Spicy and exotic, Latin foods are perfect in the warmer months. However, they’re equally delicious during the cooler months, and you don’t have to compromise your taste buds or your diet to enjoy them. Check out these four Latin dishes that will help you beat the winter blues and bring some much-needed life back into your kitchen routine this fall and winter!
Chile Rellenos (Stuffed Peppers)
Poblano peppers are a staple of Mexican cuisine and make excellent Chile rellenos. They're typically stuffed with cheese, battered and deep fried. This dish is perfect for satisfying any comfort food cravings you might have during the winter months. To make this dish, begin by selecting your peppers. Poblano peppers are most used and available in most Latin markets- but if they're not available in your area, any large bell pepper will do just fine. Once you've selected the peppers, cut the stem end of the pepper and remove the seeds from inside using a spoon. Next, stuff each one with about 1/2 cup shredded cheese (Mexican cheeses such as queso anejo or Monterrey jack are ideal). I like to dust with flour, coat with egg before dredging it in flour again or panko breadcrumbs and then frying it until golden brown. If you have an air frier- Go for it for an even healthier touch. Top them with either tomato sauce or green tomatillo salsa. Serve these with warm tortillas and additional cheese melted to gooey perfection!
Arroz con Pollo (Chicken with Rice)
Arroz con Pollo is a dish that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner- at least in our family! It's simple to make and takes only about 35 minutes from start to finish. The ingredients are easy to find at your neighborhood store. The dish is composed of cooked rice, chicken, tomato sauce or sofrito, vegetables of your choice, and seasonings like fresh garlic, cilantro and oregano. To make arroz con pollo you will need 2 cups of white rice, 1 cup of water-plus a little extra (in case of evaporation), 1 cup chicken broth, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2 cups of chopped onion (about 1/2 onion), 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs cut into cubes and 2 tablespoons flour. Mix the flour with the cubed meat until it becomes evenly coated with flour before adding it to a large skillet with oil over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. When browned add onions, salt and pepper and cook 3 more minutes stirring occasionally so they don’t burn on the pan bottom. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil then add whatever veggies and herbs you have on hand like: tomatoes, carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme, garlic, ect., check your salt to taste then add oregano and cilantro. I like to add a healthy shake of smoked paprika to mine! Bring back to boil then lower heat and simmer uncovered 20-25 minutes or until the liquid has reduced in half. Add green peas (frozen are fine) during last 5 minutes of cooking time if desired. Serve warm with fresh cilantro sprinkled on top for garnish. Its much easier than you may think-I encourage you to try this with your family.
Cuban Chicken & Rice Soup
This recipe makes 8-10 servings so it's perfect for dinner or lunch over a few days. Try substituting brown rice for white rice to add extra fiber and protein into your meal. Ingredients: 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3-5 garlic cloves, minced 1 onion (diced) 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1 tablespoon salt, 1-pound boneless skinless chicken breast (chopped) 2 cups of long grain white rice, 4 cans of chicken broth, 2 cans of low sodium tomato sauce, 2 cups of water, 14 ounces canned diced tomatoes Instructions: Heat olive oil in large pot over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion then stir for about 30 seconds until onions are translucent. Stir in oregano, cumin, and salt before adding chicken. Stir frequently while cooking until cooked through then mix in rice. Pour in broth and bring to a boil before reducing heat to simmer. Cover with lid and cook for 20 minutes before adding tomato sauce, water, and tomatoes. Bring back up to simmer again then cover lid again and cook another 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed by the rice. Top with sliced avocado and toasty garlic bread for a complete- ‘stick to your ribs’ family meal!
It may be cold out, but you don't have to go without your favorite sweet treats. Chocolate caliente or simply Hot Chocolate is a hot drink that will warm you up from the inside out. Made with dark chocolate and cinnamon, this drink is creamy and rich, with just enough sweetness for dessert. You can also make low-calorie, or dairy -free so you can indulge guilt-free!
If you want to make it at home, here's an easy recipe: Mix 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons (or to taste) sweetener of choice (panela, Splenda, coconut sugar) with 3/4 cup whole milk in a small saucepan. Heat gently until all ingredients dissolve. Top with whipped cream or for a “foamy” option put a small amount of milk in your frother add fresh dusting of nutmeg for a seasonal pick me up! You just might need to double this recipe- Wink, Wink!