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!


  • 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


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!


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!


  • 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


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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Balsamic Vinaigrette

Are you in need of a light, tangy and delicious dressing for your summer salads?  This dressing will meet all of those requirements. It’s creamy, tangy and delicious!  I’m leaving out the measurements on this one because they’ll vary depending on two things; 1. how much you’re making and 2. how tangy or sweet you want it.


  • Good quality olive oil
  • Good quality balsamic vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Honey
  • Salt and Pepper


The oil to vinegar ratio is 2-1, 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar and the Dijon and honey will be about 1-2 Tbsp depending on how much you’re making.  Add the oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey and salt.  Mix in a blender to create an emulsion. You can store this dressing in the fridge for several months.  This dressing goes very well with a spinach, strawberry and candied walnut salad!  Buen Provecho!


Tasty Additions:  Feel free to add finely minced garlic or shallots for additional flavor and texture.

The jar in the picture was a Home Goods buy, it actually has recipes for other dressings, if you can find one BUY IT!

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!


  • 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


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:

Shrimp and Penne

Shrimp and Penne.

Easy Weeknight Shrimp

Shrimp is a very easy and versatile protein choice especially during the week. It cooks quickly and can adapt too many dishes and most importantly, it’s healthy!  The recipe below is just that a quick, simple weeknight shrimp dish. (Adjust the measurements depending on how many you’re feeding).


  • ½ lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 Tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic infused olive oil
  • 1 Tsp Old Bay
  • 1 Tsp Onion and herb seasoning (Ms. Dash)
  • 1 Tsp Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)



Drizzle the shrimp with the olive oil and add the remaining ingredients. Allow to marinate for 10-15 minutes, longer if you’d like. Heat a small skillet to low-medium heat and add your shrimp. The shrimp will cook in about 5-7 minutes (a bit longer if you’re using larger shrimp). Enjoy atop white rice (or brown for a healthier option) and a yummy side salad.

Weeknight Shrimp

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!   



  • 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)



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. 


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!

 Stuffed chiles (11)


Chef Marcela’s recipe

Arroz Con Pollo

Arroz con pollo is a traditional Panamanian dish; we serve it often at parties and gatherings.  The combination is great and it serves a lot!  There are many variations to the dish and once you begin making it, you can tweak it to your preferenc and find which works for you.  My method is quick and still brings a ton of flavor and most importantly; serves a crowd!  Adjust the seasonings as you go by adding more or less of what ingredients you prefer.  Remember recipes are a base for something great; allow your imagination to flow!

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  • 2 cups white rice (long grain)
  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • Adobo seasoning
  • Garlic powder
  • Sazon Goya with achiote
  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Cilantro
  • 3 Tbsp. sofrito (recipe on previous post)
  • ½ cup onions, chopped
  • ½ cup bell peppers, chopped
  • ½ cup carrots, finely grated
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. capers
  • Salt & Pepper  
  • Banana leaves (optional)
  • *Annatto seed oil (optional)



Add about 3 cups of water (more or less depending on the size of your chicken breasts) to a pot and bring to a boil.  Add adobo, garlic powder and sazon Goya and add the chicken breasts allow the chicken to cook about 10-15 minutes.  Once the chicken is almost fully cooked, remove from the water, let cool and begin shredding.  Save the water, you will use it to make the rice.

Place your caldera or preferred pot for making rice over medium heat and add 2 Tbsp. of annatto oil (or regular olive oil) along with the onion, bell pepper, carrots, garlic and sofrito.  Add a tablespoon or so of Adobo seasoning along with salt and pepper; sauté for 3-4 minutes. 

Add the shredded chicken and stir for 2-3 minutes.  If you need to add another tablespoon of oil do so at this point.  Add the rice, garlic powder and the reserved water, just to cover the rice and chicken.  Add salt and pepper to taste, along with the sazon Goya (for color).  Add the capers and cilantro.  This is a good point to taste the water and see if you need additional seasonings.  Allow the rice and chicken to boil until the water is almost evaporated then cover with the banana leave(s) and cover tightly with lid.  Cook on low heat for 25-30 minutes, timing will depend on how much you’re cooking.

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This dish can be made as flavorful as you like, adjust the seasonings to your preference.  I prefer to add whole cilantro sprigs, this way I can remove them once the rice is cooked.   The banana leaves are completely optional however, they add amazing flavor and moisture to the rice. 

Serve with a yummy veggie salad and fried plantains (recipe on previous post).  Buen Provecho!

*Side Note:  Annatto Seed Oil: Take 8-12 annatto seeds and cook them briefly in 2 tbsp olive oil until the color is released.  Then remove the seed and use the oil to sauté the veggies.  This creates another dimension of flavor in the rice.


Sofrito is a versatile, aromatic puree of cilantro, culantro, onion, garlic, bell peppers and a few other ingredients depending on which country you’re from.  A few recipes call for tomatoes; in Panama we do not use tomatoes I believe it’s to avoid the sofrito from going sour.  We usually add 2-3 tablespoons to the majority of our dishes.  Sofrito is used as a base for many Spanish and Latin influenced dishes, you’ll find that the color may vary region to region.  Sofrito is available in stores however; homemade is truly the way to go.  It’s simple and the ingredients are readily available at most grocery stores.  I omitted the parsley from this recipe, but feel free to add a bunch.


  • 1 Bell pepper (your choice of color)
  • 1-2 medium onion(s)
  • 12-15 sweet peppers (aji dulce)
  • 1 ½ bunch of cilantro
  • 1 head of garlic (roasted)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 15-20 recao leaves (culantro, if you can find it)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • ¼ Tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 Tsp salt/sea salt


Thoroughly wash all of your vegetables and set aside.


Roasting the garlic; cut the top of the garlic so the very tops are exposed and drench with olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Wrap the garlic in foil and toss in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Once it’s done the garlic will pop right out of the peel.


While the garlic is roasting you can prep the rest of your ingredients.  Add the black pepper, oregano & coriander to a pilon (also known as mortar and pestle), using the pestle grind the spices together.  This helps bring out the flavor.

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Begin removing the skin from onion, the tips from bell peppers and cut them in half or quarters, so they easily fit in a blender or food processor.  You can leave the stems on the cilantro, it’ll add more flavor.

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Once the garlic is ready, begin tossing all of the ingredients into the blender (or food processor) and add the ½ cup of olive oil.  You may need to add a ¼ cup of water if you’re using a blender.  Blend until you have a smooth consistency.

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This will make 1 quart of sofrito.  I keep my sofrito in a plastic container in the fridge, but you can also store it in an ice cube tray in the freezer.  Be sure your ice tray has a cover, so you do not contaminate your sofrito.  Use 2-3 cubes or 2-3 tablespoons when preparing and/or marinating your dishes.  You will be amazed by how much flavor the sofrito will add.  Another benefit is your picky eaters will not know that there are a ton of veggies packed away in their food!


Additional Tip: You can roast all of the veggies (with the exception of cilantro/culantro) this will create a deeper more enhanced flavor.

Kicked Up Shrimp

Kicked Up Shrimp.