Tuesday, May 26th, 2020:
How to make a Potato Salad Worthy of the Cookout-Tasty

Sofrito Lovers,

It's getting warmer and it's gradually becoming cookout and picnic time! Despite this global pandemic, we can all still organize a cookout and/or picnic! 

Let's be clear: I'm not encouraging anyone to break shelter in or quarantine orders! I'm simply suggesting you prepare your amazing cookout/picnic fare for the family or friends you've been sheltering or quaranting with and enjoy!  You can have a cookout/picnic in your living room, backyard, roof, or garage! 

If you're alone, then prepare your dish and organize a Zoom or Google Hangout Cookout/Picnic.  We can still enjoy this amazing food and find new ways to connect.

This is my long-winded way of promoting this amazing Potato Salad recipe by Jermaine Rawlings @ChefRaw of the Tasty YouTube Channel!  I love this recipe; I highly recommend it!  Check it out for yourself!

Stay home, cook, or order in and taste for yourself!  ¡Buen Provecho!

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020:
SeriousEats: Jamelle Bouie Tastes Banana Nut Cheerios!

Sofrito Lovers,

I love watching tasting videos!  Hell, I've made a bunch myself on my YouTube Channel-subscribe if you haven't already!

SeriousEats.com's Jamelle Bouie is a wonderful taste tester and I enjoy his videos immensely-check out his newest review of Banana Nut Cheerios!  His honest, fun, and insightful perspective on this new product has inspired me to find it at my neighborhood Food Universe.

Check out the video link below!  Stay home, cook, or order in and taste for yourself!  ¡Buen Provecho!

Jamelle Bouie assesses whether Banana Nut Cheerios are a worthy addition to the Cheerios family.

All products linked here have been independently selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases, as described in our affiliate policy.

Published: May 18, 2020

Editor's note: Welcome back to Cereal Eats, the column in which Jamelle Bouie offers an on-camera review of an oddball cereal of his choice—the odder the better—once a month. If you missed the column from last month, check it out here. And if you have any oddball breakfast cereal tips, suggestions, or other pressing cereal intel, drop a note in the comments or email us!

Since I started doing cereal reviews, I've focused on evaluating the most outrageous products on the market, the cereals that are more novelty than actual foodstuff. For this review, I decided to take the opposite approach and try a cereal that you might actually buy and eat if you saw it at the grocery store—Banana Nut Cheerios.

I don’t think it is controversial to say that Cheerios are a top-tier cereal, something nearly everyone enjoys as a snack or breakfast item. A good deal of that is the texture; Cheerios have a great crunch and are immensely satisfying to eat. That’s true of Banana Nut Cheerios as well.

But what takes them from good to great is that the Banana Nut flavor is terrific. It's reminiscent of a banana bread, which means it’s more than subtle, but it isn't too strong. Artificial banana flavor can be hit or miss, but this is right on target. The oaty, Cheerios flavor is there as well and, together, they make a great package.

Banana Nut Cheerios aren’t as good as the best Cheerios flavors—which, for me, are Honey Nut and Apple Cinnamon—but they’re almost there, a worthy addition to the Cheerios family of cereals.

Verdict: 4.5 spoons.

The opinions expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Serious Eats staff.

All products linked here have been independently selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases, as described in our affiliate policy.

Monday, May 18th, 2020:
Japanese Souffle Pancake Recipe!

Sofrito Lovers,

Japanese Souffle Pancake Recipes are all the rage!  So if you're interested in learning how to make these fat, fluffy, and delicious breakfast sensations, then check out Simply Mamá Cooks' DIY below!

I'm new to this channel, but so far the DIY cooking videos have been simple, fun, and quick- my favorite combo!  I'm sure I'll be posting more of Simply Mamá's videos in the future!

Check out her channel, subscribe and get to cooking- I know I am!  Stay home, cook, or order in and taste for yourself!  ¡Buen Provecho!


Friday, May 15th, 2020:
5 Big Batch Recipes to Save You From Cooking Every Single Night

Sofrito Lovers,

Cooking in bulk is brilliant, convenient, and keeps you from cooking burnout.  Imagine having to cook a new meal every night!  It would drive me insane!  I know for some people they can do it with their eyes closed while balancing on one leg, but for many of us we'd burnout and start hating it.

Big batch cooking, or for some bulk cooking, is ideal for keeping yourself sane and well fed.  Sometimes, you just need to do it once and not go back to the stove for a few days.  It keeps the experience new, fun, and less oppressive!

Checkout this great Chowhound article with 5 interesting Big batch recipes, I think it'll be inspiring!  You never know, maybe you'll find next week's big batch chilli recipe or a nice slow cooker fried rice!

Stay in, order, or cook, and taste for yourself!  ¡Buen Provecho!

5 Big Batch Recipes to Save You From Cooking Every Single Night Plus, six tips on batch cooking like a pro. By Greg Stegeman April 28, 2020

Sometimes, you just want a nice, home-cooked meal without all the fuss of prepping, cooking, and cleaning up. Given that, here are five big batch recipes to last you a long time—and a bit about what I’ve learned about successful batch cooking.

Truth be told, I love to cook. Typically, my brain is a whirring train, perpetually in motion. Thinking. Stressing. Aspiring. Worrying. When I’m cooking, all that goes out the window. I’m focused, and present—totally mindful of the task at hand. In order for my meals to come out the way I want them, I need to be locked in, so there’s no time to let my mind wander. It takes energy, but it’s energy spent in the moment, so it’s a form of active relaxation for me.

Still, there are some days when I’m so physically and/or mentally exhausted that I just need a break. I’m zoned out and cannot fathom another task to complete—even cooking! On those days, I’ll order out. My waistline and wallet might take a hit, but it beats the alternatives of expending one more ounce of energy, or not eating at all (the horror!). Oh, if only there were another way!

The thing is, there is! One that allows me to eat home-cooked meals without the work of actually cooking that night: big batch cooking. It just takes some (a little) planning ahead, and a bit of space in the fridge/freezer.

Big batch cooking has been such a clutch move as a husband, and father of two kids under five. And not just at dinner time. It’s a great way to stave off the $10-$15 (or sometimes even $20) fast food lunch run for both me and my wife, which cuts our midday meal time costs by about 50 percent. That’s big bucks on a per month basis!

Check out the rest of the article here!

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020:
Mindfulness Is Overrated. Bring Back the TV Tray!

Sofrito Lovers,

I'm in total agreement with Lesley Sutler, author of the article posted below,  about the need for us to abandon Mindfulness and enter into a state of Mindlessness!

Originally posted on Eater.com, Sutler brings home her point by regaling us with stories of her childhood experiences with TV trays, which allowed her, and others, to sit, relax, eat, and lose ourselves in entertainment. 

They encouraged engagement with our TV and not our breathe, the sights, or smells around us- or the annoying  people around the table yammering incessantly about their fucking feelings and issues at work or school. 

TV trays facilitated release and escapism-concepts deemed wrong in this day and age.

I may not have any TV trays, but I wholeheartedly agree that in these harrowing times of sheltering in place, self-isolation, and quarantining, we need a break from reality.  Whether it's watching TV with a TV tray packed with goodies or laying on your bed with a bowl of potato chips and a nice pizza slice watching YouTube-my personal favorite-unplugging from the nonstop barrage of news and morbid statistics is vital.

Check out the article below and embrace mindlessness.  Stay home, cook, or order in and taste for yourself!  ¡Buen Provecho!

Mindfulness Is Overrated. Bring Back the TV Tray

TV trays are just practical. But in this moment, they also have strong symbolic power.

by Lesley Suter May 11, 2020, 12:32pm EDT

I wasn’t allowed to eat in front of the TV growing up. Mine was one of those mythical families that gathered together around a table most nights and like, talked, over dinner. There were only a handful of occasions when eating and watching were allowed to happen simultaneously, and these most often involved somebody (usually me) being sick. But on those special days, my mother would bring out my bowl of Jell-O or stack of Saltines on one of a quartet of old metal TV trays we kept in the broom closet. And it was magic.

Now, these were not just any TV trays — these were Strawberry Shortcake TV trays, with a pair of metal legs that folded out to elevate the tray a few comfortable inches over your lap. Keep in mind that to a kid in the 1980s, Strawberry Shortcake had the hype equivalent of Frozen, Trolls, Timothée Chalamet, and Animal Crossing combined. But my love for the TV tray had less to do with its spot-on branding, and more with what it symbolized: an invitation for mindlessness.

There’s been a lot of talk over the last several years about mindfulness — an extension of meditation that encourages you to be acutely aware of your surroundings at all times, of the tactile feelings of sitting or standing, of your own breathing, of the sounds and smells around you. This philosophy extends to taste in the form of mindful eating: focusing intensely on each bite, of the sensations of chewing and swallowing, of the various flavors and textures, all with minimal distractions. The idea is that by being mindful of the act of eating — and not, say, zoning out to Golden Girls re-runs while you munch — you’ll appreciate the meal more and avoid accidentally eating an entire box of Captain Crunch by yourself, if for some reason that’s a concern for you. It’s also a fuck ton of work, a little stressful, and generally counterproductive during these times when honestly what you really need is an escape.

Mindfulness is the reason we tell ourselves we shouldn’t eat in front of the TV, and it’s the exact reason why, when I was sick, I was encouraged to. Being ill or sad or trapped inside our house during a pandemic is not the time for being mindful. It’s the time to turn your brain off, to become less aware of the aches and pains in your body, of the steadily encroaching walls of your house, of the fact this is the sixth day in a row you’ve eaten the same pan of pizza beans. It’s the time to bust out the TV trays.

Beyond their symbolic power, TV trays are also just practical. What, am I supposed to just balance my bowl of fried rice over one knee while reaching precariously for my beverage on the coffee table that suddenly feels a socially distant six feet away — hunching over so as to minimize the number of rice grains that will forever live between my couch cushions? A TV tray keeps your posture intact, your dishes secure, your lap dry, your coffee table free for actual coffee and the 17 different remote controls that sit on top of it.

In the 1960s, when TV-tray dining was at its peak, eating in front of the television wasn’t considered a symptom of clinical depression or a sign your marriage was over. It was glamorous. Dinner and a show! At home! And keep in mind this was back when Americans had access to maybe six channels and half of them played some version of Hogan’s Heroes at all times. Sixty years later, our at-home entertainment choices have never been better — or more flexible. No need to limit your TV tray usage to the recliner in front of the living room set. Fold out the TV tray wherever your preferred screen sits at any given time. Binge Too Hot To Handle in your bed or the garage or your fire escape or the bathroom, if you want to, while confidently eating something that requires you to use both a knife and fork — at once! That, friends, is the life.

Sadly I don’t know where those Strawberry Shortcake TV trays wound up, but when my aunt died of cancer a few years ago, my family got together to sort through the stuff in her house and pulled out a few wood-patterned formica TV trays from her front closet. She’d lived alone her whole life, adored TV and movies, and no doubt enjoyed many a meal on top of these trays. Nobody else wanted them so I ambivalently threw them in the back of my car along with a few other boxes of trinkets and took them home.

I’d forgotten all about them until last week, when I dug the trays out from my garage, dusted them off, and set them up in front of my couch as I turned on a Friday marathon of My Lottery Dream Home on HGTV. I don’t remember what I ate, and honestly, that’s the point. For a good 90 minutes I ceased to be a person stuck in my house far from my family in the midst of a global health crisis. I was just a pair of eyeballs and a mouth watching, eating, and escaping — and not a single drop was spilled.

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020:
Pero Like Video-Maya and Her Mom Swap Recipes!

Sofrito Lovers,

Pero Like, an amazing YouTube channel, features a varied array of amazing content geared towards the Latino/a/x community.  I think their food videos, especially Maya's cooking DIYs, are entertaining, educational, and pure hilarity! 

Maya is Pero Like's resident Pocha Concha, who gets down in the kitchen despite her lack of confidence and experience- you still rock it, Maya!

This past weekend, Maya decided to swap recipes with her Mami for Mother's Day!  Maya's mother is obviously the source of Maya's jubilant attitude and unshakable exuberance- I love you Maya's Mami!  They swapped recipes, prepared each one, and then shared the finished product via a Zoom chat.  I think both of these amazing bakers crushed it.  Maya might not see herself as an amazing baker, but I've seen her growth and give her mad props for always trying and being innovative.

Watch the video posted below and enjoy the love, fun, and yumminess.  Stay in, cook, or order in and taste for yourself!       ¡Buen Provecho!

Friday, May 8th, 2020:
Mama Mai's Soy Sauce Spaghetti!

Sofrito Lovers,

You must watch Mama Mai's Soy Sauce Spaghetti DIY cooking video.  Not only is Mama Mai, The Real Host Jeannie Mai's mother, hilarious, but the Spaghetti recipe is really interesting!

Jeannie Mai's YouTube channel, Hello Hunnay, is a lifestyle channel with varied content and a hilarious cast of crazies.  Most of the time it's Jeannie and her mom, but when they invite Jeannie's brothers and Jeezy, her rapper fiancé, it's true comedic chaos.

Check out the video below and explore this uniquely inspired Italian-Vietnamese fusion dish!  I'm sure you'll love it!

Stay home, cook, or order in and taste for yourself!  ¡Buen Provecho!

Thursday, May 7th, 2020:
Easy Vegetable Pancake Recipe!

[Photograph: Sho Spaeth]

Sofrito Lovers,

I know, I know!  Some of you are thinking: Veggie Pancakes-What the hell?

It sounds weird, but it really isn't- it's delicious!  Pancakes are usually associated with butter, syrup, whipped cream, or something else sweet, but that's not always the case!  There tons of savory veggie-based pancakes recipes throughout various cultures!  I'm sure you've enjoyed heaps of Chinese Scallion pancakes and didn't think twice about it! 

Check out the SeriousEats.com article below and learn how to make this amazing savory dish! It's quick, simple, andso yummy!  Give it a try! 

Sta home, cook, or order in and taste for yourself!  ¡Buen Provecho!

What do you do when your child refuses to eat vegetables? Make pancakes.

At least, that's been my solution since about October of 2019, when my now-three-year-old decided, seemingly overnight, that vegetables of any kind were poison.

From what I can tell, many, many parents have a similar challenge, and resort to all kinds of tricks to fool their kids: stuffing chopped up spinach into super-cheesy quesadillas, blending greens into sweet smoothies, etc. My child, however, has turned her nose up at those vegetable delivery systems, refused loaded scrambled eggs, and has even rejected a whole Neapolitan pizza because I, like a ding dong, thought a teaspoon of minced broccoli florets wouldn't be noticeable in the sea of oozy mozzarella and tart tomato sauce.

But since she seems perfectly happy eating the gyoza I make (not exactly this recipe; lighter on the pork, way heavier on the vegetables, which include Napa cabbage, carrot, the Japanese chives known as nira, and, if we have them, some chopped stir-fried pea shoot greens), I decided to try throwing those vegetables into a savory pancake. This was partly to get her to eat vegetables, but it was also partly to come up with a dish that I could throw together at a moment's notice, one that would both satisfy her dispiritingly exacting tastes and be palatable to me and my wife, thereby foregoing the need to make two entirely different dinners for a family of three.

While the idea was inspired by pajeon, savory Korean scallion pancakes, it quickly branched off into a different direction, mostly because I initially made a pancake batter with ingredients I had on-hand, and that was all-purpose flour cut with roasted chickpea flour. I added in some things that I thought would make the pancakes taste good in their own right—salt, of course, but also doubanjiang, the Sichuan spicy fermented broad-bean paste, and some minced garlic—then I added ingredients to achieve the specific batter consistency I thought would be best, one that yielded a fluffy, light pancake with crisp edges, yet also one that could stand up to being stuffed to the gills with a whole host of raw and cooked vegetables.

Over many months, I've tried this recipe using a variety of alternative flours—whole wheat, rice, roasted rice (typically used to make string hoppers, or idi appa), chickpea, roasted chickpea—and all of them work well, provided you adjust the amount of ice water used to make the batter. And that ice water is key: Between the low-gluten alternative flours and the ice water, provided the cook takes care to not overmix the batter, the result is a light, not heavy, crumb that has very little chew, an indication that the gluten within the flour mix hasn't been overdeveloped, which would make a tough, heavy, and chewy pancake.

I've come to appreciate how accommodating this recipe is. Aside from your choice of low-gluten alternative flour, you can also use whatever fermented bean paste you have on hand, whether it's miso, doenjang (Korean fermented bean paste commonly used in pajeon batter), or even gochujang, and you can use whatever raw, cooked, or fermented vegetables you have in your fridge. Chopped up kimchi works wonderfully in the batter (add in a few tablespoons of funky, fiery kimchi juice as well), as does stir-fried cabbage, or chopped up sautéed broccoli rabe. The one thing to keep in mind is that some raw vegetables, like cabbage and onions, have a fair amount of water in them, and you'll want to get rid of the excess somehow before folding the veg into the batter. In this recipe, I call for macerating the cabbage with salt as a low-effort way to do that, but you could just as easily cook the cabbage in a little bit of oil and achieve the same effect.

If you wanted to add in some kind of protein, leftover stir-fried meat works well, as does the inclusion of raw shrimp, chopped into smaller, quick-cooking pieces (this recipe can easily accommodate the addition of up to four ounces of chopped raw shrimp in addition to the vegetables listed).

The dipping sauce served alongside is entirely optional; it's mostly a holdover from thinking of these like gyoza pancakes. But the savory soy sauce combined with the brightness of rice vinegar and the earthiness of sesame oil gives the pancakes an extra dimension of flavor, and my child really loves dipping foods in sauces, but don't we all, in the end?

  • For the Dipping Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • For the Pancakes
  • 100 grams (3.5 ounces; 2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 50 grams (1.75 ounces; 1/3 cup) whole wheat, rice, roasted rice, or chickpea flour (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt plus more for seasoning; if using table salt, use half as much by volume
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg, straight from the fridge
  • 1 tablespoon (17g) doubanjiang or other fermented bean paste (see note)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) ice-cold water, plus more as needed (see note)
  • 6 ounces salted green cabbage (about 1 1/4 cups; 168g from 1/4 head of cabbage) or kimchi, roughly chopped (see note)
  • 1 small carrot (about 2 ounces; 60g), peeled and grated on large holes of box grater
  • 2 scallions (about 1 ounce; 30g), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil for frying, plus extra as needed

  1. For the Dipping Sauce: Combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil in a small bowl and stir briefly to combine. Set aside.
  2. For the Pancakes: In a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour (or other flour), 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and baking powder until well-combined, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together egg, doubanjiang (or other fermented bean paste), garlic, and water until mixture is homogeneous, about 1 minute. Add wet mixture to large mixing bowl with flour mixture and whisk together just until a smooth, loose batter forms; the consistency should be similar to pancake batter; it should flow easily off the whisk and puddle briefly on top of the batter in the bowl. Add additional ice-cold water as needed to achieve this consistency, taking care not to over-mix the batter.

  4. Add salted cabbage (or kimchi), grated carrot, and sliced scallions to batter and, using flexible spatula, fold in vegetables gently until evenly incorporated.

  5. Heat oil in 12-inch stainless steel, well-seasoned cast iron, or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Using a large spoon, small ladle, or measuring cup, add batter in 3-tablespoon (1 1/2-ounce; 45ml) portions (you can make larger or smaller pancakes as desired) to hot oil. For thinner, crispier pancakes, press down on batter to flatten them out; for thicker, fluffier pancakes, leave batter undisturbed. Cook, swirling oil once or twice, until pancakes are golden brown and crispy on first side, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip pancakes and continue cooking, swirling oil once or twice, until second side is golden and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer pancakes to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet or paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. Repeat process with remaining batter, adding more oil if pan becomes too dry. Serve pancakes hot with dipping sauce alongside.

Monday, May 4th, 2020:
Dominican Chimichurri Sandwich!

Sofrito Lovers,

It's time to put  the Banana Bread recipes away and explore some amazing new Dominican street food!

Have you ever had a Chimichurri?  Not to be confused with the Argentinian sauce, a Chimichurri is a delicious Dominican street food sandwich made with either steak, hamburger, or sausage. 

Chimichurris, or Chimis as they're referred to, are versatile and can be whatever you want them to be.  So if you prefer lettuce over cabbage, then substitute!  If you want to add bacon, pickles, or grilled onion to the mix, then go for it!

Check out the video below from Chef Zee Cooks (One of my favorite YouTube channels) and learn how to put this incredible treat together!

Stay home, cook, or order in and taste for yourself!  ¡Buen Provecho!

Friday, May 1st, 2020:
The Enduring Appeal of the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Processed Snack!

Sofrito Lovers,

Cheez Balls give me life! They're little orange porous balls of fake cheese and salt and I love them more than some of my own relatives!

The Eater.com article below casts Cheez Balls in a negative light and explains their addictive qualities (literally addictive), but I still can't help loving them.  I wish I could quit them!

Check out the article and if you aren't too scared out of your mind, then join me in the dark side and try some Cheez Balls.  They'll change your life!

Stay home, cook, order in, and taste for yourself!  ¡Buen provecho!

The Enduring Appeal of the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Processed Snack

The ingredients and production of Cheez Balls and Dunkaroos are murky, but these snacks retain a nostalgic pull for anyone who ate junk food in the ’90s!

by Cathy Erway Apr 28, 2020, 3:58pm EDT
Photo-illustration by Eater

“It’s one part nostalgia, one part pure love for cheddar-dusted corn snacks,” says Lindsay DiMarcello, a 29-year-old freelance editor and proofreader, of Planters Cheez Balls, the gumball-sized puffed corn snack in a blue canister. “I remember being very small and sitting under a coffee table in my living room that was right next to a heater vent, and eating a whole can.”

In 2006, Planters discontinued the snack, and in 2014, DiMarcello published a petition on Change.org called “Bring back Planters Cheez Balls and P.B. Crisps!” It received 818 signatures, a reasonably small response. One day, during the summer of 2018, she opened the front door of her home in Oaks, Pennsylvania, to a camera crew recording her.

She had nearly forgotten about the petition by then, but when she saw a peanut-shaped trailer parked in her driveway and someone in a full-body Mr. Peanut costume, she figured it out: Planters, the nut brand owned by the Kraft Heinz food conglomerate, was bringing back the snack. The Planters marketing team had gotten in touch with her boyfriend, who helped plan the surprise visit to coincide with the relaunch.

“I still desperately miss P.B. Crisps. It sucks that didn’t happen,” says DiMarcello.

“There is a bit of a nostalgic halo to the brand,” says Samantha Hess, brand manager at Kraft Heinz; compared to other bright orange cheese powder-dusted corn puffs on the market, she believes Cheez Balls excels. Around since the late 1970s, the product was most popular in the ’80s and ’90s, she explains, and that’s why Kraft Heinz marketed the relaunch as a throwback to the ’90s. It was shelved in the mid-2000s as part of an effort by the company to refocus on its core products: nuts. The look and taste of the snack have been carefully preserved to assure customers that it’s the same product they remember. The only noticeable difference is a burst on the canister that reads: “It’s Back.”

Check out the rest of the article here!