Dark Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Scones

Yes, these are an indulgence but right now, personally, I need an indulgence. I need something that makes me feel good. I’ll just have to work out a bit harder today. 

On the weekends, my husband and I always visit a local bakery. Scones are one of my favorite baked items to get. However, I’m trying to be a good citizen and practice physical distancing and limit my time shopping to limit my possibility of contracting a virus.

As the studies indicate, cooking at home can reduce anxiety and fight off depression.  Therefore, I’ll keep cooking.

Chocolate & Cranberry Scones Chocolate & Cranberry Scones Chocolate & Cranberry Scones Chocolate & Cranberry Scones

Ingredients (8 Servings)

1¾ Cups of Flour

1/3 Cup of sugar – extra for sprinkling over scones

2 Tsp. of baking powder

½ Tsp. of salt

5 Tbsp. of chilled butter in pieces

½ Cup of dark chocolate chip

¼ Cup of dried cranberries

¼ Cup of Milk

1 Tsp. of vanilla or almond extract

2 Tbsp. of orange juice – more as needed


  • Preheat oven at 400 F degrees.
  • Place dry ingredients and butter into a food processor or incorporate butter by hand until it looks like breadcrumbs. 
  • Place in a bowl and mix in the chocolate chips and cranberries.
  • Add half the milk to make into a workable dough.
  • Lightly work the dough on a floured surface. 
  • Shape dough into a circle and cut into eighths.
  • Sprinkle and pat down dough with sugar turbinado sugar.
  • Place pieces on a pan onto parchment paper.
  • Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until golden brown.
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plantain soup with plantain dumplings

Plantain Soup with Plantain Dumplings or Sopa de Plátanos con Bollitos de Plátanos is one of my favorite soups for lunch especially because it is light and nutritious.

Plantains are a superfood, at least to me. Maybe is the Dominican in me. You know, Dominicans eat a lot of plantains. (Hahaha!) I also love soup and eat it all year-long – Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter.

There are so many different Plantain Soup recipes. Lost of Latin-American or Caribbean country seems to have their own version. My recipe is full of flavor, with a creamy texture and It’s overall delicious. What makes this easy recipe exceptional are the dumplings- bollitos de plátanos.  You could add chicken to incorporate a protein into the soup, but to tell you the truth, I don’t think it needs it.

In all seriousness, plantains are high in vitamins, minerals, and are packed with resistant starch which is a healthy carb that booths your metabolism and helps you burn fat. This fruit, that is eaten as a vegetable, it is perfect to incorporate into a gluten-free diet.

Soup Ingredients (4 Servings)

  • 1 green plantain, peeled and sliced into small chunks
  • 8 cups of broth (chicken or vegetable) or more if needed
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin powder
  • 1 bay leaf


  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Dumplings Ingredients (24 dumplings)

  • 2 green plantain, peeled and grated fine or puréed in a food processor
  • 1 teaspoon of dry adobo
  • 1 tablespoon of flour

Soup Directions

  • Place all ingredients, along with the plantain chunks in a medium pot set to boil.
  • Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes or until the plantains are very tender.
  • Transfer all the solids and one cup of the broth to a blender and purée for about 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn yourself.
  • Whisk in the purée back into the remaining broth in the pot.
  • Drop in the dumplings and cook at medium heat for 10 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through. Add more broth if necessary.

Dumplings Directions

  • Fine grate the plantains with a grater or in a food processor.
  • Season the grated plantain with the dry adobo, sprinkle with the flour and mix until incorporated.
  • Shape dumplings into mini football shapes. If you like, shape the dumplings with two teaspoons.

Divide the soup into four bowls with six dumplings each. Sprinkle soup with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime on top. This would be a great meal for a light lunch or a dinner first course.  If you want to make it as a dinner meal, pair it with rice and avocado and again top with the cilantro and lime.

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Banu Valladares

Banu Valladares has been an instrumental figure in the development of the arts in North Carolina. She has become an advocate for Latino artists and organizations locally, across North Carolina and nationally. Banu is a singer, dancer, published author and actor.  You might have seen her in “Angelica’s Dream”, “Texas …

Venezuelan Pabellón Criollo-Shredded Beef

In Venezuela, at any major family gathering or for the Holidays, the traditional dish served –aside from the Arepas of course – is the Pabellón Criollo. The Pabellón Criollo consist of white rice, caraotas (black beans) amarillos also known as maduros (sweet plantains) and the star is the shredded or pulled steak know in Spanish as Carne Mechada.

pastelón de papas – potatoes and beef casserole

My friend Gabriel Magraner from NALAC (Nat. Assoc. of Latino Arts & Culture) visited the area to prepare for the NALAC Regional Training that is taking place in Charlotte from June 2 to the 3rd. Since Gabriel is of Puerto Rican descent, I wanted to make him something very popular …