Monday, September 10, 2012

'Locro-style' butternut squash with fresh rosemary...yum!

So 'locro' is my all-time favorite Peruvian veggie stew made with butternut squash, potatoes, queso fresco, cream and spices. A bit sweet, a bit savory, 100% delicious. So tonight there was a piece of butternut squash looming in the bottom-most drawer of the fridge saying "cook me now or you will regret it!" So I complied, mostly because I love the texture of squash, plus I figured it would be a nice accompaniment to pan-fried tilapia and brown rice. I used my basic knowledge from cooking locro in the past, but this time I winged it and used what I had on hand. The result was nothing less than amazing. Here's what I used:

- a piece of butternut squash, peeled and cubed small
- a small onion, diced
- generous minced garlic (1 tablespoon or so)
- shredded parmesan cheese (1-2 tablespoons)
- 2% milk
- salt, pepper, cumin, thyme
- here's the kicker: fresh rosemary!

All you do is sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil and a bit of butter, stirring for a couple of minutes seasoning with salt, pepper, thyme (very little), and cumin. Incorporate the cubed squash and continue to sauté on medium heat for 3 more minutes, then drop the temp to low and cover with a tight-fitting lid. As the squash breaks down, it will release a bit of liquid and steam until it gets soft, but not mushy. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover pan, use a fork to partially mash down squash. Add a healthy splash of milk, parmesan, thyme, fresh rosemary (crush in you hand first to release the oils and flavor) and a bit more salt to counteract the sweetness to taste. Stir and remove pan from heat.

Serve with rice and a protein. I did fish though a grilled skirt steak would also work!
Enjoy :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Simple Mascarpone Masterpiece!

So I just had to share this quick and delicious dessert I whipped up tonight! I had been meaning to find some mascarpone cheese for a while, especially after seeing it used often on all my favorite food channels. Tonight, looking for some good feta at Publix, there it was, in the refrigerated specialty cheese section! I happily grabbed some and dashed to the berries, which I knew would be juicy, sweet and on sale :)
Here is my impromptu creation which is healthy enough to eat on a weeknight, yet yummy enough to be called dessert:

summer-fresh berries, I used strawberries and blueberries
vanilla extract
lime or lemon
mascarpone cheese

I washed about a cup and a half of berries and sliced them down into smaller pieces, then transferred them to a bowl. I added regular sugar (about 2 teaspoons), a few drops of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of fresh lime juice. Stirring this mixture around and letting it rest for a few minutes will allow the citrus and sugar to really bring out the flavor of the berries. So this is it. Serve in a nice glass bowl and add a generous spoonful of mascarpone right on top....enjoy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Life. Changes.

Hello wonderful followers! Thank you for reading and for your patience as this blogger was under the weather for a good bit. Feeling much better now though, thank goodness! There are other life developments as of lately, namely, we are moving! As I sit here taking a night off from packing, I can't wait to cook up some new blog posts from my new kitchen in a few weeks. We will be heading to a more centrally located little house right outside of Coral Gables with a big yard. The landlady renovated the kitchen entirely and tastefully might I add, and although my stove will not be the ideal gas, it is fairly new and I'll do my best with it! The kitchen also has a nice amount of cabinet space and a lazy Susan, which is great. I am planning on packing up my kitchen last, but will likely start taking appliances and less used items over soon to start setting things up. Maybe some little plants by the window will be nice too. My buffet cabinet will sit nicely in the dining room and hopefully will use it soon for some house warming entertaining. Stay tuned for pics of the place and new culinary inspiration! Cheers!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Playing with Produce

Okay, for starters, it's been entirely too long since my last post on January 4th! Shame on me for succumbing to multiple preoccupations and not allowing myself to be inspired enough to blog. Well, today things took a tasty turn. Work at the hospital was a bit stressful to say the least with staff shortages and super detail-oriented time-consuming tasks. As soon as I got out, I drove straight to pick up my biweekly organic produce. Since I was a bit late and my share was the last one remaining, I actually got a bonus head of lettuce! Now I have two huge lettuces. I think I will definitely have to share.

Luckily, my kitchen sink was empty (thanks honey!) and after taking the pups out and feeding them, I got to washing my fruits and veggies. Apparently there exists a culinary debate of whether to wash produce before storing or not. I think it is fruit/veggie-specific. I find that if I wash my greens, let them drain, and store them in a paper-towel lined fridge drawer, they will last a few days. Placing them in clean food storage bags will make them lasts even longer. I leave my citrus, apples, pears, tomatoes, bananas etc. in a basket at room temperature; although in the summer, I may place some of these item in the fridge for good measure. Either way, I usually enjoy scrubbing my items under running water before storing. It was definitely the most colorful and playful part of my day.

sweet mini peppers
can't wait to roast these rainbow carrots!

Italian flat leaf parsley, not sure what I will make with this...suggestions?

ice cream bananas

one of my favorite OXO tools. the peeler is also great!

pretty heirloom tomatoes

too much lettuce!

i love the sweetness of these babies

Another cool thing that happened today, is that I discovered this awesome national website:  It contains a plethora of resources about food coops, farmers markets and such near you. Check it out!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Balance your black beans.

Ever crave black beans? I do. And it happens suddenly. It's like out of the blue, my body needs the 15 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein (per cup), along with a ton of iron. This is why I always have canned black beans in my pantry. No need to soak. Just make a quick 'sofrito' or 'adereso' with olive oil, diced onions, green pepper, and fresh chopped tomato. Spice your adereso with cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste and fry that up for a bit until onion is clear. Add 1 can of black beans. Simmer for a few.

I happened to pick up a pack of whole baby portobellos (mushrooms) today and thought that a bit of acidity goes very well with the earthy flavor of beans. Wash and dry your mushrooms. Slice to preferred thickness and saute in a hot oiled pan for a couple of minutes, salt and peppering to taste. Finish up your mushrooms with a healthy splash of good balsamic vinegar. Coat mushrooms and remove from heat.

Pair your beans with the balsamic glazed baby portobellos and you will be in black bean heaven!

And if you're like me and crave even more protein...heat up any left-over lean pork (this is what I had tonight) or steak and tah dah! Oh yes, and how could I forget the red wine. Tonight I poured a delicious glass of Coppola Tempranillo I received as a lovely gift. Cheers!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ringing in the New Year with a wonderful Italian-inspired dish!

Once I completed all of my organizational activities on Friday, I headed to the kitchen to see what I could make for Matt and I that would pair up nicely with a skirt steak he brought home. I spotted a box of orzo pasta in the pantry. There was also all that left over fresh mozzarella and basil from my birthday on the 26th, and a pint of organic cherry tomatoes from FarmFresh...wheels turning...

Our menu would consist of the following: orzo tossed with homemade pesto sauce, fresh mozzarella and halved cherry tomatoes, almost like a warm pasta salad.

I quickly pulled up a pesto recipe on and got the jist of the ingredients and quantities. I used a small Cuisinart chopper/grinder which I sometime use as a mini food processor and I dropped basil leaves (about a cup, though you can use more), walnuts (about 1/2 cup), 4 peeled garlic cloves, FRESHLY grated parmesan cheese (this makes all the difference), sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. It's okay to go a bit overboard with the salt, as this will be the primary flavoring for all of the dish and it will get diluted. I grinded the ingredients and then started adding the olive oil, little by little, alternating with grinding, until the mixture became pesto-like :) This was soooo easy!

Then, I mixed the pesto, halved tomatoes, and coarsely cubed mozzarella with the recently boiled and drained orzo while it was still hot (but with the burner off, back in pot). The tomatoes got soft and warm and the mozzarella just barely melted, still squeaking in between your teeth when you bite it. You can pair this with the protein of your choice, although I have to admit, a juicy lightly-salted grilled skirt steak is a nice buttery choice.

Once we sat to enjoy our last dinner of 2010, I couldn't help but to consider that this pesto orzo was easy and delicious enough to prepare for a large group. These are the kind of recipes that are a must for effortless and affordable entertaining!

Cheers to 2011!
May this year bring out the culinary goddess within...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Peanut Butter Pie...Yum!

As Christmas is quickly approaching and time is a luxury, here is a super quick and delicious pie recipe that you can whip up for your next holiday party. I first tasted this pie this past Thanksgiving in Kentucky. My brother-in-law Joey made it to bring to his wife Leslie's parent's farm. Not having grown up eating peanut butter, I normally use it very sparingly, maybe in a Thai peanut sauce, or to dip my dog's cookies in for a louder bark! I don't know if it was being out there, surrounded by land and black wooden fences, watching the cold misty air hanging outside the windows that made me love this pie. Peanut butter fan or not, this pie is a party favorite!

Here is what you'll need:

1 graham cracker pie crust
1 cup of powdered sugar
4 ounces of whipped cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup of creamy peanut butter
2 containers of Cool Whip (thawed)
Chocolate syrup

This first step is not 100% necessary, but it does add some extra crunch to the pie crust. It almost primes the crust and makes it less likely to get soggy, especially if you make this pie in advance:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Whisk 1 whole egg and brush it on crust
3. Bake for 10 minutes

egg wash and bake

golden-brown crust
 Now get ready for easy...

1. Cream sugar and cheese together with a large silicone spatula

2. Incorporate peanut butter

3. Add contents of first Cool Whip container and blend until fully incorporated

4. Scoop into pie crust and smooth out

5. Use a clean spatula to top pie with remaining Cool Whip

6. Drizzle with chocolate syrup.

it's cool to go overboard with the chocolate!

Of note: you may want to make this the night before your event, as it is much better cold!


I brought this pie to a recent friend's gathering and it was a hit! Everyone ate their pieces so quickly, I barely had time to grab a camera to catch them enjoying their last bite!

Happy Holidaze!