November 26, 2018

Prosciutto and Thyme Brussels Sprouts


1 small onion, quartered and sliced
6 oz cubed prosciutto
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lb small Brussels sprouts, halved
1/3 cup water or stock
3-4 sprigs' worth of thyme
freshly ground black pepper


In a medium skillet, saute the prosciutto, onions, and garlic.  Add the sprouts and saute until starting to brown. Add the water or stock, salt, pepper and thyme, and cover. Cook 5 minutes or until nearly fork-tender. Remove the lid and saute until the liquid has evaporated and the Brussels sprouts have caramelized.
My thoughts:
This is one of those super simple recipes that turn out way better than you'd think. The trick is with the water/stock step. It not only speeds up the time it takes to make the Brussels sprouts by lightly steaming them, it really infuses them with the flavors of the onion, prosciutto, and thyme. Then you lift the lid, let it evaporate, and you have super flavorful caramelized sprouts. It is a wonderful side dish for this time of year, equally at home on a weeknight as it is on a holiday.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 19, 2018

Cuban Black Beans and Rice Casserole with Turkey and Zucchini


4 slices of bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 zucchini, cubed
1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly
2 cups cubed, cooked turkey
2 cups leftover Moros y Cristianos (Cuban-style Rice and Beans)
2/3 cup extra sharp cheddar


Grease a 2-quart baking pan or small casseroles to equal 2 quarts.

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large skillet, brown the bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside on a paper towel lined plate.

Add the zucchini and onion and saute until softened. Add the turkey and rice and beans and heat through.

Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese has fully melted.

My thoughts:
We made a ton of Moros y Cristianos (Cuban-style Rice and Beans) for our Cuban themed Thanksgiving so I knew I had to incorporate it into my annual leftovers dish. To brighten the flavors of the leftover rice, I sauteed some bacon and used the grease to saute the zucchini and turkey. Then I stirred in the rice. I added it just enough cheese to keep it from drying out in the oven and to add a sharp flavor. If you don't have turkey, chicken would work just as well!

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 16, 2018

Cuban Inspired Cranberry Sauce


2 cups cranberries
1/4 cup homemade vanilla infused rum
1/4 cup sour orange juice
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Simmer in a small pot until the cranberries pop and the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally. Remove cinnamon stick. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature. It will thicken as it cools.

My thoughts:
Since we had a Cuban themed Thanksgiving this year, it was only natural to use sour orange juice in our cranberry sauce! It is the crucial ingredient in Mojo Criollo which was the basting sauce we made and served the turkey with. As the same suggests, it is quite tart so we upped the sugar a bit more than normal. It was the perfect sweet-tart condiment the dinner needed.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 14, 2018

Sweet Potato Pie Empanadas


for the dough:

3 cups flour
3/4 cup butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup cold water
tablespoon sugar
pinch salt

for the filling:

2 1/2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (cooled, can be made ahead of time)
2 eggs
1/4 cup (homemade) vanilla bean infused rum (or 1 tablespoon vanilla)
1/2 teaspoon star anise
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 eggs beaten
pearl sugar (optional)


Preheat oven to 375. Line two cookie sheets with silipats or parchment. Set aside.

for the dough:

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a dough forms, adding water as needed. Roll out on to a floured surface until it is about 1/4 inch thick. (you can use a countertop but I love my baking mat and I feel like it is a lot less messy)

for the filling:
Mix by hand or in a mixer, throughly mix together all ingredients. Set aside.


Cut the dough into 3-4 inch rounds (I used an empanada press similar to this one I found in a thrift shop for 25¢ but a large biscuit or cookie cutter works just fine), fill with about 2 tablespoons of filling and seal, brushing a bit of beaten egg around the edge and pinching to seal. You may end up with extra filling, discard or use to make something else.

Arrange on the cookie sheets in a single layer. Brush with egg. Sprinkle with pearl sugar if desired. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned and puffy. Cool on a wire rack.

My thoughts:
Since we were doing a Cuban themed Thanksgiving this year, it made sense to forgo the usual pie and make empanadas. Sweet potato pie empanadas are of course not a traditional food by any sense but they sure are good! Matt came up with the filling to give it a slightly Caribbean flavor while still tasting like his favorite kind of pie. 

The directions seem long but it really is easy. Feel free to cook the potatoes ahead of time and even to make the dough the day before and they bake up much faster than a traditional pie. I think it would make a great pie alternative on any Thanksgiving table. 

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 12, 2018

Moros y Cristianos (Cuban-style Rice and Beans)


1 white onion, diced
2 cubanelle peppers, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 oz can tomato paste
2-15 oz cans black beans (do not drain!)
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups cooked white rice


In a large pot sauté onion, cubanelle peppers and garlic in oil until translucent. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the rice and simmer until warmed through, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cooked white rice until well coated. Simmer 5 additional minutes prior to serving.

My thoughts:
Every year we do a different themed Thanksgiving. One year it was Hawaiian, one year it was Polish, and even Maryland themed. This year we a Cuban theme so of course we had to make Moros y Cristianos (Cuban-style Rice and Beans)! We made the recipe a little easier by mixing the white rice cooked into the bean mixture vs cooking the rice in with the beans. I feel like it yields more consistent results and if you have a rice cooker, it is so much more hands-free and easy. Perfect for the holidays! It went wonderfully with our mojo-spiked turkey and picadillo stuffing.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg