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Red Deer Foodie

…getting busy in the kitchen!

Monthly Archives: July 2011

Todd and I had a great vacation driving, driving, driving, through the mountains of southern BC and ending up in sunny Kelowna to have some bonding time with my cousin David.  Some of the great highlights of our adventure was an unplanned visit to hippy-town Nelson, and then the opportunity to travel through Osoyoos and all the way stopping at some amazing wineries!  Up until this trip, I would consider Todd a wine “virgin” but I think I may have converted him a bit – he may actually enjoy drinking wine now!  (possibly because he has a better appreciation for all the hard work that goes into the craft of wine-making, but that’s just a guess!)

We had some great food along the way; probably my favourite, even dream-worthy stop was El Taco in Nelson.  Home of the famous 1lb burrito – omg – home of the best burrito and sauce bar I’ve ever come across and trust me, I loves me my tacos and burritos!!!

Hidden away, worth the hunt and wait!! (didn’t open till 3pm!)
nom, nom, nom

When we weren’t sniffing and sipping wine at one of the many amazing Okanagan wineries, Todd and I were sight-seeing and hanging out with my cousin, which meant lots of good meals!!  We had our first ever Ukrainian Beach Party – complete with grilled kolbassa, perogies and sour cream!!

Have you ever boiled perogies on a Coleman stove? TIP: you need a big pot!!
Heaven on a plate on a hot day!

Wineries of note:
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery
Church and State Wines
Mission Hill Winery
Volcanic Hills Winery
Rollingdale Winery
St-Hubertus Estate Winery
Summerhill Pyramid Winery
CedarCreek Estate Winery

Mission Hill cellar: When can I move in?

Now that we’re back home and all of our wine purchases are nestled away in the wine rack, I look forward to adding some of my latest kitchen creations!  Up next: what to do with all the peaches I purchased in the OK!!


Todd and I are on our annual vacay thru Beautiful British Columbia!  An unfortunate turn of events (aka mudslide at Lake Louise) inspired us to take on a more “scenic route” thru the southern part of the province – and lo and behold – we discovered some awesome new places we have never seen before!  Our first night of camping had us in the quiet and serene Yahk Provincial Park – so fun!  We were thankful to get the last spot on a Saturday night!! 

Long road to Canal Flats: Settler’s Road

I love camp cooking – and surprisingly, I cook more than hotdogs and marshmallows when we go to camp.  One of my favorite things to cook is fresh produce in foil pockets – easy and delish!

Campfire veggie pockets

2 small zuchinnis, chopped 1″ thick rounds
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped into 1″ pieces
2 shallots, sliced OR 1/2 red onion, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic , minced
1/2 container button mushrooms, cut in half
2 tbsp butter
salt & pepper
2 sheets of sturdy tin foil

Overlap 2 sheets of tin foil; shiny side up.  Wash and prep your veggies – drop dollops of butter throughout the veggies, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Seal up tight – try to lay out the package evenly – not creating a “purse” more like a “clutch”.


I didn’t actually cook on an open fire – but rather on our mini grill – got the grill nice and hot, then cooked my veggie clutch for about 15 mins before putting on my chicken breasts on (nothin fancy – just basted with some organic, gluten free BBQ sauce).  By the time CBs were done, the veggies were perfect!!!

Who says you can’t eat awesomely when camping??

And served up with a delicious Growers!!

Next blog entry: Nelson tacos and the winery action!

Welcome to Westerner Days, Red Deerians!  That means a plethora of unhealthy food such as donut burgers, deep-fried mars bars, corn-dogs, cotton candy and anything else you can think of that is loaded with fat, sugar and chemicals!  Since I partook in a greasy pancake breakfast this morning, I was feeling like I needed to lighten things up for dinner. 

Enough char to last a lifetime!

I took one of my favourite Paleo Lifestyle Recipes for Spicy Scallop Salad and switched it up for a spicy shrimp salad.  Check out the original, and then try my hybrid version of the recipe!  (btw, the original is amazing and gets top marks around this house!)

Shannon’s Spicy Shrimp Salad
…for 2
1tsp cayenne pepper (less if you have low tolerance for heat)
1tsp freshly ground black pepper
1tsp sea salt
1lb large shrimp, fresh or thawed
3tbsp lemon juice
1tbsp Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise
1tsp Dijon mustard (did I mention that the PC brand is the best?)
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup hemp seed oil*
1tsp agave syrup
2 big handfuls of organic baby spinach/arugula blend (available at costco)
1/2 ripe mango, cubed
1/2 avacado, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1 shallot sliced thinly
salt & pepper to taste
2 tsp coconut oil

*if you don’t have hemp seed oil, use avacado oil or olive oil.


  1. Make the salads first, wash the spinach/arugula, slice the mango, avacado, red pepper & shallot.  Distribute onto 2 plates (as artfully as possible hahahah)
  2. In a glass bowl, combine ingredients for the vinagrette by whisking together ingredients: lemon juice, mayonnaise, pinch of cayenne, Dijon, garlic, hemp seed oil, salt & pepper.  Set aside.
  3. Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel.  Combine the cayenne, salt and pepper and toss with the shrimps.
  4. In a wide frying pan, or saute pan, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat, until the oil melts and is starting to get tiny bubbles.
  5. Add shrimp and get your sear on!  About 2 mins per side – don’t overcook or you’ll be banished from the Gordon Ramsay fantasy camp! 
  6. Sizzle…. watch the colours change – don’t overcook!
  7. Top your beautiful salad with shrimp and drizzle with the dressing – serve immediately – DELICIOUS!!!

Do try the recipes from the Paleo Lifestyle website – they’re awesome, but use them like I do, as a springboard for new healthy delicious meals than your family will LOVE!!!

Heaven on a plate!

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s wasting food.  We were out of town this weekend, so I had limited fresh food on hand, plus it felt like it was about a billion degrees in the house, so I knew I had to make dinner outside on the grill!  After searching the fridge, I came out with: a lemon, some garlic, about 2 handfuls of baby spinach, a handful of arugula, 3 red peppers and some frozen chicken breasts…. oh! and some expired Greek Yogurt(don’t worry, not moldy or bad)!  I would have to say, I made one of our best bbq dinners EVER!  What I whipped up were delicious grilled chicken breasts with roasted red peppers and served on spinach salad with my super easy to make balsamic vinagrette and topped with feta!

Here’s how:

Grilled Chicken with Yogurt Herb Marinade:
4 chicken breasts (preferably defrosted – if not, defrost in ziplock bag in cold water bath)
1 cup Greek yogurt
juice of 1/2 large lemon
handful of assorted herbs, whatever you have, finely chopped – I had thyme, oregano, basil, Italian parsley, chives and rosemary
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste – don’t be shy

Mix all of the ingredients (minus chicken) in a bowl, and add to ziplock bag and squish around on your chicken breasts.  Ideally, this would marinate for a couple of hours, but I marinated for only 30mins and it still tenderized the chicken nicely.

Wash 2-4 red peppers – don’t cut into them.

Heat up your grill nice and hot, about 400degrees – chuck those peppers on and get them charred all the way around – this might take about 10mins.  Once they are black on the outside, grab them off the grill and put inside a plastic bag and seal tight so the skin with sweat off.  Once they are cool enough to handle, peel or wipe off the blackened skin, seed the peppers and slice lenthwise.  I like to drizzle some olive oil and add some sea salt too.

Ok – now it’s time to get to grilling – depending on your organizational skills at the BBQ, you could also be doing the chicken breasts at the same time as the peppers!  On a hot oiled or non-stick grill, put the chicken breasts on and grill so you get the nice lines on both sides, and chicken is cooked thru, juices run clear – about 15-20mins depending on the thickness of the CB’s.  After you take them off the grill, let them rest on a plate and tent with foil for about 5 minutes.

My best ever and so easy balsamic vinagrette – just remember this ratio: 1:1:1:1

1tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1tsp good quality Dijon mustard (I used to be all about the Maille, but now I have to say that the President’s Choice brand is the BEST)
1 finely minced garlic clove
salt and pepper to taste

In a glass or metal mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients.  Reserve about half of the dressing for drizzling later…. This recipe makes enough for a salad pour deux, but you can easily increase it by increasing the ratios (easy, 2 tbsp balsamic, 2 tbsp EVOO, 2tsp Dijon, 2 cloves garlic, etc….) You can decrease the garlic if you want, depending on your tolerance/love of it!

Putting it all together!!!  By now, the chicken breasts are off the grill and resting under a foil tent.  The red peppers have been roasted, seeded and sliced.  The lettuce for the salad has been washed (dealers choice: spinach, arugula, mixed greens, whatever you like and have on hand), and the balsamic dressing has been made!  You’re ready!!  Toss the salad in the mixing bowl with the remaining dressing and about 1/3 of the sliced red pepper.  Transfer salad to plates.  Top with sliced grilled chicken, extra red pepper and drizzle the reserved balsamic vinagrette.  If you’re feeling funky, add some crumbled feta.

VOILA a delicious salad (and it even fits into the paleo lifestyle!)

Let’s start off with the GREAT!  My wonderful husband turned 44 today and doesn’t look or act a day over 32 (I think one of our summer students told him that…).  In celebration, I copied the recipe for Grilled Steak with Cucumber and Daikon Salad from the July 2011 Food and Wine Magazine – a delight!  The gremolata on the steak was the best thing ever – so happy it turned out even though I still think I am the WORST at grilling steaks!  (PS the reason steaks taste so amazing in restaurants is because there is like a million lbs of butter on them).

My version of the recipe – try Wasabi Arugula – deeeelish!

Now for the not-so-great.  You know its summer when: Big Brother starts taking over my life, the weather keeps letting me down, and I can actually start baking with nuts again (schools have all out bans on nuts due to allergies).  SO tonight I wanted to try a healthy version of peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.  I got to googling and came across a site that promised such a thing… the recipe looked okay, but the results were only just okay – if you like a very UNsweet cookie, and one with a dense consistency, you are going to love this recipe, if you like your pb cookies melty and chewy – dont bother baking this recipe bc you will hate it. (btw – I hit a strange lock key on this keyboard and am now getting strange punctuation, so I am opting OUT of punctuation… ie Ièm = Im è is supposed to be a question mark, etc….)

Healthy But Strange Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 tsp water
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350degrees.  Mix all your dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix the rest of the ingredients in another bowl and beat with an electric beater until well mixed and even.  Slowly add your dry ingredients in the usual way, add the chocolate chips… btw – this is one tough dough!  Maybe its a healthier version bc its such a major arm work-out…. and probably also bc there is so little saturated fat.

Do 3 sets of 12 reps for your bicep curls!

Anyways, bake for about 13 mins and voila – a cookie that some people will love, but most will probably hate (BTW Im also not giving a link to this recipe bc I dont want to embarrass this person for a recipe that is not that awesome).   Todd says they are really tasty, but hes also one of those people who actually doesnt like sweet things!

My fave part of this picture is the Caddyshack bday card in the background!

Yield: 4 dozen cookies – blarg

Since the sun refused to come out in Red Deer today, I decided to get busy in the kitchen.  I made 6 dozen chocolate surprise mini-muffins; huge batch of salsa, lemon-meringue pie FROM SCRATCH! and then ginger flavoured salmon with a balsamic reduction and arugula-corn salad.

Salmon with balsamic reduction, and wasabi arugula & corn salad – recipe from this month’s Food & Wine magazine

 Not to mention, I started the morning by cooking up a batch of Gwyneth’s good morning pancakes – ummm, not a great recipe – if you try it out, be prepared to add at least another cup of a flour – any flour of your choice – lol – if you read her cookbook, you will know what I mean!

So today I share the recipe for the Chocolate Surprise Mini-Muffins

3/4 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup Fry’s Cocoa
1 cup oatmeal, run thru a food processor
1tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups packed fresh spinach, washed
1 medium apple, cored
1 medium ripe peach or nectarine, pit removed
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup grapeseed oil or canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup agave nectar (OR ditch agave and use 1 cup honey OR vice versa)
2 eggs

Mountain of muffins!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together all dry ingredients.
Chop the spinach and fruit in the food processor until you get a nice green mush – smells delicious!  Add the rest of the wet ingredients and blend in the food processor.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients; mix to moisten.  Grease up your mini muffin tins – bake about 16-18 mins – check with toothpick – if it comes out clean, you’re done!  Let cool on a rack.
These freeze awesome and are a quick little treat. 
Makes about 6 dozen mini muffins 🙂

Too many pints of Strongbow at the Dueling Pianos event last night equals a lazy day for me and Hot Toddy today.  Luckily, Todd got up early and made us his classic paleo breakfast: fried egg whites, bacon and grapefruit, and I flipped through the new Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook My Father’s Daughter: Delicious Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness. Looks like I am going to need to stock up on spelt flour and vegonaise! 

Anyways, I wanted to share my lunch with you; an adaptation of a Martha Stewart Recipe for Soba Soup with Spinach.  I switched it up a little, but here is is:

Shannon’s Soba Soup with Spinach, Brocolli & Japanese Mushrooms (the bolded ingredients are the ones I changed or added)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
12 ounces dry shiitake mushrooms (pour one cup of boiling water and allow to “steep” for about 30 minutes – keep that mushroom water!)
1 pkg enoki mushrooms
1 cup bite-sized brocolli crowns
4 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
course salt
2 cups sodium reduced beef broth
1/4 pkg soba noodles
2 cups spinach leaves, torn
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1-2 tbsp soy sauce

1.  In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium.  Add shititaki and enoki mushrooms, brocolli, scallion whites, garlic, and ginger; season with salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender, 6 minutes. 
2.  Add beef broth, reserved mushroom stock and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Add soba; reduce to a simmer and cook 4 minutes.  Add spinach; cook just until tender, about 1 minute.  Add lime juice and soy sauce.  Serve topped with scallion greens.
Deeeelicious – original recipe was supposed to have chicken broth, but I thought beef broth would taste better against those woodsy shiitakes! I also doubled the garlic, but as you will get to learn on this blog, if it doesn’t have mega volumes of garlic, it’s probably not going to fly in my kitchen!!  
Not sure if I would add the lime again either… but it was a hit none-the-less.  If you’re cooking for 2, I would recommend only using one little bundle of the soba; cooking for a crowd, then use 2 bundles.

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