Apricot-Ginger Scones (Vegan), Revised

In the 3 years since I posted my recipe I have gradually changed some ingredients in these scones, so I thought it was time for a recipe revision.

I love crystalized ginger. I put it in my tea sometimes, or snack on it. But I realize that its combination of sharp and sweet may not be to everyone’s tastes, and I didn’t want it to overwhelm the other flavors so I used more than 1/8th cup, but less than 1/4 cup. The ginger and nutmeg play very well together. Also, because the crystalized ginger is lightly dusted with sugar — and the fruit is sweet, too — I can get away with very little added sugar in this recipe. The ginger is sometimes excessively dusted with sugar, so I do brush some of the sugar off before dicing because I don’t want an overly sweet scone. You might could pare the added sugar down even more, depending on how sweet you like your scones. I buy crystalized ginger as needed in the bulk section of the grocery store. Not all crystalized ginger is the same, however. Sometimes it’s sold as tough fibrous chunks. Avoid this if possible. It’s also available as thin oval pieces and this is better for most uses.

2 1/2 cups flour

1 Tbls baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbls sugar

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 cup (8 Tbls) margarine (I use Smart Balance Original)

1/2 cup dried apricots, diced

slightly less than 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, diced (I’d say between 1/8th cup & 1/4 cup)

2/3 cup soy milk (I used Silk organic unsweetened)

Preheat oven 425.

Stir together all the dry ingredients (first five ingredients). Then blend in the margarine with a fork, pastry cutter, or just use your hands, until it’s all worked in evenly. Toss in the apricots and ginger then stir in well so that it’s evenly distributed. Pour in soy milk. Stir until the dough starts to come together, then use your hands and knead it until it makes a firm round of dough. Divide into two more or less equal pieces. Shape each into a ball and then a flattened round probably 5 or 6 inches in diameter. Place the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet. Cut each into 6 equal wedge-shaped pieces. Separate the wedges on the baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until done. (If the wedges don’t come out equal sized, then test the larger ones with a toothpick for doneness when you take them out of the oven.)

This recipe is a big favorite with my friends.

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Lemon Poppyseed Scones (Vegan) Revised

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In the two and a half years since I posted the original recipe for this, I’ve made substantial changes, and just realized that I hadn’t posted the vegan version of this scone, which is in many ways an improvement.

It took me a long time to get this recipe just right. I ran through quite a few batches with unsatisfactory results first using lemon yogurt, then using fresh squeezed lemon juice, then a few more batches using bottled lemon juice, before I just gave up and went for the simplest flavor option. Lemon extract. Using an extract has a number of advantages. You don’t have to try to balance dry ingredients with wet ingredients, which means that if my recipe doesn’t appeal to you, you can use your own favorite plain scone recipe and add lemon extract to it, without having to substantially alter the existing recipe. Also, it comes in small bottles and has a longer shelf life than yogurt, lemons, or lemon juice so likely it won’t go to waste.

2 1/2 cups flour

1 Tbls baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 Tbls sugar

1 tsp poppy seeds

1/2 cup margarine

1/2 cup soymilk

2 tsp lemon extract

Preheat oven 425.

Stir together dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and poppy seeds. Cut in margarine (I use Smart Balance Original) with a fork, pastry blender or your hands. I usually start by breaking up the margarine with a fork and then rub in the margarine with my hands until it’s a nice homogenous mixture. Measure milk, then add 2 tsp lemon extract to it. Pour milk and lemon extract mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir rapidly with a fork until the dough starts to hold together in clumps, then use your hands to knead it very gently and briefly into a ball of dough. (Over-kneading will result in a tougher scone.) Divide the ball into two more or less equal pieces, shaping the dough into two equal flattened disks, about an inch in thickness. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Cut each disk into six more or less equal wedges, then separate the wedges so there’s about an inch at least between them. Bake in preheated oven 12 minutes (or until  a toothpick comes out clean…your oven may vary from mine).

The scones are very tender and almost melt in your mouth right out of the oven. Serve with strong hot tea. If you’re not serving them immediately to a pack of ravenous friends, leftover scones are still very good the next day. Store in an air-tight container after the scones have cooled.

Lemonade and Lemon Ice Pops

Cold, refreshing, lemonade!

As the summer gets hotter, we’re all looking for things that are cool and refreshing. There’s something about lemon that is bright and reviving on even the hottest days. Commercial lemonade tends to be too sweet for my taste. I like to taste the flavor of the lemon, and super sugary drinks don’t feel like they really quench thirst, especially since they leave my mouth sticky. So my formula for lemonade is a bright slightly tart one. If you want it sweeter, you can add make it sweeter, of course. A good idea is to make the basic batch that I make, then let everyone sweeten their glasses to their own taste if they they prefer something sweeter. I also use this same formula to make ice pops. After mixing it up, pour a bit into your favorite popsicle mold. Unless you’ve got a lot of popsicle molds, you’ll still have plenty left to drink because it makes 9 cups total.

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup Real Lemon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or equivalent of your preferred sweetener)

I use warm water to mix this up so that the sugar dissolves quickly and easily. If using something like honey or agave nectar, the temperature of the water wouldn’t be a factor. However, if you use something other than sugar, be sure to adjust the amount according to how sweet your sweetener is. A half cup of honey, for instance, will be sweeter than a half cup of sugar. So the amount of sweetener you use is dependent on what you use to sweeten the lemonade — as well as your own personal taste for how sweet you want it to be. My formula is a good starting place. It’s delicious as is, but is easily adjusted to suit individual tastes.

Stir the sugar into the warm water until dissolved. Add the lemon juice. Stir. The mixture will be cloudy. Chill thoroughly.

If making lemon ice popsicles, fill popsicle molds not quite to the top (liquid expands as it freezes). They’re ready to eat when they’re frozen solid. Honestly, I don’t know how long it will take to freeze. It depends on the size and shape (volume) of your popsicle molds. I typically don’t reach for a popsicle until the day after I put a batch into the freezer, but they should freeze faster than that! The sweet-tart flavor is perfect for a refreshing summer ice. Check out my Rocket Pops post for a different popsicle idea!

 

Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo

With a holiday in the U.S. this weekend, it’s prime time for a summertime party. We have lots of cookout ideas on the blog, some of which I covered at the beginning of summer with my Cookouts post. Here’s one more salsa recipe to add to last week’s Deadly Green Sauce. Unlike last week’s salsa recipe, this is a uncooked salsa, and it’s relatively mild. I suspect that the way I make it isn’t traditional. It is, however, flavorful, and makes a lot. The proportions of ingredients are a matter of individual taste. The amounts below are guidelines. Some people don’t like cilantro; you can substitute parsley, but keep in mind that the flavor will be radically different if you do. The amount of jalapeños depends on the size of the pepper as much as how hot you want it. Because this is a large batch of salsa, the amount of jalapeños in the recipe isn’t as excessive as it might appear. Use more if you want it to have more of a kick. Freshly chopped jalapeños can sometimes cause skin irritation so food handling gloves are recommended.

This makes about 6 cups.

2 onions
2 med or large tomatoes
3 average sized jalapeños (or 2 large)
1 clove garlic (2 if they’re small)
Bunch of cilantro
A little bit of parsley (optional)
5 Tbls vinegar
5 Tbls olive oil

The tomatoes should be diced by hand. I use regular slicing tomatoes for this. They’re very juicy and you’ll have a very wet mess of tomatoes when you’re done. Slide it, juice and all, from the cutting board into a large non-metallic bowl. Dice the onions finely either by hand or in a food processor. Dice the jalapeños very finely. The texture I go for is that the onions are cut finer than the tomatoes, and the jalapeños are diced more finely than the onions. The garlic I run through a garlic press. Chop up a supermarket sized bunch of cilantro as finely as you can, but don’t worry about it if some leaves slip through. I use the whole bunch, but use as much or as little as you want. I usually throw in a little parsley because I have Italian Flat Leafed Parsley in my garden almost year ’round. How much I add depends on whether it’s taking over the garden. 😉

The oil and vinegar give this almost the character of a chopped salad, albeit one in which cilantro and parsley stand in for the leafy greens. I learned to make it like this right after college; I had some that tasted great, so I asked what was in it. That’s how I found out about using an oil and vinegar dressing, which I think helps the flavors to meld.

Stir all the ingredients together well. Chill thoroughly before serving. This is good to make up ahead of time; the flavor will improve the longer it chills. Give it a good stirring before serving. As a dip, it’s fairly chunky. This is often used as a flavorful addition to wrapped-in-tortilla things.

See the Cookout for Vegetarian, Vegans and Friends who aren’t too sure about this post for cookout suggests for this Independence day. Also check out the snacks, yummy dips, and salsa tags for more recipes.

Spicy Quesadillas

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This is made similar to my Mushroom Quesadillas with Chiles and Chipotle Cheese, only instead of mushrooms and chiles, I’ve used a spicy soy protein mixture. These meatless crumbles soak up liquid and seasonings very well, and because it’s frozen loose in a package, you can scoop out as much — or as little — as you need for a dish. You do not need a quesadilla maker to make quesadillas. All you need is a good skillet (I use a big cast iron skillet, but a non-stick skillet would probably work as well.)

The trick, as always, is to not overload the quesadillas with too much filling in addition to the cheese. The whole idea is that the cheese acts as glue. There’s always a chance of filling falling out when you eat quesadillas, but if you don’t overload the tortillas, cheese will do a pretty good job of holding things together.

I used Mexene chili powder. Most pre-mixed chili powders aren’t extremely spicy, but if what you use has a strong kick, you might need to adjust to your tastes. Most chili powder combinations also have cumin, but I add a bit more to balance things out since some of the quesadillas’ spicy flavor is coming from the chipotle cheese. If using plain cheddar or some other unseasoned cheese, you could increase the spiciness of the soy crumbles by adding red pepper, Hungarian hot paprika, cayenne powder, or Tabasco, etc. Also be aware that there are now a number of different brands of chipotle cheddar cheese on the market and the heat of the cheese may vary between brands.

This makes enough filling for at least 5 quesadillas, maybe 6, depending on how much filling you use in each one. It also depends on the size of tortilla you use. I prefer the medium sized which are larger than taco-sized, but significantly smaller than the big burrito size. I’ve tried using both the smaller and larger for quesadillas and the small just seemed too small and the large was extremely awkward to turn over — even with my big spatula.

  • 1 1/2 cups Simple Truth Meatless Crumbles
  • 2 Tbls chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Block of chipotle cheddar
  • medium sized flour tortillas

20150407_190543Simmer the meatless crumbles in a small amount of water with the spices, stirring well, until it’s cooked down. Use just enough water that it can soak it up and simmer for just a few minutes. The filling will be moist but it shouldn’t be liquidy.

You can assemble the quesadillas either on a plate next to the stove, or in the skillet itself. Place a generous amount of the cheese on the tortilla, but not all the way out to the edge. I used sliced cheese; it’s faster and easier than grating and I seems like I have a better idea of how much cheese and what the coverage of the cheese will be with slices. Do whatever works best for you.

20150407_190823Spoon two generous spoonfuls of the seasoned meatless crumbles onto the cheese. Top with another flour tortilla. Toast each side of the tortilla on the ungreased skillet for a couple of minutes on medium heat. It should be browned and slightly crispy. This only takes one or two minutes, depending on your stove. Flip using the biggest spatula you have and toast the other side. (I have an enormous round spatula that I use for many things.) The cheese should be melted enough to hold the thing together when you turn it over.

Cut each round into 6 wedges and serve hot with salsa on the side. People will eat them as fast as you make ’em, so make the first one for yourself to snack on while you toast up the others. 😉 Prep on the filling (slicing, simmering) takes mere minutes and assembling and cooking just a few minutes more. This is a fast fun meal and one that can usually be made from ingredients on hand. (I always have flour tortillas, meatless crumbles, and some kind of cheddar on hand.)

 

Gingerbread: Ninjas and Zombies

Ninjabread Man in action!

Ninjabread Man in action!

OK, I haven’t created the zombies yet, but with Christmas closing in on us, I thought I’d go ahead and post a bit about gingerbread ninjas. Last year I got some cookie cutters called “Ninjabread Men” and had some fun with them. The gingerbread men recipe that came with them made good gingerbread men, but curiosity got the better of me and I experimented with making the man from my old gingerbread recipe since it was for a very dense loaf-type gingerbread. And…it worked! (You’ll need to add more flour to make a workable dough. I’ve added a note to the bottom of the gingerbread recipe about gingerbread men. I would caution you that you need to roll the dough out very thin or you’ll end up with hilariously fat ninjas! The figures are thin, not just in the thickness of the dough, but also with thin arms and legs unlike the short wider limbs of traditional gingerbread men, so they don’t hold their precise shape when you transfer them from the cutting board (or parchment paper, etc) to the baking sheet. This isn’t a problem, though: it means you can make adjustments to their “stance” when you lay them out for baking. This Halloween I scored some “zombie” cookie cutters, so come Christmas, it will be zombies versus ninjas! Here’s the recipe for my gingerbread, which is super easy…and if you roll it very thin, it will make a nice chewy gingerbread man (or ninja, or zombie).

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Holiday Parties: The Sticky Business of RSVPs

usualsuspects-0153.jpg‘Tis the season for parties! Whether you’re throwing parties or going to parties, RSVPs are not optional. I love throwing parties, both large and small. I love cooking for parties. Indeed the only bad part of a party are those pesky RSVPs. There are two conflicting aspects to RSVPs: the host’s need to know how many are coming, and the strange ways people invited to parties think about RSVPs. Whether you’re throwing a party or going to a party this holiday season, I hope this post will shed some light on the Mystery of the Missing RSVPs!

Those people who don’t RSVP in a timely manner often have a “one more won’t make any difference” attitude. They are, of course, correct that one more won’t substantially alter the amount of food prepared, but if five people — and their spouses and children — think that, then the total number for party in which 2 dozen people have said “yes” is suddenly increased to around 3 dozen. That does make a difference. In the case of a smaller party, if 4-5 people show up or RSVP a couple of hours before the party starts, the host may be faced with twice the people and only half as much food! By the way, grabbing a dessert at the store on the way doesn’t compensate: five desserts does not make up for the five more substantial servings that are missing due to not letting the host know you were coming before she or he buys the groceries. (Ditto for catered parties!)

I think a lot of people don’t have a clear idea of what it takes to plan and throw a party. For instance, I have to know in advance how much food to buy. Even if it’s a small casual thing; I still need to know whether I’m cooking for 6-8 people or 2-3. It makes a huge difference in how much food I buy, and can affect the menu. (One side dish or three?) The host or hostess can’t assume that no response is either “No” or “Yes”. Responding “Maybe” is almost as bad. I know people who always give me “maybe”s right up until the minute they show up on my doorstep. They will never commit one way or another because they’re waiting to see if something better comes along for the weekend. They want to keep their options open, see what all the offers are, and then decide within a few hours of the party. A friend of mine, when someone gave him the runaround of “maybe” because they wanted to keep their options open for a better offer, then just told the person, “Fine. Don’t come.” And never invited them to another party. If you jerk people around, you could find yourself dropped from some people’s party invitation distribution list. (I haven’t done this, but I cheered the friend who did.)

Not RSVPing because you’re waiting to see if something better presents itself is not very nice…and makes party prep a nightmare. For instance, for a big Christmas party I will do most of the grocery shopping 5-6 days ahead and cookie baking starts 4-5 days ahead. Fresh vegetable items or other perishables are bought a couple of days before the party. Some food prep is done 2 days ahead and some cooking and prep is done the day before. RSVPing the day before or the morning of an afternoon party to say you will be coming is as bad as not responding at all. It’s not any help at all for the person who’s already bought the food and is rattling around in the kitchen when the phone rings. (On a number of occasions I’ve had someone RSVP literally hours before a party they’ve known about for weeks.)

This is why I send reminders, do follow-up phone calls and basically plead with people to let me know if they’re coming. Not RSVPing causes a lot of unnecessary aggravation for the person who invited you. They’ve invited you to a party; they’re going to feed you good food. The very least you can do to show your appreciation to them is to give a definite RSVP, even if you have to say “No, sorry”. It’s the season of Good Cheer, of Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to your fellow beings on this planet. Be gracious and considerate to those who invite you to parties. That means RSVPing soon after you get the invitation.

I know you’re probably saying that if you don’t RSVP, or RSVP late, that it’s not because you are waiting to see if you get a better offer, but stop and think about that for a minute…what, exactly, are you waiting for? Surely if a worse option presented itself you wouldn’t plump for that instead of a party a friend is throwing? If you wait, you’re always waiting for something better. When you drag your heels about RSVPing you’re really saying to the person who invited you that you don’t give a damn about them or their party — which they are busting their ass to prepare for. (And if you feel that way, you really should just say “No” up front.)

Sure, there are sometimes extenuating circumstances that make it hard to give a firm answer. Say, an elderly parent in the hospital or other extreme circumstance that you have no control over and which might at any minute require your presence. Read that italicized phrase again. If the reason you haven’t RSVP’d doesn’t fit that criteria, you need to RSVP now. Don’t whine that you don’t know what you are doing at the time of the party, so you can’t RSVP until “later”. You’re just fooling yourself, but you’re not fooling anyone else. Make a damn decision. If you drag your heels then you’re just another jerk “waiting to see if there’s something better” and you’re insulting the people who thought enough of you to invite you to their party. The cases in which you can’t RSVP in a timely manner are rare occurrences, unless you’re James Bond or your life is such a living hell that you are living from crisis to crisis, minute by minute and day to day. (In which case, you really do need to party.)

If you truly don’t want to go, just say no. If you’re hoping something will come up so you can get out of a social situation you don’t want to go to, there’s no reason to delay RSVPing. Since you never intended to go, go ahead and say you won’t be there. (Social networks, and online invitations make this painless; you can say no and don’t have to stammer through an excuse.) Even though you’re declining the invitation, by RSVPing soon, you at least won’t be causing any problems for the host planning the party.

Sometimes something unexpected that you have no control over happens and you may have to bow out at the last minute. Sick kids, car trouble, the unexpected arrival of relatives, some disaster at work you have to deal with, the earth being threatened by super villains, etc. If you RSVP “yes” then can’t make it due to circumstances beyond your control, the friends hosting the party will understand, because we’ve all had our plans wrecked from time to time by events beyond our control. But, you know, you need to make those plans!

Remember: “Maybes” are utterly useless to the person throwing the party. Even if you know the party will be catered so they’re not buying, prepping, and cooking the food themselves, they have to put in an order for food for a certain number of people well ahead of time. If they have to guess because of non-responders and “maybe”s, then you’ve either caused them to waste food and money by getting too much, or are responsible for wrecking the party because there won’t be enough food. (If you didn’t RSVP or RSVP’d late, you don’t get to bitch about a party being lame because they ran out of food.)

Most people are so scheduled — or over-scheduled — that they know if a time is free at least a week in advance, maybe more. There is no legitimate excuse for not RSVPing, or waiting until it’s too late to RSVP.

So what do you do if you’re throwing a party and people don’t RSVP? You can beg and whine for RSVPs. You can do like the friend of mine who stopped inviting people who wouldn’t RSVP. You can set a deadline for RSVPs and send reminders. You can’t yell at them, but you can share this on social networks and hope they get the hint. After all you aren’t calling them on their gaffe…I am! 😉

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

These cookies are rapidly becoming a Christmas favorite. Click the pic for recipe!

Fancy Dip bowl for fancy dip!

The Labor Day weekend represents the last hurrah of summer in the U.S. Though weather in the sunbelt states allows cookouts and outdoor parties most of the year, this is the last long weekend until Thanksgiving. So, if you’re planning a party, cookout, or picnic, this is a little something “extra” to dress up the chips-n-dip (or veggies and dip). I don’t recall where I first picked up this trick, but it has come in handy in recent years since I’ve perfected my Frankenslaw recipe, which uses some red cabbage. Here’s a cool way to use the rest of it!

Homemade artichoke dip, in red cabbage bowl.

Homemade artichoke dip, in red cabbage bowl.

I’m not going to lie to you: carving out the center of raw red cabbage takes more time and effort than you would think. But it looks so pretty! I’ve noticed that red cabbage is usually slightly smaller then green cabbage. If you want to use the red cabbage as one of the ingredients in my Frankenslaw and use it as a bowl for dip, pick one of the bigger of the reds. Slice off the top and chisel out the center: it doesn’t matter if it’s messy since it will be used in the slaw (which is really colorful and tasty). Any dip will do. If you want to make what’s in the picture, here’s my artichoke dip recipe. In this case I used smaller artichoke pieces and stirred them in for a chunkier dip than if I had used the blender.

Occasionally I get a cabbage with a very lopsided base and have to neaten up the bottom to make it sit more or less flat and not be tippy. Sit the cabbage on your serving dish and see how it settles and if anything needs to be done to the bottom before you fill it with dip! 🙂

Check out these tags for recipes: Cookouts, Picnics, Parties and Snacks!

Hair Of The Dog Brunch

I sometimes have friends over for brunch on New Year’s Day. I call it a “hair of the dog” brunch because in addition to having hot tea or coffee on offer I also make mimosas in champagne flutes with orange juice and leftover champagne. It’s a great way to finish off any open bottles from the night before or any bottles liberated from parties the night before. 😉

My current favorite sparkling wine for Mimosas is Barefoot’s Moscato Spumante. It’s sweet citrusy flavor make it the best OJ enhancer I’ve found so far.

The idea behind the brunch is to make it fast and easy, and invite just a few people who live close. Nobody wants to get up and drive across town just for breakfast if they’ve only had a few hours sleep. Likewise the cook may not be particularly sharp on New Year’s morning so what little prep there is should be done the day (or night) before.

The menu options from my past Hair of the Dog brunches go something like this:

Muffins or scones, baked the day before (or Every Day Muffins which can be popped into the oven at any time). Hot tea, cinnamon stick coffee, orange juice and sparkling wine for mimosas, Dog Party Eggs which are used for DIY taquitos with cheese and salsa. Friends often show up bearing baked goods, so between my various baked things and their various baked things, the only staple from year to year are the Dog Party Eggs and beverages.

On New Year’s Eve grate the cheese for the taquitos, saute the pepper, and bake any baked goods you want. (Or alternately, hit a bakery, keeping in mind that businesses close early on New Year’s Eve.)

Dog Party Eggs

6 eggs
1 chili pepper (poblano or Anaheim, depending on your preference and what’s available)
Chili oil (optional), otherwise cooking oil of your choice
1/2 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
Cheddar cheese
Flour tortillas
Your favorite salsa or hot sauce

These taquitos are sort of a Mexican-Indian fusion. I didn’t set out to create a fusion food; I just wanted something that didn’t look nasty after I converted it to be a vegetarian dish. The original recipe came in the cookbook which came with my first microwave, back in the late ’70s. I made it a few times on the weekend. It was not vegetarian. It had bacon and cream of chicken soup in it. Leaving out the bacon was no problem, but the obvious (to me) choice of cream of mushroom soup as a substitute for chicken was a bit problematic. It tasted fine, but it turned the eggs gray. 😦 (I’ve often thought of trying cream of potato soup, but without fail whenever I go to the store — any store– they’re out of cream of potato soup! There’s always a slot for it, but it’s never there!) Then one day I had an ephiphany; tumeric would restore the yellow to the eggs! Granted, it’s a mustard-yellow, but it looks good amd tastes great with the other spicy ingredients.

Saute the chile in cooking oil. For extra flavor try a flavored cooking oil, such as chili oil. Cool somewhat. Mix 1/2 can cream of mushroom soup, 6 eggs, and 1/2 tsp tumeric in a 1 1/2 qt casserole. Beat well with a fork until homogenous and well blended. Fold in the sauted chili pepper. Microwave 2.5 minutes. Stir, then microwave 2.5 minutes more. Stir. If the mixture isn’t done microwave for a bit longer, but be careful not to overcook the eggs! Your microwave may vary from mine so adjust cooking times accordingly. If you would like to double the recipe I’d recommend you mix up two batches and put the second one in after you’ve heated the tortillas. (I tried doubling the recipe and cooking in a bigger dish longer and wasn’t happy with the result.)

While the eggs are cooking, grate the cheese — if you didn’t do it the day before —and put a stack of flour tortillas between 2 plates (one upside down over the other). Pop these into the microwave for about 30 seconds to warm them up.

Muffins, scones, coffee, hot tea, orange juice and mimosas can be on the table and distributed while the eggs cook. The taquitos are best with the egg dish hot and fresh from the microwave.

Games Night

Recently, we hosted a games night.  Or, should I say, a game night because Diplomacy is the only game you can play in the span of an evening.  As the rules suggest, set aside four hours for a game.  We, however, were playing for the first time and had to read the rules and play the sample game.  Fun evening, but glad we had sustenance along the way.

As you plan, plot, negotiate, and strategise (click for more Diplomacy information) the best food to have on hand is dips, breads, and spreads.  Hot meals would be far too dangerous!

A portion of our spread looked like this:

games night

We served a variety of multigrain, naan, pita, and sourdough breads; an assortment of crackers; cold vegetables for dipping, as well as broiled eggplant; and various dips and spreads.

Below are recipes for some of the food served that evening.  As usual, I am unable to give exact measurements as Boyfriend glances at a recipe and then changes everything as he goes along.  Sigh.  I will do my best.

Tabooli:

We used quinoa instead of the traditional bulgur.  Cook a cup of quinoa for ten minutes, drain, and let cool. Add:

  • Salt
  • Lemon juice
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fresh parsley
  • Diced tomato (a real tomato, not a can of)
  • Green onion
  • Mint
  • Garlic

Toss it all together and let it sit in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours before serving.

Hummus:

You will need a food processor for this one.  Blend together a can of chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, fresh parsley, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt (we used our usual Herbamare), and anything else you can think of that will add to the flavour.  Add sparingly until the hummus tastes the way you like.

Curry Cashew Bean Cheese Spread:

This was a new one for me and it was delicious.  Once again, you will need a food processor.  Blend the cashews until they are a fine powder.  Add cooked white beans (a can will do), lemon juice, tahini, curry powder, and Herbamare until the mixture is spongy/creamy/pasty like cream cheese.

The best thing about dips, spreads, and breads is that you can still eat them the next day.  We made a lovely little indoor lunch picnic out of our leftovers.  🙂