Baby "Bugs" is here!

Sorry for the hiatus in posts!! Our son was born March 30th at 8:15pm after a very long and complicated labor.  He is beautiful and I am absolutely smitten!

You can read the birth story on Naturally Real Life, and I'll post the birthing affirmations I used during labor, and some sanity-saving recipes in the future.  Stay tuned!!

Pineapple Enchiladas

We usually have something Mexican-inspired every week at home... but I was getting tired of the same 5 or 6 ingredients all the time, even if they were in a taco salad one week and over nachos the next. This meal is a great way to mix up your Mexican and give it a tropical twist! 

Whatever kind of tortilla you decide to use, I'd recommend buying non-GMO.  This can also be made a vegan dish by using vegan sour cream and cheese substitutes. Nacho Mom's has a great vegan queso.  :)

If you have some omnivores at the table, you can easily add some shredded chicken to their enchiladas and cook them in a separate baking dish. 

Jamaican Veggie Soup

You'd think that living in Florida I would have more Jamaican food.  One day I'll have to go there and experience the cuisine myself.  Until then, I'll have to take the Internet's word for it.  I discovered this vegan soup when I wanted a warm meal that would use up some of my green veggies.  In addition to being super healthy, this soup's unusual combination of flavors is what really sets it apart.

* vegan
* freezes well

Oktoberfest in a slow cooker

About a year ago, my husband and I took an amazing trip out west to the Four Corners area.  During our stay in Ouray, Colorado we ate at a German restaurant, and it was the best German food I had ever had. Working as a freelancer, the time I can set aside for cooking (and blogging) has been a bit unpredictable.  As a solution, I've been trying to plan one or two slow cooker meals a week.

Not only does this hearty meal bring the flavors of Oktoberfest into your home; it cooks itself while you go about your business, and it contains fairly healthy and economical ingredients, with not a cream-of can in sight!

(Just ignore my work stuff in the background of that shot.)  :)

Try serving it with an apple and cheddar salad for a complete meal!

Cuban Picadillo

Here in Florida there's large Cuban population and many Cuban restaurants, especially in in the south of the state.  After a date night out at our favorite local Cuban place, I was inspired to attempt the cuisine at home.

Picadillo is one of my favorite Cuban meals because of it's unusual flavor combinations. While other variations can be found throughout Latin America, this Cuban picadillo features the flavors of green olives, raisins, cumin, and of course, sofrito.  Sofrito is a mixture of tomato sauce, garlic, onions and peppers, and it is traditionally used as a base in many Cuban and Latin American meals.  You can buy it prepared (frozen or canned) if you live in certain areas, or you can make it yourself at home.  I like to keep things low-sodium and additive-free as possible, so I made my own.  Plus, it's just more fun that way. :)  This is something that you can make in a large batch when the ingredients go on sale and keep in the freezer for future use.  Mojo marinade is a staple in Latin American cooking, and should be available in the ethnic section of your grocery store.

*Tip*  Make the sofrito ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours or over night. This will bring out the flavors more and mean less work for you when it's time to make dinner!

Serve with black beans and rice for a complete meal!

Sopa Castellana AKA Sopa de Ajo

     One of the things I love about Europe is how each region has its own culinary specialties. The same is true in the USA, but it seems accentuated there with so much history behind each region and their dishes. This soup is one of the main dishes from the Castilla-Leon region of Spain. I first discovered it in the dining hall of a 12th century castle in Seguinza, one of our stops when my husband and I visted the Spanish town he grew up in, near Madrid and explored the region.
Me: See this castle? That was  our hotel!
You: No way! That's awesome!
Me: I know, right!?!  :)

Me with my husband in Retiro Park in Madrid

Sopa Castellana, like many of my favorites, began as a peasant dish. The recipe calls for broth, eggs, ham (although I'm told the original was often meatless), and stale bread. Traditionally, it would be finished by baking an egg in the bottom of the bowl and then serving the soup on top, but I don't have oven safe bowls and I'm assuming the same may be true for many of you. :) At first I found the idea of using stale bread as a little odd, but this time I went for authenticity and I actually prefer it! My sister recently tried it and said it was "like breakfast soup." I agree!

* a note on the bread: buy a baguette from the deli and wait a few days. If you can almost use it as a door-knocker, it's ready! Regular sliced sandwich bread is usually so full of preservatives it will go moldy before it gets stale, anyhow. Once I had a package of burger buns sit in the pantry for months and they never showed a hint of age... *enter theme music from "The Twilight Zone"* 
No good. 

Turkish Manti AKA Tatar Böregi

This Turkish pasta dish features the flavors of red meat, garlic, paprika, mint, butter, and yogurt. Yummm ...

I first had this dish when my husband and I discovered our restaurant in our area that served Greek, Turkish, and Italian food. Sadly, it has since closed down.  :(

Our first time there they had manti as an appetizer and we instantly loved it!  Unfortunately, the next time we ate there, it had been marked off the menu - so I started making it at home.

While this recipe is obviously not going to be the "real-deal" (which would involve making the pasta yourself), it's certainly a less labor intensive option and pretty darn close!  There are several versions of this dish throughout Central Asia.  This is an adaptation of the Turkish.