Archive for the ‘Holiday Recipes’ Category

Gingerbread Men Cookies without Molasses

December 14, 2012

Gingerbread cookies are a tradition at Christmas time.  They make terrific gifts for school parties, hostess gifts and neighbors.  So cute all dressed up in royal icing and candy hearts.  Molasses is typically used to make the dough but here in Puerto Rico its next to impossible to find Gramma’s Molasses and the Blackstrap Molasses available here in health food stores yields nearly a black cookie rather than a golden brown cookie.  Honey makes a terrific substitute as long as you use dark brown sugar which has a higher molasses content than light brown sugar.  After making a couple sample batches of dough I’m really pleased with the flavor and color achieved with honey and dark brown sugar…these cookies are just like Mom made way back when.

The El Coqui Rincon magazine was kind enough to advertise my cookies for sale in the November issue (check out  Each cookie is 4-inches tall, wrapped in a cellophane bag and tied with a red ribbon.  Orders are pouring in this week and I expect they’ll continue to come up until Christmas week.

The dough is quite soft so to roll it out I use parchment paper dusted very lightly with flour, then dust the top of the dough with a bit more flour and place plastic wrap on top.  Once the dough is rolled to about 1/8-inch I remove the plastic wrap, cut the cookies with a floured cutter, remove the excess dough and place the parchment with the cut-out cookies on a cookie sheet.  Pop the whole baking sheet of cut-out cookies into the freezer until they are firm.  This will prevent the cookies from spreading too much.  I got this idea from Laura Vitali’s video and I thought it was so clever.  When the oven is up to temperture 350° F. (180° C.) I bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes.

Do try this recipe and method.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1-1/2 cups butter (salted) (3 sticks as room temperature)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 whole egg


  1. In a medium sized bowl whisk the first 6 ingredients together and reserve.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the dark brown sugar until fluffy, add the honey and egg, beat well.  Gradually add the reserved flour mixture to the butter mixture.
  3. Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap sprinkled with flour and using the plastic wrap shape the dough into a rectangular package.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to one week.  Remove dough from frig when it is quite firm.
  4. Preheat oven 350° F.  Roll dough 1/8″ thick and cut out gingerbread men using parchment paper as detailed in blog post above.  Chill cut-outs 20 minutes before baking.  Bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes for my oven but your’s could be only 10 or 12 minutes.
  5. Remove baking sheets and let set 5 minutes before removing cookies to a cooling rack.
  6. Decorate cookies with royal icing when they are completely cooled.


Brownie Pops for Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2012

Those little bites of cake on a stick are all the rage these days and what a terrific medium for artistic creation.  It’s very similar to making and decorating truffles.  This recipe is for my favorite  brownie which is super moist and holds together when rolled into balls.  You’ll have to forgo the nuts in the batter though and use them on the outside.  This brownie is incredibly chocolaty and the chocolate coating is thin enough to not overpower the cake’s flavor.  Such a novel idea, brownie on a stick!

There are numerous demos available on YouTube with directions for making cake pops from box cake mixes blended with store-bought frosting.  There’s also a little cake pop electric iron that makes the balls for you.  But, after watching a video (below) on brownie pops I decided this method was the best for me.

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Onion Dinner Rolls for Thanksgiving

November 9, 2011

Start a new Thanksgiving tradition with Homemade Dinner Rolls.  Your friends and family will rave about these rolls.  This recipe was inspired by a recipe from Taste of Home for Sweet Milk Dinner Rolls.   Soft in the center, tender on the outside, decidely onion in flavor and easy to make… this recipe is definitely a keeper.

Make a batch before Thanksgiving, wrap with aluminum foil, place in a plastic storage bag and freeze up to 2 weeks.  Remove from storage bag and thaw in aluminum foil for a couple of hours. Reheat in 350° F. oven for 12 minutes oven while you make the turkey gravy.

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Marinated Turkey with Caribbean Flavors

November 14, 2010

Marinating a turkey was unheard of in my growing-up years but thankfully times have changed and our culinary methods are far more eclectic these days.  There’s a plethora of marinade recipes available from every region of the world so you only need find one that suits your stuffing and your tastes.  This particular recipe is a tweaked version of a Cuban marinade I’ve used on roasted chicken.  It’s packed with flavor and compliments my bread stuffing with chorizo and pine nuts.   more

Chiles En Nogada

April 17, 2009
Chiles en Nogada

Chiles en Nogada

A classic Mexican dish popular on Cinco de Mayo with green poblano chiles, white walnut cream sauce, and red pomegranate seeds depicting all the colors of the Mexican flag.  Cinco de Mayo commemorates the defeat of the French army by the peasants of Puebla in 1862…shortly thereafter the French army triumphed again to overtake the country.   Mexicans celebrate Cinco de Mayo because of the heroic efforts of the peasants, the holiday has nothing to do with mayonnaise or Mexican Independence Day.   Everyone is a little Mexican on Cinco de Mayo just like everyone is a little Irish on St. Patty’s Day.  Parties abound at pubs, restaurants and homes.  You can have your own party and celebrate this fun holiday with mariachi music, dancing, sombreros, margaritas, lots of flamboyant zinnias, piñatas, and wonderful Mexican food like this chile stuffed with beef or pork picadillo.

  • 6 large green poblano chiles
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef or pork
  •  3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp blanched almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp raisins, softened in 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Tbsp oil for frying
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped fine
  • fresh pomegranate seeds for garnish

Roast chiles over a flame or under a broiler until blackened.  Let rest in a plastic bag for 5-10 minutes.  Remove skins, slit open one side of each chile and remove the seeds and veins.  Warm oil in a skillet over medium high heat, add meat and brown until nearly done.  Add the garlic, onion, apple, almonds, spices, raisins, and cilantro.  Cook for 5-7  minutes.  In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, sift flour over egg whites and fold in, then fold in beaten egg yolks  with a pinch of salt.  Warm 2 Tbsp of oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Stuff chiles with meat mixture, dip each stuffed chile in the egg mixture and fry until golden brown, turning once.  Whisk sour cream with evaporated milk, add walnuts, sugar or honey, and pour over hot chiles just before serving with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds on top.  Serves 6.

Napalitos Salsa (Cactus Paddles)

April 17, 2009
nopal11Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) is just around the corner so this recipe is timely, delicious and a cut above the usual fresh salsas.  Napale cactus paddles are harvested from April to August when they are young and tender yet thin and firm.  Most mercados or markets state-side now sell napales without the spines, ready to grill or boil.  They are also very cheap and contain vitamin A and C.  Think of Napale cactus as a green vegetable with green bean flavor. 

To Prepare Napalitos

It’s important to scrub each paddle before cooking with a brush and remove any node where new thorns are developing.  Slice the  paddles from top to bottom about 1/2 inch wide and dice to 1/2 inch.  Place in cold water and bring to a boil for 5-6 minutes, drain and repeat the boil until the napalitos are fork tender.  This will remove the slimey liquid ( called babas) similar to aloe vera juice.  Napalitos can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and are best added to soups, stews, burritos, salads, salsa and scrambled eggs with chorizo.

Ingredients for Salsa

  • 1 lb napalitos, prepared and chilled
  • 6 to 8 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 or more jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced (or minced chipoltes)
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 or 2 Mexican oregano leaves, minced (or 1/4 tsp dried oregano)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup or more of shelled pumpkin seeds


Combine all ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or longer so flavors will blend.  Serve with tortilla chips, nachos, burritos, or as a condiment with meat dishes.  Substitute sunflower seeds, pine nuts, or almonds for pumpkin seeds.  Use northern beans, kidney beans, or pinto beans instead of black beans or a combination of beans works well also.

St. Patty’s Day Recipes

March 6, 2009
Traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage

Traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage

St. Patrick is best known for chasing the snakes out of Ireland.  That’s a bit out of context as most of our folk lore.  St. Patrick was actually the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Ireland in 438 A.D. and responsible for purging Ireland of pagan rituals which were symbolized with serpents.  There are not now, nor have there ever been snakes in Ireland, not of the reptilian sort anyway.  

A traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage Boiled Dinner is a ritual in itself for any Irishman, lephrecon, or sympathetic and enthusiastic friend of Irish ways.  Be sure to bake a round of Irish Soda Bread for this festive occasion and don’t forget the horseradish.

Irish Corned Beef & Cabbage 

5 lbs of corned beef brisket

2 onions

5-6 carrots

5-6 potatoes

1 Tbsp pickling spice

1 cabbage cut into wedges

Rinse brisket in cold water.  Place in Dutch oven or large sauce pan, cover with water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove meat, place in fresh water with onions, carrots, potatoes and pickling spice.   Bring to boil, then simmer until tender, about 2 hours.  Remove meat and vegetables.  Bring water back to boil, drop cabbage in for 5-7 minutes.  Remove cabbage and drain before serving. Serve with creamy horseradish and mustard.

White Irish Soda Bread                                    Irish Soda Bread

6 cups unbleached white or wheat flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

3 Tbsp cornstarch

2 tsp sugar or honey

1 tsp salt

2-1/2 cups buttermilk *


Sift all dry ingredients together in large bowl.  Make a well in middle of flour mixture and pour buttermilk into well.  With a wooden spoon, mix just until all ingredients are moistened.   Turn out onto lightly floured board and kneed 10 times into a ball.  Place in ungreased pan, dust top with a little flour, score a cross on the top with a sharp knife blade or razor.  Bake in oven 375° F. for 40 minutes.  Serve warm.

* substitute 1-1/2 cups yogurt and 1 cup water for buttermilk.