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Cuban Food

Cuban Food/ Main Course/ Recipes

Ropa Vieja – Cuban Shredded Beef

Ropa Vieja, shredded beef, cuban, recipe, slow cooker, crockpot, easy, roast, beef,

I had this ropa vieja simmering away in my slow cooker yesterday and it smelled so good I thought I’d go crazy waiting to eat dinner! Even my all-American hubby loves it! I actually just had a big bowl full for lunch again today and I’ll probably have it for dinner tonight. Is that excessive? 🙂

If you’re not familiar with Ropa Vieja, it’s a Cuban dish (actually the national dish of Cuba!) and it literally means “old clothes”. I’m guessing it’s called that because the meat is so tender and falls apart so easily! It’s made with a large cut of beef that’s slow cooked in a tomato based sauce and by the end of the cooking time, the meat is so flavorful and tender and shreds so easily. It’s traditionally served with white rice so you can soak up all that extra sauce!Ropa Vieja, shredded beef, cuban, recipe, slow cooker, crockpot, easy, roast, beef,

This is one of the things that I definitely order if I see it on a menu. It’s not a fancy dish but it’s one that is so hearty and flavorful! And by the way, if you drain some of the liquid off, ropa vieja is amazing in tacos!!

I normally try to give you guys step-by-step photos but in a slow cooker dish (whoop whoop), it’s pretty much just dump and go so I’ll just give you the pictures of the finished product this time. 🙂 By the way, if you don’t have a slow cooker, you NEED to get one! HERE’S A LINK for some to choose from. It will easily become your favorite kitchen appliance!


Ropa Vieja, shredded beef, cuban, recipe, slow cooker, crockpot, easy, roast, beef,

5 from 4 votes
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Ropa Vieja - Cuban Shredded Beef

Cuban shredded beef in a tomato based sauce flavored with peppers, onions, and garlic and more! 

Servings: 8
Author: Coco and Ash
Ingredients
  • 2-3 pound flank steak (you could also use chuck)
  • 1 tbsp adobo seasoning (if you don't have adobo, use 1.5 teaspoons of salt and 1.5 teaspoons of garlic powder)
  • 1 green bell pepper sliced into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced into strips
  • 1 large yellow onion sliced into strips
  • 6 large garlic cloves peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup green spanish olives (optional but highly recommended)
  • 1 cup white cooking wine
  • 28 ounce can of tomato pureee
  • 6 ounce can of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp each: ground cumin, dried oregano, white sugar, salt
Instructions
  1. Take your flank steak and rub each side down with the adobo seasoning then add it to the slow cooker.

  2. Slice your peppers, onion, and garlic and add those to the slow cooker along with the olives. 

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together your white wine, tomato puree, tomato paste, and seasonings and then add that in the slow cooker. 

  4. Cook on low for 8 hours. 

  5. After the 8 hours, remove just the meat and shred with 2 forks. Ropa vieja is traditionally served shredded very finely so I don't leave any large chunks. Add the meat back in the slow cooker and cook for 20 more minutes. 

  6. During that 20 minutes is when I make my rice using my rice cooker

  7. I serve my ropa vieja over the white rice with a big extra scoop of the sauce on top! 

Coco and Ash

Ropa Vieja, shredded beef, cuban, recipe, slow cooker, crockpot, easy, roast, beef,

Cuban Food/ Main Course/ Recipes

Cuban Picadillo

Cuban picadillo dinner recipe ground beef hash spanish

If you are part of a Cuban family, I don’t need to explain the amazingness of picadillo to you. You already know that it’s the ultimate Cuban comfort food. But if you’ve never had or even heard of picadillo you’re probably wondering, “what’s so great about this ground beef concoction?” Well it’s savory ground beef in a tomato based sauce with spices and a few extra goodies. I know it doesn’t sound particularly exciting…but it’s just plain good! I promise 🙂

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Picadillo is one of those meals that is complete comfort food to me. My (American) husband thinks I’m crazy but I could eat it a couple times a week and never get sick of it! It’s nothing fancy or complicated, but to me, it’s the perfect meal. And if you’re wondering why there’s a banana in the photo…well that’s my Cuban roots. I can’t eat picadillo without a banana on the side. There’s something about that salty/sweet combination that’s just perfection.

It start with the same base as any good Cuban recipe…onions, green peppers, and garlic. Cuban Picadillo dinner comfort food easy recipe

And this is not a sponsored “Adobo” post but I love the stuff so much that I’m going to go ahead and give them a shout out here. If you don’t have adobo in your pantry…go get some right now!  If your grocery store doesn’t sell it, you can find it here. You could sprinkle it on a shoe and it would taste amazing. It’s basically a mix of salt, garlic powder, turmeric, and a few other things. I use it more often than I use salt and pepper and this dish is no different. Cuban Picadillo dinner beef easy spanish

Now I’m not  big olive fan, but there’s something about them that’s just perfect in picadillo. If you don’t like olives though, you can leave them out and it’ll still be great! And you don’t need any fancy olives, just the jarred, pimento-stuffed olives. I slice mine in half but you can leave them whole or dice them up small if you’d like. Cuban Picadillo recipe beef hash easy dinner spanish

Once you add the tomato sauce and paste and seasonings, you just let it simmer for 15 minutes and it will thicken up and be ready to serve!cuban picadillo recipe easy dinner ground beef hash

Cuban picadillo dinner recipe ground beef hash spanish

I like to serve mine over a big bowl of white rice. I just use my rice cooker and it comes out perfectly every time! If you don’t have a rice cooker HERE’S ONE that’s great. Not only do they cook rice but you can steam veggies, and make oatmeal, cook pasta…a rice cooker is an essential in my kitchen!

Cuban Picadillo dinner ground beef recipe spanish

Shout out to the lowly banana that I just have to have with my picadillo!!

I hope you enjoy this picadillo dish and find as much comfort in it as I do. And by the way, it’s very kid friendly! My kids have been devouring this stuff since they first were able to chew! (I do leave out the olives for them thought because…toddlers) 🙂

5 from 4 votes
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Cuban Picadillo
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 


Servings: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion - diced
  • 1/2 large green pepper - diced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic - minced
  • 1 and 1/2 lb ground beef (I use lean)
  • 1/2 tsp adobo seasoning (if you don't have this...go out and get some asap!! It's the best)
  • 1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup pimento stuffed olives plus 1 tbsp of the brine from the jar (I just slice my olives in half but you can leave them hole or dice them finely)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
Instructions
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once it's hot, add in your olive oil and then add your chopped peppers and onions. Saute until they are soft. It usually takes about 5 minutes. 

  2. After the 5 minutes, add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. 

  3. Add in the ground beef and sprinkle with the adobo seasoning. I have to be honest, I never measure this. I just sprinkle it all around the beef. It does have salt in it though so if you are sensitive to salt, try not to go over the 1/2 teaspoon. 

  4. Cook the meat until it's browned then add in the rest of the ingredients. (tomato sauce, tomato paste, white wine, olives and brine, sugar, and cumin)

  5. Stir everything to combine and cook uncovered for 15 minutes over low heat. 

Recipe Notes

I know some traditional Cuban picadillo recipes contain raisins. If you'd like to include them, just add in 1/4 of raisins when you add in the olives. 🙂 

 

Cuban Picadillo recipe dinner ground beef

Appetizers and Sides/ Cuban Food/ Main Course/ Recipes

Cuban Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Cuban Style Chicken Noodle Soup

You know when you have a cold or it’s chilly out and chicken noodle soup just warms you from the inside out!? This Cuban style chicken noodle soup accomplishes all of that but it’s BETTER than any other chicken soup with more flavor and more substance!

My little ones Coco and Ash were both sick with bad colds this past week (it’s that time of year) so Cuban style chicken noodle soup is what was on the menu in our house. Growing up in a Cuban family, this soup is one of those dishes that brings me back to my childhood. The flavors of chicken, lemon, tomato and the heartiness that the potatoes add will have you making this soup over and over again!
Cuban Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Right off the bat I need to tell you that this recipe has Sazon in it. Don’t panic if you don’t know that that is or can’t find it. It has just a teensy bit of flavor but it gives your food that gorgeous golden color. The soup will still taste amazing without it so no need to worry or set out on a sazon hunt if your store doesn’t carry it  🙂 ok…now we can move on!Cuban Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Go ahead and chop your veggies before you get started. I have this little scraper thing and if you don’t have one, you NEED to get one! You can find it here. I don’t keep things around that I don’t need and I use this scraper all the time. You can smash garlic with it, and when you have to transfer a bunch of little things (like wet herbs) from your cutting board, this gets every last piece with no mess! Ok…moving on again. (I feel like I’m extra wordy on this post!) Maybe I’m just super excited about it!!Cuban Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Into your pot go the chicken thighs, sazon, salt, onion, potatoes, carrots, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and water. Stir this all together, cover and bring to a full boil.Cuban Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Once it has come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes. After the 45 minutes, remove the chicken (using tongs is easiest) and peel off the skin and throw that away. Pull the meat off the chicken and add that back into the pot. You can throw away the bones too. Cuban Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Once you add your chicken back in, you can then also add in the oregano, lemon juice, and spaghetti noodles. I like to break my noodles up quite a bit so it’s easier to eat. Cuban Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Bring back up to a full boil and then cook for another 10 minutes or until the noodles are soft.

I like to serve mine with cilantro and an extra lemon wedge but you can eat it as is and it’s still perfect!! Cuban Style Chicken Noodle Soup

5 from 2 votes
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Cuban Style Chicken Noodle Soup
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
55 mins
Total Time
1 hrs
 

Chicken noodle soup flavored with tomato and fresh lemon juice. Taste just like Abuela used to make!

Servings: 8 people
Author: www.cocoandash.com
Ingredients
  • 8 chicken thighs (with bone and skin on)
  • 2 cans of plain tomato sauce (8 ounce cans)
  • 2 packets sazon goya (This is a seasoning packet that mainly adds color and a tiny bit of flavor boost. If you can't find it, just skip it)
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 large carrots (chopped)
  • 1 large potato (cut into 1" squares)
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • Juice from 1/2 large lemon (about 2 tbsp)
  • 8 ounces dried spaghetti noodles (half a box)
  • Fresh chopped cilantro for ganish (totally optional!)
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, add your chicken, onion, potato, carrots, tomato sauce, salt, and sazon packets, chicken broth, and water.

  2. Stir everything together, cover your pot, and bring to a heavy boil.

  3. After you get to a full boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes (covered).

  4. After the 45 minutes, use tongs and remove the chicken from the pot. Throw away the skin (I can't think of any good use for it...sorry!) and using 2 forks, pull all the meat off of the bones and add the meat back to the pot. 

  5. Squeeze in your lemon juice and add in the oregano. 

  6. Break the spaghetti into small pieces and add to the pot.

  7. Bring everything back to a boil (medium-high heat) and cook for another 10 minutes or until the spaghetti is tender. 

  8. Garnish with cilantro and serve with an extra lemon wedge for a little extra flavor...not that it needs any more!! 🙂

Cuban Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Cuban Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Cuban Food/ Recipes/ Sweets

Flan Cake

Flan Cake

As some of you know, I come from a large Cuban family so we are big fans of flan! Most people have tried regular flan at some point but this FLAN CAKE really takes it up a notch! It’s part cake and part flan and has a caramel sauce that soaks into everything! When my family asks me to bring a dessert, it’s usually flan cake! It has a few steps but nothing is difficult and trust me, it’s worth it!! If you’re not familiar with flan or you’ve never tried it, it’s has a custard consistency and is dense and rich with a vanilla caramel taste. What’s not to love about that right!?

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Here’s what you need for the flan cake:

  • 1 box of yellow cake mix and ingredients to make (Usually eggs, oil, water)
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can of evaporated milk
  • 1 (14 ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese at room temp
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pre-heat your oven at 350 and go ahead and make the yellow cake batter as directed and set it aside.Flan Cake

In a blender, add in your evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream cheese, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon. Blend until smooth. So far pretty easy right?! Go ahead and set this aside too.Flan Cake

Next is the part that makes this flan cake so delicious!! The caramel sauce! In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add your 1.5 cups of sugar. You’re going to continue to cook this while stirring every few minutes, until the sugar is completely melted and a caramel color. It takes about 10 minutes. It’s done once all the lumps are gone and the sugar has completely liquified and caramelized. it can burn quickly after this point so just make sure to keep an eye on it 🙂  Here’s the stages the sugar will go through:Flan CakeNow this is very important…once your sugar has caramelized, make sure you put on some good oven mitts! Trust me when I say, the bundt pan will get super hot from the hot caramel and you don’t want to drop that when you’re in the middle of coating your pan. (And don’t try to stick your finger in the caramel to try it…not that I’ve done that or anything!)

Ok so you have your oven mitts on so go ahead and pour your hot caramel sauce into the bundt pan and continue to swirl it around the pan, coating as much as you can until the caramel starts to solidify. I also sprayed the center post with a little cooking spray AFTER the caramel had hardened. Flan Cake

Now, once your pan is coated, you can pour in the cake batter. (I sometimes leave a little out just to make it only come up half way. Just a personal preference though)flan cake

Pour the flan batter over the cake batter. I pour it all around the cake batter as best I can. It’s ok if it’s not perfect. It will spread out and even on its own. Flan Cake

Now, place your bundt pan inside of another bigger pan and add in enough water in the large pan to come up half way up the outside of the bundt pan. I used a slightly larger round pan but you can use any pan that the bundt pan can sit inside of. Flan Cake

Cover the bundt pan with foil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. When it comes out, you’ll notice that all the cake has floated to the top and the flan has made an even layer on the bottom (which will be the top when you flip it over.)

Let the flan cake completely cool to room temp or you can refrigerate it and then carefully flip it onto a large dish. Make sure that your dish has a lip so the caramel won’t run off the edges! Flan Cake

Note: if you have some caramel stuck in your pan after you flip the flan over, take your bundt pan and warm it over your stove top until that caramel melts. Then you can pour that over the flan as well. I always do this because I hate to waste a drop of that caramel! Flan Cake

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Flan Cake
Ingredients
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix and ingredients to make (Usually eggs oil, water)
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 ounce can of evaporated milk 12
  • 1 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk 14
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese at room temp
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees,
  2. Prepare the cake mix as directed on your box and set the batter aside.
  3. In a blender, add the evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream cheese, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  4. Blend until smooth.
  5. In a sauce pan, add your white sugar. (Make sure to keep a close eye on this step since sugar can burn quickly!)
  6. Cook the sugar over medium high heat until it's completely liquified and caramel colored. (stirring occasionaly)
  7. Remove it from the heat.
  8. Put on oven mitts and pour the caramel into the bundt pan.
  9. With your oven mitts on, swirl the caramel around the inside of the bundt pan to coat as much of the surface as you can.
  10. Keep swirling until the caramel is no longer moving.
  11. Spray any uncoated parts of the pan with cooking spray.
  12. Pour the cake batter into the pan.
  13. Pour the flan batter into the pan.
  14. Take your bundt pan and place it inside of a larger pan that it can sit inside of.
  15. Fill the larger pan with water so that it comes about half way up the outside of the bundt pan.
  16. Cover the bundt pan with foil.
  17. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  18. Let it cool completely or refrigerate it over night.
  19. When you're ready to flip it. Place a large platter over the top of the bundt pan and carefully flip it upside down. Jiggle the pan until you're sure the cake is loose.
Recipe Notes
Note: Make sure you flip your flan cake onto a plate that has a lip on it so the caramel won't be running off the edges. Another note: If after you flip your flan cake, there is still some caramel stuck in your pan, you can heat your pan over a stove burner on low to loosen that caramel and then pour it over the flan cake 🙂

Flan Cake

Cuban Food/ Main Course/ Recipes

Yellow Rice and Chicken

If you’re looking for a yellow rice recipe that has TONS of flavor, you’ve found it! I come from a large Cuban family and we all have our variations on yellow rice. I’ve taken the best parts of each and come up with a yellow rice that is so flavorful, moist, and loved by adults and kids alike!

So here’s what you need:

  • 3 large chicken breasts*
  • Adobo seasoning
  • 2 links (about 6 inches) of dried chorizo sausage (casing removed and sliced 1/4 inch thick)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 2 large garlic cloves (minced)
  • 3 cups Valencia short grain rice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 3 cups beer (any light unflavored beer will do)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 packets of Sazon Goya seasoning (found in the ethnic section seasonings)

*Tradition Cuban yellow rice is made with a whole fryer chicken cut into pieces. However my kids prefer white meat so that’s what I used. Just know that the white meat will be dryer than the dark meat so just use what you prefer.  See bottom of post for even more chicken variation ideas!


Before I start anything, I like to chop my onions, red pepper, chorizo, and garlic. That saves me from scrambling around while I’m cooking the yellow rice. Make sure that you remove the thin papery casing from around the chorizo as well. I just make a slice on one side and peel it off. Yellow Rice and Chicken

Season your chicken liberally with the adobo seasoning. Some adobo seasoning includes pepper but the one I buy does not so I also added some pepper. If you are using breasts, cut them in half (like pictured) so they cook quicker. If you are using dark meat, just leave it as-is and season.Yellow Rice and Chicken

Add your olive oil to a large pot and heat it on high heat. This is my pot but if you don’t want to spend that much HERE are some great less expensive options. Once your oil is hot, add in your chicken pieces and sear both sides until browned (just about 2 minutes on each side). You are not cooking your chicken on the inside. Just sear the outside then remove from the pot and set aside on a plate. Yellow Rice and Chicken

Lower your heat to medium and in the same oil that you cooked your chicken in, add your onion, red pepper, and chorizo slices. Yellow Rice and ChickenSauté these on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until they are translucent. Then add in your garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. The chorizo lets off a lot of oil and will also make things an orange color.  Yellow Rice and ChickenNext comes the rice. I use this short grain Valencia rice because it makes the final result so much moister than using long grain. You’ll never make yellow rice with long grain again! There are a lot of brands that make Valencia rice. This one happened to be on sale so it’s what I got. 🙂 Yellow Rice and ChickenSo after you’ve sautéed your veggies and chorizo, add your dry rice to the pot. Stir it around and cook for about 2 minutes. Yellow Rice and Chicken

Now here comes the secret to an amazing yellow rice. It’s the beer. Yep beer! Now the beer will boil and the alcohol will cook out so don’t worry about that part. I serve this to my kids all the time. If for any reason you don’t want to use the beer though, just sub in more chicken stock. I buy one of these giant beers and it’s exactly how much I need. Yellow Rice and Chicken

So here’s the ratio: However much rice you use, you’ll want to use twice as much liquid. So we had 3 cups of rice so we’ll use 6 cups of liquid. I use 3 cups of beer and 3 cups of chicken stock. (Don’t use only beer. the flavor will be too strong.) Yellow Rice and Chicken

Add both liquids to your pot of rice. Yellow Rice and Chicken
Cookware Sets
Also add in 1 tsp of salt and 2 packets of your sazon seasoning. It looks like this and comes in a box of a few packets. This is what gives the yellow rice it’s color. Yellow Rice and Chicken

Add your chicken back into the pan (including any juices that are on the plate) and bring everything to a full rolling boil for two minutes. Then reduce your stove top to low and cover your pot. I don’t like any steam seeping out since it’s what softens the rice so I cover my pot in foil and then again with the lid. Yellow Rice and Chicken

Cook while covered for 25 minutes. After that, open your lid and stir in your frozen peas. Cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes. And that’s it! I like to serve this with just some cuban bread and butter on the side.
Yellow Rice with Chicken

*I also sometimes cook the chicken fully through at the beginning (instead of just searing it) and then remove it from the pan. Make the yellow rice as directed and then shred the cooked chicken and add it back in at the end when I add in the peas. That tends to reduce the dryness of using white meat 🙂 Click here to see how I shred all my chicken in less than 25 seconds!

*You can also used marinated grilled chicken (click here to see my amazing chicken marinade). Make the yellow rice as directed, just skipping over the chicken part. While your rice is cooking, Grill your marinated chicken breasts. When your rice is done, serve with slices of your grilled chicken. 

*I’ve also made this with shrimp or pork or a combination of any of those meats! Just comment if you have any questions on how to do so!

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Yellow Rice and Chicken
Ingredients
  • 3 large chicken breasts*
  • Adobo seasoning
  • 2 inch links of dried chorizo sausage sliced 1/4 thick
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 2 cloves large garlic minced
  • 3 cups Valencia short grain rice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 3 cups beer any light unflavored beer will do
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 in packets of Sazon Goya seasoning found the ethnic section seasonings
Instructions
  1. Chop your onions, red bell pepper, and garlic and set aside. Remove casing and slice your chorizo into 1/4 slices and set aside as well.
  2. Season chicken pieces liberally with adobo seasoning and black pepper.
  3. Heat olive oil on high in large pot. Once hot, add in your chicken pieces and sear on each side. (About 2 minutes per side) Don't worry about cooking through.
  4. Once seared, remove chicken from pan and set aside on a plate.
  5. In the same pot and oil, add in your onion, pepper, and and chorizo. Sauté until translucent.
  6. Add in garlic and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.
  7. Add your dry rice to the pot and cook for 2 more minutes.
  8. Pour in your chicken stock, beer, salt, and saxon packets.
  9. Add your chicken back to the pot including any juices.
  10. Bring to a full rolling boil for 2 minutes.
  11. Reduce heat to low and cover pot with foil and then the lid and simmer for 25 minutes.
  12. After the 25 minutes, add in the peas, cover again and cook for 5 minutes.
  13. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes
*Tradition Cuban yellow rice is made with a whole fryer chicken cut into pieces. However my kids prefer white meat so thats what I used. Just know that the white meat will be dryer than the dark meat so just use what you prefer. See bottom of post for even more chicken variation ideas!
Yellow Rice and Chicken