Habichuelas Colorados con Calabaza Guisado / Red Kidney Beans with Calabaza Squash

HHabichuelas con Calabaza

Habichuelas Colorados con Calabaza Guisado is a  popular Puerto Rican side dish made with red kidney beans and a Caribbean squash called Calabaza. It is a hard skinned squash with orange flesh similar to Acorn or Butternut squash, either of which may be substituted in this recipe. The Calabaza squash, which is easily found in Latin markets, adds a slightly sweet and earthy flavor to the beans. Serve over cooked white rice to create a perfect a side dish for grilled, roasted or fried meats. 


1/2 pound chunk of Calabaza

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped Cubanelle pepper (Italian frying pepper)

3 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 – 16 ounce cans red kidney beans (or if you have more time on your hands than I do, feel free to soak some dried beans)

1 – 8 ounce can  tomato sauce



Peel, remove seeds and dice the Calabaza into 3/4 inch pieces.

HHabichuelas con Calabaza


Place the diced Calabaza into a sauce pan with enough water to cover the cubes add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and simmer for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Drain the Calabaza reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.


Place onions, green peppers, garlic and olive oil into a small food processor and pulse a few times until a coarse puree is achieved.


Place puree into a large thick bottomed saucepan and sauté for 5 minutes over low heat.


Add remaining ingredients plus the cooked Calabaza  and the reserved 1/2 cup of cooking liquid to the sauce pan and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

HHabichuelas con Calabaza


Eggplant Caponata




I get many requests from my friends for Vegetarian dishes. This is a Sicilian recipe for a sweet and sour eggplant relish that can be served on crackers or crostini. I also use it as a sandwich spread when I make an Italian Hoagie sandwich. Take one bite and you will feel like  you are in Italy…Ciao Baby!



1 large eggplant (peeled and diced into half-inch cubes) (4 cups)

1 medium onion finely diced

1 stick celery finely diced

4 cloves garlic finely diced

1 – 16 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup of coarsely diced Manzanilla olives

1/4 cup coarsely diced black olives

1/4 cup pine-nuts

1/4 cup raisins

3 tablespoons capers

crushed red pepper to taste

Salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

Fresh basil for garnish


Heat up a large skillet with olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot add eggplant in one layer  to pan. Cook for 4 minutes (do not stir). After 4 minutes turn over the eggplant in the pan to brown the other side for an additional 4 minutes. Remove eggplant to a separate bowl and set aside. Add onions and celery to the skillet with additional oil if needed. When the onions have become translucent add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the remaining ingredients to the pan.  Cook at a low simmer for 8 minutes or until the eggplant is tender. Serve at room temperature.

Mini Potato Knish

Living in Florida has many benefits (ie: weather, beaches and no snow) but it also has some challenges. When I lived in New York if I wanted a Knish I walked down the block to the local deli and got one. Today I had a craving for a Knish and  there wasn’t a NY deli in sight. Then I decided if I really wanted a Knish I had to make it myself. This recipe is far from a traditional Knish but I was pleasantly surprised with the finished product.


5 medium-sized potatoes (peeled and boiled until fork tender)

1 cup finely diced white onion

1 clove garlic finely minced

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2  chicken bouillon cube (Knorr brand extra-large)

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp corn starch

1 large egg

1 package Fillo sheets(defrosted in the fridge over night)

2 sticks butter melted

Mash the boiled potatoes then place potatoes into the bowl of a stand mixer and allow to cool. Saute onions, garlic, pepper and the bouillon cube (I like Knorr brand cubes because they are soft and easy to mix in with the onions) in vegetable oil until the onions are clarified.  Add onion mixture to potatoes and combine on slow speed. Then add corn starch and egg. Continue to mix until the egg is fully absorbed.

Place potato mixture into a one gallon plastic bag.

Keep the Fillo dough under a damp towel to prevent the sheets from drying out until ready to be used.

Remove 1 sheet of Fillo from under the towel and brush the middle third of the sheet with butter .

Fold the right hand third of Fillo sheet over the buttered third. Brush butter on top of the piece you just folded over.

Fold the left hand side over the rest and brush with butter.

Cut away the corner of the plastic bag so you can use it like a piping bag.

Squeeze  out about 1 tsp. of potato mixture onto one end of the buttered Fillo.

Fold the bottom left corner over the potatoes and line up to the right side.

Then fold the point up.

Keep on folding like a flag until you reach the end.

Place on baking sheet. brush the tops with butter. and cover with a damp towel.

While you are making the Knishes  keep your towel damp by using a spray bottle. Place Knishes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes.  The Knishes  can be frozen and baked at a later time.

Puerto Rican Pastelillos de Carne (Empanadas)


Pastelillos de Carne are meat filled pastries that are a popular in Puerto Rico and throughout Latin America. They are also called Empanadas although Pastilillos in Puerto Rico usually have a thinner and crisper  shell than an Empanda. The filling varies depending on the country. This is my mother’s recipe with a few adjustments I have made over the years.


Picadillo Filling for Pastilillos:

 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

½ cup green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

½ cup onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried cilantro

½  teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper  

½  tablespoon cumin

1 pound lean ground beef

16 manzanilla olives, stuffed with pimento, sliced in half

8 ounces tomato sauce

¼ cup raisins

2 packages Goya Discos Grandes (large pastry shells)


Recipe:  Heat oil in sauté pan over medium low heat. Add oil, green peppers, onions, garlic, oregano, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add add olives, tomato sauce and raisins to the pan then cover and simmer for 10 minutes over low heat. Place ground beef into a second pan and cook over medium heat and stir occasionally to break up the chunks of beef until meat is slightly browned and all of the pink is gone. Place the meat in a colander to remove excess liquid. After draining add the beef to the onion and pepper mixture and simmer for an additional 20 minutes over low heat. When done put the picadillo mixture on one end of a sheet pan then place pan on kitchen counter. Use a kitchen towel, to elevate one end of the pan. This will allow excess oil to drain from the picadillo. Then refrigerate the mixture to cool for at least 20 minutes.

Place shell on flat surface and wet outer edge with water. Place 2 large tablespoons of filling in center of a disc and fold disc in half over the filling, making sure the edges meet. To get a flaky crust avoid over filling your empanadas.

Then using a fork seal the edges tightly.  Pan fry Pastilillos in 2 inches of oil until golden then drain on paper towels.

Another option is they can be egg washed and baked at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden.

Viandas con Bacalao – Salt Cod With Tropical Root Vegetables

Viandas con Bacalao  is an “Heirloom” recipe That goes way back in my families history. Whenever my mother makes this she knows that she must call me and my sister or …else! The only way to describe Vianda is to say it is like potato salad with little bits of cod. This recipe contains an assortment of Caribbean root vegetables, plantains and salt cod. Vianda is so easy to make once you have found all of the ingredients. I was able to find them all at a local Latin American food store. The final result was well worth the search. I would like to know if you think you will try this recipe so I know if I should publish more like it, you can let me know by clicking the like button or by leaving  me a comment. Thank you in advance, Renee Lalane A special thanks goes out to my mom (Ann Lalane) for teaching me this recipe. She also assisted me in the production of this blog recipe.  


2 lbs. boneless salt cod (bacalao)

1 large Red onion (cut in half and thinly sliced)

3 cups of olive oil

1 cup of red wine vinegar

1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

2 green plantains

2 ripe plantains (yellow with a lot of black spots to almost all black)

1 lb. Batata ( Caribbean white sweet potato)

½ lb. piece of peeled Calabaza, (West Indian Pumpkin) cut into  2″ pieces

1 package  Goya frozen Yuca 1 package Goya  frozen Yautia 1 package Goya  frozen Ñame 1 ripe avocado sliced

Cherry tomatoes or tomato wedges for garnish    

I begin by bringing 2 pots of water to a boil(1 large pot and 1 medium size pot). Then I rinse the salt off the cod under running cold water for 1 minute. Then I place cod into a large pot of boiling water.   After 5 minutes I remove the cod from the pot. Save the water in the pot to use for boiling the root vegetables. Then I place the cod into a small bowl of cold water for 20 minutes. This will remove more salt from the cod. At this point you can taste the cod and it should still be just slightly salty.   Then I shred the cod with my fingers into small bite sized pieces and place into a small bowl.   Then I add the onions, oil, vinegar  and black pepper. Toss to combine and set aside to marinate for at least 1 hour.   Cut all the plantains in half and remove the ends. Do not peel yet.   Then I peel and quarter the Batata.  Place the all the Plantains  into the small pot of boiling water for 20 – 30 minutes or until fork tender. The reason for boiling the plantains separately is because the skin will release some of the green coloring which would discolor the other vegetables.Then I put the Batata, Calabaza, Yuca, Yautia and Ñame into the large pot of reserved water that had been used to boil the cod. Boil for 30 to 45 minutes or until fork tender. After about 30 minutes start testing the smaller pieces for doneness. They are done when a knife go in and out easily. As they are done cut into bite sized pieces and place into large bowl.   When the plantains are done remove them from the pot and when they are cool enough to handle peel and slice 1” thick. Add the plantain slices to the bowl of root vegetables.   Add the cod mixture to the bowl of boiled vegetables and toss gently. It should have a slightly glossy sheen. Add additional oil if necessary.   Place mixture into individual bowls and top with thin slices of avocado and garnish with cherry tomatoes. I like to drizzle each salad with additional olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar as they are being served.

Viandas con Bacalao

Irish Soda Bread (Family Heirloom Recipe)

This is an heirloom recipe that my mom makes every year for St. Patrick’s Day. Now this recipe has been handed down to me by my mother and it is my job to make sure this tradition stays alive in my family. This recipe was given to my mother by a neighbor and friend Rosie Redmond over 30 years ago. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

4 cups un-sifted All Purpose Flour 

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. Baking Soda

2 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Salt

1+1/2 cups Buttermilk

2 eggs

1 stick Butter-softened

1 cup Raisins 

1+1/2 Teaspoons Caraway seeds ( or more if you wish)

2  – (8) inch round cast iron fry pans or cake pans, greased and floured


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, toss flour mixture with hands (this give bread a light and airy consistency).

Cut in softened butter to flour mixture, using hands or a pastry cutter.  Until evenly distributed.

Add raisins and caraway seeds. Toss with hands to mix thoroughly. Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Add buttermilk and blend well.

Pour egg mixture into flour mixture. Blend well with a spoon. The dough should be heavy but not too wet. (If it seems too dry, add a little more buttermilk) If too tacky to handle, add a little bit of flour, so that you can mold it to shape.

Divide batter between 2 prepared pans.

Dust hands generously with flour and mold dough into a round loaves. Dust top generously with flour. Using the wrong end of a fork cut a deep cross “X” into the dough. This is the cross of St. Patrick. This will prevent the bread from cracking, and will give it a traditional look.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until well browned (knife comes clean). Cool on a rack.

Note** By chance, I found out, that when I baked this bread in a cast iron fry pan, the bread rose higher than the one baked in the cake pans.

Rellenos de Papa – Potato balls stuffed with meat

Today I had a craving for a Puerto Rican treat I have not made in years called Rellenos (re-ain-yos) de Papa. They are 2″ potato balls that are stuffed with Picadillo, a savory meat mixture, then fried to a golden brown. They are crispy on the outside and creamy inside. It’s like having  Shepard’s Pie to go. What a concept comfort food in a to go package.

Picadillo :
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ cup onion, peeled and chopped
3 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
1 pound lean ground beef
16 manzanilla olives, stuffed with pimento, sliced in half
8 ounces tomato sauce
¼ cup raisins

Rellenos de Papa:
2 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
8 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoon salt (for boil)
4 tablespoons butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 Picadillo recipe
cornstarch (to coat balls)
vegetable oil (for deep-frying)

Picadillo Recipe:
Heat oil in sauté pan over medium low heat. Add green peppers, onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add oregano, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper and ground beef to the pan and stir to break up the beef until meat is slightly browned and all of the pink is gone. Add olives, tomato sauce and raisins to the pan then cover and simmer for 30 minutes over low heat. Drain meat in a colander to remove excess liquid. Set aside and cool to room temperature.

Rellenos de Papa Recipe:
Place potatoes and salt and enough water to cover potatoes by 1” in a large pot. Cover and boil for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Drain potatoes and mash or run through a potato ricer. Add butter, egg, salt and cornstarch and mix well. Cool to room temperature. Divide mixture into even sized balls.(I use an ice cream scoop to get them even) Cover palm of hand with the cornstarch and place ball on palm. Using your finger open a hole in the ball. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the picadillo into hole (I try to get an olive and a raisin in each ball) and squeeze ball to cover the meat. Roll the ball in your hand to coat with cornstarch and proceed with remaining balls. Deep fry in vegetable oil until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Yeilds 16 pieces. The left over Picadillo can be frozen for another batch or be used to make empanadas but that recipe is for another day.