Sunday, September 24, 2006

How sad is this?

I have no new recipes to share. Not because we haven't been eating. We ate all week out of the freezer. Here's to doubling recipes and freezing leftovers! Wahoo! Next week I plan to start a recipe review to determine what recipes can go in my sister-in-laws cookbook. It should be a fun challenge. English isn't her first language so the cookbook needs to be very clear, clean and concise. They are a meat and potato type family. But that doesn't mean they can't eat healthy!

I was hoping to share an amazing brisket recipe for you but the brisket turned out tough even after I marinated it for 48 hours, rubbed it and mopped it over a slow smoke! So I'm taking the leftovers, throwing them in the crockpot and making a chili. Slow cooking lean cuts of meat tends to make them very tender. I have a nice cornbread recipe that tastes nice but wasn't very light and fluffy when I made it the week before. So I'm going to re-make it with fresh ingredients (like baking powder, etc.). If it turns out well, I'll pass it along. If not, then the search for a good cornbread recipe continues.... Tim loves cornbread so I must find one that is healthy and tasty!

I did make a fabulous beer can chicken on the weekend. I said it was the last beer can chicken of the season (I froze my keester off while bbqing it!). However, it was so tender, falling off the bones good that I see myself freezing my way through a few more in the fall. I used a Belgium beer, some lemons and no salt added herb and garlic seasoning and no salt added grilled chicken seasoning (I think both were Ms. Dash). The skin was to die for! And the meat was so tender and juicy! It was raves all around. I'm finding that lemon brightens the flavors of chicken the same way salt does. I'm not sure that the lemon usage will work the same way with beef, lamb or pork but we'll have to see. You certainly couldn't miss the salt on the chicken. The middle meat of the bird needed salt but tim's son eats a lot of processed and pre-made food so his salt intake level is fairly high (he likes the stuff with no lemon or added flavors). I just ask that you taste first before you salt. We had steamed New Brunswick grown broccoli and cauliflower with it. Wow, the local fresh ingredients are amazing! I highly recommend buying whatever is fresh and local when you can. What a difference!

So stay tuned as I review my recipe collection. I will remake some of my oldies but goodies. Hopefully there will be something yummy and nutritious and easy for you to try at home!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A great little Salsa, and other easy snacks

First a quick report on the buffalo burgers. They were awesome. We had friends over and one of them had developed a dislike for buffalo because they always found it dry. These burgers were really moist and I had overcooked them a smidge (there was wine involved). The other burgers I made earlier in the summer with part extra lean ground beef and chicken were also really moist. I'm convinced it is the fresh bread crumbs! I freeze the ends of bread and then put them through the food processor when I need bread crumbs. This way I never have a box of bread crumbs going stale in my cupboard. Don't have a food processor? Your coffee grinder will work too, even a blender will do. You can even just crumble it with your fingers!

Now on to snacks. You know I like a low fat, low sodium snack. And when your going to be enjoying a cocktail or two, it's good to get some food in your belly. Here is the quickest salsa I know. And I don't even like pineapple but this stuff is delicious!

  • 1/2 - 3/4 of a pineapple, I get the already cleaned stuff in the produce section.
  • 1 red pepper
  • 4 green onions (scallions)
  • a bunch of cilantro (can you really have too much?!)
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • pinch of brown sugar
  • squirt of lime juice (about 2 tbsp or 1 fresh squeezed)
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder or 1 chipotle pepper from a can

Chop the pineapple and red pepper into small pieces, about 1/4 inch chunks. Chop up the cilantro. Add in the rest, mix and let sit for a couple of hours before serving. Yum!

Now how about some other quick snacks. We all know how much I like to stuff things. Sometimes this is too time consuming for a crowd. But I had some "red hots" peppers so I made a filling with light herb and garlic cream cheese and grated cheddar. With a hot pepper, it is important to not only get all the seeds out but to also get out the white pithe.

Like I said, this can be time consuming. But since there was only 4 of us, I did 8 red hots, some tomatoes and some mushrooms. Now the mushrooms can be a quick stuffer. Just wash, gently rock the stem back and forth to remove them. Then you can spoon in stuffing mix of any sort. Or if you want a really quick and tasty snack, add blue cheese. Broil, bake or grill those puppies up and you have a great snack!

Friday, September 15, 2006


I'm attempting buffalo burgers for the first time. I've eaten them before, just never made them. I love the rich taste so I'm keeping it simple. I have 2 1/2 lbs of ground buffalo so I added 3 eggs, 2+ cups of fresh bread crumbs made from multi-grain and flax seed breads (but you can use any type of bread), 2 tbsp of minced garlic, 3 tbsp of Worshestershire sauce, 1 cup of finely chopped red onion and about a tbsp of my homemade no-salt added steak seasoning. I made the patties large, between 5 to 6 1/2 oz. each. Usually I make my burger patties only 1/4 lb (or 4 oz). But buffalo is lower in calories and fat than beef! Plus tomorrow will be relaxing on the deck all day, drinking the last of the summer cocktails. It's suppose to be 25 (that's 77 for you non-metric types) and sunny! So we'll want a good size burger to prevent us from getting too tipsy...

I'm going to top the burgers with a good aged cheddar cheese and my homemade BBQ sauce on a whole wheat bun. I'm drooling just thinking about it. I'll let you know how they turn out and snap a pic or two!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The art of freezing

Let's talk about freezing. No, I'm not implying that it has gotten that cold here... I'm talking about filling your freezer with ready made meals. This is a huge help for busy people. What can you freeze? Just about anything. Except potatoes. They go mealy. Uck!! You can, however, freeze mashed potatoes.

Look, it's not that complicated. When you do have the time and energy to cook, make double. Freeze the difference! Pasta will continue to absorb the water in a soup so you may want to freezer a bag of cooked pasta separate from a soup and then add them together before serving. I'm personally not that fussy, I can handle thick soup. But for my clients, I freeze them separately. Barley too will do this. For stew, instead of adding chunks of potato, I make mashed and serve the stew over it. Then I can freeze then separately.

Now you may only think of the obvious things to freeze like soups, stews, chili, casseroles but think about separate courses too. I freeze meatloaf, sauted veggies, taco filling, quesadillas, calzones (yes, we made our own), pasta sauce and even stir-fries. I keep a list outside the freezer so I know what's inside and I cross things off as I take them out. This is not that time consuming, trust me. But the little extra effort goes a looooong way! Doing extra veggie side dishes is great because then you can just bake or grill a piece of fish, chicken or a steak to go with it and dinner is done.

Cooked meals shouldn't be kept in your freezer for longer than 6 months. And for goodness sake, LABEL things. Masking tape works perfectly. And then you aren't taking off lids wondering what in the heck is in the container! I label with content and date. And there is still more evidence that we shouldn't be microwaving in those leftover margarine type containers. Use real tupperware or rubbermaid if you heat in the container. I just store it in those leftover margarine containers and then take it out and put it in a microwave safe container. It only takes a minute under hot running water to loosen up the contents so they pop right out of the freezer container! No problem!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Odds and Ends

I haven't posted much lately because I haven't thought the meals I've been making at home were recipes I could share. I have a tendency to shake the cupboards and fridge and whatever falls out (or is getting old) I make into a meal. Now I realize not everyone can do this. It's a talent for sure, but on the other hand, I can't bake. All that following of instructions makes me crazy!

So what did I pull together the last couple of nights? Well one night we had a Tex-Mex inspired soup with a leftover steak, some roasted corn on the cob (removed from the cob of course), a can of no-salt added kidney beans, red pepper, red onion, a can of no-salt added tomatoes and some chili powder, chipotle powder, garlic and cayenne pepper for seasoning. I served it with a sprinkle of cheddar on top and a dollop of sour cream. Tim preferred his without the sour cream. It turned out great. I'm having some leftovers for lunch today and I can't wait.

Last night I once again stuffed a zucchini. The mutant size ones are still available. This time I did a greek inspired filling with couscous, spinach, red onion, red pepper, garlic, my homemade greek seasoning (dried oregano, garlic, mint) and feta. I also have a jar of marinated mixed italian vegetables that consists of artichokes, sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers, eggplant and portabello mushrooms. I threw in about 3/4 cup of that mixture too. It was yummy too!

Tomorrow I'm making salmon cakes so stay tuned for that recipe. It will be one worth sharing!

To keep you entertained, here is a pic from our drive to the cottage this weekend. It was the balloon festival in Sussex this weekend so Friday as we were driving through we got to see the balloons up and running!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Let's talk Risotto

I love risotto. How can you not?! The creamy texture, the bite of the rice bits. Add some parmesan and it's heaven in a bowl. But a lot of people are intimidated by risotto. All that stirring and continual adding of liquid. How do you know what to do?! It's not that hard although you may mess up the first batch but don't dispare. Once you get the knack, you'll be whipping up this quick and delicious dinner on a regular basis.

First saute some Onion and a little garlic in Olive Oil over medium heat. We don't want any brown bits on the onions.
Add the arborio rice and let it saute for a minute. Then add some broth. Have broth ready. The boxed broth is very convenient and you can get the low sodium broth. Just have the box ready. Add about 1/2 cup at a time. Simmer over medium low heat, stirring regularily but not constantly.

Once the liquid absorbs into the rice, when you stir the rice out of the way and there is no water at the bottom of the pan, add more broth. You want to add the broth before the pan gets too dry. This is the part you have to get the hang of. But once you do, it's easy. Don't get discouraged if you don't get the first batch right. Once it comes to you that's it, you'll be making risotto for life!

Now you can just have risotto but I like to add veggies. This becomes a fantastic veggie dish. You can add meat. I like chicken. Have the veggies ready to go before you start cooking. The meat should be sauted first before adding to the risotto just so you don't have to worry about it being undercooked.

I added zucchini, asparagus and red pepper to my last risotto. I add it before the rice is done but is about halfway there. I wanted the veggies to remain their vibrant colours. If you are new to risotto, you may want to steam or saute your veggies seperately just to ensure you don't overcook them. Once you get comfortable with cooking arborio rice, you will find it easy to add veggies to allow them to cook with the rice without overcooking them.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

We had a large "steak" in the matter!

Last night we had steak. Something we both really appreciate. This was from a box of frozen steaks. The price was good... the steak was not. It was a decent thickness and reasonably marbled, enough to be juicy but not enough to be too fatty. I sprinkled it with some of the salt free steak seasoning that I had made and cooked it to just past rare. Now you will often hear chefs say that you must salt and pepper steaks well. But why? If the meat is of a good quality, shouldn't it have a great taste without salt to bring it alive? Tim figures that the steaks we had last night were exactly the reason that sauces like A1 were invented. He may be on to something... From now on I will only spend our hard earned red meat money at a proper butcher. And I think we will also run a comparison on organic steaks to see what the taste difference is. Can I really get away without covering it in salt? Stay tuned!