Friday, February 24, 2012

MMMM...Rice & Beans!

I will start off by saying that this is not a "typical" Puerto Rican meal.  At least not the meat!  The rice and beans sure are though.  As with most meals, every person has their way of making spanish style beans. This is my version.

The first move for Locke and I was from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico to Staten Island, New York.  It was our first time living together and I was not the best cook ever.  I went from cooking on an electric range to a gas stove (which I prefer hands down over anything now) and would burn EVERYTHING!  I should have paid more attention to my Abuelita (Grandmother) and my mom when they were cooking.  I did on my first visits back to their houses that's for sure!  I loved putting in lot's of condiments and seasonings thinking that that was how I was going to get the most flavor.  What I discovered, thanks to my Abuelita, was that less was more.  Her meals were kept simple and the flavors were oh so delicious!  The only thing that I can make that's as close to the flavor of hers is her white rice...I can eat it all by itself!

Last nights meal was


Rice & Beans with Meatballs!

I will start by telling you how I make "Sofrito".  It's what Puerto Ricans use as a base for meals such as beans, meats, stews & soups.  The recipe makes more than what you need for one meal.  It freezes very well.  I usually pour what I don't use into an empty ice cube tray, freeze & put the frozen cubes of Sofrito in a Ziploc bag.  My mom also pours hers straight into quart size Ziploc bags and lays it in the freezer flat.  She then breaks off what she needs and reseals the bag.

I recommend going through all the pics and instructions before you get started.  Here you go!



  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large "banana" pepper (not spicy, just flavor), roughly chopped, remove seeds
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • water as needed
  1. Roughly chop onions, banana pepper, cilantro and peel garlic.
  2. Place ingredients in blender or food processor.  
  3. Pour about 1/4 cup water in processor.  It helps the ingredients blend.
  4. Blend ingredients.  If you don't have a great processor (like I don't) you may need to add a little bit more water to get things going.  It'll become a jar of green mush.  Yes, that's a very technical term, I know!

Here are your ingredients.

One roughly chopped onion.

One roughly chopped banana pepper.

One head of garlic.

All ingredients in blender before blending.  Sorry there isn't a pic of just the blended sofrito.  You can see it in some of the following pics though.

Now, for your

(Which I cooked in the rice cooker but can also be cooked in a pot.  Message me if you would like instructions on how to do so.)


  • 2 C. white rice (I prefer short grained), rinsed
  • 3 C. water
  • 3 tbls. oil (vegetable or canola)
  • 1 tbls. salt
  1. Pour all of your ingredients into your rice cooker.
  2. Mix.
  3. Set your rice cooker to the "Cook" setting.
  4. When it's ready, open, mix, close & let sit for another 5 minutes or so.

Deliciousness!  I LOVE white rice!

Now, for your

(I cooked two cans of beans because I like to have leftovers but you can halve the recipe)


  • 2 cans of Goya Pink Beans, rinsed
  • 1 can of Goya Tomato Sauce
  • 1 tbls. of Olive Oil
  • 3/4 C. Sofrito
  • Salt & Pepper to taste ( I added about 1 tsp. or so of salt and a few twists of pepper from the grinder)
  • SECRET INGREDIENT: 1 Corona beer!  (Ssshhh...don't tell anyone!  Can be substituted for water-about 11/2 C.) 

  1. On Med/High heat, in a medium sauce pan, add the olive oil.  
  2. Add your Sofrito and cook for 2-3 mins (watch for splatter and watch the heat and make sure it doesn't get too high).
  3. Add the rinsed beans and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato sauce & beer!  (I left a little beer for me to enjoy!  :)  I like my beans thicker, so I added enough beer to just cover the bean mixture.)
  5. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  6. Once the beans start bubbling, mix, lower the temperature to low and cover.
  7. Stir every 5 mins. or so.
  8. I usually cook my beans for about 15-20 minutes.  

There's the Sofrito!  

Salt & Peppa

Sofrito cooking with Olive Oil.

Rinsed beans going into the Sofrito mixture.

Beans & Sofrito cooking.

This is what the beans look like after the can of tomato sauce is added.

My secret ingredient!  :)  You can substitute with water.  Don't forget to leave enough to get a sip or two!

What the beans look like while they are simmering before the beer is added.


Here you can see how much liquid was added.  Not too much and not too little.  Just enough to cover the beans.
This is what the beans look like after they have been covered and cooked on low for about 15 minutes.
After being cooked & stirred, here you go...Melissa's Puerto Rican style beans!
And for the 

(With a little flare!)

  • 1 lb. Ground Beef, I used 80/20
  • 1/2 C. diced onion
  • 1/2 C. chopped cilantro
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 C. seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp (or so) of Adobo seasoning (I kind of eyed it)
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1tbls olive oil for cooking the meatballs.  Do not add this to meat mixture.
  1. Peel, chop, dice vegetables & press the garlic.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix your egg.
  3. In a large bowl, place your ground beef, onion, cilantro, garlic, bread crumbs, egg & seasonings and mix well.  I used a spoon but you are more than welcome to get down and dirty and mix by hand the traditional way.
  4. I used a cookie dough measuring spoon (small size, about 1 tbls) to measure each meatball.  Roll in your hand until it's "firmed up" and not falling apart.  This gave me 23 meatballs.
  5. Pre-heat skillet on med/high heat.  Add olive oil to pan and spread evenly.  
  6. Add meatballs to pan.  Let sit for a bit and start stirring to ensure you get even cooking/browning all over the meatballs.  
  7. I lowered my heat to medium and covered the pan for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  8. Uncover and cook for about 5-10 more minutes until the meat is fully cooked.

80/20 Ground Beef

The other ingredients.  Seasoned bread crumbs, onion, cilantro, garlic, egg, garlic salt & Adobo.

I always have an empty bowl handy when chopping vegetables to use as a trash bowl.  It helps me confine the mess and have one quick dump into the garbage.
All ingredients in bowl ready to be mixed.

Ready to be rolled up!

23 small meatballs.

In the heated pan.  Can you hear the sizzling?

Cover to help cook meatballs cook through.

Once uncovered, this is what you will have.
I love seeing all the bits of onion and cilantro.
Ok, now what will we have as a side?  Oh, I know!

(Or ripe plantains)

I went the easy route and bought a package of Goya Ripe Plantains, found in the frozen food section.  You can also buy fresh, ripened, plantains.


  • 1 package Goya Ripe Plantains
  • 1-2 ripe plantains, peeled (careful, the skin stains) and sliced diagonally to about 1 inch thickness.
  1. Pre-heat skillet on medium heat.
  2. Open Package and place plantains in skillet.
  3. Cook 3-5 minutes on each side.  My husband likes his dark so I cook some for him a little longer.  
  1. Pre-heat skillet on medium heat.
  2. Peel plantain, careful to not touch clothes as the peel stains.
  3. Slice diagonally, thickness should be about 1 inch.
  4. Place pieces in skillet and cook about 3-5 minutes on each side.
  5. Lower temperature to med/low and cover.  Cook for another 5 minutes or so until soft and tender.  They should look just like the frozen version I have pictured.

Frozen package of Goya Ripe Plantains found in the freezer aisle.

Cooking.  My mouth is watering right now.  I want some more!


Here is what the finished product looks like served and ready to devour.  I hope you enjoy your meal.  Contact me and let me know how you liked it.  I can't wait to hear from you!







  1. Melissa,

    Oh my goodness this look scrumptious! I will be making this in the next few days. Thanks again for all your wonderful posts.


    1. Please let me know if/when you try it how it comes out. Don't forget, the sofrito you can make lots of and freeze whatever you don't use. Hope you like it!

      I hope you don't mind I linked up multiple things as well!


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