• 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!

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    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.

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    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.

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  • 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!

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    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 
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