Category Archives: Latin

Beans, Beans, Beans YUM!

pinto beans

Protein, Fiber, Antioxidants, Vitamins, Minerals– What more can you ask for?

Here is a step-by-step recipe that is as easy as pie (but much better for you!)

  • 2 cups dried pinto beans (chick peas and black beans work with this recipe too)
  • 2+ quarts  water
  • 1 small onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons sofrito (or add extra onion, garlic and fresh cilantro)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste- to thicken (diced tomato will work too!)
  • salt to taste

1.  Soak 2 cups of dried beans in water overnight (or at least 4 hours)

beans in water to soak

2. Drain beans and add to heavy pot (changing water is supposed to reduce gas)

drain beans

3.  Add about 2 quarts of water to soaked beans and bring to a boil

beans in pot4.  Boil beans until soft (about 1 hour)

boiling pintos5.  Meanwhile, chop onion and crush garlic.

garlic and salt in pilon

6.  Saute with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

saute garlic and onion7.  Once beans are softened, reduce heat.  Add sauteed onion & garlic and tomato paste.

onion and tomoto added to beans8.  Last but not least, add the sofrito and salt to taste.

adding sofritoAccompany with brown rice or quinoa, add to a quesadilla, serve with chips… Whatever you choose, this is a quick, easy and tasty recipe.

My favorite meal:

favorite meal
Collard greens, brown rice and pinto beans



No, I had no business making these on a hot July day.  For some reason I was craving them…  Nothing compares to bacalaitos (cod fish fritters) deep fried and eaten seaside in Puerto Rico.  Alas, I had to give those up when I gave up pork (they are fried in lard, yes, lard).

Unfortunately, the other thing is that I don’t think I’ll be in PR anytime soon.  I remember when I was there with my husband several years ago we searched far and wide (as far and wide as you can go on an island 110 miles long) for bacalaitos fried in oil.  I asked a woman at one of those seaside kiosks and she scoffed at me saying (in Spanish, of course), “Oil? Oil is too greasy!”  Oil, greasier than lard.   Imagine that!

The other thing about my Puerto Rican brethren (besides the annoying use of lard in everything) is the use of Sazon Goya.  When I was younger I was taught this was an essential item in our cuisine.  That is, until I found out that it is basically MSG and food coloring.  Trust me, you can make it just as good (or better) using plain ol’ garlic, onion and salt.  With some adobo and sofrito (made with organic and/or fresh ingredients) you can’t go wrong.  This recipe is really easy and you can adjust it to your liking.

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Puerto Rican adobo seasoning
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups water*
  • 1 teaspoon (or more)  sofrito
  • 1/2 cup (or more) of soaked, shredded and deboned Bacalao (salted Cod Fish)
  • sea salt ( to taste)
  • oil for frying

Soak the salted cod overnight (or at least 5 hours).  Change the water at least twice.  Boil for 10 minutes and drain.  Shred into smaller pieces and remove bones.  Set aside.

Mix the dry ingredients.  Add water and mix well.  Next, add sofrito and fish then stir.  (Check the batter to see if it needs salt and add to your liking).

(Some people refrigerate the batter for an hour before hand. I didn’t and it was fine, just thought I’d share…)

Heat canola oil on high and then reduce the heat to medium once the oil is ready.  (Test the oil by dropping some batter into it to see if it bubbles.)  Spoon the batter into the hot oil and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Turn the fritter over once bubbles start to form on the top (again, like pancakes).  For the best consistency and flavor, let them brown just a bit.

Drain on paper towels and serve hot!  Enjoy!

* Use only 1 cup of water if you want the fritters to be thicker. Some people like using less water and less fish-  reminding me of Jamaican cod fritters.  The way my family makes them is with more water and more fish- like lumpy pancake batter.  I encourage you to experiment with it!

Queso Frito (fried cheese)

This recipe is a snap.

And it goes great with mangu (boiled and mashed plantains).  Check out the recipe here!

You’ll need:

  • Queso de Freir (it is a white cheese, a bit more crumbly and salty than mozzarella)
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • Oil for frying
queso de freir
You can buy the cheese at any grocer that serves a Latino population (I bought this package at Costco, go figure.)


Cut the cheese into fat slices (about 12 slices per 18 oz package).  Individually place each slice in bowl of flour.  They don’t need to be completely covered- just a dusting.  Heat 1/4 cup of canola oil in frying pan on high heat.  Place cheese slices in pan (oil should bubble just a bit).  Cook until browned on both sides.


queso frito

Mangu Recipe

This is a traditional dish from the Dominican Republic.  I first tried it during college while visiting my dear friend Mirta’s Dominican family.  It is often served with fried eggs, salami and/or fried cheese.  This vegan option is delicious and really easy.

You’ll need:platanos, red onion, evoo

  • 4-6 green plantains (not ripe)
  • a little more than 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar
  • water for boiling  (2 cups reserved from cooked plantains)

Non-vegan options: Use butter instead of olive oil.  Or add 1/2 cup grated cheese (Gouda or Sharp Cheddar)

Start with 4-6 plantains (depending on how many you are serving- 1 platano per person is my guess)

Cut and peel the plantains.  Chop ends, make a slice lengthwise, use thumb to separate thick skin from fruit.

Cut plantains into chunks, place in large pot, cover with water and bring to boil.  Once water starts to boil, plantains should be done within 10 minutes.  (You’ll know when they change a deeper yellow color and you can easily insert a fork into a piece.)

raw platanos

While you are waiting for plantains to boil.  Slice one red onion.  Saute in skillet in 1/4 cup olive oil.  Once onions start to become translucent add vinegar, stir, let simmer for a couple more minutes and remove from heat.

cutting red onion

Once plantains are done. Remove cooked plantains from water (save 2 cups of the water to add while mashing).

mashing platanos

Mash cooked plantains.  Gradually add  water, 1/3 cup olive oil and salt.  Continue mashing and mixing until smooth (some lumps are okay- the plantains will stiffen as they cool).  Top with  sauteed onions and serve immediately.

Mangu with onions

Note:  So, since I was reminiscing about when I first had mangu at Don~a Fabia’s house I HAD to make queso frito to go with it. Oh yes I did make fried cheese… and it wasn’t organic… and it wasn’t vegan… and it was delicious.  Will I be making it again any time soon? No.  But in case you want to try it here is the link:  queso frito

Recipes Using Sofrito

Here are links to the variety of recipes on this blog that use sofrito.  These can be made without this convenient mixture of cilantro, peppers, garlic and onion- using sofrito just make the recipes easier and more delicious.  I recommend you make a batch and reserve in separate containers- you can keep one in the back of your fridge for when you need and the others in the freezer.  The more recipes you discover and invent that use sofrito the more often you’ll need to make it!

Enjoy! And please share YOUR recipes…

Creamy Coconut Kale with Noodles

Hearty Soup

Bacalaitos (Cod Fish Fritters)

Black Bean Recipe

Vegan Feast

Pinto Beans

Thai Cole Slaw

Garbanzos and Brown Rice

Thai Gumbo

Homemade Guacamole

Middle Eastern Moussaka (eggplant based “cooked salad”)

Arroz Con Dulce

I have fond memories of my Titi Elba’s Puerto Rican style rice pudding.  It is traditionally made with coconut milk, spices and loads of sugar.  This version is sugar free and it is yuuuummmmy, I promise you.  (It also happens to be vegan and gluten free.)

It is very easy to make and tastes great cold.

Ingredients for Arroz con Dulce (aka Arroz con Coco)

rice, agave nectar, coconut milk, cinammon, ginger root
rice, agave nectar, coconut milk, cinnamon, ginger root
  • 2 cups uncooked white rice (I like Jasmin or Basmati)
  • 2 15 oz cans light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk or other non-dairy beverage
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp ground cloves (my Titi used to use whole)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger root (or fresh would work too)
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup (or less) rice syrup or agave nectar

Soak rice in water for at least 2 hours.

In a medium sized caldero (cast iron or other pot for cooking rice), bring milk and spices to a boil.

Drain rice and add to milk.  Stir and bring mixture to a boil again.

Reduce heat to low and let cook for 12-15 minutes (uncovered).

Add agave nectar and raisins and stir.  Continue to cook for an additional 12-15 minutes.

Transfer rice to a glass pan and let cool completely.

Cut into squares and serve!  (This is great refigerated too…)

arroz con coco
arroz con coco