How My Travel Experiences Inspire My Recipes

By Marcela Valladolid

As an avid traveler and mother of three, I love to learn about new  cultures through their cuisine. Even though I've been cooking for most of my  life – I've attended the Los Angeles Culinary Institute and the Ritz Escoffier  Cooking School in Paris and hosted my own Food Network series, Mexican Made  Easy – it's amazing to me that with each trip I take, I learn even more about  my food passion and am inspired to create new recipes. 

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 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.

While at Café Reconcile, 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. 

Please enjoy the recipe below, I hope the warm and comforting scents  of corn and sweetened condensed milk transports 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!).

Cornbread  and Creamed Rajas
  Makes 12


  • 5 eggs
  • 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

Creamed Rajas

  • 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

Gracias familia! Keep traveling and exploring!

Besos! Marcela

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