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Kale Salad

When we were in Hollywood this weekend, we ate at a fancy restaurant before watching “Wicked.”  The rest of my meal was so-so, but I had a kale salad that was divine! I’ve recently fallen in love with kale, putting it in everything from soups to burritos, to roasting it into chips as a salty afternoon snack to munch on. I was happy to discover that it tastes amazing raw as well – the secret is to toss it thoroughly with a salad dressing that contains lemon juice, and then let it sit for about 15 minutes, which will soften it and cut the bitterness (according to a recipe I saw online). I adapted this recipe from this video and tried to replicate the restaurant salad I had had as much as possible. David really liked it as well and thought it would taste great with dried cranberries. Carmelized nuts would also be a fabulous addition. I think I love this even more than romaine, baby lettuce or spinach! The best part – we each got a huge helping of a staggeringly healthy raw superfood!

Kale Salad

3-4 TBSP Olive Oil

scant 1/4 cup white wine vinegar

juice of 1/2 of a lemon

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar or honey

Kale (I use Trader Joe’s bagged kale – it’s already chopped and washed)

1/2 of a shallot, thinly sliced, or a thinly sliced yellow onion

goat cheese, crumbled

pita chips, crushed

 

Whisk together the ingredients up to the kale until the salt and sugar are dissolved.  Place enough kale for each person in a separate bowl (it will shrink up a little bit as it steeps in the dressing) and toss with some of the salad dressing.  Using your hands, make sure each leaf is covered in salad dressing on both sides – kind of massaging the dressing into the kale.  Add more dressing if needed, but don’t drench it.  Let sit for about 15 minutes.  Before serving, add the shallot, crumbled goat cheese, and crumbled pita chips.  Enjoy!

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Berry Crisp

Delicious with fresh raspberries, blackberries picked by Doris in Oregon, and blueberries picked by her in Washington.  Crunchy, sweet, tart, gooey yumminess.  We had a friend over for dinner tonight and enjoyed this with vanilla ice cream as a dessert.  David loves this!

From Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook

3-5 cups berries

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup regular rolled oats

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Place berries in bottom of 8×8 baking dish.  Sprinkle with white sugar.

Combine remaining dry ingredients in a bowl.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle topping over fruit and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Delicious!

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These are yuuuuuuuuuuuuummy!

12 corn tortillas
2 large chicken breasts, shredded
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
3 cans diced green chiles
1 can cream of chicken
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1+ cup shredded cheese

Sautee onion, pepper, and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add cumin, salt, and pepper, stir together, and sautee for a few minutes. Add green chiles, allowing them to cook for a few moments. Add cream of chicken and stir to combine. Remove from heat and add sour cream, cilantro, and cheese.
Spread a small amount of filling mixture in bottom of 9×13 pan. Add chicken to filling and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Layer four corn tortillas on bottom of pan. Spread 1/3 of mixture over tortillas and repeat twice, ending with filling.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until bubbly.

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Depression Week Menu

In order to curb eating costs and to see how inexpensively one can eat, while still enjoying healthy, delicious, filling, and varied food, a fellow missionary and I decided to have a “Depression Week,” inspired by the fact that according to a quiz on Facebook, he should have lived during the Depression, due to his frugality and overcoming attitude :-). We had planned to carefully plan out meals and shop ahead, but this didn’t really happen as much as we had hoped. However, our experiment was very successful, and I think the flexibility was good, as we ended up having lots more leftovers than I had anticipated and therefore prepared fewer meals than I had planned.

The outcome of the week was surprising and encouraging. Altogether, I think we spent about 192 kunas on food for the week, which comes out to about $19 each. Not bad! We thoroughly enjoyed every meal, and weren’t hungry at all, despite the fact that we had meat in only two of the dishes. We decided later that the quiche could have used an accompaniment such as muffins or a salad, so next time I’ll probably round out that meal a little more. The oatmeal, which I’ve been eating almost every morning for the past year, was the roughest part of the week. I’m pretty sick of it by now, and warm cereal on warm mornings isn’t really all that appealing to me in the first place. David decided he’d rather just break down and eat real cereal this week, but I’m still eating oatmeal. Not sure what I’ll decide to do about that…

Here’s a breakdown of our menu and our prices for each meal (most of them don’t include every pantry item, but I think for the most part it’s pretty accurate) for two people. Also, a few of the ingredients were free from the village (some of the salad fixings, plums, etc.), but they would have been inexpensive to buy regardless because they’re in season right now. (I calculated them on kunas, of course. Right now the exchange rate is, unfortunately, about 4.9kn = 1 USD.

Breakfast: Oatmeal, 1 kn/day total

Monday: Lunch – leftover enchiladas from Sunday
Dinner – Spinach / Gouda Quiche (increased original recipe by 50% because my only
round pan is too large for just one recipe).
Snack – plum upside-down cake
Tuesday: Lunch – leftover quiche, watermelon
Snack – yogurt
Dinner – pizza with ham, onions, and peppers; salad
Wednesday: Lunch – baked potato with cheese, caramelized onion, sour cream
Snack – peaches
Dinner – Coconut Chicken Curry with rice
Thursday: Lunch – leftover quiche and baked potato
Dinner – ate at Warholics
Friday: Lunch – team lunch at the cafe (10kn each)
Dinner – leftover curry, pizza
Saturday: Breakfast – eggs, muffins
Lunch – pb&j, chips, peaches
Dinner – roast chicken, mashed potatoes, salad

Recipes *might* follow soon, if I get my act together… 🙂

What are your favorite budget meals that are filling and healthy?

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Fig Love

Fresh olive oil. Lusciously ripe Adriatic figs. Juicy Italian plums. Mouth-watering prsut (prosciutto).

These are just a few of the ingredients that are part of the cuisine here in Split, Croatia – a beautiful city along the Dalmatian/Adriatic Coast. The flavors that permeate the fare enjoyed here are influenced by our Mediterranean and European neighbors – eye-catching blood oranges from Sicily, garlic and olive oil on just about everything, golden-crusted bread bought daily from the local corner bakery. This is a land of simple, yet elegant flavors, hours spent sipping a tiny espresso while chatting with one’s neighbors, and the morning bustle of buying and selling at the farmer’s market.

Growing up in the land of supermarkets, fast food, and multiculturalism, I learned that one only needed to go grocery shopping once a week and that giant refrigerators and freezers can hold a preservative-laden stockpile of foods for weeks at a time. That there is always another option besides actually cooking food from scratch. That tortillas, naan bread, and stir-fry ingredients can be bought at any grocery store. That one can get any fruit or vegetable fresh, albeit often imported, at any time of year, regardless of where in the world it’s in season.

However, a new chapter in my life has begun.

This new adventure started with figs. I had never enjoyed a fig, besides those in the fillings of fig newtons, in my life. Indeed, the first time I even saw a fig was a few weeks before departing for Croatia. I was shopping at Trader Joe’s and saw some in a package, and thought, “Hmm…I’ve seen figs in gourmet recipes, but didn’t know they looked like that. I’ll have to try one sometime.” End of thought.

A few weeks later I was moving into my apartment in Split. I knew that I needed to get out to the market to pick up fruits and veg, and for some reason, I knew that I wanted figs. I knew that they sold dried figs all year long in the markets, and that there were fig trees everywhere in Split, but the actual fruit had evaded my notice in the past. So during my first trip to the market, I looked for fresh figs, and lo and behold, found some fresh figs! These were not the familiar dark brownish-purple figs that you may have seen in pictures or in the stores in the States, but rather the Adriatic variety. Light green and round. And delicious. I split one apart and nibbled away at the sweet, seedy flesh. Then I realized that the skin was soft – very soft. Hmm. So I bit into the flesh. Not just delicious – the whole fig was scrumptious.

What other culinary delights awaited me at the market, in cookbooks, at tiny restaurants tucked into hundred-year-old buildings in my neighborhood? I wondered. So began my culinary adventure. The challenge: to discover new ingredients, recipes, and techniques for cooking, ranging from the everyday to the exotic. To expand my cooking repertoire and my list of favorite foods. To cook interesting, nutritious foods from scratch. All on a missionary budget. Join me in my adventure!

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