Puerto Rican Thanksgiving

Ameena mentioned in my comments that she loved how international my family is. Well sister, things just got a little more global on this blog!

Why? Because today we are going to recap the celebration of Puerto Rican Thanksgiving! Only the most exciting and best post-holiday there is.

My sister goes to her godmother’s house for Thanksgiving every year, so we always plan a small get-together the night after. Her mom cooks the most amazing Thanksgiving food with a Boricua twist. (Think chorizo stuffing and tostones on the side of your turkey.)

I arrived to Lili’s house a quarter-past-six and gave a big beso to my sister who greeted me at the door. We usually see each other once a year but January will be special because I will fly to Denver to have three days of non-stop sister action. 🙂

Her home is one of my favorite decorated homes ever, it is so different then the usual stiff modern feel or empty bachelor pad. I feel like I should be in Puerto Rico. It has a tremendous amount of her personal taste and pictures of loved ones and you can not help but feel cozy at home.

I love this light switch and will find a way to sneak it out her house without noticing one year. 😉

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As tradition follows, I usually get there while Lili is running around the kitchen and help myself to one of her famous pina coladas. It makes me want to get caught in the rain for some reason. 😉

My very intelligent sister requested a floater in hers and I must admit, it was not a bad decision.

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Do we look alike? Who looks more Latina?

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Some people like spotless fridges but my future home will have a fridge like this one. I could not imagine starting a day off wrong when you see all your favorite people before leaving the house.

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The hostest-with-the-mostest herself! My second mom. Here she is finishing off the tostones, I am craving them again. This woman can cook her tail off.

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When all the guests arrived, we started to bring the plates to the table. Puerto Rican Thanksgiving was about to start and all of our hungry selves could not wait. Lili invited her best friend from the days when they ran around New York together and her two children.

The only traditional thing about this course was the turkey…and I suppose the cranberry sauce but who really cares about that.

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You would not even begin to imagine how delicious her arroz con gandulas is. It takes skill, practice and a little bit of magic to make the perfect sofrito and Lili nails it every time.

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The final things I have not mentioned is her chorizo stuffing and tostones con avocado. The salty and crispy flavors of the plantain is the perfect combination of the smooth and creamy taste of the avocado.

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The first plate of three, I wish I was kidding.

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Happy thanksgiving again! You should already know I like to extend things as long as possible. 🙂

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Tomorrow I am attending a very special event! It cost a pretty penny but will be so worth it. Cheers!

Are you feeling back into the groove of things? I am pretty much zoned out until the second week of January!

Tostones de Lily

Free at last, free at last! School is officially in my past…until August that is. I’m going to stop right there because it’s actually the last thing I want to think about!

A lot of you were interested in my first day of pre-stage training for my first half marathon! Well, Monday morning after I dropped off the kids, I drove straight to Kezar Stadium because I knew I wouldn’t go later in the day. It was a little intimidating because USF and SFSU had their track and field practice at the time and I didn’t want to feel like such a weenie next to the competitors.

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I didn’t do that bad! I started the second week of Couch to 5k because the first week seemed a little too easy. I was able to keep my breath the whole time, which makes me feel a little better. I ended up running for 1:30, walking for 2:00 for 2 miles, leaving a final time of 20 minutes! I know 10 minute miles seems pretty horrific to most of you, but I’m just happy I got it done! I’m going to do the same thing today and if I feel comfortable, I’ll skip to week 3 for Friday. I even impressed myself by doing two rounds of stadiums afterwords! I regretted them the next day when my upper thighs were screaming from soreness.

When I came home, I made a huge pot of pasta because I wanted to use up the veggies in my fridge. I sautéed mushrooms, red bell pepper and broccoli and dumped it in the pot of veggie pasta (I got suckered into buying these at the store). Mixed everything with marinara and basil, garnished with fresh parmesan. Not to toot my own horn, but I seriously think pasta is my specialty. It always taste like restaurant quality!

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Now a special treat for you, I’m sharing the recipe of my sister’s mom (basically my mom too!) tostones. My sister is half Puerto Rican, half white; we share the same dad. Her mom’s name is Lily and every time I go over there for Puerto Rican Thanksgiving, she makes these tostones that I dream about for the whole year. She happily gave me the recipe and I’m seriously doing you guys a favor. You do not want to miss out on this one!

I would go fat for these bad boys, that’s how good they are!

Tostones de Lily

Serves: 1-2 People (rule of thumb is 1 plantain per person)

Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Plantains, green and unripe
  • 1/2 Garlic, minced
  • Garlic Salt
  • Tostonera (to flatten)
  • 12 Oz Cooking Oil
  • Cast Iron (or heavy bottomed) skillet
  • Paper towels

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1. Take the plantains out of the peel and cut them diagonally into ~1 inch pieces.

2. Put the cast iron skillet on medium high heat and pour about 12 ounces of cooking oil into the pan. You want to be able to fry the plantains in them, so make sure it’s high enough.

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3. Wait until the oil starts to bubble, then drop each plantain one by one. Be careful with splashing, I burnt my middle finger!

4. Cook them until each one is golden brown.

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5. When they look ready, take them out and put them on a paper towel to absorb the oil. It’s okay if some of them look burnt, they’ll taste just as good at the end. Don’t dump the oil out, we’re going to fry them one more time.

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6. The trick to make these delicious is to soak these in warm salt water for a minute. It’s what softens them up and allows them to fry better the second round.

7. Mince half of a whole garlic and set aside.

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8. In the tostoneria, place a little bit of garlic and sprinkle the garlic salt over.

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9. Place the plantain in and smash it close.

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10. They should look like this. Repeat by putting more garlic, garlic salt and a new plantain to smash.

*If they don’t stay intact, it probably means you soaked them too long. Just take all the loose pieces and make one whole tostones when you’re done.

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11. Refry the tostones one more time, make sure the oil is still really hot by dropping them in one at a time. Flip them a few times until they feel really crispy.

12. Take them off and put them on a paper towel again to soak up the oil.

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13. Try them out, if they need more salt, just sprinkle a little bit of garlic salt on top! Wrap them up and serve for your guest. Be careful, they might want to marry you after! 🙂

PS: I suggest serving them with avocado. Those two are a match made in heaven, the flavors do some serious complimenting.

PPS: I had about 1/4 more but I had hungry roommates coming home and stealing them from my basket before I could take a picture! Can we say addicting?!

Have you ever tried Puerto Rican tostones? What’s your go-to recipe to impress?

An Ode To Sol Food

Yikes, I can’t believe it’s already the end of January and I’m still writing 2012 on all my papers.

Reem, who is currently living in Scotland for school, came to visit her family in America over the holidays and I’m so happy I got a chance to hang out with her before she went back. We had an English class together last summer and made it a weekly trip to drive over to San Rafael to eat at Sol Food after school. This place is by far my favorite restaurant outside of San Francisco.

The whole theme of Sol Food is authentic Puerto Rican cuisine; the ambiance of this restaurant is so unique, considering it is located in San Rafael and really makes the whole experience. The decor is decorated with colorful shutters, the music is going and the napkins are held down by huge green plantains.

IMG_0564.jpg All of these numbers are the owner’s personal pictures of her friends and family.

IMG_0577.jpg I always end up getting the same thing, Pollo al Horno. I figure there’s really no point to trying to fix perfection. It comes with one (or two) pieces of chicken baked with oregano and garlic, a light salad and tostones. The tostones are one of my favorite parts of the meal and I actually have a recipe coming up for authentic Puerto Rican tostones (thanks Lili!) What makes Sol Food so popular and addicting is their secret vinegar hot sauce. I don’t even have the right adjectives to make it sound as appealing as it taste.

Later that night, Lisbon House decided to have a roommate family dinner. Since I live with seven other people, we decided a potluck was the way to go.

IMG_0650.jpg I made an avocado salad and it was b.o.m.b. It included a combination of kale, spinach and mixed greens, avocado, sautéed mushrooms, roma tomatoes, onions and queso fresco with olive oil as a dressing I bought from wine county.

IMG_0652.jpg IMG_0658.jpgMichelle and her girlfriend brought home-made Sangria (so good) and a Trader Joe’s cheese, salami and baguette plate. All of us were starving so we ended up filling up on bread and cheese. Worth it.

IMG_0663.jpgFor the main dish, Sarath made us a whole chicken. I have no idea what it was roasted with, but it was mouth watering.

Not pictured was a pizza delivery, stir fried rice, mash potatoes and a raspberry cheesecake 🙁 All in all, it was a great time since all of us are really close to begin with.

Are you close with your roommates? Do you often do potluck dinners with your friends?