Costa Rican Arroz con Pollo

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One of my favorite things to order in restaurants here in Costa Rica, is Arroz con Pollo (in English means “rice with chicken”). So, if you know me at all, you’ll know that I’ve been dreaming of making this from scratch for some time now. When we go out to eat here, we will order Costa Rican food, but when we are home I tend to make our USA favorites (which you know if you’ve read my Costa Rica Chica Cookbook; if not, please check it out – it’s my favorite US recipes, but also how to make them here in Costa Rica with some differences in ingredients). I think this Arroz con Pollo might actually be my first authentic Costa Rican dish I’ve made at home! 

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HOW COSTA RICA HAS MADE ME A BETTER COOK

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Even before I came to Costa Rica, I loved to bake. But it was only on occasion, only when I had time, and really – only if we were going to a party or family gathering and I needed to bring something. The point is – I enjoyed baking when I had time to do it… but I just never seemed to have that much time.

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The Secret to Keeping Lettuce Crisp (for up to 3 weeks)!

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Let me tell you a story.  There was once a girl who lived in Dallas and LOVED salad.  Almost any kind of salad, but her favorites were caesar salad (with or without chicken) or a fried or grilled chicken salad (with ranch dressing, cheddar cheese and croutons).  OK, so maybe these salads weren’t the healthiest of salads, but still – it made this girl feel good and healthy when she got to eat a salad for a meal.  At least she was getting some vegetables, and let’s be serious – any kind of salad is better than a burger or pizza.

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Crema Dulce Recipes

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Hello friends and welcome back to Part II of my crema dulce blog.  If you missed it yesterday, click here for Part I on the many uses of crema dulce in Costa Rica.

Now, for Part II – here are my crema dulce recipes for you!  Have fun, and let me know if you try any of them.  

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Crema Dulce – a little box with big uses.

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So, when I first moved to Costa Rica, I was surprised that I couldn’t find cream in the refrigerated section of the grocery stores. I searched and searched – several different grocery stores – all to no avail. And I’m talking about any kind of cream: half and half, light cream, whipping cream or heavy cream.

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You know you’re in Wisconsin when…

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Well, we just got back from a little trip to Wisconsin.  We went to see my sweet mom, and as a plus got to see all three of my brothers and their families. Initially my mom was going to have knee surgery, and we were going to help her with recovery, but her knee got better so it was not needed (yet, anyway), so we got to just hang out and have a good time.

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Costa Rican Food

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What is typical food like in Costa Rica?  One of my friend’s from the States was asking me this the other day, and I’d been wanting to do a post on this for some time.  Rice and beans are plentiful here and used in a lot of dishes.  Though we do not dine out frequently, here are some of our favorite things we order when we do go out.

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Christmas 2015

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Hello friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and spent time with family and loved ones.

For me, there’s no better way to spend Christmas than with the one I love, having a Christmas movie marathon, while eating tasty treats! We watched 7 movies over 2 days. We even got a small 3-mile hike in on Christmas morning, which was lovely (and much needed after all the treats we’d been eating the day before).

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Costa Rican Caramel Apples

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When I lived in Dallas and I had a super-duper stressful work day, my favorite treat was Häagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche Caramel Ice Cream.  It was so creamy and caramel-y, and yes, totally over the top.  Made all my worries just drift away…   well, until the carton was gone, that is.

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Costa Rica Chica Cookbook

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Hello everyone! I just wanted to take a moment to formally introduce you to my newest book that has just been published:  COSTA RICA CHICA COOKBOOK (<— click here if you want to skip the rest of this post and BUY NOW – it’s ok, I don’t blame you).

I’m so excited and proud of this book!

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Jen’s DIY Hot Cocoa Mix

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Hi guys!  I know it’s only August, but fall is right around the corner, and I wanted to share with you this easy-peasy hot cocoa mix recipe.  After it’s made, you just add boiling water to a few tablespoons of the mix, and stir it up!  I love this for when I don’t have any milk in the house and it’s chilly out (it’s currently Rainy Season in Costa Rica, and we’ve had our handful of cold days already).  Warms me right up.

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MASQ`SABOR – Mexican food in the heart of Grecia!

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If you are Facebook or Instagram friends with me, you’ve seen me post pictures from Johnny’s Masq’Sabor Restaurant before. It’s now time to dig a little deeper.

Meet Johnny Lara, owner and operator.  You’ll see him any time you visit Masq`Sabor, he’s always on site 6 days a week (see hours at bottom of post).  He is a hard worker, smart business man, and passionate about his food – 3 things you absolutely need to be successful in the restaurant business.

Masq`Sabor, which literally means “more than flavor,” has been open for almost a year now (September 12th will their 1st anniversary).   Johnny has whipped this little restaurant into a lovely place to sit with friends or by yourself, and have a bite to eat and drink.  He also has free Wi Fi, so bring your laptop or phone along and hang out for a while.  His place is clean with bright colors on the walls, and windows that look out onto the street.  A couple of fans keep it cool and the air well circulated.

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Tamarindo Beach Trip

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Have you heard of Tamarindo? It’s in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, the west coast / Pacific Ocean.  We were there last week for an awesome little “vacation”! We had an opportunity to pet sit for friends in exchange for a stay at their beautiful home – right in the heart of this quaint little beach town.  Even though we aren’t super fit or tan and didn’t walk around with surf boards everywhere – we still fit in – because pretty much the whole town is tourists. Everyone speaks English.  Everyone takes the American dollar.  Playa Tamarindo (the beach) is known for surfing, and the town itself is sprinkled with good restaurants and lots of touristy shops.  We traveled there by bus, which worked out great.

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Dancing!

Greg and I do not dance… at all. But we were told about this dancing place by a couple of people, and definitely wanted to check it out (or at least I did) – just to people watch and have a good time. So, we went on Sunday with our friends Beverly & Ed.

What a blast! The place is locally referred to as “La Piscina” (meaning “the pool” – which is next to it and has been empty for years).  It was almost all Ticos (we were 4 of the 5 Gringos there), it was outdoors but covered, a live band, all Latin music, smiles everywhere. The band was really good – both music and singing wise. There was a huge space for dancing in front of the band, and then tons of tables beyond the dance floor.

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Cachí Trip Part II – ALL THINGS FOOD

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First of all, if you missed Part I of our Cachí trip to visit The Mike’s, click here.

Now – the best part of our trip (well, besides our cool friends, of course):
FOOD, FOOD, FOOD.

As I may have mentioned yesterday, Mike is super talented in the kitchen. While we were there, I got to play Sous Chef, which was really a blast.  I seriously look up to him – he’s been cooking forever and it seems like everything he makes looks mouth watering-ly amazing.  And whenever I have a question, I turn to him and he always has answers or suggestions for me.

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Cachí Trip Part I – Visit to The Mike’s

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We just got back from an incredible 3-day trip to Cachí, Costa Rica. Cachí is part of the Orosi Valley and is close to Cartago (which used to be the capital of Costa Rica), and is on the southeastern side of San José.

I feel like I say this a lot, but it’s true – we have some really cool friends. Marti & Clint, friends who live here in Grecia, wanted to check out the Orosí Valley, and our friends “The Mike’s” (Mike & Michael) who live in Cachí, had been asking us to come visit. So we coordinated our trips and it worked out perfectly!

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“HOT” HOT-SAUCE TASTING

A hot-sauce taste testing!  Something you might be very interested in if you live here (or are visiting), as Costa Rican food tends to be more on the bland side.  Luckily, hot sauce goes with gallo pinto very nicely.

DISCLAIMER: These hot sauces were all taste-tested by Mr. Greg Seymour, who has a very high tolerance for spiciness. When I taste a hot sauce that sets my mouth on fire and my eyes-a-watering, Greg tastes it and says “Huh?  Where’s the fire?  This isn’t hot at all!”  So – you have been warned. These hot sauces are spicy – even the mildest one shown here is pretty spicy – for me, at least.  There are SEVERAL other hot sauces available here in Costa Rica, this is just a small sampling of some of the spicier ones.

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We got hitched!

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We got hitched!

Yes – we got married. Again!! Greg and I celebrated 20 years of being married to each other by taking a little trip to Manuel Antonio and doing our own vow renewal. It was lovely, and perfect in every way.  More on the vow renewal in a bit…  Here’s a recap of our trip.

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When is a soda not a soda??

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When is a soda not a soda??

Well, when you’re in Costa Rica, of course!

In Costa Rica, a “soda” is a very small café, locally owned, and usually has just a few tables and stools at a counter. Typically, you cannot really go wrong with a soda – they always seem have to have authentic and very good Costa Rican food. This is my favorite soda in Grecia, so far (mainly because I haven’t branched out to all of the soda’s yet, and also because once Greg likes a place, he wants to keep going back again and again and again):

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Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Balls

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Well, who doesn’t like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, right?  These are so easy to make, and I swear they taste exactly like Reese’s, even though they are a slightly different shape.  But with some nuts sprinkled on top, how cute are they?

INGREDIENTS: 1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter 4 Tablespoon Butter (cut into small chunks) 2 Cups Powder Sugar 8 oz Semisweet or Bittersweet (good quality) Chocolate for melting (chopped) 1 Tablespoon Shortening 

In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter and peanut butter together in the microwave (start with 1 minute on high…  you just want the little chunks of butter to melt, but do not want the peanut butter to get too liquidy). Stir together until smooth.

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