Patacon Pisao!

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Typical breakfast, typical accompaniment and typical out of trouble at a crucial moment …

This dish is simple and delicious. It may be accompanied by cheese, sour cream, eggs, meat, basically, anything you want, nothing can go wrong!

Now, preparing the plantains for the first time, seem rather long and complicated. But once you do, I hope you enjoy it.

You will need to get green plantains. Remember, they are different from bananas, you cannot eat them without cook them before. Sometimes in Mexican stores sell them.

Here is step by step:

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Grab a couple of your green plantains, peel them and cut into small pieces.

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Now, in a deep pan, put a little canola or sunflower oil over medium high heat.  The oil should not cover the plantain pieces once put into it. Cook for about 8 minutes and remove from fire. Keep the pan over high heat while you do the next step.

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Now, in a deep bowl, add salted water and mash garlic. Take one by one the plantain pieces and put them in a cutting board. Cover with a clean, transparent bag open in half and crush them with the back of a large flat plate. Pass them through the water with salt and garlic and immediately into the pan with the oil. Be careful, since the oil can release hot sparks when entering contact with water. Do not throw the pieces, if you like, help yourself with tweezers to put them in the pan. Cook each side for a couple minutes, until you see is crispy and golden on both sides.

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Place the plantains on a plate with absorbent paper for a few minutes and serve while hot.

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Waffles with Cinnamon-Caramel Apples

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Oats and beer add hearty flavor and texture that complement the sweet intensity of caramel apples. These waffles aren’t sweet, so you can pair them with savory toppings such as melted cheese or roasted vegetables.

Cinnamon-Caramel Apples

½ cup beet sugar or panela

¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk

2 Golden apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¾-inch-thick (1¼ lb.)

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. lemon juice

Sprinkle sugar over large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until sugar dissolves into amber-colored caramel syrup, tilting pan to distribute sugar evenly but not stirring. Meanwhile, warm coconut milk in small skillet over medium-low heat. Remove caramelized sugar from heat, and stir in warmed coconut milk. Return to heat, and stir in apples and cinnamon. Cook 3 minutes, or until apples begin to soften and sauce begins to thicken. Stir in lemon juice. Keep warm.

Waffles

1 cup organic whole wheat flour

¼ cup oats

1 Tbs. panela

2 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

⅓ cup plain unsweetened soy milk or whole milk if you like

1 Tbs. ground flax seeds

¾ cups of light beer

1½ Tbs. butter, melted

Preheat your waffle iron to high heat. Whisk together flour, oats, panela, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.Blend the milk, ground flax seeds, and ı/4 cup water in a blender for 1 minute, or until thick and creamy. Whisk milk mixture, beer, and butter into flour mixture. Coat waffle iron with sunflower oil/butter. Spoon batter onto each square of waffle iron. Close lid, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until waffle is crisp and dark golden. Repeat with remaining batter.

Spoon ¼ cup Cinnamon-Caramel Apples over each serving.

Makes 4 large waffles.

Will Power…

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How do you like your waffles? Light and crispy, with a touch of fresh fruit? Or rich and chocolaty? Or should I say Nutellaty? Wild with nuts and dense? Or hearty, chewy and perhaps with beer?

Doesn’t matter how, the secret is to enjoy and not feel guilty while/after you eat it (am fully aware of the amount of calories… Don’t care!)

This is how I love it: Light and crispy, cover with Arequipe and top it with vanilla old style ice cream.

What about you?

If you feel like to, check out this Vegetarian Waffle Recipe

Arepita de Dulce

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I know, I know…. We are all better off baking, roasting, grilling or steaming our food instead of frying it. Frying food increases our fat and calorie intake, especially if some of you bread foods before you fry them, fry at too low of a temperature or put too much food in the pan at once.

However, there are some typical meals from the Caribbean Coast that cannot be changed or do different, without ruining the result. I am the first one to say (and is true) that I do not enjoy fried food.

But when I got home, my Mom reminded me all those things I loved so much when I lived here with her.

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Want to hear something funny? When my sisters and I were growing up, my mother refused to give us any kind of fried food. Now, she says is OK to have just a little. This is ironic, contradictory, she confuses me ….

But I’m on vacation, and I want to show you our gastronomy, I will sacrifice myself a little this time (LOL!), just this once. I will make an exception.

::Arepita de Dulce::

1 cup corn meal

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 tablespoons beet sugar

1 teaspoon anise

4 tablespoons sour cream

Water

In a big bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Place the sugar and anise in the palm of your hands and crush it, that way you bring up all the flavor of the anise. Mix in the sour cream and add enough water, until the paste is soft to touch.

Form a ball and flatten between your hands until it has the shape of a small disk. make a small hole in the center. In a deep pan over high heat,  fry the arepitas until golden.

Serve with cheese and latte!

 

Pumpkin Rice and Meat with Plantains

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Coconuts are one of the most nutritious of all fruits, but unfortunately, they are also one of the most overlooked. Coconuts can add flavor, variety and–best of all–healthy nutrients to your diet. Coconuts are rich in lauric acid, which is known for being antiviral, antibacterial and anti fungal, and boosts the immune system.

I consider myself nuts about coconuts. Just love it!

And the reason why I mentioned it before, is because Coconuts are an important ingredient in the Caribbean coast. We can find it in both sweet and savory recipes. The base from this dish is coconut rice. If  it doesn´t include coconut, would alter both taste and texture.

The meat is not as easy as it seems. But neither difficult. And if you are lucky enough to get yellow plantains, well, your meal is done!

Now, as promised, this is another recipe of a typical dish from Cartagena.

::Pumpkin Rice::

2 cups (500 ml) organic coconut milk

1 cup white rice (preferably long grain)

1 cup pumpkin, previously cooked al dente and diced

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon panela or beet sugar

In a big pot, bring to boil the coconut milk with the salt and sugar, over medium-high heat. Once is boiling, add the rice. Before the liquid is completely evaporated,  add the diced pumpkin and mix well. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes. 

::Meat::

250 gr. (1/2 pound)  inside skirt steak

4 or 5 cloves of garlic

1 medium onion, diced

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1 green pepper, diced

2 eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper

Cook the meat until tender with half the garlic and salt. Slice thinly across the grain of the meat. In a medium pan, fry the onion, garlic, tomato and peppers. Mix, in the meat and eggs. Add salt and pepper.

Serve together with the rice, yellow plantains and any greens you like. 

Arroz Guisado (Rice Stew)

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Arroz Guisado or Rice Stew, is one of my favorite foods, but only if my Mom cooks it for me.

I know, I know… I’m a bit difficult and demanding.  Maybe because I know most people use too much salt, too much food coloring, “salsita” for taste, etc..

I wanted to share this recipe with you because I think it will make you feel like you’re here, near the beach, enjoying a warm day, feeling the sea breeze …

I hope you take risks and dare to experiment!

::Arroz Guisado::

Number of servings: 4 to 6

1 organic chicken breast, diced

500 gr. (2 cups) rice

2 medium organic carrots, grated

1 medium organic onion, sliced

1 big or 2 medium eggplants, diced

Organic Celery, sliced

Organic red peppers, sliced

Organic fresh string beans, sliced

Olives

Capers

Turmeric

Smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon

Salt

Garlic, 4 or 5 big cloves

Sunflower oil, 6 tablespoons

Soy sauce, 3 tablespoons

Pour 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil in a big pot and stir fry the rice with 1 teaspoon of garlic and turmeric, for 3 minutes over high heat. Place in a bowl and reserve.

Add the remaining oil and garlic in the same pot you used before with the rice. Stir fry the chicken breast and add salt. Fold in the vegetables, soy sauce, capers, olives and rice. Make sure all ingredients are well mix.

Add enough water until you almost cover the rice mixture. When almost all liquid has evaporated, cover and cook over low heat for 25 min.

This dish goes well with cheese and sweet plantains tortilla (as shown in the picture) or avocado.

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Tips:

  • Remember to cook over high heat all the time, until rice is covered.
  • Resist the temptation to open the pot constantly while the rice is cooking. This delays the firing.
  • Similarly, do not stir the rice too often. This causes the rice from sticking to each other and form balls. Just stir once, from bottom to top when ready. This will be enough.

Mixed Veggies Chicken Avocado Walnut Salad

“One day, we will live in a world without salads. It is a dream I have.”
 Carl “Cal” Tuohey, Gray Hair, Black Belt: Earning a Black Belt After 

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It’s Monday. For me, the worst day of the week. I do not like the idea that the weekend is gone. I find it hard to get up. But I got it. Very early this morning, had a healthy breakfast and went to my spinning class. Checked.

A mid-morning fruit snack. Checked.

Salad for lunch. Almost checked.

Salad time!  This one is fresh and exciting.  Yes… I’m still talking about salad.

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This salad contains fresh avocado, arugula, english cucumber, cherry tomatoes, crunchy walnuts, chicken, olives and a balsamic- mustard dressing.

I feel like I’m trying to make up for all the food I devoured in December.  Seriously… I had so many of everything!  I don’t want my salad to feel like a chore, ever. That’s the absolute worst.

So, while I’m preparing this salad, comes to mind over and over, a quote which reads: “Eating a salad (in public) is an overweight person’s attempt to appear in control.”

And the only thing I do is think: God, M. Mokhonoana is right! I don’t want to be that person!… Don’t worry. It was just a minute of panic, but am good now. Everything under control.

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This awesome salad have a few happy ingredients: fresh citrus juice and ripe avocado, crunchy walnuts and little extra parmesan cheese.

The combination of citrus juice with creamy avocado is just wonderful.  Perfect balance.  The chicken add a bit of protein.  Leafy greens because they make us beautiful.

::Mixed Veggies Chicken Avocado Walnut Salad::

For the salad:

about 2 cups leafy arugula

about 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

1 medium (or half of a large) organic english cucumber, sliced

1 small (or half of a large) ripe avocado, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup olives

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup diced chicken breast

For the dressing:

1 teaspoon dijon or whole grain mustard

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients.

In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid combine mustard, vinegar, balsamic, olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and a few pinches of pepper.  Place the lid on the jar and shake it up until the mixture is emulsified. Taste the dressing and season to taste, adding more salt, pepper, or acid as necessary. Pour the dressing (as much as you’d life) over the salad.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Enjoy immediately!

Hazelnut Crust Tart

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How is your willpower?

I have none.

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Here I am again, sharing with you another of those recipes that will surely going to help us lose some weight (ha!).

I have no regrets, I’m killing myself (I’m being very exaggerated) 5 days a week in the gym. The truth is that I’m enjoying the cycling and zumba classes. Actually, on second thought, I should also consider yoga … Yeah, I think I will.

I hope you don’t have the same problem as me, take a glass of water and gain 3 pounds. Phew, it’s horrible.

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Does not stop me to do what I like, though: cooking, baking, living … The best times in my life, that I share with those I love.

This tart is incredibly delicate. Melts in your mouth and have this  crunchy, nutty crust.

I love this pie.  This pie is certainly easy to love.

No oven required.

Martin Luther King Day Dessert? Yeah!

::Hazelnut Crust Tart:: 

Crust:

8 oz honey grahams

3 tablespoons beet sugar

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1/2 cup pecans

4 tablespoons butter, melted

In a food processor, mix all the ingredients, except the butter. When everything is well mixed, add the butter. Pour the graham cracker and butter mixture into a 9-inch tart shell with a removable bottom.  Press the mixture along the sides of the tart pan and along the bottom until evenly coated.  Carefully place the tart pan in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

Filling:

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 cup panela

3 cups milk

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon butter, room temperature

To make the filling combine the cornstarch, panela and milk. Cook until bubbly. Mix in the cinnamon and  stir. Add the beaten eggs to the milk mixture and fold together until well incorporated. Pour in the vanilla extract and butter.

Remove the tart pan from the freezer and spoon in the filling. Spread evenly. Return to the freezer for another 2 hours.

Whip up a cup of heavy cream to stiff peaks and add to the top of the cinnamon filling. Refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight. Top with grated dark chocolate and crushed hazelnuts. Serve in slices. Seriously.

Cranberry Lemon Muffins

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“What can I say? You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy cupcakes. And that’s kind of the same thing. I’ve never met a cupcake I didn’t want to get to know better.”

― Jasinda WilderBig Girls Do It Better

When I think about the muffin top around my waist, I want to die. In fact, I die ten thousand times. And also, I feel like to bake “muffins”. Good bye beautiful-golden swimsuit…
A good lemon cranberry muffin is just one of the best parts of winter. And despite the fact that it’s not going to help me lose any weight, cranberries are in season, and I’m stocking up. A single gigantic bag of cranberries thrown right in the freezer will last me through till spring (kind of…), so I’m anticipating plenty of cranberry goodness all through the winter.

I want to pack these muffins with as much flavor as possible.

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In my kitchen, flavor, is not a problem.

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I made simple sugar fragrant and utterly lovely by adding fresh lemon zest. This creates, a pretty awesome perfume.

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Next ingredient? Cranberries … Is a beautiful color, isn’t it?

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I filled the muffin cups halfway … then I add in more cranberries and topped off the muffin cups.

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Look how beautiful are the colors in this muffin! If you prefer fresh rather than dried, you’re going to love the tart cranberries as they explode in your mouth! I used a sour cream cake base. It’s moist and fluffy, with a fine crumb, perfect as a base for poppy seeds cupcakes or fruit cupcakes (or both). After making the muffins, if you feel they need a little extra sweetness, you can make a lemon simple syrup and brush over the top of the muffins. Also, you could just increase the sugar slightly, or sprinkle sugar over the top of the muffins before baking them.

::Cranberry Lemon Muffins::

½ cup sour cream

1 cup beet sugar

3 large eggs

pinch salt

1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup sunflower oil

2 cups fresh or dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, mix the sour cream, sugar, salt and eggs together. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder.  Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir together until moistened. Add oil and mix, mix, mix until batter is smooth and homogeneous.  Fold in the cranberries. Bake for 20 minutes.

 

Italian Chicken Sausage and Thyme Pie

“There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.”
― Thomas Wolfe

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Happy Week my Friends!

Hope you all had a marvelous weekend and I also hope that you’re having a great beginning of year. So far, mine it’s been so sweet, literally.

This Chicken Sausage and Thyme Pie recipe comes from a very special person: My Mom! Everything she cooks and touch, has magic. She can make something complicated seem simple; ingredients impossible to get, suddenly are at your fingertips.

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This pie bakes up like a regular pie.  That means we start with melted butter, flour, ice cold water, grated parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper.

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Now, I have to say, there’s nothing complicated in making this full-of-flavor pie. And I’m going to share my secret with all of you: The way I read recipes, is the same way Rita Rudner would read science fiction: I get to the end and say to myself “well, that’s not going to happen”.

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Hope you really enjoy preparing this Pie and don’t worry about following to a “T” the recipe or anything else for that matter. Grab the ingredients you like the most, listen some of your favorite music in your IPod, dance while you’re cooking and remember to put tons of LOVE on this. The result is AMAZING! A meal to die for!

::Italian Chicken Sausage and Thyme Pie::

For the crust:

125 gr. unsalted butter, room temperature

200 gr. whole wheat flour

3 tablespoons ice cold water

1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic

Salt & pepper

Knead the butter with the flour. Add cold water, salt, pepper and grated cheese. Crush the garlic in the dough and let rest for 1 hour in a cool dry place.

To roll out the pie crust, on a well floured surface, roll the crust 1/8 inch thick and about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer it to a pie pan. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan  Fold the edges under and crimp with your fingers or a fork. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Place a rack in the center of the oven.

For the Filling:

200 ml heavy cream

6 large eggs

4 mild italian chicken sausages, diced

200 gr. mozzarella cheese, grated

Thyme

Oregano

In a bowl, beat the eggs and heavy cream. When mixed, incorporate the rest of the ingredients, except the herbs. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and the herbs on top.

Bake pie for 40 to 50 minutes until pie is golden brown and puffed around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature.