Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Summer Fresh Salad

Well it’s been awhile since I managed to get together for a post, mainly I have just been forgetting to take pictures of my latest kitchen creations; but it’s also been a busy summer and too hot to stand over the oven! No excuses though, I better start getting my act together! I’ll be posting more regularly again and will try hard not to have such a long break!

It’s been very hot here in Calgary, and we’ve been living on BBQ and salads for the better part of the summer. This is one of my favourites and a regular rotation on our menu. The dressing is light and tangy with a slight sweetness from the rice wine vinegar and the honey. It’s very versatile and goes well with most salads that I make, but I particularly love it with this combination. The tartness of the kale pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the dressing, and the cucumber and tomatoes add the perfect amount of juiciness. This salad is perfect for a quick and easy side to any meal you are making, but goes particularly well with barbequed Greek chicken kabobs (check back soon for that recipe!!)

Summer Fresh Salad

Prep time: 5 minutes // Yields: 4 - 6 servings

½ head romaine, washed and torn into bite size pieces
4 Lg Kale leafs, washed and torn into bit size pieces
1 lg carrot, grated
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cucumber, diced
2 green onions, diced
Feta to garnish

For the dressing:
1/8 c. olive oil
1/8 c. balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP rice wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large measure cup, combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk vigorously with a fork until well mixed. Set aside.
Mix Lettuce and Kale in a large salad bowl, and pour in desired amount of dressing and fold until all the greens are covered.
Add carrot, tomato, cucumber and green onion to the bowl and gently toss.
Crumble feta over top and serve.
Optional: Try topping this salad with toasted sunflower seeds or chopped walnuts to add more texture and flavour!

It really is that easy! So, what are your favourite ingredients to add to your salads?

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Honey Garlic Pork Chops

I’m forever on the hunt for pork recipes, as Sean loves it so much but it gets boring just frying a pork chop with rice and salad; through my searches I came across a recipe for honey garlic chicken and I thought, “Well now, I can make that with my pork chops!” And I am so glad I did, these pork chops were delicious! Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, all slathered in a sweet, garlicky sauce.. and the best part, they are so healthy for you!

 There are no artificial flavours here; it’s all natural from the fresh garlic! If you are like me and you have “good honey” (for morning tea) and “cheap honey” (for baking) I would advise using your good honey on this one, it will be worth it, trust me.

Honey Garlic Pork Chops
A delicious blend of sweet, salty flavours drizzled over a spiced crunchy pork chop! It’s so quick and easy, you’ll be

Prep time: 5 minutes // cook time: 20 – 25 minutes // Yields: 4 servings

4 pork chops
1/2 cup flour
1 TBSP ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
salt & pepper
1 egg
3 TBSP water
2 TBSP olive oil, divided

1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. soy sauce
5 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 375°, and set a shallow oven-safe pan into the pre-heating oven.
In a shallow dish or bowl, sift together flour, ginger, nutmeg, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and pepper; set aside. In a separate bowl, create an egg wash by whisking together egg and water; set aside.
Season pork chops with salt and pepper then, working one at a time, dredge in flour mixture, then dip into the egg wash and dredge again in the flour mixture, pressing to get a nice coating.
Heat 1 TBSP oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, when hot; add the chops to the pan and cook, until crispy and golden, about 5 minutes each side. Transfer chops from the frying pan to hot baking pan and place in oven for an additional 5 – 10 minutes, or until chops are fully cooked through with no pink in the middle.

While the chops are baking, heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a small sauce pot and add garlic, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minutes. Add honey and soy sauce to the pot, whisking until smooth and bring the mixture to a low boil, then reduce heat and let simmer 5 – 10 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Bison Chili

We had a very nice cool afternoon the other day, and immediately I knew I wanted to make a chili. I love the hearty flavours of chili, but so rarely make it in the summer because its hot, and its heavy.. so when I saw the storm clouds rolling in I knew I had to take advantage to make one of my favourite comfort foods. Plus, I had this ground bison in my fridge that needed to be used.. and I thought, what better way to use it?

I love how versatile chili can be, you can use pretty much any ground meat and any veggies you want.. you can ramp up the spice with different hot sauces and top it with pretty much whatever your heart desires. You can also eat it over rice, with toast, biscuits.. you name it, chili can pretty much take it. Another reason I absolutely love chili? Lunch for the week! I always make up a huge batch, freeze half for a rainy day, and keep divvy up the rest for lunches during the week!

Bison Chili
An easy to prepare, easy to make absolutely delicious dinner full of protein, nutrients and bold flavours.

Prep time: 10 minutes // Cook time: 1 hour // Yields: 8 – 10 servings

  • 2 lb ground bison
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 14 oz cans Heinz chili style beans
  • 1 19 oz can black beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 2 TBSP Chili powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp Chili garlic sauce

  • Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat and cook garlic, onion, peppers and carrots until slightly softened, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add ground bison and cook, breaking up as you go, until meat is cooked through. Stir in diced tomatoes, beans, salsa, spices and chili garlic sauce; bring to a boil on high heat and then reduce to low and let simmer at least 1 hour (I tend to let mine cook for a couple hours to really enhance the flavours, the longer it simmers the better it tastes!)
  • Serve over rice topped with grated cheese and Greek yogurt, if desired.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Mexican Inspired Corn on the Cob

 Since corn season is starting here on the prairies, and we have some of the best corn available, I have decided to become more adventurous with my flavours. In my (many) hours of searching Pinterest, blogs and cooking magazine sites; I’ve noticed this “Mexican Corn” coming up more and more often. I had never heard of it before a month ago, but after seeing the different variations of flavours I just knew I had to create my own.

[Be sure to fully clean the corn, no one likes silk in between their teeth!]
[Slather with butter and sprinkle with your spice mixture]

Let me tell you, this beats boiled corn on the cob (Yes, that’s how I’ve always done mine) with butter, salt and pepper a million times over. The kernels were so tender, and all the delicious flavours baked right into the kernels topped with the smooth, creamy butter made this corn the star of our dinner! Seriously, next time I want a snack I’m picking up some corn and making this again! and Again! And it was so easy to make, you just have to clean your cobs, butter them and sprinkle with the spices; then the oven does the work for you!

[Bake in foil for 30 - 35 minutes]
Mexican Inspired Corn on the Cob

A delicious Mexican twist on traditional corn on the cob; enhanced by the smooth buttery texture and Mexican spices, this corn is tender and baked to perfection.

Prep Time: 2 minutes // Cook Time: 35 minutes // Yields: 2 Cobs

  • 2 ears corn on the cob
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 TBSP butter, at room temperature

  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Remove husks from corn, and rinse to clean; set aside
  • Mix together spices, then working one cob at a time generously brush with butter, and sprinkle with spice mixture, turning to coat each side. Wrap cobs individually in aluminium foil and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until corn is bright yellow and fully cooked.
  • Serve hot, with more butter if desired.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Baked Beef & Bean Burritos

We’ve been getting a reprieve from all the hot weather with a few days of grey and rain, which is good for the trees and grass so I won’t be complaining, plus it’s still warm outside. But the grey does make me want to put away those summery salads and retreat to well known comfort foods and movie nights. And what is better comfort food than burritos? Usually I make mine with ground beef, but I had this left over roast that needed to be used, so I started thinking about the best way to make shredded beef burritos and I came up with this recipe.

These burritos are kind of like chimichangas, except they are baked and not fried because it’s much better for you! It may be comfort food, but that doesn’t mean I want to fry them, they still need to be healthy! Baking them was even better, I did brush them with a bit of oil and the tortilla crisped up very well! One thing, these things hold their heat very well so be careful while you are eating them not to burn your mouth! And maybe make a double batch, because they were flat-out delicious and would make a great lunch the next day!

Baked Beef & Bean Burritos

Prep Time: 5 minutes // Cook Time: 40 minutes // Yield: 4 Burritos

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 TBSP pickled jalapenos, diced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked shredded beef
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp roasted garlic flakes
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 can refried beans with green chilies
  • 1/2 c. aged cheddar, grated
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chipotle hot sauce
  • 4 tortillas

  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • In a small pot, cook beans over low heat; once hot, stir in 1/4 c. cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin powder and chipotle hot sauce until cheese is melted; keep on low heat, stirring occasionally.
  • In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat, add onions, red pepper, garlic and jalapenos. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes; add the shredded beef, chili powder, garlic flakes, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and stir until mixed together; cook until meat is heated through, about 5 minutes.
  • Divide the beans, beef and remaining cheese over 4 tortillas and roll into burritos, place seam side down on a large baking pan and brush lightly with olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes or until slightly golden.
  • Serve with salsa, sour cream and guacamole, if desired

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Strawberry Banana Muffins

These muffins make a wonderful grab-on-the-go breakfast, they are packed with fresh strawberries and banana and have the added benefit of whole wheat! I also replaced the sugar with coconut sugar and the butter with coconut oil, they were moist, flavourful and a perfect medley of sweet and savory, and all topped with toasted coconut. You really can’t go wrong while devouring these delicious muffins.. But be warned, it will be hard to eat just one! Especially if you’re like me and feel the need to sample straight out of the oven! But don’t worry, I won’t judge you for eating 2 of these in one sitting, after all, they are made with healthy ingredients so you don’t even need to feel guilty. And the best part? They taste like such a treat that no one will know! Shhh.. it’s our little secret!

 [Make sure to whisk the dry ingredients to remove any clumps]
[Then whisk the wet ingredients until smooth]

I'm actually quite a new baker, never having much interest in the past as I never ate a lot of baked good, but when I moved in with Sean I realized that it would be incredibly cost AND health effective if I attempted to make more muffins and cookies. This way I can control what goes into them, no more seeing him eat baked good packed with artificial flavours, processed flours and white sugars. The thought of that stuff makes me cringe! So I knew that I had to learn how to make muffins for his breakfast during the week, it took a while, my first few batches came out very dry and I often over baked them. But finally, with this recipe and my few modifications, I feel that I've really come up with something that satisfies his desire for a tasty, moist muffin and my desire to feed us healthy foods!

 [Just loaded with fruity goodness!]
 [I love the crunch of that sweet toasted coconut]
 [Ah yes; happiness is a fresh muffin hot out of the oven]

Strawberry Banana Muffins
These light, airy muffins are bursting with berry-banana goodness with toasted coconut to top!

Prep Time: 10 minutes // Cook Time: 20 – 22 minutes // Yields: 12 muffins

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk + 1 TBSP white vinegar
  • 1/3 c. coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 c. strawberries, dices
  • 1 banana, diced
  • 2 TBSP shredded, unsweetened coconut

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 12 count muffin pan with coconut oil; set aside
  • In a measuring cup, stir together milk and white vinegar and let sit for 5 – 10 minutes*
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside
  • In a separate bowl, whisk egg and coconut sugar until creamed, whisk in soured milk, coconut oil and vanilla extract.
  • Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just moistened, do not over stir. Add strawberries and bananas to batter and gently fold in.
  • Even distribute the batter into prepared muffin tin, and sprinkle each muffin with shredded coconut. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

* This process of mixing milk and white vinegar will “sour” the milk, making it more buttermilk like and creating lighter, moister muffins; you cannot taste the vinegar.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Slow Cooker Beef Dip Sandwiches

If there is one sandwich that I would say 100% is my favourite, it’s the Beef Dip. Hot melted cheese, tender roast beef and crusty sandwiches with a side of Au Jus; what’s not to love? I've been making different variations of beef dip sandwiches for as long as I can remember cooking and I really feel I have finally perfected it. One thing that really makes the sandwich is the slow-cooked beef, I just love how tender it is and because it’s shredded it’s easy to bite through, nothing is worse than taking a big bite and having all the fillings come out of it!

[A hot, cheesy sandwich with garlic, roasted beef and Au Jus to dip!]
[Stuff the garlic right into your roast, and sprinkle with the spices]
[Fry the mushrooms and onions in olive oil]
[Shred the roast in the slow cooker and add 1-2 TBSP reserved liquid]
 [Top buns with all your favourite fixings and pop into the oven]
 [Mmmmmm!! Enoy]

Slow Cooker Beef Dip
The meat is so tender and melt-in-your mouth delicious, topped on a crusty, toasted bun with savory fried mushrooms/ onions and melted Swiss cheese.

Prep Time: 10 minutes // Cook Time: 8 hours + 15 minutes // Yields: 4 sandwiches (Plus leftover meat)

For the Beef:
  • 2-3 lb beef roast
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp Steak seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

For the Onion/Mushroom Mix
  • 10 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

The Rest:
  • 4 crusty buns
  • 4 slices of Swiss cheese
  • Mustard

The Beef:
  • Make 8 small incisions into your beef roast and stuff with garlic cloves
  • Place onion slices and in the bottom of your slow cooker, and cover with beef broth
  • Place roast into the cooker, sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder, steak seasoning and red pepper flakes
  • Cover and cook on low for 8
  • When cooked, remove roast from slow cooker and drain liquid through a fine mesh strainer, reserving the liquid. Place roast back into cooker and shred, adding 2 TBSP of reserved liquid if desired.

Mushroom/Onion Mixture:
  • Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, add onions, mushrooms, salt & pepper and sauté until cooked and onions are translucent, about 10 minutes; set aside.

  • Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  • Cut buns in half and top with mustard, a heaping amount of beef, onion & mushroom mixture and a slice of Swiss cheese, then place in oven to toast for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted, you can turn broiler onto high for the last two minutes if preferred, but be sure to watch it!
  • Serve immediately, with reserved liquid on the side for dipping.