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Lime Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa

When I went to Irvine, CA last April for Sameer’s Eats Halal Food Tour, Lime Chicken Tacos was one of the recipes on the menu that I demonstrated. I made a quick tomatillo salsa (salsa verde) to go with it. Sameer got a try and so did a few fortunate halal foodies out there in the audience. It was so much fun- I … Read more

Puerto Rican, Rice, Arroz

Arroz con Gandules | Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas

I grew up eating arroz con gandules, that quintessential rice dish that every Puerto Rican family has their own version of making. Most of the time it was made con pollo, or with chicken, but it was also made vegetarian, too. My mom is an American-born Puerto Rican whose family was very traditional in their foodways so this dish was always at the table of family gatherings.

Arroz con Gandules | Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas

I remember my great aunt, Virgen (whose name was pronounced in the dialect as “Beehin”) used to make it every single time we went to her house to visit.  As soon as she heard we were on our way, she would whip it up quickly and serve it to us with a coke (and I had already usually just eaten a full meal of Sicilian meatballs and pasta at my Sicilian grandparents’ house just before visiting).    

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Caribbean Shrimp Salad | My Halal Kitchen

Caribbean Shrimp Salad

I used to do a lot of traveling in the winter months- short escapes to warmer climates like anywhere in Florida or south of the border to Mexico.  Coming from the Midwest, I was indeed a  young snow bird of sorts. Sometimes I did it with the excuse of studying (i.e. taking intensive Spanish language courses in Merida, Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico; other times it was just a gift-to-self for studying so hard throughout a college quarter to places like Playa del Carmen along the Mayan Riviera in Mexico.

first photo shrimp salad

While I sadly haven’t been back to either places in a very long time, I still have fond and special memories of the food, the people and the experiences there. The fish, in particular was so fresh- coming straight off the Caribbean– that it was served as ceviche in restaurants just a short time after being caught.  

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How to cut avocado

How to Cut an Avocado

Have you ever really just wondered if there was a super quick and mess-free way to dig into an avocado, particularly the part where you grab the seed out with a knife like all the really cool chefs do on The Food Network?

How to cut avocado

Well, I’ve had a lot of practice, being married to a man who is half Mexican- one must always be ready to make guacamole on the fly, especially when there are steaks on the grill or fresh tortillas around. 

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Stuffed Chayote with Carne Molida | Caribbean Squash with Ground Beef

How do you decide which recipes to make daily or on special occasions? What sparks your interest? A good photo? A mouth-watering description in a cookbook? The smell of a particular food coming from a neighbor’s house? A memory of someone?

For me, it’s usually a little bit of each, but this time tidbits of stories about my abuelita {grandmother} motivated me to hunt down chayote {a Caribbean squash}, stuff it with seasoned carne molida {ground beef} and serve it how she might have from her mountain home of Orocovis, Puerto Rico.

The background story is that my grandmother was an exceptional cook, someone who could whip up a meal with just a few ingredients on hand. I have some memories of her, but never of her cooking. I only remember her while she infrequently visited here in the States. She came with bundles of guava candy, coconut candy, and savory pasteles. I never knew how much people loved her food.

Until recently.

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Summer Guava Drink

I grew up drinking guava nectar, my first real introduction being rare, but exciting trips to a Puerto Rican corner store with my mother. She would spoil me with tiny bananas, coconut candies and other goodies not found in our neighborhood stores. Opening up a can of Goya drinks, be them mango, pera (pear), or guyaba (guava) would evoke a keen sense … Read more

Black Beans {Without the Lard}

This is just one of the ways I make them. You can start from this recipe and shake things up with your own favorite additions. Let me know what you do with your frijoles negroes, without the lard.

Fried Yucca

If you’ve never heard of yucca before, you heard about it here first! Also known as cassava or manioc, yucca is a tuberous, hardy and starchy root found in tropical climes such as Africa, Southeast Asia, southern China and the Caribbean, but also known to be a staple food consumed by the Native Americans and pre-Columbian people hundreds … Read more

Homemade Sofrito and Recaito

If you come from a Puerto Rican family, you understand that Goya products are permanent fixtures in our kitchen cabinets- without them it seems like a part of the family is missing. Why are we so dependent on them? Maybe it’s because Goya is one of the few brands on the market completely catering to an Hispanic consumer … Read more

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