My Crazy Cocina Caliente!!

Just a crazy little latina, stirring up trouble in the cocina!

Crockpot Pork Roast! August 13, 2009

Filed under: dinner,Pork — Vanessita! @ 7:28 pm
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Crockpot Pork Roast has been calling my name for MONTHS!!! I’ve been meaning to buy a roast at the store and never really got around to it.

Recently on my trip to the grocery store I decided I had to grab a roast even if I wasn’t going to make it that same week.  The following week I let the roast defrost and made it for dinner.  S-O G-O-O-D!!!

I basically just took ideas from a bunch of recipes I saw, including the back of the Onion Mix box (forgot which brand it was).  I’ve seen VARIOUS variations of how to make crockpot pork roast and hope to try something new next time- but this was SO good and is a very simple, easy recipe.


Pork Roast
(For a smaller sized roast)

1 Packet of Onion Mix
1/2 Cup of Water
Your Favorite Seasoning (I used Adobo, what’s new!)
2 Carrots, cut into slices (You can use more if you’d like, we’re just not big carrot people)
3 Large Potatoes, cut into medium cubes (Again, use more or less according to your tastes)
1 Large Scallion, cut into small pieces

Mix the packet of onion mix with the 1/2 cup of water
In the bottom of the crockpot place the cut veggies and potatoes
Cut the pork roast in half, season, and lay on top of the veggies/potatoes
Pour over the onion/water mix over the veggies
Cover the crockpot and set on low for 8 hours…

Next? Come home to a SCRUMPCIOUS smelling house and a DELCIOUS, soft, tender, and juicy dinner.



Pollo Guisado…Old School Favorite August 11, 2009

Filed under: chicken,dinner — Vanessita! @ 10:11 pm
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Growing up my mom used to make Pollo Guisado all the time- it’s a dish I will FOREVER love.


My friends and I decided to have a small dinner party last week and our theme was “latin night”.  Since the majority of us come from a hispanic background we each made a traditional Spanish dish.
We had everything from Picadillo, to plaintains, tres leche cake, black beans, white rice, flan, and some awesome taco-dip.  Because my friend was going to make a beef dish I decided I should make chicken and immediately knew I wanted to make pollo guisado.

When made right the chicken will fall right off the bone and be extremely moist and juicy.  DELISH!!!

Saturday morning I joined my friend Jenn to the Winter Park farmers market and got some great veggies that I used in this meal.

Pollo Guisado
Cocina Caliente Original Recipe (With Help From My Mom!! 🙂 )

Feeds: 10-12

1 large (family sized) pack of chicken thighs, bone-in  (drumsticks can also be used)
Half a can of broth (I used beef) (Water can also be used)
1 medium green pepper (cut into small pieces)
1 medium red pepper (cut into small pieces)
1 medium carrot (sliced into small pieces)
1 large potato (cut into small cubes)
Half of a medium white onion (diced)
1 tsp. of garlic
Adobo (for seasoning chicken)
2 bullion cubes (I used the powdered kind)
2 packets of Sazon
3 tablespoons of Sofrito
1 1/2 cans of tomato sauce
Salt to Taste

First season your chicken with the adobo.
Because I was making so much chicken and I wanted to make sure it all cooked through evenly, I set a large deep skillet over medium low heat I seared the chicken pieces in the sofrito, sazon, bullion cube, and tomato sauce mix (only use half the sauce at this point).  Let that simmer for a little bit.  Be sure to cover your pan so everything stays really moist.
After about 10 minutes I added all the veggies, the remaining half of tomato sauce and added enough broth to cover about 1/3 of the chicken.
Keep the heat medium low and let the chicken continue to cook in the broth/veggie mix.  Be sure to mix it well so that all the flavors incorporate.

For the large amount of chicken I made, I think it took me about 30 to 40 minutes before it was just right.
You should be able to put a fork through the chicken and the chicken should be cooked all the way through.

You can always add more veggies, take away some veggies, add ingredients of your choice- whatever you like to give it the flavors you want.  Everyone at the dinner party commented on how good the chicken was and it really is SO simple to make.

Buen Provecho!!!


Yum Yum Steak!!! July 23, 2009

Filed under: dinner,Steak — Vanessita! @ 12:24 pm
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I have a confession for you guys today: I do not own a real grill.

Wait, it gets better.

I’ve really never ever grilled in my entire life.

I know, sad isn’t it?!

Growing up my parents never owned a grill- and when they finally bought one I was about to move out and my brother took possession of it and didn’t let any of us touch it.

Hubs and I have a George Foreman grill- I love since it cooks things really quick but its such a pain to clean!!!  We actually take turns now- he washes it one time and I’ll wash it the next.  It’s such a pain since we can’t remove the grill plates (on our model).
So lately I’ve been making everything in a skillet… and boy do I love it.  The skillet provides super easy clean-up… only one pan to clean- we don’t even have to fight over whose turn it is to clean because it’s such a small task neither of us minds.

So for the past few months I’ve “grilled” all my chicken, steaks, burgers, EVERYTHING on a skillet.  When I came across this recipe on the WC board I knew I had to try it.  The title really caught my attention “Best Steak Ever”… oh really? That’s a bold claim- and man, it sure was one MIGHTY tasty steak.

This is also an easy recipe to make.  It did take a quick trip to the grocery store since I don’t normally buy shallots (green onions) but since I had some wine on hand (thanks Judy!) I figured it was worth a try.


The Best Steak Ever
From: What Recipe (Thanks Catherine!)

1 tbsp oil
1 sirloin steak, seasoned with your favorite combination
1 large shallot, minced I love the taste of shallots so I added 2 🙂
3/4 cup beef broth I added an extra splash, just because I felt like it.
1/4 cup red wine I also added an extra splash of this- hey, the steak was calling for it! Don’t judge me! 🙂
1 tbsp butter

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and heat thru. Add steak and sautee 4 minutes each side or until medium. Remove from skillet, place on a plate and tent with tinfoil and keep warm.

Add shallots to pan and sautee for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Combine beef broth and red wine and add to pan. Reduce by half. Add in drippings from steak and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Then add in butter, stirring until melted and combined. Remove from heat.

So, that’s it!
Super easy and SOOOO tasty!

Next time you’re in the mood for steak and you don’t want to haul the grill out or mess with the cleaning- I highly recommend this recipe!


Gorgonzola Turkey Burgers! July 16, 2009

Filed under: dinner,Turkey — Vanessita! @ 7:42 pm

Yep…we’re on a roll with ground turkey 🙂  And even more cheese!

Here’s another delicious and nutritious turkey burger recipe that includes one of my favorite foods: Gorgonzola cheese.  YUMMM!!!!  I may love cheese but I think Gorgonzola is my favorite, such pungent flavor, it’s delicioso!!!!  So when I found this recipe, I knew I had to give it a try.  The original recipe called for making mini-patties but I made regular sized patties instead.

Gorgonzola Turkey Burgers:
Adapted from: Here


  • 1/2  teaspoon  garlic powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4  pounds  ground turkey breast
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4  cup  reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2  tablespoons  minced sweet gherkin pickle (about 2 small)  We skipped this
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 12  (1-ounce) dinner rolls We used regular burger buns
  • 6  curly leaf lettuce leaves, torn in half
  • I added an egg white to help keep the patties together (had a bad experience last time, haha)



Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add cheese, stirring with a fork just until combined. *I added the egg in here Divide turkey mixture into 12 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/4-inch-thick patty. 

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 4 patties; cook patties until they’re no longer pink & fully cooked (doesn’t take long at all).

Combine mayonnaise, pickle, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Cut rolls in half horizontally. Spread about 1 teaspoon mayonnaise mixture on bottom half of each roll; top each with 1 turkey patty and 1 piece lettuce. Cover with tops of rolls. Serve immediately.


I also whipped up a small batch of lemon yogurt sauce.  2 tablespoons of non-fat plain yogurt, about 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice and a little pepper.  I used this as my “mayo” and also topped my burger with a slice of avocado. YUM!

We paired this with some oven baked french fries and it was one delicious meal!!!  It’s in our rotation and I do plan on making them again.


My score?  Probably a 4!


My Latest Kitchen Love Affair July 10, 2009

Filed under: chicken,dinner — Vanessita! @ 9:13 am
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Thats it- I’m in love…with my crockpot.

You  may find this hard to believe but I’ve only used my crockpot TWICE.  The first time I used it I was home to “supervise” it and really only heated up meatballs.  Yesterday was my first time leaving the crockpot unattended at home- and boy, was I nervous when I left the house.

Sure, everyone’s told me how crockpots were made to be left alone and cook while your gone- but having a mother who is flat our scared of leaving anything on while shes out of the house- I wasn’t so sure I could trust it.

A little background: Growing up we NEVER had a crockpot at our house.  My mom has NEVER used one- and probably never will.  She’s old-school like that. 🙂  When it came time to register for our wedding, I figured “heck, why not- lets add that to the list”.  My good friend Sonyalie bought us our crockpot- and I am now so grateful for it!  Coming home to a fully cooked meal- AWESOME!!!

Trying to keep up with our healthy kick I decided crockpot chicken chili would be a good hearty & healthy dinner.


I based my recipe off this blogpost from The Crepes of Wrath:  I did make some changes to it, as usual my changes are in RED.

Crock Pot Shredded Chicken Chili

1 onion, diced We’re not big onion people so I omitted this.
1 16-oz can no-salt-added black beans
1 16-oz can no-salt-added kidney beans
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes with green chilies We’re not chili fans so I just got regular plain diced tomatoes.

6 teaspoons chili powder Skipped**
4 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin Skipped**
3 teaspoons onion powder Skipped**
2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder Skipped**
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper Skipped**
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
chopped fresh cilantro (optional) Skipped**
low-fat sour cream (optional) Skipped**
cheddar cheese (optional)
Rice, tortilla chips, tortillas (for serving) We used saltines.
And as usual- I seasoned my chicken before putting it in with Adobo 🙂

**Instead of using the various spices I just threw in 1 package of Publix Brand Chili Seasoning…for me it was much more cost effective than buying all the spices I didn’t have on hand.

1. Combine beans, onion, chili peppers, tomato sauce, chili powder, paprika, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper (if you don’t have these spices, you can just buy a package of taco seasoning) in a slow cooker.
2. Place chicken on top and cover. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.
3. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in.
4. Top with fresh cilantro, low-fat sour cream, and cheese. Serve over rice, with tortilla chips, or eat by itself! Serves 6.


Lessons Learned:

Publix chicken breasts are normally pretty big- I should have taken precaution and only put 2 chicken breasts in.  3 seemed to be WAY too much and once I shredded up the chicken it made the chili extremely thick.  It was almost hard to savor the tomatoes and beans because there was just SO much chicken.

Overall the chili was very tastey and I’m sure I’ll be making it again in the future.

What I really learned from this meal was how much I loved my crockpot!!!  I’m on a hunt now for new/healthy/crockpot recipes.  Nothing beats coming home to a delicious smelling house (that isn’t on fire!!! Contrary to my mothers beliefs! haha).

If I had to rate this? As is: probably 3 out of 5.
I’m sure if I made it again with the changes I’d make it would score higher.


Gobble Gobble, Turkey Tacos July 9, 2009

Filed under: dinner,Mexican,Turkey — Vanessita! @ 9:45 pm
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So the Hubs and I decided to have our own little Mexican Fiesta at home last night. ARRIBBAA!!!
We’ve been on a bit of a healthy kick lately – I’ve been cooking a lot with ground turkey vs. ground beef.

Let me tell you now, Hubs said this was one of his all-time favorite meals. YAY! He’s a huge Mexican food fan- and finding a healthier way to enjoy it is great.  (Not to mention this whole meal was very easy to make!)

Our dinner consisted of:

  1. Ground Turkey Tacos
  2. Chipotle Inspired Cilantro-Lime Rice
  3. Refried Beans (from a can- sue me!)




First I started on the rice which I got from this great website:  Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes

Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice (Changed I made are in RED)

  • 1 cup extra long grain rice or basmati rice I made 2 cups
  • 1/2 lime, juice of
  • 2 cups water I used enough water to cover the rice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
  • 4 tsp vegetable oil I didn’t use this much

In a small heavy pot, add rice, water, 1 tsp oil and salt. Boil on high until most of the water evaporates. When the water just skims the top of the rice, reduce to low and cover about 15 minutes. Shut off flame and keep covered an additional 5 minute.

I made my rice in my handy-dandy rice cooker.  So easy, just set it and forget it! (Guess where thats from!)

In a medium bowl, combine chopped cilantro, lime juice, rice and remaining oil and toss until completely mixed.

Once the rice was set (I left it on the WARM setting) I started working on the turkey.

For the turkey:
I used a BUNCH of stuff to season up the turkey meat- I’ve heard from some people that if you don’t season it enough it can be rather plain-tasting. I’m glad I decided to go a little overboard because the turkey tasted delicious!!! I could have seriously ate the entire thing with a spoon (even Tyson- our little furbaby- enjoyed the turkey!).

First I heated up a skillet, at medium-high heat- then I dumped in the ground turkey.
I added:

  • 1 package of taco-seasoning mix (from Old El Paso)
  • 1 tbsp of tomato sauce*
  • 1 tbsp sofrito (a MUST in the Latin culture!!)*
  • 1 tsp of Sazon (another staple in Latin cuisine)*

*these are really guesstimates.  I like to eye-ball things and rarely measure stuff before adding it in.

I let the turkey brown and mixed it occassionally making sure it didn’t stick or burn.  I let the meat marinate in all the juices and turned the heat down, a little below medium.

I didn’t take note of how long I let the meat cook but I waited until most of the juices from the sauce/sofrito was absored.

After the turkey was done, I heated up some soft taco shells (Old El Paso brand) and served up the meal.

I decided a Mexican meal isn’t complete with a Margarita- so I made one up in the blender real quick.
3 parts Strawberry Margarita Mix to 1 Part Tequila plus a splash of lime juice, blended with 2 cups of ice.

Yum!!  Overall, it was a VERY successful dinner.
If I had to rate this I’d probably give it a 4 out of 5 stars.


Laughing Cows?? July 8, 2009

Filed under: chicken,dinner — Vanessita! @ 9:24 am
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Before tonight I had NEVER tried laughing cow cheese, but I had read wonderful things about it on the WC board.
After searching through various recipes I found this one from The Rookie Chef. The recipe called for both laughing cow cheese & pesto- sounded amazing and I knew I had to try it!

Hubs and I had his family over for dinner and I decided this would be the perfect dish to serve them.
I did make a few changes to Molly Jean’s recipe- but I did stick with it pretty closely.


Below is Molly Jean’s recipe, my changes are in red.


  • 2 chicken breasts  I used 8
  • Breadcrumbs
  • 2 wedges Laughing Cow cheese (I used the Herb & Garlic kind, yummy!!)) 1 per each breast, I used 8.
  • 2 scoops of pesto 1 scoop per breast, I used 8.
  • A little olive oil
  • I seasoned the chicken with Adobo & Italian Seasoning


  • Wash and dry thawed chicken
  • Spread 1 wedge of Laughing Cow cheese on each chicken breast
  • Now spread 1 scoop (however much you like) of pesto onto each chicken breast
  • Roll up the chicken breast (it should be rolled similar to THIS)
  • Secure with a toothpick so that it doesn’t unroll
  • Drizzle a little olive oil on the chicken and rub to completely cover
  • Place breadcrumbs in a bowl. Roll your chicken around in the breadcrumbs so that the chicken is completely covered
  • Place rolled chicken breasts in a lightly greased baking pan and bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes

Next time I make this I think I’ll add more than just 1 wedge per chicken breasts, but thats only because Hubs and I like things uber cheesy 🙂  But overall this chicken was very very yummy and his family commented on how good it tasted.

I served it up with some fettucini alfredo, garlic bread, and a side salad.

Oh- and a big THANK you to the Hubs, who went grocery shopping on his own and brought me back all the right things.  Thank you hunnie!!! Great job!! 🙂