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Monday, November 23, 2009

Can't get enough COCONUT?!! Homemade Puerto Rican Coconut Popsicles

Well, me either!! I have been hooked on this recipe since I first tried it!! I happened upon it just randomly searching for Puerto Rican recipes. The recipe is for Puerto Rican-style homemade popsicles called limbers. These tasty frozen treats come in flavors like pineapple, dulce de leche, banana, guava, cookies and cream, cheesecake (I am really looking forward to trying this one one day, and I'll be sure to report back on how it turns out), peanut butter (not sure which is better, coconut or peanut butter) coconut, and just about any other fruit flavor you can imagine. I have yet to go to Puerto Rico and have them for myself, but I hear it's the type of thing women make at home and sell to both neighborhood children and adults for something like a quarter or so.

Limbers [LEEM behr] are super easy to make and kill any store-purchased popsicle you've ever had. Here is my adaptation of the recipe I found ( I just add about two teaspoons vanilla in addition to what the recipe calls for. By the way, to make them, they're traditionally just frozen in small plastic cups and people get creative as far as how to eat them :). What has worked for me is to fill the cup half way so that you can squeeze around the sides to loosen it, then push it up to enjoy it and flip the popsicle around to catch the juice once the bottom starts to melt.

Limber de Coco (coconut Puerto Rican-style popsicles)

1 can coconut milk
1can coconut cream
1 can water (fill the can of coconut milk to measure)
1/4 tb cinnamon
you can also add grated coconut before freezing, if desired
sugar to taste (maybe about a 1/4 cup)

Mix it all up in the blender and taste it to be sure it's to your liking. Freeze and enjoy a yummy, fresh-tasting, creamy limber!

You can cover the tops of the cups by pressing a piece of plastic wrap flat to the surface to delay the tops of the limbers getting that freezer taste. It happens sometimes, but the whole thing isn't can rinse the top with hot water, if necessary or just flip it and eat it from the bottom first.

I've also added two baby bananas in the mix and it was sooo good!! You can add a half a regular banana as a sub.

And sorry this is a little out of season for most of the U.S., lol. Hey, it's still in the 80s here in Miami, lol. Nonetheless, I would probably still be eating them if I were at home because they're just that good :).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Check out my reviews on yelp!

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to invite you to check out my reviews on yelp. I have some for Richmond, N. VA, DC/Silver Springs, NYC, and, of course, Miami. Check me out at

For those of you who are unfamiliar with yelp, it's pretty much a foodie's paradise! People reviews restaurants they've been to, so it's great if you need help finding a new place to try or finding somewhere to eat before going out-of-town. It's great because there are nice features like a Talk forum (which can be found on the top bar) and many features that make it a hybrid that combines social networking in the mix as well. That means that people create profiles (nothing long or cheesy, just a few basics and a couple quirky questions), add friends, and send private messages. I say it kills facebook any day! Plus...they have EVENTS! Awesome! I hear they are amazing! I'll post if i get to go to the one I RSVPd for in Brickell Key in Miami. We shall see what happens!

Rich, Warm, and Comforting Tomato Soup

Okay, for those of you who are skeptical about any dishes with its flavor based off of just about nothing but veggies, try this recipe. I promise this dish will make a convert out of any meat-a-tarian out there. It's nothing like the ketchup-y Cambell's version of so-called tomato soup, so just erase that comparison from your mind altogether. This is my mom's recipe that I've have tweaked slightly by adding basil, thyme, and fresh cayenne pepper for extra kick. I absolutely LOVE this stuff! It's comfort food at it's best that's actually somewhat healthy (if you take out the fact that heavy cream is obviously full of fat :P!). This recipe is so rich and creamy, you almost have to have a new word besides soup for it--there's nothing thin and watery here, just lots of rich flavor! Meat-a-tarians, I especially want you to try this one out and get back to me. I made a convert of one of my biggest meat-loving friends, so I'm confident you'll change your mind to.

This dish is so warm and comforting and it always makes me think of fall. Just when it starts to get chilly, around October or November, my mom usually makes a huge pot of this stuff and I'm so nostalgic for it now!! I can't wait to get home and get a nice, warm bowlful!

Here's the recipe. It's nice and easy for those of you who may not be comfortable in the kitchen. Try your hand at this one and be prepared to wow your friends and family with your culinary skills!

Oh, and before I get into the recipe, let me say that the quality of your tomatoes is important in this dish as they are the principal ingredient. If you can, try to go for something like Hunt's Natural. You'll taste the difference.

Creamy, Flavorful Tomato Soup
1 28 oz can organic crushed tomatoes
½ cup heavy cream
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic (3 if they’re small)
2TB butter
1 carrot (peeled and diced)
1 celery stalk diced
1 slice crispy, thick-sliced bacon
About 2-1/2 cups chicken broth (as long as its not too watery – I don’t know exact measurement)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 bay leaf
1 pinch thyme
About a thumb’s length of fresh cayenne pepper
- could probably be substituted with 1/8 cup orange bell pepper and cayenne powder to taste
Salt, seasoned salt, and pepper to taste
I would add a bit of white wine (a couple TBs or so) too if you have it. I couldn’t find mine, so that’s the only reason I didn’t add any.

Put the celery, carrot, onion and garlic (and orange bell pepper, if you’re using it, not fresh cayenne) in pan w/ olive oil and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, bacon, fresh cayenne pepper (if using) chicken broth, bay leaf, thyme, and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. If using cayenne pepper, peel off skin and place 1/3 of pepper in soup and discard rest (don’t want it too hot). Add basil and cream. Puree in blender until smooth.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The BEST coconut Macaroons EVER!

So I have really been craving something sweet, but I didn't want anything chocolate-y, and I really had no idea what I wanted because nothing was satisfying. I was surfing the net for recipes and came across Puerto Rican limbers (home-made popsicles), which are amazing! I fell in LOVE with the limber de coco and limber de mani (recipes forthcoming), but lately I've been wanting something else different. Finally, I remembered the amazing coquitos/besitos de coco (macaroons) that I had in Samana and La Romana, Dominican Republic. They were the amazing kind that had a cake-like softness to them.  I had them at the Shell gas station there, believe it or not.  They were homemade, too, lol.

I tried going to a local cuban bakery, El Brazo Fuerte, here in Miami, but the macaroons weren't what I was looking for. They were good, but they were the flourless kind and I had a craving to dive into some nice, soft yumminess! after surfing online, I found this beauty and made a few tweaks.  ABSOLUTE PERFECTION, friends! I promise!
Spanish -
English -

For the sugar, go to your local Southeast Asian market (Battambong or Sahath By in Chesterfield, Horsepen and Rigsby Rd area markets off of W. Broad in West W. End--I recommend Far East, which is in the middle area across from Pho So 1) and ask for Palm Sugar. If they don't know what you're talking about, just look around. I promise, they have it. It's like $2 something in the pack and maybe a little more in the jar. Yes, it makes a HUGE difference in the flavor. It's rich with a great depth of flavor, like nothing you've ever tasted before and brown sugar won't cut it. Anyhow, read the back of the packet and make sure all it says is "palm sugar" or "coconut sugar." Basically, you just want to be sure that it's the real deal natural stuff.

Soooo...what I was getting at is that the change I made to the macaroon recipe is that you use 1/2 cup palm/coconut sugar (same thing) and and 1/2 cup white sugar. Break up the palm sugar (you want it in block form, not jarred) with a fork or grate it (don't do a pressed/packed measure), then mix it up with the white sugar, using the fork to break up the palm sugar more and mix it with the white. Other than that, just use 1/2 tsp vanilla instead of 1/4 and there you go!! These are soooo good!! The palm sugar gives them an amazing texture. You'll get a little crunch on the edges, but a nice one!!!  I'm sure you could get a similar effect with brown sugar, but the taste will be soooo different, and perhaps a bit too dark for the coconut flavor and you might overpower it. But...try, if you wish. If you try it, write back to let me know how it turns out or if you made any changes.

Important Tips:
Baking in a glass dish is best if you don't want the crust, in other words, if you want the more traditional softness. But, guys, I'm telling you, the way I did them in the oven in a metal pan was a really tasty change. The bottom had a thin, lightly crispy crust, and a very slight crust on the top from the palm sugar, and the inside was warm and soft. 

As far as bagged coconut goes, you get what you pay for. Go for the gold on this one and use Baker's brand. It's a lot more moist than others. You'll use a full 14 0z bag of Baker's.

This recipe is from Puerto Rico, so when they say brown sugar (azucar marron o azucar negra), what they're referring to is not the sticky molasses kind that's popular in the contiguous States. Rather, what they are referring to is turbinado or raw sugar (also known as demarara), which is abundant and much more affordable than refined sugars in much of the Caribbean. Brown sugar is preferred for use in desserts and coffee throughout the region, while white is only used for things such as juices and other drinks that would otherwise be altered by the flavor of raw sugar.

*The English version of the recipe says to use lemon, but it has been mistranslated. The Spanish version specifies lime, and that's what I used. Both work, but there's a widespread preference for lime in the Caribbean and it's really nice in this recipe.

*Best if consumed within 3-4 days.

What on EARTH is palm sugar, you ask?