Monday, January 30, 2012

Orange and Fennel Salad

Lately, I've been taking cooking classes, not because I don't know how to cook, obviously, but because they're fun. I do learn new things (like how to make a good Paella) and this yummy, refreshing salad. You might be thinking that this is more of a summer time dish but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Oranges and other citrus fruits are actually in seasons right now. It's strange to think that fruits people typically associate with sunny, warm Florida or California weather would be best to eat during the cold winter months but it's true. This also means that fennel is in season right now too. Fennel is usually best from Autumn to early spring. When you think about ingredients that would taste good when combined just remember this: "If it grows together, it goes together". You'll be pleasantly surprised how refreshing this salad is especially during a season where heavy meals are predominate.

One Year Ago: Sesame Chicken
Two Years Ago: Bacon Wrapped Scallops

What You Need:

6 navel oranges
1 large or 2 small heads of fennel
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Salad Greens

What To Do:

Using a very sharp knife, remove the peel and pith from the oranges. Slice into segmants by very carefully taking a paring knife and cutting down at an angle on either side of the membrane that holds the segments together. Do this over a bowl so that you catch any juices.
Remove the tops from the fennel, reserving some of the fronds for garnish. Remove the cores and then thinly slice the fennel.
Toss the fennel and orange segments together. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into any of the juice collected from the oranges. Whisk the citrus juices together with extra virgin olive oil, some salt and pepper and toss it with the salad. Top with a few of the fronds. Serve over salad greens or arugula.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ropa Vieja

Another yummy Cuban dish that I had while visiting Columbus was Ropa Vieja. Basically, all it is, is a flank steak that has been simmered in a flavorful sauce made of red wine and tomatoes. The flank steak is seasoned with salt and pepper, then seared over high heat in a dutch oven or heavy bottomed skillet. Once seared, the flank steak is removed from the pot and set aside while the rest of the flavors are combined. Started with sofrito of course, onions and bell pepper join the party followed by red wine, tomato paste and water. The flank steak is added back in and everything is gently simmered for a couple hours. The meat is then shredded and the sauce reduced down. Served with rice and black beans of course.

One Year Ago: Mediterranean Salad
Two Years Ago: Orange Chicken

What You Need:

1 tbs veg oil
2 lb flank steak
1/2 c sofrito
1 large onion, sliced
1 large bell pepper, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (5oz) can tomato paste
1 1/2 c red wine (not a sweet red)
1 c water
1 tbs oregano
1/2 tbs cumin
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Season the flank steak with lots of salt and pepper. Sear in the veg oil on both side in a heavy bottomed skillet or dutch oven. You want it brown and crusty on both sides. Remove to a plate. Reduce the heat to low and add the sofrito. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant, being careful that it doesn't stick and burn to the bottom. Add in the onions, bell peppers, garlic and tomato paste. Cook for a couple more minutes, again making sure that it doesn't stick and burn. Stir in the wine and water, scrapping the bottom of the pan to get up anything that did stick. Add in the oregano and cumin and stir everything until well combined. Nestle the meat back into the mixture so that it's covered with the sauce. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat as low and possible and cook for at least two hours, stirring occasionally. You want it to be bubbling slightly. After the two hours, remove and shred the meat. Turn the heat to high and reduce the sauce a bit until nice and thick. Stir the meat back in and serve.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Picadillo is a strange little Cuban dish with a ton of flavor. It's simple to make but does take some time to get flavor happy. It is something you can start on the stove and then move the crockpot if you need to. Green olives and raisins are something in this dish that you don't see to often in normal American cooking, however it brings a sweet and salty combination to this dish. As with most Cuban cooking, this recipe starts with sofrito which I posted for you on Monday, knowing that today and Friday I was going to share two of my favorite Cuban dishes with you.
Last year, for my anniversary, my husband and I took the kids to Columbus Ohio and visited the zoo. I have an Aunt that lives near there, along with a friend or two and this great little Cuban restaurant was suggested to us. It was pretty small, having only a few tables inside and out but their food was incredible and I knew it was something that I would have to try and recreate at home.

One Year Ago: Tater Tots
Two Years Ago: Battle of Fats

What You Need:

1 tbs olive oil
1/2 c sofrito
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (5oz) can tomato paste
1 (5oz) jar green olives with pimento
1/2 c raisins
1 tbs oregano
1/2 tbs cumin
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

What To Do:

In a dutch oven or heavy bottomed deep skillet, add the oil and sofrito over medium high heat. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add in the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add in the rest of the ingredients, reduce the heat and simmer for at least 1 hour, but 3 hours is better. If you want to do this in a crock pot, after browning the meat, stir everything together in the crock, set it on low and leave it go for several hours.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Sofrito is very common in a lot of Latin cooking. I've been making some Cuban inspired dishes lately and they all have started with sofrito. Yes you can find it in a store, along with the other Hispanic foods but it's pretty easy to make. There are two types that I am familiar with, red and green. The green tends to be cilantro based and the red is either tomato or red pepper based. Sofrito is also one of those things that everyone has their own secret recipe for. I doubt you'll ever find two that are the same. I start mine with tons of garlic, onions and bell peppers. This recipe makes two cups and I use about 1/2 cup per recipe. It will keep in the fridge for a week or two but you can freeze it in 1/4 to 1/2 c sizes for later too.

One Year Ago: Maple Roasted Root Veggies
Two Years Ago: Buffalo Potato Skins

What You Need:

1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled and roughly chopped
1 large spanish onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
2 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs ground cumin
1 (5oz) can tomato paste
1 tbs veg oil
salt and pepper

What To Do:

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add in the garlic, onion and pepper and cook until they start to soften. Add in the the oregano, cumin, salt, pepper and the tomato paste. Cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste has turned a dark red, almost brown color. Let cool and transfer to a food processor/blender. Let it rip until smooth or just slightly chunky. Store in a GLASS container (unless you want everything else that goes in your plastic container in the future to taste like sofrito).

Friday, January 20, 2012

Baked Eggs

This is an easy breakfast that you can just throw in the oven and finish getting ready in the morning. It's delicious and very nutritious. It will get you up and going in the morning.

One Year Ago: Croque Madame
Two Years Ago: Sausage

What You Need:

2 eggs
1/2 c sauteed Kale
1 tbs Parmesan cheese
1 stripe of cooked bacon

What To Do:

Spray a ramekin with cooking spray or a bit of butter. Add in your Kale, top with the eggs, crumble the bacon over them and sprinkle on the cheese. Season with some salt and pepper and even a little dried thyme. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 15 minutes or until the whites are set. Enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Easy Meyer Lemon Tart

Easy is the best way to describe this tart. A handful of ingredients and a blender is all you need. There is no whisking lemon juice, sugar and eggs over a double boiler, praying you don't end up with lemon scrambled eggs. This sweet and tart lemon filling would go great in any of  your favorite pie crust but I have something special for this one. I didn't have time to make a traditional pie crust. It wouldn't have been ready to eat if I had to let the dough sit for 30 minutes and then bake and let it cool. I didn't have an graham crackers so that type of crust was out too. I almost scrap the whole idea of desert all together but then had a great idea! I had tons of rolled oats in the pantry so why not do a oatmeal crust? Sounds strange right? I think it's my new favorite crust! Think of have a pie with a crumble topping. Now take that crunchy goodness and turn it into a pie crust. Now it sounds good doesn't it! It works very well in fruit pies and couldn't be easier to make. As for the lemon part of the tart, use Meyer lemons. They're not as tart as a regular lemon and do not have real thick skins which is why this easy recipe works as well as it does.

What You Need:
Pie Crust:

1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c rolled oats (Not quick oats)
1/3 c brown sugar
1 stick of butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt


2 meyer lemons, cut into quarters
1 1/2 c sugar
1 stick room temp butter
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt

What To Do:

Preheat the oven to 400.
Make the crust by combining the ingredients thoroughly. You want to make sure that the butter has coating everything. No dry spots or the crust won't hold in that spot. Press into an 8 inch tart pan or a pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool while you make the filling.
Put all the filling ingredients into a blender and give it a whirl. Yep, that's it. Just turn the blender on and let it go until everything is combined. It will look a little strange but I promise it works! Just pour it into your pie crust and bake for about 30 minutes or until the tart is golden and set. Let cool completely before cutting.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sauteed Kale

Did you know that Kale is a super food? It is! It's a wonderful dark leafy green that is high in fiber, vitamins A, C and K as well as containing tons of trace minerals, all of which is very beneficial to the human body. It's a very inexpensive veggie too. I've been buying a bunch every week and eating it probably once a day. I sautee it up once I get it home and keep it ready to go in my fridge. It's great warmed up with an egg on top for breakfast or in some baked eggs or as a side dish for the whole family. It takes just minutes and you're done.

One Year Ago: Pepper Steak
Two Years Ago: Roasted Garlic

What You Need:

1 large bunch of Kale
1 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Salt and Pepper

What To Do:

Remove the stems from the Kale and give it a rough chop. You can either remove the stems completely or just remove the bottom part of the stems, leaving the part that's connected to the leaves. The stems to tend to be a bit chewier and a tad more bitter then the leaves though.
Heat a large pan over medium heat with the olive oil. Once it's hot add in the sliced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Start adding in your Kale. It will wilt down fairly quickly. Just give it a turn with a pair of tongs every minute or so until it's completely wilted down and tender. Then you can either serve it right away or let it cool and store it in an airtight container for the week to have when you need it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lemony Chicken and Egg Soup

Can you believe it? A soup recipe? From me? Actually, I've started liking soups more and more. I've made quite a few so far this winter, if you can call it winter. It's been pretty mild just about every where, well almost everywhere. There is a little town in Alaska that received a gift of 18 feet of snow. In one day. Can you imagine??? I certainly can't. So in honor of those poor frozen people in the true north, here is a yummy chicken soup recipe. By cooking the rice right along with the chicken, and adding the eggs in later on, you create an almost creamy soup, without the added fat of cream.

One Year Ago: Split Pea Soup
Two Years Ago: Roasted Garlic

What You Need:

1lb of boneless, skinless chicken (can use all breast or breast/thigh)
1/2 c rice (real rice, not minute rice)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp dried thyme
bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 c chicken stock
2 large eggs
1/2 c shredded Parmesan cheese
1 bunch of kale, chopped (remove stems)
salt and pepper

What To Do:

In bottom of your slow cooker, place the rice, chicken, lemon zest, thyme, bay leaf, garlic and chicken stock. Cook on low for 6 hours. Remove the chicken and shred. Add it back into the soup. Whisk together the eggs and parmesan cheese with lots of salt and pepper. Slowly stir the eggs into the hot soup. Stir in the chopped kale and let cook for 30 more minutes or until it's heated through and the kale has wilted.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Apple Brie Tarts

One word to say about these tarts: YUMMY! I made them as a dessert for Thanksgiving and they were just incredible. Apples and brie along with a touch of honey and some chopped walnuts are great on their own but wrap them in puff pastry and you have the wonderful, and easy, dessert in the world. It is a great sweet and savory sort of dessert that most people will just love!

One Year Ago: Cheddar Beer Soup 
Two Years Ago: Polenta Sausage Casserole

What You Need:

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
6 tbs honey
6 tbs chopped walnuts
several thin slices of brie

What To Do:

Cut the puff pastry into 6 equal squares. Place a few slices of brie in the center, followed by a few slices of apple, 1 tbs of honey and 1 tbs of the nuts. Lift the opposite corners and gently press them together. Do the same with the remaining two corners. You're keeping the square shape by bringing the corners in together. Bake in a preheat 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temp.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Taco Soup


Nothing is more warming on a cold winters day then soup. This soup is doubly warming as it has a bit of spiciness to it. Warms the heart and soul! Taco’s, were are a favorite in my house, are turned into a yummy, hardy soup. Little meatballs are seasoned and baked, then tossed into a soup with two types of beans, corn and tons of flavor!

One Year Ago: Spaghetti with Sausage and Fennel
Two Years Ago: Anti-Pasta Salad

What You Need:

1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups salsa
15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 c chicken stock or water
1 lb ground beef
1 c frozen corn
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
½ tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
1 tbs chopped cilantro
¼ c taco seasoning (1 package)
1/3 c bread crumbs
1 tbs cumin
Olive oil

What To Do:

Diced 2/3 of the onion and toss into a soup pot with a tbs of oil. Finely mince the remaining 1/3 of an onion and place it in a bowl with the ground beef. Mince the garlic and place half in the soup pot with the onion and the other half in the bowl with beef. Cook the onions and garlic over medium heat until softened. Then add in the tomatoes, beans, stock and frozen corn.
To the bowl with the ground beef, add in the egg, chopped cilantro, taco seasoning, cumin, and Worcestershire sauce. Form into meatballs; bake 400 for about 15 minutes. Toss into hot soup and serve with sour cream, pico de gallo, cheddar cheese, tortilla strips etc.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Tacos

You all know that Mexican is my favorite cuisine. I have never had a Mexican dish I didn’t like. This is a simple dish, made in the slow cooker. It’s easy to freeze too which is nice because then you have supper almost ready on nights you don’t feel like cooking. I sometimes double up this recipe too so that I have plenty left over to freeze. You can this mix for taco’s and then use what’s left for enchiladas too. Double duty meals are the best! Want a triple duty meal? Use the shredded chicken meat to make nachos too!

One Year Ago: Divine Chocolate Pound Cake
Two Years Ago: Chili Con Carne

 What You Need:

1 whole chicken, cut into 6 pieces (2 breasts, 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks) Can use the wings too but they don’t give much meat so I always save them for stock.
1 (28 oz can) crushed tomatoes
1 can of water or chicken stock
¼ c taco seasoning
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tbs oregano
1 tbs cocoa powder
1 jalapeƱo split down the middle
1 lrg onion, diced
1 chipotles in adobo, minced

What To Do:

Leave the skin on the thighs and drummies, remove it from the breast. Place everything into the crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours. Remove the chicken from the sauce. Toss the skin from the leg portions and shred the chicken. Strain the liquid from the slow cooker. Return the chicken back into the slow cooker with enough liquid to just keep the chicken moist. Serve the shredded chicken in warmed corn tortilla with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese etc. Freezing Instructions: Since you're using a whole chicken, you'll get two to three meals out this. I take any chicken we didn't eat the first night and package it into freezer zip top bags or containers with a little bit of extra sauce. When you want taco again, remove from the freezer to thaw and just reheat. With the rest of the sauce, you can let it cool and freeze it to use later for making this recipe again, or you can bowl it down till it thickens a bit and use it for an enchilada sauce.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Potato Tortilla

Here we are, the first recipe of the new year. As the first, it should be something for the first and most important meal of the day right? Tortilla is a Spanish dish made with eggs. Think of it as very similar to an Italian frittata. This one, takes about a cup of diced potatoes along with some garlic and onion to make a very yummy and pretty easy breakfast. My kids loved it, especially my daughter who only seems to eat carbs these days.
You can pretty much anything to these. It’s a very simple dish to modify to your liking.

What You Need:

1 c diced potatoes
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbs veg oil
6 eggs
1/2 c 2%  milk
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

What To Do:

tortilla3In a 10-12 inch skillet, over medium heat, cook the potatoes and onions until browned and soft. Use a lid to trap steam and help the cook the potatoes through a bit faster. Season with salt and pepper, add in the thyme and garlic.

Whisk together the eggs and milk and pour over the potatoes and onions. Turn heat to medium low, top with the shredded cheddar cheese and cook until the eggs are set. Again you can use a lid to trap steam and help it along.

Nutritional Info (makes 4 servings)
Please remember that I am not a dietician. These numbers are what I get from imputing this recipe into the My Fitness Pal Website and are per serving.
Calories: 290
Carbs: 23
Protein: 16
Fat: 16
Fiber: 2
Sugar: 3
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