I am a lacto-vegetarian with an appetite for life and travel.

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  • Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Last bite on earth: Anything with cheese - cheese pizza, mac & cheese, grill cheese sandwich, goat cheese toasts...

Robicelli's Carrot Cake Cupcakes

so complex... are they really worth all these steps??? Particularly for the frosting??

Cook the Book: 'The Nourished Kitchen' by Jennifer McGruther

what constitutes tradicional??? I guess rice and beans is what's traditional in Puerto Rico!!

Secrets of the Spice Trade: How to Run a Spice Shop

If you're in Florida, I also recommend The Spice and Tea Exchange in Boca Ratón. A friend of mine recommended them and I was soooooo apreciative. I believe they ship too!!

A Guide to Tofu Types and What to Do With Them

love the guide. I have heard of freezing tofu, but I have never tried it myself. I will now. Thanks for advising me not to freeze silken tofu. That's what I have at home right now. It's just so convenient to always have in the pantry. But I am buying a block of tofu and start experimenting.

If i am looking to make the tofu into small bite-sized pieces, would you recommend I freeze it in slices, defrost, squeeze the liquid out and then cut it into smaller pieces before marinating/glazing???

Hot Dog Taste Test: Chicago's Vienna Beef vs. New York's Sabrett

maybe one day we should plan a review of Veggie Hot Dogs!!!! I can chime in with my POV. Lately I have become a veggie hot dog obsessed person.

I don't have a....

I also don't have a Dutch oven, standing mixer, kitchen scale, cast-iron anything, or a reliable way to sharpen knives. I do borrow my mom's ice cream machine once in a while.

My go-to knifes in my kitchen are these medium-sized Wusthof serrated "tomato knifes". I have two and they get used every day of my life, for the last 14 years.

I have managed to learn to make sorbets in my food processor... just freezing fruits and pureeing them with some sweetener. But given that you don't have that one either, maybe you can manage with a blender and then re-freezing??

cooking with frozen rhubarb

I have used rhubarb frozen mixed in with fresh strawberries in crisps... I have never used fresh. The results were very good IMHO.

'Tis The Season... For SMOOTHIES

@bloodsugar: I have mangos... I have avocados... I have almond milk... I think I might try myself a new smoothie tomorrow morning!!!!!

I am nowadays into mixing papaya, almond milk and coconut water. Papaya milkshakes is a favorite of mine, but to cut down on the milk and to make it vegan, I am trying these new alternatives.

My staple though - banana, strawberry, orange juice, yogurt and some kind of extra, like maca, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, hemp, etc.

Happy Earth Day!

I had to organize a talk a few years back for Earth Day at the Yoga Center I attend... I did not know at the time that reducing your meat consumption was more beneficial to the environment and to reduce your carbon footprint than driving a hybrid car. I was already a vegetarian, but the stats impressed me. Maybe the fact will incentive some people to take a newfound look into a meat-free lifestyle...

"Caviart" Seaweed Caviar?

Where did you find it??? Interesting... Is it vegetarian???

Freezing tofu before frying---

I have heard of it... but never tried it. I will now. Any kind of tofu works??? Or does it need to be firm/extra firm only???

Tea Recommendations

I also enjoy a lot rooibos tea, which when taken with milk, reminds me a lot of chai masala or chai latte, as starbucks calls it. The spicy notes are delicious and very dessert-like for me. I like to make my own chai mixture because I can't have caffeine.

Tea Recommendations

to me, the best dessert tea or after-dinner tea is spearmint infusion. Just add spearmint leaves to a pot of boiling water. It's a great digestif and delicious!!!

Surviving Vegas

I had a really good time at Mesa Grill in Ceasar's Palace. I went to several "celebrity" restaurants and this was the BEST by far!!!

Ideas for egglant puree other than baba ghanoush

you could try to use it in "meatballs". or even as part of a sauce for pasta!!!

What food would you miss most as a vegan?

dairy... cheese and yogurt mostly!!

Regular dinner in Spain

Where in Spain will she be living?

Tortilla, very much what people have described above, the potato/egg fritatta-type dish is ubiquitous to Spain. You find and eat those everywhere. But there are regional things that you see more in some place than others.

Pan con Tomate (bread with raw tomato rubbed into it) is something my friends in Barcelona have frequently, but you don't see it as much in the north.

need NYC foodstuffs to take back home & food recs

I love to do some grocery shopping every time I visit NYC. I love to visit the Union Square GreenMarket to buy raw honey, garlic/rosemary jelly and some other goodies I can't find back home.

My new obsession are the Trader Joe's dried/unsulfured mangoes!!!!!!!I am bringing a whole suitcase of those on my next visit. you can count on it.

Best Bottled Products not made by a Name Brand Co.?

I love going to the Union Square StreetMarket to buy stuff from small providers... i love these jams/jellies and raw honey.

New Ways to Prepare Oatmeal

I have made oatmeal with almond milk... also added carob powder and dried cranberries. I guess chocolate might work well too.

If you want to consumer oatmeal in other ways... you can just add it raw to your smoothies or use it as a breading element for eggplants or other breaded dishes.

Best Cardamom Substitute

where do you live??? I just bought a 7oz bag of cardamom pods for $5 at an Indian neighborhood in Queens, NYC. Not that expensive for a flavor that is not easily substituted by anything else.

Avocado's Can Be Heaven

Avocados just by themselves are considered a salad in our family. If an avocado is creamy and buttery, it will not need anything at all. Of course, Fuerte avocados are the avocados I am most familiar with.

I love avocados chopped really little, mixed in with tomatoes to make it into a sorta salad dressing/sauce. And they can be absolutely heavenly inside a sandwich with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.

Substitute for dry white wine?

you could also use a dash of white balsamic vinegar...

Yam or Sweet Potato For You?

Vegetable side dish for Friendsgiving?

Vegetarian Lasagna Throwdown - Ideas to win over any meaty one?

I am planning my nephew's second birthday... and we're doing mostly a family get-together on Saturday. I am making a vegetable lasagna, a salad, baked plantains and garlic bread. Someone else will be making a meat/red sauce lasagna.

I want my vegetable lasagna to BLOW THE HEAD OUT of that other lasagna. I am the aunt plus I want to make a statement that a vegetable lasagna can certainly kick the butt of a meaty one.

I usually go with a spinach, almonds and white sauce lasagna, but somehow that seems too simple... what are your ideas?????

Best and Fave ways to have Yukon Golds??

Even though I had an almost new 5lb bag of red skinned potatoes, I bought another 5lb bag of Yukon Golds yesterday.

What are you favorite ways to prepare Yukon Golds that no other potato will ever do as well???? Remember vegetarian recipes are mostly appreciated...

Now that you're updating and fine-tuning the site...

Just a suggestion... It would be awesome if I could access via my profile page the messages where people address me specifically.

Say, when I comment on a topic if someone addresses a message to me by writing @karmafreecooking... that I would have a centralized place to find those and be able to address people's comments/questions. it's hard to keep track of the topics I've commented on and to a conversation going if I do not know the conversation is happening in the first place.

do any of you readers agree this would help???

Truffle Oil - Yeah or Neah????

I am borrowing a trusted format here to understand your feeling about truffle oil.

I have heard and read every gamut of opinions - from it being the most luscious and delectable thing ever created... to Scott Conan saying truffle oil has no business in any fine dining establishment because they're not made from real truffles.

All I know... the last few times I have eaten anything truffle, i tend to get acid attacks!!! So now, when people push on me truffle oil when in a restuarant, I am not impressed.

Is it that my tastebuds are not very refined?? Am i just not ready for such a delicacy?? Or are you on Scott Conant's side and think truffle oil is something that's does not belong on our food?


FYI to Serious Eats on Latin Cooking...

Lately I have been reading LOTS of reviews on tacos and Mexican cooking on the site. Just as an FYI... there's more to Latin cooking than just tacos. Just saying...

I know Mexicans account for approximately 70% of the Latin/Hispanic community in the US, but there is more to Latin America and its flavors than just tortillas in all their iterations.

Do you, fellow readers, agree???

Need some awesome Vegetarian Poutine STAT!!!!

In a serendipitous turn of events, I will be visiting Quebec City and Montreal very soon... and given this sudden switch in travel plans, I am realizing I do not have time to do my Canadian food research as I would normally do.

I know I want to try a great vegetarian poutine... what other Canadian VEGETARIAN delicacies should I also try during my upcoming trip???

My travel companions are not vegetarian, but any recommendations should have plenty vegeterian options for me. I get hungry when I travel. :)


Food Waste... who's really to blame???

I saw yesterday this FoodNetwork Special called The Big Waste. It was impactful to see all the waste that goes on in the food industry in the US. All the flour wasted from bakeries, the animals people don't want and the produce that is "not as perfect"people are not purchasing. It enraged me to see how much supermarkets throw out everyday because people are "not interested to buy" certain products if they have a small blemish.

At first I was upset at people for being so wasteful in farms and discarding perfectly good food. But then I thought... who's really creating the waste?? Is it the regular consumer who discard it or is it the butcher and the farmer who are not looking for ways to market us these "rejects", which according to them are perfectly fine??? Sure it takes a little bit more effort and time, but why discard good tomatoes into the compost heep instead of putting them all together and selling them cheaper to those who are willing to buy them?

Bobby Flay, Michael Symon, Anne Burrel and Alex Guarnaschelli did a meal made out of foods supposed to be waste the next day. But was this waste because people were wasting it... or was it waste because the businesses did not want to use it anymore??

Did u see the special??? Who's more at fault here - the consumer, the purveyors or both?? Any thoughts???

Pizza and FlatBread... what's the difference??

A poll in SLICE today brought to the forefront a question I have had for a long time... What's the real difference between a Pizza and a FlatBread??

Most flatbread recipes I see around start with pizza dough... Most flatbreads I see do not include cheese necesarily, but then again there are cheese-less pizzas too... So is there really a difference??

What makes a pizza a pizza and a flatbread a flatbread?? Is this just semantics?? Or a way to bring more haute-ness and charge more for something we all know and love???

I tried to look for an answer among Kenji's 200+ question/answer article, but I couldn't find anything there. Share in your POV on this... Gracias.

Can I Freeze an Avocado???

We're in avocado season and we have all these avocados ripening all at the same time. I am eating avocados in every meal possible... but there's so much guacamole I can eat in one day.

Have you had any experience FREEZING avocados?? Does it work?? Should I mash them before freezing? Should I freeze the whole fruit? Is this a bad idea???

Please help me and my aunt who are drowning in avocados... and would like to save some for later use if possible.

My new skillets: Did I make the right decision??

I went into Macy's today with the mission to buy a new skillet. The musts: 10"+ wide, non-stick surface, oven-safe handle... all my pots/pans are stainless-steel so a SS finish and a lid would also be a nice bonus.

The options there:
All-Clad 2 skillet set (7 1/2" and 9") - $119 - 20% off
Cuisinart 2 skillet set (8" and 11") - $59.99 on sale - 20% off
Emeril's 2 skillet set (8" and 10") - $39.99 on sale - 20% off

I decided for Emeril's set. They did not have the stainless-steel exterior as the other ones, but are made by All-Clad (logo is on the box). Total price I paid with tax - $34 and change.

Did I make the right decision?? I went for the cheapest one made by All-Clad, but now I am second-guessing myself if I should have spent more and gone for the real thing.

What's your experience with Emeril's cookware?? It is really as good as the real All-Clad stuff?? Help me ease my anxiety...

Poaching in Olive Oil... could you reuse the oil?

I just finished watching an episode of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef with Anne Burrell where she poached salmon filets in an infused olive oil. She mentioned it's an investment because of the amount of oil used in the process.

My question to you guys... have you ever poached anything in olive oil? Is it worth it?? Do you save or reuse the oil for another purpose? Any vegetarian ideas to poach in olive oil??

Looking forward to your input... Gracias.

Poblano Peppers... are they spicier if they're riper?

I am a wimp when it comes to spicy food. But I learned to eat poblano peppers during my last trip to Guadalajara. Every time I ate them in different preparations, the spice level was tolerable to my wimpy pallate.

So, today I decided to make poblano rajas to eat as tacos. One of the poblanos was starting to look ripe, but I did not make too much of it. I roasted them, peeled them, made sure I took out all the veins and seeds.

The recipe I found called for 6 peppers, I only used 4. Still, my rajas are a lot spicier than I remember they were when I had them in Mexico. They're manageable, but much more spicy than expected...

Could the poblano that started to ripen been the culprit??? Could I have bought another type of pepper (a spicier one) thinking it was a poblano?? Please help me understand...

Batali going MEATLESS on MONDAYS... Really???

I read through an email I receive from the Meatless Mondays campaign people that Mario Batali now joins the Meatless Mondays movement by offering at least 2 vegetarian options in all his 14 restaurants across the US every Monday.

Initially sounds like a great idea and initiative... no? Hey, big chef Mario Batali is making this big statement. However, when you think about it in detail... is it really???

Committing to have at least 2 options in a menu, which on average has between 60 and 70 items to choose from, represents a mere 3% out of the total menu options. Not a big change or statement in my opinion.

To me, ANY successful restaurant catering to a wide audience should AT LEAST have 2-3 vegetarian/meatless options EVERY DAY!!! Not just on Mondays... I know I like to eat out any day of the week. I am sure all other vegetarians also feel this way...

Now, if Mario would have said ALL 14 restaurants will ONLY OFFER vegetarian/meatless dishes all-day Monday, every Monday, now that's an initiative truly embracing the Meatless Monday's concept. Eradicating meat dishes from all restaurants on Mondays would demonstrate his true commitment and would make a real statement and impact on the environment and on public opinion. But just 2 dishes on each menu????? Give me a break...

I know us vegetarians here at SE are in a minority, but what's your take on this piece of news??? Is this a good initiative or a wimpy effort?

What to do with Fennel Fronds???

I just recently started participating in a CSA and among the things included in last week's basket was a fennel bulb. I have eaten fennel and seen fennel at the store, but never actually brought one home to cook with it.

I searched some recipes and I know what to do with the bulb, but throwing away all those stalks and fronds seems so wasteful...

What should I do with them? Do you use them as you use dill? Or should I just throw them away??? Please advise...

Fine Dining Vegetarian in Chicago???

I am calling out to all you Serious Eats vegetarians and vegetarian food lovers out there...

I will be attending my MBA class reunion in the Chicago/Evanston area in a few weeks and I was wondering if you would recommend of any great Vegetarian Restaurants in the downtown/ on the way to Evanston area.

I can go to and get several names, but I am interested in your opinions and recommendations too. I trust your good taste and service standards.

Kitchen Appliances Improvements and Suggestions

I am convinced that whomever designs small kitchen appliances has never had to clean or wash them before...

Why does a food processor needs so many nooks and crevices where food gets stuck and it's so hard to clean thoroughly?? Why does a stick blender doesn't have a detachable bottom part I can wash without having to worry about getting the top end wet, where the power cable is??

What improvements would you suggest to the makers of everyday kitchen appliances out there?

Recipe transformations - share your story!

In my 5 de Mayo spirit, I attempted to make a homemade Mexican salsa to snack with fresh corn tortilla chips. I chopped the tomatoes, the onions, the peppers and added most of the ingredients the recipe called for (at leats the ones I like and keep at hand). I was confident this was going to be one of the best salsas I had ever had. Unfortunately, to me it tasted more like a sofrito or gazpacho than a salsa.

Believing that nothing in the kitchen should go to waste, my futile attempt at a salsa turned into the perfect base for some Stewed Sweet Peas. The lime juice in the salsa really gave it a nice kick that otherwise I would have never thought of adding. This "unfortunate" salsa actually was key to these new delicious sweet pea recipe.

Have you ever had a kitchen blunder, a recipe that did not turn out as expected, but that in combination with something else, actually made it even better???

Want to bring TUNO back!!! Help me on the how...

After posting a few recipes in my blog, KarmaFree Cooking using TUNO, I just learned that Worthington, a company now owned by Kellogg's has discontinued the product. WHY???? For vegetarians, this is the best readily available tuna-like product "formerly available".

I would like to write the company a letter with a petition to bring the product back... because everytime I mention this to people, they are surprised and very dissapointed.

What's the best way to collect electronic signatures/names of people who support this "cause" too?? Should I do it in this forum - A Serious Eats Talk thread?? or do you know of any other way to do it??

I remember seeing right here in Serious Eats some sort of electronic petition to keep a NYC sandwich place open... I even signed the thing, but now I can't remember where or how to do it.

Any ideas or suggestions??

Whole-Wheat Phyllo Dough - Where can I find it??

I have been meaning to make several recipes using phyllo dough, but I would really prefer using a whole-wheat or any whole-grain version. I've seen recipes on the Internet that call for whole-wheat phyllo, but when I search, I can't find any brands. Do you know any brands of whole wheat phyllo and if I can purchase them over the Internet?? Please help.

Is there a Rice Cooker without an Aluminum Insert?

I have a confession to make... I can't make rice without a rice cooker. I have tried many times, but it just won't come out right. For years, I have been cooking mostly on stainless steel and avoiding the use of aluminum cookware. However, my trusted rice cooker is the only appliance/cookware I still own that has aluminum . I feel like I am cooking wrong everytime I use it.
Do you know if there are any rice cookers without an aluminum insert? When I search on the internet they do not specify. Please help.

A Guide to Tofu Types and What to Do With Them

High in protein, low in cost, and easy to work with, tofu has endeared itself to eaters across the globe. But with the dizzying array of tofu types out there, it's worth learning your soft silkens from your medium blocks. Here's a guide to identifying, shopping for, and preparing over a dozen different kinds of tofus. More

Mushroom Catsup--

So, I made some mushroom catsup, and while it is fascinating and tasty, I really have no idea what to do with it. I've used it as steak/burger sauce, and in bloody marys (AMAZING), but I can't think of any... More

Where New Vegetarian Roy Choi Eats in Los Angeles

When Roy Choi recently announced that he's going vegetarian, the food world freaked out a little. Wait, the same dude who made Korean short rib sliders and pork belly tacos a thing? The Korean-American chef who started the Kogi truck back in 2008 (there's now a fleet of five trucks plus four brick-and-mortar restaurants, and he's working on a memoir, Spaghetti Junction) shared the news on his blog, Riding Shotgun. He wrote: "Animals be talking to me. They told me... stop. Stop, Roy. Please." Choi told us about his favorite spots for meatfree eating in Los Angeles. More

Latin American Cuisine: Patacónes con Hogao (Fried Plantains with Tomato-onion Sauce)

I can't get enough of plantains, which is a good thing because Colombians eat them by the mocilla-ful. Over the course of this series, they'll show up in multiple forms. Black-skinned and sweet, roasted with guava paste and cheese, green-skinned and starchy, boiled into a thick soup, or shaped into cups and filled with ceviche. This week, however, we're talking patacones, which, depending on exactly where you are, are also called tostones. More

Bread Baking: Corn and Cheddar Muffins

Ah, summer. The heat doesn't stop me from baking, but it does make me think about seasonal ingredients. The farmers' market is bursting with fresh produce but it's hard to translate some of them into bread. What about corn, you say? Throw some fresh corn along with the cornmeal into the muffin batter. More

The Serious Eats Guide to Food Photography

The thing is, food blog photography is completely different from professional food photography. Most of the time, we're working in low-light situations where we neither have the time nor the ability to set up lighting rigs or even an off-camera flash, for that matter. Over the years, we've figured out the best ways to get presentable photos out of just about every situation food blogging will put you in. We've compiled the most important tips here. More

Weekend Cook and Tell Round Up: Golden Gadgets

Last week for our Weekend Cook and Tell we asked all of you to tell us about the one item in your kitchen that you just can't live without for a challenge we called Golden Gadgets. Responses ranged from high tech and powerful (think Vitamix, the be-all, end-all of blenders) to the tried and true (a 50 year-old flat grater, passed down for generations). Here's a look at the gadgets that get the most play in your kitchens. More

Yellow Mustard

What's ketchup without mustard? It seemed only right that yellow mustard followed ketchup at the start of our new Sauced column. Unlike ketchup, which required some tweaking to get right, the first recipe I tried for French's copycat yellow mustard was a hit. More

Gluten-Free Tuesday: Lemon Bars

Before going gluten-free, it wasn't unusual for me to travel three hours for a good lemon bar. The siren call came from Rosie's Bakery in Boston. I loved these bars. Made with a tangy lemon topping on a thick, buttery shortbread, I picked them over her famous Chocolate Orgasm brownies every time. It was time to set out to make my own gluten-free version. More

Culinary Ambassadors: Grocery Shopping in Puerto Rico

In Puerto Rico I have to shop around. I love Costco for some of my produce—tomatoes, lettuce, berries, and mushrooms for stuffing.... I go to a regular supermarket for basics (like cereal, milk, and produce) that I do not need 10 pounds of at one time. I visit a health-food place to get my vegetarian goodies, like eggless mayonnaise, tofu, brown rice pastas, quinoa, etc. MadelynRodriguez More

Weekend Cook and Tell Round Up: Squash Invasion!

Last week on our Weekend Cook and Tell challenge we asked all of you for your favorite squash recipes for a challenge that we called Squash Invasion! Since marrows are so plentiful this time of year the challenge ended up being quite well received, giving all of us lots of ideas for how to tackle mountains of squash. Let's take a look at some of our favorite squash creations. More

School Lunch in Puerto Rico

These days they serve them lots of "comida criolla," or local fare such as rice and beans, lasagnas, pepper steak, and even "pastelones," which are Puerto Rican casseroles made sometimes from sweet fried plantains or mashed potatoes. They also offer lighter fare, such as sandwiches, wraps, or even hot dogs, if that's considered light. There are some salads, but if the kids say they will not eat them, they will not give salad to them—as if kids really know what's best for them! More