A Homegirl Mother’s Day

Recipes from a good cause for your Mother's Day meal


When Jesuit Father Greg Boyle opened a small bakery 20 years ago in East Los Angeles — in the middle of some of the most dangerous and violent gang territory in the world — then began employing members from rival gangs to work side by side, most people thought he was crazy. But that small shop, and the reality of the young men and women Father Greg met who were yearning for a better life, laid the groundwork for what has become a nonprofit conglomerate — Homeboy Industries — that includes a bigger, better bakery, and several other businesses and services that provide job training and placement, tattoo removal, counseling, legal services, family support, and more to at-risk, gang involved young people — 12,000 of them every year.


One of those businesses, Homegirl Café, offers training in restaurant service and culinary arts to young women (and some young men, too) under the direction and guidance of chef Patricia (Pati) Zarate. The women find hope at Homegirl, mastering skills from gardening to cooking to restaurant management. The café is open to the public and features an innovative menu of contemporary Latin fare and fresh baked goods, along with full-service catering. Money earned from these enterprises goes right back into Father Greg’s programs.


Homegirl staff recently shared some of their favorite recipes for a Mother’s Day breakfast, lunch, or brunch spread.


Chicken with lime and mango salsa

2 cups diced fresh mango

½ cup chopped parsley

¼ cup chopped red onion

Juice of 2 limes

Sea salt

Black pepper

2 plantains, peeled and sliced

Canola oil

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 teaspoons minced garlic


1) For the mango salsa, in a small bowl combine the mango, ¼ cup of the parsley, onions, 1 teaspoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon canola oil, and sea salt to taste. Set aside.


2) Cut chicken breast into thirds, season with salt and pepper. In skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil and add chicken. Cook for about 3 minutes per side, then add garlic, the rest of the parsley, and the rest of the lime juice.


3) In the meantime, heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat and warm up enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. Place plantain slices into the hot oil and cook 2 minutes per side, then set plantains on paper towel to absorb oil. Keep warm.


4) Top the chicken with the mango salsa and plantain slices.

Serves 8-10


Homegirl moms on Motherhood

“Every day when I get home, I sit down with my kids for dinner. They laugh at me when I eat off their plates. We laugh together. We’ve been through a lot and we aren’t perfect but we heal together.” — Adela


Green rice

6 oz. canola oil

12 oz. long grain rice

24 oz. water

4 oz. spinach

½ cup cilantro

1 garlic clove

1 serrano pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

6 oz. corn kernels

1 cup spinach, cut thinly


1) In a blender, working in batches, blend 4oz. of spinach, cilantro, garlic, and serrano

pepper. Set aside.


2) In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm oil and add rice, stirring constantly. Fry to a light golden color, about five minutes.


3) Add green vegetable blend, water, sea salt, and corn kernels to fried rice, and bring to boil for 5 minutes.


4) Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Add 1

cup of thinly cut spinach before serving.

Serves 8-10


Homegirl moms on Motherhood
“In the hospital giving birth, there’s doctors and there’s family… you hardly get a moment alone. But when that moment of truth came, when it was me and my son, when they rolled that lit le crib in, I turned around and I stared at him and I thought,
That’s my son. I knew then, I felt this overpowering feeling come upon me and I knew I was a mother. I knew that I didn’t want my son to gangbang, I didn’t want him to be exposed to any of that.” — Rosa

Black beans

1 lb. black beans

3 quarts water

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 oz. canola oil

2 serrano peppers

4 oz. chopped onions

6 oz. chopped tomatoes


1) In a medium stockpot, rinse beans under water. Add sea salt and water, and place over

medium-high heat. Bring beans to a rolling boil for 5 minutes, then lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, until beans are cooked and soft (make sure water doesn’t evaporate too much). Set aside.


2) In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm up oil, add whole serrano peppers until the skins are blistered. Add onions and tomatoes. Sauté for a couple of minutes, then add cooked beans. Serve warm.

Serves 8-10



Pastel de elote (corn pie)

3 cups fresh corn kernels

1½ cups whole milk

4 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

½ cup granulated sugar

3 oz. melted unsalted butter

½ teaspoon sea salt


1) Preheat oven to 325° F, butter a 2-quart round mold. Set aside.


2) In a blender, blend together milk and half of the corn kernels. Set aside.


3) In a medium bowl, mix together whole eggs, egg yolks, and sugar. Add corn kernels and milk mixture, melted butter, sea salt, and the rest of the fresh corn kernels, mix well.


4) Pour the mix into the prepared mold. Bake for 45 minutes. Check the pastel de elote with a toothpick to ensure that it is done. Serve warm.

Yields 8 portions


Homegirl moms on Motherhood
“No matter what kind of bad day it has been, coming home and seeing the smiles on my daughters’ faces, it makes everything better.” —


Banana-bran muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups wheat bran

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup pecan pieces

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 eggs

½ cup golden raisins

2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 medium)


1) Preheat oven to 375° F. Butter 18 medium muffin tins. Set aside.


2) In medium bowl, mix together fl our, wheat bran, baking soda, salt, and pecan pieces. In a separate bowl beat together butter and sugar, add eggs, and beat until completely mixed, then add mashed banana and raisins. Add dry ingredients and fold.


3) Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling each cup about ¾ full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool down in tins for about 5 minutes, then remove muffins.

Makes 18 muffins


How you can help
Homeboy Industries is funded through donations. To learn more about its programs and how you can help, visit HomeboyIndustries.org.


Photos courtesy of Homeboy Industries

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