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In the spirit of the holidays, I am going to share some recipes that I think fit best in Thanksgiving/Christmas/Everyday festivities. This is one of my favorites because it has all the flavor of a Pan de Jamón in a stuffing. You heard me. A stuffing. You’re welcome.

This stuffing came to me in a dream… just kidding. What happened is that I became vegetarian. Well, pseudo vegetarian because I still love smoked chorizo and bacon. Yeah. Drool. Unfortunately, ham is not one of my loves which means that Pan de Jamón is something I continue to make for the holidays but have stopped partaking in. I missing all the flavor, and realized that I could have it all without the meat. (Although, you could crisp up some bacon and fold it in for a meat lovers paradise – or a Carolyng paradise, who is only part meat lover).

Close up to the goodness.

Close up to the goodness.

This stuffing is 100 % delicious. The golden raisins and pimento olives are straight from the Pan de Jamón. For extra flavor, I added fresh parsley, vegetable broth, onion and black pepper. When all is said and done, and you have it all on a serving platter, drizzle it with agave for a sweet kick. Of course I feel like I should add that this stuffing would be great for actually stuffing a turkey, but for vegetarians sake, make it on the side for all to enjoy. Don’t forget bacon crumbles if you wanna add another layer of sweet and spice deliciousness!

Sweet and Spicy Stuffing
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Looking for more flavor and depth from your stuffing? Look no further than Sweet and Spicy Stuffing, full of golden raisins, stuffed olives, black pepper and a drizzle of agave for a sweet and tangy homemade side that can hold its own.
Ingredients
  • ¼ stick unsalted butter
  • ½ cup parsley
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • ½ cup olives, diced
  • 1 loaf day old bread, ½ - 1 inch dice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • agave to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large sauté pan melt butter and add garlic and onions Cook until onions are translucent and garlic is crisp on edges.
  3. Add raisins, olives, ½ of the bread and 1 cup vegetable broth. Stir and toss until bread softens. Add remaining bread and remaining broth. Stir until all ingredients are fully dispersed and bread has soaked all broth. Fold in parsley.
  4. Transfer to an oven safe dish and bake for 20 minutes or until top the bread on top has browned and is crisp on the edges. Serve warm.

Hey guys. I know it’s been a while. I will be posting lots of food soon – especially for the holidays. For now, I thought I would do a Ruminations piece. I wrote an article not too long ago about what is has been like being married to my Southern husband. As a first generation lady, and a latina, culture is very important. This article is about how both of our backgrounds have melded together in this past year of marriage. The good, the bad, and the cattywompus!

Haha, ok, cattywompus actually doesn’t work  like that, but it is too fun of a word to not throw it out everywhere I can. Anywho, read on below and let me know how your bicultural relationships work. Where are they strongest? Where do you want to improve? What is the best thing that has come out of it all? :) Let me know, I’d love to hear.

And without further ado – The Latina and the Don.

When I met my future husband I was a wee 18 year old, bright eyed and bushy tailed as he tells me, and he was the epitome of southern charm. That blonde hair, those blue eyes flecked with gray and gold, and that Southern accent, gosh, it made every girl swoon. Being a northern girl, yes I am a New Yorker, and a southern girl, being half Venezuelan, I thought I could resist. That didn’t last long.

Over the eight wonderful years we spent together before tying the knot, I was faced with many realities. Of course there was Southernese, a dialect I must confess I am still learning. Sure, I’ll pass you a pin for you to scrawl a note, say hey y’all  with complete confidence, point out a coon  to my pup and use cattywampus to describe my kitchen after Christmas. But when I first met my don, I would have sworn he was speaking a different language. He could have been from another planet, opening doors, pulling out chairs, walking me home (though I did live across the hall), he was just so alien.

We were from two different worlds, and the more I got to know him, the more that was apparent. He fit into this idea I had about the South and Southerners. He grew up playing tennis, going to country clubs and spending his holidays in South Carolina at the beach. Talk about culture shock. I didn’t know people actually lived like that. Up until that moment I thought such a life existed only for Hollywood darlings on the silver screen, not for actual normal people.

Before L, I hadn’t been around many Southerners. I had my first experience on my way to see him at the beach for Spring Break, waiting at the terminal for my delayed flight. Like any New Yorker, I was livid, speaking about how ridiculous it was we had to wait for a specific scheduled flight attendant when we were in an airport full of flight attendants! I tried to rally the other passengers, and was met with, “Darlin’, there’s no sense in fussin’. We’ll be outta here soon ‘nuff,” and “Punkin’ how ‘bout I getcha a hot chocolate, that always helps.”

My first instinct, in all honesty, was more fury. They were telling me to calm down and were trying to poison me with treats so I would shut up! Right after that thought, I found that I was the only Northerner boarding that plane, and the other passengers weren’t being condescending or trying to drug me, they were just nice Southern people, being sweet for no reason except that’s who they are. It was like I had made a discovery of a long lost race, except the only person it was lost to was me.

When I finally met L’s family I was presented with a cookie cutter TV version of what every little latino sees as the normal American family living the American dream. A mother and a father, a sister and a brother, all blonde, with eyes of bright shimmering blue, and the sweetest, warmest pearl smiles. With a permanent home in the mountains and a getaway by the beach, they were the stereotype of the typical gringo family and I was slowly becoming a part of it.

First I tried to assimilate. That’s the best way to learn anything right, immerse yourself in the culture, in the language, and just say yes to everything. That led me to my first and last tennis lesson, where I realized buying 3 complete tennis outfits didn’t make you any better, and that fried chicken and biscuits to them was like black beans and rice to me. I found myself saying “lordy,” “dangnabbit” and “fixins” as often as any other vizor wearing belle would.

When we were stuck in a line, with people chatting about their days and taking all the time in the world while there were people waiting behind them, I held my tongue. It wasn’t that they were slow, it’s that they weren’t pressed for time. What a wonderful concept! They enjoyed every moment without rushing to the next for fear of being late or missing out. Before long I found myself striking up conversations with complete strangers, genuinely smiling and laughing with them, sharing a piece of myself and my life with them, and it was… really nice.

And then things changed. As I became more Southern, L’s family became more latino. Seriously. They began immersing themselves in my culture. They downloaded app’s to learn Spanish, explored the world of latin food beyond Chipotle, started rolling most of their R’s and on my wedding day welcomed my South American family with the southern charm that made me fall in love with them in the first place.

I spent my first Thanksgiving as a married woman in the South. The table had pernil and biscuits, quinoa and collards, and though I went to the tennis courts I didn’t play. I could eat fried green tomatoes and okra until I turned green, and my husband could eat fried plantains and arepas until his stomach bursts. Being with L has made me more patient, definitely more punctual and has encouraged me to enjoy the moment.

Legally, I married a Southern gentleman. But above that, what I really married into, was the South. From the bourbon and the pecans to the ya’lls and the drawls, I’ve become a part of the South and it has become a part of me. Like a plantain stuffed biscuit, we were perfect for each other. It just took my don and his family to show me everyone’s got a little Southern charm in them, you’ve just got to find it. And find it I did.

Hello everyone! I know it has been a while. I have had a whirlwind month working not the book. Just got back from NY. Was visiting my parents and editing the book before sending it off to agents. I still have to rework my final chapter and finish my queries but so far everything is looking up. I have been hard at work making recipes, and wanted to share a simple and delicious one with you. Yep, it’s Coconut Cream Shortcakes Time!

Coconut Cream Shortcakes are ridiculously easy to make. The most difficult ingredient to find is the coconut cream. I buy it canned at Trader Joe’s. Whenever I go there and it is available I will buy at least 4 cans at a time, if not more. Why? Well first off it is wonderful to make some vegan whipped cream, as used in this shortcakes. I love to add it to ice creams, soups, cakes, anything that could benefit from a creamy coconut touch. It is velvety, rich and works perfectly in so many recipes I can’t count!


Coconut-Cream-Shortcakes-4

The second part of this recipe is the shortcakes. I call them shortcakes, but they are really just biscuits. You can use your favorite biscuit recipe. I have done vegan to butter and lard biscuits, and I must say that they all have a special place in my heart, and stomach. Since I do have a milk/egg allergy, I know I still enjoy the cheese and creams of the world, when I want to reduce the amount I am consuming I’ll make a vegan batch. You can also make the biscuits gluten-free. Honestly, they are just a holder for the sweet cream and macerated berries.

Macerated berries.

Macerated berries.

Macerated BERRIES!

Coconut-Cream-Shortcakes-5

Say that three times fast! I did, and let’s just say my enunciation suffered.

Any who, OMG Doctor WHO was AMAZINGGGG this past Saturday… I digress… Any who, this is a great recipe to have on file for a quick dessert or quick bite to offer guests. They are also great to pig out on yourself, and with a drizzle of agave on top I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t share.

I don’t share these… okay I don’t usually share these. If Mr. FGF is home I will share, which is why I try to make and eat them while he is out. Mwuahahaha.

Coconut Cream Shortcakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Coconut Cream Shortcakes combine macerated strawberries and blueberries with sweet coconut cream and fresh fluffy biscuits for a dessert that is easy to prepare and fun to eat!
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups flour, all-purpose
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cold
  • 6 oz milk, cold
  • 1 14 oz can coconut cream
  • 3 tbsp sugar, powdered
  • 2 tbsp sugar, granulated
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • ½ cup blueberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine.
  3. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbles.
  4. Make a well in center of crumbles and pour in milk. Fold over flour from the sides, then mix with hands until just combined to form a sticky dough.
  5. Form a palmful of dough into a loose ball and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  6. Press down gently until biscuit is 1 inch thick and 2 inches wide.
  7. Repeat with remaining dough, ensuring that the biscuits are touching each other.
  8. Transfer baking sheet to oven and bake for 10 minutes, until biscuits are golden, fluffy and fragrant.
  9. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk coconut cream and powdered sugar together. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
  10. In another small bowl combine granulated sugar with strawberries and blueberries. Stir until berries are evenly coated in sugar. Let mixture sit at room temperature until ready to assemble.
  11. Remove biscuits from oven. Once cool enough to handle, slice each biscuit in half.
  12. To assemble shortcakes, first take the bottom half of a biscuit and top with a few tablespoons of sweetened coconut cream.
  13. Spoon macerated berries over cream, then cover with top of biscuit. Repeat assembly with remaining biscuits, coconut cream and berries.
  14. Serve immediately.

I know I know, I haven’t been keeping up with you guys. Honestly, this book is running my life along with extra naps and walks with Naps. So I tried to think about how I could make it up to you and I remembered the ridiculously delicious (as told to me by my lovely taste testers) Jalapeño Stir Fried Pork.

Before the pork, an update on my life. Things have been going really well. As you know I completed my draft, did 2 edit run throughs and sent my book off to my beta readers. Thankfully I have already gotten one copy back and am already dissecting the beta copy and seeing what changes I would like to make. The book, I can’t even believe it, is getting revamped once more. I am moving some things around in the first two chapters and adding new scenes and action into my last chapter.

Why? A few reasons. One is that I know that by the time I got to the end of my book I was tired. I wasn’t tired of my characters, or my story because they are amazing and the universe that they have created in my mind is infinite. Honestly I dream about my characters, I live and breathe them, and they as well as their lives and the books are constantly on my mind. I was just burned out from late nights on the book and early mornings in the kitchen. My first beta confirmed what I already knew – my last chapter needs a little more punch. Luckily, the two weeks I have taken off have given me time to really let my imagination work things out and BOY it has.

Second reason falls to the query research. I have a list of 6 agents I want to send to. During those few weeks I took off physically working on my book I labored on the internet searching for any information on what these agencies are looking for. From interviews to query reviews and articles they have written. I’ve taken notes and realized that there are still some improvements that will make my story better and thusly more appealing to these agents. My research helped me well beyond my query, because it has helped me reflect on my work and see how to improve it. I need it to be as perfect as possible before I send out to agents, so my timeline has shifted and that’s ok. I haven’t pushed it back forever, just for a month. A month can make a big difference.

I have also been reading more about Mindy Kaling, who is an amazing writer and comedic actress. I love her for her tenacity and persistence, and how she is unapologetic of how awesome she is. She owns it and she worked hard to be where she is. She has often commented that it was so difficult to find parts that she decided to write them herself. That sounds simple but it took a lot of time and energy but it sure as buns paid off. I love acting and I love writing. I tried the acting route first and found that the parts available weren’t for me. I was too this or not enough that, too ethnic, too curvy, too short, not American enough, thin enough, tall enough, the list goes on. Since I was a little girl I loved writing, and it took me a long time to realize that it is what makes me the happiest. Writing this novel, this trilogy (or longer) is my in to get it all. If people love it as much as I do I can do what Mindy did, and write parts for myself. I have so many ideas and so much to offer, and I am excited for the day I will be able to share them with the world.

Wooh! That was fun. Now for the pork…

Jalapeño-Stir-Fried-Pork-3

This is my take on Asian style pork stir fry. I love taking dishes and adapting them to the latin palate. Using jalapeños, a classic spicy pepper, really helps bring out the sweetness of the bell peppers and onions. The use of pork shoulder is the big ingredient. Used more often for pernil, it is great to find new uses for ingredients you may already have on hand so shaving the pernil for this dish just brings a whole other string of possibilities with this one cut of meat. I love doing that.

Jalapeño-Stir-Fried-Pork-4

Cooking should be fun and easy. To me it shouldn’t involve ingredients that are too exotic or specific. It is all about using what you have in different ways and creating a new plate you can enjoy again and again. Sure it is great fun to experiment with new flavors and textures and ingredients, but for day to day life it is about kicking monotony to the curb and spicing up what you have on hand. And what you have on hand, I assure, is a lot of delicious waiting to happen!

This dish is colorful, flavorful and easy to prepare. Enough said.

Jalapeño Stir Fried Pork
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Jalapeño Stir Fried Pork is full of flavor and spice, and with a side of rice it’s a deliciously filling meal.
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper, fresh cracked
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 lb pork shoulder, sliced thin
  • 3 tbsp avocado oil
  • 2 jalapeños, sliced
  • 1 cup onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, sliced
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl whisk together cornstarch, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and water until a batter forms.
  2. Add thin sliced pork to cornstarch mixture and mix, ensuring each piece of pork is evenly coated.
  3. Preheat avocado oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Lay pork in one layer in pan. Cook until golden, about 7 minutes, then flip and cook for another 5 minutes or until cooked through.
  4. Remove pork from pan and set aside.
  5. Add jalapeño, onion, garlic and red bell pepper to pan. Sauté for 5 minutes, until onion is translucent and peppers are tender.
  6. Add pork back to pan and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Serve hot.

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Sweet and Spicy Stuffing

18th November 2014 by Carolyng

In the spirit of the holidays, I am going to share some recipes that I think fit best in Thanksgiving/Christmas/Everyday festivities. This is one of my favorites because it has all the flavor of a Pan de Jamón in a stuffing. You heard me. A stuffing. You’re welcome. Read more…

Latina and the Don

17th November 2014 by Carolyng

Hey guys. I know it’s been a while. I will be posting lots of food soon – especially for the holidays. For now, I thought I would do a Ruminations piece. I wrote an article not too long ago about what is has been like being married to my Southern husband. As a first generation lady, and a latina, culture is very important. This article is about how both of our backgrounds have melded together in this past year of marriage. The good, the bad, and the cattywompus! Read more…

Coconut Cream Shortcakes

25th August 2014 by Carolyng

Hello everyone! I know it has been a while. I have had a whirlwind month working not the book. Just got back from NY. Was visiting my parents and editing the book before sending it off to agents. I still have to rework my final chapter and finish my queries but so far everything is looking up. I have been hard at work making recipes, and wanted to share a simple and delicious one with you. Yep, it’s Coconut Cream Shortcakes Time! Read more…

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