Chef Marcela Valladolid, Food Network star and cookbook author, stops by Pittsburgh Today Live ahead of her appearance at the Market District in Robinson Township with a look at some of her tasty recipes for a Cinco de Mayo feast!

Cowboy Beans:
Recipe courtesy Marcela Valladolid

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2 cups pinto beans, cleaned, soaked overnight in a non-reactive bowl, and drained, liquid discarded
1 ham hock
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 whole jalapeno chile
5 cups water
2 slices thick-cut bacon, finely chopped
2/3 cup finely chopped white onion
4 ounces pork chorizo, casings removed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, bring the soaked beans, ham hock, bay leaf, garlic, jalapeno, and water to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 2 hours. If the beans absorb too much water, add 1 cup water after 1 hour and continue cooking. (Bean mixture should remain soupy while cooking.) Turn off the heat.

Cook the bacon in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until almost crisp, about 10 minutes. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Transfer the bacon and onion mixture to the pan with the beans. Wipe the saute pan clean and cook the chorizo over medium heat until crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chorizo and drain on paper towels. Add to the beans. Season lightly with salt, if necessary. Stir the beans over medium-high heat until heated through. Remove the bay leaf and ham hock and discard. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Cook’s Note: In place of soaking the beans, you can use 3 (15-ounce) cans rinsed and drained pinto beans. Proceed as above but reduce the cooking time to 1 hour.

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 8 hours
Ease of preparation: easy

Recipe courtesy Marcela Valladolid

12-cup capacity Bundt pan
Softened butter, to coat pan
1/4 cup cajeta or caramel sauce

For the cake:
10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

For the flan:
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For garnish:
1/4 cup cajeta or caramel sauce
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Put an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Coat a Bundt pan with a little butter, then coat the bottom with 1/4 cup cajeta and put it in a large roasting pan. (The roasting pan will serve as a water bath during baking.)

For the cake: Add the butter and sugar to a bowl and using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, beat until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa in a medium bowl. Beat 1/3 of the flour mixture, and 1/2 of the buttermilk into the egg mixture. Repeat, ending with the flour mixture. Blend until well incorporated.

For the flan: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream cheese, eggs and vanilla. Blend on high for 30 seconds.

Scoop the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan and spreading evenly. Slowly pour the flan mixture over the cake batter. Cover with foil and add about 1-inch of hot water to the roasting pan.

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Carefully slide the pan into the oven, and bake 1 hour, until the surface of the cake is firm to the touch, or an inserted toothpick comes out clean. When cake is done, remove from the water bath and cool completely to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Invert a large, rimmed serving platter over the Bundt pan, grasp tightly together, giggle a little and flip over. Remove the pan and scrape any remaining cajeta from the pan onto the cake, garnish with chopped pecans and serve!

Cook’s Notes: The batters may appear to mix when you pour them into the pan, but they completely separate while baking, with the flan ending up on the bottom when it’s inverted. I like eating it warm, but traditionally, it is chilled 24 hours before serving.

Flan is a rich, creamy, cooked egg custard. It is often flavored with vanilla and baked in a water bath to retain its delicacy.

Cajeta is a thick and creamy spread or paste made with caramelized sugar and milk. It is used as a desert on its own or as a topping. Also known as “dolce de leche,” it is sold in many supermarkets, Latin specialty markets or online. It can be substituted with a thick caramel sauce.

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour
Ease of preparation: intermediate

Mexico City-Style Tacos
Recipe courtesy Marcela Valladolid

3 tomatoes, cored
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups fideo or angel hair pasta, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup roughly chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
12 corn tortillas, warmed
1/4 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
1/2 cup queso fresco or mild feta cheese

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the tomatoes and set aside to cool slightly.

In a heavy medium skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the fideo or pasta and cook until golden brown, about 6 minutes.

Place the cooked tomatoes, onions, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add the tomato mixture to the skillet and cook the fideo or pasta on low heat, without stirring, until tender, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Fill the tortillas with the fideo filling. Drizzle the tacos with crema and sprinkle with cheese.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy

Watermelon a la Fresca
Add a four or five mint leaves and a couple pieces of cut lime to bottom of drinking glass, sprinkle with approx. 1 tablespoon sugar, then muddle or smash the ingredients together to mix the flavors.

Fill blender with fresh, ripe watermelon and a splash of water. Mix until a smooth consistency.

Pour into drinking glasses.

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Can drink plain, or add rum or vodka for an alcoholic version.