Friday, July 9, 2021

ORZO APPLE CELERY SALAD


 
With the hot summer temperatures, I like to have cold salads on hand that incorporate pasta, rice or a grain like farro. I like using orzo in salads since it is small in size and mixes well with other vegetables. Using a bulky size pasta changes the texture and bite size of the salad. With mint growing in the garden, this was an excuse to make and blog another orzo dish. We all enjoyed this salad as part of supper. The mint makes it refreshing.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup uncooked orzo pasta
2 green onions, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 apple, cored and chopped
3 radishes, chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled or small pieces
6 - 8 mint fresh mint leaves, cut into ribbons
1/4 cup or less fresh parsley, chopped

DRESSING:

4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice (use fresh lemon juice if you have lemons on hand)
1 tsp 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. You can cook the orzo ahead of time based on your schedule and assemble the salad closer to the time of having it as part of your meal. When I make pasta ahead of time, I add a little bit of olive oil to the pasta in a bowl or serving dish so that it doesn't clump together.

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.

 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

ARUGULA AND FENNEL SALAD

Ready to eat.

The combinations of greens, fennel, orange and mint make a wonderful refreshing salad for hot summer days. I have posted several variations of fennel salad in previous blog postings and this one adds to the collection. If you don't have arugula greens, any chopped kind of lettuce or greens will be fine and you could even just eat the fennel salad and skip the greens. Peaches or nectarines are also good options to replace oranges. I like to make this salad as an alternative to lettuce and vegetable salads. Most evening meals include a salad and having choices helps. 


Chopped arugula in a dinner bowl.
 
Fennel salad ready to be placed onto a serving of arugula greens.

INGREDIENTS:

1 small fennel bulb, cut into thin strips
1 orange, chopped into small pieces or 1 small drained can of mandarin oranges
2 green onions, chopped
2 to 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 to 3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
grated orange peel from ½ an orange

Several handfuls of arugula greens, chopped or whole

Dressing:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp maple syrup or liquid honey 
1 clove of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste


DIRECTIONS:

Trim the fennel bulb of stalks and wash it. Take off the outer layer if it doesn’t look fresh. Slice the bulb into chunks and use a food processor or a sharp knife to make thin slices. Add the fennel slices to a medium size bowl. Add the rest of the vegetables except for the arugula. 

Mix the dressing in a small container or jar. Add the dressing to the mixing bowl with the fennel and combine. Place one to two handfuls of arugula greens into a dinner bowl or plate. Add a portion of the fennel salad on top of the arugula greens. Serves 2 to 4 depending on how salad you want.


Thursday, May 13, 2021

SOURDOUGH PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

 


While recently talking to another cookie baker who is a wonderful cook and also my sister-in-law, she mentioned what her favourite cookie is. It is a peanut butter cookie with oats and coconut. I was tempted to make her recipe but decided instead to deviate and make a peanut butter cookie with sourdough discard starter. I added oats and coconut instead of chocolate chips. The chocolate chips were tempting to add but having a kitchen helper who has four legs and likes to sample, chocolate is out of the equation. 

For the ingredients, you can add up to a cup of sourdough starter. I had only 3/4 cup available and just used that. I didn't add the full cup of sugar. I used about 3/4 cup of coconut sugar and 1/4 cup of stevia. The cookies are not too soft but are not crispy. The sourdough starter makes them more softer than a traditional peanut butter cookie. We all enjoyed sampling these cookies.



INGREDIENTS:
 
3/4 cup sourdough starter 
1 cup peanut butter 
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown or coconut sugar 
2 eggs 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
 
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder 
1 tsp. baking soda 
1/2 tsp. kosher salt 
1 tsp. cinnamon 
 
1 to 2 cups chocolate chips  OR
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened shred coconut

DIRECTIONS:
 
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
 
In a medium size mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the sourdough starter, peanut butter, butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and the vanilla extract and mix well.  

Add the dry ingredients to the sourdough mixture. Mix well. Add the chocolate chips or the rolled oats and the coconut. If the dough is not stiff enough add a bit more flour or rolled oats. 

Using a small cookie scoop or a heaping tablespoon, place each ball of dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Press gently down on each ball with a fork. The cookies will not spread but will puff up a bit. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.  Makes up to 54 cookies.





Wednesday, April 28, 2021

SOURDOUGH BAGELS

 


With having sourdough starter I am always willing to try a new recipe. I have been reviewing sourdough bagel recipes over the past few weeks. Some recipes require more prep time including an overnight rise in the fridge. A long rise in the fridge helps with the fermenting process to give the sourdough its classic flavour.

I decided to make this recipe from baked-theblog who call these bagels a New York style bagel (New York style sourdough bagels). I made mine more of a Montreal style bagel which includes a smaller bagel, larger hole and you use honey or sugar in the boiling water to poach the bagels. There are many debates that go on about which bagel is better.

There are a few things that make bagels different from rolls or buns:

  • They are poached before baking which gives them the chewiness and a soft crust. You don't want a bagel to have a crusty texture like a typical sourdough bread. 
  • They also don't rise as much as other breads. 
  • Part of the joy of eating the bagel are the seeds coated on the bagel.  
  • Lastly, they are more dense.
Not everyone is a bagel fan. If you want to learn more about the science of making bagels, this link provides the detail.

If you plan to make this recipe, you need to factor in the time for all of the steps. From the time I put the ingredients into the mix master to knead the dough to putting in the first tray of bagels to bake, it took over 25 hours. The recipe advises that it makes eight to ten bagels, I made 15 of them. I used three kinds of seeds to coat the bagels - poppy seed, black sesame seed and everything bagel. If you don't have a large fridge or a second fridge it may be difficult to make these bagels as the trays are kept in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours. I had these bagels in the fridge for 20 hours. 

They are a delicious bagel and I will be making them again, but not a weekly basis!

Here are some photos to show some of the steps.

Bagel dough is divided up into 15 and resting. 

 
Bagels ready for the first rise
 

 After rising for 20 hours in the fridge.
 

Poaching the bagels in boiling water with baking soda and sugar.

  
Ready to bake.

 
Out of the oven and cooling.



Bagels made using this recipe.  New York style sourdough bagels

Sunday, April 25, 2021

QUICK AND EASY WAR WON TON SOUP


For an easy supper, I like to make my version of chicken war won ton soup. It does require a little bit of planning if you want to first make some chicken stock using a boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs. You can make this soup meatless by skipping the chicken and chicken bouillon and using vegetable mini won tons. The vegetables used in the soup can vary based on what you have in the fridge. I use frozen chicken cilantro mini won tons that I buy from Costco. They are a perfect size. I added about 16 mini won tons but you can add more to the soup. If you have leftover soup, you may need to add some water the following day when you heat it up as the noodles and won tons will have absorbed some of the liquid. 

INGREDIENTS:

Broth
One pound of boneless skinless chicken breast or chicken thighs
Medium onion, chopped
8 cups of water
1 tsp salt

Vegetables
One large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced or chopped
One celery stick, chopped
3 mushrooms, chopped
One small zucchini, finely chopped or sliced into noodles using a vegetable peeler
Large handful of fresh green beans, chopped into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces
One cup to 1 1/2 cups of chopped cauliflower or broccoli 
1/2 coloured pepper, chopped

Seasonings
One garlic clove, minced
2 tsp tamari sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce (can use salt instead)
1 tsp chicken bouillon powder (optional) 

16 mini won tons ( I add them frozen)
100 gram or 3.5 ounces of angel hair pasta broken in smaller pieces or vermicelli noodles

Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Using a large soup pot, add the water, chicken, onion and salt. Heat the contents to a boil and then simmer for an hour. Remove the cooked chicken and place in a bowl to cool for a little bit.
 
Taste the broth and add the seasonings. I add some chicken bouillon powder to increase the chicken flavour. 

Add the chopped vegetables to the broth. Cut the cooked chicken into small pieces and add back to the soup. Stir the contents of the soup and taste the broth to see if it needs anymore seasoning. Adjust if required. Heat to a boil and then lower the temperature to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft. 

When you are close to serving the soup, add the mini won tons and noodles. Heat the soup to medium high and once it starts to boil reduce the heat to low. Cook for six to seven minutes. Add the chopped cilantro. Makes four large servings. I like to add some additional soy sauce to my own bowl of soup. 


Saturday, April 10, 2021

PASTA WITH GROUND BISON AND VEGETABLES

 

An individual serving.

I decided to make a healthy version of a cheesy vegetable and ground meat pasta dish for supper tonight. I used chickpea rotini pasta, lean ground bison and a small amount of cheese.  I added some oat milk to create some creaminess along with the cooked pasta water.

As I usually buy and freeze ground meat in one pound or 454 gram packages, I didn't want to make a larger recipe that serves four to six. I cooked the full pound of thawed ground bison, used half of it for this recipe and will use the remaining half in another recipe over the next few days. With storing it in a container in the fridge, it will keep for a few days.    

The pasta dish turned out to be cheesy enough with the amount of cheese added. The DH and I both liked the meal.

INGREDIENTS: 

125 grams (4.5 ounces) of dry pasta 
 
250 grams (around 1/2 pound) ground bison (or other ground meat) 
1 tbsp olive or other oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 large mushrooms, chopped
1/2 coloured pepper, chopped
2 large handfuls of spinach
1/2 tsp of oregano
salt and pepper to taste
 
cooking water from pasta
1/3 cup milk or nut/plant milk
 
1/4 cup shredded cheese - mozzarella, cheddar or other favourites
2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese   

DIRECTIONS:
 
1. Cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Using a large saute or frying pan, on medium heat, cook the bison or other ground meat, breaking it up in the pan. Add the oregano and salt and pepper based on taste. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes until it is no longer pink. Transfer the meat to a bowl or container. 

3. Add the oil to the frying pan, heat on medium high heat and add the chopped onions, mushrooms and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium or medium low and saute the vegetables until soft. Add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water if the vegetables are sticking to the pan. Add the cooked ground bison to the pan, combine with the vegetables and cook for a few more minutes. Add the milk and combine.

4. Add the spinach to the frying pan and combine. If the mixture is looking dry, add a little bit of the pasta cooking water. Cook the spinach down and stir after a few minutes. You may need to add some more salt and pepper to the mixture based on taste.  

5. Transfer the pasta, bison and vegetables to a serving bowl. Add the cheeses and mix well. Ready to serve. Makes up to 3 servings based on appetite. 

 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

VEGETABLE COTTAGE CHEESE NOODLE KUGEL

 

Ready to sample.

Once out of the oven, it is good to let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.
 

Having several containers of 2% cottage cheese as bulk packages from Costco prompted me to make a kugel. One of my favourite comfort foods is cottage cheese and noodles. This dish includes vegetables and in many ways is similar to a vegetarian lasagna without the tomato sauce or layers. I used egg noodles and I think this dish works well using a flat noodle. I used a wider egg Italian noodle. It is quite filling and goes well with a green salad as a supper meal. Instead of trying to eat the kugel over several days, I will freeze a section for a future meal for the DH and I.

 

Egg noodles drained in a colander.


Vegetables added to the sauteed mushrooms.

Cottage cheese and vegetable mixture.
 

 
Mixture placed in the casserole dish.


Sliced mozzarella cheese placed on top.

INGREDIENTS:

8 ounces or 250 grams of egg noodles
500 grams or 16 ounces of cottage cheese
3 tbsp butter
3 mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cauliflower, coarsely chopped
1 cup of broccoli, coarsely chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten in a small bowl
1/2 tsp dried chives
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced for topping (optional)
 
DIRECTIONS:
  
Cook the noodles to al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse with water and put aside. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil or butter a 9 X 13 baking dish.

Steam the broccoli and cauliflower but do not overcook them. 

Using the pot that cooked the pasta, melt the butter on medium heat and add the mushrooms. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes until the mushrooms are softened. Turn the heat off. Add the drained broccoli and cauliflower to the pot. To the small bowl with the beaten eggs, add the cottage cheese, herbs, mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Add the cottage cheese egg mixture to the pot with the vegetables and combine. Add the noodles and mix well. 

Place the cottage cheese, vegetable and noodle mixture into the oiled baking dish. Cover with thinly sliced mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden brown. Take out of the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before slicing it and serving. Makes 5 to 6 servings as a main course.
 
 
  

Sunday, February 21, 2021

GRANNY'S BUTTERMILK SOUP

 


A friend of mine sent me a recipe for buttermilk soup that both his grandmother and mother have made over the years. It is a depression era recipe made on the farm that used just a few ingredients - potatoes, water, salt and pepper, flour, milk or cream and buttermilk. My friend knows that I use kefir and buttermilk in recipes and thought I would enjoy it. The soup goes well with warm bread.

It is a wonderful soup and I modified it to include a few other vegetables. I used kefir instead of buttermilk as I have large container of plain kefir in the fridge. I added some cauliflower as there was some in the vegetable bin that needed to be used. The soup is very filling and hits the spot when you are hungry and wanting a hot bowl of soup. If you wanted to make just a potato soup I would use four large potatoes.

INGREDIENTS:

2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup cauliflower, chopped (optional)
water
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried herbes de Provence

1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup milk

1 to 1.5 cups of buttermilk or kefir

DIRECTIONS:
 
Chop the vegetables to bite size pieces. I like the vegetables to be small in size and not chunky. To a large soup pot add the vegetables and then add enough water so the water covers the vegetables. Add the herbes and salt and pepper. Cover with a lid. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 25 to 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. If too much water has evaporated, add another cup of water.

In a small bowl mix the flour and milk. You want the consistency of paste. If the mixture is not pasty enough, add a bit more flour. Add the flour paste to the soup and stir well. Turn the heat up so that it boils and then turn the temperature down to a simmer. Stir often so that the vegetables don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Let it simmer for five minutes. The soup should be thick. Add the buttermilk or kefir to the soup and stir. Let the soup heat up until it is very warm but do not let it boil. Add more salt and pepper if required. Serves 4. 
 



Sunday, January 31, 2021

LEMONY LENTIL AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

 


A favourite soup of mine and one of the most favourite soups from the recipe section in the Washington Post is their Greek lentil and spinach soup with lemon. The first time I made it I thought wow, this is a really good tasting soup. I did make it with a few modifications. In raving about the soup, I got some requests to blog it so that others could enjoy it. 


If I have time and I am thinking ahead, I like to soak the lentils beforehand. You don’t need to soak lentils but I find soaking them ahead of using them in the soup doesn’t require me to add more water to thin the soup after making it, especially after sitting in a storage container in the fridge. I will try to soak the lentils overnight in a large container with water. After soaking them I will drain and rinse them in a colander.


Hope you enjoy this soup as much as I and the DH do.


INGREDIENTS:


10 ounces or 1.25 cups brown or large green lentils, rinsed and picked over

7 to 8 cups chicken, vegetable broth or water

1/2 tsp ground coriander seed

1 tsp ground cumin 

1 tsp dried oregano

2 medium Yukon gold, russet or red potatoes, diced 

5 ounces baby spinach, chopped

1 small butternut squash peeled, seeded and diced

1 cup carrots, chopped (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, with leaves, chopped 

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 lemons


DIRECTIONS:


In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, combine the lentils, stock or water, coriander, cumin and oregano. Bring to a boil, with the lid on, then reduce the heat to simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender. 


Add the potatoes, spinach and butternut squash, increase the heat until it starts to boil and reduce heat to a simmer with the lid partially on. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes and squash are tender.


In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, and cook, stirring, until it starts to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the celery and garlic and cook, stirring often, until they soften, in about 3 minutes. Add the mixture to the soup, deglazing the skillet with a little soup liquid and adding the deglaze contents back to the soup pot. Add the salt and pepper, taste, and add more if needed.


Thinly slice the lemons as they will be placed on top of the served soup in the individual bowls. 


Just before serving, stir the lemon juice into the soup. Serve the soup hot, with a lemon slice floating atop each bowl. Makes about 8 servings.


Adapted from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/voraciously/wp/2020/03/08/this-lentil-soup-is-so-good-one-nurse-has-eaten-it-for-lunch-every-workday-for-17-years/

Thursday, December 24, 2020

BUCKWHEAT CABBAGE ROLLS

 

Ready to go into the oven

It has been many many years since I have made cabbage rolls from scratch. My sister-in-law sent me a recipe she has made over the years that uses buckwheat, potatoes, onion and bacon. She told me that buckwheat or kasha was very good in cabbage rolls. You could make them meatless and not add the bacon. I decided to make these for the holidays. 

Since it has been awhile since I rolled cabbage leaves with filling, I thought a tutorial was in order. I went to youtube.com and found some great videos on cooking the cabbage and removing the leaves without ripping them along with rolling the leaves with filling.

The filling is very good and since I had about a generous tablespoon left after using all of the cabbage leaves, I warmed it up with a little bit of sauerkraut as a snack.

I used a 28 ounce can of skinless tomatoes and added some water to the casserole dish. 

This recipe makes over two dozen cabbage rolls. It depends on the amount of filling you use and the size of your cabbage.

Buckwheat filling

 

Cabbage ready to be filled

 

   
Filling the cabbage leaf    

Two layers of cabbage rolls with sauerkraut

INGREDIENTS:

1 large head of cabbage 

1 1/4 cups of buckwheat (kasha)

2 cups water

1 medium potato, peeled, cooked and mashed

1 medium onion, chopped

5 - 6 slices of bacon, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

28 oz canned tomatoes or tomato soup or juice

sauerkraut (optional)

large casserole dish with a lid

DIRECTIONS:

Add buckwheat and water to a pot and cook on high heat to a boiling point; then reduce to low heat for 20 to 25 minutes. Once the buckwheat is simmering, you can cover the pot with a lid. Cook the buckwheat until the the kernels are soft and the water has been absorbed. Let the buckwheat cool and add it to a medium size bowl. Add the mashed potato to the buckwheat and combine well. Season with some salt and pepper. 

Heat a frying pan to medium heat and add the chopped bacon. Once the bacon is half cooked, add the chopped onion. Cook the bacon and onion until both are well cooked and the bacon is crisp. Watch that you don't burn the onions. Add the cooked bacon and onions to the bowl with the buckwheat and mashed potatoes. Combine well. Set aside. You can make this filling ahead of time and store in the fridge if required.

Steam/cook the cabbage until you separate the leaves.

I like to first place a layer of small cabbage leaves on the bottom of the casserole pan before I add the cabbage rolls. Fill each cabbage leaf with about a tablespoon of the buckwheat mixture. Roll up the leaf and place in the casserole. After you have placed one layer of cabbage rolls you can add some sauerkraut to the layer of rolls before you add the second layer of cabbage rolls. Add more sauerkraut after you completed the second layer of cabbage rolls. Once you have used all of the cabbage leaves or filling, you can add the tomatoes to the casserole dish. Bake at 300 degrees F for 2 hours. 

Recipe adapted from my sister-in-law Darlene.