Tag Archives: sweet plantain

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?

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I like Costa Rican “single guys”…  or do I??

22 Jul

I’ve never had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica before …  and so far this year, I’ve traveled there TWICE!!!  Yep… Twice.  I remember when I was about to celebrate one of those milestone birthdays and I wanted to travel somewhere I had never ever gone before.  My mind immediately went to Greece, Turkey or even go back to Italy. And when I consulted with my guru, he quietly said: “Why don’t you go to Costa Rica?”

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What kind of enchantment did Costa Rica have?  I would not learn that until 3 years later in which, as a yoga group, we decided to take a short trip to San José and its surroundings.  It was a short trip indeed, but extremely intense.  We had the chance to visit San José and see once again my friend Flori, who also practices yoga, but now lives in her native land.  We also got to visit some of the volcanoes, go ziplining amongst the greeneries in Guanacaste and go down some cool rapids on the Balsa River.

Costa Rica Collage 1

It also gave us the chance to taste the local cuisine… particularly something Costa Ricans call Casados, or as translated in English, “Married”.  It’s a kinda weird name in both English and Spanish… don’t think it’s just weird to read it in English. Casados??, I asked when I read a sign in a street-side eatery.  It’s one of the most typical Costa Rican dishes around – it’s a combination of rice, beans, sweet fried plantain, salad, cooked vegetables, potatoes and some sort of meat.  And I said to myself…  Ahhhh, now I know what I want to order for lunch today.

The name “casado” was given to this combo dish because apparently when you get married is when you get to eat well and varied.  The thing is…  if my “casado” is meat-less, how should we call them then??  So I came up with my own little nickname – the “Soltero” or The Single, a “casado” without the meat.  And we got to eat Solteros all over the place.

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One of the advantages to us of Costa Rica receiving such an influx of US-based tourists is they have a sensibility for  vegetarian tourists.  Everywhere we went, there were vegetarian options and even pure vegetarian restaurants.  One example is Vishnu Restaurant, a vegetarian fast food joint with several locations in San José.    Ever since we stepped foot in San José we had delicious options to eat.  And even me, the non-bean lover, was asking for more of their refried black beans.  They were delish…

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After having such a great time on my first trip… I accepted the invitation of my friend Carlos to return to Costa Rica a few weekends ago. This time, Carlos and I got to visit the beaches on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, something we didn’t get a chance to experience on my first trip in March.  The nice thing… he got to introduce me to some fancy restaurants in San José and I got to show him what a traditional typical Costa Rican dish is – SOLTEROS!!!  And Carlos was veeeeeeeery happy about that, if you get my drift. 😉

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Costa Rica is truly and amazing country, gorgeous landscapes and the food is delicious.  It’s a country who has taken advantage of their natural resources and made the best of it.  God only knows how many more times I’ll return to Costa Rica to fully understand why Guruji recommended me to travel here a few years ago.  Who knows if there is a real life “soltero” waiting for me, right?

Have you ever visited Costa Rica?  What are your favorite dishes?  Please share your experiences with all of us below…

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?!?!

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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

 

 

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Recap of our 2nd KarmaFree Cooking Class – Love Yourself First

7 Feb

Last week we had our 2nd KarmaFree Cooking class and our theme was Loving ourselves first thru our Food. Sometimes, we only cook nice things when we’re cooking for others. But why not cook something nice even if it’s just us in the house??

Clase Cocina KFC - Feb 2014 2

The recipes we shared are old and new KarmaFree Cooking recipes that work well made just for one person, for two or for a crowd. These are simple, quick and delicious recipes that work well to make just for you on a solo movie night at home and just the same are not much more effort making for a large dinner party.

RECETAS - KFC2

 

 

Here was our class menu:

Pasta with Marinated Tomatoes over Brown Rice Pasta

 Pasta with Marinated Tomatoes - KFC2

Quinoa Pasta with Fresh Baby Spinach and Lemon Vinaigrette

 Pasta with Spinach KFC2

Spinach Salad with Macerated Strawberries

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Baked Sweet Plantains with Cinnamon and Vanilla

 Platanos maduros - KFC2

Poached Pears with Blue Cheese and Almond Praline

 Poached Pears - KFC2

Even though these were all recipes we had shared in the blog before, it’s never the same reading and making them on your own as seeing how I make them, after I have made them over and over and over again. Your words… not mine.

Plato Completo - KFC2

The class is not only about sharing recipes and techniques. We also talked about alternative pastas… we talked about my favorite olive oils and vinegars. We also talked about microplanes and rasps to grate lemon zest and how I do not like to rinse pasta after I drain it. We also shared how the same ingredients for the Marinated Tomates can be used in a bruschetta as an appetizer or skewered to make for a fancier passed hors d’oeuvre.

Tomates Marinados - KFC2

Pinchos de Mozz Tom - KFC2

I am so grateful for all of those who attended… we had a larger class this time around. Some repeats and some new students. I want to give a great shout out to Adriana from Great Food 360 who attended once again and contributed with the wonderful pictures. She rocks!!!

GRUPO - KFC2

Again to my lovely assistants Angie and Mom… who help me with the little things that keep the class rolling smoothly.

Hope you can join us for the next installment… Late April. Mark your calendars – Recipes to celebrate Mom. I am already planning the menu.

 

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