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I am lactose intolerant. The worse part of this fact is that I can't have Alfredo sauce. So, I found a work-around. I make my own. It is not identical to the one served in most restaurants since it doesn't have creme, but it allows me to have something that is still really good, but won't make me sick. Once you know how to make a Béchamel sauce, you can use it for all sorts of things. It is the base of many dishes and is considered one of the 5 Mother Sauces.

I start with a Béchamel sauce to which I add shredded Parmesan Cheese.

Apple Pie - Torta de Manzanas

My father in law was diabetic. I learned to make this pie for him. It is still pie and it is still sweet. But it has no added sugar and it is very sweet because you start out with very sweet apples. It doesn't have anything but good stuff.

Arepa de Maiz Dominicana

This corn bread is a poor mans dish that became a Christmas special treat in my house as I was growing up. We did not eat it all year and it was a very special thing to have it at Christmas. Now, there is a town in the Dominican Republic on the way up the mountain, on the way to Jarabacoa that is famous for their arepa. Around 30 years ago there was a lady there that always had it. She had a little stand on the side of the road and we always stopped to get some. Now there are maybe 30 stands and a Harina Mazorca, a Dominican corn meal maker is sponsoring the stands so they are all the same colors with a prominent logo. I hope this is making it so they are all making more money and not that they have too many people making the same thing and not enough clients. This dish is usually cooked in a wood fire. From what I have heard, fire above and below. But seeing that we probably don't have access to that, this recipe meant to be cooked on the stove and then baked in an oven.

Auyama Calabaza Squash

Auyama  is a  yellow-green pumpkin with very deep yellow flesh, used extensively throughout the West Indies. It is  usually sold by the wedge. Use instead of potato or in soups. The flowers are also edible. Mexicans fix calabaza flower quesadillas, which are small tortillas filled with sauteed flowers and cheese, then deep fried. Clean the wedge by removing the seeds and spaghetti-looking stuff from center, and refrigerate so the auyama lasts longer. You may substitute other squash for the auyama in these recipes. 

Aguacate Avocado

The Avocado is the fruit of a beautiful tree native to Central America. The fruit comes in many shapes. The different variations have diverse skins and colors, ranging from the common avocado green to very dark purple, and from smooth to very bumpy skin. The meat is yellow and soft when ripe. Inside there is a single pit. When choosing a Florida avocado look for an avocado that rattles when shaken; this means that the pit is loose and it was picked at the right time and will ripen nicely.  If this is not possible, then make sure they have no bruises...That goes for all the variations. Test for softness. It should feel soft to the touch but should not yield. To prevent an avocado from turning black after you cut it, leave the pit with the meat until ready to serve and sprinkle with lime juice. This also helps to diminish its tendency to cause gas.

Bananas, Guineos, Platanos, Banana Nut Bread

What can you say about bananas that hasn't been said before? Not much. So I won't get into a description. Even though I really don't like them fresh, they are a great source of potassium and one of the biggest food sources in the world. So they deserve our respect.

This is the best banana nut recipe ever. My mother made this when I was a kid and it is still the only way I can eat bananas. Rich and moist!

Beans, Habichuelas, Frijoles

Rice and Beans are the daily staple of the Dominican Republic. So much they call it the Dominican Flag. Dominicans eat rice and beans every day. The color of the beans changes, but the dish is always the same.  The main flavoring is the recaito that is used in most Dominican cooking. Whether you use dry or canned beans, they are still always welcome at the table in our house. Taco night happens once a week. I make a very large pot  of beans so we have left overs. We then have tacos for lunch or dinner the next couple of nights.If you are making these for tacos change the stock amount to 1/4 cup.

Bija, Anato, Achiote

Bija are the red seeds of a small tree, abundant throughout tropical America. Because of their deep red color, the natives of the Caribbean Islands used the seeds for decorating their bodies. Clay stamps have also been found with the remains of Bija which shows that they also used them to decorate their clay pots and maybe their cave walls. Annatto is used in Latin America to color and flavor food, usually in the form of Annatto oil (Aceite de Achiote). Traditionally Annatto has been used in medications. Available as a spice in most Supermarkets with ethnic food aisles.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

I have been making this recipe since I was a teenager. My friends, the Buchanan's mother was making this bread one day I went to visit and I was hooked. Not only was I hooked about the whole process of making bread, but I was hooked on this specific bread. Earthy but moist, sweet but not too sweet, perfect with just butter or in a sandwich.

This is a very simple recipe by bread standards. It is best done with a glass of wine and friends to share when it comes out of the oven. Have some cheese handy and some really great butter. I started making this bread in the Dominican Republic where I had no access to bread flour. Just regular white flour and whole wheat flour. So that is what I learned to use. When I was in school in Philadelphia, I learned about unbleached flour. I haven't used anything else since. I have also used bread flour. I haven't found an incredible difference. Not enough to worry about it. If you want to use it, by all means... but it isn't necessary.

It is best if you have a bread bowl. They are a must and every kitchen should have one.  Big, thick ceramic bowls. And a nice, old, cotton towel to wet to cover the bowl with.

Cabbage, Repollo

Cabbage is a major staple of Dominican cuisine. There are many dishes made from, or including cabbage. My mother's step-mother was Syrian/Lebanese/Dominican and my mother grew up eating wonderful middle-eastern dishes, which in turn she cooked for us.  We ate cabbage almost every day growing up in salads, boiled then served with butter and Parmesan, and stuffed rolls, one of my favorites. The recipe follows.

Cake, Bizcocho, Torta

This is the cake that made it so that I never ate cake at other kid's birthday parties because they never measured up to my mother's cake. Frosting is overkill. It is that good. It is also very easy to make. Just make sure you pay attention to the creaming of the butter and sugar.

Carrots, Zanahorias

I eat a lot of carrots. They are very good for you and they are so tasty. I like them just steamed, or sautéed in butter, or in any way.

Chayote – Tayota

Tayota is a tropical squash originally from Mexico, but now grown in most tropical regions of the world. The skin is green and prickly. The texture of the meat is similar to that of the summer squash and has an edible seed in the center. It can be stuffed, boiled and served hot as a squash, or cold in salads. There  Mexican has little thorns on the outside while the Caribbean variety is smooth. But I believe they are both identical cooked. Mexicans eat the vine flowers as well.

I learned to make this fondue when I was a teenager.  My father-in-law's friends made it when we would visit and I loved the whole environment it created: friends sitting around a pot of cheese and wine talking and enjoying a good bottle of wine.  What could be better on a cold evening.

Tips: A good cheese fondue pot is made out of ceramic and has a nice big handle that doesn't get hot. The stand should be able to hold a small Sterno container. I have always found great sets at the thrift shops, as well as the fondue forks. Don't pay top dollar for them.

Cilantro, Cilantrillo, Coriander Leaf

Cilantro is the green plant of the coriander, very similar to parsley, but with a fresh green aroma. Originally from the Mediterranean, Cilantro is now grown throughout the world. Cilantro is used extensively in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands. It is sold with the roots still on and should not be removed until ready to use. Do not wash until ready for use. Store in refrigerator wrapped in paper towels and placed in a plastic bag. If you are not going to use it right away, wash and drain, place in a freezer bag and freeze. To use, break off the amount you are going to use and place back in freezer immediately. It will last for months. The authentic flavor of many Dominican, Puertorican, Mexican, Chinese and Cuban dishes is obtained only with Cilantro. Now available fresh in most supermarkets.


Coconut, Coco

The coconut is the fruit or nut of one of the most beautiful and noble of all palms. It is a very important factor in the survival of the Caribbean people. Every part of the tree is used. The trunk and palm frond are used for burning as well as the old nuts which burn for a very long time. It is very common to see roadside fruit stands made of branches, and thatched with coconut fronds. It will not keep the rain out, but it is a great shelter from the hot sun. The leaves are used for making hats and other weaved goods. The clear liquid inside the nut is the coconut water. It is always fresh, pure and sweet in its perfect container. The riper the coconut, the sweeter the water. Not only is the water used to quench that Caribbean thirst, but also in cocktails (adding rum and ice is a favorite), and as medication for liver disease, and just overall toning of the body. It is also a great diuretic. The milk is used in many medications: from anti-parasite to flu medicine.

The meat of the young coconut is very tender almost jelly-like and can be eaten right out of the shell with a spoon. The more mature meat is harder to get out of the shell and is used mainly for cooking

For Arepa de Maiz con Coco (Dominican Corn Bread with Coconut) click here

Corn, Maiz, Maize

Corn is a staple in most of the world. It is a simple grain and yet, the amount of things you can do with corn are endless. From corn bread, to tortillas, to corn on the cob, corn is always good and always welcome. I live in Central Florida, the home of Siver Queen  and the Zellwood Corn Festival. We are just spoiled. At the height of the season you can buy corn for nothing on the side of the road.  Silver queen is the most delicious corn I have ever had. It is out of this world.
Arepa Dominicana (Dominican Corn Bread) Recipe

Cranberry Sauce

I started making my own cranberry sauce a few years ago and never looked back. Home made is the way to go and it is so easy that why not? The canned stuff doesn't even compare.

Eggplant, Berengena

Caribbean eggplant is slightly different from the eggplant usually available in the USA. The skin is a dark mauve color with white specks. Eggplant must be covered with salt-water for about ½ hour before cooking to remove the bitter flavor. We eat them as fritters, as souffle, stewed, or as party dip. They are a great source of protein.


Escabeche is a tomato based sauce used extensively throughout the Spanish-speaking islands of the Caribbean. You can use it for any of the meats or vegetables the same. There is no set way to do it and it all comes down to taste. The main base is the same though: onions, peppers, garlic then whatever else you want to add.

Flan, Custard

Flan is an egg-milk custard. There are many variations all over the world. But they are all basically the same. 


Fruit Medieval Tarts

During the Middle ages,  a town had a miller that everyone took their wheat grain to to make flour. There was one oven that everyone then baked all their goods in. It was a communal affair. Housewives would bring dough that they had prepared to the baker, who would bake it. This was a one-time deal, so they did as much as possible at one time. This tart was made from the leftover ingredients after all the baking was done. All amounts are done to taste.

Guava, Guayaba

Guava is the fruit of the guava tree, found throughout tropical America and Florida. There are many varieties and all can be eaten raw. They are sold fresh in some supermarkets and Latin Stores, or in pastes, jams, jellies and canned shells.  In the islands Guavas are also made into sherbet and shakes, or eaten as a paste with cream cheese as a dessert.



Lemon Meringue Pie, Torta de Limon

I learned to cook so I could make this pie. I was obsessed with making the perfect pie.It is rich, fattening, and the most delicious lemon merengue recipe you will ever try. It is a little time consuming, but worth every minute.


Mango is the fruit of a very beautiful, large tree, originally from Malaysia, now found throughout tropical regions of the world. The most common fruit is kidney shaped. When the fruit is ripe, its skin is pinkish or yellowish, lightly flecked with black or brown. The flesh is yellow-orange and is succulent yet fibrous. Green Mangoes should not be eaten raw since they are very acid. Ripe mangoes may be eaten raw or used in many recipes.

Ñame is a very starchy root widely used throughout the Caribbean. It is the real Yam. It has rough brown skin and white flesh. Can be used as a potato, although it has a more fibrous texture. Peel with a potato peeler, cut into pieces and boil, in salted water, as you would a potato. Eat with butter and Parmesan or mash with milk, butter, salt and pepper.  Not to be confused with the sweet yams candied at Thanksgivings, they belong to two different families.



I have been perfecting this recipe since I was a little girl.  It was originally my mother’s recipe and was made every Sunday. I kept that tradition for years and everyone that knows me very well has enjoyed them.

I mix the dry ingredients and keep them in a mason jar. Then add wet ingredients when I want to make some pancakes.

Papaya, Lechoza, Fruta Bomba

Papaya is the fruit of a very sappy tropical American tree. There are many varieties, all differing in color, size and shape. All can be eaten raw as a melon, in milk shakes, fruit salads, or cooked in desserts. Papaya is very rich in vitamin A. It is also a meat tenderizer (Papain) and a neutralizer for Sea Nettle stings. Papaya can be used as a diuretic (the roots and leaves). Parts of the plant are also used to combat dyspepsia and other digestive disorders (papaya contains an enzyme which soothes the stomach and aides in digestion). In addition, the juice is used for warts, cancers, tumors, corns and skin defects while the root is said to help tumors of the uterus. It is used to prevent rheumatism and the latex is used for psoriasis, ringworm and the removal of cancerous growth.

Pepper, Ajies, Chiles

Ranging from sweet to very hot, peppers are an essential part of Latin American cuisine. Native to Mexico, the pepper has spread widely all over the world. Cubanelle peppers are used in the making of Escabeche. Hot peppers are crushed and used in foods, or bottled in vinegar or sherry to make hot sauce used on beef, pork, Mofongo (a plantain dish), goat, pork, etc.

Pigeon Peas, Guandules

Pigeon peas are used in the same manner as beans. They are available in most Latin American food stores. To prepare follow recipe for black beans.

Pineapple, Piña

The pineapple takes it name from the resemblance it bears to the pine cone of temperate regions. It is a native of the West Indies and Central America, although it is now grown in tropical countries around the world. Ornamental pineapples are often grown and house-plants.

To quickly peel and cut a pineapple: follow the drawings above. Lay the pineapple on its side and hold firmly. Slice off the crown and the base with a large knife. Stand the pineapple on its end and slice off the rind. Cut the fruit in quarters and cut the triangular section of the core away from each quarter. Lay each quarter on its side and slice it crosswise into wedges.

Plantains, Platanos

Ripe plantains can be peeled as easily as bananas. But the green ones require special handling, since the thick skin clings to the fruit and tends to break off in little pieces. There are a few techniques for achieving this. one is to score the plantain along the seams lengthwise.

Plantain flour is used in babies formula for diarrhea.  Green, boiled plantains are a great remedy for hangovers. Plantains can be prepared in a thousand and one ways. They are one of the main staples of the islands.


This is a seasoning used in some countries of Latin America which gives the basic flavor to most dishes. It is a combination of olives, capers, onions, peppers (preferably Cubanelle), cilantro, salt and pepper, vinegar, and garlic chopped in the food processor. This recipe makes quite a bit. You may refrigerate or freeze a large amount. You can get recaíto in most supermarkets with ethnic aisles or in Latin food stores. Goya contains Monosodium Glutamate, while Bohío doesn't. If you can find it refrigerated or frozen, that is preferable.




Rice – Arróz

Rice is a major staple in the whole world. In the Dominican Republic it is eaten every day of the week. Whether with beans, in chicken and rice, stuffed cabbage, alone with butter and Parmesan, or rice pudding, rice is always welcome at the table. It has gotten a bad rap in the last few years because of the carbs, but there are many different kinds of rice to choose from. Brown rice makes great fried rice with vegetables or curry. Wild rice is one of my favorites.

Soursop – Guanabana

Soursop is a very large fruit found in tropical America. The Soursop skin is dark green and spiny (not prickly), while the meat is white and aromatic. It can be eaten raw when ripe, or in milk shakes, desserts, sherbets, ice creams. Frozen or canned soursop meat may be found in some Supermarkets and in Latin American stores.

Sweet Potatoes – Batata – Boniato

 Batata is originally from tropical America. The sweet potato should not be confused with sweet yams, since they are not even related. There are two varieties, one which has yellowish meat and is the sweeter of the two, and the other which has brownish or pink skin and a meat which ranges from white to purplish, and is not as sweet. Peel with a potato peeler and use in recipes. One of the easiest ways to cook it is to wrap in foil and bake for about 45 minutes. Or place in microwave for about 8 minutes.  Serve with butter.

TIP: if you are not ready to use sweet potato right after cutting it, place in cold water until use to prevent them from turning black.

Sweet potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, vitamin A and C, calcium, and iron.

Tamarind – Tamarindo

Tamarind originated in Africa but has spread all over the world. The fruit pod turns brown when ripe and it’s seeds are surrounded by and acid edible pulp used in desserts, milk shakes and sherbets. Available canned or frozen in Latin American food stores.

The ripened fruit is considered the more palatable, as it becomes sweeter and less sour (acidic) as it matures. It is used in desserts as a jam, blended into juices or sweetened drinks, sorbets, ice creams and other snacks. In Western cuisine, it is found in Worcestershire sauce. In most parts of India, tamarind extract is used to flavor foods ranging from meals to snacks. Throughout Southeast Asia, fruit of the tamarind is used as a poultice applied to foreheads of fever sufferers.

Bacon Wrapped Turkey and Stuffing

Growing up in the Dominican Republic, I had a different idea as to what turkey was supposed to taste like. First of all, you ordered your turkeys from the turkey farm way in advance or you were not going to get one for Christmas (we didn't have thanksgiving, obviously). The turkey got to us alive. Yes, alive. It hung around the yard for days until the day it was getting cooked. A more raw way to do this. But, it was also part of my training to kill and dress a chicken for our meals. And that is how this was done. I had not thought about this much until now. If I had to do this now, I probably wouldn't cook turkey.

The way we prepare the turkey is a little more involved than the US way but the taste is just amazing. And there won't be one little bit of crisp skin left on that cooked bird. My family loves to pick on the skin as soon as the bird comes out the oven. I have taken this recipe and added the bacon wrap to make it my own. You can adjust it to your taste.

Yautía or Malanga is the root of an Elephant Ear plant eaten in most of the Caribbean and in Hawaii. The roots which have rough brown shin and flesh ranging from white to grayish white can be used as potatoes. Peel, boil in salted water and eat. Mash like potatoes adding milk, butter, salt and pepper to taste. Or slice very thin and deep fry to make chips.


Yuca – Casava

Yuca (Cassaba, Kasava) is the tuber root of a tropical plant brought from South America by the Arawaks. On their journey up the Caribbean islands, they brought the roots with them to cultivate in their new settlements. Tapioca and cassareb are both made from Cassava. There are two varieties of the plant, bitter and sweet. Bitter Cassava is poisonous until cooked and is used mainly to make a tort called “Casabe”, which looks like a thick tortilla and was the staple of the Taíno Indians (tribe found by Columbus in Hispaniola). This simple meal made the conquest of America possible.

The sweet kind is the one usually sold in the US and may be purchased in some supermarkets and most Latin food stores. The Taino Yuca God was their most powerful deity.

Explore, if you find any typos or want to comment please contact me. Thanks

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