Category Archives: Cuban Food

My Favorite Hispanic Recipes

Hola amigos! Today marks the end of Hispanic Heritage Month. I hope you’ve had a good one!

Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite Hispanic influenced recipes NOT from this blog. Some are traditional recipes & some are more like Tex-Mex or fusion like.

My Favorite Hispanic Recipes - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Food brings people together & introducing people to new flavors is a great way to introduce them to new cultures.

¡Buen provecho!

  1. Mexican Corn Dip from Well Plated – It’s like elote, but in dip form & not too heavy because of a few sneaky swaps! I made it for my mother in law, who loves all things corn, for her birthday & the whole family loved it.
  2. Black Bean Avocado Salad from Nancy C. – I make this often! Y’all know how I feel about tomatoes & this salsa-like salad checks all of the flavor boxes WITHOUT any tomatoes!
  3. Vaca Frita from Fabulous Fare Sisters – Vaca Frita is my favorite thing to order at Cuban restaurants, but you can totally make it at home! I’m making this tonight with some white rice & maduros.
  4. White Chicken Enchiladas from Joyful Momma’s Kitchen – Green chile & I are BFFs. This recipe, while not super authentically Mexican, delivers on the green chile front! This is one of the first foods I cooked for my husband while we were dating <3. It’s still a favorite!
  5. Churro Truffles from Pizzazzerie – For when you want that churro flavor without the choux pastry & deep frying.
  6. Merenguitos (Cuban meringue cookies) from Three Guys From Miami – This blog includes 2 authentic Cuban merenguitos recipes. Personally I only ever use the first one – sugar & NO cream of tartar. I love merenguitos that are super crunchy on the outside but still just the tiniest bit chewy on the inside. Yummmm!

What are your favorites from around the internet?

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Cuban Seasoning Mix

We all have those smells that take us back to our childhood homes. Sometimes it’s something like perfume or something in nature like trees or flowers. A lot of the time I believe it’s food. This seasoning smells like home to me.

Cuban Seasoning Mix - Mrs. Dessert Monster

For me, Cuban seasoning should be heavy on two spices: garlic & cumin. Cumin, comino en Español, was brought to Cuba by the Spanish. It is native to the Middle East. In researching, I learned that cumin is mentioned in the Bible! (See Isaiah 28:25-27)

I rarely ever measure out spices when I’m in the kitchen & usually just sprinkle away at my heart’s content. However, I am a big fan of these “all in one” type seasoning mixes. I make my own chili powder with this recipe I found on Pinterest! Since I appreciate that recipe so much, I sat down & developed my own Cuban mix to share during Hispanic Heritage Month.

This is different from the Sazón packets you see in stores. Those are fantastic! They typically have achiote/annato for coloring & contain cilantro. This is not a copy-cat of that, but can be used pretty much the same way.

I’m using about 2 tbsp of this stuff on some chicken thighs for dinner tonight. You can use it on any protein, or even meatless dishes!

Cuban Seasoning Mix

Makes about 8 tbsp

  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  1. Mix all spices thoroughly in a bowl. Store seasoning mix in a dry place.

For scaling up/down: 1 tbsp = 3 tsp, 4 tbsp = 1/4 cup

Pastelitos De Guayaba

In South Florida pretty much all of the grocery stores with a bakery have an assortment of Hispanic pastries/baked goods. Empanadas, arepas, and of course, pastelitos.

Pastelitos are Cuban pastries with various fillings. They can be sweet or savory. Today I’m sharing with you the king of all sweet pastelitos – pastelito de guayaba.

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This pastelito is filled with guava paste, which is a very sweet, very thick guava reduction. It is absolutely one of my favorite things. I’ve briefly shared about it before in a couple of recipes.

In this recipe, guava paste is the star. Pastelitos de guayaba (the Spanish word for guava, as you may have guessed) come in two forms – con queso y sin queso. The combination of guava paste & cheese is truly wonderful. Any cheese will do, but for pastelitos it’s cream cheese. The two flavors melt and marry beautifully in the puff pastry. If cheese isn’t your thing, that’s OK. Just stick with the guava.

Thanks to the wonder that is frozen puff pastry, this recipe is ridiculously simple. I don’t make it often because it’s kind of a calorie bomb, but it’s worth every single one.

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To make a dozen pastelitos, cut the guava paste brick into 12 slices. I usually cut in into quarters & then each quarter into 3 pieces. Then lay the guava slices on to the puff pastry sheet, using the folds as natural dividers. For this batch I put cream cheese on half of them.

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Top with the other sheet of puff pastry, cut into 12 squares that each contain a guava slice, & score the top. Then brush with an egg wash to get that nice golden color.

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These pastries are so flaky and delicious. Cuban people would call this breakfast, but this makes a great dessert, too. Basically good for any occasion, any time of day! Pastelitos are delicious warm or cold, but you definitely want them to cool for a few minutes after coming out of the oven. Hot guava = lava. Hey, that rhymes! These can be a little messy between the flaky crust and warm, gooey guava. You’ll definitely be licking your fingers!

Now that I don’t live in South Florida anymore I might be making these more often. If your local grocery store bakery doesn’t offer pastelitos, now you know how to make your own!

¡Buen provecho!

Pastelitos De Guayaba

Makes 1 dozen pastries

  • 1 package frozen puff pastry
  • 1 brick of guava paste (approx. 14 oz)
  • cream cheese (optional)
  • 1 egg for wash
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Thaw the puff pastry according to package directions. You want it thawed enough to unfold without cracking, but not soft.
  2. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry on to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  3. Cut guava paste into 12 slices. Place 4 slices per pastry sheet fold to get your 12 servings. If adding cream cheese, place 1 tbsp (or slice of the same length as guava slice) on top of guava.
  4. Unfold the second puff pastry sheet and place it over the one with the guava paste. Cut into 12 squares and score the tops of each.
  5. Brush egg wash on each square. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Can be enjoyed warm or cold.
Nutritional info (with cream cheese): 307 cal, 44 g carbs, 13.5g fat, 4 g protein

Classic Cuban Flan

Deciding what recipe to share with you this week for Hispanic Heritage Month inspired me to make something that I have not made in ages: flan.

classic Cuban flan pressure cooker flanera Mrs. Dessert Monster

What is flan? Flan is a delicious cooked custard. There really is nothing like it in my opinion. It can be very hard to describe. When done correctly, the texture is light and dense at the same time while being totally smooth; truly one of a kind. The caramel on top is just as important as the custard. Flan can be many different flavors. This here is the OG flan.

Every Latin country has their own flan recipe. Actually, it probably even varies family to family! This is my family’s recipe.

classic Cuban flan pressure cooker flanera Mrs. Dessert Monster

I made my family’s classic Cuban flan the old fashioned way – in the pressure cooker.

classic Cuban flan pressure cooker flanera Mrs. Dessert Monster

Hisssssssss

We’ve never made it any other way. There are other recipes out there for making it in the oven. This recipe is staying true to my roots & embracing the scary pressure cooker. There really isn’t anything to be scared of. I bought this one like 10 years ago & it has a sensor that WILL NOT allow you to open it if it’s still pressurized. It’s pretty fail safe. The hissing sound it makes really takes me back to my childhood. I introduced Cupcake to that sound today – she wasn’t a huge fan. Yet.

You CAN make this recipe using an InstaPot, or so I have read. I have zero experience using one, so I’m not sure what the conversion would be. It took me many years to embrace the CrockPot, so I think it’ll be another while before I can embrace the InstaPot.

The other item you need to make this recipe the traditional way is a flanera.

flanera flan Mrs. Dessert Monster

I just bought this one off Amazon (not affiliate link, just sharing!). It’s actually a little sad I didn’t already have one, but I really haven’t made flan in ages! Siglos, as my mom said. The locking lid prevents water from getting in to it. Again, there are other recipes that omit this equipment, even using a pressure cooker or InstaPot. For me, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I’m not messing with success & proven results!

This recipe and this cooking method is a part of my heritage. Sure, there are other times I totally embrace different ways of making classic recipes. Or even just outright buy my favorite Cuban foods. No one I know makes their own croquetas anymore, thanks to Goya. But this flan is special. And special equipment aside, it’s pretty simple to make.

classic Cuban flan pressure cooker flanera Mrs. Dessert Monster

Back when I did make this flan more often, I quickly jotted down my mom’s recipe one day. You can totally tell English is my heart language, even though Spanish was my first language. Since it’s been a while I called her to clarify & wrote down the instructions more clearly for all of us.

Classic Cuban Flan

  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • ~1 cup milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. Pour sweetened condensed milk into a large mixing bowl. Take the now empty can of sweetened condensed milk & fill it with milk (it’s approximately 1 cup, but doing it this way ensures you have equal parts by volume milk & sweetened condensed milk).
  2. Add eggs & vanilla to bowl. Mix thoroughly using electric mixer or by hand with a whisk. Set aside.
  3. To make caramel, pour 1 cup of sugar into medium saucepan. Melt until a light golden liquid caramel forms. Carefully pour caramel into flanera, using oven mitts to turn the flanera to cover the sides with caramel.
  4. Strain the egg custard mix into the flanera with caramel. Close the latches.
  5. Place flanera into pressure cooker. Fill with water until just below lid of flanera (this was less than 2 cups for me, just to give you an idea). Do not fill too high. Close pressure cooker properly. TIP FROM MY MAMI: when using an electric stove top, you may want to use a metal or foil ring to prevent flanera from being in direct contact with the heating element. I have a gas stove so I did not do this step.
  6. Turn the stove on medium heat. When the pressure cooker begins to hiss, cook for 30 more minutes, then turn off heat. Allow pressure cooker to fully depressurize before opening. I usually leave it for about an hour. Take flanera out & put into fridge for 1-4 hours.
  7. When ready to serve, open flanera. Take your serving dish, invert it over flanera & flip flan out. You want a serving dish with some sort of edge so you don’t lose all that precious caramel! Cut into slices & spoon residual caramel over top.
Nutritional info, based on 12 servings: 200 calories, 32 g sugar, 5.8 g protein, 5.1 g fat

Crockpot Dulce De Leche

I’ve seen several Pinterest posts about the ‘hack’ of making dulce de leche from a can of condensed milk. I always kind of chuckle to myself, because my family has been doing that for generations! I have vivid memories of my mom boiling cans of condensed milk either in the pressure cooker, or just a regular pot on the stove top. Over the years, canned dulce de leche became more readily available & we haven’t had to boil leche condensada in a while.

Until this week.

I made a dulce de leche Pumpkin Pie (along with dulce de leche whipped cream) for Thanksgiving, so naturally I needed some dulce de leche! I was kind of shocked that it was $3.50/can at my local grocery store. I needed 2 cans – $7! I mean, it’s not gonna break the bank, but since I no longer bring in the income I used to, I see it my job to save money where I can. And I noticed that condensed milk was only $1.29/can.  So for less than the cost of ONE can of dulce de leche, I could make 2.

I called my mom for guidance & she told me to Google it. Seriously, Mami?!? She did eventually give me some instructions, but she encouraged me to look it up anyway in case there was a better way. So I did, & saw this post for doing it in the crockpot.

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I’ve written before about how I’ve really come to love my crockpot. I’m constantly impressed at just how versatile it is. The impression I had of slow cookers growing up was that it was a gringo thing that made mushy food. But here I was making dulce de leche!

A lot of the non-crockpot recipes to make dulce de leche involve keeping a close eye on your cans so that the water level stays high enough to cover them. With crockpot, that’s way less of an issue. I checked on mine every couple hours & it was almost unchanged the whole time. After 8 hours, I turned off the crockpot & opened the lid to let it cool a bit before taking the cans out of the water. I then waited until the next morning to open the cans – partially to make sure they were cool, but mostly because I wasn’t going to make the pie until then.

The dulce de leche was beautiful!

This method of making it is perfect for me. I didn’t have to watch a boiling pot on my stove for hours while also wrangling a baby! If I see dulce de leche in stores for a good price, will I buy it? Probably. But when I have some time to spare & some condensed milk, I will turn to my trusty crockpot!

Pie recipe, whipped cream recipe, turkey assembly instructions

Crockpot Dulce De Leche

Makes 2 cans

  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
  • crockpot
  • water
  1. Peel the labels off of the cans of sweetened condensed milk. Place the cans on their side inside the crockpot.
  2. Fill the crockpot with water, covering the cans by about an inch. Periodically check to make sure there is always water completely covering the cans. Add more if necessary.
  3. Cook the cans in the crockpot for 8 hours on the low setting. Once done, let the cans cool completely before opening. ***There is risk of explosion if you open a hot can!

     

 

 

Champola de Mamoncillo

Where my Caribbeans at?

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

This fruit goes by many names: mamoncillo, mamon, guinep, quenepa, Spanish lime, etc.

The name may change depending on where you are, but one thing that doesn’t change is how delicious it is. Mamoncillos are in the lychee family, but the taste does not compare. I do not like lychee. I love mamoncillos.

If you have never heard of this fruit, that’s OK. I’ve grown up with it all my life. It’s one of the perks of being Cuban. This is the season for them, but I never see them around where I live. Fortunately my best friend, Frank, lives in Miami & brought me some recently.

How do you eat this fruit?

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

You crack the skin open with your nails or teeth & reveal the fruit inside.

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Sometimes you get twins!

Then you pop it in your mouth & eat the pulpy fruit around the pit.

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

This is what’s left when you’re all done. There’s not a lot of fruit to one mamoncillo. But you’d never eat just one!

WARNING: these little guys will stain your clothes. Handle with care!

Instead of just eating all of the mamoncillos, I made this:

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

I might have lost some of you guys right off the bat with the word ‘champola’ in the title.

What is champola? The closest word I can think to describe it is ‘refreshment’. This champola, like most other recipes I’ve seen online, is really easy: water, sugar, & mamoncillos.

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

I peeled like 1 & 1/2 bags of mamoncillos & put them in a large mason jar (the ones left over from my wedding centerpieces).

I then filled the jar with water & about 1/2 cup of sugar.

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Then you just leave it in the fridge overnight before serving!

Champola de Mamoncillo - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Mmm! You get a delicious beverage AND get to eat the mamoncillos when you’re done!

I love summer!

Platano Maduro Frito – Fried Sweet Plantain

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Our friend, David, gave us a GIANT plantain recently

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

GIANT!

Since it had already started ripening when we got it, I knew what I wanted to make out of it: platano maduro frito (fried sweet plantain).

We finally got the house in decent enough shape to have my parents over for a father’s day dinner celebration, & this dish was a perfect addition to our spread!

Since Mami was coming over, I asked her to help me make these.

It’s really quite simple.

This recipe uses ripe plantains (maduros). Like, super ripe. Like, the plantain in this picture looks really black, but my mom says I probably could have waited a few more days. The plantain should feel soft when you squeeze it gently.

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

You peel the plantain & slice it up into long, diagonal slices. Then you put a little sugar on them.

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Pour enough vegetable oil to thinly coat the bottom of a frying pan (this isn’t deep frying!) Tip from Mami: adding a tablespoon or two of butter to the oil gives it a great flavor!

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Fry the slices on med/high heat until they are brown on one side, then flip to brown the other.

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

My mom was being silly while we were frying…

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Once both sides are brown you are done!

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

These plantains are a little delicate – do not put them on a paper towel or they will stick!

I sprinkled a pinch of salt on them to bring out the sweetness even more.

These were a wonderful, sweet addition to our feast!

Platano Maduro Frito - Fried Sweet Plantain - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Mmm!

Platano Maduro Frito

  • ripe plantains
  • sugar
  • oil for frying
  • butter
  • pinch of salt
  1. Peel the plantains & cut into long, diagonal slices.
  2. Sprinkle some sugar over the sliced plantains.
  3. Pour a thin layer of oil in a frying pan. Add 1-2 tablespoons of butter & let it melt.
  4. Fry the slices on med/high heat until they are brown on one side. Flip to brown the other.
  5. Once both sides are browned, sprinkle a pinch of salt over the plantains.
  6. Serve & enjoy!

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.

Rec

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

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!

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