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Marcela Valladolid transforms traditional Mexican recipes into easy, healthy dishes.

"When I talk to my friends, who are mostly Mexican moms, they all say they want to keep their food traditions alive but don't have the time to make mole sauces, enchiladas, chilaquiles, and other foods they grew up on," Marcela Valladolid says. "My job is to resolve that problem."

Doing so has become a full-time job for Valladolid, who lives in San Diego. As host of the Food Network series Mexican Made Easy, and author of a cookbook by the same name, she translates often complex Mexican classics into recipes everyone has time to make.

Valladolid studied cooking in Los Angeles and Paris. But the foods and flavors of her native Tijuana, Mexico, inspire her the most. One of her favorite ways to bring out those flavors is roasting. "I'm a roaster, even in the summer," she says.

At home, Valladolid often turns to one of her favorite roast chicken recipes, flavored with a simple, savory adobo sauce. "Adobo is a traditional sauce made with mild chilies," Valladolid says. "I grew up eating pork marinated in adobo, and I wanted to combine that flavor with chicken."

Marcela Valladolid's Go-To Comfort Food    

"Quesadillas. I know they're not the healthiest, but I have to be honest: A flour tortilla filled with Oaxaca cheese, turkey, avocado, and hot salsa -- it gives my tummy a warm and fuzzy feeling."

How Marcela Stays Healthy

"For me, it's all about portion control and natural ingredients. I stay away from processed foods and eat small portions."

Where Marcela Gets Her Recipe Ideas

"Farmers’ markets and, lately, the Mexican food festivals I've been attending, where the cooks use so many traditional Mexican ingredients."

One Lesson Every Home Cook Should Learn

"Tap into your family's recipes. It's the best way to nurture your family's history, and expand from there."

Adobo Roasted Chicken

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

            2 Tbsp vegetable oil

            1 small white onion, chopped

            2 garlic cloves, chopped

            10 guajillo chilies, stemmed, seeded, deveined, cut into 2-inch pieces

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