Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cauliflower and Parmesan Pasta

One of my favorite shows is The Chew, and since I have nothing else to do midday, I don't really miss an episode.  They have a segment called "5 in 5" where they make one meal with 5 ingredients in 5 minutes, and usually it's super affordable. (5 min after you boil the water for the pasta.)
This pasta dinner is healthy, filling and oh so tasty.  It's my new go to pasta dish; I've traded the regular ol' spaghetti for this delicious delight. This dish is supposed to be a veggie dish, but I had some leftover Italian sausage and just added it in.  You'll love it!

servings: 4

1 box whole wheat angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 links or 1/2 pound Italian sausage (optional)
3 garlic cloves (optional)
1 jar capers with water
1/2 cauliflower head, cut into small pieces
1/2 - 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
salt and pepper
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta. When boiling, add the pasta.
In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the sausage. Break up into small pieces and let brown. Once cooked set aside. Add oil and cauliflower to hot pan. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and capers and stir.
When pasta is al dente, reserve a cup of pasta water. Strain the remaining water and add to cauliflower. Return meat back into pan.  Mix together and add pasta water a little at a time to loosen pasta and create sauce. Add Parmesan, pepper and, if needed, salt.

Adapted from Michael Symon's Angel Hair with Cauliflower and Parmesan

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pasta and Bean Soup

It's the time of year when we enjoy eat all kinds of Holiday treats but don't like the extra it brings to the hips. So why not eat something light in between those Holiday parties? Here's a nice, filling recipe that I absolutely love and helps warm the soul at the same time. One serving is only 133 calories, so you can enjoy that piece of pie afterward and not feel so guilty. Enjoy!

servings: 8

1 chicken or vegetable flavor bouillon cube plus 8 cups water
6 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1/8-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2-3 cups cooked white beans like cannellini or navy (if canned, drain and rinse)
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup medium whole wheat pasta shells, orecchiette or rotini
2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and strained
6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Combine bouillon cube, water, garlic, Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper in a large pot; bring to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes to intensify flavor. Meanwhile, mash 1 cup beans in a small bowl.
Scoop garlic cloves from the broth with a slotted spoon. Add mashed and whole beans to the broth, along with tomatoes; return to a simmer. Stir in pasta, cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is just tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
Stir in spinach, cover and cook just until spinach is heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each serving with a drizzle of oil, if desired, and a sprinkling of Parmesan.

Adapted from Pasta & Bean Soup at Eating Well

NOTE: chicken broth or vegetable stock can be used instead of the bouillon cube and water.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


So, if you haven't gotten your Thanksgiving Turkey and put it to defrost, it may be a little late.  I have an idea, though....make a Pernil or Pork Butt (not a ham, but actually the shoulder of the pig).  If you really want pork, but can't afford the pricey ham this is the way to go.  At home I'd get one for 60 cents/pound, and here they happen to have it for a week at my favorite discount grocery store at $1.50 a pound.  I snatched it up even though it wasn't in my normal grocery budget.  Now, this week when the budget is really tough with Thanksgiving around the corner, with a 10 pound pork butt, I managed to get 3 meals from it (maybe it'll be 4 by the weekend).
Pork is almost a staple in our household and it definitely was while growing up.  I have to say, Puertoricans know how to roast pork.  I will never forget the trip I took to Puerto Rico, and the day we had in the mountains where they had a whole pig roasting on a giant pit.  Then my dad and his best friend trying to recreate that in the backyard for our birthday.  Now, I remember those days when I make my Pernil.  Of course, a lot of spices and flavors go to making this pig awesome, but there are 3 things that make it easy and cheap, adobo, sazón, and mojo (pronounced moe-hoe, not what was stolen from Austin Powers).  I happen to buy the Goya brand, and that's really the only brand available in this area, but there are others out there to use.
Enjoy this roast during the holidays!

servings: about 12

1 10 lb pork butt
2 envelopes sazón
adobo (seasoning salt)
1/2 a bottle of mojo
10 garlic cloves (optional)

Set pork butt in a roasting dish.  With a knife, make slits throughout the pork.  Pour the mojo over the pork; season generously with the adobo and sazón.  Rub all ingredients into the pork. Put garlic cloves into slits.  Let pork marinate overnight in refrigerator.
Once ready to roast, take pork out and let pork come up in temperature for 30 minutes.
Set oven to 425°F.  Put pork in oven uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes, until top is crisp.
Turn heat down to 350°F.  Cover with foil and let pork continue roasting until the internal temperature reaches 145°F, 22-26 minutes per pound (10 lbs = 3 1/2 to 4 hrs total).

Pork can also be smoked until internal temperature reaches 145°F.
If bone-in, make sure to take temperature on all sides of bone. Because bone can be at awkward angel, one side may cook faster than the other (this happened to us; not good when meat is still bloody).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Arroz con Gandules

My family came to the US in the late '70s, and adapted well to the Thanksgiving Holiday; after all, it was another excuse to have a party.  And because turkey was eaten for Christmas, I remember Abuela making the same Salvadoran Christmas dinner for Thanksgiving.  Thanks to my dad Puertorican food was a must growing up, so it was always a very diverse event.  As time went on we learned more about American customs and began incorporating the sweet potato casserole, made by my aunt every year, and the green bean casserole came way later in my life (my absolute favorite).
Now that the holidays are approaching and we have my mother-in-law here for the holidays, I decided to make a Puertorican dinner for the week before Thanksgiving.  I made a Pernil and Arroz con Gandules along with a very simple lettuce, tomato, and onion salad. It turned out fabulous.
There is an easy* way of doing every day arroz con gandules, but because this was not an everyday meal I made a sofrito first and took really good care of my rice to keep it nice and fluffy.  If I were back in Texas with my family I'd let the rice stick to the bottom and get crisp (pegado or pegao if your Puertorican); if you're Hispanic, this is the most sought after part of the rice.
I love the memories food brings, and my hope is that I am creating new, happy memories for my son. Enjoy this yummy side that could be part of your Thanksgiving dinner.

servings: 8

1 large roma tomato, rough chop
1/4 yellow onion, rough chop
1 clove garlic
1/4 bell pepper, rough chop
1 tablespoon cilantro
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. Puree.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup sofrito
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1 teaspoon ground chiote or 1 envelope Sazón seasoning (gives the red color)
1 teaspoon salt
1 16 oz. can gandules (pigeon peas), drained and rinsed
3 cups water

In a pan heat oil on medium to medium high.  Add sofrito and let cook for 2 minutes.  Add the rice and chiote/sazón. Stirring occasionally, let rice toast for 5 minutes.
Add salt, gandules, and water.  Stir and let water boil up.  Turn heat down so rice is at a simmer.  Cover with lid.
After 45 minutes water should be completely absorbed.  Stir rice and turn heat down to very low.  Let rice cook for 15 more minutes stirring occasionally.

NOTE: If rice is still hard once water is absorbed, add water 2 tablespoons at a time while stirring until rice is tender.
*The easy way is to leave the sofrito out and add Sazón.

 Family Recipe