Tag Archives: cheese

Green is for Spinach…

2 Mar

I did not grew up eating “greens” …  I only knew spinach was something “kinda gross” that Popeye ate out of a can to become strong and powerful.

I can’t recall when my perception of spinach changed, but I am thankful it did.  Spinach is now my go to salad green, especially baby spinach, that’s so ready available in every supermarket nowadays.

So in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to celebrate my love for spinach.  Cooked, raw, frozen and thawed… all this recipes take advantage of the goodness of spinach.  I hope that if you’re still on the fence about spinach, to give a few of this recipes a try… they might change your mind too.

Spinach Recipes Collage 2015 - ENG

 

Spinach Salad with Strawberries

Spinach Salad with Figs, Blue Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Spinach Fried Quesadillas

Spinach Pinwheels

Spinach-Stuffed Mushrooms

Spinach Croquetas

Smoked Gouda Rissotto with Mushrooms and Spinach

Bucatini with Goat Cheese, Spinach and Tomatoes

Spinach and Almond White Lasagna

Kick-butt Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

Quinoa Pasta with Baby Spinach and Lemon Vinaigrette

Sweet Plantain Canoes Filled with Creamed Spinach and Pine Nuts

If I had a Valentine… what would I cook for him?

15 Feb

I love going out to dinner to a nice, fancy restaurant as much as the next girl… especially, if someone special is inviting.  But experience has taught me that on Valentine’s Day or around that date, it’s the WORST TIME to go out to dinner.  There may be some exceptions, of course…  but usually during this time, restaurants are extremely crowded, putting extra pressure on all the staff.

To me,  it’s more romantic to plan something special at home.  Make something you know you’re extremely good at and that you know your partner will love – for the awesome flavors, but also for the effort and care you put into it. Besides, when you have dinner at home… dress code is optional. ;)

Unfortunately, this year, I am spending Valentine’s weekend with a nice construction crew who’s remodeling my tiny, little kitchen into a very chic and modern tiny, little kitchen. And to top it all…  no romantic Valentine for me this year.

But… let’s play pretend.  If I had a romantic Valentine to invite over for dinner, what would I cook for him to let him know how much I care?

This is my menu…

Vegetarian Valentine 2015

Start with a Spinach, Arugula, Figs and Blue Cheese salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette

Main course would be the exquisite Baked Pasta with 4 Cheeses,  that usually floors anyone who has it for the first time.

On the side, and because we’re in Puerto Rico, I need to have sweet plantains with vanilla and cinnamon.

And for dessert, I would make a batch of Carob Syrup to dip some strawberries in…  I would even add a pinch of cayenne to keep things interesting.

 

Do you like my menu??  What are your go-to dishes if you want to show someone you care?

Fried Mushroom Tacos

2 Dec

Tacos can be made much more interesting if you play around with the fillings and cheese… and making the tortillas golden brown and crispy.  I have never been a fan of the hard pre-made taco tortilla shells, but I do enjoy crunchy things.  So using the magic of olive oil and a skillet, tacos can become a much more interesting dish.

I used mozzarella and parmesan cheese here… but you can certainly use your favorite cheese combination.  I have also used goat cheese, manchego cheese and even the trusty cream cheese.

This is another recipe available in Spanish on the Qué Rica Vida website… If you’re interested, you can read the recipe in Spanish here.

Tacos filled with Mushrooms, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese

FRIED MUSHROOM TACOS

3 organic sprouted corn tortillas
1 cup white button mushrooms, chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup grated mozzarella or Italian blend cheeses
½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Kosher Salt
Freshly grated Black Pepper
Olive Oil

You’ll be able to make 2 tacos at a time using a large skillet, but you need to make them in staggered steps.  I consider 3 tacos is a good serving portion for one, but if you think you are better off with 4, just add one more tortilla and adjust the rest of the ingredients.  This is more a method than a recipe…

  1. First we cook the mushrooms in advance – in a large non-stick skillet over medium-hi heat add a drizzle of olive oil and place the chopped mushrooms  Toss them well so they coat themselves with the olive oil.  Organize them in a single layer so they all have the chance to caramelize well.  Grate the 2 cloves of garlic on top of the mushrooms.  Strip the leaves of the thyme sprigs and add them to the skillet too.
  2. After they’ve browned well on one side, toss and move them around so they get a chance to brown on a different side.   After they’re browned and have shrunk considerably in size, add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside and wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel to get rid of small pieces of mushrooms.
  3. Return the pan to the burner, add another drizzle of olive oil and place one tortilla… flip it over on both sides so there’s some of the olive oil on both sides.
  4. Place some of the shredded cheese on top of the tortilla.  Now place about 1 tablespoon of cooked mushrooms over the cheese.   Place little bit of Parmesan cheese over mushrooms.
  5. Carefully, fold tortilla in half so you end up with a half moon filled with mushrooms and cheese.  Flip the tortilla a few times so that it gets golden brown on both sides.

While one taco is getting golden brown to the side of the pan, you can use the remaining space to heat up tortilla #2 and #3 and so forth.

Fried Mushroom Tacos

Sweet Plantain Canoes filled with Creamed Spinach

8 May

It’s incredible when you have the opportunity to live outside your native country, how you turn more patriotic than the flag.

I developed this recipe as part of a special post for my friend Marixsa’s blog, Mamá Boricua en Brooklyn.    She’s sharing a series of articles celebrating the Puerto Rican Parade in NYC under the moniker Abrazos Boricuas.  She was gracious to invite me to share a bit of my experience living and experiencing the Puerto Rican Day Parade for the first time, 20 years ago!!!  Can you believe it?!?!

abrazos-boricuas

If you want to read more about my story and the pride I feel about flaunting my “mancha de plátano”, please visit Mamá Boricua en Brooklyn.  And to her readers who are visiting KarmaFree Cooking for the first time, we welcome you with open arms.  Here I share many vegetarian recipes recipes that express my love for my beautiful Island, Puerto Rico.  This is one of them… enjoy!

 

Canoa de Platano Rellena de Espinacas

SWEET PLANTAIN CANOES FILLED WITH CREAMED SPINACH

4 sweet ripe plantains
1 bag of fresh baby spinach
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
4 oz of cream cheese
A splash of half & half or milk
A pinch of nutmeg
2 tbs of pine nuts
1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

 

  1. Bake the plantains in their own skin…  cut a Little bit of the ends and you make a shallow slit on the inside of the plantain from one end to the other.  Place in a baking sheet covered with parchment paper side to side and bake in a 350F for about 30 minutes.
  2. While the plantains cook, we prepare the filling…  In a large skillet over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil, the onions and garlic clove.  Sweat slowly for the onions to cook and the garlic to infuse its flavor, without browning.
  3. When the onions are cooked and translucent, remove the Garlic clove and add the spinach in batches to the skillet.  It might seem like too much, but the spinach will wilt down a lot.  Cover the skillet for a few minutes to help the wilting process.  Mix the spinach and the onions well to help the spinach wilt and for the flavors to meld together.
  4. Add the cream cheese in pieces to make it easier to melt with the spinach.  Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  You’ll end up with a creamy spinach mixture.  If you feel the mixture is tight, add a splash of milk or half and half.
  5. When the plantains are cooked, take them out of their blackened skins and place in a baking dish all 4 plantains together side by side or in individual lasagna dishes or even shallow ramekins might work well too.
  6. Place the plantains with the natural curve to the top.  If you made the slit to the skin previously, now make the slit slightly deeper to fill the plantain on the inside.  Place ¼ of the spinach mixture over each plantain.  Sprinkle the pine nuts over the plantains evenly and cover them all with the grated mozzarella cheese.
  7. Return the plantains to the oven for a few minutes at 350F to melt and brown the cheese a bit.

 

Enjoy these plantain canoes with a nice salad and rice with corn on the side.

 

Canoa de Plátano Maduro Relleno de Espinacas y Queso

 

 

abrazos-boricuas-SQ

Romantic Mains to Impress

10 Feb

Even though I am not currently dating someone special… I still like to cook something nice, even if it’s just for myself.

After all, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate LOVE and there are many ways to express and celebrate love – love towards your parents, love towards your kids, love towards your siblings, love towards your pets, love towards your partner, love towards your neighbors, your family in general, your co-workers, your friends and most of all, LOVE TOWARDS YOURSELF.  Because, if you don’t love yourself, how do you expect others to love you too???

Here are a few ideas I have cooked in the past to impress a few loved ones…  hope you choose to make one to impress YOURSELF!!!

Cheese, Spinach and Mushroom Manicotti

My Plate

Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes over Pasta

Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes - 3 tom

Spinach-Stuffed Mushrooms

My Maggiano's Mushrooms

Eggplant and Goat Cheese Bake

??????????

Asparagus Tart

ASparagus Tart - Before 2 KFC

Korean Seasoned Tofu

Sesame Sauce

Chame’s Spinach Salad with Figs and Blue Cheese

Chame's Salad

Poached Pears with Blue Cheese and Almond Praline

pear-w-blue-cheese-2-comp

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