Salvadorian-Style Red Bean & Short Rib Stew with Salsa Cruda

This is an adapted version of the Salvadorian classic, made with ingredients more readily available to American cooks. The stew is rich and saucy, and the salsa cruda (“raw sauce”) is fresh and a perfect flavor compliment.

In the original version, several hard-to-find vegetables are called for, as well as much less meat. I also add onion and garlic when cooking the chicken. Chayote is a fruit that tastes like a cross between a papaya, avocado, and squash; it’s available in my grocery store, but if you can’t find it, leave it out or substitute yellow crookneck squash.

I like to serve this stew over white rice, with one short rib per person. Give everyone a small bowl of salsa cruda for topping, and you’re all set. ¡Muy delicioso!

Red Bean Stew Closeup

Salvadorian-Style

  • 2 pounds short ribs
  • 3 cans undrained red beans
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 6 whole peeled garlic cloves
  •  3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 green plantains, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
  • 1 light or dark green chayote (1 pound), pitted, peeled and cut into a 1-inch dice (peel skin with a vegetable peeler, taking off just the top layer of skin)
  • 1/2 medium green cabbage, cut into 1-inch strips
  • salt to taste

for the salsa cruda:

  • 1 pound plum (Roma) tomatoes (4-6 count), seeded and cut into cubes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 small green pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large cooking pot; simmer 1 hour covered.

When ribs are tender, remove them along with the garlic cloves. In a fry pan, heat oil over medium heat and brown garlic and ribs on all sides (keep pot of beans simmering while you do this).

While the ribs brown, add parsley, cilantro, plantains, chayote, and salt (if needed) to beans; stir. Add ribs and garlic back to pot. Simmer 20 more minutes or until vegetables are getting tender, then add cabbage and cook another 10-15 minutes until all vegetables are done.

Make the salsa while the pot finishes cooking: combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

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Gluten Free Spiced Pumpkin Bread

So it  may not feel very much like fall here in Florida yet…but who says I can’t crank up the a/c, light some festive candles and bake pumpkin bread?

That’s exactly what I did.

This delicious bread is moist and fragrant. I love to toast thick slices and slather them with butter or cream cheese, with a sprinkling of cinnamon for breakfast.

You’ll never know it’s gluten free, either. Any all-purpose gluten free flour will work, but I have the most luck across the most recipes with Better Batter flours (no, they don’t pay me to say that).

As with all converted baking recipes, weighing out the flour will produce the best results, so I give you the measurements in ounces (measure with a cup at your own risk – too much flour and the bread will be rubbery and dense). If you don’t need to eat gluten free, use 1 2/3 cups regular flour and it will come out just the same.

We love pecans in this bread, but walnuts would be divine too.

I just love this time of year, don’t you?

Pumpkin bread

Gluten Free Spiced Pumpkin Bread

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6.65 ounces gluten free flour (1 2/3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin pureé (buy a 12 ounce can)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Thoroughly butter and flour a 9-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on high. Add the eggs one at a time until combined. Turn off mixer.

Combine the dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a bowl, with mixer on medium speed, add half the flour mix. Pour in the water and then the other half of the flour. Mix until creamy.

Add in the pumpkin and beat until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and stir in nuts.

Pour the mix into the pan and bake for 1 hour. Bread is done when it is no longer jiggly and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. Store wrapped in plastic, in an airtight container. Eat warm, or toast topped with butter or cream cheese and cinnamon. Enjoy!


Chorizo & Goat Cheese Pizza with Roasted Vegetables

I love pizza. I mean, who doesn’t?

And it’s nice to sometimes switch it up from the usual pepperoni-sauce-cheese mix.

I love smooth, creamy goat cheese on pizza – mixed with basil pesto! – instead of tomato sauce.

Add spicy Mexican chorizo and roasted vegetables and I think I just died and went to heaven.

By the way, there is a reason I say Mexican chorizo: it’s the kind you buy raw and must cook, as opposed to Spanish chorizo that’s already cooked and more salami-like.

Not that anything would be wrong with using Spanish chorizo. That would be delicious. But on this particular weekend night, I had Mexican chorizo in my fridge.

And so it was.

Kale, green pepper, and onions flavored with garlic roast in the oven until tender. I love how the kale gets a little crispy! Mmmm, good texture.

Did you know Pillsbury makes (dedicated facility) gluten free pizza crust? It’s in a tub next to their cans of regular dough (the ones you have to “pop” open with a spoon. I hate those cans.) It is delicious. Udi’s also makes precooked pizza dough, in the frozen section by the pizza. Take your pick! If you go with the Pillsbury dough, I suggest flipping it over in the oven halfway through to crisp it all over.

Then make this pizza!

2014-09-26 19.57.23

Chorizo & Goat Cheese Pizza with Roasted Vegetables

Makes one 12-inch pizza.

  • one premade pizza crust of your choosing, refrigerated or frozen
  • 4 ounces Mexican chorizo sausage, casings removed
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons jarred basil pesto
  • 1 cup red or green kale, stems removed, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 green pepper, cored and sliced into thin strips
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thin
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Toss the green pepper, red onion, and garlic in the tablespoon of olive oil and a little salt. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring once. Set pan aside.

Toss the chopped kale in the teaspoon of olive oil and salt. Spread on another baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 7-10 minutes, or until kale starts to crisp at the ends. Set pan aside.

Prebake your pizza crust per it’s package directions (or skip this step if it’s already fully cooked). One helpful hint: the more toppings you plan to pile on your pizza, the more done you’ll want the crust to be before topping it.

While the pizza bakes, heat a dry skillet over medium-high. Cook the chorizo until no longer pink; drain off the fat.

Remove pizza crust from oven, keeping temperature in accordance to the crust’s directions.

Mix goat cheese and pesto together; spread on pizza crust. Top with crumbled chorizo, vegetables, and kale and put back in the oven to warm everything up.

When pizza is heated through, add freshly cracked pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil. Enjoy!


Mandarin Orange & Candied Pecan Salad

This is my mom’s yummy salad that is so easy to make! She made it for my sister’s wedding shower last weekend and I had to share it!

Mandarin Orange & Candied Pecan Salad

  • 2 heads Boston or Bibb lettuce
  • 22 ounce can Mandarin oranges
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more if needed

white balsamic dressing:

  • 3/4 cups olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • pepper to taste (around 1 teaspoon for me)
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • sugar to taste

To make the candied pecans, heat pecans and 1/4 cup sugar over medium-low heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon. When sugar has melted, add other 1/4 cup. Keep adding sugar until pecans have formed a “crust” of hardened sugar on them. Don’t walk away! Lay them on parchment paper or other nonstick surface to cool.

For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together, adding sugar to taste (if you don’t like it sweet, add a teaspoon or two; if you do, add a lot more).

Break the pecans apart once cooled.

Tear the lettuce into pieces. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Top with drained oranges and candied pecans. Enjoy!


Mini Blue Cheese Wedge Salads

Recipe by Amy Grossi. See my blog post about this event here.

Mini Blue Cheese Wedge Salads

  • 1 head iceburg lettuce
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon
  • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, diced small
  • blue cheese dressing (Amy favorite is Bolthouse Yogurt Blue Cheese dressing)

Core the end of the iceberg, then chop in half lengthwise.  Cut each half into 4 wedges.

Arrange on a platter and drizzle with dressing.

Sprinkle remaining toppings over lettuce wedges and serve. Enjoy!


Bacon Wrapped Dates

Recipe by Amy Grossi. See my blog post about this event here.

Are you kidding? No, I’m not. The title says it all…read on!

Bacon Wrapped Dates

  • pitted Medjool dates
  • sliced bacon

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil.

Wrap each date in 1 slice of bacon, overlapping until entire slice is rolled up.

Arrange wrapped dates on the baking dish, making sure they aren’t touching.

Bake 30-45 minutes or until bacon is browned and crispy. Enjoy!


Greek Layered Dip

Recipe by Amy Grossi. See my blog post about this event here.

Add your own personal touch to this recipe by making your own hummus, or try using a flavored variety instead of plain!

Greek Layered Dip

  • 4 cups hummus
  • 1 english cucumber, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup pitted greek olives, chopped
  • 2/3 cup feta cheese
  • handful of fresh dill, finely chopped

Spread hummus evenly on the bottom of a shallow, wide glass dish.

Top with chopped cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, olives and crumbled feta.

Top with fresh dill.  Serve with pita chips or corn chips. Enjoy!