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!