Carols vs. Parrandas

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I miss parrandas. If you don’t know what they are, they are carols in Spanish. But, not really. The difference between them are stark. First of all, when I think of carols I think of a group of people perhaps wearing Christmas sweaters, singing Carol of the Bells and We Wish You A Merry Christmas.

When I think of parrandas, this is what I picture:

There’s an actual parranda song that basically states: open the door, feed me and give me rum. Um, yeah, just a tad bit different than carols. In the song they sing above, there’s actually a line in it that says “if you don’t give me something to drink, I’ll cry”. Don’t get me wrong, these are my type of carols! But they are slightly different, don’t you think?

They’ve always gotten me in the mood for Christmas. But there’s a catch. Did you see how many people were out there singing? There’s a well-known fact that some people will tag along a parranda, without an instrument and not knowing how to sing for one simple reason: the food.

I’m thankful that when I’ve been accosted visited in the past, I’ve gotten a heads up. This is necessary because these people will show up at your house at 10:30 and 11 o’clock at night (if you’re lucky. I’ve had people at my doorstep at midnight)! No way you’re going to let them sit out there making noise and possibly having the cops called on them. This is what they are counting on. How else will they get in your house to drink your rum and eat your food. Pretty cool, eh?

This year, I was ready for them. But, I’m kind of glad they didn’t come because this crockpot chicken enchilada soup was gone well before 9 p.m.

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I would love to take full credit for this recipe but, the credit goes to Skinny Taste and the pin I was blessed to come across a few months back. What I will take full credit for is the addition of one entire Avocado from Mexico (you’re welcome!) and the bed of rice I put this bad boy onto. I love that I can have it as a topping or as a soup. And even better? It’s perfect for those chilly nights in the winter.

Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup © Skinnytaste.com Servings: 6 • Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups + cheese • Old Points: 5 pts • Points+: 7 pts Calories: 260.9 • Fat: 6.6 g • Protein: 25.4 g • Carb: 29.9 g • Fiber: 6.7 g • Sugar: 4.1 g Sodium: 572 mg (without salt)  Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups low sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1-2 tsp chipotle chili in adobo sauce (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish)
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 8 oz skinless chicken breasts (16 oz total)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, for topping
  • 3/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • fat free sour cream (optional)

Directions: Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft, 3-4 minutes. Slowly add the chicken broth, tomato sauce and chipotle adobo sauce and bring to a boil. Add cilantro and remove from heat. Pour into crock pot. To the crockpot, add drained beans, diced tomatoes, corn, cumin, oregano and stir.Add the chicken breasts; cover and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours. Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Add chicken back into the soup, adjust salt and cumin to taste. Serve in bowls and top with fat free sour cream, cheese, scallions and cilantro.

I cut up an entire avocado, sprinkled it with adobo and then made sure that with each bite of my soup, I savored a piece of avocado. I ate so much I spent the rest of the evening on the couch, unable to breathe and yet wanting more.

I know Christmas is about giving so, I did share my soup although if some parranderos would’ve shown up at my doorstep, I would’ve gladly called the cops on them myself so that I could ensure leftovers. Thankfully, if they show up now, I can head over to the Posadas recipes page where celebrity Chef Pepín shares some of his favorite recipes.

Have you ever been part of a parranda or posada? Have you ever been visited by one?

Disclosure: this post was sponsored by Avocados from Mexico (which should totally send me a case for, um..review) and Latina Bloggers Connect. All opinions and thoughts are my own and the yummy recipe is Gina's from SkinnyTaste.com. 

Sobrecitos Con Sabor

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(packets with flavor)

I recently realized that I Instagram, Pin and Tweet a lot about food. It doesn’t come as a surprise although I must admit I don’t blog about it as often as I’d like (possibly because I’m usually busy stuffing my face).

Food is a biggie in my house (once we got past the passive aggressive fight to gain control of the kitchen). This week, I got a chance to show Papi something he didn’t know about. And let me tell you, he gave me the high eyebrows head nod which is pretty darn good.

See, Papi has always loved cooking. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard him say that he doesn’t cook with bouillon cubes because he has no patience for those things to dissolve. So when I heard about these new Mazola® Sobrecitos™, I had to try them.

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I didn’t want to try them on traditional dishes (well, I did but I wanted to come up with something more).  See, I like the flavors of these sobrecitos. And, while I liked the flavors of the cubes in the past, I had a lot of limitations (like, it had to be something that would let the cubes dissolve).

This time around, I drizzled my macaroni and crab salad with a packet of the chicken flavor and it was genius if I do say so myself!

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This was the only picture I was able to capture of the salad. Alas, I made the mistake of thinking I could eat before setting up for a photo. By the time I went back, this salad had pretty much disintegrated in the tummies of those I love. I actually boiled the pasta with a little of the powder first to get that flavor right in to the macaroni. Seasoning my salad with the rest of the powder just brought out such a good flavor. Not too salty and full of flavorful.

Of course, I wasn’t satisfied with just this so, when I made black eyed peas the other day, I used a sobrecito and again, it delivered. Both in flavor and in ease-of-use. Side note, what’s the Spanish translation for black eyed peas where you’re from?

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Maybe it’s the fact that Mazola® Sobrecitos® are made with natural sea salt or maybe it’s that I don’t have to stand in front of the stove either 1. stirring the pot in hopes that the cube has dissolved and praying that if it hasn’t it doesn’t end up in my plate or 2. hunting for said cube with one spoon so that I can smash it with a second spoon. Really? Do we have to do all this work for the flavor? I can now answer a resounding no to that!

Back to Papi. I was telling him about this because I was sautéing (guizando) some chicken for him and I added el sobrecito de tomate (I love that they have the “traditional” chicken flavor and this). Of course, he wanted to know what it was that I’d just sprinkled in to the pan. Not only did it give it just the right flavor I was looking for but it added a nice red glow to the chicken. Again, I’m a horrible blogger for not having perfectly plated food but, I did not learn from the macaroni salad experience and by the time I ate, got the frog princess bathed and in bed, all that was left was the empty pan.

Needless to say, these have become the go-to flavor in my kitchen. I’m happy to say that I caught Papi using a chicken-flavored Sobrecito yesterday. He was making a pot of beans. And again, he gave me the high eyebrows nod which for him, is the ultimate hats off to another cook.

Are you ready to try these yummy Sobrecitos for yourself to see if you agree?

Enter below for a chance to get your very own Mazola® Sobrecitos® AND a $25 Walmart gift card! You should also share your dish with me. That'’s not a requirement, per se but, it would be a nice thing to do for me if you win. Don’t you think?

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Disclosure: This is part of a sponsored campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and Mazola® Sobrecitos®. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

A is for Avocado

If you have been following me on Pinterest or Instagram you know that I have a certain...affinity for avocados.

I have a confession to make: I bought my first house because it had an avocado tree out back and the lady told me that it was 6 years old (avocado trees usually don't give fruit until its 7th year). Let me tell you, I was disappointed. It only gave one that following year and I couldn't eat it because it fell out of the tree and got bruised.

Where does my obsession come from?  As a child, I would spend every summer in the Dominican Republic. A week or two after school closed I was on a plane headed to the island. Two things in season during that time that I adore: avocados and passion fruit but, that's another story for another day.

In DR, they serve avocados con la comida, at noon, which is typically the big meal of the day. Either by itself or over a salad. So, my love for the fruit started early. Now, as summer approaches, this thing I never remember is there, arises. I begin to gently prod the fruits at the supermarket, anxious to find one that's ripe.

It rarely happens which makes me sad. But, do you know how to ripen an avocado? I do! I throw that bad boy into a paper bag and wait overnight. Sometimes it takes 2 nights but, that's ok! When you press on the avocado, you should feel a little give. It shouldn't feel too hard. This is an art that you may initially fail at but, just keep trying.

I have a very specific way that I love to eat avocado. Abuela used to make it this way and so did mami. Recently I discovered that the frog princess has the same love of avocado that I do. I will be very honest with you, I'm a little saddened by that. Not because I don't wish to pass on my traditions but because who wants to share their avocado?

I'm an avocado hog. I have been known to eat an entire avocado all by myself! Don't get me started! This is the problem, I make the avocado too yummy to pass up and everyone that eats it falls in love with it. I'm starting to reconsider this recipe as I write this out.

This recipe is so simple that you may be thinking is that it? Shouldn't there be more? And there can be. Throughout the years, I have added things to this at my leisure, created new dishes and enhanced the flavors. This is the base of my avocado love:

That's it! The beauty of it is this though: sometimes, I add tomatoes and onions to the mix. Or cheese (feta makes it betta!).  Other times, this goes into a bowl with greens for a delicious salad (and maybe an egg on top).  And if you take this with the tomatoes and onions and throw it into some Cuban bread you will have the bestest veggie sandwich EVER! If you'd like some meat in it, throw some bacon and make your own BAT!

Most times, I put this concoction on the plate next to my rice and beans and enjoy the tangy taste of lime with each bite of my food. Or next to some yummy soup like this chicken enchilada soup I made in the crockpot (thank you Pinterest!).

This food makes me happy. I am sure it's no coincidence because those summer meant the world to me and I am a firm believer that we tie foods into our feelings. So with each bite of avocado, I feel that my brain connects me to those lazy summers where I would look forward to showering under a rain storm or watching a red sunset from a treetop.

And though I'm not entirely happy that I have to share my avocado now, I felt such a joy when my little girl grabbed her first piece of avocado with her little fingers, put it in her mouth and exclaimed "mami, I like agacate!". It is my hope that when you try the recipe above you'll say the same...

Disclosure: I participated in the #ILoveAvocados campaign thanks to Latina Bloggers Connect and Avocados from Mexico. I was not compensated in avocados (though I am still unsure as to why this isn't happening). All thoughts, memories and hunger pangs are my own.

Domingos En Familia

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(Domingos en familia loosely translates to Sundays with family) I really want to start doing a Sunday night dinner in order to rekindle something I haven't felt in a long time: family time around the dinner table. Okay so, I don't think I've ever had this when I was a kid though I do remember the bomb Saturday night parties thrown at my house.

But, now I really can't have it since we remodeled the house to make room for the frog princess and I and have come out of it dining room-less.  However, I don't need no stinkin' table to have dinner con mi familia!  This weekend, I wanted to keep it simple for myself so the menu was as follows:

Dirty Rice Tilapia encrusted with Kraft Fresh Take - Chili Lime and Panko Breadcrumb Mix Roaster Asparagus Fruit Parfait with home made whipped cream

Now, let me say that, my time was limited. Mainly because I spent an hour at Lowe's looking at stuff for the backyard and then another hour doing the actual food shopping for the week (special shout out to eMeals for making my life a little easier with their shopping lists. Don't know what I'm talking about? Click on the link in my side bar and find out!).

I rushed back home and found the frog princess still napping. Before I started cooking I cleared out the fridge and put away the groceries. You need to know this because it's what slowed my cooking down. But I got the dinner cooked all within the hour!

I don't have to tell you how to make dirty rice, do I? If you were expecting a made from scratch meal today then, I'm afraid you came to the wrong place. I like to purchase the Zataran's brand. They tell you how to make it on the box.

I recently found the Kraft Fresh Takes and was impressed with it.  They have different flavors but basically you can find it in your cheese isle. Instructions are also listed there.

Now, I had a hankering for roasted asparagus so I just went to the Food Network and pulled up this baked asparagus recipe.

Here's the order I cooked in today: I first browned the meat and when I got the rice cooking, I got working on the asparagus which went into the toaster oven. After that, I threw the tilapia in the bag with the breadcrumb mix, threw it on a cookie sheet and then stuck it in the oven.  This way, everything was pretty much done at the same time.

I didn't make the whip cream until after I finished eating because I was starving. You can always buy it pre-made but, a little heavy whipping cream in a cold metal bowl stuck in a bigger glass bowl full of ice to keep the cream cool ain't that hard to make. I like to throw in a little coconut extract and some confectioners sugar but you can pretty much eyeball it as needed.  Following that, all you need is a little hand mixer and you are in business.  Mix it up until it reaches the level of thickness that you'd like.

The fun part of this was that both the frog princess and the monkey king were running around like chickens with their heads cut off.  So while I cooked, I got a chance to talk to my cousin (the monkey king's dad) and my brother who has spent the better part of the weekend sleeping. It's not that he's lazy, he has been running around too.  His band, A Dying Regime, released their EP on Friday night so, between school, work and playing in the band, I barely get to sit and interact with him.  It's part of the reason why I wanted to start having a night when we all hang out and share some love in the form of food. (shameless little brother plug: you can find the EP on sale on iTunes and Amazon for like $6. Punk metal might not be your thing but, it's pretty cool and this is coming from someone whose radio is stuck on the local Christian music station. Be sure to check out their site and support a local band. And by local band I mean my brother, who will buy me a nice birthday gift at the end of the month if sales go well.)

It was nice to be able to hang out in the kitchen, yell at the kids and trade jokes and stories with those two.  The best part? My cousin, now nicknamed Dirty Rice by my brother, did the dishes.  I think I enjoy cooking more when I know I don't  have dishes to take care of.

Dinner ended up being pretty delish but I think that ultimately, the goal of cooking was accomplished today and it really did feel like we were spending el domingo en familia.  Next week it will be Dirty Rice's turn to cook. He works in a restaurant so I'm expecting something fabulous. I'll be sure to take notes and write down recipes so that I can share it with you Sunday night.  The stories and jokes shared might be a different story, though. But, we'll play it by ear.

Do you have a special day in the week where you catch up with your family around the dinner table?

Mami Meal: Sabroso Saturday!

My new friend Ms. Latina from Latina On a Mission is doing a link up called Sabroso Saturday.  How could I NOT participate? It's perfect timing because I plan on blogging about all of the meals that I will make from my E-Mealz menu this week.  Everyone is interested and I figure if I have a "job" and must blog about it, I'll be motivated to cook (time me, let's see how long THAT lasts!).

Today's meal was Poppy Seed Chicken with White Rice and Broccoli.  The reason I like cooking as opposed to baking is that I believe bakers are neurotic (as opposed to cooks who are just plain old crazy!). You might be asking why I say that. You can never do a pinch or a dash when you bake and replacing and doing more or less of something could lead to disaster.

Well, I thought I had poppy seeds at the house. I remembered a glass jar with black seeds in it.  Alas, they were black sesame seeds instead.  And so, I ended up making Sesame Seed Chicken instead.  If this had been a cake, my kitchen would've probably blown up because of the substitution.  You get my drift.

I also didn't buy any rice because, hello?! I'm Dominican and by law, I must have a reserve 50-lb bag of rice in some corner of the house.  I'm afraid I am in danger of losing my card because I got home and barely had enough rice for this dish (sshhhh, don't tell the Dominican Regime).

Without further adieu, here is my recipe for Sabroso Saturday!  It turned out to be yummy! And, the frog princess ate like a whole head of broccoli which made this mami very happy.

Poppy Seed Sesame Chicken 1.5-2 lbs boneless chicken, cooked, chopped 2 cans cream of chicken soup 8 oz sour cream 1 tube Ritz®-like crackers (2 T poppy seeds, 1 stick melted butter) Rice, enough for your family 1 bunch broccoli

Cover chicken with water in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover. Cook 15 min. Drain & chop. Place chicken in greased 9x13” casserole dish (I totally forgot to grease! But thankfully, nothing melted in the oven). Combine chicken soup and sour cream; spoon over chicken. Sprinkle crushed crackers and poppy seeds over top; drizzle butter over casserole. Bake @350o, 30 min uncovered, until hot and bubbly. Serve over steamed rice. Cook enough rice for your family. Serve with steamed broccoli.

Here's a picture of my finished product.  Don't you just want a forkful?!

(recipe courtesy of E-Mealz.com)