Sofrito – The Sauce!

Sofrito

Sofrito is the base of many dishes in Cuban cuisine. The typical ingredients are tomatoes, garlic, onions and peppers. I have a few dishes in my cookbook with this sauce and I usually experiment a little with the different color peppers and the way that I incorporate the tomato. On my last blog, picadillo, you will see that the base for that dish is also a sofrito and I will be publishing a vegetarian dish later with this same base. I wanted to single out the sauce and specifically show you all how to make it, because if you can master this, you can make so many other different dishes. For a Cuban, this sauce is just as important as in the food culture as is the white rice and black beans.

If you make this sauce ahead of time and let all the flavors marry your dish will have a fuller flavor. I will show, on a late blog how to use this same sauce with two different proteins that will help you save time and wow your guests allowing them to think that you slaved in the kitchen. On the last

INGREDIENTS – MAKES ABOUT 3-4 CUPS OF SAUCE

  • Vidalia onion – 2 cups, small dice
  • Red pepper – 1 cup, small dice
  • Green pepper – 1 cup, small dice
  • Garlic – 4 cloves, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • Tomato sauce – 14 ounce can
  • Olive oil – 3 tablespoons
  • Kosher salt – 1 tablespoon
  • Pepper – ½ tablespoon
  • Cumin – ½ tablespoon
  • Smoked paprika – ½ tablespoon
  • Onion powder – ½ tablespoons
  • Garlic powder – ½ tablespoon
  • Turmeric – ½ tablespoon
  • Bay leaves – 2

HOW TO MAKE IT…

  1. In a large pot on medium high heat add the oil, onions, green pepper and red peppers and cook for about 4-5 minutes
  2. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes
  3. Reduce the heat to medium low or low depending on your stove
  4. Add the tomato sauce and stir well
  5. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and turmeric and stir again
  6. Add the bay leaves then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes; if the sauce gets to thick and you want to thin a little, you can add about a teaspoon of water at a time until the consistency is how you like it
  7. Remove from heat and either store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for later use or use immediately

Below is a sample of the Fricassee de Pollo dish in my cook book! Buy Cookbook Here

Fricase de Pollo_2

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Sauteed Chickpeas with Avocado

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So I started a 30 day challenge three days ago and I have already 2 pounds. I am not doing to many things different except that I am not cheating and I am excersing daily. Part of the challenge is to use an app called 30 Day Abs. It allows you to check off what you completed daily and does not let you move forward so you can’t lie to yourself (LOL). Another thing I changed is that I am eating every 3-4 hours, 5 times a day in small quantities. Today’s lunch was very filling, but it is the only meal that I actually have in the day.  I love chickpeas and I think there are so many things you can make with them and you can have them hot or cold. I guess you can say that versatility in food is my thing. Make sure to look at my tips for a few other ways to use the ingredients.


Ingredients – Serves one or two
*Chickpeas – 15 ounce can, drained and rinsed
*Crimini Mushrooms – 1 cup thick slices
*Kosher Salt – 1 teaspoon
*Peppper – 1/2 teaspoon
*Smoked Paprika – 1/2 teaspoon
*Garlic Powder – 1/2 teaspoon
*Turmeric – 1/2 teaspoon
*Olive Oil – 2 tablesppoons
*Avocado – 1/2

  • In a medium skillet on medium high heat add 1 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil and the mushroom and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the chickpeas and cook for a minute, then add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and turmeric and mix well until and then cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Serve with a side of avocado and drizzle the rest of the olive il on the avocado and sprinkle with salt

Tips: Try adding the cooked chickpeas into a food processor and turn into hummus (I have a recipe ike this in my cookbook); Try chopping the avocado into smaller pieces and mix into the chickpeas; Add a some spinach and feta cheese and swap the paprika for dry oregano and it will change the profile completely.

Healthy Quinoa Salad

IMG_0643I am trying to get back into the swing of things after the New Year, as I am sure we all are, so one thing I am doing is prepping certain foods so that I ensure that I eat well. One of the things I made today was multi-colored quinoa. This is such a versitile vessel for so many flavors and it’s a super food. You can also eat it cold or hot which makes it great as a salad. SInce it is so easy to make, you can make a lot or a little and it make no difference time wise, so more is better.  This is a great salad to have for lunch at school or work and quinoa holds up well so you can add the dressing in the am and it soaks well. Enjoy and don’t forget to look at the tips portion below I will give you a few ideas.


Ingredients:          serving is enough for one
Quinoa (enough to save for later)
*Multi-color quinoa – 2 cups
*Vegetable stock – 4 cups (you can use chicken stock if you like)
Salad
*Quinoa – 1/2 cup cooked
*Tomato – 1/4 cup, small dice
*Yellow pepper – 1/4 cup, small dice
*Green onion – 2 stems, small dice
*Broccoli, 3 florrets, diced
*Olive oil, 2 tablespoons
*White wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon
*Koser salt, 1/4 teaspoon
*Pepper, 1/8 Teaspoon

  • Place everything, quinoa, tomato, yellow pepper, green onion, broccoli, in a large bowl and then sprinkle salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle the olive oil and the vinegar and mix well.

Tips: Try making a stirfry with veggies and soy sauce. You can also make as mediterranean with cheese that gives me a great idea with the extra that I have. That salad will come this week.

Chickpeas Curried up

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Chickpeas are not everyone’s favorite, but they are definitely up there on my list. I love foods that are versatile and that you can turn into so many different flavors and textures.  Just as an example, hummus…I have had hummus blended, mashed, or whole; with roasted garlic, raw garlic, olive tapenade, red peppers, you name it.

However, today I did not make hummus, I made a sandwich and a very delicious sandwich stuffed with a curry flavored, chickpea salad. Since I do not eat chicken or meat, but I used to love making chicken salads, I decided to make it with chickpeas. Also, these kinds of salads can be made in advance and will last you a few days.


Ingredients:
*Chickpeas – 1 (15.5 oz can) drained and rinsed
*Green onions – 2-3 sliced thin (white and green parts)
*Haas avocado – 1 split in half and tender to the touch (see directions below)
*Red pepper – 1/4 cup, small dice
*Garlic – 1 clove minced
*Ginger – 1/2 teaspoon fresh, minced (you can use ginger powder if you want but then use about 1/4 teaspoon)
*Curry powder – 1/4 teaspoon
*Turmeric – 1/4 teaspoon
*Kosher salt – 1/2 teeaspoon
*Pepper – 1/4 teaspoon
*Lemon – juice from 1/2 lemon
*Cilantro – 1/4 cup chopped

  • In a large bowl, add the chickpeas, green onions, 1/2 of the avocado, red pepper, garlic, ginger, turmeric, curry, salt and pepper.
  • In a separate bowl or in a small food processor add the remaining half of the avocado and the lemon juice and puree until smooth. You will use this as the binder for the salad (unless you like mayo, then by all means)
  • Add the pureed avocado to the mix and stir everything to combine well.
  • Add the cilantro at the end and then fold in so to not break it too much.
  • I served it in atoasted “everything” pita pocket,

Tips: If you puree the salad and add a little sour cream or Greek yogurt, you will have a dip or a hummus that you can serve with crackers and veggies. You can also replace the red pepper with green pepper and change the flavor profile a bit or even roast the red pepper first and then let it cool before you add to the salad.

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Tropical Matcha Shake

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I really like to have shakes in the morning and at night. It has been a great way for me to maintain my weight loss and not be hungry. My husband also has a shake, but usually only in the am or the evening and his is very consistently the same. I usually do Herbalife and I like if, but it has become a little monotonous for me so I am experimenting on new recipes that have a lot more natural ingredients. One of the best things about shakes is that you can take them to go and you can mix in a lot of flavors.

This is the first time that I make this particular shake, but I have been adding the Matcha powder for a few days now with the Herbalife shake to experiment. Also, most of my shakes have protein powder, but I did not add to this one as I wanted to get the true taste of the ingredients. I am happy I left it out because the shake was delicious and refreshing after my work out.

For those of you who do not know what Matcha is, don’t feel bad, I only learned of this last week. My son and his girlfriend work at Starbucks so they let me in on the 411. It is basically green tea powder. The recipe below does not require it, if you want to skip it, and the flavor will change, but it will still be delicious. If you want to add some vanilla flavored protein powder, that will make it thicker and will control your hunger a while longer.


Ingredients:
*Banana – 1 frozen, sliced in a few pieces
*Pineapple – 1 1/2 cups, cut in chunks
*Matcha powder – 1 tablespoon
*Ginger – fresh, about 1 teaspoon minced and peeled
*Cashew milk – 1 cup (you can use whatever milk you like, coconut milk should be yummy also)

  • In a blender (I have the Ninja and I love it because it also comes with individual cups) add all the ingredients and blend well. If you want to add some ice cubes you can. It will make about 24 ounces.

Tip: You do not have to freeze the banana but it does help with the consistency. You can also use the frozen bananas for other things like banana ice cream (on a future blog). I will usually freeze fruits so they last longer and for the texture and depending on what I will be adding them to. It is the same thing as buying them frozen ; )

Sesame Seed Butter

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One of the most popular nuts in my house are almonds, but I happen to be allergic to almonds. I haven’t always been allergic to them and they seem to be the only nut that I am allergic to, go figure. However,  I feel that almost everything today has almonds and it makes it hard for me to try new things. My son, how has Type I Diabetes, loves to eat almond butter since it is low in carbs but he also loves sesame seeds…so, I decided to make sesame seed butter, something I also can enjoy. This recipe is very yummy and it made about 2 1/2 of the jars in the photo.


Ingredients:
*Sesame Seeds – 3 1/2 pounds, no shells (at Whole Foods I buy them from the dispenser)
*Coconut Oil – soft or liquefied about 5-6 tables spoons
*Cinnamon powder – 1/2 teaspoon
*Coconut Sugar – 1/4 cup (I had never heard about this before and then I looked it up and event though it has the same calories and carbs as sugar, it actually only has 3-9% fructose where sugar has 50% fructose)
*Salt – pinch (I think a pinch is about 1/8 teaspoon)
*Vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon

  • Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees and on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper spread the sesame seeds evenly and cook for about 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.
  • In a food processor, add the sesame seeds and then process for about 2-3 minutes until grounded. Push down any excess to the bottom of the processor. Start the processor again and add the coconut oil until the mixture starts getting softer. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to process until the consistency of peanut butter (see picture above).
  • If you need to add any other ingredients for flavor you can do so, but in small increments and then taste.

Tip: I actually ate it with smashed banana and some honey over an English muffin. It was very tasty. I think this is a great gift idea that you can give with crackers, fruits and honey or jams.

IMG_0287[1]Sesame seeds toasting in the oven

 

 

 

The Perfect Guacamole

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Avocado’s are staples in my home and they go in almost everything, even our shakes.  Avocado’s are incredibly nutritious and are heart healthy. Since they have a somewhat bland flavor and are extremely creamy they are great to add to sauces, salad dressings, shakes and just alone.  My husband eats so many avocados that I fear he may turn green (LOL). I can promise you there will be many recipes within my blog that have avocado’s.


Ingredients:
*Haas avocados – 5 soft to the touch but not too mushy
*Large cherry tomatoes – 6, small dice
*Green onions – 5, small chop
*Garlic cloves – 3, minced
*Jalapeno – 1, small dice
*Cilantro – 1/3 cup chopped
*Lime – 1/2 lime juiced
*Salt – 1/2 tablespoon
*Pepper – 1/4 tablespoon

  • Remove the flesh of the avocados and place in a medium size bowl. Mash the avocado to the texture that you want. I like my avocado somewhat chunky, but mainly creamy.
  • Dice the rest of the ingredients and place in the bowl along with the salt, pepper and lime juice and stir everything together.
  • Taste it and see if it needs anything additional.

I served it with the blur tortillas that I got from Whole Foods by the company 365. They are absolutely delicious. My husband also likes to add this to any of his proteins. Today he had it with the baked chicken I made him for lunch.

 

 

Pesto Potatoes

IMG_2678.JPGMy kids love potatoes and they are such a great canvas and an all around side dish. If there is one thing that I have on hand always, besides onions, garlic and peppers, it’s potatoes. I am sure that there will be quite a few potato recipes on my blog and I am hoping you all like all of them.  Also, for future reference you can make potatoes for breakfast, lunch or dinner and they are great as left overs.


Ingredients:
*Small yellow potatoes – cut into cubes about 1 inches (if you are going to do this in advance, make sure to add the potatoes to water so they do not get brown)
*EVOO – 2 tablespoons
*Kosher salt – 1 teaspoon
*Black pepper – 1/2 teapoon
*Garlic (roasted) – a whole bulb
*Pesto (you can use store bought, I did)
*Arugula – 3-4 cups
* Lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
*Parmesan cheese – 1/4 cup

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and add the olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and mix well. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, in an even layer and cook in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.
  • At the same time, roast the garlic in the same oven. (For the garlic, cut the tip off so you can see the bulbs, wrap in foil with a little oil).
  • Remove the potatoes and garlic from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. Place the potatoes in a large pot and heat on medium.
  • Remove the garlic from the aluminum foil and squeeze the garlic out of the bulbs and into a small bowl. Smash with a fork to make into a paste and then add to the potatoes. Add 2-3 tablespoons of pesto and the Parmesan cheese and stir well.
  • In a separate bowl, add the arugula and the lemon juice and stir.
  • Serve the arugula on a plate and then add the potatoes on top.

 

Yummy Veggie Burger

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This is one of the best veggie burgers that I have ever made. The combination between the sweetness of the butternut squash and the black beans, along with the different spices is delicious. I made this burger for my son’s 20th Birthday (today), as per his request along with the pesto potatoes and it was a hit. The bun was store bought, brioche, and it was the perfect selection for this burger and for any burger. You can serve it with avocado, tomato, onion, pickles, mustard, etc.


Ingredients:
*Butternut Squash – about 2 pounds
*EVOO – 2 tablespoons
*Kosher salt – about 1/2 teaspoon (I usually eyeball this)
*Walnuts – 1 cup finely chopped (I recommend buying them like this if possible)
*Vidalia onion – 1 cup small dice
*Garlic – 3 tablespoons minced
*Black bean – 2 cans (14 ounces)
*Spices – Kosher salt (1 tsp), Black pepper (1/2 tsp), Onion powder (1 tsp), Garlic powder      (1 tsp), Dried oregano (1/2 tsp), ground turmeric (1/4 tsp), dried thyme (1/4 tsp), smoked     paprika (1/4 tsp)
*Flat leaf Parsley – 1/4 cup chopped finely
*Panko breading – 1 cup
*Flour (all purpose) – 2 tablespoons
*Buns (I used Euro Classic Brioche buns from Whole Foods) – they were a little pricey but worth every penny!

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees for the butternut squash. Peel the squash (this was a little difficult but you can get through it).  Then you want to cut the squash in half and remove the seeds, along with the top and bottom tips. Then cut the squash into cubes about 1 inch and place in a bowl. Add some of the EVOO and a pinch of salt and stir well so all pieces are coated. Place cubes on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Roast for about 25 – 30 minutes and let cool for a little.
  • In a large non-stick saute pan, on medium heat, toast the walnuts about 5 minutes making sure to move the pan around. Go ahead and transfer to a large bowl.
  • With the same pan, wipe off any left over walnuts and put back on medium heat. Add some of the EVOO (about 1 tablespoon) and cook the onion and garlic. You want to cook for about 4-5 minutes making sure you do not burn.  Place the mix into the same bowl as the walnuts.
  • Drain the beans in a wire mesh and rinse them under water. Add them to a food processor and pulse about 5-6 times. You do not want to have them liquefied as they are going to act as the binder for the burger. If there are beans that are lift whole, that is okay.
  • Add 3 cups of the butternut squash or all of it and add the large bowl with the walnut and onion mixture. With a large fork, squash the squash and then add the beans and all the spices. Mix well with a large spoon so that everything is well incorporated. Add the Parsley at the end and fold into the mixture.
  • Make as many patties as you can, I made about 14 medium size ones. Place in the refrigerator for about an hour to come together a bit. (You don’t have to do this, but if you make them in advance then you can).
  • Place a another large non-stick pan on medium to medium high heat and cook the patties for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Yo can add a little salt on each side for some extra flavor.
  • Serve on the bun. I warmed the buns in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds, but you do not have to.
EuroClassic Brioche Bun
So worth it Brioche buns