Funche, Puerto Rican Polenta

Everyone has heard of polenta, but funche (pronounced foon-chay)? Let me explain.
Polenta is cornmeal boiled into a porridge and eaten directly or baked, fried or grilled. Polenta is an Italian word, derived from the Latin for hulled and crushed grain, especially barley-meal. Maize was not cultivated in Europe until the early 16th century. It comes from the same base as “pollen”.
In northern Angola, it is known as funge, and is the probable source of names for the dish in a number of Caribbean countries, destination of slaves from Angola and elsewhere along the West Coast.
Funche is usually served with a fish stew (mainly codfish stew). I really dislike fish. The smell, texture, everything about it I don’t like, but that’s another story. My dad used to love this, he was from Jamaica and it’s called turn cornmeal and they usually mix in coconut milk.
The best part is if you have leftovers, you slice it and fry it up and it tastes amazing!
Here are the ingredients:
1 cup of coarse ground cornmeal
2 cups of water
1 heaping cup of chopped onions
1/2 -3/4 diced green pepper
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon chicken buillon or 1 cube
1/2 cup cilantro
2 tablespoons butter

Now here’s the video on how to make it. Buen Provecho!


Pig and Peas, 2 in a pod??

We have already established that puertoricans love rice.  We even eat leftover rice with eggs for breakfast. Hey don’t knock it! It’s pretty good 🙂 Just like potatoes, rice can stand alone, or be mixed with different meats and legumes.
One of the most popular rice dishes in Puerto Rico is arroz con gandules(Rice and pigeon peas). Pigeon peas or gandules date back 3,500 years! They originated in India and thank fully reached the Caribbean! Unlike green beans or string beans plants, the pigeon pea is actually a little tree. It can last and produce beans 3 – 5 years.

Pigeon pea pods!
You can’t say Arroz con gandules without mentioning pork. They go hand in hand. It’s our official food for Christmas. A nice roast pork shoulder with the skin all crispy, and fluffy rice and pigeon peas.
Since I didn’t have 5 hours to prep and prepare a Christmas feast, I decided to make breaded pork steaks and arroz con gandules. This is a tasty and quick weeknight meal. Enjoy!

Here are the ingredients:
For the rice:
2 cups of rice
1 can of green pigeon peas(gandules verdes)
3 cubes or 3 tablespoons of sofrito
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 packet Goya ham seasoning
1 packet Sazon Knorr
4 tablespoons of achiote oil (optional)
1/4 cup canola oil
Salt to taste

For the pork steaks:
6 pork steaks, thinly sliced
1 egg
Adobo Goya
Plain breadcrumbs
Canola oil for frying

Now watch the video on how to make it!

Buen provecho!!

Chicharron de Pollo is Chicken Cracklings

You’ve heard of pork cracklings….but chicken cracklings? It’s just an easier way to say “chicken cut up in pieces, seasoned, floured and fried”. It’s served in Puerto Rico as an appetizer or as the main protein in a meal. It’s one of my faves! The chicken comes out super crunchy, juicy and yummy! And since each piece is small, it cooks faster. You can serve it with any side dish, but in my house it has to be rice and beans!
Now here’s the video!

My first Giveaway!!

      Hello everyone! I am super excited to share with you my first giveaway!  It’s my way of thanking all the awesome support and love that I have received on my youtube channel, facebook page and here! I can’t believe I have more than 1200 subscribers on youtube.

     I receive a lot of comments and questions on the ingredients and seasonings I use to cook hispanic food. Most  can’t find what I use. So I decided to make a little “Puertorican Survival Kit” and give it a way to one lucky person!

     The rules are simple. You have to subscribe to my Youtube channel SweetsandBeyond

After clicking subscribe,

Click on the giveaway video:

And leave a comment on what would you cook with the ingredients if you win.

I will announce the winner in 2 weeks.

Good luck!!!

Honey Chipotle Turkey Meatballs

Sometimes I get tired of cooking the same things week after week and I’m always looking for quick and easy meals to make. So I came across She loves ground turkey as much as I do! She has alot of ground turkey recipes. These meatballs caught my attention. My hubby loves spicy food and my daughter is starting to like them too, me. not so much. When I saw honey and chipotle, it sounded like an awesome combination for us!
Like I usually do, I read the recipe, buy the things I don’t have and prop up the Kindle Fire with the recipe and start cooking. The first thing I did was open the can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I was surprised on how yummy they smelled, it didn’t smell “spicy” to me. As I’m following her recipe, she mentions that it doesn’t have any type of breadcrumbs. Since I didn’t have the 1 1/4lb of ground turkey she used, only had 1 lb of 93% lean turkey, I decided to use 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs. Then I read the black pepper measurement wrong (The Kindle had gone to sleep) and I will adjust the recipe on what I did.
The meatballs are cooking, and I decide to make the honey chipotle sauce. She mentions from 2 tablespoons to 4 tablespoons of the chipotle peppers, depending on your heat tolerance. So I decided 2 tablespoons. I’ve never used canned peppers, so when I measured out 2 tablespoons and tried to chop them, I discovered they had seeds. So I take the pieces of peppers (they were whole, cut in 3 sections) and rinsed them under water to take all the seeds out, thinking the sauce would look prettier without them.
I measure out everything for the sauce and use about 4 pieces of the chipotle peppers, roughly chopped. Oh my goodness was that HOT!!!! To me it wasn’t edible, so I fished out most of the peppers, added more vinegar and honey and it was still spicy, but bearable. The end result was yummy! The sauce reduced in the oven and coated the meatballs nicely. I served them with rice and beans.

Finished product!
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Here is the recipe I sort of followed:

Honey Chipotle Turkey Meatballs
adapted from Martha Stewart

1 1/2 lb ground turkey (I used 1 lb of 93% lean turkey)
1/2 yellow onion, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
4 tablespoons honey
2-4 tablespoons chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (depending on your tolerance for heat)
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil  (I used canola oil)

*****Not in the recipe but I used 1/2cup of panko breadcrumbs*******

*****I also don’t have a skillet that I can use in the oven, so I browned them and placed them in a baking dish******

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl, stir the onion, garlic, salt, and black pepper together then add the turkey to the bowl and use your hands to mix just until combined (do not overmix). Form into 16 meatballs (each will be about the size of a golf ball). In a small bowl, stir together the honey, chiles, and vinegar.

Set a large ovenproof skillet over medium to medium-high heat and add the oil. Once it is shimmering, add the meatballs. Cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Move the skillet to the oven and bake the meatballs for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven (remember, the handle will be hot!) and pour the sauce over the meatballs. Bake for another 5 minutes (swirling the pan at the halfway point), or until the sauce has reduced to glaze the meatballs and the meatballs are cooked through. (Keep an eye on your meatballs in the oven – without eggs or milk-soaked bread for added moisture, they have the potential to dry out if overcooked.)

Makes 16 meatballs

Surullitos (Puerto Rican fried corn fritters)

Surullitos is a weird name for sweet and crunchy corn fritters. Surullitos in spanish means little roll-ups. They are usually served as an appetizer along with empanadas at parties with a dipping sauce of mayonnaise , ketchup, garlic powder and a touch of hot sauce(Mayo ketchup or salsa rosada). It’s our version of hush puppies. Like almost every dish, there are alot of different recipes. My version is quick and easy because the cornmeal is pre-cooked.

Here are the ingredients:

1 1/2 cup of Pre-cooked cornmeal
4 tbs white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tblsp butter
2 cups water

FOr the mayo-ketchup
Mayonnaise and ketchup
Garlic powder
Hot sauce (Optional)

Here’s the video!

Arroz con Pollo

These past couple of weeks I’ve been a little off in my cooking. A little bit too salty, not salted enough, too watery, not enough liquid. Arggghhh!!! Does this happen to you? My solution would be having a personal chef(I can dream lol) or go back to a comfort food. A dish that is super easy and yummy! Arroz con pollo (Rice with chicken) is a one pot meal. You can make it as an every day meal or you can fancy it up for a more formal dinner. My version is an every day meal. For a fancier arroz con pollo, I would add beer as stock, add peas and decorate it with roasted red bell peppers.
You can use different chicken pieces for this dish. I used boneless chicken breast because that’s what I had available. I always accompany this dish with habichuelas guisadas(stewed beans)

Here are the ingredients:

For the rice:
3 cups long grain rice
3 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tbsp or 3 cubes sofrito
1 packet Sazon Knorr( or Sazon Goya)
3 chicken breasts, cut in cubes
Adobo Goya(Or any all purpose seasoning)
Salt to taste

For the beans:
2 cans small red beans (you can use any except black beans)
3 tbsp or 3 cubes of sofrito
2 cloves garlic
1 small potato, cut in small cubes
1 can tomato sauce
1 packet Sazon Knorr
1 packet Goya ham seasoning
Now watch the video! Buen provecho!

Steak and Onions Boricua style

     Most everyday type of puertorican meals are some type of rice as the side. Sometimes we put the protein in the rice and cook it 🙂 For puertoricans, rice is a staple like italians have their pasta, and americans favor potato dishes. Rice and beans is technically a complete meal. The rice is the carb and the beans are the protein, but most puertoricans treat it like a side dish. We need a meat with our rice!

     Bistec encebollado is our version of steak and onions. We use vinegar to tenderize the meat and  cook it over low heat. There are two versions of this dish, with and without tomato sauce. I prefer without tomato sauce. 

Now watch the video! 

Red Velvet Goodness

Ok….Here goes….my first cupcake recipe post!!!! Living in the south, I always hear red velvet is one of the staples in southern desserts. I personally have never been a fan of red velvet. I can actually taste the food color or dye in the cake and it’s not pleasant. I didn’t know what the flavor was supposed to be other than “red”.
On my weekly trip to Ross(brand names for less type of store), I saw in their fancy food and spice area a little bottle from Lorann Oils that said Red Velvet emulsion. I have used Lorann Oils alot with my lollipop/hard candy phase. I can do a post on how to make Jolly Rancher flavored hard candy lollipops too 🙂 They had several different flavored emulsions too. I bought them all! Cream cheese, orange, butter vanilla, butter, lemon, almond, coconut, rum ( I am starting a cupcake business lol)
This is from the LorAnn Oils website:
LorAnn Oils – Baking & Flavoring Emulsions lorannred

What is a bakery “emulsion”?
Emulsions are water-based, alternatives to extracts. The flavor is micro encapsulated in natural stabilizers and suspended in water. This encapsulation enables the flavor to not lose its integrity when exposed to high heat.
Which means….Use baking emulsions instead of extracts with better results!

When it comes to flavoring, professional bakers almost exclusively use emulsions over alcohol-based extracts.
•Emulsions have a more potent, robust flavor.
•Won’t “bake-out” when exposed to heat
•Gluten Free & Sugar Free
Use emulsions to flavor:
•Sweet breads & pastries
•Frostings & glazes
•Fondants, fillings & cream centers
If your recipe calls for 1 tsp. extract, substitute 1 tsp. emulsion.
Based on all that who would use regular old extracts anymore???
So I decided to try red velvet cupcakes. I didn’t want to be too traditional with the mandatory cream cheese frosting. So I decided on a chocolate marshmallow frosting.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes 12 standard cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
• 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1/4 cup (57 g) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 tablespoons canola oil (you can use vegetable)
• 2 tablespoons Lorann Oil Red Velvet bakery emulsion **
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 egg, at room temperature
• 1-1/4 cups cake flour
• 1 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons dark Dutch-process cocoa powder(I used Hershey’s special dark)
• 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
• 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F . Line a cupcake tin with 12 standard cupcake liners.
2.In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or paddle, if necessary), mix the sugar, butter, oil, Lorann Oil red velvet emulsion, vanilla, and salt on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
3.Add the egg and mix on medium speed until just incorporated.
4.In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour and cocoa powder.
5.Add 1/3 dry ingredients to the mixer and blend until just combined, then add 1/2 of the buttermilk. Alternate until all of the dry ingredients and buttermilk have been added.
6.In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix until incorporated.
7.Divide batter among the cupcake liners and bake until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs only, about 22 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Frost cupcakes when cooled with frosting.
**If you can’t find the Lorann Emulsions, you can substitute with 1 oz red food color, or 1 tblspoon red gel paste

Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting:
2 sticks salted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder(I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
2 Tablespoons chocolate syrup
7 oz jar marshmallow creme (or fluff)
In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter, vanilla, and milk on medium-low speed until smooth and combined. Add powdered sugar and cocoa powder and beat on low until just combined. Add chocolate syrup and increase speed to high. Beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.


The result! I am in love! it has no after taste of coloring or dye at all! The marshmallow chocolate is perfect for the cake! My daughter microwaved it about 10 seconds so the marshmallow melted and was ooey gooey goodness!

Picadillo, Little bits of comfort

Everyone has an easy dinner using ground beef. Whether it be sloppy joe’s, meatloaf, chili, meatballs, or even a simple Hamburger Helper ( 3 cheese shells is my favorite). I try to cook healthy meals, or as healthy as I can, but once in a while you just need some comfort food. Yummy, no restriction food. That’s where Picadillo comes in.

The name picadillo means little bits or pieces in spanish. It’s the hispanic version of sloppy joe’s, or a chili without beans. Almost all Latin American countries have a version of picadillo.

Some put raisins in it (***shudder*** they freak me out) or make it very spicy. It’s basically ground beef with tomato sauce, sofrito and spices.
When my daughter sees ground beef defrosting and asks what’s for dinner, I know she is hoping for picadillo. She may have been born in Florida, but she is a boricua at heart (or stomach). It’s so easy to make and versatile. It can be part of the main meal, accompanied with white rice, or as a filling for other dishes like empanadas, potato balls and other fritters. You can also use ground turkey or chicken to make it with less fat and calories. I like to use 90% lean ground beef for my picadillo. Here is the cooking video! Buen provecho!