Saturday, April 12, 2014

Recipe Mashup: Quinoa Shrimp + Red Lentil Curry = Yum!

So first of all I wasn't planning on blogging this recipe, so I didn't take pictures or exactly measure things. Think of this as a "rough draft" of a recipe to come. Basically, I was cleaning out the fridge to prepare for a vacation. I recently made this yummy Garlic Butter Shrimp Quinoa recipe, from Pinch of Yum. It was really good but made a ginormous amount so I still had a lot left. And freezing quinoa? Didn't sound like a good idea. So I thought if I could add it into some kind of stew, there would be freezing potential. I found Hummusapien's Curried Quinoa Red Lentil Soup, and I made a plan. Oh yeah, since I'm not very good at following directions, and I love curry, in the Garlic Butter Shrimp recipe I used curry paste instead of chili powder, so that's why I was looking for a soup with curry flavors. In case you were wondering.

Anyway, geez, why don't I just get to the recipe already instead of blabbing on and on?

Remember how I told you this is a rough draft until I make it again with measuring and pictures and stuff? So here's kind of the gist of my recipe. I kind of mostly followed the Hummusapien recipe with the following changes: I didn't use tomatoes or almond milk. I used about 250-300 grams coconut milk and 2 cups of water and a chicken bullion cube. I also added some chopped green onions. I would have added fresh tomatoes and red bell peppers too, only they were not so fresh after all when I took them out of the fridge! Since I was using precooked quinoa, I just added it in at the end. This had a little bit of shrimp in it, but it would also be a great meatless or chicken meal. The blend of spices and flavors is delish!! I will try to incorporate some of these ideas next time I make this dish, but wanted to share it now so you can experiment, and so I don't forget.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Make-ahead Quinoa and Bulgar Wheat Breakfast Porridge

Not my finest food blog photo moment. I was at work, using my camera phone,
and it was a Monday morning....what do you want? :)
I've been having yogurt and fruit for breakfast every day for approximately the last three years, so I decided it was time to change it up a bit. Also I was out of fruit. I need something filling to keep me going through teaching reading and math to a bunch of 11-year olds and this yummy "porridge" did the trick! I'm totally not a morning person and this is perfectly fine to make the night before and just top and heat up in the morning! Also, quinoa and bulgar wheat are both super good for you-it's a great way to start the day.

What you need-ingredients
2 Servings

  • 1/2 C dry quinoa, rinsed in a seive
  • 1/2 C bulgar wheat
  • 1 cup of water and 1 cup of whole milk is what I used because I had it on hand. You could also use 2 cups of skim milk, or, even better, almond milk. I love almond milk. Paraguay has never heard of almond milk.
  • toppings: I used about a tablespoon of brown sugar, a sprinkle of cinnamon, golden raisins, and a few almonds. I also topped it with a little more milk when I heated it up.
What do do-Directions
  • Add the first three ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil, then turn down heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the quinoa "pops." If you are doing this the night before, put into single-serving bowls and refrigerate until ready to eat.
  • If eating immediately, add toppings, stir, and enjoy! If not, heat up, then add toppings and eat. Tasty!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Chicken Red Lentil Enchiladas

This recipe was mostly born due to ingredients I had in the fridge and wanted to use up. I know, I've been on a major Mexican kick lately! But I guess that's why I had homemade enchilada sauce just waiting to be used up. This comes together pretty quickly, especially if you have leftover chicken. Even if not, you could boil or grill some up while the lentils are cooking.

What you need/ Ingredients:

  • About 30 ounces of homemade or premade red enchilada sauce (3 cans)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup dry red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/4 onion, chopped

  • 1.5-2 cups of cooked, chopped chicken
  • optional: chopped up bell pepper and/or grated carrot
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • grated cheddar or other cheese (1.5-2 cups)
  • garnishes: sour cream, black olives, and/or chopped cilantro

What to do/ Directions

  • In a medium pan, over medium low heat, stir one can (10 ounces) or enchilada sauce with one cup of water, and bring to a simmer.
  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Add the lentils and onion and let cook on low, stirring often, for about 15 minutes or until lentils are soft.
  • Add cooked chicken and veggies, stir until heated through.

  • Spread one can or about 10 ounces into the bottom of a casserole dish, sprayed with non-stick spray.
  • Put lentil mixture into tortillas, roll, and add into pan.
  • Spread remaining sauce over enchiladas and top with grated cheese.
  • Cook for 15 minutes or until bubbly.
  • Garnish and enjoy!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Tamale Chicken Casserole

I found this recipe for Chicken Tamale Pie on Pinch of Yum. And it looked really, really good. But small problem, about 8 of the 10 ingredients are not locally available here in Paraguay. So this is my adaptation. It seemed like it took half the day to make! But now I have leftover homemade enchilada sauce. If you already have chicken or use a rotisserie chicken, that will save time too. But this will tell you how to do all of those things, somewhat simultaneously. If you have a lot of the ingredients in Lindsey's original recipe, you can definitely whip it out faster. If not, I'd save it for a weekend meal and enjoy the leftovers all week!

Tamale Chicken Casserole
Inspired by Pinch of Yum
Serves 8 (or less if you have good)

What you need (ingredients):
For the enchilada sauce: I used this recipe from Alaska from Scratch. I made it exactly as specified except I can't get fresh jalepenos, so I had to use a couple out of a can. All the other ingredients were easy to find. I had a little bigger container of tomato sauce as well-and after tasting it (spicy!!) I added the extra in to tame it a bit. But here are all the ingredients, so you can add them to your shopping list a little bit easier.

For the enchilada sauce
  • 2 teaspoons neutral-flavored oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeƱo, seeds removed and chopped (or 1-2 canned jalapenos, chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce (I used 520 grams which is more like 18 ounces. It was fine!
  • 1-2 cups water (I used 1 cup)
For the casserole: 
  • 1/3 C milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T taco seasoning (divided)
  • a dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 can of corn or creamed corn. I couldn't find creamed but guess what-put it in the blender and it turns that way! I creamed about half (with a little bit of the water from the can) and left about half of the can whole. Nice mix.
  • 1 8.5 oz. box of corn muffin mix such as Jiffy. I was preparing to make this, too, and surprisingly found a box in the gluten free section. But pretty easy to find a recipe online if you don't have access to such things!
  • original recipe calls for a 4 oz. can of chopped green chilis. In my dreams. In my real life, I found some canned serrano peppers and chopped them up a bit in the blender.
  • 10 oz. of red enchilada sauce-see above. The above recipe will have leftovers too!
  • 2 shredded chicken breasts or equivalent of any chicken parts
  • grated cheese
  • sour cream and cilantro for garnish
What to do (Instructions):

  • If you don't already have cooked chicken, cook some up quick. Any kind works; I use chicken breasts because I like white meat. I grilled them up in a frying pan with some oil, salt, and pepper. When I flipped them I added a little chicken broth an covered them up, and cooked for about 6-7 more minutes. I let it cool while I started everything else, and then shredded with a fork.
  • Next, start on the enchilada sauce if you're making your own. 
  • When that's underway, mix the first 7 ingredients for the casserole (through the peppers) in a bowl until ingredients are combined. *only put 1 T of chili powder in this mixture.* Once combined, spray non-stick spray into a baking dish and evenly spread mixture in the bottom. I only had a 9 by 13 inch dish, but you could use a square dish or pie plate as well.
  • Bake at 400 degrees (205 C) for about 25 minutes, or until browned.
  • Poke lots of holes into the crust, and pour about 10 ounces of enchilada sauce on. Then mix the shredded chicken with the other tablespoon of chili powder with the chicken, and spread evenly. 
  • Top with cheese and bake for about another 15 minutes. 
  • Take it out of the oven, garnish with cilantro and sour cream. Enjoy with a green salad.

    Verdict: Delicious! Even with all the modifications, I was thrilled with how this came out!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Traveling and Wandering

So sorry for the long absence here. First, I up and traveled the world (well, just South America) for 5 weeks. Then I got back and had to return to work. And I've been trying hard to get caught up on my travel blog! So what is next here in my culinary adventures? I'm going to be working on my empanada technique after getting a lesson from this cool lady in Mendoza, Argentina.

Then I'd really like to expand and work on learning more traditional Paraguayan dishes, such as mbeju and chipa. I'll alternate those with food that "tastes like home" so no readers feel left out as far as available ingredients are concerned! To be continued....I have a good rainy weekend coming up so I hope that means lots of delicious dishes in my future!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Apple Cranberry Crisp

I love this recipe because it's so easy to adapt to any fruit you like. And you don't have to make a pie crust-a major plus in my book! I made this when some friends came up and it was a hit. I wasn't really planning on featuring it, but then I decided to finally write down the ingredients of my mom's "crisp" topping so I'd have it forever. So here you are, just forgive the lack of pictures!

What you need:

  • Fruit of choice: I used 4 apples, cored and sliced but not peeled, about 1.5 cups of fresh cranberries, and a handful of raisins.
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • a couple squirts of agave nectar-maybe 1-2 T

Crisp topping:

  • 1/2 C chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 C oats
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C butter, melted
What to Do:
  1. Cut fruit and combine in a bowl with cinnamon and agave nectar or other sweetener.
  2. Mix all crisp ingredients except butter in a bowl. Melt butter, and mix it in too.
  3. Lightly grease a baking dish, and fill with fruit mixture.
  4. Top with crisp ingredients. If you have a small dish, the crisp topping will be thicker. If you use a larger baking dish, the topping will have to be spread thinner, or you might want to make a little more.
  5. Cook for about 30 minutes at 375. Fruit will be soft and the topping will be crispy. You can also make ahead and just pop it in the oven when you're getting close to dessert time.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Swedish Meatballs

In my family, our big Christmas Eve dinner has always meant Swedish food. And what’s more Swedish than Swedish meatballs? Today I’m featuring a very special family recipe! Included is the notecard my mom bases her recipe off of. We doubled the recipe. Meatballs freeze great and are easy to make ahead of time and pop in the oven when needed (which is what we’ll be doing). Basically, making meatballs is a long process and it is best done with at least 2-3 people. So, if you’re going to all that trouble, you might as well make a LOT of meatballs, right? Also, you can totally halve the recipe if you desire, but then you’re left with all these awkward half pounds of meat. So this way is better.

What you need:

  • 3 pounds of different types of ground meat. We used a pound each of ground beef, ground turkey, and ground bison. You could also use ground pork and/or veal. It just needs to equal 3 pounds, and we always use three different meats.
  • 6 slices bread. Old bread is great.
  • Milk (any kind)-about ½ cup.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5-2 onions, finely diced
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Possibly bread crumbs
  • 4-6 T parsley (fresh is best but use dried if that’s what you have)
  • 2 T Worstershire sauce
  • ½ t pepper
  • ½ t allspice

For the gravy: drippings, butter, flour (approximately 1/3 C), beef bouillon (about 3 t), milk or half and half (about ½ C) *These measurements are all approximate but should get you started*

What to do:
First, put chopped onions in a pan over medium-low heat, with 1 T each butter and olive oil. Cook until softened but not brown. While the onion cooks, tear the bread into small pieces and put it in the biggest mixing bowl you have. Pour milk over it and stir. All the bread should be damp but there shouldn't be standing milk in the bowl. Add all meat, eggs, and spices (everything but the gravy ingredients) to the bread. Mix well, using your hands. It’s gonna be cold. When the onions are done, mix those in too.
At this point you’re going to need to evaluate your bowl of meat and decide if it is too moist to make into proper meatballs. Our mixture was *really* moist, so we added in a bunch of those canned bread crumbs until the mixture  was a bit less gloppy.

Round up all household members, from children to the very old, to help roll meatballs.
Meatballs should be small, about 1 inch in diameter. According to my mom, “Italians make big meatballs, but Swedes make small meatballs…almost dainty.” This works best if you have two meatball rollers, a meatball cooker, and maybe an extra runner if possible. We had three in our meatball crew. Roll meatballs so that they are holding together. It doesn’t matter if they are perfectly round as they’ll be turned around in the pan quite a bit.

Once you have about a plateful of meatballs, someone needs to start cooking them. Heat a skillet to medium and lightly grease it. Gently put meatballs in, but leave plenty of space between the meatballs. Every few minutes you’ll turn them, to they get a little browned on each side.  As they get nicely browned, put in a glass or oven-safe dish. We ended up with 2 pans going and 3 oven-safe dishes. With two meatball-rollers, and one cooker, she just rotated out plates with us as they put them in the pan, for us to load back up. It worked pretty well.

When all meatballs are browned (don’t taste yet, they’re still raw inside), it’s time to make gravy! For this we got all the meatball drippings consolidated into one frying pan. Use low heat and a whisk. We didn't have that many drippings so we added a couple tablespoons of butter to get things going. Once that is melted, add flour, a little bit at a time, so it can thicken with the butter. Add water and bullion cube. We used the powdered stuff, probably about 3 teaspoons, whisk constantly and bring to a boil. Add about ½ C half and half. Add pepper and taste.  When the gravy seems good and gravy-ish, pour equally over all dishes. Very gently toss the meatballs so they have some gravy over the top. Don’t over-handle them or they’ll fall apart. Put in the oven, covered, at 375. We did the smaller dish for 30 minutes and the bigger dishes for 40 minutes. When done,  serve with MASHED POTATOES. Most of my recipes are pretty flexible about these types of things, but this isn’t one of them. You HAVE to eat with mashed potatoes. Enjoy!