Friday, December 30, 2011

Twice Baked Potatoes

For Christmas dinner I made a roast beef dinner with carrots and onions cooked in the slow cooker the beef, my braised red cabbage, and these twice baked potatoes.  Traditionally these potatoes are very high in calories and quite rich.  Since neither India nor Greg eat cow's milk products, and nobody needs the extra calories, I lightened them up by using goat yogurt!  The result was delicious and unfortunately I didn't think to take a photo before we devoured them, so I have used a photo that I found online to give you an idea of what they looked like!
 4 large baking potatoes
1 cup plain goat yogurt (or Greek-style yogurt)
1/2 cup milk*
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 green onions, thinly sliced
8 rashers of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • Preheat oven to 450F.  Using a fork, prick the skin on one side of each potato.  Place the potatoes on the top oven rack, and bake for 1 hour.
  •  Remove from oven and cut each potato in half, lengthwise.  Using a spoon (I use a grapefruit spoon as it has small serrations along the edge, and makes this job much easier!), scoop out the inside flesh of each potato half, ensuring that you leave a 1 cm border of unscooped potato so the skin doesn't collapse.
  • Place the potato flesh into a large mixing bowl and coarsely mash with a potato masher.  Add the green onions, goat yogurt, milk, salt and pepper.  Stir till well combined.
  • Stuff each potato skin half with the mashed potato and place on a rimmed baking sheet. 
  • Top each potato with the crumbled bacon and grated cheese**, and place back into the oven to bake for another 15 minutes, or until the tops are browned and the cheese melted.
  • Serve & ENJOY!
*I replaced regular 2% milk with almond milk.
**Since my Dad is a vegetarian and Greg and India don't eat cow's milk, I left off the bacon and cheese and simply placed them in bowls for people to add to their potato as they wished!

Hot and Sour Soup with Bean Sprouts

I was feeling like I was coming down with a cold today, so I decided some healthy hot and sour soup would be perfect.  Having never made it before I headed out to the local grocery store and picked up the ingredients (as I live in a smaller rural community I didn't expect to find everything, but surprisingly I did!)  The complex flavours of this soup epitomize Chinese cooking as they include spice, sweet, sour and savoury...absolutely delicious, easy and I must say, I am feeling tons better after eating a bowlful!!!
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms (I bought a pre-sliced package)
1/2 cup enoki mushrooms***
1/2 cup finely sliced bamboo shoots
4 cups miso stock (I bought cubes as there wasn't miso paste available at the store, but you can also use a chicken stock, the soup will just appear lighter in colour)
1/2 package of firm tofu, finely diced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp water
1 tsp sesame oil
1 egg, beaten
2 green onions thinly sliced
1 large handful of bean sprouts
  • Place the bamboo shoots and mushrooms into a large pot with the stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, pepper, salt and tofu.  Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.  Mix the cornstarch and water in a separate bowl until well combined.  Add some of the hot stock and stir well.  Gently pour the cornstarch into the soup stirring well.
  • Turn the heat off, add the sesame oil, green onions and bean sprouts.  Gently pour the beaten egg into the soup and stir.
  • Serve and enjoy!
*If you want a little more heat in your soup, Add 1 tbsp of sambal oelek or dried chili flakes!
** If you are using dried shiitake mushrooms, place them in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soften for 20 minutes.  Drain and use.
***Enoki mushrooms are miniature button mushrooms that grow in fibrous clumps.  Simply pull off the desired amount, trim the ends and use!

Squash and Apple Soup with Horseradish Cream

It was my girlfriend Clare's birthday so my friend Michelle and I decided to throw her a luncheon since a birthday on December 28th often gets overlooked!  We have received quite a dump of snow lately and the cold northerly winds were I decided to make soup for lunch!  This has quite a few flavours which work beautifully together, and if you have the time, make the horseradish cream for the top - it awakens the soup!
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 cooking apple, peeled, cored, and diced
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp curry powder
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp chopped fresh sage (or 1/2 tsp dried)
2/3 cup apple juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Lime rind for garnish (optional)
Horseradish Cream:
4 tbsp 18% cream
2 tsp horseradish sauce
1/2 tsp curry powder
  •   Heat the butter in a large pot.  Add the onion and saute, stirring until soft (approx. 3 to 5 minutes).  Stir in the curry powder, and cook to bring out the flavour.  Stir constantly for 2 minutes to prevent burning and sticking.
  • Add the stock, squash, apple and sage.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the squash and apple are soft.
  • Meanwhile, make the horseradish cream by beating the cream until it has frothed up, fold in the horseradish sauce and curry until well combined.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Puree the soup in a blender, food processor, or using an immersion blender.  Add apple juice, season with the salt and pepper.  Reheat gently without boiling.
  • Serve the soup in bowls topped with a spoonful of the horseradish cream and sprinkled with lime zest!
  • ENJOY!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hummus - Pure & Simple!

Today I had a hummus craving and didn't have any store-bought...but I did have a can of chickpeas and a tub of tahini!  This recipe is ridiculously easy and has me wondering why I haven't made hummus before?!
1 can of chickpeas, drained, reserving 1/2 of the liquid
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
Black pepper, to taste
  • In a food processor or mini processor, puree garlic and chickpeas.  Add the tahini, lemon juice, reserved liquid, salt and pepper.
  • Process until smooth
*Top with a sprinkle of paprika, lemon pepper, chipotle pepper, drizzled with olive oil, caramelized onions and garlic, jalapenos, toasted and chopped pumpkin seeds....the possibilities are endless!

Curried Sweet Potato Cups

This delicious appetizer comes from Women's Day magazine and is perfect if you have leftover mashed sweet potatoes!

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
2 tsp curry powder
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp melted butter
12 wonton wraps
  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Melt butter in a small skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper and curry powder.  Saute for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.  Remove from heat
  • Sir in mashed sweet potatoes and yogurt.
  • Brush wonton wrappers with melted butter and press into muffin cups.
  • Spoon mixture into the wonton wrappers and bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 15 minutes, or until the wraps are crisp.

Cheese Spread Pine Cone

I found this in "Taste of Home" magazine and thought it was perfect for our annual Xmas Open House!  It is not only really easy to create, it looks fantastic (if I do say so myself!)

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup milk
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons of dried minced onion
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2/3 cup sliced, unblanched almonds
1 cinnamon stick
Fresh dill sprigs
  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and milk until smooth.  Add the feta, mozzarella, onion, and cayenne;  mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours until firm.
  • On a serving platter, form cheese mixture into a pine cone shape.  beginning at the narrow end, arrange almonds in overlapping rows.  Add cinnamon stick and dill for the stem and pine needles.
  • Serve with bread sticks, crackers and/or vegetables. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Winter Vegetable Croustade Au Gratin

The picture really doesn't do this casserole justice...I had carrots, fingerling potatoes, celery, sweet potatoes, and parsnips on hand so I hauled out this recipe that I ripped out of a magazine years ago!  This is really delicious, quick and easy ~  my kids and I loved it (Devon even asked to have it for lunch the next day!)

2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups of your choice of winter vegetables, peeled, and cut into 1" sticks, or diced
1 tsp fennel (anise) seeds
2 cups old cheddar, shredded
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 slices of whole wheat bread crumbled or diced
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • In a large skillet melt butter over medium heat.  Saute onions, garlic, vegetables and fennel seeds for 3 to 5 minutes, or until onions and garlic are golden.  Salt and pepper to taste and transfer to an ovenproof dish.
  • In a small bowl, combine cheese, melted butter, breadcrumbs, and parsley.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Top vegetables evenly with cheese mixture.  Bake 15 minutes, or until vegetables are soft and cheese topping is golden and crusty.
*This dish can be prepared ahead and baked or reheated just before serving.  If you want, you can add cubed, cooked meat or poultry to the vegetables before baking.
**If you are using fingerling potatoes or sweet potatoes, saute first as mine came out slightly crunchy!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thai-Style Lentil & Coconut Soup

I simply love the flavours of Thai cuisine and since I am on a total soup-kick this month, this soup satisfied my cravings to a "T" !!!  With the addition of the chili and the paprika, this soup can have a little 'kick' to it, but the coconut milk helps to reduce the burn.  This soup is so substantial that it is practically a meal in itself, but is equally as wonderful with a warm roti or naan bread on the side!!!
2 tbsp coconut oil (or grapeseed, avocado, or EVOO)
2 red onions, finely chopped
1 red chili, seeded and finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1" piece of fresh lemon grass, outer layers removed and heart thinly sliced
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
400mL of coconut milk (unsweetened)*
3 3/4 cups water
Juice of 1 lime
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Heat the oil in a large pot and add the onions, chili, garlic and lemon grass.  Cook for 5 minutes or until the onions have softened, but not browned.  Stir occasionally.
  • Add the lentils and spices.  Pour in the coconut milk and water and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, until the lentils are soft.
  • Pour in the lime juice and add the spring onions, cilantro salt and pepper, reserving a little of each of the spring onions and cilantro for garnish. 
  • ENJOY!
*When you are using canned coconut milk, shake it well before opening as this will ensure that the layers of milk are well combined.*

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chinese Five-Spice Chicken

I'll admit it - I run out of dinner ideas and sometimes just don't want to cook dinner.  These are the times that I go to my library of cookbooks and see what inspires me.  Tonight I really didn't know what to make for dinner and with the clock showing 4:30pm, I decided that I better hurry up and decide!  I grabbed my "Looneyspoons" cookbook and  happened to have everything for this recipe in my fridge and pantry.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1" cubes
1 tsp of Chinese five-spice powder*
1 cup trimmed and halved snow peas
1 cup thinly sliced sweet red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp grated ginger root
3 cups low-sodium, reduced-fat chicken broth
1 1 /2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp each crushed red pepper flakes and black pepper
  • Combine chicken and five-spice powder in a large bowl.  Toss or stir to coat chicken evenly with spice.
  • Spray a large saucepan with non-stick spray.  Add chicken and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until no longer pink.
  • Add snow peas, red pepper, garlic and ginger root.  Cook and stir over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until liquid is absorbed by rice and chicken is very tender!
*Five-spice powder is a seasoning commonly used in Chinese cooking.  It is a blend of cumin, cloves, fennel, Szechuan peppercorns, and star anise.  You can find it in most supermarkets and of course, Asian specialty stores!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Moroccan Vegetable Soup

With all the wonderful root vegetables that are available at this time of year, and in our Winter/Spring CSA box from "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze", I have been on a crazy soup kick!!!!  Obviously I am a BIG fan of soups (hence the name of this blog!) and the main reason is that it is an easy and delicious way to include all sorts of vegetables into your diet in one sitting!  This recipe is no exception ~ give it a try!!
1 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped parsnips
1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded & chopped pumpkin* 
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Lemon juice, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley and cilantro, mixed
A generous pinch of paprika
  • Heat the oil and butter in a Dutch oven (or a large pot) and saute the onions for 3 minutes, or until softened but not coloured.  Add the garlic, carrots and parsnips, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so the garlic doesn't stick to the bottom and burn.
  • Stir in the pumpkin and saute for a further 5 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil, and cover and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes.
  • Allow the soup to cool slightly, then pour into a food processor or blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree until smooth, adding a little extra water if it becomes too thick.
  • Pour back into the clean pot and reheat gently without boiling.  Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and taste.
  • In a small skillet, heat 1 1/2 tsp olive oil and saute the herbs and paprika until just wilted.
  • Pour the soup into bowls and swirl the garnish into the soup ~ ENJOY!
*If you don't have a small pumpkin, you can substitute hubbard , butternut, or acorn squash!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Garlicky Lentil Soup

Today is one of those days where the weather keeps changing from dull and rainy to sunny and windy....perfect day for soup in my books!  This is a family favourite that is simple and economical to make. Judy, who is renting our vacation home, sent me these beautiful cloves of her organically-grown elephant garlic.  They are perfect for this soup - thanks Judy!
When I taught a few cooking classes in my home to a friend and her daughter, this turned out to be their family's favourite and they make this soup all the time!  Try it tonight and you won't be disappointed!!
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
2 onions, finely chopped
2 large garlic coves, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 tbsp EVOO, avocado or coconut oil
2 bay leaves
A generous pinch of dried marjoram or oregano
6 1/4 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Put all the ingredients except for the vinegar, salt and pepper, in a large heavy-bottomed pot.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat to medium-low or low and simmer for 1 1/2 hrs, stirring occasionally to prevent the lentils sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • Remove the bay leaves and add the red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.  If the soup is too thick for your liking, thin it with a little extra vegetable stock or water.
  • ENJOY!  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Basic Waffle Recipe

As the vegan recipe only made two waffles, I made these for the kids (because Greg and I gobbled up the other ones!!)  This is an old stand-by recipe that comes from "The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook" and works perfectly every time!
2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk*
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tbsp coconut, vegetable, grape seed or avocado oil
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk and butter.  Pour over flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  • Heat waffle iron and set at desired temperature.  For each waffle either spray the waffle plates, or lightly brush with some oil.  Pour 1/2 or 1/4 cup (according to the manufacturers directions for your waffle maker) of batter and spread to the edges.  Close lid and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp, golden and steam stops.
  • Serve with pure maple syrup and butter, or fresh berries, applesauce, whipped cream, ice cream, chocolate sauce...the topping possibilities are endless!
*If you do not want to buy buttermilk (as it comes in large quantities, usually), you can add one 1tbsp of fresh lemon juice to each cup of regular 2% milk.  Let sit for a few minutes so milk can slightly curdle/thicken, before using*
 **Any leftover waffles can be frozen for use later!  Just place small squares of waxed paper between the waffles and seal inside of a freezer bag.  When you are ready to eat them, simply place waffle halves in a toaster!**

Easy Vegan Waffles

As Greg was on a cleanse with our Naturopath (and received a clean bill of health just this week and has never felt better after losing 14lbs!), I created these vegan waffles for breakfast the other day.  Although he can eat eggs, you really don't miss them in this recipe.  Try them and you might be surprised how fantastic these taste!!!
1 cup rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • Whisk the dry ingredients in a large bowl, set aside. Mix the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl. Combine and mix until no dry powder is evident.
  • Preheat waffle iron and spray with some nonstick oil (or wipe down with some oil). That's important because they can stick to the waffle plates. Cook according to the waffle maker's instructions, which usually means putting about 1/4 cup batter on the iron, closing, and waiting for a light to go out, or a timer to beep.
  • Top with maple syrup and fresh berries for a real treat!

**These don't make much (in fact the two that I show in the picture are it!  But make extra to freeze and enjoy on a busy morning.  When you freeze, just place pieces of wax paper between the waffles and place in a Ziploc freezer bag**

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ragout of Butternut Squash, Sweet Onions and Parsnips

We had some friends over for dinner on Saturday night and I had already made my "Braised Red Cabbage with Goat's Cheese", a simple salad and roasted a chicken with to represent yellows and oranges in our meal (since we had every other colour of the rainbow)?  This simple ragout was the answer - it is delicious, simple, doesn't require a lot of cooking talent or tons of prep work, and tasted excellent cool on top of salad the next day ... if there's any left!  Sadly we were so eager to eat that I didn't take a photo of this dish...I will have to remember next time!

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and seeded, diced into 1/4" cubes
4 parsnips, peeled and trimmed, diced into 1/4" cubes
1 sweet Spanish onion, finely diced
4 tbsp of EVOO, coconut oil or grapeseed oil (any oil that won't impart a strong flavour)
1 1/2 tbsp of unsalted organic butter
White pepper, to taste
  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the vegetables and saute until they are 'sweating' (meaning moisture starts to show and they glisten).
  • Turn the heat down to low and continue to stir and saute the vegetables until they get a nice golden colour on the outside (caramelizing = the natural sugars from the vegetables are slowly extracted through the cooking process and the heat causes them to "candy", for lack of a better word, the outside) and the vegetables are soft.  Approximately 25 - 30 minutes.
  • Serve as a delicious side dish to any of your favourite fall meals, or cooled as a salad with a vinaigrette dressing!   

Monday, October 31, 2011

Better Than Take-Out Fried Rice

India decided to create a main dish to go along with my kale salad and Devon's oven fried French fries, for dinner last night.  I recently bought my kids this fantastic cookbook called "Kids 4 Books In One:  Breakfast/Lunch/Snacks/Dinner" and they are super excited about trying these beautifully illustrated recipes.  We had a pork tenderloin in the freezer so she decided to adapt this recipe while leaving out the rice was delicious!
3 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 yellow bell pepper
1 tbsp coconut oil
6 green onions, cut into 1" pieces
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 lb boneless pork loin or tenderloin, cut into 1" pieces
  • Combine soy sauce, vinegar and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.
  • Cut bell pepper into 1" pieces.
  • Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add bell pepper, green onions, ginger and garlic; stir-fry for 1 minute.  Add pork; stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until pork is cooked through.
  • Stir in soy mixture and cook, stirring frequently for 1 minute.
  • Serve and ENJOY!

Wheat Berry, Kale & Cranberry Salad

With the weather getting much cooler, I must admit that a salad sounds far less appealing than a bowl of warm soup, however this one was too good to pass up!  The chewiness of the wheat berries is nice with the crisp kale and sweet cranberries.  If you don't want to use wheat berries, substitute 2 1/2 cups of quinoa, green lentils or brown rice!
1 cup dried wheat berries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup EVOO
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
5 cups chopped kale
1/2 cup diced red or white onion
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • Rinse the wheat berries.  Combine with 8 cups water in a medium pot.  Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium-high.  Cook, covered, until wheat berries are tender (approx. 30 to 35 mins).  Stir in cranberries during the last 2 minutes of cooking.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  • Whisk olive oil with vinegar and salt in a large bowl.  Season with black pepper.  Stir in wheat berry mixture, kale, onion and bell peppers.  Serve immediately.  Keeps really well refrigerated for up to 1 day!
  • ENJOY!!! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pork Persillade with Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sauteed Mushrooms

Admittedly I have been making old favourites such as "Carrot Dill Soup", "Smashed Rutabagas with Ginger-Roasted Pears", "Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Potatoes & Maple Syrup", "Thai Cashew & Broccoli on Quinoa", and "Mum's Pork Sausage Stuffing" that went into the Thanksgiving turkey...but with the dramatically cooler weather that we have been experiencing, I felt like some pork tenderloin, Brussels sprouts roasted in the oven, and mushrooms sauteed with garlic and fresh parsley!  This is a delicious and easy wintertime meal (especially if you cook up several tenderloins at once like I did, and then have it in a container sliced and ready for sandwiches and for a quick addition to meals!).  Don't be intimidated by the title of this recipe ~ persillade is a simple parsley and garlic rub that is quick, fresh and easy to make!!

2 pork tenderloins(I did 4 loins at once and just doubled the recipe!)
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp of EVOO (or enough to make the parsley into a paste)
Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (I usually count 6-8 Brussels per person)
2 tbsp EVOO or grapeseed oil
1 tsp seasoned salt (use Lowry's as it doesn't have MSG!), or lemon pepper
8-10 mushrooms cleaned, stems removed and cut into 1/4's
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
1/4 cup finely diced fresh parsley
2 tbsp EVOO (although you could combine 1 tbsp EVOO with 1 tbsp butter as well)
Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Preheat oven to 375F and lightly oil a baking dish.
  • Combine the 1/2 bunch of parsley with the garlic, salt and pepper and olive oil for the pork.  Stir until a paste-like consistency.  If it is still dry, add a little more extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
  • Lay the tenderloins in the baking dish and rub parsley mixture into the skin of the pork, turning to ensure even coating on all sides.
  • Place in the oven for approx. 35-45 mins.  Using a thermometer, ensure the internal temperature of the pork loin is 160F before removing.  
  • Remove from the oven and slice.
  • Meanwhile, place Brussels sprouts in a bowl with the olive oil and lemon pepper or seasoned salt.  Stir to coat and place on a rimmed baking sheet.  Place in the oven with the tenderloin for approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even browning.
  • Remove from oven.
  • While Brussels and pork are cooking, heat a medium-sized skillet over medium high heat, and add the olive oil, mushrooms, parsley and garlic.  Saute stirring often till mushrooms and garlic is golden.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Place slices of pork tenderloin on a plate along with the Brussels and the mushrooms ~ ENJOY!
*If you wish you can prepare a gravy like I did in the photo to go along with the pork (although the pork is generally flavourful enough by itself!)
*Instead of mushrooms, serve mashed potatoes or scalloped potatoes with this dish, perhaps some glazed carrots and parsnips, or try my smashed rutabagas with ginger-roasted pears....all this seasonal produce tastes wonderful together!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Red Pepper and Lime Soup

Since we had an abundance of bell peppers and cayenne peppers (shown) in our CSA boxes from "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze", I decided to whip up this Mexican-inspired soup!!!  I added an entire, fresh, large cayenne pepper (sans seeds and ribs!) to the double batch of this soup I made, so it has quite a kick!!!  Use fresh limes for this recipe as the bottled variety doesn't have as fresh a taste.  I decided to pressure can my soup (as you can see I also made potato leek soup!)  so that I have fresh, homemade soup on hand when the weather turns really chilly!!

1 large onion, chopped
4 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 small fresh red chili, sliced
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 3/4 cups vegetable stock
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lime
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Cook the onion and bell peppers gently in the oil in a large saucepan, stirring occasionally, over medium high heat until they are softened but not coloured.
  • Stir in the garlic, chili and tomato paste.  Add half the stock, then bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly then puree either with an immersion blender, or in a food processor or blender.  Return to the the pot and add the remaining stock, the lime rind and juice, and salt and pepper.
  • Bring the soup back to the boil, then serve immediately!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

For some reason my kids have been on a complete peanut butter kick lately?!  Anyway, before they headed off to school today they put in a request that I try and make peanut butter cookies for their after school snack.  Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am a self-confessed non-baker.  So I pulled the jar out of the cupboard and went online.  This recipe comes from the Kraft website and it is by far the easiest recipe EVER!  I have already tasted one cookie and they're yummy!  Next time I am adding chocolate chips!!
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients until well mixed (I used my hand mixer).
  • Roll dough into 1 1/2" balls and space 2" apart on a greased cookie sheet.  Flatten each ball with a fork (to give the cookie it's traditional cross-hatching on top!), and place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.
  • ENJOY!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dutch Apple Pie

This has to be one of my favourite apple pie recipes - it is super-easy and I have received LOADS of compliments on it (one of my friend's sons told his Grandmother that it was way better than hers! LOL!)  Since we have an abundance of apples on our snow apple tree this year (at least that's what variety I have been told they are!), I whipped up one of these ~ much to the family's delight!!!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
3/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/4 cups cold water
3 cups diced peeled tart apples
1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, oats and butter.  Set aside 1 cup for crumble topping.  Press remaining crumb mixture into an ungreased 9" pie plate; set pie plate aside.
  • For filling, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and water in a large saucepan until smooth.  Bring to a boil.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes, or until completely thickened.  Remove from the heat.
  • Stir in apples and vanilla extract.  Pour into crust; top with reserved crumb mixture and Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
  • ENJOY!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back to School!

"It's the most wonderful time of the year!"

Although my kids HATE me singing that annoying 'back to school' song from the "Staples" commercial, I truly feel like fall is the most wonderful time of the year.  Now I know many of you will debate with me that it is in fact still the tail-end of summer, but with the trees already displaying tinges of autumnal colour, the thermometer is reading lower temperatures due to the northerly winds, and the sun is setting earlier ~  it just feels like fall to me already!
Since India and Devon are heading back to school tomorrow (grades 5 and 3), my mind turns to lunchbox snacks.  I admit it.  I HATE MAKING SCHOOL LUNCHES!!!!  But it is a necessary task at this time of year, and one that doesn't need to be daunting if a little premptive planning is employed!  (Yeah, talk to me come December, I know!)  Our apple and pear trees have burst forth with an amazing amount of fruit this year and we have already enjoyed a Dutch apple pie from the grounders.  So I sent the kids out to the front meadow to pick apples and pears this afternoon, while I fired up my canner and got all the necessary items to make "blushing apple/pear sauce"!
I have a feeling that the house will smell of sweet apples for quite some time as the children collected so many both my kitchen sinks are overflowing, as well as a couple of milk crates!!!
I just gave both India and Devon a little taste of the first batch (which I added some organic brown sugar and cinnamon to) and they are already begging for bowls-full!

If you want to make some homemade blushing applesauce, just click here for the recipe!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eggplant with Lamb, Rice & Currants

I am ashamed to admit that I had two beautiful eggplants from my summer CSA box sitting in my fridge for a couple of weeks - and were needing to be used QUICKLY!  So I searched through my recipes and discovered this one from Martha Stewart Living magazine.  It was delicious and surprisingly, something that all members of the family enjoyed!!!

1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3oz ground lamb
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 2/3 cups of chicken stock
1 cup short-grain brown rice
3 tbsp dried currants
4 small eggplants (or 2 large in my case!)
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
Finely grated lemon zest of 1 lemon
  • Preheat oven to 400F.  Heat 2 teaspoons of EVOO in an ovenproof pot over medium heat.  Cook the onion, stirring often to prevent sticking, until soft and slightly caramelized (approx. 10 to 12 minutes).  Add the ground lamb, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.  Season with 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Cook until lamb is cooked through and no longer pink (3 to 4 minutes).  
  • Add stock, rice, and currants.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover and transfer to the oven on the lowest rack.  Cook for 1 hr. and 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, slice eggplants in half lengthwise, brush each cut side with 1/4 tsp oil.  Roast, cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet on top oven rack until centres are soft and tops are browned (about 40 mins).  Let cool.
  • Gently scrape eggplant flesh into a large bowl, reserving skins*.  Stir in lamb-rice mixture, chopped herbs, and lemon zest.  Divide stuffing among eggplant skins.  Garnish with more herbs and lemon zest.
  • Enjoy with some toasted flat breads!!
*As I didn't tell my children there was eggplant in this recipe until they finished, I threw the skins away and opted to mix everything together and serve in bowls!  

Monday, August 29, 2011

Leftover Mashed Potato Muffins

These savoury muffins and a nice breakfast treat, or with soups, stews or chilis!  Next time  you are making mashed potatoes for dinner, try throwing in a couple of extra potatoes so you'll have leftovers to create these tasty treats!
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
4 tsp granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp each ground black pepper & dried oregano
2 eggs
1 cup mashed potatoes
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup minced green onions (I use garlic scapes!)
1/2 cup finely minced red bell pepper
  • Preheat oven to 400F.  Grease muffin cups; set aside.   
  • In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, pepper and oregano together.  In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, potatoes and milk until fairly smooth.  Pour over dried ingredients.
  • Add green onions and red peppers to the bowl and mix until ingredients are just combined.  Spoon into prepared muffin cups.
  • Bake in centre of the oven for 15 mins (or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of one muffin, comes out clean).
  • Transfer muffins to a cooling rack and let cool.
  • Enjoy with butter while still slightly warm, or with your favourite soup, stew or chili!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Garden Frittata

This simple frittata that uses seasonal ingredients is perfect for breakfast or brunch, served with wedges of melon!
6 egg whites
4 whole eggs
1/2 cup grated cheese, divided (I used cheddar)
1 tbsp minced fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 small zucchini, sliced (or you can use diced red bell peppers)
2 green onions, sliced
1 tsp olive oil
Sliced tomatoes to cover the top of the frittata (I used grape tomatoes)
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, eggs, 1/4 cup cheese, basil, salt and pepper; set aside.
  • In a large (10") ovenproof skillet, coated with cooking spray, saute zucchini and onions in the olive oil until softened.
  • Add egg mixture; cover and cook for 4 - 6 minutes, or until eggs are almost set.
  • Uncover, top with tomatoes and remaining cheese.  Place skillet in oven under broiler until eggs are completely set (2 to 3 mins).  Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
  • Enjoy with some melon wedges on the side! 

Fresh Tomato Salsa

My family enjoys Mexico, and in particular the Mayan Riviera, so much that we spend a lot of time there and have actually built a vacation villa there (!  This is a very common condiment that is always placed on the table as an appetizer with freshly made corn chips, no matter where you go.  It's simplicity is what allows the flavours to shine through and I guarantee after making a batch of this, you will no longer want jarred, pulpy 'salsa' again!!!

6 plum tomatoes (or any flavourful, ripe variety), finely diced
1/4 of a white onion, finely diced
1/3 of a bunch of cilantro (coriander), finely diced
2 serrano chilies, finely diced with seeds and ribs
Juice of one lime
1/2 tbsp coarse salt
3 fresh peaches, finely diced
  • Once all the ingredients have been chopped, simply combine in a medium-sized bowl and serve with corn chips (our new favourite are the lime flavoured ones from PC!)
  • ENJOY!
**The peaches are optional but add a nice seasonal burst of sweetness which plays off the tartness of the lime, heat of the chilies and saltiness of the chips, beautifully!  If you don't have peaches, you can add apples, or mangoes, plums or even avocados for a more authentic feel!