THERE’S NOTHING BETTER TO EAT WHEN IT’S COLD OUTSIDE THAN A BIG BOWL OF SANCOCHO.

When the temperatures drop below 25°, I’m looking for comfort food. (You can make this recipe at whatever temperature feels cold to you.) Something warm, something satisfying and something with humble roots. I’m not a huge soup person but I love a bowl of Sancocho. Maybe because it reminds me of a simpler time. Maybe because it reminds me of my friend, Michelle. Michelle and I learned how to make this recipe together.

It can be compared to beef stew. Sancocho means stewing in the heat. I don’t have a lot of patience and when I’m hungry, I wanna eat soon. My Tia’s recipe is my favorite.

Tia said growing up they didn’t have a lot of money and my grandfather grew all their vegetables, so the only thing they had to buy at the store was the meat. So, this was a cheap way to keep everyone’s belly full because they always had root vegetables on hand.

Ingredients

3 to 4 tablespoons of Sofrito (I cheat and use Sofrito Goya but will teach you later how to make it from scratch.)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 pounds of top round beef, cubed into 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup yellow onions, chopped

1/3 cup green pepper, chopped

5 sprigs of cilantro, chopped *Optional, my mom doesn’t like it.

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 tomatoes

Beef stock if you have it if not, use water and add a little butter

1 green plantain, peeled and slice into 1-inch pieces

1 yellow plantain, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

1 medium sweet potato, diced into 1-inch pieces

1 medium yuca

1/2 pound of butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces

3 medium new potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 ears of yellow corn, cleaned and sliced into 6 parts each

Directions

                *Marinate beef in sofrito overnight in the refrigerator*

  1. In a preheated Dutch oven or heavy pot over low-to-medium heat, combine olive oil, garlic, beef cubes, and onions, stir until beef is brown on all sides and onions begin to caramelize.
  2. Then add in the tomatoes and cook down.
  3. Add in chopped pepper, cilantro, salt, pepper, and 1 quart of beef stock. Cook down until stock is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
  4. Stir beef, then add all the remaining vegetables and remaining beef stock. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cover for 30 minutes.
  5. Uncover and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes or until the stock has reduced some and the meat is tender, and the vegetables are soft. Serve hot.

IT’S COQUITO TIME!

As I walked through the grocery store, I got excited when I saw eggnog loaded on the shelves. Not to disrespect my beloved “coquito,” but America likes to compare it to eggnog. In my opinion, coquito is the much better tasting cousin! Coquito is a traditional food that all Puerto Ricans hold close to their hearts. Growing up it is associated with Holidays, Love and Family. Coquito translated means “little coconut”. It is best enjoyed super cold. Here is how we make it in my house. If you are serving children or people who don’t drink, simply leave out the rum.

1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

2 cups (1 15 oz can) cream of coconut

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla

**1 1/2 cup white rum (must be white I prefer Bacardi of course)

cinnamon sticks for garnish

I suggest 1 1/2 cups of white rum. If that sounds like too much, start with 1 cup and add more to taste. I like to add just enough rum that it’s prickly on the back of your throat and warms you on the inside. It will be one of the few drinks you’ll have that is cold that warms you up. Just be careful because the flavor of the rum gets stronger the longer the drink “marinates”. LOL. If you have a family like mine, it could be the gift that keeps giving. Abuela once told me that egg yolk came from the white American tradition of eggnog, so some Rican’s have welcomed it into their coquito. I stick to my original roots, so I am part of the NO egg yolk camp! Debate amongst yourself and enjoy.

HOT CHOCOLATE WITH MARSHMALLOWS

Mexico 500 BC, the Mayans were drinking chocolate made from ground up cocoa seeds mixed with water, cornmeal, chili peppers as well as other ingredients. A lot different than the hot chocolate we know today. Until the 19th century, hot chocolate was used medically to treat ailments such as liver and stomach disease. Mexico introduced Europeans to hot chocolate in the New World. 

It’s always awesome for kids to know little fun facts about the world around them. As a homeschool mom, every moment is a teachable moment, even the fun ones. As the weather changes, my daughter loves to drink hot chocolate, sit in front of the fireplace and read books.

Cherie’s Crockpot Hot Chocolate 

Ingredients 

One and a half cups of heavy whipping cream 

One 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk

6 cups of milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 cups of chocolate chips

* For large parties double the ingredients* 

Instructions 

1. Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla and chocolate chips in your crockpot.

2. Cover and cook on low for about two hours stir occasionally with a whisk until the mixture is hot and the chocolate chips are all melted.

3. Once it’s heated all the way through and the chocolate is fully melted turn the crockpot on the warm setting and stir occasionally before serving.

4. This is my daughter’s favorite part: when you serve them, garnish every individual cup with whip cream or marshmallows maybe even both.

PUMPKIN NICE CREAM

Yes, I am one of those people who looks forward to fall all year long because I like all the seasonal pumpkin treats! While I can see Shawn Harrison (My Wally pop) rolling his eyes at me now out of disgust. He hates pumpkin and I should be ashamed but that fact that he hates it makes me enjoy it just a little more. LOL.

My daughter loves Pumpkin Nice Cream, so I make a big batch and keep extra in the freezer. It only takes like 3 minutes to make, so it’s the perfect last thought dessert.

5-6 frozen bananas

1 15-oz can of organic pumpkin puree (I remove from the can and freeze overnight beforehand)

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp of vanilla extra

6 pitted medjool dates (if you want it sweeter, freeze beforehand)

If you do not freeze ingredients beforehand:

Blend the pumpkin, spices, vanilla extract and dates until smooth.

Transfer to a shallow pan and freeze overnight.

If they are already frozen:

Break apart pumpkin mixture and add to the blender/food processor with frozen bananas. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Eat immediately as soft serve, freeze for 2-3 hours for a scoopable ice cream. You can keep leftovers in the freezer for up to 3 days.

POPSICLES FOR BREAKFAST OR ICE LOLLIES, AS MY DAUGHTER CALLS THEM!

Yes, I am that mother who will give my daughter a popsicle for breakfast. Wait, hear me out! See Mr. Chris bought my daughter some popsicle molds for her birthday and she loves them! Being a summer baby who just so happens to live in a hot environment, she may as well start her days off right with some refreshing fruit! When you make popsicles at home, I know exactly what’s in them! 

I blend fruit and coconut milk together and instead of a smoothie, make popsicles. The one pictured is simply the juice from watermelon I had in a container in the refrigerator. I also cut fresh strawberry slices and put it on the sides to make it look pretty and taste extra yummy. 

She gets a great serving of fruit with NO added sugar, No dyes or Food coloring! 100% all natural and a serving of fruit! Win-Win and she thinks it’s fun. Let’s face it, kids like a little rebellion and doing things unorthodox! Easy cool Mom points all the way around, Dads like them too! Lol…

WICKED WHOOPIES!

My daughter’s Aunt Michelle sent her a box of Wicked Whoopies! OMG first off, they are HUGE! Secondly, they are wickedly delicious. She sent a variety pack with Chocolate, Strawberry, Maple and Vanilla Bean!

I’m guilty, I ate a maple for breakfast. They are so moist, soft and creamy. Imagine biting into a cloud that’s sweet and creamy. Yup, pretty much heaven.  I ate a whole one and was full all day. My daughter ate a half of 1 and was soooo full, she fell asleep. 

They have so many flavors. I want to taste them all.  Luckily for me they are individually wrapped, so they freeze great! Big score for me, there’s no way we could hurry and eat all these.

If you every get a chance or need to send someone a Wickedly great gift, try Wicked Whoopies…

The bakeries are closed until further notice due to Covid, but they are shipping online. 

To reach out and place an order contact Customer Service at 877-447-2629 or www.Wickedwhoopies.com

Wicked Whoopies

QUARANTINE PIZZA PARTY

During Covid, I have been extremely serious about not ordering any food out. (Unfortunately, I don’t know the health status of those working at restaurants. I’d rather not take the chance). All meals have been cooked at home. Pizza is one of my daughter’s favorites and is a staple in my home monthly. Pizza night is a must (WE LOVE PIZZA) and it makes a great breakfast!  So, the next best thing to delivery is sometimes you just have to make it yourself. For you homeschoolers, pizza is a great science and math lesson using measuring and they get to make dough rise!

Making pizza dough

Anytime the mixer comes out my daughter is there for it. It’s one of her favorite things in the house. Plus when children are involved with the preparation of their meals, not only are teaching life lessons for their future, but they take pride in their work and are more likely to eat well.

Pizza dough prep

It takes about an hour and 30 mins total.

Ingredients

4 cups of Bread Flour

4 teaspoons sugar

1 envelope instant yeast

1 1/2 cup of water (110 degrees F)

2 tablespoons olive oil plus, 2 teaspoons

***During Covid I wasn’t able to get packaged yeast or bread flour so I used self-rising flour and it worked just as good***

1. Combine the bread flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine. While the mixer is running, add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil and beat until the dough forms into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a solid ball. If the dough is too dry, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth, firm ball.

2. Grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, add the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm area to let it double in size, about 1 hour. I use this as multitask time. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cover each with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes. Then roll out. Add your favorite sauce and your favorite toppings. My daughter loves turkey pepperoni, and I like plain ol Cheese.

Pizza dough

Cook’s Note

Using bread flour will give you a much crisper crust. If you can’t find bread flour, you can substitute it with all-purpose flour which will give you a chewier crust. It also freezes well if you want to make a couple of pies for later! I refuse to buy frozen pizzas…

FLASHBACK FRIDAY – MY MOST POPULAR POST SO FAR

This was published in November 2019.

I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE COUNTED A CALORIE!

I believe it’s more important to focus on the ingredients in your meal than the calories of your meal. Here is where my old Boss, Tyrone’s saying “KISS” comes into play. Keep It Simple Stupid! Quality over Quantity! 

Cutting out energy-dense, unhealthy items is crucial to weight loss. It’s more important to pay attention to what you’re eating! Watching the sugar grams and sodium intake, if you want to watch something.

The counting calories thing can throw you off because although avocados and nuts are high in calories, they are packed with nutrients like fiber and healthy fats that can promote weight loss. See how lines get blurred? Trusted Source

It’s all about having a healthy relationship with food! Make sure you are picking foods based on what nourishes your body rather than obsessing over which foods are “good” or “bad”. 

Rule of thumb if it says “Diet,” don’t touch it! The word diet within itself is a scam. Diet soda, salad dressings, and prepackaged meals are all full of chemicals and artificial sweeteners. If you are interested in learning more about nutrition or simply refreshing your relationship with food, hit me up for a nutritional consultation. Check out my wellness programs at teamcheriej.com.

MY NEW OBSESSION!

I am allergic to chocolate, so I don’t get to eat the regular Oreos, but I am in love with carrot cake. So, no… this is not my usual nutritionist post. This is my premenstrual, I need to eat something sweet, post. 

Before the whole quarantine situation, I was in Target doing a little Easter shopping while my daughter was with my mother and I saw these little bad boys on the shelf. They were with all the Easter stuff not with the food, so I bought two bags. Went home and started eating them as we were putting the groceries away and thought to myself, “Oh my God, these are heaven.”

Long story short, a week later they went on sale, then I may have purchased another two maybe or three …and I just may have bought six packs! (They freeze well.) They’re really good if you throw them in a blender with a vanilla shake. They are really good if you use it with any ice cream, they also make a pretty good piecrust! I couldn’t find them anywhere but Target so if you happen to like carrot cake, I promise you that you won’t be disappointed! 🥕 I have to admit I’m sad this is a seasonal item and I hope they bring it back next year! 

BENEFITS OF RED GRAPEFRUIT

If it is at all possible to be in love with the fruit, I have to admit I’m in love with red grapefruit. It all starts with the smell.  I can’t smell a red grapefruit without smiling. 

Eating grapefruit regularly may be beneficial for your immune system. They help break down calories and burn fat! That’s why they say it aids weight loss. 

Its high content of vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties known to protect your cells from harmful bacteria and viruses. Grapefruit also provides small amounts of B vitamins, zinc, copper and iron, which all work together in the body to promote immune system function.

Eating grapefruit may help control insulin levels and it has the ability to reduce your likelihood of becoming insulin resistant. Which coming from a family of diabetics, makes it 1 more reason I love to eat it! Prevention instead of treatment will be my choice every time. 

Ladies if I haven’t given you enough reasons to grab a grapefruit during your next shopping trip, research shows the smell of grapefruit on a woman makes them appear 5 years younger to men! 

*Be careful because when taking certain medications like the heart medicine Procardia, you cannot eat grapefruit. I learned that the hard way during my pregnancy. Grapefruit was my only craving and because I was put on Procardia, I could not eat it!