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Meal Planning

Okay so I cook a lot. Mainly because there isn’t that much good take out around me and because I don’t trust food that I don’t make. I like to know what I am eating and eat very little processed foods. I roughly spend $150 on food a week and we are a family of 4 and I only buy organic chicken, meat, pork and wild fish. I find that creating a menu of sorts for the week helps tremendously. It keeps me from unnecessarily spending on food and/or letting things go bad. I also don’t know how to cook just for 4 people so I always have leftovers and eat them a lot. My husband doesn’t because he was spoiled as a kid, I could eat leftovers until I die because I refuse and HATE to throw out food. Next week I will post my “menu for the week”.

Tomato Sauce

tomato sauce

Okay so if you know me, you know that I must of been Italian in my former life because I LOVE pasta and Italian cuisine in general. While my family is from Uruguay with Spanish & Scottish roots there is a huge Italian influence in Uruguay and I grew up with my grandmother making Gnocchi, Cannellonis and tomato sauce on Sundays. So I always have a large mason jar of homemade sauce in my fridge. If I see that it is not going to be used I freeze it. After dealing with 18months of severe acid reflux with my daughter I became a real stickler for processed foods and when I can I make everything myself from scratch using REAL ingredients. Here is how I make my tomato sauce:


1 large can of RedPack Crushed Tomatoes

1-2 garlic cloves (minced)

1 teaspoon of salt (I use Baleine Sea Salt)

About half of a Spanish onion (minced)

Quarter of a cubanelle pepper (minced)

1-2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pinch of Dried Oregano


Grab a large deep pan or dutch oven. Pour in the Extra Virgin Olive Oil enough to coat the pan, place the minced onion and cubanelle and let it cook a few minutes, as it becomes translucent add in the garlic and salt(do not let the garlic burn and turn brown). Open up the can of tomatoes and add it into the pan, put some water into the empty can so as not to leave any remnants of the tomatoes in the can and place it into the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil on medium to high heat and then lower it to a simmer. Cover the pan but leave a little corner uncovered for the steam to escape. Give it about 30 minutes checking it periodically. If the sauce begins to thicken to much add about 1/4 cup of water. Grab a pinch of dried oregano and rub with your fingertips over the sauce. The rubbing releases the oil and aroma of the oregano.


We barbecued on Sunday night and had hamburgers so I used the leftover ground round beef and made meatloafballs for dinner tonight and cooked them in the leftover tomato sauce I had in the fridge. I always try to use everything so nothing goes to waste. Hopfully they come out good and Ill post the recipe on the blog.

Enchiladas de Pollo en Salsa Verde


Ingredients for the Salsa

12-18 Tomatillos

1 Jalapeño (put in the whole thing if you like it spicy or just the tip to make it more mild)

1 medium sized yellow onion

Handful of cilantro

3 garlic cloves

Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the Enchilada

4 chicken breasts

2 bay leaves

2 garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon of  salt

12 Corn Tortillas

Toppings: Mexican Crema, Queso fresco or Queso Cotija

*Recipe makes about 12 enchiladas

Bring to boil a large pot of water (has to be large enough to fit all of the tomatillos, onion and jalapeño you purchased). Peel and clean all the tomatillos and once the water is boiling, toss them in along with the peeled onion and jalapeño.  After 15-20 minutes the vegetables will be soft and you can take them out.

Put everything in the blender, along with the handful of cilantro and the 3 garlic cloves. If there is a lot of water left in the blender from when you transferred the tomatillos, jalapeño and onion take some out so the salsa doesn’t come out to watery.

IMG_8509Blend all the ingredients together until the salsa comes out nice and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. This will give you about 2 large mason jars worth of salsa.

IMG_8510Bring another large pot of water to boil. Add salt and the 4 chicken breasts, 2 bay leaves and 2 garlic cloves. Let this cook for about 20 minutes on medium heat. Once the chicken is cooked, take it out, let it cool slightly and start shredding the chicken. It is important to not let the chicken over cook as if it does it will be rough and dry.

When making enchiladas I like to cook the salsa and chicken in the morning and then when its time to eat I put everything together.

When you are ready to eat….

Put about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a fry pan and lightly fry each tortilla and place it on a plate with some paper towel. At the same time, grab your salsa and warm it up in a pan.


Once you are done frying all of your tortillas, you can dip each one in the salsa.


Once the tortilla has been dipped in the salsa, place it on your plate, use a small handful of chicken, place it in the center of the tortilla and wrap it up. The ends of the tortilla should be placed face down.  Pour some more salsa on top, your cheese of choice and your crema (always heat it up before using)..

IMG_8513Another way you can serve this is by assembling your enchiladas on your plate and then pour the salsa verde on top, cheese etc. It really depends on how much salsa you like..

I make the enchiladas this way because my sitter who is from Jalisco taught me to make them this way. You can always , place each enchilada in a baking dish, pour the salsa on top, sprinkle it with some grated Oaxaca cheese and bake it for 10-15 minutes so the cheese melts. Do what you like 🙂

Whatever salsa you don’t use you can always freeze for next time!

Pastel De Carne con Papa Dulce



1/2-1lb of ground round

half of a yellow onion-chopped

1 large garlic clove-minced

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

Sea Salt to taste

handful of pitted green olives

2-3 large sweet potatoes

1/2 cup of milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Brown the meat in a pan with onion, garlic and olive oil. Salt to taste. When the meat is done cooking, add the green olives which you have sliced in half. Set aside.

In a pot bring water to boil. Peel and cut the sweet potato in small cubes , add salt to the water and place the potatoes to boil-about 15 minutes. When the potatoes are soft(test it with a knife), drain and place them back in the pot with about 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter and about 1/2 cup of milk. Use a masher and mash the potatoes as much as possible. Stir together all ingredients until it is nice and creamy.

Use an oven safe baking/casserole dish and assemble the Pastel. First a layer of the sweet potato puree, then the meat and then top it with more sweet potato puree. When ready to eat, heat the oven to 375 and place the dish in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until everything is warm. Enjoy!



Ingredients for the Meatballs

1 pound of Ground Round

1/4 cup of Spanish onion chopped

1/4 cup of cubanelle pepper minced

1 large garlic clove minced

1tsp of Sea Salt

1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup of breadcrumbs

Mix all of the above ingredients until well mixed. Coat your hands in olive oil and start forming each meatball (should be the size of a golf ball). Line them on a tray and set as

Ingredients for the Tomato Sauce

1 large can of Crushed Tomatoes(I like Red Pack)

1 garlic clove

1/4 cup of Spanish onion chopped

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt to taste

Pour the olive oil into a dutch oven so that the whole bottom is covered. Add in the onions and garlic clove and cook on medium heat until the onion is translucent. Pour in the can of crushed tomatoes and stir, fill the can 2x with water and add it to the pot. Allow the sauce to boil (about 10 minutes) and then lower the heat and simmer the sauce with the lid on for another 20 minutes. Check it after 10 minutes and stir. If you like you can add basil and/or oregano at this time. At this point get the sauce to a boil again and add in the meatballs about 6 at a time, make sure not to add so many meatballs that they are now touching each other and crowding the pot. Cover the pot and check in about 2-3 minutes and turn the meatballs. Once they are cooked about 5-8 minutes, take them out and set aside (in another bowl) and cook the remaining meatballs.

Once all the meatballs are cooked you can put them back into the dutch oven and heat them up again if you are going to serve or leave them in the pot until dinner time. I like to serve these with a thick pasta that will really absorb the sauce or place it over rice.

**Mami’s if you need to get your child to eat their vegetables you can add carrots and/or cooked spinach into the meatballs. I like to occasionally add carrots to my tomato sauce, when I do I make sure to mince the carrot so you can barely see it. You can also boil some carrots, puree them and add it to the tomato sauce. I have frozen these meatballs in a deep freezer for up to 3 months and they are just as delicious!

Weekend Bites

muffinsI have a few friends coming to visit tomorrow morning so I decided to make some yummy and easy food for brunch. I make these muffins all the time, they don’t take much work which is why I do not mind making them at 7am on a Sunday. Mami’s you know how it goes..

Here is the recipe:

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/3 cup of vegetable oil

1 egg

1/3 cup of milk

1 cup of blueberries(or any other berry you like)

1 teaspoon of orange zest

1 Tablespoon of sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease muffin cups or use liners.

Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl. In a separate bowl, place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup, add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this into the flour mixture until well combined, add orange zest and then fold in the blueberries. Before you place the muffins in the oven, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over the muffins, this recipe usually makes 6-8 muffins (depending on how big you like them).

Bake for 20-25 minutes (depending on your oven). Enjoy~

The darkness of winter is better with friends

IMG_6788Every once and a while I diagnose myself with disorders, diseases etc. Every fall/winter after the clock is turned back I declare that I have seasonal depression, I like to exaggerate a lot, I am a Latina after all. One thing that helps me get thru the dark days is my mothers group, every month one of us hosts a potluck dinner. Tonight I made mac and cheese from scratch and it only took 30 minutes! I stole the recipe from Amy Thielen from a show called Heartland Table on Food Network. I double the recipe and don’t use bacon or pepper since I don’t do spicy. See below for details:

Salt, for pasta water (I cook with very little salt so add as much or little as you like)
1 pound of pasta, such as elbows or fusilli
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces American cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
4 ounces aged cheddar, shredded (about 2 cups)
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Cook the pasta as per the directions on the box. Before draining the pasta save about 2 cups of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and put it back in the pot, then add the butter and the pasta and some of the pasta water. Once the butter is melted you can add the American cheese, stir until it has all melted onto the pasta, then add the Cheddar cheese and milk. Continue to mix until you get the sauce to the creamy consistency you like. Enjoy!

One thing that I do that helps me a lot is a make a lot of food at a time and then save it for the next day or freeze it. I would not recommend freezing this dish but you can always make mac and cheese croquettes the next day..I will post that recipe another day.