Your guide to the food and culture of the tropics

Category : Recipes

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 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.

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
 

orange blueberry muffin, blueberry muffin, backpack, backpacking, camping, camping recipes, travel, TropicsGourmet

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

 

 

 

Step-by-Step Recipe to the Perfect Lomo Saltado

There’s a popular, traditional dish in Peru called lomo saltado that is a combination of sirloin, onions, tomatoes, and french fries, typically served with rice. While this simple family recipe is widely accepted as Peruvian, it actually comes from the chifa tradition, or rather the Chinese cuisine of Peru. As Peru worked to abolish slavery, Chinese workers came into the country to replace African labor and naturally assimilated into the Peruvian culture. Lomo saltado exists as an example of the fusion of Chinese immigration and the culinary customs of Peru and most importantly — it’s delicious.

You can make this simple family recipe tonight at home tonight for dinner and believe that your taste buds will thank you.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

16 oz sirloin steak

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 red onion

fresh cilantro

steak fries

canola oil

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup rice vinegar

1 tsp cumin

salt and pepper to taste

Steamed white rice

Directions

Cut the steak into long ¼ inch strips and season with salt and pepper.

 

Cut the onion into thin pieces.

Heat canola oil in a pan on medium-high heat and brown the meat and cook the onions. 

When the onions are starting to soften, add tomatoes, soy sauce, cumin, and rice vinegar and simmer for about 10 minutes.

 

I personally like to pan fry my steak fries, but if you like to deep fry or oven bake them: do you, express yourself.

Chop that cilantro. It’s better when it’s fresh.

Garnish and serve.

3 Chocolate Valentine’s Day Recipes that Aren’t Candy

As the world’s most beloved treat and fabled aphrodisiac, chocolate has been at the melting heart of Valentine’s Day celebrations since time immemorial. To help you celebrate lover’s day, we serve up a collection of our favorite Valentine’s Day chocolate recipes. Happy swooning!

Chocolate has come a long way since the days of the ancient Mesoamericans. Over 3,000 years ago in Mexico, the Aztecs and Mayas used cocoa powder to concoct frothy bitter drinks in which only the elite could afford to indulge. Nowadays, of course, chocolate is everywhere. And very good quality chocolate at that. No longer are we just gobbling sugar-laden chocolate down with abandon, or only using it to satisfy our sweet cravings. Our discerning tastes have spawned a new chocolate era where top-quality cacao, coupled with amazing and at times even unusual ingredients, is used with awe-inspiring creativity. Never more so than on Valentine’s Day, the most celebrated ‘perfect match occasion’ to decadent chocolate feasting.

Following are a few delectable chocolate recipes for a most unforgettable Valentine’s Day. From ancient Mexico all the way to your modern kitchen.

Spicy Chocolate Chicken – Pollo Mole

Traditionally, a Mexican pollo mole takes hours of painstaking cooking to prepare, but if there’s one thing which is guaranteed to kill any romantic feelings on Valentine’s Day, is having to slave over a hot stove for hours. So, to this end, we bring you a quick and easy spicy chocolate chicken dish which brings you all the flavors of this incredible tropical dish, minus all the hard work. Top it with freshly chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime and you’ll be in culinary heaven.

Spicy Chocolate Chicken - Pollo Mole
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound diced chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp chipotle chili powder
  • ½ jalapeno, seeded and diced (more or less depending on your personal preference)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (the ‘balsamic’ taste dissipated and a sweet & salty twang remains)
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cup freshly chopped coriander & 1 lime, squeezed
  • 8 flour tortillas
Spices:
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin powder
  • ½ tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in a little oil over a medium flame.
  2. Once browned, add all other ingredients and simmer, over a low heat, for about 45 minutes.
  3. Turn the flame off and allow to cool slightly before tasting. Only when slightly cooled will you get a feel for spiciness and saltiness. Adjust spices to taste and reheat before serving.
  4. Top with freshly chopped coriander and lime juice and serve with toasted tortillas.
 

Chocolate Marinated Pork Ribs

Chocolate, Ribs, Valentine's Day, RecipesA luscious marinade of bitter cocoa married with a heady concoction of warm spices like cinnamon, chilli and oregano. Perfect for mouthwatering grilled baby back ribs.

Chocolate Marinated Pork Ribs
 
Ingredients
  • 2 racks pork baby back ribs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1⁄3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1⁄2 cup unrefined sugar
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp rock salt
  • ½ onion, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried mustard
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp allspice powder
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the ribs in a deep bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Rub the ribs with the marinade, preferably with your hands, massaging the meat with the chocolate bath for a few minutes.
  3. Wrap the marinated ribs with plastic wraps and refrigerate overnight.
  4. On Valentine’s Day, take the ribs out of the fridge a couple of hours before you want to cook them.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. Bake the ribs on baking paper for about 45 minutes. Turn once, increase temperature to 450, and finish baking for 15 more minutes.
  7. Serve ribs with your favorite potato mash & salad.
 

 

Bacon & Dark Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

I first came across the chocolate and bacon combination at a Naughty Nuri’s in Malaysia years ago and never forgot the experience. When I first spotted the sizzling bacon chocolate cake on the menu I hesitated, of course, but curiosity won over and my taste buds were so glad it did. The love affair between crunchy salty bacon and deep dark chocolate is absolutely out of this world. Why not try it and see?

Because bacon!

 

Bacon & Dark Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes
 
Ingredients
Cupcakes
  • 1½ cups softened butter
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup dark cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1¼ cup buttermilk
Ganache
  • 2 bacon rashers
  • 1 part butter, melted
  • 2 parts dark chocolate
Instructions
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and grease a muffin tray
  2. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, combine the butter and sugar and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well, adding the vanilla essence with the last egg.
  4. Add half the buttermilk to the egg mix and blend well, before adding half the flour mix and doing the same. Continue alternating until all is thoroughly mixed. Pour batter into the muffin form and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Ganache
  1. Cook the bacon in a little oil until crispy, remove, allow to cool and roughly dice into small pieces.
  2. In the same pan – and without cleaning it – add the butter and stir well to pick up the bacon grease.
  3. Add the dark chocolate to the pan and stir continuously until all is melted. Mix in half the bacon bits and set aside to cool completely.
  4. Once cooled, whip the ganache with a hand mixture until fluffy and aerated.
  5. Cover the top of each muffin with the ganache and sprinkle the remaining bacon bits over the top.
  6. Serve to your beloved at the end of your sumptuous Valentine’s Day dinner!
 

 

 

Oaxaca, Mexico Recipe: Cactus Salad with Aderezo Dressing

While in Oaxaca, Mexico, TropicsGourmet contributor Alejandro Filloy was able to enjoy an immersive cooking class that taught him to build traditional recipes from the region. He brought back with him a fun story and several recipes. Whip up this cactus salad with aderezo dressing for an appetizer or side dish that is never boring.

 

Cactus Salad with Dressing
 
Ingredients
Salad
  • 15 small cactus pads, with the spines removed and cubed
  • 5 Avocado leaves
  • 8 Epazote leaves
  • 2 Tomatoes, cubed
  • ½ large White onion, diced
  • 1 cup of jicama, cubed
Aderezo Dressing
  • 1 avocado
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 handfull of cilantro
  • 1 lime, juice
  • Salt
  • Oaxaca queso fresco
Instructions
Cactus Salad
  1. Combine the tomatoes, the onion and the jicama in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add the cubed cacti to a pot of boiling water. Boil the cacti until it turns a darker shade of green, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the avocado and epazote leaves and let cool.
  4. Once cooled, remove the avocado and epazote leaves and add the cacti to the rest of the ingredients.
Aderezo Dressing
  1. In a blender, blend all ingredients except the cheese until a smooth consistency is reached.
  2. Toss the Cactus Salad with the dressing.
  3. Serve into individual plates and garnish with crumbled queso fresco.
 

Taste of Asia: Singapore Chilli Mud Crab Recipe

Chilli crab is the signature dish of Singapore. If you are making the trek to Singapore, be sure to check out our travel guide to finding the best chilli crab in Singapore. But you don’t have to travel to Asia to have this dish whenever you like. This recipe for chilli mud crab will bring a taste of Singapore to your dinner table, anytime you like.

Singapore Chilli Mud Crab
 
Ingredients
  • 1 x 1kg crab (mud or otherwise)
  • 2 x white onions, finely chopped
  • 5 x small red chillies, finely chopped (add more to your liking)
  • 3 teaspoons belacan (shrimp paste)
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 cup warm water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • A pinch of salt
  • Handful of finely chopped coriander for garnish
Instructions
  1. Prepare the crab for cooking by removing the top of the shell (keep!) and crack the claws once to infuse the flavors during cooking. Ask your fish-monger to show you how.
  2. Puree the onion and chilli until a thick paste forms and add it to the shrimp paste.
  3. Stir fry the paste in a little oil, in a very hot wok. After a few minutes you will notice that the paste changes color, after all the water evaporates.
  4. Add the puree, tomato and soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, tomato paste, and salt. Fry for 30 seconds or so, blending thoroughly.
  5. Add the cornstarch/water mix and let boil.
  6. Add the crab pieces (including the top shell) and gently fold through until the shell turns red. Cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Add the beaten egg and stir through for one minute.The crab is now ready!
  8. Take out the top shell piece and arrange the crab pieces and sauce on a long silver tray.
  9. Place the top shell over the dish and sprinkle with the chopped coriander.
  10. Accompany with steamed rice, sweet breads or even a crusty baguette. The latter is actually a particularly ingenious option.
  11. Make sure every one of your guests has a paper bib, a small bowl with warm water and a slice of lemon (for hand cleaning) and their own personal nut cracker.