Sunday, April 26, 2009

Explore World Flavors with Pantry Staples

(ARA) - Just because grocery budgets are tight, doesn’t mean flavor needs to suffer. Preparing dishes inspired by traditional cuisine from around the world is an easy way to add excitement to everyday meals, without breaking the bank or buying an expensive plane ticket. Try exploring the flavors of the world right in your own kitchen, by using key ingredients from your pantry for authentic flavor.

One pantry staple that easily transitions from wholesome snack to versatile ingredient is California Raisins. Raisins are found in traditional fare from as far away as Africa and lend a scrumptious sweetness to many Latin and South American dishes, as well. Just 1/4 cup is a serving of fruit, which make raisins a convenient and affordable way to add flavorful fruit to any recipe.

Start discovering world flavors with these recipes for Sweet and Savory Argentine Empanadas and North African Braised Chicken. For more recipes featuring California Raisins and flavors from around the world, visit

Sweet and Savory Argentine Empanadas with California Raisins
Cost per serving: $.35

Makes about 24 empanadas

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

1/2 pound very lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup California Raisins
1/2 cup chopped pimento-stuffed green olives
1/2 cup salsa
1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican seasoning blend
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
16 sheets (14x9 inches) fillo dough, thawed
Olive oil or butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and set aside. Cook ground beef and onion over medium heat in a nonstick skillet for 10 minutes or until onion is very soft, breaking up beef with a wooden spoon. Stir in raisins, olives, salsa and seasonings. Unroll fillo sheets and cover with a damp cloth. Place one sheet on a cutting board. Spray with cooking spray and top with another sheet. Repeat to layer four sheets. Cut into six equal pieces and brush edges with beaten egg. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of each and fold over to enclose filling, making triangular shapes. Press tightly to seal edges, then cut away points to make semi-circle shapes. Repeat with remaining fillo sheets and filling. Brush with beaten egg and place on baking sheet.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. May be made ahead and reheated in a 350 F oven until crisp.

North African Braised Chicken
Cost per serving: $3.30

Makes four servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium onions, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1 cup California Raisins
1/2 teaspoon each: curry powder, ground ginger and ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon each: ground cinnamon and ground cayenne pepper
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
Hot cooked couscous

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet or pot with a tight-fitting lid. Season chicken with salt and add to skillet; cook over medium-high heat for about five minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from skillet and set aside. Add onion to skillet; cook, stirring frequently, for five to 10 minutes to soften. Stir in raisins and seasonings. Return chicken to skillet and arrange onions on top. Add stock and wine; cover and simmer over low heat for one hour. Uncover and simmer for 15 minutes more. Serve chicken and sauce over couscous.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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