13 Sep 2011, 8:49am
life Of Food and Love recipes:


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  • Of Food and Love: Picadillo

    Last night I made picadillo for the second time in my life. 

    The first time was about five years ago and I hated the taste.  It was some random recipe off the internet and it was horrible.

    I think I know why.  It was missing the achiote.   Achiote, has a wonderful nutty flavor and it also gives the food a red tinge of color.  Although I didn’t have the achiote oil the recipe called for, I made up my own version.  It worked perfectly and I’m going to do it this way every time from now on.

    I have little packets of achiote bullion.  Once my olive oil was hot, I dumped a bit of it in there and stirred it around.  Perfect.  Then began the wonderful, wonderful smells of our picadillo. 

    My heritage dictates I eat beans and rice.  I can’t help it.  It’s such a simple combination but the flavor possibilities are endless.  Next to noodles, rice is another staple that we just can’t live without.  I grew up in California where there is a taco truck on every corner.  Literally.  And where accordion music is the norm, rapid fire Spanish can be heard just about anywhere and the wonderful smell of fresh tortillas is inescapable.  I grew up on rice and beans, folks.
    But my roots are Cuban.  Proud of it.  Cuban food has really been under represented in the world of Latin foods.  Their flavors are very mild but so perfect.  This dish is no exception.

    I diced the onion and bell pepper.  The tomato needed to be skinned before being diced.

    With my hokey version of achiote oil heated and ready, I put in my chopped veggies.

    After they sauteed for 5 minutes or so, I put in the ground beef.  About 10 minutes later, the dish was done.  Just about every Cuban dish is accompanied by rice and beans and some fresh bread.  This meal was no exception.  So quick and absolutely delicious.

    I’m not sure if I’ve posted my black bean recipe on here.  But I should.  The seasonings I use are what my grandmother, who was from Cuba, used when she would make them.  Yum.  Oh, and my rice is seasoned with salt and garlic.  I make sure to put the salt and garlic in the water as it’s cooking so the rice is infused.


    Picadillo   (taken from A Taste of Cuba cookbook)

    Makes 6 servings

    1/4 Achiote oil (olive oil may be substituted.  As I mention, if you don’t have the Achiote oil make sure to at least season the oil with Achiote bullion packets otherwise the flavor will not be there)

    1 large onion, diced

    1 large green pepper, seeded, deribbed, and finely chopped

    2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

    1/2 tsp cayenne pepper ( I only used a dash or two which was enough heat for us, because we have small children)

    2 lbs ground lean beef

    3 tomatoes peeled, seeded, and chopped ( I only used 2 tomatoes and it was perfect.)

    1/2 tsp ground cumin

    2TB capers (I omitted this completely because I’m not a fan)

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


    In a large skillet, hear the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, green pepper, garlic and cayenne pepper.  Saute’ about 5 minutes, until the onions are softened, then add the beef.  Make sure to break up the beef into small pieces while stirring the ingredients.  Cook roughly 8-10 minutes, until the meat is lightly browned and cooked through.

    Add the tomatoes and cumin, (I added it earlier, while the beef was still cooking and at that time I also added the salt and pepper).  Reduce the heat to medium-low.   Simmer for 15 minutes, then add the capers (should you choose) and simmer 5 minutes longer.

    greetings, quality article, and a fairly good understand! just one for my bookmarks.

    I’ll have to try this recipe sometime. Remember when we went to a little Spanish/Cuban restaurant in Old Orange, and I had this dish…they said it had “sofrito”, something used in almost every Cuban dish. Anyhow, I agree Cuban is very underrepresented in Latin cuisine, of course I love Mexican :P , but Cuban and Peruvian are divine! Beans and rice, pinto/black, and any good rice are a fav of our’s too. Love you Meeshka.


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