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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
This past weekend, my roommate and I decided to be particularly …err…relaxed. We started off the weekend with espresso at 10pm and a game night with friends (which, by the way, included some of the most memorable Taboo quotes I’ve ever heard…though I don’t think I’d be allowed to share them here). We stocked up on sugar and Asian goods from the local Asian market, and proceeded to binge watch anime while we ate some homemade ramen. We ate way too much chocolate and also watched 10 Things I Hate About You (if you haven’t seen this movie – please, do yourself a favor and go rent it on Amazon or something). We played Mario Party. We vegged. Oh yeah, and somewhere in there, we devoured some Strawberries and Cream Cinnamon Rolls.
Little known fact: strawberries and cinnamon are actually delicious together. If you don’t believe me, you can also check out this Guava Strawberry Pie post. I won’t lie – at first, I thought I preferred my original recipe cinnamon rolls. But, after consuming 2 *cough* maybe three of these, I realized how very wrong I was. When Sunday came, I had to scramble to get rid of these puppies as fast as I could, for fear that I would eat the entire batch by myself. The strawberries and cream glaze would probably work just as well on biscuits, pancakes, whatever carb-laden delicious breakfast food you desire. Try not to eat it all off the spoon, though, if you can.
Let me do my duty as a nice person right now. If you’re trying to be “good” or on a diet – this probably isn’t the post for you. Really, you probably should just stop reading right now. There’ll be another Wellness Wednesday recipe up soon – you can catch back up with me then. If, however, you are craving something different, something extravagant, then just keep on scrolling. And maybe plan a jog for later.
Today, I have another wonderful family recipe for you. It’s one of my all-time favorite foods (and let me tell you, I’ve tried a lot of food). But today, in return for this treasure of a recipe, I’m going to ask that you do me a favor. Go get to know one of your friends a little bit better, and let them get to know you better. Intentionally strengthen a friendship with someone you don’t naturally get along with. Why this request, you ask? Well, let me explain.
I used to envy watching guys in their friendships – it was so often like watching a band of brothers. They were loyal to each other, almost family. They were real and weren’t afraid to laugh, fight, and, in a way, to claim each other. They would beat their chests and play their stupid games, and the girls would roll their eyes (and do a jealous double-take in their own minds). How could they be so real and unaffected? As a young woman, I watched from the sidelines hoping to one day have that kind of friendship, too. But this year, I’ve discovered sisterhood. I’ve been challenged by a group of women who are both real and intentional in the relationships they create, a roommate who is so open she unknowingly has the power to break down every last defense of the reticent, and best friends who manage to make a difference in my life even from hundreds of miles away. And I’ve never felt anything like this.
To have a community of people that really knows you is as wonderful as it is risky. Yes, there are reasons people keep to themselves. If you ask me, those reasons aren’t good enough. This world needs more community, because community brings challenge, growth, hope. It encourages real love and not just the superficial affectations of the cowardly. So, do yourself a favor, go make a friend if you don’t have one. Start a real friendship with someone you’re only acquaintances with. It will take effort, but it will be amazing. And so you say, “But, Damaris, how can I possibly break the barriers with [insert name of stranger here]?” Easy! Make them some Ropa Vieja, some white rice, and head on over to their side with a homemade Cuban lunch, courtesy of you, their-new-best-friend-to-be.
***************RECIPE UPDATED 11/22/16***************
When I was first learning to cook, I used to follow my mom around the kitchen, writing down everything little thing she did. The difficulty of learning to cook from any seasoned Cuban chef is that they rarely measure anything. So, as she was about to toss a handful of something into the pot, I would grab her hand and pour whatever she held into a measuring cup. Believe it or not, these were the beginnings of my Cuban cuisine education. After years of learning through studying, cooking, and a lot of trial and error, I can at least say this: I finally understand my mom.
Admittedly, I have been delaying posting Cuban recipes – and this one in particular. It’s hard to explain, but the Cuban kitchen has a lot to do with learning how flavors complement each other and adjusting to your audience. It has very little to do with careful measurements. That being said, you will find over time that experience with Cuban cuisine will allow you to make your own adjustments.
Now, as this is a post about a black bean stew – let me start by saying this. I have known many people who claimed they didn’t eat beans – that they didn’t like them. To this day, I have never met a person who wasn’t converted by this dish. This recipe belonged to my grandmother. In Cuba, she was famous for her black beans. She passed it on to my mother, who passed it on to me. I am delighted to be able to share it with you. In Cuba, dishes vary by the region from which they originated. Some Cuban black bean stews include pork or other meats for flavoring, but this one (my favorite) is completely vegetarian and emphasizes the decadent taste of the actual bean without being boring like so many bean dishes are.
I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude this week – thanks to some very wise friends of mine. Apart from amazing people, rockin music, and extraordinary books – I have to say hobbies make the top 5 in my gratitude list. Nothing makes my day quite as much as coming up with a stellar recipe and sharing it with you guys. Something about it feels like art – like expressing a little bit of my heart in some creative way can make this world a little better. Alright, enough with the mushy thoughts. Let’s get on to the mushy (is that a bad adjective?) food.
There’s nothing quite like a kickboxing workout to kick your healthy eating habits into gear. So, courtesy of my workout today (and of the ladies at Her Heart), I bring you the most savory salmon patties ever – Wellness Wednesday style. Now, if you aren’t from the South, odds are you’ve never heard of “salmon patties.” Well, let me introduce you to something you’ll never forget. Traditionally, they are a delicious form of croquette held together with bread crumbs and eggs, and fried. This version, however, is very light, using very little oil and bread and a lot of flavor. These patties are incredibly tender and pair very well with green vegetables or starches like baked potatoes.
If you’re looking for a healthy meal option that will set your flavor-lovin-tastebuds in a frenzy and make you feel like you’ve had a calorie-dense meal (without actually having one), these Teriyaki Salmon Patties are definitely the way to go. Enjoy!
We’re going to talk about Guava Strawberry Pie during this post, but first let me tell you a story. I met a man earlier this week who said he worked as a psychologist. He was a man of quickfire questions who left little time for replies. Yet, somehow, you left his side feeling as though you had shared your innermost self with him. He asked me, at one point, in his speed-questioning way, what had been the overarching lesson I had gleamed from my father. Pressed for time and without much time to think, the reply came on its own, “Do what you need to do, when you need to do it, and enjoy doing it.” Without of a moment of hesitation, he asked me the same question about my mother. Again, there wasn’t time to think this through. Yet again, the reply came on its own. “Love others to the best of your ability.”
Wow. How is it that in twenty seconds of my time, this man brought about two things about me that even I didn’t know? Why have I never really asked myself these questions? I was shocked, a little lost in reverie, as he went on to explore his own curiosity within my psyche. It was certainly an experience, and a very pertinent one in my life. Today, I want to celebrate the two people who have celebrated my efforts, who have loved me through my annoying phases and my know-it-all ones, and who have encouraged me to get past those phases. These people have sacrificed more for me than I have ever sacrificed for everyone in my life put together.
In their honor, this recipe brings in a hint of Cuban flavor to it with some guava and lime. It is very traditional for Cuban sweets to revolve around tropical fruits. In honor of the new things that their love allowed me to experience, I’ve incorporated a few of my favorite American flavors. Won’t you indulge me by indulging in this sweet treat? This pie really is “the best of both worlds.” Sweet, homey, and delicious. Grab some vanilla ice cream and a warm piece of pie, and let the memories take you where they may! I will gladly join you.
So, last week my hard drive failed. Boy, did I learn my lesson in backing up everything. In fact, if you’re sitting at your computer, and your pile of un-backed up data is lying in wait of some unexpected disaster (such as hard drive failure…or a tornado, who knows?), go back it up right now. Seriously, I’ll understand. On a wonderfully happy note, ASUS (a company I now have a crush on…is that possible?) not only repaired my out-of-warranty laptop (for free!), but they did it and got it back to me within days! Days!!
In celebration, I decided to make muffins. Oh yes, tea and muffins. Glorious, glorious muffins. Have you ever put your mouth up to something and, quite literally, inhaled in order to just get it in your mouth? That’s what happened to me with the batter for these muffins. It’s one recipe I’ve been experimenting with for a while and, while it is most certainly not a Wellness Wednesday recipe, I just felt the need to share it with you. I love oats, muffins, and good snacks for pairing with tea time. These muffins are all that and more.
Seriously, I’ve paired them with meals, I’ve eaten them for breakfast, and I’ve enjoyed them with my tea and coffee. Now, you must be saying to yourself… “Wow, she eats a lot of muffins.” It’s…probably true. I’ve made these multiple times over the last month – and I’m not easy to please in the muffin department. You’ll understand when you try them. You’ll especially understand if you try them with a little bit of butter and a side of tea. As per usual, I’ve included my personal tea choice for them. Enjoy!
Today my husband arrived early in the morning from a 9-hour bus ride. You know, long-distance marriage can be a bear. But when your husband loves you enough to take overnight bus trips (cheerfully) just to be able to see you more often, it can really make you appreciate what you’ve got. This morning, I decided to celebrate his arrival with a late-morning breakfast.
This morning I wanted to take a new twist on an old favorite. And so was born the recipe for Gouda Eggs Benedict With Bacon Crumble. It was soooo tasty. Trust me – you’ll understand when you find yourself halfway through licking the stirring spoon for the sauce and realize you need to save some for your breakfast. Yes, this happened.
Gosh I love breakfast food. There’s something that can be so comforting and peaceful about a quiet (and delicious) breakfast with your loved ones. Speaking of peaceful – what’s a good, peaceful breakfast without some tea? I don’t know about you guys, but I love tea. Yes, even in the summertime. So, I have provided in the recipe my personal tea pairing choice.
It is imperative with this dish that you use good Gouda. My favorite is actually a colossal hunk of Gouda cheese wheel that they sell at Costco. The cheese is ultimately what will determine how subtle and savory your sauce turns out. This sauce is an easier, but just as decadent, take on the standard hollandaise sauce. If you are craving a creamy, savory, filling breakfast dish, look no further.