The Quickest (and bestest) Roasted Brussel Sprouts 

I don’t often make brussel sprouts as I am the only person in my house who cares for them. I bought some at market the other day with intentions of a home made kale, cabbage and brussel sprout salad but then yesterday started considering alternatives that aren’t smothered creamy poppy seed dressing. I landed on wanting to roast the lovely little things, but I also wanted to eat within 10 minutes so I adapted a quick roasting method from The Kitchn to make it even easier (and smoke free). 

The result was perfectly charred brussels within 10 minutes of turning on the oven. They are so much better than the kind that is roasted into submission for 30-45min (sometimes even an hour!) in most recipes. The result here is an inside that is tender but still has some substance, just like with roasted brussel sprouts that you usually get in a high end resturant.  

Quick Roasted Brussel Sprouts

 

in only 10 min!

 

Fresh brussel sprouts

Oil (I used 1tb of grapeseed and 1tb olive)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Turn on broil and place cookie sheet on middle rack.

Meanwhile wash then cut the ends of the sprouts off and let the first few outer layer leaves fall away.

Cut sprouts in half, giant ones can be quartered. 

Dump on cookie sheet and toss in oil and salt and pepper, then arrange them so they are cut side down.

Cook 5 minutes or until lightly charred. 

Take cookie sheet out – if bottoms of sprouts aren’t nicely caramalized just leave them on the cookie sheet a few minutes (still out of the oven) to cook the bottoms a little more.

Serve warm or with a drizzle of balsamic or balsamic reduction. 

Eggies in a Basket – the perfect Valentines Day Breaky

Full disclosure- Violet wasn’t even here during the making of this dish as Grandmas are freakin’ wonderful and she had a V day sleepover. She did arrive home during the “enjoy” step however and snag some bacon (for what I am told is her FOURTH breakfast haha – she just might be a hobbit.)

I, like everyone else on the internet apparently, first wanted to make this dish after seeing it prepared on V for Vendetta, a great film.

V makes eggies

The marvel of V being able to make the eggies is that he was able to score real butter during a time of strict rations. I’ve seen a few very,very wrong recipes for this dish out there, but even the most misguided seems to grasp the base principal; this dish is all about the butter. 

There are only three things you need (in addition to a pan and spatula, come now don’t be so literal), good bread, good eggs and, of course, butter!

 

Our Valentines Day Breakfast

Eggies in a Basket 

Turn frying pan to medium and melt 1 tablespoon of butter per piece of bread.

Tear a hole in centre of each slice.

Once butter is melted, place bread in pan for a few seconds then flip, ensuring both sides have sucked up some buttery goodness.

Crack an egg into a wee bowl and carefully pour into centre of each slice (or crack directly in bread hole if you are a pro).

Once the whites have started to firm up a little and turn white (this only takes a minute or two), get a spatula out but before you flip, get another tablespoon of butter ready and throw it in and melt a bit beside the bread, then flip bread and let it soak up all that melted butter.

Many recipes say to wait a few minutes at this point but that will result in over cooked eggs. If you want some runny yoke, remove from the pan as soon as both sides of bread are nicely browned and crisp. 

Serve immediately, with a mimosa because they are awesome.


Roasted Squash with Pomegrante Rice Stuffing

Even though my husband and I are not vegetarian every once in a while we like to have a meatless main course which helps to cut down on both meal costs and calories.

I used to make a dish similar to this but with cous cous and Mediterranean seasonings and always used to use acorn squash. However my CSA share has yielded a great variety of squashes including delicata, carnival and red kuri.
*Any squash that can hold stuffing would be fine in this recipe but the carnival squash really was divine and all three of the aforementioned squashes have edible skins; just give them a good scrub before baking like you would a potato.

I cheated a little and used a bistro package of pre cooked unseasoned basmati rice which was heated slightly less than directed in the microwave one minute but we are quite picky eaters and it was very good! All was devoured and little miss Violet really enjoyed hers.

Serve with a salad for a very satisfying

Serve with a salad for a very satisfying and healthy meal

Roasted Squash with Pomegranate Rice Stuffing

Adapted from Chow com.

Serves 2-3

3 medium size carnival squash*

4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

2 medium shallots, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

2 cups (or 1 small bag of bistro rice) of any cooked rice mix

1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins

2/3 cup pecans, chopped and toasted

1/2 cup chickpeas

seeds from half a pomegranate

1 tsp. thyme or Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 and cut squash lengthwise and seed.

Place squash cut-side up on a baking sheet, brush with 2 tablespoons of melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and a little salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until just fork tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon of the melted butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it foams, add the onion, shallots, carrot and celery, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the thyme and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and stir in the rice, pecans, cranberries/raisins, chickpeas, the majority of the pomegranate seeds and measured salt and pepper.

Divide the rice filling among the roasted squash halves (about 1/2 cup for each) and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of butter over top. Continue roasting until the squash is completely fork tender, the edges have started to brown, and the filling is heated through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve immediately.

The BEST Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

A few weeks ago tomatillos made their way into my kitchen for the first time by way of my – you guessed it – CSA share from Sweet Pea. Since then I have made a variety of salsas with these lovely little devils, and have this conversation about a dozen times whenever I serve salsa verde:

Snacker: “What is this ? It is really good!”

Me: “It is salsa verde – aka green salsa”

Snacker: “So…it’s salsa made with green tomatoes?”

Me: “No – it’s made from tomatillos”

Snacker: “What the heck are those?”

Then after I explain what a tomatillo is someone else walks into the room and the whole thing starts over again like a never ending Abbott and Costello joke. For some reason I love explaining things so I don’t mind this at all.

Tomatillos are a relative of tomatoes and are called “tomato verde” (green tomato) in Mexico but are quite different from tomatoes. These tangy little gems grow in a husk and are quite firm, even when completely ripe. I find they have notes of citrus and are almost creamy when roasted. They have a very light and pleasant yet totally distinct flavour – I love them!

To prepare them for cooking, just peel off the little paper husk and rinse off the sticky residue – no peeling or seeding needed.

On quite a few sites I have seen storage tips that say you can either leave them on the counter or in the fridge.  According to Amanda McCracken (Owner of Sweet Pea C.S.A), this is incorrect. Tomatillos should be stored (in their husks) on the counter. This makes sense as their tomato cousins are never to be put in the fridge as they become mushy and tasteless.  I have read a few things saying you can freeze them sliced or whole but have not tried this yet (look forward to a future post all about produce storage!)

There are three main ways to make salsa verde; boiling/blanching the tomatillos, roasting them, or blending them up raw.

I avoided the boiling method as reviewers said it produced a watery salsa. Roasting the tomatillos (along with the peppers and garlic as you can see below) made for a nice flavour, but the color was quite dark. A few batches later, a combination of fresh tomatoes, tomatillos, and roasted tomatoes and tomatillos made the BEST salsa verde ever!

Many thanks to A Cedar Spoon for the inspiration in using the tomatillos raw.

Stay tuned for more tomatillo recipes!

SALSA VERDE

1 pint of tomatillos
Small handful of cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon of grapeseed or olive oil
1 medium fresh tomato
1/8- 1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes or 1 fresh pepper* (seeds removed)
Juice of 2 limes or 4 tablespoons
Small handful of parsley
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced/crushed/grated
1/2 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper

Place 1/2 of husked and rinsed tomatillos, the grape tomatoes, and the hot pepper(s) if you are using them. Drizzle oil and some salt and pepper over and roll around to coat.

Bake at 400 f for 10 minutes or until slightly blackened.

Add in with all other ingredients in a blender or food processor.

The garlic and spiciness factor will grow as the salsa is refrigerated, so go easy on these as you can always add more. Good for at least a week in the fridge.

* I have tried this with several different kinds of peppers (cherry bomb, cayenne, etc.) and find the heat level varies so much it is better to just use some red pepper flakes- a jalapeno would be good as well though.

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Grilled Italian Pork Chops

So easy and quick!

So easy and quick!

As a new mom I can really appreciate a recipe that has few ingredients, a brief prep and cooking time, and the ability to satisfy.If I can’t do most of it while holding a baby, it just might not get done. Moms have to multitask. There is just too much to get done! Even now as I am typing this I am nursing the wee Violet, planning dinner for tonight in the back of my head, and having a belated breakfast.

My in-laws came for dinner this week, and I knew I needed to find something low carb and pork or beef based to feed them that would be super quick (my MIL has dietary restrictions). A quick scan of the interwebs and I found this recipe for grilled pork chops and 10 minutes later I was back from the store with some lovely loin chops (*my husband was trained as a butcher and always tells me when choosing meat to pick anything with the word “loin” in it for lots of flavour). For the Italian seasoning, I highly recommend the PC Italian Seasoning grinder, which is my most used spice and the best commercial seasoning I have ever found. Sometimes when I adapt a recipe, it takes a few goes to get it right but this one was a winner right from the get-go. Our guests loved it, I used up all the super sweet cherry tomatoes from my CSA share, and there was minimal cleanup. Welcome to the weekly line up, Grilled Italian Pork Chops- I hope you enjoy your stay 🙂

Grilled Italian Pork Chops

serves 4 

6 pork chops*

1 cup of Italian salad dressing

1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes

a few tablespoons of grape seed or olive oil

6 sandwich size slices of mozzarella

Italian seasoning**

salt and pepper

small handful of basil, chopped

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Place pork chops in bag or dish and coat with dressing. Marinate for 15 minutes to overnight.

Place tomatoes on foil lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and salt and pepper.

Roast at 400 for 20 minutes or until a little browned/blackened on top.  Set aside.

Oil and preheat grill to medium-high. Place chops on grill and sprinkle with salt and pepper and some Italian seasoning.

Grill for 2-4  minutes, then do a quarter turn (for nice grill marks) and grill for another 2-4 minutes (depending on thickness of chops). Flip and grill for another 2-4 minutes. Do another quarter turn then layer on your cheese, tomatoes (a few per chop) and basil and grill for the remaining 2- 4 minutes for a total of 8-16 minutes (roughly).

Let rest a few minutes before serving.

 

Homemade Instant Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Packets

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Today the beautiful and wonderful miss baby Violet did not want to be put down while I made myself something to eat and the cupboards were a little bare. Out of chia, bread, granola, nuts and running low on fruit – what is a gal to eat ? Something at least semi-nutritious that can be made with one hand…Well, within a few minutes I had a little bowl of warm heaven. I A few minutes after that I had 3 more bags ready to go for another day. We’ll see if I get to eat them or if they are poached by my lovely food-tasting and thieving husband. This tastes very similar to a package of instant oatmeal you might buy, but you can control the sugar and salt and the cost is much less (this can be as low as 3 cents a packet!).

My recipe only has a slight modification from the recipe at The Spice House and this is a great source for some info about how different types of cinnamon might effect the taste.

Homemade Instant Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Packets

for one packet

4 tablespoons of quick cooking oats
1 tablespoon of brown sugar or coconut palm sugar
1- 2 teaspoons of raisins
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
Tiny pinch of allspice
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup of boiling water or cold milk

Mix all ingredients except liquid in ziplock bag or small jar.

When ready to serve, pour mix into bowl and add the water OR the milk.

For water, stir well and wait about one minute (until thick).

For milk, stir well and microwave for 1 minute. Stir again and serve !

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Meatball grilled cheese

Do you have leftover meatballs ? Do yourself a favour and create this protein- packed upgrade to the childhood classic grilled cheese.

I searched many recipes before I came up with this one and took something I liked from each one – the result was a very delicious and substantial sandwich that was NOT soggy as I had feared (this has kept me from trying any meatball based sandwiches my entire life !).

Try this and you too soon might find yourself making a few extra meatballs on spaghetti night to ensure meatball grilled cheese night can directly follow!

Meatball Grilled Cheese

Nice hearty bakery bread like a French or Italian loaf

Medium cheddar (about 1/2 cup per sandwich)

Mozzarella (same amount as cheddar per sandwich)

minced garlic (one clove will do 6 sandwiches or more)

Butter – enough to liberally cover both sides of all your bread

Meatballs (about 4 per sandwich)

Marinara sauce* (about 2-3 tablespoons per sandwich)

Salt and Pepper

—–

Put meatballs in a small pot on stove covered in the marinara sauce to heat up

slice the bread thickly

Butter both sides, season with salt and pepper, and put a few bits of the minced garlic on each side.

Brown all of your slices in a preheated nonstick pan – flip over and while the other side is grilling add cheddar to half your bread and mozzarella to the other half.

That’s a mountain of cheese ! Give it as long as you can to cook and then once your bread is grilled to perfection, flip over with the cheese side down and cook for 30 seconds or so until the cheese is melted.

Assemble immediately by putting 4 meatballs and a few spoons of sauce between a slice of cheddar garlic bread and a slice of mozzarella garlic bread. DIVINE !

*add a tsp of cinnamon to your marinara sauce and make it Greek style – it is SO good!

Best Ever Cucumber Sandwiches

I am getting ready to entertain, and trying out new recipes. My husband does not like cucumber sandwiches, apparently, but inhaled about 6 of these little guys in 2 min and went on and on about how delicious it was. So, even if you don’t see your crew as a tea sandwich kind of crowd, leave the crusts on and give it a go (I liked it better with the crusts off and did this for my own sandwiches) and I bet you will be pleasantly surprised. The cream cheese spread is very much like a super delicious and fresh version of Tim Horton’s garlic and herb cream cheese and would be good on anything carb based, really. Very light and satisfying meal paired with soup and cured meats (we ate it with Hungarian salami- so good!)

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Recipe adapted from Dayles Incredible Links.

  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2- 3/4 of a container of whipped cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of room temp. butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried dill
  • 1 loaf sliced, firm-textured bread
  • dash of paprika

Run a fork along the sides of the cucumber to ensure the marinade is absorbed. Slice thinly, but not so thin they are transparent, and place in a pie plate filled with the vinegar and water. Leave to marinate for 30 min or so.

Meanwhile, cream the butter in a small bowl with a fork or butter knife, and then add whipped cream cheese (Philly makes this- it is so good) salt and pepper, dill, paprika, and onion and garlic powders.

Spread cream cheese mix on both sides of bread (not too thick).

Drain cucumbers on paper towels or cloth.

Arrange cucumbers in one even layer over one side of prepared bread.

Cut sandwiches with a a nice bread knife diagonally and remove crusts (whipping knife often) for cute tea sandwiches, or leave the crusts on if you are looking for something heartier.

No – Knead Bread

 

 

The trick to this bread is less work and more time. Time away from the kitchen though, so I can deal. Also, since you don’t need much yeast and very few ingredients, it is very cheap ( Frugal Living NW estimates around 80 cents a loaf, including electricity 😉

If you don’t own a dutch oven, this recipe is a great excuse to buy one. Along with baked beans, braised chicken, chili, stew, cornbread, and well, everything!

Basic No-Knead Bread
Adapted by Frugal Living NW from Jim Lahey’s My Bread

6 cups bread flour (recommended) or all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 t. instant or active-dry yeast
2 1/2 t. salt
2 2/3 c. cool water

In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated; the dough should be wet and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest 12-18 hours on the counter at room temperature. When surface of the risen dough has darkened slightly, smells yeasty, and is dotted with bubbles, it is ready.
Lightly flour your hands and a work surface. Place dough on work surface and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice and, using floured fingers, tuck the dough underneath to form a rough ball.
Generously dust a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with enough flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran to prevent the dough from sticking to the towel as it rises; place dough seam side down on the towel and dust with more flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran. Cover with the edges or a second cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
After about 1 1/2 hours, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot, such as a cast-iron Dutch oven, in the oven as it heats. When the dough has fully risen, carefully remove pot from oven. Remove top towel from dough and slide your hand under the bottom towel; flip the dough over into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough looks unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 10-15 more minutes, until the crust is a deep chestnut brown. The internal temperature of the bread should be around 200 degrees. You can check this with a meat thermometer, if desired.
Remove the bread from the pot and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Cheese Tortillini Soup

A light soup that is reminiscent of Italian wedding, but with much less work and calories. Make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth, and make it gluten free by using gluten free tortellini and omitting the parmesan.

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1/2 bag of frozen cheese tortellini

1/4 cup of white wine

1 box of chicken broth or vegetable broth

1 cup of cooked lentils or canned chickpeas, mixed beans, or Romano beans, drained

2 tablespoon of olive or grape seed oil

1 tablespoon of butter

2 cups of mixed fresh chopped vegetables, such as mushrooms, cauliflower, swiss chard, spinach, carrots, turnip, zucchini, or parsnips

1 stalk of celery, diced

1 onion, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 can of stewed or chopped tomatoes, drained

2 teaspoons of thyme

1 teaspoon of dried basil

1 teaspoon of oregano

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup of grated Parmesan

Heat oil and butter and saute onions until soft and add celery and saute for another few minutes.

Add vegetables, herbs, and salt, and pepper and saute for 5 -7 minutes or until vegetables start to show some colour and soften a little.

Add garlic and beans and cook for another minute. Add wine and lemon juice and cook  until wine somewhat evaporated  3-5 minutes).

Add chicken stock and simmer, covered for 20 min.

Remove lid and simmer, uncovered for another 20 min. Add tortellini, simmer for another 5 min, and serve with grated parmesan on top.