Friday, April 1, 2011

Chocolate-Dipped Fruit

This is a great idea if you are looking for a small treat to take to someone as a hostess gift. Just package with some parchment in a nice box with a pretty bow and you are set.  It's also a nice way to treat yourself!  Super easy to do and doesn't take much time at all.  These would also be nice on each table setting for Easter brunch or a birthday party.

Recipe adapted from the Food & Drink magazine Spring 2011.

Buy the best Belgian or Swiss chocolate you can and choose dried fruit that is soft and pliable. Don't use chocolate chips as they will not harden when cooled. Layer a baking sheet with parchment paper.  You will need about 8 oz of chocolate.  Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water (about 1-2" of water will do) stirring until smooth.

Once your chocolate is melted keep it in the glass bowl over the sauce pan to keep it from getting too gummy or hardening while you are working with it. Work fast and dip your fruit by using a toothpick in each piece. Let the excess drip off and then place on the parchment to cool. Continue until all your fruit are dipped. Cool about 2 hours or so. Remove toothpicks.  You can keep them out at room temp but i prefer to keep them in the fridge.

I used crystallized ginger and dried papaya.

Fruit ideas:
  • dried cherries
  • dried cranberries
  • dried blueberries or raisins
  • dried figs
  • dried apricots
  • chunks of dried pineapple
  • dried papaya
  • crystallized ginger

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Meatloaf with Oregano & Basil

Until last year, I had never made a meatloaf and as far as I can remember never saw my Mum make one either.  It was not a staple in our family growing up but has definitely become one in the past few months.  My husband and I didn't eat meat for a few years at all and then when we started to incorporate it back into our diet I started buying grass-fed organic beef from a small local farmer. I bought a couple of pounds of the ground beef and asked around on a cooking message board for a good meatloaf recipe.  The following is a compilation of the replies I got as well as a few tweaks here and there of my own. I really prefer the taste of grass fed / organic beef and highly recommend you use it as well. I find it more moist and much more flavourful. 

Ingredients & Preparation: Yields one 9"x5" loaf

  • 2 lbs grass fed / organic ground beef
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 slices brown or white bread made into crumbs (use a food processor)
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1-2 tbsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup of ketchup
  • 1/3 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp brown sugar, if desired
Pre-heat your oven to 375F.  Put the ground beef in a large bowl. Add in milk, eggs, bread crumbs, mustard, and spices. Use your hands to blend it all together and make sure everything is incorporated evenly.  Add the ketchup and barbecue sauce to the bottom of a loaf pan (9"x5") - sprinkle the brown sugar in if using.  Next, make your ground beef mixture into a loaf shape and put into the pan.   Bake for 40 minutes, or until cooked. Beef should have a minimum internal temperature of 140F for rare and 170F for well done.

Serve with mashed potatoes and peas for a real comfort food meal.

Mashed Potatoes with Leeks & Greek Yogurt

I like to add leeks and plain Greek yogurt to my mashed taters.  It makes then slightly tangy and very flavourful.  Peel and boil your potatoes (4-6 depending on size) as you normally would, then in another pan saute about 4 leeks (only the white & light green part) in some butter until they are translucent. Add a little salt & peppeer plus 1/2 cup of stock (chicken or vegetable). Cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Once your potatoes are done, mash up with some butter, milk, Greek yogurt (about 3/4 cup) and add the leek mixture. Stir to incorporate all the ingredients. Delicious!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Banana Bread with Wheatgerm & Walnuts

Do not be scared off by the does not contain actual germs! The wheat germ is just the tiny part of the wheat kernel that contains an amazing about of nutrients & vitamins plus loads of potassium and iron.

This is a fantastic banana bread recipe from the Rebar Modern Food Cookbook - a great source for vegetarians or anyone who is into healthy food with a twist.

Ingredients and Preparation from Rebar Modern Food Cookbook: Yields 1 9"x5" Loaf

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup wheatgerm, toasted
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1/4 sour cream(or plain Greek yogurt)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, roasted and chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9"x5" loaf pan. Comine the flour, wheatgerm, baking powder, soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. blend in the eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Mash together the bananas and sour cream. Add one third of the flour mix into the creamed butter/sugar mix. Next, stir in the banana mash and mix thoroughly.  Add the remainder of the flour and mix on low until well combined, taking care not to overmix. Gently fold in the walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top and bake for one hour or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife along the edges and turn the loaf gently out. Cool on a wire rack.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pizza Roll Ups

Can you spot the busy fingers?
Weren't pizza roll ups a big thing in the 80's?  I can't remember back that far any more!  I decided to scrap the Big Barn Bowtie Pasta and make these instead.  While our daughter's absolute fave food is pasta, pizza comes a close second so she was happy about the switch.  I wanted to use up some dough I had bought earlier in the week so this is what I came up with.

It's very easy to make these and fun for kids to help if they are old enough not to make a disaster (what age is that exactly?) or to not eat all the ingredients before they are cooked. The hardest part of preparing this meal was keeping busy hands out of it!

Preparation and Method - Serves 4 adults

  • 1 ball of pizza dough at room temp (store bought or make your own)
  • 1 cup of mozzarella, shredded (I used sliced this time b/c it was in the fridge)
  • 8-10 slices of salami (or leave out if doing a veggie roll up)
  • 1 cup of mushrooms
  • 2 cups of spinach, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 small tin of pizza sauce (you won't need it all)
  • olive oil or oil spray
Roll up like a jelly roll
Ready to go in the oven
Preheat oven to 400°F.  I like to pre-cook my spinach and mushrooms and get all the water out so do this first so your rolls aren't soggy.  Then fry up the onion with a little olive oil in a separate pan. Set onion, spinach and mushrooms aside.  On a floured surface, roll out your pizza dough into a rectangle (make it thinner than you would for a pizza).  Add a layer of pizza sauce.  Add your salami slices, your veggies, then your cheese.  Roll your dough up jelly roll style and take care not to tear the dough.  Seal all your dough seams to keep the ingredients inside when it bakes. Next take a sharp knife and cut the roll into 6 or 8 pieces - again take care here and go slowly to avoid smooshing everything out.

Arrange the rolls on a greased sheet of tin foil on a pan or on a nonstick baking sheet. Keep the rolls about 2-3" apart.  Put them in the pre-heated oven for about 20-25 minutes (ovens vary so just keep an eye on them at the 20 minute mark). Ensure the inner part is cooked through. Once browned and bubbly on top, take them out and serve with a green salad or eat them as is!  I used the leftover pizza sauce as a dip and made a quick ranch dressing to dip in as well.
Ready to eat!
Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekly Meal Planning

What will you be eating this week? I'd love to get some new ideas! 

Here is what we are eating this week (or close to it):

Monday - Rowe Farm French Country Sausages, Maple Baked Beans and Apple/Carrot Coleslaw.

Tuesday - Romaine & Gala Apple Salad with Cornbread and Monday's Leftovers

Wednesday - Warm Israeli Couscous Salad with Tuna and Roast Tomatoes

Thursday - Black Bean & Corn Enchiladas, Arroz Verde (Green Rice) and Guacamole The flu hit the house again so it was homemade chicken, vegetable and orzo soup for dinner instead!

Friday - Cheese Tortellini Soup & Chewy Chocolate Brownies for Dessert!

Saturday - Out for dinner

Sunday - Creamy Mushroom Soup and Vegetable-topped Grilled Polenta. Out for dinner at a birthday party

Vegetarian Cobb Salad and Easy Homemade Salad Dressing

Is it Spring yet? It was until Tuesday and then it was Winter again - overnight it all changed. Somehow every March I think this year will be different and that little groundhog will be telling the truth for once in his life;) In honour of Spring, blue skies and fresh sunny days, here is a very easy salad and dressing that looks pretty on the table even if outside is grim.

I have to admit our toddler isn't into green things yet so I made extra boiled eggs and she had one of her favourite things for dinner instead - egg salad sandwiches.

Ingredients and Prep - Serves 2 adults as an entree and 4 adults as a starter

  • 1 iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 3-4 free-range eggs, hard boiled & crumbled
  • 1-2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • Chives, for garnish
Optional extras:
  • chickpeas
  • endive
  • romaine lettuce
  • green onions
  • grilled chicken, diced
  • bacon, diced
Start by boiling your eggs until hard boiled (10 minutes), then cool under cold water and take off the shells. While the eggs are boiling, wash and prepare all your other ingredients.  Arrange all the ingredients in rows on a serving platter in any pattern you like, sprinkle the chives on top. I made bacon this time for my husband but kept that in a separate bowl.

Bacon for the non-veggies
A variation of the original Cobb Salad Dressing

I don't measure things so the following are close estimates. I made the dressing in a small mason jar.
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup full-flavored olive oil

Put all the ingredients in the mason jar, put the lid on tight and shake the daylights out of it.  Give it a taste test and make any changes if needed.  Add the dressing just before serving or let everyone add their own.

Easy homemade dressing