Zucchini Boats

Are you craving a baked potato, but haven’t eaten a vegetable in two days? I’ve got your solution: zucchini boats, baked potato style!    The perfect dish for the veggie haters, these zucchini boats are filled with delicious and healthy ingredients (and bacon… and cheese…). I found the recipe here with a fabulous step by step with pictures, so I’ll leave out the specifics. Here are my quickie instructions:

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped,
  • 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. curry
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Sauté the onion with the butter in a pan. Add all spices.
  3. After the onion is translucent add the bacon and cook for a minute or two more.
  4. Cut the zucchini in half, lengthwise. Spoon or scoop out the “meat” of the zucchini. Put the “meat” in a bowl.
  5. Add the onion, bacon, tomato, and sour cream to the bowl and mix thoroughly.
  6. Pile the mixture on the zucchini. Sprinkle with cheese.
  7. Bake the zucchini for about 30 minutes or the zucchini is soft and well-cooked.

(We paired our zucchini boats with gnocchi, because we were THAT hungry. And we like words with two C’s.)

Advertisements

Peanut Butter Overnight Oats

The newest craze on Pinterest – overnight oats. Without a doubt the easiest gourmet breakfast to make in less than ten minutes, this recipe will have your tummy smiling all day long. I found some ideas all over Pinterest, but this one is truly an original.

What you’ll need:

  • Instant oatmeal
  • yogurt (any flavor)
  • peanut butter
  • honey
  • chocolate chips
  • extra garnish (bananas, pecans, walnuts, etc.)

directions:

Step 1: Add about 1/2 a cup of instant oats to your glass.

Step 2: Add 1/2 a cup of regular or Greek yogurt, flavored or unflavored.

Step 3: Add a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter. (I’ve got ten jars of this stuff, so I used three spoonfuls.)

Step 4: Add a spoonful of chocolate chips. This is what gives it a cookie dough-type flavor and it’s AWESOME.

Step 5: Add a spoonful of honey. (Or don’t, if you’re not that much of a sweet tooth.)

Step 5: Admire your masterpiece. Either mix it, cover it, and stick it in the fridge, or leave it beautiful and go straight for the fridge. Although, mixing it allows the yogurt to really penetrate the oats and make them nice and thick, so I really recommend mixing it, even though it might not be as pretty.

  

Step 6: Let the oats sit overnight, and enjoy first thing in the morning! You can heat them up, or leave them cold, which is what I did. Enjoy!

IMG_0148

Wok Veggies

There’s a major trend right now in Buenos Aires, and sometimes I find myself doubting the Italian heritage here because it seems like everyone is on a WOK craze. But, I’m guilty, too. It’s hard to get veggies in my diet here since it’s all pasta-meat-pasta-breaded chicken-pizza-pizza-pizza for dinner. I tried something new this time and created an easy version of Wok (mind you, in a saucepan, not in a traditional Wok.)

IMG_0022
IMG_0024

Wok Veggies

3 servings
30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

IMG_0023

Directions:

1. Chop all of the crunchier veggies and let them boil a little in a pot of a cup of water to soften them up a bit.
2. Add pasta (or butter noodles, rice, etc.) to a pot of boiling water.
3. Chop the rest of the veggies. Drain the water and mix all veggies with all the liquids. Add seasonings.
4. Cook until all the veggies are soft and well-cooked. Serve with brown rice, pasta, or whatever you may choose and enjoy!!

IMG_0148

New Years in Argentina

Welcome, welcome 2015!

One of the great things about New Years is that almost every culture celebrates it at some point, in some way or another. I had the great pleasure of ringing in my second “año nuevo” with my Argentine family, and will share with you some of the different foods and traditions they have here in Buenos Aires.

IMG_0686 (1)

A relative makes these beautiful cakes which are always the grand finale of the feast, but we began with the picado, or little hors d’oeuvres, of chorizo (sausage), cherry tomatoes, cubed Gouda cheese (Fran’s favorite), and peanuts.

IMG_0668 (1)

Since dinner starts late here, around 9 or 10, the picado started around 8:30 and we gathered around the table near the parrilla, or grill. I could be satisfied from the picada alone. But who can resist what came next… The asado! Many are familiar with Argentina’s famous barbecue of grass-fed beef and juicy grilled chicken, and if you’re not I suggest you plan a night out to the nearest Argentine specialty restaurant and try for yourself (although I doubt it’s nothing like the real thing). We accompanied the asado with huevos rellenos (deviled eggs) and potato salad, and leftover picada.

IMG_0672

But my favorite part (since Argentina has brainwashed me into a die-hard postre-lover) was the dessert! A chocolate mousse and lemon meringue pie to die for.

IMG_0683

But what topped the New Years was being so close to the sea. I could live like this…

Chapadmalal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Chapadmalal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

I hope you decide to add a little bit of Argentine flare to your New Years celebrations in the future (can you believe next year will be 2016?!)

FullSizeRender (9)

Empanadas, an Argentine Delicacy

I don’t know where they came from, but if there’s one country that does empanadas right, it’s Argentina. I have attempted to recreate these lovely yummies from scratch without success, because the dough is VERY difficult to make. You can probably find empanada tapas (translated to empanada pastries, although they look more like mini pie crusts) in international markets and specialty stores if you’re not brave enough to attempt the homemade version. Fran and I opted for store-bought dough, since it is very common and plentiful here in Argentina. In that way, we didn’t have to use a recipe, just basic cooking skills and some experience on Fran’s part. If you’re brave enough to attempt to make empanadas, I recommend looking up some Youtube videos of techniques, since words don’t really do the whole process justice. Here I have provided you with a very simple (yet somewhat time-consuming) recipe:

Empanadas – Jamon y queso/Cebolla y queso (Ham and cheese/Onion and Cheese)

Servings: 40 empanadas
Time: ~1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 packs of tapas para empanadas (puff pastries)
  • 1 block (20 oz.) of mozzerella cheese (queso cremoso if you’re in Argentina), chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 pound deli ham, sliced into 1-inch squares
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 4 eggs
  • butter or cooking spray

Directions:

  • Butter or grease two large cookie sheets (preferably with a rim, because your empanadas are likely to leak and create a mess), and preheat your oven to 375 degrees, or medium heat.
  • Prepare the fillings by mixing the onion and half the cheese in one bowl, and the rest of the cheese with the ham in another bowl. Mix in one egg per bowl. Add salt if you would like, however it’s not very necessary.
  • Lay the tapa on the counter, dip your finger in water and wet the outer circle (about 1 cm wide) of the tapa.
  • Take a spoonful of the mixture (you’ll be making 20 ham and cheese, and 20 onion and cheese) and place it in the middle of the tapa.
  • Fold the tapa in half to create the half-moon shape of the empanada. Squeeze the edges to seal the empanada. The water should help to seal it.
  • Next you should fold the edges in a special pattern called “repulgue.” This video shows the basic method, although there’s a ton of different ways to make them more pretty!
  • Place the empanadas on the cookie sheet once you have done the repulgue, but they’re not done yet!
  • Once all of the empanadas are made, dip each one in a bowl of 2 eggs, and coat it well. Replace the empanadas on the cookie sheets.

IMG_0491

  • Use a fork to put small holes in the empanadas, so they don’t explode in the oven! Two or three pokes should do it.
  • Cook for about 20 minutes or until they are golden brown. The rims of the empanadas should be flaky, like a pastry.

They should look like this, más o menos!

IMG_0492

Pepas: Argentinean Cookies for Christmas

Pepas [pay-pas] are essentially sugar cookies with a little dollop of quince jelly on top and are the most popular cookie here in Argentina. Everyone has their preferred brand of pepas but after today, mine is “homemade.” They’re pretty easy to make and leave hardly any  dishes to clean, and are a great addition to your Christmas buffet.

keep santa happy!

I learned the recipe on one of the morning talk shows in Argentina, Qué Mañana. This is the video of how they make it, if you speak Spanish, or if you can get past all the chachara (chit-chat):

They don’t supply a recipe other than the ingredients, so I’ll do you a favor. 🙂 These pepas are made with quince jam, which is very common here, but feel free to use another flavor.

Quince Cookies
Servings: 20-25
Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup quince jam or preferred flavor

Directions:

  • Place dry items in a circle on a clean counter. Put all the wet ingredients into the middle of the circle.

IMG_0386

  • Mix the wet ingredients well. Gradually mix the dry items into the wet.
  • Add extra flour as needed to create a smooth cookie dough.

IMG_0383

  • Split the dough in half. Unroll plastic wrap and place a half onto the wrap. Make sure the dough is at least a little bit rolled and then wrap the plastic wrap around it. To see how Ariel does it, fast forward the video to 5:30.

IMG_0385

  • This will sound weird, but pet the dough until it is stretched into a long cylinder with a diameter of about 2 inches.

IMG_0384

  • Do this for both halves of the dough. Tie each end of the plastic and put in the freezer for about 5 minutes.
  • Take out the dough and immediately slice into 1.5 cm thick discs.
  • Place the dough onto greased cookie sheets. After dipping a thumb into water, press into each cookie about half-way to create a little space for the jam.

(null)

  • Put the jam into a plastic baggie and cut a small hole in the corner. Use this to fill the holes on the cookies with jam.

pepa1

  • Cook the cookies in a preheated oven of about 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies are golden brown.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset


Pepas de membrillo
Porciones: 20-25
Tiempo: 45 minutos

Ingredientes:

  • Manteca 250 gr.
  • Azúcar 250 gr.
  • Huevos 165 gr.
  • Esencia vainilla c/n
  • Ralladura de limón 1/2 u.
  • Harina 500 g.
  • Polvo de hornear 10 gr.
  • Dulce de membrillo c/n

I hope you get a spark of inspiration to create this beautiful little masterpieces and enjoy them just as much as I do!!

IMG_0087

Banana Bread Muffins

Happy December!! My favorite month of the year. I think I say that for almost every month though. Here’s a special treat for your sweet tooth, perfect for a snowy Monday… Banana Bread Muffins!

{More like banana biscuits! They're a bit small so I could make 16 muffins instead of 12.}

{More like banana biscuits! They’re a bit small so I could make 16 muffins instead of 12.}

If there’s one fruit that everyone likes, it must be banana. Who doesn’t love bananas? Better yet, who doesn’t love banana bread? So if you’ve got three brown bananas sitting in your kitchen with nowhere to go but the trash, banana bread is the go-to solution. But what do you do when you don’t have a bread pan? You make Banana Bread MUFFINS in a muffin pan! The recipe is pretty uniform across all sources. A ton of sugar, flour and a couple other baking staples. But what really makes the muffins are the rotten bananas. The browner the bananas, the less sugar you have to use!

bananas

That’s right, I made a Bananas in Pajamas reference.

Banana Bread Muffins 
Servings: 12 muffins
Time: ~ 1.5 hours

Ingredients:

  • 3 very ripened bananas (if possible)
  • 1 cup sugar (or 3/4 cup if brown bananas)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. butter to grease the pan
  • Optional: chocolate chips or walnuts

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to a low heat, 350.
  2. Mash the bananas in a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter.
  3. Add baking soda and salt. Stir.
  4. Stir in the egg and the sugar. (Yes, it looks like a lot of sugar. Yes, it is a lot of sugar.)
  5. Add the vanilla and stir.
  6. Add the flour and whatever additions you’d like. Stir. Make sure the batter is smooth, but chunks of banana are okay! If the batter seems too thick, add a little bit of oil.
  7. Bake for an hour-ish until the muffins are brown, and a knife comes out clean when you stick it.

And enjoy! These muffins are great at any time of day and pair well with a coffee.

IMG_0087

Breakfast (or Lunch, or Dinner) Potatoes

I remember being home for Mother’s Day in 2013 and making my mom breakfast in bed. Everything turned out great, but the potatoes were a little raw. I love breakfast potatoes, so when my favorite part of the meal becomes the worst, that’s when we have a problem. Normally I could just find a can of chopped, softened potatoes in an American supermarket but in Argentina I don’t really bother looking for convenient pre-made foods. They’re expensive and unnecessary, so I just opt for the raw version. But that creates an obstacle to my potato obsession. They were coming out hard, just like they did on that fateful Mother’s Day. I finally figured out the trick! Rather than just chopping the potatoes and sauteing them, you have to boil them a little bit so they can get soft and THEN saute them. Fran and I made breakfast for lunch this past Wednesday–omelettes and potatoes. The omelettes were a bit of a fail due to a faulty pan but the potatoes really hit the spot. Finally, after months of perfecting the art, we had made the perfect potatoes!

Another side note, I’ve learned that, at least here in Argentina, you can never depend on the times given in recipes because everyone has a different oven/pot/pan. Now I depend on my own instinct.

Potatoes for any occcasion!

Potatoes for any occcasion!

Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner Potatoes
Servings: 2
Time: ~ 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and wait until they are about the softness of a pear (about 10 minutes on my stove).
  2. Add potatoes, onion, garlic, oil and seasonings to a pan and saute until potatoes are browned and onions are soft (about 15 minutes).
  3. Serve with eggs and sausage for the best brunch ever!

IMG_0626

Platos Argentinos (Typical Argentine Cuisine)

It’s been almost three weeks since I moved here to Buenos Aires and I am just finally settling down with a new part-time job as an English coach to business professionals. It’s only a few hours per week but I’m hoping it will turn into something I can make full-time because I really enjoy it! Aside from the job hunt I’ve been enjoying what Argentine daily life has to offer, including a slew of delicious recipes to try!

Milanesa

I’d say my favorite local dish here is Milanesa a la Napolitana, made with chicken, pork or beef. Different carnicerías (or butcher shops) cut and pound the chicken for you and even put breadcrumbs on it, so all you have to do is place the meat in a deep pan of a centimeter of oil into the oven. Or you can cut it yourself, but I’m lazy. When the chicken is almost done, slather on some red sauce and a slice of cheese, and top with a slice of tomato. Put it back in the oven to finish cooking and you’ve got an Argentine delicacy. It pairs well with mashed potatoes or rice and veggies!

Milanesa

Panqueques con dulce de leche

Yep. Basically the Argentine equivalent of pancakes with syrup, panqueques with dulce de leche are divine. The recipe is so simple:

  • 1 cup flour,
  • 1 cup milk,
  • 1 egg,
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar

Blend all ingredients in a blender or by hand until you have a thin pancake mixture (it should easily spread in a small frying pan with a teaspoon of melted butter). Fran has already mastered the art of flipping the panqueques without a spatula… I’m still working on it. The end result are very thin pancakes, which you later spread dulce de leche (I prefer one with jam and one with d.d.l. because it’s so sweet) and roll them up to eat by hand. I added my own twist with softened apples so it’s almost like eating caramel apples on your pancakes. YEP.

Panqueques con dulce de leche

Pasta a la creamy red sauce

Ok, so this recipe is pretty much universal, but here in Buenos Aires pasta is a way of life. We cook pasta at least two or three times a week but I try and change up the sauce. A few days ago I tried to make a from-scratch white sauce and it was so good and somewhat easy to make. (Find a similar recipe here!) I have found that the amount of cream you add can make or break the sauce. The second time Fran and I tried to recreate it (without all the ingredients or a recipe, I might add) and went through two batches of ruined sauce before we made one that was actually edible. Fran also set a towel on fire that night, so maybe we were just having bad luck! More recently I experimented with this Tomato Cream Sauce and was even more impressed. For next time, I will modify that recipe to include less cream… I know follow a rule to use less cream than what the recipe calls for. Maybe it’s made differently here!

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

Future posts will most likely feature Argentine cuisine so I hope you’re prepared to add a little South American twist to your dinner table!

friends food

Presto Pesto Pasta

As I sit here digesting and daydreaming about the magical creamy pesto chicken pasta I had for dinner, I can’t help but to congratulate myself on a job incredibly well done. Sure, I may not be humble about this delicious masterpiece but finding a 20 minute recipe for anything pesto makes my heart do somersaults and now that I’ve discovered this I’m just sure my life can’t get any better!

IMG_0925.JPG

I found a similar recipe on Pinterest in order to get the ingredients of a creamy pesto sauce but followed my own directions because I was too lazy to get my iPad for the recipe.

If you’re not as lazy as me, here are some directions of my own!

Presto Pesto Pasta
Servings: 2
Prep & Cook Time: 20ish minutes

Ingredients:
• 1/4 cup pesto with basil (I like Buitoni)
• 2 cups farfalle pasta (uncooked)
• 6 Tbsp. olive oil
• 4 Tbsp. heavy cream
• Chicken breast (it’s up to you how much) (cut into small strips)
• Broccoli (ditto)

Directions:
1. Boil water for the pasta.
2. Heat 4 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the pesto and stir well.
3. When little bubbles start to appear in the pesto mix, stir in the heavy cream. You’ll have to keep stirring often or something bad and unheard of will start to happen. Don’t let that happen.
4. Meanwhile, heat the other 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a skillet and add the chicken. It helps to put a cover on the skillet so the chicken can cook all over.
5. After about 5 minutes, add the broccoli to the chicken and replace the cover. This will allow the broccoli to steam.
6. I hope you were still stirring the pesto mix. It should be done at this point. Remove from heat.
7. Drain the pasta and add it to the creamy pesto. Add the chicken and broccoli, next, and make sure you stir it all super good so the deliciousness is smothered all over the pasta and chicken. Voilà!