Monthly Archives: November 2014

Super-Fruity White Wine Sangria, and How to Eat Tapas

Full of fruit -- part of a healthy diet!

Full of fruit — part of a healthy diet!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had a tapas party recently. Tapas are just appetizers, and in Spain, they’re served in bars alongside drinks. There are different theories as to how tapas originated. The one that I like best is that a slice of bread used to be put over a cup of wine when it was served, to prevent flies from getting to the wine. The bread was snacked on, and eventually something was put on top of the bread on top of the wine, and voila, tapas was born!

Tangentially, one of my favourite bread stories is from a history book that I had as a child, full of stories made up of pictures. Very comic-book like, and appealing to a child. In the middle ages, the super-rich, living in castles, would use slices of bread to eat their meals off of, and after the meal, the slices of bread would be taken up and distributed to the poor. Pre-white bread, of course. I can’t imagine that in this day and age of concern about spoilage, but what a treat it must have been for starving beggars – delicious bread covered in scraps of meat and gravies. Makes me crave an open-faced hot turkey sandwich! (I wonder if there’s a vegetarian version. Let me know in the comments?) Which brings me back to slices of bread with stuff on top, which brings me back to tapas, and which brings me back to drinks to wash tapas down with.

Which brings me to SANGRIA! I don’t know the origin of sangria. I could google it, but I prefer to think of it as the brainchild of someone who, like me, hates waste, and wanted to use up leftover wine. I’m not a huge wine drinker, as much as I love the production and culture of wine and wine-making, but I do love sweet wines. I luuuurve me some ice wine, for example! And since sangria has wine, sugar, and my beloved fruit, it’s a drink that I can happily guzzle.

Let’s make some guzzling sangria!

Put me on a hat, and call me Carmen.

Put me on a hat, and call me Carmen.

White Wine Sangria

  • 1 litre white wine
  • 1 can lychee juice
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • various chopped fruit (ex. grapes, thinly sliced apples and oranges, kiwi, strawberries, and blueberries)
  • 3 c. ginger ale

Mix wine and sugar in a punch bowl. Chop fruit and add to wine. Let sit for several hours. Just before serving, add in ginger ale. Sip and enjoy!

I used white wine because that was what I happened to have in the house, and used the lychee juice because again, that’s what I had lying around. Usually I use red wine with guanabana juice for a particularly fruity and floral flavour, and I highly recommend trying that combination. You can use whatever fruit you have lying around. I used some frozen fruit, including some strawberries I picked and froze a few months ago.

Fair warning, this sangria goes down SUPER easily. The guests at my tapas party didn’t realize how much alcohol was in the sangria (and were shocked when I told them), as it tastes very punch-like and non-alcoholic, but it really does have a lot of alcohol in it, so be careful. No drinking and driving, people! Drinking and sleeping on a friend’s couch though? I’m all for it! Especially after several glasses of this sangria. Mmm…boozy fruit!

Next Post: Homemade Honeycomb Candy! Or maybe Spanish Caramel Flan. Sugar. It’s all good!

Tasty Tapas: Easy Empanadillas


Nom, nom, nom! Is all I have to say.

Nom, nom, nom! Is all I have to say.

I had a tapas party on the weekend, and it was yummy! It was a potluck event so everyone brought something, mostly along the Spanish/Latin theme. One friend made some awesome guacamole (shout-out to G!), another made a delicious mango salsa, another made a Martha Stewart feta-oregano-cucumber dish, and yet another made sugar cookies topped with homemade candied lemon peel. And I made empanadillas (little empanadas), croquetas (think deep-fried mashed potato nuggets, but grown-up), a caramel flan (with crumbled toffee and spun sugar) served with caramel sauce, and white wine sangria. I’m hungry again just listing all the food!

All the dishes were a big hit, so I’m sharing the ones that I made here, starting with the empanadillas! It’s way, way, WAY easy! Take my Easiest Pizza Dough in the History of Ever, and fill with a mixture of taco-seasoned ground meat (I used Yve’s veggie ground round, a soy-based ground beef substitute), pan-fried mushrooms, onions, garlic, and cheddar cheese. It makes for a meaty, cheesy, mushroom-y bite of crispy, fluffy dough! I made another batch tonight, and the DH and I snacked on them before I commandeered the rest and packed them for lunches, and to offer a houseguest who arrives tomorrow.

Want to make some too? Let’s!

Fill me. Like one of your Latin dishes.

Fill me. Like one of your Latin dishes.

Easy Epanadillas

  • 1 batch pizza dough (make your own 5-minute dough)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 c. grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 pkg. Yves’ ground round
  • 1/2 pkg. taco seasoning
  • 1/2 pkg. mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1 egg (you won’t use it all)

Make the dough and set aside. Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a frying pan and fry up the onion, garlic, and mushrooms until golden and fragrant. Set aside. Melt a tbsp. butter in a frying pan and fry up the ground round and taco seasoning until hot and aromatic. Mix the meat with the mushroom mixture and add in the cheese.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Smush each piece into a circle and add a spoon of the filling in the centre. Fold over and seal dough by pinching shut. Repeat with all dough pieces. Brush tops with beaten egg. Bake in 450 degree oven for 15 minutes. Serve warm and bask in the impressed glances of friends and family! Latin cooking — it’s easy!

Brushed with egg, and lookin' fiiine!

Brushed with egg, and lookin’ fiiine!

Once you get the basic idea, it’s easy to mix up the filling. Often I make a variation of these with leftover seasoned taco-meat from a homemade taco dinner, which is where I got this idea from. I just freeze the leftover seasoned “meat” and then pull it out of the freezer and add in cheese and mushrooms whenever I feel like empanadas.

I think they’d be great with ground sausage, or pepperoni, tomato sauce, and cheese, for a mini panzerotti sort of appetizer.  Or you could make them bigger, as a meal in and of itself. What filling would you prefer? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: Memories of Meals Past, with a tapas twist!

Post-Pub Edit: Another week, another Meal Plan with Christy Jordan and pal! Aka, I go in search of Foodie Fame and Fortune. Or at least page clicks. 🙂

Boeterkoekjes: Two-Bite Almond Blondies, Dutch-Style!

Buttery, almond-y, deliciousness. In bite-sized form!

Buttery, almond-y, deliciousness. In bite-sized form!

So I have a backlog of recipes to post. Tons of delicious things coming up! Today’s deliciousness is a recipe that I came up with last week, which was consumed within 12 hours of baking it. And I still crave more!

What is this delicious dish? Boeterkoekjes! They’re basically two-bite almond blondies, super-moist and buttery and perfect for tea-time. Or, you know…midnight snack cravings!

My mum is Dutch, and I grew up eating boeterkoek, a traditional Dutch butter cake. Sometimes it’s made with ground almonds and sometimes just with almond flavouring. I had used up the last of my ground almonds when I made triple almond sugar cookies but I wanted to have actual almonds in the dish and not just flavouring, so i decided to add in some marzipan. (It’s inexpensive if you buy it at…IKEA, of all places).

Enough with the talking, on with the baking!

Marzipan goodness, mix it in!

Marzipan goodness, mix it in!

Boeterkoekjes (Little Butter Cakes)

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 c. white sugar
  •  1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 c.  flour
  •  1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 100 g. marzipan (1/3 c. -ish)
  • 1 tbsp. cream

Cream butter and sugar together. Mix the remaining ingredients together with sugar/butter mixture (except for the cream). Fill a mini-muffin tray with the dough (will be a verrrry soft dough. That’s ok! Wet your fingers to shape the dough if you need to). Cut a cross-hatch pattern in the top and brush tops with cream. Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 min. Let cool in pan before removing or they’ll crumble. Makes 24 boeterkoekjes. Eat and moan in enjoyment.

Brushing the tops with cream. Whatever cream you have in the house. The DH bought me table cream. So table cream is what I used!

Brushing the tops with cream. Whatever cream you have in the house. The DH bought me table cream. So table cream is what I used!

These will disappear in a snap when you make them, but the flavour should be best the next day. IF they last that long! They will be quite moist, and that’s how they’re supposed to be. You can sort of see from this photo how moist they are. I would have taken a better photo, but I had eaten them by then. They’re that good!

So moist that they fogged up my camera lens.

So moist that they fogged up my camera lens.

Next Post: I had a tapas party! So recipes for tapas, sangria, and Spanish flan are coming up!

Memories of Meals Past: Chili-Topped Loaded Baked Potato

Whatever-is-in-the-fridge topped baked potato. It's what's for dinner!

Whatever-is-in-the-fridge topped baked potato. It’s what’s for dinner!

I made this chili-topped loaded baked potato for dinner maybe a year and a half ago, and it was pretty tasty! It had never occurred to me to top baked potatoes with anything like chili, as I grew up with plain baked potatoes — no unhealthy (albeit tasty!) sour cream and bacon bits and such for my family. And when I was trying to find some low-fat recipes for the DH and I for dinner one time, I came across this recipe. Actually, I think it was another recipe, to be honest. If I remember my browser history from a year and a half ago, it was another site, although I had looked at this site too. Unless this site had a makeover between then and now. Only her webmaster knows for sure!

Oh, and obviously I just used a regular potato and whatever low-fat toppings I had in the house. Which I think was some leftover homemade chili, mushrooms from an olive bar, cilantro, avocado, and tomato. Was really good! Almost like a salad, except with more chili and baked potato. And if there’s salad, my stomach is a happy camper!

Next Post: Boeterkoekjes — oh so good! And my Dutch heritage.

Carrot Ginger Stew served with Quinoa and Arugula

Looks basic but doesn't taste it!

Looks basic but doesn’t taste it!

I came up with this recipe when trying to make a carrot ginger soup a few years ago. I had done a bunch of substitutions and just left out other ingredients and then decided not to puree the soup at all, and voila, carrot ginger stew was born!

This dish freezes well and looks good in a big platter/serving dish, so it’s great to have on hand for unexpected guests or to bring to a potluck. I’ve made the dish today because I have some houseguests coming in a week or two and I want to have a dish that I can just pull out of the freezer, and serve over some quickly made quinoa so that I can spend time with my guests instead of in the kitchen. It makes enough that I packed some for the DH for lunch tomorrow as well. And if you’re on a budget, it’s inexpensive as well!

Carrot Ginger Stew

  • 6 large carrots
  • 2 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 large onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 ½ cubes veggie bouillion

Fry the garlic and onions in the butter until translucent and fragrant. Toss in ginger and carrots and stir until ginger has sort of melted into the butter sauce. Add in bouillion and water and boil until carrots are soft. Serve over quinoa. Freezes well.

I wrote to use fresh ginger above, but all I meant was not powdered ginger. I use frozen ginger myself – I peel the ginger using a spoon (just try it, it works!) and then pop the peeled ginger into a ziploc bag and freeze until I need some for a recipe. Then I just grate the amount needed. No waste! Because we all know that I don’t like to waste food!

I served this over quinoa that I had boiled up with some arugula. Quinoa has 14% protein (and it’s a complete protein) and arugula and carrots are super healthy, so this is a tasty, feel-good meal! The quinoa + arugula was leftover from a meal I had packed for a hike this weekend. I had made a paneer curry and packed it with the quinoa in mason jars (so cute! so environmentally friendly! so hipster!) as well as making a chai tea (recipe to come in a later post) and a cashew honeycomb brittle (recipe in a later post as well). And then I promptly forgot the mason jar portion of the lunch at home. Ah well. Lunches for this week? Accomplished!

A delicious, healthy, balanced lunch to keep hikers warm on a cold day. Assuming one remembers to actually pack it.

A delicious, healthy, balanced lunch to keep hikers warm on a cold day. Assuming one remembers to actually pack it.

Next Post: Am thinking up delicious cookie recipes. Should I make Mint Oreo cookies? Or Almond Boeterkoekjes? Let me know in the comments!