Tag Archives: almonds

Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad

1 Apr

Leslie is a new friend I run with in Boca Ratón… She is a salad lover like me.

I always end up talking food with everyone I meet and this is one of Leslie’s favorite salads to make. I hope you enjoy it as much as Leslie and I enjoy it.

Leslies Salad


Baby Spinach leaves
Goat Cheese crumbles
Spiced Nuts – like almonds or pecans
Dress with Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a large salad bowl and dress with Balsamic Vinaigrette. Toss well to combine.


¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a small glass jar and shake well.

Papaya Mango Fruit Cup

8 Aug

Here’s the fruit cup… redefined. Ever since I finished my July 4th retreat I’ve been on a fruit thing. I have always mentioned you how I need and want to eat more fruits, but I am sometimes lazy. I’m getting over the laziness now. I am trying to have 3-4 fresh fruits on hand to eat as breakfast or a a snack while watching TV. Costco helps because I need to buy fruit in bulk and makes me eat fruit every day, several times a day before they spoil on me…

My favorite fruit salads are made from acidic and sub-acidic fruits… citrus, berries, kiwis, pineapple, grapes, peaches, plums, etc. I have made two of these Acid Fruit Salads for you already… But I also sometimes enjoy a sweet fruit combination – Papaya and Mango.

Papaya and Mango are both very soothing fruits to your system. They’re perfect when you’re feeling under the weather stomach-wise. I like this combination when finishing my days of fasting.


Papaya, cut into small pieces, about ¼ of a small papaya
Mango, cut into small pieces
Hanfdul of raisins
Drizzle of Honey or Agave Nectar
Sliced almonds, optional but highly recommended

You determine how much is enough for your appetite…is I never measure, as you already know. This is more assembling the components than a recipe, really.

  1. Mix all the fruits together in a bowl. Drizzle with a bit of honey to add a tad of sweetness.
  2. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. I didn’t have any the other day, but I wanted to share this with all of you…


What’s your favorite fruit salad combination? Please share yours…

Almond Praline

31 Dec

This is a recipe I originally learned from Diane Carlson, from the Conscious Gourmet.

This is a super easy recipe that will never disappoint you.  I have also used it to candy hazelnuts, cashews and walnuts.  You can easily eat these almonds by themselves or as a garnish for poached or roasted fruit – like my Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese or these Poached Pears in Orange Juice.



1 cup sliced almonds
1 tbs maple sugar
1 tbs maple syrup
  1. Combine all ingredients and stir well with two forks.  Spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silplat.
  2. Bake for 15-20 minutes in a 350F oven.  Stir occasionally, and remove from oven once they’ve become golden brown. 
  3. When you remove from oven, transfer them immediately to a cool bowl or plate for them to cool down.  They’ll become crisp as they cool down.  Separate them carefully.

Cook with your Kids…

8 Jun

I have 2 “nieces” I have told you about… Mariana and Natalia.  “Nieces” is in quotations because they’re actually the daughters of my best friends – but to them I am their Titi Madelyn.

Fortunately and very grateful, they’re two very lucky girls whose parents can provide anything and everything to them.  So it became a challenge for me to choose a birthday gift for them every year.  Since last year, Titi Madelyn decided she would only provide experiences as gifts.  They do not need one more toy or one more t-shirt…  really.

Natalia turned 7 last month and as a birthday gift she got a cooking class by yours truly…  She had the choice of learning to make a cheesy lasagna, “pastelillitos de Shrek” or Italian Quesadillas.  She chose the cheesy lasagna, because I think in another life we were both mice…

I truly believe that when you get kids involved in preparing what they’ll eat, they’ll be more inclined to try new things and to eat whatever is on their plate.  I always tell Natalia and Mariana that if it wasn’t good tasting or good for them I would not even offer it.  They get it…

Natalia had to make several decisions to make her Cheesy Lasagna.  She had to choose between:

  1. Small or Large pyrex mold – she chose the larger one
  2. What ingredients to include in it – her choices were spinach, oven roasted tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, almonds and button mushrooms

She finally chose spinach, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms and skinned almonds.  She wanted it all…   She squeezed dry the spinach and I explained to her how all that green water would not be helpful for a cheesy lasagna.  She skinned almonds with me.  She arranged the almonds on a sheet to toast in the toaster oven.  She cleaned and sliced very carefully the button mushrooms and the organic heirloom tomatoes and placed it in separate dishes for the upcoming assembly.  She loved that the mushrooms looked like little trees.

                             Toasting almonds     slicing mushrooms 2

I explained to her we would make a cheese sauce to pour in between the layers we were going to assemble.  The cheese sauce was a mixture of every cheese I had in the fridge at the moment… I assure you I did not buy one cheese for this project.  We used cream cheese, ricotta, parmesan, shredded mozzarella, fresh mozzarella and goat cheese.  She tasted each cheese individually before adding them to the milk seasoned with sofrito, salt and pepper.  She already knew the cream cheese, parmesan and shredded mozzarella from making pita pizzas with me.   But she tasted ricotta and goat cheese for the first time. She LOVED the goat cheese… and ate 2 goat cheese toasts while we were making dinner.  Titi Madelyn tasted goat cheese for the first time about 7 yrs ago… figure that one out.

Natalia added each cheese to the cheese sauce pot and stirred it carefully to help the cheeses combine and melt together.  I was in charge of boiling the water for the Jerusalem artichoke pasta.  I just set some water to boil, turned the stove off and let the noodles soften in that water.  The cheese sauce would continue to cook the pasta perfectly when the lasagna is assembled and in the oven.

This is more a method of making lasagna more than a recipe per se… but if you would like to replicate what Natalia and I did, here’s the ingredient list:

Natalia Lasagna


½ package of DeBoles Jerusalem artichoke lasagna noodles
½ cup defrosted cut leaf spinach
6-7 button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 small organic tomatoes, washed and sliced
a handful of almonds, peeled and toasted
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp of sofrito
About 1 ½ cups of milk – I really used what was left in the carton so I didn’t measure it
½ brick of cream cheese
¼ tub of ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella – the one you use for pizzas…
½ log of goat cheese
About ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese – but you could also use pecorino romano, asiago, grana padano, etc.
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 slices of fresh mozzarella – to top the lasagna only

Natalia then assembled the lasagna.  She decided in which order she would add the filling components:

  1. We started with a layer of sauce, then noodles, then more sauce. 
  2. Now goes the filling layer – spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and almonds. 
  3. Add a sprinkling of more parmesan cheese before adding the next layer of sauce, pasta and more sauce. 
  4. Repeat until you create 3 layers of filling. 
  5. Then finish off of with the fourth and last layer of pasta covered with the remaining sauce you have and topped with pieces of fresh mozzarella. 
  6. I helped out with the hot noodles and the hot sauce, but Natalia did all the rest. 
  7. I baked the lasagna at 400F for about 25 minutes in my toaster oven.   We basically waited until the top got a nice brown color.  
  8. Filling

Natalia was super hungry by the time the lasagna was in the oven and I was in a hurry to feed her…We served her a nice piece with a side salad dressed with my Left-Over Dressing.  She ate so much; I had to give her a few papaya enzyme chewables to help her with her digestion and overfull tummy.  Her mom loved it too and took a great big piece home with her so daddy would also get a chance to try it.

Natalia Lasagna in PLate

The moral of the story…   Cook with your kids OFTEN.  Allow them to make decisions into what they’ll have for dinner, as long as they’re within what you believe is good for them.  Let them feel they’re part of the process and they will in turn reward you with the satisfaction of enjoying what they eat, enjoying foods good for them, raving all about it and asking you for more.  Natalia already wants us to schedule another “cooking class” when her Summer Camp ends.

Tarragon Almonds

4 Jun

This is another recipe I made for my college get-together using ingredients from my CSA box, tarragon.

Tarragon is a new herb for me.  It’s not something you use in Latin cooking at all.  But it’s “licorice-y” taste gave me the idea to pair it up with something sweet and salty at the same time.  I already showed you my Rosemary Almonds, so I decided to give it a go with tarragon to see how people would receive them.

The test was a success… people were asking me what was in them.  Hold on… not just anyone was asking – my friend Mariví, the most finicky eater of all my friends, and Alejandro, the husband of my friend Angie, who always comes to my dinner parties after eating something before.   They were all over the bowl of almonds… 

I guess they don’t serve these at the Argentinean restaurant next door to my house…


 Tarragon Almonds


1 cup of raw almonds
2 tbs maple syrup
2 tbs maple sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
A few grinds of the peppermill
1 tbs fresh tarragon, chopped finely


  1. I prefer to skin the almonds… so you need to do this in advance using the method I show you here.
  2. After the almonds are skinned and dry, toast them in a 350F oven for about 15-20 minutes.  Keep an eye on them… they will take a bit longer than skinned almonds because we’ve soaked them in water, but they could burn if left completely unattended.  The idea is to toast them a bit before you add the sugars because if not, the sugars will burn before the almonds get toasted…
  3. Take them out of the oven and let them cool a bit. 
  4. In a medium bowl mix together the maple sugar, syrup, salt, pepper and tarragon.  Add the almonds and toss to combine.
  5. Return them to the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the sugar and syrup dissolves and forms a caramel on top of the almonds.
  6. Take the out of the oven and immediately but very carefully place them in a shallow dish to cool.  BE CAREFUL THE SUGAR BURNS!!!

After they’ve cooled, you can separate them with your hands.  If you live in a hot humid climate like Puerto Rico, you might need to place them in the fridge so they do not get sticky…


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