Well, it's the end of our Olympic cooking experience for 2016 today.  It's been a fun 10 days, but boy has it been busy.  I saved one of the easiest recipes for today, knowing that it was going to be a hectic day with little time to cook or eat.  Thankfully I ended up with a little more time than I expected, so Bug baked us a loaf of crusty bread to enjoy with dinner. 

Today was Portugal day.  Portugal has 94 athletes at the Rio Games and has one bronze medal in Judo thus far.  Our menu was a Portuguese Kale and Chourico soup with a crispy bread.

The Verdict:
The soup was quick and easy, tasty and delicious.  The chourico sausage gives the soup a full flavor and the kale gives it great texture. 

Portuguese Chourico and Kale Soup (Original recipe from Food Network)

2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium white waxy potatoes, like yukon golds, peeled and diced
2 medium onions, chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
1 pound kale, coarsely chopped
Coarse salt and pepper
15 oz of chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 pound diced chourico, casing removed
1 quart chicken broth
Warm, crusty bread

Heat oil in a deep pot over medium high heat. Add potatoes and onions, cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add garlic, bay leaves, and kale to the pot. Cover pot and wilt greens 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add beans, tomatoes, chourico, and broth to the pot and bring soup to a full boil. Reduce heat back to medium and cook 5 to 10 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender. (Since the sausage was raw, I let it simmer for about 40 minutes and it was just about perfect.  I also think I forgot to add the tomatoes...  hmmm).

Serve soup with hunks of crusty bread and butter.  We made this bread (not a Portuguese bread, just a quick one!)

Today's dinner inspiration was Peru.  Peru is located in South America and has 29 athletes participating in the 2016 Olympics.  When I was looking for recipes, a friend of mine sent me some Peruvian dishes, including lomo saltado.  When I saw a recipe that contained fries, I knew it was something that Ebabe would at least try without complaint.  So our dinner tonight was Peruvian Lomo Saltado with frozen limonada to drink.

The Verdict:
Tonight was a hit!  Great flavor in the meat and veggies - not too too spicy, but with a bit of a kick.  I served the kids fries without the sauce since I knew that they wouldn't want them mixed in.  The limonada was gone in no time and we will be making it again as an after school refreshment next week!

Peruvian Lomo Saltado (recipe a blend of those found on Food.com and AllRecipes)

1 (16 ounce) package frozen steak fries
1 1/2 lb beef tri-tip, sliced into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick pieces
1 12 TBSP crushed garlic
12 tsp salt
2 tsp ground coriander
1 12 tsp ground black pepper
2 TBSP rice vinegar
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP canola oil
1 red onion, cut into strips
15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 jalapeno pepper, cut into thin strips
14 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
12-1 teaspoon paprika
canola oil, for frying

Make a paste by combining the garlic & salt. Whisk together the garlic paste, rice vinegar, soy sauce, canola oil, cumin, & ground black pepper.

Place the steak in one bowl & the onions in another. Divide the marinade between the 2 bowls & let set in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Prepare the bag of French fries according to package directions, sprinkling them lightly with paprika before putting in the oven.
While the French fries are cooking, heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is hot add the steak with marinade & cook until brown. Add the drained tomatoes & simmer for a few minutes.

Next add the jalapeño, cilantro, & onions with marinade to the wok, slowly stirring until well blended. Simmer for 5 more minutes.
Once fries are completely cooked, add to the other ingredients in the wok until coated with sauce. Then serve.

Peruvian Limonada Frozen (original recipe About.com)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 8-10 small key limes
  • 6 cups of crushed iced

Zap the limes in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.  You want them to be slightly warm, not hot.  Once they are warm to the touch, put them on the counter, press down and roll them around.  Cut them in half and squeeze them over a measuring cup.  You need 1/2 cup of key lime juice. 
Strain out any seeds or pulp (if you don't like pulp).
Make a simple syrup by bringing the water and sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove it from heat and allow to cool.  In a blender, mix the simple syrup, lime juice, and ice. Blend until just slushy. Serve immediately. 

If you are preparing the limonada to serve with the saltado dinner above, start the simple syrup when you put the fries in the oven.  That will give it ample time to cool before you need to mix it, just as you plate your saltado.

Costa Rica!  Pura Vida!  Costa Rica is in Central America and has 12 athletes competing in the Olympic Games in Rio.  When I was choosing countries, I knew I wanted a Central American country and since I've been to Costa Rica before, I thought it would be fun to try my hand at cooking.

On the menu tonight was Costa Rican Casado (chicken, rice, beans, and tostones) with (virgin) Pina Coladas to drink.  We were lucky to have some Lizano sauce left from our journeys so this was the perfect meal for us!

The Verdict:
Well, our homemade casado wasn't quite what we remembered eating when we were there, but it was still good.  I think I may have had a larger can of tomato paste than expected, which gave us a much more red sauce than the original recipe.  We all liked the flavor of the chicken and the sauce was great in moderation.  The beans weren't as good as I'd hoped, but they were okay.   None of us was over enamored with the plantains (tostones), but none of us hated them either.  I think they are an acquired taste.

It was a hectic evening and I didn't take pictures of our processes at all. The recipes and instructions for the meal are all from the I Never Grew Up Blog.  Click through to read them and make your own! The pina colada was just something that I whipe up from time to time, since it is one of my favorite flavors.

Lithuania is a country in Europe's Baltic States about the size of West Virginia.   It has 67 athletes competing and has won 1 silver and 2 bronze medals at the 2016 Olympics thus far. 

On the menu for dinner was Lithuanian kugelis and Napoleona tarte for dessert.

The Verdict:
Ebabe actually liked the kugelis and kept commenting about how good it was!  The rest of us thought it was okay, but a little bland.  Our convection oven browned the potatoes much faster than the regular oven would have, but the potatoes in the center of the dish weren't cooked completely. We solved that problem fairly easily.  The recipe mentions serving kugelis with sour cream and that did give it an additional boost.

The Napoleona tart was not as difficult to make as I thought it might be.  It was very, very rich.  It was good, but be sure to serve it in fairly small pieces!   

Oh, and Ebabe decided to fold napkins for us - boats, which seems fitting since two of the medals Lithuania has won in Rio were for rowing. 

Lithuanian Kugelis (recipe from Full Fork Ahead, adapted from Serious Eats)
She wrote the recipe up beautifully and there are great step-by-step photos, so check it out there!

Lithuanian Napoleona Tarte (original recipe from VilNews)
The important thing to note about this is that you need to start it the night before you want to prepare it!

Torte Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups flour
dash of salt
3 eggs
4 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (we used Earth Balance sticks to be dairy-free)

Put 4 1/2 cups of flour and a dash of salt in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the 4 1/2 sticks unsalted butter.

In a separate bowl mix the eggs with 4 1/2 TBSP of water, then add to the flour mixture. Mix well. Wrap in plastic wrap or store in sealed container and place in refrigerator for 5-7 hours or overnight.

The next day, divide dough into 8 to 10 pieces.

Roll out each piece into very thin 10 inch rectangles.  (other recipes suggest circles, which would be easier in general, so consider that!)

Bake at 375F - 400F for 20 minutes on cookie sheet until light golden brown.  In our convection oven, I baked the at 375F for 14 minutes and they were done.  Remove from oven and cool completely.

Cream Ingredients:
3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk (we used almond milk to make it dairy-free)
2 eggs
2 boxes of sweet whipped butter (I couldn't find this so we made our own using almond milk, Earth Balance spread, and about 1/2 cup of sugar)
4 egg yolks
1 TBSP orange extract
1 TBSP lemon extract
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1 large lemon (for zest and juice)
3/4 - 1 1/2 oz whiskey (to your taste)

Cream -
Mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar and milk together and cook on low-medium heat until it gets a little thick.
Add 2 eggs, mix well and remove from heat.  Allow to sit until well cooled.

Then whip the sweet whipped butter, 3/4 C. sugar, and egg yolks together.  Once blended, add to the flour and milk mixture and mix well.  Add extracts, lemon zest, juice from the lemon, and whiskey.  Mix well.

Spread thinly between layers leaving some for top and sides.

Mali.  Any idea where that is?  It sounds like an island nation, but it is, in fact, a West African land-locked country.  Mali is the 8th largest country in Africa and has 6 athletes competing in track & field and swimming during the 2016 Olympiad.

Our last experience with an African recipe was okay, but none of us really enjoyed it so I knew going in I needed to find something traditional, different enough to be interesting, but still something we'd not mind trying.  After much searching, I came across Tigadèguèna.  

The Verdict:
I will admit that I went in to today thinking that I would not like this stew.  To me, peanut butter is its own entity and doesn't belong cooked with meat.  However, this was pretty good.  Everyone liked the flavor of the meat.  I didn't eat all the sauce (too much peanut flavor), but mixed with the rice, it was palatable and I am happy to admit that I was wrong.

Tigadèguèna (original recipe from Whats4Eats)


2 TBSP oil
2 lbs stewing beef, cut into cubes
1 onion, minced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 TBSP ginger, minced
2 TBSP tomato paste
2 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1-2 cups of water or stock (I used chicken stock b/c we had some left over from a different day)
1 cup of natural, unsalted peanut butter
salt and pepper -- to taste
5 okra, chopped
1 yellow squash, quartered and chopped

Prepare all vegetables in advance.  Peeling and seeding the tomatoes takes longer than you think.  Chop the okra and soak it in white vinegar for 30 minutes to reduce the amount of sticky residue it produces.  Rinse it well and pat it dry.  (If you have never chopped okra before, it produces a mucousy goo that will stick to everything. Be prepared).

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the beef and saute until lightly browned on all sides, 5 or 6 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Add the onion to the oil in the pot and saute until translucent, about 3 or 4 minutes. The onion will turn slightly brown due to the reside from the beef.  That is normal!  Stir in the garlic and ginger and saute another 1 or 2 minutes.
Return the beef to the pot, stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes to reduce the volume of the tomatoes somewhat.

Add the okra, squash, and enough water or stock to loosen the dish to a stew-like consistency. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Stir in the peanut butter and salt and pepper to taste. Cover loosely with a lid and simmer for another 40 minutes, or until the beef is tender and oil rises to the surface of the dish. Add water as necessary to keep the dish stew-like.
Serve with rice.

Today was Lebanese day!  Lebanon has 8 athletes participating in the 2016 Summer Olympics.  I will admit that one of the reasons that I chose Lebanon was because Klinger, a character from M*A*S*H, often talked about being of Lebanese descent.  Yes, I'm a geek and I'll own that!

For dinner we had Lebanese rez bel hummos and baklava.  While I enjoyed the process, I am really tired of standing!  It took quite a while to make the main dish and I could come up with several ways to make it go faster, but we wanted to make it as authentically as possible.  My oldest helped me make the baklava.  I think we may have overcooked the syrup a little bit as it got much harder once it was poured on than I thought it would get.  Still tasty, though!

The Verdict:
Everyone liked the rice & beans.  I was the only one who wasn't enamored.  There was just a little too much cinnamon for me - which is interesting because I love cinnamon usually.  The baklava was good. Almost like a hard candy, though.

Lebanese Rez bel Hummos (original recipes from Lebanese Recipes)
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 cup ghee 
  • water
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 tsps salt
  • ¾ cup dried chick peas, soaked overnight
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¾ cup orzo
  • 1 cup rice
  • ½ cup slivered almonds

In a large saucepan, brown the chicken in ¼ cup of the ghee. Add 8 cups of water, half the onions, the garlic, cinnamon stick and 2 tsp salt.  Bring to the boil, cover and continue to cook until chicken is tender enough for the meat to fall off the bones. (This took about an hour) While the chicken is cooking, drain the soaked chick peas and place in a large pot with 4 cups water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer vigorously until just tender. (This took about 30 minutes) Drain and set aside.

In another saucepan, lightly brown the almonds in a little ghee. Remove and set aside.

Brown the ground beef in the same sauce pan.  Stir in the cinnamon, black pepper and the remainder of the onions and salt, and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from saucepan and set aside. Place the remaining ½ cup of ghee in the same saucepan and sauté the orzo until golden brown. Add the rice and sauté for a few more minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pot and allow to cool. Pour 5 cups of the boiling broth from the cooked chicken over the rice (make up quantity with water if necessary). Bring to the boil and add the cooked meat and onion mixture and the cooked chick peas. Stir well, cover, and turn down heat to simmer and cook until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed – approx 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow standing for further 10 minutes.

Serve the chick pea and rice mixture on a platter, garnished with the almonds and pieces of the chicken.


Phyllo dough sheets
Butter to grease phyllo dough
1 cup almonds
1 cup walnuts
1 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon and a little of cloves
1 TBSP Rose water
2 c. sugar
1 c. water
A few drops of lemon juice
1 tsp rose water

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spread nuts into a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast for 10-15 minutes until fragrant. Remove from oven and let cool.  

Once cool, finely chop the nuts.  I used my food processor for this step.

Mix nuts with cinnamon, cloves. Add 1 TBSP rose water and mix. Set aside.

Brush baking dish with butter. (a 9x13 casserole dish would work well - we used a baking sheet and it wasn't as easy as it could have been)

Layer 8 pieces of phyllo in the dish, brushing each piece with butter before adding the next (keep the remaining dough covered with a damp towel).

Place the filling mixture over the dough.

Layer the rest of phyllo on top, brushing each with butter before adding the next. Brush the top piece with extra butter.

Use a sharp knife to cut the baklava to make strips, about 1 1/2 inches wide. Then make diagonal slices, about 1 1/2 inches apart, to create a diamond pattern. Garnish each slice with almonds.

Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 450 degrees F for the first 5 minutes, then the rest at 350 degrees F.  Remove from oven.

While baklava is cooling, make the syrup.  Combine the sugar, water, lemon juice and rose water and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Allow to boil for 10 to 15 minutes or until it thickens slightly. Don't overcook! Pour over the baklava; let soak, uncovered.

Garnish with some chopped nuts (we used walnuts)

Recut the lines to ensure the pieces of baklava are separated and serve.

I'm tired today.  We stayed up too late watching the Olympics the past few nights and then stayed up later to try to see the meteor shower last night.  It's made for a long day!

Today was New Zealand day.  We had New Zealand meatloaf, green bean and asparagus salad, and Pavlova layer cake with fruit for dessert.  Pavlova cake is basically the national dish of New Zealand and is named after Anna Pavlova, a famous ballerina.  You can read about the history here.

The Verdict:
We all liked the flavor of the meatloaf.  It had a strong curry smell, but the taste was just right! Two of us liked the vegetables and we all enjoyed different parts of the dessert!  Overall, I'd say that I'd make them all again.  The cake was difficult to cut and super sweet, but the berries were a great balancing agent.

I'm going to list the recipes in the order that I prepared them since timing-wise, everything was ready at almost the exact same time.  I started the meatloaf while the meringue was cooling, made the diary-free whipped cream while the meatloaf was cooking, and blanched the veggies/made the dressing during the last 10 minutes of the meatloaf cook time.

Layered Pavlova (recipe based on one from 196 Flavors)


10 eggs
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup caster sugar
4 tsp cornstarch
4 TBSP white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 TBSP sugar
Fruit - we used blueberries, golden kiwis, raspberries, and strawberries
dairy-free whipping cream (see recipe below)


In advance, refrigerate your mixing bowl for about 30 minutes.  Separate the egg whites and allow to warm up to room temperature.  You can discard your yolks or save them for scrambled eggs or another recipe.

Preheat oven to 250 F

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt on medium. 

 Once they start to fluff a bit, begin slowly adding sugars, cornstarch, vinegar, and the vanilla extract.  Beat until stiff peaks form. The meringue should be shiny and firm.  This will take longer than you think.  It took about 7 minutes of mixing on medium-high before it began to peak.

Prepare a piece of parchment paper the size of your baking sheet. Draw a rough 7-8 inch circle on the parchment paper, then place it on the baking sheet upside down. Do the same for a 2nd baking sheet.

You can either spoon out the meringue or use a pastry bag to pipe it into the circle on the baking sheet.  Divide the meringue in half and put one half on each baking sheet.  Smooth out the sides and create a small well on the top of one.

Bake for 2 hours.

Turn off the oven and leave the meringues inside until they have cooled completely.

Spread about half of the whipped cream on the non-welled meringue with a spatula or a pastry bag.
Then carefully stack the welled meringue on top.  Spread the rest of the whipped cream in the well and along the top of the meringue.  Place sliced fruit pieces on top of cake.

Dairy-Free Whipping Cream
two cans of full fat coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen) in the fridge for several hours prior to use.  Open the cans and scoop out the cream portion (not the liquid) into a mixing bowl.  An alternative is to turn the cans upside down and pour out the liquid first before scooping out the cream.  Both ways work. 

Add 1 TBSP of vanilla extract and sugar to taste (I used about 4 TBSP). Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to whip the cream until it is fluffy.  

New Zealand Meatloaf (original recipe from Food.com)

(note: Our meatloaf wasn't 100% done, so I put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes.  Some of the sausage areas were still a little under cooked, but we zapped our slices in the microwave to ensure that everything was completely safe to eat.  I would suggest baking for another 10 minutes or upping the cooking temp to 375F.)

2 stalks celery, sliced
2 medium onions, sliced
3 slices of bacon
1 egg
12 cup milk
3 slices bread, crusts removed
12 cup fresh parsley, chopped
12 cup carrot, grated
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp cumin powder
2 TBSP ketchup
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 lbs ground beef1 1/2 lbs ground sausage

34 cup water
34 cup ketchup
2 TBSP honey
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
2 TBSP white wine vinegar
14 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350F

Fry bacon in oil and crumble.

In a bowl mix all of the meatloaf ingredients thoroughly. Place into loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes. I would suggest that you put a baking sheet on a rack under the meatloaf to catch any grease that drips.

While waiting for the meatloaf to cook, mix the sauce ingredients in a saucepan over low heat until blended

Remove meatloaf from oven and pour off excess fat. Pour sauce over and replace in oven another 30 minutes. Our meatloaf wasn't 100% done, so I put it back in for another 5 minutes.  Some of the sausage areas were still a little under cooked, but we zapped our slices in the microwave to ensure that everything was completely safe to eat.  I would suggest baking for another 10 minutes or upping the cooking temp to 375.

Asparagus and Green Bean Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette - I found the idea for this on vegetables.co.nz. I couldn't find broad beans/fava beans anywhere so just used green beans and asparagus. It called for a lime vinaigrette so I used this recipe from Our Best Bites.