Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pequeño Cheesecake

If you think I enjoy cooking, you should see me with a cake pan and a hand mixer.  I like to cook, but I love to bake!  This particular recipe has absolutely nothing to do with Cuban cuisine or my general gringa theme, but I just had to share!  My cousin introduced me to this Martha Stewart recipe (love her...both my cousin and Martha, that is) and it's been a big hit every time I've made it for friends!  I'm sure you'll have the same reaction.  Not only is it delicious, it's simply adorable.  Are they cupcakes?  Are they cheesecake?  Who cares!

Martha Stewart's Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes


42 Oreos, 30 left whole, and 12 coarsely chopped (I put them in a gallon bag and released the aggression of studying for boards)
2 pounds cream cheese, softened (let them sit out for a while at room temperature, or zap them in the microwave for 30 seconds or so)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
Pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.
Yes, I got a new camera,  Yes, it has a food setting.  You're welcome.

With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. You might need to do this pretty often if you don't have a super high mixing bowl.  My mixing bowls are pretty short and Miss Corgi kept waiting for sweet creamy batter to go flying her way.

Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.

Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.

Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set, about 22-25 minutes. Cool completely. Refrigerate overnight. Remove from tins just before serving.

 Look how cute!  (Source)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Another Gringa Giveaway!

You may remember me talking about a collection of online stores so diverse, you can find anything from a vanity for your bathroom to a tricycle for your child.  Of course, I'm talking about CSN Stores!  Our last giveaway was such a success, CSN Stores has decided to host another!  I know, they rock.  The grande prize?  A $40 gift certificate to CSN's!  Imagine using those $40 to get these:

Baking dishes by Le Creuset

Or to put it towards a larger purchase like this:
Stand mixer by Kitchen Aid

Two Ways to Enter:
  1. Simply comment on this post!
  2. Follow cooking4gringas on Twitter and retweet the following: RT I entered to win a gift card from CSN Stores and @cooking4gringas!!! Then, comment on this post to let us know it was you!
Please only one entry per email address per day; otherwise feel free to enter as many times as you'd like!  The Giveaway will end Monday, July 5th at Midnight (Eastern Time) so be sure to check back every day to enter for your chance to win this fabulous gift certificate! The lucky winner will be announced Tuesday, July 6th.

Again, this giveaway is open to readers with addresses in the U.S. and Canada, as CSN Stores only ship to those countries (for now).  Good luck, y'all!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Costa Rica's Finest

As I've mentioned earlier, my fiance and I recently traveled to Costa Rica to celebrate our graduations.  We had an absolutely amazing time there.  We enjoyed some tropical cocktails poolside, we experienced some exciting outdoorsy adventures, but most importantly, we ate.  A lot.

Plato Tipico

Perhaps the most famous dish of Costa Rica, gallo pinto is a unique combination of black beans and rice.  Costa Ricans eat it with every meal.  Don't believe me?  Try it as a side dish with an omelet this Sunday morning.  See?  I told ya so.

The name gallo pinto means "painted rooster" or "spotted rooster."

See the resemblance?  The best part about gallo pinto (okay, the second best part...the best part is the taste obviously) is that it's really easy to make.  Convenient, too!  If you have some cooked rice lying around, it's a great way to spice it up and turn boring old leftovers into a new and exciting side dish.

Gallo Pinto
Source: Recipe Zaar 


2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, finely choppied
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups cooked rice
2 cans Goya black bean soup, heated and drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, minced
2 sliced green onions


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until it just begins to soften.  Add garlic and continue to sauté until onion is golden.

Add spices and Worcestershire sauce.  Stir well to combine.

Add beans and rice.  Combine well and cook until it is heated through.

The gallo pinto will have a cohesive consistency...think fried rice.  Use an ice cream scoop to serve neat compact servings.  Garnish with cilantro and green onions.

There you have it!  Have you traveled somewhere in Latin America and fallen in love with a dish?  What was it?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Recap: Give Your Cocina Some Color

You may remember that we hosted our first giveaway (sponsored by CSN Stores) a couple of months ago.  The winner of this contest was a reader named Evan.  Evan is a Southern beau engaged to a belle, named Christina, who is half i guess that makes him a gringo!  Evan and Christina chose the Le Cruset mortar and pestle in Caribbean blue as their lovely prize.  Here's Christina enjoying her fiance's new toy!

 That looks like fun!

Mmm...mustard seeds!  I wonder what they cooked with that?

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest and congrats again to the winner!  I've got another giveaway up my sleeve in the very near future, so stay tuned!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Veggies del Verano

Verano is Spanish for "summer."  With the first day of summer quickly approaching (which is silly because it's felt like summer for about a month here in the South), I thought it would be fun to present a dish featuring seasonal vegetables.  I love seasonal food.  Whether it's watermelon in the summertime or cranberries at Christmas, some foods just help you stay in the moment.

I found this recipe on Cooking Light, one of my favorite sources for healthy recipes.  It combines seasonal ingredients with healthy preparation.  Plus, it's got a lot of Latin flavor!  I made a few adjustments and it was delicious!  I apologize for my iPhone camera is temporarily temperamental.

Chicken and Summer Veggie Tostadas with Black Beans
Source: inspired by Cooking Light

Now that's what I call summer veggies!

1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 chicken breasts, sliced into 2-inch pieces
1 cup chopped red onion (1 medium onion)
1 cup fresh corn kernels (2 ears)
1 cup chopped zucchini
2 limes
1/2 cup salsa verde
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro
4 wheat tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar-jack cheese
1 can Goya black bean soup


Preheat broiler.  Combine first 4 ingredients.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.

Sprinkle spices evenly over chicken and add chicken to pan, sautéing until almost fully cooked (3-5 minutes).

Cut the limes into quarters.  Add veggies to the pan.  Squeeze the limes over the veggies and chicken, then add the lime quarters to the pan.  This step is important because the lime juice heats, allowing the other ingredients to simmer in its juices.

 So colorful!

Continue to sauté until done.  Stir in salsa and cilantro.  Heat can of black beans until warm.

Arrange tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over each.  Broil no more than one minute.  I would watch this and remove immediately after the cheese is melted.  Here's what happens if you over-broil:

I shall turn you into tortilla chips.
Spoon chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla.  Top with black beans.


And there you have it: tostadas, with a healthy and seasonal twist!  What's your favorite healthy Latin dish?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bailamos Mucho, Y'all

Oh blogging world, how I have missed you!  It's been a crazy month.  My group and I finished up our research study (which won an award, by the way), I graduated from physical therapy school, my fiancé graduated from law school, and finally, we spent a week in Costa Rica.  More on my culinary adventures in Costa Rica later.

The title for this blog post comes from a former professor of mine.  We were in Guatemala, and she was translating a Mayan woman's description of a traditional Mayan wedding.  After the marriage ceremony, the couple and all of their guests dance and drink and eat for hours upon hours.  Instead of saying that in Spanish, my professor just said "bailamos mucho, y'all!"  I'm pretty sure that sums up my last month.

I'm thrilled to be back into a normal routine, and I have a list a mile long of all of the things that I want to write about for you!  So without further ado, I present to you the return of Miss Gringa!  I'd like to kick things off with a refreshing summer beverage; something that truly captures the essence of the title of this post:


Mojitos are a traditional Cuban highball.  You'll find these all over the Caribbean, but the actual birthplace is Cuba.  They've become quite trendy recently in posh cocktail bars in the States.  Unfortunately, most American places serve far from the authentic.  You'll see peppermint schnapps instead of mint leaves, Sprite instead of sparkling water, and worst of all, syrup instead of sugar cane.  I've found one authentic mojito before, and it was $14 in South Beach.  Here's a way to enjoy it, authentically and affordable, at home!

1 teaspoon cane sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice (squeeze half of a lime and throw in the leftover wedges)
2 tablespoons Rose's sweetened lime juice
4 mint leaves
2 oz. white rum
2 oz. club soda
sugar cane
mint sprig
(Note: You can substitute 1 tablespoon of cane sugar and 4 tablespoons of lime juice for the first three ingredients.)


Combine first six ingredients into a plastic pitcher.  Do not attempt this in a glass pitcher!

Muddle everything together.  A muddler is best for this, but if you're like us and registered for one but aren't getting married for a few months, a pestle from a mortar and pestle, a potato masher, or a mean pounder will do.

You want to make sure you squeeze everything you can out of those lime wedges and mint leaves.  The more flavor, the better!  The club soda may bubble a bit while you're doing this, but that's okay.  Just make sure you're not muddling so vigorously that your pitcher overflows.

Fill highball glasses with ice and pour.  Garnish with a stick of sugar cane (if available) and a sprig of mint.  Enjoy!

How cute are these?