Commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month with Karla Martínez and her favorite recipes.

To kick-off Hispanic Heritage month, you will find Karla Martínez, co-host of Despierta América on Univision, celebrating with her family. “We celebrate Independence Day by wearing traditional Mexican outfits; my daughters and I braid our hair and we have mariachis so that we can sing. September is a month we really enjoy.” It’s also the time when she prepares typical meals from her homeland like tacos—her star dish—made with fresh-from-scratch tortillas, salsas and guacamole, which is always a hit with friends, too. “We also invite our Mexican friends that live here and others that are from different countries so they can experience our culture. They always leave the festivities fascinated and raving about the food.”

Martínez’s culinary passion comes from the heart. “I am inspired by my daughters, my husband and my country, Mexico, and my memories of my mom and my grandmother in the kitchen. It’s in my blood. I love my food and everything that has to do with my Mexican ingredients.” The one ingredient that she can never do without are chile peppers like habaneros, jalapenos, guaquillos, canned chiles in escabeche and even chile powder for fruit. “We really love spice,” she says with a chuckle.

Karla’s love for the kitchen started when she was very young and living in her homeland. “Since I was a little girl I was nosey and when my mother or my abuelita cooked, I would help them in the kitchen.” Today, her daughters — 6 year-old Antonella and 4 year-old Michaela — continue the tradition. “Now it’s my turn to teach them and they love it. Just yesterday I was making healthier hamburgers with turkey meat and I had my oldest standing on a stool in the kitchen helping me. It reminded me so much of the time when I was her age.” The secret to Karla’s success with her girls is simple. “The best tip I can give parents is enjoy yourselves when you cook because your kids will see it as something fun to do as a family.” Her husband, Emerson Perazo, is also on-board. “My husband is from Sinaloa and it’s a state where you eat a lot of fish, so of course, shellfish is his specialty. His cooking is amazing. When he gets home from work we start to cook and talk. It’s our therapy.”

Every Wednesday on Despierta América you can watch Karla Martínez share her delicious and simple cooking tips and recipes on her weekly segment “La Cocina de Karla.” “These cooking segments came about because I noticed that a lot of experts come to our program and show us how to do things. When it comes to food, moms who prepare meals at home, like me, aren’t professional chefs and they identify themselves with easy and quick recipes.” With all her experience, Karla’s number one tip: “How you feel is transmitted to your food. There are times when I am stressed and when I cook it doesn’t come out the same. When you are happy and cook with love everything comes out delicious.”

Despierta América, “La Cocina de Karla”
Wednesdays at 7am/6c

Download recipes courtesy of Karla Martínez

Chicken Fajitas

Tortilla Soup

Caramel Gelatin with Nuts