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.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

THAI BEEF SALAD

I was recently talking with one of my friends about favourite recipes and she shared with me a recipe for a thai beef salad.  She calls the salad 'weeping tiger beef'.  The beef steak is marinated and then grilled and served over a salad.  It has a fresh taste as it uses both mint and cilantro.

I made a few changes to the recipe and since the barbecue gets limited usage in the winter time, I cooked the steak in the oven.  The original recipe was a green salad with tomato and green onion.  I also added mushrooms and cucumber.  You can add other favourite vegetables to the salad.  The recipe calls for fish sauce.  Instead of using fish sauce which is high in sodium, I used nuoc cham dipping sauce which is the sauce used for vietnamese fresh rolls.  It is about a third of the sodium content.  Instead of regular soy sauce I use Bragg liquid aminos as it is much lower in sodium.  Both the DH and I enjoyed this salad.  It is a keeper.

I used this sauce instead of fish sauce.

Marinade

Beef steak placed in the marinade.

Salad is ready to eat.
INGREDIENTS:

3/4 to 1 pound beef steak
5 to 6 cups of chopped lettuce 
1 to 2 green onions, finely chopped
1 tomato chopped into small chunks
1 mini cucumber, chopped
2 large mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
8 to 10 fresh mint leaves, chopped
3 tbsp cashews, almonds or peanuts, chopped

Marinade
2 tbsp fish sauce or nuoc cham
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar or splenda
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp ground coriander seed
pepper to taste

Dressing
2 tbsp fish sauce or nuoc cham
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet red chill sauce
1 tbsp water

DIRECTIONS:

Cut the steak into several large pieces and place into a container that has a lid.  Mix the marinade in a small bowl and add to the steak.  Turn the steak over a few times to coat with the marinade.  Cover and place in the fridge for an hour.

Heat the barbecue or oven to 375 degrees F.  Cook the steak in the barbecue or oven to how well done you like meat to be.  While the meat is cooking prepare the salad.  Divide the salad between two large plates.  After cooking the meat, let it rest for five minutes.  Thinly slice the meat and divide it between the two plates.  Mix the salad dressing and add it to the salads.  Serves 2.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

BANANA MAPLE OATMEAL COOKIES


I had a craving earlier this week for oatmeal cookies after looking at some cookies in a local coffee establishment.   These cookies are fat free and low in sugar.  I didn't flatten them with a fork when placed on a baking sheet and left them higher and chunkier to bake.  Since these cookies were more chunkier, I baked them for 12 minutes.  They passed the DH's tasting session and are good.  They would probably be great dunked in coffee or regular tea.




INGREDIENTS:

1 cup regular or quick oats
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½  tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup raisins
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla
2 tbsp water
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup sugar or splenda
1 banana, mashed
½ tsp lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a medium size mixing bowl, mix the oats, flour, baking soda, sugar or splenda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and then add the raisins. 

In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg and add the maple syrup, water, vanilla, mashed banana, and lemon juice.  Combine well.  Pour into the dry mixture and stir well but don’t overmix.

Drop by heaping tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat or parchment paper.  You can flatten each cookie slightly with a fork.  Bake for 8-12 minutes or until bottoms and sides are lightly brown.  Makes 18 to 20 cookies.

Modified from fatfreevegan.com

Saturday, January 31, 2015

CARROT, SQUASH AND SWEET POTATO SOUP

I have been thinking of making a squash carrot soup for awhile and since I had a bag of frozen, uncooked, cubed winter squash in the freezer, it was not a difficult decision to make.  If using fresh squash, you can use a vegetable peeler, peel the skin and cut the squash up into pieces.  I do have an easier tactic as one of the grocery stores I frequent sells squash already peeled and cut up into small pieces.  If I am not going to use this squash, I end up freezing it.

The soup turned out fine.  I added more broth than what the recipe calls for so it is a bit thinner than what I would have liked.  I did add more ginger after the soup was pureed.

Ready to go into the fridge.


INGREDIENTS:

1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 coloured pepper, chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled, chopped
3-4 cups uncooked winter squash, peeled, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
6-7 cups broth, vegetable or chicken
salt and pepper to taste


DIRECTIONS:

Into a large soup pot, add all of the ingredients.  Cover the pot with a lid and heat to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.   Cook for about an hour, until the vegetables are tender.  Using a hand immersion blender, puree the soup.  Serves 9.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

TIDYING YOUR SPACE

I recently bought a book entitled "the life-changing magic of tidying up.  The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing".  It is written by Marie Kondo and has been translated from Japanese.  Along with the introduction the book has five chapters.  The author's premise is that you don't have keep tidying your house every day.  Tidying can be done once and the tasks that you need to continue for the rest of your life are those of choosing what to keep and what to discard and caring for the things you decide to keep.  Furthermore, by tidying once, you will be able to put your house in order and have the time and passion to pursue what brings you joy into your life.  The author says that when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order too.  You have to first start by discarding what you really don't need and then organizing your space.


You might be wondering why I bought this book and if I am a messy untidy person.  I think I am tidy and try to not collect too many piles of papers or books at home.  But it is all relative based on who I am comparing myself to.  I am also conscious of not trying to saving everything.  What caught my attention when looking at this book at the bookstore was chapter 3 on tidying by category.  I started to read the pages on how to fold clothes and store socks.  I was intrigued.  The author feels that the inside of your drawers should be organized so that the each item can be seen at a glance, just like seeing the spines of your books when they are lined up on your bookcase.  Clothes in your drawer should be stored standing and it is not the folding that creates wrinkles but the amount of pressure applied that causes wrinkling. The goal is to fold each piece of clothing into a smooth, simple rectangle.  Every piece of clothing has its own sweet spot in terms of the number of folds.  I love tee shirts and have written about tee shirts in a previous post  how many tee shirts should you own?   I have several drawers of tee shirts and the tee shirts are separated by whether they are short sleeve or long sleeve and colours.  The tee shirts are all nicely folded but are stacked, and are not stored in the drawers standing up.  You can bet already that I will be rearranging my tee shirt drawers.

Chapter 3 also contains information on storing socks.  Besides tee shirts,  I also love socks.  I store my socks in the drawer by rolling them up and fold the tops back to form a flat ball.  The author write that socks should not be balled-up.  Storing them in the drawer is a time for them to rest.  Your socks are essentially on holiday.  When you wear your socks they endure pressure and friction.  If you store your socks balled-up, the fabric is stretched, the elastic is pulled and they never get the chance to relax.  This make perfect sense to me.  The socks are folded like clothing and are stored with the socks on their edge.  I spent 45 minutes today unwrapping my socks and storing them folded on their edge.  I also separated the socks based on winter and summers weight and whether they were fine socks intended to wear with dress shoes.  I realized doing this that I have a lot of socks, likely too many socks.  And I like every pair of them.  

The book contains other interesting information from arranging clothes in your closet, to arranging books on your book case, to designating a spot for each of your items, to appreciating your belongings, and to learning that you can do without.  Since I have been reading the book in a non sequential manner, I will start to read it from beginning to end.  It is not a big book both in size and page numbers so it should not take me long to read it.