Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Miriam's Picadillo

Friendship has no age. What do I mean? My best friend is my mother, who is obviously older than I am, and I have another very close friend, Miriam, who is my mom's age. I met Miriam while working at buybuyBaby. We became really close, sharing each others drama when we had down time at work plus I got to practice my Spanish with her. Eventually I quit but our friendship extended outside of walls of work. We would text, call and I have even gone over to her house to just gossip and share stories. She is an aquarius like me - making us very similar! So one day I asked her to share her picadillo recipe. Picadillo is a ground beef hash, to sum it up, poor people food that is absolutely delicious and easy to make. Since I learned the Cuban version of picadillo recipe from my mom, I wanted to learn Miriam's version of picadillo, and she is Venezuelan. Her recipe is different from what I'm used to making but it is much simpler and I have to say just as delicious. When she made it for me one Friday afternoon the flavor stayed
Miriam's Picadillo - this is the
one she made, served with
black beans & white rice
on my palette the whole weekend! The following Monday I decided to make it for myself. It is now one of my favorite dishes as well as a new "go to" recipe when I don't feel like thinking too much about dinner or  I am just too tired. This recipe takes a browning sauce, and bouillon powder, which I had nver used before. I have provided a picture in case you've never used it either and now you know what to look for. You can serve this like in the picture further below, with black beans and rice. You could also accompany it with bread or sweet plantains. I absolutely love this recipe and hope you do too!

1 3/4 lbs ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, minced
1 red or green pepper, minced
2 tablespoons green olives
2 tablespoons raisins (optional)
1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
1 1/2 tablespoon kitchen bouquet browning
and seasoning sauce

1. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the ground beef. Brown the meat until pink is gone. Add the minced onions and peppers. Cook together for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.

2. Add the green olives. It is okay if some of the juice from the olives fall into the beef because it will add more flavor to the dish; add in the raisins. Stir to combine and cook together for about 2 minutes.

3. Sprinkle in the chicken bouillon powder and stir to combine. Drizzle in the browning sauce and stir to combine. Cook all the ingredients together for about 4 minutes until aromatic. Remove the pan off the heat and it is ready to serve.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Balsamic Strawberry Jam


It's strawberry season here in South Florida and it's time to jam! I love making and canning my own jams and preserves, but I know most folks don't want the hassle of sterilizing jars, processing them in boiling water, having a canner pot, a magnetized lid holder ... in other words, it's a lot of work and not for everyone.  So instead of giving you a recipe for 10 jars of jam and having you buy equipment you may never use again, I am sharing my recipe for one jar of the most delicious and hassle-free Balsamic Strawberry Jam you will ever have. The balsamic vinegar intensifies the flavor and sweetness of the strawberries and the lemon juice add just the right amount of tartness.

No need to sterilize because once the cooked and jarred jam has come to room temperature it's stored in the fridge and ready to be devoured. No special equipment or processing, all you need is one clean and dry, pint size, lidded jar, like a mason jar.

Spread it on bagels, toast, muffins, stir it into plain Greek yogurt or heat up a little jam and pour it over vanilla ice cream. Oh yeah it's that good and it is worth taking the time to make your own jam.

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar*
2 pints strawberries
3 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of natural fruit pectin
Juice of one lemon
3/4 cups sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 tablespoon of butter (to reduce foaming)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  1. Hull and clean the strawberries and place in a glass bowl. Add the white balsamic vinegar and sugar and using a potato masher, mash the strawberries. Don't over mash, leave some large pieces. Allow to marinate 30 minutes.
  2. Place a small plate in the freezer.
  3. Add strawberries to a stainless steel pan, allow to come to a rolling boil. 
  4. Add fruit pectin, stir and bring to a rolling boil.
  5. Add the lemon, sugar and pinch of salt, stir and bring to a boil.
  6. Stir in the butter
  7. Allow to boil at medium heat, stirring often for about 20 minutes.
  8. Take plate out of freezer and place a half teaspoon of jam on plate. If it gels the jam is ready. If not put plate back in freezer, allow jam to cook another 5 minutes and repeat plate test.
  9. Turn off heat, stir in the tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.
  10. Allow to cool enough to handle
  11. Fill a mason or regular glass jar with jam, lid and allow to come to room temperature. Store in fridge.
Recipe Notes:
*I get white balsamic vinegar at Trader Joe's.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Lickety Split Citrus Chicken, Peppers & Onions Saute


I will often buy 2-3 rotisserie chickens at one time. Usually having one for dinner that same night, shredding and freezing all the dark meat for salads or sandwiches and the breast meat for use in other quick to make recipes like my Lickety Split Lime Chicken, Peppers & Onions Saute. This recipe is fast, easy and delicious with the flavors of cumin, Cuban complete seasoning (homemade), lime and sour orange juice giving it a Latin flair. This is a great meal for a busy weeknight and comes together in about 20 minutes.  If you prepare everything ahead of time by slicing up the veggies and mincing your garlic, you can shave off about 5 minute! I think that's pretty awesome for a meal you and your family will enjoy every time.

Serves 4

2 breasts from one rotisserie chicken, thickly shredded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 large onions, sliced
2 medium bell peppers, sliced in strips
1 generous teaspoon minced garlic
2 limes, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon Homemade Cuban Complete Seasoning
2 tablespoons Sour Orange Juice
1 teaspoon cumin
3 small pinches salt
Pepper to taste

  • Shred the breast meat from the rotisserie chicken. Make the shreds thick not stringy. Set aside.
  • Heat a stainless steel pan over medium heat, add olive oil, onions and peppers. Saute 5 minutes, stir often.
  • Stir in garlic, saute 2 minutes.
  • Add in chicken, stir to combine with vegetables, cook 2 -3 minutes, stir often.
  • Add the remaining ingredients, cover, lower heat to low, cook 5 minutes, stir often.

Serve with over white rice,  and an avocado salad dressed with lime juice and a pinch of salt. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Weekly Recipe Round-Up - Valentine's Week

It was Valentine's Day week and that meant celebrating with food and romance at The Fork Ran Away with the SpoonMonday started with a 3-course dinner, Wednesday a classic (think Lady and the Tramp) spaghetti and seared chicken and the grand finale on Friday, a decadent chocolate cheesecake. The best part is you don't have to wait till next Valentine's to make these great recipes, you can stir up romance and a romantic dinner any day. We hope you had a great week and an even sweeter Valentine's.

This week's Recipe of the Week was our Easy 3-Course Valentine's Dinner.  It had the most shares, page views/likes by our awesome followers and for that we Thank You!  Here's a look back at what was cooking in the kitchens of The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon this past week.

Featured on Monday:

An easy 3-course Valentine's dinner that is high on the flavor barometer and low on the fuss, a beautifully light pea soup, a parchment baked fish and yummy nutella and banana pastry bundles.And best of all it will all come together in about 30 minutes.

Featured on Wednesdays with Eryka:

Is there anything more classically romantic than a simple Spaghetti dinner on Valentine's day? Today we are featuring and recommending Tomato-Basil Spaghetti & Seared Chicken for your Valentine's dinner!  

Featured on Friday:

After your Valentine's Dinner, make sure you save room for Eryka's Rich & Cream Chocolate Cheesecake. It's luscious, creamy and yes, just a little decadent.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Rich & Creamy Chocolate Cheesecake

To round out the romantic pasta dinner I posted earlier this week, Tomato-Basil Spaghetti & Seared Chicken, make sure you save room for a must have dessert of my Rich and Creamy Chocolate Cheesecake! The most loved and best known symbol of Valentine's Day or romance in general is chocolate. Everyone loves chocolate and everyone loves cheesecake, so why not combine the two to make a decadent dessert. This cheesecake is luscious, creamy and yes, a little decadently rich. You can jazz it up by adding fruit, whipped cream or chocolate shavings. I am a purist, as my mom likes to call me, so I keep the cake as is. Serve on a pretty red plate and enjoy!

1 cup crushed vanilla wafer crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. For the crust, in a small bowl, combine wafer crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch spring-form pan. Set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a microwave, melt the chocolate chips in 15 second interval to avoid burning the chocolate. Stir in between intervals and melt until smooth. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and flour until smooth. Add eggs and beat on low until combined. Stir in vanilla and melted chocolate until combined. Pour the filling over the crust.

4. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until center is set. Set on a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of the pan to loosen the cake; cool for an hour longer. Refrigerate over night and serve!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tomato-Basil Spaghetti & Seared Chicken

For me, there is nothing more romantic than a pasta dinner. For Valentine's Day I have this classic recipe for a couple's most romantic night of the year, however, you can make it for any spontaneous romantic night! I went to Italy a few years ago and obviously at every restaurant, pasta rules the menu compared to any other ingredient. One popular dish throughout Rome was Tomato Basil Spaghetti. It was delicious and surprisingly it was a very simple red sauce with spaghetti; the pasta was not over-sauced, it was just enough to coat the pasta but not for it to be swimming in it. This recipe is similar to that idea. The sauce this recipe makes is enough to cover the chicken and whatever pasta you choose to pair it with and nothing more. The basil enhances the rich taste of the tomatoes and the seared chicken remains moist and juicy. This is a great recipe to cook with your significant other which makes the meal that much more delicious! I hope you enjoy this meal whether you make it for the love of your life, for your friends, for your family or even for yourself. Buon Appetito!

3 chicken breasts, butterflied
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons red wine
4 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chicken stock
1-2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1. Butterfly the chicken breast and season with salt and pepper on each side. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium-heat heat. Let the pan get very hot to create a nice sear on the chicken. Cook in batches for better browning and cook about 5 minutes per side. When all pieces are browned add them all back in to the pan.

2. Add the tomatoes, basil, garlic and tomato paste. Lower the temperature to medium and add the wine to deglaze the pan as well as to start the sauce. Cook everything together for about 3 minutes, adding small splashes of wine if needed.

3. Add the butter, let it melt then add the stock. Sprinkle in the Italian seasoning and bring the sauce to a boil. Lower the boil to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes then turn off the heat. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Garlic Roasted Cabbage

In many of my prior post I've mentioned how I thought cabbage is an under-rated and under appreciated vegetable. And I still hold true to that belief. It's so versatile, readily available and super cheap. Cabbage isn't just for cole slaw or sauerkraut, it is so much more than a picnic side or a hot dog condiment. Cabbage, when roasted, takes on an incredibly sweet flavor and at the same time is lusciously savory. I hope you give my favorite unsung and under-appreciated hero ... the garlic roasted cabbage ... a try.

Serves 4

1 large head of green cabbage
2 heads of garlic, halved, leave skins on
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Quarter the cabbage into wedges removing the hard core. Cut out 4 large sheets of foil, enough to wrap the cabbage quarters. Pour some olive oil onto a plate and dip cabbage wedge in oil to cover all sides of each wedge, salt and pepper. Place each wedge onto 1 sheet of foil, place one half of a garlic head atop the wedge. Drizzle with additional oil. Wrap foil around cabbage. Repeat for the remaining wedges. Roast for 60 minutes.

To serve squeeze the garlic from its skin and spread over cabbage or dip as you eat. You can also add olive oil to the garlic paste and mix to thin out. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Weekly Recipe Round-up January 20-24, 2014

It was a week of soups and stews at The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon. Temperatures dropped into the low 40s and high 30s in South Florida. This called for a lot of warm and homey comfort food and coincidentally they all seemed to have a Spanish/Latin flair too! 

This week's Recipe of the Week was featured on Wednesdays with Eryka, Cuban Meat & Potato Stew, a.k.a. Carne con Papa.  It had the most shares, over 200 and pageviews/likes, over 2,500, by our awesome followers and for that we Thank You!  Here's a look back at what was cooking in the kitchens of The Fork Ran Away with the Spoon this past week.

Featured on Monday:

Jax's Chili is a chili I've been making for years and has become one of my favorite go-to recipes once the temperatures dip. Using cachucha peppers, red chilies, 3 different types of beans and cocoa powder, the stage is set for the ultimate comfort food. Can be made stove top or in slow cooker I cover both methods in this recipe.

Featured on Wednesdays with Eryka:

In *Cuban Meat & Potato Stew* (a.k.a. *Carne con Papa*) the meat and potatoes are simmered in wine, tomato sauce, garlic and paprika,is a big family favorite. Served with steaming white rice and fried green or sweet plantains  makes it *a classic Cuban Sunday dinner*.

Featured on Friday:

My recipe for Iberian-Inspired Chorizo, Cod and Chickpea Stew is rich, warm and spicy. This tomato based stew brings together the flavors of paprika rich Spanish chorizo, cod fish and chickpeas. Perfect cold weather soup!