Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Day 5 - Black beans, Rice with chayote, baked plaintains

Sorry, I completely forgot to post my last of the 5 central american meals! This last one was really good, too. 

Cuban Black Beans
Recipe from

2/3 lb black beans
1 large green peppers, roughly chopped
2 cups water
1 cup chicken broth
1 T olive oil
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 small onions, diced
1/4 tsp oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small bay leaf
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp dry wine, optional

Wash beans and let them soak in waterand half of the green pepper over night at room temperature. Once beans have swollen, simmer on stove until they become soft (about 45 minutes).
Heat olive oil in pan and sauté onion, garlic, and the rest of the green pepper. Add 1 cup of the cooked beans to pan and mash well. Return entire mixture to pot with beans. Add salt, pepper, oregano, bay leaf, and sugar. Cover and return to boil. Simmer for 1 hour longer.


Rice With Chayote
Recipe from

"Chayote is a relative of squashes and has a gentle flavor. This is a classic dish in Guatemala."

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium chayotes, pared and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 cups cooked rice
1 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper
snipped chives

Heat 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil in 12 inch skillet until hot. Cook and stir chayote over medium heat until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes; remove from heat. Cook and stir onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in rice, cook and stir until hot, about 8 minutes. Stir in chayote, tomato, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until tomato is hot, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chives.

 Oven Baked Sweet Plantains
Recipe from

4 very ripe plantains ( when the skin is yellow with spots of black they're perfect)
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a nonstick cookie sheet with cooking spray. Cut the ends off of the plantains and peel. Cut each plantain on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange in single layer and coat tops with cooking spray. Bake, turning occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until plantains are golden brown and very tender.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 4 - Pepinos Rellenos, Jocon, and rice

Today we had stuffed cucumbers and a chicken dish with a tomatillo/cilantro sauce. I really liked this dish. I know that everyone falls into one of the following categories, you hate cilantro or you love it. We love it in our house. We use it quite often. The Jocon recipe uses a lot of cilantro but when it's cooked down, it's flavor does mellow out. It isn't as strong as the fresh cilantro flavor. I'll definitely make this again.
I only put in one jalapeno in the chicken dish and it wasn't that spicey. I try to make my dishes not too spicey so my son will maybe like it and eat it.

Pepinos Rellenos
Recipe from

2 cucumbers
1/2 of a lime (for rubbing)
1 red pimiento chilies (or can use a red jalapeno) (I didn’t this so I used red bell pepper and a dash of cayenne)
3 ounces cream cheese
1 tsp cream
1 tsp basil
1 T green onions, chopped
1 garlic cloves, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pinch paprika
Cut the cucumbers down the middle, lengthwise, peel and remove the seeds. Rub the cucumbers with lime juice, and salt and pepper. Cut the red pepper down the middle, remove the seeds, and dice into small pieces. Combine the cream cheese and cream together with the remaining ingredients and mix well. Fill the cucumbers with mixture and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut into slices and serve. Can serve on a bed of iceberg or romaine.

(Guatemalan chicken in tomatillo-cilantro sauce)
Recipe from

4 to 6 servings
2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken, cut into serving pieces
4 cups water
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds/pepitas (the green ones)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 corn tortillas, chopped, soaked in water, drained
1 cup tomatillos, hulled and chopped
couple large handfuls to 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 to 5 jalapeños or serrano chile peppers, chopped

Place the chicken, water and salt into a large pot over medium-high flame. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the chicken to a bowl and strain and set aside the broth. Let chicken cool, then remove the meat from the bones and shred it with your fingers. Set aside.

Heat a dry skillet over medium flame. Add the pumpkin and sesame seeds and toast, stirring, until lightly browned. Remove to a coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder. Add the sesame and pumpkin seeds, tortillas, tomatillos, cilantro, scallions and chile peppers to a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup of the reserved broth and process until smooth. If using a blender you may have to do this step in batches.

Return the chicken to the pot. Pour over pureed sauce and add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the remaining broth to give it a sauce-like consistency. Heat over medium-low flame and simmer for an additional 15-25 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve with rice.

Jocon Variations:
~Leave the chicken pieces whole if you prefer.
~ If you can't find pumpkin seeds, simply use 1/2 cup of sesame seeds. And if finding sesame seeds is a problem, you can substitute a slightly smaller amount of tahini.
~ Cubed pork can be substituted for the chicken. There is no need to shred the pork, but you may need to simmer it longer for it to become tender.
~ Use any remaining broth to make rice to accompany the meal.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 3 - Pollo en Pina with rice

This pineapple chicken dish was really good! It sounds like an odd combination of ingredients but it comes together nicely and easily. I used 1 1/2 lbs of chicken breasts instead of the whole chicken.

Guatemalan Chicken with Pineapple (Pollo en Pina)
2 T canola oil
3 -3 1/2 lbs broiler-fryer chickens, in pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pineapple, cut in 1 inch cubes 
1/2 cup dry sherry (or chicken stock or water)
2 T vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 dash pepper
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped      
hot cooked rice (can cook concurrently so all is ready at the same time)
Heat oil in large skillet; cook chicken on med heat until brown on all sides-- approx 15 min. Remove chicken, cook onion and garlic in remaining oil until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Return chicken to skillet. Mix all remaining ingredients except tomatoes and rice; pour over chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 min. Add tomatoes; simmer, uncovered, until thickest pieces of chicken are cooked through-- approx 20 min. Serve with rice. Serves 6.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Day 2 - Pupusas, Curtido, and Salsa

These are from El Salvador but can be found in Guatemala (from what I read). Although these are a bit of work, they turned out pretty good. There are 3 parts to the pupusas and then you make the salsa and slaw separately. That is what makes it so time consuming. The parts of it are easy but there are a lot of parts to it all. 

The Curtido can be also eaten with tacos or anything really. (I've never made fish tacos but this would be great on them I would think.) My husband LOVED it. It has a bit of a kick with the cayenne and tastes even better the next day. I usually try to go light on the spice since my son doesn't like spicy things. But this turned out too spicy for him. I thought the spice was just right for this.

I think the salsa is really good, too, and can be used for anything you want to spice up. You blend it up so it's a smooth salsa. Mine came out at a medium heat. I used one small red jalapeno and half of a medium green one. Both were from my garden. I haven't seen red ones in the store before. Feel free to use whatever peppers you like!

Recipe adapted from

The Beans

2 T plus 1 tsp canola oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 can red beans
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt

Heat 1 tsp canola oil in a large soup pan on medium high heat. Once the oil is heated saute the onion until they start to become golden brown. Place the beans, water, and cooked onion into blender and blend for 1 minute. Heat 2 T oil in pan. Carefully stir the beans from the blender into the hot oil. Turn your heat down to medium low. Carefully stir the beans until no oil appears in the beans. Cook on medium stirring about every 5 minutes until the beans have darkened about 3 shades and are the consistency of refried beans in a can. Stir in salt.
The Cheese

8oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 green bell peppers,diced  
1/2 medium jalapeno, diced
Place the shredded mozzarella, bell pepper, and jalapeno in a food processor and process until the peppers are chopped into tiny pieces and fully incorporated into the cheese. Next, place the cheese mixture into a glass bowl and warm the mix in the microwave for no more than 20 seconds. Next squeeze the cheese mixture with your hands until it becomes like a soft putty consistency. Set the cheese aside and get ready for the masa.
The Masa

2 1/4 cups masa corn flour
1 1/4 cup warm water
Place the masa and water in a bowl and stir until fully mixed. The masa should be sticky but should form an easy ball when rolled. If not, add water until it is sticky but easy to work with. Next, Place an egg size ball of masa in your hand (it helps to place a tiny bit of oil on your hands before doing this) and press the masa out in one hand to represent a small plate the size of your palm. Place about a tablespoon of cheese down onto the masa, then a tsp of beans. Pull the sides of the masa up around the beans and cheese and roll it into a ball. Next, flatten it a tiny bit with your palms to form a thick disc. Pat the disc turning it between your hands about 6 times to flatten it more but to keep it in a round shape. The pupusa should be a little less than 1/2 inch thick. Place the pupusa on a large oiled non stick surface and cook on medium high until each side is golden brown, around 3 minutes on each side.
Another way to do this is to use a tortilla press. Get an egg size ball of masa and divide it in two. Place one ball in a tortilla press lined with plastic wrap. Press thin. Do the same to the other ball. Place a tablespoon of cheese on one circle. Then place a teaspoon of beans on top of the cheese. Next place the other circle on top and press the edges together with your fingers. Cook as directed above.

Curtido De Repollo - El Salvadorean Cabbage Salad

1 head green cabbage
1 cup apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup water 
1 medium onion
1-2 large carrots
1 tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
scant 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp brown sugar (optional) 

Using a hand-grater or the grater attachment of your food processor, shred cabbage, carrots and onion. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Use the back of a wooden spoon to press all the ingredients down so they are submerged in liquid. Allow to rest at room temperature or in the refrigerator before serving, ideally for at least 4-6 hours. Serve with pupusas, or as a topping for fish, quesadillas, or other dishes.

Salsa for Pupusas
Recipe adapted from
4 roma tomatoes or 1 (14oz) can of tomatoes
1/2 cup small white onions, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove 
4 serrano chilies (I used one small red jalapeno and ½ of a med green jalapeno)
2 cups water 
1/2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1 tsp canola oil
1/2 tsp vinegar

Place the first 5 ingredients in the blender and blend on high. Heat the canola oil on medium high heat and pour the salsa into the pan. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar and the chicken bouillon powder and continue boiling for 10 minutes until the salsa is reduced by half. Allow the salsa to come down to room temperature and serve.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Central American menus - Day 1 - Hilachas, Guatemalan rice, Tostones

One day about a week ago when I was making my meal plan, I had this great idea. Since my 5 year old son is Guatemalan, I thought I'd make an entire week of Guatemalan food. I'm not sure if he really appreciated it or not but he tried everything.
So when I did some research online I found it difficult to find what things were truly from Guatemala. So this ended up being a central american kind of week.
I don't think I've spent so much time in the kitchen cooking or used my rice cooker so much in one week. Everything turned out good. Even the picky preschoolers didn't complain too much with the new food. Needless to say, For this week, I quickly did a few freezer meals on monday so I'm not in the kitchen all week again! 
I wanted to blog about it because I'm not sure the people I know really know what the food is like there. Of course they have their fair share of junk food like us but here is a sampling of what I could find. I will definitely make some of these meals again but I doubt I'll do a full week of it.
This first one is like a beef stew. I have to say, that I really messed it up the first night and started again the next day. I rarely cook with beef and when I do it's usually ground beef. This recipe calls for flank steak and I never do steak because I don't really care for it. So I just followed the recipe and the meat came out so tough that I couldn't even chew it! Ugh! I also used a skirt steak the first time. I really don't know the differences in steak and I don't really care since I don't like it. But the rest of my family loves it so I tried it. I changed the recipe to something I know I could do - the slow cooker. It turned out really well this way for me.
The kids loved the hilachas with the rice and tostones. 
Note- that I didn't make this spicy since my son doesn't like spicy food. I used one jalapeno and it was really spicy at all.
Hilachas (Guatemalan Shredded Beef in Tomato-Tomatillo Sauce)
Adapted from

1 1/2 lbs beef flank steak
3 cups water
2-3 T oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1 cup tomatillos, chopped
2 -3 guajillo chilies, warmed over a flame, seeded and chopped (or can use jalapenos)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 -3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 handfuls cilantro, chopped
Place the beef, water and a big pinch of salt into a slow cooker. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or until cook through. Remove the beef to a bowl, reserving the broth, and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, shred the beef with your fingers and set aside.
 While the beef is simmering, place the onion, tomatoes, tomatillos and chiles in a food processor or blender and puree, adding a little water if necessary. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium flame. Add the onion-tomato puree and simmer until the puree is cooked down and darkens somewhat in color, about 10 minutes. Do not burn.
Add the shredded beef and about 3 cups of the broth to the onion-tomato puree and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
Stir in the potatoes, carrots and a little more broth or water if necessary Simmer until the potatoes and carrots are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in the breadcrumbs to thicken the sauce. Transfer to serving dish and top with cilantro.
Serves 6-8.
Arroz Guatemalteco

2 cups white rice
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 cups mixed vegetables ( carrots, celery, sweet red peppers and peas)
4 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable broth
salt and pepper
Saute rice in oil until rice has absorbed the oil but has not changed color. Add vegetables, salt and pepper, and 4 C of broth. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until liquid has been absorbed about 20 minutes.
Or if using a rice cooker, Saute rice as directed, then add all ingredients to the rice cooker and cook according to cooker directions.
Tostones (Fried Plantains)
I actually make these often. We love them. Plantains are a starchy side to any meal. Below is a picture of a ripe plantain. For this recipe I like to use unripe ones - the ones that are still green. (I just forgot to take a picture of it before I made them!) The green ones aren't sweet like ripe ones. They taste more like a potato, if I have to describe it. Later on in the week, I will make baked plantains with a ripe one. It's ok to use the yellow ones or the black ones. The more black they are, the sweeter they are.
Also, as you can see, I kinda burnt these that I made. I tend to do that when I have too many things going on at once. They were still good!

2 unripe plantains
1/2 cup oil

Peel the plantains and cut 1-inch slices. Heat oil in a pan and fry plantains on each side until golden. Remove from pan and let them drain on paper towel. Flatten each piece with a glass until about 1/3-inch thick. Fry each on both sides until golden. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Support us in our race!

We have decided to join Team Orphans this year and race for a purpose.  We will be competing, along with a few friends, in the Fort 4 Fitness Event on September 29th, 2012 and our team goal is to raise $1200.

Our son is running the kids marathon, My husband is running the half marathon and I will be running the 10k race.

Team Orphans supports Brittany’s Hope Foundation, who place grants on special needs children in orphanages (sibling groups, older children, or children with medical needs) to help pay for their adoption costs.

There are more than 147 million orphans worldwide. Many of the children adopted internationally will have medical costs depending on their medical need on top of the cost of the adoption and travel. Many families wouldn’t be able to adopt without these grants. There are so many kids in need of a family! Help us raise money to help one more child come home!

Would you be willing to sponsor us in our race by making a tax-deductible donation to Brittany’s Hope Foundation?   100% of the money you donate will go toward adoption grants.

To donate:
1-       visit  and donate online
2-      or mail a check to:   (put “Fort Wayne Team” on the memo section of your check)

                                      Brittany’s Hope Foundation
                                                      Team Orphans
                                                      1160 N Market Street
                                                      Elizabethtown, PA 17022


We also have cookbooks left from our daughter’s adoption fundraiser. If you are interested in purchasing a book for $20, all the money will go to team orphans and towards our goal of $1200. Go to for more information on the book. Then let us know if you’d like to purchase one. You can pay us in cash or check.

Thank you for your support!

 Todd, Amy and Josiah Miller