Tag Archives: Sour Cream

Cuban Black Bean and Rice soup

Inspired by the marvelous soup from Havana Café, I attempted my own version of their black bean and rice soup.  What made the Havana soup so noticeably delicious was how the fresh lime tied everything toegther perfectly.  The soup was a bit thick because of the rice and bean base, and the lime just freshened everything up.  It was hearty but not heavy.  Everything you could want in a soup!

It turns out that my Cuban soup making skills need some work.  This soup isn’t exactly what I had imagined, but as I was perusing recipes, I was drawn to the idea of making a marinated rice and then adding the broth right before serving,  in order to avoid sometimes over soaked and mushy rice you find in soup.  As a result, this soup wasn’t all that thick, but it ended up being spicy, a bit zesty, and of course fresh because of the lime and cilantro garnishes.  I was very happy with it!

Line up your ingredients to get started:

I tried soaking dry beans this time because I’ve heard it’s better for you health-wise, aaaaand (mostly) because the grocery store didn’t have cans.  Anyways, I loved the soaked beans!  I’m going to make a real effort to plan ahead and soak them from now on.  They just taste so much more beany.

Soaked and Rinsed Black Beans

After you soak them, you have to boil them for a few hours too…

While the beans are boiling, start cooking up the broth.  Sautée the onions, garlic and peppers for a few minutes, then stir in the cumin and oregano.

Add some broth and the beans to the pepper mixture and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Then, add a few scoops of the marinated rice mixture (a bit of olive oil, green onion, diced tomatoes and rice vinegar, by the way) to your soup bowl.  Zesty!

Marinated rice soup base

Pour a few scoops of the simmering broth over the rice and top with cilantro, a dollop of sour cream and of course fresh lime.

Cuban Black Bean and Rice Soup

Cuban Black Bean and Rice Soup Recipe

5 green onions, thinly sliced
3 cups cooked brown rice ( from 1 cup dry)
1 1/2 tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar ( or white wine vinegar)
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red onions, diced
2 jalapenos, with seeds, minced
2 red bell peppers, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 quart chicken broth or 1 quart vegetable broth
1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar ( or white wine vinegar)
cayenne pepper
nonfat plain yogurt (optional) or sour cream (optional)
cayenne pepper (optional)
  1. Prepare marinated rice by mixing cooked rice with green onion, diced tomatoes, olive oil and cider vinegar. Let the mixture marinate at room temperature, if making soup right away. Otherwise, cover, refrigerate, and marinate up to 1 day. Let rice come to room temperature before serving.
  2. Rinse beans in a strainer until canning juices run clear, or soak and boil dry beans if you prefer.
  3. Heat olive oil over medium high, and add onions. Saute for a few minutes.
  4. Add jalapenos, bell peppers and garlic; cook until softened.
  5. Stir in spices.
  6. Add broth, vinegar and beans.
  7. Cover and simmer 30 minutes (or longer, if desired), stirring occasionally.
  8. Taste for salt and spiciness. Add cayenne pepper, if more heat is desired.
  9. Serve soup in bowls over a scoop of rice. Top with cilantro and yogurt, if desired.
  10. Store left-over rice separately from soup, so liquid will not all be absorbed.

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Filed under Soups & Stews, Vegan, Vegetarian

Awesome Twice Baked Potatoes

These potatoes really are awesome – they’re a smooth and cheesy good time.   What makes them especially awesome is the cheese, sour cream, chives and garlic mixture that gets stuffed back inside a scooped out once-baked potato.  Think mashed potatoes stuffed into baked potatoes.  Hence,  awesome. An excellent side dish for a cool fall or winter (yes, sadly it’s on its way) dinner.

Start by scrubbing and baking a bunch of potatoes for about 25 minutes, until they’re tender and their skin is flakey :).  Then cut them in half and scoop out the center.

Scooped out potatoes

Then comes the part where you mix the potatoes with cream cheese and other magical ingredients.

Potato Filling

Then stuff the mixture in the potato bowls…

Stuffed Potatoes

and bake ’em up….smooth, savoury, creamy, potatoes!

Twice Baked Potatoes

Serve with roasted chicken and some sautéed peas 🙂

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken, Twice Baked Potatoes, Sautéed Snow Peas

Heck yes!

Twice-Baked Potatoes Recipe

12 New potatoes, scrubbed clean
2 tbsp olive oil
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 tbsp minced chives
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Salt and black pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Drizzle the potatoes with the olive oil and toss them to coat.
  3. Roast the potatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are tender and the skin is slightly crisp.
  4. Halve the potatoes.  Use a spoon or small scoop to remove the insides, leaving a small margin of potato intact.
  5. To the scooped-out potatoes, add the cream cheese, sour cream, monterey jack cheese, chives, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mash until the potato mixture is totally smooth, and adjust seasoning as needed.
  6. Scoop the mixture into the potato shells.  At this point, you can cover and refrigerate them until dinner time.
  7. Bake the potatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top.  Serve with steaks, chicken, or just a nice green salad and a glass of wine.  Enjoy!

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Filed under Apps & Sides, Vegetarian

Veggie Quesadillas

This is a great dinner for a summer night when it’s just too hot to eat anything huge and heavy.  Or a fancy party snack! It’s just veggies, cheese and flavour; light, simple and satisfying!

I took some veggies that were laying around – peppers, zucchini, corn and sautéed them with garlic and a few other spices for a few minutes on a high, hot heat.  This just seared them a bit, so they kept a bit of crispness.  Nothing worse than soggy veggies 😦

Quesadilla Filling

So, just lay a tortilla flat and top with cheddar cheese and a few scoops of the veggie mixture. Heat a frying pan up on medium heat, add some butter and let it get sizzly. Then, add the tortilla and top with more cheese and a second tortilla on top. If you cover this with a lid for a few minutes, you will ensure maximum cheese melty-ness.  This particular trait is essential if you’re looking for a high quality quesadilla!

Fried up Quesadilla

When the cheese is melted and the tortillas are crispy (don’t forget to flip once the first tortilla is golden brown), chop into sections and serve with sour cream.  🙂  Bring a fork to clean up the extra filling!

Veggie Quesadillas

Veggie Quesadillas Recipe

4 tbsp olive oil, divided
4 big cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp dried vegetable seasoning
1/2 tsp onion salt
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 cups assorted veggies, chopped (sweet peppers, zucchini, corn, tomatoes, etc.)
¾ cup black beans (optional)
1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese
8 Tortillas (Flour and corn both work)
Sour cream for dipping

  1. Stir together 2 tbsp olive oil, vegetable seasoning, onion salt and salt and pepper.
  2. Mix together vegetables and black beans, and stir in olive oil mixture.
  3. Heat remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan until hot and add garlic.  Cook on medium heat until golden brown and intoxicatingly aromatic.  Throw veggies in, and turn heat up to high.  Cook for 3 minutes, stirring pretty regularly to avoid burning.  But don’t be afraid of a little delicious charring!  Remove mixture to a bowl.
  4. In same frying pan, add cooking spray or a bit more olive oil and heat.  Add one flour tortilla, a handful of cheese, and a few scoops of the veggie filling.  Then add some more cheese and another tortilla.  Cover the frying pan with a lid to allow the cheese to melt fully.
  5. When bottom tortilla is golden brown, flip and cook the second tortilla until it is golden brown as well.
  6. Remove to cutting board and cut into sections.
  7. Serve with sour cream and guacamole for dipping!

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Filed under Apps & Sides, Vegetarian

Pulled Pork Tacos

I’m always on the look out for an excuse to eat something in taco form, when inspiration came from a recent Food Network magazine which listed 50 different ways to serve tacos, pulled pork being one of them.  Then, Flow, an excellent restaurant in my hometown shared their recipe for pulled pork in the local newspaper, and I thought I should probably go ahead and make this whole pulled pork taco thing happen.   Basically, the equation for this recipe breaks down to:

pulled pork recipe from Flow + general taco awesomeness = pulled pork taco dinner heaven

So here’s how the pork went into the oven.  In tenderloin form (healthy!), after marinating in a rub of paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, tomato paste etc., for a few hours.  Then into a roasting pan with carrots, celery, onion and broth.

Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Roughly 4 hours later it came out looking like this:

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Separate the meat from the broth (and reserve the broth to use in other recipes if you like, it’s tasty stuff) and pull the whole thing to shreds using a couple of forks.

Pulled apart pork tenderloin

But while the pork is in the oven, you can prepare the sauce.  Mix all these things together in a pot and heat on a stove for about 10 minutes.  Super easy, super delicious.

Pulled Pork Sauce

It doesn’t look like much, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste like much.  It turned out to be a delicious and tangy-sweet sauce.

Simmering Pulled Pork sauce

Next, stir the sauce and the pork together.  At first i thought pulled pork would be better the longer it simmered in sweet saucy goodness, but I wanted to try this just like Flow does it, so I followed the recipe and mixed them together right before serving.   Let me tell you, there was NOTHING wrong with this pulled pork.  Not one single thing.

Saucy Pulled Pork

As for turning it into a taco, I started with a flour tortilla (after being unable to find corn ones :(, but in the end the flour ones were great), then a layer of refried beans with the pulled pork piled high on top of that.

Sidenote: very difficult to take an appetizing photo of refried beans swiped on a tortilla.  Let’s skip that picture and go straight to this one:

Re-fried beans and pulled pork

Next you’ve gotta fry them up.  Use just enough vegetable oil to make them turn golden brown, but not get too greasy.

Fried Pulled Pork Tacos

Then it’s time for standard (but awesome) taco fare.  Guacamole, pico de galo, cheese, sour cream, etc. etc. etc.

Dressed up Pulled Pork Tacos

I also decided to top one of them with homemade apple coleslaw, just to see how it tasted when it was more liked a pulled pork sandwich on a tortilla, rather than a taco with pulled pork on it.  The coleslaw combo was great and I would have it again, but overall I preferred the traditional taco toppings.  In other words, my third taco that evening had traditional toppings on it 🙂

Taco Combo

I basically cut their recipe in half since I used a smaller tenderloin instead of a 5 -7 pound pork shoulder which Flow recommends for this recipe.  Below is their exact recipe, so adapt it as you see fit!

Pulled Pork Tacos Recipe

The Rub:
3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons coarse salt
1 tablespoon of canola oil
2 tablespoons of tomato paste (or ketchup)

The Stock:
1 cup diced onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1-2L of beef stock (to fill roasting half way)

The Sauce:
1/2 cup of pork shoulder stock reduction
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup yellow or brown mustard
1/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 garlic cloves, smashed
1/4 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Mix all rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Rub the spice blend all over the pork and marinate for as long as you have time for, as little as 1 hour or up to overnight, covered, in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  3. Put the pork and stock in a roasting pan and bake for about 6 hours, flipping the roast at the half way mark.  Roast the pork until fork tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 170 degrees F.
  4. To make the barbecue sauce: combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently, stirring, for 10 minutes until smooth.
  5. Remove the pork roast from the oven and transfer to a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes. While still warm, take 2 forks and “pull” the meat to form shreds. Using 2 forks, shred the pork by steadying the meat with 1 fork and pulling it away with the other. Put the shredded pork in a bowl. Pour 1/2 of the sauce on the shredded pork and mix well to coat.
  6. *To serve, spoon the pulled pork mixture onto the bottom 1/2 of the hoagie bun, and top with the slaw. Serve with your favorite leafy salad.

*I obviously ignored this part of the instructions and served it in taco form.  Pile pork on a tortilla, along with your favourite taco toppings, and eat!

From: Flow Café & Catering, Elmira Observer

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Filed under Comfort Food, Main Courses