Lunch With Loni

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Cuban Ropa Vieja April 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 3:19 am

Recipe courtest of: MASTER815K  

Original recipe located at:

I apologize for the random grains of rice in the photo—I forgot to take a photo the night we ate it and this was literally leftovers!

Just typing this is bringing back the succulent and savory flavor of this dish to my mouth.  Very easy, very tasty.  I can’t attest to how authentic it is but it’s definitely a keeper!


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds beef flank steak (I used skirt steak.  It worked fine!)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips (I used bagged frozen red/yellow/green peppers and estimated what I thought amounted to one sliced pepper…cheaper than fresh and great for recipes like this.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 packet of Sazon Goya (suggested by someone who reviewed the recipe online)


  1. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the flank steak on each side, about 4 minutes per side.  I skipped this step.  I know it “locks in the juices” but considering the amount of liquid in the recipe I wasn’t concerned and quite frankly, I was not feeling like washing a pan!  (Lucky for me my husband usually does the dishes, anyhow!)
  2. Transfer beef to a slow cooker. Pour in the beef broth and tomato sauce, then add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, tomato paste, cumin, cilantro, sazon, olive oil and vinegar. Stir until well blended. Cover, and cook on High for 4 hours, or on Low for up to 10 hours. When ready to serve, shred meat and serve with tortillas or rice.

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cake

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 3:08 am

Recipe courtesy of:  Karen Barker

Original recipe located at:

I got this recipe from a cookbook, but I also found it online.

This is an “oh my god” recipe…love at the first bite.  The mint flavor is not overpowering but cuts through the richness of the chocolate just enough (I feel bad just hinting that chocolate needs to be “cut”).  As usual, I used Ghirardelli chocolate chips.  They never fail me.


I didn’t really try to make the ganache pretty and was too impatient to let it thicken enough to spread on the sides.  Oh well!



  • 14 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 16 tablespoons (8 ounces) butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) small-diced peppermint pattie candies

Ganache Topping:

  • 1 cup cream
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • Whipped cream, for serving

To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 9 1/2 to 10-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, and flour the pan, tapping out the excess flour.  I sprayed mine with a baking spray (with flour in it).

Melt the chocolate with the butter and cream in the top of a double boiler. Reserve.  I put it in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds at a time and stirred it each time. 

In the bowl of a mixer with a whip, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until very thick and light (about 5 minutes). Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg yolks and mix until just blended. Add the flour, salt, and vanilla and mix until combined, scraping the bowl once or twice. Transfer the batter to a large mixing bowl and stir in the Peppermint Pattie pieces. The mixture will be quite thick.

In a clean mixing bowl, with a clean whip, beat the egg whites to medium soft peaks. Lighten the batter by stirring in about one-third of the egg whites. Fold in the remaining whites and the place batter in the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 45 to 50 minutes. The top of the cake will feel set and very fine hairline cracks will just start to form around the edges. Remove and cool in the pan on a rack.

To make the ganache topping: Heat the cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan to just under a boil. Add the chopped chocolate and, over very low heat, constantly stirring, cook the mixture until it is completely smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until thickened and spreadable. This can take several hours.  Again, I heated the chocolate in the microwave.  I also didn’t bother with the sieve.  Too fussy!

You can make the topping up to 3 days ahead, refrigerate it, and allow it to come to room temperature for several hours before using. You can also hasten the cooling process by placing the melted ganache over an ice bath and gently stirring it till thickened; however, the resulting texture may not be quite as smooth and creamy.

Place the cooled cake upside down on a cardboard cake circle or a service plate. Remove the sides and bottom of the springform pan. Remove the parchment liner. Using an offset spatula, decoratively spread the ganache over what is now the top of the cake, drawing the ganache all the way out to the edges of the cake. Using the offset spatula, level the edges to give the cake a finished look. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream, Cocoa Fudge Sauce and Mint Syrup.


Cheesy Baked Pasta with Spinach and Artichokes April 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 2:16 am

I loooveee spinach artichoke dip…and this recipe is basically spinach artichoke dip added to pasta, so how could I go wrong? 

Recipe courtesy of: Real Simple Magazine, April 2010


                8 ounces mezzi rigatoni (or some other short pasta)

                1- 14oz can artichoke hearts, rinsed and quartered

                1- 9 ounce package frozen creamed spinach, thawed

                ½ cup grated Parmesan

                2 cups grated mozzarella

                Black pepper

                1 clove garlic, minced (I added this because what good Italian recipe doesn’t include garlic)


Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain, and return it to the pot.  Heat the broiler.

Add the artichoke hearts, spinach, Parmesan, half the mozzarella, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the pasta and toss to combine.

Transfer the mixture to a shallow 2 quart broilerproof baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella.  Broil until the cheese in browned in spots, 2 to 3 minutes.


The Perfect “Plain” Pancake April 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 1:33 am

Light and fluffy, these pancakes will never sink to the bottom of your stomach like lead and leave you wanting to do nothing more than lay in a prone position for a few hours rather than starting off your day right!  I’m so glad I came across this recipe. 

Recipe courtesy of: kris (at

Original recipe located at:


  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • cooking spray


  1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.