Monthly Archives: February 2015

Cuban Black Beans & Rice (Congri)

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

I’m not a big rice person. Maybe it’s from having to eat it all the time when I was little. Cubans eat rice only second to Asians (One of my old college roommates was Chinese-American & did not consider it a proper meal unless she had some white rice. She also had like this 6th sense ability to know when the rice cooker was done. I love her.) I like to make Cuban food when I’m cooking for people, and most of the time that includes rice. Especially in this case. My husband & I were going to visit some friends who had recently had a baby & bring them some lunch. We asked the new mom what she would prefer & she said rice would be great. So as you can see, I had to. Rice, rice, rice.

I was actually excited to make this recipe. We call it Congri. If you call it Moros, we can’t be friends. Just kidding! If you have no idea what either of those words means, we can still be friends & you learned something new.  My mom gave me this recipe, & I hadn’t made it in a long time. It was also the perfect excuse to break in our cast iron dutch over. The only thing is that I forget that when I took down the recipe from Mami, I was making it for a party. This recipe makes enough rice for like 15 people; 10 if they are big rice fans. Rice.

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

I gathered & prepped all my ingredients (in my pretty bowls, just for you guys) & got to work.

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - CongriThe first step is to sofreir  -sauté- your rice with oil & Sazón. Mami says this step opens up the rice kernels & makes them taste better. If nothing else, this will help keep the rice from sticking & season it evenly. I did this for just a few minutes until the oil was making a hissssss sound.

Next you add all the other ingredients. If you don’t know what Recaito is, it’s a mix of onions, roasted garlic, sweet peppers, green bell pepper, cubanelle pepper, cilantro, & culantro blended until smooth.


If you make your own beans for this recipe (the old fashioned way it’s supposed to be done), use the water you boil the beans in to make the rice – it gives it that traditional congri color. I didn’t do that. I used canned black beans that I drained & rinsed because the water inside the can is always yucky to me. This is why my rice came out kind of orangey instead of grey/black. My mom gets around this by adding a little bit of browning sauce. But I believe Congri should be judged not by the color of the rice, but by the content of the flavor.

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

Bring it to a boil, then to a simmer. The highs & lows of cooking. Cover & let simmer for 20 minutes.

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

After 20 minutes, stir it up. Simmer for 10 more minutes, & voila!

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

Even for someone who’s not a rice lover (me), this is delicious. I served it with some pork roast I threw in the crock pot with mojo, fresh garlic, & cumin (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that cumin & Cuban rhyme).

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri


Makes 12 half-cup servings

  • 4 cups parboiled rice
  • 2 cans black beans, drained
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 3 strips cooked bacon
  • 2 packets of Sazón (3 tsp)
  • 2-3 tbsp Recaito
  • 6 cups water
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  1. Sauté the uncooked rice in oil with the Sazón for a few minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients & bring to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, turn heat to low & cover. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes, stir the rice until mixed evenly. Simmer for 10 more minutes.
  5. Serve & enjoy!

In The New House Designs


National Margarita Day!

wpid-1424654216701.jpgToday is National Margarita Day! Also, the Oscars are on! To celebrate, we went to our friends Beth & David’s house. Beth & I made strawberry jam, and my husband made us all strawberry margaritas!


Strawberry Pie & Lent

I have given up chocolate for Lent. One of the pastors at my church recently posted an interesting article – Does God Care If You Give Up Chocolate? Spoiler alert: the answer is maybe.

It’s interesting that I grew up going to Catholic church until I was about 15, but I never used to do anything differently for Lent & had never gone to mass on Ash Wednesday. Last night my husband and I went to our church’s Ash Wednesday service. It was just what we needed after a difficult past few days. Lent is the time for putting aside sins & failures of the past in the light of who we are yet to become by the grace of God. I’m not well equipped to adequately describe the importance of Lent in this short post.

So why did I give up chocolate? Because I like it. A lot. Because I turn to it for comfort when I’m feeling emotional. Because my husband buys me chocolates as small gestures of his affection. Because I eat something chocolate-y almost daily. Because I think about chocolate more than I think about Christ. Yes, I can confess that. Therefore, when I am tempted to reach for a piece of chocolate for whatever reason – boredom, comfort, sign of affection, hunger – I will (hopefully) think of Easter.

I didn’t say I gave up dessert, though.


So I made a pie. A 15 minute pie. I had some frozen pie crust and some frozen “summer fruits” which apparently are peaches, blackberries, and strawberries. It was mostly strawberries. I also had some fresh strawberries I added. Let’s call it strawberry pie with added flavors.

I took out the blackberries from the frozen mix & cooked them on their own for a bit. When they were soft, I pureed them in the food processor and strained them. Why? Because my husband doesn’t like the seeds & I love him. It was a labor of love. You see, I love blackberries the way they are. He likes the flavor but does not enjoy their texture. I could have put them in the pie the way they came, not considering his preference. I could have omitted the blackberries all together & saved the trouble. It’s about the little things we do for each other, though.

Once that was complete, I cooked the rest of the fruits with some sugar and a little flour to thicken it. The frozen crust was baking all along, and then I just combined the two.

This 15 minute pie turned out to be delicious.


I didn’t think this post about pie & Lent would get so deep. But this is one of the things I love about God. He does pay attention to the details. I believe he does care about things like chocolate & baking pies. He does care how we live our lives day to day. We can, and should, turn to him for the big things and the little things.

Mardi Gras Themed Bridal Shower

Mardi Gras Bridal Shower

In honor of today being Fat Tuesday, I wanted to do a throw back to the AMAZING bridal shower my BFOTB Frank threw me back in October.

Mardi Gras Bridal Shower

My BFF, back then BFOTB, Frank 🙂

There were games, props, and GREAT food (muffalettas, shrimp po boys, you name it!)

Mardi Gras Bridal Shower

Mami & Mom (mother-in-law)

Mardi Gras Bridal Shower

The decorations were great. Even the dogs had beads!

Mardi Gras Bridal ShowerMardi Gras Bridal Shower

There were Mardi Gras duckies floating in the boozy punch, a wonderful lemon king’s cake made by my mother in law, & pecan pralines to take home. It was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to. Mardi Gras Bridal Shower

Displaying Wedding Photos

Displaying Wedding Photos - Mrs. Dessert Monster

My husband and I put up some of our favorite wedding photos this weekend 🙂

Displaying Wedding Photos - Mrs. Dessert Monster

I think our collage turned out nicely!

Displaying Wedding Photos - Mrs. Dessert Monster

How long do you have to be married before you stop looking at your wedding album every day?


We hung up these pictures in a similar fashion at our new home 🙂

Displaying Wedding Photos - Mrs. Dessert Monster

I still love looking at them all the time!

In The New House Designs

The Worst Cookies I’ve Ever Made


WARNING: This post contains recipes. Use it at your own risk. Look at the title, people.

My friend Beth is doing what I’d call a modified version of the Whole 30 food plan. Modified in the sense that she is sticking to the Whole 30 foods but not exactly the Whole 30 mind set. So I asked her if I made a Whole 30 ‘friendly’ dessert would she eat it, & she said yes. I have made Paleo/Vegan cookies before with my best friend Frank & they turned out great. So what could go wrong?

I went to the store and bought some coconut flour. Why coconut? Because it was cheaper than almond flour. Then I went home to look up coconut flour cookie recipes that didn’t ask for butter. I came across a couple of recipes that called for coconut flour, cocoa powder, olive oil, & honey. Wanting to take out the honey, I figured I’d use a fruity reduction for the sweetness. I made some cookies with the cocoa powder & some without.


This picture LIES. These recipes are NOT to be used on friends.

Chocolate “Cookies”

1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp fruity reduction
3 large eggs
1/2 tbsp olive
1 tsp vanilla extract

The dough for this was so bitter, that I added about 4 tbsp of brown sugar to get it to taste like super dark chocolate. Sugar is not Whole 30 or Paleo friendly, but at this point I was trying to salvage the brown mush I had made. I should have known…

Non-Chocolate “Cookies”

1/3 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp fruity reduction
3 large eggs
1/2 tbsp olive
1 tsp vanilla extract

The dough for these tasted promising. Not sweet like a regular cookie, but maybe like a biscuit that would be good with some milk or tea…

Somewhere in the baking process everything went to hell.


Trying to be polite by saying they’re not that bad.


Smiling through the pain.

My poor husband could not hide his disgust.

My poor husband could not hide his disgust.


My disappointed face after I tried them for myself.

Man were these things gross! They were both equally horrendous. It wasn’t just a sugar problem; they were a horrifying consistency. I have since read that coconut flour is super absorbent & not the easiest to work with. What am I supposed to do with the rest of the bag I bought???

I felt so bad for serving these to people I love! The only way I could ever see using this type of recipe gain would be on April Fool’s Day. Or to send a care package to someone I hate.

I promptly threw them out & made some REGULAR peanut butter cookies. Sorry, Beth, but after this atrocity we needed some butter, milk, & sugar!

2015-02-11 12.05.23

Not everything can be a win. These cookies were an epic FAIL.

The Walking Dead Cake

Tonight is the mid-season premier of The Walking Dead! This is cause for a celebration! And celebration means dessert!

My inspiration.

My inspiration.

In this case, CAKE.


Super Bowl Treats

wpid-1422762451472.jpgToday is Super Bowl Sunday! I’m not a huge NFL fan or anything, but I do enjoy getting together with family & friends to watch the game (& commercials & half time of course).

This year I asked my dad what we could bring & he said dessert. Which so happens to be my specialty. So I ended up making these Pinterest-inspired football themed cupcakes. It was very simple. I had a box of yellow cake mix – I always buy some boxed mixes when they’re BOGO! Just add a little creative frosting and voila!


I also made some ice cream. Getting an ice cream maker was my husband’s best idea to date! I made some simple vanilla ice cream – no egg this time, not like the custard-style vanilla ice cream. But wait, there’s more! I remembered we had some strawberry jam that was homemade by our friend Bobbin & Co., so I swirled it into the vanilla ice cream. I didn’t stir too much, so there are nice big veins of delicious jam running throughout the whole thing. My husband & I sampled some of the ice cream last night. Oh boy, it’s good! I’m sure my family will love it tonight!