‘Saladrito’ (Salad Wrap) 

Healthy,  fresh and delicious! This recipe is one of those where you pretty much just throw anything you have in the fridge inside a tortilla and call it dinner! 

Wonderful for hot summer days! 

Ingredients:

  • Spinach tortillas 
  • Celery 
  • Carrots 
  • Cucumber 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Feta cheese 
  • Edamame hummus 
  • Sour cream 
  • Salad greens
  • Smoked ham
  • Green onion
  • Italian parsley 

Lightly toast the tortillas. Chop vegetables and mix them together. Spread humus and sour cream on both halfs. Add the vegetables to the middle, top with feta, tomatoes, herbs and salad greens. Fold from the ham side, use your fingers and/or large knife to push all ingredients close together, tuck the ham side of the wrap in, close the other half over using the sour cream as ‘glue’. 

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Braided and Teddy Bear Challah Bread (egg bread)

  
Best bread I’ve ever had was when visiting a friend’s house, who happened to be Jewish and have this amazing cook for a mom, her kitchen table always had this bread, baked in a million different ways sometimes sweet, sometimes savory. 

This recipe makes two loaves. I shaped mine as a braid, more traditional, and a teddy bear, just because it’s too cute. There’s tons of tutorials online on how to make fun challah shapes, look it up!

Total rising time: 2 hours

Baking: 10 minutes at 400F and 35 minutes at 325F

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2/3 cup water (warm around 100F)
  • 2 yeast packets
  • 1 tablespoon sugar plus 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 eggs and 
  • 7 cups of sifted flour
  • Egg wash: 1 egg yolk and a tablespoon of water

Directions:

  • Mix 1/2 cup water, yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar and set aside.
  • In a heavy duty mixer beat eggs, combine oil, salt 3/4 cup sugar and lastly 2/3 cup of warm water. INSERT DOUGH HOOK. Add one cup of flour at a time until smooth and elastic. Add the last two cups with caution, by the tablespoon if necessary. Different altitudes and humidity may require more or less flour. It should not stick to the touch.
  • Lightly oil large bowl. Place dough in it, turn to butter the bottom, cover with a towel and let it rise FOR 1 HOUR in a warm draft free area. You want to see it double in size.
  • Punch dough down let it rise for another 30 MINUTES.
  • Place dough in a lightly floured surface, divide it in 2. Easy shaping as a braid: Divide in three parts, roll in long cilinders, braid, pinch edges together and fold under.
  • Let rise in warm area for 30 MINUTES.

  

  • Brush with egg wash and bake for 10 minutes at 400F and then for 35 minutes at 325F lightly covered with foil wrap ( make agent) to avoid excessive browning.
  • Let it cook on a wire rack. 
  • Store inside a plastic bag, at room temperature. 

    

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    Baklava

    بقلاوه /bɑːklɑvɑː

      
    Turkish food is amazing. This is my favorite dessert, its origins come from the Ottoman Empire. There are records of this recipe dating as far back as the 2nd century BCE.

    Ingredients:

    • 16 ounce package phyllo dough
    • 1 pound chopped nuts (I used almonds)
    • 2 cups of melted butter
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
    • 1 cup of water
    • 1 cup of white sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup of molasses

    Directions:

    • Preheat oven 350 degrees F (175 Celsius) 
    • Butter a 9/13 inch pan
    • Toss nuts with cinnamon and set aside
    • Unroll phyllo dough, cut whole stack in half to fit pan, cover with a damp cloth
    • Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. 
    • Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of nut mixture on top.
    • Top with 2 sheets of dough, butter, 2 sheets of dough, butter, 2 sheets of dough and nuts, layering as you go (totaling 6 sheets per layer)
    • Top layer should have 8 layers of dough and be covered with butter.
    • Cut into two inch squares with a sharp knife.
    • Bake for 50 minutes, first 40 covered with foil, until top is golden brown.

    Baklava Sauce:

    • Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted, add vanilla and molasses. Simmer for 20 minutes on low. 

    Immediately spoon sauce over baklava once it comes out of the oven, let it cool. Serve in cupcake papers. Leave it uncovered otherwise it gets soggy. 

    Molasses can be substituted by honey, corn syrup, maple syrup. Nuts could be anything from pistachios, walnuts, pecans to cashews. 

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    Cheddar Bacon Bread & Garlic Mexican Cheese Bread 

      This is my favorite white bread dough, I use a Kitchen Aid mixer with the bread making attachment, but you can make it by hand. Make sure the mixer bowl is warmed up before you start. Making bread is all about keeping the right temperature in check, 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, 84 if you want to be perfect! Let it get too hot or too cold and you’ll kill the yeast and end up with a flat bread… 

    Bread dough: (makes 2 loaves) 

    – 1/2 cup (120ml) low fat milk

    – 3 tablespoons (45ml) sugar

    – 2 teaspoons (10ml) of salt 

    –  3 tablespoons (45ml) of butter

    – 2 packages of active dry yeast 

    – 1 1/2 cups (355ml) warm water (105-115 Fahrenheit) (40-46 Celsius)

    – 5-6 cups of flour 
    Filling :

    Loaf one: – 2 cups of shredded cheddar, 5 slices of bacon cooked and chopped, a handful of cut green onions and parsley  

     Loaf two: – 2 cups of shredded Mexican Cheese (queso fresco), 4 cloves of chopped garlic, paprika 
      Instructions:

    Place milk, sugar, salt and butter in a saucepan and, in low heat, mix until the sugar dissolves. Cool to lukewarm.

    Warm mixer bowl under sink hot water, then dissolve yeast in water for about 5 minutes. Add lukewarm milk mixture. Add flour slowly until dough is not sticking to sides of the bowl anymore. You want the dough to be smooth and elastic. 

    Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, for about one hour.

    I have this amazing bread rising box that my father in law built me, it works wonders! 

     
    When your bread is puffy and filled with air it’s time to bake! 

       First you want to punch it down and pop all those air bubbles, so they can form again in the oven later on. 

      Now it’s when the fun starts in my opinion! Divide the dough in half, we are making 2 different ones. 
      Stretch one of them in a big rectangle over your counter, or preferably a wooden cutting board, you don’t want the bread dough temperature to suddenly change, it will deflate the dough. 
      Now spread the filling over, and start rolling it from the long sides, keeping the filling on the inside.
       
      

       When you get close to the end bring the dough edges together and pinch them close.

      Make a wavy worm with the bread, and place it in a buttered bread pan. Use your fingers to push the dough in, stabbing it many times so it looks like mine in the picture below. That will help the cheese and fillings blend together with the dough once it cooks.
       
      Do the same with the other loaf. 

       Bake them for 20 minutes at 350 Fahrenheit, then lower the temperature to 325 and finish cooking for another 25 minutes. Keep a close eye on the last 10 minutes, make sure your bread has browned on the bottom before you’re sure it’s done. The worst thing is going through all this work and undercooking it. Another way to check is to stick a wooden toothpick in, if it comes out clear it’s done! 

    Wait about five minutes to take them out of the trays, then place it on a wire rack to cool down and serve!

      
    Enjoy!!!! 

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    Fresh rice rolls

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    You know when you eat something strange in a Himalayan food booth at a festival and just fall in love with it? These rice rolls are it for me!

    Ingredients:

    -Rice wrappers

    Fillings:
    -Rice noodles, softened and drained
    -Mint leaves
    -Sauteed red onions and garlic with rice vinager
    -Chopped green onions
    -Carrots, shaved with potato peeler
    – Radishes sliced thin
    -Mint leaves

    Dipping sauce:
    -Sweet and sour

    Wet the rice wrappers in a bowl of warm water, start filling with the rice noodles, as much as your thumb. Add a little bit off everything and finish off with 3 mint leaves. Fold the bottom up, then the sides in, then roll. Same way you’d do a spring roll.

    You can brown the top under a broiler or simply serve as is.

    Serve with dipping sauce sweet and sour!

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    Onion Chicken, Black Rice Potatoes & Asparagus

    Onion Chicken:

     

    Ingredients:

    • 2 chicken breasts (no skin)
    • 1 onion sliced in 1 cm (little less than half an inch) rings
    • ¼ tsp of each: salt, black pepper, red pepper, poppy seeds, sage, savory (mix them together in a small bowl)
    • 1 tbs of butter
    • ½ tbs of soy sauce mixed with ½ tbs of water

     

    Slice chicken breasts in half making 4 fillets out of it. Pound them flat if necessary – you want them to be about the same thickness. Place in a deep bowl. Sprinkle mixed seasonings on top of chicken, make sure you get both sides. Melt ½ tbs of butter in cast iron skillet, when it starts to sizzle add 2 chicken fillets. Cook on high for 3 min on each side. Only flip once, let it brown untouched and it will not stick to the saucepan. Use a very flat spatula to turn, pressing down hard to detach the corners of meat before flipping. Set cooked fillets aside. Melt the other half of butter for the next 2 fillets.

    Turn the heat to medium and deglaze saucepan by adding the soy sauce and water. It’s going to sizzle, once it stops add all onions and put the lid on. Cook in low heat for about 4 minutes or until onions have reached desired consistency. I personally like them a bit crunchy, so I don’t cook them for long. Place onions on top of cooked chicken and serve!

     

    Black Rice with Potatoes:

    • 2 small Russell potatoes
    • 1 cup of black rice (I like Forbidden Rice)
    • ½ an onion (minced)
    • 4 cloves of garlic
    • ½ tsp of each: salt & pepper
    • ¼ tsp of each: oregano, parsley, sesame seeds
    • 1 tbs of olive oil
    • 1 tbs of rum (Captain Morgan)

    Cook the rice following package instructions. Cook the potatoes, peel and chop in medium sized cubes.

    Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil, don’t let them brown too much because you are still going to brown the potatoes in there. Add seasonings and salt & pepper. Brown potatoes for about 8 minutes on medium heat, you don’t want to burn the garlic. If it starts to stick to the bottom, you can add 1 tbs of rum, then cover and let the liquid evaporate completely before adding rice. When potatoes are brown stir in rice. Serve immediately.

    Asparagus:

    • One bunch of asparagus
    • ½ tbs olive oil
    • Salt & pepper to taste

    Wash the asparagus and cut an inch – or more – from the bad ends. Brush them with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Heat up a non-stick sauce pan, add asparagus when it’s hot enough that they’ll sizzle when placed in. Cook them for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan every minute so they brown evenly. Serve right away.

     

    TIP: When you are cooking a meal with many side dishes, a great way to keep everything warm and freshly tasting is to turn your oven on real low, about 150 F (about 65 C) and place your ready dishes in. Make sure to check on them throughout your cooking spree, to make sure it’s not too hot. Turn oven off if food has to sit inside for more than 20 minutes, the heat will keep dishes hot for about another 30 minutes even when it’s turned off.

    Posted in Full Course, Main Dish, Sides | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Soup Medley

    Definitely a winter favorite! Warm and filling, especially with a side of garlic bread!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup minced onions
    • 6 cloves of garlic (coarsely chopped)
    • 1 cup of cubed potatoes
    • ½ cup sliced carrots
    • ½ cup of largely sliced bell peppers
    • 1 cup of each: bok choy, spinach
    • ½ cup of cherry tomatoes (whole)
    • 2 tbs of olive oil
    • ½ tsp of each: salt, pepper
    • 1 tsp of Italian seasoning mix (basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, marjoram)
    • 4 cups of boiled water or vegetable broth (if you use water double the amount of seasonings) Dissolve ½ cup of flour in a cup of cold broth/water and set aside.

    If you like it spicy hot, like my husband, add the following:

    • 1 tbs of Tapatio Sauce
    • 1 tbs of red pepper flakes

    Topping & Side:

    • Parmesan Cheese
    • Garlic Bread

    TIP: So that the vegetables don’t melt into the broth cut the ones that take longer to cook — like the potatoes and carrots — at least 3 times the size of the ones that cook faster — like the bell peppers, broccoli and leaves.

     

    Preparation:

     

    In a skillet sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil until lightly browned. Add bell peppers, cook for 3 more minutes. Add spinach and bok choy – one at a time – and cook just until they soften. Combine all seasonings and stir them in, return to boil. When you smell the seasonings – about 2 minutes – turn it off and set aside.

    In a deep saucepan bring 3 cups of water/vegetable broth to a boil. Add potatoes and let them cook for about 15 minutes. Add broccoli and carrots and let it cook for 5 more minutes. Turn heat down to medium. Mix in the last cup of cold broth (the one with ½ cup of flour dissolved in) and stir constantly, this is going to thicken the broth, if you want it thicker just add more flour. Remember to always dissolve the flour in cold water first to avoid lumps. When broth has achieved desired consistency stir in contents of saucepan. Bring it to a boil. Taste for salt and pepper. Add cherry tomatoes as you turn the heat off – we don’t want them to explode, just to lightly heat up.

    Serve in small bowls with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and garlic bread as a side!

     

    TIP: Grind dry spices with a mortar and pestle to achieve a better taste and aroma!

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    Hash Browns & Omelette

     

    Hash Browns

     

    Ingredients:

    • 4 potatoes (cook them for 10 minutes – don’t let them get too soft, peel and freeze)
    • ¼ cup of milk
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 tsp of pepper
    • ½ tsp of oregano
    • ½ tsp of parsley
    • 1 tbs of olive oil

    Shred frozen pre-cooked potatoes and put them in a deep bowl. Mix the milk with the salt, pepper and other seasonings. Add mixture to potatoes and mix in lightly. Heat up olive oil in cast iron skillet. Scoop spoonfuls of potatoes in, flatten with spatula. Cook on high heat for about 4 min each side. Try to flip only once, that guarantees extra crunchiness!

    You can let them sit in the oven (250°F – 120°C) as you wait for your omelet to be ready.

     

    Omelette

     

    Ingredients:

    • 3 eggs
    • ½ cup of milk
    • ½ cup coarsely chopped green & red bell peppers
    • ½ cup of minced onions
    • 4 cloves of minced garlic
    • ½ tsp of each of the following: oregano, parsley, sage, savory, salt, pepper.
    • ½ cup of flour & ½ tsp of baking powder mixed together,
    • ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese

     

    In a large bowl whisk the eggs. Add the milk and then add flour slowly. Add cheese and other ingredients one at a time. Heat up (medium to low heat) an omelet skillet with a string of olive oil. Pour mix in skillet. Keep the heat down, cook for about 15 minutes or until the top of omelet is not runny/soft anymore. It’s easy to check, just shake the pot lightly, and if the omelet doesn’t jiggle you know it’s time to turn.

    To flip an easy trick is to lay a large cutting board on top of skillet, flip it upside down, place skillet in a flat surface and gently slide omelet back into it with the help of a spatula.

    Cook on the other side for about 8 more minutes, still in low heat.

    Serve & Enjoy!

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    Brazilian Candy: Brigadeiro

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    If it’s a Brazilian birthday party it’s almost mandatory having some type of Brigadeiro on the table!

    You can have white brigadeiro (such as the one on this recipe) or black brigadeiro (more common, made with dark chocolate). If you roll a white brigadeiro on coconut flakes and stick a clove in it it’s called “beijinho” – (little kiss) and if you make two small ‘worms’ both of black & white brigadeiro and twirl them together then it’s called “dois amores” – (two loves). Promise I’ll add those recipes to the blog in the future! 

    INGREDIENTS:
    – 1 can of condensed milk (La Lechera),
    – 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter,
    – 1 tablespoon white chocolate powder (Hot Cocoa Mix),

    – colorful sugar sprinkles to roll them on,
    – butter to oil hands,
    – small cupcake cups,

    HOW TO:

    Add first 3 ingredients to a non-stick pot and bring it to a boil stirring constantly. Turn heat to medium and cook for about 5-10 minutes or until mixture easily detaches from bottom of pot. Remove from heat and let it cool off before next step.

    Tip: If you cook it on high heat the sugar will caramelize into tiny crunchy balls! The longer you cook the harder it will get once cooled off.

    Pour sugar sprinkles on a plate and open cupcake cups placing them side by side on anoher dish. Once brigadeiro mixture is cool to the touch, butter your hands, and with the help of a spoon scoop some out. Quickly make it into a ball, roll it over the sugar and place it into cupcake cups.
    Chill for harder consistency before serving.

    QUICK BRIGADEIRO HISTORY:

    Brigadier ( /brɪɡəˈdɪər/) is a senior military rank, generally superior to the rank of colonel, and subordinate to major general.

    Supposedly this Brazilian candy got it’s famous name in the early 50’s during a presidential election dispute between Brigadier Eduardo Gomes and General Getúlio Vargas. All because Rio de Janeiro housewives were making this candy, then called “negrinho”, and selling it on the streets to help raise money for Gomes’ campaign, that had the following slogan: “Vote Brigadeir, hansmome and single” –  (Vote no Brigadeiro, que é bonito e solteito). He lost the election, but if this tale is true, he conquered a spot in history, maybe not exactly how he planned it!

    Also read on this blog: How to make condensed milk at home from scratch, no conservatives!

    Posted in Dessert, Snacks, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

    Black & White Rice

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    Ingredients:

    -1/2 cup Forbidden Rice (black rice),
    – 1 cup Uncle Ben’s white rice;
    – 5 cloves of garlic,
    – salt & pepper to taste,
    – oregano,
    jalapeño olive oil,

    How to prepare:

    Cook both types of rice separate, following package instructions.  Let them both sit on the pot covered for at least 5 minutes once you turn heat off. Fluff the rice gently with fork.
    Place altetnate layers of black and white rice on a glass bowl. Mix delicately. Set aside.

    Peel off garlic and mash it to a paste. If you don’t have a garlic mashed you can simply use the side of your cutting knife to do it easily. Heat up a tablespoon of the jalapeño olive oil, bring heat down to medium before adding garlic, and keep a close look to pull it off once it turns golden because garlic can go from delicious looking gold to black and burned in a couple seconds! Pour garlic on top of rice, sprinkle some oregano, salt
    & pepper and it’s ready to serve!
    You can also sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top and place it in the oven to melt (and heat up) before serving!

    WHY ARE WHOLE GRAINS HEALTHIER?

    Whole grains contain all three parts of the kernel. Refining normally removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm. Without the bran and germ, about 25% of a grain’s protein is lost, along with at least seventeen key nutrients. Processors add back some vitamins and minerals to enrich refined grains, so refined products still contribute valuable nutrients. But whole grains are healthier, providing more protein, more fiber and many important vitamins and minerals.

    Eat healthy, live longer!

    Posted in Sides, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment