The Leaving Party {the eats}

There is a lot of pressure being a food blogger when you’re hosting a party. Aside from the usual logistics of cramming lots of people into a tiny urban apartment, there’s this: people expect the food to be out-of-this-world good. And rightly so, I mean I write about this stuff all the time, I should be able to deliver, yes?

Well, I didn’t want to disappoint, but let’s be real. The party was just a few days after we got back from Hong Kong and in the midst of a friend arriving to stay with us for the week, a blogger meet-up, meetings with the consulate, and organizing a move.

If I was going to be able to deliver, we had to keep it simple.

Delicious, but simple..

With that in mind, we decided to go with a seasonal taco bar, full of our favorite fall stuffings and heavy on the roasted veggies. I mean, who doesn’t like tacos?!

{If you have no interest in throwing a similar shin-dig, I give you permission to skip this next paragraph. It might be a bit, eh, boring.}

Logistics wise, the prep really couldn’t have been simpler. The day before the party, I prepped the mole seasoning and made the steak marinade, salsa, a batch of quinoa, the oreo truffles, and the cake. If you’re organizing a shin-dig these thing could easily be done more than a day in advance. That is just how it worked out best for us. On the day, I roasted the sweet potatoes, crisped the quinoa, and iced the cakes. I was going to let early guest help out with the skewers, but I ended up having a bit of extra time so I went ahead and did it. The Kiwi whizzed together the guacamole and prepped the cheeses. Shortly before folks arrived I whipped up the cider {recipe below}, and as they were arriving, the Kiwi put the steaks on so they’d be nice and hot.

The whole thing ended up being a breeze to throw together which was exactly what we needed. We needed to have time with our friends. We needed to have more time to focus on the reason we were there–letting all these fabulous people know how special they are to us and just how wonderful they have made our time here in Munich

And, if I do say so myself, it was a huge, huge hit. Every last bite was  gobbled, and I say that’s a mark of success.

Thank goodness.

Fall Taco Party

{I’m the worst at remembering to take photos at parties, especially my own, so I didn’t get a single picture of the whole spread. Schade. Picture a white tablecloth with craft paper runner, cutlery in mason jars, moroccan bowls, white china, these precious little place cards for the mains, and labels for the toppings scribbled in sharpie on the craft paper. It was beautiful while it lasted. All of these photos were taken at another time.}

for the starter
date, prosciutto and baby mozzarella skewers {kiwi+peach}

for the mains
mole roasted sweet potatoes and crispy quinoa {naturally ella via a house in the hills}
carne asada, for the meat lovers {kiwi+peach}
…with freshly pressed tortillas  and tortilla chips from the mexican grocery down the street.

Fall Taco Party from Kiwi and Peach

for the toppings
roasted tomato salsa {naturally ella}
guacamole {kiwi+peach}
spinach
sour cream
goat cheese, crumbled
feta, cubed
aged cheddar, shredded

for the sweets
oreo truffles {recipe from my friend Caitlin, remind me to tell you this story later…}
mini whiskey carrot cakes with cream cheese icing {the kitchn}

Mini Whiskey Carrot Cakes from Kiwi and Peach

for the drink
Augustiner beer {a Munich must}
Hot Caramel Apple Cider with dark spiced rum for spiking {recipe below}

Hot Caramel Apple Cider from Kiwi and Peach {recipe}

Hot Caramel Apple Cider

The Cider
2 liters apple juice
2 Tbsp mulling spices

The Caramel
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp cream {we use soy cream}
pinch of sea salt

Place a large pot on medium low heat and pour in the apple juice. Tie the mulling spices up in a bit of cheesecloth and drop it in the pot. Let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until its properly warm.

In a separate pot on medium heat, melt your butter. Whisk the brown sugar in and then add the cream and sea salt. Continue whisking constantly for about 5 minutes or until the sugar has completely melted and the caramel just begins to thicken.

Remove the mulling spices and whisk the caramel into the cider.

Serve as is, or spike it with some nice spiced rum if you’re feeling festive.

Advertisements

Quinoa Fall Skillet

I’m trying really hard to think of a way to start this post without the phrase “One of my favorite things about fall is…” I think it is a well established fact that, as a people, we tend to love fall.

So I’ll try this…

What really gets me jazzed about fall…

is all the produce that starts turning up at the market. There is suddenly an abundance of whole stalks of cute little brussels sprouts, gourds, squashes, and pumpkins. So. Many. Pumpkins. Now, I love pumpkin as much as the next girl {really, I do!}, but it isn’t the end all be all of amazing fall veg.

What about all of those other delicious, beta-carotene packed, orange veggies?

Sure there are carrots, but I don’t want to talk about that. {Unless they’re in cake, then I fully support their existence.}

I want to talk about sweet potatoes. These babies are easily my all-time favorite veggie in the history of ever. You can boil them, mash them, stick ’em in a stew. You can roast them and put them in a salad. You can cook them with with bacon and some other fall favorites like apples and brussels sprouts and get this skillet that will make you want to go jump in a pile of leaves and watch Hocus Pocus on repeat until your boyfriend demands that you turn the drivel off.

It’s fall, in your mouth, minus the pumpkin.

Quinoa Fall Skillet from Kiwi and Peach

Quinoa Fall Skillet from Kiwi and Peach

Quinoa Fall Skillet

{Serves two. Adapted, barely, from a heart healthy recipe Prevention magazine. I reduced the recipe for two, and completely eliminating the heart-healthy aspect of the recipe, I used my normal chicken stock, and subbed thick cut bacon for the low-fat and let’s face it, low-flavor, bacon. If we’re going to eat bacon, let’s eat the real stuff from a nice non-factory pig, why don’t we? My method is also a bit different too because of the quinoa.}

The Quinoa
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
dash of salt
1 Tbsp olive oil for crisping

The Chicken
1 chicken breast, cut into cubes
salt and pepper
dash of olive oil for cooking

The Skillet
2 ounces thick cut bacon, sliced
1/2 of a medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed
about 10 brussels sprouts, quartered
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cubed
1 tsp fresh thyme
big pinch of cinnamon
little pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup chicken stock

First things first, let’s get the quinoa on. Boil your jug and start heating a medium pot and a large pan, both on medium high heat.

Once the jug has boiled, add your water to the pot and salt it. Bring it to a boil and add the quinoa. Remember to rinse your quinoa with hot water before you cook it to get rid of that bitter powder that coats it! Set your timer for 20 minutes and let it do its thing.

Cube your chicken and season it withe salt and pepper. {I usually go ahead and slice the bacon now as well since I already have the meat cutting board out. Just sit it to the side until we’re ready for it.} Once the pan is really hot, add a dash of olive oil and pop the chicken in there. I usually sear it on one side, then flip and let it cook for 4–5 minutes or so. You want to cook it until it’s a nice golden color. When the chicken is finished transfer to a bowl and set it to the side. Return the pan to the heat.

While I’m waiting for the quinoa to finish up, I go ahead and start prepping the veggies. They all go in at about the same time, so it’s good to have them ready before you start on the skillet. Dice your onion. Peel and press your garlic. Peel and cube your sweet potato and apple. {1/2 – 3/4 inch cubes should do it.} After rinsing your brussels sprouts, cut the bottom off like you would a head of cabbage and quarter them. I discard the leaves that fall off when quartering them since they can be a bit bitter anyway.

By now the quinoa should be finished. Now, this step is completely optional. I, personally, like my quinoa crispy, so it’s worth the extra step to me. It’s completely up to you. Before getting started on the skillet, I add some olive oil to the now very hot pan and transfer the quinoa from the pot to the pan. Stir a bit, let it sit, then repeat a couple times. Basically what we’re doing is getting rid of the extra water and frying it up a tad bit. The quinoa will get a little darker and some bits might blacken. That’s when you know you’re done. Transfer it back to the pot and set it off the heat.

Now. The skillet.

Add your bacon, onion, and garlic to the hot pan and let them cook for a couple of minutes. Add the brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the sweet potatoes are starting to get tender go ahead and stir in the apple, thyme, cinnamon, and salt and let those flavors cook for a couple minutes. Add half of the chicken stock and let it cook until it is mostly evaporated. {This will soften up those potatoes!} Add the chicken to the skillet along with the rest of the stock and cook for a couple minutes longer until the it is all nice and hot.

Stir the quinoa in and serve it up. Enjoy!

Quinoa Fall Skillet from Kiwi and Peach

Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili

My soup repertoire is pretty limited. I’m not a fan of brothy soups and a while back, I sort of threw the baby out with the bath water. I just stopped making soup. Chili? Absolutely. But soup? Hardly ever.

Last year for our transition into an soup season, starting small I thought I’d try a new chili recipe I’d had my eye on for a while. Chili is a fall staple for us and I know we aren’t the only ones. In my completely biased opinion, I always thought my Mama’s chili was the best in the world. However, it’s magic comes in the form of a packet of seasoning that, apart from things like chili powder and cumin, also contains ingredients I can’t begin to pronounce and certainly don’t have in my kitchen.

Successfully making chili from scratch has been one of my proudest moments of this journey to eliminate processed foods.

And the fact that this delicious, healthy stew takes me back to curling up under a flannel blanket and watching football with my Daddy just like my Mama’s chili does makes it a winner. It’s a keeper y’all.

What about you? Is there a food that some of your favorite fall memories center around?

Quinoa Sweet Potato Chili from Kiwi and Peach

Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili

inspired by Milk Free Mom’s Vegan Chili
{I don’t make many changes because the recipe is a great one as is. Besides reducing the recipe to serve 2, I substituted chicken broth for the veggie broth because that’s what we usually have, and I used a batch of black beans I had soaked and cooked instead of using canned beans. The Kiwi prefers it served it with a dollop of sour cream and a grilled cheese sandwich. Definitely not dairy free or vegan at that point.}

olive oil
1/2 onion
2 cloves of garlic
3 oz can of tomato paste
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
pinch of salt and pepper
2 cups of broth {veggie, chicken, whatever you have}
1 1/2 cups black beans {canned or soaked and cooked}
1/2 of a sweet potato
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed

Start heating a large pot on medium heat.

Adding your ingredients to the pot goes pretty quickly, so I find its best to have everything prepped beforehand. Dice the onions, peel the potatoes and cut them into 1 inch-ish cubes, and go ahead and rinse the quinoa.

Once the pot is hot add just enough olive oil to cook the onions and toss in the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes or until they are soft and translucent then add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.

Add the tomato paste, herbs, and spices and mix well. Let it cook for a couple of minutes and then add the broth. Give it all a stir and deglaze the bottom of the pan, then add the beans and sweet potatoes. Cook all of this for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the quinoa and let the whole thing stew away for 20 minutes.

We enjoy ours with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt and maybe a grilled cheese if the Kiwi is good.

Quinoa Stir Fry

My first experience with quinoa was back in college in one of my food science labs. My teacher presented its as this wonder food that was a grain AND a complete protein {meaning that it contains all 9 essential amino acids which are usually only available in animal products}. We then proceeded to make one of the most delicious casseroles I’ve ever had with it, so naturally I was hooked.

But quinoa really is the wonder grain now. I can understand why its been a fave for vegans, but I’m loving that all us omnivores have jumped on the bandwagon too. In theory, and for a while there it did make it easier to get. A few weeks ago I posted an article about the economics of quinoa, and I understand that it’s not always an easy or cheap grain alternative. We are so lucky that a 500g bag is still just 5 euro here which, compared to a lot of places is a steal.

If quinoa is scarce in your area right now, then go ahead and try it with some brown rice. However, I would throw in a chicken breast or and extra egg just to get that extra protein!

Kiwi+Peach: Quinoa Stir Fry

Quinoa Stir Fry

{adapted for two from DamnDelicious}

The Quinoa
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 tsp salt

The Egg
olive oil
1 egg
1 green onion {optional}

The Veg
olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 small white onion {or 1/2 of a large one}
1 cup fresh mushrooms
2 cups of broccoli {or 1/2 a head}
1/2 of a zucchini
1 ear of corn, cooked

The Juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp. ginger

Start heating a medium sized pot and a large pan with deep sides on medium high heat. Go ahead an boil your jug. In a sieve, rinse your quinoa under hot water for a couple of minutes to rinse off the powdery saponin on the grain that has a really bitter taste. Very important step!

Once the jug has boiled, measure your water and add it to the pot along with the salt. Once it comes to a boil, add the quinoa and reduce the temperature to medium low. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is soft.

While the quinoa is cooking away, pour a bit of olive oil in the pan {just enough for the egg not to stick} and add the egg. Scramble and cook until done then put it in a bowl and set to the side. Return the pan to the heat. {If you have a green onion, slice it up and scramble it in with the egg.}

Now get to chopping. This is all about timing. Mince your garlic and onion first. Then get to work on the mushrooms, broccoli, and zucchini. Wash the mushrooms, remove their stems, and then slice ’em up. Cut the florets off the head of broccoli and give them a rinse. Wash your zucchini, slice into half inch-ish sized slices, and then quarter those slices. Cut the kernels of corn off the ear and break them up into individual kernels.

Add the olive oil to the hot pan and toss in the minced garlic and onions. Cook for about 3-4 minutes.

Toss in the mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, and corn and cook until the broccoli and zucchini are soft enough for your liking. {Usually 5-7 minutes for us.}

The quinoa should be finishing up by now, so use a fork to fluff it up a bit and remove it from the heat.

When your veggies are appropriately soft, add the quinoa to the pan. {I push all the veggies to the side, add a little bit more olive oil to the empty part of the pan and then add the quinoa a little at a time so that the quinoa can get a little bit crispy.} Go ahead and throw that scrambled egg back in there too and mix well.

Season with a little soy sauce and ginger and cook for a couple more minutes. Serve it up and enjoy. I always use a little sriracha sauce on mine for an extra little kick, but it’s just as delicious without.