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In early 2008, Brad travelled to Nigeria with a group from our church.

Our church has a passion for the people of Nigeria and for providing them with the means, supplies and training to drill for clean water.

Did you know that every 15 seconds someone in our world dies of a waterborne illness? That is over 2 million people a year- and most of these people are children.

When you flush a toilet just once in America, you’ve used more water than rural African families have for an entire day of washing, cleaning, cooking and drinking.

When our church met with Nigerian tribal leaders, the main concern was fresh and clean and safe water.

Knowing all of this, the church felt compelled to help.

Brad traveled to Nigeria for the first well commissioning. And he came back changed.

One of the things that left the most indelible impression on him was the joy that bubbled up from nearly every Nigerian he met.

These people, who have every reason to be unhappy with their circumstances, were a joy-filled people.

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Perhaps those people know something about simple living that many of us spoiled Americans will never understand.

Anyhow, while Brad was in Nigeria he ate lots and lots of local food.

One night, a village killed a goat for their honored guests. And they eat every single part of the goat- yes, every single part.

Brad said that the goat was delicious, but he was grateful they ate it late at night by firelight so that he couldn’t see exactly what he was putting in his mouth.

For this week’s recipe, I got some really good recipe ideas from one of Brad’s fellow travelers, Kande.

In fact, Kande led the Water for Nigeria project at the church and has been there several times. She’s good people.

For my meal I was cooking for six. Our friends Joe and Debbie were headed our way with their two boys, Eli and Aidan.

I’m not going to lie… I had a frozen pepperoni pizza on hand just in case the boys weren’t digging the Nigerian food. It is one thing to cook new international recipes for adults that will pretty much politely choke down the food you put in front of them. But I felt the added pressure of pleasing the pallets of the fine young men joining us.

I found a recipe for a Nigerian salad. On the Internets.

And it told me to pretty much make a normal salad and then add cooked potatoes and baked beans.

I had fully intended on doing that until I realized that I had neither potatoes or baked beans.

So, here is my salad.

Exciting, right?

Very Nigerian, I would say. Right?

Then, the Internet told me that Nigerians love Heinz Salad Dressing.

Finding this stuff in Cincinnati is like finding the Loch Ness Monster.

I’m confident it doesn’t exist.

So, back to the Internet.

It suggested a decent substitute:

Then, I made an authentic Nigerian fruit salad.

Pineapple and Mango and Oranges

Oh, and blueberries.

Pretty sure blueberries aren’t authentic at all.

But my salad needed color and blueberries needed eaten.

For the main dish, Kande told me I had to make red stew for dinner. It is her favorite.

Want to know what is so great?

You Tube.

I found a Nigerian woman cooking this red stew on YouTube, and she gave me step by step directions.

You can’t beat that kind of cooking tutorial, right?

This recipe is simple, yet so so flavorful. This is all you need:

2 Onions

2 Habanero peppers

Canned Plum Tomatoes (28 oz)

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Maggi cubes (beef bouillon)

water

2 lbs chicken

The idea is that you cook the onion, pepper, garlic and tomatoes down to concentrate the flavor. Then add water and chicken to cook the chicken through.

Authentically, you would use scotch bonnet peppers. Those were hard to find, and habaneros are the next best thing.

Warning: do not mess with these peppers with your bare hands. You can burn your hands. I’m not kidding. These guys are no joke.

I carefully sliced off the tops, and I let my food processor do the rest of the work.

Kande told me that I had to use these Maggi cubes, and my You Tube teacher told me the same thing.

Maggi cubes are basically a beef stock cube. But, if you don’t have an international market nearby (that happens to stock African cooking supplies), go for the beef stock cubes (beef bouillon). They will work just fine.

Here is all of the goodness boiled down and ready for the meat.

I used chicken.

You know, instead of goat.

I was adventurous using both light and dark meat.

Because I’m crazy like that.

I fried up some plantains to serve on the side.

And I cooked up some rice to serve under the stew.

I’m confident that 10 minute boil-a-bag rice is not at all authentically Nigerian.

But I’m pretty bad at cooking rice correctly, so boil-a-bag it is!

Pretty decent spread, right?

Know what makes the food even better?

Sharing it with friends.

Nigerian food is delicious.

Seriously, this red stew was amazing.

And all of us- kids included- loved the food.

There was pretty much no leftovers.

The red stew was hearty and delicious. It reminded me in a lot of ways of Indian food- spicy, savory, flavorful stewed chicken. But the flavor was distinctly different.

Brad declared that Nigeria may just be his favorite International meal to date- either Nigeria or Morocco.

And Henry… well, he loved the extra attention he received.

And the boys loved the manly drinks I served.

And this ding-dong.

Well, she just loved it all.

Have a great week, my friends!

XO,

Leah

P.S. For all of the recipes above, click here.

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I think that is what Tom Haverford from Parks and Rec would call this recipe.

Please tell me you are watching Parks and Rec.

Best sitcom on TV- hands down.

See?

The long name of this dinner is Buffalo Chicken Tacos. I found a folder on my desktop called BuffChicTac, and I realized with horror that I never posted this gem of a dinner.

If you love all things buffalo flavored, these bad boys will be right up your alley.

Before I start cooking the chicken, I like to get my toppings ready to go. A little shredded cheddar, some chopped tomatoes, some lettuce and yummy blue cheese dressing (or actual blue cheese would work too) is all ya need.

Now move all of your toppings out of your way. You need to set up a little assembly line to pan fry your chicken.

For your assembly line:

A bowl with one egg and 1 c. of milk whisked together

A shallow dish with 1 c. of flour, salt and pepper

Some chopped up chicken

Now heat up your oil in a skillet to medium heat.

Take each chunk o’ chicken and cover it in flour.

Baptize that chicken in your milk and egg mix.

Then send it back to the flour once again.

Take that perfectly coated chicken morsel- along with all of his chicken morsel friends- and drop them oh-so-carefully into the pan.

Brown them on all sides.

Then remove those chicken buddies from the pan onto a paper towel lined paper to drain some of the oil.

Wipe out your pan.

Then place your pan back on the burner (over low heat) and pour in 1/2 c. of Franks red hot. Mix in 3 T. of butter.

And it magically turns into a radioactive looking buffalo sauce.

Seriously, someone tell me how to take pictures of orange and red at night?

I’m totally clueless, obviously.

Once that sauce is heated through, give your chicken a quick toss in the heated spicy buttery good stuff.

All that is left to do is build your taco.

It only feels right to eat these in a soft taco shell- not a crisp one. But I suppose you can do whatever you want.

But just know that if you eat it in a crispy shell, you are making the wrong decision.

Roll it up.

Shove in mouth.

Repeat.

Enjoy those Buff Buff Chicky Tacs my friends!!

Have a good one, will ya?

And watch Parks and Rec tonight. I have a feeling you will love it!

XO,
Leah

P.S If you are interested, all episodes of Parks and Rec are available for free on Hulu. So you can get caught up from the first 3 seasons if you haven’t been watching. Seriously, do it.

How on earth have I never made a deep dish pizza before this week?

What is wrong with me?

It is so super duper easy.

Start by preheating your oven to 475.

I’m sure that this isn’t an original idea, but I felt like a genius when I thought to use a spring form pan.

So, I used this recipe to make the pizza crust. After it was done rising, I used my fingers to spread it into a non-stick sprayed pan.

I popped that into the oven for about 8 minutes to just precook the crust a bit. I like a crispy, slightly browned crust. If you don’t care about a crispier crust, you can totally skip that step.

Once slightly cooked, I put a teeny bit of sauce on the bottom of the crust, and then layered on the cheese.

You know that cheese goes on the bottom of a deep dish pizza, right?

Spicy italian sausage- all cooked up

Then some pepperoni

And some slightly sauteed spinach (mostly to get some of the moisture out)

Some sauteed shallots and banana peppers

Sauteed crimini mushrooms

And green olives on my half only

Sauce on top

And a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, a dash of Italian seasoning and some garlic powder

Baked at 475 for about 25 minutes.

Bubbly and piping hot.

Let it cool for a few minutes.

Then, BLAM-O.

Remove your spring form pan for a perfect deep this pizza.

I’m so impressed with myself!

Slice out a hunk for you and one for someone special in your life.

Apologize profusely for the strange color of this pizza… I don’t know how to take pictures of red things at night.

Sorry.

Serve it up with a green salad.

Perfect.

And the best part… this recipe is totally customizable by you!!!

You can make it anyway you want. Add in or leave out any ingredient that doesn’t suit your fancy.

I kind of want to try a deep dish pizza that is filled with only cheese. Like 5 different kinds of melty cheese. Doesn’t that sound amazing?

Happy Hump Day!

XO,

Leah

You must watch The Artist.

Brad and I watched it on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and it is so clever, engaging and unique.

I thoroughly loved every minute of this movie.

Be forewarned… there is not any dialogue in this movie.

It is such a different movie-watching experience. But I was sucked in to the lives of George and Peppy- magical.

I highly recommend that you check out this movie now- don’t delay!

And that folks, is my Tuesday tip.

XO,
Leah

Guess where we are headed this week?

Move over, Oprah.

Here we come Australia!

I’ll give you one guess what I originally wanted to make for the Australian meal.

Did you guess?

Did you guess Shrimp on the Barbie?

I mean, c’mon.

How could I not??

Then, I started researching Australian food- Shimp on the Barbie to be exact.

And guess what?

It isn’t all that authentic.

“Shrimp on the Barbie” was spoken into being by Crocodile Dundee when he was hired to do Australian tourism commercials in the U.S in 1990. He closed out the ad by saying “I’ll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you.”

Turns out that Australians do indeed refer to a barbecue as a barbie.

And it turns out that Australians do indeed cook shrimp on the barbecue.

However, they refer to shrimp as prawns.

So, I declare false advertising. Kinda.

I wouldn’t dare make something that wasn’t 100% authentic.

Therefore, no shrimp on the barbie.

Ok, in an exercise of full disclosure, here is the real reason I didn’t make shrimp on the barbie:

Snow, wind, cold= really, really bad barbecue weather.

However, I wanted this to be the week I cooked some Australian food to celebrate Australia Day. Australia Day just happens to be this Thursday, January 26.

And Australians are in the middle of their summer.

So, they likely are barbecuing it up.

But I just couldn’t bring myself to fire up a grill in 20 degree weather. I had to change my plans.

Before we get to dinner, I’ll give 2 bonus points to those of you who know what Australia Day commemorates.

Anyone? Bueller?

Australia Day commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet- 11 ships that sailed from GB- into Sydney Cove in 1788.  Aussie Day is also a celebration of the proclamation at that time of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of New Holland.

Knowing all of that, I decided that there was only one way to go for this meal.

Australia’s national comfort food- akin to America’s burger- the meat pie.

Simple. Hearty. Warm on a snowy day. And totally Australian.

Of course, I cheated by using a frozen pie crust.

You knew I would cheat, didn’t you?

A little onion, beef, seasoning and, of course… ketchup.

Covered in puff pastry with egg wash and salt and pepper.

Then, baked off to absolute perfection.

And for dessert?

Lamingtons.

According to my super scientific research (read: Internet), Lamingtons are the “quintessential part of every Australian’s childhood”. Seemed like a good baked yum to try.

Cake.

That I somehow managed not to totally ruin.

Cut it into squares.

Make a janky double boiler to make your cake coating.

Chocolate goodness.

Oh heavens.

Yes.

Forever yes.

What is that you say?

Quick.

Dip it in coconut.

Um.

Yep.

Look at those beauties.

I decided that I’d better eat my dinner before diving face first into those Lamingtons.

Confession: I Love (please note I used a capital “L”, so I must really, really mean it) canned green beans.

Although calling them green seems to be a bit of a misnomer.

So good.

I loved the meat pie.

It is very similar to a sloppy joe, but the puff pastry sent me over the edge. Traditionally, it is served with either a side of ketchup or a smattering of ketchup over the top of the pie.

Perfect kid food.

And, both Brad and I agreed that the meat pie tasted even better in our lunch the following days.

Finally, get in my belly lamington.

Did. Not. Disappoint.

I may or may not have eaten nearly all of those lamingtons.

Don’t judge.

Happy Monday Mates.

Make it a good one!

XO,

Leah

P.S Click here for the recipes!

Sweden

This weeks recipe is brought to you by a culinary master:

Well, folks.

It was bound to happen.

I was hopeful that it wouldn’t be as early as week 3.

Alas, it happened.

My Swedish meal was not delicious.

I must admit that as I researched Swedish food, I became nervous.

While Sweden has a ton to offer in culinary delights (much like America, food from other countries have made their way into the diet of the average Swedish citizen), the traditional Swedish food leaves a little to be desired.

Because of Sweden’s long winters, the traditional fare noticeably lacks fresh vegetables- unless we are talking beets or turnips. Ugh.

Additionally, Swedish folks liked to preserve their fish by salting and curing it. So, pickled herring is a big Swedish hit. Eek.

I decided to play it somewhat safe.

I chose to make Swedish Meatballs, Pitepalt (a stuffed potato bite) and a beet salad.

I was hopeful that these dishes- following a traditional recipe (well, at least the Internet told me it was traditional)- would be delicious.

And at the end of it all, I would say it was just ok.

Boo.

The Internet wasn’t lying- Swedish food is kind of bland.

The hit of the night was the beet salad, for sure. I love me some beets. I know they are a polarizing ingredient, but I encourage you to try them again if you haven’t in a long time.

They are hearty and earthy and pretty in pink!

I think that a roasted sliced beet is the prettiest vegetable out there. Tis true.

This is what beets look like when you buy them.

To roast them, you lob of the greens.

Then you put them in a little foil pouch covered in olive oil, salt and pepper.

Then you roast them in a 400 degree oven for about 20 min (depends on the size of the beet) until they are tender.

Their peels slip right off.

The beets turn your hands the loveliest shade of pink.

And then you slice them up.

I added a very simple vinaigrette- olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper- and tossed in a bit of goat cheese.

Simple.

Healthy.

PINK!

And pretty darn good.

I really felt like the Pitepalt held seriously potential.

After all, it started with this:

Fried Bacon and Sauteed Onions!

I was previously of the opinion that food was always good if these ingredients were involved.

To construct the Pitepalt (I have no idea how to correctly pronounce this word, but in my head it is “pity-palt”, and I like repeating it over and over- something is wrong with me), you take whipped potatoes and stuff them with the bacon and onion mixture.

Whipped potatoes are sticky.

Very, very sticky,

And difficult to stuff.

After stuffed- you pan fry them.

To go along with the balls of potato, I made balls of meat.

While I was rolling my meatballs, I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to dig them.

They were made up of meat, egg, white bread, a little salt and pepper, and some onion. That seemed fairly underseasoned to me, and guess what? I was right.

Here is my weird dark picture of the meal of the balls- potato balls, Swedish meat balls and beet salad.

Eh, just ok.

Sorry Sweden.

I feel like I did ya wrong.

In an effort to right that wrong, here are some things I love about Sweden.

Cooking Swedish food brought Ben to our home and kitchen.

You haven’t lived until you have spent time with Ben- his stories are outrageous and, from what I can tell… true.

Sweden gave us this:

I work directly across the street from an Ikea. While I don’t buy much of their stuff, they do provide a lovely lunch time walking track for me during rainy or snowy lunch hours.

For those of you that have visited an Ikea, you know that is a nice long leisurely walk!

I did pop into Ikea to buy this- Lingonberry Jam. Have you had it?

It is authentically Swedish, and IT IS NOT BLAND!!

It kind of tastes like a cross between cranberry sauce and raspberry jam. It is tart and sweet, and I love it. Like a lot.

I should have popped some of this onto our Swedish dinner plates, because that is how the Swedes roll.

The Swedish also (somewhat shockingly) give me one of my favorite snacks:

Finally, Sweden gives us this:

Alexander Skarsgard.

Not too shabby Sweden. Not too shabby at all.

If for some strange reason you would like any of the recipes above, you can find them here.

Talk to you soon, my friends.

XO,

Leah

Happy Friday from our two thugs.

XO,

Leah

I haven’t thrown out a book recommendation in a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. My in-laws got me a Kindle for Christmas, and I have been devouring books.

Side note: I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the Kindle, but I totally dig it. And for reading, I highly prefer it to a computer or iPad. The only thing that compares is a good old ink-on-paper-book.

So, I have two recommendations for you that are about as different from one another as two books can be.

First up:

Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me?

Mindy Kaling is a writer on the show The Office. She is so likable and relatable in her book made up of short vignettes of her life.

The chapters are short hilarious stories peppered with advice and personal thoughts.

I love this excerpt from the book:

“A note about me: I do not think stress is a legitimate topic of conversation, in public anyway. No one ever wants to hear how stressed out anyone else is, because most of the time everyone is stressed out. Going on and on in detail about how stressed out I am isn’t conversation. It’ll never lead anywhere. No one is going to say, ‘Wow, Mindy you really have it especially bad. I have heard stories of stress, but this one just takes the cake.'”

Ha. Love it. And I believe that statement to be totally true.

Not long ago, you’ll recall that I finished reading Bossypants by Tina Fey. Mindy’s book reminded me in a lot of ways of Bossypants (at least in terms of the books structure), but it didn’t elicit those same laugh out loud moments that Tina Fey’s hysterical book did. However, I really really loved Is Everyone Hanging Out Without me?.

And I feel like I have a girl crush on Mindy.

And I feel like if she and I met we would probably be best friends.

After all, she dedicates a whole chapter to Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities. Some of her BFF requirements include:

-I can borrow all of your clothes

-I must be 100% honest about how you look, but gentle

-We sleep in the same bed

-I can ditch you, within reason

-I will take care of your kid if you die

-I will nurse you back to health

-I will hate and re-like people for you

-I will recognize that no two people are better than us

Please. I could have written that list myself!

I’m guessing that list might be very odd to the average man, but I’m thinking most girls (especially those of us lucky enough to have a true blue best friend) will totally get it.

So, I’m gonna go ahead and tell ya that I think you should read this book. It is fun and a fast read. It is easy to pick up and put down because of the format. The book left me feeling happy and like I was in good company with my pretend BFF, Mindy.

Next up:

Your Voice in my Head, A Memoir by Emma Forrest

Oh my.

If Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is sunshine and rainbows, then Your Voice in my Head is rain and puddles.

But it is strikingly beautiful.

Emma Forrest’s memoir takes readers on her wild ride through madness. Mania and depression, cutting and bulimia and a suicide attempt run her life.

What makes this book decidedly unique, compelling and engaging is Forrest’s writing style. She writes so eloquently and smartly that I could hardly bear to set the book down. I didn’t want to be away from Forrest’s words for too long.

Emma is a walking time bomb of self destruction until she meets the man that helps her pick up the pieces of her life and become whole again, her therapist Dr. R.

The relief I felt as a reader when Dr. R enters the picture was palpable. Emma respects and loves him, and her gratitude for his help in putting her life together again jumps off of every page.

I also love this book because Emma chronicles her relationship with a famous celebrity (whom she refers to as her Gypsy Husband or GH). That story of passion, love and ultimately heartbreak is gripping.

I will not sugar coat the fact that this book is dark and difficult to read at times because of the pain that Emma feels and is willing to share with her readers. With that said, I am so grateful that I picked up this book.

The story has stayed with me, and Forrest has helped me understand the mindset of someone dealing with the very real demons of mania, depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

She also shows that your whole world can fall apart- you can feel like there is no way out- and then someone can come along and help you realize that there is a glimmer of hope.

And that glimmer can grow.

And that all is not lost.

Forrest’s works are so beautiful, and many of favorite lines from the book were her recollection of her beloved Dr. R’s thoughts:

“Let me tell you something, and I want you to remember it: who you authentically are- there is no one and nothing that can add to or subtract from that.”

And this:

“Time heals all wounds. And if it doesn’t, you name them something other than wounds and agree to let them stay.”

Highly, highly recommend Your Voice in my Head. I know you will appreciate it.

Have a good one, friends.

XO,

Leah

Please tell me you are watching.

I feel like you need to be watching.

I’m going to make a bold statement.

Downton Abbey is officially my favorite TV show.

PBS shows it as a part of their Masterpiece Theater.

I know what image that conjures up- a blurry, poor quality, boring British drama.

Trust me… Downton Abbey is anything but that!

The first season of Downton Abbey is set in Grantham in 1912. You meet the British Earl of Grantham, his American wife and their three daughters that live in the enormous country home. The show follows this family’s story of love, loss, success and failure.

Downton is not only about the aristocrats, it is also about the lives of the plethora of servants that work to care for the enormous home, the needy occupants and the beautiful grounds.

The writing of Downton Abbey is quite masterful. Everyone in the picture above has their own life and story line. And somehow, the writers make you care about each character (whether they live upstairs or down) immensely.

Last night, Season 2 premiered on PBS. It. Did. Not. Disappoint.

Season 2 begins years later as the Great War is underway, and life at Downton is changing.

Please. I beg of you.

Add this to your Instant Queue on Netflix right now. Watch it tonight. Or at work.

Or if you don’t have Netflix, you can watch it for free with Amazon Prime. Or you can pay to watch each episode through Amazon. It is so worth it.

I held my breath through half of the two hour season premiere last night. Neither Brad nor I could fall asleep last night because the episode left us reeling.

I don’t ask for much from you, but I will ask you this.

Please, please check out Downton. Watch at least the first two episodes of the first season. If you don’t love it, then we can’t be friends anymore.

But I’m not worried, because I know you will fall in love with Robert and Mary and Granny and my personal favorite- Anna.

And that folks is my Tuesday tip!

XO,

Leah

Hola!

¿Cómo estás?

This formally concludes the Spanish speaking portion of this text.

For those two sentences are all of the Spanish that I know.

If you are wondering, I would not consider myself fluent.

Week 2 brings us to Spain.

Now class, who knows where Spain is?

Spain is in Europe, of course.

And it just happens to be north of our first stop, Morocco.

Before I started doing my research into the cuisine of Spain, I knew that they had olives, manchego cheese, Spanish red wine (of course) and tapas.

It turns out that Spanish food has much more to offer, and it varies greatly region by region. Until recent years, the mountains that criss cross Spain made travel between regions difficult, so people cooked the foods with what could be caught and/or grown in their area. The two ingredients that you will find throughout the whole of Spain- olive oil and garlic.

Ah yes, Spain and I shall get along nicely.

Seafood is quite common in Spain because the nearly whole country is surrounded by water. Ham and cheese (not necessarily served together, of course) are also staples of the typical Spanish diet. Spain also serves up quite a bit of chicken and vegetables. Citrus is also indigenous to Spain.

And darn it. Reading all of that made me want to try a little bit of everything.

Enter tapas!

It was decided. To experience as much of the Spanish deliciousness as possible!

I started super simple.

This is actually how I start most meals when we are entertaining. A couple of blocks of cheese with crackers and olives.

Ah cheese-manchego cheese- hello, lover. Manchego is a sheeps’ milk cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain. It is firm and buttery and salty.

I bought one block that had been aged 6 months and another block that had been aged 12 months- they were similar in taste, with the 12 month cheese being slightly bolder in flavor.

And bolder in my book=delicious!

I picked up some Spanish olives at my grocery store. Salty perfection.

Pour yourself a glass of good Spanish red!

Next up, a bright citrus salad.

My heavens. This was my favorite dish of the evening.

Bright juicy oranges paired with sharp red onions along side sweet raisins and salty olives.

(When I use fresh onions- you know, not cooked- I like to give them about a 10 minute soak in ice water before draining them and adding them to the dish. It really mellows out the flavor so that you don’t have onion breath for the  next 4 days).

It tasted fresh and summery.

It made me momentarily forget that I was eating this meal in Ohio in the middle of winter!

The dressing was a super simple vinaigrette that amped up the flavors.

Ceviche was the next must have item.

Ceviche is raw fish marinated in lime juice, a little oil and chili peppers.

Side note science lesson: The citrus used to marinate your raw fish in does not actually cook your seafood. Cooking requires heat (duh!). Citric acid mixed with seafood causes a chemical process called denaturation to happen. Denaturation changes the proteins in the fish turning the flesh firm and opaque (to look just like it would when it is fully cooked).

However, citric acid will not kill any bacteria (like heat would), so if you are going to make ceviche you should use fresh fish from a trusted source.

Science lesson concluded.

Scallops and halibut. Mmmmm.

I marinated our seafood for about 1 hour.

I knew I had to incorporate ham in some way or another, since the Spanish seem to dig the pig.

Truth be told- this is just regular old bacon.

To make this truly Spanish, I would recommend using serrano ham- a cured salty cut of pork.

I did not have any serrano ham on hand- so bacon to the rescue.

Bum! Bum! BUM! BUMMMM!

Bacon wrapped shrimp. Don’t mind if I do!

Finally, I knew I needed empanadas.

Simply stated, empanadas are stuffed bread or pastry.

I stuffed my pastry with chicken, cheese, cilantro and onion amongst other things.

I used frozen pie crusts for my pastry- don’t judge me.

I can’t bake.

And I value my time.

Frozen Kroger pie crusts are about as authentically Spanish as you can get.

I promise.

I’m not even lying.

I also cheated a bit more by using meat from a rotisserie chicken. Moist, tender, flavorful, and most importantly- time saving- chicken.

Some of my empanadas turned out much prettier than others.

But trust me, they all tasted fab.

There ya have it.

My Spanish spread:

I would have loved to have the time and kitchen space to try to make a paella or gazpacho or a dish with chorizo as well. Alas, I can’t do it all!

Week 2 is in the books.

The food was great.

I think the citrus salad was my personal winning dish of the week. I would definitely make it again- it was super simpe with accessible ingredients.

Second place goes to the empanadas. Savory and hot- perfect for a cold day. And I had extra filling- so I whipped up some quesadillas for lunches that week. Truth be told, I think I actually preferred the quesadillas over the empanadas.

The very very best part of Week 2 was the company of our fellow diners- our friends, John and Sara.

And little William too…

The adults had a ball, and I’m pretty sure our boys did too.

Make one or all of these to transport yourself to España this week!

Adios mis amigos,

Leah

PS. For detailed recipes, click here.

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