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Step-by-Step: The Ultimate Taco Pizza

I had become obsessed with this idea of an ultimate taco pizza recently, but I wanted something with a Mexican authenticity that hasn’t been attempted. I wanted to take the flavors of the region and apply it to a tantalizing dish. I made this happen in my own home and I’ll show you how you can do it too.

I first heard of the taco pizza when I was about 12 years old. I vividly remember it sounding so strange and bold and the trepidation I felt as I sat in the pizzeria waiting for it to arrive to our table. Tacos and pizza couldn’t possibly go together… so what did we just order? When there was finally a slice on my plate, I dissected the elements: lettuce, tomato, beef, cheddar cheese, and crushed Dorito’s. While my taste buds accepted this, something didn’t seem right. I felt betrayed; lied to. As an adult, I have never ordered a taco pizza.

There have been a number of pizza’s that have gone viral in the past year, like the pizza served in a box made of pizza or the $2000 squid ink pizza with the 24k gold leaf sprinkled on top, yet there was one that really caught my attention: Tony Baloney’s taco pizza. The motif was so simple, and thus brilliant. Just put some tacos on top of the pizza. This was the taco pizza I had been expecting since I was a child! However, I am not going to New Jersey for a slice.

There are three simple elements in play here: pizza, tacos, and guacamole.

We will infuse the pizza with the smokey heat of chipotle peppers and use a blend of mozzarella and oaxaca cheese. We will build a simple street vendor style taco and make guacamole from fresh avocados.

This is what you’ll need:

Pizza crust

  • Tortillas
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with chipotle peppers
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella
  • 1 wheel of oaxaca
  • 1 lb of steak, diced
  • 2 limes
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • Fresh cilantro
  • 4 avocados
  • Pineapple salsa

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I prefer to throw the steak, ¾ of the chopped onion, and juice of 1 lime together to marinate and then throw it all in the pan to cook.

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While it’s cooking, mash up your avocados and throw in the remaining chopped onion and squeeze the juice from the other lime for a simple, fresh guacamole.

Build the pizza using the tomato and chipotle pepper blend as the base and be generous with the cheese! Bake at 425 for about 8 minutes or until the cheese is nice and bubbly. Protip: use the broiler briefly to get that nice touch of brown on the cheese. Slice the pizza into… let’s say 4 to 8 piece, depending on how generous you’re feeling that day.

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When the meat is ready, scoop into the tortilla and sprinkle some cilantro on it.

Add as much guacamole and pineapple salsa as you prefer.

From here, just build a ring of tacos directly on the pizza until you can’t fit any more. On my pizza, I was able to fit about 12 tacos all the way around.

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Did you figure out how to eat this thing? Let me know how you tackled this glorious pizza!

5 Tropical Getaways for Active Adventures

Some of us travel for relaxation, others for food, but for many of us — travel is about finding active adventures. We want to hike mountains, explore ancient ruins, snorkel to new depths — anything to keep us moving and excited. If you’re a body constantly on the move, we have 5 tropical getaways to satisfy the most active adventurers.

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Nosara, Costa Rica – Surf, Paddle, Snorkel

Nosara (Playa Guiones), Costa Rica is a hidden gem in the surf community that is not quite as tourist driven as Tamarindo or Jaco beach. With over a dozen surf schools available, Nosara Beach rivals among the best surf beaches in Central America for both advanced and novice surfers. Here you will find protected forest full of wildlife, quiet beaches, and long stretches of shore break.  Among the multitude of outdoor activities offered Nosara is also a yoga meca.  Yoga retreats and practices are easy to find as the sounds of the jungle or ocean are only steps away no matter where you practice.

Belize – Best of Land and Sea

Belize will keep you moving throughout your trip with plentiful activities on both land and sea. Along its coast you will find snorkeling and scuba-diving among multiple areas including Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest island, Laughing Bird Caye, one of Belize’s National Parks, and World renowned diving at The Great Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef. Travelers can also rent kayaks along its beaches or partake in a cave kayaking tour in Belize City.

Back on land, strap on a helmet and tour Actun Tunichil Muknal “Cave of the Stone Sepulcher” where you will hike, climb, and swim your way through these pristine caves. There are over a thousand pieces of pottery, skeletons, and ancient artifacts left just as they were discovered to maintain its unique presence in time. Belize is also home to the Xunantunich Temple and Lamanai Mayan Temple where you can hike ancient temple ruins and gaze at the wonderment of the Mayan Era. Take a tour or hike on your own, this experience is an unforgettable sight.

Machu Picchu, Peru – The Advanced Explorer

Machu Picchu is a historian’s dream. Most travelers are so consumed with the intricate details left from the Incan culture that they leave wanting more. Tours are available to grasp the most of this ancient civilization. You can customize trips to Machu Picchu to last a day with use of buses and tour guides, or a week by camping the original Inca Trail through mountains and jungle terrain of Peru. To see the lost civilization that remains is worth the time and hike no matter your skill level.

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Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – The Wildlife Adventurer

The place where Darwin developed his theory of evolution is a must see in South America for the wildlife adventurers. In the Galapagos Islands will you will find a wide range of wildlife. Due to the lack of predators in the area, you can find blue footed boobies, albatross, and even penguins roaming around the Islands. Hike craters and volcanoes, kayak, surf, or snorkel around Santa Cruz where you will be sure to see sea turtles, sea lions, and exotic fish. Dive around the Darwin Islands to see even more amazing creatures like the hammerhead shark and the whale shark. Guides are available or rentals are located all around the Island. If you are feeling extremely adventurous you will find packages that offer trips from Machu Picchu to the Galapagos island, a great way to kill two birds with one stone!

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Maldives – Paddle your heart out

One of the most beautiful places to stand up paddle board is along the Maldives of South Asia. Known for having beautiful reefs home to exotic wildlife, it is comprised of over 1,000 islands with beautiful lagoons and beaches along its coasts. The Maldives are famous for  vibrant teal-blue color waters with clarity that allows you to view wildlife up to thirty feet deep. Rentals for a full day is only thirty dollars and will get you a total body workout.  Not only known for paddle boarding you can take part in other fitness experiences such as pilates and yoga classes or retreats, clear bottom kayaking, scuba, and snorkeling adventures, and the pristine white sand beaches host rentals for jet-skiing, water skiing, and parasailing.

 

7 Travel Apps to Help You Eat Like a Local

Discovering local food treasures in a new country rates as one of the best travel experiences you can have. Yet sometimes, no matter how much research you do, or how clever you think you are at spotting an authentic local eatery, falling victim to a touristy-food-trap happens. Want to know how to eat like a local when traveling the world? Then tuck these nifty apps into your smartphone and take your taste buds on a delectable (and trap-free!) culinary adventure.

  1. Meal Sharing Apps

Committed foodies have been rejoicing ever since virtual peer-to-peer agencies started to pop up on every corner of the globe. With these kinds of unique culinary experiences, you can hook up with a like-minded local who’ll prepare you an authentic local meal in his or her home. Think of it as a private dinner invitation where you pay a modest fee and, in return, you are guaranteed a local feast you’d be hard pressed to enjoy in a restaurant.

There are a ton of meal-sharing apps out there and although most are country or region specific, some are spreading their wings. The most comprehensive of these is EatWith, which has set up services in about 150 countries and now boasts over 500 chefs which have all been vetted. Check out TravelingSpoon to eat-off-the-beaten-path in Southeast Asia and Japan, with hosts offering home cooked meals as well as cooking classes and food tours. Download Cookapp if you’re headed to Argentina (now also includes a few cities in the US) and definitely use Home Food when visiting Italy. The brainchild of an Italian professor keen to help nurture traditional regional cuisine, Home Food encourages the preparation (and enjoyment!) of traditional dishes, the way nonna used to make.

  1. Colunching

A fantastic meet-up service that’s ideal for solo travelers, Colunching is set up in 20 countries worldwide, and lets members organize an informal group dining experience in authentic local eateries. A great way to make new friends and feast like a local when traveling, Colunching lets you tag along and even initiate a group meal out when traveling.

  1. LocalEats

An impressive directory of the best local restaurants on your phone for less than a dollar? Now that’s what we call a fantastic travel app! LocalEats prides itself on recommending only personally vetted independent restaurants that are a world away from your run-of-the-mill chain eateries. From delicious food stands to fine-dining establishments, LocalEats offers every dining experience imaginable all over the US and in over 50 cities abroad, sourcing info from local food bloggers, guides, travel writers, and restaurant critics. The handy GPS feature allows the app to notify you when an authentic dining experience is just around the corner.

  1. Field Trip

Keen to learn fun facts of your chosen destination while enjoying an authentic meal? Then Field Trip is for you. This handy app is a treasure trove of recommendations, from what to see and do, to where you can enjoy your next scrumptious local meal. The app bases its recommendations on your GPS location and sources its info from hidden-secret sites like Atlas Obscura, Zagat, EatOut and Spotted by Locals. You can set up your interest to only include eateries and the app will ping you when something utterly delicious pops up near you. Field Trip was launched by Google in 2013 and has now extended to operate in over 80 countries worldwide.

  1. Vayable

Vayable brings together a host of unique travel experiences and the most popular, by far, are its food-themed tours. From pizza-crawls in Rome to winery tours in Austria and cooking classes in Slovenia, Vayable connects you with local guides running personalized food tours and experiences, all over the world.

  1. Foodict

While Google Translate may come in handy when perusing menus in restaurants abroad, Foodict Gourmet Food Dictionary goes a lot further and includes thousands of food-specific translations of dishes and what they’re all about. The great thing about Foodict is that you can download the content and use it offline no matter where you are.

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  1. Foodspotting

What so many apps and sites offering recommendations for the best restaurants, it’s refreshing to find a service that hones in on specific dishes and where to find the best in town. With Foodspotting, you get personal recommendations, descriptions, and even photos of amazing dishes local foodies enjoy. Time Magazine has rated this one of the 50 best apps to download, and we couldn’t agree more. Foodspotting lets you see the best-rated dish in specific restaurants or entice you to travel far and wide to satisfy a unique craving. Currently, the app works extensively in the US, as well as several destinations in Europe and Asia.

The World’s Most Unique Coffee Experiences

To any coffee obsessed traveler, there’s nothing more rewarding than sitting at a local café — in some far-flung corner of the globe — and enjoying a cup of coffee whilst people watching. There are some coffee experiences, all over the world, that are bona fide travel highlights in their own right. Keen to take your taste buds along for an unforgettable ride? Then you’d be well advised to add the following to your must-drink list.

From the smooth taste of an Italian ice cream coffee to the long and laborious Ethiopian coffee ceremony and some seriously questionable drops in Vietnam, Indonesia and Senegal, the world’s most unique coffee experiences are guaranteed to make you, and your taste buds, stand up to attention.

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Affogato, Italy

Italy is one of those countries where it’s literally impossible to have a bad coffee. You can order the wrong coffee, mind you (ordering a cappuccino after 11am is a cultural faux-pas bar none) but never a bad one. Long considered the world’s original and best coffee mecca, Italy boasts an extensive list of coffee options, including the ubiquitous short black (espresso), with a dash of liquor (caffé corretto) or with a splash of hot milk (macchiato). Our favorite coffee of all, however, would have to be the affogato, which is a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of vanilla gelato. On a hot summer’s day, and after spending hours on end wandering among millennia-old ruins, a sublimely creamy affogato is like a drink sent from the heavens.

Ethiopian

In Ethiopia, drinking coffee it isn’t something you do in an absentminded hurry. This gorgeous African country — the birthplace of coffee —  may indeed boast the most elaborate coffee ceremony in the world. Recognized as an intangible treasure of the local culture, the renowned Ethiopian coffee ceremony is a very social event, one that requires an audience and a lot of patience. The event can take hours from beginning to end and is preceded by a young woman dressed in traditional costume, who’ll wash the raw green coffee beans and roast them in a pan over an open fire, right in front of you. Once blackened, the beans are crushed by hand using a mortar and pestle, and the powder boiled with water in a heavy-based clay pot called a jebena. The resulting liquid is passed through a sieve several times before being finally served to expecting guests. Coffee is poured in small intricately hand-painted cups, and each participant is expected to drink three cups. Interestingly enough, coffee in Ethiopia is usually served alongside crunchy popcorn.

 

Cà Phê Trứng – Vietnam

Firmly in the ‘What the…?’ category of unique coffee experiences, the Vietnamese egg-coffee rates as one of the most unusual blends you could try in all of Southeast Asia. Cà Phê Trứng is a traditional coffee prepared with condensed milk, sugar, and beaten egg yolks, and although this may sound odd at first, you’ll be surprised just how deliciously smooth and rich the taste really is.

In the preparation of this coffee, the egg yolks are beaten vigorously with the condensed milk and sugar, creating a fluffy cream that’s not unlike custard. The cream is then dolloped in a glass and a shot of unsweetened coffee poured over it. Due to the density of the cream, the coffee tends to settle at the bottom, so every sip delivers a mouthful of silky cream mixed with strong coffee. As an after-meal drink, Cà Phê Trứng is simply superb, especially if you’re craving a sweet treat. Cà Phê Trứng was invented in Hanoi in the 1940s and although this variant is nowadays found all over Vietnam, it is still best enjoyed in the country’s capital where you’ll find quite a number of dedicated egg-coffee shops.

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Mazagran – Portugal

Originally from northern Africa, Mazagran is a cold coffee and lemon drink that seems to be taking over most of Western Europe. Legend has it that members of the French Foreign Legion stationed at the Mazagran Fortress in Algeria in the 1840s brought home an impromptu coffee concoction they created, using lemon juice, sugar, ice cubes and rum. Not long after, a few Parisian cafés started serving the refreshingly unique beverage, minus the alcohol. Fast forward a century and a half and it’s next door, in Portugal, where you’ll find Mazagran served and marketed as an iced coffee lemonade, sometimes with the addition of sparkling iced water for added bubbles.

 

Café Touba – Senegal

Need a serious coffee hit to wake up in the morning? Then a shot of Senegalese café touba may be just the morning drink you need. Prepared with a generous serving of freshly ground Guinea black pepper, which is roasted alongside the coffee beans, café touba is swiftly becoming the drink of choice throughout all of Western Africa. It’s become  so popular that Nestle reacted to a drastic decrease in the amount of Nescafe sold there by creating and marketing a ‘spiced coffee’ instant blend in the region.

To prepare a café touba, the coffee beans are roasted alongside a specific type of African black pepper (called djar). The powder mix is then boiled, sweetened, and filtered. In Dakar, you’ll come across a multitude of touba stands and although we urge you to try a cup of the intense, sweet and spicy brew, we also urge you to have a bottle of water at the ready. That first sip can be quite breathtaking! Said to have wonderful medicinal properties, touba is part and parcel of Senegalese culture nowadays and you just can’t visit without trying it at least once.

Kopi Luwak – Indonesia

Widely reputed to be the most expensive (and questionable) coffee in the world, kopi Luwak is made using coffee beans which have been eaten, digested and secreted by Asian civet cats, known as Luwaks in Indonesia.

The production of the world-renowned Luwak coffee started in Indonesia in the colonial 1800s when local Indonesians were forbidden from consuming the coffee beans they farmed because all had to be exported to Europe. In their coffee-withdrawal desperation (OK, we all get that!) local farmers resorted to collecting partially-digested coffee seeds which had been eaten and secreted by civets. Soon enough, the Dutch farmers came to taste and enjoy this special brew and the rest, as they say, is coffee history.

Civets love the pulpy flesh inside coffee beans and the seeds pass through their digestive system untouched. Proponents say the digestion process adds a unique taste to the coffee, yet critics say any roasting would surely rid the seeds of that. Instead, it is claimed that the smooth taste of a good cup of Luwak coffee is simply due to the civet’s propensity for only picking the best and juiciest coffee berries in the first place. In Asia, and indeed the rest of the world, Luwak coffee has a dubious reputation. The novelty factor alone would certainly make it worth a try, yet nowadays unscrupulous farming practices in the region – which see civets kept in deplorable caging conditions and force-fed coffee beans – make it difficult to pinpoint an authentic coffee made from beans collected in the wild. Still, as far as crazy coffee experiences go, a cup made from beans pooped out by a wild cat rates right up there among the most unique coffee experiences in the world.  

5 Tropics-Inspired Breakfast Recipes

Breakfast doesn’t have to equal boring. Switch out the toast and try these 5 delicious tropical breakfast recipes to jump-start your day. These delightful breakfast dishes are uncommonly tasty; and as a bonus, they are incredibly healthy too!

 

Breakfast Chilaquiles – Mexico

When thinking of Mexican food and breakfast, you may have visions of a yummy breakfast burrito. While breakfast burritos are delicious, and a favorite of many, the dish was actually created in the United States. There are endless options of tasty breakfast recipes from Mexico, but a time-honored favorite are breakfast chilaquiles.

Breakfast Chilaquiles
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon oil of your choice (vegetable, olive, rapeseed etc.)
  • 4 (6 inch) corn or flour tortillas (torn into strips)
  • 1 diced small onion
  • ½ tomato - diced
  • 3 chili peppers - diced
  • 2 eggs
  • add salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, and fry the tortillas until lightly browned and crisp.
  2. Mix the onion, tomato, and serrano chile peppers into the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook and stir until onions are tender.
  3. Fry eggs to desired consistency (over easy, sunny-side up, etc). Place on top of tortillas and veggies.
 

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Enqulal (Enkulal) Tibs – Ethiopia

An omelette-like dish with a kick, these enqulal tibs are sall on cooking time and big on flavor. This is one of Ethiopa’s breakfast recipes that can be served traditionally (spicy) for a unique breakfast experience or toned down for those who prefer a more mild version.

Enqulal (Enkulal) Tibs
 
Ingredients
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 Chili pepper
  • 1 onion - diced
  • ½ of a tomato
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt
  • Ethiopian butter (niter kibbeh)
  • Berbere (optional: Berbere is a blend of spices commonly used in Ethiopian dishes. The seasoning can be ordered online, or at African markets, restaurants and specialty food stores.)
Instructions
  1. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a hot frying pan or griddle
  2. Add the onion to the hot oil and cook on medium/high heat
  3. Sprinkle a large pinch of salt onto the onion and stir
  4. Add the diced tomato, stir, cover and reduce heat to medium temp.
  5. Beat eggs with a whisk and add to frying pan - increase to high heat
  6. Add chili peppers and scramble to liking
  7. Serve hot with fresh sliced tomato
 

Gallo Pinto – Costa Rica

Gallo pinto is the national dish of Costa Rica and can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Traditionally gallo pinto that is served for breakfast includes the universal breakfast item – you guessed it –eggs! Although made with simple ingredients, gallo pinto is a breakfast dish from the tropics that is sure to bring warmth to your morning.

Gallo Pinto
 
Ingredients
  • 8 eggs - scrambled or over easy
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cooked black beans in ¾ cup reserved cooking liquid
  • ¼ cup Salsa Lizano
  • Link to a delicious Lizano recipe - http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-lizano-style-costa-rican-salsa-176299
  • 3 cups cooked rice, preferably, day-old and refrigerated
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Sauté chopped bell pepper and onions until peppers are soft and onions are translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
  2. Add black beans, reserved cooking liquid, and Salsa Lizano, stirring to combine.
  3. Simmer for 5 minutes, until slightly thickened and little bit of the liquid is evaporated.
  4. Gently stir in cooked rice and cook until heated through and most of the liquid is absorbed, but not dry, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Stir in chopped cilantro.
  6. Season to taste with additional Salsa Lizano (we added about a tablespoon extra).
 

Labouyi Bannann – Haiti

A healthy way to start your day is with labouyi banann which can be served either hot or cold. It is essentially bananna and plaintain porridge and it is as nutritious as it is delicious. This is a great breakfast dish to serve to a large family or group of guests as a little goes a long way in satisfying hunger.

Labouyi Bannann
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Green Plantain (Washed)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 Star Anise
  • ½ cup of Evaporated Milk
  • ½ cup of Coconut Milk
  • ½ tsp cinnamon Powder of 1 stick
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
Instructions
  1. Peel the skin of the plantain and cut into small 4-8 small pieces. It is ok to leave some of the skin for extra nutrients.
  2. In a blender, puree the plantain and 2 cups of water.
  3. In a 1 quart saucepan, add 1 cup of water, evaporated milk, coconut milk, cinnamon, star anise and bring to boil.
  4. Once the pot is boiling, add the plantain puree to the pot and bring to a boil while stirring continuously for 5 min. The porridge will thicken slightly.
  5. Add the salt, sugar, vanilla and keep stirring for 10 min.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and keep stirring for another 10 min while tasting porridge to ensure the plantain is thoroughly cooked. The porridge is ready when the texture is creamy.
  7. Serve warm with some Haitian Bread.

Egg Paratha – India

This dish lives a double life. It is known as a common street food in India, but is recognized equally as a breakfast must-eat. Egg paratha has all the qualities of an ideal breakfast meal: delicious, nutritious, fast and easy, but it packs in enough substance and flavor to be eaten any time of day.

Egg Paratha
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup of wheat flour/atta
  • Warm water as needed
  • Oil as needed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 green chilli chopped (optional)
  • Large pinch of pepper powder
  • Tumeric as needed
  • salt to taste
  • add a few coriander leaves finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. of finely chopped capsicum or carrot
Instructions
  1. Knead wheat flour with just enough warm water. Add a few drops of oil and knead again to make a soft pliable dough. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle flour on clean preparation table, the roll and flatten paratha into a triangular shape.
  3. Heat a tawa or griddle on high heat. Place paratha in pan until golden brown spots appear on each side.
  4. Add Finely chopped vegetables, eggs, salt, pepper powder and tumeric to bowl. Beat the mixture until frothy.
  5. Heat tawa or griddle with oil on high. Pour the egg mixture and cook on a medium flame.
  6. When the egg is almost cooked, but still runny on top, place paratha on top and press gently.
  7. Flip and fry the paratha and egg.
  8. Serve egg paratha with chutney or vegetable salad.

Step-by-Step Guide to the Perfect Crockpot Red Curry

I love curry in all its glorious forms: from India to Japan. That being said, there’s something truly special about its Thai red curry incarnation that utilizes coconut milk, herbs, and aromatic leaves that makes such a great impression on my taste buds.

Traditionally, ingredients were chosen based on regional and seasonal availability like pork, chicken, fish, and shellfish and sometimes frogs, snakes, snails and wild boar. Some of the commonly used vegetables are eggplant, squash, and pumpkin. I share this because I believe it’s important to understand that anything is possible in cooking; that you have to experiment and find what you love to eat.

Naturally, I turn to my crockpot because slow cooking dishes like these brings out the best experience.

Follow this step-by-step guide and enjoy this non-traditional but awesomely delicious Thai red curry and spoiler alert: it’s even better the day after!

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This is all you’ll need:

1 ½ pounds of small potatoes

1 yellow onion

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

1 can of full fat coconut milk

1 cup vegetable stock

¼ cup peanut butter

2 tbsp red curry paste

3 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 tsp lemongrass

½ tsp ground ginger

1 lime

Freshly chopped cilantro

 

First, chop your onion.

Then chop up your potatoes into perfect bite sized pieces.

Mix the potatoes, onion, coconut milk, vegetable stock, peanut butter, curry paste, fish sauce, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger in the crock pot on low for 2 and ½ hours. A note about fish sauce: it smells awful but will make your curry taste amazing.

While that simmers, cut up both the green and red peppers and add them for 30 minutes. You want them to retain some of the texture.

When it’s finished, squeeze all the lime juice you can into that crock pot and garnish with some freshly chopped cilantro.

This red curry goes great with rice or noodles, but I wouldn’t hold it against you if you just jumped in with a spoon.

Oh, you noticed there’s no meat? I made this for my mother, who happens to be a vegetarian. If you like meat, all you have to do is chop up 1 lb of your preferred animal protein and throw it in the crock pot at the beginning and follow this exact recipe.

Cooking on the Trail: Tips from a Veteran Backpacker

Planning to backpack the world or hitting the road in your camper? There are a few things you should know about cooking good meals while camping. 

With a little time and a lot of imagination, you can create some truly amazing meals while camping. Combine a few basic dry ingredients with fresh produce you can buy on the road, and you can create a surprising array of tasty epicurean treats. Because cans of baked beans are fine occasionally, but your taste buds will demand variety when you’re out exploring the world.

I’ll give you a couple of camping cooking tips which I’ve learned along the way. For some easy-on-the-trail recipes, see my post with camping recipes.

Dehydrated meals have their time and place – There’s a very good reason dehydrated meals are popular with backpackers, campers, and hikers. They weigh next to nothing, need only a two-minute soak in boiling water to cook and are relatively filling. If you’re off on a multi-day hike in remote wilderness, dehydrated meals can be a (literal) lifesaver. However, unless you are that desperate for food and out in the wilderness on foot for many days on end, then forget dehydrated meals. There are plenty of healthier camping recipe options out there, which only require a few extra minutes to prepare.

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Keep it simple. 

My daily staple camper recipe includes one vegetable, be it an aubergine, a zucchini or a bunch of fresh spinach, one protein source (fresh meat, one piece of fish or a can of lentils or tuna) and one carbohydrate, which is usually one potato, a serve of pasta, half a cup of rice or one bread roll.

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Go fresh as often as possible.

Shopping at wet markets for daily fresh ingredients is one of the things I love most about traveling the world. I discover weird and wonderful new produce, mingle with locals and ensure I load up on my daily dose of vitamins. Although you can carry a few days’ worth of fresh veggies, it is best if you can buy one a day, as it saves you space in your backpack and any squishing problems. When buying meat or fish, I prefer to buy them frozen in the morning (pack in 2 plastic bags) and by the time dinner comes around they’re perfectly defrosted and ready to be cooked.

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Spice up your life. 

My entire camping recipe repertoire would cease to exist without my extensive array of exotic spices. From Moroccan to Italian, Indian, Mexican and Chinese All Spice, my ‘mobile spice rack’ is my ultimate cooking savior and creator. There’s not a dish in the world that can’t be improved with garlic salt, dried onion flakes and one exotic spice of sorts. Rotate daily and you can seriously eat the same meal everyday (chicken, vegetable, and couscous, for example) and feel like you’re enjoying a varied and exotic culinary itinerary.

Love thy cheese. 

Tasty, filling and a great source of both calcium and protein, cheese has become a staple in my backpack over the last few years. This is especially true of stinky cheeses, which keep well outside of the fridge and actually get better as the days pass. A good sprinkle of pecorino cheese or chunk of gruyere in your dinner stew and your taste buds will be jumping for joy.

 

Ready to fire up the camp stove? Here are a few fantastic camping recipes to try next time you hit the road.

Delicious Camping & Backpacking Recipes

Planning to backpack the world or hitting the road in your camper? Here are a few staple backpacking recipes you’ll love to make when you’re out enjoying the wilderness.

Beef Stroganoff

There are a few one-pot wonder meals I make on a regular basis and this beef stroganoff is one of them. Double the mushrooms and skip the beef for a scrumptious and filling vegetarian camping recipe option. I prefer to use dehydrated mushrooms because they keep so well in my backpack and cook a full pot which feeds two of us. If traveling alone, make sure you always have an empty Tupperware container for leftovers. This stroganoff makes for a wicked next-day lunch on the run.

Beef Stroganoff
 
Ingredients
  • 200gms (1/2 lb.) beef strips
  • 1 cup dehydrated mushrooms
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 8 oz sour cream (1 tub)
  • 2 tbsp grated cheese
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 mushroom stock cube
  • 200gms (1/2 lb.) pasta spirals
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
Instructions
  1. Heat up the oil in your camping skillet and brown the onions and beef together, until onions have softened
  2. Add the mushrooms and fry for 2 minutes
  3. Add the water and stock cube and stir until cube has dissolved
  4. Bring the mix to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent sticking
  5. Add the pasta and cook for 7-8 minutes until it is al dente. Stir often to ensure that all noodles cook evenly
  6. Add the sour cream and simmer for an additional 2 minutes, stirring well. Salt and pepper to taste
  7. Turn your camp stove off and serve immediately!
 

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Smokey bacon & eggs

One of the best things about camping out in nature is waking up to a smokin’ hot serve of this scrumptious bacon and eggs. Make sure you have a pack of aluminum foil in your backpack – it’s a genius multitasking tool that acts as a pot lid, leftover container, and cooking pot – and your breakfast will cook splendidly over a roaring campfire.

Campfire Bacon & Eggs
 
Ingredients
  • Large square of aluminum foil
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 3 bacon rashers
  • Garlic Salt and Pepper
Instructions
  1. Lay out three rashers of bacon on a generous square of aluminum foil, bending the sides in to create a pocket
  2. Crack 2 eggs on top of the bacon
  3. Wrap up the foil pocket up at the top, around a long wooden stick
  4. Hold your parcel of yumminess over a campfire and cook for approximately 5 minutes. It really doesn’t take long for this to cook over an open flame as foil is an excellent conductor
  5. Devour on its own or in a bread roll
 

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Orange Blueberry Muffins

I came across this recipe on ApronStringsBlog a couple of years ago and although skeptical at first, thinking the muffins would turn out to be a hellish mess, they actually turned out stupendously well.

For those lazy camping days when a preparing a sweet treat over the campfire becomes the day’s main event, this camping recipe really hits the sweet spot.

Orange Blueberry Muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pack blueberry muffin mix
  • 6 oranges
  • 18 Aluminum foil squares
Instructions
  1. Prepare the muffin mix as per packet instructions
  2. Cut up the oranges, scooping out the flesh and preserving in a container for straining and drinking later on
  3. Fill one half of every orange with one tablespoon of muffin mix, top with half an empty orange
  4. Wrap each orange in three aluminum squares
  5. Place directly on campfire and cook for 10 minutes, turning them over and moving them every minute or so
  6. Remove from fire, unwrap carefully and savor them up with a spoon
 

Tortilla Pizza

Along with eggs, whole-wheat flour tortillas are a staple which I carry all the time. They take up little space and are about as versatile a food item as you will find. Filled with savory or sweet treats, the trusted tortilla wrap works great at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus, they make for ideal pizza bases! If there’s one camping recipe that’s guarantee to top off a brilliant camping day, then pizza would definitely be it.

Tortilla Pizza
 
Ingredients
  • 4 tortillas
  • 1 small can tomato puree
  • ½ cup water
  • Italian mixed herbs
  • Grated cheese
  • Your toppings of choice (shredded ham, black olives, salami, diced peppers etc)
  • Aluminum foil
Instructions
  1. Prepare your pizza sauce by adding ½ cup of water to the tomato puree in a bowl, and sprinkle a good dose of Italian herbs
  2. Cut the aluminum foil into squares about twice the size of the tortillas
  3. Place one tortilla in the center of a foil square, spread one tablespoon of pizza sauce and sprinkle with your favorite toppings, finishing off with some grated cheese
  4. Wrap the foil around the tortilla, ensuring the top of the foil does not touch the pizza toppings at all
  5. Place the parcel on the edge of the campfire and allow to cook for about 7-8 minutes
  6. Carefully remove from fire, unwrap…and devour!
 

 

 

The Empanada: A Twist on Fast Food

Skip the takeout, skip the drive-thru, with just a little bit of a prep (and some freezer space) you can have a satisfying fast food with exotic flavors — the empanada. Prep some of these empanadas (it’s easy, we’ll show you), freeze, and then reheat anytime you want a snack or meal that’s great tasting, great for you, but just as easy as pizza rolls.

 There’s probably not a country in the world that doesn’t boast a version of the empanada, a Latin American dough-pocket which can be baked or fried and comes filled with a kaleidoscope of savory or sweet ingredients. So ubiquitous is this delicious treat the world over that its origins are still ambiguous. Some claim it was a Galician specialty imported to Latin America by the Spanish, others firmly attest to it being an Arabic treat and a few believe the humble empanada is nothing more than a Latino version of the Indian samosa. Whatever the case may be, or may have been, the modern empanada is a bona fide part of South American culture and one of the most revered treats by all who travel through the continent. Argentina, Chile and Peru claim top honors for the ‘best of the best’ empanadas and you’d be wise to agree – depending on whichever country you find yourself in, naturally – lest you start a cultural confrontation. Rest assured that wars in South America have started from far less.

The great thing about empanadas is that they are easy to replicate back home, especially when you adopt a couple of shortcuts. Sealing them with a creative twist of the dough is an art form, something which South Americans take much pride in. At home, of course, you can simply curl the edges together or even use a dessert fork to squeeze the dough. The only thing that matters is that the empanadas are sealed well, so as to prevent a filling lava flow in your oven or frying pan.  

If you’ve traveled extensively through Latin America, you will no doubt have tried different variations of empanadas. To help you bring the flavors of your journey home, here we offer a variety of filling options for you to try.

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Empanada Dough

Empanada Dough
 
Ingredients
  • 500gm plain flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 150gms butter, chilled
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • Cold, filtered water
Instructions
  1. Combine the flour, baking powder and sea salt in a bowl
  2. Grate the butter and rub it into the flour mix using your hands, until mix resembles breadcrumbs
  3. Add enough cold water – a little at a time- until the dough comes together to form a smooth dough
  4. Wrap it in cling film and store in the fridge
  5. When ready to use, roll the dough on a floured surface and divide into 12-14 equal portions
  6. Thin each portion with rolling pin (but not too thin), and trim the edges to make even discs
  7. Place one tablespoon of your desired filling into the center of each disc, brush the edges with beaten egg and fold to close, pinching the edges to seal
 

Empanada Filling

As far as I’m concerned, there should be very few rules which pertain to empanada fillings. In South America, the argument over raisins (to include or not to include?) is a matter of extreme importance. In my mouth, however, it is not! Include what you have, what you love, or whatever is in your fridge or in season. When it comes to delectable empanadas…anything goes!

The following traditional beef empanada filling recipe is the ‘mother ship’ recipe, if you will. This is the most traditional version of the mouthwatering treat, from whence all other versions spawn. You will find these empanadas, baked rather than fried, served all over Argentina.

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Traditional Beef Empanadas

Traditional Beef Empanada
 
Ingredients
  • 250grm lean beef mince
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • Chopped black olives (only a few pieces to be used in each empanada)
  • Hard-boiled eggs cut into quarters (1 quarter per empanada)
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, paprika to desired taste
Instructions
  1. Brown the mince and set aside, draining the fat
  2. In a pan, brown the onions until translucent, add the spices and broth and cook for 2 minutes. Add the flour to thicken the sauce and cook on low heat for a further 3-4 minutes
  3. Allow mince mix to cool completely before using
  4. When ready to bake, spoon 1 tablespoon of beef mince mix in the center of each empanada discs, top with a quarter egg and black olive pieces
  5. Close and seal the empanadas, brush the top of each empanada with beaten egg and bake for 25-30 minutes if using real dough (20 mins for puff pastry), in an oven pre-heated to 375°F
 

Empanada Variations:

Chilean Empanadas: the delightful sweetness of Chilean empanadas comes from the addition of raisins, only 2 of which you should add right at the end, along with the olives.

Bolivian Empanadas: small yellow chillies are added to the beef, making Bolivian empanadas the spiciest of the lot. In Bolivia, empanadas are called salteñas and are usually fried rather than baked. They also usually include boiled potatoes and peas. Yes, it’s astonishing just how much food can fit into a dough-pocket the size of your palm! For this reason alone, salteñas are my go-to snack of choice when traveling through Bolivia on arduous long-haul bus rides. One can fill me up for hours.

Colombian Empanadas: Colombians take a little from both above mentioned recipes, mixing potatoes with onions.

Venezuelan Empanadas: For a true Venezuelan empanada, add black beans and fried plantains. Black beans and fresh cheese varieties are also very popular.

Ecuadorian Empanadas: Ecuador boasts perhaps the most varied collection of regional empanadas. Given that the country has such contrasting geographical attributes (from the high Andes to the coast and all the way to the Amazon) the filling options abound, depending on where you travel. My favorite Ecuadorian empanada is one filled with a generous chunk of pecorino cheese, fried, and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

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Sweet Empanadas

Sweet empanadas are the perfect dessert and can be eaten on the fly or enjoyed leisurely along with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. My favorite sweet empanada recipe comes from my dear friend Peggy Bright, exceptional cook and author of CookingOnPage32. I’ve borrowed this recipe from one of the many cookbooks which adorn her living room. I can’t wait to try and make these myself!

Peruvian Mini Apple Empanadas

Peruvian Mini Apple Empanadas
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 4 tart apples, such as Granny Smith
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 package puff pastry
  • 1 tsp. flour
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Heat a saucepan and add butter and brown sugar, cooking until the sugar has melted.
  2. Add apples, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt, the lime zest and juice, stirring every few minutes.
  3. Close and seal the empanadas and bake for 25-30 minutes if using real dough (20 mins for puff pastry), in an oven pre-heated to 375°F. Don’t forget to sprinkle with sugar before baking, for a most deliciously glazed result.
 

Bonus Empanadas Tip

Empanadas freeze exceptionally well, although only if you freeze them uncooked and cook them straight from the freezer. Don’t thaw out to room temperature or you’ll end up with a soggy mess. Same can be said for empanadas which are cooked and then frozen. To freeze, simply lay unbaked empanadas on a tray lined with baking-paper and place in freezer until they’re solid. Once frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag and they won’t stick together.

4 Protein Bite Healthy Snacks for Travel

Lets face it, it is hard to find healthy snacks at a gas station or cost conscious eats at an airport. So, before setting off on your next big trip try making one of these super infused energy bites for your travels. These 4 recipes are easily modifiable, energy packed, and made with pantry-friendly ingredients that will keep well packed in your bag without refrigeration. The hardest part will be to ration them until you reach your destination!

Coconut Bites

1 C. Coconut Cashews

3 Tbs. Chia Seeds

1 C. Dried Dates

1/2 C. Natural Peanut Butter

1 C. Oatmeal (uncooked)

Optional Topping: Coconut Flakes and Honey

 

Directions: In a food processor add coconut cashews and chia seeds, blend till it is a fine rice consistency. Add dates, peanut butter, and oatmeal and blend until all ingredients are mixed and stick together. Roll into ball formation, dip top in honey, and then into coconut flakes. Refrigerate for at least an hour for balls to really solidify. Pack balls into a sealed plastic container to avoid squishing and you’re ready to fly! 

Will make ~16 Tbs bites.

1 Bite = 18g Carb/4g Pro/5g Fat

Cocoa Peanut Butter Bites

1 C. Almonds

3 Tbs. Chia Seeds

½ C. Oatmeal (uncooked)

2 Tbs. Cacao

½ C. PB2

½ C. Honey

Optional Topping: Cinnamon

 

Directions: In a food processor mix almonds and chia seeds until rice consistency. Add oatmeal, cacao, PB2, and honey until fully combined and mixture sticks together. Roll into ball formation and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Put bites into a sealable container and get hiking! 

Will make ~14 Tbs bites.

1 Bite = 7g Carb/18g Pro/6g Fat

 

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

1 C. Oatmeal (uncooked)

½ C. Natural Peanut Butter

2 Tbs. Chia Seeds

2 Tbs. Honey

Dark Chocolate Chips as Desired

Directions: In bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until thick. Roll into ball formation. Refrigerate for a few hours for really solid balls. Then bites can be stored in a sealed container, unrefrigerated. 

Will make ~14 Tbs bites.

1 Bite = 8g Carb/4g Pro/12g Fat

Cranberry Peanut Butter Bites

½ C. Almonds

1 C Oatmeal (uncooked)

⅓ C. Natural Peanut Butter

⅓ C. Dried Dates

2 Tsp. Honey

½ C. Dried Cranberries or Other Dried Fruit

Directions: In food processor mix almonds until fine rice consistency. Add oatmeal, peanut butter, dates, and honey until mixture becomes thick. Add dried cranberries and pulse a few times until all is evenly combined. Roll into ball formation and enjoy. To travel, put in a sealed solid container. These will keep under almost any conditions. 

Will make ~16 Tbs bites.

1 Bite = 9g Carb/3g Pro/4g Fat