Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Spanish Tortilla

For a high school graduation gift, my parents offered me a one month trip to Spain with a home-stay program. Want to know the first words out of my mouth?

 "What would I do there? Wouldn't I be bored?"

Needless to say, I was young, immature and scared. Luckily, I came around.
I decided I guess I could tolerate a trip to Spain.
(Mind you, to this day, my parents never let me forget that I was worried about being bored!)
Thank goodness I came around. That summer changed my life forever. I stayed with an amazing host family, grew to love the Spanish language and it only cemented my love of travel and adventure.
I ended up majoring in International Relations with a Spanish minor in college.

 Not only all of the above, but I returned to Spain again and again to see my Spanish family.
 I consider them my 2nd family and I love them dearly.
 They were kind, funny and did I mention my Spanish mom, Mari Carmen, was a fabulous cook?
My favorite memories from my time in Spain, center around food.
I would watch Mari Carmen cooking and I would take notes so I could re-create my favorite meals later.  Of course, nothing has ever been as good as hers, but this recipe is a pretty close copycat!

Here are a few photos of my various trips to Spain and my Spanish family. O how I miss them!

 Mi familia!

 My street.
 Drying some octopus for dinner. :)
 Visiting the monkeys in Gibraltar.
 Beautiful traditional Paella.
 Our fridge-always filled with fresh fish.
 
Making me fresh squeezed orange juice. I was so spoiled!
 Hanging around the dinner table, talking.

Dressed in traditional attire for the Spanish feria.

Thanks for taking a walk down memory lane with me! 
Hopefully I get to go again and visit beautiful Spain and mi familia espanola pronto!

---------

This recipe is great because I always have the ingredients on hand.
 Think of it as a Spanish quiche (with potatoes) or a potato omelette.
 In Spain, it is typically eaten for dinner but you could also have it for breakfast or lunch.



Spanish Tortilla
The Apron Gal

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 cup olive oil
salt 
pepper

1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil

7 eggs

Directions

Peel and slice potatoes. Place 1/4 cup olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the potatoes, turning and cooking until tender around 10-12 minutes. (To avoid burning, cook in 2 smaller batches). Once cooked, place on a paper towel lined plate.

In a separate skillet, cook onions and peppers with water and olive oil until tender. Allow to cool while the potatoes finish cooking.

Whisk together the eggs with a dash of salt and pepper. Pour whisked eggs over the potatoes, onions, and peppers in a large bowl and toss gently. Pour mixture back in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook mixture around 10 minutes or until sides have started to set. Loosen the sides with a spatula, then slide gently onto a plate. Turn the skillet upside down and place onto the uncooked side. Turn the skillet right-side-up, and remove the plate. Return the skillet to the stove, and continue cooking until the tortilla has set in the center, around 4 minutes. 

Serve warm or room temperature (the traditional Spanish way). 

Enjoy!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Belgian Waffles

We tried a couple of different recipes for our waffle party and this one was the favorite. They are light and fluffy and are great thick or thin, depending on the size of your waffle maker.

I still think even the best waffle recipes are made better by the best toppings: syrup, strawberries, and whipped cream. Get more toppings ideas from my Waffle Party.


 Even thin, these were delicious! For thicker waffles, use a a real Belgian waffle maker.

Belgian Waffles
recipe courtesy Allrecipes.com 

Ingredients
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm milk
3 egg yolks
2 3/4 cups warm milk
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 egg whites

Directions
  
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm milk. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of the warm milk and the melted butter. Stir in the yeast mixture, sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir in the remaining 2 1/2 cups milk alternately with the flour, ending with the flour. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks; fold into the batter. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. 

Preheat the waffle iron. Spray with nonstick and spoon about 1/2 cup (or as recommended by manufacturer) onto center of iron. Close the lid and bake until it stops steaming and the waffle is golden brown. Serve immediately or keep in a warm place. 

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to Throw a Waffle Party!

To mourn the moving away of some dear friends to the Netherlands, I decided to throw them a going away party. Since I don't know any Dutch food-I picked the next closest I could think of: Waffles! (Which they do have in Holland, they are just from Belgium originally).

As of late, I have been partial to parties where there is one main food that you can work the rest of the party around. In this case, I provided two different kinds of waffle batter, waffle irons, drinks and a few household toppings.I asked friends to bring fresh fruit, fresh whipped cream and the party was thrown together easily and the results? Delicious!

I also love that this could be a dessert party (as I did) or a breakfast party! And of course, if you want to make it heartier you could add a potato casserole, bacon or sausage and eggs. My guests loved just the waffles but it was also at night after dinner. Do what works for you! Get as creative as you want with batter too, you could do a chocolate chip waffle batter, a banana waffle batter or a chocolate waffle batter too. However, my husband did observe that the waffle batter is still a lot less important than the toppings, since you slather each waffle in toppings no matter the waffle flavor! So we chose to go simple and easy.


 The spread!

 Drinks...of course, milk and orange juice in pitchers would be much cuter but I was in a hurry!

 Toppings in small bowls to look cute
My personal waffle, I did a peanut butter section, 2 syrup sections and a fruit with whipped cream section. All were delicious!!
Make sure your waffles are made to order so they are fresh and hot. There is nothing worse than a soggy cold waffle! My husband (the cute guy above!) and I manned the waffle stations for about 25 minutes. If you don't want to man a station during your party, leave the batter next to a waffle iron with a notecard of instructions on how long and how much batter to place in the waffle maker. Instructions are key since each waffle iron has different depths, heat settings, and capacities. 

Most of the gang! We had a few couples leave before this picture so we ate a lot of waffles!

How to Throw a Waffle Party
The Apron Gal

Note: I would recommend 1 waffle per female guest and 2 waffles per male guest. Or rather 1.5 waffles per person. Make sure to factor this in when making your batter. Most recipes will need to be doubled to accommodate a larger group.

Main Items
Batch of homemade waffle mix (recipe to come!)
Drinks like milk, orange juice and water
Additional food (for a breakfast party) like eggs, bacon, potato casserole etc.  

Waffle irons (at least 2, the more the better!)

Large plates to accommodate a full waffle and a fork and knife to cut them

Toppings:
Fresh fruit like strawberries, bananas, blueberries or raspberries (everyone had some kind of fruit)
Homemade whipped cream or canned 
Powdered sugar
Peanut butter
Syrup
Maple syrup
Nutella (this was the most favorite topping after fruit)
Caramel sauce (probably the 2nd favorite after Nutella)
Hot fudge
Anything else you can think of!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Egg McMuffins

You may see me complain every so often via Facebook that I hate eating breakfast or I can't find anything to eat! I have never been a huge breakfast person whether at home or on the go so this has been an ongoing struggle for me. The few things I actually do like are portable, filling and homemade. Of course, fast food breakfasts also fall under the portable and filling category but I am trying to be healthier. Currently, I don't eat fast food so the delicious donuts, tacos, McGriddles, McMuffins, McAnythings are out of the picture (at least for now).

My breakfast tacos have been an awesome substitue for buying or avoiding breakfast! I make a batch, freeze them and they last me a few weeks. However, I have been craving something new for breakfast as of late!

Enter Egg McMuffins from home! Of course you could probably figure out how to make these on your own btu I am sharing my version. Again, I love these because you can personalize them as much as you want! They work with sausage, bacon or ham. You can do no meat, double meat, double egg-whatever your heart desires. I think picky kids and grown ups alike will eat something this cute.


I had bought these egg rings at one point for just this purpose. They are $4 or $5 and you can find them on Amazon or at Bed Bath and Beyond. You could also just make your eggs into the best circle you can-it by no means has to be perfect-I just love all kitchen gadgets :)

So on to the directions. Toast your english muffin and butter it. Make your eggs in a skillet sprayed with nonstick. Then add your meat and cheese. Assemble. Devour. Pretty easy right?

You could make these ahead of time and then wrap in foil and put them in the freezer. Remove from foil and reheat for around 30 seconds. Easy breakfast on the go!

Breakfast Egg McMuffins
The Apron Gal

Recipe for 1: Make as many at once as you would like!

Ingredients
1 English muffin
butter
1-2 eggs (I used 1 but for a thicker egg, use 2)
1 1/2 slices of ham (or bacon, or a sausage patty)
1 slice of cheddar cheese or your favorite cheese

Hot sauce or salsa, if desired

Directions

Toast your English muffin. Butter both sides.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Crack an egg into your egg molds or just into the skillet and try to shape it into a circle as much as you can. Flip once bottom side is cooked, around 1-2 minutes. Once the egg is cooked, remove from the pan. Heat your ham in the same skillet just to give some texture, then add the cheese until melted.

Assemble your muffin with the meat, egg, and cheese. Sprinkle with hot sauce if desired.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Austin Food Trucks

I couldn't wait to share the delicious food I have recently devoured from so many Austin food trucks. If you haven't jumped on the Food Truck Craze you should!

We did a little food truck "hop" one night with our friends.

First we went to Cazamance, an amazing African, specifically Senegalese food truck. Don't be scared by thinking African flavors would be outside of your comfort zone. They did a beautiful job of melding unfamiliar spices with comfort foods like these quesadillas and nachos! They were so unique but delicious. It was a very cool food experience! Not to mention this food truck was located at the back of a bar so it had cute picnic tables and even bean bag games. It was the perfect summer evening!

 It took quite awhile to get our food, but it was at this cute place so we didn't mind.

 Husband and friend, Matt, playing bean bags.
Cute little picnic type area.
 I don't remember everything on here: cheese, spiced tomatoes, squash, and brisket. 
Seriously the best nachos I have ever had.

Quesadillas with cheese, chicken and spinach with a chipotle yogurt dipping sauce. 
Again, delicious.

Then we went walking along Rainey Street in Austin until we found some other truck that lured us in. What caught my eye? This Spanish tapas truck, of course!
 (Have I mentioned I lived in Spain and have been back 3 times since?)


 Spanish meatballs: Albondigas. 
We also had a traditional Spanish Tortilla which was awesome, but it was too dark for photos.
I loved this truck but remember, this is legitimate Spanish food, NOT Mexican.
 Their menu had very traditional foods including pate, marinated olives, croquettes etc. 
All of which I love, but may seem unfamiliar to most!

We passed by this food truck, but didn't eat there since our parking meter was running out! 
Smelled like bacon though!


Then this weekend, we had an equally good experience at the food trucks on South Congress. 
First we had a chicken cone, a shrimp cone and a fry cone from Mighty Cone. 


 Fantastic! Seriously though, serve me something fried in a cone 
(very European too) and I will like it!
 Both the chicken and shrimp cones were out of this world. Our friends also got the fried avocado and loved those too (I am not the biggest avocado fan). Also, quick service and reasonably priced.
 Then we had some fish and chips from this awesome Cajun food truck. 
They had good food but took quite a long time to get the food.
 Fried oysters and crawfish as well. Our friend got this and liked it and I liked the crawfish!
 Our fish and chips. The fish was really flaky and tender but didn't have tons of flavor. 
I love any fries with seasoning so these were great in my book!
For dessert, I continued an evening of cones with a cone of chilled brownie with ice cream. 
Really good but really rich-perfect to split!

Needless to say, I love the Austin Food Trucks and we try to eat at them any chance we get!

Have you tried any awesome food trucks? Or are you not on the food truck bandwagon?

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