Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Slice of Sunny Spain

 Pablo, with Vanilla


    Earlier this month,  Allison invited her friend Pablo,an exchange student from Spain to stay with us for a few days.  The semester was over and Pablo's plane ticket wasn't until the next Monday, so Allison thought he might enjoy seeing what average American family life was like.  Of course we were all charmed by him and even Vanilla gave Pablo his heart!  It was so interesting to hear from him about Spanish eating habits.  We learned that breakfast in Spain was almost nothing - just a cup of coffee and maybe a piece of toast at most.  Lunch, the main meal, is no earlier than 1:30.  Dinner is served at 9:00, but can often be even later.  Pablo, however, was very gracious and fit right into our three square meals a day schedule.  While he was staying with us, I didn't attempt to serve him anything "Spanish" - I knew I would fall far short of the real thing! Although after he left, I couldn't resist cooking up some "Spanish" dishes our family has enjoyed in the past.  The olive recipe is fabulous as part of a tapas spread and just delicious with some warm, crusty bread to soak up the olive marinade sauce.  The salad is a bright and light side dish that would compliment any meat, but goes especially well with the chicken recipe given below.
Marinated Olives - Refrigerated, this will keep for a week - serve at room temperature

Mix all the ingredients together - very yummy!

1 can whole pitted black olives, drained and rinsed
1 small jar Spanish style green olives, drained
2 cloves of garlic, put through a press
2 teaspoons dried rosemary                                                                        
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup sherry vinegar
½ cup olive oil

             Sunny Salad                                                                              
Peel and slice the oranges
2 to 3 oranges

2 avocados
2 to 3 tomatoes
½ cup whole pitted black olives, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, sliced
Seed and chop tomatoes, avocados
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons
 olive oil

Mix everything together - Yum!
Chicken with Paprika and Peppers
4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons Spanish style paprika
2 cloves garlic, put through a press
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Combine the paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper to make a paste and rub it onto both sides of the chicken breasts.  Put the chicken breasts in an oven safe pan and arrange the pieces of the sweet red peppers around them.  Shake a little bit of paprika, salt, and pepper over the red peppers.  Sprinkle the lemon juice over the chicken and peppers and drizzle a bit of olive oil over it as well.  Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.  Serve by putting some of the baked red peppers over each chicken breast.  It is really good with a dollop of Greek yogurt or low fat sour cream on the side.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sangria (and Fauxgria) & Sweets

Jenn With Her Fellow Cookie Artists!
  I love the month of December since the girls come home and bring all their friends over for cookie decorating, dinners, and edible gift making.  It is also a great time to get together with my teacher buddies and other special aquaintances.  From past experience, I know my educator friends enjoy a glass of wine or two when they get together, so when several were coming over to my house for a pitch in, I thought sangria might be fun to serve.  I googled sangria recipes and found tons and tons of variations.  All had some type of red wine as the base, and then the variations were endless.  Some had white sugar, some had brown, some had orange juice, and some had ruby port.  I knew I wanted peaches as part of the fruit, so I opted to include a peach juice blend as an alternative to the ingredients I saw in the other recipes.  The ladies all seemed to enjoy the recipe noted here. However, our family's speed is more like fake sangria, which we call"fauxgria" and the recipe for that is here as well.  Also included in this post are some delicious holiday treats - White Chocolate Party Mix and Rolo Pretzel "Turtles".

Great Gifts!

Super Easy Sangria

2 cheap bottles of red wine like “Two Buck Chuck” Cabernet

1 can frozen condensed peach blend juice such as Dole’s Orange Peach Mango

A mixture of 4 to 6 fruits such as apples, peaches, or oranges, sliced if citrus or cut up in chunks

Mix all ingredients together in a glass pitcher.  Pour sangria into glasses, spoon some of the fruit in, and toss in some ice cubes.  Enjoy!




6 cans of Fresca

½ can frozen condensed grape juice

½ can frozen condensed peach blend juice such as Dole’s Orange Peach Mango

 A mixture of 4 to 6 fruits such as apples, peaches, or oranges, sliced if citrus or cut up in chunks

Mix all ingredients together in a glass pitcher; the fizz in the carbonated drink will cause “foam”, so it’s best not to add it all at once.  Pour fauxgria into glasses, spoon some of the fruit in, and toss in some ice cubes.  Enjoy!

White Chocolate Party Mix

1 1/2 pounds white chocolate                                                
3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Corn Chex
3 cups Cherrios
2 cups thin pretzel sticks
2 cups peanuts
1 (12 oz.) package of M&Ms

Put the white chocolate in microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir and microwave in 15 second increments, stirring each time until smooth.  Pour melted white chocolate over the other ingredients and gently stir until all is evenly coated.  Spread the mixture on foil until cool.  The mixture will naturally break apart into pieces as it is placed into containers.

Rolo Pretzel "Turtles"

1 package of Rolo candies (chocolate covered caramel candies)
1 small bag of mini pretzel twists
1 package of pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with foil and place a Rolo on top of each pretzel you place on the cookie sheet.  Bake for 3 minutes.  Upon taking out of the oven, immediately press a pecan on top of each Rolo covered pretzel.  Allow the "turtles" to cool before storing in a covered container.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Food for Fun Times

Walnut Yogurt Spread                                                                     
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
2 tablespoons finely diced purple onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Mix ingredients together and serve with warm pita bread that has been cut into wedges.

Mexican Egg Rolls
2 (10 oz.) pkg of frozen spinach
1 (15 oz.) can of black beans, drained and rinsed                                          
1 (15 oz.) can of whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed                         
1 onion, finely diced
12 oz. shredded pepper jack cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 pound package egg roll wrappers (there are 20 in a package)
Cook the spinach on high in the microwave for 6 minutes and drain the water off. Mix with everything else except the wrappers. Put 3 tablespoons of the filling in each wrapper and roll according to the wrapper package directions as shown in the pictures below. Either fry in oil until each side is brown or spray with Pam or brush with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Cut on the diagonal and serve with ranch dressing and salsa.

Place wrapper on the diagonal and spread the filling lengthwise across the middle

Pull the wrapper up and tuck the bottom corner into the filling

Moisten the sides with a little water and fold them in

Flip the bottom up

Moisten the top corner and fold it down
Avocado Egg Rolls
 ( The dipping sauce is really good! To the recipe given below, I add 1/4 teaspoon each of coriander and cardamom to this - also I use tamarind concentrate but lemon juice could be substitued.  I leave out the sugar and never mess with the beaten egg.)
Avocado Eggrolls Recipe from
"These are incredibly delicious!! Just like the ones at Cheesecake Factory! For a low fat version, drizzle them with a little bit of olive oil and bake them in a 400 degree oven".

2-4 servings

Egg Rolls

1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, & diced
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onions
1/2 teaspoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 dash salt
4 egg roll wraps (can also use won ton wraps)
1 egg, beaten
Oil for deep-frying

Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon tamarind pulp
1/2 cup honey (I use slightly less)
1 pinch turmeric
1/2 cup chopped cashews
2/3 cup fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves
2 green onions
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Egg Rolls
Stir together avocado, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and salt.
Distribute filling evenly on the center of each egg roll wrapper.
Fold one corner up, 1/4 of the way over the filling.
Brush the remaining corners and edges with beaten egg, roll up the left and right side, then fold top corner over all and press to seal.
Repeat with the remaining wrappers.
Deep-fry the egg rolls in 375 degree oil for 3-4 minutes, or until browned.
Drain on paper towels.
Slice egg rolls diagonally in half and serve with the prepared dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce
Combine vinegars, honey, tamarind in a microwave safe bowl. Stir until tamarind is dissolved completely.
Microwave for 1 minute.
Using a blender, Puree tamarind mixture, cashews, cilantro, garlic, onions, sugar, pepper, and cumin.
Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in oil.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use

 Any Kind of Bean Dip!
1 (15 oz.) can of beans (garbanzo, great northern, black

 - what ever you have on hand)                                                               
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice (depends on how lemony you like it)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
Mix all the ingredients up in a food processor (or mash them with the bottom of a glass). Drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of something red like paprika or chili powder. Serve with warm pita bread cut into wedges.