EXCLUSIVE: Food Network's Marcela Valladolid On Family-Friendly Holiday Food

Mexican Made Easy (Clarkson Potter)

It can be difficult to figure out which Latino foods are the most family-friendly for the holidays. We’re talking about dishes that will have the whole family salivating at the mouth! So we turned to Marcela Valladolid, host of Food Network’s Mexican Made Easy for advice.

EXCLUSIVE: Food Network's Marcela Valladolid On Holiday Cooking With Your Family 

The 33-year-old Mexican American chef, who released her new book Mexican Made Easy back in October, tells us that pecan pie is the Latino food she deems the most family-friendly. “In my house, my mom was obsessed with pecan pie so I decided to whip up a recipe using Mexican chocolate,” she said. The chef described the dish as a must have for the holiday season in her home and added that it can become a staple for others as well. “I always like to top it with a cinnamon spiced whipped cream or a little vanilla ice cream,” she added. Sounds delicioso!

Last week, Valladolid told us what to do with leftovers and how to make an everyday meal festive. We also asked Valladolid what her favorite Latino holiday food was, which she willingly told us via e-mail. Tamales are the chef’s all time fave. “They are a staple at my house – sometimes sweet, sometimes savory,” Valladolid wrote, “but always delicious.” Valladolid recalled making tamales with her aunt, also named Chef Marcela.

EXCLUSIVE: Food Network's Marcela Valladolid On Growing Up On the Border

If you're brainstorming for holiday dishes to prepare for your family, keep in mind: It is very important to cook out of your heart, Valladolid told us. The chef often receives help in the kitchen from her son Fausto. "There is nothing more satisfying to me than seeing people who eat my food have smiles on their faces," she said. "It makes the experience special."

And that's really what the holidays are all about - right?

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