Eat the World 20: Bolivia

Last Wednesday we sampled the cuisine of our 20th country on our Eat the World adventure. If you are wondering, we did indeed skip Bhutan but will be coming back to it later next week.

Bolivia is a South American country surrounded by Peru, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Brazil. While Dylan or I have never been there,we were familiar with the cuisine and culture since we lived in Ecuador for a year. In fact, looking through the pictures and answering Ada’s questions brought back a flood of fond memories such as this:

Rainy season fun.

And this:

Alabanza!

And this one too:

The square.

Basically, Bolivia brought so many memories still so fresh in the mind, and it’s been eight years past since our time spent there. EIGHT years. I can’t believe it. Bolivia was indeed a nice reminder of our old home.

At the time I was planning this meal I think that I was feeling a bit industrious, much more so that what I actually felt last Wednesday, so we ended up limiting my four piece menu down to two. I think that the avocado salad would’ve been pretty delicious but it was just one extra step and I don’t think that it would’ve tasted outrageously different than anything else we’ve ever sampled. I’m still a bit sad that we skipped out on baking the Cocadas (coconut candies, think macaroons), so I’ll probably attempt those sometime later this month just for fun. We’ll see.

The two recipes that did make the cut were Aji de Lentejas con Sarsa (Lentil stew with salsa) and Saltenas (Meat and potato hand pies). I opted to cut the stew servings in half because I wasn’t sure the girls would eat it…and I was right, except that Dylan and I definitely could’ve eaten more than the small bowls that it made. Ah well, proxima vez. It was a fairly simple, quick cooking stew (due to the lentils) and a great vegetarian option. I’d make this again for sure. You can find the recipe here.

The saltenas were a LOT more work. Dylan and the girls made the dough while I prepared the filling. Ada and Nellie loved the dough part because they got to play with their own piece of it. Rolling, shaping, squishing, all that good stuff. They were good, but I’m not sure that I’d remake these. They were just really large and quite dense. I’m a bigger fan of Ecuadorian (think crispy-fluffy fried) and Argentinian (think flakier-more pie-crust-like) empanadas. When the saltenas cooled they were like light dumbbells. Big, heavy, and SUPER filling. You can also find the recipe here.

I think the general consensus was that dinner was good but that it wasn’t necessarily something that we would repeat again out of craving. The stew might show up again because it’s cheap, healthy, and light…but if I’m going to put a lot of work into something, I’ll make mandu or biryani or something much else.

And just a fun video to round everything out: 

Monday Meal Plan

First off, a funny video to brighten a dreary, cold Monday: 

Monday Meal Plan : 2.4-2.10

2.4 Monday (Terrah and the girls are in town!)

Dinner: @Terry & Sheila’s house

*Extra*

Pumpkin Butter for T-Rex. Shhhhhh…it’s a secret.

Freezer biscuits. I pinned this a la Pinterest a while ago because as much as I love a can of Pillsbury’s, I can’t get over the weird chemically aftertaste I experience when I haven’t eaten them for a while. If this is as easy as it seems, it would be an easy way to always have biscuits on hand that are homemade and “fresh” tasting.

Easy 5-Ingredient Fudgy Nutella Cookies with Sea Salt. While adding a third “extra” may sound overly ambitious, I have been hankering for cookies for quite some time. And these sound simple and crave satisfying enough to achieve. It’s okay, you can call me “Super Mom” today.

2.5 Tuesday (Terrah and the girls are in town!)

Dinner: @ Terry & Sheila’s house
2.6 Wednesday  

Dinner: Eat the World 21: Bosnia Herzegovina
*Extra*

Sesame noodles w/cilantro & scallions.

Cilantro Thai “grilled” chicken. I think these will be easy meals for Dylan to have this weekend for work, plus I’ve got a ridiculous amount of cilantro.

2.7 Thursday* 

Dinner: Mitti Handi Dahl w/basmati and chapatti (Because my kids are still obsessed with this book they got from the library.)

*Extra*

Mix up and freeze two scone batches. Maybe I’ll get fancy and try a new flavor combination? Peachy cinnamon sounds exciting, and I’ll definitely throw in some savory for soup this weekend.

2.8 Friday*

Breakfast: Fruit smoothies w/scones

Tea Time: Ada will be at Terry’s…

Dinner: Dachtler Pizza Night!

*Extra*

Do the initial feeding steps of Bruce in prep for baking.

Martha Stewart’s zucchini and cranberry muffins. Perfect additions to tea time and as snacks for Dylan’s lunches.

2.9 Saturday*

Breakfast: Easy Raspberry strudel w/coffee & tea
Lunch: Crockpot tomato basil parmesan soup w/scones
Tea: Muffins & Assam w/milk & sugar

Dinner: Leftovers or sandwiches or maybe even a blue box meal with frozen peas. Yessiree, you can still call me “Super Mom” today. 😉
*Extra*

Put sourdough loaves on the porch to rise (yes, I do use my front porch as an extended fridge/freezer in the winter thankyouverymuch. North Dakota does have some perks now and then.)

Espresso dark chocolate coconut cookies. In case one batch of cookies isn’t enough for the week because, you know, that would be tragic to be cookie-less lest a craving strike.

2.10 Sunday*

Breakfast: Sweet zucchini pancakes
Lunch: Crockpot teriyaki chicken over basmati w/edamame
Tea: Muffins & Assam w/milk & sugar

Dinner: Pasta w/tomato blue cheese sauce. The girls and I heart blue cheese. Heart it.

*Extra*

Freezer cinnamon rolls. This doesn’t exactly link up to a specific recipe but rather the method. It’s the same idea as the biscuits from earlier this week and I think that it should work great. Again, I know freezer rolls go on sale consistently, but they still have that weird taste to me. Plus, I can customize the ones that I make and freeze at home. Win-win.

Finish off sourdough loaves.

Next week is Ada’s 5th birthday. That’s unreal. I think I may say that every year around her birthday, but truthfully, it never ceases to amaze me just how quickly this adventure has gone. It’s the days where I’m crabby, irritated, and impatient with my girls, my husband, my life, that I need to be reminded that somebody’s birthday is just around the corner. That  somebody is getting older quicker than I can keep up.

Eat the World 19: Benin

Introducing: Benin, country #19 on our Eat the World adventure!

Benin’s Flag

Benin is a small, West African country that is landlocked by Togo, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Niger. It was colonized by the French and thus you will find the French language predominately throughout. I am lucky to have a co-worker who is West African, he is officially Liberian, but was able to shed some very helpful advice on the general cuisine found throughout West Africa. The information he shared lead me to plan a light-on-meat, heavy on peanuts and starch meal of Peanut Sauce over coconut rice with Akkra Funfun (fried bean fritters). I bought peanuts to make sugared peanuts, a common street vendor food found throughout the country, but I was short on time and hungry. So I scratched that idea and will be snacking on them for the next few weeks…

Peanut Sauce
Makes enough sauce for 4 servings
3 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 -1 tsp of your favorite piment/hot pepper i.e. Cayenne pepper in our case. I only added a pinch, a fair amount less because I wanted my children to try it without hating me. Dylan and I added generous spoonfuls of sambol oelek to our helpings. Admittedly that’s not very African but Asian, but what can you do? The heat was a perfect foil to the fatty peanut butter and oil in the sauce.)
1/2 tsp salt
1 beef bullion cube
1 cup water-or more depending on the density of the peanut butter you’re using
1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter (the mix before use stuff)
1/2 cup diced onion
1.) Saute tomato paste, hot pepper, salt, onion and bullion cube in oil for a few minutes to let the flavors meld.
2.) Add peanut butter and water.
3.) Mix and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Be careful to stir occasionally as you do not want the peanut butter to burn! Serve over rice.

Coconut Rice
Serves 6
1 can coconut milk
1 ½ c. water
1 ½ c. rice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1.) Bring water and coconut to a boil over medium heat.
2.) Add rice, salt and pepper. Lower heat and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Careful to keep an eye on your pot so the liquid doesn’t boil over. Makes a mess on a glass stovetop—not that I’d know…
3.) Uncover and let rest for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve with peanut sauce.

Akkara Funfun (Fried Bean Fritters)
Makes around 16 medium-size fritters
1 small onion, finely minced
1 can of white beans (we used Northerns)
1 large egg
1/3 cup of flour
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Oil for frying (Peanut oil, palm oil or a combination of the two make for a more authentic flavor. We opted to use only peanut since I’m not crazy about palm.)
1.) Blend the beans, cayenne pepper and salt together until they form a smooth, firm paste. Dylan just whirred them together in our food processor for about a minute.
2.) Add the minced onion, egg and flour to the bean paste and stir to mix well.
3.) Add enough oil to a saucepan or wok to reach one or two centimeters up the side, and heat until hot enough to sizzle when a little batter is dropped in.
4.) Drop tablespoons of the mixture into the hot oil and fry in batches on both sides until golden. Drain cooked fritters on a paper towel. Take care to watch your oil so it doesn’t get too hot and burn your fritters before cooking them.
5.) Sprinkle with extra cayenne pepper and serve hot. The girls dipped them in the peanut sauce.

Ada was all about the akkara funfun before she learned that they were made out of mashed up beans. :-/ Dylan and I actually really liked them but MAN, are they filling! We had a lot of leftover rice (which generally never happens) because of those little fritters. Knowledge for the next time I suppose.

Eat the World 18: Belize

We finished this country a few weeks ago, but I’m just now getting around to posting the recipes and pictures (which are, admittedly, quite few and grainy–hey, I’m no professional!).

Official flag of Belize

Our menu was as follows: Belizean Beans & Rice with Fried Plantains (+ Donuts)

DONUTS!

DONUTS! (Please excuse the flash.)

I know, donuts? Ada has been on a big dessert kick lately, if you couldn’t tell by my meal plans, so I thought if the dinner was a major flop, I’d at least reward the kids for trying everything. I was skeptical of the recipe since it’s simply frying up pre-made biscuit dough from the can in donut form but I seriously shouldn’t have been. <–(To all English teachers: I apologize for that atrocious sentence but I’m not going to fix it.) Here’s the “recipe” I followed.

Now onward to the actual Belizean food! While I was cooking Dylan and Ada looked up information on Belize. I think that this really connected our actual eating with the point of why we are doing this culinary travel for her. In fact, she seems to really have embraced Eat the World and now asks to “eat a country” every other day. If only her ambition lined up with my ability (or energy)!

Belizean Beans & Rice serves 4
Usually this will be served alongside chicken or some other common protein but Dylan and I wanted something lighter so we just prepared this. I did tweak some of the recipe to fit our work.school schedule and I noted that in italics, it’s possible that it did affect the end flavor but our whole family still loved this dish and it is going to find it’s way into our typical food lineup.  
1 cup red kidney beans or 1 can of red kidney beans, rinsed
1 cup coconut milk or you can simply use the whole can
1 garlic clove
salt & pepper
2 cups rice
1 onions, sliced
1 piece of salt meat ( cut into small pieces) I omitted this for a vegetarian meal.
Directions
1.) Soften beans (soak first) with garlic. We skipped this step since we used pre-cooked, canned beans.
2.) Boil until tender and whole, adding salt meat (previously boiled to soften) when almost tender. Again this step was skipped since we had a vegetarian meal.
3. Add the milk, onion and seasonings. This is where I added the beans and garlic. Meaning, I just dumped all the ingredients except the rice together into a pot.
4.) Wash rice, then add to the beans. I know this seems tedious, but washing the rice removes the excess starch that makes the rice so sticky/mushy/icky. Rinse until the water runs pretty clear.
5.) Cook over gentle heat until liquid is absorbed.
6.) Stir gently with a fork, and add a little water from time to time until rice is cooked. I didn’t need to do this since I used the entire can of coconut milk.
Serve hot with a meat dish. Or not.

Fried Plantains One plantain serves 1-2

Fried plantains can be on the table in less than 5 minutes. It’s a tasty and easy side dish for South American/Caribbean countries and a go-to where our family is concerned. The girls gobbled up most of these before I even sat down for dinner.
1 plantain 

Vegetable oil for frying
Salt
1.) Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a frying pan. Meanwhile, cut plantains into long, oblong slices.
NOTE: Choose plantains that are yellow to black in color, not green. The green plantain in the photo was still under ripe and inedible. Green plantains behave like green bananas, after a few days the bland astringency gives way to a mildly sweet flavor.I opted to use my cast iron for this and it worked out great. I heated the oil over medium heat, just be careful that it doesn’t get too hot or you’ll burn your plantains!
2.) Fry in the oil on both sides until browned. I’d guesstimate that it’s probably about 3-4 minutes per side.
3.) Sprinkle immediately with salt. Serve hot.

Happy eating…next up 19: Benin!

Monday Meal Plan (on Tuesday)

I’m not sure how I fell behind since I only seem to blog on my “gimmicky” days lately. I feel stuck in a rut when it comes to blogging lately and everything other than pictures or food seems to be mundane. I’m hoping that our Belize post later this week for Eat the World helps to lessen that fog but I’m not honestly all that confident. So…we’ll see.

Dylan’s home this week so I get to play with a few more “daring” recipes than if it was just me and the girls (since they generally won’t be convinced to eat it by just myself). Ada’s been chomping at the bit to “eat a country” since we re-booted last week with ETW, so that makes me happy. I’m hoping it’ll pull her out of this everything-is-icky phase we seemed to have begun.

Has anyone else had that issue when their kid(s) started daycare/school? Ada used to eat anything and everything we put in front of her, albeit not peas, but pretty much everything and now that she’s eating lunch at school turns her nose up at things she used to love. I know this is a developmental stage too but it’s driving me near bonkers. Especially when I’m really trying to plan out meals and provide a variety of foods for them to taste. She already has to eat what’s on her plate, we offer a small amount of anything new or things we know she doesn’t necessarily like just so she can keep trying it. Do you have any other tips or tricks to help with this? 

OH, and on an AWESOME note, one of my BFFs (seriously, I still use that term) is coming to visit me in early August!! She is flying into Fargo with her husband and going to spend FIVE days with us. I am over the moon!! Hopefully the weather will be beautiful and we’ll spend time at the lake and just putzing around town together. This summer is gearing up to be epic!!

Bert and the girls on the beach a year and a half ago...too long ago.

Bert and the girls on the beach a year and a half ago…too long ago.

Me and Bert. She loves me for me, can't you tell?

Me and Bert. She loves me for me, can’t you tell?

Bert & The Hubs with her Goddaughter.

Bert & The Hubs with her Goddaughter.

Monday Meal Plan : 1.14-1.20

1.14 Monday

Dinner: Leftovers

1.15 Tuesday

Breakfast: Homemade granola bars

Dinner: Salmon w/crispy edamame and lemon souffle pudding cake (Ada’s been dying for a dessert lately)

1.16 Wednesday  

Breakfast: Granola w/yogurt & honey

Dinner: Fully loaded baked potato soup w/crisped sausage

*Extra*

I made a sourdough starter last weekend and I’m hoping to try baking with it this night. We’ll see how it goes. It is still nameless which I hope to correct shortly as I want to hand it down to my girls someday (yeah, I’m cheesy like that). 

1.17 Thursday 

Breakfast: Cereal w/fruit & milk
Dinner: Eat the World: BENIN

*Extra*

Apple cinnamon scones from King Arthur’s recipe files. These can be made ahead and popped into the oven for a fresh brekkie…I’m in. 

1.18 Friday 

Breakfast: Apple cinnamon scones

Tea Time: Ada will be at Terry’s…

Dinner: Dachtler Pizza Night!

*Extra*

Peanut butter cup popcorn. The girls missed their Daddy mucho this past week while he was working, so I think, barring anything pressing that may come up, we’ll have a movie night. Shut ourselves in with some Red Box/Netflix, good pizza and popcorn, and just veg out together. My favorite kind of family time. 😉 

1.119 Saturday

Breakfast: Pumpkin cranberry waffles w/Cool Whip. Cool Whip? Yes. Cool Whip. 

Lunch: Beer cheese macaroni. I’ve been wanting to try this for quite some time…here’s to hoping it’s delicious!

Tea Time: Assam w/milk & sugar and fruit snacks

Dinner: Spiced black bean, avocado & goat cheese tacos

1.20 Sunday 

Breakfast: Granola & almond milk/leftover scones

Lunch, Tea & Dinner: @ Terry & Sheila’s for Sunday, although if we come home for dinner I’ll make caramelized mushrooms & dumplings. I saw this recipe and my mouth instantly started watering. 

Eat the World 16: Picking up the B countries at Belarus

I realized the other day, as I stared at a plate full of blackened plantains, that I haven’t posted about our Eat the World adventures in quite some time. Most of that is due to the fact that we have been pretty lax. Okay, really lax, to the point of completely shoving it under the proverbial rug. However, with all the things life has been handing out lately, I am going to give us a pass and we’ll simply pickup where we left off.

We did complete Belarus, I made a huge stockpot of Borscht a la Belarus and picked up some crusty, rye bread from a local bakery. Steaming bowls heaped with soup and dollops of sour cream with a side of rye, thickly slathered in butter was awesome. And super filling. And a great feed-your-freezer type meal. And something that I will do again come January/February when the snow and the ice and the slush begin to freeze my toes and my fingers and my soul. Seriously. It gets that cold.

We ate supper with Grandma and Grandpa Dachtler and The Uncles. I think Dylan was working that weekend, but we did save him a bowl.

Borshch/Borscht Soup from Belarus (Beet Soup with potatoes)

Serves 6 and best served with friends and family to share.

1 large onion, chopped
1-2 large russet potatoes, as desired
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 beets, diced
2 carrots, sliced
2 turnips, diced
1/2 a green cabbage, sliced thinly
6 oz can of tomato paste
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp vinegar
salt and pepper
32 oz beef stock
water as needed
sour cream, for garnish (optional, but not really if you want it to be super tasty)
1. In a large pot, cook onion in vegetable oil until soft and slightly golden. Add the rest of the ingredients, except sour cream. Add water as needed to cover all the veggies.

2. Bring to a low simmer and cook for at least an hour, the longer the better as it allows the flavors to mingle. 

4. Ladle into serving bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream.