Gluten Free Plantain Nachos

Have you ever found that ONE restaurant? That “Hole in the Wall,” “Hidden Gem,” “Mom and Pop,” “Secret Spot,” that you just fell in love with instantly? That’s Patacon Con Todo. Where my husband and I lived in Orlando, there was this small business center a block away from our apartment complex. It had everything I could ever want. There was a 7-11, Nail Salon (amazing, by the way! It is called Debonair Nails Spa-everything from Massage, Waxing, Nails, Pedicures, etc,) Hair Salon, Sub Shop, Thai Restaurant, Sports Bar, Hookah Bar, and my 3rd love…Patacon. I feel an explanation is in order: #1. My husband, #2. Starbucks, and #3. Patacon.

Side note, this is how much I loved Patacon. It is August in Georgia, 10am, and our AC is busted. We live on the top floor, but I loved them so much, I am sitting here with my laptop burning on my lap, STILL writing about them! (I forgot to mention with Kidney Disease, I am unable to sweat, and therefore, at this time have an internal body temperature of 101 degrees, just to put the intensity of this love into perspective #refractoryceliaclife.) Now, back to the best Colombian, Fast-ish, Food Truck, in a Store-Front experience you’d ever get! My husband and I would seriously look at each other and say, “What’s for dinner?” It would always come back to Patacon, and off we’d walk (or drive,) to the pick up the most interesting dish I’ve ever had. It was simple when you think about it. Fried Plantain pieces. Like the step before you smash them into Tostones (for those of you who know Spanish/Puerto Rican/Dominican Cuisine.) Then they would add Onions, Peppers, and Meat. Your protein choices were Pork (that was the only part I didn’t like-it was always chewy, and fatty, not my thing,) Churrasco (Steak,) and Chicken. We of course picked all three! Since the meat and plantains were their only fried foods, they were 100% Gluten Free. Have I mentioned I LOVED this place!? Then one fine day, my husband and I decided to take a walk…and we became hungry…so we decided to stop at our favorite place…where our bellies feel at home…but that home was no more! Our bellies were so upset (in more ways than one, by now we were STARVING!) So I decided to get even, and kicked it up not just a notch, but about 20!

My recipe below, inspired by Patacon is seriously KILLER. Meet my Plantain Nachos. My belly will never be sad again, and neither will yours! If you modify the Cheese and Garlic and Herb Crema, this recipe can be Dairy Free, as well as abide by the Paleo Diet. It truly is and will be, the best and only way you will ever want to eat Nachos (and I’m not just saying that because it’s my recipe!) I would love for you give it a try, and comment below for an unbiased view!

So, in honor, and loving memory of Patacon Con Todo, I give you my Gluten Free/Sulfite Free/MSG Free: Plantain Nachos:



3 LG Green Plantains (per 2 large servings)
Garlic and Herb Crema:
8 oz Sour Cream
2 cloves Garlic (minced)
1/2 cup Cilantro (pre-chopped)
1/4 cup Parsley (pre-chopped)
Black Beans:
1 can Black Beans (I use low sodium)
1/2 can Water
2 cloves Garlic (minced)
1/2 cup Cilantro (pre-chopped)
1/4 cup Parsley (pre-chopped)
1 packet msg/gluten-free Sazon
1/4 tsp White Pepper
1/4 tsp ground Thyme
1 tsp Adobo
1/4 c diced Yellow Onion
1 lb Ground Beef 80/20
3 tbsp Sofrito
1/2 cup Caramelized Onions
1 Roma Tomato
1-2 Green Onion/Scallion
1 pkg Cotija Cheese

2 Hass Avocados
2 Large Cloves Garlic (minced)
1/2 cup Cilantro (pre-chopped)
1/16 tsp White Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Paprika
3 tbsp diced Red Onion
1 tsp Lime Juice

1. Marinate meat in Sofrito, Seasoning, and Garlic for 2 hours in Refrigerator, covered. Then remove and brown on stove-top on medium heat. Drain grease.
2. While meat is browning, slice Plantain rind/peel vertically and run under running water, then remove peel.
1. Pour Black beans and its juice into medium sauce pan. Fill can half-full with water, and pour into pan as well.
2. Next add all ingredients, except onions, those will be completed in next step. You may also add peppers/jalapenos/chili sauce/Tabasco/etc to add spice. Cook on medium heat until sauce begins to boil, stirring occasionally. Then bring down to simmer, continuing to stir.
1. Slice Peeled Plantain in 1/4 inch thick medallions, while heating oil in skillet, begin caramelizing the 1/2 cup of onions (for meat,) as well as the 1/4 cup of onions for the beans (3/4 cup total) until opaque and slightly browned. Once finished, add to cooked meat, and stir into beans.
2. Begin to fry plantains in oil 6-8 mins, stirring occasionally until brown freckles appear.
3. Remove from oil, then drain on paper towels.
1. Spoon sour cream into bowl, chop cilantro, parsley, and mince remaining garlic cloves. Stir into sour cream. (I also add roughly 1/2 tsp Paprika for added flavor and a touch of color. The featured photo has 1 tsp Thai Chili Sauce (GF) mixed in, as well as 1/2 tsp Chipotle Sauce (GF) for a little kick.
1. Cut Avocados and remove pit. Put into bowl and mash with fork. Finely dice Red Onion, mince garlic, wash and chop cilantro, and mash and stir into the avocado mixture. Stir in the dry seasonings.
2. Taste Guacamole, add additional seasonings if necessary (may add chopped jalapeno or chili powder if you prefer some heat.)
1. Slice, Dice, and Chop your remaining toppings (Tomatoes, Scallions, and Cheese.) I remove the seeds from the tomatoes, so the sogginess is limited.
**Build your Nachos to your liking…Just put your plantains on the bottom, and stack away. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have!



Sofrito Beef, Stuffed Mofongo

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m married to a WONDERFUL man, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Now, being married to a Latin man has both its blessings and curses, as I’m sure some of you may know (now as an Italian female, I have quite the balance sheet myself!) One of the many blessings, is the cuisine, but let me make something perfectly clear, it doesn’t come from him! My husband adamantly REFUSES to cook. Now it’s not that he can’t cook, he’s actually quite decent. He just HATES it. Luckily on my rough days, he’ll pull out one of my recipes, follow it to a “T,” and take one for the “T”eam. I’ve mentioned he’s wonderful, right? Anyway, since Latin is part of his culture, I have had to broaden my horizons when it comes to the kitchen, since I always believed the goal of every wife was to cook as well as her Mother-in Law. The problem is, I was at a major disadvantage. Luckily, most Spanish food is inherently gluten free. I learned how to make all of his favorites: Aroz con Pollo, Churrasco con Chimichurri, Flan, Tres Leches (you can find my recipe for both my traditional Tres Leches, as well as my DAIRY FREE Tres Leches by clicking HERE,) and my favorite, Mofongo. Now, what is Mofongo, you may ask? It is mashed Plantains with Cilantro, Chicharrones (Pork Rinds, I leave these out due to pre-packages tendency to not being GF/SF/MSG Free,) Olive Oil, Seasonings, and I add Garlic…of course! Now, for those of you who have not been around Plantains…They are NOT the same as green bananas! Do not get confused. Plantains are a totally different variety of starch. If they are green, they taste awful raw, but there are many different ways to eat them Mofongo, Tostones, and Sweet Plantains (ripe/Yellow,) just to name a few. For this recipe we will be focusing on Dark Green Plantains (not ripe,) and making Mofongo. Did you know that Mofongo originated in Africa? Many people believe it came from the Caribbean. In fact it was the African culture that used various starchy vegetables and green/semi-ripe plantains. They were boiled (not fried, which is the common Latin method,) and then mashed, with a soup broth poured over it.

Now, every Spanish/Latin restaurant that he has taken me to (remember, he doesn’t cook,) “Stuffed Mofongo,” is served with the Mofongo like a bowl, and the meat served inside. I had decided by about the 4th time I ordered it, that I wanted to try and take it literal (most of my recipe ideas come from urges/frustrations like these.) I wanted a fully Stuffed Mofongo. So…here it is! I’m not going to lie, it is a challenge to mold. However, I did get it on my first try, so I know you can too! Never give up, never surrender!!

Equipment/Ingredients Needed:




3 LG Green Plantains (per 2 large servings)
1/2 cup Fresh Cilantro
3-4 Cloves Garlic (Minced)
!/8 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Adobo
1/4 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/8 tsp Pepper
1 lb Ground Beef 80/20
3 tbsp Sofrito
1/2 cup Caramelized Onions
1. Slice Plantain rind/peel vertically and run under running water, then remove peel.
2. Slice Peeled Plantain in 1/2 inch thick medallions, while heating oil in skillet.
3. Fry in oil until brown freckles appear.
4. Remove from oil, then drain on paper towels.
5. While the pieces are draining, begin caramelizing the 1/2 cup of onions, until opaque and slightly browned. Once Plantains are drained, place in bowl/mortar, 4-6 pieces at a time and mash, until only 1/3 of pieces are left (this will be your “bottom” of your Mofongo.)
6. Meanwhile, place Cilantro and Garlic into Food Processor/Blender and chop.
7. Place into bowl/mortar with Seasonings, 2/3 Herb mixure, and 2/3 tbsp Olive Oil. Mash/fold into Plantain mixture until a thick,chunky, mashed mixture is achieved.
…Now the fun begins!!!
1. Find 2 bowls that are the “right size” for what you need. I made one Mofongo for my husband and I, then cut into it for “effect.”
2. Take first “mash” and mold around bowl on the bottom, then sides. I use a fork and rubber spatula for this.
3. Place onions first, then Sofrito Beef mixture.
4. Next mash the rest of your Plantain medallions in your second bowl bottom,with the remaining 1/3 Herb mixture, 1/3 tbsp Olive OIl, and Seasonings, creating a thick pancake shape.
5. This is one of the tricky parts! Take your rubber spatula and slowly work it between your Mofongo and bowl sides.
6. Once your sides are free, then slide the spatula under the Mofongo to free the bottom.
6. Next, take your “Mofongo Pancake” and place onto your original Mofongo “Bowl.” Push down very carefully to attempt a seal.
9. With a deep sigh and a prayer, put your hand over your bottom of your Mofongo to keep it together (as you flip it,) and get ready…1…2..3…FLIP! (Don’t forget to move your hand at the last minute.) Now hold your breath, and pull your mortar/bowl off slowly and careful to lift straight up. (SLOWLY!)
10. YOU DID IT!!!
Now that the hard part is done…
Broth Ingredients and Directions:
Microwave or Stove Top Boil your favorite broth.
I prefer my favorite, delicious, gluten free, sulfite free, msg free, dairy free, AND vegan broth by Massel Foods. It is truly delicious!
1 cube Boullion
1/4 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp Chili Powder
1/16 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Oregano
2 cups Water

Gluten Free Garlic Shrimp Stir-Fry

shrimp stir fry

As I’m sure all you Gluten Free Eaters know, yummy Gluten Free Asian food is a HARD find! Over the last two years, my cravings have only grown. I’ve even had to take up Sushi Rolling (did you know the vinegar most restaurants/stores use for their “sticky rice” is made with WHEAT?) I couldn’t figure out why every time I ate Chinese food or Sushi, I kept having a reaction! #1. Gluten/Wheat is in the Vinegar/Oyster Sauce/Fish Sauce, and of course we know Soy Sauce! #2. MSG! Not only does it make those non-intolerant and non-Celiacs hungry in an hour or two, but Monosodium Glutamate also causes a reaction in those with an extreme, super sensitive gluten sensitivity. MSG is not just common in Asian food, but in nearly everything we enjoy! It can be found in snack foods, dressings, seasonings, etc. If you find yourself ordering/buying/cooking “Gluten Free” and still getting sick, it may not be a cross-contamination issue. Check your labels and ask your restaurants. A MSG reaction for me, is a much milder gluten reaction, but it may be different for everyone. I have the same digestive issues, inflammatory response, rash, and headache as gluten; however, it only lasts 24 hours as opposed to 3 days. If you are concerned with MSG, you may take one of my restaurant cards with you to prevent this ingredient (and others) from getting into your food. You can download one here, and simply fill in your allergies/foods you cannot eat. Hand it to your server, and they will pass it onto the kitchen. This is in hopes to prevent and educate more chefs on our condition/disease (Intolerants/Celiacs.) You can find these cards in both Spanish and English. I apologize, for getting off topic…back to MSG…

Common products containing MSG include:

Other Chips (some Lays)
Campbells Soups
Frozen Dinners
Seasoning Blends (Not Mine :-)!)
Cold Cuts
Ranch Dressing (Most Restaurants)
Salty Snacks
Johnsonville Sausages
Other possible ways MSG may be listed:
Hydrolyzed Protein
Autolyzed Yeast
Glutamic Acid
Yeast Extract


****Many Fast Food Restaurants use MSG on their Fried Chicken Sandwiches (not that we can eat them,) Hamburgers, and French Fry Seasonings.

Because of how common both gluten and MSG is in all foods, but especially Asian cuisine, I have been working on a recipe as close to the “real thing,” and as delicious as that take out we all use to enjoy (before this infliction presented itself.) So here it is. Feel free to play around with the sauce ratios until your favorite salty to sweet taste is met. Also, always remember to taste as you go! Every brand of Worcestershire, Soy Sauce, Fish Sauce, Sweet Chili, and Ginger Dressing is different, so your measurements may need “tweaking.” Also, you can purchase all the ingredients at Whole Foods (more expensive,) or my favorites, and for the best price, at Sprouts, Kroger, Ingles, and if my overseas readers could please post where they shop for their Asian sauces, I’d be so grateful! I hope you enjoy this meal as much as I have.

1 tbsp Ginger Salad Dressing
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
4 tbsp soy sauce
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/8 tsp Ground Ginger
3 Cloves Minced Garlic
1/2 package Noodles (Thai Rice Noodles)
1 Package frozen Broccoli  (or fresh)
1-2 Chives or Green Onions
chicken and broccoli stir fry
1. Pour all sauce ingredients and simmer on low, stirring frequently. (Taste to be sure you have the taste you’re looking for. Every brand of Worcestershire, Soy Sauce, Fish Sauce, Sweet Chili, and Ginger Dressing is different, so your measurements may need “tweaking.”)
2. Boil water for noodles. When boiling, add noodles, remove from heat and cook 8-9 mins stirring occasionally.
3. Once noodles in, Season each side of Shrimp, and Cook 2-4 mins on each side in skillet. When Shrimp have 1 min left, add 1/4 sauce and stir into skillet/Shrimp.
4. Cook/Microwave Broccoli (I put into bowl with 1 tbsp water, 2 tbsp GF soy sauce, and additional 1/8 tsp ginger.)
5. Optional, after Shrimp, cook egg to desired doneness. If over easy, break membrane (clear liquid around yolk, without breaking yolk.)
6. Place noodles in Wok (or Pot/Skillet,) add remaining sauce, Broccoli, Chives/Green onions. Top with Shrimp and Egg.
7. Enjoy!


chicken stir fry