Comfort Food – A Recipe for Risotto

Rosie (Robotina) One of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid was the Jetsons (Los Supersonicos) and I always thought about how the future will look like and how amazing will be to have a robot like Rosie (Robotina for the version in Spanish) to help in the house. I have to say that several days ago, I turned into a robot like Rosie.

I finished my second cycle of intense chemo two weeks ago. And yes, I am officially done with chemo!!!!!. I will start radiation on Feb 1st.  I am so grateful because my mother in-law stay with us and went with me to the hospital each day. Dave and Kathy were very patient since my mood was horrible, I didn’t want to talk, I couldn’t sleep, I was nauseous and the prednisone (steroids) made me hyperactive.  I had what I will call the “Rosie Syndrome”, I wanted to clean the apartment and organize things 24/7 non-stop, exactly like Rosie/ Robotina.

Although the chemo was super strong and sometimes I was not hungry at all, there were times I will crave for comfort food particularly pasta and rice.  I love risotto and I found an easy-to-make recipe from Cooking Light Magazine . I made it for one night and It turned out very well. Here is the recipe:

Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Mascarpone
Cooking Light
Level: Easy  | 4 servings
Time of preparation: 50 min
2 cups of boiling water
1 cup dried Porcini mushrooms (1 oz = 28 g)
1 can of less-sodium beef broth
cooking spray
1 cup uncooked arborio rice
3/4 cup chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup  grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese (Italian cream cheese)

Fresh thyme leaves (optional)

1. Combine 2 cups boiling water and mushrooms; let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain through a colander over a bowl. Reserve 1 1/2 cups soaking liquid; chop mushrooms.

2. Bring soaking liquid and beef broth to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil) Keep broth mixture warm.

3. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add rice, shallots and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add wine, and cook until liquid evaporates (about 2 minutes)

4. Add 1 cup broth mixture to rice mixture, cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of the broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes).

5. Add mushrooms, grated cheese, chopped thyme, salt and pepper; stir gently until cheese melts. Spoon 1 cup risotto into each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 1 Tblsp mascarpone and thyme leaves, if desired.

Cooking tip: I couldn’t find Porcini mushrooms and I used regular mushrooms instead. Also, if you cannot find the mascarpone cheese try 1Tblsp of sour cream or regular cream cheese on each serving to add more flavor.

Thank you to my friends Anna, Michelle and Maria for the beautiful flowers that make me smile.

Thank you for keeping me in your prayers and positive thoughts!!!!

Have a great weekend!.

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Cheesecake: a Remedy for Anxiety

Today on July 2 I will have the first CT scan after completing my treatment. I am confident that I will receive good news, but also I am a bit scared. Under these circumstances I guess that feeling a bit anxious is something “natural.”

In this sense, I decided to bake bake a tasty classic Cheesecake. I came across the recipe on the Real and Simple magazine. This recipe is easy-to-make and a  fantastic dessert that worth sharing with all of you.

Thank you for reading and specially for your prayers. Love Bea

Classic Cheesecake
Real & Simple
Easy | Servings 10

For the Pie Crust:

  • 18  graham crackers (2 sleeves)
  • 1/2  cup  (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt

For the Cake:

  • 1  cup  plus 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 3  8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2  cups  sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  pure vanilla extract
  • 3  large eggs, at room temperature

Cherry sauce:

  • 1  10-ounce bag frozen cherries
  • 1/2  cup  sugar
  • 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1  tablespoons  cornstarch
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 325° F (160 C). In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until fine crumbs form. Add the butter, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar and pulse to combine. Using a straight-sided dry measuring cup, press the mixture into the bottom and 2 inches up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and 1 cup of the remaining sugar on medium speed until smooth. Add 1 cup of the sour cream and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and beat to combine. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake until just set (the center will be slightly wobbly), 50 to 60 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup of sour cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and ½ teaspoon of vanilla. Spread over the hot cheesecake, then bake until set, 3 to 5 minutes more. Let cool to room temperature in the pan, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake before unmolding.
  4. Make the cherry sauce: In a large skillet, combine the cherries, sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the mixture begins to thicken, 4 to 6 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water. Add to the cherries in the skillet and cook, stirring, until the mixture is thick and syrupy, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Let cool completely. Serve with the cheesecake.

Cooking tip: The key on this recipe are the ingredients kept at room temperature. Also since I am not the best at making the pie crust from scratch, I prefer to buy the pie crust at the grocery store. My favorite brand is Keebler. Finally, I didn’t have all the ingredients for the cherry sauce, so I skipped the step and used marmalade instead.

One More Left!

Dave and I spent a fantastic Memorial Day weekend with my dad. We drove to West Virginia, we enjoyed the drive, the weather was beautiful and we had a great time with my dad. It was refreshing to have a nice break from the routine to clear our minds.

Yesterday I had chemo no. 11, only 1 left yay!!!!!!. Since it was the day after Memorial Day we spent 6 hours at the hospital, the hospital was packed. I got upset since there were not enough chairs to receive the chemo and we had to wait for a long time, it was frustrating but oh well.  .  The good thing is that I saw Lynne, my incredible nurse. Several weeks ago, Lynne share a delicious recipe for salmon that I have posted below, thank you Lynne.

I am tired and extremely sensitive but I am doing well most of the time and I am excited that only one treatment is left. Three weeks after the last chemo on June 11 I will have a pet-scan to see the results of the treatment. I will have regular checkups each 3 months for a year and then each year or as requested by my doctor.

Thank you for your prayers, good vibes and positive thoughts. 🙂

Salmon with Pecan Crust
Recipe courtesy of Lynne Trench
Easy | Servings 4

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
  • 4 salmon fillets (4 to 5 oz each)
  • salt and black pepper
  • lemon wedges

Mix together mustard, butter and honey in a small bowl: set aside. mix together read crumbs, pecans and parsley in a small bowl; set aside. Season each salmon fillet with salt and pepper. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet or broiling pan. Brush each filet with mustard-honey mixture. Pat top of each fillet with bread crumb mixture. Bake at 450 F (232 C) for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, measured at thickets part, or until salmon flakes when tested with a fork. Serve with lemon wedges.

My Favorite Dessert

I potentially have two more chemo treatments left. I can’t wait to mid June where I will have completed a total of 12.
Two Saturdays ago before chemo no. 9, I went with Team-in-Training to run, and my friends Jen and Kelli had a lovely surprise waiting for me. They prepared an incredible basket with magazines, cooking books, candies, and goodies to enjoy while I have my treatment. I also got a little Sudoku book (I love Sudoku).Thank you Kelli and Jen for being so thoughtful, you made my day and the treatment enjoyable.

This coming Monday I have my treatment number 11. It is funny how things change, because now I cannot stand the smell of saline or alcohol at the hospital. In fact, I have to tell the nurses to let me know in advance when they are using saline or alcohol so I can cover my nose with a scarf that has my favorite perfume Viva la Juicy. Two more chemos to go… Thank God.

Speaking about great things, I have to say that my favorite dessert is my mother-in-law’s White Texas Tea Cake recipe. I always look forward to visiting Dave’s parents house to enjoy this cake!. Thank you Kathy for sharing this recipe.
I have to say that the recipe looks simple to make, yet, it can be tricky. The first time I made it I thought I could use a normal cookie pan but the cake didn’t turn out as I expected. The second time I made it, I used a jelly roll pan (deeper than a cookie pan) and the cake finally had the height I expected. I have so much fun baking!!! Since I don’t have a great picture of my version of the cake, I have included a beautiful picture of the National Cathedral in DC. I took this picture when my mom and aunt Lupita visited in April.

White Texas Cake

For the mixture

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Bring butter and the water to boil. Remove from heat, add the baking soda, sugar, salt and flour. Then add eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat well. Pour into 15x10x1 jelly roll  pan (make sure you have one jelly roll or pan that is deep enough). Bake at 350 F (176C) for about 20 minutes (add more minutes if you are above sea level). Set aside, let it cool.

For the frosting

  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 lb powdered sugar (450 grams)

Bring butter and milk to boil. Remove from heat, add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat well. Pour warm over cooled cake.

Cooking tip: For the mixture, before you add the eggs make sure the mixture is not too hot, otherwise you will cook the eggs and the cake won’t taste delicious :)`

Update & Recipe

I haven’t published in a while but here is quick summary of what has happened during the last 15 days: Cristy my younger sister spent her spring break with us, the weather was beautiful and we had a great time in the Baltimore/DC area. Few days later Caro my sister travelled to Annapolis and she accompanied me to the hospital for chemo no. 6. I love spending time with my sisters!!

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I am half way on my treatment !!!!!. I have noticed that I am more tired though; yet I feel good in general and I am still running. Tomorrow I have chemo no. 7 (only 5 left). Thank you for your prayers and positive energy 🙂

Last Thursday I made the recipe below. It is an ideal option for any flakey white fish such as Rockfish, tilapia, red snapper, etc.

Mustard-Roasted Fish
Time: 30 minutes | 4 Servings
Level: Easy

  • Four fish fillets (i.e rockfish, alaskan red snapper, tilapia)
  • Kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon for the sauce
  • 2 to 3 medium shallots
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons capers
  • 8 oz ounces creme fraiche (Whole Foods sells it)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

Preheat the oven to 425 F degrees. Have a baking dish ready to align the fillets.
Season the fillets lightly on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the fillets on the baking dish. Note:  If you are using a skin-on fish like rockfish place the skin down.

Mince the shallots (to yield 2 tablespoons) and drain the capers; place both in a medium bowl. Add the creme fraiche, the water, both of the mustards, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stirring to combine.

Spoon the sauce over the fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. Bake for 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through (if you live in Mexico City or any city with high altitude you will need to add more minutes in the oven)
Serve hot or at room temperature, with sauce from the dish spooned over the top

Cooking tip: If you cannot find the creime fraiche, use sour cream instead.

Feb 4 – Cancer Awareness Day & a Recipe

Today February 4, is the World Cancer Day, a global observance that helps raise people’s awareness of cancer and how to prevent, detect or treat it.

I cannot complain, I have the best care a patient could ever ask for. Yesterday, I had my third chemo and so far so good. The medicines I get are strong. There is one in particular that felt like it was burning my veins. Luckily enough, Lynne increased the amount of saline solution in the IV and I felt better afterwards. Today I only have a small headache but nothing else!. I appreciate your prayers and good vibes that give me strength and reinforce a positive attitude.

Lynne, Jeni -my amazing new friends and nurses – and I share the passion about cooking. Right after coming back from the hospital I couldn’t wait and I made for dinner an easy-to-make and tasty recipe Jeni shared with me. Thank you Jeni!

Couscous Chicken Salad
20 min | 4 servings
Level: Easy

Salad
1 lg chicken breast (or two small)
1 cucumber (remove seeds and dice)
1 pint of grape tomatoes (halved)
1 small can sliced black olives
Diced green onion tops (to taste)
1 box unflavored couscous (substitute with Orzo or pasta)
Feta cheese

Dressing
1 to 1 1/2 cups greek yogurt (to taste)
Couple tablespoons olive oil
Juice & zest of 1 lemon (lima o limon)
Dried mint
Salt & pepper

Grill and/or bake the chicken breasts (season to taste). Dice chicken. Mix the dressing the bottom of a large bowl and add the vegetables and diced chicken. Prepare couscous (pasta or orzo) according to package directions.
Mixed prepared couscous with dressing, veggies, and chicken. Stir in feta and serve either warm or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Cooking tip: After boiled, run the couscous through cold water to separate the grains better. I like Chobani greek plain yogurt which is a good option for this recipe.

Crab Cakes – Baltimore Style

Today my hair is short :).
Yesterday, I received beautiful roses, thank you Nancy and Philip. I also got a fantastic cooking book (I have chosen already several recipes) thank you Theresa!!!!

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The Maryland area and specifically the city of Baltimore are well -known for their famous crab cakes. Two nights ago I followed the recipe below from Epicurious; it is excellent.

Crab Cakes – Baltimore Style
Time: 40 min | 6 crab cakes
Level: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice plus wedges for garnish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning**
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over (Chicken of the Seas is a great option)
  • 1 1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Whisk first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add crab; fold to blend. Stir in 3/4 cup panko, chives, salt, and pepper. Divide into 6 equal portions. Form each into 1 inch thick patties. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place remaining 1/2 cup panko on a plate. Coat cakes with panko. Fry until golden brown and crisp, 3-4 minutes per side. Serve with lettuce or salad.

Cooking tip: Panko can be found in groceries or markets with Asian products. Otherwise, bread crumbs are a good substitute.
**In case you cannot find Old Bay Seasoning in your local grocery store; you can make your own. Old Bay is a mix of the following spices: mustard, paprika, celery seed, bay leaf, both black and red pepper, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, salt, mace and ginger.

Flowers and a Recipe

Last week I received this colorful and joyful bouquet of flowers. I love flowers!

When you go to a hospital you can experience mixed feelings, you might be scared, feel relief, be worried or excited. For me when going to Johns Hopkins is the latter. I get excited to go to the hospital because not only do I know that I am recieving the medicines that will help my body to recover, but I am getting the best care from wonderful nurses.
Through this journey I have met  beautiful people. I am fortunate to have the great care of Lynne and Jenny (amazing nurses). Their smile, laughs and positive energy heals, they make a difference and I admire them.

Last Friday I had my second chemo and I have been feeling very well. In fact, on Saturday I started running again. Three miles to be exact.

A super easy and fast recipe for any winter day…

Ginger Chicken and Rice
From Food & Wine
Time: 1 hr | 4 Servings
Level: Easy

  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1 large cube chicken boullon (consome de pollo Knor)
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 2 inch of fresh ginger (cut into matchsticks)
  • 1 1/4 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 cups of baby spinach
  • 1 can of unsweetened coconut milk

In a bowl, dissolve the cube of chicken bouillon (consome Knor) in the hot water, set aside. In a rice cooker (if you don’t have one use a normal pot) combine the rice with the ginger and the boneless chicken thighs cut into cubes. Arrange the spinach on top of the rice. Pour the coconut milk and the bouillon broth (consome de pollo) already prepared into the pot and season lightly with salt.
Cook the mix until it boils and then simmer. (for about 30 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked)

Cooking tip: To make this even easier and faster, use canned chicken or turkey.

Buen Provecho!

A Great Recipe that Takes Time

Delicious cookies

On Thursday, we made the recipe below that takes a couple of hours to make, but it worth the time. A bit of patience will be required ♥.   The last days I have received beautiful gestures of love from friends. Thank you Aileen, Kip, Jo, Mike, Paula, Connie, and Bill. I love the gifts, books and cookies!.   Lamb Ragout with Olives and Peppers
From: Food & Wine Magazine
Time: 3hr 30 min | 6 servings
Level: Intermediate

    • 1/4 cup canola oil
    • 4 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 large white onions, coarsely chopped
    • 4 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
    • 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
    • 1/4 cup tomato paste
    • 1 cup dry red wine
    • 10 cups water
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup sliced pitted Picholine olives
    • 3/4 cup sliced roasted red peppers
    • 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
    • 2 cups Israeli couscous
It worth the time – tasty recipe

1. Preheat the oven to 250°. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil until shimmering. Season the lamb with salt and black pepper and add it to the casserole. Cook over moderately high heat, turning the pieces once or twice, until deeply browned, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a platter.

2. Add the onions, celery and carrots to the casserole. Cover and cook over low heat just until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook over moderately high heat, stirring until the paste is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the pot, until nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the water, season with salt and bring to a boil. Return the lamb and any accumulated juices to the casserole. Cover and braise in the oven for about 2 1/2 hours, until tender.

3. Transfer the lamb to the platter. Remove any fat and gristle and coarsely shred the meat. Strain the broth and discard the solids. Skim the fat from the surface of the broth. Return the broth to the casserole and boil until reduced to 4 cups, about 30 minutes.

4. In a small bowl, mix the butter with the flour to form a paste; whisk it into the broth and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Return the lamb to the sauce. Add the olives, red peppers and tarragon and keep warm.

Cooking tip: Since we made the recipe for Dave and I, we used half of the portions the recipe calls for and we still had leftovers.

A Recipe with Quinoa

Dave and I found this recipe at Food and Wine Magazine and we tried it for dinner tonight.
Quinoa is a seed and seems like a boring option for dinner; yet, this recipe adds a great flavor to it. Quinoa is known for its nutritional value. It is high in protein and considered a great antioxidant, it is also a source of magnesium for those that suffer from headaches and migraines; a great and nutritious ingredient that worth adding to your diet.

Photo from James Baigrie, Food & Wine, 2010.

Spice-Roasted Shrimp and Pistou with Quinoa
Time: 30-40 minutes | 4 servings
Level: Easy

To marinate the shrimp
1/2 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup canola oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

To make the Pistou
1/4 cup (packed) basil leaves
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 garlic clove, smashed
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed  or cooked rice ready-to-serve
2 1/4 cups water

  1. In a resealable plastic bag, toss the shrimp with the garlic and onion powders, paprika, oregano, fennel seeds, dried thyme, 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper until coated. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°. In a food processor, pulse the basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme leaves, garlic and cheese. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil; puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. If you use quinoa, in a saucepan, combine the quinoa, water and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Season lightly with salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; keep warm.
  4. On a baking sheet, roast the shrimp for about 8 minutes, until curled and pink. Cut the shrimp into thirds and add to the quinoa with the pistou. Toss well, season with salt and pepper and serve

Cooking Tip: You can double the pistou sauce, it adds a great flavor to the shrimp. In case you don’t feel like using Quinoa, I encourage you to mix the marinated shrimp with rice (yellow is the best option for this dish)