Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cuban Food

Happy hump day!  Half way through the week...who says working for the weekend is bad?


Before I made this meal, I don't know that I've had Cuban food before.  Turns out, it's pretty freakin' good!  I've made this Cuban Picadillo previously, but last time I topped it with pineapple salsa from Trader Joe's.  Good stuff, but this time I chose to change things up a bit and went with a roasted banana sweet potato mash inspired by this recipe.  It went down like this:

Roasted banana sweet potato mash
1 banana
3 sweet potatoes
1/4c coconut milk
1/4t salt
1/4t pumpkin pie spice

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Put the potatoes on a sheet pan and roast for 45 minutes.  Then, add the banana (peeled) to the pan and roast for another 15 minutes.  Then throw everything in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and mash together.  I prefer to leave the skins on because I like the texture and there are a lot of great nutrients in there, but you could easily remove the skin prior to mashing.

Cuban picadillo
1lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3c raisins
2T red wine vinegar
6oz can tomato paste
1/4c water
1t cumin
2t oregano
salt and pepper to taste (I used cayenne)

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat, and brown your beef.  Once your beef is nearly cooked through, add the onion, pepper and garlic, s&p to taste.  When your onions are translucent, add the rest of the ingredients.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.  Done!

Could the directions for each dish be any simpler?  I got the potatoes in the oven first, and they were done by the time the picadillo had simmered for 20 minutes.  Perfect timing.

I thought the sweet potato mash was delicious.  The bananas added a wonderful caramelized flavor to the potatoes from being roasted in the onion, and the texture with the coconut milk was silky and flavorful.  The picadillo had a nice tang from the vinegar and the little bites of sweet from the raisins after they absorbed all the flavors during the low simmer was extra yummy.  I definitely recommend either dish, and putting them together is a perfect match!


Remember last week when I said that it's important to not use clamps to hold your weights in place when benching alone?  Glad I did that today, because I had a major gym fail.  Last week I benched 100lbs x 3, so today I went for 105 and maxed at 1 rep.  This was followed by the loudest bail out ever as I tilted the barbell to each side and dropped the weights off.  Not my proudest moment, but I'm definitely happy I went back for the next set and banged it out at a lower weight.  I also felt better after realizing the man next to me, outfitted in a turtleneck, jeans, and work boots, was only benching 80.  Is it just me who experiences these gym freaks?  Nice work, tough guy.

I really love doing 1-leg squats and single leg deadlifts.  Single leg work is my jam.  I finished up this workout with 30/30 sprints on a spin bike.  By the last sprint I always feel completely and utterly spent, and yet I manage to hop off that bike fast as soon as my time is done.  I must save that one burst of energy to put as much distance between myself and the bike as possible.

Hope everyone is having a good week so far, and that I'm not the only one who crushed (or got crushed by) some heavy weight at the gym!

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