Cooking In Quarantine
Let’s face it: Times are…different these days. And to be honest, probably tough for more than most. One thing that we can all find joy in, is food. If we have it, we can make healthy — or indulgent — new pantry recipes, or donate it to those in need of it most.
This article is intended to provide recipe ideas using mostly items that can be found in an every day kitchen. I hope at least one of these recipes will feed the soul without the added stress of fancy “from scratch” meals.
Read on below for all seven recipes including ingredients and directions!
1. Tinto de Verano (Spain)
It’s not a proper quarantine without some vino, right? Right. During my time in Spain, I’ve become familiar with a mixed cocktail that is popular in my region of La Rioja: Tinto de Verano.
In English, “Tinto” means red, and “Verano” means summer. Put the phrase together and you have “Red of Summer”. But don’t let the name fool you. This cool and crisp cocktail can be enjoyed any time of year (believe me).
Similar to the sangria that you might find in southern Spain, this cocktail is much more traditional. You’ll likely find locals sipping this terrace-style alongside a plate of manchego cheese and jamón.
On your next trip to Spain, instead of ordering sangria (which will likely be watered down or mixed with sugary brandy), order one of these bad boys.
Practice the phrase “Me pones un tinto de verano, por favor.” It’s a recipe too simple to mess up. And hey, you’ll sound less like a tourist earning brownie points with the bartender.
- 1 cup house red wine (make sure it’s cheap — you’ll be mixing it with Sprite!)
- 1 cup of Sprite or Lemon Fanta
- Lemon and orange slices for garnishing
- Ice cubes
- 1 Granny Smith Apple, sliced (optional)
1. Mix equal parts red wine with equal parts Sprite or Lemon Fanta. Stir well.
2. Slice one lemon and one orange. Add into the mix to soak.
3. Pour over a glass of ice.
4. Garnish with an apple slice and an orange slice. Serve cold.
2. Golden Honey Cornbread (United States)
A sweet and salty Southern staple, honey corn bread one of the most popular pantry recipes found in the United State’s Southeast region.
Made with generous amounts of honey, white sugar, eggs, and flour, this moist yet slightly crumbly bread is typically served warm with butter. You can often find it paired with spicy bean chili, brisket, or creamy soups and stews. It’s perfect for dipping!
Many people make it completely from scratch, but who really has time for that? (Ok, in these times we have a lot more of that on our hands, but still). To save time for other things you’d rather be doing, use boxed cornbread mix. I prefer to use Jiffy, but there are many other brands you can choose from.
For an extra sweet treat, sandwich a scoop of your favorite flavour of ice-cream between two halves of cornbread.
The key is to make sure the bread has been chilled at least two hours before. You can place it on top with a drizzle of fruit preserve, or serve sandwich style.
- 2 8.5oz boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
- 2/3 cup half and half or whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 3 tbs honey (any kind will do)
- Follow the directions as listed on the Jiffy Cornbread box. You’ll be doubling the recipe and using two boxes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Make sure you grease it generously!
- Combine milk, eggs, sour cream, white sugar, and 1 tbs of the honey. Combine it well but leave it a bit lumpy. Don’t overmix!
- Pour half of the batter into the baking tin. Drizzle another tablespoon of honey over the top.
- Pour the other half in (don’t stir!) and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of honey over the top.
- Bake for 21-25 minutes or until knife or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and let cool before cutting and serving. Top with butter and more honey if desired.
3. Tuna Pasta with Peas & Parmesan (Italy)
Pasta is a tried-and-true comfort meal. An extremely cost-effective food, it’s also the perfect dish to use for leftovers.
One of my favorite pasta creations is something I discovered during my time in Cinque Terre in Riomaggiore, Italy. Known as “Orecchiette”, it’s packed full of savory tuna, crisp peas, and creamy parmesan cheese.
The pantry version, though maybe not as fresh as what one might find on the Italian coastline, is still delicious. Using boxed macaroni noodles, canned or frozen peas, lemon juice, and grated parmesan, it brings the best of Italy to your kitchen table.
4. Chocolate Dalgona Coffee or “Whipped Coffee” (Vietnam)
There is one recipe that has taken the Internet by storm: Dalgona “Whipped” coffee.
If you haven’t made it yet, chances are you’ve heard of it.
This sugar sweet blend of white sugar, ground coffee beans, and boiled water is the perfect morning pick-me-up.
I’ll admit that it took me a few rounds to “master” this coffee concoction. I was using cold milk in hopes that it would make it more creamy. However, my mixture turned out more “smoothie” than smooth ‘whipped cream”.
Total Fail. (Use the boiled water, trust me).
After I had my “Nailed It!” moment, I started to experiment with adding new ingredients. For me, the addition of chocolate chips was a personal favorite. The slightly sweet flavour of 70% dark chocolate nips and bold coffee is perfect as a morning drink or a lighter dessert.
You can also add crushed Oreo cookies, just make sure you use an electric blender to break up the larger chunks. It’s one of my favorite pantry recipes!
- ground coffee of choice
- white granulated sugar
- 1 tbs of sweetened dark chocolate nibs/shavings
- boiled water
(2 tbs of each!)
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Using a hand-held whisk or an electric mixer, blend until smooth and peaks foam on top. Time will vary based on the method used to blend it. An electric mixer on medium-high speed is recommended.
5. Southwestern Tomato Soup (Spain with a US spin)
Throughout the centuries, soup has remained a tried-and-true comfort food.
Today, it’s not only consumed as a way to stay warm during colder months, but is also a feel-food food enjoyed by millions around the globe.
Since I was a child, creamy tomato soup has been a lunchtime favorite. A liquid vessel for cheesy croutons, Ritz crackers, or a sliver of grilled cheese sandwich, I love to experiment with its ingredients.
Lately, I’ve been loving the addition of sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese. Top it off with some tortilla strips and it’s oh-so-good!
Tip: You can also add sweet corn or kidney beans for some added texture!
6. Simple Salmon Patties aka “Croquettes” (France)
I love salmon. In fact, I love it so much that I could probably eat it every day (if I could afford it).
Not only is it flaky and delicious, it’s packed full of protein and omega 3’s. I usually bake it in filets covered in a drizzle of melted butter and garlic, but then I discovered salmon patties.
The fancier term is “croquette” but patties will also suffice, especially when using canned salmon.
Served with wild rice or a side salad, these are perfect if you want a light dinner or a before dinner appetiser!
- Drain and reserve liquid from salmon.
- Mix egg, onion (or green onion), bread crumbs, and canned salmon together.
- Make into patties. If mixture is too dry to form into patties, add reserved liquid from salmon.
- In a frying pan, heat olive oil. Place patties in pan.
- Brown on each side, turning gently. Drain on paper towels and serve.
7. Creamy Ranch Guacamole (Mexico)
Avocados are pretty much the best food on this Earth (come at me, I dare you).
Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? Who knows and who cares. They are delicious.
I learned how to make guacamole when I was a senior in college, but I learned how to make proper guacamole when I went to Mexico in the summer of 2018. (Yes, there is a difference).
Now, this recipe certainly isn’t the traditional guacamole recipe you might find at a Mexican restaurant, but let me tell you…it’s delicious.
Slightly chunky and very creamy with a kick of ranch, it’s perfect on salads, on a sandwich smear, or with lime flavoured tortilla chips.
Try it just once and if you don’t like it…well, we probably can’t be friends.
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 4 slightly under ripe avocados (this will make for a chunkier mix though the sour cream will make it smooth)
- 1 tbs of lemon juice
- Garlic powder (1/2 teaspoon)
- Onion powder (1/2 teaspoon)
- White onion chopped (1/2 cup)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Tortilla chips for dipping
- Cut up the avocados into quarters after removing the core (easier for mashing). In a medium bowl, douse the avocado chunks with the lemon juice and let sit for a few minutes. This will soften them up and give them a nice flavour.
- Mash the avocados up to desired consistency.
- In another bowl, whisk the sour cream, garlic powder, and onion powder in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in onion (tomato if desired but I don’t use it).
- Season more with salt and pepper if needed.
- Top with fresh cilantro or parsley if desired.
- Serve with tortilla chips or use as a smear on a sandwich!
If you make one of these recipes, or give one your own unique spin, let me know by leaving a comment below. Thanks for reading and happy cooking in quarantine!