Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Top Ten Recipes at The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon


In just a few short days, on January 5th 2015, The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon will be back up and running.  It's been a long 4 months without a computer.  Frankly, tablets and mobile phone just don't cut it for me when it comes to writing a post.  I find myself taking short cuts and hurrying up a post.  In the end that affects everyone especially my awesome followers, supporters and fellow bloggers. Since we are closing out the year I wanted to share the top ten recipes at The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon, so with further ado ...

Simple Creamy Leek Soup

Mini Sweet Peppers Stuffed with Chicken, Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Drunken Tres Leche Cupcakes

Potaje de Garbanzo / Cuban Chickpea and Chorizo Stew

Nicaraguan Cabbage Slaw or Ensalada de Repollo Nica

Garlicky Tequila-Lime Grilled Shrimp-Kebabs with Cilantro-Garlic Aioli Sauce

Cuban Meat & Potato Stew - Carne con Papa

Make Your Own Cuban Sazon Completa / Adobo Seasoning

Stuffed French Bread with Chicken, Bacon, Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

and the Top #1 Recipe  ...
          Baking Soda as a Tenderizer

Friday, December 19, 2014

January 5th, 2015 - The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon finally RETURNS!


As some of you may have read in the few posts we've made, we at The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon have been dealing with not having a computer since September! The laptop failed and from that moment on we were in an ongoing back and forth shipping of said laptop with the company through whom we had our extended warranty. Mind you this laptop was a month away from being all of  two years old. After the sixth time (no it wasn't the charm) I finally lost my extended patience and spoke "very firmly" to a "head honcho". The results of which are a full refund of the original purchase price and we have now purchased a new and better laptop. It should be arriving sometime next week and we will be "re-debuting" on January 5th, 2015!

We can't wait to start sharing new recipes with you.  We miss posting and most of all we miss interacting with our great supporters, followers and fellow bloggers.  I don't think we could of gotten a better Christmas present.  Look forward to reconnecting with everyone! Cheers!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Update on the state of The Fork Ranaway with the Spoon

Dear friends, visitors, follower and fellow food bloggers;

Update: 12/12/14

The computer problems persist!  The laptop is now on it's seventh round of "repair" only to come back this last time with the same problem. Patience, I will say, is truly a virtue and mine has been tested ... extensively. If it is not resolved today, I will be "biting the bullet" and getting a new computer.  I've got so many  beautiful food pictures and recipes to share with you that I just have to take the plunge and do what I have been putting off. It's just so frustrating because the laptop is only 2 years old!  I hope I haven't lost to many followers and to those who have stuck around ... THANK YOU!


Perhaps you've noticed my retreat from the blog and social media. I just wanted to let you all know that The Fork Ranaway with the Spoon Has been experiencing a number of computer related issue since September. The laptop on which all the content and photos for the blog were saved has been back and forth with repairs since September. It even had a new hard drive installed and still it remains in repair. It's under an extended warranty and this is the third time back for repair, it now falls into the "lemon law" category and I'll either have a refund on the cost or a new laptop. It seems the motherboard has failed. The desktop computer, a twelve year old Mac is no longer able to run the latest browser and thus makes it impossible to do anything on the site. I am currently writing this post from my ipad, which is not my favorite tool to use for writing. Additonally, since the latest updates to the ios it repeatedly crashes. It's done so 2 times in my writing just this small post.
I truly hope to be back soon, I just can't estimate when that will be. I am "jonesing" to blog about all my latest recipes and share them with you, I guess that is a good thing. I hope I haven't lost to many followers and to those who have stuck around ... THANK YOU!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Easy Chicken Parmesan Casserole


Many times I crave a traditional Chicken Parmesan but don't want all the fuss and mess of breading and frying the chicken. Especially on a work week night. After a day on my feet, tending to patients, there's little energy to make an elaborate meal. Here's where my Easy Chicken Parmesan Casserole comes in. It's easy to make, takes little prep time and it really satisfies that craving.  Most, if not all, the items are probably already in your pantry or freezer, and that's a winner in my opinion. While it's baking away, just boil some pasta to serve with it, add a tossed salad and dinner is on the table.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs chicken breast, cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 24-oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 cup panko
1 tsp dried oregano
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
The Petite Chef - Eryka

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil and cook the onions until soft, then add the garlic. Cook for about 1 minute. Remove from pan. Cook the chicken in the same pan with a little bit more oil. Cook through.

2. In a 13 x 9 casserole dish, add in the cooked onion/garlic, chicken and the entire jar of pasta sauce.  Mix well to incorporate. Add the Parmesan cheese first then layer the mozzarella cheese on top.

3. In a separate small bowl, combine the panko, oregano, pinch of salt and pepper and fresh basil. Mix all together and then sprinkle on top of cheese. Place in oven to cook for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top and cheese has melted. Serve with pasta. Enjoy!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fish & Green Beans in a Pesto Wine Sauce


I am always looking for meals that cook up relatively fast, especially if it's a weeknight when I get home from a run, after work ... which means it's really late.

I came up with this recipe, as many of my quick to make recipes are developed ... it's what I had in the fridge or freezer.  In this case in both of the aforementioned appliances!

Dashing from one appliance to the other I found some fish in the freezer, a few shallots in the veggie basket, from the fridge, the last of the green beans from my trip to farmer's market, left over white wine and my homemade Quick and Easy Roasted Walnut Pesto.

This recipe truly is a quick, easy any night of the week recipe, but it is especially great on busy weeknights.  It's cooks up in about 15 minutes.  It's a light, flavorful
and the quick cooking method produces an exceptionally tender fish and crisp green beans.

  • 4 white fish fillets - (1 pound) such as cod, haddock, monkfish, halibut
  • 1 small bunch of green beans (about 2 hand fulls)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 large shallots, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 generous tablespoon Pesto* (get the recipe for my Quick & Easy Roasted Walnut Pesto)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  1. Steam green beans with a sprinkle of water in your microwave for 3 minutes or blanch for 1 minute in boiling water, remove and place in ice water. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add a 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and shallots. Cook for 5-7 minutes on medium low heat until the shallots begin to caramelize.
  3. Pat fish dry with paper towel and salt and pepper each side of your fish.
  4. Once shallots are cooked push to the outer edges of your pan, raise heat to medium and add the cubed butter and remaining oil. 
  5. Gently add the fish in one layer and saute each side until lightly golden (not looking for a char here)
  6. Pour 1/4 cup white wine into a measuring cup and add pesto, stir to incorporate.
  7. Add steamed green beans to pan lay over fish.
  8. Pour pesto-wine mixture over fish and green beens making certain that all pieces are covered.
  9. Cover and let cook for 5 minutes.
  10. Remove pan from heat to stop cooking. Serve.
Serve with a buttered rice pilaf or orzo and a crisp white wine.  ENJOY!

Recipe Notes: *You can also use store bought pesto if you don't have the ingredients on hand to make it from scratch.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Quick & Easy Roasted Walnut Pesto


I love pesto but I don't love the ridiculously high cost of pine nuts, which is one of the key ingredient in pesto. I just can't bring myself to pay $5.00 for 2 ounces of pine nuts. But I'll spend it for a few strands of saffron ... go figure!

So instead I use walnuts. I know, that's nothing new, but I also like to use nut oil to roast the walnuts. Specifically walnut oil to roast them.

Why? I find that it deepens the overall flavor of the nut when roasted in it's own nut oil.

Deeper flavor on the walnuts, richer tasting pesto.  Fresh basil, lemon zest and good quality extra-virgin olive oil are what makes this pesto extra flavorful. I add a little heat by way of a few pinches of cayenne pepper but it's optional, leave it out if you don't care for heat in your pesto.

  • 2 cups of basil
  • 1/4 cup roasted walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon walnut oil* (or any nut oil for deeper flavor)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese (or any hard cheese you have on hand)
  • 1 -2 cloves of garlic
  • 2/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper or more to taste (optional)
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. Cover walnuts with walnut oil. Place walnuts on a foil lined baking sheet in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for a total of 8-10 minutes, stirring gently halfway through the cooking time so that each side roasts evenly.  Keep an eye on the walnuts because they can go from right to way overdone in just a blink. Allow to cool.
  2. Place the basil, garlic and nuts ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for 15 seconds. 
  3. Add remaining ingredient and process until almost smooth. I like mine a little chunkier.  If it's too pasty for you stir in a little more olive oil.
Makes about 1 cup. Store in a glass mason jar in fridge, keeps well for about two weeks or you can freeze in an ice cube tray, making sure to top each cube with olive oil.
Remove once frozen and store in a freezer zip bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. 

*If you don't have a nut oil at home just use canola oil. Do not use olive oil.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Zuppa Toscana on Wednesdays with Eryka


Last Monday my boyfriend was sick. I wanted to make him a soup but I did not want to make the traditional chicken noodle soup. It clicked in my head that his favorite soup is Zuppa Toscana so I decided to make him just that. It is a heartier soup than chicken noodle and much more filling. I researched the recipe and made my adaptation of this popular recipe. You could use spinach instead of kale if you choose, just be aware that it tends to wilt and get soggy, while kale holds up very well in the soup. You could also choose to use hot Italian sausage to add a little kick. The boyfriend ate seconds and for the time being made him feel a lot better. Nothing beats a home made soup to soothe the soul or a cold!

Serves 4-6

2 TBS olive oil
1lb Italian sausage
2 russet potatoes, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 onion, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
16 oz chicken broth
1 qt water
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups kale

1. Slice the casing open of the sausage and crumb into a medium heat pot with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook sausage through until browned. Set aside once done.

2. Add another table spoon of olive oil to the pan and cook onion until soft. Add the garlic; cook for about 2 minutes to not let it burn. Add the sausage back into the pan. Stir everything together and cook for about 1 minute to combine flavors. Spalsh white wine into the pan to deglaze.

3.Add the chicken broth, water, wine and potatoes to the pot. Stir everything to together, bring to a boil and cook on medium until the potatoes are ready (soft when poked with a fork/knife).

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Add the cream and kale, stir to combine. Heat for about 5 minutes to warm the kale and soften. Serve in a bowl with a side of bread. Enyoy!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Grilled Achiote Skirt Steak - Churrasco Nicaraguan Style


Grilled Achiote Skirt Steak, served with shoestring french fries
 and Spicy Tomato Jam (recipe coming soon)

Most folks think of churrasco (CHEW-ROSS-COE) a.k.a skirt steak as a purely Argentinian dish, but I can tell you it is not. I had never eaten skirt steak (churrasco) until I met The Hub, who is Nicaraguan. Nicaraguans are big on grilled meats, especially beef and particularly churrasco, which is skirt steak. This is my take on blending the spices used in Nicaraguan grilled cuisine. The achiote powder, which also goes by the name of annatto, is one of my favorite spices in this cuisine and it has an earthy, sweet peppery flavor. My spice blend does not cover up the beefy flavor of the skirt steak but rather enhances it. Achiote can be found in the hispanic or asian section of the supermarket. And, if you can't find it locally, remember there is always Amazon or eBay.

Note: You'll notice that I don't specify amounts for the spices and that's because I literally just dust it over each piece of meat.  Use generous pinches of each spice and sprinkle over top.

Serves 2 - 3

Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Achiote Powder
1 1/2 pounds of skirt steak cut into steak sizes portions

With a fork piece the surface of each steak on each side. Generously dust each side of the skirt steaks with the salt, pepper, onion, garlic and achiote. Rub into the meat. Place into a zip bag or a lidded container and let rest in the fridge over night or 2-4 hours before grilling.

Fire up your grill on high (if using gas) or over direct heat with hot charcoal. Make sure you lightly oil your grill racks to get nice grill marks. Place steaks on racks and grill 3 - 4 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove from grill onto a platter, tent with foil and allow to rest 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with your favorite sides, like shoestring french fries, and ice cold beer.  Enjoy.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sweet Potatoes Roasted in Brown Sugar-Maple & Coconut Oil


I've been experimenting with coconut oil lately, and mostly I've had some really nice results. Roasting and baking are especially conducive to using coconut oil...

Like this recipe for Sweet Potatoes Roasted in Brown Sugar-Maple  & Coconut Oil. A really big hit at home with the Hub and with guests at a recent BBQ.

The roasting deepens the flavor of the coconut oil and the brown sugar and maple add a rich yet mellow warmth to the potatoes. There is a little heat by way of a dusting of cayenne pepper, but it's optional. If you don't care for heat, leave it out. I like it because it balances out the sweetness and gives that unexpected little bite at the end.

It's great served along side of  grilled chicken, steak or pork. And it's amazing when added to a big salad.


Serves 2 - 4

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil melted, if in solid state
  • 2 tablespoon raw turbinado brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 5-6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inc disks

  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees
  2. If the coconut oil is in a solid state, melt in a small sauce pan, let cool slightly
  3. Mix in the next 3 ingredients into oil. 
  4. Place sweet potato disks in a large bowl. 
  5. Pour oil mixture over sweet potatoes. 
  6. Stir to coat each disk well.
  7. Line a lipped sheet pan with non-stick foil.
  8. Slide potatoes onto sheet - making potatoes are in a single layer
  9. Dust lightly with cayenne pepper, if you are using it
  10. Roast for 30 minutes, turn over, roast an additional 20-30 minutes.
  11. Remove from sheet and serve.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Creamy Chicken with Orzo


This week is another easy weeknight meal that I happen to put together on a weeknight after work. I was craving something creamy all day and I already knew, while at work, that I had chicken defrosting at home. On my downtime at work, I mentally took inventory of what was in my fridge, combining flavors that were simple yet rich in flavor. I could not wait to get home and into the kitchen to make this dish happen. It came out just as I imagined. You can spruce it up with spices, other types of vegetables, pair it with different types of paste or even use dark meat! I kept it simple since I am as my mother calls me a "purist" in the kitchen but it does pack a lot of flavor... lets just say there were no left overs!

1 1/2lb chicken breast, cut into cubes
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 onion, minced
1 pepper (red or green), minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2-3 TBS cream cheese
2 carrots, chopped diagnoally 1 inch pieces
Green beans, chopped in 1 inch pieces
Orzo (cooked according to packaging)

1. In a saute pan, heat the oil on medium heat then add the chicken pieces. Add salt and pepper to season. Cook through until no longer pink. Cook in batches if necessary.

2. Set the cooked chicken aside. Add a teaspoon more of oil to the pan then add the onion and pepper. Saute until they are soft. Add the garlic and cook for together for about 1 minute. Pour in the chicken stock to pick up any brown bits and allow the vegetables to soak in the stock. Add the chicken back in.

3. Pour in the heavy cream and cream cheese and let it all melt together over medium-low heat. Adjust to taste the amount of heavy cream/cream cheese to your liking espeically if you like a saucier dish. Season with salt and pepper. Once everything is combined, add in the carrots and greens beans.

4. Stir everything together and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes, making sure to stir occassionally to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan. Serve over a hot bed of orzo and enjoy!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tuna & Garbanzo Hash


Sometimes I am very organized and I plan out the entire dinner menu for the coming week. I take an hour on Sunday afternoon and do as much prep work as I can so that dinner doesn't turn into a work week hassle.

And then there are times when no planning is done, no prep work gets done and I spend the week jumping through self-induced hoops to figure out what meal is going to make it to the dinner table.

On those occasions, I reach for one of my favorite "go to" meals. I usually have all the ingredients in the pantry to make Tuna & Garbanzo Hash. Normally when you see the word "hash" in a recipe you are expecting a potato to be in there somewhere.  In this case I substituted the potato with garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chick peas) to make this hash.

The flavors of this meal are influenced by sweet, smokey Spanish paprika, briny capers and black olives, garlic, the zing of a lemon and are reminiscent of Spanish and Mediterranean food. 
Best of all - it comes together in under 30 minutes. Enjoy!
  • 15-16 oz of canned, tinned or pouch tuna* (preferably Spanish tuna packed in olive oil)
  • 1 - 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large vidalia or Spanish onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2-4 mini sweet peppers, diced 
  • 2 large carrots, diced 1/4"
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1  heaping tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of capers + 1 teaspoon brine
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup sherry or white wine

  1. Heat a stainless steel skillet  pan over moderate heat
  2. Add oil, onions, garlic, peppers, carrots and a light sprinkle of salt. 
  3. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onions have softened.  
  4. Incorporate tomato paste, paprika, and garbanzo beans, stir well to blend, cook for 5 minutes over medium low heat. 
  5. Raise heat to medium high and add remaining ingredients, and bring to a bubbling simmer Lower heat and add in tuna, gently stirring to incorporate. 
  6. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes to allow ingredients and flavors to meld.

Sprinkle with a light dusting of sweet smoked paprika, top with a few strands of lemon zest and a squeeze of a lemon wedge, serve with white rice or on thinly sliced toasted french bread and chilled white wine.

*Recipe Tip: Whenever I can splurge a little I use Spanish tuna, that comes packed 
in olive oil. The flavor is far superior to the tuna that lines our supermarket shelves, if you have the opportunity to splurge a little, give it a shot.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Rum-Soaked Raisins & Oatmeal Cookies


This isn't your typical oatmeal cookie recipe.

This is a recipe for the grown-up version of oatmeal cookies.

It's definitely the kind of cookie you artfully stack on a cute mini-pedestal - because it deserves the royal treatment.

It's the kind you serve after dinner with a decadently rich sipping rum, like my personal favorite Flor de Caña Centenario Gold 18, and dunk in the rum so that the cookie absorbs the deep, dark, golden jewel tone liquid.

This is a "high-end" cookie. The ingredients are more robust, richer and yes, this recipe uses better quality ingredients then your everyday cookie. Ingredients like premium rum, free-range eggs, turbinado sugar, bourbon-vanilla extract and steel-cut oats. And you might ask ...

Is it worth the investment?  Hell yeah!

  • 1 cup spiced* or dark* rum
  • 1 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 12 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 1/4 cup raw brown turbinado sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon bourbon-vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 pinches of Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground clove and nutmeg
  • 2 1/4 cups steel-cut Oats
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans (or nut of choice)

    1. Soak raisins overnight in rum. Keep tightly covered.
    2. Place raisins and rum in small pan, bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer 20-30 minutes.
    3. Drain liquid into a measuring cup, set raisins aside. Add more rum (if needed) to make up a 1/2 cup raisin-rum liquid.
    4. Pre-heat over to 375 degrees
    5. Cream sugar & butter, then stir in eggs vanilla and rum-raisin liquid
    6. In a separate bowl, except for the oats and nuts, mix all the dry ingredients together.
    7. Stir dry ingredients into batter in batches of thirds. Do not over stir, just until all ingredients are incorporated.
    8. Stir in raisins, nut and oats to incorporate well.
    9. Place rounded teaspoons of rum-raisin oats dough onto an ungreased, parchment lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.
    10. Bake 8-10 minutes*
    11. Remove from oven and allow to cool 3-5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.
    Serve with milk, coffee or ... a good quality sipping rum. ENJOY!

    *Recipe Notes:
    My preferred spiced rum is Captain Morgan's Black Spiced Rum, it adds deep rich flavor. My preferred dark rum is Flor de Caña Centenario Gold 18, the toffee and vanilla notes make it perfect for these cookies. These rums aren't cheap and you can certainly substitute with cheaper varieties or use the mini-bottles if you can find them.
    Cookie doneness: for softer cookies bake to the lower range of bake time. For crispier cookies bake to the higher range of bake time. Adjust time according to how fast or slow your oven cooks.

    Monday, July 14, 2014

    Pork Chops in Dijon-Mushroom Wine Sauce


    I know it's summer and it's grilling season and generally that calls for "lighter" foods.

    But sometimes, in-spite of the season, you just crave some comfort food. Something warm and homey.

    And that's exactly how I felt this week.  I wanted - no I craved- a creamy sauce, some mushrooms, bright green peas, white wine (to cook with and drink) smothering tender, juicy chops.

    That craving resulted in my Pork Chops in Dijon-Mushroom Sauce.

    Craving conquered, Hub declared his usual "this s*** is good", the highest honor ever, and I was a happy camper.

    Serves 4

    1-1/2 pounds boneless pork loin chops, thin cut - about 1/2" thick
    Brine solution: 3 tablespoon Kosher salt, 2 tablespoons brown sugar in one quart of water
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    Salt & pepper
    2 tablespoons butter, divided
    1/2 tablespoon olive oil
    2 cups fresh sliced cremini mushrooms*
    1 large yellow onion, sliced into half moons
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons dijon mustard
    1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1 1/2 cups beef broth/stock
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    1 cup cream* (heavy or light, your choice)
    1 cup frozen petite peas

    Place chops in brine solution and brine in fridge overnight
    Remove chops from brine, rinse, and pat dry.
    Lightly salt and pepper each side
    Heat a stainless steel pan over medium high heat, add oil, sear each side of chops, remove from pan onto a platter, set aside, covered with foil.
    Reduce heat on pan to medium-low, add 1 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Add onions and mushrooms. Saute, stirring frequently 10-15 minutes or until onions/mushrooms a deep golden color.
    Sprinkle the flour over the onions/mushrooms, stir to mix in well. Add Dijon mustard, salt pepper, stock, wine and chops. Stir until it starts to simmer lightly and slightly thicken. Reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer for 13 minutes. (Add peas in the last 5 minutes of cooking time.) Stir in cream and allow to warm through. Take off heat and add butter, stir until butter melts.

    Serve over egg noodles, or with a simple salad and a baguette to mop up the wine sauce. And please, feel free to finish the rest of that white wine too! ENJOY!

    *Recipe Notes:
    Use any variety of  or combination of mushrooms, that you like.
    You can substitute cream with  half & half, fat free half & half, or milk of choice.
    Learn more on how to brine, read my post To Brine or Not to Brine? That Shouldn't Even Be a Question

    Sunday, July 6, 2014

    Spicy, Sweet & Sour Pickled Beets


    I got a hold of some really lovely beets a few weekends ago at the Farmer's Market. I was going to juice them to make my favorite beet juice mix.

    ... But then I was inspired by one of my favorite food bloggers, Katie Zeller at
    Thyme for Cooking, who recently published a post on pickled beets. Check out Katie's site, her recipes are delish and her stories about cooking, life in France, her adorable dogs and her mon mari never fail to make me chuckle.

    After her post I knew I had to make pickled beets. 

    But there were conditions ... I wanted them sweet, sour and spicy. 

    After all, I have a jalapeño bush bursting with red peppers and I have a Thai pepper bush also bursting with little fire cracker red peppers. 

    (Don't be afraid of the heat, use as much or as little as you want. Just a little tiny kick is good.)

    And so ... my recipe was created and damn if those beets aren't just right! Oh man, are they good!

    Also, this is a recipe for canning, so be sure to visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation to learn food safety and safe preparation methods. 

    You can also skip the canning process and place all the beets and liquid in one big jar in the fridge. After initial use, it'll be good for about 2 months. Let it "stew" for about two weeks in the fridge before digging in.

    You use this on grilled meats, fish, salads, pretty much anything or just enjoy alone with a glass of white wine, that's my favorite.

    Makes about 5 half pints
    • 2 lbs., medium sized beets, cooked peeled and sliced into 1/4" discs
    • 2 cups of red onions, sliced into half moons
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 stick cinnamon
    • 3/4 cups beet cooking liquid
    • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar*
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon allspice, whole
    • 1 - 3 jalapeño* peppers, seeded and diced
    • 1 - 2 Thai* peppers, with slits on one side. (optional)

    1. Clean beets thoroughly, remove greens*, but leave root intact to avoid excess juice from eking out.
    2. Place beets in a large saucepan*, cover with water, add 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar - to further guard against excess juice eking out..
    3. Bring to rolling boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
    4. Remove from pan, allow to cool under they can be handled. The skin will not peel off easily.
    5. Add all ingredients except for beets into a large pot, bring to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5-8 minutes.
    6. Add beets to simmering liquid and allow to heat through.
    7. Spoon beets into sterilized jar, then fill each jar with cooking liquid, leaving 1/2" head space.
    8. Wipe rims of jar, put lids and rings on the jars and hand tighten
    9. Process* for 30 minutes in a water bath
    10. Remove jars and allow to cool for 24 hours then further tighten lids
    11. Let "stew" for two weeks before eating*.
    Serve on salads, hot dogs, burgers or just eat as is! ENJOY!

    *Recipe Notes:
    If you can't find or don't have white balsamic vinegar (available at Trader Joe's) just use apple cider vinegar.
    You can prepare the beets a few days ahead. You can even make them in the slow cooker, by cover with water and cooking on high for 4-5 hours or low 8-9 hours.
    Saute greens in butter, olive oil and garlic for a nice side, or use it for juicing.
    Before canning be sure to visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation to address food safety and safe preparation methods.
    You can eat them right away but if you let the flavors meld for a few weeks, I promise you will enjoy the beets even more.
    You can skip using the peppers or just using one type of pepper. Each offer a different type of heat and I like the combination.

    Thursday, July 3, 2014

    Recipes to Celebrate the 4th of July!


    I've put together a list of some of my favorite recipes that are just great for your fourth of July celebration. Just click on the links below and you are on your way to some fabulous recipes for citrus chicken, tequila-lime shrimp, grilled corn on the cob, a delicious Catalan-style grilled tomato & garlic bread, a warm potato salad and one of my favorite Nicaraguan cabbage slaw and a few more.  Enjoy!

    Spicy Coconut Curry Grilled Shrimp

    Tropical Citrus Grilled Chicken

    Smokey n' Sweet Steak & Everything Else Rub

    BBQ Achiote Drumsticks

    Garlicky Tequila-Lime Grilled Shrimp-Kebabs with Cilantro-Garlic Aioli

    Sweet and Savory Roasted and Grilled Corn on the Cob

    Grilled Tomato & Garlic Bread a la Catalana

    Sweet and Tangy Pickled Vegetables

    Hot Bacon Mustard Potato Salad

    Nicaraguan Cabbage Slaw or Ensalada de Repollo Nica

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    Mango-Honey Chipotle Grilled Chicken


    So it's almost literally raining mangoes everywhere in South Florida! That's a good thing because my dear friend Lili has a tree and she has been graciously providing me with a healthy supply of those golden sweet beauties.

    Having those mangoes and a big bag of chipotle peppers, that my sister-in-law Maria brought over from San Francisco, can only mean one thing.  Time to make a great BBQ sauce! Smokey, sweet and with just the right amount of a kick, my mango-honey chipotle sauce is perfect for grilling chicken.

    Start by making a brine to keep your chicken moist as it grills, then coat the chicken in the sauce, slap it on the grill and you are just minutes away from truly juicy, flavorful chicken. Serve with a big green salad, ice-cold beer and an extra side of mango-honey chipotle sauce for dipping - dinner is done!

    Serves 4

    6 - 8 pieces of chicken boneless skinless - breasts and/or thighs
    Brine solution: 3 tablespoons kosher salt, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, dissovled in 1 quart of water
    Salt & pepper

    • Brine chicken from 2-8 hours, as time permits. Remove from and discard brine solution. Rinse chicken and pat thoroughly dry with paper towel. Salt and pepper each side.
    • Place chicken in a wide, shallow bowl, add ½ cup of the Mango-Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce (recipe follows). Mix well to coat all pieces. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes while the grill heats up.
    • Heat grill over high heat for 15 - 20 minutes. Place chicken pieces over hot grates and cook 5 minutes per side, depending on thickness of chicken. Allow chicken to rest 5 minutes before serving.
    Serve with additional sauce on the side for dipping and ice cold beer.

    Mango-Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce

    2-4 dried chipotle pepper (Use more or less depending on how much heat you want)
    2 tablespoon canola oil
    1 medium red onion, finely diced
    6 cloves garlic, finely minced
    6 oz tomato paste
    4 tablespoon honey
    ¾ cup of pepper soaking liquid
    1 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika
    2 mangoes, diced
    1/3 cup lime juice
    2 teaspoons mustard
    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon Kosher salt

    • Place dried peppers in 3 cups boiling water, allow to soften for about 30 minutes. remove from water and set water aside. Remove stem, seed and ribs from peppers and discard. Chop finely. Warning: be very careful to not touch your eyes or lips and clean your hand thoroughly afterwards.
    • Heat pan over medium heat, add onions and cook 5-7 minutes.
    • Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes
    • Spoon in the tomato paste and honey, stir to incorporate into onions and garlic.  Cook until paste begins to caramelize.
    • Add the pepper water to deglaze the pan and then add all the remaining ingredients.
    • Cook on low for 20 minutes or until thickened.
    • Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), blend through until thick and smooth.  You can strain through a sieve if you prefer a very smooth sauce.

    Take off heat and allow to cool, store in airtight container, best in a mason jar. Keep refrigerated. Keeps for a month, makes about 2 cups.

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

    Spicy Southwestern Stuffed Peppers


    Tonight I was inspired to cook something a little different. My boyfriend enjoys peppers, so I decided to make stuffed peppers. I have made stuffed peppers before but with an Italian twist. This time I chose to go with a southwestern flavor profile. The ingredients are reminiscent of Mexican flavors thus the Southwest title.

    As you will notice I only chose to add one jalapeno to this dish but you can certainly add as much heat as you'd like, such as more jalapeno, a hot salsa, red pepper flakes or hot sauce. This recipe can be customized to anyone's taste preference and it's fun to make. I felt very accomplished looking at how pretty my stuffed peppers looked when they were all filled and covered with melted cheese. They were devoured. Now this dish was enough for my boyfriend and I to enjoy on it's own, it's basically a casserole/one-pot dish in a pepper... the peppers being the individual casserole dish! You can pair this dish with roasted corn, a side salad, roasted potatoes, etc.. Have fun with this dish creating your own fillings, but also enjoy this one!

    Serves 4 - 6

    A Wednesdays
    with Eryka Recipe
    6 multi-colored peppers
    1/2 lb ground beef
    1/2 cooked white rice
    1 small onion, chopped
    2 garlic cloves
    1 jalapeno, chopped
    1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
    1 cup corn
    1 cup salsa
    1/2 teaspoon cumin
    1/2 teaspoon adobo seasonings*
    salt and pepper to taste
    Mexican blend shredded cheese*

    1. Prepare the peppers by chopping the top off and removing the rib. Place on a greased baking dish.

    2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

    3. In a pan on medium heat, cook ground beef, onion and garlic until cooked through. Add the jalapeno.

    4. Add the beans, corn, rice and salsa. Heat through then season with cumin, adobo and salt and pepper to taste (I added only a pinch of each).

    5. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of cheese into the mixture. Stir until gooey.

    6. Spoon the beef mixture evenly into all the peppers. Top with their appropriate tops.

    7. Bake for 20 minutes then remove tops of the peppers to add the shredded cheese. Top again with their tops and bake for 10 more minutes until cheese is melted and peppers are soft.


    Recipe Notes:
    *The cheese blend I used contained Monterrey jack, cheddar, queso quesadilla, asadero cheese. You can use whatever Mexican cheese blend you prefer.
    *Adobo seasoning is a blend of onion and garlic powder, black pepper, Mexican oregano, cayenne pepper and cumin. Mix together an 1/8 teaspoon of each ingredient if you can't find it locally.

    Thursday, June 5, 2014

    Lemon-Sage Tuna Steaks


    Lately, The Hub and I are "trying" to eat in a mindful manner.

    Not exactly a "diet" but more of an awareness of how much we eat (less) of certain body expanding and detrimental foods.

    We are eating healthier proteins like fish, other sea-foods, chicken and leaner cuts of pork and "trying" (there's that word again) to  limit our beef consumption to once a week. Easy for me, much harder for The Hub. Why? He's Nicaraguan and in Nicaragua beef is king.

    We are also attempting to reduce our ("unhealthy") carb intake.  Attempting ... haha. This is hard for both of us. I am convinced we are genetically hard-wired to consume vast amounts of rice with each and every meal. Yes, sometimes even breakfast!

    But we are striving, churning towards "trying" and "attempting" and because of this I put together this recipe for yummy Lemon-Sage Tuna Steaks. Yes it has butter, but it's just  a touch of butter, and of course a splash of white wine. Wine, I hear, is good for the heart.

    What did The Hub think of the Tuna Steaks? His typical reply "this **** is good!".
    That's always an honor.

    Serves 2 - 4

    4 tuna steaks
    Kosher salt
    Onion powder
    1 tablespoon of olive oil
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 medium lemon - zested and juiced
    1/4 cup white wine
    5 fresh large sage leaves

    1. Season each side of the tuna steaks with salt, pepper and onion powder to taste.
    2. To a large flat bottomed skillet or grill pan, over low heat, add the oil and butter. 
    3. Once butter melts, add the lemon zest and slowly cook to infuse the flavor into the oil about 2 minutes. The edges of the lemon should start to caramelize.
    4. Increase the heat to medium and add the sage leaves to crisp up. Once crisped remove sage and lemon zests from oil, set aside and allow to drain on paper towel.
    5. Crank up the heat of the pan and once sizzling add tuna steaks. Cook, per side for 1 to 1/2 minutes for medium rare center, 2 minutes for medium center, 3+ minutes to cook through. Remove from pan at desired doneness and set aside.
    6. Remove all but one tablespoon of oil/butter from the pan. Deglaze with lemon juice and white wine. Allow to reduce by half, remove from heat.
    To serve, place tuna steak on plate, spoon lemon-sage wine reduction sauce over each steak and sprinkle with lemon zest and crisped sage over top of each steak.

    Serve with roasted vegetables and a glass of white wine. ENJOY!

    Friday, May 30, 2014

    Two-Tomato Farfale with Wine Poached Chicken & Broccoli


    I had this dish while on a recent mini-vacation with the Hub at Ft. Myers Beach, Florida.  It was a house dish ... Farfale Terra Nostra, aptly named after the restaurant Terra Nostra.

    The flavors were so clean, simple yet complex at the same time. I loved that it used two types of tomatoes; fresh and sun-dried, fresh broccoli, a delicious and light garlicky wine sauce.

    I was so impressed I had to come home and reproduce it. And while I know it can't be exactly like theirs, my adaptation so close, that it will forever transport me back to the memory of that highly relaxing and much needed vacation.

    And the Hub? Well, he barely spoke during dinner, except to come up for air, exclaiming "this **** is so good".  I couldn't have asked for a higher compliment than that! 

    Serves 4

    1 pound farfale pasta
     Palm full of Kosher salt to boil the pasta
    1 bunch of broccoli, cut down into flowerettes 
    1 pound of chicken breast, butterfiled and sliced into 2" strips
         (The day before, brine** the breast for maximum moistness and flavor)
    Salt & Pepper
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    6 campari tomatoes quartered
    8 oz sun-dried tomatoes, chopped 
          (Do not use the oil-packed type and do not reconstitute dried tomatoes in water)
    1 cup white wine
    1 cup chicken broth
    1 generous tablespoon of minced garlic (or more to taste)
    1/4 cup creme fraiche (or sour cream)
    1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more (to taste) to grate over each serving
    Olive oil to drizzle over top

    • Butterfly, slice and brine** the chicken breast the night before or the morning you are planning to make the dish. 
    • Remove from brine, discard brine, rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
    • Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and very lightly brown the chicken. Work in batches. Add all the chicken back to the skillet. 
    • Add the white wine, stock and minced garlic to the skillet with the chicken. Bring to a low boil then reduce heat and allow to poach while the  water for the pasta comes to a boil and the pasta cooks. About 15-20 minutes total. You should be left with about 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid.
    • Bring a deep pot of water to the boil, once boiling add salt and pasta and cook according to package instructions. Set a timer one minute before the end of cooking time.
    • With one minute before pasta is done, add the broccoli to the cooking pasta water and cook for 1 minute. Drain pasta/broccoli.
    • Place pasta, broccoli, campari and dried tomatoes in large deep serving bowl, and stir together carefully.
    • Pour in chicken cooking liquid and chicken, stir to distribute.
    • Add creme fraiche, stir through to distribute.
    • Add Parmesan, stir to distribute.
    • Drizzle olive oil over top.
    • Serve into individual pasta bowl and grate additional Parmensan over each serving.
    Serve with garlic bread and a light salad and your wine of choice. Enjoy!

    **Recipe Notes:
    It takes little time to brine your chicken and what you get back is juicy, flavorful chicken. To brine one pound of chicken: 1 quart of water,  dissolve 3 tablespoon of Kosher salt and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, add the sliced chicken. Keep in fridge for up to 24 hours. 
    Want to  learn what else you can brine and learn more about the process?