Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Great Game Day Snack: Fish Bites!

The Super Bowl is coming up and I need to come up with snacks that the adults and the kids will like. If you are in those same shoes, I have a winner for you: homemade fish sticks. They are easy to make and it is not your usual Game Day Snack.

Catfish Bites:

1 pound of catfish fillet
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning
3 eggs
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoon of onion powder
2 cups of Panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons of salt
Pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil

In a large bowls, beat the eggs with the paprika, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper - just until combined. Cut the fish fillets into bite size pieces and add to the egg mixture. Toss gently with a rubber spatula until fully coated. Cover and refrigerate. It can be refrigerated overnight for flavor infusion.

Heat the vegetable oil in large sauce pan. Meanwhile, remove the fish cubes from the egg mixture, drain and dredge in Panko (Japonese style bread crumbs). When oil is hot (350F), fry the fish for 3 to 5 minutes, turning it only once. Work in batches, if necessary. Drain fried fish with paper towels to remove excess oil. Serve hot with lemon wedges and the Yogurt Dipping Sauce (recipe follows).

Yogurt sauce:


2 cups of plain yogurt
2 ½ teaspoons of lemon juice
2 teaspoon of dried dill
1 clove of garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt, to taste

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and test the seasoning. Add more salt if necessary. It can be refrigerated for 2 weeks.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chicken potpie the Latin way!

Cold winter days call for tasty comfort food, but they need to be easy to prepare. On top of my list is “chicken potpie” because they please the entire family and they are simple to prepare. I like to give a Latin American twist to my flaky and buttery individual potpies. I have a recipe that is nothing like your grandmother’s chicken potpie:

Puffy Chicken Potpies

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 teaspoon of chicken flavor bouillon
1 pound of chicken breast, boneless and skinless
1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
½ cup of red onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of chicken stock
½ cup of fresh carrots, chopped
1/3 of green peas, thawed and drained
1 small can (8oz) of pure tomato sauce
½ can of hearts of palm, drained
1 ¼ cup of kennel corn, thawed and drained
¾ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Thaw puff pastry according to package instructions.

Preheat the oven to 4250F. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the chicken. Cook chicken in medium heat for about 5 minutes, add the garlic and red onion and stir. Season chicken with salt, pepper and chicken bouillon. Stir and let it cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken stock, tomato sauce, corn, green peas and carrots. Lower the heat and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the hearts of palm (about 1 inch thick). Add parsley and hearts of palm and gently toss to combine. Remove from heat and keep it warm.

In a lightly floured surface, unfold and roll puff pastry sheet into a 12-inch square. Cut into 4 equal pieces. Divide the chicken filling among four 8-ounce individual casseroles. Place a square of puff pastry on top of each casserole.

Bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes or until crust and puffed and golden.

Warm up with this Creamy Hot Chocolate

My daughter is so excited about my blog that she asked me to post her recipe for Hot Coco. She came up with this recipe on her own! Here it is:

Hot Chocolate:

1.25 oz of Dark Chocolate Swiss Miss cocoa mix (1 envelope)
1 ½ cups of milk
½ tablespoon of sugar
¼ cup of semi sweet or milk chocolate chips
¼ cup of half & half

Mix together cocoa mix, milk, half and half and sugar. Cook in the microwave for 2 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips. Microwave it for another 40 seconds and stir. Repeat the last step as many times as necessary until chocolate chips are fully melted.

It can be served with whipped cream or marshmallows on top.

She also took the picture!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It is Olive time!

I have always been a big fan of olives! When I was small girl my dad use to take me to the city's only Deli & Imports store to taste and buy olives and I was excited to go every single time! Sometimes I was so anxious to try all the different kinds of olives that I would put 2 or 3 in my mouth at the same time – it caused me swallow a couple of pits but it was worthy!

I like olives so much that I am always trying to incorporate them in my dishes. Today, I want to share with you two recipes that can be great life-savers when you are planning a party:


2 cups of Kalamata olives, pitted and drained
1/3 cup of green olives, pitted and drained
1 clove of garlic, coarsely chopped
½ cup of sweet roasted peppers
1 tablespoon of capers, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
2 large leaves of fresh Basil, roughly chopped
¼ cup of olive oil
Ground black pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for 20 seconds or until you obtain the desired consistency. Put the tapenade in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours for flavor infusion.

Use it in dips, savory tarts and appetizers or as a spread for sandwiches and bruschettas.

Light Olive Dip

15oz (1 container) of ricotta cheese

In a bowl combine the ricotta cheese and homemade tapenade. Stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Preserve it covered in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. Serve it with crackers or small toasts.

If you don’t have time to make your homemade tapenade, you can use an entire jar of store-bought tapenade to make this quick and tasty dip.

Bon Appetite!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Delectable Mushrooms!

Mushrooms can be part of a healthy diet. Some types of mushrooms are claimed to be cancer-fighters and they contain no fat or cholesterol. In my opinion, the qualities of mushrooms go way beyond its healthy benefits. They are also flavorful, easy to prepare and very versatile! I would like to share with you one of my very favorite recipes. It can definitely be the star of your next dinner party:

Provence Baked Mushrooms

2 large Portabella mushroom caps
3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup of fresh parsley, chopped
¾ cup of red wine
¼ teaspoon of paprika
¼ teaspoon of dried thyme (optional)
½ teaspoon of dried oregano
1/8 cup of cognac
Sea salt, to taste
1/3 cup of olive oil

Place mushroom caps in a baking sheet. Place all other ingredients but parsley in a small bowl and stir to combine. Pour it over mushroom caps and let marinate at room temperature for one hour. Heat the oven to 3550F. Bake mushrooms uncovered for 15 minutes, sprinkle parsley and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes. Serve immediately with remaining cooking juices. It is a flavorsome complement to roasted or grilled meat.

If you need a mouth-watering appetizer for a bridal or cocktail party, replace the large mushroom for 8oz of baby Portabella mushroom caps. Bake it for 5 minutes and then add the parsley. Bake for another 4 to 5 minutes. Serve it with thin sliced toast. I recommend sea salt bagel crisps or lightly toasted French baguette. It is to die for!!!

We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are”. Adelle Davis

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pan Grilled Shrimp

A good cocktail tastes even better when balanced with appetizing food. If you are wondering what could go well with the Strawberry and Kiwi Caipirinha, the answer is a quick and succulent Pan Grilled Shrimp:

1 pound of raw large shrimp, divined and thaw
¼ cup of lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of onion powder
½ tablespoon of vegetable oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, garlic, paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper. Whisk until combined and pour over shrimp. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Heat the oil in large sauté pan. Drain and shrimp and cook it over medium heat for about 5 minutes (or until it turns pink) turning it only once. Serve with lemon wedges.

“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.” Sheila Graham

Friday, January 22, 2010

Have a Brazilian cocktail to celebrate the weekend!

Today is Friday, my favorite day of the week! The weekend is just starting and to celebrate I gave a simple cocktail recipe for you to unwind. It is fun version of the traditional “caipirinha” (the most famous Brazilian cocktail drink).  This drink is traditionally made with “cachaça” – Brazil’s national spirit made from sugar cane juice – but if can use a good quality vodka if you prefer.

Kiwi & Strawberry "Caipirinha":

3 oz of “cachaça” or vodka
1 pint of fresh strawberries, sliced
¼ cup of fresh lime juice
½ kiwi, sliced
1 ¼ tablespoons of sugar or sweetener
½ cup of crushed ice, plus ice cubes for serving

Blend on high speed half of the strawberries, lime juice, ice, sugar and liquor until smooth. Strain it if desired.  Place remaining strawberry slices and kiwi on 4 glasses half filled with ice cubes. Distribute blended mixture evenly and serve.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes!

Tomatoes are often added to salads, used in sauces and stews but their potential doesn’t end there. Tomatoes are native from South America but North America’s love affair with the tomato is undeniable. This plump red-delicious fruit, often mistaken for a vegetable, can be cooked in virtually anyway. I have a suggestion of how you turn tomatoes into an appetizing, simple and easy side dish:

Baked tomatoes:

2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 medium size tomatoes, cored
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon of ground thyme
¼ teaspoon of garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat to 375F. Place olive oil, oregano, basil, thyme, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Heat a large skillet. Cut tomatoes in half through the middle of the tomatoes. Brush each half with the seasoned olive oil and place it face down in the heated pan. Cook over high heat for about 6 to 8 minutes without turning.

Transfer tomatoes to a baking sheet using a spatula. Place them face up. Season it with salt with necessary. Drizzle remaining olive oil over tomatoes. Sprinkle parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm with grilled or roasted meat.

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” Adelle Davis

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wonton I go!

A few years ago I discovered the fantastic versatility of wonton wrappers and I am always amazed to find new ways to cook it. It was invented in China thousand of years ago and in Cantonese cuisine is usually used to make delicious dumplings. Marco Polo was so impressed by its flavor that he took the recipe to Italy and it is probably the main inspiration of the fresh Italian pasta. You can use wonton wrappers to prepare a fast and impressive dinner for a small or large group of people. The recipe below can easily impress your family and friends:

Mushroom Ravioli:

42 wonton wrappers
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 table spoons of olive oil
½ cup of mascarpone cheese
8 ounces of fresh mushroom, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup of finely chopped onion
2 large leaves of fresh basil, chopped
½ cup of finely shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/3 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Water for brushing

In a large sauce pan, sauté the onions in garlic in olive oil for about 2 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until liquid has evaporated, 6 to 10 minutes. Stir in parsley. Remove mushrooms from the heat.

Meanwhile, put oregano, fresh basil, mascarpone, mozzarella, parmesan cheeses in a medium bowl and stir to blend. Season with salt. Stir in cooked mushrooms.

Place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. Brush the edges of the wrapper with water. Fold the wrapper in half. Gently press the edges to seal. Repeat these steps until all wrappers are filled. Cook the ravioli in a large pan of boiling salted water for about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain water from completely and transfer them to shallow serving bowl. Cover with marinara sauce (recipe follows) and serve warm.

Variation: Add 4 ounces of finely chopped Prosciutto to the filling.

Marinara Sauce:

1 tablespoon of tomato pure
1 (28 ounces) large can of crushed tomato
2 tablespoon of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of Italian dried herb mix (or Italian Seasoning)
½ bunch of fresh oregano, chopped
1 ½ teaspoon of marjoram
1 teaspoon of sugar
Sea salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté garlic until lightly brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomato pure, crushed tomatoes, sugar and salt. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 25 minutes or until thickened. Remove and discard thyme spring, coarsely chop it. Stir in all the herbs (oregano, thyme and dried Italian herbs).  Serve it with pasta.

“My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people.” Orson Welles

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Brazilian Fudge Balls

We made the fudge balls (Brigadeiro)and they were a big success at my daughter’s birthday celebration. They are easy to make and they are always a hit! Below is a picture of how they look like.

If you cook it for about 7 to 10 minutes over medium heat, you can use this delicious fudge on top of cakes, brownies or as cookie sandwich filling. For the complete recipe, please go to

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Cheesiest the Better!

I am a cheese lover so it doesn’t surprise me it has been consumed since Ancient times. Nobody knows for sure when and where cheese was invented but it could have been more 7000 years ago. It is even mentioned in the early pages of the Bible. Presently, there are thousands different types of cheese and I wish I could try them all!

What could be more satisfying and fortifying than cheese? Could it be the best food in the world? I think it is delicious and I may not be the only one. The “Reblochon” cheese was invented secretly by tenant framers that didn’t want to share all of their great cheese with their lords. It used to be made with a second milking not declared to the land owners. Who can blame them? The most recent statistics show that many Americans share the same passion for cheese. The consumption of cheese in the U.S. has almost double since 1982.  If you are one of these cheese lovers, I have a recipe for you that I hope you will like:

Baked Salmon with Cream Cheese Sauce:

12 ounce salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
1 Tbsp. of olive oil
¼ cup of lemon juice
½ cup of milk
1 cup of reduced fat cream cheese
2 tea spoons of dill
1 tea spoon of onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Place salmon, skin side down, on a non-stick baking sheet and season fillets with salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. Cover it with foil. Bake salmon covered for 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover it and bake it until it is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

While salmon bakes, add milk and cream to cheese to a heavy sauce pan. Cook and stir over medium heat until smooth. Stir in dill and onion powder. Season it with salt and pepper if you like.

Serve salmon topped with cream cheese sauce.

Enjoy it!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Dinner that turned into “Scoops”

Tonight I prepared one of my family’s favorite dinners: homemade tacos. When my kids realized what is for dinner, it seems that the clock started to go “tic-taco, tic-taco”. They asked every second if the food was ready. After 20 minutes we were ready to eat!

Instead of only serving tacos and tostadas, we had also the “Scoops” corn chips and they became our main course. My husband and kids fixed all kinds of different scoops with ground beef, beans, salsa, etc.

Another big hit was the semi homemade cheese sauce. I added the “Cheesy and Smooth” cheese sauce (from Tostitos) with a kid’s friendly homemade salsa and my daughter couldn’t stop eating eat. She usually complaints that store bought cheese sauces are too spicy for her and my attempts to make entirely homemade cheese sauce were big failures. But tonight I finally discovered the cheese sauce that my entire family likes.

Here are the recipes I cooked today:


1 can (15oz) of diced tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
2 table spoons of lemon juice
1 table spoon of lime juice
1 table spoon of paprika
½ tea spoon of sugar
½ cup of sweet roasted pepper
½ red onion, coarsely chopped
1 table spoon of olive oil
Salt, chili powder and pepper to taste
Cilantro to taste

Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse it 4 to 6 times. Put the salsa in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours for flavor infusion.

Note: Depending on your heat preference, you may add chopped jalapenos to the salsa

Taco Beef

Ground beef (16oz)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup of finely chopped onion
1 table spoon of olive or vegetable oil
1 tea spoon of cumin
½ cup of finely chopped parsley
2 table spoons of fresh salsa
Salt and pepper to taste

Place olive (or vegetable) oil in a heavy sauce pan over medium heat and when it is hot add the ground beef. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, for about 6 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the fresh salsa and parsley. Stir to combine all the ingredients. Remove from heat and serve.

Note: If you like, you can make your taco meat spicy by adding ground chipotle peppers. It will add a rich smoky spicy flavor to the meat.

If life deals you lemons, make lemonade; if it deals you tomatoes, make Bloody Marys”

Chocolate: A Delightful Guilty Pleasure

I discovered the delectable pleasure of chocolate when I was pregnant with my first child. Some people say chocolate is the main reason to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I don’t believe that’s true but I agree that many of us are chocolate lovers. We like chocolate, and we want to enjoy it again and again. It definitely stimulates the brain's pleasure centers!

Some experts claim they know why people like chocolate. Despite if there is a scientific explanation for its popularity, chocolate is here to stay. It has been consumed for more than 2,000 years because it tastes good. It is not a surprise it means “food of the Gods” in Latin.

In my opinion, chocolate is definitely a “food of the Gods”! My older daughter has a birthday this week and to celebrate we are going to make her favorite chocolate dessert: Brazilian Fudge Balls. I would like to share this delicious recipe with you:

Brazilian Fudge Balls

1 can (14oz) of sweetened milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1 ½ Tbs of unsalted butter
4 Tbs of cocoa powder
Chocolate sprinkles

In a heavy sauce pan add the condensed milk and 1 table spoon of butter. Add one table spoon of cocoa at the time and mix well. Over medium-low heat, stir the mixture constantly until it thickens and you can see the bottom of the pan when you scrape it. Let it cool to room temperature. Grease the palm of your hands with the remaining butter and roll the mixture into 1 inch balls. Roll the fudge balls into chocolate sprinkles and place them in candy paper cups. It makes about 40 fudge balls.

Tip: Before it cools off, place a small ball of fudge in a glass filled with cold water. If it holds the shape after a minute or so, you have cooked it long enough. If it changes to a coin like shape, you should cook it for an additional five minutes and repeat the test until you get to the desired consistency.

Variation: the fudge balls can be rolled into diced nuts, sugar sprinkles or coconut flakes.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

"There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with chocolate."
Linda Grayson