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The holidays are here and being a Latina, this means a lot of cooking in the kitchen with my family. Namely my mom, who is intent on passing down all of her recipes to me, and myself, who is hell-bent on finding the healthiest way to capture those recipes. We always end up in a debate about measuring. She loves to add ingredients by eye, while I like to know a specific amount so that I can preserve the recipe and pass it along.
I’ve learned to appreciate her way of “feeling” your way through the meal and using all of your senses. It makes it an experience rather than a chore, and let’s face it, that kind of love and attention is the key ingredient to any family recipe. I wish I could say the same about my way of doing things. While she understands it makes sense, she refuses to give me measurements for any of her recipes. Instead I have to go over and watch it live in action. It’s a great way to spend time together, this may be the underlying motive all this while, but who am I to break tradition?
My family hails from a farm in Puerto Rico called San Lorenzo. A small farm town with lots of family and “framily” nearby to point you in the right direction, so to speak. While most latin cultures have a signature dish, Puerto Rican cuisine is known for its pork, rice and beans, and coconut based beverages, and pasteles. Pasteles are a plantain / potato based mesa (mix), with seasoned meat in between. It comes in so many different variations, the most known being tamales from Mexico. We sit around and make these each year, and its a great way to catch up on each other’s lives. I say this because it literally takes an army to grate all of the ingredients.
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The typical side for this dish is one that Puerto Rico is known for, Arroz con Gandules. It’s a yellow rice made with pigeon peas. Its delicious, and usually a party favorite. The secret to this dish is the homemade garlic and herb base called Sofrito. This is the magic that makes everything taste incredible. It’s a blend of onion, pepper, garlic, and cilantro. It’s blended into a sort of paste that needs to be refrigerated, or frozen if you make it in large batches. I like to take it up a notch, so I added a few ingredients that make this an excellent dish to try. I added a half cube of Knorr® Tomato with Chicken Granulated Bouillon (just a half will do) as well as some La Morena® Chipotle Peppers in Adobo to kick up the heat. The adobe sauce helps to give the rice its rich yellow color, and the peppers add a nice touch. They bring a quality and flavor all generations can count on. It’s worth incorporating high quality ingredients into your recipes, particularly your holiday dishes.
You can find these products in the Hispanic aisle at your local Walmart retailer.