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.*