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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…
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?
I went to a very well-known Mexican restaurant that just opened in Puerto Rico… one that has many locations in cities around the US, but apparently according to the hard-core fan base, it’s not a chain restaurant. Well… back to my experience, the thing was, I was underwhelmed. After all the fanfare of this restaurant opening in PR and having friends telling me such “wonderful” things about it, I was not impressed. My net takeaway was – I can make better Mexican food at home!
This is how these quesadillas came about… Why make quesadillas with only 1 cheese, or only one ingredient for that matter? And newsflash to all the “fancy schmancy” restaurants out there, quesadillas can be made with something other than just chicken.
Inspired by the fried quesadillas of Guadalajara, here is my take on a great vegetarian option for lunch on even dinner…
SPINACH FRIED QUESADILLA
3 sprouted corn tortillas 1 cup baby fresh spinach – what you can fit in a 1 cup measuring cup 1 cup grated mozzarella or Italian blend cheeses 2 ounces of goat cheese – cream cheese will do in a pinch Kosher Salt Freshly grated Black Pepper Olive Oil
You’ll be able to make 2 quesadillas at a time using a large skillet, but you need to make them in staggered steps. I consider 3 quesadillas is a good serving portion for one, but if you think you are better off with 4 quesadillas, just add one more tortilla and adjust the rest of the ingredients. This is more a method than a recipe…
- In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add a 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.
- Place some of the shredded cheese on top of the tortilla. Now place a few fresh baby spinach leaves on top of the cheese. You can rip them into smaller pieces with your hands if you’d like. Season the spinach with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Place a few pieces of goat cheese over spinach.
- Carefully, fold tortilla in half so you end up with a half moon filled with spinach and cheese. At first it will seem as if there is too much spinach for the small tortilla, but the heat from the skillet will wilt the spinach and it will reduce the bulk considerably.
- Flip the tortilla a few times so that it gets golden brown on both sides.
While one quesadilla is getting golden brown to the side of the pan, you can use the remaining space to heat up tortilla #2. And start the process all over again.
I should have posted this a few days back… but now that we have a few extra days free on our weekend in when I am ready to share some grilling tips with you all.
Judging by the amount of grills and BBQs on the beach, you would believe July 4th is National Grill Day more so than Independence Day. I am headed myself to a pool party/BBQ party hosted by my good friend Annie Mariel. She mentioned she will have vegetarian treats for us all… but particularly me.
This reminds me of a few years back when my good friends Ana and Rafa invited me to a backyard BBQ/pool party and they set up a separate grill just for the vegetarian fare – vegetable kebabs, corn on the cob and asparagus.
I am planning ahead this time just in case and I am bringing a few of my favorite grilling foods to make sure there’s plenty of veggie-full celebrations this year:
To me, the best veggie burger alternative there is. Season heavily and no one will miss the meat.
I serve them open faced and split in half so they get a blistered and charred exterior.
These are more fried than grilled, but a soy-albóndiga sandwich will make a great addition to your vegeterian BBQ spread.
Never arrive empty-handed to any BBQ you’re invited to… bring along this great dip with some crackers or totrilla chips and everyone will ask you for the recipe.
For all you former chocolate lovers who had to put your love aside because of what caffeine does to you… let me introduce you to your new best friend – Carob Syrup. It does not contain caffeine and it’s as delicious as that good ‘ol Hershey’s syrup of the hey days.
If you loved to decorate your vanilla ice cream with some syrup … this carob syrup is for you.
If you loved to drizzle your sweet crepes with a little something dark and delicious syrup… this carob syrup is you.
If you had to leave those dark chocolaty milks and shakes in your past… then this carob syrup is definitely for you.
The possibilities are endless… give it a try!!!
1 cup carob powder 2/3 cup almond milk ½ cup maple syrup 6 tbs brown sugar 1 tbs vanilla powder
- Add all the ingredients into your blender and blend until smooth.
You can store in your fridge for longer shelf-life. I store it in a squeeze out bottle so I can pour it over whatever in small drizzles.