Friday, 25 November 2011

Getting Ready For the Holidays...

Sorry for the lack of posts this fall. We have been busy readying our house for sale and am happy to say it is sold. Now...back to the kitchen! Stay tuned for some holiday ideas as Rob and I have lots of parties planned for December!

Friday, 5 August 2011

#16 - Watermelon Feta Salad - So fresh and yummy!

This is a wonderfully colorful salad that I created. The original inspiration came from a salad I ate a Milestones restaurant but expanded on the ingredients. I have fallen in love with the combination of feta and watermelon. 
Ingredients List:
Candied Peacans (1 cup of pecans,  1 tbsp.of butter and 4 tablespoons of maple syrup and salt)

Salad Greens (I used a mixture but any organic greens will work)
1 avocado
2 large sliced of watermelon cubed
½ cup of pitted black olives
Red onion

4 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 Cup of Balsamic vinegar
1 cup of feta cheese
Fresh Basil leaves
1.       Start with making the candied pecans.  Heat butter in pan, add pecans and toss until toasted, pour in maple syrup and let cook until syrup  is caramelized on the outside of pecans.  (Watch because these burn easily.)  They will be sticky, so pour out onto a plate covered with parchment paper or foil. Make sure they are not clumped together too much. Let cool at least 20 minutes.
2.       Next make the dressing. Cut up half of the red onion into very fine pieces (reserve the rest raw for the salad). Combine onion with 1 cup of balsamic vinegar and reduce over a stove until the mixture is about ½ of a cup. Take off stove and cool  in the fridge.
3.       Just before you are ready to serve,  arrange lettuce or greens on the platter and layer Avocado, watermelon cubes, black olives and red onion.  Drizel balsamic mixture over top and then garnish with the candied pecans, finely chopped fresh basil and feta cheese.
This salad is to die for and best shared with good friends!

#15 - Mediterranean Chicken - Great dinner party dish!

Two of my favorite friends (Thanks Linda and Colleen for the inspiration)  where coming for dinner tonight and because I worked all day, I choose to make this dish as I can prepare 90% of it the night before and just throw into the oven when I come home from work.  I like this kind of dish as it leaves more time for drinking wine and visiting.
This is one of my favorite dishes that has morphed over the years from the original Chicken Marbella recipe that I tried. I have added the apricots, omitted the capers and varied the spices a bit.
You will need…
Skinless Chicken Breasts and Thighs (cook as many as you need. This makes great leftovers
¾ cup of Olive oil
½  cup of red wine vinager
½ cup of olive juice (brine from olive jar)
 1 bunch of Fresh  chopped oregoneo (dried will do, but fresh is a nice touch)
1 cup of olives (any kind,  I used green this time)
1 cup of dried apricots
1 cup of pitted prunes
Garlic (four or more cloves put through a garlic press)
Dried oregano (Two or more tablespoons…it is hard to overdue with the recipe, so add lots if you like the flavor)
salt and pepper

1 cup of white wine
1 cup of brown sugar
IN a large bowl combine all of the ingredients except the wine and sugar. Don’t be afraid to very the ingredients or amounts, it really turns out well as long as you have the basics included.  Feel free to add more olives or dried fruit if you are making a larger batch.  Refrigerate and marinate in overnight (I have done this in less, but it really is better leaving it overnight).
About an hour before serving time, take mixture out of the fridge and arrange in a single layer on a baking pan. Pour remaining marinate overtop (mine was all soaked in this time.)  Pour wine around chicken and sprinkle brown sugar over the top of the mixture. Bake at 350 for about an hour or until chicken is fork tender.
This is a great and easy dinner party dish for anyone who is intimidated by cooking for others. Serve with rice or couscous on the side (I prefer the latter to keep it authentically Mediterranean) and salad. (Stay tuned for my summer watermelon salad which I will add shortly)
View IMG00208-...jpg in slide show

Monday, 18 July 2011

# 14 - Greek Lemon Pepper Roasted Daikon – Great low calorie alternative to Potatoes

Lately Rob and I have discovered Daikon. It is a large root vegetable that is a member of the radish family.  Its firm texture makes it an ideal addition to stews or soups for those of you who are trying to avoid potatoes. Rob is highly allergic to potato starch and I was looking for a way to make a low calorie version of my Greek lemon pepper potato recipe.  The recipe was hit and Rob now makes this regularily himself.
Daikon is a free vegetable for most diet plans due to its low starch and high water content. Not all grocery stores carry Diakon, however it can usually be found in vegetable markets or grocery stores that carry a good selection of Asian vegetables.
You will need…
1 large Diakon
Juice of one lemon
Lemon pepper to taste

Peel and cut Diakon into small cubes and boil for about 10 minutes until slice with a knife (same texture as a cooked potatoes). Drain in a colander and while warm squeeze the juice of one lemon and toss with lemon pepper.  Place on baking sheet (I like to line mine with foil for easy clean up).  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

# 14 - Turkey Quinoa Cranberry Veggie Loaf

Craving meat loaf?  This recipe is so old fashion good!  I think that has to be one of my all-time favorite comfort foods.  So this was my attempt to satisfy the meatloaf cravings.  My kids always used to ask for my meatloaf as it was one of their favorite means growing up.  However,  I always cringed at the amount of fat that ground beef produces. so I started experimenting with healthy ingredients. This version uses ground turkey and healthy protein packed Quinoa instead of bread crumbs.  I add some extra veggies and the results give you a healthy version that you don’t have to feel guilty eating.
Ingredients for the meatloaf….

2 lbs  of  lean ground turkey
2 cups of cooked  Quinoa (follow package instructions to yield  2 cups)
1 onion chopped finely
2 eggs
1  ½  cups of grated zucchini
1  ½  cups of grated carrots
1 cup of dried cranberries
2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp  poultry seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Ingredients for glaze…
1 small can of cranberry sauce ( I used my homemade, but make sure you get the stuff with full berries as opposed to jelly if you are purchasing.)
3 Tablespoons of yellow mustard
½ Teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 Teaspoon vinegar
3 Tablespoons of maple syrup (or brown sugar if you don't have any syrup)
1. Mix together all ingredients for meatloaf in a bowl and combine well
2. Place meatloaf mixture in a greased 9X13 casserole dish (or two loaf pans). I prefer a large flat casserole as it allows more top space for the yummy glaze. Sprinkle top with salt and pepper.
3. Bake meatloaf for 50 minutes at  375 
4. While meatloaf is baking, make the glaze by combining all of the glaze ingredients in a bowl.
5.  After the 50 minutes take take meatloaf out of the oven and drain off any fat that has accumulated and then spread glaze over the meatloaf and return to the oven for an additional 30 minutes at 375
6.  Remove from oven and carefully drain any juice or fat  and let cool and stand about 10 minutes before serving.


# 13 - Grilled Veggies on the Barbeque with Feta - So easy and so good!

This is always my go to in the summer when I want a quick and easy veggie dish to accompany whatever we are barbequeing.  Todays version was made with yellow and green zuccini, and an orange pepper. However, you can really use all kinds of veggies (Asperagus, onions, red peppers, eggplant are all great, but feel free to experiment what is in your fridge!) If you want to make this into a meal add some large portebello mushrooms and serve with some brown rice on the side for a complete vegetarian meal.


Chop enough vegies to feed your group.  (I like to slice mine lengthwise so they don't fall through the grill. ) Today for the two of us that included two yellow zuccini, 1 green zuccini and 1 orange bell pepper. For me its all about the color.

  1. Place vegetables in a bowl and toss till coated with some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh finaly chopped garlic, salt and pepper
  2. Place vegees on a hot BQ grilland turn until you have nice grill marks on the vegees and vegees are tender but still crisp.  (about 10 minutes)
  3. Place on a platter and sprinkle with feta cheese while still hot form the grill


Thursday, 14 July 2011

#12 - Dry Roasted Pumpkin Spice Romano Bean Snacks – Sweet and Salty Vegan Snack!

If you liked my roasted Chick Pea recipe you will love this one.  I am back at Yoga so often find myself wanting a snack later in the evening.  Beans are great if you don’t want to consume empty calories.  If you are craving something salty and sweet this will  do the trick!  They are a wonderful salty and sweet snack (kind of like honey roasted peanuts)  and very easy to make.
You will need…
1 Can of Romano Beans (You can also use chick peas for this recipe)
Tablespoons of real maple syrup
1 Tsb Cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)
pinch of nutmeg (Omit if you have used pumpkin pie spice)
Salt to taste
1.       Rinse beans well and pat dry
2.       In a bowl mix maple syrup and spices and and toss beans till covered
3.       Place on a parchment lined baking pan
4.       Sprinkle with salt
5.       Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes or until crisp  (don’t stir or move)
6.       Let cool and serve
Watch them so that they don’t burn. You want them nice and crispy, but not too dry. 
You won’t feel guilty eating a bowl of these!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

#11 - Easy Rhubarb Custard Streusel Crustless Pie – Makes its own crust!

Its Rhubarb season and I bought a whole armload of it at the market without really having a plan. After a weekend of getting back to Bikrams Yoga and hiking and wandering the lovely downtown here in Victoria, I was just too tired  to think about making pastry or traditional Rhubarb pies.
Then I remembered a coconut pie recipe I had made once that used lot of eggs and just a little flour and required mixing everything together and that made a wonderful custard like pie with its own crust.  I got to thinking there must be a way to make something pie like, without having to put so much fat and flour into it.
So while this does not classify as super healthy as it still has a good douse of sugar and flour, it does use a lot less flour and certainly cuts out the lard.  (And it a really easy and yummy way to get a Rhubarb pie fix!)
Ingredients List:
6 cups of chopped fresh rhubarb
½ cup of sugar/splenda (to sprinkle on rhubarb)

4 eggs
1 cup of flour
1 cup of sugar or Splenda
1 tsp of vanilla
½ cup of almond milk
Streusel Topping…
1/2  cup flour
1/2   cup sugar or Splenda
1/4 cup of soft butter
1/2 cup of walnuts
1.       Grease a 9x13 pan (glass works best if you have it)
2.       In a bowl toss together chopped rhubarb and ½ cup of sugar or splenda and place in pan
3.       In a bowl beat eggs, and stir in remaining ingredients for the batter and pour mixture evenly over the top of the rhubarb
4.       In a bowl combine streusel ingredients and work with your hands until a course crumble texture. Spread mixture over top of rhubarb and batter.
5.       Bake at 375 for one hour

This recipe is so easy it almost makes itself.  Makes me wish I had Rhubarb in my yard. The final result definatly satisfied my craving for Rhubarb  pie.  Its more pie than cake with lots of yummy tart Rhubarb flavor and a nice nutty crunchy streusle  topping.  I topped mine off with a dollop of vanilla greek yogurt (I am hooked on the stuff as a subsitute for whipping cream.) Try it out and let me know what you think.


Saturday, 9 July 2011

#10 - Pasta with Creamy White Bean Sauce, Breaded Zucchini, Brussel Sprouts, Walnuts and Chick Peas

Today I hiked Thetis lake with my friend Coleen and then we decided to drive up to Duncan to the wonderful vegetable market up there. I am afraid I am a bit like a kid in a candy store when it comes to vegetable markets. I buy everything (with no plan) and then spent most of the drive home trying to figure out what to cook out of all the wonderful vegies we purchased.
It was also part inspiration from a blog post by my friend Julie cove of Alkaline Sisters who has inspired me on how wonderfully easy it is to create creamy pasta sauces out of white beans. I encourage you to check out her blog as she is truly inspiring (Her photography is amazing, and she takes healthy cooking to a truly inspiration al level.)
I love to layer dishes with flavor. This one is a bit fussy as it combines about three recipes.  However if you are like me and love to create….hopefully this will give you some ideas on how vegetables can really be a main course.
You will need…
1.       The Sauce…
·         1 Can  white beans (I used  white Canelli beans)
·         ½ cup of almond milk (regular milk or cream is fine, but I prefer dairy free)
·         2 roasted red peppers (canned)
·         1 onion and two cloves of garlic finely chopped and fried until translucent
·         Juice of one lime
·         1 tsb cumin
·         1 tsp rosemary
·         1 tsp chili powder to taste
·         Salt to tast
This sauce is so easy. You simply fry up the onions and garlic and then add all ingredients together into a blender and mix. You don’t have to heat this up as long as you are pouring it over hot pasta, the pasta will warm it enough. (Instant cream sauce…without the cream!)
2.       Breaded Zucchini
2 small yellow or green zuccini cut into small cubes
2 eggs
1 cup of cornflake crumbs
½ cup of parmesan cheese
2 tbs lemon pepper
Cube zucchini and then dip in egg and then into breading mixture.  Place cubes on a greased foil lined pan and bake at 425 for about 20 minutes. You can prepare these in advance and then warm back up in the oven for five minutes just before you put the whole mixture together.  (Its what makes the dish nice an hardy and adds texture! These are also good just on their own.)
3.       Additional Topppings…

·         1 recipe (  # Roasted Chick Pea snacks)

4.      The Pasta….
1 small package of Spinach Fettuccine (That’s why I used, but really…use your imagination. It could be whole wheat, brown rice pasta or spelt pasta.)
How to put it all together…
This can seem like a bit of fussy recipe, but for me it something I enjoyed creating and because all of the elements can be created  separately and then warmed and tossed together  at the end  it was really quite easy to make.  (Helped that I was sipping wine with my friend Coleen as I created!)
Because the bean sauce is done in the blender, its actually all pretty easy. In term of timing, I start with creating the chick peas and put them aside.  I then create the zucchini and while that is cooking I prep the onions and Sausage for the Brussel sprouts and get everything ready to stir fry.  As the zucchini is just about to come out of the oven I put some water on to boil for the pasta and then start stir frying the Brussel sprouts.
Once the past is cooked, just strain it (don’t bother rinsing as you will want the pasta hot) and toss in the bean sauce. Pour pasta onto a platter and top  with Brussel  sprout recipe, breaded zucchini and chick peas.
Lots going on in this dish, but a really hearty.  Hope this inspires you!

#9 Brussel Sprouts with Caramelized onions, walnuts and sausage – For those of you who hate them this may change your mind!

I have never really liked Brussel Sprouts so have really felt challenged to engage my creative energies in finding a way to eat (and enjoy) these wonderfully healthy little things . Today my friend Coleen and I decided to hike around Thetis lake and then drive up the Duncan Vegatable market. The topic of Brussel Sprouts came up, and I was reminded of and recreated this recipe for colleen when we got home.
Most people seem to have a love hate relationship with Brussel Sprouts. Up until a few year ago, I really avoided them. However, what I have found is that it is  all in the way you slice them!  I find slicing them very fine (Like a coleslaw) makes a huge difference in how I can dress these up with flavor.  It means you don’t have to steam the hell out of them and can stir fry them nice and crisp with all kinds of yummy stuff!
For this recipe you will need…
4 cups of Brussels Sprouts 
1 onion
2 clove of chopped garlic
1 Chorizo or Farmers sausage (bacon can be substituted or if you are vegetarian I suggest mushrooms instead of the meat)
Olive oil
1 cup of walnuts (Peacans or pistachio nuts work well also)
1 tsp of lemon pepper
Juice of one lemon
Wash and chop ends off Brussel  Sprouts and then slice crosswise so that you end up with a nice coleslaw like texture to the Brussel Sprouts. Squeeze juice of one lemon and lemon pepper onto chopped Sprouts and set aside.
Finely chop onion, garlic and chorizo and place in a hot fry pan  with a small amount of olive oil and fry until onions are nicely caramelized.  When onions and sausage are nicely cooked, then toss in nuts and cook for a few more minutes.  Then stir try in chopped Brussel Sprouts and continually stir until Brussel Sprouts are slightly wilted but still a bit firm. (I like a bit of crunch to mine, but you can cook to taste.)
These make a great side dish or meal all on their own when you top with some roasted chick peas or on this day I combined these into a wonderful pasta combination. (Stay tuned as I will post the final recipe later when I get a bit more time.)