Cuban Ropa Vieja Recipe

My family were American settlers in Cuba starting around the time of the Spanish American War and the Raising of the Maine.

Many of the flavors and styles of cooking have been passed down through my family and I have inherited a passion for Cuban food.  We have friends in Peachtree City from Cuba that shared a wonderful Cuban meal with us that centered on Ropa Vieja.  They shared their recipe with me and I have adapted for use with a pressure cooker.  I hope you enjoy it. 



  • two 1 lb or greater flank steaks cut in half, preferably grass-fed and local
  • water to cover the meat in the pot
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons oregano
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  • 3-4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (enough to cover bottom of pan
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 2 cans tomato sauce with basil, oregano and garlic
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 Tablespoons oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • small can of tomato paste in case the sauce it too watery
  • optional:
  • 3 Tablespoons capers
  • 1/4 cup chopped green olives with pimientos


Boil the meat and broth ingredients in a large pot for 45 minutes. To speed up the time, you can put the ingredients in a pressure cooker, bring it up to temperature, reduce the heat and cook for about 20 minutes.  I find that traditional boiling often takes a full hour so this reduces the time by a third.  Try to tear the meat with a fork. If it tears easily, it’s ready. If not, cook for 10-15 more minutes.

Remove the meat from the pot reserving the broth. Tear the meat apart with two forks. Set Aside.

Coat the bottom of a roasting pan large enough to hold the meat with olive oil. Place onions, peppers and garlic in the pan and sauté for 10 minutes over medium heat to make the sofrito.

Add all the meat and mix together. Add the red wine and tomato sauce. Mix together. Add the oregano, sugar and paprika and mix well. Add about a half cup of the broth, capers and olives and let cook for about 15 minutes. If the sauce is too watery, add 1-2 Tablespoons of tomato paste to thicken the sauce.

New York Italian Beef Sandwich

One of my favorite Foodie cities is Chicago.  I don’t get there very often but seek out good Chicago Hot Dogs and Italian Beef sandwiches when I can.

Recently, I purchased some Grass Fed Local Sirloin roasts from Rocking Chair Ranch Beef in Forsyth, GA.  Here is an Italian Beef recipe I prepared in a crockpot slow cooker and it was delicious!


  • 3 – 5 lb Sirloin Roast or Rump Roast (Grass Fed and local if possible)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 packet Italian Salad Dressing Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 bay leaf

Place roast in a crockpot.  It can be frozen or thawed.  Combine water and spices in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Pour ingredients from pan over the roast in the crockpot.

Cover and cook on High setting for 4-5 hours or on low setting for 10-12 hours.  An hour before serving, remove the roast and slice thinly against the grain of the meat.  Return to the crockpot to finish cooking.

I serve this by placing the meat on an italian hoagie or steak roll sliced open with a generous ladle full of the broth.  Add a little hot Giardinera pickled vegetables or some hot or sweet peppers to make it really good!

Cinnamon Apple Spice Bars

My husband makes this for our family and serves it hot out of the oven with a scoop of french vanilla ice cream.  Yum!


  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup local organic apples, chopped (any variety)

For Topping:

  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350*f.  Grease a 9×9 pan and set aside.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together melted butter, brown sugar, plus 1/2 cup white sugar with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Stir in egg and vanilla extract.

Blend flour mixture into butter/sugar mixture until just combined. Add chopped apples.  Spread mixture evenly into a greased 9×9 pan.  In a small cup, stir together the topping and sprinkle it on.  Place pan in oven and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.  Serve piping hot with a scoop of french vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

I adapted this recipe after experimenting with several “authentic” Louisian Cajun Red Beans recipes.  This is my favorite spicy variation.  It uses both a pressure cooker and a crockpot but is not difficult to prepare.

If  you like a lot of flavor, I highly recommend this recipe.


  • 1 lb bag of dried small red beans, picked over for debris
  • 1 medium yellow or sweet onion (Vidalia if available)
  • 1 bell pepper, washed (green is fine)
  • 2 stalks of celery, washed
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 4-5 squirts Tabasco Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 quart of chicken broth

Soak beans according to the directions on the package either overnight or for at least 8 hours.  I soak them in my pressure cooker so I don’t have to transfer them from another pot.  Once beans are soaked, place the top on the pressure cooker, bring to a boil.  Once the pressure rises and the relief valve whistles 2-3 times, reduce heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes.  (if the beans are old stock, simmer for 25 minutes)  While the beans are simmering in the pressure cooker, dice the onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic.

Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and set aside to let the pressure release.  In a large skillet, add the olive oil and saute the onions, bell pepper and celery until the onions are opaque and the celery and bell peppers are soft.  Add black pepper, red pepper, oregano, thyme, Worcestershire and Tabasco and mix well.  Turn off heat.

Remove top from pressure cooker.  Prepare slow cooker by plugging it in and turning it to low heat.  With a colander, strain the beans and add them to the crockpot without the liquid.  Add the onion, pepper, celery mixture to the crockpot and stir into the beans.  Add bay leaf, parsley and the quart of chicken stock to just cover the beans.

Cover and cook at least 8 hours.  You can optionally remove a cup of beans, puree them in a blender and mix them back into the crockpot to thicken the bean mixture before serving.  Serve over rice with a side of smoked sausage, polska kielbasa or bratwurst.  This is also good with baked chicken.  As with most beans, they are even better when refrigerated and reheated.

Vegetarian Black Lentil Stew

I’m a big fan of all types of Lentils.  We have an international Farmer’s Market just outside of Decatur, Georgia in Avondale Estates that has a wonderful selection of both organic and conventionally grown lentils.

This is a recipe I make when my oldest is home.  She is pescatarian. (only eats fish and vegetarian)  If you are not vegetarian and are not opposed to using chicken broth, that is a good substitute for vegetable broth and gives it a milder flavor.  Also, keep in mind that lentils are much faster to cook than dried beans.  You do not have to pre-soak dried lentils!


1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 cup carrots, sliced (I use the baby peeled carrots)
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb black lentils, picked over (use any color lentils you have available)
1 quart box of Vegetable broth (or chicken broth if you are not vegetarian)
1/2 teaspoon cumin if you like a bolder flavor (feel free to omit for a milder flavor)

Black Lentil Stew Prep

Saute onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a stew pot with the olive oil over medium heat until the onions turn translucent.  Stir in the lentils and mix well.  Add the cumin now if you want and mix well.

Black Lentil Stew Prep

Add quart box of broth, stir until stew comes to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Serve in a bowl with a garnish of freshly chopped cilantro and even a shaving or two of Parmegiana Reggiano!

Cheese-Stuffed Shrimp with Bacon Recipe

Cheesy Stuffed Shrimp with Bacon is a Great Appetizer!! or just a little snacky snack!

4 oz. of cream cheese, softened(you can zap it for about 10 sec, stir and then zap another 10 sec and stir, you want it soft, not runny)

4 tsp horseradish

1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated~please use fresh Parmesan Cheese, it’s so much better!

I use a microplane grater to grate the hard cheese. It’s real easy! You can get one here!

1 lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked. You can buy shrimp already cooked, it’s pink, or cook it yourself; the uncooked are gray. If it says 40-60 or 90-100 on the bag, that means there are that many pieces per pound. The lower the number, the bigger the shrimp. You want to get the bigger ones so you can put filling in them. And if you are going to cook them, please don’t overcook!! They will get rubbery!! Shrimp cooks in about 4 minutes! Real FAST!! (add a little salt and pepper in a little bit of olive oil to saute)

Put the cream cheese into a small mixing bowl.

Then add the horseradish and Parmesan cheese and mix it up until it’s blended and smooth.

Put the mixture into a little sandwich sized baggie and cut one corner out of the bag. (Just a little snip at the corner.)

Cut the shrimp along the outside curve about 2/3 through the shrimp. Don’t cut all the way through, you are going to fill these.

Squeeze the cream cheese mixture into each of the shrimp being careful not to overfill.

Put the little stuffed shrimps on a plate and put them in the fridge for a bit. (At least 30 minutes)

Add cocktail sauce on the side for dipping.

Caramelized Grilled Pineapple

All you need for this naturally sweet grilled treat is a grill and a fresh pineapple! Love these kind of recipes!!

So, you will need to prepare the grill for a low fire.

Lop off the top and the bottomof the pineapple.

Slice down the side and remove the peel and eyes.

Cut the pineapple into quarters and remove the core.

Cut the quarters into 1/2 inch thick slices.

Place the pineapple slices on the grill rack. You can use skewers if you have them. If you are using bamboo skewers,make sure you soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before you grill.

Ya might want to spray the skewers lightly with cooking spray so the pineapples will slide off easily! :)

Grill the slices for 15 minutes, turning once or until they are a little brown.

Should make about 4 servings

The outsides of the pineapple slices may be a little dry, but the insides will be very juicy.

When grilling pineapple y’all don’t have to add any type of sweetener: the natural juices will make them sweet and yummy!!


Apricot Grilled Shrimp Recipe

I love seafood! Shrimp, fish, lobster, squid(!)…you name it, if its seafood….I’m there! Now if it’s grilled, even BETTER!!

Here’s what y’all need to make these scrumptious Grilled Shrimp:

  • 1/2 C of apricot preserves
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed
  • 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined and uncooked.

And here’s how to make it:

  • Heat your grill to medium temperature.
  • Place the preserves in a small mixing bowl.
  • Whisk in the canola oil and soy sauce.
  • Fold the red pepper flakes into the mixture well.
  • Thread the shrimp onto metal skewers. Coat them lightly with cooking spray to make it easier to get them off the skewers.
  • Baste both sides of the shrimp well with the apricot mixture.
  • Place the shrimp on the grill and do not cover.
  • Grill 3 minutes, basting a couple of times.
  • Turn and continue grilling and basting for an additional 3 minutes or until the shrimps turn pink.
  • Makes about 6 servings

If grilling is just not possible, these shrimp can also be cooked under the broiler 4 inches from the heat source for about 3 minutes on each side.  They will turn pink when done!  Y’all can serve these over white rice. YUM!!

Hope you enjoy!

2018 Charcoal Grilling Tips!

I live in So Cali, so I can grill year round and I do! Make kitchen clean up virtually non-existent! Yay! for the poor kid on kitchen duty!

I have been grilling for about 20 years and one thing I know about grilling is that you can’t rush it, no matter what!! 20 years?? (You would think after all that time I would know how to make one of those pig-in-a-pit deals)

Do your burgers fall apart? Quit messing with them. Let ’em cook. Don’t over knead the raw meat and when you shape them, make the centers thinner than the outer edges and they won’t curl up! (How cool is that?) Make sure the ground beef is at least 15-20% fat for outdoor grilling.

Are your steaks too tough? Quit messing with them and DON’T poke them with anything! Makes all the juices jump out of the steak and into the fire and makes for a dry nasty steak. Don’t over cook steaks, either. Best way to tell if a steak is done is to push on it. It gets firmer as it cooks, so if you like it more rare, squishy is good. If you want it more well done, wait a few minutes until it firms up a bit.

Now if you have to marinade, do it in the refrigerator in resealable plastic food storage bags. Makes clean up a breeze!

If you are also using a marinade for brushing the meat during grilling, reserve part of the marinade for brushing before adding the remaining marinade to raw meat, poultry or fish. The same good food safety practice applies to a sauce that will be used for both brushing on meat during grilling and for passing at the table. Make sure you divide the sauce for the two uses before starting to cook.

For grilling fruits and vegetables, lightly coat the grill grate with vegetable oil or cooking spray before placing it over hot coals to keep foods from sticking. Never spray vegetable oil directly over hot coals!! You can also lightly spray the fruit/veggies so they don’t stick to the grate.

Asian Sweet and Sour Meatballs (Original Recipe)

These meatballs ROCK! Good appetizer food!

½ cup finely chopped water chestnuts (from a can in the Chinese Food section)

1 teaspoon peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger root, divided

1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions with tops

1 ¼ pounds lean ground beef (or turkey of you like)

1 ½ cups soft white bread crumbs

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 garlic clove, pressed

¾ cup plum preserves

¼ cup chili sauce

Preheat oven to 400F. Finely chop water chestnuts and slice ginger root. Slice green onions.

Combine ground beef (or turkey), bread crumbs, water chestnuts, ½ teaspoon of the ginger root, green onions, soy sauce and garlic in a bowl; mix gently but throughly.

Shape the meat mixture into balls; place in single layer baking dish. Bake for15 minutes, then remove from oven. Remove juices from baker using a baster and throw away.

Meanwhile, combine the preserves, chili sauce and remaining ½ teaspoon ginger root, evenly pour over meatballs. Put it back in the oven for about 15 more minutes. Give it a little stir before serving.

Should make about 40 meatballs

Little cooking tip on Ginger root…

Ginger root has a really thin, light brown skin that needs to be removed before use. Store it in a plastic food storage bag in the ice box for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months. To use frozen ginger root, just slice off as much as you need.

Hope y’all enjoy!

P.S. I always use a small food chopper to chop all my veggies and cooked meats. Makes my life easier!!

They are really helpful for small chores.