Recipes

|Recipes

Butternut Squash and Turkey Lasagna

By |March 13th, 2012|

Going to the grocery store starving hungry is never a good thing.  I know this, yet I do it.  However, sometimes this hunger ignites the food awesomeness creativity in my brain, and I come up with food ideas.  We taste test them, and then I share them with you.  This is the case of this butternut squash and turkey lasagna.  Having gone hungry to the store ended up not being a bad thing.

Last week I was walking down the pasta aisle and I noticed a jar of butternut squash sauce for about $8.00.  I read the ingredients on the back of the label, and I figured I could absolutely make the sauce myself for maybe half of that (I don’t have the dollar breakdown – sorry!), and get much joy in doing so.  Additionally, it gave me another excuse to use my brand new toy – the Blendtec.  I love love LOVE my new Blendtec blender! We’ve been making lots of fruit and vegetable juices to increase our intake of vegetables on a daily basis.

As you know, lasagnas are a bit time consuming, but they are not hard to make.  Using no boil noodles makes the process easier.   I’ve made lasagna before here.  But when I look a the pictures, even though it is a tasty lasagna, it looks rather skinny and puny.  So this time around I wanted a lasagna thick and with lots of layers.  I did a layer of turkey, a layer of butternut squash sauce, a layer of cheeses, with noodles in between.  Thick.  Divine.  Flavorful.  Different.  The butternut squash, the turkey and the cheeses are a great combination.  The sauce is sweet, thick and creamy; the turkey takes on the flavors it is surrounded with, and the cheeses gives add more creaminess and compliments the rest of the ingredients adding the savory flavor to it.  If the acidity of a regular tomato marinara sauce plays tricks on your stomach, try this lasagna instead.  Make this lasagna tonight!

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Cocido de Albóndigas con Verduras: Meatball and Vegetables Stew

By |March 5th, 2012|

So last week, El Señor Hubs calls me from the airport as he was waiting to board the plane to come home.

“What’s for dinner?”

“Cocido de albóndigas with some rice and patacones.”

“Wha..?”

“It’s essentially a meatball stew.  I’m serving it with rice and some fried plantains.”

“Oh, OK.  Cool.  See you in a couple of hours.”

“OK.  Have a safe flight.  I love you.”

“I love you too.”

I always say ‘have a safe flight’ every time El Señor Hubs travels.  I always pray he gets home in one piece.  I do this knowing that there is little he can do about his safety while in flight.  He is neither a pilot nor a mechanic.  So naturally, it makes little sense that he can do anything to ensure the safety of a plane; yet, I find great comfort in saying this.

I digress.

What El Señor Hubs didn’t know about dinner was that said cocido had vegetables.  No big deal.  Well, kind of.  Among the vegetables, this cocido has peas.  And if there is ONE thing you should know about El Señor Hubs is that he hates peas.  I mean: He.HATES.PEAS.  And I made this knowing he hates peas.  Why?  Because I LIKE peas.  AND, this one one of my favorite meals growing up.   Well, aside from the peas, the rest of the vegetables were sort of an issue for me.  As you know, I hated vegetables.  Especially carrots.  And don’t get me started on the green beans.  Darn vainitas!  Celery not so much.   So, if the thought of eating softened vegetables makes you queasy in your stomach, I suggest you puree them like my nana used to do.  It was the only way she would get me to eat vegetables.  In hindsight, I should’ve done the same for El Señor Hubs.

Once home, and I served this to him, the first words that came out of El Señor Hubs mouth were: “PEAS?!?!?!  WHY did you put peas?”  I laughed.  And it was kind of an evil laugh.  And then I said, “Deal with it.”  Because this is one of the ways I show him my unconditional love.

With his fork, he proceeded to separate the vegetables from the meatballs, and then he separated the peas from the rest of the vegetables.  Then, he asked for a spoon.  With said spoon, he shoved the peas in his mouth as fast as he could, his face twisting into this painful grimace.  I laughed.

“Don’t EVER put peas in my food again.”

I have been warned.  But I enjoyed the sight.  Yes, I was mean.  But I got him to eat vegetables.

I promise you though, this dish is delicious.  Although I suppose you must like peas.  Don’t grimace.

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Empanadas de Viento: Ecuadorian Cheese Empanadas

By |March 1st, 2012|

Empanadas de viento are one of my favorite Ecuadorian street foods.  It is common to see ladies on the streets selling baskets full of empanadas de viento.  Viento means “wind” or “air” in Spanish, and these empanadas are soft, doughy and delicious.  The airyness of the empanadas is courtesy of the […]

Mote Pata: Ecuadorian Pork, Hominy and Peanut Soup

By |February 22nd, 2012|

Mote pata: I call this the Ecuadorian pozole – without the peppers.  And thicker.  Mote pata is a soup traditionally served during Carnaval in Cuenca, the third largest city in Ecuador.  Now, Carnaval in Ecuador is quite different from Carnaval in Brazil.  Different regions in Ecuador have different ways of celebrating it.  For instance, in Guayaquil (where I’m from) we have the tradition of throwing balloons full of water at people.  When you’re a kid, this is tons of fun.  You can get together with your friends and have an awesome water balloon fight.  When you’re a professional adult, walking down the street trying to get to work and suddenly you get whacked by a water balloon – notsomuch.  Not to mention that many times, the water balloon throwing was done several stories ABOVE the sidewalks.  Yeah, that hurts.  If balloons are not available, not to worry!  Just get a bucket, fill it with water and dump it on the innocent bystander.  ¡Carnavalazo!   That’s what it’s called…

The good thing is that, it is not like this all over the country.  For instance, in Ambato, a beautiful city located in the Ecuadorian Andes region, people celebrate Carnaval through a festival dedicated to celebrate the flowers and the fruits of the region.  This celebration is known as La Fiesta de las Flores y Las Frutas.  Think of it as the Ecuadorian Rose Parade for Carnaval.  People dress up in festive and colorful costumes, and ride floats decorated with beautiful and bright flowers and fruits.  It is typical that during Carnaval in Ambato, people feast on some delicious Llapingacho, probably one of my favorite Ecuadorian meals.

Now, back to the Mote Pata.  Although the name would suggest that there are feet or hocks involved (pata), this is not true.  This soup is made of hominy and pork, with a hint of peanuts for creaminess.  As with many Ecuadorian soups, mote pata contains milk.  After experimenting, I am going to tell you that milk is optional.  While milk helps the soup thicken, if it gets too hot, it curdles and I am not a fan.  Instead, we will puree some of the hominy with the peanut (I used peanut butter), which will then add the thickness and creaminess this soup calls for.  Should you wish to add the milk, add it right before serving and cook in low heat for 5 minutes.

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Tamales de Col y Espinacas: Cabbage and Spinach Tamales

By |February 16th, 2012|

In Ecuador, some of our tamales are made using banana leaves instead of corn husks, similar to what our fellow Puerto Ricans call pastelitos.  I love cooking with banana leaves because they infuse a sweet flavor into whatever you fill them with.  Banana leaves also make a great container – no need for a plate with this one.   Although my favorite banana leaf-contained food is ayacas de papa, this tamal de col y espinacas is a close second.  I warn you that when you go back to see the ayaca recipe, the pictures may scare you, but the recipe is awesome!

This tamal is more like a souffle because we separate the eggs, and beat the whites into a meringue, which are folded into the rest of our mixture towards the end of the preparation.  You can serve this tamal with some aji criollo, some encurtido, or both.  And if you are looking for something without any meat involved, I got your tamal right here!

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