Thursday, January 24, 2008

An Ethiopian Dinner sans utensils

Having never had Ethiopian food, I was quite eager when my Husband's friend suggested we have Ethiopian food. We ate at Sheba in the Miami Design District and it was truly delicious! As the title states, Ethiopian food is eaten without the help of utensils, but we were quickly given some forks as we started enjoying our two appetizers. One appetizer had shrimp, which I'm allergic to and the other one was meatballs. The Shrimp M'charmel , is a shrimp appetizer sauteed in olive oil infused with traditional Moroccan herbs and garnished with sliced carrot and parsley. The meatballs or Kefta are made from lean ground beef a blend of traditional herbs and spices onions and crushed peppers. I forgot to take a picture of the Kefta before we starting eating. . .they were pretty good, because this was all that was left. We then got two combination platters, one with seafood and one without. The meat platter (Pictured below) consisted of a medley of meat dishes served with three fresh vegetable dishes. The seafood platter was the same as the meat platter with the addition of a few seafood specialties. We did run into a little snafu when the meat platter showed up with some shrimp on it. Darn it! The waitress offered to put in another meat platter without shrimp, but I decided it would be okay if I only ate the food from the edges that were not close to the shrimp. We started to eat the Ethiopian delicacies using the injera a "springy sourdough crepe, made with an indigenous Ethiopian grain called tef" as our utensil. "Pieces are torn off and used as scoops to pick up food with the fingers" Sun-Sentinel.
A few minutes later the manager offered to bring me my own plate of food, she didn't want me to have to risk myself and be eating off the edges of the platter. I appreciated her offered and ordered the Minchetabesh, finely chopped sirloin ginger onions and cardamoms pan browned and sauteed in Ethiopian key wat sauce. For dessert we order a refreshing Key Lime Mousse dessert and enjoyed the sounds of the live music playing in the background. Dinner at Sheba was a wonderful experience, we look forward to our next dinner outing there!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pumpkin & Black Bean Soup a la Weight Watchers

In an effort to eat healthier in 2008, I've found a ton of healthy recipes. I made this soup last week and not only was it quick to make, but healthy and tasty as well.

Weight Watchers Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup
Makes 6 servings

2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup pumpkin puree, pack down the cup, NOT pumpkin pie filling
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chopped onions
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup fat free sour cream

1. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil.
2. Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil for about 4-5 minutes.
3. Add the cumin and curry powder, and sauté for an additional 4-5 minutes.
4. Add the broth, thyme, pumpkin puree, salt, pepper and sugar. Bring to a boil.
5. Stir in the black beans and tomatoes.
6. Reduce heat. Cover and gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Remove from heat and leave for a few minutes.
8. Stir in the 1/4 cup nonfat sour cream and serve.

WW POINTS per serving: 3
Nutritional information per serving: 262 calories, 3.9g fat, 13.6g fiber

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Healthy Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

In my weekly endeavour of trying to whip up fast and healthy meals, I came up with this little recipe. We had it with a nice side salad and were more than satisfied. This tasted even better the next day! Some of the tastiest leftovers I've ever had!

I started off by making some turkey "picadillo" on Sunday when I had some extra time.

Picadillo is a dish mainly consisting of ground beef
(sometimes shredded beef or chicken) typically found in Cuba,
Mexico, and other Latin American countries, and in the
Philippines. In Mexico it is sometimes used as a filling,
such as for tacos, and can be mixed with vegetables.
The name comes from the Spanish word, "picar" which
means "to chop". (Wikipedia)

There are many "picadillo" recipes online, I didn't use one, I just eyeballed all of my ingredients.
  • 2 pounds ground turkey

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 2 tsp minced garlic

  • 1 can (14 oz) chopped tomatoes

  • 1 TBS tomato paste

  • salt & pepper to taste

  • I sauteed the onions, added the garlic, and then the ground turkey. Cooked till meat was no longer pink, and I added the chopped tomatoes, the tomato paste, and the salt and pepper to taste. I cooked a little longer and then place the picadillo in a container in the fridge to use later on in the week.

    Healthy Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

    1. Clean six large portabella mushrooms with a damp paper towel and removed the stem. Place them, what would be "stem side" up on a glass dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

    2.Add a generous amount of previously made turkey picadillo onto each portabella and then add about 2 TBS of a quick chunky tomato marinara sauce. Basically a 14oz can of chopped tomatoes heated with 1/2 a can of tomato soup, with a few dashes of Italian seasoning, super simple! Then added some cheese onto each portabella, I had a little bit of shredded mozarella which I distributed evenly and then added a slice of Swiss cheese to each portabella as well. I know Swiss cheese isn't the norm, but it's what I had on hand and I think it made it all the better. A nice little twist!

    3. Place the dish uncovered into a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes till hot and bubbly. Then turned on the broiler and broiled the portabellas for a few minutes to brown them nicely. Let them cool for a few minutes before digging in!

    Let me tell you, it took about 30 minutes start to finish and during the week when we're so busy, this little dish was a fabulous time saver. As I said before, the leftovers were even better! While the portabella's were in the oven, I got the salad ready and set the table. Now, if only we had a maid and butler to pick up the table, do the dishes, and clean up the kitchen, I'd be set :)

    Thursday, January 17, 2008

    Pasta with Mushrooms & Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Sauce!

    I think the title says more than enough! Pasta + Mushrooms + Pumpkin + Gorgonzola = Defreak'nliciousness! Okay, okay, I know "defreak'nliciousness" isn't a word, but it should be and in the dictionary, there should be a picture of this dish!

    I'm a little behind on my blogging, as this was the last main dish I made for 2007! Yet, I didn't start the blog till this year, so I guess it's okay in scheme of things ;) I added sauteed strips of chicken and used whole wheat pasta to make a healthier version! My picture will not do it justice, but if you're a fan of the main ingredients written above, make this pasta dish and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

    Click here for the recipe

    Saturday, January 5, 2008

    You say "Yiaourti," I say "Greek Yogurt!"

    I'll be heading out of town tomorrow and I can't leave you without a post for so many days! I was thinking, "what could I share?" When it hit me like a BOLT of lightning from Zeus on Mount Olympus! Greek Yogurt of course!

    Oh my goodness, that stuff is out of this world! Definitely the food of the gods! It's so thick and creamy, you'll think you're eating triple churned ice cream. In Greece, it's made mostly from sheep or goat's milk, or a combination of both! My husband and I ordered it one day on our trip last summer and fell in love with it! I'm sure we probably fell too much in love with it because we ordered it a few more times in Santorini, knowing all too well that we were eating a billion calories, but hey, we were on vacation and at that moment, we didn't exactly care!

    I recently saw a commercial version called Fage ( at our local supermarket (Publix)and I just had to buy it! It was okay, nothing like the one sold in Greece, but I guess if I'm ever craving it and can't get the next flight to Greece, it will make due. We enjoyed it with Greek honey and walnuts and I usually don't like walnuts, but the combination of those three ingredients were so tasty!



    To be honest, I don't know if I'll try to make Greek yogurt, I rather eat it in Greece! Ha, who wouldn't? Here's a fairly easy recipe I found, enjoy!

    Greek Yogurt Recipe

    Thursday, January 3, 2008

    Cold in Miami = Hot Chocolate & Churros

    Hear Ye, Hear Ye Miamians, pull out your coats and gloves a cold front is upon us! Nice little breeze we're having, huh? Burrrr! Hopefully, these will not be the only days this year we will don our winter wear!
    So, what do Miamians, specifically Cubans and other Latin locals do when it's cold, other than panic and plug in their space heaters??? They have hot chocolate and churros! A divine combination! I know all of you know what hot chocolate is, but for those of you that do not know what a churro is, here's a little info on them from Wikipedia.

    • A churro is a fried-dough pastry snack which originated in Spain, and is popular in Latin America, France, Portugal, the USA, and Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands. It gets it name from its shape, which resembles the horns of the Churro breed of sheep reared in the Spanish grasslands of Huarocho.

      The churro is typically fried to a crunchy consistency. Its surface is ridged due to being piped from a churrera, a syringe with a star-shaped nozzle. Filled straight churros are found in Cuba, filled with guava. In Brazil, Chile, and Argentina you’ll find them filled with chocolate, vanilla cream, and dulce de leche.

      Until recently, outside of Latin American street stands and eating establishments, churros could be difficult to find. They were only available at fairs, carnivals, theme parks, and sports stadiums. However, with the increased popularity of Latin American food, today there are a growing number of franchise restaurants that sell fresh churros, both traditional and filled.

    With the cold day we were having yesterday and weather reports warning that we were going to have temperatures in the 30's, I stopped by the supermarket on the way home to get the ingredients I needed to make some hot chocolate. I got this recipe from one of my many favorite cooking blogs! The recipe sounded wonderful, here it is with a few of my little changes. It's the beginning of the year and healthy eating, so I had to cut some calories, thus my little changes in italics, oh and I also halved the recipe because although it would be an incredible sugar rush, I don't think my husband and I could drink 6 cups of hot chocolate.

    • Chocolate Caliente Tres Leches /3 Milk Peruvian Drinking Chocolate

      2 cups of water
      2 cinnamon sticks
      100 grams of chocolate*, chopped
      1/2 cup of cocoa powder
      4 cups of milk (I used Fat Free)
      1 3/4 cup of evaporated milk
      1 cup of sweetened condensed milk (I used Fat Free)
      1 tablespoon of cornstarch
      1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (and a few pinches of nutmeg)

      1 tablespoon of salted butter

      1. Bring water and cinnamon sticks to a boil over a high flame. Boil for 15 minutes. remove the cinnamon sticks and add the 3 milks (fresh, evaporated, condensed). Stir to combine and allow to boil for 2 more minutes.

      2. In a small bowl, combine chopped chocolate and cocoa powder. Remove one cup of milk mixture to the small bowl with the chocolates and stir to dissolve chocolate and cocoa powder. Return the chocolate mixture to the pot of milks. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes.

      3. Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/4 cup of water (I did this in the same bowl I had made the chocolate mixture) and add to the milk mixture; stirring continuously. Add the vanilla extract and the butter. Stir and cook over low heat for 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and serve hot. (Here in Peru, this is served with Panettone bread for Christmas and New Years)

      Makes enough for 6 medium mugs. Recipe from Nuestros Grandes Chefs: Teresa Izquierdo.

      * This is sold in bars for making hot chocolate. You may find the same thing in an ethnic food store or section of a store. If you cannot find the bar, choose a high quality chocolate.

    The hot chocolate was absolutely FABULOUS! We didn't have churros to go along with it, but that didn't matter, the hot chocolate can hold it's own! If you have the time, forget instant hot chocolate and make this recipe, for you will be thanking your lucky stars you did!

    Wednesday, January 2, 2008

    What exactly is "Mojo"???

    Well, I can't have a blog named Miami Mojo without giving you little background on mojo, along with a recipe or two. As I mentioned in the "About Me" section, "in Cuban cooking mojo applies to any sauce that is made with garlic, olive oil and a citrus juice, preferably sour oranges" aka naranja agrias. I can't say that I've personally made mojo, but I've watch countless times as my parents and in-laws have made it. I'm sure you can make it blindfolded, but since I'm always pressed for time, no blindfold for me, I buy it bottled and ready to go!

    • Mojo may be the pesto of the next decade, a very particular preparation that has morphed into many flavors and cuisines. The citrus in it makes it excellent to use for marinating. In Cuba they make it with sour orange and use it more as a marinade, especially for meats like pork. (Nation's Restaurant News)
    Cuban Mojo Sauce
    Recipe from: Cocina Cubana, Pascual Perez & Sonia Martinez

    The authentic mojo is made with juice from sour oranges. It still has that little orangy taste, but its very acid and tart. You can come close by mixing equal amounts of freshly squeezed orange juice with lime juice (*).
    If you live in areas with large concentration of Latinos you will probably find bottled Mojo (Goya brand makes one) or their produce department might have the slightly bumpy, thick skinned sour oranges. This recipe makes one cup.

    1/3 cup olive oil
    6 to 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
    2/3 cup sour orange juice or lime juice(or equal portions orange juice and lime juice)
    1/2 tsp ground cumin
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly toasted. Don't let it brown or it will be acrid tasting, just about 30 seconds should do it. Add the sour orange juice, cumin and salt and pepper. STAND BACK; the sauce may sputter. Bring to a rolling boil. Taste and correct seasoning, if needed, cool before serving. Mojo is best when served within a couple of hours of making, but it will keep for several days, well capped in a jar or bottle, in the refrigerator.
    Use with Cuban sandwiches, boiled yuca, grilled seafood and meats, fried green plantain chips, etc.
    I have seen recipes for mojo using cilantro in it, but that is not traditional to Cuban Cuisine.

    (*) I prefer to add more lime juice than orange, as I like it very tart.

    Mojo With Oil
    Recipe from: Three Guys From Miami

    3 heads garlic
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon black peppercorns
    1 1/2 cups sour orange juice (In a pinch, use two parts orange to one part lemon and one part lime)
    1 cup minced onion
    2 teaspoons oregano
    1 cup Spanish olive oil

    Mash garlic, salt, and peppercorns into a paste, using a mortar and pestle. Stir in sour orange juice, onion, and oregano. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or longer.
    In a saucepan, heat olive oil to medium hot (approximately 280 degrees F) and remove from heat. Carefully whisk in the garlic-orange juice mixture (prepared above) until well blended.

    Happy Mojo"ing" :)

    First post, how exciting!

    Greetings and Happy 2008 New Year! Welcome to "Miami Mojo"!

    My inspiration for this blog comes from my love of all foods, the kitchen, my background, Miami, cooking, reading and collecting recipes, reading cooking blogs, traveling, eating healthy, and eating not so healthy sometimes and enjoying every last morsel of it! Shhh! Don’t tell my husband! I’ll be spotlighting a little bit of everything, so please take a seat, grab your napkin and let’s eat!