As part of vacation week here on Katie’s Cucina I’m excited to have Marilyn, from share her families Puerto Rican Red Beans recipe with us! As you read yesterday I practically lived on red beans while on vacation. I couldn’t get enough of them. I cannot wait to bring a little bit of Puerto Rico into my kitchen and cook this tantalizing recipe! Now, here’s Marilyn to share her recipe: 

One of my all-time favorite comfort food pairings is savory red beans with white rice. My mom used to make these beans as a side for a family of four, so the serving size is a little large. I can’t hope to make this dish exactly like my mother, but I can manage a pretty faithful recreation. My inner potato fiend put two potatoes in the photo, and I’ve used two small potatoes before, but one potato works well enough for this recipe. A small squash can be substituted for the potato for a seasonal touch. 

I served the beans over simple Mahatma white rice cooked on the stove with a pinch of salt and two tablespoons of vegetable oil. Me being the silly goose that I am, I remembered how to make tostones (fried green plantains) backwards — figure that one out — but they eventually made their thin and crunchy appearance. Remember to slice, fry, smoosh flat, and fry again!

Puerto Rican Red Beans (Habichuelas Rojas)

Source: Family Recipe
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 12 – 15 Minutes
Servings: 4

2 (8 oz.) Cans of Tomato Sauce
1 (15.5 oz) Can of Red Kidney Beans
1 Packet of Goya Sazón con Culantro y Achiote
2 Tbsp Goya Sofrito (Tomato Cooking Base)
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Cube Chicken Bouillon
1/4 Large White Onion, Chopped
1 Small Gold Potato, Cut into Small Cubes
1 Strip of Bacon

1.) In a non-stick pot on low to medium heat, mix tomato sauce, sofrito, Sazón, chicken bouillon, and olive oil until the sauce is smooth. Continue to stir the mixture until the sauce starts to simmer.
2.) Now, add potato cubes, chopped onions, bacon, and beans. Cover the pot and cook the beans on medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Stir the beans occasionally to prevent sticking.
3.) Serve the beans over white rice with a side of tostones.
Note: Small cubes of cooking ham may be used instead of bacon, but be cautious due of the ham’s high salt content.

Forkful is an Orlando-based resource to help locals and visitors alike navigate Central Florida restaurants through food reviews to satiate a craving, mark an occasion, or share a pint.

Forkful was created by Marilyn, a University of Central Florida alumna with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing. She shares both the bitter and sweet experiences with anyone who will listen.

Always hopeful, always by the forkful.

marilyn [at]  • @mismamari  • facebook

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A few week’s ago, at my Tapeña® Wine and Tapas House Party™I made these amazing sweet and savory empanadas. I was enticed by this recipe purely because of the bacon. Pumpkin and bacon? Game on! These were very easy to make and I believe we only had one empanada left! The sweet were more like a dessert and to an extent so were the savory! Even for those who do not like pumpkin you will like this recipe. Multiple people who are proclaimed “pumpkin haters” enjoyed these empanadas!  Just make sure that you mix the savory very well… I guess I was in a rush and some got more pepper and thyme than bacon and vice versa! And if you are serving these in a buffet setting, make sure you have a place card stating which is which! For the most part all of my guest including myself had to guess which was the savory and which was the sweet!

Source: Tapeña® wine website
Prep Time: 20 minutes + hour for thawing empanada wrappers
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 10 makes 20 empanadas

2 – packages of frozen empanada wrappers, thawed (qty 10 each)
1 – 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, divided
2 tbsp milk

Savory Ingredients:
4 slices of cooked bacon, finely crumbled
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground thyme (I could not find this I used regular thyme, chopped)

Sweet Ingredients:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground all-spice
1 tbsp sugar (Preferably coarse)

1. Thaw empanada wrappers (what’s nice about using empanada wrappers is that you don’t have to cut out the circles–it’s already done for you).

2. Mix pumpkin, ricotta cheese, salt and nutmeg. Divide the pumpkin mixture in half and put each half in separate bowls. 

3. Add and mix in the savory seasonings to one half of the pumpkin mixture.

4. Add and mix in the brown sugar, cinnamon and all-spice to the other half of the pumpkin mixture and keep in a separate bowl. 

5. With floured side up of pastry rounds, moisten the edges of pastry round with water, using your fingertips. Put 1 spoonful of filling into the center of each round. Fold the pastry rounds in half and seal edges pressing with the edge of the fork. 

6. Put finished empanada on a cookie sheet prepared with parchment paper, keeping the sweet empanadas separate from the savory empanadas. 

7. In a small bowl mix the milk and egg white together then brush each empanada. 

8. Sprinkle the coarse sugar on top of the sweet pumpkin empanadas. 

9. The empanadas can be frozen or baked at this time. 

10. To cook, heat oven to 425F degrees. Whether fresh or frozen, cook empanadas for 15-20 minutes until golden. 

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I’m not a huge fan of pork, but I wanted to make a wide variety of tapas dishes for my guest. I gave my husband the task of grill master for the evening. He was a bit hesitant since he had never grilled pork skewers before. He grilled them to perfection! They came out moist and flavorful (and I didn’t have the chance to brush the barbecue sauce on them). Everyone loved them and there were very few left at the end of the evening! 

Prep: overnight
Cook: 8-15 minutes
Serves 6-8
Pair with: Tapeña Garnacha

2 lbs pork butt, trim off excess fat 
4 cloves garlic, minced 
3 tsp dried oregano 
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika 
1/4 cup olive oil 
16 – 18 small skewers 
1/4 cup honey or maple seasoned barbeque sauce

1. Combine garlic, oregano, pepper and paprika to make a marinade.

2. Cut the pork into 1-inch cubes. Toss pork cubes with marinade. Put into a non-reactive container, cover and refrigerate overnight.

3. Heat grill to high. Skewer the pork pieces. Grill the skewers on all sides, about 8 minutes. Brush all sides lightly with barbeque sauce. Serve warm.

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If there is one thing in life I’ve grown to love it’s grilled vegetables! I love grilled vegetables! Now that it’s much warmer out we probably grill vegetables once a week! So I as soon as I saw this recipe on the Tapeña® site I knew I had to make these. I like to use mini bell peppers, but large bell peppers work as well. This was our first time grilling eggplant. Next time I’d cut them much thicker and brush a better coat of olive oil on them. I never make a “sauce” to pour on the vegetables, but this complimented it well! 

Prep: 20 mintues
Cook: 10-15 minutes
Serves 8-10

4 small zucchini, sliced diagonally into 1/2” thick slices 
5 slender eggplants, sliced diagonally across the width 
3 red, green, orange or yellow bell peppers 
2 small onions, halved
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
2 cloves garlic, minced and salted 
1/2 tsp paprika 
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. If using a charcoal grill, start the coals and get the grill heated. Or if using a gas grill wait until zucchini and eggplant have been layered to dry. Lightly salt the zucchini and eggplant slices. Layer the salted slices on double thickness of paper towels, so they are lying flat, adding layers of paper towels as needed. Finish layering by covering with a double thickness of paper towels and press flat with the bottom of a heavy pan or platter to squeeze out the moisture. Let the eggplant and zucchini rest for 15 minutes

2. Brush zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and onion with oil. Grill the vegetables for 3 – 8 minutes until done.

3. Core and seed the peppers and cut into thick slices. Cut the eggplant, zucchini and onion into 1” thick slices. Arrange the sliced vegetables on a platter.

4. Whisk olive oil, paprika and garlic and drizzle over the vegetables. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with crusty bread slices.

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I made this recipe a few week’s back when I hosted my Tapeña® Wine and Tapas House Party™. I had the seafood counter pre-steam my shrimp to make my life a little easier. I made the parsley sauce a few hours before the party. 15 minutes prior to guest arriving I toasted the baguettes and plated the shrimp! 

Prep: 15 minutes
Serves 6 – 8 
Pair with: Tapeña Verdejo

1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, washed and stems removed 
1 small onion, peeled and chopped 
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup white wine
3 garlic cloves, minced 
2 threads saffron 
1/4 cup olive oil 
1/4 tsp paprika
1 lb jumbo shrimp, cooked and shelled 
1/2 baguette, diagonally cut into 1/4” slices

1. Heat broth in a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté until softened. Add saffron and stir until fragrant. Add wine and parsley leaves, stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add olive oil and blend with an immersion blender until emulsified. Set parsley sauce aside.

2. In the meantime, brush both side of each piece of bread with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Toast in broiler for 1 – 2 minutes, until edges are golden.

3. Top each toast with a tablespoon of salsa and a shrimp. Serve immediately.

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Last month, I was chosen to host a Tapeña® Wine and Tapas House Party™. For those of you unfamiliar with House Party I highly suggest you check out there website. Most of you know that this isn’t my first House Party I’ve hosted, you can also view my other various House Parties I’ve hosted in the past year; Shutterfly, Bull’s Eye Bold Sauce BBQ, Boboli, Thai Kitchen, and Tombstone Pizza! Needless to say, I was excited to throw a wine party, but a bit intimidated to throw a tapas party. I really did not know anything about tapas other than the word tapas means “small plates”. I asked for all of my guest to bring a tapas dish to share with others. My husband and I provided the wine and a few tapas dishes as well!

We received a box a few weeks prior to the party that all the things you would need to throw a great tapas party! 

Everyone who came to the party got rubber fork wine charms, magnetic picture frames, coupons, and wine tasting cards. 

Prior to the party I went to my local Total Wine & Beer to purchase the Tapeña® wine. As people started coming in to our home we started opening up bottles of wine! 

 Above, I am pictured with two of my newly made food blog friends, Julius from Droolius the Blog and Terri from Love & Confections. I met them last month at the Food Blog Forum Seminar

Terri’s husband, Matt, was our sommelier for the evening! He did a great job explaining the two wines to  everyone! We had the Garnacha and Tempranillo wines. Unfortunately, my Total Wine & Beer does not carry any of the white wines. Hopefully one of these days I’ll get to try the whites! 

I received a small bag of Spanish spices and decided to toss some steamed cold shrimp in a little olive oil and spices. 

I made two different types of pork skewers! One tossed in the Spanish spices and the other tossed in an oregano mixture {recipe to come later this week}. 
Julius cooked up some Mushroom and Onion Quesadillas. He is not a cook he is a food photographer, but did an awesome job making these quesadillas! 
I made shrimp and parsley toast {recipe to come later this week}. 

My friend Lindsay made a quick and easy baked brie… really no baking involved, just a little microwave action! 
I made some sweet and savory pumpkin empanadas {recipe to come later this week}! The sweet were chocked full of brown sugar and cinnamon and the savory had bits of bacon, thyme, and black pepper! 

           Friends talking about food and wine! 

I made some mixed grilled vegetables {recipe to come later this week}!

I also put together a nice tapas sampler platter which included some quince paste. I searched high and low for this stuff. As I shopped store to store I kept getting looks like I was some sort of alien. If you are looking for it I found it at Whole Foods. It is also known as Membrillo. It’s very sweet and pairs well with manchego cheese. 

Terri from Love & Confections made an amazing Spanish Almond Custard Tort. Keep your eyes peeled on her blog–she will be posting the recipe in the coming weeks! 

I made these delicious little white chocolate raspberry mouse phyllo cups. I wasn’t happy with the picture so the next day I bought the ingredients again, made it, and rephotographed them! Of course it didn’t hurt that they are amazing and super easy to make! I’ll be posting the recipe later on this week!
We all had a wonderful time and we were past due for an awesome House Party get together. I hope you enjoyed my virtual House Party! 

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I ran into my local grocery store the other day just to grab a few items, and of course the “apron’s man” was cooking up a storm and was handing out samples. How could I not give his recipe a try?  I tried it and immediately grabbed the recipe card and began filling my basket with all the items I needed to make this recipe. If you aren’t familiar with arepas–you need to be! An arepa is a flat corn patty stuffed with a mild white cheese (normally mozzarella). I always get them when we go to craft shows, and whenever we visit the fair! Arepas are my guilty pleasure, for sure! As the apron’s man carefully crafted my sample I read through the recipe card. It looked easy, but something caught me off guard. They were using a packaged fully cooked pork roast in au jus. Now, I’m not going to lie. I don’t think I’ve ever purchased any of these fully cooked meats just heat it up in minutes and you have a hot meal on the table. I was a little hesitant until I tasted the dish. I was amazed that the pork came from a package and that it was already cooked! 

Source: Publix
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients for the Deconstructed Tamales:

  • 1/2 cup frozen sofrito (Spanish cooking sauce)
  • 1 (17-oz) package fully cooked pork roast au jus
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with garlic/onion (undrained)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 (11.2-oz) box frozen arepas (fried corn and cheese patties)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese (totally forgot to top our food with this)
  • 1/2 lime (for juice), optional
  • Slice of avocado, optional

1. Thaw sofrito under cool running water, (if needed). Remove pork from packaging. Drain au jus and discard; place pork roast in large saucepan. Stir in sofrito and tomatoes; bring to a boil on medium-high, stirring to break up meat.

2. Reduce heat to medium; cook and stir 7–8 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Meanwhile, preheat medium sauté pan on medium 2–3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and coat with cooking spray. Add arepas; cook 2–3 minutes on each side or until thoroughly heated.
3. Transfer arepas to serving platter. Top with pork mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Squeeze a little lime juice over the tamale mixture to add a touch of fresh flavor, if desired. Serve.

Ingredients for the Grilled Potatoes:

  • 2 tbsp frozen sofrito (Spanish cooking sauce)
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Complete seasoning
  • 1/2 lime (for juice), optional

1. Slice potatoes lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices; place in microwave-safe bowl. Stir in oil and sofrito until evenly coated and cover; microwave on high 8–10 minutes or until potatoes begin to soften.

2. Preheat tabletop grill pan. Place potato slices in single layer on grill and close lid; grill 3–4 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Repeat as needed with remaining slices.

3. Remove from grill and sprinkle evenly with complete seasoning. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, if desired.

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Ropa Vieja


Every time we eat at a Spanish restaurant I have to order Ropa Vieja. Although I’m not a huge fan of meat this is one style of meat I can never disregard! This was my third attempt at making ropa vieja. Each time I have not been satisfied with how it came out–I want it to taste exactly like the way it does in the spanish restaurants! This wasn’t the jack pot recipe; however, it was very very good and that’s why I’m sharing it with my readers. Hopefully the 4th or 5th time will be the charm for me! I found this wonderful recipe on a blog called: Mrs. Regueiro’s Plate. If I can’t find another satisfying recipe I’ll definitely be making this one again!  

Prep: 5 minutes 

Total: 20 minutes

Serves: 4


  • 3lbs of flank steak, cut in half
  • Water
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped finely
  • 1 green & red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of cumin
  • 1 tbsp Complete seasoning (found in the ethnic food aisle)
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup of dry cooking wine
  • 3 tbsp of Olive Oil
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Place the 3 flank steak in the pressure cooker. Fill with water to about halfway of the pot. Bring water to a boil and place the lid on. Pressure cook the meat until is very tender, about 45 minutes. (Or in a stockpot for 2 hours, meat needs to be fork tender).
  2. Remove the meat from the water, and place in a large bowl. You need to shred the meat into very thin slices. This process gets a little messy and time consuming, but I use my hands to separate the flank steak to resemble shredded meat. Afterwards, heavily salt the meat about 2 tablespoons or so. Set the meat aside. (You can do this step a day before).
  3. In a large saute pan, add the olive oil – enough to cover the middle of the pan. Prepare the sofrito – add the onions and peppers and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the shredded meat, tomato sauce, tomato paste, cumin, cumin seeds, complete seasoning, cooking wine, bay leaves and let it simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Mix everything well.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 Side suggestions:  Mexican Rice &; Fried Plantains 

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