Puerto Rican Black Beans

Arroz con Pollo topped with Puerto Rican style black beans

Arroz con Pollo topped with Puerto Rican style Black Beans

I love having a little taste of my Puerto Rican roots here in Iowa.  I had to learn how to cook like my mom since we live so far away from my parents.

This is my can free and dairy free version of my mom’s Puerto Rican Black Beans recipe.  You can easily sub red beans for the black beans.  I soak and cook my own black beans because of my nickel allergy (no canned foods.)  I also omit the ever so popular “Jamon” seasoning from Goya because it contains milk… what???  I found a way to make this recipe work for us.

This is yummy served over plain white rice or with arroz con pollo.

We are huge Dave Ramsey fans.  He talks about eating beans and rice, rice and beans.  This recipe definitely elevates the beans!  Give it a try.  It’s budget friendly, especially if you soak and cook your own beans. And y’all food allergy parents know we need to save money where we can, because living dairy, egg, & beef free “ain’t cheap!”  🙂

Puerto Rican Black Beans 

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1.5 cups of cooked & drained black beans OR 1 can of drained black beans
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled & chopped
  • 2 cubes of sofrito
  • Tomato sauce
  • Green olives
  • 2 tsp olive juice
  • Adobo (seasoning found in the Spanish foods aisle)

Directions:

  1. Boil the potatoes until tender in a medium sized pot. Pour out quite a bit of water and reserve for use later.
  2. Add black beans and tomato sauce. There is not a measurement for the tomato sauce. I would guess I pour in 3-4 ounces of tomato sauce. Eyeball it. If there is not enough liquid, add a bit more tomato sauce and reserved water. The beans and potatoes need to be just covered in liquid.
  3. Add the sofrito, green olives, and olive juice. Add a sprinkle of Adodo seasoning.
  4. Let simmer until the water and tomato sauce thicken. Stir as needed. Add reserved water if the bean sauce gets too thick. Add a little more tomato sauce and smash a potato or two if the bean sauce is too thin. This recipe is a taste and see and adjust kind of recipe.
  5. Serve beans over white rice.
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Arroz con Pollo (Chicken & Rice)

Arroz con pollo. Puerto Rican comfort food at its finest! I absolutely love digging into a bowl of this homemade goodness. I promise you will, too!

Before attempting this, I highly recommend purchasing a “caldero”. It’s what we use to make our Puerto Rican rice dishes. Click here to see the one I have.  It kind of felt like a rite of passage when my parents gave me my caldero.  I felt like an official grown up!

I also recommend making a homemade batch of sofrito (link below).  If you don’t want to make it homemade, Goya makes a jarred sofrito and jarred recaito.  I do not know if they are dairy and egg free, though, because I always make my own.  Either jarred version works in this recipe.  However, homemade sofrito is easy and always better!

Arroz con Pollo

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 raw chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
  • oregano
  • salt
  • pepper
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • Adobo seasoning (I use the one with the red cap)
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • 3 c uncooked white rice, rinsed
  • 2.5 c chicken broth
  • 6 oz tomato sauce
  • 3 cubes sofrito (click here for the sofrito recipe)
  • Lots of green olives
  • 2 Tbsp olive juice

Directions:

  1. Season chicken in a bowl with adobo, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic powder & onion powder. Add a drizzle of olive oil & a splash of lemon juice. Mix well.
  2. Heat the caldero to medium heat with a thin layer of olive oil. Add the seasoned chicken. Cook for maybe 1-2 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  3. Add the 3 cups of rinsed rice, chicken broth, sofrito cubes, olives, tomato sauce, olive juice and add a good sprinkle of garlic powder.  Stir.
  4. Bring to a boil. Stir. Cover. Reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 20 minutes. Use a pronged fork to stir the rice. If the rice is still hard, sprinkle a little water over it if needed and cook another 5 minutes.
  5. Serve with Black Beans (recipe coming soon)

NOTE: Do not use a spatula or spoon to stir the rice. It can make the rice mushy.

Arroz con Pollo topped with Puerto Rican style black beans

Arroz con Pollo Topped with Puerto Rican Style Black Beans

If it isn’t perfect the first time, keep trying and tweaking this recipe.  My mom actually doesn’t have a  written recipe.  It’s another taste and see recipe.  I have worked with her to get a basic written recipe (thanks Mom!) and I have tweaked it to work for us from there.

I hope you enjoy the sabor (flavor) of this Latin dish.

Picadillo Tater Tot Casserole

Picadillo tater tot casserole. Now that’s a mouthful. Say Peek-ah-dee-yo. Again. Got it?

My old picadillo recipe used ground beef. Because of the newer beef allergy, I now use ground turkey breast. I was a little worried when I made picadillo with turkey instead of beef. It worked perfectly! Truly, the taste is in the sofrito and olives. It tastes divine!

The day I menu planned this, I had a more traditional casserole in mind. But then I thought, why not? Why not give casseroles my latina flair?

So that’s how this little baby was born.

Picadillo Tater Tot Casserole:

First, click here for the recipe to make picadillo. Make picadillo. Put it in a 9×9 baking dish and top with an even layer of tater tots. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes.

Tips:
I try to keep ground meat portioned and precooked (by me) in my freezer at all times.
I also make a batch of sofrito and freeze it in ice cube trays.
Having both of these frozen and ready to go make this recipe and many others super easy to pull together at dinner time.

The picadillo in the 9x9 pan

The picadillo in the 9×9 pan

Top with an even layer of tater tots

Top with an even layer of tater tots

Serve with a veggie on the side

Serve with a veggie on the side

The Freezer is my Best Friend Part 2: More Easy Ground Beef Recipes

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Since we decided to sell our house in June, my menu planning has been non-existent. It’s funny that I wrote about getting my groove back, only to have it all go haywire again.

Now that we are in the new house, we are not quite settled in. Actually, we don’t even have a pantry or space in our new small kitchen for food. This is our current pantry… Gasp! It’s terrible. I.DO.NOT.LIKE.IT. Actually, it’s not even a pantry- yet!

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I love organization so this has been driving me crazy. The new pantry we ordered to extend our kitchen cabinets cannot ARRIVE FAST ENOUGH. (Floor to ceiling double pantry cabinets that will match the kitchen cabinets!) Until then, I remain feeling unsettled. Out of sorts.

Thank goodness for my freezer. It really is my best friend. It has saved me almost everyday.

I had a brilliant little spurt a few weeks ago where I found great deals on ground chuck (4 pounds!), flank steaks, and chicken. I had a mini-freezer cooking frenzy. I marinated a few chicken breasts and froze them. We marinated a few flank steaks and froze them. We browned and seasoned all four pounds of ground chuck and portioned them into eleven ziplocs.

Almost everyday between 4-5pm, I realize I don’t have a thing planned for dinner. Why does this sneak up on me EVERY SINGLE DAY lately? The ground chuck is by far the most versatile for last minute meals. (In my opinion)

Besides spaghetti, here’s what we’ve had for dinner lately, thrown together at the very last minute.

Chili:
At around 5 pm last week, I googled “Easy Chili.” This was the first recipe I read, and just went with it. Click here to see the recipe. I did omit the beans and added more than a pinch of the chili powder and other seasonings. It was quite good. I wouldn’t say it was the best chili ever, but I’ll make it again. I also made Jiffy cornbread mini-loaves. I have a little mini meatloaf pan and like to use that for our cornbread. To make the cornbread dairy free and egg free, I used almond milk and Ener-G Egg Replacer. It turned out to be a great (last minute!) meal. And it fed us for a few days. Score!

Here’s a pic of the chili (with safe crackers and not the cornbread.)

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Picadillo:

You will need to first make sofrito.

Ingredients:
1 lb or so of ground beef, chuck, round (whatever!)
Green pepper (Optional, I didn’t use it last time bc I didn’t have it.)
2-3 cubes of Sofrito (I freeze mine in ice cube trays. 1 cube=approx 1 ounce)
Either 3 TBS tomato paste OR 5-6 oz tomato sauce
1/2 to 1 cup of water
Lots of oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper
Adobo seasoning (Go light handed on this one!!)
2 tsp olive juice
As many or as little of green Spanish olives as you like (I use a lot!!)

Note: This is one of those family recipes that really don’t have measurements. The measurements are approximate and my mom and I have worked together to create these measurements as a guideline because I need measurements! However, this is a taste and add more if needed recipe.

Directions:
1. Dump frozen pre-cooked ground beef into a heated pan. Add all of the ingredients, bring to a boil and let simmer. Taste and adjust according to your preference. This is supposed to taste very seasoned- not bland. So be very generous when adding your seasonings! As it simmers, you may or may not need to add more water. You don’t want the picadillo to be too soupy or too dry. You want a little bit of liquid but not too much.
2. Serve over rice. (This is where the liquid is delicious- flavoring the rice!)

Here’s what my most recent picadillo looked like.

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The freezer has really been a lifeline lately. You fellow food allergy mamas know we can not just order take out. We have to have a plan or at least something frozen that can save us from insanity (or sadness. There, I said it. I had a moment this week where I felt sorry for myself because I was tired, the Huzz was traveling for work, and I wanted to pick up a $5 Little Cesaer’s pizza. I couldn’t and didn’t, of course. I ended up making the picadillo. I was rewarded when my toddler said, “I like this beef and rice!”) But I digress…

If you want to see my recipes for other ways to use ground beef and freeze it, click here.

If you have some recipes to share, please do! I need more things to cook today in an hour and a half when it’s dinnertime… Thanks! 🙂

Sopa de Arroz con Pollo (Chicken & Rice Soup)

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This is not your typical chicken and rice soup recipe. This soup is an ode to my Puerto Rican heritage. We make a delicious arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) and I used the leftovers once to make a soup. We LOVED it. The problem was, I didn’t want to have to make arroz con pollo every time I wanted this soup. I decided to try my hand at re-creating the taste of arroz con pollo in soup.

The key to this recipe is the sofrito. Click here to read how to make it. It’s really easy and only requires a blender or food processor.

Here’s what I call “Mami’s Special Sopita.”

Ingredients:
48 oz chicken broth
14 oz Hunts tomato sauce
3 cubes of sofrito
2 tsp minced garlic (I use jarred)
Generous sprinkle of Adobo seasoning (found in spanish food aisle)
Olives (as little or as many as you like)
Approximately 2 Tbs olive juice

2 c of cooked rice
Cooked and cut up chicken (I generally use 1-2 chicken breasts or leftover garlic chicken. It really doesn’t matter how much chicken you use. Use what you have!)

Directions:
1. Cook the rice. I use a rice cooker.
2. Use a large pot. Put the first seven ingredients in the pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer while the rice cooks.
3. When the rice is ready, add the rice and chicken. Simmer until the chicken is heated through.

Note: The longer the rice simmers, the thicker the soup will become. Eat it right away if you like a thinner soup or let simmer a while longer if you want a thicker soup. Also, If you don’t have rice, try adding noodles instead of the rice. Allow enough time for the noodles to cook in the broth. I tried this last week and it was equally delicious!

This has become a family favorite and I make it when I have leftover chicken. It also freezes well. I took this soup with us on vacation and added a little chicken broth to the frozen hunk and it worked beautifully.

Do you have any favorite soup recipes to share?