Monday, November 11, 2013

Maple Almond Crunch Granola

Dear Jess,

It's already November! Christmas is just around the corner!

Today is a very dreary day in Peterborough. I decided to take advantage of a cozy house by making granola. This recipe is tasty, crunchy, and not too sweet. Perfect to pair with Greek Yogurt!

I adapted this recipe from quite a few different sources. I don't think it resembles any one recipe very closely, so I didn't source anything this time. 



Maple Almond Crunch Granola
Sally's mix-matched creation

3 cups oats
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup butter
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 300F. Mix oats, almonds, seeds, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.

2. In a small saucepan melt butter into maple syrup and honey. Mix with dry ingredients and add vanilla and almond extract. Stir well.

3. Spread on parchment lined cookie sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until at desired crispness.

4. Let cool and transfer into storage container.



I hope you're doing well and finding time in your crazy schedule to cozy up with a cup of tea and breathe!

Love,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

Dear Jess,

People tell me the weather is getting cooler... my body isn't listening. I'm still wearing tank tops, as my belly acts like my own internal furnace. That being said... I am loving this time of year. The colours, the breeze, the frost and the food! (I am making a pot of Chicken Corn Chowder for dinner tonight!)

Whimsical is how I would describe this season. It is also how I would describe these muffins. I found them while looking for a 'different' muffin recipe. I make a lot of muffins, as Jason takes them in his lunch, and they're an easy little snack for me to throw in my purse as a 'just in case'. I was getting bored of my usual banana, or oatmeal chocolate chip, and wanted something a little more special. Apparently raspberries are the answer.



Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins
adapted from www.sallysbakingaddiction.com
3 cups whole wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl mix eggs and sugars. Add milk, oil and vanilla. Add to flour mixture.

Add chocolate chips and raspberries. Evenly distribute in lined muffin tins.

Bake for 5 minutes. Without taking muffins out, change temperature to 375F and continue baking for 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
 

This is great, as I usually get frozen fruit on sale. You could also use fresh, but I find that it adds too much moisture. People say the frozen ones will dye your batter... I don't mind it when this happens... and I haven't found that it makes a big difference in this recipe.

I hope all is well as you gear up for Christmas! Our church started Operation Christmas Child already, which always makes the holiday season a little more real to me.

Love,






Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chicken and Pumpkin Soup

Dear Jess,

First. I miss you. We NEED a phone date soon. Please let me know when you're available, and we can schedule something asap.

Second. Make this soup.

Mom and I signed up for an organic food box (by a farm called Circle Organic) that we split between the two of us once a week. We signed up because we thought it would be fun to try new things based on the local, seasonal, organic produce we get in our box. I must say: it is fun!

This week I got a pumpkin! My recipe was inspired by a recipe I found on the internet. I threw a chicken (which I got on super sale) that I defrosted over night, into the slow cooker on high for 3 hours, and cooked my pumpkin in the oven (cut in half, gut and cook at 325F for about an hour). Both of these take time, but (luckily) very little effort. I just put them in, and was able to complete my other tasks around the house. To make it 'easier', you could use canned pumpkin, and pre-cooked chicken from the store. Either way, it will be delicious.


Chicken and Pumpkin Soup
inspired by www.budgetbytes.com
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cooked pumpkin, mashed
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cups corn
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cooked chicken, pulled/chopped
1 (15oz) can kidney beans
5 large 'leaves' of collard greens, stemmed and chopped
1 tsp hot sauce
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt

Put olive oil, onion, and garlic in a large saucepan. Simmer until onions are softened. Pumpkin and red pepper flakes, and let cook for another 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly.

Add corn and chicken broth. (I took my immersion blender to it at this point... totally optional though...) Bring to a boil.

Add chicken, beans, collards, hot sauce, cumin, chili powder and salt. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

Remove from heat, and serve!



I'm warning you... This will make your house smell amazing!

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Love,

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Autumn Apple Cider

Dear Sally,

     Please don't worry about how often you post. I felt better knowing that I am not the only one who hasn't made a post in a while.
          Life here in Bradford is a little bit crazy. I find I have forgotten how to enjoy cooking with the crazy schedule I have. Every now and then I have the time to just enjoy exploring in my kitchen and I cherish those moments.
      Jesse and I went apple picking a few weeks ago at the local organic orchard. As we were walking along all of the trees we started talking about cider and both really wanted to try making it at home. Jesse picked the apple tree in front of his parent's house a week later and our adventure began. This recipe is really simple. It says that you can save the apple mush (pulp) for a snack but we just put it into the compost.


Apple Cider

8 Red Delicious apples ( we used about 20 small apples)
10 cups water
1 cup sugar (we used less for a bigger batch)
4 cinnamon sticks ( we used 6)
1 tsp. fresh nutmeg
8-10 cloves
1 tsp fresh allspice
4-6 fresh slices of ginger about 1/4 inch thick

Directions

Peel and core the apples. Cut them into large chunks and place in a large saucepan. Add the water and spices to the pot making sure everything is submerged.

Do not bring to a boil! Start the pan on simmer and leave it there for two hours. After two hours strain all the ingredients with a thin mesh strainer into a large bowl. Use a ladle to push more of the liquid through. Pour the cider into mason jars adding a cinnamon stick in each and let cool before you put it into the fridge.

Let the cider sit overnight before you enjoy it. Cheers!

I am excited for the flavours of fall. There is something so soothing about a warm spiced drink or a delicious thick stew. I have been thinking about you a lot these days and not just because you are blossoming with child but because t

here is an aching in my heart to be near the ones I love in the places that I so often miss. Lots of love to you, Jason and baby Ufkus.

Jess
     

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Slow-Cooker Honey-Dijon Pork Roast

Dear Jess,

It has been too long since my last post! And I must apologize that it is another crock-pot recipe... but I have been loving two things these days: crock-pot meals, and soups. They're cheap, easy, and don't involve a lot of energy.

I am 28 weeks pregnant on Thursday. I am loving this stage, but am finding my energy gets zapped unexpectedly. This recipe I tried so I could save my energy for errands and house work today. I wasn't sure how I would like it, as I thought maybe the flavours would be too strong... but I'm thrilled with the results!



Honey-Dijon Pork Roast
adapted from www.food.com

3 lbs pork loin roast
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 cup beef or chicken broth
salt and pepper
2 -3 tablespoons marsala or sherry vinegar (highly suggested) (optional)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons water


Place pork in crock-pot. Mix honey, Dijon mustard, garlic powder and rosemary. Pour over pork. Cook on low for 6 hours. 

Remove Pork from crock-pot and slice as desired. Pour liquid into a small pot. Add broth, salt and pepper, marsala or sherry vinegar (if using). Mix cornstarch and water and add to broth mixture. Simmer and whisk until thickened. 
Dinner is served! 

I served this with rice, and oven roasted carrots! (Toss chopped carrots in olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and any other desired herbs/spices. Place in a baking dish. Cook in oven at 400 for 25-40 minutes, or until tender)

I hope your school year has started strong, and you are enjoying your class! 

As always, I miss you and can't wait to see you! Hopefully we can arrange something before the baby comes!

Love,

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Portobello Mushroom Burgers


Dear Sally,
 
Your last two posts were AWESOME! Jesse has actually been growing pickling cucumbers in our backyard so that will be on my list of things to make very soon. We have also been enjoying an abundance of lettuce and kale lately.

Summer continues to fly by. There was a time in the last few weeks where I was just throwing things together at dinnertime in the hopes that it would resemble food. My parents came down this past weekend and broke me of that habit. My mom wanted to try a new recipe out and I’m glad she suggested it. Everyone loved it and there wasn’t too much work involved in making it.


Portobello Mushroom Burgers

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, sliced into thin rounds
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
oil for grilling
2 red peppers, sliced into 4 segments
8 large Portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed
Salt and pepper to taste
4 slices manchego, white cheddar, or goat cheese
2 cups baby spinach
4 whole grain buns

Warm oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook on low until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in balsamic vinegar. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pan, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
            Preheat grill to medium. Lightly brush red pepper slices with oil and grill for 2 minutes per side, or until tender with some grill marks. Remove red pepper from grill. Brush mushrooms with oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add mushrooms to grill, stem side down, and cook for 5 minutes. Flip mushrooms and cook for another 4 minutes.
Top 4 mushrooms with equal amounts of red peppers, cheese, and spinach. Cover each with a remaining mushroom, stem side down so that the stem sides are facing each other. Cook for 1 minute or until cheese has melted. If using buns, heat them on the grill for one minute or until toasted.
Serve stuffed mushrooms topped with caramelized onions. I added basil to mine and didn’t have a bun and it was delicious! The goat cheese really makes it creamy.




I am starting to get excited about September as my planning continues. It’s going to be a busy year but I am looking forward to it.
            I really miss you. So many times I have wanted to just walk over, grab a cup of tea and catch up. Hopefully we can do that soon. I love the photos you send each month of your beautiful baby belly. I definitely want to be in Peterborough soon but it is looking like it will have to be in September some time. We’ll get up there soon.

Love Always,

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Slow Cooker Beef Roast with Portobellos and Onions

Dear Jess,

We had the best thunderstorm last night! It was loud, bright, and long! So amazing!

On Thursdays, I work for most of the day. Dinner tends to be either left overs, or something from the slow cooker.

I was looking for a good beef roast recipe, because I picked up beef when it was on sale last week. I was tired of seeing 'onion soup mix' or 'can of cream of mushroom soup' as ingredients in all of my search results. I'm gaining enough weight with this baby... the last thing I need is to add more sodium and preservatives to my food! Also, there just has to be a yummy solution without adding all this junk that should never be eaten to begin with. So this was my improvisation, and I must say it turned out spectacular!

Slow Cooker Beef Roast with Portobellos and Onions
my own experimental recipe
2 onions, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
2-4 lb beef roast
1-2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
3 cups beef stock (I used my homemade stuff!)
4-5 Portobello mushrooms, chopped
Salt and Pepper

Place onions and carrots in the bottom of your slow cooker. Place beef on top of onions and carrots. Place Rosemary on top of beef. Place mushrooms on top of beef.

Pour stock over everything.

Turn slow cooker on low and leave for 7 hours.

Remove Roast from slow cooker, and place on serving dish. Slice as desired. Using a slotted spoon, remove onions, carrots and mushrooms from liquid, and place with roast on serving dish.



I cooked my rice with the juice from the beef instead of water, and then used the rest of the juice to make a gravy. Dinner is served! 


I hope your August is enjoyable! We are heading to the cottage on Friday night for the weekend. I'm looking forward to some excellent relaxation.

My 'nesting' stage has started to rear its head. This week I painted our bedroom, and got caught up on all my cleaning and laundry! I am also enjoying some belly time most days to enjoy feeling the baby wiggling around in my tummy. Right now, life is good.

I love you and miss you. We have to plan a get together soon!

Love,



Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dill Pickles and Pickled Beets

Dear Jess,

I had an amazing time at the market this morning! I picked up some pickling cucumbers, and some different coloured beets. I decided it's time to start my winter pantry. It is almost 3:00 in the afternoon, and I now have 9 large jars of pickles, and 4 medium jars of pickled beets! I'm off to a great start!

Dill Pickles
adapted from www.epicurious.com 
(I tripled this recipe)

8-10 small pickling cucumbers (about 3 pounds)
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
3 tbsp kosher salt
8 heads fresh dill
8 cloves of garlic
peppercorns 

Wash and trim your cucumbers.

Heat jars. (I either take them fresh out of the dishwasher, or heat them for 10 minutes in a 200 Degrees oven)

Combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Remove jars from heat. Place 1 head fresh dill and 1 clove garlic into each jar; pack in cucumbers (if they're large, quarter them lengthways.) Add 1 more head of fresh dill and 1 more clove of garlic and a few peppercorns. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over cucumbers to within 1/2 inch of rim. Process for 10-15 minutes in boiling bath.

Tip: Garlic may turn blue or green in the jar. Nothing to be alarmed about. It is only the effect of the acid on the natural pigments in the garlic.



Pickled Beets
from Mustards, Pickles and Chutneys by Margaret O'Sullivan, Page 36

6 beets
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
3 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3-4 heads fresh dill (or 3-4 tsp dill seeds)

Cook the beets, with some stalk intact, for 15-20 minutes or until they are tender. Dreain, setting aside 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid. When the beets are cool, cut off the stalks and bottoms, then peel. Slice, then pack into warm dry jars.

Bring the vinegar and reserved cooking liquid to a boil, add the mustard, salt and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the dill to the jars with the beets, then cover completely with the hot vinegar mixture. Seal in a boiling bath for 10 minutes. Leave for a few days before using.



Next will be peach preserves I think! Hope your summer is going well!

Love,




Friday, July 26, 2013

Banana Almond Meal Muffins


Dear Sally, 


This is a recipe that you NEED to try.  I had some bananas in my fruit bowl that were past the point of eating and perfect for muffins. Usually I would make some regular muffins for Jesse or the neighbours, ones that I can’t eat but on THIS day I was being selfish. I found a recipe online for muffins using almond meal instead of almond flour. I had my doubts but once I tried them I was hooked. After eating three I had to walk out of the kitchen. This recipe is gluten free and vegan.

Banana Almond Meal Muffins

Ingredients:

2 flax eggs (2 tbsp. flaxseed meal + 5 tbsp. water)
2 ripe bananas
3 tbsp. agave nectar, maple syrup or honey (not vegan)
3 tbsp. unsweetened vanilla or plain almond milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup almond meal
½ cup + 2 tbsp. oat flour
Optional toppings: chopped nuts, rolled oats

Instructions:

1.     Preheat oven to 350° and line muffin tin with 8 paper liners.
2.     In a large bowl, prepare flex egg by mixing flaxseed + water and letting it rest for a few minutes.
3.     Next add bananas and mash. Add agave, baking powder, vanilla, almond milk and stir.
4.     Add almond meal and oat flour and stir once more. Taste to see if it needs more sweetener.
5.     Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tooth pick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean and they become somewhat firm to the touch with a little give.
6.     Remove and let rest in pan for 5 minutes. Then cook all the way on a cooling rack.
7.     Store in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

When I made these I had 3 bananas so I just did one and a half times and I filled 12 muffin cups. I am serious when I say you have to make these. Jesse isn’t allowed to touch them and I am trying to pace myself. It may not fill your craving for pizza and comfort food but they are a really healthy snack.

Love,
 


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Roasted Duck with Carrots and Apples


Dear Jess,

Ducks were on sale! Woot woot! I looooove duck! I was originally going to do it in my slowcooker. However, after dressing the duck and chopping the fruit and veggies, I realized that the duck was too big for the slowcooker. Thus, I did it in the oven. It made my house smell so heavenly, and after mashing some potatoes and making a gravy out of the juices of the cooked duck: dinner was a success!

Roasted Duck
adapted from www.justapinch.com

1 duck (fresh or thawed)
4 large carrotos, peeled
3 firm apples, peeled and chopped
2 springs rosemary
1 small bunch of thyme
1 lemon
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place carrots, apples, salt and pepper (to taste) in the base of a large dish or roasting pan.

Remove giblets from inside duck and discard, or set aside for other use. Put quartered onion, whole lemon, rosemary and thyme inside your duck. Tie the duck, and rub with salt and pepper all over. Place duck on top of carrots and apples.

Place in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Spoon 1/4 cup butter over duck and continue baking for 45 minutes. Spoon remaining 1/4 cup butter over duck, and continue baking for 15 more minutes (or until internal temperature reaching 160.) Your duck should be a wonderful golden brown.




Carve and serve!






I was also able to do some duck broth for the freezer! So exciting!









As for my garden, it is going as well as could be expected. I am afraid in my morning sickness stage I wasn't able to water it as often as I should have. That being said, my carrots, radishes, beets, lettuce, herbs and cherry tomatoes are doing great! My peas seem to be suffering, but I am still hopeful of a come-back!





Love,







Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Jalapeno and Tomato Salsa Taco Salad



Dear Sally,

My parents came for a visit to our neck of the woods yesterday and while Jesse was at work I took them around the area. We went to a wonderful antique market in Barrie and also had to do some shopping at Marshals. My dad managed to keep himself entertained while the women went to the racks. He is a brave man.

We were originally going to try this recipe for lunch but we were too hungry and gave in to the calls from Much Burrito. Instead we decided to make it for dinner and I’m glad we did. I found it in the newest edition of the LCBO Food & Drink Magazine. Every now and then they have something good and this is a recipe to keep on hand.

We adjusted the recipe to suit the dietary needs of all. I wanted to leave out the chicken and I substituted goat feta for the Tex Mex cheese my dad wanted. Jesse was happy once he picked out the tomatoes I missed on his plate and was fully satisfied with the portions. I think Jason would like this as well and I know you will.

Jalapeno and Tomato Salsa Taco Salad
Adapted from Food & Drink Magazine

Ingredients:

1 pkg cherry tomatoes
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers
1 tbsp. oil
3 green onions
1 lime
1 sweet red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

1 romaine heart, shredded
1can black beans
2 avocadoes, chopped
1 cup Tex Mex cheese or goat feta
4 handfuls tortilla chips
Fresh parley for topping

Directions:

1.    In a medium saucepan cook the green onion, tomatoes and red pepper until soft. Add the black beans and warm through. Season with salt, pepper and juice of a lime. Set aside.
2.    Shred the romaine lettuce and divide onto four plates. Cut up the Avocado into small pieces and add to each plate. Divide the warm vegetable mixture onto each plate.
3.    Add the desired cheese and tortilla chips and serve warm. Balsamic vinaigrette or salsa can be used as extra dressing if needed.


I would love an update from you about how your garden is coming along. I made some kale chips the other day because our kale plants were taking over the sunlight in the garden. Jesse has all sorts of beans growing at the moment and it is hard to be able to use them all up without having to freeze them for later. Soon the lettuce and tomatoes will be ready and some of our peppers too! I love this time of year.

Love,
 




Monday, July 22, 2013

Dahl Lentil Soup

Dear Jess,

Oh man! That pasta looked extremely tasty!

I'm so happy to hear that your trip went well. The beaches were my favourite part out there as well. Well... that and Green Gables!

This recipe came from me wanting another comfy, cozy, dinner on a hot day. Weird, but the baby gets what the baby wants (which has also been a lot of pizza...) Another bonus is this is extremely cheep to make! So during that week or month where money is a little tight... this is the answer!

Dahl Lentil Soup
adapted from www.foodopera.com

1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp milk curry powder
1 tsp tumeric (optional)
1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
6 small potatoes
2 cups chicken broth (or water)
1 cup canned red lentils, rinsed
Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt to serve.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft.

Add the curry powder and tumeric and cook for 1 minutes, until fragrant.

Stir in the tomatoes, broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-10 minutes (or until potatoes are tender)

Add lentils and warm through. Remove from heat.

If desired (as I did) use your immersion blender to blend to desired consistency.



I hope your summer is going well! Mine is flying by!

Love,

Vegan Pasta Alfredo


Dear Sally, 


I have been neglecting my letters. I love your recipe for chutney. I tried making cherry jam the other day and it was a complete failure. Let's just say that canning is not my thing. 

So the trip out East was fantastic. I love the air down there and we had great weather for the coast. Walking along the beach on one of our last days was probably the highlight for me. You just don't get that kind of experience here in Bradford.

So I have been making many things on my days off but not all have been a success. This recipe was awesome! I have tried my share of gluten and dairy free foods and this one actually tasted like something most people would eat. Jesse included. He really loved this one and the best part was that the noodles weren't soggy. Rice noodles can be a challenge. 

Here is the recipe! 

Vegan Pasta Alfredo

modified from Gluten-Free-Vegan-Girl

Ingredients: for the sauce:
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews (or pine kernels)
  • 1/2 + cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • a pinch of maldon salt
  • a dash of black pepper
  • two hot Italian sausages
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
for the pasta:
  • 200 grams brown rice pasta (preferably fettuccine or spaghetti)
  • finely chopped fresh Italian herbs (such as oregano, basil or thyme)

Directions:
  1. Start by placing the pasta in a pot with boiling water and a pinch of salt. Let this cook while making the sauce.
  2. The sauce is made simply by placing all the ingredients together in a small food processor (or use a hand blender) and run until completely small. Start by using 1/2 cup plant-based milk and add more for the sauce to reach the right consistency. It should be about as thick as pancake batter.
  3. Once the sauce is mixed cook the Italian sausages in a frying pan  until golden brown and cooked through. Cut the sausage into small pieces and set aside.
  4. Once the pasta is al dente, drain it and place back into the pot. Pour in the sauce and some finely chopped herbs (I used basil leaves) and stir well. Add the 1/2 cup tomato sauce and the sausages. Add in additional black pepper and salt to taste. Serve immediately while warm. 
Keep sending those pictures my way. I can't wait to see you again in person but photos will have to do. Tell Jason we say hi!


Love, 







Friday, July 12, 2013

Cheesy Green Chile and Potato Chowder with Buttermilk Cornbread

Dear Jess,

For some reason I am craving comfort food this summer. All I want is pizza, mashed potatoes with gravy, stews, mac and cheese... the list goes on!

On yesterday's menu:

Cheesy Green Chile and Potato Chowder
adapted from www.eatliverun.com 



3 poblano peppers
1 large yellow onion, small diced
1 green bell pepper, small diced
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 stalks celery, small diced
3 slices bacon
2 tsp minced garlic
1 quart chicken broth
2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup Jalapeno Monterey Jack Cheese {plus additional for serving}
thinly sliced green onions

First, fire roast the peppers.

To do this, place poblano peppers right over the flame on your burner if you have a gas stove. Flip occasionally until every inch of the pepper is charred. If you don’t have a gas stove, place peppers underneath the broiler on a lined sheet tray {also flipping occasionally} until charred. Once charred all around, immediately remove peppers from heat and zip up in a plastic zip-loc bag. Let sit for 20 minutes then remove charred skin with the back of a knife and roughly chop up peppers.

While your peppers are cooling, fry the bacon in a large Dutch Oven or heavy  bottomed pot. Fry until crispy then remove bacon from the pot and drain on pepper towels. Keep grease in the pot!

Add your onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery to the hot grease. Saute for about six minutes over medium heat until veggies are just tender. Add cubed potatoes to the pot, as well as the poblano peppers, and toss well so everything is combined.

Pour in chicken broth and add the salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 35 minutes until potatoes are very tender {be sure to “test” with a fork or knife…nothing worse than biting into an uncooked potato!}. Add milk and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together so that no flour clumps remain and bring back to a simmer. Simmer for another 10 minutes. (I used my immersion blender for this one, as I wanted something more creamy!)

Turn off heat completely and add cheese to the pot. Stir well so cheese melts. Serve immediately with crumbled bacon, sliced green onions and additional cheese.


Buttermilk Cornbread
from www.allrecipes.com

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk*
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square pan.

Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

*To make your own buttermilk, add one tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of milk. Let stand for 10-15 minutes.

 I love you and miss you!

Love,

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Strudelicious Panzerotti

Dear Jess,

Happy Summer Holidays!

How is your trip?! I saw a picture or two on Facebook. It looks like you're having a relaxing time!

As you know I am a 'nanny' for a little boy in town throughout the week, and while he's napping I generally flick on the Food Network. I don't usually watch the Eat Shrink and be Merry show, but it happened to be on, so I watched it. They were making a Panzerotti, and immediately I wanted it. I got home, realized we had so many leftovers from pizza last weekend, and decided I would make it. The Food Network puts all the recipes on their website, so I hunted it down, and here we go!

Both Jason and Bill really enjoyed this! We even have some leftovers!

(Excuse the bad pictures... we lent our camera to my sister-in-law for her trip to England, so these are from my phone)



Strudelicious Panzerotti
adapted from foodnetwork.ca

Dough
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 envelope Fleishchmann's Quick-Rise Yeast*
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup very warm water
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp honey

Sauce
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups tomato sauce
1 tsp (each) dried oregano and basil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey

Filling
1 tsp olive oil
6 oz Italian sausage, casing removed and broken up
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 cup shredded cheese
10 x 15 inch piece parchment paper
1 lightly beaten egg for brushing top of panzerotti

Dough
1. To make dough, combine both flours, ground flax, yeast and salt in medium bowl. Mix well. Measure warm water in measuring cup, then stir in olive oil and honey. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and mix using a wooden spoon to form a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2 minutes. Spray another medium bowl with olive oil spray (or coat lightly with olive oil) and place dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until double in size, 20 to 30 minutes.

Sauce
To make sauce, heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium pot. Add onions and garlice. Cook and stir until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Add tomato sauce, oregano, basil, balsamic vinegar and honey. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. (Sauce may be made one or two days in advance and kept refrigerated.)

Filling
To make filling, heat olive oil in a non-stick over medium-high heat. Add sausage, onions, and bell pepper. cook and stir until sausage is no longer pink. Add mushrooms. Cook and stir until mushrooms are tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in oregano. Cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat. (Filling may be made one or two days in advance and kept refrigerated.)

Assembly
Spray parchment paper lightly with olive oil spray (or brush lightly with oil). When dough has risen, turn out onto parchment paper and, using a rolling pin, roll dough into a rectangle to fit parchment. Sprinkle dough with extra flour if too sticky.

Spread 1/3 cup sauce lengthwise in center of dough. (Make a 'strip' of sauce measuring down the center of the dough leaving an 1-inch margin at top and bottom and 2 1/2-inch margins on both sides.) Spread filling evenly over sauce. Top with grated cheese.

Using a sharp knife, make 8 cups (about 1 1/2 inches wide and 2 inches long) down each long side of dough. To braid dough and enclose filling, fold 1 inch top dough border over filling then, beginning with left-hand side, fold first dough strip at a slight downward angle over the filling. Do not stretch the dough too much. Fold first right0hand dough strip over top and continue to braid dough, tucking in ends and bottom dough border. (This sounds complicated but you're simply braiding the dough over the filling as if you are making a strudel!)

Brush top of panzerotti lightly with beaten egg.

Place panzerotti (and parchement) on baking sheet. Bake at 400F for 14 to 20 minutes, until top is golden brown. Remove panzerotti from oven and let cool 5 minutes before slicing (It's hot!)
Slice into four pieces and serve with warm sauce on side.


I will be making this again for sure! 

Enjoy the rest of your trip! 

So Much Love,

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mango Chutney

Dear Jess,

I am so sorry it has been so long since my last post! As you know, I have been caught in the throws of morning sickness... thankfully it seems to be passing as I ease into the second trimester!

I have been having quite a few frustrating moments lately. Blood clinics loosing my requisitions, getting lost, forgetting to do things... and most recently, not being able to find Mango Chutney in Sobeys. (Even though they have an isle with 'Chutney' on the category sign!) I need it to make 'Grill of a Lifetime' from The Looneyspoons Collection. The girl I talked to didn't know what chutney was, and asked a stock boy, who sent me to the same isle I was in, and didn't think it prudent to come help me. Thus, I got out my super-smart phone, Googled 'Mango Chutney Recipe' and picked up the ingredients to make my own. My mood rose when I saw mangoes were on sale, and then I thought to myself that home-made chutney is always better than store-bought anyways.

So without further a-do...

Mango Chutney
adapted from epicurious.com

6 cups of mangoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 large sweet red pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup finely chopped peeled gingerroot
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp each: ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt

1. Combine mangoes, red pepper, sugar, onion, craisins, vinegar, and gingerroot in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, and boil gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until fruit is tender and mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally. Add lemon juice, curry powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt; boil gently for 5 minutes.

2. Heat jars in low temp oven. Remove, and ladle chutney into jars to within 1/2 ince of rim. Process 10 minutes for 250mL jars and 15 minutes for 500mL jars. 



This chutney smells so amazing, is quite simple, and doesn't take all day!

I hope you have a great trip with your parents! (I can't remember when you leave... but I'm pretty sure it's soon...)

Love,


Monday, May 20, 2013

Pizza Kale Chips



Dear Sally, 

    I have been LOVING this Spring weather lately! It makes me want to dig in the garden with my fingers, soak up the morning sun of a Saturday run and paint my toenails. 
    
    My parents have been eating raw for almost a year now and I have really actually enjoyed some of the recipes that they have shared with me. Today's feature is raw Kale chips. I have tried some of the store brands and they are either too chewy or have an aftertaste. This recipe is easy and delicious. I could honestly sit and eat and entire bag. The best part is that you really don't have to feel guilty. You can do them in the oven or in a dehydrator. I'm not sure which I like better.
Pizza Kale Chips

¼ cup sunflower seeds, soaked for 2 to 4 hours and drained
¼ cup cashews
¼ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup sundried tomatoes, soaked for 30 minutes and drained
12 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons filtered water
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 bunch kale, tough stems removed, roughly chopped

Combine all ingredients except the kale in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth, adding a splash of water if needed to blend.

In a  large bowl, combine the kale and the pizza sauce. Use your hands to massage the sauce all over the kale, making sure it’s coated completely.

Raw
Arrange the kale in a single layer on a Telflex-lined dehydrator tray. Dehydrate for 8 hours or overnight, until crisp.

Baked
Preheat oven to 300 and grease a baking sheet with coconut oil. Arrange the kale in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and use a spatula to carefully flip the kale chips. Bake for 5 to 10 more minutes, watching carefully to make sure the kale doesn't burn, then remove from the oven and cool completely.


My dad found this recipe somewhere in his search for raw snacks (probably off the internet) and I hope to find a few different flavours.

If you and Jason are ever up this way let us know. It would be wonderful to see you again soon.

Love



Friday, April 26, 2013

Greek Souvlaki

Dear Sally, 

     This week was one of the rare times that I was able to make a meal every evening and not have to rely on leftovers from the freezer. One of my greatest achievements this week was souvlaki. I was browsing through Jamie Oliver's Food Escapes and found this recipe. I made my own homemade tortillas instead of using flatbreads. Jesse really enjoy the meal so I counted that a success. 


Souvlaki


Ingredients

3 sweet frying peppers (red and yellow)
8 flatbreads (I used homemade tortillas
4 springs of fresh mint
red wine vinegar
olive oil
1 lemon

Kebabs

1 ¾ pounds chicken (cut into 1-inch cubes)
3 tbsp. fresh mint
1 tbsp. dried oregano
juice of 1 lemon
6 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
pepper and salt for seasoning

Tzatziki

½ large cucumber
¾ cup plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic peeled
2 tbsp. fresh mint
1 ½ tsp. red wine vinegar

Directions
 
If using wooden skewers, cut 8 to fit your grill pan and soak them in a tray of water to stop them burning. Put all your kebab ingredients into a bowl and use your clean hands to mix everything together really well. Cover with plastic wrap, then pop into the fridge for 30 minutes, or longer if you want the flavours to get a bit more intense.

Meanwhile, blacken the peppers directly over a gas flame, in a hot dry grill pan or under a hot boiler. Turn them every so often and when they look almost ruined, pop them into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put to one side to steam for 5 minutes or so – this will help their skins to come off.

Make your tzatziki by coarsely grating the cucumber into a sieve set up over a bowl. Add a few good pinched of salt, then use your hands to squeeze out as much water as you can. Pour the water away, then tip the cucumber into the empty bowl and add the yogurt. Pound the garlic in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of salt until you have a paste, and spoon that into the bowl with the cucumber. Add the dried mint and red wine vinegar and mix really well. Have a taste to make sure you’ve got the balance right, then put aside.

Preheat a grill pan or grill over high heat. Thread the skewers through the marinated pork pieces, leaving little spaces between them so that the heat cooks everything evenly. Cook the kebabs on the screaming hot pan or grill for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally until done on all sides. Warm your flatbreads in the oven or in a hot dry pan while your kebabs are cooking.

Just before your kebabs are ready, peel and deseed your blackened peppers, then tear them into strips and put them into a bowl. Roll up your mint leaves, finely slice them and add to the bowl along with the dill. Add a few splashes of red wine vinegar, a pinch or two of salt and pepper and a lug of extra virgin olive oil. Toss and mix together, then have a taste to check the balance of flavors. Cut your lemon into wedges.

Put a dollop of tzatziki and the meat from one skewer on each warmed flatbread. Top with some of your pepper mixture, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Life doesn’t get much better.


    Instead of using a fry pan I cooked my chicken on skewers in the oven. They were nice and juicy when I pulled them out. I would also recommend using the bbq to add a smoky flavour. I also blended up Jesse's tzatziki sauce so he wouldn't know there was cucumber in it. My trick seemed to work! 

    Another successful food adventure comes to a close. May your own adventures in the kitchen be very successful and blessed. 

Love,