Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s Cha Cha Sriracha Flatbread, Boosted Smoothies + a Giveaway!

April 7, 2017 by  
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Tropical Smoothie Cafe's Cha Cha Sriracha Flatbread and Boosted Smoothie


Hi folks! I hope you’re all doing well. I’ve been a busy bee lately but the sun is finally shining today and it’s forecasted to be 70 degrees this weekend so that makes me feel happy.

My tastebuds and I just had the pleasure of trying out Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s newest menu item– the Cha Cha Sriracha Flatbread, a super delicious, super flavorful snack available for limited time only (until April 23rd!!!) that comes packed with juicy grilled chicken, mozzarella cheese, romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, pineapple salsa, cilantro, scallions, and an unworldly caramelized pineapple sriracha sauce. Every nibble was an incredible balance of savory and sweet.

It. Was. To. Die. For.

Alongside that, I sipped up one of their new Boosted Smoothies– the Chia Banana Boost. This, you guys, was heaven in a cup. They asked if I wanted strawberries or peanut butter in it. Um, I said peanut butter. Thing is dangerously good. And it’s good for you because chia seeds and stuff.

So because I want you guys to fall head over heels in love with all of the yum offered at Tropical Smoothie Cafe, I’m hosting another giveaway!

Two lucky winners will each get a $50 Tropical Smoothie Cafe gift card, a whirly cup, and a Sriracha bottle keychain! To enter this giveaway, leave a comment below sharing your favorite thing to drizzle sriracha on– eggs? Noodles?? Smoothies??? This giveaway is open from April 7, 2017 – April 10, 2017. U.S. residents only, please. 

Good luck, everyone!


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Ensalada Rusa

January 30, 2017 by  
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Ensalada Rusa


Ensalada Rusa, or Russian Salad, is a Peruvian side dish my family always makes for holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. This fuchsia-forward salad is comprised of finely-cut jewels– potatoes, green beans, hard-boiled eggs, carrots and celery; but the main gem here is the beet.

Earthy and slightly sweet, beets bring life (and extreme color) to this salad. Composing all parts together in a bowl is nothing short of delightful, watching the purple stain grow from a whisper to a shout, bleeding dominance.

Ensalada Rusa is fairly straight-forward to make but it can take some time to prepare the vegetables. You can hunker down and do them all in one fell swoop or carry the load out over the course of a couple days, which is what I did. Either way will produce a wonderfully tasting salad that will feast your eyes and hunger.


Ensalada Rusa

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6-8


  • 1 1/4 pounds beets, washed and trimmed
  • 1 1/4 pounds red potatoes, peeled, diced
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 pound green beans, washed, trimmed, and blanched; chopped small
  • 3 small carrots, peeled and diced, about 1 cup
  • 3 stalks celery, diced, about 1 cup
  • 2 cups mayonnaise, preferably homemade
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Wrap beets tightly into a pouch of aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick easily pierces the middle of the fattest beet. Unwrap from aluminum foil and let cool for 30 minutes. Peel skin under running cool water, and cut into small dice. Put in a large bowl.
  3. Add 2 quarts of cool water into a large pot with 2 tablespoons of salt, sugar, and white or rice wine vinegar. Add the diced potatoes, and bring water to a boil. Let boil for 10 minutes or until a toothpick easily pierces the middle of the potatoes. Drain, and spread out on baking sheet to cool. Add to large bowl with beets.
  4. Add 3 quarts of cool water into a large pot and bring to a boil. With a slotted spoon, carefully submerge the eggs. Let them boil for 30 seconds, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cover with lid. Cook for 11 minutes. Shock in ice water for 15 minutes before peeling under cool, running water. Chop.
  5. Add the blanched green beans, carrots, celery, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper to large bowl and combine. Add chopped eggs and combine gently.


// More Peruvian salads and things: 


Papa a la Huancaina

Papa a la Huancaina

A traditional Peruvian dish, papa a la huancaina is a spicy potato salad with creamy aji amarillo sauce, hard-boiledView full post »



Nothing says Peru to me more, than ceviche. It is the quintessential party food for Peruvians. It gives me soView full post »

Choros a la chalaca

A Peruvian Summer Grillin’ Must // Choros a la Chalaca — Mussels with a Jalapeno + Corn Salsa

Spicy and delectable, choros a la chalaca, or mussels with jalapeno-corn salsa, are a Peruvian favorite at familyView full post »



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Spaghetti Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Brie

January 13, 2017 by  
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Spaghetti Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Brie


I’ve been thinking long and hard about spaghetti squash lately. Long strands of amber, delicately tangled; the soft chew before it melts in my mouth. This daydream was all-consuming.

Soon thereafter, I began formulating the plan for turning my spaghetti squash fantasy into reality. I wanted to preserve its’ natural earthy flavor but also pair it with something mildly sweet, like red garnet potatoes. And, without argument, it would all bathe in a luscious, ambrosial liquid of cream and cheese. What I wanted, what I really wanted, was a gratin.


Spaghetti Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Brie


When everything was said and done I took a bite.

It was. Incredible.

The spaghetti squash was tender, yielding effortlessly beneath the weight of my spoon. Deeper still were the soft layers of potato– a duo of red and sweet, submerged in an herby cream sauce, a luxurious layer of sliced triple cream brie separating the two. I’m going to say this at the risk of sounding very cliché, but…it was an orchestra of flavors. I think I cried.


Spaghetti Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Brie



Spaghetti Squash and Sweet Potato Gratin with Brie

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 6 sides


  • 3 1/2 pound spaghetti squash (about 4 cups spaghetti squash strands)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 pound red garnet sweet potato, peeled
  • 3/4 pound red potato, peeled
  • 8 ounces triple cream Brie cheese, rind removed, sliced


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Pierce the spaghetti squash all over and put on the baking sheet; bake for about 60-80 minutes or until fork tender. Let cool before cutting in half lengthwise and scooping out the seeds. Shred flesh with a fork to make strands.
  3. Butter a 9x13 baking dish.
  4. In a medium-sized saucepot set over medium-low heat, pour in the heavy cream, evaporated milk, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, butter, salt, and pepper.
  5. Using a mandolin set to 1/8" thickness or a knife, slice the potatoes thin and place into the saucepot with the cream. Let this come to a slight bubble; approximately 5-7 minutes.
  6. Layer the bottom of the baking dish with the sweet potatoes. Add half of the spaghetti squash. Scatter Brie slices all over. Add a layer of red potatoes, and then finish with last of spaghetti squash. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven for about 60-80 minutes, until sauce is bubbly, top is golden brown, and potatoes are super fork tender.
  8. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving. Add additional parsley, if desired.


Recipe adapted from Food Network and New York Times Cooking

If you choose, you can omit the evaporated milk and use all heavy cream or vice versa.


// More gratins, quiches, and tarts: 


Jalapeno Cheddar Potato Gratin // Fleming's Potatoes

Jalapeno Cheddar Potato Gratin // Fleming’s Potatoes

Here’s a deliciously creamy potato gratin with a kick from jalapenos! This is a recipe based on the potatoes sideView full post »

Forty Minutes Later // Ramp, Potato, Spinach Gratin with Raclette Cheese

This gratin celebrates the fresh spring flavors of ramps and spinach.View full post »



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Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)

January 8, 2017 by  
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Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)


I am fully prepared to receive any contempt for writing a recipe featuring corn in the dead of winter. And not just ordinary corn, but frozen corn. Am I digging myself into a deeper grave? *pauses shoveling*

Please hear me out.

I realize we are about 5 months beyond the pinnacle of fresh corn bounty, with its plump, sticky sweet kernels and messy strands of silk that we find irresistibly difficult to not throw into everything we eat in late summer. But.

I’m human. I have needs and desires. And sometimes, just sometimes, I bear a yearning for something that isn’t in season. That’s when I turn to frozen vegetables.

If you can find an excellent quality of frozen vegetable (hell, if you managed to freeze your own from summer’s harvest even better), and the recipe adapts to it, trust when I say the dish will turn out pretty fantastic regardless. Esquites, this Mexican corn salad, is a beautiful example.

Sometime last year I discovered that you can buy bags of frozen, fire-roasted corn at the grocery store. Since then, I’ve been buying them in bulk to stash in the freezer because they are absolutely terrific to toss in at a moment’s notice. They work wondrously for esquites– sweet and juicy with a definite bold, charred flavor.

I go crazy for elotes, Mexican corn on the cob slathered with garlicky, lime mayonnaise and rolled in Cotija cheese and chile powder. Esquites is basically that in salad, bowl form; it is less messy for sure (a good alternative for first dates because who really wants to exchange likes and dislikes with mayonnaise and corn kernels plastered on face…?) but no less delicious. The flavors in this thing are jolting in a great way.

The corn is tossed in a pungent garlic and lime laced mayonnaise sauce and then anchored together with the herby, bright flavors of cilantro and scallions. The morsels of queso fresco distributed throughout provide a welcoming delicate quality to the esquites that softens the bite some.

The flavors in this Mexican corn salad deepen and enhance the more it sits at room temperature, so restrain yourself from eating it for at least 30 minutes after preparing, difficult as it may be; the experience of tasting this will be worthwhile I promise you.


Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 as a side, 2 as a meal


  • 1 - 1 pound bag frozen fire-roasted corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise, preferable homemade
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons minced seeded and deveined serrano chile
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • Zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon New Mexico chile powder
  • 3 ounces queso fresco, crumbled


  1. In a large bowl, add the corn and mayonnaise. Mince the garlic with 1/4 teaspoon salt and crush with side of knife to make a garlicky paste. Add garlic paste, serrano chile, scallions, cilantro, lime zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and chile powder to bowl; mix. Lastly, add queso fresco and combine gently. Let this sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes if you can help it as this helps develop the flavors even more.


Adapted from Serious Eats

When corn is in season, I'd use fresh, local corn and roast them myself on the grill. For this method, bank on using about 4 ears of corn.


// Other corny things:


Black Bean, Radish, Corn Salad with Cotija Cheese + Lime-Cilantro Dressing

Black Bean, Radish, Corn Salad with Cotija Cheese + Lime-Cilantro Dressing

A super simple, refreshing summer salad studded with bright radish, sweet corn, and black beans. An explosion of flavorView full post »

Grilled Corn with Garlicky Mayo + Queso Fresco (aka “Mexican Street Corn”)

Super yummy. Super good. Corn + garlic + mayo + cheese is exactly what you want right now.View full post »

An Oldie But Goodie: Corn Soup

A rich and warming soup that will make everything right in the world.View full post »



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A Healthy You in 2017 + Tropical Smoothie Cafe Giveaway

January 3, 2017 by  
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Tropical Smoothie Cafe Detoxing Smoothie


Well, it’s that time again my friends. With all the festivities, cookies, champagne, hangovers, crazy weird uncles, and pie behind us (well, for a short while at least), many of us are looking to make some serious adjustments to our diet as we kickstart 2017. I, for one am pledging to drink a little less and exercise a lot more.

Also, drink more smoothies.

I just scored a shiny new Vitamix blender for Christmas so when Tropical Smoothie Cafe was nice enough to share a special recipe for their Detoxing Smoothie with me, I couldn’t be more delighted.

I’ll be upfront with you. When I looked at some of the ingredients for their Detoxing Smoothie, I was hesitant. Kale. Avocado. Ginger. Celery?

But you know what? It was delicious. The sweetness of the green apple, the brightness of the lemon, and the butteriness of the avocado really balance everything together. It’s so surprisingly good and was pleasurable to drink. And I felt like I nourished my body with some pretty awesome things, too.

2017 will be only as good as we make it. Let’s focus on how we can make impacts– with other people, with ourselves. Health and fitness have played an important role in my life over the past several years, much of which has granted me happiness, physical strength, and confidence, just to name a few. Making a conscious effort to feed my body nutritious food has made a huge improvement in my overall health.


So with that in mind, and working towards shaping new and positive impacts on others, I’m giving away 2 – $25 gift cards to Tropical Smoothie Cafe*.

To enter this contest, share how you will work to better your health this year in the comments below. To increase your chance of winning, tweet this post and mention me @wokinglunges. Good luck!

*Contest open to U.S. residents only. Contest dates run from January 3 – January 5, 2017 11:59 pm EST. I will announce the winner on January 6, 2017. 


In the meantime, check out Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s newest line-up of smoothies:

Detox Island Green– spinach, kale, mango, pineapple, banana and fresh ginger

Chia Blueberry Max– roasted banana, chia seeds, blueberries, peanut butter, almonds, dates, coconut, cinnamon, whole grain oats and whey protein

Health Nut– blueberries, mango, banana, almonds and your choice of protein

Immune Blast– banana, orange, apple, and orange juice



Tropical Smoothie Cafe 2017 Promo


Tropical Smoothie Cafe's Detoxing Smoothie


Tropical Smoothie Cafe's Detoxing Smoothie

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2


  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 green apple, chopped
  • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1/4 cup kale, ribs removed
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup peeled, chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 1 1/2 cups ice


  1. Add all ingredients into a blender and give it a whir until smooth and bright green.


// More healthy treats: 


Blueberry, Banana + Almond Protein Shake // Pre- and post-workout fuel

Your eyes do not deceive you. This is indeed an actual post! It’s been what, maybe 5 months since my lastView full post »

Fudgy black bean + coconut protein brownies

A healthier alternative to traditional brownies, these black bean + coconut protein brownies are fudgy with an intenseView full post »

Easy Almond Granola Protein Bites

These are also referred to as “crack balls” in my house. Why? Because one is never enough– they’View full post »



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Papa a la Huancaina

December 28, 2016 by  
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Papa a la Huancaina


For me, food and family are intrinsically connected. Many of my most vivid memories as a child revolve around, you guessed it, eating. Born and raised in Peru, I really had no choice at all but to fall in love with food. Cooking and sharing meals with family and friends is central to our culture, and perhaps a reason why food blogging is a natural extension of myself. I may also just be extremely biased and think Peruvian food is the best ever and want you to eat a lot of it all the time forever. I am out of control.

I mentioned sharing. This potato salad you definitely need to share. I mean, look at it, it’s huge. Hey! Here’s another fun fact about Peruvians: we don’t know how to make only a little bit of something, only a whole lot of something, plus more just in case. Modesty is not in our nomenclature.

Papa a la huancaina is a cold potato salad often served as an appetizer or first course at parties. The potatoes are first boiled, peeled, and then sliced before being scattered over fresh lettuce leaves and doused with glorious, spicy, aji amarillo cream sauce. Hard-boiled eggs are cut into quarters and black olives are sliced in half before getting strewn on top. Papa a la huancaina is a delight to eat– it’s unbelievably creamy from the tenuity of the potatoes and the richness of the egg yolks; every bite yields readily in your mouth.



Papa a la Huancaina


Papa a la Huancaina

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 12


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
  • 7 hard-boiled eggs, separated
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 aji amarillo peppers (2 seeded, 1 whole)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 8 red-skinned potatoes, boiled, peeled, cut into 3/4" slices
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Black olives, halved


  1. Set a small frypan over medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Add the yellow onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Let cool cool slightly.
  2. In a blender, add the onion and garlic mixture, queso fresco, 1 hard-boiled egg, 3/4 teaspoons salt, aji amarillo peppers, and evaporated milk. Puree until absolutely smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Taste for seasonings.
  3. To serve, arrange iceberg lettuce on bottom of platter. Scatter sliced potatoes over the lettuce and pour huancaina sauce all over. Dot with sliced hard-boiled eggs and black olives. Enjoy!


This is a little on the spicy side. If you'd prefer, you can leave out the seeds from the aji amarillo when you blend it up. Give it a taste and if you want to make it spicier, add some of the seeds in at that point and give it another whir. This way, you can adjust to your palate.


Papa a la Huancaina


// More Peruvian foodstuffs: 


Aji de gallina

Aji de Gallina

If the short ribs I posted earlier this week elicit romance, opulence, and proper decorum, then ají de gallinaView full post »



Nothing says Peru to me more, than ceviche. It is the quintessential party food for Peruvians. It gives me soView full post »

Choros a la chalaca

A Peruvian Summer Grillin’ Must // Choros a la Chalaca — Mussels with a Jalapeno + Corn Salsa

Spicy and delectable, choros a la chalaca, or mussels with jalapeno-corn salsa, are a Peruvian favorite at familyView full post »



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Sticky Banana Pudding Cake with Maple-Bourbon Syrup and Bourbon-Soaked Cherries

December 21, 2016 by  
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There comes a time in life where you have to accept the fact that you are an adult and need to make adult decisions. Case in point: embracing the decision to drink (and like!) bourbon. With the guidance of bourbon-aficionado friends, I gradually adopted the taste for it. It was a deliberate process– initially, adding water and ice to the bourbon to mellow it out, and then decreasing the amounts each time I imbibed until I became accustomed, and appreciated, the flavor of the bourbon itself. Tasting different varieties of bourbon and figuring out which ones I preferred was an adventure in and of itself (and continues to be!) during my introductory phase. I very quickly learned that I favored a dry, spicy bourbon as opposed to a sweeter one. I can now say in earnest that I love drinking bourbon and always have it stocked in my bar. Being an adult isn’t so bad after all.




Now that I’ve thoroughly divulged my regard for bourbon, it should come as no shock that I make a cake with it. This banana pudding cake is sticky. It’s luscious and sinful. The banana cake itself is delicious and custard-like but melts in your mouth. The real showstopper here is the maple-bourbon syrup that awaits you at the bottom. Warm and gooey, this pooled and drizzled over the cake is complete rapture. Serve it with ice cream (butter pecan, here) and powdered sugar and you’ll be one very happy adult.




// Sticky banana pudding cake with maple-bourbon syrup and bourbon-soaked cherries


Adapted from Food & Wine’s, maple-bourbon banana pudding cake


Serves 6


6 tablespoons Kerrygold unsalted butter

1/2 cup white sugar

1 ripe banana, mashed

1 large egg

1 cup vanilla almond milk

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup good maple syrup

1/4 cup molasses

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons bourbon

8 bourbon-soaked cherries, stemmed and halved


Butter pecan or vanilla ice cream, for serving

Powdered sugar, for serving


// Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a 2 1/2 quart baking dish, melt the butter in the microwave. Add the sugar and mashed banana; whisk to combine. Whisk in the egg and milk.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt; add flour mixture to the baking dish in batches, whisking to combine batter.

In a glass measuring cup, heat the maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup hot water in the microwave until hot, about 1 minute. Pour in the bourbon. Drizzle this syrupy mixture over the batter. Do not stir, most of it will sink to the bottom. Scatter the bourbon-soaked cherries over the top.

Set the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, until the top is golden; the middle will still jiggle like it’s not cooked but will set as it cools. Wait at least 10 minutes before serving with ice cream and powdered sugar on top.



// Other ooey gooey syrupy sweet things: 


Sticky Irish porridge with dark brown sugar + whiskey

Crema volteada– Peruvian flan

King’s Hawaiian vanilla bean bread pudding with spiced rum gooey sauce


A Peruvian Classic // Aji de Gallina

December 8, 2016 by  
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If the short ribs I posted earlier this week elicit romance, opulence, and proper decorum, then ají de gallina resides on the opposite spectrum for when I eat this, I want nothing more than to cozy up in my favorite, most slouchiest pajama bottoms and go at this with a ravenous, no-holds-bar hunger that I’m certain is terribly unattractive, disheveled and wide-eyed as I appear. I have my reasons for looking so savage, I can assure you.

*growls, hunkering down over my plate*

Oh, how can I explain this to you. Ají de gallina to Peruvians is like macaroni and cheese to Americans. It is the ultimate in home-cooked, ooey, gooey, cheesy, slop-it-on-my-plate-and-just-let-me-eat-it-now comfort food. You don’t mull over this. You inhale it.

Ají de gallina is a creamy, spicy, chicken stew. Or, as the child of one of my clients’ so aptly calls it: chicken goop. She is not wrong. The chicken, once shredded, is left to simmer in the peppery ají amarillo sauce until thickened. Ladled over white rice, it is a mound of gooey chickenstuff. But, as with many things, this is so much more than it appears.

The suppleness from the rotisserie chicken with the etherealness of the creamy, piquant sauce intertwine so harmoniously together the mouthfeel is something I find tremendously pleasing. The blanket of rice offers a nice toothsome quality to each bite, and the egg delivers an extra dose of heavenly awesomeness.

As I write this, I am overjoyed at the promise of eating this for dinner. And I can say with total confidence that I will wake up tomorrow morning, brighter-eyed and more bushier-tailed than normal because I’ll know what awaits me for breakfast. No, I don’t play by the rules.




// Ají de gallina


Ají amarillo peppers can be found in Latin American grocery stores– I favor using the bagged, frozen kind, but if you can’t find those, try using the ones found whole and jarred; just rinse them before using. These peppers aren’t super spicy so I like to use at least the seeds of one whole ají, but if you’d rather not use seeds at all that is an option, too. I also can’t stress enough the importance of using the juice from the rotisserie chicken– there is so much flavor there it would be blasphemy not to. 


Serves 6


1 rotisserie or roasted chicken, skinned and shredded; juices reserved

1/4 cup canola oil

4 tablespoons good butter, like Kerrygold

1 large yellow onion (use regular, not sweet), chopped

3 fat garlic cloves, chopped

3 ají amarillo peppers; 2 seeded, 1 whole with seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup walnuts

5 slices white sandwich bread, crust removed and torn into little pieces

3/4 cup chicken stock (made with reserved juices + a good chicken stock base, like Better than Bouillon)

1 cup evaporated milk

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Steamed white rice, to serve

6 hard-boiled eggs, quartered, to serve


// Set a medium frypan on the stove and turn up the heat to medium-high. To this, add the canola oil, butter, onion, garlic, ají amarillo, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent and everything smells unbelievably fragrant; about 7 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.

Toss the walnuts into a blender. Add in the onion and ají amarillo mixture, the torn bread pieces, and then pour the chicken stock over the bread to absorb. Blend this until totally smooth.

Pour this lovely, intoxicating sauce to a large saucepot and add the evaporated milk. Turn on the heat to medium-low and let this come to a slight simmer. Mix in the Parmesan cheese. Tumble in the shredded chicken and let everything thicken slightly; just a few minutes.

Serve this over white rice and top with sliced, hard-boiled eggs. Enjoy, amigos. This is the ultimate in Peruvian comfort food.



// More Peruvian comfort food type things


Peruvian-style pesto with spaghetti and albondigas

Butifarra sandwich– braised pork shoulder sandwich with red onion relish 

Chupe de camarones — spicy, shrimp soup




Chile and coconut-braised short ribs + creamy polenta

December 5, 2016 by  
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If you asked me what the perfect, most-romantic, make-my-heart-go-aflutter meal looks like, it would be this. Sumptuous short ribs, braised for hours in a coconut and chile infused sauce and perched atop a blanket of soft polenta is exactly what my mouth craves on cold, winter evenings. Paired with a bold, full-bodied glass of red wine it is absolute perfection.

This is seduction on a plate. I’ve oftentimes made this just for myself to enjoy for several days but it’s even better shared with someone you love. Turn on some sexy music, dim the lights, and celebrate life. Savor every morsel.



// Chile and coconut-braised short ribs


In her original recipe, Melissa Clark uses boneless beef short ribs. I’ve made this using both the boneless and bone-in variety. While they both yield delicious results, I always lean towards bone-in because I love the presentation as well as the boosted flavor and viscosity the bones provide for the sauce. If you opt to use boneless, you need only use 2 pounds of beef short ribs rather than the 3 1/2 pounds I have listed below. 


Adapted from Melissa Clark’s recipe in her cookbook: Cook This Now


Serves 4-6


3 1/2 pounds bone-in, beef short ribs

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons chile powder (I love to use New Mexico chile powder)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 jalapenos, deveined and deseeded, if desired, and minced (I like to keep about half the seeds)

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 small shallot, minced

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 – 13.5 ounce can coconut milk

Zest and juice of 2 limes

Fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving


// Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Season the beef with the salt, chili powder, and black pepper. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the coconut oil. Add the beef and cook until browned on both sides, about 4-6 minutes; you may need to do this in two batches. Add the garlic, jalapenos, ginger, shallot, and cumin seeds and cook, stirring, until everything is intoxicatingly fragrant and golden, about 2 minutes.

Pour in the coconut milk, lime zest and juice, and 1/2 cup water; stir. Bring liquid to a simmer, then cover and transfer the pot to the oven. Cook the meat for an hour and then turn the meat over. Continue to cook for another 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until the beef is very tender and begins to just fall off the bone. Serve over creamy polenta and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro. Devour with large glass of full-bodied red wine.


// Creamy polenta


This is my favorite recipe for polenta. It’s luxurious ladled beneath the chile and coconut-braised short ribs, and heavenly for breakfast the next day nestled under buttery, fried eggs. 


Adapted from Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes


Makes about 6 servings


4 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup medium-grain polenta (I love Bob’s Red Mill)

2 tablespoons good butter, like Kerrygold

8 ounces neufchatel cheese, room temperature


// In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, add the water and salt. Let this come to a boil and slowly add the polenta, stirring. Drop in the butter. Stir and lower the heat to a simmer. Let this cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and tumble in the neufchatel cheese; stir into the polenta. Taste for seasonings. Serve hot!



// Other cozy-up, wintery things


Creamy pumpkin and chorizo pasta bake, cheese tortellini, mascarpone-sage sauce, toasted hazelnuts

Chupe de camarones (Peruvian shrimp soup)

Braised green lentils with smoked kielbasa



A Peruvian Classic // Ceviche

December 2, 2016 by  
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Peruvian ceviche


Nothing says Peru to me more, than ceviche. It is the quintessential party food for Peruvians. It gives me so much joy to be sharing this recipe with you guys today because it truly is one of my favorites. To me, ceviche is symbolic of family and great moments spent together– things that we will always treasure in life.

Recently, my parents, sister and boyfriend came to visit for Thanksgiving. We spent most of our time in the kitchen of course– cooking, eating, and laughing. There may have also been some dancing involved.

Peruvian ceviche is fish marinated in lime juice and fresh chiles. Since the fish essentially gets cured and cooked from the acid in the lime juice, it’s really important you use the freshest fish you can find. Ceviche can be served with boiled sweet potatoes, Peruvian corn, and lettuce. Today, we opted to use niblets of Peruvian corn that offer a toothsome contrast to the silky softness of the ceviche.


Peruvian ceviche

Peruvian ceviche

Peruvian ceviche


// Ceviche


This is my dad’s original recipe for ceviche, and while I may be biased, it’s the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s super simple to make with minimal ingredients but because of that, it is imperative you use only the freshest fish available. Choose your fish from a local monger you trust! We were lucky to have scored a super fresh one from Whole Foods Market for this recipe. 


Serves 6-8 as an appetizer


1 3/4 pounds fresh firm, white fish like walleye, snapper, seabass; skinned

2 garlic cloves, minced

S + P, to taste


// Cut fish into thin, bite-size pieces and place in a shallow bowl. Toss with garlic and s + p. Cover with plastic wrap so it sits on the surface of the fish and then place a bag of ice on top. Let this sit on the counter for about 30 minutes.


1 medium red onion

4-6 juicy limes

1 serrano chile, seeded and deveined, minced


Thinly slice the red onion and put in a small bowl with cold water. Let this sit for about 20-30 minutes; this helps soften the bite of the red onion.

Add the lime juice and serrano chile to the fish; toss gently. You want enough lime juice so that the fish is submerged. Let this sit for another 20-25 minutes or until the fish is opaque (which means it has been “cooked” from the acid of the lime juice). Taste for seasoning.

To serve, top with red onion slices and open up a cold one! This is the perfect appetizer to kickstart a small get-together!



Peruvian ceviche


// More Peruvian party appetizer foodstuffs


Choros a la chalaca — mussels with jalapeno and corn salsa

Fried wontons stuffed with shrimp and pork

Chicken drumsticks with spicy aji amarillo dipping sauce






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