Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Favourite Beverages

I don't drink soda pop, I don't often drink juice and I hate plain water. What's a girl to do? Here are some of my go-to tricks for quenching my thirst.

Water with Cucumber Slices
I first fell in love with cucumber flavoured water while dining at my favourite local Thai restaurant. It's such a simple and refreshing twist on plain old tap water. And when the water is done, you can still eat the cucumbers! Try it with fresh mint leaves too.

Soda Water with Fresh Muddled Lime & Soda Water with Cranberry Juice
These are my "cocktails". Soda & lime is a staple at home and soda with a splash of cranberry juice is my "going out" treat. To kick it up a bit I occasionally add fresh mint. Make sure your soda water is sodium free. In a pinch Perrier Lime is tasty too.

Clean Iced Tea
Fresh brewed tea, lemon slices and a bit of agave. It doesn't get much simpler than that.

Chocolate Peppermint Tea
For an evening treat, I brew a cup of peppermint tea (which aids in digestion) and add a teaspoon of Torani Sugar Free White Chocolate Syrup. Chocolate and peppermint - it's dessert in a mug!

I also drink a lot of tea at home. My favourites are Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice, Twinning's Lemon & Ginger and when I'm sick, Traditional Medicinals Lemon Echinacea Throat Coat.

What are your favourite beverage alternatives?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Butternut Squash Apple Sage Soup

This is almost identical to my Butternut Squash Apple Bacon Soup but instead of bacon, I added fresh sage. The sage made it a completely different soup - but still mega delicious. I served the soup in verrine glasses as a Thanksgiving appetizer. My Grandmother was quite impressed!

1 1/2 lb butternut squash, halved and seeded
2 onions, quartered
2 cloves garlic
2 medium baking apples, quartered
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
4 tsp olive oil
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper
4-5 fresh sage leaves

1. Peel and cut squash into large,1 1/2 inch cubes. Place cubes into a roasting pan. Add onion, and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat. Roast for 425 degrees for 30 minutes until squash is tender. Half way through roasting, add apples to pan, toss everything together and place back in the oven to finish roasting.

2. Peel roasted apples (skins should slip off easily). Add apple, squash, onion, garlic and sage to a food processor.

3. Heat the roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup vegetable broth, and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from the roasted vegetables. Add broth to food processor with the vegetables. Blend everything together until smooth. Add honey and pulse to blend together.

4. Add vegetable puree, the rest of the vegetable broth, 1 cup water, and a pinch each of salt and pepper to a large pot. Add whole fresh sage leaves. Bring to boil then simmer on low for 10 minutes. Remove whole sage leaves before serving. Garnish with sour cream and fresh sage leaves.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Leftover Turkey Rice Soup

Wondering what to do with your left over turkey? The easiest thing to do is make soup! Remember back in October when we brined and roasted a chicken then made stock with the carcass? No? Well, go here and refresh your memory. If you're not up to making your own stock but still want to make soup, stay here and let's continue.


8 cups chicken, turkey or vegetable stock.
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 tbsp parsley flakes (and any additional seasonings you like)
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup rice, cooked (any variety)
2 cups cooked turkey, chopped (great way to use up all that dark meat no one eats!)

1. Add stock to a large pot and bring to a boil. Add carrot, celery, chickpeas, tomato, parsley and salt & pepper. Simmer on medium-low for 15 minutes.

2. Add rice and turkey. Simmer for another 15 minutes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pumpkin Trifle

Hello! I'm back! Are you shocked? I did not abandon my blog. Just been taking a hiatus. To be quite honest I haven't even been cooking all that much the last six months. It's quite sad and pathetic actually. I hope to post a few recipes over the next month, then I will be taking another short break while I move houses.

This lovely holiday dessert recipe comes from my cousin. I made individual portions for Thanksgiving and it was a huge success. There is nothing healthy or natural about this recipe. It's the holidays... let's live a little!

The base of my trifle is spice cake. If you live in the USA you can buy packages of Gingerbread mix, which is what the original recipe called for. In my area of Canada all we have available is Spice Cake mix and it did the trick just fine!

Pumpkin Trifle

- (USA) 2 (14oz) packages gingerbread mix or(Canada) 1 box Spice Cake mix (Duncan Hines - available at Save On Foods)
- 1 large box instant vanilla pudding mix
- 1 30oz can pumpkin pie filling
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 tsp ground cardamom, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
- 1 12oz container Cool Whip, thawed
- 1/2 cup crushed ginger snaps, optional

1. Bake gingerbread mix or spice cake mix according to package directions. Cool completely.

2. Meanwhile, prepare pudding. Stir in pumpkin pie filling, brown sugar and spices.

3. Crumble half the gingerbread or spice cake into a large trifle bowl, punch bowl or other pretty glass bowl*. Pour half the pudding mixture over top, then add a layer of Cool Whip. Repeat with remaining cake, pudding and Cool Whip. Sprinkle crushed ginger snaps on top to garnish.

4. Refrigerate overnight.

*You could also use individual dessert bowls as I did. Portion the ingredients according to the number of servings you require and layer according to directions.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Peach Kombucha Smoothie

Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that is thought to have similar health benefits as Kefir and other cultured foods. It has been served for centuries in Europe and Asia, where it is considered a health tonic. Read more about Kombucha here.

I have read much about this supposed wonder drink but I had yet to try it myself. I bought two bottles ($3.49 each!) and set about taste testing.

Kombucha is, in a word, bad. It smells like vinegar and tastes about the same. But that didn't deter me. Instead of drinking it straight up, I did what I do with Kefir and poured it into a blender to make a smoothie. The results were pretty darn tasty. This particular smoothie is vegan but you could add a bit of greek yogourt if you wanted. I added a bit of flax seed meal to boost the fibre.

Peach Kombucha Smoothie

Serves 2

- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup Kombucha (plain or peach flavour)
- 2 whole fresh peaches, skin on, sliced or 2 cups frozen peach segments or combination of fresh & frozen peaches to equal 2 cups
- add ins of your choice, about 2 teaspoons (flax meal, chia, protein powder, wheat germ etc)
- 1 cup ice

1. Add the first 4 ingredients to a blender and blend well.

2. Add ice and blend again to crush. Pour into two tall glasses.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Food Blogging & Food Photography Tips

Last week, Danica from Danica's Daily was live tweeting from the BlogHerFood Convention in Atlanta Georgia. Danica tweeted loads of useful tips and tricks on food photography and food styling as well as copyright and recipe etiquette. Lindsay from Love & Olive Oil was also there and tweeted some great tips on recipe development and blog design. I enjoyed their tweets so much, I must have "favourited" at least a dozen from each lovely lady.

Here are my favourite tips from Danica (tweets condensed into paragraphs):

On Food Photography:

"A tripod is the best inexpensive tool you can get for great food photography. DSL users - If you can only buy one lens make it a zoom Tamron 28-75 mm. Shoot by a window, outside or in dark shade. Avoid direct sunlight. Use an old sheet/table cloth or parchment paper to hang over the window if it has harsh direct sunlight. In low light, use a tripod."

On Food Styling and Props:

"Keep your dishes simple. Go for smaller, white, matte dishes with no designs. Keep your props simple and use them over again... mix it up with the food, napkins etc. If you have $25 to spend on photography, buy foam core, white sheet/table cloth, plain white plate, plain white bowl and a clear drinking glass." Tip from Twitter user FrenchFoodieMom: "When adding garnishes to your food pictures, make it like it fell there."

For the live blog notes from the 'Simple, Affordable Tools, Techniques and Accessories to Improve your Food Photography' seminar, go here.

On Crediting:

"Adapting is recipe specific, meaning you saw a specific recipe in a book/online and you change some ingredients to make it yours, based on your own culinary style/tastes. Changing 2 or 3 ingredients in a recipes does not make it yours. When adapting, reference the author and site/book/link where you found the recipe. Put the intro/instructions into your own words.

'Inspired by' means there is no specific recipe. You tried a soup at a restaurant, liked it and created your OWN take on it."

On Copyright:

"Publishers can reproduce up to 3 blogger recipes to use in their book without permission because bloggers are in the media world. Once recipes are published they are considered public domain. Individual recipes cannot be copyrighted, but, groups of recipes (in books) can be copyrighted. The more individual the writing voice you use in your recipe, the intro, the ingredients and the instructions the more claim to copyright you have.

For the live blog notes from the `Copyright, Credit and Etiquette` seminar, check here.

And my favourite tweets from Lindsay (tweets condensed into paragraph):

"For recipe name, find a happy medium. Convey enough of what the dish is but don't name every single ingredient. A long ingredients list is daunting, if you can shorten and simplify, do so. At the same time, don't trick your reader into thinking a recipe is simple when it is not. Use commas carefully when writing ingredient lists in recipes - "noun, verb" - but be aware, "1 cup parsley, chopped" and "1 cup chopped parsley" are not the same. Your recipe instructions are where you can deliver a lot of voice and personality. When writing recipe instructions, give visual cues for done-ness, not just a range of time. Giving the 'why' of an action turns you into a friend in the kitchen (e.g. remove from heat to prevent scorching). When you test your recipes you know your readers will be successful and you know that they will trust you."

To read the live blog notes from the "Professional-Grade Recipe Development" seminar, check here.

I learned so much just from reading the #blogherfood tweets and from reading through the seminar live blog notes. There were a lot of things I had never considered before, like using a tripod in my photography. I already have a really great tripod but for some reason, I never bother to use it. Hopefully these tips will help improve my recipe writing and food photography so I can deliver a better blog. And... depending where BlogHerFood 2012 is held, I might have to look into attending!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mexican Fiesta

I recently returned from a week in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico where I had the best Mexican food I've ever eaten. Chili Rellenos, Chilaquiles, Tamales, Tostadas, Carne Asada, Ceviche, shrimp tacos, as well as the most tender, flavourful skirt steak ever... not to mention fresh made tortillas, guacamole, pico de gallo and refried beans. It was heaven!

This trip rekindled my interest in Mexican and Tex-Mex cooking so I hope to create some of the dishes I enjoyed the most and post them here. When I was in Vegas a couple years ago I had an amazing sweet potato tamale at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill. I was determined to make tamales myself. I managed to find corn husks here in Vancouver, which is amazing since it's incredibly difficult to find authentic Mexican/Spanish food items that don't come from a yellow box. Despite having a bag of corn husks buried deep in my cabinet, I still haven't tackled homemade tamales. I think while the Mexican spirit is still in my heart, I will give it a go. I'm also determined to re-create the delicious skirt steak (flank steak).

In the picture is one of the best things I tasted. I'm not sure how authentically Mexican or Spanish it is, but it was light, refreshing and oh so tasty. It was some sort of cold shirmp and crab salad, stuffed into a cucumber boat and topped with a drizzle of sour cream and a sprinkle of queso fresco. I'm definitely serving something like it at my next cocktail party!

And if any one knows where I can buy queso Mexicano (Mexican cheese) in Vancouver, specifically cotija and queso fresco, please let me know. I really wish we had a true Spanish foods aisle at our grocery stores like they do in the United States. I almost stocked up on cotija when I was visiting my cousin in Seattle last month but decided against it. Kicking myself now!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Food Labelling - What does it all mean?

I was talking with a co-worker about organic food sources yesterday. She was told to always chose organic when it comes to dairy, meat and poultry. What she didn't realize is that organic doesn't guarantee a humanely raised, healthier animal. Organic does not equal free-range. Free-range does not equal organic. Free-range does not equal pasture raised. Food labelling terms are so confusing and there is little in the way of regulation to standardize the meanings. What's a conscious consumer to do?

Poultry & Eggs:

When it comes to poultry and eggs, we often see terms like "cage free", "free range" and "free run". What does it all mean?

"Cage Free" simply means the chickens were raised outside of a cage. This doesn't mean it was raised in a humane environment, or that it had access to the outdoors. Cage free is the most meaningless term of all of them. As well, a Globe & Mail article from 2009 stated that uncaged chickens "exposed to higher levels of bacteria, parasites and viruses that put them at greater risk for disease and infection".

"Free Run" is basically the same as Cage Free. The birds are kept loose in large barns, with no access to the outdoors.

"Free Range" implies to most consumers, that the animal is raised "free on the range", but that isn't always the case. In the United States, the USDA decrees that poultry certified as "free range" must have access to the outdoors but it doesn't necessarily mean the animal actually goes outdoors (Source). Free-range chicken eggs have no legal definition in the United States. In Canada, the term "free range" is not legally defined and could mean anything.

A new term has popped up in recent years, Pastured Poultry. Pastured poultry is raised on pasture and eats a natural diet of grass and bugs (chickens are not vegetarians!).

Beef & Other Meat

"Free Range" - When it comes to beef and other meat products, there is even less regulation. The USDA has no specific definition for "free-range" beef, pork, and other non-poultry products (Source). Generally when it comes to ranching, free range implies that livestock is allowed to roam around without being fenced. It doesn't guarantee the animals were raised entirely outdoors, or that they were raised on a diet of grass and hay (you know, the stuff cows are supposed to eat!).

"Pasture Raised" and "Grass Fed" generally mean the same thing. The livestock is raised on pasture, eating a natural diet of grass or hay (in the winter months). Some farmers raise their animals on pasture but then "finish" them on grains (to fatten them up before slaughter). It is believed that grass fed livestock is healthier than conventionally raised (factory farmed) animals because they have more nutrients and less fat. It is also believed that pasture raised animals contribute to the environment by building up the top soil, since their manure is spread over a large area. This provides a source of natural, organic fertilizer (Source). As with Pastured Poultry, pasture raised livestock may not be certified organic.


This should be obvious, but there is no such thing as organic fish! I only say this because I read another blog where a woman was gushing about the benefits of eating organic salmon. Just think about it for a moment and ask yourself, how!?! When it comes to fish, you want to look for "Wild Caught" or "Wild". With shellfish, farmed (rope grown) is okay because the practice is much different than with farmed fish. You also want to purchase and consume sustainable seafood and limit your consumption of seafood high in mercury. If you are in the US, the Monteray Bay Aquarium has a great chart (and App!) here. If you are in Canada, check this PDF chart from SeaChoice. SeaChoice also has an App that is available from the App Store.


When it comes to poultry and other meats, the term "organic" is the only term strictly regulated in both the United States and Canada. For something to be labelled organic or partially organic, it must meet specific criteria and be subject to inspection. When it comes to poultry products, organic means that the animal has been fed organic, non-genetically modified food (free of pesticides and herbicides) and has not been given any hormones or antibiotics. Organic does not guarantee the animal has been raised outdoors and organic doesn't always mean healthier or better.

Photo: Nanaimo Downtown Farmers Market

Bottom Line:

When it comes down to it, it's important to "know thy farmer". Know where your meat and poultry products are coming from rather than just shopping based on a label. Ask questions! Remember, you have a right to know where your food is coming from and how it was grown. I get my beef products at the farmer's market, direct from a farmer and his wife. When I can't make it to the weekly market, I go to a farm shop in a neighbouring city. I did research and found their animals are raised in a humane and sustainable way. Neither of these suppliers are certified organic, but that's okay with me. My food beliefs put sustainable, local and humanely raised above organic. It's up to your to figure out which is more important to you.

This post is part of Fight Back Friday.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Things I've cooked recently...

Time to share some great recipes I tried out recently...

The Pioneer Woman's Chicken Cacciatore - I modified the recipe and made it in a slow cooker. I browned the chicken, minus the flour coating, then added everything (plus a can of chicken broth) to the slow cooker and set it on low for 6 hours. The results were good and it was very tasty. Probably would have been better in the oven like PW does it, but my work schedule required a slow cooker dinner.

Shredded Beef Sliders from Evil Shenanigans. The beef in this dish was delicious. At first I found it a bit spicy but after reducing the sauce and adding honey (instead of all that sugar), it was absolutely perfect. I tossed the shredded beef with the sauce and served it on a whole wheat roll. Just like a BBQ Beef Sandwich. I will make this again for sure! The mixture freezes well too. Not a true down South BBQ Beef Brisket sandwich, but pretty darn close.

S'Mores Brownies from Buns In My Oven. I made these to take to work one night. Since I was taking them to work I chose to use my creme brule torch instead of broiling the marshmallows at home. Fun, but WHAT A MESS! But the brownies were very tasty.

St. Patrick's Day Chocolate Spritz Cookies. I still haven't figured out how to use my cookie press so instead for Spritz, I rolled the dough and made slice & bake cookies. The cookies were very good but the icing (royal icing) wasn't the right consistency for sandwiching between two cookies. I think a butter cream frosting would have been better. I ended up drizzling the icing over the cookies in a zig zag pattern. They looked neat and tasted good.

The Pioneer Woman's Chicken Scallopine. This one was so-so. The meal itself was tasty but I ran into some issues during the cooking process. First, my chicken did not cook through during the initial pan frying. I ended up browning the breasts in the pan and finished them off in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or so. The second issue, and this was the most disappointing one, when I added the cream to the sauce, it separated (curdled!). I suspect it's because of the lemon juice. Next time I would add lemon juice at the end, rather than in the middle. The sauce tasted great but looked kind of funky. The last change I made was to add the cooked noodles to the pan with sauce, tossed it around and cooked it together for a minute so the noodles sucked up all the yummy sauce.

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Bites. The Pioneer Woman calls them Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies. Whatever you call them, they are delicious and simple! I have made them twice now and both times my guests were impressed. Definite crowd pleaser and a must-have for the next party

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Carrot Apple Fennel Slaw

I have some left over cabbage from last week's Braised Red Cabbage dish so the easiest way to use it up is in a slaw. You can make it even easier buy buying a bag of pre-cut coleslaw, broccoli slaw or carrot slaw mix and add in the fennel and apple. The dressing is a vinaigrette, but if you like it creamier, add more mayonnaise.

Adapted from Evil Shenanigans.

1/4 red cabbage, shredded or sliced fine
1/4 green cabbage, shredded or sliced fine
3 carrots, peeled and shredded or cut into matchsticks
1 fennel bulb, sliced thin
1 apple (any variety), cored and cut into matchsticks (Peel is okay!)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
pinch sea salt
pinch pepper
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

1. Add all vegetables to a large serving bowl and toss well.

2. In a small bowl, add mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Whisk together until well blended and smooth.

3. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to evenly coat. Top with sunflower seeds.

*For a meal-size salad, top your slaw with some roasted chicken breast.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Oysters Two Ways: Raw on Half Shell & Baked with Parmesan

It's oyster day at my house. Vancouver Island oysters were on sale at the market so I bought a dozen. When bought at the grocery store or fish market, oysters are incredibly affordable - usually ranging from $0.50 to $1.00 each; Much cheaper than restaurant oysters which are often marked up 300-500%!

I'm going to share my two favourite ways to enjoy oysters. The first is raw, on the half shell with a few flavourful accompaniments. The second is baked in the oven, topped with breadcrumbs, herbs and cheese.

First thing first though... you have to open your oysters. As I said last time I shucked oysters at home, I'm no expert. A proper oyster knife is key. For other tips, I suggest you take a few minutes searching the internet for a good tutorial.

Jill's Favourite Way to Eat Oysters on the Half Shell:

6 fresh oysters (any size), shucked & on the half shell
3 lemon wedges
Worcestershire sauce
3 teaspoons prepared horseradish (I prefer fresh grated but it's not easy to find!)

Arrange oysters on an ice-covered plate. Squeeze lemon over each oyster. Add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce to each and top with a 1/2 teaspoon of horseradish.


Baked Parmesan Oysters:

2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
pinch each salt & pepper
1 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine
6 fresh oysters (any size), shucked & on the half shell
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 lemon wedges (optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 357 degrees F.

2. In a small bowl, mix together bred crumbs, salt & pepper and parsley.

3. Arrange oysters on a baking sheet. To ensure oysters stay upright, pour 1 cup of course salt on the baking sheet and nest oysters into the salt (this is also a great presentation technique!). On each oyster, sprinkle 1/2 clove of minced garlic and 1/2 tablespoon of the breadcrumb mixture. Drizzle melted butter over each oyster and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

4. Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned and cheese melted. Serve immediately. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the oysters if you desire.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Clean Out The Fridge Vegetable Soup

I'm terrible when it comes to eating my vegetables. I throw out so much produce, it's ridiculous. Last week I had some limp celery, wilting carrots, a wrinkled zucchini and a soft bell pepper. Not wanting to put them to waste (yet again) I decided to chop everything up and throw it in a pot. The resulting soup was easy and fast to make and quite tasty. The below recipe is what I put into my soup, but you can add anything you have on hand.

1 zucchini, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock (or any stock)
2 cups water
salt & pepper
dried herbs of your choice (parsley, basil, celery seed etc.)

1. Add everything to a stock pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until vegetables are tender.

2. Remove pot from heat. Using an immersion blender, puree mixture until desired consistency reached. Serve immediately. Freezes well too!

*You don't have to puree your soup, I just prefer puree over chunky.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Poutine! The quintessential French-Canadian comfort food. Fries covered in fresh cheese curds and gravy. Does it get any better than that? While at the Farmer's Market a couple of weeks ago, I picked up some farm fresh cheese curds. In my area fresh curds are hard to find. Heck, even un-fresh curds are hard to find! This was a real treat and I wasn't about to let it go to waste.

From Wikipedia:

In the basic recipe for poutine, French fries are topped with fresh cheese curds, and covered with brown gravy or sauce. The French fries are of medium thickness, and fried so that the inside stays soft, while the outside is crunchy. The gravy used is generally a light chicken, veal or turkey gravy, mildly spiced with a hint of pepper, or a sauce brune which is a combination of beef and chicken stock, originating in Quebec. Heavy beef or pork-based brown gravies are rarely used. Fresh cheese curds (not more than a day old) are used. To maintain the texture of the fries, the cheese curd and gravy is added immediately prior to serving the dish.

In the past when I made poutine I would use a packet of powdered Poutine Gravy Mix. This time I decided to try my own. It turned out well and was quite easy. I used pre-cut frozen fries because they bake up crispy on the outside and soft on the inside - perfect for a traditional Poutine. Serve for lunch or dinner; as a side or a main.

For the gravy I mixed half a cup of chicken broth, half cup of beef broth and a splash of red wine in a saucepan. I simmered it on medium-high heat until it was reduced by a third. I added a teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with a splash of water and whisked until the sauce thickened. Finally, I seasoned it with salt and pepper. I baked the fries until crisp and placed them on a plate. I sprinkled a generous amount of cheese curds on top of the fries then drizzled with an equally generous amount of piping hot gravy. Delicious!

P.S... It's pronounced "Poo-Tin" but since French is my second language, I'm okay with "Poo-Tine". ;-)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Braised Red Cabbage & Apples

I picked up some Bratwurst from the Redl's Home Grown Beef stand at the market last week. When I think of Bratwurst, normally I think of a huge juicy hot dog. But it's a new day my friends. I'm going to Mexico in two months. I need to think about my "figure". Instead of brats on crusty rolls, slathered in condiments, I'm sticking with the German theme and cooking up a big pot of braised red cabbage.

Adapted from "A Cook's Bible: Gluten Free, Wheat Free & Dairy Free Recipes.

1 medium red cabbage, 1.5 - 2lbs - halved, cored and sliced thinly
3 large baking apples - peeled, cored and diced
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground allspice, divided
3 tablespoons honey*
salt & pepper to taste
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons butter*

1. Pre-heat oven to 300°F. Grease a large baking dish or dutch oven with butter.

2. Arrange half the shredded cabbage in the bottom of the dish. Top with half the apples, onion and garlic. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 2 tablespoons honey and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Repeat process with a second layer using remaining ingredients.

3. Pour vinegar over top of everything. Dot small pieces of butter over top. Cover dish with a lid and bake in pre-heated oven for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes, until cabbage is tender. Remove from oven and serve with grilled or broiled bratwursts. (Mashed potatoes makes a great accompaniment too!)

*Sub out non-dairy margarine for butter and agave syrup for honey and you have a vegan side dish!*

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Roast Beef Dip Sandwhich

What do you do with left over Roast Beef? Make a beef dip, of course!

There isn't really a recipe for this one. It's a "throw together" leftovers meal. I also cheated and used a packet au jus gravy mix from the grocery store, although there are several recipes online if you'd prefer to make an au jus from scratch.

1 tablespoon butter
3 button mushrooms, sliced thin
1/4 small onion, sliced thin
Left over roast beef, sliced thin
slices of mozzarella or provolone cheese
crusty hoagie style buns
horseradish mustard (optional)

1. Melt butter in a saute pan. Add onion and mushroom and cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms are browned. Add roast beef slices to pan just to warm through slightly.

2. While onions and mushrooms are cooking, slice open and toast hoagie bun. Once toasted, butter the bun and dress with horseradish mustard or any condiment of your choice.

3. Arrange sliced beef evenly over the bottom hoagie bun. Top with cheese slices and then layer onion and mushroom mixture on top. Replace top bun. Slice in half and serve with a cup of au jus for dipping.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Roast Beef with Red Wine Mushroom Gravy

I was in Toronto last week to visit some friends. While there I visited the famous St. Lawrence Market, where I bought a jar of deliciously potent Horseradish Mustard from Kozlik's Canadian Mustard. For three days I have been craving this mustard slathered over a juicy slice of roast beef. Incidentally, if you are interested in trying Kozlik's, they are sold at several stores in the Lower Mainland, including Thrifty Foods in Coquitlam!

Recipe adapted from the Canadian Beef Producers website.

Roast Beef

2-4 lb beef oven roast (I used an inside round roast)
6 cloves of garlic, cut into thin slivers (about 3 slices per clove)
course salt and fresh cracked pepper
beef & steak seasoning rub (optional)

1. Remove roast from refrigerator 1-2 hours before cooking to bring to room temperature. (A room temperature roast will brown better!)

2. Cut shallow slits all over roast and insert garlic slivers into slits. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Rub with beef & steak seasoning rub if desired.

3. Place roast, fatty side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into centre of the roast. Cook, uncovered at 450°F for 10 minutes, turning once. Reduce heat to 275°F and cook until thermometer reads 140°F for medium-rare to medium. For a small to medium roast this could take 1-1/4 to 2-1/4 hours. For a larger roast this could take 2-1/4 to 3 hours. Cooking times are estimates only and vary oven to oven. Different roast types and shape can also affect cooking times. Check the chart below for a guideline and be sure to check on your roast after 1 hour and ever 15 - 30 minutes thereafter. My 2.12 pound roast took 1 hour and 25 minutes reach 140°F internal temperature and it was cooked perfectly medium-rare. It would be even easier if you have a digital thermometer where you can set the desired temperature and it will notify you when that temperature is reached. Unfortunately, I don't have one of those!

4. When desired temperature is reached, remove roast from oven and cover loosely with foil. Let stand for 15-20 minutes before removing to a cutting board for slicing.

Red Wine Mushroom Gravy

3 tablespoons pan drippings from roasting pan
2 teaspoons butter
4 large white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup beef broth
1 cup red wine
2 teaspoons fresh cracked mixed peppercorns
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with a splash or two of water.

1. Pour 3 tablespoons of drippings from the roasting pan into a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat. Add butter and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms have browned and sauce reduced by half.

2. Add broth, wine and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer until mixture has reduced slightly, about 10 minutes.

3. Add cornstarch to pan and whisk continually until gravy has thickened. Pour over steak and mashed potatoes!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

This is a great make-ahead meal. I cooked up a big pot before going back to work to use as lunches for the week ahead.

1/2 medium green pepper, chopped
1/2 medium red pepper, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
4-5 large button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 19 oz can red kidney beans
1 - 14 oz can chickpeas
1 - 5.5oz can tomato paste
2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 tablespoon sliced pickled green chilies or banana peppers (optional)
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt

1. Add everything to your crock pot and stir together to mix well.

2. Cook on high for 3-4 hours.

3. Serve over cooked rice or quinoa and top with shredded cheese or sour cream!

This post is part of Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter Apple & Beet Salad with Honey Dressing

Eating locally grown produce in the winter can get really tiresome, really fast. Around Vancouver, winter's bounty is basically limited to squashes and root vegetables - things that don't bode well for a fresh, crisp salad. Thankfully apples are in abundance, as are beets. And although not local, pomegranates are in season until the end of January. Add all that to layer of fresh mixed greens* and you have an artful, appetizing winter salad!

Serves 2 entrée sized salads.

Honey Dressing

A simple oil & vinegar dressing with a hint of sweetness.

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2 teaspoons local honey
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

1. Add all ingredients to a small bowl or salad dressing cruet and mix well.

Tip: Coat your teaspoon in olive oil to make the honey slide off easily into your bowl!


1 medium size beet, greens cut off
4 cups mixed baby salad greens (I used baby spinach and pea shoots)
1/2 small red apple and 1/2 small green apple, cored and thinly sliced
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons feta cheese (optional)
prepared dressing

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees (F). Rinse beets and place on a sheet of foil and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Seal foil around beets to make a small packet. Bake in pre-heated oven for 25-35 minutes until fork tender. Remove from oven to cool. When beets have cooled enough to handle, put on some rubber gloves and remove the skins using your fingers. Skins should be tender enough to slip off, by pushing up with your thumbs. Once peeled, cut off root ends, then cut beets into small, bite sized chunks.

2. Arrange salad greens over two plates. Top each plate with half the beet chunks, half the red apple slices and half the green apple slices. Sprinkle half the pomegranate seeds and feta cheese over each plate. Drizzle desired amount of dressing over top.

This would also be great topped with toasted pine nuts or sunflower seeds!

(*No, salad greens aren't locally available in winter either, but we have to pick our battles!)

This post is part of Monday Mania @ The Healthy Home Economist.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sautéed Wild Mushroom Crostini

Baby Shitake mushrooms and garlic cheese bread from the farmers market.

Over the holidays I co-hosted and self catered a cocktail party. I spent weeks planning the menu, and then three days preparing the appetizers. The food was definitely the centrepiece of the party. One of my favourite creations was sautéed wild mushrooms on a piece of toasted and mozzarella topped baguette. The recipe itself was inspired by a similar one seen on Oprah a few years ago. As with most of my cocktail party appetizers, I wasn't able to get a photograph of the finished dish. Instead, enjoy a snap of some of my haul from the farmer's market today.

Sautéed Wild Mushroom Crostini

This dish can be served as an appetizer, snack or even as a main dish. If serving as a snack or main dish, consider using a loaf of French of Italian bread, instead of baguette.


1 baguette, cut into thin slices
olive oil
1/4 cup butter (1 stick)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound mixed mushrooms (button, crimini, shitaki, oyster, porcini, etc.), cleaned, stems removed and chopped fine
1/4 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc & Pinot Grigio work well, but use whatever you have!)
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, plus 2 tablespoons, reserved
sea salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste
mozzarella cheese (fresh or firm; cut into 24 thin slices, approx. 1"x2" or to fit baguette slice)
1/4 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese (Shredded NOT grated!)


1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees (F). Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet. Lightly drizzle with olive oil. Bake bread for 8-10 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and set aside. Leave oven turned on.

2. Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and sauté for a minute until fragrant. Add chopped mushrooms. Increase heat to medium and sauté mushrooms in butter for 5-8 minutes, until starting to reduce and brown.

3. Add white wine and increase heat to high. Cook, stirring often, until wine has reduced and most of liquid has evaporated, approximately 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add fresh chopped parsley and mix together. Remove from heat.

4. Arrange mozzarella slices on top of each baguette slice. Top each with approximately 1 tablespoon of mushroom mixture. Don't be afraid to use your fingers to ensure mushroom mixture is evenly spread over bread slice. Top with a light sprinkle of shredded Parmesan.

5. Once all bread slices are topped with cheese and mushroom, bake in oven for 8-10 minutes until cheese has melted and edges of bread starting to brown. Remove pan from oven, place crostinis on a serving plate, lightly sprinkle additional chopped fresh parsley over everything and serve immediately.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year - No new posts!


Just a quick post to say Happy New Year! And also to apologize for being M.I.A. for so long. I was out with a friend yesterday and he mentioned I've been slacking off in the blog department. The last few weeks of 2010 were the busiest weeks of the entire year. The first week of 2011 has been no different. I did quite a bit of cooking over the holidays, and even have a couple of great cocktail appetizers to post, but I don't have any pictures just yet. That's always the case when prepping appetizers for get-togethers... no time for pictures. I might have to work that issue into my goals for 2011.

In other cooking news, I got some great cooking related gifts for Christmas. I finally got a stand mixer, which will make baking much, much easier. I also received a huge, 20 quart canning pot for all my canning creations! Previously I was using a large stock pot, which did the trick, but I'm sure my mom will be happy to have her stock pot back!
My stocking was full of lots of gadgets and tools, the best of all is a digital food scale. I've used it quite a bit already and am unsure how I managed without it. Weighing is far more accurate (and sometimes easier) than measuring ingredients, especially when it comes to baking.

The best new kitchen tool wasn't a gift at all, unless you count "gifts to self". I splurged on Boxing Day and ordered a KitcenAid Food Processor. Splurge is kind of an exaggeration. It was over 60% off so the deal was way too good to pass up. Over the holidays I made Marianne's Beet Hummus and found that my mini food chopper was useless for such a job. It was time to graduate to a full size food processor and I couldn't be happier with my purchase!

I'm already thinking of all the fun things I can make and prepare using my new tools and gadgets. A birthday cake is first on the list. I have an ambitious plan to make and decorate a strawberries and cream layer cake for my co-worker's birthday. From scratch. I've never made a cake from scratch. I've never even made a layer cake!

I will be back soon with new posts! Hope you all had great and tasty holidays!
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