Monday, December 05, 2011

Fall on a Plate

I've been making this combo all fall and just realized its not here on the blog for all to see.  We buy apples by the 20lb bags, peel, slice, soak in salt water and freeze to have year round.  There are nothing like Annapolis Valley apples!  You can use your favourites in this recipe.  I like Cortlands or Spartans but whatever tickles your taste buds will do just fine.  I first made this recipe with cabbage but you can use carrots, turnip, sweet potatoes and/or potatoes, dice them no bigger than 1/2 inch thick so they can cook through without the pork drying out or overcooking. 

Pork, Apples and Veggies
Serves 4

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1lb pork chops or sirloin
  • 3 cups sliced cabbage
  • 4 apples cut into eight wedges, peel if you wish
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp Maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp sage
  • 1 cup water or chicken broth

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or wide shallow ovenproof pan with a lid over medium high heat.
  3. Saute the onions until tender
  4. Add the pork and brown on both sides
  5. Toss in the veggies and sear a bit, about a minute or two.
  6. Add remaining ingredients, mix well.
  7. Cover and bake for 20 minutes or until the pork is done and the veggies are tender. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Mu Shu Pork

This is what's left...

I love Mu Shu Pork and this recipe is so simple you can make it at home whenever you want.  I use small flour tortillas in place of the pancakes and regular cabbage in place of Chinese or nappa cabbage.  I often don't have dry sherry on hand so I rice vinegar in place of it.  It tastes a little different but it still works.
Mu Shu Pork
Serves 4

  • 1 lb pork, cut into thin strips
  • 6 Tbsp dry sherry
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp soya sauce
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce (+ more for serving)
  • 4-8 small flour tortillas
  • 2- 3 cups sliced shitake mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • 3 - 4 cups sliced cabbage
  • 6 - 8 green onions, sliced

  1. Mix 2 Tbsp sherry, 2 tsp soya sauce, 1 Tbsp cornstarch and 1/2 tsp sesame oil.  Add in pork and toss to coat
  2. Mix the remaining 4 Tbsp sherry, 2 Tbsp soya sauce, 1 tsp cornstarch and 1/4 cup hoisin sauce.  Set aside
  3. Heat a large wok or skillet over medium high heat.  Add 2tsp of the sesame oil and the pork, saute until cooked through. Remove from pan.
  4. Heat the remaining sesame oil in the pan.  Saute the mushrooms and ginger until soft.
  5. Add the garlic, cabbage and stir fry until the cabbage wilts.  Add a little water to the pan if necessary.
  6. Toss in the pork, green onions and sauce mix and stir until bubble and thickened.
  7. Serve in the tortillas with a little extra hoisin drizzled on top if you like.

This is great for lunches!! Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Easy Cheese Souffle

I finally tried Jacques Pepin's Maman's Cheese Souffle.  Because the souffle is not prepared in the traditional manner it was unbelievably easy (and unbelievably tasty)!!  It's already been requested as our Christmas morning breakfast.  We had it for dinner and it's was a lovely, filling meal with a salad.  When you have such a simple meal it's important to use good quality ingredients as they really stand out.  If you can get organic or free range eggs they are a must for this dish.  Also you'll want a good quality Swiss cheese.  Jacques recommended Gruyere but I had some really nice Emmental and Jarlsberg so that's what I used.  I also lightened up the recipe by using skim milk instead of whole milk.

Non-traditional Cheese Souffle
Serves 4

  • 1/3 cup butter (I used salted, if you use unsalted add about 1/2 tsp salt) plus more to butter dish
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 5 extra large or 6 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Swiss cheese (I used half Emmental and Jarlsberg)
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Butter a 6 cup gratin dish well
  3. Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium high heat.  Add flour and mix well with a whisk for about 30 seconds
  4. Add the milk and whisk well until thickened, 2 - 5 minutes
  5. Remove from the heat and let cool 10 minutes
  6. Break the eggs in a bowl and mix well with a fork (yup, no separating the eggs, just add them all at together!)
  7. Add the eggs, cheese, chives and thyme into the milk mixture and blend well.
  8. Pour into the buttered dish.  At this point you can set it aside and cook later or cook immediately.
  9. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes until golden brown and puffy
  10. SERVE IMMEDIATELY!  The souffle will start to deflate pretty quickly.

Enjoy! (and you really will enjoy this dish!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Turkey Dinner Cornbread Stuffing, a Butter Hint and My Harvest Table

I've been known to buy a cornbread mix to use as the base from my cornbread stuffing.  However I've also been known to make it from scratch.  I also use this recipe straight up for cornbread to go with chili or I adapt it for my stuffing base.  It's quite yummy!  I make it a couple of days ahead and let it sit in the oven to dry out.  By adding the herbs and onions right in to the cornbread I just have to crumble, stir in melted butter and stuff the bird on the big day.  I like to do as much ahead of time as possible to minimize the hassles when making a big dinner!
Note the sliver missing on the side... you should always taste test your end product...

Cornbread Stuffing
Stuffs a 12 - 15 lb turkey

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup butter+ a little more (you want 120ml melted)
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk (I always have yogurt on hand but most recipes call for buttermilk, you can use whichever one you want)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (a mix of rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano is what I used)

  1. Place the 1 tbsp butter in a 8 inch or larger cast iron skillet (you can use a 8 inch square baking pan if you don't have a cast iron skillet)
  2. Place in oven and heat to 350F
  3. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cornmeal with a whisk.
  4. Toss in the onions and herbs and mix until coated with the flour mixture.
  5. In another bowl pour the melted butter, yogurt and eggs, mix well.
  6. Add the butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just blended.
  7. Pour into the heated skillet.
  8. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until golden brown.
Add shredded cheddar cheese, chopped jalapeno pepper and a dash of chili powder in place of the herbs if you are making this cornbread to go with chili.

I have to hide this cornbread or else it gets eaten before I can stuff it in the turkey!

This is my harvest table setting.  I kept it easy this year.  I hollowed out the 3 gourds and put some tealights in them.  Add my standard candle holders and tapers and it's a lovely simple arrangement.  I love this tablecloth, it's a great reuse every year.  My aunt painted the placemats which gives the table that special touch. 

Butter Hint:
I also like to make herb butter ahead of time. Chop rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, parsley and mash into 1/2 cup room temperature butter. Roll it into a log and wrap in plastic wrap. You can use this butter under the skin of the turkey, in your mashed potatoes or if you use a cornbread mix you can melt it into your cornbread before stuffing. I also toss my roasted turnip and carrots with it right before serving and I use a tablespoon in the gravy once it's thickened to smooth it out. No chopping herbs on the big day! It's one less mess to deal with when you're making a big dinner.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Real Pasta Primavera

I love Pasta Primavera.  Whenever I've had it in a restaurant it's usually veggies in a light tomato sauce.  I have since learned from Jacques Pepin what real Pasta Primavera is.  When I read his book "The Apprentice" he shared Ed Giobbi's original (1976) recipe that was served at Le Cirque.  I marked it in hopes that my tomato plants would actually produce enough tomatoes this year to make this dish.  Low and behold, it may be the end of September but I finally had enough red tomatoes to give this dish a try.  

(I have no idea why this picture is sideways....)

Pasta Primavera
Serves 4

1 lb tomatoes
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup basil leaves, shredded
1 lb pasta, rotini, penne or bow ties
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to the package directions. Save 3/4 cup of the pasta water!
While the pasta is cooking cut the tomatoes in half, lengthwise, squeezing out the seed and dicing the tomatoes into 1/2 pieces
Toss tomatoes with the garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and basil leaves
Drain pasta, reserving 3/4 cup water!
Add the pasta water to the tomato mixture and stir well
Return the pasta to the pot, add the tomato mixture and stir well
Toss in the Parmesan and serve immediately

You want nice sweet tomatoes for this dish.  My garden tomatoes are amazing (well worth the blood, sweat and tears it's taken to finally get some tomatoes out of my garden!).  This dish got RAVE reviews.  I'm hoping to make it again if I can harvest enough tomatoes....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cheese (on sale!)

I've had a few different people tell me lately that they are buying the real cheddar cheese instead of the processed cheese.  This is great news since real food is always best!  However I've come to find out that these folks are either scared to stock up when it's on sale (this week Kraft Cracker Barrel 500g is on sale for $4.99 at the Atlantic Superstore) because they're afraid it will go bad or they are buying lots and freezing it.  Hold the phone folks!  Stock up and DON'T freeze it.  Check the expiry dates.  You'll see that the cheese you are buying today is usually good for 2 - 3 months as long as the vacuum seal is intact.  I buy 4 or 5 packs when they're on sale.  Now you know!


I love beets!  I never did as a child and I've learned a lot of other people never did either.  I don't know if it's the colour or the fact that the only way we ever saw them was pickled.  I'm not a huge fan of pickles in general.  They're all right but around here they are served as condiments for a big cooked dinner.  When I'm having a big cooked dinner of potatoes, veggies, roasted meat and gravy I tend to have little room leftover for condiments.  Hence, beets never made it into my standard repertoire.  But as a travelling foodie beets have made their way into my heart.  And as a gardener they've made their way into my garden!  I always swipe some young ones for their green tops to saute as a simple green side dish.  Mmmm

I like my beets done simply.  Roasted if you please!  Here is a quick way to make beets to take to your next BBQ and have leftovers for delicious salad later on.

BBQ Beets
Serves 6-8

  • 2 lb of beets, greens removed and washed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 blue cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cut any large beets in halves or quarters so that all the beets/pieces are roughly the same size.  I like them around 1 1/2 inches or big enough not to fall through the grates of the BBQ.
  2. Place the beets in a pot of water and bring to a boil on the stove
  3. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer until the beets are tender when poked with a folk, about 20 minutes
  4. Remove the pot from the stove, drain and let cook until you can handle them
  5. Now if you don't have gloves your going to end up with very pink hands.  I get a pack of plastic gloves at the dollar store and have them on hand for just such an occassion.
  6. Remove the skins on the beets by rubbing them with your hands. 
  7. Toss the beets with olive oil, now they are ready for the grill whenever you want them.
  8. In a small bowl mix the balsamic and blue cheese.  Set aside
  9. You can travel to your BBQ party with one large bowl of pre-boiled beets and a small container of the balsamic and blue cheese mixture (or you can have this ready to go ahead of time if you're the host)
  10. Heat the BBQ to high.  Grill the beets on all sided for just a couple of minutes
  11. Return the beets to the big bowl, pour the balsamic and blue cheese over and toss..
I live mine as a side to red meat or portabello burgers.  Save any leftovers to toss with some salad greens and toasted nuts.  I like pumpkin seeds!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Pork and Grilled Peaches

I've seen a few variations of this recipe.  This is my version which when served to my family members, got great reviews. 

Pork and Grilled Peaches
Serves 3-4

  • 1lb pork sirloin, cut into 4 equal pieces
  • 4 peaches, cut in half and pit removed
  • olive oil
  • 4 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced

  1. Heat either the BBQ or a grill pan on the stove top to high heat
  2. Grill the pork on all sides until cooked through,  about 8 -10 minutes depending on thickness
  3. While pork is grilling spray or rub the peaches all over with olive oil
  4. In a dry pan over high heat, toast the pine nuts
  5. Toss the pine nuts in a bowl with the balsamic, blue cheese and shallots.
  6. When the pork is done, remove from the heat and let rest
  7. Add the peaches to the grill or pan and grill on all sides
  8. Toss the peaches with the pine nut/balsamic mix
  9. Serve the pork with the peach/pine nut/balsamic mixture, dividing it equally between the 4 pieces of pork.

Enjoy! We sure did!!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Ponzu Tuna and Sesame Bok Choy and Noodles

I'm boiling up a big batch of noodles today since it's cooler.  In the summertime it's nice to have pasta and rice pre-cooked and in the freezer, ready to go for those BBQ meals.  Cause seriously, who wants to boil a big pot of water at the end of a hot summer day?!  Part of today's noodles will get used in my Sesame Bok Choy and Noodles. The rest will hit the freezer for another meal later on.

I picked up some Albacore Tuna Loins from the CostCo.  $9.99 for 5 loins frozen.  I try to keep some fish in the freezer and the price on these couldn't be beat.  I didn't have high expectations but these were awesome! 

Ponzu Tuna Loins
Serves 3

  • 3 tuna loins
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce

  1. Heat the grill or grill pan on high heat
  2. Mix together the lime juice and soy sauce to make the ponzu sauce.
  3. Marinate the tuna loins in the ponzu for 10 minutes
  4. Sear on each side 1-2 minutes for rare.
  5. Heat the leftover marinate in the microwave for 3 minutes on high.
  6. Serve the tuna loins with the heated leftover marinate ponzu sauce.

Sesame Bok Choy and Noodles
Serves 3 - 4

  • 4 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 head of bok choy, white and green parts separated and sliced.
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked spaghettini noodles, preferably whole wheat

  1. Heat a dry saute pan over medium high heat with the sesame seeds added
  2. Heat until the sesame seeds are golden, remove the seeds
  3. Heat the oil in the pan.
  4. Add the onions and garlic and heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute
  5. Toss in the white part of the bok choy and cook until softened
  6. Add in the green onions and noodles and cook until the greens are a bit wilted and the noodles are heated through, about 1 - 2 minutes
  7. Serve the tuna from above on a bed of the sesame bok choy and noodles with the leftover heated ponzu sauce on top!
(OMG, I just made this, ate it and still forgot to get a picture of it! UGH!)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Simple Pork Kebabs and Lovely Sauted Greens

Just finished the most lovely meal.  This morning I was feeling uninspired so I wanted something simple and healthy.  My expectations where exceeded...

Simple Tuscan Inspired Pork Kebabs
Serves 2 -3

  • 300grams/12 ounces pork sirloin, diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • fresh herbs, oregano, thyme, rosemary
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced 1 inch thick
  • 1 onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 4-6 large cherry tomatoes

  1. Toss the pork in a glass bowl or casserole dish with the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, herbs, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.  Let marinate 6 - 12 hours.  Turn occasionally
  2. About an hour before cooking add in the zucchini, onion and tomatoes to the marinating pork and toss well.
  3. Load the pork, zucchini, onions and tomatoes onto skewers.
  4. Preheat a grill to high heat.
  5. Grill the kebabs on each side for about 4 - 6 minutes each until the meat is browned and cooked through.

Lovely Sauteed Greens
Serves 2 -3

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 -6 cups of greens, I used beet greens and some spinach
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat
  2. Saute the onion until soft and lightly browned
  3. Toss in the garlic and saute for about 20 seconds
  4. Add in the greens, reduce heat to medium, tossing the greens until they are wilted
  5. Toss in the red wine vinegar
  6. Season with Salt and Pepper as necessary (to taste) and serve sprinkled with a bit of Parmesan if you wish.

I could not believe how awesome these greens were.  I usually need cheese on my greens but these were great without any cheese....  Even my mom loved them and she doesn't typically enjoy bitter greens.  The red wine vinegar really balances out the flavours of the bitter greens.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Jacques Pepin - The Apprentice, My Life in the Kitchen

I have just finished the most lovely book, Jacques Pepin's The Apprentice, My Life in the Kitchen.  I realize I may be late coming to the table since Jacques Pepin's memoir was published in 2003 but better late than never.  Not only is his approach to food and cooking so sincere and passionate, his ability to storytell is fantastic.  I'm only sorry I've finished the book.  Typically I believe in passing books on to friends, family or the second hand store but this one is staying in my libary, my cookbook libary to be exact.  He ends each chapter by sharing a wonderful recipe out of his repetoire.  I've already incorporated his New England Clam Chowder recipe when making my own last week.

Jacques, like most french cooks (well all good cooks really) appreciates eating local and seasonal.  Funny how the rest of us are just getting that message now.  Years of watching food television programming certainly tained me as I recreated the recipes shown, fussy and with ingredients typically not local or in season.  But I have always noticed how I make different types of recipes in the different seasons because I feel like eating different things depending on the weather.  Some people actually make the same things all year around!  I get excited when the seasons' peaking produce hits the markets and stores.  I would like to mention that I cut my teeth on old PBS cooking shows of the late 70's and early 80's, the good ones that showed technique for bringing out the best in food and respecting the ingredients, which programming is thankfully getting back to these days.  I saw more than one Julia Child and Jacques shows back in the day.  I used to then hit the kitchen and try to emulate what they had done or how they had done it, putting on my own cooking show for the dog.  I was about 9....  Thanks Julia and Jacques.

One thing that stuck out in this book for me was the love Jacques has of living off the land, foraging and growing what you eat.  There is nothing I love more than heading out into the yard to snip some lettuce and fresh herbs for the days meals.  And next year?!  Well I'll be trimming off those dandelion leaves in the early spring now that I know when best to harvest them courtesy of Jacques directions.  (I have a ton on my side lawn!) Then I'll open up Jacques' book and make his Dandelion salad.  Not sure I can say the same for the snails/slugs in my garden that he liked to harvest around his home.  My North American palate is just not that adventurous I'm afraid to say....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Smashed Potato Salad

A simple twist on potato salad!  I started with smashed potatoes which are one of my grill time favorites.

Smashed Potatoes
  1. Simply micro a few potatoes until just undercooked.  You can boil them with the skins on or bake them if you don't want to nuke them. 
  2. Let the tatties cool until you can handle them.
  3. Take the palm of your hand an smash each potato until it's about an inch thick or so. 
  4. Drizzle each potato with olive oil and your seasonings of choice.  I like Ms. Dash Herbs and Garlic. 
  5. Turn potato over and season the other side.
  6. Grill on high heat until crispy on the outside, on both sides. 
  7. Be sure to make extras to save for potato salad later!

Now on to the potato salad!

Smashed Potato Salad
Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp creamed jar horseradish
  • 4-6 smashed potatoes (see above), diced
  • 3 green or spring onions, chopped
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, thyme, oregano, chives, rosemary, basil, parsley, or whatever combo you have on hand

  1. Mix the mayo, mustard and horseradish together.  I follow a rule of 3 parts mayo, 1 part Dijon and 1/2 part horseradish.  Taste and adjust the dressing mix to your liking
  2. Toss the potatoes, onions and herbs.
  3. Blend the dressing mix with the potato mix.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

BBQ Fish in Foil (more recipes)

Lately I've been noticing the price of Salmon and Trout has gone up, while these sturdy types are great for the grill, I'm watching my budget so I've been looking for alternatives.  I've also not been happy with how much fish we've been having in our diets overall so I'm always on the lookout for any type of fish to up our intake.  A lot of the white or smaller fish are just too delicate to handle well on the BBQ, although if you can get a fillet with the skin on then you're in great shape for the grill.  Doing fish in a foil packet makes it manageable so I've been doing them quite often.  (Planking it on cedar planks would work well too!  But that's another post altogether...) Plus you can add veggies and sauce and have a complete meal ready to go.  Let me tell you of two variations I've tried lately that really rocked it out of park. 
I finally came across some catfish.  I love catfish but it's been hard to find at the grocery store.  Used to be you could find it at the fish counter all the time, but not these days.  So I was very excited to find it at the farmers market this past week.  It was amazing!  And here's what I did with it:

Catfish, Spinach and Goat Cheese
Serves 4

  • 4 pieces of foil, 12inches X 24 inches each
  • Cooking spray
  • 3-4 green onions, diced
  • 1 lb Catfish
  • 2 tsp lemon pepper salt free seasoning or 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice and 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp dried dill
  • pinch of salt
  • 8 cups fresh spinach
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, about a cup
  • 4-8 tbsp of water

  1. Divide the above ingredients in 4 to fill 4 packets.
  2. Layer them in the order presented above, spray foil on the shiny side with the cooking spray
  3. In the middle of the sprayed foil place the green onions, then the fish, followed by the lemon pepper seasoning, dill, salt, spinach, nutmeg.
  4. Top with the goat cheese, crumbled
  5. Close the packets across the top and one side and pour in 1- 2 tbsp of water in each packet and seal.
  6. Bake in a 350 oven or on indirect medium heat on the BBQ for 20 - 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.  Any thicker than 1 inch and you should increase the cooking time another 5 - 10 minutes. 

You can prep these ahead, in the morning when you have time (I did up mine before hitting the yard for some gardening while I still had the energy to care about dinner) or before guests arrive...  So convenient!
Thai Flounder, Veggies and Noodles
Serves 4
  • 4 pieces of foil, 12" X 24"
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 cups cooked whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 lb flounder or other white fish
  • 4 green onions, diced
  • 2 cups diced broccoli (I used frozen and it worked perfect!)
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 roasted red pepper, diced
  • 4-8 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can, 14oz light coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp fresh cilantro and or basil, chopped
  1. Spray foil sheets on the shiny side with the cooking spray
  2. Layer in the spaghetti, fish, green onions, broccoli, carrots, red pepper, and mushrooms
  3. Mix the coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar and lemon juice.
  4. Fold up the packets, leaving one side open.
  5. Divide and pour the sauce mix evenly in the 4 packets and fold the remaining side closed on each.
  6. Bake at 350 or over indirect heat in a medium BBQ for 20 -25 minutes. 
  7. Top with the fresh herbs before serving.
And the very best part of this foil packet method - clean up is a pinch!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Updated Red Beans and Rice

This time around I adjusted my original seasoning from my Red Bean and Rice recipe.  Instead of Cajun Seasoning and Brown Sugar I used the following:

1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp celery seeds

And instead of dried oregano I used 3 Tbsp fresh chopped because I needed to pinch back the oregano growing in my garden. 

It was supper yummmmm!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Great Site!

In my adventures around the Internet I've come across a site worth sharing.  Broke and Healthy.  It can be challenging to balance our budgets with healthy choices so this site is a welcome pit spot along the information highway.  (I hope it grows cause it could be a great one stop spot for all your cheap living info needs.)You can find lots of info here on the Internet to make your life less expensive while maintaining a healthy lifestyle so go for it!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

BBQ! Turnip Fries and Fish Packs

Happy June! Here are two quickies for the BBQ. I didn't serve these recipes together but they are both worth sharing.

Turnip Fries
Serves 3 -4


  • 1/2 medium turnip, cut into 1/4 inch fries

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp cumin

  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. Heat oven or BBQ to high heat (425F)

  2. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil (shiny side towards the food!) and spray with cooking spray or drizzle olive oil and smear it around

  3. Toss the turnip fries with the remaining ingredients

  4. Spread the turnip over the baking sheet

  5. Bake for 10 minutes, flip the fries and cook another 10 - 15 minutes until crispy.

Fish Packs
Serves 4


  • 1 lb fish fillet, I used ocean trout but you could use any fish you choose

  • 1 tsp dried dill

  • 2 green onions, diced

  • 1 small thinly sliced zucchini

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 4 cups fresh spinach

  • pinch of nutmeg


  1. Heat BBQ to high heat

  2. Cut fillet into 4 portions

  3. Tear 4 pieces of aluminum foil, about 18 inches by 12 inches.

  4. Spray each piece of foil on the shiny side with cooking spray

  5. Layer ingredients as listed above, salmon, dill, green onions, etc.

  6. Close foil on top and one end.

  7. Toss in 1 Tbsp water into each packet and close the remaining end.

  8. Cook on BBQ for 20 minutes. This is for a fillet about 1/2 inch thick. If the fillet is thicker, add 5 minutes per 1/2 inch.

These were simple and very tasty! (I've got to start remembering to get pics of these delicious dishes...)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Leftover Rice and Risotto Salmon Cakes

I can not believe how long it has taken me to get these two wonderful recipes up on the blog. Holy smokes can I procrastinate. However, I was only nominated for the "Procrastinator's Award". My friend Colin won. But I digress. Gardening has been occupying most of my time these days. I'm starting to love spring for the gardening potential. Good exercise without going to the gym and the possibility of all those lovely veggies, herbs and flowers. Mom is second in command out in the garden so I'm thinking I'll seriously benefit from her experience this year.

Yesterday we went to the market. I wasn't expecting much in way of fresh veggies since the season has just started around here but there was lots of fresh asparagus, beet greens, rhubarb, fiddleheads.... and the most beautiful bunch of Swiss chard. Even more impressive was the selection of veggie and flower plants which were totally unexpected! These plants put my little seedlings to shame. No worries though, my gardening ego can take it. I'll admit defeat. And I did. And I bought some lovely tomato, pepper and herb plants. Maybe this will be the year I finally get some tomatoes out of my garden... I've been blaming the cooler weather out here next to the ocean (it's 22C and sunny in the city today while it's 11C and foggy out here) but it may be my little tiny seedlings that are started too late. Here's hoping cause I've got big healthy plants ready to go (thanks market vendors)!

Okay, on the recipes. I had leftover brown rice and asparagus risotto in the freezer so I pulled them out with 2 can of salmon and decided to try 2 different types of salmon cakes. Both were a huge hit! Here you go.

Curry Brown Rice Salmon Cakes
Serves 2 -3


  • 1 can pink or red salmon

  • 1.5 cups cooked brown rice

  • 1 tbsp fresh chives or cilantro or 1 tsp dried

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tbsp curry powder

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs


  1. Remove the skin and bones from the salmon.

  2. Mix the ingredients together and form into 4 - 5 patties. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil (spray the aluminum with cooking spray)

  4. Bake in a 425F oven for 15 - 20 minutes flipping the cakes over at around 10 minutes.

  5. Serve with Yogurt Mustard Lemon Sauce below

Leftover Risotto and Dill Salmon Cakes
Serves 2 - 3


  • 1 can pink or red salmon

  • 1 cup cooked risotto (I used leftover asparagus risotto)

  • 2 tsp dried dill

  • 1 egg

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

  • 1 tbsp fresh chives or 1 tsp dried

See above!

Yogurt Mustard Lemon Sauce


  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

  • 2 tbsp mayo

  • 2 tsp dijon mustard

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder


  • Mix and let sit for 30 minutes before serving.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Quinoa Bowl with Squash and Spinach

Here's my first quinoa bowl recipe. I seriously doubt it will be my last. This is easy and delicious. And it is cheap when you consider how far a little dried quinoa goes and since it's a complete protein you can have a vegetarian meal which is always less expensive.

Quinoa Bowl with Squash and Spinach
Serves 4


  • 3/4 cup dried quinoa

  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth or water

  • 2 tsp olive oil

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 cups diced roasted butternut squash (or frozen)

  • 3 cups fresh spinach

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 3 tbsp shredded basil

  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan + more for serving

  • sprinkle of Ms. Dash herb and garlic and/or salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat the broth in a medium pot to a boil

  2. Add quinoa and simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside

  3. Heat the 2 tsp oil in a pan

  4. Saute the onions until browned

  5. Add in the garlic and squash and saute until golden

  6. Add in the spinach and cook until wilted

  7. Toss in the quinoa, basil, olive oil and Parmesan

  8. Stir until heated through

  9. Season to taste with the Ms. Dash or salt and pepper

  10. Serve with extra Parmesan.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Veal Bolognese

I love a good Italian sauce. And pasta makes me weak in the knees. So here's another bolognese that got rave reviews. The key is the ground veal. It gives the sauce a certain sweetness. You could substitute pork or beef but it won't be the same.

Veal Bolognese
Serves 4 - 6


  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 large carrots, diced

  • 1 lb ground veal, lean

  • 1 medium zucchini, diced

  • 19 oz/ 540ml can of Italian chunky stewed tomatoes, no salt added

  • 1 tbsp tomato paste

  • 1/2 cup skim milk


  1. Heat a saute pan over medium high heat with the olive oil

  2. Saute the onions, garlic and carrots until tender

  3. Add in the veal and saute until browned and cooked through

  4. Toss in the zucchini, tomatoes, tomato paste and skim milk

  5. Simmer for 10 minutes

  6. Serve over pasta with Parmesan cheese


Friday, April 29, 2011

Banger and Mash Pie

Here it is, finally. It's been a long day!
First attempt. Not so good. I've been up over 13 hours. Give me strength...

Second attempt. Better. No need to be perfect with puffed pastry in this sort of pie. Most pubs have the insides bubbling out all over the crust. It adds to the charm! (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

Bangers and Mash Pie
Serves 4


  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1/2 tbsp butter

  • 1 large onion, finely diced

  • 2 banger sausages

  • 2 tbsp flour

  • 2 cups water

  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/4 inch cubes

  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

  • 1.5 - 2 cups frozen peas

  • Package of frozen puffed pastry or refrigerator pie crusts

  • 1 egg, beaten

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F

  2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat with the olive oil and butter

  3. Saute the onions and sausage, removed from the casing until browned

  4. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 1 minute

  5. Add in the water, potatoes, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and onion powder.

  6. Simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender

  7. Add in the peas and heat through

  8. Cut the pastry into 4 rectangles

  9. Spray 4 small casserole dishes with cooking spray

  10. Place one half of the pasty in each dish with the other half hanging over the side

  11. Spoon in the filling mix evenly between the 4 dishes

  12. Turn over the other half of the pastry to cover the casserole.

  13. Brush on the beaten egg.

  14. Cook for 25- 30 minutes until golden. Check often, ovens and casseroles vary!

Really tasty! Quite easy too (aside from the battle with the first puff pastry) They looked fine in the end.


Wedding Day

Mom in her wedding hat enjoying her English Breakfast tea!

10 AM and I'm losing steam. Wedding was beautiful. Someone needs to provide Princess Eugenie and Beatrice some styling lessons. Camilla has no shame. But overall a lovely day. You can tell William and Catherine really love each other and share a solid foundation for a good relationship. He is lucky to have found such a great partner to share his royal responsibilities (and burdens) with.

If you think the monarchy costs the British people you'd be quite wrong. The monarchy actually pays the British government and the queen pays income and capital gains taxes. Check it out here along with other interesting facts (Camilla could actually become queen...).

No Pimms were to be found here so I had to forgo the Pimms Cup cocktail. Straight champagne it is!

I haven't made the Bangers and Mash pies but I will this afternoon and post the recipe then. If that's not enough time for you to make it tonight.... well it'll be here for another British event... Queen's Jubilee, opening of the Summer London Olympics, to celebrate the birth of William and Kate's first born (with a year I'm predicting!)....

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Royal Wedding Viewing Menu

I'm ready!

The hat is the extent of my official Royal Wedding outfit. I'll wear it with my jammies. 4am is a little early to put on a fancy smancy outfit...

Since I'll be glued to the TV all day, I'm doing some 'make ahead' dishes. Here's the day's menu:

Whole Wheat Cranberry Scones (not my recipe but very, very good. Serve with your favorite jam)

Assorted Tea Sandwiches

Curry Egg Salad (regular egg salad with a dash of curry powder)

Apple and Cheddar (sliced apple and cheddar with honey dijon mustard)

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese (this one is pretty self-explanatory)

Ham and Mustard (again, self explanatory)

Bangers and Mash Pies

Instead of having bangers, mashed potatoes and mushy peas, I'm going to take puffed pastry and make a pie out of diced banger sausage, potatoes and peas. I'll post the finalized recipe once I make it. The point is that I can make these up tonight and they'll be ready to go tomorrow evening.

And a large pot of tea, of course! And maybe a Pimm's Cup or Pimm's Royal or two...

It's gonna be a partay!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mom's Birthday Dinner

The day started with a lovely brunch of smoked salmon eggs benny with the yogurt sauce I posted yesterday (see below). Then I made this Sour Cream Cheesecake. Next time I'd half the topping since it spilled over the pan. It was a simple and delicious recipe. I sliced up some fresh strawberries for the top. We went with the traditional Newfie Jiggs Dinner but instead of salt meat we had corned beef, a preference of mine and mom's since our Jersey days. The beige mashed stuff in the blue glass bowl is pea pudding. Just yellow split peas boiled in the pot in a pudding bag. Any cotton pillowcase will do to in a pinch. Tie it up tight and toss it in the and simmer for a couple of hours until the peas are soft then mash with a bit of butter. OMG, it's sooooo yummy.

You start by boiling the meat and peas pudding in a large pot for a couple of hours until the peas are soft and the meat is tender. Toss in some turnip and carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks. Cook those for about 20 minutes and then toss in the peeled potatoes and chucks of cabbage. I usually pull out the peas pudding at this point. Cook the veggies and meat for another 20 minutes or so until the potatoes are fork tender. That's it.

I use any leftover pea pudding as the base for pea soup. I also freeze the liquid I boiled the meat and veggies in for a base for pea, veggie or beef soup or stew later. It's got great flavour. My favorite is the leftover hash the day after. Mash or dice up the veggies and meat and throw it in a pan with a couple of big spoons of peas pudding. Sometimes I add some diced onion first. Best comfort food ever!

I could have made anything Mom wanted for her birthday but she thoroughly enjoyed this meal!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Birthday Brunch Yogurt Sauce

Today is my mom's birthday. I'm in the kitchen all day making some favs for her. We started the day with Eggs Benny with Smoked Salmon. Mom's watching her weight so I thought I'd try something lighter for the hollandaise sauce. Here's what I came up with. (Mom licked her plate so I think it was an acceptable substitute!)
Birthday Brunch Yogurt Sauce
Serves 4

  • 1 cup low fat or fat free plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 2 green onions (scallions or spring onions)
  • 2 tbsp light miracle whip or sour cream
  1. Mix and enjoy on eggs benny, veggies or fish.

Yup, that simple. Enjoy!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rainy Day Minestrone

It's a crappy, rainy, cold day around here. Mud up to our eyeballs. Even the dogs are thinking it's too wet to play outside! I was going to heat up some leftovers from the freezer for supper so I could get some household chores done but it's too dreary to think about chores. So since I'm not getting anything done around the house I figure I might as well play around in the kitchen. This recipe is great to make a supper for one night and then have cups of it for a starter for the rest of the week in place of a salad since its full of veggies and a good soul warmer for these chilly spring days! I've got a multi grain ready to bake loaf in the freezer that will round out the meal quite nicely.

Use whatever veggies you've got on hand. The combo here is what I had handy.

Rainy Day Minestrone

Serves 8 -10


  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 2 large carrots, diced

  • 2 ribs celery, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 6 cups chicken broth

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

  • 1 798ml/28 oz can of tomatoes

  • 1/2 large cabbage diced

  • 2 tsp each dried parsley, oregano and thyme

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 medium zucchini

  • 1 cup orzo pasta or some other small pasta.

  • 1 540ml/19 oz white kidney beans (also known as cannellini beans)

  • Parmesan to serve.


  1. Heat a large pot over medium high heat with the olive oil

  2. Add in the onions, carrots and celery and saute until soft, about 5 minutes

  3. Add in the garlic, chicken broth, lemon juice, tomatoes, cabbage and dried herbs.

  4. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes over low heat.

  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  6. If I'm making this for later I would stop here and let the soup sit until shortly before I'm ready to head to the table.

  7. Bring the soup up to a boil.

  8. Add in the zucchini and pasta

  9. Simmer until the pasta is done. (refer to package directions for time)

  10. Stir in the beans and heat through

  11. Serve with a generous sprinkle of grated parmesan


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Rant - Processed Foods Are Evil!

  • I'm pulling out my soapbox and hopping on it. Although I should be knitting my mother's birthday gift this is just too important. (and my hand is going numb again so I could really use the break) I just watched Dr. Oz reveal the recent research that has found a link between preservatives, processed foods and Alzheimer's. I've been saying for a couple of years now how important it is to find the shortest distance from Mother Nature's hands to your mouth when making food choices. Processed foods are EVIL! Stop eating them. They are bad for you. They increase the risk of cancer and diabetes. And now we see there is a correlation between type 2 diabetes (previously known as adult onset diabetes but is now seen regularly in kids) and Alzheimer's. Scared?! You should be!

  • For years we've known the correlation between diet and heart disease but we all must start to recognize the connection between our complete health, physical and mental (the brain is just another body organ after all) and what we put in our bodies. Any population that has been touted as 'being health', Sardinia, Greek, Italian, Indian, are population groups that eat natural food products with no processed foods. It seems living off the land is a good thing. But if you can't live off the land, you can at least make better choices when you put food into your body. What exactly are processed foods? A good general way to look at it, to help keep things simple, is once man has interfered, the food have become processed. Natural sources are always, I repeat ALWAYS, best. Read the ingredients, if you can't identify everything in the list put it back on the shelf. There are special things to look for, Glucose-fructose (sugar), MSG and has Dr. Oz pointed out, the dreaded Sodium Nitrite. Here's a good list to start with!

  • The label says it's healthy and natural with less fat, injected with omega 3 or probiotics. Must be good for me, right? Hold the phone folks! If it's not as Mother Nature intended beware. It's officially a processed food. Adding nutrients into other food sources isn't the best way to get the nutrient. Get your omega 3 from fish, not added to your yogurt or margarine (don't even get me started on margarine, use olive oil and limited amounts of butter - way better than man-made margarine, I don't care what health organization the margarine producer is supporting...). Check out a great article from on foods touted as "healthy". Actually the whole site is pretty great for a different perspective on healthy living.

  • One more thing to consider under the heading of processed foods. White flour, white sugar, white rice, anything processed to 'white' is bad for you. Period. No dancing around it. When it comes to food, white ain't cool. Save 'white' for your summer wardrobe, not your diet. If you can find a local small mill that is stone grinding flour or grains, buy, buy, buy! Even white salt should be replaced with sea salt. Yup, less processing, just as Momma Nature intended.

  • I'm getting off my soap box now. For supper this evening I'll be having leftover Cheesy Spinach Pasta Bake (see below) which has all real foods, nothing processed!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Cheesy Spinach Pasta Bake

I'd picked up a large box of fresh baby spinach at the CostCo and wanted to use it up by it "Best Before" date so I was thinking veggie lasagna. When I checked I was low on lasagna noodles but had tons of these wonderful ziti noodles. Hmmm, baked ziti is one of my favorites of all times. This is a healthy variation on the dish. It's a bit time consuming making it a perfect weekend meal with lots of leftovers for lunches, another weeknight meal or the freezer.
Cheesy Spinach Pasta Bake

Serves 8-10


  • 1 lb/454 g dried ziti or tube type pasta

  • olive oil

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 28 oz/798 ml can diced tomatoes, no salt added

  • 2 tsp dried oregano

  • 6-8 cups fresh spinach, chopped or 2 packs frozen, drained

  • 500ml container low fat cottage cheese

  • 3 cups shredded part skim mozzarella

  • 1.5 cups shredded parmesan

  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook the pasta as directed on the package but pull it from the water about 2 minutes before the recommended cooking time (it will absorb more fluid while baking in the oven) and drain

  2. Heat a large pot over medium high with a drizzle of olive oil

  3. Saute the onions until soft.

  4. Add in the garlic, tomatoes and oregano, simmer for 5 minutes

  5. Add in the spinach and stir until just wilted

  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the cottage cheese, 2 cups of the mozza and 1 cup of the parmesan.

  7. Add in the pasta.

  8. Pour the mix into a 9 X 13 baking pan (lasagna pan)

  9. Top with the remaining cheese.

  10. Bake at 350 for 35 - 40 minutes until the dish is bubbly and brown.

Enjoy! (This one is nice for a make ahead dish for entertaining!)

Thursday, March 31, 2011


This week I tried a recipe for Quinoa Cakes I'd seen on CBC's Steven and Chris show. They were cooking with "Best Recipes" Kary Osmond. This can be found here. I actually followed the recipe to the letter which is not something I usually do. While it was a bit time consuming (you have to cook the quinoa ahead and let it cool and once you assemble the cakes you have to refrigerate them for an hour) you could do it on the weekend and have leftovers for another meal during the week or for lunches. It was worth the effort! This recipe got rave reviews around here. Quinoa is a complete protein so it's great for a vegetarian meal. It has a fun texture that's quite appealing to most picky eaters. I came across another recipe for a Quinoa Bowl which looks like lots of fun because you can play with the ingredients. Treat it like a pasta or rice and toss with whatever you have on hand. Blue cheese, feta or parmesan finish off the dish (I'm a cheese-a-holic). ps. it's pronounced Keen-wha!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tuscan Chicken and Bean Stew

Keeping with the theme of cheap, easy and healthy, I bring to you this delish stewie soup recipe.

Tuscan Chicken and Bean Stew
Serves 4 -6

1 cup navy or cannelloni beans, dried (or 19 oz can)
2 slices bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
3/4lb chicken breast, bone in, skin removed
4 cups water
2 tsp dried rosemary and thyme
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper as necessary
1 pk or 5 nuggets frozen spinach or 4 cups fresh chopped (as much as you want, use Kale or Swiss Chard if you're feeling frisky!)
1/2 cup or so of grated parmesan cheese for serving.

Soak the beans overnight covered in water if using dried. Drain and set aside.
Heat bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat. Cook until just crispy. Remove from pot and set aside
Toss onions in pot with bacon fat. Cook until soft and browned
Add in Chicken breast and brown on all sides
Add in beans, water, rosemary and thyme and simmer until the chicken is cooked through (20 - 30 minutes) (this makes a chicken broth which is why I used just plain water)
Remove chicken and tear chicken off the bone. Return the chicken to the pot
Check beans, making sure they are tender. Don't add tomatoes until the beans are as soft as you want them. (the acid in the tomatoes will stop the cooking process for the beans)
Add in the tomatoes. Check the taste and salt and pepper as necessary.
Simmer 10 minutes
Add in the spinach and heat through or until wilted.
Serve each bowl topped with a good shake of parmesan cheese.


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Sweet Potato Hash

This recipe rocks it out of the house. Seriously. And it's cheap, healthy and surprisingly quick. Food costs are expected to rise 7 - 10% in the next while so I'll really be focusing on cheap, healthy eats. The best way to combat rising food costs is to buy local! So hit those farmers markets!
This recipe calls for pork but you can use your favorite sausage and leave out the 1/2 tsp each of the dried spices. Try to buy the lean sausage. Take the sausage out of the casing and break it up in the pan as you brown it.

Sweet Potato Hash
Serves 4

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, canola oil or a bit of bacon fat (I use a combo of oil and bacon fat to give the pork more flavour - if using sausage, omit the bacon fat)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 lb lean pork sirloin, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp each, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, black pepper and coriander.
  • Salt as necessary
  • 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  1. Place the sweet potatoes in a pot with about 1/2 inch of water on the bottom. Heat over high and boil about 5 minutes until just fork tender. Drain
  2. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over medium high heat with the oil/fat.
  3. Saute the onion until soft
  4. Add the pork, garlic and spices and cook through. Check for salt and add as necessary
  5. Add the drained potatoes and cook until browned, about 5 minutes
  6. Add the maple syrup and nutmeg and heat through

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Shrimp Quesadillas

Last night I made a quick and tasty dish with some frozen, cooked shrimp. I always have cooked shrimp in the freezer because they make a great low calorie, lean protein evening snack with a little cocktail sauce. But they're also great for quick meals, salads, to throw in with pasta...

Here's what I did
Per serving:
2 tortillas
red onion
lime juice (just a little squeeze on the avocado)
chili powder
garlic powder
onion powder
red pepper
Layer all the goodies on one tortilla, cover with the other tortilla and bake at 350 until the cheese has melted.

This dish inspired me to think of other ways to make quesadillas or tacos. Leftovers of any meat, fish or seafood will work. It's a great way to make a little go a long way. And each person can customize their own. I don't like mushrooms in general so I left them off mine. Easy!

You can be traditional and use salsa and sour cream. I find most fish taco recipes don't use a lot of or even any tomatoes or salsa and I find it's a nice break to leave them out. The point of this type of dish is to do what you want. You have a nice blank slate - fill it as you see fit!

ps. these were deadly tasty!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Beautiful Beef Stew

The ingredient list looks long but this really is a simple stew. I was quite impressed with the flavour if I do say so myself. Wonderful for these dark, cold days of winter.

Beautiful Beef Stew
Serves 8 - 10

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs stew beef
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced thin
  • 4 - 6 carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2" pieces
  • 4 - 6 parsnips, peeled and diced into 1/2" pieces
  • 1/2 - 1 turnip, peeled and diced into 1/2" pieces
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic, minced (or 2 cloves raw garlic)
  • 1/2 bottle red wine
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 6 cups water (or 6 cups low sodium beef broth instead of the bouillon cube and water)
  • 25 shakes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 4 cups potatoes, peeled and diced

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat.
  2. Saute the stew beef until brown.
  3. Sprinkle with the flour and saute until thick
  4. Add the onion and celery and saute until soft, about 5 minutes
  5. Toss in the everything but the potatoes
  6. Simmer over medium low heat 15 minutes
  7. Add the potatoes and continue simmering until they are tender when poked with a fork.
You can also make this dish in the slow cooker/crock pot. Do steps 1 -4 as directed then add them and everything but the potatoes in the slow cooker. Simmer 6 hours on low. Add the potatoes and turn the slow cooker up to high and cook until the potatoes are tender, 20 - 30 minutes.

Spinach and Beet Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

Here is a quickie that's super tasty. Nice with a pureed soup or grilled meat.

Spinach and Beet Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 8 cups of washed and torn up spinach
  • 1/2 cup diced pickled beets
  • Light blue cheese dressing

  1. Heat a dry saute pan over medium high heat
  2. Toss the pumpkin seeds in the pan and heat until brown and plump
  3. Remove the seeds and set aside
  4. If you wish you can saute the shallots, add oil to the pan and saute until soft and golden. (but you can serve them raw in the salad)
  5. Divide the spinach, beets, shallots and pumpkin seeds between 4 salad plates.
  6. Drizzle with the blue cheese dressing.

Yes it is that simple. Elegant. Impressive. Easy. Done!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Meatloaf Most Excellent

Moist. That's the word to describe this meatloaf. And what's winter without meatloaf?! Well dull really. So here's one I whipped up last week. I used my food processor but if you don't have one just chop up the ingredients really fine.

Meatloaf Most Excellent
Serves 4 - 6

  • 2 cups diced stale french bread
  • 1/2 - 1 cup milk
  • 1/c grated parmesan
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic (or 1 large raw clove)
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tbsp creamed horseradish (the kind you get in the jar)
  • 5 or more good squirts of Worcestershire Sauce
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp steak spice
  • 1/4 cup ketchup

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. Soak bread and milk in a bowl for about 5 minutes until the milk is absorbed. Squeeze out the excess milk from the bread and place the bread in the food processor.
  3. Add the parmesan, onion, garlic and rosemary to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped
  4. Add the parmesan bread mix to a bowl with the remaining ingredients and mix until just blended.
  5. Form into a loaf, spread the ketchup on top and bake for 55 minutes or until the internal temp is 165F.

The soaked bread really does make it moist! Enjoy!

Sesame Broccoli - Super Simple Sides

I often find that broccoli is bitter during the winter months. This recipe is perfect for dressing up that out of season broccoli. Or you can use frozen. You can make this side while chicken or fish bakes in the oven. Add a potato or sweet potato for a quick, balanced, healthy meal!

Sesame Broccoli
Serves 4

  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 bunch of broccoli (about a pound or 500 grams), cut into long stalks
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 medium clove of garlic, minced

  1. Heat a DRY wok or saute pan over medium high heat. Toss sesame seeds around the pan until golden, 2 - 5 minutes
  2. Remove the sesame seeds from the pan and set aside.
  3. Fill the pan with 1/2 inch of water and return to the heat
  4. Add the broccoli and stem until tender, 5 - 10 minutes
  5. Remove the broccoli from the pan and set aside with the sesame seeds
  6. Add the sesame oil to the pan and heat until hot
  7. Add the garlic, broccoli and sesame seeds to the pan and saute until heated through, about 5 minutes


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chinese Sesame Noodles

Here's a yummy dish I made for Chinese New Year but it's great for any night of the week. Use any combination of veggies you like.

Chinese Sesame Noodles
Serves 4

  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3/4lb chicken boneless breast or thighs (or leftovers)
  • 2 cups each, broccoli and red cabbage, both chopped
  • 2-3 green onions sliced diagonally
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 inch cube of ginger, minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soya sauce, low sodium
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup hot water

  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions.
  2. Drain and toss with 1 tbsp of the sesame oil
  3. Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil in a wok over medium high heat
  4. Saute the chicken until cooked through and remove from the wok
  5. Meanwhile, mix all the sauce ingredients together in either a blender or use a hand blender (immersion blender), set aside.
  6. Add the broccoli and red cabbage to the wok and cook until tender
  7. Toss in the green onions and the sesame seeds. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes (you can also toast the seeds in a dry pan if you wish)
  8. Add in the sauce and heat through
  9. Add in the noodles and heat through again.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Polenta with Italian Tomato, Zucchini and Bean Sauce

Late night I was in the mood for some "stick to your ribs" food. I made this dish and it got rave reviews. (And I felt like I had just spent the day on the Italian Alps.) If you don't want to make polenta (although it's dead easy and freezes well) then pasta or gnocchi would also work. You can make up the polenta ahead of time or on the weekend and have it ready to go for a quick weeknight meal.

Polenta with Italian Tomato, Zucchini and Bean Sauce
Serves 4 - 5


  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 14 oz can of No Salt Added tomato sauce
  • 19 oz can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  1. Grease a 9X5 bread pan and put aside.
  2. Heat the broth and Italian seasoning in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering
  3. Pour in the cornmeal a bit at a time, whisking until blended.
  4. Heat until thickened (add more cornmeal if necessary) about 3 minutes
  5. Stir in the cheese and immediately pour into the prepared bread pan
  6. Let cool for 30 - 45 minutes. The turn the loaf out on to a cutting board and slice into 1/2 inch slices. At this point you can freeze the polenta for another time or refrigerate it for later in the week.
  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium high heat
  2. If using the polenta, heat a saute or grill pan over high heat.
  3. Add the onion, zucchini and Italian seasoning and saute until soft, about 5 minutes
  4. Pour in the tomato sauce and beans.
  5. Simmer for 5 - 10 minutes
  6. Meanwhile, brown or grill the polenta slices in the saute or grill pan on both sides until brown.
  7. Stir the Parmesan cheese in the tomato and bean sauce and serve immediately over the polenta.

Seriously - delicious... (I have got to remember to get a pic before it's all gone...)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Never a dull moment around here (Tips for making life easier in the kitchen.. I can't help you with everything else...)

Wondering where I've been? Well December 28th I fell on the one lone little patch of ice in my driveway while taking out the garbage and I broke my wrist. It's been a real treat... New Years dinner at my house was an adventure in frustration. I directed and mom cooked. She enjoyed it as much as I did. (can you smell the sarcasm from there?)

So due to this recent development, there have been a lot of short cuts in my kitchen. And while I have had to find simpler ways to cook I have realized that these are great ideas for busy people too! Here's a few simple things you can do to help make meal times easier at your house even if you haven't got a gimp fin:
  • Have a food processor? Use it! It can do all the chopping, shredded, dicing, etc for you. Throw the parts in the dishwasher (except the blade - hand wash and dry it immediately and put it away in a safe place) and you're done. If you don't own a food processor, think about buying one if you find meal times a chore. And keep it on the counter. If you put it away in the cupboard it will be more of a chore to pull it out.
  • Buy pre cut fresh veggies. They may cost more but if you're not eating them because you don't have time to prepare them then the extra cost is worth it.
  • Pick up frozen veggies. They are pre cut and precooked so it's less time to the table (just don't overcook them!)
  • Opt for shredded cheese instead of blocks of cheese. Or when you do shred or grate cheese do up extra for later in the week. (this is a great use of the food processor)
  • Buy garlic and ginger already minced in jars. Spooning out a little to add to dishes is so much simpler than mincing or chopping some every time you need it.
  • I'm not a huge fan of canned veggies but one thing I can't live without is canned diced tomatoes (watch the added salt!). Why buy fresh to chop when you can just open a can? I find the tomatoes in the off season are quite tasteless so a good can of Italian tomatoes is perfect!
  • And once again I'm going to preach about cooking once, eating twice and freezing the extra. Nothing is better than having healthy meals already to go in the freezer when live throws you a curve ball.
I have a few recipes in my book just waiting to be added here but up until now typing was a painful activity. Now it's manageable so stay tuned! Did I mention this is my favorite time of year? With the short dark days and cold weather I turn to my kitchen for adventure, experimentation and a little joy! This time of year I'm inspired not just to cook comfort foods but also ethnic cuisine. And of course everything has to have a healthy twist because it's just too easy to pack on the pounds this time of year.

PS. As I go back and use this space as my own recipe database, I've been noticing all the spelling and grammatical mistakes I make. Wow I really need an editor! Thanks for your patience. I'll try harder!