Some of my favorite recipes

I promised Rinny, author of Wine Please!, some of my favorite recipes. Instead of e-mailing these gems to her, I have decided to spread the love. (Maybe Lora at Jake's Kitchen will publish my recipes as guest posts :) Below are some of my favorite, go-to recipes.

Beets with goat cheese and fresh chopped mint
Mara’s Shrimp Alfredo
Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican rice and beans)
Tuna and Rice
Beef and Rutabaga Stew

Beets with goat cheese and fresh chopped mint
Wash beets thoroughly and cut them into half-inch disks.

Place beets in a baking dish and drizzle with small amount of olive oil.

Roast beets, covered, for about 30 minutes, until fork-tender.

Put beets on a plate, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and spread goat cheese on each (I like using a strong-flavored goat cheese for this recipe)

Sprinkle with fresh chopped mint, to taste.

Mara’s Shrimp Alfredo
Shrimp, peeled and de-veined
Olive oil
Garlic, three cloves crushed
Red onion, chopped (about half a small-sized onion)
Orange (or lemon)
Dry white wine (or Sherry)
Heavy cream
Parmesan cheese, fresh grated
Fresh basil
Salt & Pepper

Put a few tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.

Once the pan is nice and hot, add garlic, onions and shrimp.

Cook, constantly stirring until onion and garlic browns slightly.

Throw in a splash of white wine to deglaze pan.

Cook until shrimp are almost cooked, and deglaze the pan again with a squeeze of juice from the orange.

Let get hot again and add cream to pan.

Stir in cheese until sauce is thick, but not gooey.

Top with fresh basil and salt and pepper to taste.

Gallo Pinto
This is the staple food in Costa Rica. It’s name means “Speckled Chicken,” though the recipe doesn’t necessarily include chicken or any other meat. I often make mine meatless and eat it with a fried egg on top for breakfast, as well as use as a side dish for either lunch or dinner. The Salsa Lizano is what gives this dish its authentic sabor tico, but you can substitute for any vegetable-based mild sauce.

Red Onions, finely chopped, about 3-4 tablespoons
Celery, finely chopped, 2 stalks
Green and/or red bell pepper, about 3 tablespoons
Garlic, finely chopped, 1 or 2 cloves
Black beans, small can
2.5 cups cooked white rice
Olive oil
Lizano (or another vegetable salsa)
Scrambled eggs or chopped-up, left over chicken or steak

1. Put a few tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan (cast iron works well for this), and put over medium-high heat.

2. When hot, add first four ingredients—sauté a few minutes, until soft.

3. Add white rice, cook about 4-5 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so.

4. Add can of beans and reduce heat to low.

5. Pour in Lizano or other vegetable salsa to taste.

6. Add handfuls of fresh cilantro leaves and salt and pepper.

7. Stir in meat, if desired.

Tuna and Rice
Also a rice dish I learned to make in Costa Rica, tuna and rice is quick, cheap and tasty. It’s best to use can tuna from the Hispanic section of your grocery store; try one or a combination of Goya or Sirenita’s atún con maíz (tuna with corn), atún con vegetales (tuna with vegetables) and atún con jalapeños (tuna with jalapeños).

Follow steps 1 and 2 from the “Gallo Pinto” recipe, then dump two cans of tuna (no need to drain if using recommended types) and heat a couple of minutes.

Reduce heat and follow steps 5 and 6 from the “Gallo Pinto” recipe.

Beef and Rutabaga Stew (made in the crock pot)
2 lbs beef chuck, cubed
2 rutabagas, peeled and cubed
4 parsnips, peeled and cut into one-inch disks
1 small yellow onion, chopped

Create a rub for meat by combining salt, pepper, mustard powder, thyme and sage (I prefer to use fresh herbs)

Sprinkle mixture on cubed meat and brown in a very hot pan-just a minute on each side.

Toss meat in crock-pot with parsnips and rutabagas.

In the pan the meat was browned in, add a splash of oil and sauté onions until brown (about 5 min.)

Add sautéed onions, to crock-pot and toss in a bay leaf or two.

Cover mixture with beef stock or water.

Cook on low for 8 - 10 hours.


  1. Yum! The gallo pinto recipe took me straight to the pantry... I had forgotten how crazy about this dish we were when we got back from Costa Rica. Sadly, I am 2 ingredients shy and unwilling to go to the grocery store for the third time today, so we had leftovers for dinner. Perhaps tomorrow night...

  2. Susan--To get the true Costa Rican flavor, you need to have Lizano. If we ever have the opportunity to meet in person (maybe for an "Urbanity" pub crawl?!?), I will bring you a tupperware full.

  3. Thanks, Mara! I can't wait to try these out!

  4. Okay, then make that 3 ingredients shy unless the local Hispanic grocery carries Lizano. I'd bet my socks that that Raley's does not...