Blog Posts by Lili's Latin Kitchen

  • Nachostones: Not'yo Typical Nachos

    By Liliana Moyano for Shine Latina


    Nachos are definitely a fun appetizer to share with friends, but I find them to be a little too messy. I've made my own Colombian version of this favorite Tex-Mex recipe by substituting the nachos for tostones (or fried green plantains), which keep their shape without crumbling under toppings thanks in part to two rounds of frying.

    Tostones are quite popular in Latin America and the Caribbean; they are simply smashed green plantains that are fried and served as a side dish or appetizer. They may sound complicated to make, but with a little patience you will get a delicious version of nachos I'm calling Nachostones. Mi abuela used to make a wonderful hogao to top the fried plantains, which is a sauce made with thick crema latina, green onions, tomatoes and salt.

    Every time I make my Nachostones, I end up having to write the recipe for someone. This dish has become a new favorite among my American friends who attack them as soon as

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  • A Healthier, Latin Version of Mac & Cheese

    By Liliana Moyano for Shine Latina

    Crema Latina Mac & CheeseCrema Latina Mac & Cheese

    As a little girl growing up in Colombia, my days were spent cooking with my Nana. I was a very active kid so the best way for my grandma to keep me entertained was to have me help her in the kitchen.

    Looking back, I've noticed something about the meals I helped my grandmother prepare:
    the children ate what everyone else in the family ate. As long as I can remember, there was never a separate children's menu. In fact, I was 15 when I learned that mac and cheese, a favorite of American kids, even existed.

    Now, I have two beautiful nieces who are growing up in this country and are well-exposed to the usual kid-friendly options like macaroni and cheese or chicken tenders. Concerned about their eating habits, my sister Angie and I spent a day in the kitchen trying to figure out a better way to feed them similar foods with healthier ingredients. We tried mac & cheese, but the first problem was to make it look like the original version,

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  • QuinoArroz: A Rice Dish of Healthy Proportions

    By Liliana Moyano for Shine Latina


    Quinoa is a popular grain grown in the South American Andes that has gained popularity in the US over the past few years. It looks like couscous, and its preparation is very similar to that of the Middle Eastern grain. Besides being totally delicious, quinoa is high in fiber- great for keeping the digestive system balanced and healthy. These days it can be easily found at most supermarkets.

    Mi tío Rafa, who's a practicing surgeon in Colombia and is always looking for ways to stay healthy, introduced me to this product about a year ago. My uncle even started incorporating the grain, mixed with the staple rice, into his patients' diets when he discovered its benefits. Last year he came to visit my family and bragged about the product so much that I ended up giving it a try. QuinoArrozQuinoArroz

    First, I used it in a salad, and then eventually I learned how to use it in juices and with rice. I was delighted with the salad and the juices, but the rice mix didn't

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  • A Feast of Mussels in Chilean Chardonnay Sauce

    By Liliana Moyano for Shine Latina

    Mussels in Chilean ChardonayMussels in Chilean Chardonay

    My family is big on gatherings, and appetizers are always served to entertain our guests before dinner. When we get together we usually sit around the kitchen counter to drink wine, talk about life, and make scrumptious meals. My sister Angie and her husband, David, have kept with the family tradition of greeting guests with unique starters that leave you hungry for more.

    Ten years ago, when Angie introduced David to the family, he was met with our numerous weekly reunions and the different kinds of food we ate (like fish with its head still on!), which left him quite baffled. Being from North Carolina, he'd had little exposure to Latin food and a lot of what we ate was far from his culinary considerations. It took him some time to develop his Latin gastronomic skills. Now, more than a decade later, he travels to Latin America a couple of times a year, has learned to dance salsa like a native and has become an accomplished Latin cook

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  • Thai Meets Latin: Crunchy Tilapia Over Mango-Cilantro Salad

    By Liliana Moyano for Shine Latina

    Cilantro & mango tilapiaCilantro & mango tilapia

    Mi hermanita chiquita Lina just came back from a tai-chi retreat in Thailand. I was very intrigued to learn about her trip, but most of all I wanted to know about her culinary experience. She finally invited me over to talk about her travels and made something for lunch I never imagined putting together. While we talked in the kitchen, she fixed a leafless salad that to me looked very Latin. She put together cilantro, ripe mango and red onions with salt and dressed the dish with lime and olive oil. The colorful blend of ingredients was beautiful and very appetizing. The contrast between the sweetness of the ripe mango, the acidity of the lime, the aroma of the cilantro and the crunchiness of the onions was absolutely perfect.

    My sister also showed me a little trick to cut down on the strong onion flavor. Before mixing it with the salad, she soaked the slices in warm water for a minute and then dumped them in an ice bath to maintain their

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  • Cheer the Last Days of Summer with a "Passionada"

    By Liliana Moyano for Shine Latina

    Passionada Passionada I went to a small, private college with professors from all over the world. During my time there, I connected really well with two business faculty members who eventually became my mentors and friends. Once I graduated, we adopted the tradition of going out to lunch every couple of months. Hagai is from Israel, and Lloyd is an American married to a Cubana who, of course, is married to all her Cuban traditions.

    Normally we visit different types of restaurants, but for the last couple of months, Hagai has been insisting on taking us to his favorite Jewish cafe where all the servers speak Hebrew to customers, whether they know the language or not. As soon as we arrive, an array of delicious dishes start coming to the table, even before we start ordering our dinner. The only thing I want right away is my drink; the rest comes at the restaurant's pleasure. I usually order their mint lemonade made with fresh mint leaves. This fragrant herb adds a

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  • Arechapa, the New South American Pancake

    By Liliana Moyano for Shine Latina


    Both Colombia and Venezuela's cuisine traditionally boast a type of corn cake made with cheese, eggs and sweet corn; Latinos usually eat them for breakfast or as afternoon snacks. They are the Latin version of pancakes, but with thicker texture and a nice blend of sweetness and saltiness. Venezuelans call them cachapas while Colombians call them arepas de choclo, and both countries claim theirs is better.

    Well, I found a solution to the problem by making a version that combines both corn cakes into one. I call them arechapas. The best part of this recipe is that it takes half the time it would take you to make a cachapa or an arepa de choclo! I usually have them with a café con leche (or coffee with milk), and make extra mix to have some for dinner, too. This recipe is delicious, and it gives you a new alternative to usual buttermilk pancakes or bread on the side.

    Let's cook!


    (2 servings)
    1 cup sweet corn

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  • Colombian Style Coconut Rice

    By Liliana Moyano for Shine Latina

    Arroz con cocoArroz con coco

    Growing up in a country with access to a variety of tropical fruit was definitely a luxury. In the small town of El Rosal where I lived, we didn't have any major supermarkets, but we had several farmers nearby who gathered on Sundays to sell their organic, fresh greens. I usually accompanied my parents to the mercado and filled up the trunk with exotic fruits and veggies, a load which usually included 15 pounds of oranges to make fresh-squeezed juice every day. My dad made sure to taste the fruit before we bought the rest to see if they were ripe and ready to eat; he'd peel a tangerine and give me half, while my embarrassed mom felt obligated to buy 25 tangerines. Sometimes they had fresh coconut, and you could have a farmer break it open for you on the spot. What a treat! Fresh coconut water is so delicious and refreshing.

    Once we had finished the coconut water, my mom would take the meat or pulp of the coconut and make the most amazing

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  • Papaya Con Crema in a Pineapple Boat

    It's summer, and tropical fruits are at their peak this season. Head on to your nearest market, get a papaya and make this fun and healthy dessert- perfect for kids (and adults) of all ages.

    By Liliana Moyano for Shine Latina

    Papaya con cremaPapaya con crema

    Papaya, mango and pineapple are always a must in my fridge. I usually cut them into small chunks, store them in individual glass containers and have them for snacks in the afternoon or after a good workout.

    My nieces, ages two and four, love coming to la casa de Tia Nini (Aunt Nini's house); first thing they do is aim for the fridge to see what goodies I have. Last week my best friend bought me a box of Hawaiian sorbets that come in real fruit containers. Some of them come inside an empty coconut, a hollow orange or even a little pineapple "boat". We ate a couple of them, washed the containers and saved them in the freezer to use later. So, when my nieces came to visit, I made them a delicious and simple low calorie desert. I took fresh papaya

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  • Tequila Spiked Guacamole

    By Liliana Moyano for Shine Latina

    Guacamole with a twistGuacamole with a twist
    My abuelo used to make his special guacamole during family gatherings at his finca (farm) in the small town of Melgar, Colombia. His ritual consisted of scooping the avocados and giving my cousins and I the skin to rub it in our faces creating a homemade mask. While the mask took effect, he made a guacamole that didn't last until dinner. His special secret: white tequila.

    Yes, white tequila makes a perfectly smooth guacamole. I took the recipe from grandma a few years back, and she suggested I buy a molcajete. Molcajete is a Mexican bowl made out of rough stone that comes with a thick mashing tool from the same material; it smashes the avocados to perfection. Well, luckily enough, my friend happened to be in Mexico around the same time and she brought me this great kitchen gadget. I still make abuelo's guacamole at family gatherings. My mom maintained the mask tradition, and her skin looks better than ever!

    A guacamolear

    Guacamole with a twistGuacamole with a twist

    (4 servings)

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