Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Toast (sandwich?) to New Friends!

Happy New Year's Readers!!!

I hope all of you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and didn't give in to too many temptations.  I can't say that I was as good as I should've been and I paid dearly each and every time.

Mami & Papi came for Thanksgiving week and we had a lovely time in Vermont and even took a day trip to Montreal. I enjoyed every minute with them, and of course, was severely depressed once they left. It happens. I hope to someday get used to it, but I doubt that.
 Christmas was lovely. I hosted my first Noche Buena and I must say that it was excellent! I actually wasn't going to do anything -- I have to admit that I've become a bit of a Grinch since I moved away from home -- but I came across this recipe for lechon asado made in the crockpot! I've mentioned before that I read some blogs for entertainment, but Marta at My Big Fat Cuban Family is my favorite Blogess! You can read her blog here and check out this amazing lechon! I had to work on Christmas Eve, but since I could set the pork in the morning, I wasn't worried.  The grocery, as I've mentioned, sells Goya products so I bought some frozen platanitos maduros & yuca. I also called Abuela for her mojito recipe. I was set! Los Suegros came by for a bit and it was a nice evening.

I happily took leftovers to work!
It snowed on Christmas Day!

I would love to say that I partied until the wee hours on New Year's Eve, but I'd be lying to you. Mi Gringito and I were fast asleep by 9:30pm. We are total party animals. We toasted to the New Year at about 8pm and called Mami, Papi & Abuela. I put our phones on silent and called it a night (year?).

I do have to say that this was a wonderful and life-changing year. Learning to live with my new plumbing (it's the term of endearment I have given my surgery!) and the hits and misses of all aspects of life. It didn't kill me, so I guess it made me stronger!

I have met so many new people this year with school and work and they have all latched onto a spot in my heart!

I have to single out two people, though, Sparkles & Mrs. Nesbitt.

Who would've thought that I would meet and become friends with two foodies at work. I swear that we spend both breaks and lunch time talking about food. Non. Stop. The good thing is that we also exchange recipes and talk about triumphs and defeats in the kitchen. We setup food days for the office then excitedly talk about what we will possibly make. The day after one of our food days, we get a little sad then set up another one and the cycle begins again!

Sparkles mentioned a dish her grandmother made on Christmas. It was a cheeseburger stromboli. She didn't get the recipe but tried to recreate it at home. She brought a piece to work for lunch and Mrs. Nesbitt and I were practically drooling. I asked for the recipe because I knew it was something Mi Gringito would like--then again, is there anything Mi Gringito doesn't like?

As I read her recipe, the wheels in my head began to turn--I could turn this into a Cuban Sandwich Stromboli! Yes! I had leftover lechon asado from Noche Buena so I could really make this right...I was doing a happy dance all the way to the grocery store!

Cuban Sandwich Stromboli

Ingredients
1 can Pillsbury French Bread
Yellow Mustard
Sliced Dill Pickle Chips (drained)
Swiss Cheese
Sliced Ham
Pulled Pork (optional)
McCormick's Cuban Seasoning
Spray Cooking Oil

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and carefully roll out the bread dough so that it is laying flat

  • Leaving about a 1-inch border, spread the mustard on the dough
  • Arrange the pickle chips over the mustard




  • Put one layer of Swiss Cheese over the pickles




  • Put one layer of Ham over the cheese




  • Layer the pulled pork over the ham




  • On a diagonal, begin to roll up the dough
  • Seal the ends
  • Lightly spray the top with the cooking spray and sprinkle the Cuban Seasoning on top




  • Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes -- you're looking for a nice golden brown crust
  • Let stand for about 5 minutes or so. Slice & Enjoy!




This tasted so amazing, I can't wait to make it again. This is another one of those recipes that are very versatile.  You can add anything, really. I'm planning to make a buffalo chicken version with buffalo sauce and blue cheese sometime this week.  Oh man, my tummy is grumbling just thinking about it!

Enjoy readers and let me know if you try it out or what new things you added to it! Can't wait!!








Saturday, November 10, 2012

Remember me?

Okay, so it's been a while. You remember who I am, right? Cubanita? Living in Gringolandia? Yes, maybe?

The last time I apologized for such a long absence it was due to my return to school.  I found that it was very time consuming and I struggled to balance life and school. What did I do to remedy that? I decided to get a full-time job on top of full-time school--who needs sleep or socialization or anything, really? I'm not going to lie to you. It's tough and most days it is a struggle to do everything I need to do. The only reason that I am writing to you now is that its a three-day weekend and that grants me 24 more hours (so naturally I will just sit in my jammies and surf the internet all day--right?).

Spring & Summer came and went...

I turned 31! No fanfare this year. I was taking a final exam on my birthday and Mami didn't show up at my door.  In fact, she called me the day before to let me know not to be expecting her.  Funny lady.

Mi Gringito and I celebrated three years of wedded bliss! I had another exam that day (sense a pattern?) so we weren't able to celebrate. Mi Gringito did, however, take me to Mount Kearsarge the following weekend and I climbed my first mountain! We decided to call that our anniversary celebration. Oh, and he bought me a car & the new iPhone.



I celebrated my first Surgiversary on October 25th with a total loss of 91 pounds since my surgery date and 126 pounds overall.  I have lost an entire human!!!

We had an earthquake.

One week later, Hurricane Sandy came to visit and two days ago we had our first snowfall.

I think that about sums up what has happened since our last meeting. We can now move forward...

I've decided that I want to decorate for Christmas...like now. I know that you are supposed to wait until the day after Thanksgiving and blah, blah, blah...but I have a problem with that.  Number one, Mami & Papi are coming to visit and I want the house ready before they get here. Number two, we've already discussed how much spare time I have so I am taking full advantage of that extra day this weekend. Not going to lie -- I've got Christmas music playing as I type this!

Of course, with the lack of spare time I need a quick dinner for Mi Gringito when he gets home today. Any Cuban cupboard should be chock full of white rice & salchichas, right? Mine is no different.  Arroz con salchichas it is! I swear that Mi Gringito does a little happy dance when he gets home and sees that I've pulled out El Hitachi!

Arroz Con Salchichas
Ingredients:
3 C White Rice
2 cans Salchicha (Vienna sausages)
1 can Yellow Corn
4 Tbsp Minced Garlic
1 Tbsp Dried Minced Onion
1 tsp Cumin
2 tsp Salt
2 Bay Leaves
2 GOYA Seasoning Packets
1 Tbsp Olive Oil



  • Wash, rinse & drain 3 cups of rice and place in rice cooker.
  • Open all the cans that you are using and drain the liquids into the rice (use a measuring cup to keep count) and then finish with water to total 5 Cups. Set aside.




  • In a caldera, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic and onions until the garlic starts to brown a little. 




  • Add the cumin, GOYA Seasoning, and the bay leaves.




  • Add the corn and let cook for about a minute.



  • Cut the salchichas in threes and add to the mixture.





  • Let this cook for about a minute or two.
  • Add the mixture to the rice and stir well.





  • Add the salt.
  • Stir and set the rice cooker.
  • Once it's done, stir and let stand at least 10 minutes.




 My dish is on the left and Mi Gringito's is on the right...mind you, he had about 2-3 helpings! YUMM!

I was grocery shopping the other day and I actually found an 8lb pernil! I of course grabbed it and its now in the freezer.  I figure that I can roast that sucker and feed Mi Gringito for at least a week or two! Can't wait for that one!!

Enjoy the days coming up to Thanksgiving and the holidays! I am thankful for you, my readers!











Monday, June 11, 2012

I Love You, Miami (and Fritas too)!

I have been gone from Miami for 2 years, 4 months, 9 days, and about 16 hours -- but who's counting?

Mi Gringito and I just got back from a trip back home to visit the family.  We were only able to be there for a week, but oh what a week it was!!

First off, this was the first time in years that I did not have to ask a flight attendant for a seat belt extender.  I was so giddy, I had to take a picture of how much seat belt I had left over once I was secure:



Our first item on our "To Do" was have a good 'ol Cuban breakfast...in Hialeah!

Cafe con Leche y Una Tostada - Ambrosia & Nectar of the Gods!
Second item: Go to Cuba Nostalgia. For those who aren't "in the know", Cuba Nostalgia is an annual festival held on the weekend of May 20th.  I rarely went when I lived in Miami, but I was tickled pink when I found out that our trip was coinciding with this event! What can I say? Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

I was on a mission at Cuba Nostalgia, though.  I could not leave there without a charm for my bracelet from Santayana Jewelers and a print from Tony Mendoza. I succeeded on my mission and got these:


Yes! A Caja China (right next to my cafetera!)...isn't that the cutest thing ever???

With Tony's art, I was torn.  He has so many awesome prints but I only had a few dollars to my name, so I grabbed this one titled "Cafe Amor" and vowed that it would be the first of my collection.

I vow to make this my first of many of his art!

There were so many lovely things to see. Mi Gringito especially loved the old baseball uniforms.





Third item: See the new Marlins Stadium.

Thanks to my lovely cousin, Tatertot, we were able to enjoy a Miami Marlins game at the new Marlins Stadium.  I have to say that I was impressed with the venue, the food and the new "look". The uniform and colors are growing on me and Mi Gringito had me on a day long journey to find him an orange Hanley Ramirez t-shirt.

Definitely could not complain about our seats!

The food, albeit pricey, was delicious! I am still dreaming about my  Shrimp Burger!

The home-run board...a little too flamboyant for my taste...

SAFE!


Billy the Marlin was shuffling!


I got a kick out of the signs in Spanish...
So, after an awesome and tiring week and us about to head home, Mi Gringito mentions to me that he has never had a frita. I was flabbergasted as were Mami & Papi.  Them being the wonderful hosts that they are decided to remedy that problem and took us to El Rey de las Fritas. Oh readers...what a treat! I wasn't able to finish an entire frita, but I did enjoy the few bites I could. Did Mi Gringito like it?  Well, I hope that he wasn't just being polite as he scarfed down three of them!


Once we got home, Mi Gringito couldn't stop raving about the fritas he had eaten in Miami.  That's when I mentioned that I had at least three different recipes for fritas in my arsenal.  He begged and pleaded for me to make them and make them I did!

I looked at the three recipes I had on hand as well as a handful on the internet and noticed that not one of them was even similar.  Some called for onions, some omitted chorizo, some were pork, others ground beef.  I decided to just take the information I gathered from my research and make my own version. If they ended up tasting awful, I could always learn from my mistakes and move forward.

Fritas Cubanas con Papitas
Ingredients:

  • 1/4 C Evaporated Milk
  • 1/4 C Bread Crumbs
  • 1 1/4 Tsp Paprika
  • 1 Tsp Onion Flakes
  • 1 Tsp Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Ketchup
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 lb. Ground Pork
  • 12 oz Ground Chorizo
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 16 to 18 Round Potato Rolls
  • Ketchup
  • 1 can Potato Sticks

Directions:


  • In a small bowl, mix the evaporated milk, breadcrumbs, paprika, onion flakes, cumin, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and the egg. Set aside.





  • In a large bowl, mix the ground pork, chorizo, salt and pepper.




  •  Add the seasoning mixture to the meat mixture and blend well. Hands really work best with this step, but you could use a fork if you wanted to.





  • Wash your hands frequently, it gets messy.


  • The mixture is a bit wet, so you want to cover it and place it in the fridge for a couple of hours to set. I left mine in the fridge for about 3 hours and it made it very manageable in the next step.


  • Divide the mixture into 16 - 18 equal sized balls.  You can make them smaller or bigger, its basically a taste preference in this step.  I found that 16 balls became the perfect size for the bread I was using.




  • Flatten the balls into patties that are about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick. 




  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil using medium-high heat. Make sure not to crowd your pan and fry the patties approximately 3-5 minutes per side.  




  • Let patties drain on a napkin while you fry up the remainder of the patties. 




  • Place a patty on the bottom side of a potato roll then top with loads of Potato sticks and a dollop of ketchup.  




So, once I was finished I asked Mi Gringito if mine were as good as the ones he had in Miami.  With his mouth full, he responded that they were better!  I certainly enjoyed them as well, and let me tell you that they tasted even better the next day cold and right out of the fridge! Move over, cold pizza--there's a new bad boy in town!

I'll let you guys be the judge, though! Buen Provecho! Let me know if you try this out!