Queso Helado–starring Paticita y Lola

SDC19842We had a lovely afternoon with Paty’s familia. I had asked her a while back to teach me her ways in the queso helado world. She kindly obliged, and went all the way by inviting the McKinzie fam over for lunch and dessert. So delicious. I could have taken lessons on preparing her “Soltero de Queso,” another dish that I need to learn, but we enjoyed the time of visiting and eating delicious food. Afterward, Greg returned to our home with the the two littles, and Ana and I stayed for our ice cream lesson.

Queso Helado is a famous homemade ice cream served all over the city on a hot day. The women will wear the traditional Arequipa outfit and scoop the portions from large wooden vats of the ice cream. We love queso helado. It literally means “cheese ice cream,” but there is no cheese to be found in the ingredient list. The ice cream usually comes out with a yellowish tint that is similar to the color of cheese. Coconut is a main ingredient in the icy treat, and the portion is always sprinkled with ground cinnamon. My family’s Christmas tradition is to serve boiled custard over a piece of coconut cake. I think that is why I like this ice cream so much. Minus the cinnamon, the flavor could be titled, “Boiled Custard over Coconut Cake.”

a while back. Hanging out in the Plaza de Yanahuara where they always serve Queso Helado.
a while back. Hanging out in the Plaza de Yanahuara where they always serve Queso Helado.

Queso Helado










  • 1 liter of whole milk
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 8 eggs
  • 100 g of shredded coconut
  • 1.5 c of sugar
  • 1 can or small bag of evaporated milk
  • ground cinnamon


  1. Echar un litro de leche, 100 g coco rallado, una rama de canela, 1.5 T azucar en una olla (medio fuego). Combine the milk, coconut, cinnamon stick, sugar in a small pot on medium heat.DSC_0266DSC_0267DSC_0269DSC_0272
  2. Separar 8 huevos clara de yema. Separate the eggs, yolk from whites.DSC_0274
  3. Mezclar yemas. Mix the yolks.DSC_0275
  4. Cuando liquido hierva, apagar el fuego. Colar la mezcla para eliminar el coco del liquido. When the mixture begins to boil, turn down the flame. Strain the liquid in order to remove the coconut pieces from the liquid.DSC_0273DSC_0276DSC_0278DSC_0280
  5. Agregar leche evaporada a liquido. Add the evaporated milk to the liquid.DSC_0282
  6. Enfriar el liquido (10-15 minutos). Allow the mixture to cool.
  7. Agregar las yemas. Add the yolks, but temp the yolks with a little bit of the hot mixture first.DSC_0283
  8. Echar en un fuente. Cubrir con plastico. Pour into a 9×13 pan and cover with plastic or a top.DSC_0284DSC_0285
  9. Congelar de una noche. Freeze over night.DSC_0286
  10. Servir con canela molida. Serve sprinkled with ground cinnamon.SDC19842

    Ana and Lola
    Ana and Lola
Queso Helado–starring Paticita y Lola

Papa a la Huancaína–starring Etelvina

On my reentry bucket list in these last months is to learn some recipes that my family loves. I have learned many recipes in my time here, mostly from Manuela. But today, Etelvina made a special trip to our home to show me her ways in Ocopa (a creamy spicy, yellow sauce). Ocopa is used in a dish called “Papa a la Huancaína.” You can read the origin of the plate at this link. Arequipa has its own twist on the dish. It is typically served as a starter, but when using big potatoes (which is what I used today), it is very filling. When I say that my family loves this dish, ALL of us ask for more sauce. At the end of the meal, the kids are always drinking up their extra ocopa like they would the milk from a bowl of cereal.

Etelvina brought all the ingredients for the ocopa (the sauce), and I had to provide the rest. The rest includes boiled potatoes, boiled eggs, lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes, and purple olives. I bought all of my ingredients in the bodega one block from my home for under 2 dollars. Man, I love Peruvian bodegas. 🙂

So… I give you the step by step directions for making Ocopa and then how to assemble a plate of Papa a la Huancaína.



  • 5 ají verde (and yes, I know they aren’t green)
  • 2 dientes (teeth) of ajo (garlic)
  • salt
  • oil
  • saltine crackers and animal crackers
  • 1 large onion
  • Huacatay
  • peanuts
  • water

(This recipe is enough for 10 large potatoes)


1. Lavar aji verde. Clean the peppers very well.


2. Sacar semilla de aji. Remove all the seeds and “guts” from the peppers. This removes the spicy.


3. If cooking for people that like spicy food, leave the peppers alone. If cooking for children, rub the halves together very well under water to remove the spicy. Cut away any excess “guts.” Frotándole.


4. Freírlos. Cut the ajís and place them into a hot skillet coated with oil. Add the garlic and huatacay. Fry them until their are golden. Freír hasta se doren (doraditos).


5. While frying, remove shells from peanuts. You only need a half-handful of peanuts.


6. Remove Aji mixture into a bowl. Add peanuts (maní) and crackers (saltine and animal).



7. Cortar cebolla. Cut up the onion and fry in the same pan as the peppers. Allow to get black specks and soften.


8. Poner todo en la liquadora. Put everything in a blender.


9. Add water until all the ingredients are covered. Also add about 1 tsp of salt.


Blend away! The color will go from this…


to this…


Somebody is hungry and happy about Vina’s cookin’…


10. Taste test. If you want it thicker, add more crackers. Add more salt or garlic based on your taste preference.



And now, prepare the Papa a la Huancaína: place a large lettuce leave to the side of a plate. Put the potato down. Pour the ocopa over the potato. Lay the egg halves and olives in front of the potato, and lay a tomato slice on top of potato. Wah-lah!


Finally, enjoy with some Peruvians that you have come to LOVE. We love you so much, Etelvina and Arelí!!!!!!!! We will cherish afternoons like this!



Papa a la Huancaína–starring Etelvina

Coffee Toffee Bars

DSC_0369The rainy season has begun in Arequipa.  Today is a little bit cool from the overcast skies.  This past week was a hard week for me.  For the first time, I experienced grieving for a family member that was very dear to me… far from my family.  Part of grieving is being with those that you love, and I am thankful to live in a time of wonderful technology.  Watching a live stream of the funeral service and getting to see family members shortly after the service provided closure for me that I don’t think I would have experienced.  I am still working on a post to honor my Granny’s memory, but today was a day to rest from all the tears that have been cried the past week.

With the weather and the emotional toil my body has been through, baking, chocolate, and blogging serve as great therapy for me.  What is more perfect than a Coffee Toffee Bar and a hot cup of peppermint tea?

DSC_0365Coffee Toffee Bars

Click here for the link

DSC_0368a little bit of chocolate + a little bit of peppermint + feeling loved + rest = a perfect afternoon

Coffee Toffee Bars

Amish Sugar Cookies


A sweet friend, Teena, posted this link the other day on Facebook, and I knew in my great big sweet-tooth heart that I needed to try them… ASAP!  And boy, did they not disappoint.  Since I really needed another sugar cookie recipe to make here right after the holiday (wink, wink).

I love my SIL’s, Deborah’s, recipe for sugar cookies that you actually roll out and cut into shapes.  But these cookies are wonderful just the way they are.  They are soft and crumbly, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

They were super easy to put together, and when they say tsp size for putting them on the cookie sheet, they really do mean it.  I couldn’t believe that such a small ball of dough made such a wonderful perfectly-sized cookie.  Next time you want a yummy cookie recipe to try… look no further.  Thanks for posting this the other day, Teena.  🙂

Click here for the Taste of Home Recipe


Amish Sugar Cookies

Best Ever Grape Salad

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!!!

beautiful grapes.  This "salad" starts out as healthy.  ;-)
beautiful grapes. This “salad” starts out as healthy. 😉

Grapes are a big deal for New Year’s Eve here in Peru. They have a tradition where they eat grapes for every month of the year for good luck as the clock strikes 12. I don’t believe in this superstition, but I do not mind one bit the sale that they have for seedless grapes in the grocery stores!

This is one of Greg’s absolute favorite salads. Salad is a little misleading… it is definitely a dessert. 🙂

I first heard about this salad from a friend in my masters program back in Memphis, TN. She had told me that it makes a great potluck dish. Our supporting church at Cedar Lane made a cookbook for us before we left, and I was happy to see Evelyn Curlee’s recipe for this little gem. Thanks, Evelyn!

there's nothing like finding seedless grapes on sale (in green AND red) in AQP!!!
there’s nothing like finding seedless grapes on sale (in green AND red) in AQP!!!
It is so nice when I can just take a picture and not type all of this out.  :-)
It is so nice when I can just take a picture and not type all of this out. 🙂

It is a really easy salad to put together. So easy in fact, that my kids can help me. Even the two-year-old. 😉

Ana and Mags plucking the grapes from the vine
Ana and Mags plucking the grapes from the vine
Cohen aka Super Mixer
Cohen aka Super Mixer
the recipe says to add the grapes whole.  I like to cut each of them in half. (it is also easier for the kids to eat)
the recipe says to add the grapes whole. I like to cut each of them in half. (it is also easier for the kids to eat)
this is where the goodness comes in.  :-)
this is where the goodness comes in. 🙂
it says to leave it like this and chill...
it says to leave it like this and chill…
I like to go ahead and mix it all up.  Soooo delicious.
I like to go ahead and mix it all up. Soooo delicious.

And for the record, we don’t have sour cream here in Arequipa. I substitute natural yogurt, and it comes out just fine. I also scored on a 3 for 2 deal on Philadelphia Cream Cheese at the store too. Cheers to a cheaper New Year’s Eve Dessert!

Best Ever Grape Salad

Palta Rellena


One fresh food that you can find year-round here in AQP is fresh avocado.  In Peruvian Spanish, the avocado is called “palta.”  A dish that I absolutely love, and that I think is absolutely brilliant is stuffed avocados.  It is as simple as cutting a palta in half, removing the skin and seed, and filling it with chicken salad.  Serve it on a bed of greens with fresh tomato and red onion, sprinkle on some seasoning, and you have a delicious, healthy meal.



Palta Rellena

Owl cupcakes with Memaw

Hoot Hoot!
Hoot Hoot!

I realize that moms can go to pinterest and find anything they want for craft ideas.  We are with my MIL this week, and she found the following idea in a good-ole fashioned magazine.  I appreciate crafts and recipes that are easy to do with kids.  I especially appreciate them when I actually have the ingredients in Peru!  These were too cute, and the kids had an absolute blast with their Memaw and cousins making them…


  • chocolate cake mix
  • chocolate icing
  • Oreos
  • M&M’s
  • sprinkles (optional)
  1. Make cupcakes out of cake mix.  Allow to cool and ice them generously.
  2. Take Oreos and separate the cookies so that the white is on one side.  Use the whites on cookie from two cookies for the two eyes.
  3. Add M&M’s in the middle of the whites (use a little chocolate icing as “glue”).
  4. Push one M&M into the icing below the eyes for the beak.
  5. Add sprinkles for fun.




Thanks, Memaw, for a super fun and delicious activity!!!


Owl cupcakes with Memaw

Rocoto Relleno and Pastel de Papas


Today is August 15, the anniversary of Arequipa. Arequipa has some delicious food, and one of our favorite plates (and one they are known for) is Rocoto Relleno and Pastel de Papas. Today was my first time to prepare this plate by myself.

rocotos are either green or red
rocotos are either green or red

The rocoto is a hot pepper that looks a whole lot like a bell pepper. Bell peppers are actually used for small kids since they have no spice (but not the McKinzie children). 🙂 The rocoto is gutted, stuffed with a flavorful meat mixture, topped with cheese, and baked to glorious perfection in the oven.

Pastel de papas can be compared to a potato casserole or scalloped potatoes. The distinct flavor, though, is the cheese that you buy from the market to use in it. Many restaurants serve pastel de papas with the traditional Rocoto Relleno.



  • 12 medium to large rocotos
  • 3/4 k thinly cut steak meat
  • 3 generous Tbs of Aji Colorado molido, or a mixture of spices (garlic, oregano, and cumin)
  • 2 boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/4 c of peanuts, chopped finely
  • 1/4 c of dark raisins
  • 4 large onions, diced finely
  • oil
  • fresh parsley, diced finely
  • cheese (queso serano)
  • evaporated milk (1.5 large cans)
  • 3 eggs

1. Ask a Peruvian expert cook. Manuela is my go-to-profesora. She taught me the best way to gut the rocotos and soak them to get some of the spice out. The day before cooking, you clean out the seeds and veins, remove the tops (so that you can place them back on top to bake), and place them in a bowl of water with the juice and skins of 5 limes and 2 tbs of red vinegar. You allow them to soak all night. ***Greg loves spicy food. I did not soak his rocotos at all. I gutted his two rocotos right before stuffing for baking.***

Manuela and I preparing the rocotos
Manuela and I preparing the rocotos


2. The next morning, rinse the rocotos, refill the bowl with water, add 1/4 c of sugar to the water, and place the rocotos back in the bowl to soak throughout the morning.


3. Preparing the meat mixture:

  • Dice and cut all of the ingredients…


diced peanuts
diced peanuts
finely diced onion
finely diced onion
finely cut parsley
finely cut parsley


  • heat the Aji Colorado until bubbly, add 2 Tbs of oil and stir until it is all the same color.


  • add the meat (with salt to taste) and brown.


  • add the onions and cook until translucent.


  • add everything else.


4. Remove peppers from sugar water, place in a colander, rinse, and then pour boiling water over the peppers to prepare them for baking. Place the pepper shells in a greased casserole dish.

5. Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture.


6. Add a piece of cheese and place the tops on the rocotos.


7. Mix the can of evaporated milk and 2 eggs. Pour them over the rocotos in the dish.


8. Bake at 475 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

after baking
after baking



  • 2 kilos red potatoes (papas rosadas)
  • 1/2 kilo queso serano
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 eggs (3 whole, 3 egg whites)
  • 1.5 cans evaporated milk
  • anis
  • 6 pads of butter

1. Clean dirt off of potatoes, peel, and cut into thin discs.

2. After buttering a deep 9×13 casserole dish, place one layer of potatoes into the dish.


3. Slice the cheese into fine layers. Add a layer of cheese over the potatoes.


Ana, my cheese helper
Ana, my cheese helper

4. Whisk the evaporated milk with the 3 whole eggs. Add salt and pepper. Pour some of the mixture over the first layer of potatoes and cheese.

Catherine, our beautiful visitor, whisking the milk and eggs.
Catherine, our beautiful visitor, whisking the milk and eggs.

5. Repeat the layers two more times, pouring the milk mixture over the 3rd layer.


6. Take the three egg whites, and mix them until stiff peaks form.


7. Spread the egg whites over the top of the potato dish evenly.


8. Now sprinkle anis over the egg whites.

my anis helper
my anis helper
almost finished
almost finished

9. Add small pads of butter onto the top of the egg whites, and bake for 1.5 hours at 350 degrees F.


The finished product…


Serve with a big stuffed rocoto!!!


Rocoto Relleno and Pastel de Papas

Quinoa and Spinach Patties

I really like quinoa.  I am still searching for a good recipe to try for creamed quinoa (like the dish from Zig Zag and La Nueva Palomino).  If one of my recipe blogs that I follow features a quinoa recipe, I am usually a sucker to bookmark it and try it.  This year, one of our interns is a vegetarian, this recipe popped up one day, and I couldn’t resist adding it to my menu for the week.

I got some non-excited responses from Greg and the kids, but after lunch, the reaction changed.  It was a hit!  Even Manuela, who shared with me a month ago that she has never liked quinoa in her 50+ years of living here, liked it and asked for the recipe.  Success!

I will just post the link to the recipe: Quinoa and Spinach Patties

My patties looked exactly like the picture.  I used fresh spinach that I just steamed in hot water.  One note is to prepare the quinoa ahead of time (it is supposed to be cooled when you add it to the mix).  I bought the perfect-sized little wheat buns, added a slice of melted cheese and barbecue sauce, and we went to town.

She suggests serving it with an avocado salad.  I did just that.  I have no clue what salad recipe she uses, but here is the one we like here in Peru:

Avocado Salad

  • 1 large avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 small cucumbers, peeled and diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small block of mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

1.  Mix avocado, onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, and cheese in a small bowl.

2.  Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Quinoa and Spinach Patties

McKinzie Pizza Night


golden and bubbly on the top + thin and crispy on the bottom = perfect pizza
golden and bubbly on the top + thin and crispy on the bottom = perfect pizza

It is official.  Saturday is McKinzie Pizza night (or day).  We are in love.  We have tried for a weekly pizza night for awhile.  We would get on a kick, and then we wouldn’t be on the kick.  Then… Jeremy and Katie Daggett came to live with us this past January.  I wrote and asked permission to post their recipe.  What I love is that it is simple to put together and has a super crazy short rise time.  We are HUGE fans of THIN CRUST.  If you are a thin crust fan, this might just be the pizza crust recipe for you…

First, let me introduce you to our professors from El Instituto de Pizza Making in Arequipa, Jeremy and Katie:

Jeremy, the TCK from Italy.  The dough roller.
Jeremy: the TCK from Italy. The dough roller, topping adder, baker.
Katie, the dough mixer, topping dicer, and cheese grater
Katie: the dough mixer, topping dicer, and cheese grater

Jeremy and Katie taught us their ways, and we are forever indebted to them.  They are possibly considering a pizza place in Arequipa when they move here next year.  They can count on my business!

So Pizza is really three parts: the crust, the sauce, the toppings.  Here we go…

Daggett Pizza Thin Crust Recipe (makes 3-4 pizzas)

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups flour

Mix all. Form one giant dough ball.  Coat with olive oil.  Leave in warm place to rise for 45 minutes (or less if you don’t have the 45 minutes).

After rising, separate dough into four equal parts.  Roll each dough ball into the shape of pan.  (We have 1 round pan and two cookie sheets.  I have mastered turning this recipe into 4 crusts.  They end of super thin which means super delicious.)


Next, the sauce.  I love a good marinara sauce, and I found a good recipe where I blended various ingredients and then allowed them to simmer on the stove, but this sauce is way easier and tastes just fine for our thin crust.

Daggett Pizza Sauce

  • 2 packages or one jar of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 Tbs (more or less) dried oregano

Mix in a small bowl.  Spoon a thin layer over each unbaked crust.  Delish.


Now for the toppings.  Everyone has their favorites, but this is what our family highly recommends:

  • fresh chopped basil
  • thinly sliced Roma tomatoes
  • fresh chopped spinach
  • chopped artichoke hearts
  • pepperoni
  • ham
  • sliced, pickled jalapeños (Greg only)
  • 1/3 of a large block of shredded mozzarella cheese (for four pizzas)

We love this pizza.  I bake our pizzas, knowing that all ovens are different, in a gas oven at 255 degrees Celcius for 20 minutes.  It is even more delicious reheated in a toaster over–gives it that extra crispy crunch.  We make it on Saturdays, and always have enough left-overs for Sunday night (a night that I never want to cook).

Tips I picked up from the Daggetts

  • ham actually tastes decent on pizza and it is the cheaper option
  • scissors are the greatest for cutting up a pizza
  • fresh basil and fresh tomato slices will rock your face off when it comes to thin crust pizza
  • this dough recipe can also be used to make Focaccia bread.  Spread the entire dough ball evenly in a cookie sheet, brush olive oil over the surface, sprinkle salt and dried rosemary over the top.  Bake for 20 minutes.  It goes great with Italian dishes.
  • Artichokes really compliment the fresh basil and tomatoes on the pizza.
  • Don’t worry with making your crusts perfectly cover the surface of the pan.  Rustic looking pizza tastes better.  🙂
McKinzie Pizza Night