Brussel Sprouts

I love veggies, however there are some which I steer clear from when it comes to cooking for fear of cooking a disaster.  This was the case with brussel sprouts for quite some time.  I signed up for the Farm Fresh To You delivery, and in my last box was a pound of brussel sprouts.  In my quest to not throw out any veggies and learn how to cook new ones, I finally summed up the courage to roast brussel sprouts.  I am every so happy I did!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1lb brussel sprouts
  • 1lb sweet potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • Salt, pepper (to taste)
  • Dash of cumin
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Clean your brussel sprouts, cut the bottom stem and peel away the first layer.  Cut in half or quarters depending on how big they are.  Wash very well to remove any dirt. In a baking dish add the brussel sprouts, cubed sweet potatoes, garlic and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and an every so light sprinkling of cumin.

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Roast for 30-40 min or until all the veggies are tender.  As soon as you bring it out of the oven drizzle with the balsamic vinegar.  My mouth is watering just typing this!  The cumin adds another dimension of flavor and the balsamic adds a sweet & tangy finish.

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Buen Provecho!

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Coleslaw

Looking for that quick and easy addition to your pulled pork dinner?  Well, here it is!  This coleslaw turned out wonderfully refreshing, crisp and the perfect combo of sweet and spice.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bag coleslaw mix (16oz)
  • 2 tbsp. diced onions
  • 2/3 cups Miracle Whip
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly grated black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Combine coleslaw and onion in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl mix the remaining ingredients and pour over coleslaw mix toss to coat.  Chill for at least 2 hours prior to serving.

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Buen Provecho!

Arroz con Guandu

Whether you call it arroz con guandules, morro con guandu or arroz con guandu it’s all the same.  In Panama we make this rice often for parties or big events or just because.  Guandu in English is called pidgeon peas, not exactly sure why, but it’s what their called.  Don’t let the name fool you.  Goya sales them and it’s the brand I use when making this rice.  Guandu resembles a cross between a lentil and pea more or less.  Give this rice a try, you’ll be happy you did!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or bacon fat (bacon fat gives the rice extra flavor)
  • 1/2 onion finley chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can pidgeon peas (Goya brand)
  • 1 Tbsp of sofrito, optional
  • 3-4 stems of cilantro
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 cup water or chicken broth
  • Salt to taste
  • Banana leaf, optional

DIRECTIONS:

In a pot, add the oil or bacon fat and onions.  Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes then add the sofrito (if using), garlic and pidgeon peas.  Allow to cook for 5-7 minutes over medium heat.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the rice, water, cilantro and salt to taste.  Allow everything  to come to a boil; once the water begins to boil and is almost evaporated reduce the heat to low.  If using the banana leaf place it on top of the rice and cover.  Cook for 20-25 minutes without removing the lid.  Removing the lid causes steam to escape which in turn causes the rice not to cook all the way.

Once the rice is done, carefully lift the lid and remove the banana leaf.  You can also remove the cilantro stems if you wish, I personally love cilantro so I leave mine in.  Fluff with a fork and enjoy with a delicious chicken fricassee or pernil!  Buen provecho!

Tasty Additions:  Feel free to add coconut milk to make “Arroz con coco y Guandu” this is delicious and will transport you to the caribbean!

The rice pictured below had Sazon Goya added to it, which is what gives it the color (it’s served with pernil and potato salad).

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Beef Empanadas

Empanadas are a delicous fried dough filled with meat or fruit.  In Panama we eat these as a snack or a side addition to breakfast, or any meal for that matter.  The pastry can either be corn based or flour based.  Goya makes empanada discs which are precut flour discs ready to be filled.  They have them for frying or baking, I personally prefer the frying discs but try both and see which becomes your favorite.  Tranditionally our empanadas are ground beef based and that’s what this recipe will show.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1lbs ground beef, (I prefer lean)
  • 1 Tbsp sofrito (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 habanero, optional (cut the top off)
  • 3-5 sprigs cilantro
  • Sazon Goya
  • Raisins, optional
  • Garlic powder
  • Capers
  • Cheese, optional
  • Olive oil (1 tbsp for ground beef and more for frying)
  • Goya empanada discs

DIRECTIONS:

Add about 1 Tbsp olive oil to a pan, add onions and sautee about 2-3 minutes.  Add chopped garlic and sofrito.  Add your ground beef and sprinkle with garlic powder, sason goya, salt and pepper to taste.  Allow to cook for 5-7 minutes over medium heat.  Then add raisins, capers, cilantro and the whole habanero.  The raisins are a great sweet addition to the saltiness and  heat of the meat.  I left a lot of measurements out intentionally; as the meat cooks you’ll add more or less depending on what flavor you’re wanting to acheive.  If you want more heat chop the habanero and add it to the meat, if you love cilantro (like me) add more sprigs, etc…

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Once the meat is ready set aside to cool.  Each pack of Goya discs contains 10, when I make the empanadas I usually have enough for the week.  I like to precut foil paper or wax paper and have my sandwich bags ready so I can store the empanadas once assembled.

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Once the meat has come to room temperature, grab one of the discs and fill half of the disc with ground beef and a bit of cheese (if using cheese).  Gently fold the other half over and with a fork pierce close.  Repeat this step until all discs are filled.

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I add two empanadas per precut foil, but feel free to wrap each individually.  Once all are wrapped place in plastic bag and label.  Enjoy these as a snack or for breakfast!  Buen Provecho!

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Tasty Additions:  You can also add chopped potatoes or eggs to the ground beef.  You can make chicken or shrimp empanadas as well, feel free to explore.

Green Bean Casserole

A few years back I wanted to make a green bean casserole, seeing as how it’s a very traditional Thanksgiving side dish.  It wasn’t customary in my family to make it and to be quite honest I didn’t care for it too much.  I was determined to find a recipe which would turn everyone into a green bean casserole lover!  I stumbled upon Paula Deen’s recipe on the Food Network and made the casserole pretty much as the recipe stated.  The result; a creamy and flavorful casserole which was truly crowd pleasing.  Over the years, I’ve made a few minor changes and tweaks to add my own twist.  Try this recipe, your guests will love it!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups green beans, chopped
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (2.8 ounce) can fried onion rings (I prefer Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1 Tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Melt the butter in a large skillet.  Saute the onions and mushrooms in the butter.  Boil the green beans in chicken broth for 8-10 minutes then drain.  Add the green beans, mushroom soup, onion rings (about 1/3 of the can), garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste to the onion mixture.  Stir well.  Pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.  Top the casserole with the cheddar cheese and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted.  Finish with the remaining onion rings.

Tasty Additions:  Chop two slices of bacon and sauté the onions in the bacon fat, it will add additional flavor.

 

 Green Bean Casserole

Ready for the oven!

 

Original recipe courtesy of Food Network: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/green-bean-casserole-recipe/index.html

Tortellini Salad

If you’re looking for a delicious, hearty yet light salad; look no further!  This tortellini salad is sure to wow your guests.  It can be served as a main dish or a side dish to your Italian feast.  The preparation is easy and you can truly add any ingredient you desire.  For this particular recipe I’ll leave measurements out as it’ll depend on the size crowd you’re feeding. 

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Ingredients:

  • Tortellini (I used spinach and 3 cheese blend)
  • Pepperoncini’s
  • Pepperoni, sliced or cubed
  • Heirloom cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • Red onion, finely diced
  • Olives, finely chopped
  • Italian seasoning (use a good quality)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (good quality)
  • Italian dressing (I used Ken’s)
  • Freshly grated pecorino Romano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil, sliced in strips

 

Directions:

Cook the tortellini as directed on the package, drain and allow to come to room temperature.  Add the pepperoni, onion, a sprinkle of Italian seasoning, and splash of dressing.  Mix until combined, add the pepperoncini’s and a splash of olive oil and more dressing.  Add your tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste.  Do another taste test and adjust your dressing, salt/pepper and olive oil as needed.  You’ll finish off with the grated pecorino Romano and fresh basil.  This salad shouldn’t be very wet but it should be moist.   Enjoy your delicious and beautiful salad!  

 

Tasty Tips:  Add cooked pancetta for an added crunch or you could add grilled chicken or leave the meat out for a vegetarian option (using spinach tortelllini).  You can also add asparagus, bell peppers, olives, artichokes, the options are truly endless!

Black Beans con Sazon!

Black beans are healthy, low-fat, filling and delicious!  With this simple recipe you’ll be hooked; and what’s best these can be enjoyed atop rice or as black bean soup.  This recipe is quick and chock full of flavor!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 – 15oz cans of black beans
  • 1-2 Tbsp. sofrito (see recipe below)
  • ¼ onion, chopped
  • ¼ bell pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 Sprigs of cilantro
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into your pot and add the onion and, sauté about 2 minutes then add the sofrito and bell peppers.

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Cook until the onions are translucent, then add the beans & fresh cracked black pepper.  Add the cilantro and allow to cook for 15 minutes or so.  Taste the juice and determine if you need salt.

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Sofrito: https://indulgeanddine.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/sofrito/

Chiles Rellenos de Camaron

Cooking is about experimenting and trying out new ingredients, flavors, concepts and much more.  Have you noticed that many of us eat certain foods often however we never make them ourselves?   This is more or less the case with the chiles gueros.  I’ve made them once following Chef Marcela Valladolid’s recipe “Shrimp Stuffed Chiles” it’s delicious!  On this particular evening I was craving the fried shrimp stuffed chiles we had with our friends while visiting Yuma.  Not wanting to get into deep frying I crafted my own version of shrimp stuffed chiles. The result was a delicious bite of flavorful cheesy goodness!   

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 chiles gueros
  • ½ lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup of salsa casera (I used ½ of a small can of Herdez brand)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ Tbsp. garlic powder
  • Monterrey jack cheese, cut into ¼-½” thick pieces
  • ½ jalapeno (optional)
  • Lime wedges (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS:

Add a tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet (or heavy skillet of your choice) and set to medium-high heat.  Add the chiles and fry, turning frequently, until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside.  This process takes roughly 6-8 minutes depending on the size of your chiles. 

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In a separate pan over medium heat, add another tablespoon or so of the olive oil and bring. If using the jalapeño toss it in seed side down, the spiciness will infuse the oil and add another layer of flavor.  Add the chopped onions and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and sauté. Add the shrimp, salsa casera, and garlic powder; cook until pink and cooked through. Taste your sauce and determine if you need more salt and pepper.  This step takes about 8 minutes. 

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Cut a lengthwise slit in each chile as well as two small slits across the top, to make a “T” and carefully scoop out the seeds, leaving the stem intact. (For milder heat, carefully cut out the ribs).  Add a slice of cheese and add the shrimp filling into each chile. 

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Place your stuffed chiles in a baking dish or pan and roast on 375 for 8-10 minutes.  When they’re done sprinkle with lime and enjoy!

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Chef Marcela’s recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/marcela-valladolid/shrimp-stuffed-chiles-recipe.html

Cream Cheese and Pineapple Habanero Dip

This is possibly the easiest appetizer/dip you’ll ever make.  There are literally two ingredients (not including the crackers) and you’re done! 

INGREDIENTS:  

DIRECTIONS:

Allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature. Pour the sauce over cream cheese and serve with crackers.  You can also spread the cream cheese on a platter and top with the sauce. 

Side Note:  I like the Costco brand sauce, but any sweet & spicy sauce/jelly will work for this appetizer.

Sauce

Salmon Avocado Salad

This recipe is healthy, quick and delicious!  It’s full of omega-3 and leafy greens which add vitamins and nutrients to this salad.  Using left over salmon makes for a quick and convenient lunch or dinner.  The measurements will vary based on how many you’re serving and of course how much salmon you have left over.  The ingredients below are for 1-2 people.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4oz salmon, cooked
  • 2 cups spring mix or baby greens salad mix
  • ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 – ½ avocado

 

DRESSING:

 

DIRECTIONS:

Chop the left over salmon into bite size pieces.  You may warm up the salmon or serve at room temperature. 

Plate the salad and top with salmon, avocado & feta.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper (to taste).  Drizzle with dressing mixture.  Finish with a sprinkle of fresh cracked black pepper.  Enjoy your guilt free lunch or dinner. 

For the Dressing:

Mix all of the ingredients until fully combined.  The quantity listed makes about 4 servings of dressing.