What’s your Comfort Food?

What is your comfort food?

Some say Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese when combined it’s a little burst of heaven!  Or it could be pot roast with mashed potatoes; great at hitting the spot! I recently asked some friends to play and I can’t wait to share in later posts! I find that for many of us it really does depends on where we come from.

For me, growing up in a Chilean house hold porotos(beans) was alway a great indicator that the colder weather was just around the corner.  Hearing the simmering of the water bubbling and leaving a distinct aroma in the air that made it undeniable that porotos where on the menu for the next day.   When I was younger and maybe to ease the taste a little, my grandmother would always add some kind of sausage to it.  But as I’ve gotten older I have learned to love it, not only because it represent a traditional meal in Chile during its fall, but because well it rocks!  When I think of my childhood and some important moments in them, food was always a part of it.  We were either making it, stressing over it, eating it, and (usually in my case) spilling it in some way shape or form.   But which ever way it’s made porotos are one of my favorites!

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Nona's Recipe 
I usually don't give credit to my mom's cooking as much but I have to admit 
that her porotos are the best I have tasted.  Sorry abuelita you get credit
for all the rest though!

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Ingredients

2 cups pinto beans (left to soak overnight, in the morning they sometimes look like wrinkly- that’s ok)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika 

1 whole onion, diced 

2 Spanish-style chorizo sausagesor Sweet Italian Sausage, sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

1/2 package of spaghetti pasta 

1 cup butternut squash, cut into cubes

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  • First soak the pinto beans in cold water overnight. Then drain the beans and place in a medium-sized pot. Cover completely with fresh cold water. Add the salt and cumin powder.
  • Cook over medium-high heat until the water begins to boil. Lower the heat and let the beans simmer for 10 more minutes or until soft.
  • In a separate medium-sized skillet, heat the shortening until melted. Add the ground paprika or merquén and sauté for one minute. Then incorporate the diced onion and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the sliced chorizo and garlic. Let cook for three minutes more.
  • When the onion and chorizo/sweet sausage are golden-brown, transfer them to the pot where the beans are cooking. Add the spaghetti and pumpkin.
  • Simmer for 8-10 minutes without covering, until all the ingredients are well cooked.
  • Serve immediately.

I’m hoping that you give this one a try. Promise it’ll become a favorite too!

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What’s Cookin Series

Recently I have had the pleasure of working with Cristina Bossini from Healthy Italia, a Italian specialty store based out of Madison, NJ that imports 100% of their specialty products directly from Italy. Not only do they have an amazing kitchen in the back of the store that hosts a variety of workshops from couples learning how to cook to making gnocchi with your bestie, but the people are friendly and knowledgeable. So whether you are hosting a party, need some ideas or you are running late this place has it all.

Coming up with some fun concepts with them. I think that the,”What’s Cookin Series” is one of my favorites because it really does show how simple making dinner really is. I know that as a single mom of two kiddos it’s sometimes tough to get to make something that’s healthy, good and quick.

So does anyone what to guess what I’m making for dinner tonight?

And for dessert!

Can anyone guess?

Working with Chef Gibson Borelli: Winner of the Food Network’s “Rachael vs. Guy Kids Cook-Off”

Ribs with Chef Borelli

It was such a privilege to work along side an aspiring young chef such as the winner of the Food Network’s “Rachael vs. Guy Kids Cook-Off” Chef Gibson Borelli.  Gib has such a unique way of putting things together, combining flavors and making them friendly for anyone to try.  His personality shines through in every dish!  I loved getting to know him through the course of the two day shoot! His love for not only food but for music and vinyl records.  Which by the way is excellent!  Our first day together he made some ice cream cookie sandwiches from scratch and I was immediately impressed, because I know that at his age I didn’t even know how to make scrambled eggs!  Without any measurements or any instructions he combined things together and what came out were the most delicious cookies I have ever tasted!  Combined with ice cream, come on even as an adult it brings goose bumps as you bite into one. 

Next came his most famous dish, the one that took him into the food network world, his chicken tacos.  Seeing the bursts of color and how carefully he combined each thing so that when you took your first bite it would play harmoniously into your tastebuds, like the perfect song on a summer day.


But the dish that took it all for me had to be hands down the ribs!  O sweet Ribs!  I always thought that they took hours and hours to cook to get that beautiful golden glow to them, but when Gib showed me some tricks I was in awe.  In 20 to 30 minutes you could have ribs that tasted like they were sitting out there on the grill for hours!  

His Youtube Link Below has the recipe: 

Honey Pineapple Ribs – Chef Gibson Borelli

Let’s get cookin’! 

 

 

Peaches & Mint Infused Water

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Infusing water has been around for centuries before the special bottled bottle made it cool to add all new sorts of combinations together.  Back in the olden days people use to use huge mason jars/or pitchers.

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The basic concept however remained the same and simple. Essential oils, Tea and coffee are some ingredients that were infused in the 10th and 11th century in water, oil or alcohol.

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Today we can combine all sorts of fresh fruits and herbs.  The possibilities are really endless and you don’t have to go out and purchase one of those fancy Water Fruit Infuser Bottles, you can really just use a pitcher and start infusing.

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Just start adding things together and try. This particular one is a twist on one of my favorite alcoholic drinks, the peach mojito!  If you want you can also add some fresh strawberries to the mix!  Make sure you put it in the refrigerator so that it has time to do it’s infusion magic and within an hour you will be sipping away!

 

Oysters: Beyond Its Dirty Reputation

When I think of oysters I get the giggles. Alright I know what you are thinking, “Am I 12.”  But how many of you hear the word oysters and can’t think of the other word. 

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Aphrodisiac

Casanova ate 50 oysters every morning but do you think that it really make him frisky? Could be.  Back in 2005 both American and Italian scientist agreed that it may produce some kind of increased libido.  Still the first time I had one of these mucousy critters I was completely unaware of how slimy they actually are.  I was 20 and wanted to impress, so when I was offered an oyster at the country club I said Yes… of coursssseee… At this point in my life I loved clams and mussels why wouldn’t I love oysters?  As soon as I tasted it I didn’t know how to describe it.  It was slimy, it was cold, and it was completely unfathomably disgusting!  It was like possibly stuffing your mouth with that green slimy toy that I use to get in the vending machines when I was a kid.  

Quickly I ran through different scenarios trying to see which would be the most socially acceptable.  Could I just spit it out in front of everyone without making a commotion?   Should I just spit it into the napkin..maybe? Or just eat it?  It must have been obvious, since my face really reveals everything that I feel, my friend turns to me and says just swallow it!  Hmmm…. it took all of my strength to not gag but I did it.   I swore that I would never do eat one of those things again.

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Fast forward to current time and I really think that I have managed to take the shock out of the first initial impression.  By far, cooked is my favorite way of eating them, but I have managed to eat a couple raw drowned in lemon and Horseradish Sauce.

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Why do Chilean’s Love Bread?

….Bread is a staple food in the Chilean diet; it is consumed at an annual rate of 200 pounds per person ranking second from Germany..I know alarming but very true!   Why, you may ask, do we consume so much bread?  Well the fact is that it’s simply delicious!  World renowned Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda even wrote Ode to Bread, to demonstrate its importance in the everyday lives of the Chilean people.

Why is the bread so delicious and all Chilean people can’t go a day without it?  Well its due to the amount of French, Spanish and German influence in Chile since its colonization so it’s pretty hard to argue that Chilean Bread is one of the best breads around!

I remember as a little girl walking to the local store to get the bread that had just gotten out of the oven.  My mom would let me eat one as I walked back to my grandmother’s house skipping and eating while holding the bag of bread.  Those of you that know me, know how much of a challenge it is for me to not trip under these circumstances.  But never was I as graceful as those moments of balancing everything perfectly every time. I truly think that it was the magic of the Chilean bread!  I would get back home and put them in the pantry so that they stayed warm.  As everything was being prepared for the “once” I would open up the door to the pantry and take a long deep inhale, letting it all sink in.  It’s perfectly poetic how the aroma filled the air, how warm the bread was with a prefect golden layer but yet so soft and melting on the inside.  Ok, I have managed to make myself crave some Chilean bread!  Off to try to find it somewhere!!

 

 

A break….

Recently I took a break from trying to push my limits.  To get up and have a plan and making everything around me work without interruption.  Juggling time,getting a business to work, kids, chores, bills, my emotional mother.    The guilt that I felt was intense.  How can I, of all people, at this junction in my life earn a time out?  Can a divorced women with 2 children and a home to keep deserve a break?  My mother would say to me, “Dani, you need to keep focused.”   And the whole time she was not understanding that I just needed time.  Time for my body to settle back to it’s norm.  I was on the go, running around scared to not let anything be interrupted more then it had to be, that I forgot to take care of me in the interm.  I had read Eat, Pray, Love at different times in my life.  And at different times I picked up something different.  It’s amazing how that happens when you pick up the same book at a different time of your life and it can have a completely different message then the last time.  This time the message was clear...Dolce Far Niente… the sweetness of doing Nothing! 

Eat Pray Love – Dolce Far Niente clip

When I was younger I remember when my room got so messy to the point where my mother wasn’t able to cope with looking at it anymore, she would take everything out and pile it in the middle of the floor.  My whole closet and drawers were stacked in the middle of the room in this horrid mess.  I would start little by little organizing everything.  What I learned from that experience was pretty much what I did at this junction of my life.   I took everything in my life and threw it in the middle of the floor reorganizing  little by little my life.  Throwing out things that no longer pertained, no longer served me and really took a hard look at the things that were left.   I wanted to scream I was a mess!  I felt like I was drowning. It wasn’t pretty.

But I did it, I took a break, fell in love, let things get messy and put things back together.  I finally decided to allow my life to happen instead of what someone wanted me to do, it opened my heart to all the wonderful things that were always there.  I let go of fear.  I let go of the what-if’s and let life happen.   I allowed the guiltless pleasure of not disappointing anyone.

What was left is insanely amazing!  I am so grateful for all the things that I have in my life!  For the tremendous sense of peace because everything is where it’s suppose to be!

It’s ok to take break. Allow yourself that gift. Allow yourself to get messy and put back together.  You never know what will happen! ❤

 

Green Tea Needed

It’s been a while since I have written.  It’s like this summer, I have taken to a kinder less harsh kind of hibernation with the kiddos.  Just enjoying and getting into the rhythm of life after running full force after the divorce. I heard from a very good friend of mine, a mentor, a scholar of life that rushing was violence.  I took those words and really let it sink in.  Letting it flow through my skin as if recognizing that I’ve been rushing ever since that day that my ex left.  Running scared? Showing that I would not fail almost excusing the divorce so it would make sense to the world.  Why do we do that?  Why do we have to justify our failures to the world so that we feel excepted?

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In learning myself, I have met so many wonderful people who have accepted me the way that I am, but have also shown me that it’s ok to breath.  Life is not something that needs to be rushed, life is something that needs to be trusted.  I trust this path that I am on.  I trust that it’s the right one and I feel blessed with all the love that surrounds me.  It’s truly is amazing what you can learn when your whole life is turned upside down. I can’t tell you this from the whole experience , that it wasn’t pretty the whole time.  There was a lot of ugly crying to sometimes, yes even strangers.  But the more  I got it off of my chest it allowed the process of healing.  No one is going to give you a reward for not showing your emotions, trust me on this one.  If you need to cry just let yourself cry, be vulnerable.  Let yourself be seen for the people who take the time to see you, hear you and still love you in the end,  those are the ones that are the treasures in your life!

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