February 2nd, 2016

Easy Cuban Empanadas (Empanadas Cubanas)

Easy Cuban Empanadas

I don’t know why this never ceases to surprise me, but most people I meet have never eaten Cuban food. Now, considering the sum total population of 11MM people on the island, you would think “hey, Damaris – that’s to be expected.” Now, whenever I meet someone, it feels like it is my mission from the universe to make sure they experience Cuban food, Thai food, Korean food, Japanese food, and Vietnamese food – at a minimum (and in that order). It isn’t always the simplest thing to quickly cook up some Cuban black bean stew or some ropa vieja – but gosh darn it, I will at least fry up some Cuban empanadas.

Easy Cuban EmpanadasEasy Cuban Empanadas

If you have experienced at least a simple (and incredibly, crazy delicious) street food from each of these places, I feel like my universe debt is paid. Because we need to cover our bases in order – we’ll start you off with Cuban. Empanadas were one of the first Cuban dishes I ever learned to make. My mom taught me, and this was one of our tag-team recipes, where she would prepare the filling, and then I would shape and close the empanada. If you have little ones of your own, you might find this is a great recipe for keeping those little hands busy without making a lot of mess.

Easy Cuban Empanadas

There are so many different doughs and fillings you can use to make empanadas that this recipe is just the way to open a door to a world of creativity. You can go sweet, salty, gooey, crunchy. Our personal favorites use either picadillo, or guava paste and cream cheese. The Cuban kitchen is all about being resourceful – using what’s available, using up leftovers, making the most of everything. These are a great way to enjoy the heck out of some leftover meat, veggie, or rice dishes. Do me a favor – help me ease my debt to the universe, and go make yourself some empanadas. I promise this is one debt that’s actually very fun to repay.

Easy Cuban Empanadas

 

Recipe follows after the jump –>

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August 30th, 2015

Bistec Empanizado (Cuban Breaded Steak)

Cuban Breaded Steak (Bistec Empanizado) via HeartofHomemade.com

It is almost September, and I am nearing one year of residence in Tennesse (wow!). These last few months have been a whirlwind. Between starting a new job, finally getting to move in with my husband, and buying a house, life has seldom slowed down. But the onset of Fall brings wonderful things, and this time it has brought a small spot of peace and quiet in an otherwise crazy life. Today, I want to share with you a recipe that I learned from my mother. When I was little, this was one of our “tag team” recipes. When you have to bread meat, it is a good idea to have a ‘little helper’ to be the dry hands or the wet hands, depending on your preference. It’s not only a great bonding experience, it’s also a good first lesson on working with raw meat (which, let’s face it, can be pretty off-putting at first).

Cuban Breaded Steak (Bistec Empanizado) via HeartofHomemade.com

Growing up, I was a little confused by the term “steak.” You see, in our household, steak was a very thin slice of meat, well-seasoned, and well-done. Imagine my surprise when I encountered the barely-seasoned, thick-cut steak that is the American standard. Where were the garlic, the onions – why was the meat so thick? Wait, people actually eat this stuff RAW (to me, ‘pink’ was raw)?! Needless to say, I have come a long way in my steak eating adventures. And, yes, now I will also eat medium-well steaks.

Cuban Breaded Steak (Bistec Empanizado) via HeartofHomemade.com

But, let me take you on a little trip to our Cuban home, where breaded and fried Cuban steak was the ultimate ‘treat’ meal. It’s an aroma that inundates the house – you know it as soon as you walk in. As a kid, the smell of ‘Bistec Empanizado’ triggered an instant run-to-the-kitchen-just-to-verify.  It was glorious. To this day, I’ve never met a person who didn’t love this dish (save a few vegetarians who, to be fair, have never tried it). It is a staple at Cuban restaurants, and it is a traditional dish in Cuban homes.

Cuban Breaded Steak (Bistec Empanizado) via HeartofHomemade.com

 

—> Recipe Follows After the Jump

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August 14th, 2015

Trickster Treat Double Chocolate Muffins

Trickster Treat Double Chocolate Muffins

At the risk of being way too early for this, I honestly can’t help myself. Today was our first cool morning of the year, the first vestige of the oncoming Fall season. Oh, I know. You’re not ready for summer to be over yet, please Damaris, don’t talk about it. Oh, but I can’t help it! My heart is swelling with the thought of smoky air and a kaleidoscopic world of multicolor leaves. To think that I will soon be able to decorate the house with glass pumpkins and cute scarecrows, to know that our Fall vegetables will bloom in the garden… it is magical. So, here is my daring entrance into the Fall season, even though it seems the rest of the world is not quite as fond of it as I am.

Trickster Treat Double Chocolate Muffins

My husband and I have been making an effort in the last year to continue our course toward habitually eating well. Mind you, I refuse to put anything in my mouth that I will not absolutely relish. I am a mere 5’2″ and I just don’t have the calories to waste. Here is one of my favorite creations – the Trickster Treat Double Chocolate Muffins. Why “Trickster,” you ask? Well, if I could ask you to make this recipe blindfolded, try it, and then tell me what you thought was in it – boy, would you be tricked. To prevent some major potential fire hazards, I’ll just spoil the trick.

Trickster Treat Double Chocolate Muffins

This recipe has no oil, no butter, and is made with whole wheat flour, flax seed meal, and bran flakes. I promise – one of these, and you will be full for a good, long while. But here’s the real trick – these are tastier than a lot of the regular chocolate muffins I’ve had. You’re welcome.

Trickster Treat Double Chocolate Muffins

 

Recipe Follows After The Jump->

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February 10th, 2015

Whipped Malanga Puree With Brown Garlic Butter (Pure De Malanga)

Whipped Malanga Puree With Brown Garlic Butter | via HeartofHomemade.com

Whenever I’ve tried to describe malanga to someone in the past, it’s usually limited to: “well, it’s kind of like a potato.” Do you like potatoes? If you don’t…I just, I don’t know what to do with that. But if you do, think of malanga as potato’s long, thin cousin (because we all have one). It’s a starchy root vegetable with a good deal of nutritional value and a lot of digestive benefits. In Cuban cuisine, this style of puree is typical for a lunch meal, and would commonly be eaten for lunch with an egg over-medium on top.

Whipped Malanga Puree With Brown Garlic Butter | via HeartofHomemade.com

Whipped Malanga Puree With Brown Garlic Butter | via HeartofHomemade.com

Growing up, I heard countless tales of the miraculous healing powers that this puree has for the stomach. You’ll have to be the judge on that, but, whether or not it has the power to heal, it can definitely be a deliciously fluffy side dish to many a Cuban entree. That being said, this is probably not the first thing I would make for someone trying Cuban food for the first time. This is more of a second-date dish (if you date your food, that is). My husband just laughed out loud at that last sentence – apparently “dating my food” is very me. Well, ain’t no disguising the truth.

Whipped Malanga Puree With Brown Garlic Butter | via HeartofHomemade.com

Now, as a proper Cuban, I have a love affair with garlic. I do my best to dial it down for the sake of everyone’s breath, but let’s face it, garlic is a wonderful thing. I’ve included just a hint of garlic in this recipe, but it really makes all the difference between a bland puree and a tasty side dish – don’t skip it! As always, I’d love to know what changes/additions/subtractions you have found to make tasty twists on this recipe!

Recipe follows after the jump –>

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January 27th, 2015

Ramen Noodles Chronicles: Part 1

Ramen Noodles Chronicles: Part 1 via Heartofhomemade.com

Ok, so first things first – I’m back! In the last three months, just about everything has changed in my life. I started a new job, my husband and I are finally working in the same state (wooo!), and I have happily kissed the days of long-distance marriage goodbye. Forgiiiive me for how long I had to be gone. As it happens, packing and unpacking can take forever if you happen to be starting a new job at the same time (and let’s not even talk about what happens when the winter holidays begin in the middle of that). But, in order to christen this happy new time – my husband and I worked on this post together!

Ramen Noodles Chronicles: Part 1 via Heartofhomemade.com

Here’s a question – have you ever had ramen noodles in a non-college setting? Better yet, have you had ramen noodles that are not microwaveable? If you have, it’s quite possible you know just how amazing they are. Seriously. Ramen is one of those things you can either whip up with a quick broth and a few additions, or go all out and make a broth that takes all day. But I think it’s fair to say – there’s no good ramen without good ramen noodles. This is the first in a series of trials we will do, testing which noodles are the best. For this recipe, we did three variations, each time with a slightly wetter dough. Since I’ve had these noodles three times since making them (no, really, I’ll take this one for the team), I can say that all three variations taste the same once cooked – so it’s a pretty forgiving recipe.

Ramen Noodles Chronicles: Part 1 via Heartofhomemade.com

While this is the first ramen noodles post – this is far from the first recipe we’ve tested. There are some great aspects to this particular recipe: the noodle texture holds up well once cooked. Some ramen noodle recipes, while tasting great, will give a noodle that falls apart more quickly (as in – you better start eating as soon as the noodles hit the broth). It’s a great recipe for freezing in individual-size portions; it’s also fairly quick and inexpensive; and, lastly, it doesn’t have the same numb-your-mouth level of salt that other recipes have. Since ramen broths can be fairly salty to begin with, these noodles are a great compliment to any broth!

Ramen Noodles Chronicles via Heartofhomemade.com

I’m sorry – I really wish I could say there wasn’t a catch. There’s definitely a catch. This recipe requires a pasta roller and an angel hair cutter. If you have to do your cutting by hand, ramen noodles can become a big time investment. I will, however, say that I definitely used to cut my ramen noodles by hand. So, to me, it was still worth it. If you’re feeling a little bit out of the box tonight – this might be your night to make ramen! I’d love to know how this recipe turns out for you and what tips or tricks you might have to make it better!

Recipe follows after the jump –>

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September 7th, 2014

Brief Intermission

I am here briefly to say this: I have been absolutely broken-hearted that I’ve neglected you and I’m sooo anxious and excited to get back with you all again soon! As life would have it, my blogging time has required a brief intermission as I take care of some details in my personal life. But rest assured, the delicious stuff of your dreams is coming soon! I will be back in ******UPDATE* Next week! (Mid-January)****** with a slew of truly addicting, amazing, slobber-inducing goodies. Luckily, there has still been time for kitchen experimentation, and I can’t wait to share it all with you!

Missing you immensely,

DZ

 

BackSoonSign

 

 

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August 20th, 2014

Cuban Picadillo in Napa Cabbage Rolls

Cuban Picadillo in Napa Cabbage Rolls | via HeartofHomemade.com

It’s raining outside. And as the sun goes down in a long, white stretch across the sky outside my window, I can’t help but think that this is what peace looks like. There is some inexplicable thing about the sky and the rain that makes them seem to exude life. Or maybe they do actually exude life. I’m not sure I’ll ever know, but I’m pretty content to just sit here and watch. The thing is, life is just so exciting if we learn to explore new things.

Cuban Picadillo in Napa Cabbage Rolls | via HeartofHomemade.com

This week has been a project for me. I’ve been challenged to limit my carbs to one meal per day, either breakfast or lunch. If you have any idea how much I cherish dinner, the one time day I actually have time to make a proper meal, you know this is a significant sacrifice for me. Well, at least, that’s what I thought, too. I spent most of Monday dreading dinner-time, sad that I would be missing out on a normal meal.

Cuban Picadillo in Napa Cabbage Rolls | via HeartofHomemade.com

You see, it’s hard for me to think that any meal without carbs could be worth eating. It’s a mindset that has been proven wrong over and over again, but I have a hard time believing it each time. Anyway, as the day progressed, I thought of some of the things I enjoy the most that would be easy to make and would somehow disprove my skepticism. Cuban “picadillo” is a ground beef dish that I’ve made for many friends of many different backgrounds – and it always goes over well. The best part about it is that it goes together so quickly, but that you still end up with a meal that looks like it took hours of laborious effort. Typically, picadillo is served over white rice. But, in this low carb variation, the meat is combined with steamed napa cabbage, where the picadillo’s tasty sauce happily complements the flavor of the vegetable. I promise you, this is one dinner you won’t soon forget.

 

Recipe follows after the jump –>

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August 14th, 2014

Honey Oat Bran Loaf and Homemade Butter

 

Honey Oat Bran Loaf and Homemade Butter | via HeartofHomemade.com

 

Wow, life has been crazy recently. One weekend involving two 8 hour drives (and two audiobooks), 3 days of feeling dead-to-the-world tired, several cups of tea, and 1 honey oat bran loaf later – I am back to reality. I don’t know about you guys, but I can smell Fall in the air outside. The crisp notes of cooler times coming our way, the hint of slightly wet leaves and grass, the tinge of something reminiscent of smoke in the air. I loooooove the Fall. And right now I am just aching inside for Fall festivals, pumpkin picking, and jumping around in piles of leaves.

Homemade Butter | via HeartofHomemade.com

That being said, if you’re a Fall lover like me, this loaf is one way to sneakily begin to celebrate the arrival of the season. It’s got the warm touch of Fall dishes, while still being enough like a regular loaf bread to be acceptable in the summer. And, along with it is the recipe for one of the easiest (and most delicious) things you can ever make: butter. Seriously, ten minutes, tops. And it’s sooo good. Plus, it’s actually kind of fun.

Honey Oat Bran Loaf and Homemade Butter | via HeartofHomemade.com

Grab a mug of cocoa (or lemonade, depending on your favorite season) and snuggle up on the couch to enjoy a slice of this loaf. It’s got a smooth glaze around it’s edges that will simply make your mouth water. If you come across good variations, changes, subtractions, or additions, let me know! I’d love to hear how they turn out!

 

Recipe follows after the jump –> read more »

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August 7th, 2014

Croquetas de Jamon (Cuban Ham Croquettes)

Croquetas de Jamon (Cuban Ham Croquettes) | via HeartofHomemade.com

I’ve recently decided I would really like to avoid ever being called a “great person” or a “nice person.” I’ve found that every time I hear those phrases, they are swiftly followed by an insult. You’ve heard it, right? “She’s a nice person, but…” It is the northern equivalent to the Southern “Bless her heart. [insert backhanded insult here].” So, in support of that effort, I won’t bother explaining how addicting these things are. I won’t be nice and warn you that you’ll never want to go back to the frozen variety. I won’t do it.

Croquetas de Jamon (Cuban Ham Croquettes) | via HeartofHomemade.com

Croquetas de Jamon (Cuban Ham Croquettes) | via HeartofHomemade.com

The average American will look at you sideways if you mention anything about “ham paste” or “ground ham.” It’s a concept that’s different – but very normal for Cuban food. And it’s been my experience that the average American will also love these croquettes. Been there, tested it. Trust me.  This recipe is tried and true, authentic, and delicious. For a typical Cuban lunch, grab yourself some amazingly soft rolls (or Cuban bread, if you have access to it), and make a sandwich out of these croquettes. Some people like to add ketchup or some other condiment to the sandwich. Personally, I like mine with the core ingredients: croquetas and bread.

Croquetas de Jamon (Cuban Ham Croquettes) | via HeartofHomemade.com

I used to think these were so hard to make, or time consuming, or something! There had to be some reason even the best hispanic chefs I know kept buying the frozen croquetas, which almost always carried an unpleasant hint of freezer-burn. But no – the majority of the time spent in this recipe is just waiting for the filling to cool. Waiting. That doesn’t even count.  These could not be easier to make. They require little to no ingredients, and there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t go make them right now.

When you get done eating, let me know what you liked about them, what tweaks you made, how you made them your own. I’d love to know!

Recipe follows after the jump –>

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August 6th, 2014

Best Dinner Rolls

Best Dinner Rolls | via HeartofHomemade.com

Here’s a short story for you, my friends. Once upon a time, there was a girl who searched to the ends of the Earth for a dinner roll recipe that would suit her needs. She found many different varieties…some buttery, some hard, some yeasty, some crusty. But no recipe in all the land gave her exactly what she wanted: long-lasting fluffiness and perfect texture, delicious flavor, and easy technique. One day, when this girl was supposed to be taking a break from blog recipes, she accidentally created a magical recipe that was everything she had ever hoped for. She tested it again, and again it came out perfect. “It can’t be!” she cried. And she proceeded to stuff her face with bread.

Best Dinner Rolls | via HeartofHomemade.com

Best Dinner Rolls | via HeartofHomemade.com

Guys. That was based on a true story. I may have never mentioned this before – but bread is one of my very favorite things on this planet. I am extremely picky about it, and it is very often my favorite part of the meal at restaurants. There is just nothing like bread fresh out of the oven. Nope. So, after years of looking for a rolls recipe that could be enjoyed for dinner, but then also enjoyed for the rest of the week with breakfast and lunch – I’ve found it. And, even though I was supposed to be taking a break… I just have to share it.

Best Dinner Rolls | via HeartofHomemade.com

This recipe is very tweak-able. If you want sweet bread, add some more honey. If you want cheesy bread, add your favorite grated cheese. If you want herbs, add some herbs. Have a party with it! And let me know how your tweaks turned out! I’d love to hear about some variations on this recipe.

 

Recipe follows after the jump –>

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