Saturday, February 28, 2009

For a Special Occasion...Or Whenever! Pineapple Flavored Ham!

This ham is a MUST at all family occasion in our house! It's so simple to make, tastes sooooo good and adds a little spice to any plate.

What You Need:
- 1 Shank Portion Ham (this Ham is not spiral cut)
- 2 cans of Pineapple Slices (keep the juice)
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- Whole cloves
- 1 jar of your favorite Ham glaze

What to Do:
- For this recipe, you'll need the tallest stock-pot you own. It needs to fit the entire ham as well as enough water to cover it.
- After rinsing the Ham, place in the stock-pot and cover with water. It's fine if you there are few inches of the Ham uncovered by the water.
- Allow the Ham to boil in the water for about 1 hr to 1 1/2 hrs.
- Take the Ham out of the pot, and place it in a roasting pan. Feel free to use an aluminum one if you want.
- In a small bowl, mix the juice of the 2 jars of pineapple along with the brown sugar. Taste it. If it needs more sugar, feel free to add.
- Pour the mixture all over the Ham and allow to sit at the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Take the whole cloves and stick them into the Ham - about 2-3 inches apart from each other. You want to put the cloves EVERYWHERE!!!
- Take the pinaeapple slices and place them all over the Ham as well as the bottom of the roasting pan.

- NOTE: If you are preparing this ahead of time, now would be a good time to place the ham (covered with foil) in the refrigerator. You can leave there up to 24 hours.

- Cover with aluminum foil and into the oven at 375 degrees for 1 hour.
- Un-cover and add the ham glaze. Allow to cook for an additional 30 minutes - getting crispy and golden and delicious!


Total Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Cook Time: 2 1/2 - 3 hours.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Getting Thirsty Yet? Try Sangria!

What's a great party without some great mixers?! Sangria is one of those drinks that can easily go in a punch bowl, look beautiful and have your guests dying for more. Check it out!

What You Need:

- 1 bottle of red wine (I've even used that wine-in-a-box stuff and this still turned out great!)
- 1/2 cup of vodka (this is very NON-traditional. But I love it! Usually, Rum is used)
- 1 one-liter bottle of ginger-ale (this is optional)
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 1 orange, sliced
- 1 apple, cored and sliced
- Any other fruit you can think of works well with this drink!
- Ice

What to Do:
- If you're serving the same night: You want to stir all of the ingredients (including the whole fruit slices) into a punch bowl with plenty of ice.
- In my opinion, it's best to make this the night before and let it chill in the fridgerator overnight. It just gives the drink a chance to become more fruity, sweet and delicious.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Mama's Potato Salad

So this isn't what most people would consider a traditional Latin recipe, but I absolutely had to put it on here. This potato salad is my ABSOLUTE favorite recipe in the entire universe! When I was pregnant, I swear I ate it nearly every day!

It's so incredibly simple, but so delicious! Try it out - I'm sure you'll fall in love with it.

What You Need:
- 3 large Idaho potatoes
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1/2 tsp of yellow mustard
- 1 cup of mayonnaise
- 3 large eggs

What to Do:
- Peel and chop the potatoes into bite size pieces.
- Boil the potatoes for 15 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and place into a bowl.
- To make it easy on yourself, boil the eggs in the same water as the potatoes.
- When the potatoes have cooled, add slices of the eggs.
- Add the mayonnaise and the mustard.

NOTE: I'm not 100% sure about the amount of mayonnaise to place in this dish. I usually just eyeball enough mayonnaise so that the potato salad is "white". :) My mom always says "if it's not white, there's not enough mayo". Put however much you feel comfortable with, but I always say - the more the better!

One Last Note: In an effort to eat healthier, I have tried to make this dish with low-fat mayonnaise, and in my opinion, it just doesn't taste the same. As a treat to all dieters out there - try it with regular mayonnaise first. And then the low-fat. Maybe you'll enjoy it more than I did.


Total Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Total Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Arroz con Salchichas! - Rice with Vienna Sausages

This recipe is almost as easy as cooking regular white rice - since all you need is one pot. I like to serve it alongside some porkchops or fried chicken, but its up to you. Check it out!

What You Need:
- 3 cups of Goya’s Canilla extra long grain white rice.
- 2 tablespoons of Goya Corn Oil (You can also use Goya Olive Oil)
- 1 can of Goya Vienna Sausages
- 1 packet of Goya Sazon
- 1 8oz can of Goya Tomato Sauce
- 2 tablespoons of Goya Adobo
- 3 tablespoons of Goya Sofrito
- 4 ¼ cups of water. (We take away 1 cup of our usual amount of water because of the additional 8oz of tomato sauce)

What to Do:
- Get out your rice pot and place it on medium heat.
- Cut the vienna sausage into 1/2 inch slices.
- Rinse your white rice with regular tap water until the water comes out clear.
- Place the oil into the pot, making sure to coat the bottom of the pot evenly.
- Fry the vienna sausages with the Sofrito just until brown.
- Add the Adobo, Sazon, Tomato Sauce and let simmer for 3 minutes.
- Place the rice into the pot and stir. Make sure to coat all of the rice in the seasonings. Turn the heat up as high as it can go.
- Add the water into the pot, and stir.
- Wait for nearly all of the water to evaporate. (Usually takes about 10 minutes). When this happens, stir the rice one more time.
- Cover the pot and turn the heat to as low as it can go.
- After 15 minutes, stir the rice – be very careful not to grab all the way from the bottom of the pot. Re-cover.
- After another 15 minutes, your rice will be yellow, fluffy and ready to serve.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

One of my favorite chefs...

Since I've only just begun this blog, I know that there are a TON of recipes out there that you might want to look up or try that hasn't made its way to this blog. For these recipes, I want everyone to go to my favorite chef: Daisy Martinez.

I remember seeing Daisy Cooks! for the first time on PBS, but recently I also spotted her on the Food Network. All of her recipes are delicious and her cookbook is amazing! I recommend everyone go out there and buy it!

Check her out at:


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nice and Easy: Corn Beef

Here's yet another recipe that goes perfectly on top of white rice. Although...I hate to admit it, but I've actually eaten it as is. It's just soooo good! In this recipe, you will use Sweet Plantains. They look exactly like the plantains used for tostones, but they are yellow and not green. This makes them sweeter. Here is a picture of the two different plantains side by side:

What You Need:
- 1 can corned beef
- 1 can Goya Tomato Sauce
- 1 tablespoon of Goya Adobo
- 1 packet of Goya Sazon
- 2 tablespoons of Goya Sofrito
- 1 Yellow/Sweet Plantains
- Goya Corn Oil for frying

What To Do:
- Peel and slice the sweet plantains. Slice them at a diagonal and about 1/2 inch thick.
- Coat a frying pan with enough oil to cover the bottom. (Maybe about 1/4 inch of oil)
- Fry the plantains in the oil just until brown on each side. Be careful, they will get very tender.
- Once all the plantains are fried, remove them from the frying pan, but leave the oil. You will use this oil to fry the corned beef.
- Place the corned beef, seasonings and tomato sauce in the frying pan and allow to heat up for about 10 minutes.
- Place the plantains back into the same pan so that they can blend in with the corned beef. At this point you can serve whenever you'd like, but I'd like to leave

Friday, February 20, 2009

One of My Absolute Favorites: Empanadas or Beef Turnovers

So you will not believe how delicious these are! Or even how easy there are too make! You can make tons in a short amount of time, and they would be a great hit at parties or any kind of get-togethers.

Empanadas have many different names. You might find them called Beef Turnovers, Pastelillos or Stuffed Meat Pies. And of course, there are different spanish names depending on what country you're in.

What You Need:
- 1 package of Goya Pre-Made Dough (also called Discos). They come in White or Yellow.
- 1 package of ground beef (about 1/2 lb or so)
- 2 tablespoons of Goya Sofrito
- 1 packet of Goya Sazon
- 1 tablespoon of Goya Adobo
- Goya Corn Oil
- Alternative: If there are any vegetarians in your family, you can easily substitute the beef with shredded American cheese. I love making both versions, they are equally delicious!!

What To Do:
- In a large saucepan, saute the ground beef until it is brown and cooked through.
- Add the seasonings. Take the pan off the stove.
- Take about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the ground beef and place in the center of your dough circle. (If you are using cheese, you'd also place it into the center of the circle dough.)
- Fold the circle over so that it resembles a half-moon shape.
- Pinch the sides together with the tines of a fork so that no meat can escape while frying.
- In another frying pan, heat up about 1 inch of oil.
- Fry the empanadas in the oil just until they are golden brown. It will take about 3-4 minutes on each side.
- Serve while Hot! This recipe should make about 15 Empanadas. Enjoy!!!

Total Prep Time: 20 minutes (this includes cooking the ground beef)
Total Cook Time: 10-20 minutes (depending on how many Empanadas you're making)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Drink Time...Mori Sunando

So I have to be 100% honest with you, and tell you that I am not the hugest fan of this drink. But my three brothers swear by it, and begged me to post it for the rest of the blogger world.

Morir Soñando (or Mori Sunando) actually translates to "die while dreaming" because this drink is just that wonderful. It is a drink that I'm sure will sound unusual to some of you, but I'd say test it out and see what you think for yourself.

What You Need:

- 2 cups of Orange Juice
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2 cups of milk
- A few cubes of Ice.

What To Do:
- Mix the sugar and milk together until all of the sugar has dissolved.
- Pour the orange juice and milk mixture into a blender with the ice for about 2 minutes. Voila! Instant foamy, creamy and refreshing drink!
- If you don't have a blender, crush up the ice as best you can, and stir that in. You want the drink to be as cold as possible.


Total Prep Time: 0 minutes
Total Cook Time: 2 minutes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

All About Sofrito

When it comes to Sofrito, you will meet an amazing amount of people who swear by a certain brand, or certain texture (fresh or frozen) or those who refuse to use it if isn't homemade.

Me, I'll take it any way I can get it. I've used it frozen, fresh, home-made and even ones that weren't Goya (when I was desperate!). Why, you ask? Why go through all this craziness? Well...because simply put...Sofrito is the best seasoning ever invented.

So what's exactly in it? Well...I went about posting this blog in order to tell you when I discovered myself that there actually many, many different variations depending on where you are. Puerto Rico, Cuba, Haiti, Spain, Latin America and even Italy all have different versions. So, I'm going to give you the ingredients that my mom used to use when she made her sofrito at home.

Cilantro, Green Bell Peppers, Garlic, Onions, Sweet Chili Peppers, Recao (which is small, green-stemmed herb. But sometimes my mom would use parsley if she couldn't find Recao), Tomatoes and Oil.

I'm only giving you a list of ingredients and not a recipe because honestly, I don't know anyone who makes sofrito from scratch anymore. I'm sure that it is done somewhere, but my family - including my mother, the Matriarch - have realized that store-bought Sofrito tastes just as good and is nearly as fresh. But I thought that since you will be seeing Sofrito used in nearly all of my recipes, you'd want to know what it was you were actually eating!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tostones or Fried Green Plaintains. Yum!!

When I was in High School, I did my junior year abroad - in Spain. While it was an amazing experience, one thing that I missed over there so badly was just plain Puerto Rican food. So one day, I made Tostones (or fried green plaintains/bananas) for my host-family and they ate every last one! Cooking the tostones and showing my host-family a little bit of my culture made me so proud of myself, and also helped me feel closer to home. So try it out, and see what you think!

What You Need:

- 3 Green Plaintains. You can find these in the produce aisle, usually next to potatoes. They are always next to yellow plaintains which tend to be sweeter, so make sure you don't grab those. They are also surprisingly inexpensive. My supermarket usually sells them for 3 for 1 dollar.
- Goya Corn Oil
- 2 small, heavy plates

What To Do:

- Place a small layer of oil into a frying pan. You don't want to deep fry the plaintains, but you will need enough oil to fry them quickly.
- Cut off the ends of the plaintains and peel.
- Slice them into 1/2 inch slices at a diagonal.
- By this time, you're oil should be hot. Go ahead and place the slices of plaintains into the oil. Allow them to fry for about 2 minutes on each side. You're just trying to give them some color, and soften them up a bit.
- When you take them out, you want to lower the heat on the frying pan, but keep it on. You want the oil to stay hot.
- Take the just-fried plaintain slice and place it on a small plate.
- Take another small plate and place it on top of the first. Basically, I want you to squish the plaintain slice until its thin and looks almost like a fat potato chip.
- Take the smashed slice, and place it back into the oil and let it fry until it becomes crispy.
- As soon as you take them out of the hot pan, toss some salt onto them and you're done!

Note: They have actually invented plaintain smashers called Tostoneras. You can purchase one if you like, but I prefer the two-plate method.

Another Note: Many tostone lovers will tell you that you have to eat tostones with the special garlic sauce that is usually sold with them in cuchifritos. But in my family, we grew up eating tostones without this sauce, so I'm not exactly sure how to make it. I will ask around, and if I find out, I will definitely post it!


Total Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Total Cook Time: 15 minutes.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Too Tired to Cook Today?

So we are young women - full of energy and life every single day, right?


There are days when the last thing I want to do is go into the kitchen and turn on that stove. So, let me tell you what you do. Have you ever heard of a Cuchifrito? Let me tell you - it will be such a lifesaver!

To put it simply, a Cuchifrito is a restaurant or diner that sells Puerto Rican cuisine. Usually, no one goes in to eat the food in the store, but instead to carry it out to their families and homes.

Now, I know that I've personally seen an abundance of Cuchifritos all over New York City and especially the South Bronx. But I have also spotted them in Chicago and Boston. So I'm venturing to say that you'd be able to find them in any major city, or anywhere you can find a large Hispanic population.

Cuchifritos sell almost anything that you can think of! And if they don't have it on the menu, they'd probably make it for you if you asked in advance. And PLEASE, do not be afraid of going inside if you don't speak Spanish. Even though, i'm Puerto Rican, I don't speak Spanish and I was always so afraid of saying something wrong, or coming out with something strange-looking! But once I went in for the first time, and realized that either they understood English (or I could just point :) ), it only became easier and easier.

And on an even better note: Cuchifrito food is better for you than most other take-out places, and it's A LOT cheaper. So, Google Cuchifrito or Spanish Cuisine Restaurant and find one near you.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pernil A.K.A. Pork Shoulder - A little Taste of Heaven

On absolutely every holiday, and special occasion in my family, someone, somewhere is cooking a pernil. I know that a lot of people look at pernil (or pork shoulder) as something difficult to make or even un-appetizing because it just looks so weird! I even heard an HSN person call it the meat of the "underclass" because its so inexpensive. While I found that kind of offensive since Pernil is considered such a delicacy in Hispanic cooking, I also just let it go - because whoever doesn't eat it, is definitely missing out!

While this dish takes a while to cook, I PROMISE, PROMISE and SUPER PROMISE that it is well worth the wait! You will never have a special occasion without it again!

This is a picture of a pernil uncooked (I'll explain the slash marks in a sec)

What You Need:
- 1 Pork Shoulder (says it just like that in the supermarket)
- 2 packets of Goya Sazon seasoning
- 4 tablespoons of Goya Sofrito (the fresh kind, not frozen)
- 1 Bulb of Garlic - crushed. (if you want to buy it in the jar - already crushed, that is fine)
- 1 bottle of apple cider vinegar

What You Do:
- After you bring home the pork shoulder, make sure you wash it. (Basically, rinse if off well in the sink)
- Next, you want to take a sharp knife and make piercing holes all around the pernil (see picture above). You can make the holes everywhere - on the fatty side and underneath. You will be putting your seasoning into these holes, so they don't need to be huge. Just large enough to get the tip of your finger into.
- Make the rub: Take the sazon, adobo, sofrito and garlic and mash it together until it becomes a paste-like consistency. Take this paste and place it in all of the holes you have made around the pernil. If you have any leftover, just rub it all over the outside of the pork.
- Finally, once your pernil is in the container you will cook it in (usually I just use a disposable aluminum pan), you want to bathe it in the apple cider vinegar. When I say bathe, I mean drench it! The vinegar will make the meat tender and delicious!

Note: You will want to season the pernil at least 4 hours before you plan to cook it. But it is actually easier and more preferable to do this the night before and just leave it in the fridge marinating.

- When you're ready to cook: Place the Pernil in the oven at 375 degrees for three hours. You'll want to have it covered with either a lid, or aluminum foil.
- Afterward, take off the cover, and leave it in the oven for 1 more oven so that it can get crispy.
- Let it rest for at least a half an hour after you take it out the oven. Carve it up and ENJOY!!!

Tell me that doesn't look amazing!

Total Prep Time: 30-45 minutes.
Total Cook Time: 4 hours.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Let's Talk About Stew

So even though this recipe is called Beef Stew - it's not actually the kind of stew you're probably thinking of. This is more of a beef-in-gravy type dish that goes over white rice (I told you - many a recipe can go with white rice!).

Anyway, this dish is delicious and can actually feed up to 5 people - depending on how many pieces of beef each person wants. Growing up in a family of 7 (including three ever-hungry boys), my mother LOVED to make beef stew. It was easy, and simple and even got us kids eating vegetables! Check it out:

What You Need:

- A small pack of beef stew meat. (You'll find it in the supermarket, already cut up in cubes for you. If you're not sure what to look for, ask the grocer. It might also be called Chuck Beef Stew Meat).
- 3 small or 2 medium potatoes (any kind will do) - cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1 packet of Goya Sazon seasoning
- 1 tablespoon of Goya Adobo seasoning
- 2 tablespoons of Goya Sofrito
- 1 green pepper - diced (with seeds removed)
- 1 carrot - chopped


- Grab a 6-8 quart pot - basically, just like the one you'd use for your rice. And place it over medium heat.
- Sear the beef stew meat (without any seasoning) just so that it can have a little color on each side.
- Once the meat is seared, add 3 cups of water, and bring to a boil.
- Allow the meat to boil for 20 minutes.
- Next, add the potatoes, sofrito, adobo, sazon, tomato sauce, green peppers and carrot. Stir.
- Finally, let that boil for another half-hour to 45 minutes.
- Place over white rice and ENJOY!!

Note: Once plated, one of the best ways to eat Beef Stew is to mash the potatoes into your rice. It makes the meal thicker and more fun to eat! :)

Total Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Cook Time: 50-65 minutes. (I know this sounds long, but there's really not a lot of babysitting. This is a meal that lets you do other chores while cooking)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Red Beans: The Easiest You Will Ever Make

Now that I’ve told you how to make the perfect white rice, I’d like to let you in on white rice’s perfect complement: Red Beans. These are super easy to make and only take about 10 minutes.

You Will Need:

- 1 can (15.5 oz) of Goya Red Kidney Beans
- 1 small Spanish onion
- 2 tablespoons of Goya Adobo All-Purpose Seasoning.*
- 1 packet of Goya Sazόn.
- 4 oz of Goya Tomato Sauce.


- Grab a medium sauce pan, put it over medium heat.
- Add the entire can of Kidney Beans.
- Cut the onion in half and place both halves (whole) into the beans. You will take this out right before serving.
- Add the Adobo, Sazόn and Tomato Sauce.
- Let it simmer until heated thoroughly.
- Serve on top of white rice.


* Note on Adobo. There are so many different kinds of Goya Adobo out there: Low Sodium, with pepper, without pepper, etc… Just pick the one that is right for you and your family. I prefer the one without black pepper, and then I just add my own freshly ground black pepper.

Total Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Plain White Rice...It's Not as Hard as You Think

Alright Ladies! As I’ve mentioned before, this site is all about the easy, the quick and the delicious. One of the best recipes you could learn to have in your box is – believe it or not – plain white rice. As a Latina, I can’t tell you how many times in my life my mom has created the most creative and delicious recipes by starting with plain white rice. And when you’re in a rush to feed a big family and you have the pickiest of kids, white rice can be your lifesaver! So here’s the recipe, and please feel free to let me know what you think!

This recipe is for a family of 4:

You Will Need:

- 3 cups of Goya’s Canilla extra long grain white rice. (Note: the extra long grain is important, because medium or short grain tend to get too mushy when cooking. Great for Chinese sticky rice – not for Latin cooking).
- 2 tablespoons of salt. (You can take this out if you’d like)
- 2 tablespoons of Goya Corn Oil (You can also use Goya Olive Oil)
- 5 ¼ cups of water. (Basically, its about 1 ¾ cup of water for every cup of rice)


- Get out your rice pot (if you’re unsure what this is, just grab a wide 6-8 quart pot) and place it on medium heat.
- Rinse your white rice with regular tap water until the water comes out clear. (Note: rinsing the rice is important since it gets rid of the starch around the rice – which only makes your rice stickier).
- Place the olive oil into the pot, making sure to coat the bottom of the pot evenly.
- Place the rice into the pot and stir. Make sure to coat all of the rice in the oil. Turn the heat up as high as it can go.
- Add the water into the pot, and stir.
- As soon as the water comes to a boil, add the salt.
- Wait for nearly all of the water to evaporate. (Usually takes about 10 minutes). When this happens, stir the rice one more time.
- Cover the rice and turn the heat to as low as it can go.
- After 15 minutes, stir the rice – be very careful not to grab all the way from the bottom of the pot. Cover.
- After another 15 minutes, your rice will be fluffy and ready to serve.


Total Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 40-45 minutes

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Easy Latina Cooking Introduction

Hello Ladies!

Whether you're Latina or not, everyone wants to put a little flavor and spice into their dinners, right? In this day and age - between money worries, family chaos and busy jobs - who has the actual time or energy into trying something new or different? Well, not anymore!

Easy Latina Cooking is going to be a way for you to treat yourself and your family to some delicious meals that are also good for you! Granted, some of them might take a little longer than others, but just save those for the weekend. Trust me, the longer one of my recipes take, the more it's worth it, I PROMISE!

But you know who else this site is for? Those of us Latinas who just can't seem to be able to cook the foods that we loved and enjoyed as kids. Yes, I used to be one of them! You want to cook Mami's rice and beans, but have no idea where to start. Blame it on our generation, blame it on America, blame it on whatever you want, but its time to stop the blaming and start cooking!

So sit back, relax, and enjoy some finger-licking good recipes. Read them, try them, its up to you. Just keep coming back and leaving comments whenever you want! I'm all for feedback.

Hasta Luego!