Vegetarian Empanada Filling Recipes

If you haven’t checked out the previous posts written on chicken empanadas, beef empanadas, seafood empanadas or ham empanadas, don’t miss out. However, if you are of the veggie preference or just want to find something without meat for a meal or two, you’ve come to the right place. Some of the most delicious empanadas that I’ve made have been vegetarian. With the right ingredients the meatless variety is something quite spectacular.

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Homemade Crackers with Sage and Cayenne

This is a follow-up post to my first attempt at homemade crackers, which was a basic recipe topped with olive oil and sea salt. With this batch I decided to adjust the recipe to make it more my style and added a few spices for added flavor and extra kick. Each time I repeat a cracker recipe and tweak the ingredients, I try to learn from past mistakes in order to improve flavor and texture as much as possible. My plan for these crackers was to make them a touch spicier than the last and use an Indian spice mixture called Garam Marsala. Here is what I came up with:

HOMEMADE CRACKER INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt (extra for topping)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon Garam Marsala spice
1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (extra for topping)
2 tablespoons of dried sage

HOMEMADE CRACKER DIRECTIONS

1. In a medium-sized stainless steel bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, Garam Marsala and sea salt until mixed.

Mix dry ingredients

2. Add the water and olive oil and stir together until the dough is not too sticky or dry (add extra water or flour if the consistency is wrong).

Mix in olive oil and water

3. Knead dough for 2-4 minutes on a floured counter top and then break dough into 12 small dough balls and set aside with a towel or plastic wrap to rest for 45 minutes

homemade-crackers-dough-balls

4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees with a pizza stone inside (if you are using cookie sheets instead, preheat them as well)
5. Take the rested dough balls and use the rolling pin to flatten the ball into a long strip about 1/4 to 1/8″ thick, brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with sea salt and dried sage.
6. Slice the strip into pieces of your size preference and poke holes in the dough with the tines of the fork several times (to keep from puffing)

slice and baste

7. Place slices (and any other extra toppings you choose) on the hot pizza stone and cook until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Cook in small batches. Yields 24-36 crackers.

crackers on the pizza stone

Breakfast Burrito with frites, tomato and egg

This breakfast burrito post is to compliment the previous post about jalapeño and onion frites, which is actually just a fancy name for home fries. I wanted to make a breakfast burrito with frites inside, and after trying out this new creation, it will stay on the menu at our house. This will be a quick post but I wanted to give each part of the breakfast it’s own, well-deserved, glory.

Start by making the frites:

jalapeno onion frites

To complete each breakfast burrito:

BREAKFAST BURRITO INGREDIENTS

4 ripe cherry tomatoes (from the garden are the best)
2 eggs (free-range of course)
1 medium flour tortilla
1 tsp Tapatio (or your favorite hot sauce)
1/2 C fresh frites

BREAKFAST BURRITO DIRECTIONS

1. Slice the cherry tomatoes into 4 thin slices
2. Heat a fry pan to medium high heat and cook the tortilla until slightly browned on both sides

breakfast burrito prep

3. While the tortilla is cooking, fry two eggs in a tsp of oil to temperature (over-medium, over-hard, etc)
4. Assemble burrito on a place by placing the tortilla on the bottom, next the eggs, followed by the frites and then topped with tomatoes and Tapatio.
5. Make as many breakfast burritos as you need and serve immediately.

breakfast burrito final

Cheap Food Costa Rica Tamarindo – Falafel Mundo

To our surprise, we discovered Falfel Mundo, our new favorite place to eat in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, which is the unexpected cheap food place for under $10 per person, not at the overpriced seafood place on the beach. For my birthday this year I wanted to finally master this surfing thing. My husband and I have been trying to surf on our own for the past year with little success. I’ve been doing water sports behind a boat for 20 years so I assumed surfing would be similar, but I was wrong. Waves are much scarier than a boat. So, we headed to Witches Rock Surf Camp in Tamarindo for a lesson with Maria and we learned a LOT. We corrected a few things and were riding waves before the lesson was over.

Falafel-Mundo-Costa-Rica-1 Falafel-Mundo-Costa-Rica-2 Falafel-Mundo-Costa-Rica-3

So, getting back to the food, we stumbled on a place next to the Costa Rica Surf Club where we rented boards the next day called Falafel Mundo, a Middle-Eastern Cuisine place that only served three items, but served them VERY well; falafel, shawarma and shaksuka. Shira (almost like the He-Man counterpart) owns the place with her Israeli boyfriend where they have brought the delicious tastes of the Mid-East. They bring the spices for the dishes back with them from Israel or have their mom send a care package, so you know it’s authentic as it gets.

We bellied-up to the bar on the giant wooden stumps and ordered two half Falafel sandwiches and two half Shawarma sandwiches so that we could each share both. She asked if we wanted to add hummus and if we liked it spicy and of course we replied with a tandem ‘yes’. The hummus inside and the tangy yogurt sauce on each was the kicker to set things over the top. Falafel Mundo was a great experience overall and Shira was a pleasure to chat with while she prepared our food. This has become our “Bubba’s Fish Taco” of Tamarindo, the must-have when traveling through or coming within 50 miles of this beach.

Falafel Mundo is located next to Sharky’s and across from High Tide. Don’t miss this Cheap Food Here hotspot in Tamarindo.

Cinnamon Soy Milk Pancakes

Soy milk recipes seem to be in demand these days, as my other soy milk alfredo sauce recipe has been found a lot recently. I’m not sure I’ve really discovered the intricacies of using soy milk instead of regular milk, but so far it just seems to be a similar substitute with a little more reduction time needed and perhaps some flour or corn starch.

However, for recipes such as pancakes, fluffiness is really important especially if you’re swapping out ingredients like soy milk. You need to play with the consistency of the batter a little bit and thicken it up in order to get them fluffy. Just as crepes need more eggs and milk to make the batter thin and very runny, thick fluffy pancakes need more flour and baking powder. Here is the recipe I used with soy milk instead of milk from a cow and coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.

CINNAMON SOY MILK PANCAKE INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups flour, sifted (or double sifted if you’re adventurous)
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1+ cup vanilla soy milk

CINNAMON SOY MILK PANCAKE DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large mixing bowl, preferably with a spout, combine all dry ingredients and mix well.Cinnamon-Soy-Milk-Pancakes-3
  2. Add the eggs, coconut oil, vanilla and milk and stir for 3-5 minutes until well mixed and not clumpy (but the batter shouldn’t be lumpy if you’re sifting the flour first).Cinnamon-Soy-Milk-Pancakes-2
  3. Heat a large pan or skillet on medium-high heat and put a small amount of butter in the pan.
  4. Pour in batter to any amount depending on how big you want your pancakes. Wait until you see small bubbles appear on the top of the pancake and then flip.Cinnamon-Soy-Milk-Pancakes-1
  5. After about 30 seconds, check the bottom of the pancake with a spatula to see if it’s golden brown.
  6. When it’s reached optimal color, remove from pan and repeat step for and 5 until the batter is gone.
  7. Top with 100% pure maple syrup, not that fake stuff in a shaped bottle.

Wasabi Cold Pasta Salad

As I’ve mentioned in a few other cheap pasta salad blog posts, like roasted walnut and broccoli pasta salad, tuna pasta salad, and southwest chicken stew, I’ve got an affinity for finding anything I can in the cupboard and  refrigerator and tossing it in some pasta. It’s a great way to make a salad heartier than if you just use lettuce as the base. This time I was inspired by the star-shaped pasta that I found recently and the wasabi paste that’s been sitting in the fridge for a few weeks (okay, months…). So, before heading out for the day with the dogs to a waterfall park about an hour out of San Jose, I put together the following pasta salad.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Feel free to tweak this pasta salad recipe for more or less kick.

WASABI COLD PASTA INGREDIENTS

• 1/2 of a 500 gram bag of small pasta (spirals, stars, orzo, etc)
• 1 Cup of blanched fresh broccoli
• 1/2 of a cucumber, peeled and diced
• 1 red bell pepper, diced
• 1 Cup of frozen peas
• 1 Tbl fresh cilantro
• 1 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove of minced garlic)
• 1 Tbl wasabi paste
• 1/8 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1 Tbl Sesame oil

WASABI COLD PASTA DIRECTIONS

1. Bring a medium sauce pan filled half way with water to a boil
2. Stir in pasta and cook to al dente, drain and rinse with cold water
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until well-coated and properly combined
4. Chill combined Wasabi Cold Pasta Salad for an hour and serve.

Sweet Potato Chips (aka Boniato or Batata Chips)

A food that everyone else seems to love that I never really got into growing up or even as an adult was sweet potatoes. It’s not something that I ever ate at Thanksgiving, even if it was full of brown sugar with marshmallow topping. Call me crazy, but I never liked it. However, not too long ago a friend of mine made sweet potato fries and I’ve had them as well at restaurants before, and the sweet and salty combo was really delicious.

It wasn’t until my recent order of delivered organic groceries that I considered making sweet potatoes of my own. Plus, the version here in Costa Rica is called the Boniato or Batata, which has a purple skin and is white inside and with a different type of sweetness. When I came to them on the NaturaStyle list, I remembered the fries I had in the past and my friend’s affinity for Costa Rican coconut oil and decided now was the time to try them.

I decided on chips instead of fries and I absolutely loved them. It was a perfect sweet/savory snack and will be a regular on the list of party snacks. Here is how the recipe went:

SWEET POTATO CHIP INGREDIENTS

• 1 Kilo of sweet potatoes, boniatos or batatas
• 2 Cups of Coconut Oil
• 1 Tbl of coarse sea salt
• 1 Tsp fresh flat-leaf parsley

SWEET POTATO CHIP DIRECTIONS

1. Pour coconut oil into a large, deep skillet and heat on medium to medium-high heat (the oil should glisten and send up a slight wisp of smoke when properly heated.

Sweet-Potato-Chips-3
2. While the oil is coming to temperature, peel the potatoes and slice them to 1/8″ thick.
3. Place the slices of potato in the pan until no more will fit without overlapping.

Sweet-Potato-Chips-1
4. Cook for 4-6 minutes, turn with a set of tongs and cook for another 3-5 minutes until golden brown. For crispier chips, allow them to come to a rich brown color, but be careful not to burn them.

Sweet-Potato-Chips-2
5. Remove the cooked slices and place on a paper towel to catch the excess oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and parsley and allow to cool.
6. Repeat steps 3–5 until you’ve used all of the potato slices.

Sweet-Potato-Chips-4

Organic Groceries Delivered in Costa Rica- NaturaStyle

We’ve been toying with the idea of getting our groceries through NaturaStyle for several months now (okay, about 9 months) and remembering our delivery service in Charlotte (Absolute Organics), I’m not sure what took us so long.

WHEN DOES NATURA STYLE DELIVER?

NaturaStyle only delivers on Saturdays, so planning is essential. We placed our order the Sunday prior and just survived off of the fridge leftovers in anticipation for the motherload to come the next Saturday. It was very easy to get in touch with Silvia, the one in charge of orders, to verify the time of delivery. They make the delivery schedule the Friday before, so make sure you don’t have plans for Saturday until you know your delivery time.

Ours was scheduled for 10:30am and the guys were less than 30 minutes late, which is considered early here in Costa Rica. Tico Time usually means everything happens around 2 hours after it was scheduled, so we were in great shape. The delivery guys came and were very friendly and helpful to put the groceries in the house. Here is what we ordered, and keep in mind this is all organic:

WHAT DOES NATURA STYLE DELIVER?

• bunch of 4 ripe bananas ($0.30)
• 4 Whole fresh beets with tops ($2.70)
• 2 Large heads of broccoli ($2.73)
• 1 Whole coconut ($0.35)
• 18 pk of eggs ($3.80)
• 1/4 Kilo Goat Cheese ($4.47)
• 1 large bunch green onion ($0.68)
• 8oz jar of Honey ($4.96)
• 6 misc lemons and limes ($1.39)
• 1 bunch lemongrass ($0.75)
• 1 head boston lettuce ($0.90)
• 1 container of whole white mushrooms ($3.23)
• 4 heads of garlic ($1.63)
• Medium Pineapple ($1.25)
• 250g (approx 1 Cup) Raw Butter ($3.79)
• 1 liter Raw Milk ($2.38)
• 3 Bunches of spinach ($1.63)
• 1 Kilo Star Fruit ($0.75)
• 3 Sweet Red Bell Peppers ($2.28)
• 1 Kilo Roma Tomatoes ($4.61)
• 2.3 Kilo Whole Chicken ($13.31)
• 1 loaf whole wheat and herb bread ($1.86)

TOTAL: $64.30

So, as you can see the prices vary. Some items are surprisingly cheap, like the kilo of Star Fruit or a bunch of lemongrass for $0.75. However, some of the other items you would expect to be cheaper, especially here in Costa Rica, like the bell peppers at $2.28 for three. But, the rest is reasonable especially for organic. If you shop at the markets you’ll find better prices, but you can’t beat delivery and the quality is spot on.

The best items we received, when considering flavor, were the bananas, which had a richness we had never tasted before, the star fruit, the bread, and the raw milk. We’ve been reading about raw milk and the benefits of not drinking pasteurized milk, but this stuff is delicious. We’re not too picky about some food but we’re not into buying our garlic from China, because who knows what they’re doing over there and who is regulating what. So, although the organic garlic is expensive, we definitely prefer it.

Check back here for more posts about NaturaStyle and their products.

Cheap Pasta with Roasted Broccoli, Walnuts and Parmesan

So, i was looking to jazz up our lunch options last Sunday and had just visited the organic food market in Escazú (as you read in the last post). I have seen recipes call for roasted garlic before, but never tried it. So, I decided now was the time. I looked for other ingredients to make a good pasta salad to last for a few extra days this week, and came up with some walnuts and Parmesan cheese. A perfect mix. The salad turned out great, and roasted broccoli has a more hearty flavor than steamed, which was nice for this recipe. Enjoy!

broccoli mixture roasting in the oven

broccoli mixture roasting in the oven

ROASTED BROCCOLI PASTA INGREDIENTS

12 oz Small Shell Pasta
1 Bunch of Fresh Broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 C. Walnuts coarsely chopped
1/4 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic, pan seared and smashed
2 Tbl Unsalted Butter
1/4 C. Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Pepper

ROASTED BROCCOLI PASTA DIRECTIONS

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
2. Cook pasta according to package and reserve 1/2 C. of water when draining.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, toss broccoli, walnuts, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper until coated.
4. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, turning once.
5. Toss broccoli mixture with pasta, butter and reserved pasta water until well-coated and add the Parmesan cheese.

Broccoli on FoodistaBroccoli

Cheap Southwest Chicken Stew

The rainy season finally showed up here in Costa Rica, which is the only chance of simulating any type of winter. And with winter, comes soups, stews and chili. This is when I started thinking about cheap food that I could make last a couple of days, and out came the southwest chicken stew. I’ve had some chipotle sauce in the fridge I’ve been eyeing the past few days and my husband made some blackbeans for gallo pinto, so I coupled that with some fresh sweet corn from the organic market on Wednesday in Escazú, added a little ‘this and that’ for an ultra successful TexMex dinner.

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