Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tapping into Tapas Part I

Tapas, or small plates, are becoming the new budget friendly rage. After recently dining at a local tapas bar, I realized I need to try this at home.  Making tapas at home can save you even more bank; however, can take a little time and preparation.  In the long run, I'm hoping the time factor won't come back and bite me where the door should have hit me.  So, I've carefully selected my menu. I am working at streamlining as many things as possible so all I have to do is assemble and enjoy girl time with my sisters and mother.  Here is the menu rundown:

Sangria- Red wine... buy cheap, don't waist your money here.  Think Washingtons or Lincoln cash here.  I purchased two very cheap bottles ($3.99) of sweet red wine.  Let the other flavors pick up the cheap wine flavor.  Trust me, I've made many a sangria before with wine I am too embarassed to mention.  Not that I'm a wine snob.  I plan on mixing the red with some red apple schnapps, fresh ginger root, two sliced apples, and one sliced orange.  I am pre-mixing the wine, schnapps, and ginger tonight to let the flavors marry together.  On Friday, the apples and orange will take their plunge.

Gluten-Free French Bread- You can even save more money here with a cheap loaf of regular French bread from you local grocery store's bakery.  I and my mother are GF.  So, I have a sweet stalk pile of gluten-free bread in my freezer from the holidays when GF bread was on sale.  The bread will be used in two different formats.  One, as a dining utensil for the warm spiced lentils.  Two, as another tapas served toasted with a lovely topping of smoked Gouda cheese and a tomato vinaigrette.

Warm Spiced Lentils-  Lentils are very cheap and good for you.  I streamlined part of my lentil dish by pre-soaking my lentils and cooking the first part of the recipe in my crock pot over the weekend.  All I did was take 1 cup lentils, 2 dried bay leaves, 1/4 teaspoon ground clove, 1 lemon cut in half, and 1 onion quartered and put it in the crock pot.  I poured enough water to cover over 2 inches above the lentils and set my crock pot on low for 6 hours until the lentils were softened.  Then, I removed the bay leaves, lemon, onion, and drained the excess water. I am storing the lentils until Friday and will be heating and adding and sauteing an onion, garlic, chopped tomato, and spices to serve with bread.

Grape Leaves Stuffed with Herbed Rice- I will be streamlining these babies tomorrow as I want the herbs to keep some of their color, but blend all of the taste together.  Look for a post tomorrow on how I do this.  I did spend a little bit more than what I bargained for here; however, have now started  fresh herb garden in my house which will eventually make its way outside this summer.  I use a ton of fresh herbs in my cooking, so I think in the long run this was a budget helper.

Bread topped with Smoked Gouda & Tomato Vinaigrette- This will need to be assembled on Friday.  I saved money on the Gouda by purchasing a hunk at Costco.  I know the  excess cheese will make for other good munchies throughout the weekend.  How can you not love Gouda?

Ham, Roasted Red Pepper, & Goat Cheese Skewers- Will be assembled tomorrow or Friday.  Safe yourself time by purchasing sliced ham from your deli and a bottle of red peppers. You can save money by buying your goat cheese at a whole sale store such as Sam's Club or Costco.  Need I say anything about toothpicks?  They are cheap anywhere.

I will be sure to keep all of you posted on these yummy recipes.  It is very exciting to be experimenting with some new Spanish flavors.  I look forward to sharing the Grape Leaves assembly tomorrow!  Stay thirsty my friends.

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