Garden Picadillo

Picadillo is a different dish throughout Latin America and even into the Philippines. The Cuban version is what most people are familiar with, made with ground beef, raisins, and olives. Plenty of layers of flavor. This version is from the garden. It is totally vegan, but you can add ground meat or cheese if you like.

1 lb bell peppers, any color, chopped
1 lb mild green chiles, chopped, I used New Mexico peppers
1 yellow onion, diced
12 oz pigeon peas, cooked, drained, and rinsed
12 oz black beans, cooked, drained, and rinsed
12 oz salsa verde*
1 Cup sliced green olives
1 TB cumin
1 TB chili powder
3 TB olive oil
1/2 Cup raisins (optional)

Put everything except the salsa and olives in large skillet or chef’s pan over medium heat. Saute, stirring often until onions are soft and translucent. Add salsa and olives. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes to let flavors marry. Serve over rice.

* I make my own salsa verde with chiles from my garden and tomatillos. Trader Joe’s and 365 both have good salsa verde off the shelf.

I don’t put the raisins in for two reasons: I don’t care for raisins and my dogs get people food. Dogs can’t eat raisins. Or grapes.


Sweet Potato Tostadas

Sweet potatoes are pretty much my favorite root. I like making savory dishes with them to help deconstruct the marshmallow casserole culture. I also like serving creamy foods over crunchy foods, which means we eat a lot of tostadas of different sorts. And they are pretty and fun to eat.

For the base:
You can either buy fried tostada shells or make your own from corn tortillas. I brushed a few soft corn tortillas with oil and baked them until crispy. You can brush them with flavor infused oil, like garlic oil or chili oil or use regular vegetable oil and sprinkle with cumin and chili powder. Bake at 375 F for about 10 minutes. ** Put them on parchment paper to prevent sticking and keep char off the tortilla and your pan.

For the sweet potatoes:
1 potato makes 3 tostadas. I bake all of mine when I pick them up from the CSA and keep them in the fridge to use throughout the week.

Mash the peeled sweet potatoes with taco seasoning. Heat through.


Pick some fun toppings:

salsa verde, crumbled queso blanco or white cheddar, avocado cubes, chorizo chunks, chopped cilantro, olives

Try it with a poached egg as a brunch tostada!

Nacho Greens and Pigeon Peas

In the South, we eat Collard Greens on January 1st to bring us wealth in the new year. I would prefer tacos. So I made collard greens into tacos. You can put it atop nacho chips, in taco shells, over Spanish rice, as pepper stuffing, rolled into a burrito or enchilada, and so much more.

1 bunch collard greens, washed very well
12 oz cook and drained pigeon peas (canned are easy to find in the Hispanic foods or Caribbean foods section of your market)
12 oz green chile and tomatillio salsa
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chile powder
3+ cloves minced garlic

I make green chile and tomatillo salsa with peppers from my garden. You can buy a prepared salsa verde or make a quick one by combining 1 cup each chopped green chiles, white onions, and tomatillos with 3 TB white vinegar, juice of 1 lime, and salt and pepper to taste.

For the nacho greens:
After collards are well washed, roll and chiffonade cut them so they are as thin as possible. Cut to the bottom of the leaf. The stalks are not used in this dish. Save them for a veggie pie or crudite. I give my collard stems to the dogs.

Place greens in a large skillet or wok with vinegar and citrus juice. Heat pan on medium. Put lid over the greens to help them wilt. They will cook down considerably.

Add salsa and seasonings. Stir fry to coat greens. Add pigeon peas and turn heat to low. Cover and let heat through 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

I like this served with avocado cubes and Jalepeno Tabasco sauce.

Wild Mayan Nacho Sauce

This is a fabulous cheese-free nacho recipe that all cheese lovers will appreciate. Take some super yum baked sweet potato and turn it into “cheese” sauce. Here’s how!

I made a huge tray of Nachos!

1 baked sweet potato, skin removed
1 Cup nutritional yeast
2/3 Cup filtered water
hot sauce to taste

Whisk together over medium heat until smooth. Let come to a soft bubble. Pour hot nacho sauce over any Latin delight.

My fav combo is seasoned black beans, tomatillo salsa, Wild Mayan Sauce, and chopped avocado– pictured above. This is also a great topping for bake enchiladas, toastadas, or to use as a “cheese” dip. It goes so well with black beans and looks beautiful.

Pick-a-Filling Enchiladas

Enchiladas are a great make ahead meal. They are always good left overs. Everyone likes them. This is a versatile recipe that can be filled with just about anything.

Served with Guac and Sour Cream!

For the Sauce:

1/3 Cup minced yellow onion (1 small)
3+ cloves minced garlic
1 Cup veggie or chicken stock
1 Cup tomato puree
1 TB cumin
1 TB oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp mexican saffron
dash turmeric

To taste: salt, hot sauce– I add my demon sauce to this for a very intense multi-chile flavor.

Add all ingredients to a sauce pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. This can be made ahead: up to 10 days in the fridge or frozen for weeks. This makes enough sauce to cover about 8 enchiladas. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for feeding large crowds.

Filling for 8 enchiladas:

1 lb ground chicken, beef, or turkey
8 oz chopped mushrooms and 1 Cup refried beans
your family’s fav taco/ burrito filling

seasoned with 2-3 TB taco seasoning, depending on your taste for heat.

CHEESE! Sprinkle in queso blanco, monterrey jack, pepper jack, cheddar, or a blend of cheeses as you roll your enchiladas. If you are making just cheese enchiladas, a blend is best. 1 Cup of cheese should fill 8 enchiladas when mixed with another filling. For cheese only, you’ll need about 3 Cups.

8 Corn or gluten-free tortillas, 6-8 inch size.

Spread a few tablespoons of sauce over the bottom of a casserole dish. This will keep the enchiladas from sticking to the pan. Fill tortillas with your filling mixture and roll them. Lay them carefully in the casserole dish, squeezing them together to hold the roll closed. An 8×8 inch pan usually holds 6 enchiladas.

Top with shredded cheese.

Pour sauce evenly over rolled enchiladas. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with guacamole, sour cream, or you favorite veggie salad.

** For a vegan meal, stuff with veggies, tempeh, and vegan cheese. Commercial steak sauces are often vegan and can add a real kick to sauteed mushrooms, peppers, and onions.

Fusion Black Bean Springrolls

These Black Bean Spring Rolls use a Latin inspired filling in a very Asian rice wrapper. These are perfect at room temp. You can make them ahead and serve them as a unique party appetizer or as an amazing vegan lunch.


1 cup black beans drained and rinsed
1 cup sweet corn kernels
1/2 cup diced white onion
1 cup diced avocado
1/2 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce minced (minus seeds) plus 1 TB adobo sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Wrapper: circular rice wrappers, 8 inch diameter.

Mix up all the ingredients and chill for 4 hours or over night for flavors to blend.

The rice paper wrapping technique is simple to learn. I use a 9 inch pie plate to wet my wrappers. It helps me from making a mess. Soak rice wrappers in hot water for 10-15 seconds. Transfer to your work surface. I use my extra large wood cutting board. Also, keep a clean kitchen towel next to you in case you drip water.

Fill with 1/4 cup of filling and roll. Work one at a time and keep a clean towel handy to sop up drips. Rice wrappers require patience and technique, so if you’ve never used them before, they are scrumptiously delicate. You’ll get the hang of it after the 3rd one. Refrigerate them if you’re going to eat them later, but I think they are tastiest at room temp.

Grace’s Fajitas

Good fajitas are about good marinade and fresh toppings. So get the best and freshest ingredients from your own garden if possible.

Beef Fajita Marinade – for 1 lb of beef

1/3 Cup red wine vinegar

3 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp chili powder

1 lb wafer sliced beef – do not slice further into strips yet

Mix marinade in a 1 gallon zipper freezer bag then add beef. Massage marinade into meat then refrigerate for 20-40 minutes. This marinade is too acidic for thinly sliced meat for over night marinating.

Prep the veggies for the grill!

Pablano Pepper

Pablano Pepper

Slice peppers in half and remove seeds. Bell peppers of all colors or pablano peppers work great. Slice onions, purple are best, in rounds and keep rounds in tact. Brush onions will EVOO before grilling. Peppers don’t need oil.

Leave veggies in these large slices for grilling then cut them afterward for serving. Less will fall through.  Add mushrooms brushed with EVOO and seasoned with salt and pepper if desired.

Cook on a HOT grill.

Grill onions first because they will take the longest. Once a caramel-layer has formed, flip the onions. It’s time to add the beef, pepper, and mushrooms to the grill. Total grilling time will be under 10 minutes on a hot grill.

Remove beef slices from marinade bag and shake off excess marinade to prevent flare-ups.  Discard left over marinade. Turn meat after 4 minutes. Remove from grill and let rest for 2 minutes before slicing.

Slice beef, peppers, and onions (and mushrooms if using). IMPORTANT Before serving: Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the fajita mix. The fresh lime juice makes all the difference.

Serve with warm tortillas, raw cheddar, diced avocado, sour cream, black olives, and chopped cilantro.

This recipe is for my friend Grace, who is NOT a picky eater, despite the misconceptions of her older brothers. I made this for her the first time she visited for dinner.

Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 10:09 am  Comments (1)  
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Adobo Nachos

This is a recipe for lazy people who are having a party and want their guests to think they slaved away. Think “Super Bowl Party meets Pretentious Food Critic” that’s ready in 7 minutes. The speed of this recipe is dependent on how fast you can open packages. Yup. And it’s sooooo goooood… mmmm…

Nachos with Olive Chips

Nachos with Olive Chips

Layer 1: Chips! I used sweet potato tortilla chips and olive tortilla chips I bought from the natural food aisle at the grocery. Easy.

Layer 2: Adobo Beans

1 can of pinto beans

1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes in adobo sauce (muir glen sure makes a nice one)

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed (remove the seeds, even if you think you like hot food, seriously) and diced

1 tsp adobo sauce from the pepper can

1 cup diced purple onion

3 cloves garlic

Organic Pinto Beans

Organic Pinto Beans

Sweat onions and garlic over medium heat. Stir in diced chipotle, adobo sauce, and tomatoes. Once the pot bubbles, stir in drained and rinsed pinto beans. Heat through.

Makes the whole house smell great!

Makes the whole house smell great!

Layer 3:

12 oz nitrate and nitrite free chorizo sausage sliced into rounds



Saute in dry pan til brown.

Layer 4:

Chopped cilantro

Diced avocado

Shredded sharp cheddar (raw is best!)

Sour cream

To make vegetarian, omit the sausage.

Nachos with Sweet Potato Chips

Nachos with Sweet Potato Chips

Published in: on August 30, 2009 at 2:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Grilled Corn and Black Bean Tacos

4 ears sweet corn
16 oz can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
2 home grown tomatoes, diced
2 home grown red bell peppers (if you grow other peppers such as pablanos or cubanellas, those will work perfectly)
1/2 local cabbage (green or purple are both delicious)
1 cup grated carrot
olive oil
taco spice (equal parts sea salt, cumin, black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, and onion powder)
juice of 1 lime

Cilantro Lime Cream (recipe follows)
whole wheat tortillas

Heat grill on high closed for 4 minutes to get the grates hot.
Slice cabbage into disks, leaving the root intact to hold the disk together. Brush each side with olive oil and sprinkle on taco spice. Place directly on the grill.

Remove husks from corn. Brush with olive oil then sprinkle taco spice over the ear. Place directly on the grill.

Wash the peppers and place directly on the grill — no oil or seasoning is needed.

Heat beans with 1 TB water and a sprinkle of taco spice in a sauce pot.

Turn veggies after 2 minutes to brown on all sides.

When veggies are grilled (about 4-6 minutes of cook time), cut corn from cob, seed and chop peppers, and rough chop the cabbage. Toss with black beans, grated carrot, diced tomato, and the juice of 1 lime. *cook’s tip* place the lime on the grill for 1 minute before juicing to release more juice

Serve on tortillas with Cilantro Lime Cream

1 cup sour cream
1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
juice of 2 limes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Whisk together and chill for 20 minutes to let flavors mingle. Can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.

This is a super healthy and cheap eco-meal. Local and home grown food is thrifty and good for the planet.

Published in: on August 28, 2009 at 1:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Latin Blackened Shrimp with Cilantro Saffron Potatoes & Cubanelle Salsa

I really love cubanelle peppers. They are NOT hot, making them a perfect for children.


2 medium cubanelle peppers, seeds removed, diced

2 plum tomatoes diced

½ medium red onion diced

1 large handful cilantro diced

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

2 TBSP olive oil

½ C red wine vinegar

Mix together gently and refrigerate.

Wash potatoes well. I use purple skinned potatoes for this because the color looks wonderful. Any small potatoes will work fine. Cut into halves or thirds for large bite sized pieces. Place in tepid tap water, cover, and bring to a boil.

Cooks tip: adding potatoes to boiling water causes uneven heating. The skins peel off and the outside cooks too quickly leaving starchy sludge in the water. Always heat potatoes and water together.

Cilantro Saffron dressing for potatoes

2 TBSP hot water

1 tsp saffron threads

2 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP chopped garlic (1 large clove)

1 large handful cilantro rough chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Steep saffron in hot water for 5 minutes. Add other ingredients. Stir and set aside.

Latin Blackened Shrimp

Peel and devein 1 lb shrimp of your choice.

Dry seasoning blend

1 tsp granulated garlic

1 tsp cumin

1 TBSP paprika

1 TBSP black pepper

½ tsp salt

Mix seasoning together in separate bowl. Heat skillet to medium high with a small drizzle of olive oil. Add shrimp. Toss in skillet and sprinkle over dry seasoning. Toss to coat. Let cook 2 minutes undisturbed.

Drain the potatoes (they should have cooked about 20 minutes to tender). Add potatoes back to pot. Pour over cilantro saffron dressing and turn heat to medium.

Toss shrimp. Allow to cook undisturbed 2 more minutes.

Toss potatoes to coat for 2 minutes. Everything is now fully cooked.

This meal takes about 20-25 minutes depending on your knife skills. It goes great with a sweet chardonnay.

Published in: on August 27, 2009 at 11:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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