Around The World: Mexico

This episode of Around The World is about Mexico!

Do you wish you could travel the world? Would you rather learn about culture and geography hands-on? Well I can’t transport you to another country, but maybe I can bring it to you…

Your job is to get out a world map, globe, or the internet, and show your family where in the world we are going. Watch a video or two about the country and its history – we recommend the “Kid’s Animated History with Pipo” DVD set for historical information (we purchased ours on Amazon), my family has found them educational and fun to watch. Pipo does have a section on the Aztec culture from Mexico. You can also find great videos on YouTube, just be sure to preview them before sharing with the whole family.

After you’ve immersed yourself a bit – head into the kitchen. We’ll put together a traditional meal, and then work on a craft project while it’s cooking!


Today’s meal: fiesta enchiladas! Enchiladas are eaten all over Mexico, and the specific ingredients can be easily modified to suit your family’s preferences. “Fiesta” is a Mexican word for “Party” – so definitely plan for some fun! Find some Mexican party music (maybe La Cucaracha?) on the radio or YouTube and have it playing in the background for some atmosphere.

Younger kids will need help; older chefs can likely prepare these all by themselves.

Fiesta Enchiladas

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups of filling (see filling ideas below)
  • 1 can of enchilada sauce or a jar of salsa (red or green, your choice)
  • Garnishes (optional – possible choices would be sour cream, black olive slices, guacamole, cheese, chopped cilantro or pico de gallo)

Filling Ideas:  pick your favorite, or mix together several things you like to come up with about 2 cups in total.

  • Refried beans
  • Whole beans such as black or pinto (these work best mixed with something such as rice)
  • Rice – white, white with cilantro, mexican-style (Mexican rice-a-roni works well)
  • Cooked hamburger
  • Taco meat
  • Grated cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Chicken cooked with salsa
  • Cooked pulled beef or pork
  • Chopped green chilis
  • Salsa or pico de gallo

Preparation:

  1.  Warm each tortilla in a skillet on medium heat until it feels warm and soft.
  2. Take out of the pan, and spread 1/4 cup of filling on it, then roll up.
  3. Set into a baking pan with the seam side down.
  4. Continue until all tortillas have been placed in the pan.
  5. Pour the enchilada sauce or salsa over all of the enchiladas.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes – until warmed through.
  7. Sprinkle cheese over the top for the last 5 minutes – if you like.

Serving:

  • Place two enchiladas on a plate.
  • Garnish as desired.
  • Serve and eat!

While your enchiladas are heating, how about making some papel picado? Papel picado is a Mexican folk art craft, where tissue paper is cut into detailed designs using a chisel. You’ve probably seen them hanging from the ceiling at a Mexican restaurant.

This is a kid-friendly version you can do at home! Use them to decorate your kitchen for a fiesta – they work well with our fiesta enchilada dinner as well (and then follow dinner with a Spanish treasure hunt!).

IMG_1463

Materials needed::

  • Tissue paper or colored paper
  • Scissors
  • String or ribbon

How to do it:

    1. Start with a rectangle of tissue paper or colored paper.  I’d suggest around 8-1/2 x 11, though any size will work.
    2. Fold it in half twice (so you now are folded in quarters).
    3. Identify the point that would be at the center of the square if you unfolded the tissue.  Fold twice more around this point, lining up the sides. This will give you an idea of what it will look like at this point:

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  1. Cut out shapes from the edges of your paper – similar to making a snowflake from white paper.
  2. Unfold and admire!

To decorate with them, tape them by one of the longer edges to a piece of paracord or ribbon and hang on a wall or ceiling.


If you’re up for some maracas to dance with – grab some empty toilet paper tubes, fill with beans or small rocks, and tape over the ends. Then decorate them – paint, duct tape and glued on tissue paper all work. Shake them to the music as you dance around!

Simple Maracas
Simple Maracas

If you are up for a more complex craft – make maracas with paper mache! You’ll need a balloon, some small beans or rocks, paper (newspaper or writing paper will work), glue, a toilet paper tube or piece of PVC pipe, and some paint. Start by putting the small beans or rocks in the balloon, then blow it up to the size you’d like the top of your maraca to be. Tape on the toilet paper tube or small piece of PVC to form the base for a handle. Cover the whole thing with layers of paper mache: create a mixture of 1/2 white school glue, 1/2 water. Tear pieces of paper to about the size of your palm, dip them into the glue mixture, and then smooth on over your balloon and handle combination. Continue until you have 3 or 4 layers of gluey paper over the entire structure, and smooth the surface with your hand. Let it dry, and then paint. You can also use colored paper for the top layer if you prefer not to paint it later.


To add to the Mexican ambiance – try our Spanish treasure hunt! Have it end at the table just in time for dinner. Here’s the link: Spanish Treasure Hunt Directions.


Finally, finish up your fiesta with a flan. Here’s a great recipe from Food.com: Mexican Flan

Enjoy your fiesta!