Walmart and TV Host & Cookbook Author Chef Marcela Valladolid Offer Tips for Stretching the Dollar on Traditional Hispanic Holiday Celebrations

Retailer and Chef Provide Customers With the Convenience they Need from Cooking to Entertaining to Making Their Holiday Festivities a Success

Dec 16, 2010, 12:57 ET from Walmart

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Dec. 16, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- This holiday season many Hispanic families will be preparing to celebrate the traditional festivities that are central to their cultural heritage, such as posadas, parrandas and noche buena.  While these are treasured traditions, they can be costly to prepare and the economic fatigue of the last few years has changed the way Hispanics shop forever.

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Yet, an InterGroup Hispanic shopping trends study highlights that while Hispanic families are looking for savings, it doesn't mean they will sacrifice value or perceived family expectations during the holidays. Instead, they are looking for smart and convenient shopping solutions to help them manage their budget. 

To help families stretch their dollar, Walmart (NYSE: WMT) partnered with Chef, author and Food Network TV host, Marcela Valladolid, to offer families tips on making the most out of cooking and entertaining this season by providing them with everything needed to make these celebrations a success.  

"Growing up in Mexico, I have many fond memories of not only celebrating posadas with my family, but also of the time spent together menu planning and prepping for decoration and entertaining activities," said Valladolid.  "A lot of work goes into celebrating these traditions, but that doesn't mean they have to cost a lot too. Cutting monetary corners by finding multiple uses for key food ingredients and shopping early are just a few of the ways to celebrate more for less this holiday season."  

To make your celebration of posadas, parrandas, and noche buena a success from start to finish, Chef Marcela offers the following tips:  

  • Engage the whole family in meal preparation.  Share cooking responsibilities by hosting a "potluck" among family members.  Having each family member bring a special dish can help manage costs for entertaining family at home and save you valuable time that you can then spend celebrating with loved ones.  
  • Shop early! Waiting until the last minute to shop for your posada meals can lead to overspending.  Start by picking up the Walmart circular on Sunday to identify your grocery needs and specials available in your neighborhood.  Key specials to look for include produce and meat.
  • Use food to decorate your dishes.  Half the fun of cooking is the presentation!  Have fun with your recipes by having your dinner table be a focal, decorative point of the celebration.  Garnish your dishes leveraging citrus items such as oranges, lemons and limes or even cranberries left over from your dish preparation.  This is a simple and cost-effective way to make your delicious recipes pop.  
  • Set the table with traditional plate ware. Instead of buying new holiday serving plates, use a traditional family piece, such as a Mexican talavera, to serve centerpiece dishes.  Nostalgic items like these add a warm touch to the celebration while doubling as table decoration.
  • Create a cozy, holiday setting leveraging holiday decorative items. Save time and money by using existing holiday decorations in a new way.  For example, place tree trimmings such as ornaments in a glass vase as a centerpiece or place your nativity scene (nacimiento) at a special table at the entrance of your event. Additionally, poinsettias and other plants can make a room come alive with color and scent, and can also last post-event.  
  • Have festive background music playing.  Look for economical CD mixes of traditional holiday music re-made by contemporary Hispanic artists at your local music store or via download online. The cheerful, celebratory music can serve as a nice backdrop to your family's domino or loteria games.  

Chef Marcela also offers a delicious, traditional recipes, Cinnamon Sugar Crisps and Ponche Decembrino, that's simple to make:

Cinamon Sugar Crisps (“Bunuelos”)

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 (7-inch) flour tortillas, whole or cut into shapes

On a plate, mix the sugar and cinnamon. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add enough oil to come halfway up the sides of the pan. Heat over medium-high heat until a deep frying thermometer, inserted in the oil, reaches 350 degrees F. (If you do not have a thermometer, test the oil with a piece of tortilla, which should sizzle when it touches the oil and should brown in about 2-3 minutes.) One by one, fry tortillas until golden brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer the crisps to paper towels to drain. While still warm, transfer to cinnamon-sugar mixture, turn to coat and serve.

Serves 4 to 6 people

Ponche Decembrino

5 cups apple juice

2 cinnamon sticks

2 cloves

Orange peel from one orange

1 cup dried fruit (like apricots, apples, pears)

In a large saucepan bring apple juice, cinnamon, cloves and orange peel to a simmer cook at a bare simmer 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Stir in dried fruit. Turn off heat and let stand 5 minutes, or until fruit has softened. Ladle into heat-proof cups and serve. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Serves 4 people

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About Marcela Valladolid

Growing up around expert and traditional cooks in Tijuana, Mexico, Marcela was raised to be passionate about food. She jumped straight into a culinary life by working her first job at her aunt's cooking school in Baja, Mexico. She realized she too wanted to pursue this growing love for food full time and enrolled in the Los Angeles Culinary Institute and graduated from the Ritz Escoffier Cooking School in Paris as a classical French pastry chef.  Marcela went on to run a catering company and teaching children about the culinary arts in Tijuana. All the while, collecting recipes and applying her knowledge and skills of her family's cooking traditions to map out her dreams. Marcela eventually parlayed her classical training and skills to become a food editor at Bon Appetit magazine.  She went onto host of her own cooking show Relatos con Sabor on Discovery en Espanol channel and earned a spot as a contender on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.  In August 2009, Marcela was given the chance to showcase her family recipes when she released her first cookbook titled "FRESH MEXICO: 100 Simple Recipes for True Mexican Flavor" (Clarkson Potter).  She appeared on NBC's Today Show, The View was featured in Latina, People, People en Espanol, Wall Street Journal and the New York Daily News around its release. The book was very well received reaching the #1 cookbook spot on Amazon more than once. With the book, Marcela became the advocate for great Mexican food that delivers in freshness and flavor without forcing home cooks to track down hard-to-find ingredients or spend hours at the stove.  Soon after her book release, she landed her dream job as host of her own Food Network show, Mexican Made Easy. The show made its debut early in 2010 and films in San Diego where Marcela currently lives. Her third season made its debut on October 9, 2010 and she'll shoot the fourth in December of 2010.  Marcela has also been keeping busy working on her second cookbook that will be released in the fall of 2011.

Contact:  Walmart Media Relations

Phone: 1.800.331.0085

SOURCE Walmart