Picadillo - it may surprise you

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Okay, so my platanos didn't stay green for long so the tostones will have to wait, but I found a picadillo recipe that even caught me off-guard. This is because, it's not a "lightened-up" recipe but a traditional one. As usual, the recipe comes from one of my favorite recipe sites, ElBoricua.com.

If you make it with lean ground beef, you'll end up with an extremely plan-friendly dish that doesn't sacrifice the taste. For that reason, I posted it as a "community recipe". Let's look at the ingredients for a sec:

Ground beef - if you make it 95% lean this is only 15 PPV for the whole pound! On the other hand a pound of 80/20 beef was more like 31 total. So the leaner, the better.
1/4 cup sofrito - 4 PPV
1/2 cup onions - 0 PPV - power food
1/2 cup bell pepper - 0 PPV - power food
1/2 cup cilantro - 0 PPV
2 leaves culantro/recao - 0 PPV
1/4 cup alcaparrado - check your label(s) for this part because they vary, probably no more than 2 PPV.
4 oz. tomato sauce - 0 PPV - and supposedly a power food
Salt and pepper to taste (I usually use adobo Goya instead, just a bit) - 0 PPV.

So apart from the meat, it's nearly all 0 PPV foods and many are power foods. This recipe came out as a total of 24 PPV for the whole thing! So I can portion it as:
- 6 servings of 4 PPV
- 4 servings for 6 PPV
- 12 servings for 2 PPV (which would really only be enough to stuff a fritura (like an alcapurria, relleno de papa etc - BTW I will be looking into all those things to try and get a rough estimate for the PPVs).

Picadillo is also an important part of any pastelon (which I may do next week) or just as a side dish with rice and beans. It also freezes well, going back to the whole "BoricOnes" idea. And the fact that it uses lean meat makes it ideal for stuffing (since it won't be runny or greasy; the fried stuff will more than make up for that).

The only real down-side to this recipe is if you don't use lean ground beef, the PPV can sky-rocket. If eating at a restaurant, I plan on taking what I think the portions are and doubling the PPV. But if you're cooking at home and want to splurge a bit, just take this recipe and substitute the meat for a less lean cut, or use ground pork (which is also very common in PR and most picadillo recipes). Then enter all the ingredients in Recipe Builder and plan how much you want to have.

Next time:

So for next week, I thought I'd ask you what you want to see:
- Pastelon de platano - this week's recipe plus cheese, platano and other good stuff
- Something about frituras - either a more plan-friendly way to cook them, tips etc.
- The tostones idea I mentioned last week

Hasta pronto,

Categories: Cooking


Comments (see all 5 comments)

MVG3004 (Margaret )

10/13/2013 7:35 PM

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Points Plus Planning for Perfectly Portioned Pernil

Sunday, October 07, 2012

As our "Countdown to Thanksgiving" continues, I'm reminded of the things I made for myself last year; and pernil al horno was definitely one of them! Now, I know what you're thinking:

1. Mmmm............. quiero eso ya! :)
2. I wonder how much fits into my PPV budget. I agree with the first guy but I need more info.
3. Pernil? Can we even have that on WeightWatchers? Miguel, estas loco!

Okay, so I'm no psychic, but I know how much we love special holiday food (whether Puerto Rican or otherwise). We enjoy it because it's different, because it brings us together for good times, and because it's so very good. This applies to everyone, not just Puerto Ricans and not just people using WW. I've seen it everywhere: here in CA people make tamales of all varieties (including this sweet kind that's actually pretty good), in New York people made turkey and stuffing, and in the south it's always fried chicken or barbecued pork. And in Puerto Rico, it's pasteles, alcapurrias, arroz con gandules, and of course the lechon (or at least a big pernil). So let me respond real quick to the three thoughts I "read":

Now to the first thought, I have only one word: "Cuidao!" To the third thought, my answer is "Yes, we can have pernil on WeightWatchers. But to both of these thoughts I'd like to say that we can have those holiday treats, but let's not forget the "watch" in WeightWatchers. Don't get me wrong - I forget it often during the holidays too, so this little blurb is to encourage all of us to work on that.

But to the second thought, you who wanted more info - yeah, you - Let me break it down for you. My recipe for pernil has always been very similar to this one from El Boricua.com.

So basically the points breakdown looks like this:
Fresh garlic - 0 PPV
Salt, pepper, & oregano - 0 PPV
Olive oil - 3-7 PPV depending how much you use (I don't have a half-tablespoon so I use an even two); this tends to cook off with all the rest of the grease; and even if it doesn't when you divide a big pernil into 3-ounce portions it has to be like a tenth of a tablespoon or something.
Pork shoulder roast -

Now the pork roast gets a little tricky. There is a generic food named "lechon asado" that is 4 PPV for 3 ounces; this, however, is a bit vague. As some of you already know, lechon asado translates as roast pig (and in Puerto Rico they still do that a lot on holidays), but what cut of the lechon? What kind(s) of seasoning? I've seen some recipes (one from the old Winning Points plan) show "lechon asado" to mean a lean pork tenderloin marinated in something like a homemade mojo criollo (which is delicious but nothing like pernil).

Then there is the entry for "pork, shoulder, lean and fat, cooked" - this shows 6 PPV for the same 3 ounces. This is the one I use, because that is exactly the cut I use for pernil. If I'm just making something to put over rice or in sandwiches, I do something that is closer to the WeightWatchers "lechon asado", but for Thanksgiving I do it the old-fashioned way. If that doesn't work for you (and it may not) just find a leaner cut and prepare it the same way (going back to the tenderloin thing, you can even do it in the crockpot and it comes out great). Sure there won't be any chicharron at the end, but it may save more points plus for other things. And 3 ounces is not bad.

But what does 3 ounces look like? I used my food scale, and while it's not exactly a lot, it's enough to get a good taste of it and really take it in. In the picture above, I have a plate with 3 ounces on the scale. As you can see, it doesn't look like much on the plate, but if you put a cup of arroz con gandules and a couple tostones on the side, you're good to go! :)

Next week

So I've had questions about tostones - from back in the day when I started this blog under a different screen name to comments on this one. I've written about tostones before but never actually shared my recipe. That and I happen to have some platanos verdes I need to use quick. :) Nos vemos

Categories: Cooking


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Introducing... BoricOnes!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hi all, sorry I missed another week; those ball games got in the way of my blogging (but they were so worth it). But at my meeting I heard we are less than eight weeks from Thanksgiving, and I knew I'd have to get back at it. Anything I can offer that will help us to reach our goals is worth sharing, no? :)

So today I thought I'd share something that helps me get through the busy work week. Now I'm going to ask you something where the answer will probably sound like "DUH!" Wouldn't it be great if they made low-PPV frozen dinners that were good Puerto Rican food? What if, instead of meat loaf or lasaña, it was camarones a la criolla, habichuelas guisadas, pastelon or mojo-marinated chicken breasts? Well, something similar is available, if you are okay with doing a little cooking. I call them "BoricOnes".

One of my favorite things to do on a Saturday afternoon is to cook, portion out and freeze my own recipes. So then after a long day at work and possibly the gym, I can just heat one up and Bingo - comida criolla, quick and easy. Serve it over rice (which I make for the whole week) with a side of veggies (and maybe some yuca or amarillos, which can also be frozen in advance). It doesn't get much better than that. :)

So how do you do it? You can't just "make your own frozen dinners", can you? Well tonight I wanted to say that you can and you can make them great. I found some very good instructions at this site:


It gives very detailled instructions on making your own frozen meals, and even tells you what freezes well (and it looks like most things do, with a only a few exceptions). Unfortunately it does try to throw up a couple pop-ups (just a warning) but if you have questions on how it works, it may be worth a look.

The idea itself is simple enough though:
1. Cook up some great Puerto Rican recipes
2. Let the food cool completely (I like to let it cool in the containers so it'll cool faster)
3. Portion it out, and create a list of what you've got and the PPV for each
4. Put it in containers, and wrap the containers in plastic or foil. Label it with name, date and PPV.
5. Freeze it, and use it when you need it.

So what kinds of recipes freeze well? I'm glad you asked. Some of my favorites for the freezer include: habichuelas guisadas, camarones a la criolla (see picture), pastelon de platano, picadillo, pollo en fricase, chicken or pork chops marinated mojo criollo, any kind of soup or stew, and baked or boiled platanos. And of course, during the holidays pasteles are known for freezing perfectly (I found a recipe here on eTools that I plan to try this year).

You can also freeze things that you plan to fry (or fake-fry) later. Some examples of mine are alcapurrias, rellenos de papa, empanadas and tostones (I fry/fake-fry once then freeze, so they just need to go in the skillet once when I use them). Obviously, I don't make these foods often, but it's great to be able to just take it out of the freezer and fry it up.

There are really only two or three kinds of things I do NOT put in the freezer. One is rice; although you can (and if you undercook it a bit it can even come out nicely) I just don't mess with it. Also bacalao (or really any fish) simply because it stinks up the place when reheated. Even if it's loaded with onion, garlic, etc. etc. the fish smell comes out in the microwave. The other, obviously, is fried stuff. That will not come out right after being frozen.

So if you want the foods you like, perfectly portioned out, hot and ready to eat whenever, make your own "BoricOnes" and you're good to go! :)

Hasta pronto, (no really this time) :)

Categories: Cooking


Comments (see all 5 comments)


4/4/2013 5:25 PM
I just found your blog. It's great to know that you can eat delicious PR food and stay on the Plan. Thanks for sharing with us. The best to you Miguel!

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Back in action!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

He vueltooooo!!! I'm baa-aack! :)

Hey everyone, sorry it's been so long since my last post. It's been a wild two weeks; a mission trip to Mexico, re-joining the gym, and so much more. But I'm back with more good stuff about our favorite - comida criolla.

But this week, I thought I'd goof off and write about something a bit different. I saw a guy hit Goal at my meeting last week, and I really enjoyed hearing what he had to say. He said for him, the biggest struggle was eliminating night eating. He compared it to fighting a demonic beast, a "monster", and winning. I thought that was really cool. In addition to this blog I am also a sci-fi/adventure short story writer and that illustration was right up my alley.

So it got me thinking: what are the "monsters" that get in the way of my goals? Then I remembered a funny video from a few years back. Here is the link:

"Hungry" in the office

This was a WeightWatchers ad from a previous plan, showing "hungry" as - guess what - a hairy, ugly little monster! It was hilarious to see how many places he popped up and how much food he offered. And the office is just once place where Hungry can rear its ugly head.

So how do we deal with him? We can't ignore him, because if we do he'll mutate into a seven-foot man-eater with four arms and razor-sharp teeth. If I let Hungry transform into Very Hungry, the risk of getting knocked off-plan is a lot more likely. But on the other hand, if we “feed the monster” all the time we risk eating too much anyway.

I think the answer will be different for everyone, but the main thing is to know what are our “monster” situations and what are more manageable. For example, I love Malta India and Coco Rico. Every time I go to the Cuban market, I buy at least a 6-pack of each. It's only 2 PPV for the little Maltas and 4 PPV for a can of Coco Rico; so it's easy to enjoy these and stay on-plan. But for me personally, I have found this to be a dumb, dumb move; I can't have those around the house or I'll go through them way too fast. So next time I go to the Cuban market I know to get either a pack of Malta or Coco Rico (and not two packs of each). :)

But anyway, the topic at our meeting was looking at our habits, the things we do without thinking about it. We all have them, and some are actually very good (like my writing a blog for other Puerto Rican food lovers). But by working on the ones that bring us down, we'll make great progress. Asi que sigamos pa'lante! :)

Next week:

After I finish writing this, I'm going to a ball game. The season is heating up with my Yankees and my Rays in the playoff running; then before long it'll be time for the World Series and finally the Serie del Caribe. So this is the time of year for tapas (game snacks) and a new way to enjoy the game.

Categories: Food


Comments (see all 4 comments)

ABREU531 (Luisa)

12/8/2013 3:00 PM
does anybody know the point in pasteles?

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Mofongo relleno de camarones

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Buenas noches a todos,

This has been a long time coming, so thank you for your patience. This recipe is for mofongo relleno de camarones - shrimp-stuffed mofongo. I wasn't able to get to the Cuban Market, as I was sick this week (which is also why I don't have a picture), but I thought I'd share my recipe with you anyway. This has been put off long enough. :)

In case this is the first post of mine you read, let me backtrack a bit. Mofongo is basically a combination of mashed fried platanos (I keep forgetting the English translation lol - like a banana but very green and starchier),j garlic, olive oil and chicharron mashed together and served hot. I took a picture of one of mine back then, but it really looked more like a biscuit sort of thing rather than the mofongo we know and love. But the taste was definitely the same, and that's really all that matters. :)

But the recipe I'm sharing tonight is the real thing. Most of my recipes on here come from sites that are not necessarily intended to be plan-friendly (most focus on *traditional* recipes). So here you go, my recipe for mofongo relleno:

Recipe from El Boricua.com - 11 PPV per serving using their portion sizes.


Now in Recipe Builder, I replaced the six platans with 6 cups of fried platans. For whatever reason, the Plan Manager shows they have the same PPV (5 per cup) no matter if they are fried, baked or boiled (or even raw, but no one eats them raw lol). But if you are concerned about the oil, feel free to count it. I'm on a message board that is discussing how to calculate points for fried foods, but I think for me I'm cool with the way I did it. I still get enough Points Plus in a day where 11 PPV is manageable.

Also for the relleno, I like to use culantro in place of the cilantro.

To lighten it up a bit:

Here's a YouTube video where Telemundo shows how to make this recipe and their filling has fewer ingredients: just onion, garlic, shrimp, tomato sauce and olive oil. You can also use Goya's ham flavored seasoning in place of the smoked ham, or leave it out altogether like Goya's does. I haven't run any of these substitutions through Recipe Builder yet but I imagine they would help a lot.

Another way to lower the PPV would be, obviously, to change the portion sizes. In the recipe shown on ElBoricua.com, each serving is five or six slices of the fried platanos plus half a cup of the shrimp mixture. That's a lot, considering everything that goes into it. So if you're not planning on eating that much, split it in half (2-3 pieces of the platano and 1/4 cup of the shrimp, or something like that).

The nice thing is, the choice is up to you. Do you want a big one like in the picture, done the traditional way? (I know I do, just looking at it makes my mouth water LOL). Or are you okay with a bit less, with something else on the side? Or would you rather lighten it up and get a flavor that is similar but not exactly the same thing? You can make it your way, plan it with your Points Plus and personal tastes in mind, and just enjoy it. And no matter how you make it, that's what it's all about. Buen provecho! :)

Next week

On Friday I am going to my favorite Puerto Rican restaurant with a friend. So I'll be sharing some tips and tricks about eating out, Boricua style!

Categories: Cooking


Comments (see all 1 comments)

PAMMIE505 (Pamela)

1/11/2013 4:11 PM
Okay, you are my new hero! I am married to a Puerto Rican and just visited the island. I love, love, love Mofongo! Thanks for the recipe, this is a real treat.

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Estoy loco en... oops, I mean por... el coco! :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The other day I got this coconut from the store and thought, "I should blog about this." Yes, I know, kind of random. But it's a cooking blog, gimme a break! :)

But seriously, if you're into cooking (and not just Puerto Rican but anything tropical) this article is for you! In addition to Puerto Rican classisc like arroz con dulce, tembleque, besitos de coco and coquito, coconut is used in many Latin and (I think) Asian dishes.

But for many readers the idea of using fresh coconut leads to more questions than answers. How do I know I have a good one? How the heck do I open it? What is "coconut water" (I thought it was called coconut "milk"), and the list goes on. So this week I'm going to try to answer some of those questions.

1. The parts

Agua de coco (coconut water) is the actual juice of the coconut. It's only 1 PPV for a cup and it is so good! Whenever I buy a coconut I shake it to make sure it has this part. And once I have drained the water, I just pour it through a strainer and put it in the freezer till I'm done getting the meat off the shell. You can see from the bowl that I hadn't done that yet (as there are little flakes of shell still in there, LOL).

Coconut "meat" is the white stuff that you see on the left side of the picture. That's the part we use to make all the good stuff. That's what we grate and put in desserts or use to make coconut milk. It's a bit of a pain to get this out of the shell but is worth it. :) On the PPV side of things, raw coconut meat is 8 PPV for 1 cup.

Leche de coco (coconut milk) is basically grated coconut meat plus boiling water. Then when it cools more can be squeezed from the meat. A cup of this is twice the PPV of a cup of raw coconut (16 PPV for a cup? Caray!) But this is rarely drank on its own like regular milk (not that I don't). Coconut milk is used more in recipes.

2. The process
So how do I get this sucker open? I once had the same question. So I went to YouTube and found this:

How to open a coconut

Now I've opened a few coconuts and wanted to comment on the video, because I've opened enough now to know what they're talking about. :)
To drain the water, I found another video where a guy used a hammer and screwdriver (instead of a nail). This went in and came out much easier. But whatever you have on hand, the idea is basically the same - find one of the three "eyes" and use something sharp to put a hole in it. Then drain the water and enjoy.

The demonstration of how to split the coconut is right on - hit it with a hammer, rotating it along the "equator" (using the eyes as the "pole" I guess) and eventually it will split in half like my picture. I haven't tried their suggestion about the cookie sheet though. Maybe that's what I need to get the meat off the shell. The other way is to cut it out with a knife, and that's a nice little mini-workout. Then grate it or save it for up to 2 weeks (or so they say).

Last thoughts on the subject

So now that you know the basics of opening a coconut, know the PPVs for coconut milk vs. water vs. raw, and how to make coconut milk, hopefully you'll be able to try it with confidence. As the holidays get closer I'll be posting recipes, and if all goes well you'll be able to enjoy coconut as much as I do - and stay on plan. :)

One last thought...

No, I haven't forgotten about the mofongo topic. I was waiting for a chance to get to the Cuban market. But I'm going this week so you can expect a nice picture of my mofongo relleno on next week's post.

But this is bigger than just mofongo. I'm in groups where people are asking for PPV's on just about anything fried, all our favorites like tostones, alcapurrias etc. So I'll also be researching how to calculate points on those kinds of things, and I'll report back as soon as I know.
Hasta la proxima! :)

Categories: Cooking


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Mira, que mango!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

No, I'm not talking about a woman (sorry guys). Even though the word "mango" can be used to refer to an attractive woman (among other things), what I'm talking about here is the tangy, sweet and also attractive tropical fruit. :)

I've been eating mangos like crazy lately and I've been losing weight. They are 0 PPV and they're sooo good (don't quote me on this but I think they're a Power Food too). But I've heard people say how hard they are to cut (in fact my Leader said they can be a very "messy" fruit). But before she knew I was writing about mangos she suggested we check out some of the food preparation videos on e-tools. So I found this:

Cubing A Mango

But for me, cutting a mango is the easy part - it's the "only eating one" part that gets tricky. :) There is a reason the Find & Explore went from the small vs. large measurements to cups, and that is every mango is different in size. Now living in California, I have found there are these small yellow-orange mangos (about the size of a pear) that apparently are grown in Mexico; but the ones I'm used to seeing are bigger and green and red in color. That's what I used in the picture above (which was all from one mango - and that's a regular size plate!). So I had that for breakfast with a granola bar and some coconut water, and I felt like I had cheated - but the bar was 3 and the coconut water was 2 so it was only 5 PPV.

Now, for those of you who go to my meeting, if you remember, we were asked to bring in a recipe to share for next week. Well mine may not fit with my handwriting, so I'm posting it here:

Miguel's Tropical Fruit Salad
1-3 mangos (depending on size)
1 pineapple
1 papaya
1-2 bananas (optional)
1 tsp fresh lime juice (if using bananas)

Peel, seed and chop all the fruit. The quantities will vary based on the size of the different fruits (some papayas, for example, are huge) but the idea is to get a nice balance of each fruit.

If using, toss bananas in lime juice. This will help preserve the color and texture (otherwise they will turn brown if left out for too long). Then add the bananas to the fruit salad.

The fruits listed above are just my favorites, and also the only ones I can find easily. I'd love to find a place to get fresh guava and/or guanabana, but those are near impossible to find. You can also add orange, grapefruit, or kiwi. It all comes down to your preferences. I'm not a big kiwi or grapefruit fan, but if you are, you can mix and match to find which combinations work best for you. But in my opinion, you can't beat pineapple, papaya, banana, and of course mango. :)

Now on the Points Plus side of things, here's the good news: Most fruit is 0 PPV! Obviously, if you're going to eat the entire recipe yourself (which I don't recommend but could easily do, LOL) you might want to run it through Recipe Builder and really give it a second look. But if you're bringing it to a party, or making a batch that will last 3-4 days (like I do) you are probably safe to track it as a 0 PPV food.

But anyway, that's all for now. Hope you enjoyed it.

PS - I haven't forgotten about that mofongo relleno recipe I told you I'd post - I just have to get more platanos verdes before I can make it.

Categories: Cooking


Comments (see all 3 comments)


8/17/2012 7:30 AM
That sounds fantastic! I will have to check my Cuban market for frozen fruit pulp now lol. I've seen recipes like that but yours sounds just as good for a lot less Points Plus. But anyway, good luck to you and your husband, and if there's anything I can do to help, "you know where to find me." :) Miguel

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"Mofongo points"

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Last week I was reading posts in one of the groups I'm in, and someone explained they were going to Old San Juan and wanted to know the PPV for Puerto Rican food (and don't we all?). Then she added, "I'm talking lechon points, mofongo points, etc" and it got me hungry for mofongo (lol). But that's too high in PPV, right?

Not necessarily. Okay, maybe in the streets of Old San Juan it's not the best choice (unless you're splitting it). But at home, where we can control what goes into the mofongo, that's a whole different story. We can customize it our way, depending on the points we have and what we like most. But since there is no "mofongo cheat sheet" on e-tools (yet) I think I'd like to break it down for you using the same idea. So here goes, my "mofongo cheat sheet" (PPVs are from Find & Explore)

1. El platano
On the points side of things, there is really not a huge difference in the way you cook the platanos.

Fried (the traditional way) - 1 cup is 5 PPV.
Baked or boiled - 1 cup is 5 PPV! How the heck is that possible?? :-)
Raw (yuck) - 1 cup is STILL only 5 PPV!

So if you're making mofongo at home, I think you're okay to fry them; however, as always just be careful with that. I still fry my platanos (with some exceptions) and I've lost over 30 pounds so far... but in the end it's up to you.

2. Chicharron or bacon
Chicharron (storebought) - varies from brand to brand apparently
Chicharron (fresh) - not sure; I'd weigh on the food scale and then look under "pork shoulder roast" (as the skin is part of the roast)
Bacon - 1 slice is 1 PPV.

For me, it's usually easiest to just use bacon. It's still crispy, fresh pork and way less PPV. But if you've got good chicharron (which I can't seem to find in my area) it may be worth the extra point or three. :)

3. Olive oil, chicken broth, or both?
Olive oil, of course, adds a point (1 tsp = 1 PPV, 1 tbsp = 4 PPV).
Chicken broth is few to no PPV and does add flavor, but if you put it in Recipe Builder it might increase the total also (even the garlic did, and I just entered one clove).

4. To fill or not to fill?
My favorite mofongo, as I said, is stuffed with shrimp in a salsa criolla (tomato sauce, onions, garlic and a little more olive oil). I could live on that stuff! But again, we're talking custom-designing your mofongo your way, and that also means considering your individual PPV target. So the answer to this will probably depend mostly on how many Points + you have and how many you're willing to spend.

My basic mofongo recipe

To wrap things up, here is my mofongo recipe (the one in the picture). In the Recipe builder it came out as 8 points - not exactly ideal for the day before a meeting but it is definitely something we can have!

1 cup fried platanos - 5 PPV
1 slice bacon - 1 PPV
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil - 1 PPV
1 clove garlic - 0 (but counts as 1 in Recipe Builder)

1. Peel and fry the platanos in a bit of oil in a skillet, over medium heat. When they are golden brown on all sides, drain VERY well on paper towel - we don't want extra points on this just for the excess oil. :)
2. In a separate skillet, while the platanos are frying, cook the bacon to a crisp.
3. In a pilon (sorry I forget the English name) crush the garlic, then some of the platano, then add the bacon and olive oil, and then the rest of the platano. Mash it all together, mixing the ingredients well.
4. Either stuff the mofongo with the relleno of your choice (while still in the pilon - very nice presentation) or form into a ball and serve.

If you don't have a pilon, you can get one cheap online (I know a few sites, so if you ask me I'd be glad to send links) or do like I did when I moved to CA - improvise one using a bowl and potato masher.

Make sure the platanos are very green! The greener the better!

Well, that's all for now. Maybe next week I'll make the relleno and let you know how it comes out. Hasta la proxima. :-)

Categories: Cooking


Comments (see all 2 comments)


10/3/2012 8:18 PM
Now that sounds really good! What was the PPV for the finished mofongo? :)

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The art and science of "fake-frying"

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I don't think any Leaders have ever addressed it directly in a meeting (at least none I've ever had) but I think we all know what "fake-frying" is. It's making something taste fried without all the grease or points plus. Now some people (and I used to be this way) hear "fake-fried" and don't want anything to do with it. They just eat the "real" stuff and pay for it later. I still do sometimes and if you're that way you're not alone.

But when we're trying to lose weight, we may be putting obstacles in our own way if we do things that way. Not to say we "can't have that anymore" - as I said I still do - but if you're like me you could eat fried food a lot more often than we do. So I've made it a goal to learn how to "fake-fry" most everything I could eat often. Like tostones - that's a whole other article lol - or even amarillos (see photo). Not to mention empanadas, bacalaitos, croquetas, papas rellenas, alcapurrias etc. and the list goes on.

To those of you who are not familiar with Puerto Rican cooking, don't be fooled - there are many, many good Boricua recipes that are not fried at all! But every culture has recipes like this (Mexican/Tex-Mex has tostadas, Chinese has egg rolls, American South has fried chicken etc). And Puerto Rican cuisine is no exception.

So what I'd like to offer you all are some tips and tricks I've learned when it comes to "fake-frying" in general:

1. Pan-frying
This can be done either with a little oil (like the Oil Sprayer), with nonstick cooking spray, or with both (which is how I do tostones; again eso es otro 20 pesos, I'll get to those another time).
2. Baking:
If you're talking meat, you can use a mixture of bread crumbs and Adobo Goya as a "breading" and chicken or fish come out fantastic. I have not tried this yet with rellenos de papa but I think it *might* work. Add a little cooking spray or toss them in oil, and yuca fries come out great in the oven also. Some of the Goya frozen foods also mention "broiling" but I don't really know how to do that yet
3. Boil then fake-fry
I have found this to not work well with tostones (though some people apparently get great results that way), but if you're making yuca frita or rellenos de yuca that is definitely the way to go (as it softens the yuca before you throw it on the skillet).

Part of the challenge of fake-frying though is you never know what will work well until you try. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've messed up platanos before I learned to do them right. In the picture at the top of the page, I pan-fried the amarillos with Pam and then in the same skillet made the over-easy eggs. It took me longer to find a way to take the picture. I've found baking amarillos comes out good too (in fact I think that's how Goya does their frozen amarillos, by baking and then freezing them, since fried stuff doesn't turn out right after it's been frozen). So fake-frying is both an art (takes a certain level of creativity) and a science (requires experimentation) but it is so worth it in the end.

But anyway, that's about all I know so far, but you may know more. If you have specific suggestions you'd like to share, I'd love to hear from you! Thanks for reading and I'll see you next time.

Miguel :)

Categories: Cooking


Comments (see all 2 comments)


10/1/2013 7:44 PM
Someone brought me alcapurrias made from the island and I really want to eat one but I don't want to fry it. Any ideas on how I could successfully bake or "fake-fry" it?

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Freezing - the "easy way out"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Buenas tardes,

I stopped by my local Latin market on Friday and found they had fresh viandas on sale (for those of you wo don't know, viandas are root vegetables like yuca, yautia, malanga, etc; they are starchy and are cooked like potatoes. They can be boiled, baked, fake-fried, real-fried, etc). So I got myself a couple pounds of yautia, and went home with a bag full of other goodies too. :)

When I got home, I got the veggies ready for the freezer. By peeling, chopping, portioning and freezing the yautia in freezer bags, I saved myself a ton of time for the next time I need them. I do this with platanos and guineos verdes too; technically those aren't root vegetables but it still works great. And then a co-worker of mine told me about how she cooks beans in big batches and then freezes them in portions. So I got into that too, and it's been working out great.

So let's say I'm making a pot of habichuelas guisadas with a side of fake-fried tostones. I've already done half the work! I just take the beans and the platanos out of the freezer and let them thaw. Add some chopped veggies to the beans (including culantro, lol), and while they're simmering make the tostones... and before you know it, you've got a meal that puts the rico in Puerto Rican! Esa es mi comida boricua! (-:

But seriously, the reason I'm sharing about the freezing thing is because it's a huge time-saver, helps with portions in recipes, and just makes cooking a lot easier and more enjoyable. And it's not just for Puerto Rican food, of course. In my family we always freeze cookies at Christmas to make them last longer (because a certain WW blogger likes them a little too much, LOL). And of course let's not forget frozen pizza, vegetables, etc.

So to wrap up this post, here's a little recipe I plan on doing sometime soon (sorry, no PPV yet; it'll be in another post):


1 cup yuca
1 cup yautia
1 cup platano
1 lb beef stew meat
1/4 cup sofrito
1/4 cup alcaparrado Goya
1 can Goya tomato sauce
1 packet sazon Goya
onions, crushed garlic, green peppers, cilantro, recao, and other veggies to taste (some people add asparagus; others add corn on the cob [pero cuidao con eso! lol] and in the end it will depend on what I have)

1. Take the viandas out of the freezer and add to the crockpot.
2. Boil the meat in the onions and garlic for a couple hours until tender. Then add that to the crockpot. (or just skip this step; I prefer to do it this way but either way will work).
3. Add all the other ingredients to the crockpot and cook on low until the viandas are cooked and the mixture thickens (Sancocho is a stew, after all).
4. Run the ingredients through Recipe Builder and portion accordingly. The finished stew freezes nicely also.

Buen provecho!
Miguel (-:

Categories: Cooking


Comments (see all 1 comments)


1/8/2014 9:24 PM
Please let me know if you can count those VIANDAS like a power food

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