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Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja (Cuban Shredded Beef)

Ropa vieja (Spanish for “old clothes”) is one of the national dishes of Cuba, but is also popular in other areas of the Caribbean such as Puerto Rico and Panama. It consists of shredded or pulled stewed beef with vegetables. This was a dish we had in Havana in 2014. The beauty is that it is done in a slow cooker.

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You can omit the olives, but trust me on this one. Serve with your favorite rice or use it with fresh tortillas.

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja (Cuban Beef)

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. beef flank steak (or substitute Mexican arrachera)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 (14-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small white onion diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced ( I used red for contrast)
  • 1 cup Spanish olives – green
  • 3 whole garlic cloves, peeled

Cooked yellow rice for serving*

Slow Cooker Size:4-quart or larger

Instructions

  1. Add the beef broth, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, turmeric and apple cider vinegar to the slow cooker. Stir.
  2. Add the flank steak and flip it around in the sauce so it gets coated. Add the bell pepper, onion, olives and garlic cloves, mix those items together to combine on top of the meat.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 9 hours on LOW without opening the lid during the cooking time. Shred the meat with 2 forks right in the slow cooker.

If you have been following me you know that our slow cooker cooks faster for some unknown reason. When I looked up cooking on HIGH (because I was short of time) it suggested 5 hours as the equivalent. Guess what? It was done in a little over 2.5 hours using an arrachera of 1.3 kilos.

LESSON—-dont let it cook while you are away at work unless you know your cooker very well. Keep checking  for doneness.

 

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Creamy Cauliflower Chowder

Baby its cold outside (in the North, actually here in Mexico too, trust me on this one…). Great time for a hearty chowder – vegan if you leave out the bacon!

It calls for a whole head of cauliflower, but here we can but 1 lb. packages of florets which simplifies the recipe. I think you’ll really like this one my friends…great start to the New Year!

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Creamy cauliflower chowder

Prep Time: 10 minutes         Cook Time: 30 minutes       Yield: 4-5 people

Creamy Cauliflower Chowder is a healthy, easy, comfort food recipe and ready in under 30 minutes. It’s gluten free, low carb and keto friendly.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup diced Onion
  • 5 Garlic Cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 cup diced Carrots
  • 1 Whole Head of Cauliflower (cut into small florets)I bought a one lb. bag of florets
  • 1 1/2 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • Salt to taste

Olive Oil and cooked bacon (4 strips) for topping

 Instructions

In a Dutch oven or soup pot, heat butter and add onions and garlic. Saute for a few minutes until the onions are soft.

Add carrots, cauliflower, vegetable broth, pepper, oregano and salt to the pot. Bring this to a boil, and slow the heat down to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or so till the cauliflower is tender.

Switch off the flame and using a blender, blend the soup partly in the soup pot. If you don’t have a hand blender, pour half the soup into a blender and pulse a few tips till creamy.

Switch the flame back on and add a cup of water or broth along with the cream cheese. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and switch off the flame. Feel free to thin the soup further if  you like with some more broth or milk. Top with olive oil and bacon and serve hot.

Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya

There was sausage. There was shrimp. There were Costco Ancient Grains. What can I make? Jambalaya!! What is that you say…

Jambalaya  is a Louisiana origin dish of Spanish and French (especially Provençal cuisine) influence, consisting mainly of meat and vegetables mixed with rice. Traditionally, the meat always includes sausage of some sort, often a smoked sausage such as andouille, along with some other meat or seafood, frequently pork, chicken, crawfish, or shrimp. The vegetables are usually a soffritto-like mixture known as the “holy trinity” in Creole and Cajun cooking, consisting of onion, celery, and green bell pepper, though other vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, chilis, and garlic are also used. After browning and sauteing the meat and vegetables, rice, seasonings, and broth are added and the entire dish is cooked together until the rice is done.

Jambalaya is similar to (but distinct from) other rice-and-meat dishes known in Louisiana cuisine. Gumbo uses similar sausages, meats, seafood, vegetables and seasonings. However, gumbo includes filé powder and okra, which are not common in jambalaya. Gumbo is also usually served over white rice, which is prepared separate from the rest of the dish, unlike jambalaya, where the rice is prepared with the other ingredients. Étouffée is a stew which always includes shellfish such as shrimp or crayfish, but does not have the sausage common to jambalaya and gumbo. Also, like gumbo, étouffée is usually served over separately prepared rice.

Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya (for TWO people, half the recipe!)

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces sausage, sliced into 1/4″ slices (Costco Kielbasa works just fine)
  • 2 cups of peeled, deveined shrimp
  • 4 cups of chicken broth or stock
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup of instant rice/ Ancient Grains
  • 2- 14 oz. cans of petite diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp of paprika
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt to taste
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions

In a large stock pot on medium heat, add olive oil, onions, peppers, garlic and the bay leaf. Cook for 5 minutes covered.

Add tomatoes, sausage, chicken broth or stock and remaining seasonings and cook on medium heat for 25 minutes.

Add instant rice (here I used Costco’s Ancient Grains) and shrimp. Stir and cook for 5 minutes or until rice is tender and shrimp turns orange. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

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Slow Cooker Easy Pork Pozole

Thanks to all of you for getting me past the 14000 views this week! You are all awesome. In return is an awesome Aztec recipe for a soup/stew called pozole. Get out your slow cooker.

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Pozole can be prepared in many ways. All variations include a base of cooked hominy in broth. Typically pork, or sometimes chicken, is included in the base.

Vegetarian recipes substitute beans for the meat.

The three main types of pozole are blanco/white, verde/green and rojo/red.

Red Pozole is usually made without the green sauce, instead adding a red sauce made from one or more chiles, such as guajillo, piquin, or ancho.

Slow Cooker Easy Pork Pozole

  • 2 – 15 oz. cans hominy (white corn), rinsed and drained (fresh in the deli section) In our grocery store here, this is the brand I buy. I use 3/4 package.

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  • 1 – 16 oz. jar salsa
  • 1 – litre reduced sodium chicken broth (I actually used almost 2 to get it less thick)
  • 2 – 4 oz. cans diced green chile peppers undrained (to taste, truthfully, I used two thin slices)
  • 1 – cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 – T ground cumin
  • 4 – cloves garlic minced
  • 1 – tsp. dried oregano, crushed
  • ¼ – tsp. red pepper
  • 12 oz. – pork loin, cut into bite sized pieces
  • Fresh cilantro snipped

NIGHT BEFORE!!!

In the removable crock pot liner, combine the first 9 ingredients (through the red pepper). Stir in the pork pieces. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

NEXT DAY!!!

Let the liner stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Place in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 7 hours (depending on your slow cooker)…or on HIGH for 3 to 3.5 hours. Check frequently… mine was done in 5 hours on low!

Sprinkle cilantro onto each serving in large soup bowls. Serve with tortillas if desired.

OPTIONAL – In separate side bowls, provide a few sliced radishes, more chopped onion, oregano, chopped cabbage, avocado, cilantro. Let your guests choose what they want to add. I like to add some sour cream for smoothness. 

Makes 6+ servings.

Lemony Chickpea (Garbanzo), Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad

Okay Cousin Bonnie, here is the salad recipe you asked for…it was yummy!

 

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Lemony Chickpea, Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad

Recipe by Michela Chiappa from Michela’s Tuscan Kitchen

Ingredients –

600g ripe tomatoes (I just drained a can of diced tomatoes)

 1 small bunch fresh basil

 extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

small handful walnuts

½ jar good quality chickpeas (about 300g)

pinch of dried cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 lemon

2 good handfuls of arugula

1 small round of crumbly, soft goat’s cheese

 

  1. Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to a serving bowl. Rip in most if the basil leaves, keep the baby leaves to one side. Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and season with black pepper and salt.
  2. Place a small frying pan on a low heat, add the walnut halves and cook for 5 minutes until toasted and smelling delicious. When ready tip into a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, drain and the chickpeas. Add the cumin, oregano, lemon zest and half the juice and a drizzle of oil. Toss together with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add the chickpeas to the tomatoes and toss together. Add the arugula and crumble over the goat’s cheese and walnuts.

Slow Cooker Beer Can Chicken

The problem with having a small gas BBQ is not being able to do a beer can chicken because the lid is too low! For those who do not know what I am speaking about, normally one places a seasoned chicken upside down over a full, but open beer can. NOT alive sillies!!! The hot juices from the can permeate the bird as it cooks. Pinterest to the rescue again.

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Slow Cooker Beer Can Chicken (without the beer can!)

Ingredients

  1. 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  2. 2 teaspoons salt
  3. 2 teaspoons coarse pepper
  4. 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  5. 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  6. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  7. 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  8. 4 (6-inch) strips aluminum foil, each bunched into a ball
  9. 1 can (16 ounces) beer
  10. 1 (6 1/2 to 7 pound) whole chicken

Instructions

  1. Mix smoked paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, garlic powder and cayenne pepper in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Place 4 balls of aluminum foil on bottom of slow cooker crock. Pour beer into crock.
  3. Rinse chicken and pat dry.
  4. Rub chicken with seasoning mixture. Place chicken on top of foil in crock.
  5. Cover slow cooker. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 5 to 7 hours. Chicken is well done when meat temperature registers 165°F in the breast or 175°F-180°F in the thickest part of the thigh.

Notes

  1. USDA recommends 165°F as the safe eating temperature for chicken. Chicken is done when meat temperature registers 165°F in the breast or 175°F-180°F in the thickest part of the thigh. For more information on food safety, visit foodsafety.gov.

Roasted Parmesan Garlic Shrimp

Always looking for a great appetizer and this one surely qualifies. In the case of both the oregano and basil I would use fresh in place of the dried. If you are ever caught with cocktail sauce, a simple recipe blends 1/2 cup ketchup + 2 Tablespoons horseradish!

Roasted Parmesan Garlic Shrimp (http://inspiredbycharm.com)

1 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (I prefer fresh)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (I prefer fresh)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Parsley leaves, chopped for garnish
Cocktail sauce (optional)

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with oil or nonstick spray.

Place the shrimp in a single layer on the baking. Evenly distribute the olive oil, parmesan, garlic, oregano, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss together with a spoon or your hands.

Place the pan of shrimp in the oven and roast the shrimp until just pink, firm, and cooked through. This should take 7-9 minutes. When done, sprinkle with lemon juice.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Corn Chowder

What to do when your stove gets taken away for repairs? Three choices – BBQ, Microwave or Slow Cooker. Oh, and company for dinner… Pinterest to the rescue as always. The best part is that we had everything in the house! Hope you will try this sometime soon, it beats cooking inside, as we can put our cooker outside, A great way to enhance the BBQ season!

Slow Cooker Chicken and Corn Chowder

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 12 ounces red potato, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups corn kernels, frozen, canned or roasted
  • 4 cups chicken broth 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.
  2. Place chicken, potatoes, onion, carrots, celery, and corn into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in chicken broth, garlic, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper and bay leaf; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together half and half and cornstarch. Stir in half and half mixture and butter during the last 30 minutes of cooking time.
  5. Serve immediately, topped with bacon and garnished with chives, if desired.

 

 

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

Trying out a new look for 2015…hope you like it!

We were in Cuba in February and came to enjoy the red beans and rice. Looking for a similar dish, I found a recipe for Cajun Red Beans and Rice on my friend Kevin’s site www.closetcooking.com

I used a smoked pancetta as Andouille is not common down here. The flavour was great. This recipe makes enough for four hungry people!

Cajun Red Beans and Rice (adapted from http://www.closetcooking.com)
Ingredients
• 2 tablespoons oil
• 1/2 pound Andouille sausage or smoked Pancetta (cut into small pieces)
• 1 cup onion (diced)
• 1/2 cup celery (diced)
• 1/2 cup green pepper (diced)
• 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
• 4 cups chicken broth or chicken stock
• 2 (19 ounce) cans red beans (rinsed and drained)
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
• 1 teaspoon oregano
• 1 teaspoon thyme
• 2 bay leaves
• salt and pepper to taste
• 4 cups cooked rice (I like to go with Basmati)
Directions
1. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat add the sausage and sauté until lightly golden brown, about 5-7 minutes, and set aside.
2. Add the onions, celery and green pepper to the pan and cook until tender, about 7-10 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
4. Add the stock, beans, sausage/pancetta, paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer covered for at least 1 hour
6. Remove the bay leaves.
7. Mash or puree about a quarter of the beans if desired.

If you feel there is too much liquid, just let it simmer down.
Just before serving add the cooked rice.

Marinated Tuna Steaks

With the medical community and health-conscious Americans becoming more aware of the many benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and low fat proteins, tuna steak is an increasingly popular item on menus and in grocery stores around the country. In addition to its almost “meaty” flavor and texture, tuna steak is highly versatile, lending itself well to many different seasonings and flavor combinations.Read more : http://www.ehow.com/about_4740858_tuna-steak.html
Although we do not eat a lot of it, we certainly do enjoy fresh tuna steak (save the canned stuff for tuna noodle casserole). This is the second tuna steak recipe I have posted here. Check out Rachel Ray’s Tuscan tuna steaks for an unmarinated style.
 Marinated Tuna Steaks
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1 clove garlic minced
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon white pepper
Few drops of sesame oil
Sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds
½ teaspoon fresh ginger gratedMarinate the tuna steaks for about 30 minutes.
Grill in a hot pan for 5 to 6 minutes per side, basting with remaining sauce.