Sausage and Orecchiette with Red Onion, Garbanzos and Mint.

I can’t seem to get off of my Food and Wine kick lately. Someone left a recent travel issue in the office that had an intriguing looking tostada dish on the front. There’s nothing more interesting to me than adding differently worldly flavors to the dinner plate, which is why I picked up the magazine and thumbed through it. Quite a few recipes caught my eye, but one in particular seemed super-easy but also combined quite a few unique flavors. Sausage always adds a lot of flavors to dishes and when layering in pasta, I kind of knew it would be a win. Continue reading

Potatoes Anna With Sausage

Our latest cheap dinner recipe comes on a Friday night with the bare bones left from the last grocery shop. We had andouille sausage, a bag of potatoes and a yellow onion. I contemplated mashed potatoes, which is always a solid go-to side dish. We use a potato ricer to mash and it makes some of the smoothest mashed taters I’ve known. But, this post isn’t about mashed potatoes.
Continue reading

Cheap Homemade Pumpkin Puree Recipe

We are just a few days after Halloween and haven’t gotten around to carving our pumpkin. It’s tough in Florida because once you carve the pumpkin, you might have two or three days of a jack-o-lantern before it turns black and rots. So, waiting until the last few days before Halloween is crucial. This year, we let the holiday pass us by without carving the thing so I made sure to have a back up plan for it.

It just so happens that I was invited to a girls night at a friends house with an all-pumpkin theme. At the ladies-only shindig there was pumpkin turkey chili, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin spiced sangria, and we made pumpkin biscuits to go with the chili and roasted pumpkin seeds as a snack. We needed 1 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree for the biscuits, so onward with the home made kind! Continue reading

Asian Beef and Mango Salad

We’re a regular taco night family. It’s an easy meal that we often turn into taco salad night which just means our taco ingredients go over top of crunched up tortilla chips. This time we decided to give taco night an Asian flair.

Take away the tortilla chips and swap out a few ingredients to change up the flavor profile and you’ve got yourself a brand new salad that requires the same amount of prep and cooking time. This meal takes a total of 20 minutes from heating up the first pan to putting the fork in your mouth. Easy peasy. Continue reading

$100 Cheap Food Project – Week 2

This post is long over due. We’re talking ridiculously long. The week 1 post was almost ancient history, but thanks to my readers who have pushed me to get the rest of this series out, I kept going. Cheap Food Here is showing our readers that it is possible to spend just $100 per person per month on food. Our week 1 post was created when we were living in Costa Rica so certain foods were cheaper (most produce and fruit) but certain other foods were more expensive (specialty items, imported foods, cheese, meat, seafood, etc) so it has surprisingly balanced out now that we’ve completed week 2 since moving to St. Petersburg, Florida. Continue reading

Guest Post – Fresh From the Farm to Your Table

Costa Rica Family Farmed Organic Food…Comida Organica Express Delivers Puerto Viejo To Limon

It has been a life changing journey driven by the desire for a better, sustainable lifestyle. It has been an adventure of seven years leading my wife and I to life on a jungle farm on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast and inspiring us to gather and organize organic family farmers from various regions of the country. The result has been a beautiful organization which can deliver (within reasonable time) exceptional organic quality goodies at family prices anywhere from Talamanca to Limon with delivery coming soon to the San Jose Metro area.

My wife’s name is Mileidy and mine Carlos. She was born here in Costa Rica, I was born in New Jersey. Since we met, our dream has been to live on a farm harvesting food free of chemicals and transgenic mutations. After achieving this step we expanded our vision to include helping others through education, example and networking on how to create a more sustainable lifestyle for themselves and their families.

We grow and sell organic food because we LOVE IT, it is good for others and it allows us to keep growing in our vision. We do it with the idea of infecting YOU with a ferocious appetite for a healthier way of life! By working with our facilitators and service providers to keep costs down and quality high our clients receive the crème-de-la-crème when it comes to real natural selections and price. Our menu offers true family farmed organic fruits, vegetables, spices and hand-made vegan pasta to those who seek to express their consciousness in their food choices.

We currently work with several farms and artisans but most of our goods come from five different family run farms. Each is located in different regions of the country, one of them is located over 2,175 meters above sea level. One family farm is less than two acres in size and produces several thousand pounds of food per year! On our farm Milly started her own cross-strain of tomatoes to get a natural, delicious tomato growing in the Caribbean. While one of neighbors was the first to produce organic lettuce in the Caribbean with little to no bitter aftertaste.

Our menu is updated week to week to reflect the changes in what is available and what has come into season. We offer everything from organic Strawberries, to Bok Choy, Fennel, Kale, Onions, Lettuce, Eggplant, Peruvian Potatoes, Blackberries, Arugula, Basil, Rosemary, Oregano, a variety of Tomatoes and so much much more… You can see more about our farm at http://www.facebook.com/Comida.Organica.Express

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and letting us share a little bit about ourselves with you. If you have any questions about organic farming or sustainable living please feel free to email us at organicdeliverycr [at] gmail dot com. And remember you can start a garden or plant some veggies in almost any space, go out there and reclaim your table! Thanks again!

All the Best,
~Carlos&Milly
ComidaOrganicaExpress

Acorn Squash with Pear and Quinoa Salad

Acorn Squash, Pear & Quinoa make a perfect fall recipe

Let me just start out by saying this is a breakthrough recipe. It stands far and away from most recipes I’ve discovered or created. Bravo to Sprouted Kitchen and thanks for sharing this with the world initially.

Hard squash isn’t something I’ve cooked with on a regular basis or explored really at all. Outside of yellow squash, zucchini and the occasional pumpkin, I’m kind of a squash virgin. This recipe actually called for a Kabocha squash but without really knowing what that was, I reached for the most similar looking one, an acorn squash. It turns out they are very closely related, but the Kabocha is from Japan originally.

I can’t argue with anyone that fall is the time to explore cooking with squash since you can’t walk down an aisle at the farmer’s market or in the produce department without seeing a literal cornucopia of them on display. The acorn squash is especially hard, making it almost impossible to cut into and imagining eating one. But, baked in the oven for a good 30-45 minutes and they soften right up. The seeds are just like those from it’s close cousin the pumpkin, which you can bake too. That is my absolute favorite part about Halloween, so, of course, after cutting the acorn squash in half I scooped out the seeds, cleaned them off, threw them on a cookie sheet with some Old Bay Seasoning and baked them to a crisp. Just a little bonus to recipes with acorn squash.

The way this recipe is put together with contrasting and complimentary flavors is brilliant. There is a tang in the lemon juice and sweetness of the pear that jumps right out with the squash, shallot and cardamom. In my case I used Garam Masala seasoning which is heavy on the cardamom, but also has some other Indian spices in there to bounce off the other flavors. I won’t keep you from the recipe any longer (if you haven’t already skipped down to it). Here it is, with a slight variation from the original:

Acorn Squash with Pear and Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

Squash-Quinoa recipe Ingredients

  • 1 Acorn Squash
  • 3 tbsp. Fall Seasonal Honey
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup cooked Quinoa
  • 1 tsp. Garam Masala seasoning
  • 1 Shallot, Minced
  • 1 Hard Pear, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/3 Cup Basil, Chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Cup Baby Spinach
  • Salt and Fresh Pepper to taste

Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
    2. Slice Acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds and brush with a mixture of 2 Tbsp honey and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
    3. Bake for 20 minutes, flesh side down. Flip and bake for another 20 minutes or until golden and soft.
    4. Meanwhile, prepare the salad. In a small mixing bowl combine the cooked but cool Quinoa, spinach, shallots and diced pear. Toss with basil, Garam Masala, lemon juice, remaining olive oil and honey. Mix well.
    5. Once the squash is done baking, remove it from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
    6. Place squash halves on plates and fill with Quinoa salad mix.
    7. Serve immediately.

Flatbread with Garbanzo and Fava Flour

Low Carb Snacks Using Garbanzo Flour

You may have noticed with some of our low carb recipe posts that we were on the 4 Hour Body diet for about two months playing around with recipes and trying to get more fit. We love the idea of low carb and cutting out wheat/gluten specifically so we started experimenting with bean flours. At the onset of our curiosity we were still living in Costa Rica where you couldn’t find bean flouers at all and I suspect if they did have them they would be cost-prohibitive (think $10 per bag of flour), but I was told you could grind your own dried garbanzo beans into a flour if you had a strong food processor or coffee grinder. I looked up a few how-tos on the Internet and just decided to go for it. Dried garbanzos are cheap in Costa Rica, so if I screwed it up it would be no big deal.

Here’s how the process went for grinding chick peas into flour:

Dried Garbanzo beans

dried garbanzo beans in the food processor

finely ground garbanzo beans

finely ground dried garbanzo beans

The decibel level of sound coming from my food processor was something I’d never heard before. I know dried chick peas are hard, but these little suckers hit the side of the food processor off the blade at a blazing speed and it took a good 5 minutes to pulverize them into a flour. I had to do them in 30 to 45 second bursts because I could feel how hot the plastic and the machine were getting during the process. Overall, if you could choose between making your own garbanzo flour and buying a bag already made, I would suggest skipping the hassle and buying the pre-ground beans. I haven’t ground the beans myself since this initial try. It was just too loud and too much work for me and my food processor.

The first recipe I used the homemade garbanzo flour for was a thick flatbread, which was more like a pancake batter than a cracker. I roughly followed this recipe from Dining and Wine section of the NYTimes. Here’s how my cheap food here version of skillet garbanzo flatbread recipe went:

Skillet Flatbread with Garbanzo Flour

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Garbanzo flour
  • 2 Cups of Water
  • 2 Tbsp plus 1 extra Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Tbsp mix dried herbs and spices (rosemary, basil, oregano, cayenne, etc)
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Pour 2 Tbsp olive oil into the pan and coat the bottom. Place into the oven while pre-heating.
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, pour garbanzo flour, baking powder, spices and salt. With a whisk, mix well.
  4. Add the additional 1 TBSP of olive oil to the dry mixture and blend in.
  5. Pour in the water and whisk until well-blended. Allow batter to sit for up to 12 hours or use immediately, whisking just before pouring into the hot skillet.
  6. Garbanzo Flatbread Batter

  7. Pour into preheated skillet and bake for 30-40 minutes until the edges are browned and pulling away from the sides of the skillet.
  8. Skillet Flatbread

  9. Cool for 10 minutes, cut and serve with butter or seasoned olive oil.
  10. Garbanzo Skillet Flatbread

A More Sophisticated Garbanzo Flatbread

After the first attempt at the flatbread we were hooked. It was a copy-cat of the delicious bready carbs we were missing, but without the carbs. Genius! So, once we moved back to the US and landed ourselves in St. Petersburg, FL and could find all kinds of bean flours, I began my next adventure. We settled on the Garbanzo and Fava bean flour made by Bob’s Red Mill in the Gluten-Free section of the grocery store. We are still learning how to properly use these bean flours and haven’t used any gums yet to help bind the flour at this point so bear with us here. The next garbanzo flatbread recipe to come out went like this (adapted from our foodie friend at Smitten Kitchen):

Garbanzo and Fava Flatbread Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups garbanzo and fava bean flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 Cup water
  • 1/3 Cup olive oil
  • Approx 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 Cup shredded Asiago cheese
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • Approx 1 Tbsp Coarse sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven with pizza stone to 450 for 30 minutes
  2. Pour the garbanzo and fava flour into a medium-sized bowl and mix with the baking powder and salt.
  3. Make a well in the center and pour in the olive oil and water.
  4. Mix with a wooden spoon until it is well-integrated and then knead onto a clean work surface 4 or 5 times. The dough should feel oily, but to keep it from sticking to the work surface, sprinkle extra garbanzo flour on the rolling pin, dough and work surface.
  5. Divide the dough into four pieces.
  6. Roll the dough out into long, irregular shapes onto parchment papaer. There’s no need to be precise here just flatten out the dough to about 1/8″ thick.
  7. Baste with extra olive oil and gently press the thyme into the dough so it sticks into it. Stab several times with a fork and sprinkle lightly with sea salt and Asiago cheese. Bake for 5 minutes or until it’s golden brown.
  8. Drizzle lightly with honey and cut into pieces.
  9. Devour.

This round of flatbread was to die for! I’m super happy with the way they came out and did devour all but the 4th batch of flatbreads we made that night, and they only lasted until the morning the following day. But don’t worry, we’ll be making more. I hope you try this recipe out and don’t be afraid of the bean flour, everything turns out okay in the end. Plus, this is an extremely low carb snack if you leave off the honey.