Monday, November 13, 2017

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CARROT SOUP

Recently I bought two butternut squashes from the store that likes to sell things in large size volume ➡️ Costco. I have a few recipes for butternut squash soup and I wanted to try out the latest one I saw on a blog site from platedcravings.com. 

I made it today as part of supper and it is a wonderful soup. I added a few things to the ingredients and have provided them in the ingredient list. As I followed the directions laid out in the blog, I am providing the link to the site. The directions are really helpful as they include directions for pressure cooker, slow cooker and stove top. I made the soup using a pressure cooker. I did add a few others things to the ingredients including a carrot and some spices which I listed in the ingredient list. Both the DH and I really enjoyed this soup.




INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup butter
1 medium-large size onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium-large apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 medium to large size butternut squash (3 to 4 pounds), peeled, seeds removed and cubed
salt and pepper to taste
4 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp cardamon 


DIRECTIONS:

Here is the link to the directions for making this soup using several different approaches. I used an immersion blender to puree the soup. It serves about 6 depending on portion size - butternut squash and carrot soup

Sunday, October 29, 2017

APPLE CRISP PALEO STYLE

Having a number of apples in the fridge and a friend coming for supper, prompted me to bake a dessert. It was a good excuse to try making apple crisp paleo style. I looked at several cookbooks I had and adapted this recipe from one I saw in Everyday Paleo for a berry crisp. Why I made this paleo style is because this household is watching its carbs and sugar intake. I like using almond meal or almond flour in cooking and baking. What I like about this recipe is that it dresses up baked apples.

Apples in the non-stick pan.

Almond meal, coconut flour and cinnamon combined.

The egg has been added and the topping is ready to spread over the apples.

Going into the oven.

INGREDIENTS:

6 apples, cored and chopped
1 1/2 cups almond meal
2 generous tbsp coconut oil (solid at room temperature)
1 tbsp cinnamon
drizzle of honey or maple syrup or Splenda (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the chopped apples into a non stick plan and spread evenly across the pan. I used a 8 X 11 inch rectangle plan. Drizzle the honey or maple syrup or sprinkle the Splenda over the apples.  

In a small bowl combine the almond meal and coconut oil. I used a small pastry blender to mix two together. Add the cinnamon. Combine using a fork or mixing spoon. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. The mixture will be crumbly and a bit doughy. 

Using your fingers or a fork, drop small pieces of batter on top of the apples so that they are evenly covered. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden and the apples look baked.  Serves 6. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

FRESH TOMATO SOUP


With lots of fresh tomatoes from the garden I decided to make tomato soup. The origins of the recipe came from a former neighbour of mine. She shared it with me many years ago. Of course I tweaked it and made a few changes. I add a bit more vegetables than she did, I sauté them and I use thyme instead of cloves. I don't always add onion to the vegetable mixture. It is a wonderful tasting soup and one that I don't tire of. In making this recipe, I used six tomatoes and four of them were the Italian variety which are less watery. I also added 2 1/2 cups of milk and bit more flour with the larger amount of tomatoes.  




INGREDIENTS:

1 tbsp oil, e.g. avocado or olive oil
2 slices onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 coloured pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt and pepper

4 medium size tomatoes, core removed and chopped

2 cups of milk or milk alternative, e.g. almond or soy
1 tbsp flour
dash of salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp sugar, maple syrup or agave

DIRECTIONS:

Add the milk, flour, salt, thyme and sugar to a blender. Blend for 30 seconds in order to mix the flour with the milk. Set aside.

In a medium size pot, heat the oil on the stove using a high temperature. Add the garlic and all of the vegetables, except the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium. Stir frequently so that the vegetables don't burn. Add salt and pepper. If the heat is too high, reduce to low and continue sautéing for five minutes. The vegetables need to be partially cooked and still have a bit of crunch. Turn the stove off and remove the pot from the stove. Empty the vegetables from the pot into a bowl. 

Pour the milk from the blender into the same pot that you used to sauté the vegetables. Add the vegetables into the blender with the chopped tomatoes. Puree for several minutes. I like the puree to have some tiny bits of vegetables and not have it totally smooth. Add the tomato mixture to the pot with the milk to create the soup.

Heat the pot with the soup on the stove to medium high. Stir with a mixing spoon and watch that the soup doesn't start to boil. You want to heat it up just to the boiling point. Once it is hot it is ready to be served. Serves 4 depending on bowl size. 




Sunday, October 1, 2017

APPLE SCONES WITH OAT FLOUR

I recently bought a bag of oat flour and since it wasn't too hot outside, I was thinking about baking something that could be consumed either for breakfast or as a treat. I also had gone out for lunch with friends and knew that I was not interested in a full supper as I had a big bowl of pho chicken soup for lunch. 

After looking at some cookbooks and the internet, I decided to make scones. I like scones but not too overly sweet. I used an apple as the fruit in these scones but you could also use pear, banana or berries. The recipe calls for cane or coconut sugar but you can use regular sugar. I used cane sugar. The coconut oil was already soft in the large jar and I didn't need to cut it into the flour with a pastry cutter. I used a hard mixing spoon. Using soft coconut oil made the flour mixture less crumbly, too sticky and more of a blended mixture. I think because of this, I added a bit more oat flour to the dough when I was separating the dough into two halves and shaping it into two round circles. I left the two rounds of dough with each scored into six pieces. I didn't separate the pieces to bake. 

The scones turned out fine, a bit crumbly as I used gluten free certified oat flour and rolled oats which is not the same as baking with flour. They are light and not too sweet. I like the combination of apple and cardamon.


Before baking - two circles of dough scored into 6 pieces per round.

 
Ready for sampling!
INGREDIENTS:

1 cup oat flour
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
cup natural cane sugar or coconut sugar
2-1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp fine sea salt
cup solid coconut oil, cut into chunks
1 large egg
2 tbsp milk (dairy or nondairy)
1-1/4 cups chopped apple, option to peel it

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together oat flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in coconut oil until crumbly.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and milk. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just blended; fold in apples.

4. Turn dough out onto a surface lightly dusted with oat flour. Gently pat into two 6-inch circles, about ½ inch thick. Cut each circle into 6 wedges and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 17 to 22 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Transfer scones to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm or let cool completely.


Adapted from powerhungry.com

Sunday, September 17, 2017

LEMONS, LEMONS, LEMONS

Depending on where you live, you might have access to lemons growing right outside your home on a tree or within your community. You can pick lemons as you need them. Sadly, I access lemons at the grocery store. I sometimes get these ideas that I will make a number of things when I buy a big bag of lemons at the store. By big bag, there would be at least a dozen or so lemons. In the fridge, there was a bag of lemons sitting on the shelf for the past number of weeks and I could see that they were going to spoil or start to dry out. It was time to do something with them. There were at least 10 lemons in the bag.

In the past, I have frozen lemon zest in a small freezer bag and thought I should zest the lemons using my lemon zest grater. The next decision was what to do with the pulp and juice. After zesting them, I decided to put the lemons in the food processor. I cut them into quarters, checked to see that there were no seeds and put them through the food processor using the shredder attachment with the large holes. 

I decided to freeze the juice and pulp in ice cube trays. Using one tablespoon per cube, I filled one and half ice cube trays and popped them into the freezer. After freezing for a day or two, they are ready to be transferred into a freezer bag. There are a number of uses for these frozen cubes. You can thaw a cube or cubes and use them to marinate meat, fish or vegetables, in baking, to add to soups or stews that require lemon or to make lemonade. 

Zest in a freezer bag.

Pulp and juice after processing.

Using ice cube trays to freeze the pulp and juice.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

SWEET POTATO BISCUITS

Recently the DH and I went over to our friends Bev and Wes for brunch. A wonderful selection of food including these sweet potato biscuits. Bev kindly provided me with the recipe. It is a biscuit dough with sweet potato. They taste much better than regular biscuits.

In making these biscuits, I know I used more than a cup of sweet potato and the potato was on the larger size of a small potato. Of course I eyeballed the amount of sweet potato and didn't measure it as I didn't want leftovers of sweet potato. After mixing the dough, I thought it was a bit too stiff so I added a bit more almond milk. I use almond milk instead of cow's milk. I also made the biscuits on the small size. I didn't add the nutmeg.

They are great to include in a meal or as a mid afternoon snack with a piece of cheese. The DH has been enjoying them.

Patting the dough down.
Getting ready to go into the oven.
I opened up one biscuit to see how it looks after baking.
Cooling on the baking sheets.

INGREDIENTS:

1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp baking powder
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup cooked, cooled, mashed, sweet potato
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup
pinch of nutmeg, optional

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 

In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. In a separate medium size bowl, mix together the egg, sweet potato, oil, milk, sugar and nutmeg. Mix well. Stir the flour mixture into the egg sweet potato mixture. Combine. If the dough is too stiff, add more milk or if too loose, add a bit more flour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. To save cleaning up a messy counter, I used a sheet of parchment paper on the counter, floured it and put the dough on top of that. Pat the dough down using your hands or the back of a wooden mixing spoon, into a circle with about a thickness of three quarters of an inch. Cut into rounds using a two and a quarter inch biscuit cutter. I don't have a biscuit cutter so I used a shot glass with a two inch diameter. Place the rounds onto the baking sheet, one inch apart. Gather up the remaining dough and keep on cutting out the rounds until you have used all of the dough.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden. Makes one to two dozen depending on the size you make the biscuits. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

CORN TOMATO SALAD

With the availability of fresh corn on the cob and garden tomatoes, there are a number of possibilities for different kinds of salads. My friend Julie suggested a recipe that she had made for friends. All of her guests enjoyed this salad. It sounded delicious and I decided to make it. I served the salad with garden cucumbers and steak grilled on the barbecue. 

The recipe is simple; corn kernels, tomatoes, mint, feta cheese, lemon juice and oil. You can add salt and pepper to taste. The fresh mint adds the crispness to the salad and also not overcooking the corn so that the kernels are still crisp adds to the flavour. Depending on the kind of corn you use, the colour of the salad can range from more pale tones to a peach colour. Both the DH and I enjoyed this salad and I even had a second helping. 


INGREDIENTS:
2 fresh corn on the cob
10 cherry tomatoes, sliced into halves or 2 regular tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled or small cubes
10 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Steam or microwave the two husked corn cobs. Cook until they are still crisp. I cooked them in a glass container, with a bit of water, in the microwave for six minutes. Cool in cold water. 

Slice the corn off the cobs and add the corn to a medium size bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and add more oil or lemon juice base on taste. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serves 4.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

CANNED SARDINES


Eating sardines is not a favourite food for a number of people that I know. I grew up eating sardines as my mother used to make them for lunches for our family. I still eat canned sardines using the same recipe as my mother. What I like about this recipe is the combination of lemon juice, mayonnaise and shredded apple.

Sardines are an excellent source of Vitamin D, omega 3, calcium, potassium, iron and protein. I always buy the sardines that are canned in spring water. Sardines are also not expensive in comparison to canned tuna or salmon. The recipe I follow is the same every time and in many ways this recipe is comfort food for me. I haven't varied the recipe over the years and like them mashed up with some diced onion and celery and grated apple. I will either eat the mashed sardines right out of the bowl or on crackers. If you like sardines, this recipe will work for you. I even got the DH to eat sardines with me.

I buy sardines canned in spring water

Sardines ready to eat from the bowl.

The other option is to have it on crackers or toast. 


INGREDIENTS:

one can of sardines, canned in spring water, drained
1 celery stalk, diced
1 green onion, diced or 1 tsp dried onion flakes
1 medium size apple, peeled, cored, shredded
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp mayonnaise 
pepper to taste

serve with crackers or toast or eat out of the bowl

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, add the drained sardines and mash with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine well. Add more lemon juice if you want the flavour to be more tart. Serves 1 to 2.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

BLUEBERRY CRISP ON THE BBQ

As it is the season for berries, it is hard to resist buying more berries than you can consume. Furthermore, some of the berries that you may have bought are getting soft. A large clamshell of blueberries that we had bought were getting soft. The options were to either freeze the berries or use them in baking. Since it has been so warm outside, turning on the oven did not seem to be a good idea. I decided to bake the crisp on the barbecue. Having already baked a cherry crisp and pies on the barbecue this summer, I decided to bake a crisp using a round speckled blue roasting pan that normally is used to cook a small roast or chicken. I won't use glass or ceramic baking dishes on the barbecue. I prefer to use metal. Using a barbecue for cooking is very handy when you don't want to heat up your kitchen.

This recipe calls for four cups of berries. I had about 3 cups of fresh blueberries and added some frozen mixed berries to make the four cups. I used Splenda in this recipe. 

10 inch round speckled blue roasting pan.

The four cups of berries before and after adding the sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and flour.

Before and after adding the oil to the topping mixture. 

Ready for baking.

Baking on the barbecue.

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup sugar or Splenda
zest and juice from one lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp flour

Topping:

3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup sugar, options: 1/4 cup brown +1/4 cup white or Splenda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup almonds or pecans plus a few extra for the topping

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium size bowl mix the blueberries, sugar, zest and lemon juice, cinnamon and flour. Combine well.

In a separate bowl mix together the flour, oatmeal, sugar and salt. Add the coconut oil or butter and mix together using a pastry blender or mixing spoon depending on the softness of the oil. The coconut oil I used was soft because it is summer time and I used a mixing spoon. I just blended the oil throughout the dry mixture. If the butter or coconut oil is hard, use a pastry blender and blend until the topping looks like crumbles. Add the 1/2 cup of nuts. I used pecan halves and did not chop them. Mix the topping with nuts. I added the nuts to the dry mixture before I added the soft coconut oil as the oil was very soft due to the warm kitchen.

Oil a medium size pan and add the blueberry mixture. Pat it down into the pan. Add the topping evenly over the blueberries and top with a few almonds or pecans if you wish. 

If using a barbecue, preheat the barbecue to 400 degrees F and place the pan over an unheated burner/element. Bake for about 60 minutes.

If using an oven, place into a preheated oven of 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is browned. Let the crisp cool before serving. Serves 6 or more depending on appetites. 

Adapted from natashaskitchen.com

Sunday, July 16, 2017

ORZO ARTICHOKE CHICK PEA SALAD

Orzo salads have been a summer time salad for me as opposed to making and eating it year round. There is no reason why you can't make it year round. I tried this salad recently at a pot luck and got the recipe. It was such a good salad and included some of my favourite ingredients: chick peas, artichokes, spinach, feta cheese, fresh basil and caraway seed. My friend who made this recipe got it from her friend. I made a few tweaks to the salad ingredients. 

There are a few changes you can make to the salad. You can cook half a cup of orzo instead of three quarters of a cup and add more spinach; you can add chopped fresh mint instead of basil; you can add chopped black olives; you don't have to add parsley; and, if you don't like caraway seeds you can leave it out of the salad. 

Orzo cooling.

I used these artichokes which I drained and chopped.

Ingredients being added to salad.

Chick peas and feta cheese added.

Salad mixed and dressing will be added before serving.

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
5 to 6 artichoke hearts, canned or marinated, drained and chopped
1.5 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach 
1.5 tbsp capers
3 green onions, chopped 
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled or very small pieces
10 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup or less fresh parsley, chopped
1.5 tbsp caraway seeds

Dressing
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1.5 tbsp maple or agave syrup
lemon zest from 1/2 medium size lemon 
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the orzo according to directions on the package. Best to not overcook the pasta. Drain once it is cooked, rinse with cold water, drain and let cool in a colander. 

While the orzo is cooling assemble the rest of the salad ingredients and add everything to a large mixing bowl including the orzo. Combine well. Prepare the dressing separately and add the dressing to the salad before serving. Serves 4 to 6. 

Leftover salad can be placed in the fridge and it will last for 2 plus days. If there is too much dressing in the salad, the spinach gets soggy over time in the fridge. 

There may be more dressing made than what you want to add to the salad. The unused salad dressing can be placed in the fridge and used for other green and vegetable salads.