Tuesdays of Texture | Week 48 of 2016

Tuesdays of Texture is a really awesome weekly feature.  You can read about it over here; but the short version is I want to see a bit of your world so link up your post in the comments!

sofrito

That is my sofrito.  I started making my own when I moved back home and to my surprise (but mostly to my grandma’s surprise) I make a mean sofrito.  It’s freaking delicious.  In case you ever want to try to make your own, I use:

Edited to detail the recipe, to approximate amounts (you can’t mess up a sofrito, add more or less of the ingredients you like more or less):

six onions, a pound of peppers (green and red – I use canned red peppers if I can’t find them fresh), a pack of sweet small peppers, 2 packs of fresh cilantro (less than half a pound), 2 packs of culantro (less that half a pound), six garlic heads, six to eight leaves of oregano (wild and any other I find).  I do enough to fill a big pot with one bag of onions because it unfreezes perfectly and I use it almost everyday.

This is what we add to yellow rice (rice mixed with any meat or vegetables), practically all our meats and all our soups.  During December this is the smell in every Puerto Rican house.

Please go check out last week’s awesome participations and THANK YOU!  Everyone that shared their posts, you guys make Tuesdays of Texture a joy.

Have a beautiful day and remember to share a bit of it with me!

Tuesdays of Texture | Week 2 of 2016

Tuesdays of Texture is a super cool weekly feature.  You can read about it over here; but the short version is I want to see a bit of your world so link up your post in the comments!

Last week I gave Pineapple pies to some of manfriend’s family as a Christmas/New Years/Three King’s Day gift (hard economic times you know) and they were a bang.  I thought I’d share the recipe because it’s so easy.

16 oz of Cool Whip

1 can Condensed Milk

2 cans crushed pineapple, drained

one cup of hazenuts (or any other nut you prefer)

4 tablespoons lemon juice

3 pre-made cracker pie crust (I like the Graham Cracker one)

2016-01-09_09-49-57

 

Mix the cool whip and the condensed milk with a spoon until soft.  Add pineapple and hazelnuts.  Mix with lemon juice. Pour into pre-made pie crust pans.  Put in fridge until hardened.

ETA:  took klara’s advice to share the pie when done!

Eat the whole thing in one sitting.  Or maybe share some with other  people.  Preferably with people that have been nice.

Also heads up to Maggie who mentioned soft textures are also game 🙂

These are the cool people from last week’s participations:

Black Body

ladyleemanila

jesh

Una Vista di San Ferno

Have an amazing day today.  And do remember to share a bit of it with me!

Super Mashies easy recipe

Super fast, mega delicious (sorry it IS packed with calories, I don’t consider them junk calories but someone in a restrictive diet might) and easy Super Mashies.  For that day when you just want to eat something different, but not cook so much, like a Saturday!

This measures are for approximately four medium potatoes.

Mash boiled potatoes to your liking (I like little chunks in mine.  Yum chunks.).  Add about an oz of milk.  A tablespoon of mayonnaise.  Mustard until the potatoes turn yellow (yes, that’s how I measure it).  A tablespoon of vinegar.  A bit of olive oil (depends on how much you like olive oil, I like it so my bit is enough to go around all the mixture).  Black ground pepper and salt as you see fit.  Half a teaspoon of Badia complete seasoning or equivalent.

Lots of butter because butter makes everything better.  Dry bacon if you have some laying around.

Swirl all that around.  Enjoy!

Cilantro vs Culantro: they are NOT the same herb!

In my last post mentioning my recao harvest babso2you commented about her coriander plants bolting.

I suspected there was confusion of my recao with coriander.  This happens all over the internet so I decided to make a visual guide so that at least here, in my blog, my readers will be clear that coriander?  Is NOT recao.

This is coriander, cilantro, chinese parsley or for Puerto Ricans, cilantrillo:

cilantrillo

In detail:

cilantrillo close up

 

And this is culantro for Puerto Ricans, recao:

recao rehata

In detail:

 

I hope that clears up that confusion, that’s two very different herbs!

Bonus recipe:

(This is if you have already tried cilantro in your cooking and know that you like the flavor, otherwise it would be torture 🙂  )

Add cilantro (the first one!) to white rice.  I use about the amount in the picture above for two cups of rice.  Don’t cut it too small.  That’s it!  You’ll get a flavorful, aromatic rice that’ goes perfectly with white and red meats.

For any meat or rice casserole, recao.

Have a great, tasty day!

Plantain entree

Ever find yourself with an extra plantain?  Here’s a simple,quick and delicious way of serving them as an entree for an informal gather up, or just a snack to much on while watching a movie.

The other day manfriend harvested plantains and I wanted to eat them differently so I went with platanutres.  Which is just another way of eating fried plantains because Puerto Ricans will never get tired of throwing those things in oil.  Never.  With a green plantain:

 

  • Peel the plantain.
  • Cut in very thin slices.  Take your time.  Make them pretty!
  • Soak them in enough water to cover them and add a couple of teaspoons of salt for a few minutes.
  • plaintains soaking
  • Carefully fry them in very hot oil (hot HOT!) for a few minutes (something like fifteen minutes will do I think. I leave mine until very golden, almost brown.)
  • frying plantains
  • Serve them in a plate with a napkin to absorb excess oil.
  • done plantain

 

YUM.  I ate two plates of that by myself.  TWO.

Hope you enjoy it if you try it!  🙂

Have a great day!

New Parent: Some tips to survive on faster, healthy meals

Eating healthy, complete meals with a crawler/toddler around the house becomes a challenge.

 

I can not count the times I completely skip a meal or just gobble down whatever’s on the table (bread, bananas, cookies… yum, cookies) instead of eating something decent because I have no time, but, there are a few tricks I’ve validated that I want to share to help you avoid this by making meals a bit easier and faster.

 

Most of it it’s prep time:  try to pre-prep as much as you can and store it in one-time portions.  In our case the biggest life saver has been storing meats prepped.  We go to the grocery store and when we come back we portion and season every meat we bought.  And by we I mostly mean manfriend because he’s the meat expert around here.

We use vinegar, olive oil, coriander, onion, oregano, culantro, ready to use complete seasoning (I love Badia), pepper and tons of garlic.  There can never be enough garlic.

But sometimes I have do the meat prepping alone and I’m not as fond of the task so I admit I cut it short by like, most of it.  If you can’t season the meat before storing it (I understand you, it’s ok, it’s all ok) at least put the correct portions in ziploc bags and drizzle them with vinegar before freezing.  It might be that my grandmother has drilled it in my head but vinegar makes all meat better;  it cleans it killing all the nasties in it and it also serves as a tenderiser.

 

Also:

  • Cut peppers and store them in portions.
  • Store garlic grounded or minced in the freezer.
  • Puerto Ricans use sofrito  which is basically the win of cooking.  You can try making one with your favorite ingredients.  We store portions in the freezer and thaw them to always have some handy.

 

Another huge life saver is good food choices.  You can’t eat the bad food that you don’t buy, so even though it’s tempting, stay away from frozen fried or to be fried foods.   Substitute those for healthier (and who are we kidding, they are still frozen foods but!  It’s better than eating the bowl of ice cream) choices.

I found bags of frozen fajita beef that are cut and seasoned that have saved my life.  I throw them in the skillet with some (pre-cut!) colourful peppers, drizzle  some honey-garlic BBQ sauce over the whole thing, cover it and ten minutes later it’s done.  I can serve it with rice, potatoes or *gasp* fajitas!   There’s also chicken strips and so on.

I also like Velveeta skillets, which yes, boxed food, but oh THE TASTE.  And you use your own chicken (or meat) too so you can avoid the fake protein.   These are extremely satisfying so I highly recommend them for those long days when you get home in a hurry, starved and have to fix something ASAP or you risk fainting.

Pastas are a great, fast choice on their own too.  You can basically use any leftover meat and combine it with pasta and ta da!  Meal.

Which brings me to:  invest in good sauces.  Seriously, it will save your life.  You don’t need ten different choices, but a couple of great sauces can be the ticket to a delicious, EASY (and in most cases cheaper!) meal.  My choices are Worcestershire sauce (and I buy the cheapest one I can find -it’s not even a dollar- because I’ve never been to Europe, I don’t know what the good one is supposed to taste like), a good Teriyaki sauce (I like one with roasted garlic) and a good BBQ sauce (manfriend loves one with honey in it).  And then I try to always have a good, classic spaghetti sauce and a nice white sauce.

Two of those are enough to make your life easier and tastier.   Season anything as you would and then drizzle it with the sauce.  I like to add a little touch right before finishing too for an extra boom.

 

If possible always have some fish standing by in the freezer.  Fish thaws fast, gets seasoned with practically nothing (salt, pepper.  That can be it) and gets cooked in a few minutes.  It’s also healthy, does not pack bad calories and you can pair it with a huge salad and feel happily satisfied.

Last but so very not least, you need greens!  A strong variety of lettuce (roman, french) in good condition can last a couple of weeks in the fridge, so when you can, pack up on some fresh greens so you can always have some go-to main salad ingredient.  Salads are the win because you can add virtually everything to it and it will still taste right;  fruits, almonds, croutons… look around and toss it in there, then gobble up.

 

That’s it.  As you can see, I didn’t invent anything new, in fact it is all about using common sense.  Then again when you have to run with a few hours of sleep for over a year the practice of common sense gets reserved for the parenting part of the brain and it’s harder to use it on food.

 

Bon appetite!

 

The goal of a balanced healthy living

I’m pretty sure I’ve hit the nesting period.

I mean, I want to clean everything and arrange everything and nothing shall be dirty in the kitchen sink SOHELPMEGOD, and everything would be all done all the time if my feet allowed me. My feet give me a window of about three hours in the morning before swelling up so bad it looks like both my ankles are broken.

 

The only thing I feel I want to ignore is cooking. I don’t want to cook. At all. I want to eat all the food in the world, but not cook it. Manfriend has been a lifesaver because thank God, he cooks way better than me and has been compassionate enough to feed me.

Several weeks ago though I found an article in Yahoo about this girl who lives (along with her husband and two kids) on a 14,000 annual budget and I’ve been feeling so bad about ignoring the cooking! I’ve never been bad with money in general, so it’s not about that per se (although, I could do a bit more of saving if I put more effort into it, and who doesn’t need to tighten up a bit economically lately?). When I saw her meal plans I deflated. They don’t have a comfortable food budget and they eat SO HEALTHY! Much more healthier than us!

 

I mean, we don’t eat horribly, in fact my nutritionist was ecstatic that our meals were generally healthy to begin with (we don’t do greasy meats, we eat fresh vegetables and fruit etc), but we I certainly don’t make my own bread, or my own pancake mix, or my own pizza. Sometimes I un-freeze ready to cook chicken strips and fry them with some tostones and then I spread peanut butter and Nutella on a bread slice, drink a whole glass of milk and I pretend that I cooked a wholesome meal. What? The TV said Nutella was an excellent choice!

Some other times, I actually make a wholesome meal, like this Spicy Sprout Tortilla Egg Taquitos.  And a side of fresh fruit!  Hard chef work!

After reading her for a while the only thing that has lessen my guilt about not making homemade pumpkin bread is that we do grow quite a few things. And by we, I mean manfriend who has a well supplied crop with an assortment or produce that, not only saves us money, but help us consume organic products on a daily basis.

Ideally, one should be able to grow a variety of things and also make homemade pancake mix. How do you balance your homemade living?

Have a great week!

 

Life at home: Making Cheese!

Rural living has given me things that I only dreamed of before.

Fresh and organic food from our own earth being of the ones that we use daily. From manfriend’s crop (which is his favorite hobby) we get beans, peas, bananas, tomatoes, pumpkins, corn, long coriander (recao), regular coriander (cilantro)… and that’s just from regular harvest. Depending on the season we get other things.

His family also shares their harvests and we get star fruits, beets, mangos, lemon, fresh eggs and milk.

His father has a milk cow and gives us a couple of gallons every few days. I don’t drink whole milk, so it was obviously becoming too much milk for us and then manfriend’s step-mother gave us the answer; cheese!

Since we couldn’t use other by-products as efficiently (e.i. cream) cheese became the best alternative to use every bit of milk we get. As if I’m going to let nature’s gift (and my father-in-law’s work) go to waste!

Armed with lemon we ventured into cheese making. As the milk went into the pot I remembered when I was a kid and my mother and my grandmother made cheese. My uncle would bring us five gallon pots and pastilles to curd it and we would spend the entire day pressing the cheese and drying it. It was so tedious and arduous and in the end you got this tiny cheeses that, yes, tasted like heaven but my goodness SO MUCH WORK.

Miraculously, it turned out that making natural cottage cheese is SO MUCH EASIER. It basically makes itself! Which is my favorite kind of food!

If you want to try it you need four basic ingredients: bravery, whole cow milk (you can’t do this with anything you buy in the store) lemon and salt. Some people over here use oranges and other citrus fruits for curdling, I haven’t tried that yet.

 For a gallon of milk, a full plastic cup of lemon juice. Try not to get the segments in there if you want to make really clean and fancy cheese, I make rough, eat-with-your-hands cheese, with segments. You warm the milk at medium heat (it should not boil), add the lemon, stir occasionally and suddenly you will have cheese. You’ll see complete separation of serum and milk curds and squee with excitement.

Then you strain the cheese into a strainer small enough that the cheese won’t go through (like the one in the picture) and let it sit. When it’s closer to room temperature, strain out the rest of the excess liquid (you might want to push it a bit with a spoon or your hand; the drier you want it, the more you strain it). Add salt to taste and mix it well. Make any shape you want with it (I make ready-to-serve balls) or put it in a mold and refrigerated it.

It should be consumed within two days for maximum freshness, but my grandmother freezed some I made and swears it was perfectly good after thawing. You could experiment with that if you need to.

Eat it with hot, caramelized apples and pears (don’t forget the cinnamon!). Feel happy.

Two tips for normal housewives

The life of a housewife, contrary to what any television show could have you think, has nothing to do with airbrushing up your makeup first thing in the morning and be trying to pull someone’s hair out by the afternoon. It has much more to do with cleverness and having your hands smelling like food (or dirt) on daily basis and then sneaking in some five minutes to do your hair and slap some blush on.

 

Among my favorite kitchen tricks, maybe because I use it so much, is the fast beet peeling. To peel a raw beet you need a great peeler (or knife skills) and tons of patience. I lack both of those. So manfriend, in his great wisdom, taught me to clean the beet very well, cut both ends (one will be the leaves) and then boil them done. You drain them of all hot water and let them refresh. I then like to fill a little bowl with fresh water and have another clean one to store the beets. You wet the beet in the fresh water and then just push the skin off with your fingers. It will slid right off like magic. This makes it easy to prepare a lot of beet at once, which you can then freeze in ziplock baggies and easily turn into a side salad later.

Ta da.

beet

 

 

All this food-preparing can make your hands super dry and we already established that normal people don’t have six hours for a manicure and pedicure everyday. One of the beauty tricks that did wonders for me this winter was one I came up with by accident. I have super dry and sensitive skin so I usually stock up on oils and lotions to slather on as many times as I can. That ends up being far too little and although I have the tools, I end up not using them because I don’t have time to rub on five different things on my pre-sleep routine. So one day I found myself with a botle of Almond oil (which smells a bit like heaven), liquid Vitamin E (which usually comes in a base of natural oils like Lemon Oil, which jackpot, smells awesome too) and Cetaphil which is my main go-to body lotion. Eureka: lets mix them all together.

Use your regular body lotion and mix in your favorite body oils. Shake it, put it on; you have a durable, great smelling, super nutricious lotion to soothe dry skin.

 

 

I hope one of those tricks gave you at least five extra minutes to do more important thing during the day like going outside with a coffee mug and sip it very slowly.

 

Have a great week!

 

Alfalfa Sprout Rolls at breakfast for the win!

I used:

small flour tortillas

5 eggs

(about an inch) mortadella jam chopped

3 slices of turkey jam chopped

1 tomatoe chopped

salt & pepper

1 teaspoon of sofrito

one third cheddar cheese (longhorn shaped) chopped

two slices regular cheese

about 2 onzs alfalfa sprouts

mayoneisse

I used five eggs that rendered ten rolls (using small plantillas) and after eating three rolls I had to sit and moan for thirty minutes.  Add more or use less according to how many people will eat or how hungry they will be.  I loved this invention because it was easy to make, delicious and sustaining.  Highly recommended for a nice brunch, I’d say add a fruit smoothie or a cold fruity glass of wine and basically it’s a perfect Sunday first meal.

I fried the mortadella, turkey, potatoe cheese and tomatoes first because I like the meat to cook a bit longer.  Scramble the eggs with salt, pepper and sofrito and add the regular cheese slices.  You can combine everything if you want to make it even faster.  Everything goes into a pan with butter and is cooked until the eggs are done. Meanwhile, warm the flour tortillas and spread a bit of mayoneisse in them.

Make the rolls adding a bit of egg mix and topping them with sprouts.  Eat and enjoy the ecstasy.