Basil Pesto

pesto 1
3/4 cup olive oil
3 cups fresh basil
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves or 4 if you love garlic
the juice of one lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2/3 cups grated pecorino cheese

Combine all ingredients but cheese in a food processor and pulse until creamy. Transfer to bowl and mix in the cheese. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

Pesto is great on top of any fish, chicken or just plain pasta
pesto 2

FYI: The unique array of active constituents called flavonoids found in basil provide protection at the cellular level. Orientin and vicenin are two water-soluble flavonoids that have been of particular interest in basil, and in studies on human white blood cells; these components of basil protect cell structures as well as chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage.

Mofongo (smashed green plantains balls)

Green Plantains at my moms house in Puerto Rico

3 green plantains
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 smashed garlic cloves
1/2 cup cooked bacon cut into small pieces or 1/2 cup small pieces of chicharrones
1 cups vegetable oil

Peel and cut the plantains 1″ long. Place them in a bowl with salt water for 15 minutes. In a pan heat vegetable oil over medium low and cook the plantains until start to turn brown on each side, like 7 minutes per side. Place them on paper towel. In a pan heat olive oil to cook garlic. Smashed plantains with garlic oil, bacon, and salt. With a big spoon take some of the mix and make a ball. Cover each ball with foil paper until time to serve. If the mofongo is cold before serving, use the oven at 375 degree for 5 minutes to warm them again. Serves 4 Coqui!

*this is a traditional and very popular side dish from Puerto Rico

Mussels in White Wine Tomato Broth

2 pounds mussels
1 cup of white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 white onion cut into very small pieces
5 ripe roma tomatoes cut into small pieces or a can of diced tomatoes
1 small diced carrot (optional)
1/4 cup parley
6 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (spicy)
salt and pepper

*fresh baguette sliced into 1/2″ pieces

In a pot boil chicken broth and wine and cook the mussels over medium high for 5 minutes. Set aside. In a big pan heat the oil and cook onion and garlic until start to turn brown. Add tomatoes, carrot, parley, tomato paste, salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Add rest of ingredients and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Pour mix into pot and mix the mussels. Cook for 5 minutes and serve on soup bowls with fresh crispy bread on the side.

*This recipe is easy to make and always wows the crowd, very chic!

FYI- Mussels are a rich source of many essential vitamins and minerals, such as the B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, iron, phosphorus, manganese, selenium and zinc. They outshine most other foods when it comes to their vitamin B12, selenium and manganese content. A 3-oz. portion of moist-heat cooked blue mussels provides 20.4 mcg, or micrograms, of vitamin B12, meeting 340 percent of the recommended daily value for this nutrient, according to Vitamin B12 is essential for a healthy nervous system, the formation of red blood cells and proper growth and development. The same amount meets 108 percent of the DV for selenium and 288 percent for manganese. Selenium is important for immune system function and supports the thyroid gland, while manganese is involved in bone health and energy metabolism.

Empanadillas de Carne – Beef Turnovers

IMG_0243_11 pounds ground beef
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 large russet potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onions, chopped
salt and pepper
1 generous tablespoon tomato paste
3 garlic cloves minced
Zest of 1/2 orange (about 1 teaspoon)
1/4 cup raisins
6 Spanish Olives Stuffed with Minced Pimientos, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 boxes Pillsbury pie dough, or Goya, or any empanadilla disks

Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into a preheated 8-inch pan over medium-high heat. Allow the oil to heat up, and then add the ground beef with some salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

While the beef cooks, boil potatoes with some salt until done.

When the beef is dark brown remove it from the pan, drain fat and set aside. In the same pan over medium high add olive oil, onions with some salt, and cook until onion start to turn brown. Add garlic, tomato paste, oregano and cook for 3 minutes. Stir olives, raising, and orange zest and stir. Return beef into a pan adding a splash of water, if needed and cook until warm. Remove from the heat and set aside.

When the potatoes are done cooking, drain, peel cut into tint pieces and place in bowl. Stir in the Parmesan and melted butter.
On a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin, roll out discos until ½” larger in diameter. Spoon about 1 tbsp. meat mixture into middle, and 1 tbsp. potatoes. Fold in half to form a half moon; moisten edges with water and pinch with a fork to seal closed, or fold and pinch.
Fill a deep saucepan with oil to a depth of 2½”. Heat oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Cook Empanadas in batches until crisp and golden brown, flipping once, 4 – 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.


Sonia’s Crab Cakes – Recipe

1 pound white crab meat
1 egg
2 tablespoon olive oil
3 sliced whole grain bread or bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon old bay
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon back pepper
sea salt to taste
Sliced limes for serving

Crumble bread and mix with crab. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl except crumbs and crab meat. Fold crab mixture gently into mix. Make 8 patties and place in wax paper. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake over 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, turning once. Serve with slices of lime on the side.

*I lived in Miami for 13 years and this recipe is my creation and reminds me of many trips to the Keys but I must pair it with my Puerto Rican rice and beans, as shown.

Sonia’s Version of Gruyere Dates Wrapped in Serrano Ham

20 big dates
1 pound solid gruyere cheese cut evenly in 20 long pieces
20 thick pieces Serrano ham (Spanish ham) deli stile shaved into long pieces. You can substitute ham with cooked bacon pieces.
20 toothpicks

Preheat oven 375 degrees. Lay a none-stick foil piece over a cookie sheet. Open each date and remove seed. Fill each date with cheese and wrap with serrano ham, holding the end with a toothpick. Place on baking sheet, toothpick up. Bake for 8 minutes. Serve hot, Yummy!

*This recipe is inspired by LA parties! This is my version!

Sonia’s Lobster Tail Dip in Pernod Sauce

8 lobster tails

4 talespoons butter
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 crushed garlic cloves
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespon cayenne pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh basil or parsley
1/4 cup Pernod
4 limes

For the sauce, saute garlic with olive oil and butter for 8 minutes. Add rest of ingredients but Pernod and simmer for 15 minutes. Retire from heat, add Pernod. Boil lobster for 15 to 18 minutes or until done. Pour fresh lime juice on each tail. Serve with pernod sauce on the side. Serves 8

* In Puerto Rico the best lobster tails are served with Pernod. This is my version.

FYI- Lobsters are low in fat content, making them one of the best choices for health conscious people. The high content of protein makes this food beneficial, especially for athletes.

Lobsters are low in cholesterol and thereby, they assist in maintaining triglyceride levels in the body and keeping the heart healthy.

Like other seafood, lobsters are also a good source of omega 3-fatty acids that are essential for the proper functioning of the heart and brain. These fatty acids help in lowering the risk of arrhythmias, which can lead to sudden cardiac deaths. Furthermore, the compounds in lobsters facilitate in reducing the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque and lowering the blood pressure.

Lobster can be very effective in preventing various health disorders such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, colon cancer and chronic conditions involving bone, connective tissue, heart and blood vessels.

Zinc found in lobsters is necessary for increasing activities of the brain, boosting the immune system and preventing loss of vision. In addition, this mineral also effectively heals injuries in body tissues.

Phosphorus, found in abundance in lobsters, aids in the formation of teeth and bones. It facilitates the rate of metabolism, enhances the functioning of kidneys and lessens joint pain.

Being a great source of vitamin B12, lobsters also help in maintaining the red blood cells and nerve cells. It improves the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and prevents other neurological problems.

Lobsters possess the trace element, selenium, which is beneficial for triggering the activity of thyroid glands as well as the immune system. Selenium is known to protect the body cells against free radicals during the process of metabolism, apart from monitoring the oxidation of cholesterol to prevent coronary artery disease.

Spinach, Artichokes, and Lime Lite Dip

OMG! The game was about to start and I had no appetizers for the unexpected guests, and in a hurry I had to create food. This appetizer turned out sooo good…….

2 cups cooked spinach drained, chopped
1 small can artichokes drained and chooped
1/2 cup lite cream cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 to 4 tablespoon lime juice or some lemon zest for stronger lime flavor
salt and pepper to taste

*Serve with crackers or bread. I prefer waffle crackers.

Let spinach cool. Mix all ingredients, place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes and serve cold.

FYI- Artichokes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, magnesium, and the trace mineral chromium. They are a very good source of Vitamin C, folic acid, biotin, and the trace mineral manganese. They are a good source of niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin A, and potassium.

Sonia’s Cheese Souffle

5 eggs
1 cup milk
4 tablespoon of melted butter or half stick
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven 375 degrees. In a blender mix all ingredients well. Pour into individual soufflé baking dishes. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm Serves 6