Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cuban Ground Beef Dish: "Picadillo"






Picadillo is our easy go-to meal when we are too busy to even think about what we are going to make for dinner. Our Miami fans are very familiar with this dish and probably already have their own recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. Our recipe is a combination of recipes from both sides of our families.

We decided to make picadillo for our first video blog post because this is our comfort food. We were a little nervous about our first video and needed to resort to cooking something that we were familiar with. Please let us know what you think!

Ingredients:
1 pound of ground beef
1 tbsp. of vegetable oil
1 small onion
1/2 of a green pepper
2 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper
8 oz. can of tomato sauce
1/2 cup of white wine
1 teaspoon of vinegar
1 small box of raisins
1/4 cup of green olives
1 tbsp. of sugar

Kitchen Essentials:
Stove
Medium pan
Wooden spoon
Cutting board
Knife
Garlic press

Prep:
Finely chop the onions and peppers. Mince the garlic.

Directions:
H
eat the oil over medium heat in the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and season with salt and pepper. When the onions are soft, add the peppers and garlic. Cook , while stirring, about 2-3 minutes until the "sofrito" is tender. Next, add the ground beef. Cook until the meat is brown. Add the tomato sauce, wine and vinegar. Simmer for a few minutes, then add the raisins, olives and sugar. Simmer on low for about 10 minutes. Serve over white rice.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Food Truckin' in Wynwood

Ready. Set. Goooooo!!! Don't be the last one to join the food truck craze! These mobile food palaces are a foodie's dream come true! If you are anything like us and our foodie friends Steven and Maria (pictured above), you will rejoice in the variety of foods offered by food truck geniuses.

We have been wanting to jump into the food truck scene since the Food Network's "The Great Food Truck Race" hit the airwaves. Finally, after weeks of putting it off, our friends joined us on a last-minute trip to Wynwood for dinner. We must admit, we had our doubts at first. "Let's just go for appetizers and we'll have dinner at a restaurant later," we unknowingly reassured ourselves.

As soon as we arrived to the parking lot full of trucks (over 20 of them), we were overwhelmed with choices: tacos, burgers, seafood, gelato and even cupcakes! "Where do we start?" we thought. We couldn't resist the chipstix. First of all, the name was catchy. Second, we were intrigued by the machinery on the truck. Turns out that this unique potato wedge creation is only available in Disney, Seaworld and the Chipstix food truck. We shared the sour cream and chive flavored chipstix. It was great! We should have bought two though because it was all gone in 5 seconds!





At this point, we realized that we weren't going to any fancy sit-down restaurant. We were happy right where we were - food truck heaven. Next, it was fish tacos from Jefe's. This time each couple got their own taco to share. We learned our lesson! Other than the fish tacos we make at home, these are our favorite fish tacos thus far. The fish was tender and crisp. The double corn tortilla was one of the best we have ever tasted.




The night's winner was hand's down "Latin House Grill." Don't let the mini burgers (called "Muffin Tops") fool you! They are like our chihuahua Joey: they may look small, but they have mighty personalities. There's actually a 1/4 pound of meat between those two freshly baked buns! Let's talk about those buns. They are to die for! Mother and son/owners have only been around for six months, but they have very loyal followers. Our friend Maria thinks they are stalk-worthy. We think so too!



Did we mention that they have an amazing dessert called "balls to the wall"? It's two deed-fried brownie balls battered in funnel cake mix drizzled with luscious ribbons of sweet condensed milk. Delicious!


After a very satisfying dinner, we decided to have a glass of wine at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar. It was only a few blocks away from where the food trucks were gathered. We talked about our favorite food trucks over a glass of wine and then took pictures of the artwork outside. Overall, we were impressed by the food trucks and look forward to visiting them again soon!





Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chicken Soup for Your Body and Soul





It seems like everyone we know has a cold or knows someone who has a cold. We have both recently suffered from it. That's where this recipe came from. (Yes, we even cook when we are sick!) Our bodies craved homemade chicken soup and we were determined to make it. We are accustomed to our grandmothers making us chicken soup when we felt under the weather. But because we are not kids anymore, this is our version of their soul-and-body healing soup.


This recipe makes for about a dozen servings. We usually store the leftovers in plastic containers and freeze them. Then when we don't have time to cook and feel a cold coming on, we defrost and pop in the microwave.


Ingredients:

3 pounds of chicken thighs with skin and bones
4 medium sized onions
1 green pepper
6 cloves of garlic
3-4 carrots
4 celery stalks
2 potatoes
2 32 ounce packages of chicken broth
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon of fresh oregano
The juice and zest of one lemon
3 cups of Ditali pasta (or any other noodles you like)
2-4 cups of water (if needed)
Salt
Pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 handful of cilantro


Kitchen Essentials:

Measuring cups and spoons
Cutting board
Knife
Zester
Large Pot
Wooden spoon
Kicthen tongs
Fork
Ladle


Prep:

Chop all the vegetables into bite sized pieces and the herbs into small pieces. Pat the chicken dry with paper towel and season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Patting the chicken dry will make the skin nice and crispy.

Directions:

Place the large pot on medium heat on the stove and add the olive oil. Wait until the oil is very hot before placing the chicken skin side down. Cook for a good 8 to 10 minutes. Make sure the chicken turns golden brown before you flip it. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. You may have to remove some of the oil that is released from the chicken skin with a ladle if there is too much oil in the pot. It is okay for bits and pieces to stick to the bottom of the pan, they will add lots of flavor to your soup! When the chicken is cooked through, remove and place on a plate.


Cook the onions and peppers in the oil that remained in the pan. Add salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. When the onions and peppers have softened, add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Then add the potatoes, celery and carrots. Next add the chicken broth and let the mixture come to a boil.


Return the chicken to the pot and add the lemon zest, lemon juice, thyme and oregano. Put the lid on the pot and let it simmer for 5 to 8 minutes. At this time, check your liquid level. If it is low, add 2 to 4 cups of water as needed. Lastly, add the pasta and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until the carrots, potatoes and pasta are cooked.



There is one more step before serving. With kitchen tongs, remove the chicken thighs and place on a cutting board. Remove the skin and bones. With a fork shred the chicken. This process will be very easy because the chicken will be so tender! Return the chicken to the pot and serve nice and hot! Garnish with some freshly chopped cilantro for some color and an added layer of flavor.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year, New Trip: St. Augustine, FL

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. ~St. Augustine

If you have not been to St. Augustine, Florida, you need to add this quaint town to your list of places to visit in 2011! We can't believe we waited this long to explore this historic town. Just five hours away from Miami, St. Augustine is the perfect get-away for couples, families and friends (and their dogs!).

The moment we drove into the small city, we were transported to another world. A place where time stands still, politeness goes a long way, and Christmas decorations are abundant. Welcome to downtown St. Augustine, FL!

The bed & breakfast inn we booked was located on a intimate, cobblestone street called Aviles Street. As we turned right into Aviles we were both thinking the same thing: this looks like a European street! We stayed at Casa De Solana Bed & Breakfast Inn, one of St. Augustine's oldest residences. We were awed from the moment we saw its lush courtyard, antique details and private balconies. We absolutely loved it!





In order to see the "Fountain of Youth," you must pay an entrance fee to the archaeological park. Although the fountain is actually a hole in the earth with some water in it, it is pretty cool to actually see it and drink from it. It smells just like rotten eggs, but hey, beauty has its price! Speaking of beauty, don't miss out on the colorful peacocks that roam around the park. There are some white ones too that are just breathtaking.




One of the most visible historical sites is the Castillo de San Marcos. It was built in the 17th century and is the oldest fort in the United States. Make sure to put this in your "Must See" list when visiting.



St. Augustine is not only beautiful, it is also rich in history. We explored the nation's oldest house, the Gonzalez-Alvarez house, which dates back to the early 1700s. If you visit St. Augustine, don't forget to stop by the oldest wooden school house and other historical homes.


We spent New Year's Eve at Cellar 6, a local wine bar that features an excellent menu and live music. Our dinner was delicious and the atmosphere was laid-back yet chic.


Almost every house and resturant in St. Augustine has a courtyard. These lush beautiful gardens with fountains and statues transport you into a whimsical world.


The lighthouse was probably one of our favorite spots. We climbed up hundreds of steps to the observation deck just in time to witness a precious sunset. Joey is probably the only dog that has been up there! He wasn't afraid of heights at all.





Please visit our Facebook fan page to see more pictures of our trip by clicking here. Also, don't forget to become fans!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Easy Pesto Bruschetta



Do you have guests coming over soon? Do you want to wow them with a fun appetizer? Are you a mess in the kitchen? If you answered yes to these three questions, then this recipe is for you! No cooking experience required for these babies! Just slice, stack and bake!

Ingredients:
1 French baguette (sliced in 1 inch pieces)
2 vine ripe tomatoes
1 package of mozzarella cheese in water
Olive oil
1 jar of pesto (If you would like to make your own pesto, click here for our recipe)
Chopped basil

Kitchen Essentials:
Knife
Cutting board
Spoon
Baking sheet
Oven

Prep:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the French baguette in 1/2 inch slices. Slice the tomatoes into small cubes and slice the fresh mozzarella into thin strips.

Directions:
Assemble the bruschetta by laying the baguette pieces on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and spread about 1/4 teaspoon of pesto on each piece of bread. Top with some fresh tomatoes and a slice of mozzarella cheese. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the bread is nice and crunchy and the mozzarella has melted. Garnish with chopped basil.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Basic Recipe: Caramelized Onions

Here is a basic recipe that everyone should know how to make: caramelized onions. The first word should be a good enough reason to want to know how to make this. Any recipe with the words "butter" and "slow cooked" is guaranteed to be good. You don't need us to tell you how decadent these onions are!

Ingredients:
2 medium-sized yellow onions
1 tbsp. butter
2 tpsp. Extra-virgin Olive Oil
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper


Kitchen Essentials:
Cutting board
Knife
Stove
Medium pan
Wooden spoon

Directions:
Melt butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Chop the onions in thin slices and add to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly cook the onions while stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes until they are soft and golden brown. Serve over chicken, steak or fish; on a fajita or quesadilla; or as an appetizer on top of flat bread and top with goat cheese; the options are endless!

Raw Onions
After 10 minutes
After 20 minutes
All done! 30 minutes later!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Our first post of 2011

We are feeling a little pressured to come up with an amazing recipe worthy of the first post of 2011. Not that anyone is pressuring us really...except each other. We are perfectionists, especially when it comes to our passion. If we aren't crazy about a dish, we won't blog about it. We are on the quest for the perfect recipe to kick off the new year!

We started off the year in beautiful St. Augustine, FL (blog post coming soon) and immediately headed back to our full-time jobs. Mrs. P caught the flu and spent a few days lying on the couch watching the Food Network. The only positive thing about having the flu is being able to catch up with Food Network shows and getting inspired to create new recipes for our fans!

Happy New Year!

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