Fun Recipes to Try

I’m going to be testing these recipes soon and blogging about them. In the meantime, here are the recipes. Don’t they look great?  You can find more recipes on Vive Mejor.

Buffalo Chicken Riceimage001

Recipe serves: 4

Prep Time:

15 min

Cook Time:

40 min


· 4 Tbsp. Country Crock® Spread, divided

· 2 cups shredded cooked chicken

· 1/4 cup cayenne pepper sauce, divided

· 1 cup regular rice [or converted rice]

· 2 cups water

· 1 1/2 Tbsp. Knorr® Chicken flavor Bouillon

· 1/2 cup Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Light Mayonnaise

· 1/2 cup sour cream

· 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

· 1/2 cup chopped celery

· 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese


1. Preheat oven to 375°. Spray 8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons Country Crock® Spread in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat and heat chicken with 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper sauce, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Remove chicken mixture and set aside.

3. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons Spread in same skillet and cook rice, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes or until golden. Stir in water and Knorr® Chicken flavor Bouillon and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered 20 minutes or until rice is tender.

4. Remove rice from heat, then stir in chicken mixture, remaining 3 tablespoon cayenne pepper sauce, Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Light Mayonnaise and sour cream. Spread 1/2 of the mixture in prepared dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, then top with remaining chicken mixture and cheddar cheese.

5. Bake 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with celery and blue cheese.

Guava Glazed Pork Roast


Recipe serves: 12

Prep Time:

10 min

Cook Time:

75 min


· 5 -lb. boneless pork loin roast, trimmed

· 2 cups water

· 3 Knorr® Reduced Sodium Chicken flavor Bouillon Cubes, crumbled

· 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

· 4 green onions, thinly sliced

· 2 tsp. ground ginger

· 1 cup guava jelly


1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Arrange pork in a large roasting pan and season, if desired, with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour. Meanwhile, bring water and next 4 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve bouillon. Boil about 3 minutes or until sauce is reduced slightly. Stir in jelly and continue to boil an additional 3 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Reserve 1 cup. Brush remaining glaze over pork and continue to roast until a meat thermometer inserted in roast reaches 160°F. Serve sliced pork with reserved guava sauce.

Apple Spice Crumb Cake


Recipe serves: 16

Prep Time:

20 min

Cook Time:

50 min



· 3 cups all-purpose flour

· 2 cups sugar

· 1 Tbsp. baking powder

· 1/2 tsp. salt

· 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

· 1/4 tsp. ground ginger

· 1/4 tsp. baking soda

· 4 large eggs, slightly beaten

· 1 1/4 cups Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise

· 1 tsp. vanilla extract

· 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped


· 1 cup all-purpose flour

· 3/4 cup sugar

· 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

· 1/2 cup Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise


1. For Apple Cake, preheat oven to 350°. Grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan; set aside.

2. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, spices and baking soda; set aside.

3. In medium bowl, with wire whisk, beat eggs, Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise and vanilla until smooth.

4. Toss apples with flour mixture, then stir in mayonnaise mixture until combined. Dough will be stiff. Evenly spread into prepared pan.

5. For Crumb Topping, in medium bowl, combine all ingredients. With fingers, gently squeeze flour mixture to form crumbs; evenly sprinkle over batter.

6. Bake 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and crumbs are golden. On wire rack, cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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The Alchemy of Cooking

Adding cream to my curry

Adding cream to my curry

1) a power or process of transforming something common into something special
2) an inexplicable or mysterious transmuting (definition from Merriam-Webster)

I ’ve always loved the almost alchemical process of cooking and baking, but it really hit me just how much I love it while I prepared the marinade for Chicken Tikka Masala last night.

I posted this on Facebook as I was making it:

This is something so very peaceful and comforting about the alchemy of cooking. You start off with a bunch of odd bits and pieces of things and start to change their chemistry by stirring, grating, chopping, mixing, etc and pretty soon, the aromas start to soothe or seduce you, tantalize you with memories, tell you a story… Before you know it, you’re lost in it and the ingredients have morphed into something altogether alien from the jars and bags of stuff you had piled on the table. Further alchemy happens when you sit at a table with friends or family and the odds and ends you threw together are nourishing and perpetuating the joy you felt in making it. That’s what I love about it. Now the chicken is marinating in this and tomorrow night sometime, when I get home from San Diego, I’ll do more things to it and it will become something even more than what it is now – Chicken Tikka Masala”

This afternoon as I began to make the sauce, I was again struck by the alchemy of it.  I know some people cook because they have to, and some hate it.  I adore it and that was instilled in me at a very young age by my Grandma Lupe.  She would have loved the process of making this dish.  A fabulous Mexican cook, she loved to push the boundaries, cook out of her comfort zone and try new things.  I grew up watching Julia Child and the Galloping Gourmet with her and nothing made her happier than new kitchen gadgets or a new recipe.  I can’t count the times we found recipes together in a newspaper or cookbook and set about trying it.

I remember one year, with a plethora of guayabas (guavas) on the trees in the backyard, we tried making a guava cake.  The recipe and common sense neglected to tell us that we needed to strain, so the end result was a delicious, pink and completely inedible cake full of seeds.  How we laughed that day in spite of our failure.

She encouraged me to try new things, to create my own concoctions which we called “cochinadas”.  We learned together and had so much quality time in that little kitchen with the creaky floors on Goodwin Avenue.  My Auntie Jessie was always there too, and her little laugh and the focused, intense look she’d have when measuring or reading a recipe, I see now on my granddaughter Jasmine’s face.  It is amazing how cooking brings a family together.  Food, the passion for it and the joy in sharing it: to me that is what makes a house a home.

My house smells like curry, papadums and warm naan bread; nothing like the smells of the house on Goodwin, but I feel my grandmother’s spirit here with me, looking over my shoulder and smiling that I’m still in love with cooking and enjoying the happy laughter that comes from my family and friends as they eat.

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Lasagna Margherita

Layering stuff on my lasagna

Fusion.  Can I call it that?

I’m making a bastardization of a Pizza Margherita kind of, sort of only with lasagna.  Does that qualify as fusion?  Fusion sounds hip, cool and so not like what my Aunt Lupita would call “cochinadas” which basically means a mess or pig slop, I’m not sure what.  It’s what we always called our little cooking experiments.

I bought some beautiful organic basil the other day and wanted to make pesto, but didn’t have any pinenuts or any other kind of nuts, so I stuck it in the fridge.  Yesterday, I was out at Walmart doing some shopping for a science project and I found some ridiculously priced Ricotta which always gets me thinking of lasagna.  An idea for something started forming in my head.  I adore Pizza Margherita or Margarita (however you want to spell it).  It’s pizza made with fresh basil, slices of tomato and mozzerella.  Kind of like a Capresi salad which I also love on bread. So why not lasagna?  Béa over at La Tartine Gourmand makes an astoundingly delish (I’ve made it several times) green lasagna so why not something pesto-ish? I bought lasagna noodles.  Wasn’t in the mood to make my own this time since this is an experiment in extreme cochinada-making.

I assembled my ingredients in my head.  I’d chiffonade the basil to really bruise it and get the full flavor, then mince garlic and mix the two together.  I’d add olive oil and sea salt and just let it sit there for a couple of hours marinating itself.  The tomatoes i decided to roast because I wasn’t sure if they would do well in the lasagna if not. I wanted them smokey not juicy if that makes sense.  As I was working this out in my head, I decided to also roast some onions with the tomatoes in the oven.

I didn’t have mozzarella and was going to run out and get some, but found some pepper Jack cheese tucked away.  Why not?  It would cut through all that sweetness with a little spice and bite and I AM Latina.  Hey they sprinkle chili flakes on pizza don’t they?  Total justification.

So I made it, cooking noodles, layering pasta, scooping cheese, delicately adding tomatoes and onions, spreading my basil mixture.  I put it in a casserole dish with a lid on it and stuck it in the oven at 350.  In less than five minutes, the house smelled INSANE.  I literally wanted to bite the air.

You know you want some.

It worked!  The result was rich, creamy goodness with that wonderful blend of tomato and basil that I love in a pizza or caprese salad.  What would I do differently?  Next time I’m making the pasta dough myself and roasting the tomatoes and onions just a bit longer.  Other than that, not a thing.


Gina’s Lasagna Margherita

3 cups of basil, chopped in a chiffonade

4-5 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1/4 olive oil

1 large white onion, cut into rings

4-6 large Roma tomatoes, sliced

sea salt to taste

Ricotta cheese

Parmesan cheese (a handful sprinkled on each layer)

Monterey Jack, pepper Jack or Mozzarella cheese (depends on how much cheese you want)

Lasagna noodles

Fresh basil leaves for garnish


Chiffonade the basil and mince the garlic.  Mix together with about a teaspoon of sea salt and the olive oil.  Let stand for about 20 minutes.  Set aside.

Slice the onions and tomatoes.  Sprinkle with oilve oil and roast in a hot oven (350 degrees) for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned and caramelized.  Let cool and set aside.

Cook the lasagna noodles according to instructions on box or recipe. Drain.

Place a layer of noodles in the bottom of a baking dish.  Spread with basil mixture.

Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese,

Layer on onions and tomatoes evenly.

Scoop on Ricotta cheese.  Add Jack or Mozzarella.

Drizzle a little of the olive oil from the basil onto the cheese and add a little more basil.

Repeat till you get to the top.

On the top layer, cover with either the Jack or Mozarella cheese as well as a few onions and tomatoes.

Cover and bake for 30-45 minutes until cheese is bubbly and melted.

Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve.

This goes great with a chilled Prosecco.


Se acabo.


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A Riff on Huevos Rancheros


They might not be traditional, but they are GOOD!

I woke up this morning and had my usual cup of coffee and got to work.  I didn’t make toast, I didn’t have yogurt because I am all charged up and energized about work.  The morning flew by and before I knew it, it was noon and I was HUNGRY.  Like seriously, stomach growling hungry.  I also had a sudden, undeniable craving for Huevos Rancheros, those wonderful fried eggs on top of a deep fried tortilla smothered in salsa.  Oh yeah!

I went to the kitchen and found I didn’t have quite the right ingredients.  Damn!

So, I re-grouped (I’m never without some crazy resource in the kitchen) and raided the fridge for leftovers.  There was some rice, some salsa, eggs, avocados and tortillas.  Okay, I can do this.  My tummy wasn’t taking no for an answer.  I would have my huevos rancheros, but with a twist.

Here’s what I came up with – a tostada shell topped with rice and fried onions that had been drizzled with fresh lemon juice, the fried egg on top of that, salsa on top and some slices of avocado. Not traditional, but way yummy.


Kinda-Sorta Huevos Rancheros (For two people)

Two corn tortillas, fried until crispy

one cup of cooked Spanish rice, heated

1/2 an onion, sliced, fried then drizzled with lemon juice

1/4 cup of salsa

avocado slices

2 eggs, over easy


To assemble the tostadas:

Scoop the rice onto the fried tortilla in the center

Top that with the fried onions

Add the over easy egg

Garnish with salsa and avocado or whatever you like

I was thinking sour cream would have been good too.

*tip – fry up an extra tortilla or two to scoop up the yummy fillings that fall off onto the plate.


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