Sunday, May 24, 2015

MOROCCAN LENTIL SOUP

I have a few books written by Leslie Beck, including nutrition and cookbooks.  I like her philosophy on nutrition.  This moroccan lentil soup had ingredients that I had in the kitchen pantry and also looked good to have for lunches during the week.   I did modify some of the spices to my own taste buds.   Both the DH and I enjoyed this soup for lunches.



INGREDIENTS:

1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
8 cups broth or water
1 cup green or brown lentils
3 large carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 can (28 oz/796 ml) diced tomatoes
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oil in a large soup pot on a high temperature.  When the oil is hot, add the onions, reduce heat to medium and sauté for five minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger and continue to sauté for another three minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients, bring the pot to a boil, cover it with a lid and then reduce the heat to a simmer.   Cook for an hour.   Using a hand blender, puree the soup until everything is blended.  Serves 8.

Adapted from 'Leslie Beck's Healthy Kitchen'.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

HOKA RUNNING SHOES

The kind of shoes you wear have a huge impact on how your body feels and works.  Wearing the wrong shoes affects your back, shins, hips, knees, leg muscles and feet.  To complicate it, there are many different makes of running shoes and models to choose from.  I have worn a number of different makes of running shoes over the years.  I wear running shoes when participating in a variety of sports/exercises and also to wear as casual shoes for out and about.  When I first started to run I wore shoes that were not right for my feet and I ended up with foot problems.  I had to replace running with swimming laps until the inflammation subsided.  The problem got corrected by using an orthotic insert in my running shoes and wearing motion control shoes.  My running days have since transformed into walking days.  Regardless of whether you are walking or running, you need to wear well constructed shoes because your feet are pounding the ground.

Stinson lite and Bondi models.
A friend of ours told the DH about Hoka running shoes that he had purchased in the U.S.  I hadn't heard of these shoes before this friend talked about them.  After hearing about these shoes, both the DH and I decided to visit our local walking/running store and give them a try.  These shoes are softly cushioned, create a rocking motion when you walk in them, are light, and are very comfortable.  I found that I can actually walk faster wearing these shoes.

These two models that I wear - the Stinson lite and the Bondi, are for different uses.  I didn't plan on getting two pairs of shoes.  I found the Hoka shoes so comfortable for walking the dog that I decided to get a pair for casual wear.  Because of the accumulative mileage I put on walking the dog, the way I heel strike and the dirt that collects on the soils of the shoes, I wear my walking shoes just for walking.  I wear the Bondi model for walking and the Stinson lite for casual use.

These shoes are a different look than the sleek look of the Nike air shoes that Mick Jagger wears but your feet and gait feels great when you are wearing them and do have some style to them.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

SMOKED SALMON APPETIZERS

Smoked salmon is one of my favourite foods.  There are many different kinds of smoked salmon.  I usually gravitate to a lox style of salmon from a sockeye fish.

I made these as an appetizer for a recent supper with friends.   They were thoroughly enjoyed.  I like to add ample strips of salmon to each piece of bread and I may have gone a bit overboard with these.




INGREDIENTS AND DIRECTIONS:

loaf of a french baguette bread
fresh herbs - chives, dill
cream cheese
capers
salmon
fresh lemon

1. Thinly slice a loaf of french baguette bread.  Factor 2 to 3 slices per person as part of the appetizer selection.
2. Place onto a cookie sheet and put into a preheated oven at 300 degrees F.
3. Bake for 5 - 8 minutes or until the slices appear toasted.  You don't want to brown them.  Remove from the oven.
4. Spread each slice of bread with cream cheese.  I used a low fat variety.
5. If you have fresh chives or dill, chop these herbs into small pieces and place a few pieces on top of the cream cheese on each slice of bread.
6. Place a few capers on top of the cream cheese for each slice of bread if you like capers.
7. Layer a piece of smoked salmon on top of each slice of bread.  I cut the strips of thinly sliced smoked salmon into small pieces so that it would be easier to eat before I put it on top of the bread.  I was generous with the amounts of salmon added.
8. Squeeze a few drops of fresh lemon over each slice of bread.
9. If not eating right away, store in the fridge and cover the plate with plastic wrap.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

RICE, BLACK BEANS AND VEGETABLES

Instead of making the weekly big pot of soup for lunches, I decided to make a pot of rice, beans and vegetables.  I like black beans and combining them with rice and vegetables makes a nice meal.  For rice I used brown basmati rice as I wanted to use a rice that is not sticky.   I didn't have fresh cilantro in the fridge but would have added it so I included it in the ingredients.  This can also be served as a side dish but I will eat it as part of my main meal for lunches.  A cup and a half of this dish will cover both my protein and carb intake for lunch.

Vegetables sautéing in the big frying pan.

Cooking for the last few minutes in the pan.
INGREDIENTS:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium size onion, chopped
1- 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 red or other coloured pepper, diced
1 1/4 cups brown rice, uncooked
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
1 can (19 ozs, 540 ml) of drained black beans
3 - 4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp ground cumin

DIRECTIONS:

Using a large frying pan, heat the oil on a high temperature.  Add the onions, garlic, celery and pepper, reduce the heat to medium, and sauté for five minutes.  Add the rice and water and cook on low heat until the rice is cooked (30 minutes).  Add the beans, chopped tomatoes and spices and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.  Serves 4 to 5 as part of a main meal.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

EDAMAME AND CORN SALAD

Buying fresh corn on the cob lends itself to a number of ways to cook it or add to recipes.  I do like eating cooked corn just on the cob with some butter, salt and pepper but I also like adding corn to salads.  Edamame beans and corn are good combination.  I buy a box of frozen edamame beans in their shell and use them in a variety of ways.  This recipe calls for balsamic vinegar and I used lemon flavoured balsamic vinegar.  If you like the taste of lemon, you can add some lemon juice to the recipe.  Both the DH and I enjoyed this salad.  


INGREDIENTS:

1 cup edamame beans
2 cups cooked fresh or frozen corn
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste


DIRECTIONS:

Mix ingredients in a medium size bowl.  Serves 2 to 4 depending on whether this is a side dish or more of a main dish.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

GREEK STYLE BAKED RIBS

Ribs are a popular item to make and for some of my friends, it is their favourite meal to have.  I decided to make a variation of a recipe I already make for greek ribs.  This recipe consists of two parts.  First is marinating them in lemon juice for a few hours, followed by the addition of oil, garlic and herbs and  baking them in the oven at a low heat.  Since the package of meat that I bought at Costco was large, I decided to split the package into two large zip lock bags and prep the second package but freeze it instead of baking all of the meat.  By prepping the ribs in advance and freezing them, the ribs will just require thawing and then baking for a future supper.


INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 to 3 lbs lean pork ribs
1/3 cup lemon juice
olive oil
garlic powder
dried oregano flakes
salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Cut the strip of ribs into small pieces; 2 to 3 ribs per piece.  Place in a zip lock bag.   Add the lemon juice to the bag.  Roll the juice around the ribs and flip the bag a few times.  Place the bag in the fridge and flip the bag over every 30 minutes.  The ribs should marinate in the bag with the lemon juice for at least two hours.

Remove the ribs from the zip lock bag.  Place the ribs meat side up on a baking rack that fits into a roasting pan.  Brush each piece with olive oil.  Generously sprinkle garlic powder and oregano over each piece of rib.  Add salt and pepper according to your taste buds.  Cover the pan tightly with a lid or tin foil and bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 300 degrees F for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  If you only have 2 1/2 hours to cook the ribs, after 2 hours at 300 degrees F, increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F for the last 25 or 30 minutes.  Serves 3 to 4.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

LEMON CHICKEN

I love the combination of lemon and capers in different recipes.  Lemon chicken or chicken piccata does not require many ingredients.  It is a great dish to serve when entertaining as it is not spicy, can be served with rice, potatoes, couscous or quinoa.  I made this dish to serve four and it could have fed six people.

I used frozen chicken breasts for this recipe.  I let them thaw and before they were totally thawed I sliced each one horizontally into four pieces.  I wanted to have the meat less thick.  Cutting the meat up this way creates more pieces to cook so I used two large frying pans.  You can use one pan and cook half the meat and then cook the remaining half.  I didn't want to take more time to cook the chicken so I used two pans to brown and cook the chicken.  After the meat is cooked, you make the sauce in one pan and then add the chicken back to cook for five more minutes.

The lemon chicken tasted great and I served it with brown basmati rice, salad and roasted brussel sprouts.  Everyone enjoyed the meal and there was enough leftovers for another supper for two.

Too much chicken in one pan so I got a second frying pan going. 

Ready to eat.

INGREDIENTS:

4 skinless, boneless medium size chicken breasts
1/3 to 1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
3 to 5 tbsp of olive oil for sautéing the chicken
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup capers
small handful of parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Cut each chicken breast into four long strips.  If you can only cut three strips per breast, that is okay.  Pat the chicken with a paper towel in case it is not dry enough for dredging with flour.  Put the flour into a plastic bag in order to coat the chicken with flour.  Add a little bit of salt and pepper.  Add the chicken to the bag, close the bag and shake the chicken in the bag.

Heat a large frying pan with the olive oil and when it is hot, place the chicken in the pan.  If the chicken is too crammed in the pan it will be harder to cook.  If required, heat a second frying pan with oil to cook the balance of the chicken.  Reduce heat to medium and cook the chicken on both sides until it is nicely brown and well cooked.  This should take about 12 to 15 minutes depending on your stove.  Remove the chicken and place it on a plate.  Add the lemon juice, capers and stock to the pan.  Scrape the pan to get the material that stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Bring the sauce to a boil.  Add the chicken back to the pan and the parsley and cook for five minutes on medium to low heat.  Remove the chicken and place on a serving platter and pour the sauce over the chicken.  Serves 4 to 6.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

SOUR CREAM CHERRY PIE

Sour Cream Cherry Pie
I recently was reading a magazine that profiled a pastry and bake shop in Edmonton Alberta called the Duchess Bake Shop.  A number of recipes were profiled and one caught my eye, sour cream cherry pie.  I have posted recipes in the past using sour cherries and regular cherries  but I have never added sour cream to pie cherry batter.  There was not any hesitation from the DH when I asked if he wanted a cherry pie with the added ingredient of sour cream.   

I used the same ingredients that I have used for making cherry or other fruit pies and added 1/2 cup of sour cream to the cherry batter.  Since I didn't have any frozen sour cherries I used regular frozen pitted cherries.  After pouring the cherry batter into the pie shell there was some batter left in the bowl which I had to sample.  It was decadent.

Cherries mixed with flour, sugar, almond extract and sour cream.
Lattice style of crust for the topping.

INGREDIENTS:

Pie dough for a double crust pie.  I like this recipe for pie crust and have posted it in previous postings.  It makes a double crust. 

Cherry batter:

4 cups fresh or frozen cherries, regular or sour
1 cup sugar if using sour cherries OR 1/4 cup sugar if using regular cherries
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

Mix the cherry batter together in a large mixing bowl.  Roll out half the pie dough and shape it to fit a deep pie plate.  Fill the pie plate with the cherry batter.  For the top crust, create a lattice instead of the standard full crust.  If you have never created a lattice before, it is strips of rolled out pie dough placed on top of each other to create a lattice.  You can get creative with a lattice if you are gifted manipulating pie dough.

Place the pie into a preheated oven at 425 degrees F.  Bake for 10 minutes at this temperature and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the batter is bubbling.  Using a convention oven I baked the pie for 30 minutes at 350 F.   Let cool before serving.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

ZUCCHINI NOODLES

Using zucchini as a substitute for pasta noodles or cucumber as a substitute for vermicelli noodles is one of the options used by people who are reducing their consumption of grains.  To make zucchini or cucumber look like noodles you either have to use a julienne peeler or one of the gadgets being sold in your favourite kitchen store.  I do have a julienne peeler in the kitchen drawer but the temptation to try a spiral slicer was too great to overlook.

I have been wanting to try to make zucchini noodles for a while and while at one of my favourite kitchen stores yesterday I went looking for a spiral slicer and purchased one.  There are a number of different products on the market and I bought a simple hand crank slicer.  The slicer has four different widths depending on the thickness you want.


The picture doesn't capture the hand crank coming out from the top of the container.  It is simple tool to use and will create a bit of fun for me in using different vegetables in recipes.


The zucchini noodles in the colander is from one medium sized zucchini.  I used two zucchinis to make the noodles.

PREPPING THE ZUCCHINI:

Using two zucchinis, julienne or spiral slice them into noodle like strands.  Place them into a large colander and salt them.  I used over half a teaspoon of salt.  Toss the zucchini noodles so that they are well coated.  Let the colander sit in the sink for about 30 minutes.  The salt will make the zucchini sweat and draw out the moisture.  After thirty minutes rinse the noodles thoroughly in the colander with cold running water.  Let the noodles sit in the colander for about five minutes.  

Place the noodles on a few sheets of paper towels or a clean dish towel and damp dry them to remove excess moisture.  If you have the time, you can place the noodles, uncovered, in the colander and place in the fridge for up to two hours.  This will help dry them out.  They can also be stored for a few days in a covered container in the fridge if you are not using them right away.  I found the tip about letting the zucchini noodles dry in the fridge from a cookbook "Well Fed 2" by Melissa Joulwan.  She has a number of great recipes and wonderful tips in her cookbook.

Heat a non-stick pan on medium high heat.  Saute them for several minutes.  Remove them from the stove and add to the hot pasta sauce you are using.  Or you can add a bit of flavoured olive oil to the noodles while they are still in the pan.  You can also add some shredded Parmesan cheese just before removing them from the pan for a simple pasta dish.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

HERMIT-TRAIL MIX COOKIE

While at Costco today, one of the samples being given out was a type of breakfast cookie.  There are a number of variations of breakfast cookies and some are more healthier than others.  The DH was slightly tempted in buying a package of these cookies but I told him that I would make a batch this afternoon.

The breakfast cookie reminds me of a hermit cookie.  A hermit cookie includes the usual flour, oatmeal, butter, sugar, eggs, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and dried fruit.  A breakfast cookie can include most of the same ingredients but some of the dried fruit ingredients are interchanged with seeds, nuts, chocolate chips, and coconut.  There are also breakfast cookies that are flourless, no eggs, coconut oil instead of butter, dates exchanged for the sugar and so on.

The cookies can be made gluten free and vegan friendly if desired.  I didn't add the cranberries or raisins.  I used splenda instead of sugar and oil instead of butter or margarine.  Because I used oil the cookies are more crumbly.  I would have preferred to have used butter or margarine but didn't.  Lessons learned.  Regardless, the cookies are very good and will be eaten with pleasure.

Mixing batter in the bowl.


I experimented and used two different kind of liners to bake the cookies.

Cooling before sampling begins.

 INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup ground flax seed
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup softened butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar or splenda
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup raisins or cranberries or half and half
1/2 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a small bowl mix the flour, flax seed, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  In a separate larger bowl mix together the wet ingredients.  Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and combine the cookie batter.  Using the mixing bowl from the flour mixture, combine the oatmeal, chocolate chips, cranberries, seeds and coconut.  Mix well.  Add the oatmeal mixture to the cookie batter and combine but be careful to not over do it.

Using non stick baking sheets, you can line them with parchment paper or silicon baking sheets if desired.  Take a tablespoonful size of batter, less than a golf ball size and drop onto the baking sheet.  I first shaped the golf ball size batter with my hands before putting it on the baking sheet and then slightly flattened it.  Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, remove, let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes and then place the cookies on a cooling rack.  Makes about 36 cookies.