• Dinners,  Lunch,  Salad,  Side

    How I drop a good beet.

    Excuse the sad pun, I couldn’t help myself!

    Beets are one of those things that people either love them or hate them. To be honest I thought I hated them for a long time. It wasn’t something that was in my diet growing up and the only time I actually saw beets were in a salad bar in a murky strange liquid. Not the most appetizing thing in the world. But I’ve always prided myself on trying new things, even things I thought I didn’t like. I have a rule about it too, don’t just try something one way. If you don’t like something, it just might be how it has been prepared.

    My love affair with beets began about 15 years ago. And not only are they yummy and earthy and sweet, but they are sooo good for you, which is a bonus. They contain, antioxidants, protein, fiber, vitamin c, folate, vitamin b6, iron and so many other good things. So many things that a person like me living with fibromyalgia needs. Any little help I can get.

    Now as good as beets are steamed with butter, or shredded raw in slaw, or as chips, or even ground and added to brownies (yea I said it, hide those bad boys in your desserts). My favorite way to eat beets hands down is in this super simple salad. The earthy sweetness is such a great contrast to the tart creaminess of goat cheese. Then you add the sweet acidity of the orange segments, nutty crunch of the walnuts and top with savory shredded chicken. The only thing that can make this better is my super simple vinaigrette.

    I can eat this all the time. Unfortunately while I am a LOVE beets person, my family falls on the other side… where did I go wrong? I hope that someday they will see these beautiful little jewel colored tuberous roots as the amazing eats that they are. Until then, I guess I will have to eat them all!

    Enjoy!

    Print

    Beet and goat cheese salad

    Roasted beets, shredded chicken, orange segments, goat cheese and walnuts drizzled in a simple vinaigrette
    Course dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Salad
    Keyword beets, chicken, goat cheese, salad, vinaigrette
    Prep Time 20 minutes
    Cook Time 1 hour
    Servings 4

    Ingredients

    Salad

    • 12 cups mixed greens
    • shredded chicken see ingredient group
    • 4 small roasted beets see ingredient group
    • 2 navel oranges segmented, juice squeezed and set aside for vinaigrette
    • 4 oz chevre
    • 1/4 cup walnuts
    • 2/3 cup vinaigrette see ingredient group

    Roasted beets

    • 4 beets small/medium
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 tsp kosher salt

    Baked chicken breast

    • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • Kosher salt to taste
    • Black pepper to taste
    • garlic powder to taste

    Vinaigrette

    • Orange juice squeezed from oranges that you have segmented
    • white balsamic vinegar enough added to the orange juice to make 1/3 cup
    • 1 tsp dijon mustard
    • 1 tsp honey
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 1/4 tsp dry basil
    • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
    • Kosher salt to taste
    • Black pepper to taste

    Instructions

    • After cleaning and drying your beets, cut top and bottoms off.
    • Drizzle with olive oil and season with kosher salt
    • Roast at 375 degrees until a pairing knife can easily be inserted, 45min to 1 hr
    • Peel and set aside
    • Bake chicken breast. Place on a sheet tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic. Bake for about 30 minutes until a thermometer reads at least 165 degrees.
    • Let cool slightly and shred
    • Peel and segment orange
    • Squeeze segmented orange into a small bowl or measuring cup. Add white balsamic vinegar to reach 1/3 cup of liquid.
    • Add mustard, honey, seasoning and then whisk in olive oil.
    • Time to put it all together, you can toss the salad all together or compose it.
  • Dinners,  Lunch,  Side

    Skillet Mac, the ultimate comfort food.

    I don’t know about all of you, but these past couple of months have been rough. There are good days. The ones that you wake up feeling optimistic and think about all the things you now have the time to do. And there are bad days. The ones where you want to just stay in bed until this is all over. We are all missing family, work, friends, the ability to go to a Starbucks and pick up a cappuccino with a couple of squirts of cinnamon dolce and wander the mall aimlessly buying items that you don’t even need. Well maybe that last one was just me…

    It’s hard to live in limbo. This situation we are all in has really put a spot light on how much we all need our “people”, our friends, family, co-workers, our friendly waitress, our favorite barista, the friendly faces that we count on to help us through the hard times. I wish I can say this is all going to be over tomorrow. Or when you wake up this will all have been a bad dream. The only thing I can offer you is a little comfort in the form of an old friend.

    Here is my skillet mac and cheese recipe. I hope it brings you a smile, as making it for you these past years brought me.

    Print

    Skillet Mac and Cheese

    The easiest mac and cheese ever! This is the base to all of the skillet macs we had at the cafe.
    Course Lunch, Side Dish
    Keyword cheese, mac anc cheese, skillet mac
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Cook Time 15 minutes
    Servings 4

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 pound cavatapi pasta cooked
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
    • 6 slices american cheese
    • everyday seasoning to taste** a mix of kosher salt, pepper and granualated garlic.

    Instructions

    Notes

    I always have a mix of what I like to call “everyday seasoning” 1 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup black pepper, 1/2 cup granulated garlic. Keep in a covered container I use it on meats, French fries, in my mac and cheese…
    For a gluten free version : use gluten free pasta. Instead of heavy cream use half and half and thicken it with a slurry. 2 cups of half and half, add your cheeses and everyday seasoning, melt the cheese (it will be a little runny) then in a small bowl mix another 1/4 cup of half in half with a couple of teaspoons of corn starch. Add to cheese sauce it will thicken and then add pasta. 
    The Buffalo chicken Mac: Add a pounded breaded chicken breast fried crispy, slice top with buffalo sauce and a sprinkle of gorgonzola cheese. 
    The Pulled pork Mac: Add bbq pulled pork and a topping of buttered panko.
    The Philly Mac: on a griddle or large skillet cook up thinly sliced rib eye (sometimes you can find this in the meat section, if not ask your butcher to slice some up. We did it in house at the cafe), peppers and onions, everyday seasoning. Top it with buttered panko.
    The JR Mac: Add pickled jalapeños and chopped cooked bacon to the Mac and cheese. Top with a pounded breaded chicken breast fried crispy. Drizzle with bbq sauce.
    The Mexi Mac: switch out cheddar for pepper jack, add a little more peppers to the Mac. Top with grilled seasoned chicken breast and tri colored tortilla strips
    The Kendell Mac: add chopped bacon and baby spinach (fresh) to your Mac. Top with pounded breaded chicken breast fried crispy. Drizzle with ranch.
    The Cordon blue Mac: Add chopped ham and a spoonful of dijon mustard to the Mac. Top with a pounded breaded chicken breast fried crispy. Drizzle with honey mustard.

    Comments Off on Skillet Mac, the ultimate comfort food.
  • Date night,  Dinners,  Lunch

    Baked cod with Beurre Blanc

    Don’t let the name fool you, beurre blanc is just a white wine sauce. It’s not as scary as you think and once you make it you will wonder why you haven’t been making it all along. This is also a great excuse to open a bottle of wine, not that you need any.

    Now I love seafood! I can eat it daily. My hubby on the other hand, had to be slowly introduced to seafood. Not that you would know it now, lol. One of the easiest ways to get someone to eat fish is by starting them off with something mild like cod. Give it a little crunch, add an awesome sauce and you will have create a monster like I did.

    Bonus is that this is such a quick dish you can make it anytime, but it is elegant enough for a sweet date night.

    Enjoy!

    Print

    Baked Cod with Beurre blanc

    Panko crusted cod with white wine butter sauce
    Course dinner, Lunch
    Keyword Cod, Fish, Sauce, Seafood
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 20 minutes

    Ingredients

    Baked Cod

    • 1 1/2 pound Cod
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 cup panko
    • 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
    • 1 tbsp old bay
    • 1 tsp lemon zest
    • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

    Beurre Blanc

    • 1 cup white wine, I used sauvingon blanc today pinot grigio, chardonnay ok too
    • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
    • 2 tbsp shallot
    • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
    • 6-8 tbsp cold unsalted butter
    • 2 tbsp heavy cream
    • 1 tbsp chopped parsley chives works nice too!
    • salt to taste

    Instructions

    • Pre-heat oven to 375 convection bake or 400 conventional.
      Clean and portion your cod, about 4-6 ounce pieces. Place on lined sheet tray and season with salt and pepper.
    • In a bowl combine, panko, lemon zest, old bay, parsley and melted butter.
    • Top Cod with bread crumb mixture and bake 15-20 minutes.
    • While your fish is baking… In a medium saute pan over medium high heat add your wine, shallot, lemon juice and cracked black pepper and bring to a simmer.
    • Reduce by half, about 8-10 minutes
    • Take off of the heat, and add cold butter while. You can whisk it in, but I like to swirl the pan to incorporate.
    • Add heavy cream and a salt to taste.
    • you can strain the sauce, then add parsley or just add parlsey and serve over your fish.
    • Remove your fish from the oven, making sure not to over cook.
    • Serve with rice, roasted veggies, potato wedges, a side salad…
  • Dinners,  Side

    Habichuelas Guisada (Puerto Rican Stewed beans)

    I am sticking to the Comfort food theme today. I love how warm and cozy the house smells when these are cooking away. It’s not a quick cook item, it’s definitely one that will bubble away most of the afternoon and if there ever was a time to slow down and make a cozy meal now would be it.

    I know some are wondering why I didn’t soak the beans, and say ham hocks aren’t traditional, and ask why I don’t have calabasa or potatoes in it. But this is just my family’s version and the one that I can get all 3 kids and a picky husband to not only eat but ask for.

    Try this as a side with white rice and roasted chicken or eat it as a meal with a simple fried dough (there is a recipe for the fried dough in the notes) or tostones.

    I hope you will give this a try. Enjoy!

    Print

    Habichuelas Guisada

    Our family's Puerto Rican Style beans
    Course dinner, Side Dish
    Cuisine Puerto Rican
    Keyword Casual dining, Dinners
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 ham hocks or smoked turkey necks or smoked wings
    • 1 med yellow onion large dice
    • 2 cloves garlic smashed but not chopped
    • 1 pound pink beans picked through and rinsed
    • water to cover at least 1 1/2 inch over beans (about 6 cups) you will be adding more as it is absorbed
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 can goya tomato sauce 8 ounce
    • 1 packet sazon
    • 2 tbsp olives
    • 2 tbsp sofrito
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions

    • in a large enough pot over medium high heat, heat your olive oil and add onion, garlic and ham hock. Cook about 2 minutes, add rinsed beans, bay leaves and water.
      Bring to a boil.
      Cover and reduce heat to low.
      Cook for about 1 1/2 hours, then check. I usually add another 2 cups of water at this time. Cover and let it simmer on low for another hour.
      Check the beans for liquid, add more if needed (another cup). Let simmer for another 30 minutes.
      At this point, the beans should be tender but not overly soft.
      Add 1 can of tomato sauce, sazon packet, sofrito and olive.
      Let it cook partially covered for about 1/2 hour to thicken.
      Taste, add salt and pepper

    Notes

    Serve with white rice.
    I love to eat it a day later with tostones, sorullos and/or a simple fried dough.
    2 cups water
    3 tablespoons oil
    1/4 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp salt
    and about 1/2 cup of water
    Get your dry ingredients together, mix in oil and then slowly incorporate water until dough starts to come together.
    Bring together and wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes
    Roll out and fry in 350 degree oil.
    Sprinkle with kosher salt 
    Comments Off on Habichuelas Guisada (Puerto Rican Stewed beans)
  • Dinners,  soups

    Creamy chicken and rice soup

    This was one of the soups that would sell out almost every time we had it at the cafe, and one that my family loves. It is also a great way to sneak in some healthy grains for picky eaters like my husband.

    I almost hesitated putting this on the blog today, because as I sit writing this recipe up it is a beautiful 61 degrees with the sun shining and the breeze from the bay coming in, and I am fully enjoying the weather out on my front porch. But tomorrow is another day of rain and cooler temps and I think everyone can use a meal that feels like a warm hug right now.

    Print

    Creamy Chicken and rice soup

    Simple and easy, but so comforting.
    Course Main Course, soups
    Cuisine American
    Keyword Casual dining, comfort, Dinners, soups
    Prep Time 15 minutes
    Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
    Servings 6

    Ingredients

    Soup

    • 4 tbsp unsalted butter you can use half butter and half olive oil
    • 1 med white onion diced
    • 2 stalks celery diced
    • 2 med carrots diced
    • 2 cloves garlic minced
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 tsp dry thyme
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 8 cups chicken stock broth, or water with boullion or base is ok too
    • 1 pound roasted chicken breast shredded
    • 2 cups cooked wild rice
    • 1 cup half and half
    • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

    roasted chicken breast

    • 1 pound chicken breast 2 medium sized
    • 1 tbsp canola oil
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Wild Rice or other hearty grain

    • 2 cups boiling water
    • 1 cup wild rice mix (or any hearty grain mix)

    Instructions

    • Start with your chicken breast and wild rice or grain mix. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
      Place your chicken breast on a sheet tray, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes until cooked through 165 degrees, set aside to cool and shred.
    • Boil water in a small oven proof pot, add your wild rice or grain mix. Bring back to a boil and cover. Place into 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove and set aside until needed for soup.
    • In a large pot, over medium heat melt butter. Add your veggies, salt and pepper and thyme. Cook for about 4 minutes.
    • Add flour, stir and cook for another 30 second
    • slowly add in your chicken stock and stir well to ensure there are no lumps. Let simmer for about 5 minutes.
    • Add shredded chicken and rice or grain mixture and let cook simmer for another 15 minutes or so.
    • At this point, check the soup for seasoning and desired thickness. Re season if necessary. Finish with half and half and parsley. **see recipe notes for gluten free option** If you would like your soup a little thicker mix in a tablespoon of corn starch to your half and half and stir that into the soup.

    Notes

    To make this gluten free, remove the flour. Make the soup and when you get to the part of re seasoning, you can mix a couple of table spoons of corn starch with your half and half. Bring soup back up to a boil and re asses your thickness then. You can always add a little more corn starch mixed with water or stock to the soup. 
     
    I used a grain mixture this time, I like to make sure the grains I use are hearty and can stand up in the soup. I don’t like it when the grains absorb too much of the liquid.
  • Dinners,  Fillings

    Versatile picadillo recipe

    I have a bunch of “basic” recipes that I use a for number of things. Here’s one at its simplest that can be added to and changed just slightly to adapt to however you want to use it.

    In my house we use Picadillo for filling empanadas and relleno de papa (potato balls), we top rice or garlic mashed potatoes with it. I’ve even made some seriously good grilled cheese sandwiches with it.

    When you have your basic Picadillo down then you can bump up the flavor by adding a few different ingredients like cinnamon and cumin, raisins and almonds… there’s warmth and sweetness and crunch then its the perfect filling for tamales. But I am getting ahead of myself. Today we keep it simple.

    Print

    Picadillo

    basic puerto rican style picadillo
    Course Appetizer, Main Course, Snack
    Keyword Casual dining, Dinners, filling, topping
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Cook Time 40 minutes
    Total Time 45 minutes

    Equipment

    • Large saute pan

    Ingredients

    • 2 pounds ground beef
    • 1/2 lg onion small dice
    • 1/2 lg red bell pepper small dice
    • 2 tbsp sofrito home made or store bought
    • 2 packets sazon
    • to taste salt and pepper
    • 1/4 cup olives I use whole manzanilla olives, but sliced "salad olives" works well
    • 8 oz tomato sauce I use 1 can of goya
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 2 tsp oregano

    Instructions

    • In a large saute pan over medium high heat brown your ground beef
    • Drain the rendered fat and add onions, peppers, sofrito, sazon, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes to soften peppers and onions
    • Add tomato sauce, water and olives. Stir and cover. Simmer on low for about 20 minutes.
    • Re-season if necessary and it is ready to eat. Use it to top garlic mashed potatoes with sweet corn.
    • Or place on a cookie sheet to cool down to use later
    • I used it to fill baked empanadas

    Print

    Empanada dough (baking)

    Here is a quick empanad dough that I use for baking. Just grab your favorite filling.
    Course Appetizer
    Keyword empanadas
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 18 minutes
    1 hour
    Total Time 1 hour 28 minutes
    Servings 12 3 inch

    Equipment

    • food processor

    Ingredients

    • 2 1/2 cup AP Flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 stick unsalted butter cold, cut into cubes
    • 1 lg egg
    • 1/4 cup ice water may need more, depending on flour used, humidity…I needed 1 extra tbsp today…
    • 1 lg egg for brushing right before baking

    Instructions

    • in your food processor, add flour and salt and pulse to combine. Or you can mix in a large bowl.
    • Add cold butter and pulse until butter is about pea sized. Or you can use a pastry cutter or your hands to work in the butter.
    • add egg and 1/4 cup of ice water and pulse until it comes together when pressed. It till still look pretty corse and resemble wet sand. If it doesn't look like this after 1/4 cup of water, add 1 tbsp of water and pulse and try again.
    • pour out onto counter and form into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour before using.
    • Remove from fridge, roll out to about 1/8th of an inch
    • Using a 3 inch round cookie cutter, or cup, or empanada mold cut out your rounds. Fill with your favorite filling
    • Using a little bit of water around the inside edges press together and using your finger, a fork or your empanada press close them up tight. (As you can see I used a few different methods)
    • Brush with eggwash and bake. 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.

    Notes

    You can fill these with any filling. Try our Picadillo recipe, or if you have left over shred it and mix it with some bbq sauce, chopped jalapeños and cheddar. Ham and cheese works too. Pepperoni, mozzarella and marinara…yum. You’re only limited by your imagination. 
  • Dinners

    Braised beef and veggie quesadillas

    Quesadillas can usually be thrown together quick and simple. In the hotter months I’m always down for a grilled meat and veggie quesadilla and I have made so many versions of this crispy cheesy meal I couldn’t even list them all! But if you really want to up your quesadilla game, and turn this simple dish into a meal you can serve on a cold winters day, then take the time and slow braise your beef. It brings a richness that you can’t beat.

    Even my Harley bear was waiting by the oven in the hopes for a taste!

    Print

    Braised beef and veggie quesadilla

    Slow braised beef, mixed with fresh veggies
    Course Appetizer, Main Course
    Cuisine Mexican
    Keyword Casual dining, Dinners, Quesadilla
    Prep Time 15 minutes
    Cook Time 3 hours
    Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
    Servings 10 quesadillas

    Equipment

    • dutch oven

    Ingredients

    Braised beef roast

    • 4-5 pound chuck roast
    • 1 tbsp canola oil
    • 1 med white onion thick slice
    • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
    • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
    • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
    • 4 ounces tomato sauce
    • 1 cup beef stock
    • 1 tbsp * sofrito home made or store bought
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Quesadilla

    • 10 10" flour tortillas
    • 4 cups shredded mexican cheese blen
    • 1 sm yellow squash diced
    • 1 sm zucchini diced
    • 1 med red bell pepper sliced
    • 1 med red onion sliced
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • salt pepper to taste
    • 4 tbsp butter

    Optional ingredients

    • pickled jalapeños
    • mexican crema
    • avocado
    • salsa

    Instructions

    Braised beef

    • Pre-heat oven to 350 degreese.
      In a dutch oven or a heavy oven proof pot, heat canola oil on medium high heat. Season beef with salt and pepper and sear 3-4 minutes per side.
      Remove roast from pot, reduce heat to medium and add sliced white onion, cumin, oregano, chili powder and cook 4-5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and sofrito and stir. Put the beef back into the pot and add beef stock and bay leaves and bring to a boil.
      Cover and place into preheated oven for 2 1/2 hours. Then reduce to 300 degrees and continue cooking for another 1/2 hour 45 minutes.
      Remove from oven and set aside while you get the quesadilla ingredients ready.

    Quesadilla

    • Heat olive oil over medium heat, saute veggies adding salt and pepper to taste. Do not overcook, leaving some crunch to the veggies. Set aside
      Begin to assemble
      Lay your tortilla flat, sprinkle with cheese, add shredded beef, veggies, pickled jalapenos (optional)
      Fold in half
      Melt butter onto a large non stick pan or griddle over medium heat and cook quesadillas until golden brown on both sides and cheese is melted.
      Remove from heat and cut into quarters, garnish with your favorites!

    Notes

    Comments Off on Braised beef and veggie quesadillas
Pinterest