Sunday, April 24, 2016

CAULIFLOWER, BROCCOLI AND CARROT SALAD

I recently made this salad for a supper that I was going to.  Everyone was bringing a dish.  I wanted to bring a combination of broccoli and cauliflower but didn't want to cook it as there was a chance it would get overcooked with reheating at the host's home.  A marinated salad was an option but I wanted to make a dressing that was not the usual Italian based marinade.  I like making salad dressings with tahini and lemon juice and knew that the flavours would add taste to broccoli and cauliflower.  This salad involves some chopping and it can be made hours ahead of serving.  When cutting up the cauliflower and broccoli, I discard the large stems and chop the florets for the salad.  I made enough salad for a large group of people.



INGREDIENTS:

1/2 head of a large cauliflower, chopped
3 cups broccoli, chopped 
3 large carrots, chopped 
1 stalk celery, diced 

Dressing:

4 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

  • DIRECTIONS:
Add the salad ingredients to large bowl.  Mix the dressing ingredients in a two cup measuring cup or a small bowl and combine well using a fork.  If the dressing is too tart for you, add a little bit of honey or maple syrup.  Pour the dressing over the salad and thoroughly mix.  Let it sit for a few hours in the fridge before serving.  Serves 8.   

Sunday, April 17, 2016

SLOW COOKER BEEF SHORT RIBS

Over the past few months I have been making beef short ribs, with the bone and also boneless.  I have cooked them in the oven at a low temperature and without much liquid.  After buying a package yesterday at Costco of boneless short ribs, I decided to make them in the slow cooker.  I like to brown the short ribs before cooking them as searing them adds flavour and some of the fat drains off from the meat.  I also have tomatoes frozen from last year's garden and one method I have been using to use them is to put a number of them semi frozen into a blender with a little bit of water to puree them.  They can be added in this form to soups and to slow cooker recipes.  For this short rib recipe I added pureed tomatoes.  I had pureed enough tomatoes to also add them to soup I am making for the week - sausage barley vegetable soup.  Instead of pureed tomatoes, you can add a large size can (28 ounces) of diced tomatoes.

Just from the smells coming from the slow cooker, I know that the beef short ribs will be delicious.

Browning short ribs.

Onions up next being sautéed. 

Semi frozen tomatoes added to the blender to be pureed. 

Added the sautéed onions to the short cooker.

Tomatoes added to the slow cooker.

Spread the tomatoes to cover the onions and meat.


INGREDIENTS:

2 to 3 pounds of boneless short ribs
1 medium onion. chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp oil
6 tomatoes, pureed
salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Using a large heavy frying pan, add the oil and heat to medium high heat.  If the strips of short ribs are long, cut them in half and trim any fat that you don't want.  Place the beef short ribs in the pan, add some salt and pepper and cook each side for four to five minutes.  I reduced the heat to medium.  I added salt and pepper to each side.  Place the short ribs into the bottom of the slow cooker.

From frying the short ribs there should be enough fat to sauté the onions.  Saute the onions for a few minutes on medium heat in the frying pan and watch them so that they don't get too brown and the edges burn.  I moved them around while sautéing them with a spoon.  Reduce the heat if the onions are getting too brown.  Remove the onions from the frying pan and add them to the slow cooker.  Add the garlic to the slow cooker spreading it over the onions.  Add the pureed tomatoes to the slow cooker and spread them over the onions and meat. Place the lid on the slow cooker.

Cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours.  Serves 4 to 6.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

BAKED CEREAL


Creamy, smooth and chewy, filling, texture and satisfying are some of the words that describe this recipe after having that first serving.  This recipe was recommended to me by my sister-in-law.  She got it from her daughter.  The recipe is a combination of steel cut oats, pearl barley and wild rice baked in the oven.  The addition of wild rice and barley changes this recipe from just being porridge. I made a batch of this cereal one Sunday and had it for breakfast for the week.  It is easy to heat up the portion you are having in the microwave for your breakfast or any other meal.  You can add fresh fruit including berries to your heated individual portion or you can cut up apricots, add raisins, cranberries or chopped nuts to the oatmeal once it comes out of the oven after it is first baked. I didn't add any dried fruit but added fresh fruit to the individual portion I was having.  It is great recipe that I will continue to make.


Out of oven and cooling in the baking dish.
INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup wild rice
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup steel cut oats
2 tbsp maple syrup or agave
1.5 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
6 cups water

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Add all of the ingredients to a 2.5 quart dish.  I used a corel baking dish with a glass lid.  Mix everything well and bake covered either using a lid or covered with foil. Stir occasionally.  Bake for 1.5 hours.  Cool before refrigerating in a storage container.  Serves 6 depending on your portion size.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

CHOCOLATE GINGER BANANA BREAD

My sister-in-law shared this recipe with me.  She had seen it in a local paper where she lives and made it one afternoon.  She sent me me the recipe and said it was really delicious.  What makes this loaf different than a regular chocolate chip banana bread is that it has ginger.   I used the sweetened dry ginger that is shaped like a dried apricot.  You could also used the dry ginger that is packaged in strips.  The loaf turned out well and the ginger is a nice addition to the taste of bananas and chocolate chips.  It won't get take long to consume this loaf.


The ingredients have been mixed together.

Ready to go into the oven.

Ready for sampling.


Chocolate Ginger Banana Bread

INGREDIENTS:

2 cup flour            
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt            
¾ cup chocolate chips
½ cup chopped ginger            
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar            
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla           
2 very large bananas (1 cup)
½ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt


DIRECTIONS:

In a medium size mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt.  Stir in the chocolate chips and ginger. 

Using an  electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla, then add mashed banana and sour cream.

Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture.

Pour into a 9x5 inch sprayed loaf pan; bake at 350°F about 50 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes and then turn out of the pan. 


Sunday, March 20, 2016

TOMATO VEGETABLE BEAN SOUP

This soup is a hearty soup and can be a meal by itself.  You can vary the beans but you would need to use beans that have similar cooking times.  The lentils and split peas really thickened the soup along with the sprouted brown rice quinoa combination that I used.  I ended up adding a bit of water once the soup was finished cooking.  I used an electric pressure cooker to cook the soup but stove top and a slow cooker are other options that you could consider.  Friends dropped by after the soup was finished cooking so several of us enjoyed a mug of soup.  We all enjoyed this soup.




INGREDIENTS:

1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup dry split peas (yellow)
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup red lentils
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 cup rice or rice quinoa mixture
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 - 28 oz diced tomatoes OR 6 to 8 tomatoes skinned and quartered
1 - 5 1/2 oz can tomato paste
8 to 9 cups broth (vegetable, chicken or beef)
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:


Stove Top: Place all of the ingredients into a large soup pot. Bring to boil and then reduce the heat to simmer.  Cook for 1 1/2 hours to two hours or until tender.

Slow Cooker: Place all of the ingredients into the slow cooker crock pot.   Cook on low for six to eight hours.

Electric Pressure Cooker: Place all of the ingredients into the pressure cooker container.  Cook on medium pressure for 19 minutes.  


Sunday, March 6, 2016

VEGETABLE OMELET IN A MUFFIN TIN

I like some variety in my food choices for breakfast.  Eating the same thing for a week can be boring.  I was also thinking about options for work day breakfasts that could be taken to work or already prepared ahead of time if I was eating breakfast at home.  This recipe is a cross between a crustless quiche and a vegetable omelet.  You use a muffin tin to cook the eggs and you can use muffin tin liners instead of greasing each individual tin.

I also like this recipe in that it includes vegetables which are good to eat with every meal.  It is a mixture of eggs, egg whites, cubes of back bacon and vegetables.  The combinations are endless.  I used back bacon instead of regular bacon as it is leaner and it has less salt.  I did add a small slice of aged cheddar cheese to each muffin cup before baking.  That is also optional if you are following a dairy free diet.  I consider myself about 95% dairy free in the food I eat.  Occasionally I will have some cheese.  I did add some salsa to my plate as a condiment for spicing up these eggs.  Both the DH and I enjoyed this for our breakfast and there are leftovers for breakfast this week.

Before baking and addition of cheese.


Ready to eat. 
INGREDIENTS:

4 eggs
1 cup egg whites
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 coloured pepper, diced
5 asparagus stalks, thinly sliced
2 big handfuls of spinach, chopped
5 thin slices of Canadian back bacon, cubed
salt and pepper to taste
2 ounces of sliced cheese

muffin tin liners
12 size muffin tin

DIRECTIONS:

Add the onion, pepper and asparagus to a small bowl.  Add a little bit of water and microwave for two minutes.  This is to soften the vegetables.   In another bowl beat the eggs and egg whites. Add the  salt and pepper.  Add the microwaved vegetables, bacon and spinach to the eggs.  Mix thoroughly.

Using a tablespoon, spoon the mixture into each well in the muffin tin.  Add enough to each well so that the mixture is close to the top.  Add a small amount of cheese to the top of each muffin tin well.  Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.   Makes 12 muffin servings.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

SLOW COOKER CHICKEN VINDALOO


Vindaloo is a dish based on east Indian spices.  There are a number of different recipes that use different kinds of meat and combination of spices.  I wanted to make a slow cooker recipe using chicken breasts and also one that was lower in carbs.  I have a few cookbooks by Dana Carpender including a slow cooker book.  I decided to make this recipe as it didn't require browning the chicken; it was simple - mix up the ingredients and pour over the chicken and just leave it in the slow cooker for 6 to 7 hours.  A great way to cook for a sunday when you also have other things to get done.

This recipe was also of interest to me as I wanted to make one that was different to what I have done before and I also had the ingredients.  Having the ingredients at hand is usually the deciding factor.  I made half the recipe and even that will provide leftovers for a number of meals.  I know some of my lunches this week could include chicken vindaloo.  Chopped up chicken for adding to salads or on its own is a good option for variety at lunch time.  The recipe turned out well and I have lots of leftovers!


All of the ingredients added and getting ready to cook.  I sprinkled some extra turmeric on the top of the chicken.
Chicken in a serving dish.

INGREDIENTS:

3 pounds (or 1.5 kgs) boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp grated ginger root
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth
dash of salt, optional

DIRECTIONS:

Place the onion, garlic and chicken in the slow cooker.  I cut the chicken breasts in half as they were large.  In a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and combine well.  Pour the liquid over the chicken.  Place the lid on the slow cooker, set it to low and let it cook for 6 to 7 hours.

Adapted from "200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes" by Dana Carpender.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

MISSISSIPPI SLOW COOKER BEEF ROAST

Over this past week there has been many printed and on-line recipes for food to make on Super Bowl weekend.   I like to make some meals on the weekend that carry over during the week and make supper preparation easier.   I have two slow cookers and an electric pressure cooker that has a slow cooker function so I have no excuses for not having enough appliances to make meal preparation easier.

This particular recipe featured in the New York Times caught my eye as it is for a slow cooker beef pot roast, it uses a ranch style sauce to create the liquid you need instead of adding water or tomatoes or canned soup and had a hint of heat to it in the form of peperoncini peppers.  These are pickled hot Italian peppers.  I have never used them before like this in a recipe and I don't go out of my way to eat hot pickled peppers.  I followed the recipe for the most part except for the following:
  • a smaller roast, three pounds; 
  • less salt and pepper in the flour blend that is used to coat the roast; 
  • instead of butter I used a vegan soy free buttery spread and used one less tablespoon than what was in the ingredient list; and. 
  • added seven peperoncini peppers as I was worried eight to twelve peppers might make it too hot.
The pot roast cooked for the afternoon and along with a salad, I made mashed potatoes with carrots to go with the meal.  Both the DH and I thought that this was likely the best slow cooker beef roast I have ever made.  The seven hot peppers did not make the meat hot nor the liquid at the bottom of the cooking bowl.  Next time I will add another pepper or two.

After searing in a heavy duty frying pan, it is placed in the bowl of the slow cooker.

Added the hot peppers and buttery spread.

After the roast with the peppers and butter heats up in the slow cooker, you add the ranch dressing.
Here is a link to the recipe for Mississippi roast.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

GREEN BEANS WITH LEMON DIJON DRESSING

I buy a bag of green beans from Costco from time to time and I am always looking for different dressings to use with the cooked green beans.  I found this recipe in a cookbook by Deena Burton 'let them eat vegan'.  There are lots of great recipes in this cookbook.  I like this dressing as it includes lemon juice and dijon mustard.  You can serve the cooked beans warm or cooled with this lemon dijon dressing.   I didn't have fresh herbs but I do have dijon mustard with dill so I used that.  Dijon mustard with dill is one of my favourite mustards to add to recipes.


INGREDIENTS:

1 pound green or yellow wax beans, whole or cut into smaller pieces
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp agave or maple syrup
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh dill, parsley or tarragon
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Boil a pot of salted water and add the beans.  Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until tender.  Drain and let cool.  Set aside.

In a bowl, mix the remaining dressing ingredients except for the herbs.   Some like to add the oil at the end while mixing in order to emulsify it.  Add the beans to the bowl and thoroughly mix.  Serves 4.

Adapted from 'let them eat vegan'.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

YOUR BRAIN AND DOWNTIME

I came across an article written by Ferris Jabr in the October 15, 2013 on-line edition of Scientific American.  The article is about the importance of taking mental breaks or downtime to recharge your batteries, increase your productivity, solidify memories and enhance your creativity.  It is not just about getting enough sleep every day but it is also about taking a break from being busy, multi-tasking, concentrating for hours on end on a particular task or being subjected to constant stimulation.  It is about taking a break from the constant monitoring of emails, twitter, instragram, Facebook and texting. 

Your brain doesn't stop working; the molecules, hormones, cellular processes and all of the biological cycles keeps on going.  The article says that "during downtime, the brain also concerns itself with more mundane but equally important duties.  For decades scientists have suspected that when an animal or person is not actively learning something new, the brain consolidates recently accumulated data, memorizing the most salient information, and essentially rehearses recently learned skills, etching them into its tissue.  Most of us have observed how, after a good night’s sleep, the vocab words we struggled to remember the previous day suddenly leap into our minds or that technically challenging piano song is much easier to play.  Dozens of studies have confirmed that memory depends on sleep."

Have you ever noticed what you think about when you just let your mind wander?  It is far easier to let your mind wander when you are taking a walk, sitting at a cafe or on a park bench, travelling when you are not doing the driving, or taking a shower or a bath.  Do you replay conversations in your head, think about upcoming work or social functions, think about a recent book or article you read or just soak in your surroundings and tune in to the sights, smells and sounds of what you are experiencing.  I find that some of the best mind wandering can occur when you are taking a walk or in the shower or bath.  The time spent in the shower or bath would be briefer than a walk but it can still be impactful. 

Exercising is also another tool to use to let your mind rest.  I would venture though that not all exercising is restful as some can be competitive and your mind is working hard to strategize on how to win or meet your goals.  I have found that yoga can provide a great downtime as the room or studio is quiet and you are focussing on your breathing and the stretch you are doing.  Furthermore the inside chatter in your head stops.  You take a break from all of the rushed thinking and things you need to get done.  The last point that should be made is about allowing time for yourself to have some downtime.  

The article by Ferris Jabr reviews the impact of taking naps, vacations, incorporating more personal time into your daily life.  If you would like to read more about 
your brain and downtime, this link will provide lots more detail.