Ropa Vieja

Recipe courtesy of the book Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2009.

Today I wanted to share a recipe I came across in my cookbook collection, named Ropa Vieja.  This is part of my effort to utilize the references I have on hand (stated last week) and this turned out to be a very good recipe.

This is a Cuban Stew that requires braising of the meat until it can be shredded.  I braise a lot in my house so I was happy to try this out.  I used skirt steak for this instead of flank, only because it was what I had on hand.  It turned out really well.

This can be eaten with tortillas and served with some rice.

I halved this recipe to make 4 servings.  Written as such.

What You Will Need:

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 lb Flank Steak, trimmed (I had Skirt Steak on hand)
  • 1/2 large red onion sliced thin
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced into strips
  • 1 green bell pepper sliced into strips
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced pitted green olives
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups of beef broth
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Coat a Dutch oven with Olive Oil.  Heat on medium-high heat.  I seasoned the steak with salt & pepper and browned them on both sides, about 2-3 minutes each side.  Remove and put to the side.

Reduce heat and add the onions and bell peppers and cook until tender.  Stir in garlic, olives and next 5 ingredients.  Cook until fragrant.  Add vinegar, loosening the brown bits at the bottom with a wooden spoon and cook 2 minutes or until some liquid has evaporated. Then add the beef broth, tomato paste and bay leaf.  Cover, reduce heat and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove steaks and shred with two forks.  Return to the pot along with the cilantro and stir.



Recommended to bring some heat to the table to add.  We like things hot in our house.  🙂

Reference the original recipe for wine pairing ideas!

Excited to see what else I can find right under my nose. 🙂




BBQ Meatloaf and stuff…

Good Morning!  It’s Friday and we are having some rain here in Chicago, accompanied by some minor thunder and lightning, which meant no sleep for me as my fur baby Sasha has anxiety attacks when this happens.  (Poor thing) She pants, shakes and paces around the room trying to get my attention.  Well, she got it! 😮

I am up and have been for a bit now, I have my coffee at the sidelines and am enjoying the silence of the morning…other than the dog breathing at my feet…

Now, I realize I have not shared a recipe the last couple of weeks because of some unexpected happenings but yesterday I was thinking about my need to better manage my time.  It is extremely easy to lose time when caring for the kiddies.  But I started this blog as a way of self-expression and a sort of outlet for some creativity.  For a minute, I was forgetting what it was for and losing my focus.  It is important I keep this completely authentic and fun so I just have to allow it to take shape organically and give myself a bit of a break.  And so, I am cutting myself some slack and carrying on…

BBQ Meatloaf

So, last night I was looking for a quick prep and just wanted to throw something in the oven and walk away.  Meatloaf is extremely easy in my opinion and I had everything on hand.  I tend to buy meat in bulk and pre-portion, then freeze and base meals off of what I have in the freezer.  This usually can last a month or longer depending…but let’s just say it’s time to stock up!

Anyhow, I grew up eating meatloaf, my husband not so much but has since become a convert.  I realize some people are not that familiar with this dish.  But I like to say it’s just like a huge yummy meatball.  Whenever my mother would prepare this I would get so excited about the sandwiches I would be able to eat with the leftovers.  Best thing ever!


What You Will Need:20170223_175637

  • 1-1 1/2 lbs of ground beef (this is what I had on hand but have used equal parts ground beef and pork as well)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of Worcestershire
  • 1 tsp of Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp of dried parsley
  • 1 egg whisked
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 3/4 cup of bread crumbs (or a palmful, this is generally how I measure lol)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of your fave barbecue sauce, divided in half (for this I use Sweet Baby Ray’s)


Preheat oven to 350°.  Add all ingredients to a large bowl.  Combine with hands.  Make sure not to over mix. Place mixture into a greased loaf pan and shape.  Cover pan with foil.  Bake for 1 hour.  Remove foil and top meatloaf with the remainder 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce.  Bake for additional 15 minutes.  Let sit for 5 minutes before removing and placing on serving plate.

Slice and enjoy! 🙂


On another note, I have been doing my best to organize this new house of ours.  In doing so, I have come across quite the collection of cookbooks (Not to the extent I have seen in some homes but nevertheless).  I realized that in all the years that I have had these things I have probably tried a quarter of what is available to me.  So, as an experiment and an opportunity to better utilize the things I have at my disposal, my mission is to try them all, yep, all of them.  If I don’t use them they just become clutter, right?  I will share my fave every week and with links, if I can find them.  Some of these books are old!  Original recipes will still be shared too.  😉

I am excited to see how this goes….so, stay tuned!



Have an amazing day!



Green Salsa Burger


This week has been a crazy one.  Both my kids have been getting over being sick, I have not been sleeping well and the hubby has been working crazy hours.  So, getting dinner on the table has needed to be quick for me this week.

These burgers are so easy and super yummy.  Who doesn’t love a burger?!  It’s a classic.  I had some salsa and spiced onion made from a previous dish and it worked so nice as an additive for this share.

This one is spicy! 😉

What You Will Need:

  • olive oil
  • 1-1 1/2 lb of ground beef
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • Chihuahua Cheese
  • sliced avocado
  • 4 hamburger buns

Green Salsa

  • 6 tomatillos
  • 1/4 of an onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 4 Serrano peppers or jalapeno
  • Juice of a lime
  • salt

Spiced Peppers (Previously used in my Pork Tortas Recipe)

  • 1/2 Onion, sliced
  • Habanero pepper, minced, ribs and seeds removed
  • Juice of a lime
  • Salt

First, prepare the spiced onion.  Add sliced onions and minced Habanero to a bowl. Add the juice of the lime and a pinch of salt to taste and stir.  Refrigerate.

Then prepare the Green Salsa.  Peel and clean the tomatillos.  Add them to a small pot, cover with water and boil to they burst about 8-10 minutes.  Add them to a blender with onion, garlic, Serranos (I like the heat so I leave the seeds in but go ahead and remove them to get rid of the extra heat) lime juice and a heavy pinch of salt and blend.

Now, take your ground beef and add to a bowl, season with salt & pepper and Worcestershire sauce.  Combine and separate into 4 parts.  Work each portion into paddies with a pinch in the center, season both sides again with salt & pepper.  Heat a frying pan with a light coat of oil.  Add meat and cook for 5 minutes, flip, cook an additional 2-3 minutes, add cheese and cook 3 minutes more. Remove.

Note:  this makes a medium well to well burger, if you like them more medium shave off a couple minutes 🙂

Toast buns on a hot pan.  Build with burger, spiced onion, green salsa and some sliced avocado.






Sausage & Roasted Pepper Lasagna

I made this last week for my husband who kept insisting on it.  Obviously, this is a treat dish and not something I make regularly because of its richness.  But when I do I don’t hold back.

Lasagna, although a bit time-consuming, is extremely easy to put together.  The trick is to just having all the elements prepared and ready, to make layering easy.

My husband puts in requests for these elaborate sort of meals quite often.  He is a big eater and craves specific dishes pretty regularly.  As my youngest is just 5 months old, it has been a difficult task to pull these sort of dishes off as often as I did before he came along but as every mother with little babies in the house know it’s not always easy to find windows of opportunity to make elaborate meals.  But I do my best to satisfy my family’s cravings.

The sauce in this dish is a family favorite and one I make a lot.  Generally, I just use this in my spaghetti dish but it is delicious layered in this lasagna.

I have memories of my mom using sausage in her lasagna quite a bit as I was growing up so this way of making it is definitely my favorite and provides some nostalgia for me.

What You Will Need:


  • Red, Yellow, Orange Bell Peppers
  • olive oil
  • 1 lb of Italian sweet sausage
  • Large Onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce


  • 1/2 lb lasagna noodles
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 10 oz fresh spinach, cooked
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese



Heat the oven to 500°.  Wash peppers and place them on a baking sheet.  Place in the oven and roast for 35 minutes turning twice.  Making sure all sides become charred.  Remove and cover with foil for 30 minutes.  Remove skins and chop.


To prepare the sauce, add some oil to a large skillet or frying pan, add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add sausage, (if in casings make sure to remove) and add the meat to pan, breaking it up as it cooks.  When meat is no longer pink add garlic, salt and pepper to taste, crushed red pepper, oregano, basil, parsley and stir.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add peppers, stir and add the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce to pan, salt and pepper to taste, stir, cover and let simmer while you prepare noodles.

Hint:  The longer this sauce cooks the better it gets.  🙂



Boil your noodles until al dente.  Meanwhile, combine your ricotta and spinach in a bowl.

Heat oven to 350°.

To layer, take a couple ladles full of sauce and add to the bottom of a greased 9×9 baking dish.  Top with some noodles, take a 1/3 of your ricotta/spinach mixture and top those, then add a 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese and top with a couple ladles full of sauce.  Continue the layers twice more, topping with just sauce and cover with foil and cook for 20 minutes. Remove and top with mozzarella and remaining Parmesan and cover and return to oven for 15 minutes, until cheese is melted through.

Let lasagna sit for 5 minutes before cutting.



Serves 4-6







Pork Tortas

Here is another use of last weeks recipe, Ancho & Guajillo Chile Salsa.  My husband, (as many, I’m sure), loves a good sandwich.  So, much so, that this particular recipe I will give him credit for.  Not so much, for the cooking of the pork but for the building of the torta itself. (For those non-heat lovers, this may not be for you…it’s got a bit of a kick!) 🙂

He is quite partial to a certain way of building this sandwich.  Which is completely fine with me.  I truly enjoy when he takes over in the kitchen every now and then.  I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a break here and there.

This sandwich is a treat and works so well with this sauce.  You will probably find my husband knocking back 2-3 of these in one sitting. 😮  (I really don’t know how he does it!) For this recipe, I use a Dutch Oven but this meat could certainly be cooked in a Slow Cooker if need be.

You will need:

For Sandwich Build

  • Bolillo Rolls or any crusty style sandwich roll
  • can of Refried Beans, warmed
  • Sliced Avocado
  • Queso Fresco crumbled
  • Spiced Onions (See Below) (pictured)20170111_185140
  • 1/2 Onion, sliced
  • Habanero pepper, minced, ribs and seeds removed
  • Juice of a lime
  • Salt



Heat oven to 350° degrees.  Season the pork with the salt & pepper and add to the dutch oven.  Pour the prepared sauce over the meat and cover.  Cook the meat for 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the spiced onion.  Add sliced onions and minced Habanero to a bowl. Add the juice of the lime and a pinch of salt to taste and stir.  Refrigerate while the meat cooks.

When meat is done, remove from dutch oven and use two forks to shred the meat.  Return to sauce.

To build sandwich, toast the inside of the rolls on a hot pan.  Spread bottom of roll with refried beans, then top with meat.  Add the spiced onion, sliced avocado and queso fresco.  Finally, top the sandwich with additional sauce.

And enjoy!




Ancho & Guajillo Chile Salsa

This is an extremely versatile Chile Salsa.  I have made this and used it in a number of ways.  I generally add pork to this Salsa (as pictured) and use it for tortas or tacos.  This is also delicious when used for enchiladas.   I have played with different chile pairings for this and really like how this one has ended up.  There are layers of flavors here and it’s super easy to make.



What You Will Need:

  • 3-4 dried Guajillo chiles
  • 3-4 dried Ancho chiles
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2-3 chipotles in Adobo sauce (I keep these frozen as I use them a lot)
  • 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp Agave Nectar
  • 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth



Take dried chiles and remove seeds and ribs.  Boil some water and cover the chiles and unpeeled garlic cloves for 10-15 minutes until the chiles have reconstituted.

Add the chiles, garlic (peeled), about a 1/4 cup of the chile water and the rest of the ingredients minus the chicken broth to a blender and blend until smooth.

Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a large frying pan on high heat.  Fry the chile sauce, constantly stirring until it thickens, between 7-9 minutes.

Once thickened, add chicken broth, stir, and reduce heat until salsa thickens some more.

You can add prepared meat at this time, if desired, and warm through.





Pinto Beans & Rice

This is the basic of basic recipes.  But in the fashion of healthy options, it is a great one.  My husband was feeling a bit under the weather last night and had a recreational basketball game to play in.  He was lacking in some energy and so this was a perfect meal for him.  Pinto beans like most beans are a great energy booster and fiber resource.

This recipe couldn’t be any easier and it is a favorite in our home as my 3-year-old devours it.  For any mom that is definitely a win!

In our home, we use a stove top pressure cooker to cook the beans but you can always soak them over night, drain them before cooking, add them to a large pot, and cover with water.  Then bring the pot to a boil and then gently simmer, covered for about an hour.  Check beans for firmness, add salt and continue to cook until desired tenderness.

We tend to make this dish on the fly for a quick meal but you can also soak your beans overnight when using a pressure cooker to prevent minimal splitting to your beans.


What you will need:

  • 2 cups of dried pinto beans
  • Water to cover
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional:  1/4 onion & 1 garlic clove for added flavor


  • 1 cup prepared white rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 avocado chopped
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled
  • Optional:  Jalapeno, minced or hot sauce (We like things hot! :))


Prepare beans by removing debris and beans not up to par.  Rinse and add to the pressure cooker.  Cover with water about an inch above and add salt to taste.  Lock the lid, turn on high and when the pressure reaches its highest bring the heat down to medium and cook for 45 minutes.

When 45 minutes is up, turn off heat, remove from heat to allow pressure to lower and unlock the lid and remove. Be careful to remove the lid away from yourself.

Add beans and some of the broth to a bowl.  Add some rice and your toppings.


Makes: 4-5 Servings