Friday, September 30, 2011

Gina's Cuban Style Fried Rice

Although I shared many of my recipes when I first started this blog, I don't do it often enough.  One of the reasons is my method of cooking is difficult to explain for someone else to duplicate.  Best way I can describe it . . . I just throw stuff together and don't measure anything.  

Then there is the problem of taking good photos of the process!  Truth is . . . it is not a pretty process when either The Captain or I cook, although it is a much neater process when we work together, as we often do.  With that said . . . I'm going to make an effort to start taking photos when we cook and share more of our own recipes or variations of recipes that I post.

Anyway . . . here is how I make what I call Cuban Fried Rice.

It is rarely the same every time since it depends on what I have in the fridge, so use my method as a starting point and use what you like or have in the fridge.

Almost everything in this meal were leftovers.  We had a thick cut pork chop and some of a wild rice mix left over from the night before.  

I hate throwing food away and try to use it for another meal.

Saute two diced onions and minced garlic with a little olive oil . . . seasoned with cumin and cayenne pepper.  (If I have them on hand, I always add whatever type of peppers I have.  I use one or two depending on what I have.)

I didn't have quite enough meat from the left over pork chop, so I put in a frozen chicken breast in with the onion and garlic in the pan.  

When the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the onions caramelized, cut into bite sized pieces and add the pork chop cut into thin strips. Let them cook a bit (15-20 minutes) so the flavors blend.

Add the rice and a can of peas to the pan and stir well to blend all the ingredients together.  Turn the heat down to low, put a lid on the pan and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

I'm not in a hurry when I cook.  Each step blends the flavors together . . . taste as you go along!  The first step, caramelizing the onions and garlic with the seasonings, is the most important step since it is the flavor base of your meal.  Latinos call this a "sofrito."  

Usually I will turn the heat down and walk away from it between adding ingredients.  An important point to mention is that I strictly use stainless steel cookware which holds the heat well and will not burn your food if you don't cook on really high heat.  Sometimes I even turn the burner off for the last step as long as I keep the lid on the pan.  

I bought my set of cookware back when I was in high school!  A good set of cookware is an awesome investment since they will last forever. 

This is the style of cooking I learned from my Nana and it really does make cooking a meal a joyous thing . . . or maybe I was just a born foodie and naturally enjoy it!

I have so many variations for my "fried rice" . . . it is awesome with shrimp or fish too.  The vegetable and rice variations are endless!  It is fun to experiment with cooking :)

Hope my instructions made sense!  Feel free to ask questions through comments.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Southern Style Creamy Chicken Casserole

Since I have pretty much taken beef out of my diet, I'm always looking for chicken and seafood recipes . . . the easier, the better.  This recipe comes from Mr. Food, one of my favorite television chefs.

This is one of those recipes that can make use of leftovers.  I would be very tempted to throw in some corn or mushrooms!  How about picking up a roasted chicken from the grocery store on your way home to make this faster and easier?  The addition of chow mein noodles is very interesting . . . can't wait to try this recipe!

  • 2 cups chunked cooked chicken
  • (10¾-ounce) can condensed chicken and rice soup
  • (10¾-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • (5-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • (5-ounce) package chow mein noodles

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well then spoon into prepared baking dish.
  3. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until heated through.

Source:  Mr. Food

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chicken Empanadas

Quick and easy, semi-homemade chicken
 empanadas from Mr. Food!

The recipe calls for purchased dry fajita
seasoning, but I have included a homemade
 version listed after the empanada recipe
as an alternative.

Chicken Empanadas

Serves: 4
Cooking Time: 30 min
  • (15-ounce) package refrigerated rolled pie crusts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 medium-sized red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 medium-sized green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons dry fajita seasoning (see below for homemade seasoning)
  • 1 cup Mexican cheese blend
  • egg, beaten

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place 1 pie crust flat on a 14-inch pizza pan; set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and bell peppers; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken, corn, and fajita seasoning; remove from heat.
  3. Spoon mixture onto pie crust, leaving a 1-inch border around edge. Sprinkle cheese evenly over chicken mixture and brush edge of crust with egg. Place second pie crust flat over filling. Fold and press edges together. Using a fork, crimp to seal edge.
  4. Brush top with egg.
  5. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
Source:  Mr. Food

Homemade Fajita Seasoning


3 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. sugar
2-1/2 tsp. crushed chicken bouillon cube
1-1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. cumin


Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Pour into small glass or plastic container, seal tightly and store in a cool, dry place. Makes the equivalent of 3 packets of commercial or purchased Fajita Seasoning Mix.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Spicy Penne Tossed with Chicken, Broccoli and Chopped Olives

Now that my appetite is coming back from being sick and living on a bland diet way too long, I'm craving pasta!  So . . . I've been on a mission for new pasta recipes.

Can't wait to try this variation of a pasta dish that I make with chicken, broccoli and mushrooms with hot peppers . . . I also use mozzarella and parmesean cheese.  We prefer rigatoni pasta . . .

Kosher salt 
1/2 cup olive oil 
4 cloves garlic, smashed 
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary 
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes 
1/2 lb. (about 1 large) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips 
2/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped 
1 lb. penne 
1/2 lb. broccoli florets, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups) 
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice 
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano 

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. 

Meanwhile, heat the oil and garlic in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring gently so the cloves don’t break up, until they become light brown in places and very fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. 

Add the rosemary and red pepper flakes and cook until they start to sizzle, about 15 seconds. 

Add the chicken, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt, and cook, stirring often, until the chicken loses its raw color, about 2 minutes. 

Remove from the heat and stir in the olives.

Add the penne to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until just barely al dente, 1 to 2 minutes less than the package instructions. 

Add the broccoli and cook until it turns bright green and the pasta is tender, about 1 minute. 

Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and then drain the pasta and broccoli. 

Discard the garlic from the olive mixture. 

Add the pasta and the pasta water to the skillet and cook uncovered over medium-high heat, stirring, until the pasta absorbs most of the liquid, about 2 minutes. 

Stir in the lemon juice and half of the Pecorino. 

Serve sprinkled with the remaining Pecorino.

photo: Maren Caruso
From Book Big Buy Cooking, pp. 12
September 21, 2010
by Tony Rosenfeld

Monday, September 12, 2011

Linguine with Roasted Red Peppers, Tomatoes & Toasted Breadcrumbs

You can never have enough
ways to make pasta!


    • Kosher salt 
    • 1 medium clove garlic 
    • 12-oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup) 
    • 1 cup small grape or cherry tomatoes, halved 
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
    • 4-1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
    • 1 Tbs. capers, rinsed and chopped 
    • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes 
    • 1/2 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs, preferably whole wheat 
    • 12 oz. dried linguine or spaghetti 
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; more for serving 


Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, coarsely chop the garlic. Sprinkle it with 1/2 tsp. salt and using the flat side of a chef's knife mash it to a paste.

In a large bowl, stir the garlic paste, roasted peppers, tomatoes, parsley, 3 Tbs. of the oil, the capers, and the pepper flakes.

Heat the remaining 1-1/2 Tbs. oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and toast, stirring frequently, until the smaller crumbs are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with salt.

Cook the linguine in the boiling water according to package directions until al dente. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta in a colander. 

Add the hot pasta to the red pepper mixture, toss to combine, and add just enough of the reserved pasta water to moisten (you won't need it all). 

Add the cheese, toss well, and season to taste with salt. Serve topped with the breadcrumbs and additional cheese.


photo: Scott Phillips

From Fine Cooking 94, pp. 82a
July 1, 2008
by Lori Longbotham

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Country Corn Casserole

As far as I'm concerned, corn is the most perfect food and I could eat it every day . . . which is why you will find many recipes involving corn on my blog.  

Of course it is best to use fresh corn in this recipe, but frozen corn will work too.

Serves: 4
Cooking Time: 40 minutes


  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons cracker crumbs 
  • (Ritz-type or saltines)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. 
Pour into a 1-1/2-quart ungreased casserole dish.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until set.

Source:  Mr. Food
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