Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Pura Vida Picadillo

Picadillo is a minced mash up of vegetables that's common in Latin American cuisine. And, it's delish! This one is based (loosely) on the vegetables that are readily available in Costa Rice, with some slight changes to make it easy to find the ingredients right here in the US. For those interested in etymology, the Spanish word for mince is "picar", hence the word picadillo. Pura Vida means pure life, and is a slogan that's seen throughout Costa Rica.


1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced celery
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided in half
1 tsp minced fresh or dried oregano
1 light orange squash, or 2 small chayote squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed to make 1 cup
1 cup corn, cut fresh off the cob, or frozen kernels
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions: Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Add the onion, garlic, pepper, celery, and half of the cilantro. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the squash, corn and chicken stock and cook until the squash and corn are tender, about 10 minutes longer. Add the remaining cilantro near the end of the cooking time, then taste, adding salt and pepper to suit your palate. 

Serves 4 

Stealthy Cooking Tip: I used half of a butternut squash, because I had it available and waiting to use in the refrigerator. Chayote squash or ayote squash are the traditional squash varieties used in this dish. The picadillo I had was served by a local resident who was an amazing cook! She used the ayote squash which is the color of a light pumpkin, and had a similar flavor. Whichever squash you use, the combination of squash and corn, along with the subtle flavor of cooked cilantro is a winner!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Red Curried Chicken

I do like the ease of a rotisserie chicken, in part because there are always leftovers! Here's a delicious way to use up some of that left over chicken. If you don't have rotisserie chicken, any cooked chicken will do. I used a mix of both dark and white meat, but use your favorite, or whatever you have available. 


1tbs red curry paste
1tbs grated ginger
1 tsp fish sauce
7 oz light coconut milk
1tbs lemon juice
2 stalks lemongrass, cut into two inch lengths

1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic,  minced
1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup chopped butternut squash
1 cup leftover (rotisserie) chicken, shredded
1/2 cup Thai basil, chopped

2 cups cooked brown rice

Directions: Heat the sesame oil in a non stick skillet until hot. Add the onion, garlic, pepper, carrot and squash and cook until the onion begins to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix the ingredients for the sauce while the vegetables are cooking. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and continue to cook until the carrot and squash are tender, about another 5 to 10 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and cook until warm. Add additional coconut milk if the sauce gets too thick. Remove the lemongrass stalks. Serve over rice, topping with Thai basil.

Serves 2, easily doubled

Stealthy Cooking Tip: I grow Thai basil and lemongrass in my herb garden, both because they are easy to grow and because they can be difficult to find and expensive in the grocery store. If you can't find lemongrass, it can easily be omitted, or you can use a little lemon peel. Thai basil has a distinctive flavor so do take the time to search it out and try it, at least once.. However, it can be substituted with an equal amount of regular basil.