Thursday, December 4, 2014

Zuppa de Fagioli

I created this simple and flavourful soup using ingredients almost solely from our CSA box from "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze"!  This is considered a peasant soup in Italy and is often passed over for the more popular minestrone, however I urge you to try it.  Not only is this nutritious and easy to create, it is colourful  and flavourful!!

2 - 14oz cans of low-sodium cannellini beans (you can substitute white kidney beans)
1 tbsp. EVOO
I leek (white and light green parts), trimmed, sliced in half, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 celery stalks, diced
1 carrot, diced
2lbs spinach, trimmed and roughly chopped (you can substitute kale or Swiss chard)
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Put 1 can of beans with its liquid in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth.  Drain and rinse other can of beans.
  • Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.  Add leek, garlic, thyme and oregano.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the leeks are soft.  Add celery, carrot, spinach and tomato; cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes, or until spinach is wilted.
  • Stir pureed beans and stock into vegetable mixture.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  • Add drained beans and stir until heated through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve in warm bowls topped with grated Parmesan cheese.
  • ENJOY!

Slow Cooker Refried Beans (Without the Refry!)

My family LOVES refried beans but there is a lot of fat in the commercial canned versions, so when I found this recipe online for a slow cooked version without any oils, I decided to go for it!  I wasn't disappointed - this is a flavourful recipe with the perfect consistency and costs only pennies per serving.  Enjoy these with your next Mexican dinner, or just as a side dish!!

1 onion, peeled and halved
3 cups dried pinto beans, rinsed
1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tbsp. minced garlic
5 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cumin, optional
9 cups water
  • Place the onion, rinsed beans, jalapeno garlic, salt, pepper and cumin into a slow cooker.  Pour in the water and stir to combine.  Cook on high for 8 hours, adding more water if needed (if more than 1 cup of water has evaporated during cooking, then the temperature is too high).
  • Once the beans have cooked, strain them and the onions, reserving the liquid.  Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding the reserved cooking water as needed to attain the desired consistency.
  • ENJOY!

Twice Baked Cheddar Potato Casserole

I found this recipe in "Taste of Home" magazine and had to give it a try as with the cooler temperatures, it is the perfect rib-sticking side dish!  Not only did my family enjoy this casserole, but we loved nibbling on the potato skins sprinkled with pink Himalayan salt!!!

8 medium baking potatoes
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup 2% milk
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
10 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled, divided
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
4 green onions, chopped, divided
  • Preheat oven to 425F.  Scrub potatoes; pierce several times with a fork. Bake 45-60 minutes or until tender.  Remove from oven; reduce heat to 350F.
  • When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut each potato lengthwise in half.  Scoop our pulp and place in a large bowl; discard shells.  Mash pulp with butter, stir in sour cream, milk, salt and pepper.
  • Reserve 1/4 cup crumbled bacon for topping.  Gently fold remaining bacon, 1 cup cheese and half of the green onions into potato mixture - do not over mix!
  • Transfer mixture to a greased 11" x 7" baking dish.  Top with the remaining cheese and green onions.  Sprinkle with reserved bacon.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.
  • ENJOY!

Giant Yorkshire Dinner

This is a fantastic meal to make whenever you have leftover pot roast with gravy, onions, potatoes and carrots!!!  Easy, delicious and economical.  (I used the recipe from my Slow Cooker Roast Beef post for the original pot roast meal)
1 cup cooked beef, shredded or cubed
1/2 cup cooked diced potato
1/2 cup cooked diced carrot
1 cooked diced onion
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups leftover beef gravy, divided
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp. butter (or margarine)
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
  • Combine meat, vegetables, water, 1/4 cup gravy, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp onion powder and 1/4 tsp garlic powder.  Set aside.
  • Put butter in a deep dish 10" pie plate and place in a cold oven.  Turn heat to 425F.
  • Puree milk, eggs, flour, salt and pepper in a blender container at high speed for 45 seconds, or until thoroughly combined.
  • Remove pie plate from the oven and pour the batter in the plate.  Spoon meat and vegetables into the centre of the pie plate.
  • Place casserole in the oven for 30 minutes being careful not to open the oven door at that time as it will cause the Yorkshire to drop like a souffle!
  • While casserole is baking, heat remaining 1 cup gravy with remaining 1/2 tsp onion powder and 1/2 tsp garlic powder until hot.
  • Serve casserole topped with gravy and ENJOY!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Acorn Squash Soup with Warm Spices

This soup is the perfect taste of fall; squash, cinnamon and cumin are set off with the tang of lime juice.  Delicious and filling, low in calories, high in fibre and vitamin A!  Try this super economical dish tonight!!!

 1 kg acorn squash
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 medium cooking onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/4 cup 35% cream (I used goat milk)
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 cup pepitas (young pumpkin seeds - optional)
  • Peel squash, cut in half and scoop out seeds.  Cut squash into 1" cubes (approximately 7 cups worth)
  • Heat a large pot over medium heat.  Add olive oil (or coconut or grapeseed), then onions. Saute until onions soften; approximately 5 minutes.  Add garlic, spices and remaining salt.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add cubed squash and cook 2 more minutes.  Add broth and water.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium.  Simmer, partially covered, until squash is tender (approximately 30 minutes).
  • Puree mixture in pot using a hand blender, or in batches using an upright blender.  Stir in cream and lime juice.  Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with pepitas.
  • ENJOY!

White Fish Cakes with Lemon-Chili Mayo

This photo really doesn't do this dish justice - when I make these again (because I absolutely will!), I will take a better quality shot.  These are not only easy and economical but extremely healthy.  I made this recipe gluten-free by using rice bread crumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs.  Thank you "Canadian Living" magazine for yet another winner!

1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
2 green onions, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
450g firm white-fleshed fish fillets (such as halibut or basa), coarsely chopped
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs.
1 egg
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp oil (I used coconut)
Lemon-Chili Mayo
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp chili powder
  • In a food processor, pulse together celery, green onions, and parsley until finely chopped.  Scrape into a bowl.
  • Add fish to the food processor; pulse until fine but not pureed.  Add to the parsley mixture and stir in bread crumbs, egg, mustard and pepper.
  • Divide into 8 portions and make each portion a 1/2" (1cm) thick patty.
  • In a nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Cook fishcakes turning once, until golden and firm to the touch (aprox. 8 to 10 minutes)
  • Meanwhile, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice and chili powder.  
  • Serve fishcakes with a side of mayo and ENJOY!
*Coat the fishcakes in 1/3 cup medium or fine ground cornmeal.  Cook as directed for a crispy cornmeal version!

Pumpkin Waffles with Apple Cider Syrup

My friend Anne sent me this recipe and brought all the ingredients over to my house...what could I do but oblige her after all that hard work?!  These waffles not only smell incredible but taste absolutely amazing!  A delicious taste of autumn!!!

2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (I used gluten free all-purpose)
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 cups milk (I used unsweetened original almond milk)
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup apple cider
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp butter
  • Preheat a waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, salt and brown sugar in a mixing bowl.  
  • In a separate bowl, stir together the pumpkin, milk and egg yolks.  Whip the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form.
  • Stir the flour mixture and 1/4 cup of melted into the the pumpkin mixture till combined.  Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the batter.
  • Cook waffles according to manufacturer's instructions
  • TO MAKE THE SYRUP:  stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a saucepan.  Stir in the apple cider and lemon juice.  Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until the syrup thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in the 2 tbsp of butter until melted.
  • Serve the warm syrup over top of the waffles with a small pat of butter.  ENJOY!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tomato & Olive Antipasto

One of my favourite preserves of each summer is this recipe for tomato & olive antipasto.  I tried it years ago from the book "The Complete Book of Pickling" by Jennifer MacKenzie, and have made it yearly ever since!  It is a fair amount of dicing, but well worth it in the end. Naturally you don't necessarily need to preserve this antipasto and can make it and keep it in the fridge, but the wonderful summer flavours will last longer if canned!  This tastes amazing with rich cheeses and cured meats such as salami!
8oz wide-mouthed jar fresh from the canner!

10 cups chopped Roma tomatoes (you can peel them but I don't and the texture is fine)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
1 1/2 cups diced red bell peppers
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup diced celery
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp pickling or canning salt
1 tbsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups red or white wine vinegar (I use red for the rich colour it gives)
1/2 cup drained rinsed brine-cured olives, diced or slivered*
  • In a food processor or blender, puree 2 cups (500 mL) of the tomatoes until smooth (alternatively you can use passata).
  • In a large pot, combine pureed and diced tomatoes, onions, red and green peppers, celery, garlic, bay leaves, sugar, salt, basil, oregano, pepper and vinegar.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often to prevent burning on the bottom of the pot.
  • Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring often, for about 2 hours or until the antipasto is reduced by about half and is thick enough to mound on a spoon.
  • Meanwhile prepare canner, jars and lids.
  • Stir olives into antipasto and boil gently, stirring often, for 5 minutes to blend the flavours.  Discard the bay leaves.
  • Ladle hot antipasto into hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace.  Remove air bubbles by sliding the handle of a spoon into the antipasto, and adjust headspace as necessary.  Wipe rim of jar and place hot disc on jar.  Screw band down until fingertip tight.
  • Place jars in canner and return to a boil.  Process for 20 minutes.  Turn off heat and remove canner lid.  Let jars stand in water for 5 minutes.  Transfer jars to a towel-lined surface and let stand for 24 hours.  Check lids and refrigerate any jars that are not sealed.
  • ENJOY!!
*I find the antipasto sits nicer on a cracker when diced but this is just preference!
**This recipe makes approximately 8 250mL jars or four 500 mL jars

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Watermelon, Cucumber, Feta & Mint Salad

This is the perfect summertime salad - refreshing and has a wonderful sweet and salty flavor that is perfect for those hot summer days!  Not only is this quick and easy to create, but is a powerhouse of nutrition:  watermelon  and cucumbers both are a great source of potassium (watermelon has more than a banana!), calcium & magnesium, but it is also an excellent source of vitamins A and C!  And the bonus?  This salad also hydrates you and banishes bloat...what isn't to like about this salad?!

1 English cucumber, diced
1/2 medium sized, seedless watermelon, diced
1/3 cup of crumbled feta (I used sheep's milk feta)
10 - 12 mint leaves, rolled together and thinly sliced (chiffonade)
Zest and juice of one large Persian lime
2 tbsp. honey or agave syrup
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
  • Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Carefully mix together the watermelon and cucumber.  Drizzle with the dressing. 
  • Sprinkle the salad with the feta and mint. 
  • Serve and ENJOY!!
*You can also add sliced black kalamata olives and reduce the amount of feta.  This salad is also nice with thinly sliced red onion!*

Monday, April 14, 2014

Curried Chickpea Quinoa

Last night we had baked salmon in a soy and maple syrup glaze, as well as a leaf salad.  I needed a quick and nutritious side dish that would appeal to my kids as well as the adults.  Upon surfing, I came upon this recipe which is excellent warm or cold!

1 cup water
1 cup orange juice
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium red onion, diced
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup of raisins
1 teaspoon of curry powder
Salt and black pepper to taste.

  • In a large saucepan, bring the water and orange juice to a boil.  
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, except the salt and pepper, and stir.   Bring back to the boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes (or until the liquid is absorbed).
  • Turn off the heat and leave the pot covered for another 5 minutes.  Remove the lid, fluff quinoa with a fork, season with salt and pepper, and serve
  • ENJOY!

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Year in Pictures

Occasionally I blog about my other passion:  Scrapbooking!  My dilemma was that life was getting so busy, that I really haven't had time to indulge my creative scrapping side.  Meanwhile however, photos of all that we do in a year were piling up.  I decided that there had to be a better way for me to create beautiful pages of all these events without taking up a ton of time.

As our main living area is open concept, we have one large wall that sits between our family room and the kitchen.  I have had a variety of plans of what I would like to display on this wall, but nothing seemed to pan out.  I was shopping in Walmart one day and came upon these beautiful frames for only $10 each in the clearance section.  They were the approximate size of a scrapbooking page (12" x 12") once the matting was removed, and there were 12 left.  A plan instantly formed in my mind as I hurriedly loaded these into a cart!

Employing the help of my husband Greg and using his laser to ensure the nails were lined up perfectly, we created 4 rows of 3 frames each.  Then I set to work creating pages!!!  I chose mainly one big event per month and framed it.  Now I have 12 completed pages that cover pretty much all we did in 2013, and have since gone on to create other pages for the months where we had lots of events.

My biggest fear as I was halfway through this endeavor was that the wall would end up looking messy with the explosion of colours and variety of photos all in one space.  However, once they were mounted on the wall, the neutral colour served as a perfect backdrop to highlight all of our family and friends that are featured on these 12 pages.  Everyone enjoys revisiting the past year's events by looking at the pages, and now that we have completed January 2014 and almost February 2014, I am going to replace the two months up on the wall with the current year so this acts as a perpetual calendar!!!

What I love most about this is that we all get to enjoy my scrapbook pages since they aren't shelved away in albums.  When we finish a month, then the page gets taken down and placed into an album for the year, but not without being thoroughly enjoyed first!  The only thing I worry about now is that the pages might fade out with the indirect sunlight...but the benefits far outweigh the negatives in my mind!!

Mexican-Style Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I love my slow cooker and the freedom it affords me to create healthy homemade meals for my family without slaving over a stove for hours!  There's nothing like coming home at the end of a long day to smell the delicious scent of dinner fully cooked and ready to serve.  This is a variation on a traditional beef stew that yielded yummy results.  I served cornbread alongside this dish to sop up the flavourful gravy!!!!

4 carrots, cubed (or 1 small bag of baby carrots)
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 1/2 lbs stewing beef, cut into 1" dice
8oz can of tomato sauce
1 pkg dry taco seasoning mix (I used low sodium)
2 cups water
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
  • In the bottom of the slow cooker pot, layer carrots, potatoes, onion, and stewing beef.  Pour the tomato sauce over top.
  • In a large 2 cup measuring cup, pour 1/2 cup water into the cup and stir in the cornstarch.  Stir in the package of taco seasoning, and then add the rest of the water (stirring to ensure it is smooth and combined evenly).  Pour the taco mixture over the ingredients in your slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on low heat for 7 to 8 hours.
  • Uncover and stir, season with salt and pepper after tasting.
  • Serve either on its own, over rice or with a side of cornbread.  ENJOY!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Kale & Quinoa Rolls

I spied this recipe in "Fresh Juice" magazine and decided to whip it up one evening expecting mixed results from the family.  As expected, India didn't even want to try the kale (she only likes it in chip form), but loved the quinoa.  Devon had 3 rolls and Greg and I finished up the rest!!  This is similar to cabbage rolls and I have pictured the dish without the sauce topping the rolls, so you could see how they look in the baaking dish. This is not only super nutritious, but easy and tasty too!

12 large leaves of kale
2 tsp grapeseed oil
1 onion, diced
1 cup diced mushrooms (I used porcini as they're "meatier" in texture and have great flavour)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup quinoa (rinse to remove the bitter coating called 'saponin')
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 zucchini, diced
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1 large egg, beaten
2 cups no salt added passata di pomodoro (crushed tomatoes)
  • Remove the stems from the kale by grasping the base of the stem in one hand and running the thumb and forefinger up the stem.  It will break off where the stem is more tender.  Discard the stems.  Add kale to a large pot of salted, boiling water.  Cover and cook until the leaves are softened - 2 minutes maximum.  Place leaves in a sieve and run under cool water.  Remove leaves and lay out flat to drain on paper towels.  Set aside.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, add oil.  Saute onions, mushrooms, garlic, oregano, and thyme for 5 minutes (or until onion is softened)  Stir in quinoa.  Add broth; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.  Stir in carrot, zucchini, salt and pepper.  Let cool to room temperature.  Stir in egg*
  • Preheat oven to 350F.  To assemble the rolls, spoon approximately 1/3 cup of the quinoa mixture onto each kale leaf, just above where the base of the stem would have been.  Fold bottom up over filling, tuck sides in and roll up.  This is quite a bit trickier I found than using cabbage leaves for traditional cabbage rolls.  Take your time!
  • Line the base of a 13"x9" baking dish with half of the passata.  Arrange the kale rolls on top of it and cover with the remaining passata.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for one hour.
  • Remove and ENJOY!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Split Pea and Ham Soup

As we have been experiencing some sub-Arctic temperatures lately, and we had a pork shoulder we turned into pulled pork, I decided a good old-fashioned pot of split pea and ham soup was in order!!  This is one of those rib-stickingly good dishes that is great for lunch or dinner (or an after school snack according to my children!!)

  1 ham bone with some meat still on it
 1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 each carrots and stalks celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
4 cups sodium-reduced chicken stock
2 cups  dry green or yellow split peas (I used green obviously!)
  •  In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-low heat; fry onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper and ham bone, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add stock, peas and 2 cups of water; bring to boil over medium-high heat, skimming off any foam. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until peas break down and meat is tender enough to fall off bone, about 1 3/4 hours. 
  •  Remove ham bone; pull off and shred meat. Discard ham bone and bay leaves. In blender, puree half of the soup; return to pot.
  • Ladle into bowls and ENJOY!!!!
*After removing the ham bone, you can also use an immersion blender to blend soup to half chunky stage while still in the pot.