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Red Deer Foodie

…getting busy in the kitchen!

Monthly Archives: September 2011

I’ve been on the road all week and tomorrow heading out for a 4 day vacay for the Okanagan Wine Festival!  So excited!  Needless to say, I have a billion things to do tonight (we’re aiming to leave by 5:30am tomorrow!!) but I still feel like I need to do a quick post about the lovely soup I made tonight. 

I had received a complimentary copy of Chatelaine Magazine (they tell me that with a year’s subscription, I can enjoy a free watch – whatever) they showed a recipe for Hearty Quinoa & Bean Soup.  Their recipe is vegan, so if you’re interested, check it out – I switched it up a bit, so here’s my non-vegan version:

Vegetable, Bean & Quinoa Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced carrot
3 ripe tomatoes, pulsed through the food processor a few times
1 cup diced zucchini
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 red chilli pepper
1/3 cup dry quinoa
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup navy beans from a can, rinsed (freeze the rest for a another time)
2 cups spinach
salt & pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, head olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add carrot, garlic, cumin, coriander,salt, pepper, chilli pepper & quinoa.  Cook for another 2 more minutes – you’ll smell the quinoa give off a nutty smell.  Pour in the chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and add zucchini.  Simmer, partially covered, until the quinoa is cooked – about 15 minutes. 

Stir in the beans and the spinach and heat thru (about 2 more minutes).  Taste to see if you need more seasoning – top with a bit of shaved parmesan and serve immediately.

This was a super quick and filling dinner!  Stay tuned for some adventures from Wine Country!!


Whenever I hear that a friend is in a bad way or in need, my first instinct is to COOK for them.  It’s one of best gifts I can give. 

Recently a much-loved co-worker suffered the loss of her only son who was 30 and who left behind a 3 year old son.  The loss has made so many of us feel for our friend and also reflect on our own relationships and how much our loved ones mean to us!  Our friend doesn’t have a deep-freeze, so my idea of multiple lasagnes and casseroles was ki-boshed!  We put our heads together and came up with a few jarred soup ideas – hope you like them; they would be super cute for xmas gifts, or any time you want to give someone a little boost!

First of all, you need to assemble some clean (sanitized) mason jars or snaplid jars (I tend to hoard so used some old pickle and pasta jars).  Next, you need to grab some craft items and your glue gun – might as well “bedazzle” these suckers!

Here are the 5 varieties that I made up, but there are limitless possiblilites – just google “soup in a jar” and you’ll be suprised what you find!

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

2 1/2 cups dried black beans
3 tbsp dehydrated onion flakes
3 tbsp granulated garlic
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups white rice
1 large can diced tomatoes

Place 2 cups beans into the bottom of a jar.  Put rice into a ziplock bag and layer on top of the beans.  Combine the spices in a ziplock bag and layer on top of the rice.  Top with the remaining black beans.  Print off the instructions and attach to the jar:

Wash beans.  Put in pot with contents of seasoning bag.  Add 1 tbsp olive oil and cover beans with 2 inches of water.  Bring to a boil and simmer until very well done (about 2 hours). Beans should be very soft.  Add water as needed to keep beans from sticking; there should be liquid left on beans when done. Ad a can of diced tomatoes and heat thru.
To cook rice, put 3 cups of water and 1 tsp salt into a pot and bring to a boil.   Add rice, lower heat, cover and steam for 20 minutes.
Serve about 1/2 cup rice in a bowl and ladle the bean mixture over top.  Sprinkle with minced cilantro, finely chopped green onion, and a squeeze of lime juice.

Alphabet Soup PLUS+

2 cups of “no name” soup mix (it’s the one with barley, lentils, rice, beans, alphabet pasta)
1 tsp dried chili flakes
4 tsp dried chicken bouillon
6 tbsp dehydrated vegetable flakes
1 large can of diced tomatoes

In a jar, pour in one cup of the soup mix.  In a plastic bag, combine the spices and vegetable flakes (this is the “soup spice mix”).  Place on top of the soup mix, then pour another cup of the soup mix on top. Print off the instructions and attach to the jar:

In a large stock pot, combine soup mix and spice mix, one large can of diced tomatoes and 8 cups of water.  Bring to a boil on high heat.  Reduce heat to a medium-low, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Remove from heat & serve.

Instant Baked Potato Soup

1 box sour cream and chives potatoes (Betty Crocker Brand)
packet of sauce mix from potatoes
1 packet dry cheese sauce mix from boxed macaroni and cheese (they sell this in bulk at a lot of places – about 1/4 cup was what I used!)
3 tbsp bacon bits

Remove packet of potatoes from box and break the dry slices up with your hand – punch out your aggression from the day!  Layer the potatoes into the bottom of the jar.  Pour the chive sauce into a small ziplock bag and place on top of the potatoes, then the same thing for the cheese sauce, and then the bacon bits.  It all goes into the water at the same tme, but it makes the jar look “prettier”!  Print off the instructions and attach to the jar:

Combine contents of jar with 2 cups milk and 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 8 to 10 minutes.

Beef Vegetable Minestrone

1 cup tiny shell pasta
1 1/2 cup dehydrated vegetables
4 tbsp beef bouillon
2 tbsp dehydrated onion
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf

1 large can diced tomatoes

Layer the shells in the bottom of the jar.  Place the vegetables in a ziplock bag and place on top of the shells.  Combine all of the spices and place on top of the vegetables.  Print off the instructions and attach to the jar:

In a large stock pot, combine spice package, dehydrated vegetable package, 8 cups of water and large can of diced tomatoes.  Bring to a boil on high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours,, or until vegetables have softened.  Bring soup to boil again, add pasta and cook for 20 minutes or until done.  Remove from heat and serve.

Chicken Noodle Soup

1 cup fine egg noodles
Spice Mix:
4 tbsp chicken bouillon
2 tbsp onion flakes
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
~ 10 whole pepper corns
1 bay leaf

Pour egg noodles into a jar.  Combine all o fthe spice mixes in a ziplock bag and place on top.  Print off the instructions attach to the jar:

In a large stock pot, combine spice mix & bay leaf with 8 cups of water.  Bring to a boil on high heat; reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add egg noodles and continue cooking for about 20 minutes, or until noodles are cooked through.  Remove from heat and serve.

Make sure to hug the people you love today xo


Since we were visiting with family this weekend, all the cooking was done for me which was a nice treat!!  Todd’s mother put on a gigantic spread as usual, and I got to meet a whole bunch of Todd’s cousins and nephews, which as also a treat!  The Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Dip seemed to be a hit, though I thought I may have been a bit heavy-handed with the garlic again, but no one complained and we were also vampire-free all night, so all was well….

One cool thing that I got to do on my visit to Calgary was go to the Millarville Farmer’s Market, which is an absolute dream!!  Don’t get me wrong, I love my good old Red Deer Farmies, but this Millarville is quite different – a lot more food artisans!  I could tell that the vendors were really passionate about their wares and they were definitly pushing the envelope when it came to unique and unusual foods – it was really cool!

Not my kid!  Or my dinosaur!

Rather than blogging about what I cooked, I’m going to blog about what I bought and what cool things I tasted!!

First thing I bought was this totally crazy delicious Mr. Pink’s Habanero Carmel Popcorn – omg such a weird blend of sticky sweet and super spicy – it’s hard to eat a lot at one sitting b/c of the heat, but it’s almost like a challenge!!

Mr. Pink’s you sure do make good spicy food – sorry no link for you guys
he’s kicking it old skool w/o a url

I got myself some delicious Korma Sauce – can’t wait to have another curry party next time Todd is out of town!!

The Curry Queen needs to hurry up and
update her website!

I also got some Horseradish Jelly from MacFarlane’s – can’t wait to use it on something MORE than just crackers… thinking a glaze for a beef tenderloin???

Also another company that could use a website – they can be contacted at
403-335-8664 if you’re in the Calgary area, or they are at the Calgary Market too!

Another strange but awesome find that I purchased was Llama Summer Sausage – I know, what the hell!  First of all, I had to be reminded about what a llama was, b/c I was thinking it was a giant bird, but then I remembered it’s like an alpaca… the kids gobbled it up, it tasted awesome and made me realize that you can do a lot more with a llama that just make sweaters!

If we didn’t live 2.5 hours away, I would definitely frequent the Millarville Farmies – maybe someone will want to take a mini roadtrip with me for their big Xmas sale in November?? Their website says “be sure to make plans to join us at the Racetrack for one of the finest Artisan & Craft Shows in Alberta, “Christmas At Millarville” Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 11-13, including seeing the Christmas lights on Friday night. ” 

This weekend we are heading to Calgary for an Urquhart family gathering, so I decided to make use of the red bell peppers I picked up this week on 50% off at Superstore (not sure why they were discounted b/c they were fine, not even changing colour or not even growing pepper babies inside of them yet!)   I concocted a delicious dip to go with the new delicious crackers I found at Costco the other night: Natural Crispbreads!  So yummy and light and apparently reminiscent of communion crisps, but don’t let that scare you off!!

Here’s the recipe – enjoy and have a great weekend!!

the dip with those awesome light crackers!

Roasted Red Pepper & Garlic Dip
5-6 sweet red bell peppers
1 head of garlic, whole, unpeeled of skin
3 cloves of garlic, skin removed
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 container Boursin Light Garlic & Herbs
1/2 cup light cream cheese
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425degrees.  Wash outside of peppers and arrange on a cookie sheet.  

At the same time, take the head of garlic and place on a square of tin foil – pour some olive oil over top and then wrap the garlic tightly in the tin foil. 

Place the pan of peppers and the garlic pkg in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the peppers start to turn black.

Remove the peppers to a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap to allow to sweat.  When the peppers are cooled off enough to handle, remove the skins from the peppers and discard the stem and seeds.  Also, trim the inside of the peppers of that light coloured “membrane” – let the peppers cool completely. 

With the garlic, remove the cloves (which will look nice and golden brown) from the skins.  If there is oil left over hanging out in the tin foil, dump that in your food processor.  Also, let the garlic cool off completely.

Everything cooled off?  Now it’s time to make the dip: in your food processor, combine the roasted red peppers, the roasted garlic cloves, the 3 uncooked cloves, and another tbsp or so of olive oil and pulse until chunky and broken down. 

Add in your Boursin and cream cheese, along with salt and pepper.

Guess what?  You’re done – let chill for a couple of hours and then serve with some of your fave crackers, flat-breads, veggies, on a bagel, or even use it on some pasta.  It’s pretty versatile and very delicious – super garlicky though!  If you’re not into the garlic, then omit the 3 raw cloves!!

So using everything I have known until now about baking, I have created my first ever baking recipe!!  All by myself!  Here is the recipe for Banana Chip Cookies – they are soft and chewy, almost muffin-like, but they flattened out like cookies and got crispy around the edges and the top.  They have banana, oats and coconut, so are really hearty which is why I’m calling them a “breakfast” cookie – b/c I think you could pop a few of these along with a boiled egg and you would be fine till break time!  Hope you enjoy and if you know what would make these cookies go crispy rather than soft – please share with me b/c I’m dying to make a crispy banana cookie!!

Banana Chip Breakfast Cookies
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp ground cinnamon
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup semi-sweet chips

Preheat oven to 375degrees.  Cream butter and sugar in usual manner.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda, salt & cinnamon.  Blend into butter mixture.  Combine mashed bananas, oats, coconut & chips – fold into the dough.

Prepare cookie sheets with baking paper.  Drop medium sized balls of dough – enough to give each cookie sheet 1 dozen cookies.  Bake for 12 – 13 minutes, depending on things like your altitude, your stove, if you do something stupid like open the oven half way thru baking (like I did) etc.  Because these cookies have so much sugar from the bananas, they can burn really quickly!

When golden and hopefully not burnt, remove from oven to let cool on a rack.  Store in an airtight container – or freeze!

Everytime I go to Mexico, I always fashion myself tiny fish tacos at the buffets (we always go all inclusive resorts b/c we are lazy travellers).  Last night, I was flipping through Gwyneth Paltrow’s Cookbook:   My Father’s Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family & Togetherness, I came across her recipe for Fish Tacos and thought I should give it a try.  Here’s my rendition of the dish:

Fish Tacos
oil for frying: peanut is probably best, but canola will also work – I know because that’s what I used
1-2 lbs of a firm, white fleshed fish cut into little strips – in my freezer I happened to have sole, but I’m thinking cod would be amazing
1 cup flour
1 cup beer
salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy – you could also add tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot Sauce)

In a deep pot or frying pan, heat oil to 350degrees or pretty hot – little bubbles.  To make the batter, combine the flour, beer and seasoning.  Dip your fish pieces into the batter to coat both sides – it’s really sticky so use your hands – no being a princess for this recipe! 

Put just enough pieces of fish into the hot oil so that they have space around them – you don’t want to crowd the pan – won’t cook fast if you do.  Watch your back because this thing sends oil sparks flying! 

When your fish pieces are nice and golden brown, transfer to a baking dish lined with paper towels.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  As I did my batches of fish, I left the baking dish in a 200degree oven to keep things warm.

To serve:
Before you get your fish fry on, get the Mexi condiments ready:

Pico de gallo:
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 small red onion, chopped finely
juice of one lime
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
sea salt

2 avocados, cubed
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
juice of one lime
sea salt

Lime crema:
1/2 cup sour cream**
1/2 cup mayonnaise
juice of 1/2 a lime
**Gwyneth constantly refers to something called Veganaise and it sounds disgusting to me – I saw it at Nutters and it was almost $10 for a super small jar, so it’s an item that will never touch my fridge unless someone buys it for me!

Other things to put on the table:
Hot sauce
diced cabbage

Okay, so now that you’ve got your condiments ready, your fish is fried, warm up some tortillas (again, dealers choice – I love the little corn ones – Hot Toddy does not enjoy so much so we just had the Dempsters Ancient Grains Tortillas.

Recently I had the pleasure of eating the most delicious freaking pork ribs I have ever had in my life.  Ever.  They were fall-off-the-bone, sticky, chewey, finger-licking good, AMAZING.  And made with love by my buddy Jean-Guy.  He has graciously shared his recipe with me and now I am sharing with you.  Be prepared to have your minds blown with this recipe – it will revolutionize the way you cook ribs – no more boiling them for hours and stinking the house up to high heaven – no, those days are over my friends. 

Best Ribs in the World!

Ingredients to make about 4 racks of pork side ribs (10 lbs-ish):

3 cups apple juice
1 cup orange juice
3 tbsp worchestershire sauce
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard (PC brand is still the best by far)

1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp each of: cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, white pepper, parprika, cajun spice

Preheat oven to 250degrees.  Get out a couple roasting or baking pans (you know the standard 11×17 pans – number depends on how many racks of ribs you are doing, but enough to be able to arrange the ribs in a single layer).  Whisk all brine ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  In another bowl, combine the rub ingredients. 

Being organized! 

Salt both sides of the ribs with sea salt.  Coat the meaty sides of the ribs with the rub. Get your roasting pans ready by dividing up the brine equally between them. 

Place the ribs meaty side down into the brine (this is the side that is now covered in rub).

Ready for the oven
After about 5 hours…

Bake at 250 degrees for 4-5 hours.

Basting away in margaritaville….

Finish the ribs off on the bbq and baste with either the sauce you have been cooking the ribs in all day OR do what I did and baste with bbq sauce with sriracha sauce for a spicy kick!

tender, chewy-licious!

You are welcome!

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