Category Archives: Appetizer

Avo-Avo-Avocado All the Time!

If you like avocado come to South Africa! This country seems to have avocado this and avocado that in every which way you look. Not that I mind as I love avocado, or avo as the locals call it.

My dream is actually to own my own avo plant. I am going through the process of trying to grow one at the moment even! Though it is a very difficult process. You have to get the pit (seed) from your avocado, insert four toothpicks around the pit and emerge half of the pit in a glass of water (ensuring that the point of the pit is facing upwards). You then have to wait a few days for the skin of the pit to fall off and wait up to three weeks until you (MAYBE) see roots sprout from the bottom of the pit. That is when you finally plant your avocado seed to EVENTUALLY (it takes up to 7 years) get your own fruit. Such a long process, eh? And you never know if your pit is good enough until you see roots coming out. Ugh.

Growing an Avocado Tree

Anyway, with avocado being a big thing in this country, I too like to do things with this fruit. So earlier this week I made an avocado hummus! Mmmm mmmmmm!

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup of can (410g) chickpeas, drained
  • ½ large avocado, cubed
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika powder

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor combine all ingredients except paprika powder and blend until smooth.

  2. Place green avocado hummus in a bowl and sprinkle paprika powder on top.

  3. And enjoy!

Eat with chips, on bread, in a pita, or with fresh vegetables. I had mine with mini carrots!

Avo Hummus

It was absolutely wonderful. I ate it so quickly that I could only offer a little to my mom to try. And I got lucky as she wasn’t too keen on it! Instead I just finished the entire Tupperware container myself. Excluding the one bite mom had of it.

The thing about my Avocado Hummus is that there were some chickpea chunks, but I love chickpeas so it didn’t matter much, However if you like your hummus smooth like creamy mashed potatoes then by all means blend until fully smooth and lacking any graininess!

This was a great snack for when you were craving something and would usually eat something unhealthy!

I hope you all enjoy this hummus as much as I did!

Savory Argentine Treats

¡Qué maravilloso!

I made the best food ever. Food that I grew up on. There are many foods that are popular in South America. Foods that can be found in several Latin American countries, foods like empanadas, arepas, rice and beans, etc.

But I know certain foods as being from one country. To me arepas are only Venezuelan. Arepas con queso blanco – yum! While empanadas are best made in the province of Salta in Argentina. Though the province of Tucumán holds an annual National Empanada Festival, neat right? But according to my Argentine friend Nico, there is a dispute about where the best are from, is it Salta, Tucumán, or Buenos Aires? When I lived in Buenos Aires my teacher informed me that it was Salta so I will stick to that fact. ¡Gracias Paola!

I remember seeing people dressed as giant empanadas dancing downtown in Buenos Aires. Poor guys in those suits in the middle of summer, but the guys sure caught people’s attention to visit the empanada restaurant.

Anyway, I decided to give empanadas a go!

 Trial Empanadas

I’m glad I did it!

I got the recipe from here, but I tweaked it some.

Ingredients:

For Pastry:

  • 2 ¼ cup (350g) plain flour
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch baking powder
  • ¾ cup (145g) butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup (100ml) lukewarm water

For Filling:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (200g) chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 8 green olives, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. First make the pastry. Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in butter and one of the eggs and mix until combined well. Gradually add some lukewarm water if your pastry is too dry. Wrap your pastry in plastic wrap and all to firm up in fridge for thirty minutes.

  2. To make the filling heat oil in small frying pan and add onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes, then add garlic and bell pepper and cook for an additional couple minutes or until soft and aromatic.

  3. Stir in tomato paste, paprika powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper and mix well. Add olives and chicken, don’t forget to season with salt and pepper. Allow flavours to combine for two minutes. If chicken mixture is too dry add a splash of water and set aside to cool.

  4. Preheat oven to 200ᵒC (392ᵒF) and begin to roll out the pastry to 3mm (1/8 inch) and cut out circles of approximately 14cm (5 ½ inch) diameter. Divide the filling between the pastry circles and moisten edges with water to allow to stick.

  5. Fold the pastry over to enclose the filling and pinch the edges together, use a fork to press the edges tightly together. Transfer to a baking sheet and brush with milk to glaze. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Easiest recipe ever! Except I made my pastry with both eggs that were stated in the original recipe and instead of rolling the pastry and shaping with a circular tool, I just pressed everything together with my hands. I didn’t use additional water or milk either as my pastry was already too eggy/oily.

I can honestly tell you that I hate English recipes. The original recipe comes from a website that ends in .co.uk and it bothers me that it says you’ll need two eggs but instead you only use one! What is the point of that other egg!? The original recipe doesn’t even use the other egg for an egg wash before baking it! They use milk! UGH!! I always have issues with English recipes!

Anyway my pastry is just a bit too brittle, but the flavours are all there. Tastes just like Argentina! I know my sister and father are jealous (neither of them are here to experience my empanadas)!

Empanadas de Pollo

Even with my little mishap, this came out fantastic!

Only thing missing in our house are medialunas (another Argentine pastry)! But those are a little more difficult to make so I may try those another day. Maybe when my sister is in the area. She is the Argentine after all (well, she was born in Argentina).

If you end up making this recipe I hope you enjoy it just as much as my mother and I have!

¡Buen provecho!

P.S.

I know this post had nothing to do with my Pumpkin Everything month, so I thought I’d add my new friend to the mix.

Meet Dr. Rockskin, the Rock’n Roll Pumpkin:

Dr. RockskinDr. Rockskin

I’ve never named a jack’o lantern before, but I thought to do so for a friend.

Anyway, enjoy the food and the remainder of your day!

Colorful Mexican Stuffed Avocado

‘Tis the season to be colorful. The season of Spring is the perfect season to bring out all the colors in your closet or make-up drawers. Or in my case – place on a plate and indulge in!

Although I am always colorful when it comes to food. Whether it is Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter, I will always find an excuse to add a pop of color to a normal white plate. Mexican Quinoa stuffed Avocado

This looks pretty festive for the season of Spring, wouldn’t you think?

And not only is this beautiful, but it is delicious too!

Although the recipe is considered as an appetizer, I’ve made this into a meal. Because why would someone combine all this protein for an appetizer? If this is the starter then the meal must be the size of a pea! Anyway, I got the recipe from here.

Ingredients
  • Avocados (1 small avocado per person)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 can black beans (rinsed)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro + some for garnish
  • 1 Tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon Greek yoghurt
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Start by rinsing your quinoa well and then place it in a sauce pan and toast for about two minutes until the quinoa starts to smell ‘toasty.’ Add one cup of water or vegetable broth and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cover. (To get fluffy quinoa, it’s really important to not stir it, just let it be, keeping a close eye on it)

  2. Chop the red onion and red pepper and add all the ingredients, minus the quinoa, in a bowl and mix well with the taco seasoning. Once the quinoa is finished and has cooled, add it to the vegetable mixture.

  3. Put the mixture in the refrigerator to cool.

  4. To assemble the avocados, begin by cutting them in half, removing the skin and the pit. (You can also scoop a little extra from the pit to add more room for the quinoa mixture – do this after you peel the skin off!)

  5. Scoop about ½ a cup of the quinoa mixture into each avocado, more if you can fit it.

  6. Finish by mixing Greek yoghurt and lemon juice together and adding a little dollop on top of the quinoa mixture and some chopped cilantro and serve.

  7. Enjoy!

Mexican Quinoa Stuffed AvocadoDoesn’t that look too much to be for an appetizer? Especially with the fact that black beans, quinoa, AND avocado have protein in it. Not to mention the fact that Greek yoghurt has protein too! Although, a dollop or two doesn’t give you quite the kick needed.

So that’s my dinner for this evening.

But, because I only used a tablespoon of taco seasoning there is a big chance that I’ll make taco’s tomorrow for dinner. I just need to buy lettuce, salsa, and wraps. I’ve got everything else to make a perfect taco or six. (When I was younger, I loved tacos so much that I would have between four to six – no lie) I don’t think I can accomplish that now though.

Y’all should totally make this. You could make it as it should be, an appetizer. OR you can eat it as I did as a meal.

Buen provecho, gente!

Festive Dishes for Christmas

Seasons greetings!

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope you all had a wonderful day celebrating! I definitely celebrate it and believe it was a hit for us!

The first time ever, our family worked together to make a wonderful product for when my aunt, uncle, and cousins came over. I made dessert. My little sister and I helped peel potatoes, and chop up vegetables. And then when in crisis, we both dropped everything and helped out as well.

And yes, a crisis did happen.

My mom had went out to walk Austin before everyone came over, while she was walking him I heard a loud bang and immediately thought “Shit, that’ll make the walk short” (Austin is terrified of loud noises). Shortly after that bang, the house phone rang and I told my sister to go answer it as I continue cleaning some dishes. As soon as she answered the phone she went outside. I thought this was rather odd so I followed her and realized that that loud bang I’d heard had terrified Austin to the point of pulling free from moms grip on the leash. He was missing in the night without mom and could possibly hurt himself. We instantly returned to the house to put on shoes and a jacket and go out in the night to find our furry friend. I quickly went up to Dad who was showering and told him what happened and what we were doing and we were gone. Luckily in under ten minutes we found him. A couple was walking towards us and had a Malinois in a broken leash. I walked towards them and called out to Austin and realized it was him. I was elated. I explained what had happened and thanked them profusely. Right after I had Austin in my hand, mom was notified and we all relaxed a little.

Austin loves Christmas
Austin loves Christmas

After that, the night went rather smoothly.

When everyone came we started the night with a punch. It was perfect! Everyone loved it.

It called for the following:

1 container of Strawberries, washed and sliced
1 Bottle White Zinfandel
½ a 2L Bottle of Lemonade
½ a 2L bottle of Ginger ale

Alongside this punch I made a few trays of vegetables as an appetizer.

Vegetable TreeAll you really need to do is choose an assortment of vegetables and make a Christmas tree out of them. The cauliflower in this case would be considered presents while the broccoli is the tree and the tomatoes the garland. The pretzels are obviously the trunk of the tree.

We served the vegetable Christmas tree with hummus and onion dip.

We then had a massive dinner with a 6 kg turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, a creamy salad, green beans with bacon, and it seemed like so much more.

By the end of that meal, I was afraid no one had room for more. But luckily most people love desserts, so they definitely enjoyed what came next.

Santa Brownies

What was left of the Other Desserts
What was left of the Other Desserts

For the brownie hats here is the recipe I followed:

Ingredients

  • 1 pan of brownies (made from a mix, I made Albert Heijn Excellent Brownies)
  • small strawberries (tops cut off)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter -softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 TB half and half
  • 1/2 t vanilla

Instructions

  1. Cut brownies into small circles with a shot glass once brownies have cooled from oven. (I put the brownies in the fridge overnight and then began cutting the shapes I wanted – this did not work as we thought, so always cut fresh brownies!)
  2. For frosting, combine butter, powdered sugar, half and half, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat with a mixer until icing is thick and creamy. 
  3. Next top cream on brownie shapes and add chopped strawberries on frosting. Then add a small dollop of cream on top of strawberry to make a Santa hat. 
  4. Cool until ready to serve later.

On the second platter you could see shortbread cookies with maraschino cherries, pumpkin gingerbread cake wedges, and raw brownie bites. 

For the shortbread cookies one really doesn’t need to follow a recipe. It is shockingly straight forward. I never knew. But here is the recipe I did in fact follow:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup icing (powdered) sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • red and green maraschino cherries, halved

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325ᵒF (170ᵒC)

  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine butter, icing sugar, and flour.  Using the whisk attachment, mix on medium-high speed for several minutes until fully incorporated.  Turn the mixer to high speed and whip the batter for 10 minutes until it is very, very light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl every minute.

  3. Once cookie dough is mixed place in piping bag and begin to pipe cookies into 1.5 – 2″ thick circles. For each cookie add a halved cherry to the center. Cook for 15-16 minutes. (If you do not have a piping bag then just roll small balls of dough and keep them ¾ an inch away from each other. Cookies will flatten out when in oven.)

  4. If cookies have not reached a golden state, allow to cook a little longer than instructed. Remove from oven and allow to cool then place on cooling rack to further cooling process. 

  5. Enjoy!

For the Pumpkin Gingerbread cake, I wasn’t the one to make these so I am not completely sure what recipe was used, but this recipe looks awfully similar to what I came across when walking into the kitchen looking for food. When mom made this… WOW. The house smelled 100% like winter. Truly amazing. I definitely advice you to make that recipe.

Now for the Raw Brownies! I was thinking of making these for a while, but at home my mom doesn’t have a food processor and I assumed they wouldn’t like it. Oddly enough though, both mom AND dad liked the raw brownies. Who would’ve thought?! The recipe I followed was SO easy.

So dad and I popped over at my apartment and picked up my small food processor after we did some last minute Christmas shopping on Sunday, the 22nd.

At de Beijenkorf
At de Beijenkorf

And of course while Daddy and I were out shopping I HAD to get a photo with Santa. This was taken at de Bijenkorf. He made my day.

Once we got home I started with my raw brownies mix:

  • 1 cup pecans 
  • 1 cup dates
  • 5 tablespoons raw cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

1. Place pecans alone in your food processor and process until the pecans become small and crumbly.

2. Add dates to the raw brownie recipe and process again until the mixture sticks together and the dates are well processed.

3. Add the remaining ingredients to this raw brownie recipe and process again until the mixture turns a lovely dark chocolatey brown. Stop processing before it gets too buttery. (There should still be air between the small bits so that you will be able to press them down into your brownie pan.)

4. Dump the mixture into a brownie dish or small cake pan and press down firmly using your clean hands. You can even add the brownie mix to a plastic container. 

5. Refrigerate this raw brownie recipe for a couple of hours. You do not have to refrigerate it, but it is much easier to slice when chilled. By the way, this is actually a raw brownie recipe that keeps its shape! So it can be good for serving to non-raw fooders because the presentation of this raw brownie recipe is good when chilled.

6. Store this raw brownie recipe in the refrigerator if it lasts that long!

Because my food processor is super tiny, I halved my mixing. Luckily the recipe is that easy to follow that it worked out perfectly!

These were my lovely desserts for the family. My two cousins LOVED everything, which was great. I am pretty sure both of them left our household with a food baby in their bellies. While my aunt always loves my sweet things. I am pretty confident that she may be my biggest fan and I love it!

Anyway, I hope you all had a lovely week so far and are preparing for what is to come in 2014! Keep having fun and living life!

De Bijenkorf Tree

The Passage in Den Haag
The Passage in Den Haag