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Red Deer Foodie

…getting busy in the kitchen!

Monthly Archives: April 2012

Well, I’m still trying to plow thru all that peanut butter I bought at Costco a couple of weeks ago, and believe it or not, I’m almost down one jar!  I’ve tried a couple of the recipes on the Kraft site and so far I’ve had a hit and a miss.   I’m only going to talk about the hit: here’s my interpretation of a recipe for squares that’s on the jar!

Easy Peanut Butter Cereal Bars
Ingredients:
3/4 cup corn syrup
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
4 cups Crispix or Chex cereal
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
non-stick cooking spray

Method:
Spray a 8×8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.  Combine the corn syrup and peanut butter in a medium sized bowl microwave safe bowl and heat for about 45seconds – 60 seconds.  Stir until smooth. 

Add cereal and stir to coat.

Add coconut and chocolate chips and stir until everything is evenly distributed.  Press into the prepared baking dish and shove into the fridge for at least an hour. 

Cut into little squares and keep in an airtight container, in the fridge until ready to serve.

This is another recipe that you could totally personalize to whatever you have going on in the pantry – I would also be interested to see how it turns out using agave nectar and natural peanut butter…  if you bust it out, please let me know!

This week I was lucky to come across quinoa flour at the Leduc Bulk Barn!  No more lame attempts to grind whole quinoa in the food processor!!

I was going to do some baking with the quinoa flour this afternoon, but opted to go out for a pedicure instead.  When I got home, I flipped thru my faveski cook book Quinoa 365 and got some inspiration from their recipe titled “Vegetable Cheddar Quiche” – I used different flavours and ingredients based on what I had in the fridge, and what came out was awesome!!  The funny thing about quinoa is that it stinks before you cook it, then turns into something completely different after baking (at least that’s what I’ve noticed with all my quinoa baking recipes).

Anyways, check out this quiche – something that you could totally fool around with and use your fave flavours – the crust is really unique – it’s rich and buttery, but a bit crumbly around the edges. 

Ham Asparagus & Swiss Quinoa Quiche
Crust Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup butter, melted & slightly cooled
1 tbsp water

Filling Ingredients:
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cup chopped asparagus (discard woody ends)
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup grated swiss cheese
1/2 cup shaved Black Forest ham, chopped into “ribbons”
5 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp quinoa flour
1 tbsp dijon mustard
salt & pepper

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in microwave for about 30 seconds and let cool slightly.  Add quinoa flour and mix well.  Add the water and form a little dough ball.  Grease a 9 inch baking dish with butter and press the dough into the dish, then set aside.

In a medium frying pan, melt butter and saute shallots, garlic & asparagus until tender, about 7-8 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, dijon, salt & pepper, making sure that there are no little flour balls floating around.  Fold in the cheese.

Once the vegetables are tender, remove from heat and layer in the prepared pie crust.  Sprinkle with the shredded ham then top with the egg/cheese mixture.

Put into the oven and bake for 45 minutes.  When time is up, remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Refrigerate leftovers and enjoy for brunch the next day or pack up in a lunch. 

Hey!  Did you know it’s Administrative Professionals Appreciation Week?  I guess they celebrate for a whole week and then there is also a special day assigned to celebrating too!  For our Ladies of the Office, Nick and I whipped up a quick batch of Buttery Caramel Corn; it’s a variation of my Halloween Crackerjack – a few tweaks and turned out sooo delish!  Try it for your next kid’s party too!

Buttery Caramel Corn
Ingredients:
8-10 cups popped popcorn*
1 cup butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
non-stick cooking spray for cookie sheets

Method:
Preheat ovent to 200 degrees.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add brown sugar, syrup and salt.  Bring to a light boil, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add baking soda and stir.  This will fizz, so don’t be alarmed – it’s normal.  Add the vanilla and again be prepared for a mini-eruption.  Pour the caramel mixture into the corn/peanut mixture and toss to coat evenly.

Lightly coat 2 cookie sheets with non-stick spray.  Press the popcorn equally between two cookie sheets. Shove in the oven and stir every 10 mins. Do this for about 30 – 40 minutes.

Let cool on racks COMPLETELY before packaging.  I divided mine into clear cello-bags and then put into cute little popcorn containers that I found at Winners.  I stuck old-timey candy sticks in the packages and topped with ribbon – super cute!!

*if you made the Halloween Crackerjack, you’ll notice that I’m using LESS popcorn in this recipe – that’s because I wanted the corn to be coated with more of the caramel sauce.  This is definitely a recipe for people that like SWEET – tastes exactly like Kernels Double Hit (maybe better!)

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I like fairly simple and healthy dishes!  I love using food that’s in season and guess what?  It’s asparagus season!!!  So here’s a quick dish inspired by something saw on the very lovely Everyday Occasions by Jenny Steffens Hobick blog.  Check it out – she’s a tiny (and much cuter) version of Martha!  Love this blog! 

Rather than cream for this recipe, I used Boursin Cheese and it added a really creamy texture to the dish – very springy!!

Creamy Spring Fettucine
Ingredients:
4 slices Aldersmoked bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
2 cups chopped leek (white part only)
2 cups whte button mushrooms, sliced
2 cups asparagus, discard woody part & cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup Boursin Garlic & Fine Herb soft-ripened cheese (flavoured cream cheese would also work)
1 pkg fresh fettucine, or your favourite pasta – reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water!

Method:
In a large non-stick skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp.  Reserving the bacon fat, remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels.  Add the olive oil to the bacon fat over medium heat and add the mushrooms.  Saute for about 4 minutes, get those mushrooms soaking up all the nice flavour from the bacon fat.  At this point, put a big pot of water on to boil – I will always remember something I learned from a cooking show – make sure the water is waiting for you, not the other way around!! 

Add leeks and continue cooking for another 3 minutes. 

Next, add the asparagus and the boursin and stir to coat.  Start adding some of the pasta water – about 1/4 cup to start, stirring, and then keep adding till it hits the consistency you like!  Season with salt & pepper.  Cook for another couple of minutes.

almost done… all you need is the fettucine!

If you’re using fresh pasta, it really only needs to be cooked for a minute or two, eventhough the package may lie and say 4-5 minutes. If you overcook it, you’ll have a doughy mass of noodle-ish goo!  Trust me here, so make the pasta as the sauce is almost done cooking – you don’t want the pasta to be sitting around hardening up or sticking together!

Plate your meal: top fettucine with the sauce and top with bacon bits!  And guess what?  This dinner is done in under half an hour!

Sometimes I find the greatest recipes in the strangest of places – like this one I found in Glamour Magazine for Salsa de Chipotle.  Even though I had to tweak it a bit, I gotta say that this recipe is a big time winner!!  This salsa is easily a great stand-alone dip, but I think it would be so good as a marinade for chicken, or a Mexican pasta sauce – give it a try!

Salsa de Chipotle
Ingredients:
8 medium ripe tomatoes
salt
1/4 cup canola oil + 1 tsp for sauteeing onions
1 small white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 chipotle chilis in adobo
juice of 1 large lime
1 large red chili pepper, seeded and membrane removed

Method:
Prehead oven to 350degrees.  Cut tomatoes in half, and place them on a baking sheet covered in foil.  Season with salt & roast for 1 1/2 hours.  They are going to shrink up and turn almost “meaty’ – it’s awesome because all the flavours are concentrated.

Meanwhile, in a saute pan, heat 1 tsp oil and cooke onion and garlic until golden brown.  Set aside.  When the tomatoes are done, put them into the food processor or blender.  Add the onions, galic, cilantro, chilies, lime juice and salt (go eas with the salt at first because remember that you salted the tomatoes already while roasting).

Slowly increase the speed and add the oil from the top and continue blending until the salsa is smooth, almost “creamy.”

I absolutely love one-pot cooking!  The thought of all the flavours of the dish coming together – deeelish!  When I saw this recipe on Canadian Living, I knew it was going to be a winner!! I adapted it slightly and it turned out amazing!!  The kitchen smelled great and the coconut rice and vegetables was killer!  You are going to love this recipe:

One-Pot Steamed Fish with Coconut Rice
Ingredients:

1 tbsp butter
2 large green onions, sliced
2 cups sliced vegetables (I used red and yellow pepper and thinly sliced carrots)
1-2 small dried hot chili peppers, crushed (depending on your heat tolerance)
1 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup unsweetend shredded coconut
1 cup water
1 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1 cup asparagus, woody part discarded, then cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb skinless white fish filets (about 1 inch thick, cut into 4 pieces)
salt & pepper
zest of one lime
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 lime, cut into wedges for serving

everything you need for dinner tonight!

Method:
In a large skillet that has a tight fitting lid, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the crushed chili and let it flavour the butter. 

Saute the green onions and rest of your vegetables, sprinkle with a bit of salt and cook for about 3 minutes or until vegetables are softened.  Stir in rice and coconut until coated. 

Add water and bring to a boil.  Whisk flour into the milk and pour into the skillet while stirring.  Bring to a simmer, stirring often.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Pat fish dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt, pepper, chili flakes and lime zest. 

Remove lid from skillet, fluff rice with a fork and add top with the fish filets.  Sprinkle the asparagus around the fish.  Replace lid and continue steaming for about 15 minutes.

Guess what?  Dinner is done!?  Serve topped with cilantro and lime wedges.  I think this recipe would also be amazing with thinly sliced chicken breasts, shrimps and large scallops too!

Raise your hand if you have ever “accidentally” gotten sucked into a stupid purchase at Costco?  Yep, that’s me – and last Friday Costco had it’s way with me: I bought two gi-normous containers of Kraft Peanut Butter (yah, I know it’s not the healthiest choice, but it tastes good so back off).  They were only $3.87 each for the 2kg containers!!! I know, right!?  I got so excited that I forgot my one cardinal rule when buying large quants of food: always check the friggin expiry date!!!  So I know that technically I can return one of the containers, but instead I am challenging myself to use up one whole container within the next few weeks!  The other one might have to make a trip to the local Loaves & Fishes…  

Anyways, here’s my first recipe of the week (I’ll be highlighting PB recipes over the next week): Thai Shrimp Skewers with Peanut Sauce!!  I did a lot of googling and found a ton of recipes for peanut sauce, and based on what was in the pantry, here’s what I came up with:

Thai Shrimp Skewers with Peanut Sauce
Peanut Sauce Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup light coconut milk
2 tbsp red curry paste
1 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 – 3/4 cup water to smooth out the sauce

Thai Shrimp Ingredients:
1 lb large uncooked shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup light coconut milk (try to capture the creamy stuff on the top of the can – use the rest for the peanut sauce)
1/2 tsp red curry paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup basil leaves
juice of one lime

Method:
First get your shrimp marinating: in your food processer, combine all of the ingredients (except for the shrimp!!) and pulse for a bit.  Pour over shrimp in a glass bowl and set aside for about 30 minutes. 

While the shrimp is marinating, get your peanut sauce on the go.  Combine all ingredients in a large, heavy bottomed pot.  Bring to a boil while whisking constantly; add water while stirring to get to a consistency that you want!

 Thread the shrimp onto bamboo skewers and grill on your indoor grill if you don’t feel like going outside (it was only +4 on Saturday so I opted for the indoor grill!)  Grill for about 5-7 minutes.  Done!  Serve with the sauce on the side and you have a super awesome appetizer!  The peanut sauce will keep for a couple weeks in an airtight container in the fridge.

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