Tag Archives: Guatemalan food

Gnocchi & Toki

Gnocchi & Toki

Say it so they rhyme: “ñokee & tokee.”  That’s what we had for supper last night.  I just had to put the recipe on here because it’s been such an easy hit for our dinnertime!  The first and only time I have tried gnocchi was 13 years ago when my mother-in-law made some for us to try and I loved them.  I’ve been thinking about them ever since, but seeing the packaged stuff on the shelves at the store just didn’t convince me to buy and try.  The other day on Allrecipes.com I found a recipe for made-from-scratch ricotta gnocchi that reviewers said was easy and delicious.  (I just laughed when one reviewer said that no real Italian would have garlic powder in their kitchen, much less use it in gnocchis!  No Italian in me so I just proceeded with the recipe).  They are usually made with potatoes but this quick recipe is made with ricotta cheese.  To my surprise it was easy to make, super yummy and everyone ate it and asked for seconds!

Last night when I made the gnocchis, I timed myself to see how fast I could do it.  Forty minutes from beginning to boil the water to setting the food on the table!  Not bad! 🙂  And I tried something new yesterday, too.  Instead of using ricotta cheese, I put cottage cheese in the food processor and blended it up until it looked just like ricotta.  No one noticed any difference!  I’ll be doing that in the future for sure.denna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supper

So I thought I would add the recipe and a few photos here so you can try it at your house!  If you like cheese, home made food and a quick supper, dig in!  The recipe is on Allrecipes here along with a simple sauce (which I haven’t tried) or you can try out my easy sauce idea.

Gnocchi ingredients:

1 (8 oz.) container of ricotta cheese  (or I use blended cottage cheese, about 1 cup and a half or so)

2 eggs

1/2 cup parmesan cheese (whatever kind you have, fresh or not)

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. pepper  (I use fresh ground, but if you don’t like to see it, use white pepper)

1 tsp. salt

1 cup flour, or as needed

(cubed mozzarella cheese to add into tomato sauce)

  • Stir together the ricotta cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a large bowl until evenly combined. Mix in 1 cup of flour. Add additional flour if needed to form a soft dough.
  • Divide the dough into 3 or 4 pieces, and roll into 1/2-inch-thick ropes on a floured surface. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces, and place on a lightly floured baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use if not cooking right away.
  • Make a sauce.  What I use is a jar of spaghetti sauce (Newman’s Own, Sockarooni) with red peppers in it.  Add a few Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, some dried or fresh basil, fresh chopped parsely, some paprika and a few Tablespoons of butter.
  • While sauce is simmering, (or before!) bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Boil the gnocchi until they float to the surface, about 2 minutes, then drain.  I boil them in batches, as I roll and cut them.
  • To assemble the dish, stir cubed mozzarella cheese into the sauce and allow the heat of the sauce to soften, but not melt the cheese. Place gnocchi into a serving bowl, and spoon sauce overtop, or instead, simply add just-boiled gnocchi right into the sauce.

This recipe makes enough for our family of six with no leftovers.  Next time I will double it because everyone wants leftovers to take to school/work the next day!  Here’s a hint that was in the recipe reviews:  put the ricotta in a strainer to get rid of some extra moisture, if it seems too moist.  I did that the first time, but there didn’t seem to extra moisture.  With the cottage cheese, I just blended it and never strained it and it seemed fine.  I have been varying the amounts of ricotta/cottage and parmesan and even flour, and it seems to be fine.  I would suggest not to cut back on the garlic and pepper and salt, though.denna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperHere are the little (or not so little) gnocchis after you have rolled them into ropes and cut them.  I was trying to be fancy like the store bought ones, and used the tines of a fork to make impressions on them (that’s supposed to help hold the sauce).  Last night when I made them as fast as I could, no little marks, and they were smaller than those in the photo above.denna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperI didn’t boil very many at a time, as I wasn’t sure if they’d all stick together….then later I’d just boil the ones that were just cut, then while they boiled for 2 or 3 min. I would be cutting the next ones.denna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperThe first time I made the sauce (pictured here) I added chicken, but last night it was just plain tomato and cheesiness, yum!  Here’s the sauce that we buy at Costco, this flavor hasn’t been a favorite until now, because of the red peppers….denna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperdenna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperI was just adding the gnocchis to the sauce as they cooked up.denna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperAnd then last night, I added the cubed mozzarella instead of shredding it over top.  I think most of us really liked the cubed cheese, but I added too much (oh well, I enjoyed it!)denna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperdenna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supperdenna's ideas: making homemade ricotta gnocchi for supper

Maybe you are wondering what the Toki in the title is.  If you have been to Guatemala, you have probably heard of the drink called “Toki” and if you lived there long ago, you probably know the jingle from the TV commercial “Toki, Toki, Toki, te quita el calor!”  For some reason this drink mix has a little North American Native pictured on it, and he used to appear in the commercial beating his little drum.  ???  🙂 Anyways, it’s something I grew up with, and we happen to still have some Rosa de Jamaica flavored Toki drink crystals (that is hibiscus flower flavor) that our Guatemalan family sent us.  The kids figured that we should drink it because Toki rhymes with gnocchi!  It was a great supper!!denna's ideas: Toki drink  mix from Guatemala

Guest blogger!!


Hi, I’m so pleased to tell you that today I am guest author over at Growing Up Bilingual (Raising and Educating Bicultural Kids)!!

You can read my post about Loving Papito’s Culture here.  Paula is originally from Guatemala, too, and I’ve enjoyed checking out her blog.  There are articles in Spanish and yummy sounding recipes that I want to try!

Thanks Paula!!

fabulous fall food: cocido de res


My daughter has been bugging me because I haven’t started to decorate for fall yet….maybe she’s mostly just surprised that I haven’t.  Well, I guess that mermaid party took a lot outta me!!  September was a gorgeous month, but now with the start of October, we’ve also started with the chilly, and slightly wet, weather.  So maybe I’m not decorating yet, but I’ve started cooking for it!!

Day before yesterday we had what Henry and I would probably call the ultimate fall comfort food (for us), I’m talking about a meal, not a dessert!!  I made my mother-in-law’s “cocido de res” ( at least I tried to!!)  I haven’t verified the details of the recipe with her lately, but I do have memories of her making it and how much I love it!!  And love it more every time I make it!!  I guess it could be called a stew?  Well, maybe not, maybe it’s more of a soup with lots of chunks in it….not sure.

Sometimes I cook up the beef in the crock pot then add it to the soup, but this time I just browned some chunks of beef in the pot then added water for broth, and it worked out great.  I’m not sure I remembered the seasonings properly, but I know bay leaf (hoja de laurel) is in there for sure!!  Black pepper, salt, season salt….ok, I couldn’t remember if there’s garlic in there, but I thought not, so didn’t add that.  Now throw in all sorts of root veggie type things, like sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes, acorn squash and corn on the cob….which I didn’t have so I just added frozen corn at the end!!  (I take lots of shortcuts when I cook traditional meals! )  I also didn’t have a beef boullion cube, so I added some chicken stuff and thought that I had ruined it, but it was fine!  whew!  Now let that all simmer together and prepare some white rice ( I use basmati).  Chop up some onion (white I guess) and lots of fresh cilantro. When serving time comes around, put some rice in each dish, ladle in some broth, add lots of the veggies and top with chopped onion and cilantro!  Oh boy!  That onion and cilantro just kick it up by several notches!! 

One of my kids gave me 2 thumbs up and 2 big toes up for this meal!!!

When we ate the delicious leftovers yesterday we added an avocado! super yum!!

I should probably call Mamita to ask and see if I forgot anything…but we were happy with it and my husband is a sweetie and doesn’t say “this is good, but not a good as my Mom’s!” (he is also a very wise man).

What are your favorite fall recipes that you eat every autumn?  I have lots of dessert recipes, but not so many “real food” recipes!

here’s a bonus photo that I thought I’d just throw in here:  I don’t usually do anything fancy, but this day I thought I’d try and “fancy-up” plain jam and butter sandwiches for the kids, heehee 🙂  I guess they weren’t too embarassed at lunch time! 😉

Feliz 15 de Septiembre! Eat, sing and be merry…

Feliz 15 de Septiembre! Eat, sing and be merry…

Happy to be together on this day, even though we’ve been stressed and tired!  My blog photos make it look like I have a lot more patience than I do.  Really.

To celebrate the 15 de septiembre, Guatemala’s Independence Day, we ate some “traditional Guatemalan” food.  Well, about as close as I get nowadays.  I do know a few recipes, but I’m afraid that I now take the shortcut version of all the recipes I know.  The other day was so exciting because at our corner grocery store I found…..tomatillos! Finally! This is the first time I’ve seen a can of them for sale (once in awhile I see the fresh ones in some stores).  So Henry obligingly picked up the ingredients.

The shortcut I take on this recipe is that we buy a rotisserie chicken…that’s pre-cooked.  (I call them “rosti-pollos”)  So I just make up the sauce…..oops, I forgot to mention the name of the dish I’m making…it’s called jocón.  Pronounced “hoe– (as in ho-ho-ho) cone“.  It is a chicken with green sauce dish.  Super tasty and super good for you.  I mean it.

It’s easy, too.  Grab the bunch of cilantro and a bunch of green onions (wash first if you wish) then throw them in a food processor or blender (I don’t have a blender) and process!  Then throw in the drained can of tomatillos, process!  Pour this into a pot and add the secret spices.  This is one of them:

Do you know what it is?  Cloves.  In North America a lot of people don’t “cook” with cloves, they just use them in desserts.  But cloves (called “clavos de olor” or just “clavos“) are an important part in traditional Guatemalan dishes.  The same goes for cinnamon (canela)….add a piece of cinnamon bark.  Add some black pepper corns (pimienta) and some salt.  Is that all…clavo, pimienta, canela….I think so.  Heat it up for awhile and then toss the chicken in….in pieces, and cook for a bit.  That’s all I did.  I know that it’s a really quick version..I’m sure somebody somewhere is rolling in their grave. (eso solo es un viejo y conocido dicho…)

The kids were a bit suspicious, some of them couldn’t remember having eaten it before, but they loved it!!!  Licked the platter clean!  We added a spinach salad and avocado and lime.  I had honestly wanted to food-color the jocón blue…but Henry didn’t like that idea at all.  I thought it was a very green meal for a blue and white holiday…but hey…I guess quetzals are green……..And now for dessert, this I made sure was blue and white.

Cupcakes with a little surprise in the middle.

The light was so dim in the room, it was hard to get the photos.  I brightened this one up, but that’s really what it looked like!  A blue heart to say:


Sopa Maggi, my way!


A quick cozy lunch for my girlie and I, that was what we needed, after a “long” morning at kindergarten…(haha).  I was so pleased to have a few carefully guarded packages of soup that traveled in my suitcase from Guatemala.  Since it was a lunch emergency, I decided to use my last package of:It just seems like the soups from Guatemala are yummier than the ones I get here…probably a lot more MSG in them! 😉

Follow the package directions to cook up the soup, and then add a few extra ingredients!

I happened to have some cooked chicken (which I don’t usually have!) so I added that to the soup:

Now come my yummy extras: Salsa and tortilla chips!!  (looks like we need a new jug of salsa)…I put that —— on everything!!  Delicious!! 🙂

Refried black beans: frijoles negros


I lived in Guatemala for 17 years…and wouldn’t eat black beans.  My mom tried to trick us into eating them, but I wouldn’t.  About a month before I moved away, I finally tried them (of my own accord) and realized…they aren’t that bad!  I almost liked them!  Crazy, isn’t it?  And even crazier: refried black beans and rice are my favorite meal nowadays!

When I lived in Guate, and after I married Henry, my boss used to tease me and ask if I had prepared black beans for my husband yet…I always said “no way!! we eat McDonalds!”  (and that’s what explains the rapid weight gain after getting married!)  Now I make refried beans about once a week, and am so very happy that my kids eat them!!  Sorry Mom, for being so picky when I was little!  My kids aren’t totally perfect, but they sure are better eaters than I was!! Haha.

Anyways, about beans….and not just any beans.  They have to be black beans.  That’s what they eat in Guatemala.  I think in Mexico red beans are used more, and some other beans in El Salvador…I can’t quite remember which they prefer there….every place has their favorite beans!  Don’t think that I’m such a great cook and spend hours making beans from scratch….sorry to disappoint!  I make them from a can…it’s just easier and faster…and that’s what I’m all about.

When we came back from visiting our family in Guatemala at Christmas time, I squeezed 2 precious cans into my suitcase…

They taste soooo good!  These have already been refried, and are all ready to eat.  I haven’t been able to buy these where I shop, so I buy the whole beans and start with them.

I learned something new about canned beans when I was there.  I was in the kitchen one day, and my sweet little sister-in-law was going to prepare some canned refried beans (we were in a hurry!  usually they cook them from scratch) she opened a big can of them, then flipped them over, grabbed a very large knife and whack! whacked 2 holes in the bottom of the can!  It surprised me…I had never seen this done, and she seemed so at home with that large knife…and then she held the can over the pan and blew into the holes, and out popped the beans and into the pan!  Slick trick! 🙂

I was determined to try this little trick when I got home.  So I packed my cans of refried beans, flew for a day to get home, and waited for the right moment…

When the craving for beans came apon me, I grabbed my biggest knife and whack! whack!Oh, I guess that first I opened the tin…  If you should be fortunate enough to have a can of refried beans, this is a handy way of preparing it!Not sure if it matters what order you do it in, oh wait, yes, because you should be whacking it with the knife over the pan, but since I had my camera in one hand, I had to set the tin down on the countertop!

So really, you should already have your pan sizzling full of onions and garlic….plenty of chopped onions and garlic browning up in oil!Then whack your can!  (Children, do not try this at home. Let your parent do it, so if they accidently whack their hand with the knife, they are responsible to get themselves the necessary first aid.  I am super squeamish about first aid, so I whack very carefully!)Now invert the can over the pan, and give a big puff and blow through the knife holes!And the contents should plop out just like this!  Doesn’t that look appetizing?Now mash it up…

Add some more oil…you will need this to brown them up a bit more and start the final step…making the “maleta” (that means suitcase).I am so not an expert…I’ve seen experts flip this around, brown it a bit, then flip the frying pan in the air to flip the maleta over….it looks great, but no photos of that part!

Here’s a photo of the “maleta” of refried beans that we ate on New Years Eve…(this was several cans of beans)Prepared by my husband for the kids’ New Years’ Eve brunch out on the patio (enjoying perfect outdoor weather I must add…)Yum!!  I love these beans!

Here’s how I serve them back here in Canada:I don’t usually make rice how I learned in Guate, usually I make plain basmati rice, then serve them with (bought) salsa and sour cream or lately, cream cheese and tortilla chips (and sometimes scrambled eggs).  It’s my favorite meal and I could eat it every day….if it wasn’t for certain side-effects of beans….anyways…..Here’s my baby and her plate of beans…she really loves them, she was just sitting there waiting for me to finish photographing her food so she could eat it already!!!  Hmmm….I’m thinking of lunch now…wonder if I have any cans of beans in the cupboard….?

When I make them from the whole canned beans, I just cook them up with the onions and garlic, then use one of those little hand-held blender things (for making beverages and stuff) and blend up the beans in the pot.  Sometimes I add oil and fry them up a bit, and sometimes not.  Add salt!! that is necessary, even if you skimp out on the oil.

Since I’m trying to get my iron up, I’ve been trying to eat liver pate on toast in the mornings…well, the other day, I thought, maybe I should add some refried beans to my liver toast…and some cream cheese!  So I did, but I felt like I was having to choke it down…was I just getting tired of liver?  The only way I was able to eat it, was to smother my liver-bean-cream-cheese toast in Dorito chips…And it still wasn’t that good.   Later on that day, Henry looked at the liver pate in the fridge and told me that it had gone bad….I guess that explains it…and explains why my stomach felt “off” the rest of the day…

oh well, I ingested a fair amount of iron that day, what with the liver and beans and all….

I think I might just stick to the refried beans, though.

Hope this (first part of the post) has made you want to try some yummy refried beans!!  Hey…I just remembered the black bean volcano that I made for my son’s bday party…wonder if I have a photo…nope, couldn’t find it…I’ll post it another day…when I hear back about how many people love refried black beans!!! 🙂

How do you eat/prepare beans?  Do you have a Bean Tradition in your family?  Do your kids eat them?

Guatemalan food: comida Guatemalteca: color inspiration


I’m still thinking about the food we ate on our Guatemalan vacation!

Funny enough, we prepared Mexican tacos (one version, as I’ve noticed there are tons of versions!).  Fresh corn tortillas with beef, cilantro, onion and lime! Yummy!

A cousin prepared an awesome bbq picnic for us….the beef was melt-in-your-mouth and the salsa and guacamol were true Guatemalan style!For years I’ve been dreaming about the cheese fondue in Guatemala….ahhh….wonderful!I especially had my heart set on cheese fondue at an old favorite restaurant NAIS…here’s a shot of the black bean soup at Nais…..And for dessert….some cute pink cupcakes at a family birthday party!Just posting these photos has made my mouth water!!  I wish I could have a taste of all this food today!! YUM!