Tag Archives: pastelón

Hot, Cheap & Easy’s Five Top Posts and Wrap-Up for 2012

31 Dec

Whoo-hoo! This year I became a published book writer for the first time with Eat Your Way Around Puerto Rico – a digital dictionary that tells folks what to eat in Puerto Rico and how to ask for it! I also successfully transitioned my little guy to kindergarten (where he has only had the school lunch three times); was an invited speaker at a variety of events (more related to education than food, but an accomplishment nonetheless) and presenter at others; did a number of articles for publication; and did bunches of other things that I am happy about. In a year full of tension and tragedy, I feel very very fortunate to have made it through so well.

And of course Hot, Cheap & Easy has been rollicking along, with 141 new posts (current total is 291, including this one) getting visits from 149 countries and increasing visitors by 150% over last year. The blog has a Facebook page now (like it!) where I post food news and fun that doesn’t quite fit within the scope of the blog.

So here are the five most-visited posts of the year…followed by a shout-out to my most supportive fellow bloggers! I wish you all a delicious 2013….and THANK YOU, GRACIAS, MERCY BUCKETS for all your visits and comments and suggestions!

DSC_0020Hot, Cheap & Easy’s Top Five Countdown for 2012 Continue reading

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Pastelón de amarillos/plátano maduro (Puerto Rican lasagne, with ripe plantains!)

2 Apr

I have been ripening this recipe for weeks. No kidding.

I bought a bunch of plantains on sale (15 for $2) at a Caribbean grocery store three weeks ago, made tostones with some and then let the last 6 get black on my counter. Black, I tell you. Not just mottled yellow, but black and withered, while my son looked on with occasional science experiment interest, sort of a Peter Greenaway film of disintegration but not quite as exquisitely grotesque and not with the speedy convenience of time-lapse photography.

I find already ripened amarillos (yellow plantains)  in my regular white-people supermarket (I hate saying non-ethnic, because white people are ethnic too!), but Latin supermarkets are your safest bet.

Pastelón is the Puerto Rican answer to lasagne – or maybe shepherd’s pie – but sweeter, spicier, meatier – all around naughtier. If you love a dish that has balance while being excessive, this is the meal for you!

I had the Seasoned Ground Beef frozen in a pint container and so it was fast and easy — just added a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste while it simmered and piled everything together. Just so you know, Leandro took the top off and only ate the meaty insides; the sweet vs. meat thing is not for everyone. But it is definitely FOR ME.

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Pastelón de Yuca (Puerto Rican Shepherd’s Pie)

22 May

In an October post I gave you my recipe for Basic Seasoned Ground Beef (recipe repeated here, so don’t lose heart!) a Latin-style ground beef basic (similar to Carne para Rellenar, for the cognoscenti) that I make loads of at a time and freeze in serving size portions to be transformed into nachos, chili con carne (with the addition of red beans, tomato puree and chile pepper), ragu sauce for pasta (add Italian seasonings and tomato puree) or any number of things.

One of my favorite things to do with Basic Seasoned Ground Beef is make pastelón; the Puerto Rican equivalent of Shepherd’s Pie. It doesn’t take a lot of active prep (although it does require oven time in addition to stove top time) and it is a warming dish that will take everyone to their happy place. Click here for Pastelón de Platanos – Plantain Pastelón – another classic version of this dish). The more beef you use, the thicker it will be. You can also substitute Pollo Guisado (stewed chicken). The first section is the yuca preparation, but I also include the beef and chicken recipes in this post so you have them handy. Continue reading

Latin Seasoned Ground Beef: Transforms into sauce, stuffing, chili…and more

27 Oct
Basic Seasoned Ground Beef

You can build on this dish to make many different meals

Mondays don’t completely suck, but they are the busiest day of my work/mom week.

Out of the house with dressed toddler and breakfast and packed lunches in the car by 6:45 a.m., teaching and office ’till 2:15 then walk back to the daycare to pick up the little man; shopping or playground till 4 p.m. swim class (on the cheap at the county pool) then pick up vegetables at Sophia Garden C.S.A. (more on that in another post) to get home around 6 p.m. to make dinner — whew!

So, it is crucial that dinner be fast and and brainless and provide leftovers for the next day lunch.

WHEE-HEE!

This Monday was a triumph. Why? Because I had my Basic Seasoned Ground Beef at the ready. I make three pounds of it at a time, divide it in three and freeze it down in plastic bin things so when I am in a bind, I can do any number of things with it that get a relatively wholesome, tasty meal ready in a flash.

I had remembered to take a tublet out of the freezer in the morning, plus I had a bag of tortilla chips (organic blue corn are our favorites, low-salt works better, but oh well, not today) and cheddar cheese slices, so I was good to go.

Heated the oven to 350, spread the tortillas on a baking sheet, sprinkled some of the meat on top and sliced up the slices into thin shreds (why pay more for a chintzy bag of the pre-grated which is dry and tasteless?) and put it in for about 15 minutes, et voila! le diner.

Hot sauce for me (sriracha, my fave) and plain for the boy. Done! We usually have some sliced avocado on the side too, which counts as a vegetable in my world and should in yours too.

SAVE THE DAY!

Forgot to take the meat out? This is a problem many on-the-go moms I have spoken to say happens all the time. With Basic Seasoned Ground Beef, it doesn’t matter. You just switch gears. As Mark Bittman, The Minimalist from the New York Times and a personal hero, has suggested, whenever you get home, just put a pot of water on the boil, ’cause then you have it going for whatever comes up.

So I boil up some pasta (we love Bionaturae whole wheat organic – no kidding, better than white!) and dump the (still frozen) beef in another pot with a 28 oz. can of tomatoes (whole, peeled; diced; pureed – whatever I have) and an extra tablespoon of whatever dried herbs I am in the mood for (oregano for Spanish flavor; basil for Italian, for example; bay leaf never goes astray) and let that simmer up while the pasta boils. Grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Gran Padano on top and luscious!

FREE LUNCH

In fact, while we ate our insta-nachos this particular triumphant Monday, I had the next-day pasta on the boil and the remainder of my tublet of seasoned beef with half a can of tomatoes…easy-peasy.

The best part, of course, was that I actually had everything under control. Really! With a little more time, I might have taken the same beef, same 28 oz. can of tomatoes AND a 15 oz can of red kidney beans, added a tablespoon (or more) of chili powder and a tablespoon of cumin powder, put it on rice and called it chili con carne.

With loads of time, I would have boiled and mashed yuca and made Puerto Rican shepherd’s pie in the oven. What I am trying to say is that with a tub of Basic Seasoned Ground Beef in my freezer, I can do anything!

BASIC SEASONED GROUND BEEF (this is half of what I usually do to freeze. To do 3 lbs. at a time, double everything)

2 Tbs extra virigin olive oil

1 baseball sized onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, minced (go for more if you like – I do!)

1.5 lbs. ground beef

(Optional1/4-1/2 C. chopped red pepper fresh or roasted from a jar)

1/2 tsp adobo powder* (if desired – I generally don’t use it, but some people love the extra salt and the umami)

1 heaping Tbs capers, drained

10 manzanilla olives (pitted and stuffed with pimientos)

(optional 1/2 cup tomatoes from a can – diced, chopped, whatever or a spoonful of tomato paste you need to use up)

Heat oil on high in a large saucepan until thin and fragrant. Add onion and cook, stirring, for two minutes until well coated and getting translucent. Lower heat to fairly low and cook for five minutes, add garlic and cook for another minute. Raise heat to high and crumble in ground beef, stirring and breaking up frequently until fully-browned. Spoon out fat or pour off (don’t make it too dry!) into sink (carefully!).

Return to heat, add red pepper, optional adobo, capers, olives and optional tomato. Mix completely. Lower heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes until fat begins to separate from sauce. Serve or freeze.

 *instead of adobo powder, mix 1/4 tsp salt and 1 Tbs mixed chopped fresh herbs (oregano, rosemary, parsley) or 1 tsp dried

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