations to each cookie.


4 C. confectioners sugar
3 large egg whites
¼ t. cream of tartar

Candy Decorations: Chocolate drops, colored sugars, raisins nuts, etc.

By Cristina Acosta ©2007 – 2015

Hot Mexican Chocolate Cookies

I  warn people about the chili pepper in these cookies before I serve them. Mostly because I hate watching people gag while eating something I cooked for them. If you decide to eliminate the cayenne in these cookies, they’ll still taste great, they just won’t be as “interesting”.
Inspired by the Mexican version of hot chocolate this recipe has a well rounded chocolate flavor with an after-bite of heat. These thin cookies are wonderful with ice cream or coffee or my Creamsicle Flan.

Tools: Mixer or by hand, oven

Yield: aprox. 4 doz. thin cookies


  • ¼ cup rounded unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 rounded t. dry instant coffee granules
  • Optional:  >1 to 2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper (adjust for desired “hotness”). I use 1 teaspoon.
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • ½  cup (1 stick) real butter, softened to room temp. (Use a little extra butter if you prefer butter on your baking pan.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2  eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour (rounded is OK) or slightly more*
  • ½   t. sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (180 Centigrade).  Butter or non-stick spray pans or put baking parchment on cookie sheets.
  2. In a mixer at medium speed; combine cocoa, cinnamon, coffee, ground peppers, butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Beat for approximately one minute or until mixture changes texture and appears “whipped”. No more than 3 minutes.
  3. Gently stir in flour and salt combination until fully integrated.  No more than 1 minute.  *If you want the cookie to be a bit higher, add approx. 1/3 cup more flour.
  4. Arrange by small teaspoonfuls on the cookie sheets and bake for 8-11 minutes.  If using the convection feature on your oven, bake for 8 minutes and check immediately.
  5. OPTIONAL: You can roll the small teaspoonfuls of dough in granulated sugar before putting them on the pan. The baked cookie will sparkle with the sugar granules (and you won’t drip powdered sugar on yourself when you eat them.)

Remove from cookie sheets immediately and cool on racks.

Decorating options:
•    Dredge in 1 cup powdered sugar  OR
•    Frost with Kahlua glaze – 1 cup powdered sugar with 2-3 T. Kahlua.  Mix well and drizzle on the cooled cookies.

by Cristina Acosta ©2005-2015

Cristina’s New Mexican Style Red Chili Sauce

Cristina Acosta ©2005 – 2015

My grandmother (abuelita) Catalina’s parents were born in New Mexico. She made chili sauce in the New Mexican style, a sauce of mostly puréed, dried chilies with spices. This sauce is the backbone of many Hispanic dishes.

Catalina was an artist who believed that anything worth knowing came at a price, and this sauce was her specialty. She was in her seventies before she would give me this recipe. In exchange for the recipe she insisted I wash every downstairs window of her house. While I scrubbed and polished, she sat in the backyard patio of her home by the sea near Los Angeles threading a ristra of chilies from a new box of chili peppers that had arrived from New Mexico. After finishing a few windows I’d stop to visit with her and she’d tell me a little bit more about her recipe. It was certainly worth the effort.

If the sauce is too picante (hot), you can cut the heat by adding a can of stewed tomatoes or a thick tomato sauce to the blender. This suggestion would have been frowned upon by my abuelita who insisted that a proper chile sauce never included tomatoes. Nonetheless, if the mildest chilies are too hot for your taste, this method works.

My abuelita’s original recipe used to take hours when prepared with a food mill. I’ve adjusted the recipe for quick and easy preparation. Use a powerful blender such as a Vita-Mix for best results.

Tools: 1 ½ qt. or larger saucepan with lid. Powerful blender. Stove top.
Yield: Aprox. 3 ½ – 4 cups of sauce


  • 1 t. to 1 T. ground cumin
  • 1 T. dark cocoa powder
  • ½ t. sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ large yellow onion (aprox. ½ cup) peeled. (use your favorite flavor of onion)
  • 3 oz net wt. package of dried chilies: Use Chili California OR New Mexican OR Pasilla     OR experiment with mixing varieties.
  • 3 cups water or broth.


My Grandmother’s New Mexican Style Red Chile Sauce ©Cristina Acosta
  1. With scissors cut off the tops of the chilies and pour out the seeds. (Don’t worry about getting them all out.)
  2. Rinse chilies briefly to dust them off.
  3. Put them in the sauce pan with the water, garlic and onion.
  4. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  5. In the blender put the cumin, salt and cocoa powder. Add the hot chili mixture including the water. Put the lid on the blender and slowly “step-up” the speed of the blender from low to high. (Never start a hot mixture on high as it may explode out of the top of the blender.) Process the mixture on high for approx. 3 minutes or until very smooth.

This versatile sauce is ready to serve. It freezes beautifully. Use it over tamale pie, as an enchilada

sauce, base for chili soups or over fried eggs and omelets. It’s the key ingredient to Carne Adovada, a traditional New Mexican pot roast.

Experiment with the sauce by adding ingredients such as: wine, dried fruits such as raisins, apricots, plums, ground toasted nuts or seeds (about ½ cup) , sweet chocolate and cinnamon.

Note: for a thicker sauce, add a few more chilies or decrease water a little.

Happy Cooking — Cristina

Super Healthy Pumpkin Sweet Potato Custard

Healthy Pumpkin Sweet Potato Custard and Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie Custard recipe is a nutritional treat

My daughter Isabella and I LOVE pumpkin pie. By the time the October chill in the Northwest settles in, we are ready to eat pumpkin pie everyday. But add up the fat from the crust and the creamy custard and pumpkin pie is a special treat.

This recipe is my response to the challenge of how to get a regular pumpkin fix and not have to lug those extra calories up the next hill. Milk and extra eggs increase the protein and reduce the fat, while the sweet potato brings extra fiber and vitamins into the mix. Pour the mixture into a pie pan or baking dish and save yourself the crust. Chill it before serving.

Tools: Blender / Vitamix or Food Processor or by hand, oven

Baking Pans: Glass or Ceramic — Two 8” x 8” x 2” or 2 9″ pie pans or 1 large baking pan or smaller ramekins for individual servings.

Yield: See above


Baking time, 40 – 60  minutes.  Assembly time  15 minutes

Preheat Oven 350 (for at least 5 minutes)

  • 29 oz. can of pumpkin
  • 15 oz can of sweet potatoes, drained OR appx 1 1/4 C. baked and peeled sweet potato (More or less sweet potato is no big deal – if final mixture is too thick, add a little milk and get a bigger baking dish.)
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 5 large eggs or 6 med. eggs
  • 2 cups milk (The creamier the milk, the creamier the custard. I’ve tired 1%, 2%, whole and half-and-half. All are good — for my arteries sake I choose 2%).
  • 1 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 cup white sugar (I use organic white or a mexican cane sugar in the style called Azúcar Morena)
  • 3-4 t. pumpkin pie spice OR 2 t. cinnamon, 1 t. ginger, 1/2 t. cloves, 1/2 t. nutmeg (all spices are ground)
  • Optional: 1/4 c. (or so) dark rum

Put all ingredients in the Vitamix or other powerful blender or food processor. You may need to blend ingredients in batches and then pour them into a large mixing bowl and stir the batches together before pouring them into baking dishes. Because Blenders are different, I can’t suggest a time for all blenders. Blend the mixture until it is completely lump free and smooth. If you’re using  a Vitamix, Step the variable speed gradually over 30 seconds from 1 to High. Blend for 1 minute on High, using the tamper to be sure all chunks of sweet potato are blended.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Put a thin skewer or knife in the center. If it comes out mostly clean, remove the custard from the oven. If the custard is undercooked (runny or sloppy), continue cooking in increments of 5 minutes. If your oven temperature is uneven or you are using metal baking pans, set the baking dishes in a larger dish filled with about 1/2″ to 1″ of water before baking. Completely cool the custard before serving.

Santa Fe Chicken and Rice One Dish Meal

This dinner is the little-black-Patagonia-sport-dress of meals. Its quick, easy and depending upon how you garnish it, is suitable for camping, school nights or a casual dinner party. I think of this recipe as “dry soup.” The liquid can be any variation of broth, water and/or sauce. The vegetables can be whatever you have on hand as long as they can stand up to the cooking time.

Tools: 4 qt. saucepan with tight-fitting lid.

Yield:  Serves 4 Approx.

Prep time: Approx. 10 minutes. Cooking time 35-60 minutes depending upon the variety of rice you use.

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless*
1 cup Rice – white, brown or a mix. White rice takes less cooking time, so adjust timing.
Olive oil 1-4 tablespoons (your preference)
1 cup salsa or chili or enchilada sauce
1 cup broth or water
1 diced onion
1 small can diced green chilies
2-4 cloves minced garlic (your taste)

Garnish: (all are optional)
Lime wedges (squeeze over each serving before eaten)
Chopped fresh Cilantro
Grated cheese (Mexican cheeses or a cheddar or jack)
Hot Sauce or additional Salsa
Tortilla chips or Fritos
More diced green chilies
Chopped fresh tomato


  • Pour oil into the pan and brown chicken breasts over medium high heat for about 5 minutes each side.
  • Add the rice during the final 5 minutes of browning. Stir occasionally to cook the rice.
  • Add the vegetables and liquid ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil.
  • When it boils, put on the lid and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook for 35 – 45 minutes, 60 minutes if you’re using brown rice. Cooking times vary depending upon the rice variety you choose.

When the recipe is done the rice will be cooked and not too hard or too wet. This recipe is pretty fail safe. I’ve mis-judged the moisture of the ingredients and had to cook the mixture as long as 90 minutes. Or  even had to add a little hot water to the pan if  the rice was still hard when the liquid was evaporated.

*You want the chicken to be completely cooked, so cut each breast into 3 or 4 chunks if the cooking time will be only 30 minutes or so. Using white rice can reduce the time to as little as 30 minutes. Refer to the rice package directions and add 5 to 10 minutes.

Delicious served with: Heated tortillas. As a camping treat we’ll eat this with tortilla chips.

Fast and Healthy Red Salsa Master Recipe

There are two main colors of Salsa — Red and Green. Usually fruits such as Peppers, Limes, Tomatoes, Avocados, Mango, Papaya & Pineapple are combined with vegetables & herbs such as onions, garlic, cilantro, etc. There are many ways to put together a salsa. The ingredients can be raw, cooked, or a combination.

The word salsa translates to sauce in English. Usually in the U.S. the word salsa is used to describe a cold chunky puree or rough-cut blend of vegetables & fruits that people dip chips into or use to garnish their meal.

Think of this recipe as a template. Once you’ve made it, use your imagination to change the ingredients to suit your tastes, menu, season, etc.
Tools: Knife; food processor or blender / Vitamix (optional, but FASTER)

Yield:  About a quart of  salsa

Ingredients: (measurements are approximate, vary according to taste)

  • 1 Large Can of tomatoes (apx. 29 oz.) OR about 3-4 cups of fresh tomatoes — Canned: Italian plum, with or without seasonings. Fresh tomatoes are best, but only if they are in season, with a highly developed flavor.
  • 1/2 a large onion or 1 medium onion (some people prefer the onion & garlic gently sautéed in a little olive oil to make them more digestible)
  • 1 -2 cloves of fresh garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3 to 7 fresh jalepeño peppers. If these are too hot, use fresh green anaheim chilies (the type use to make a chile relleno). Don’t use a habenero as the heat will overpower the flavor. Add the peppers in raw, or scorch them on the BBQ grill or under the broiler for a variation.
  • Juice of 1 or 2 fresh limes (2 small limes or 1 large)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Put all ingredients in a food processor or large blender (like a Vitamix) and process in short bursts until the mixture is of a consistency you like. Don’t over-process or the ingredients will loose their identity and it will be more like soup or spagetti sauce.
That’s it! To vary the salsa, add any combination of fresh chopped mango, avocado, papaya or pineapple.

Note: Please don’t use vinegar instead of lime juice, it just doesn’t taste right. If you are out of limes, use 1/2 a lemon.

Note: If the salsa is too hot (picante) for you, add more tomatoes.

Summer Berries Homey Fruit Cobbler

Rustic, warm and homey, this cobbler looks especially nice in a deep cast iron or metal skillet. A simple to make fruit base covered by a biscuit-like topping gives this dessert the presence of a pie without as much fat (in the dough) as a pie. It’s a wonderful dessert or breakfast treat. Easy and less fattening means I can put more ice cream on top!

Tools: Pastry Cutter OR knives OR food processor
Pan – 13” x 9” x  2”  OR oven safe metal skillet approx 12” – 13” diameter with sides at least 2 inches tall.
Oven – 350 degrees. Pre-heat at least 10 minutes.
Cooking time approx 35- 45 minutes

Fruit Filling
•    2 lbs. Berries (any kind) and/or thin sliced and peeled peaches or nectarines. Use fresh or frozen.
•    ½ Cup Flour
•    ¼ to ½ Cup sugar (your favorite type)
•    ½ t. ground nutmeg or mace
•    dash of sea salt (optional)

1.    Mix the dry ingredients well before adding them to the fruit mix. Spread evenly across pan. If using frozen fruit the mixture tends to separate from the dry mix. Distribute the dry mix as evenly as you can across the fruit.
2.    Make topping.

•    2 Cups Flour
•    ½ teaspoon sea salt
•    ½ t. baking soda
•    2 t. baking powder
•    1 -3 Tablespoons light brown or turbinado sugar (optional: white or dark brown sugar)
•    ½ C. butter
•    1 ½ cup buttermilk

1.    Mix dry ingredients together. By hand with a pastry cutter/knife or in a food processor, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter chunks are so small (about the size of 1 or 2 grains of rice) they blend into the flour mix.

2.    Pour the buttermilk in and stir to blend. Once the flour is wet, and there aren’t any dry streaks, stop. Don’t over-mix the topping.

3.    Using your fingers and a spatula, spoon the topping over the fruit. It will not spread well. Try to make it roughly the same thickness all over, approx. 1/2” to 1 ½”. Don’t worry about perfectly covering the fruit, you can have holes up to a tablespoon or so in area – it’ll look pretty when the cobbler is cooked.

4.    Bake the cobbler uncovered on a rack for approx. 35 – 45 minutes. The cobbler should be bubbling and the topping should be a warm golden brown color. When using frozen fruit, allow for a longer cooking time. Put foil over the cobbler area if it’s browning too much with the longer cook time.

Serve warm or cold.

Carne Adovada New Mexican Beef in Red Chili Sauce

This roast is typical to New Mexico (without the potatoes and carrots). The result of the long cooking process is shredded beef redolent with a rich red chili sauce.  I add the carrots and potatoes because I love to walk through the door after a long day and have dinner ready. I always make more than we can eat and transform the leftovers into a filling for enchiladas, tacos, tamales, burritos or the base for a soup.
Pair this with fresh cornbread, artisan bread or warmed tortillas and serve.
Tools: Crock Pot or Pot Roast Pan with oven-safe lid.

  • 3 to 4 cups Cristina’s Red Chili Sauce. This sauce is REALLY important to this dish BUT, if you don’t have time to make some, substitute canned red enchilada sauce. The best quality sauce is made with chilies, not tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 to 5 lbs. beef or bison roast — brisket, rump, chuck, shoulder, etc.
  • 1 to 3 medium onions (depending upon how much you like onions), peeled and quartered
  • 3 or 4 medium red potatoes (or similar variety of potato that holds up to a long cooking time)
  • 3 or 4 peeled carrots, cut into very large chunks

Put meat in the bottom of the crock pot or pot roast pan. Add vegetables and sauce.

  • Crockpot: Turn on low*, cover and cook for 6 to 8 hours. Crock pots differ from each other. Mine hasWarm, Low and High settings. You want the setting that corresponds to an oven temp of appx. 300-325 degrees.
  • Oven: Bake covered for 4 to 6 hours at 300 to 325 degrees.

Check the roast at about 6 hours. Meat should become easily shredable.

Low Fat Easy BBQ Ribs

Low fat and easy ribs! Now I have your attention! Actually, lower fat is more accurate. The cooking method allows much of the fat to melt into the bottom of the crock pot where you can discard it. I have tried many different recipes for ribs and finally came up with a method that I love. It’s so easy! You let the slow cooker do the work and finish them under the broiler or on the grill.

Time: 4-6 hours in the Crock Pot – 10 minutes on the BBQ or under the oven broiler

•    Large Crock Pot or Slow Cooker (same thing): Mine is a 5 qt. oval. You can cook these in a small crock-pot, but then you won’t be able to make as many ribs.
•    BBQ or home broiler

•    Ribs – Choose your favorite bone-in rib. Make sure it is not too tall for the crock-pot. Each rib must not be longer than the pot is tall (with the lid on).
Pork Baby Back Ribs        Pork Ribs
Beef Spare Ribs

Water and other liquid:
•    Approx. 1 cup of a mixture of water with your choice of : spices, Worcester sauce, 1/3-cup wine, ketchup, etc. Don’t use a thick solution. The purpose of the water is to steam the ribs and collect the fat that drips from the ribs. You’ll discard the water when the ribs are cooked.

•    At least 1 cup to 2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce. Enough for the amount of ribs you’re serving.


1.    Curl a strip of ribs into the pot, standing them upright on the small bony side of the rib. Do not cut the ribs into individual pieces. Fill the pot with as many ribs as will fit.
2.    Pour in the approx. 1 cup of water solution. You want about ¾ inch of coverage on the bottom of the pot. Add more water if necessary.
3.    Turn the pot on low and cook for 4 to 6 hours. After 4 hours, check the ribs for doneness. (This varies with the heat of the crock pot and your preference.) If you like your ribs to practically fall of the bone, cook them longer. Be careful, cook them too long and they will fall of the bone and into the bottom of the BBQ.
4.    Remove the cooked ribs from the crock pot. Slather them in your favorite BBQ sauce.
5.    BBQ or Broil the ribs on med/high for 5 to 10 minutes. Some people like the sauce warmed, others like it almost caramelized by the heat. When they look the way you like them to look, take them off the grill and serve.


Key Lime Squares are Easy and Amazingly Delicious

Put one bite of this  sweet/tart desert in your mouth and you’ll be able to see the long, flat horizon of blue-green ocean layered under the green topped islands of the Florida Keys. Not really. But it is a nice fantasy. Nonetheless, these easy-to-make squares will give you plenty of time to make plans for your next tropical vacation. The shortcake cookie base enriched with nuts supports the creamy tart filling. Dress these up with  a lime twist and a pretty plate for a dinner party or take them as is to a picnic and eat them with your fingers. Aloha! And recorridos felices! (Happy Travels)

Tools: Blender / Vitamix or Food Processor or by hand, oven

Baking Pan: 8” x 8” x 2”

Yield: 6 to 16 pieces, depending on size cut.

Time: Baking time, 30 minutes.  Assembly time  15-20 minutes

Base and Topping

  • 1/3 Cup real butter, chilled
  • ½  finely chopped nuts or ground nut meal. (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds)
  • 1/3 C. dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Cup white flour


  • ½ cup 100% unsweetened key lime juice, OR organic 100% lime juice, not from concentrate.
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 egg yolks


Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Butter sides and bottom of pan

1.  Combine all dry ingredients

  1. With a blender, food processor or by hand, cut the butter into the dry mixture until the butter is in very small pieces and the mixture has a crumb like appearance.
  2. Reserve ½ cup of the mixture for topping.
  3. Firmly press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes

2. While the base is cooking, mix filling:

  1. Mix the filling ingredients into a blender on low until the mixture is silky and well blended. (Don’t let the mixture get foamy.)
  2. Pour it onto the cooked base.
  3. Sprinkle the topping evenly across the filling.
  4. Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Serve at room temperature or chilled. Cut into servings after it has cooled. Refrigerate for ease of cutting into small squares or to transport (makes the dessert firmer).