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Red Deer Foodie

…getting busy in the kitchen!

Monthly Archives: June 2012

Seems like these days people go nuts for pancakes and waffles of any kind – must be because there is something homey and familiar about them.  And so easy to make too!  Last weekend I picked up some Blueberry Breakfast Sausage from Big Bend Market and I knew that no ordinary pancake could be paired with such a unique product!  I had been dreaming of these pancakes since the wee hours of the morning and forced myself out of bed at 9am on a Sunday to create them!  So wonderful!  I started with a basic pancake recipe idea that I googled (recipes.com) but ended up changing it completely.  The product is a savoury, sweet but not too sweet, fluffy but dense – just an all around great pancake.  I don’t think this would be a hit with kids, unless they are down with that kind of thing!!  They tasted great with those Blueberry Sausages, so I’m quite happy!!

Rosemary Lemon Pancakes

Ingredients:

3/4 cup skim milk + 2 tbsp white vinegar

1 cup white flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp fresh lemon zest

3 tbsp liquid honey

2 tbsp olive oil

1 egg

Method:

Measure out your milk and then add the vinegar.  Set aside for 5 minutes till it gets all clotty.  In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, including the rosemary and lemon zest.  Whisk in the egg, clotted milk, honey and olive oil – let sit for a couple minutes while you get your griddle heated up – I like medium-high – not too high where you risk burning the hell out of things, but not too conservatively low that it takes 15 minutes to cook a damn pancake!

If the griddle is hot, start spooning the batter out – make them whatever size you want – I made “medium” ones – about 2 soup spoons full of batter per pancake and this batter made 10 pancakes.

Cook for about 3 minutes per side – easy to tell on the first side because you will get the little bubbles rising to the top – and they will be easy to flip! 

I served these with butter and honey, but you could use whatever syrup you have in the house – I’m thinking lavender honey would have been the bomb on these, but sadly, I did not have 😦

 

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While recently lamenting about an excess of rhubarb in the fridge from the the Downtown Market, my friend Charity shared the best idea ever: stewed rhubarb!!  OK this is really easy to whip up – 15 minutes easy – and a great topper for Greek Yogurt or Oatmeal.  Great – no – BEST – way to start the morning!  Love this.  She described the process of “stewing” to me and here’s what I came up with the other morning:

Stewed Rhubarb

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped rhubarb

1/4 cup water

2-3 tbsp honey (to taste – depending on if you like it sweet or tart)

1/2 vanilla bean, scrape the seeds out and add to the mixture, then chuck the bean carcass in there too

tiniest pinch of salt

Method:

Add everything to a medium pot and bring to a boil over medium-high.  Reduce heat to medium and then let simmer for 15 minutes.

Try to contain your excitement as it quickly morphs from chunks of rhubarb to a lovely pink stew.  Nom.

Now you have some decisions to make – do you top a bowl of oatmeal with your hot stewed rhubard, or do you wait and let it cool and spoon it overtop of some Greek yogurt?  Choices choices!!  Enjoy!!

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I recently joined the City of Red Deer’s Composting at Home program – lucky me because only 300 Red Deerians got to partake in this pilot!  So great because the City gave me a composter, a kitchen catcher and a long metal tool for stirring the compost.  They even gave participants a crash course in how to get this all started in our back yards!  No more sending my fruit and veg scraps to the landfill – I’m going to be making some nutrient-rich compost, which apparently is going to be highly-desirable and coveted by many.  I actually hate gardening so my green-thumbed friends may be getting presents of compost tea from moi in the future (yes that is a real thing – I learned about it at the composting workshop!)

Here’s how it all started; we built the composter and chose a sunny spot in the yard to plant this thing down.  Mission One: accomplished!

Next mission: start collecting “greens”  or nitrogen rich stuff, which equates to fruit/veg scraps – not cooked, not dressed, just naked organics – no fats, no animal wastes!  Egg shells okay if rinsed!  Okay, this seems easy – the little kitchen catcher hides away under my sink and eats up all my cuttings.  Wonderful! And guess what – it seriously doesn’t stink!  The first couple of additions to my kitchen catcher were onion ends and the left over bits of garlic after mincing – both items that normally stank up my under the sink garbage bin – totally stink free down there!  The kitchen collection was Mission Two: accomplished!

The next task was to gather my “browns” or all the carbon rich stuff like dried leaves, newspaper, dried grass etc.  The challenge was that before chucking in the food scraps, I had to build a good base – 5 cm of twigs, 5-10cm of dry browns, etc etc.  Argh – I don’t have that kind of stuff in my neighborhood, so I started to get discouraged.  Todd saved the day though and took me on a forest foraging expedition tonight – Mission Three: accomplished!

 I had a full weeks worth of kitchen scrap which I added on, but I thought it looked gross so I censored this picture!

Add some soil and now I just have to be diligent with the greens and browns, and the stirring/tilling!

Part of the deal with this program is that I had to commit to doing this for a whole entire year!!  I’ll keep you com-posted on this little journey – hope I don’t have some gigantic rotten stink pile by the end of the summer!!  No, no, that’s not going to happen – I’m going to try and d a good job!!   Wish me luck and any tips you have, please send them my way – my learning so far: cucumbers rot quickly – will avoid them in the future!

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Often on gloomy Sundays, I like to take Nick to the Red Deer Public Library and challenge him to a “read-off” – yep, I know what you’re thinking: “what kind of jerk drags a 7 year old to the library on a WEEKEND!?” Well, I’m that kind of jerk, and guess what? He totally loves going there and he is still young enough to actually believe we are really engaging in some sort of competition for reading.  Ha ha – kids are so dumb!

Anyways, one of my fave things about the library is checking out all of the Food/Cooking Magazines and Cook Books.  I was flipping through the January/February 2012 Clean Eating Magazine and stumbled across their recipe for Gluten-Free “Taco” Bowls.  I showed it to Nick and he agreed we needed to give it a try.   The recipe itself needed a lot of work, and I ditched the brown rice (gross) and subbed in quinoa (nom), I also amped up the spices by x100% because it was kind of bland looking.   I actually changed up quite a bit and by using quinoa instead of brown rice, ended up cutting the prep time down by about 30 minutes – making this meal a fairly quick weeknight dinner!  Ready in under an hour for sure and a super big hit with both kid and husband!   (apologies that I didn’t actually take a lot of pictures during assembly, but seriously this is one of the best quinoa recipes I’ve busted out in a long time!!)

Quinoa Taco Bowl

Quinoa Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup quinoa

3 tbsp tomato paste

1 1/2 tsp chile powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp dried oregano

2 cups water

Taco Meat Ingredients:

1 lb extra lean ground beef

2 tsp chile powder

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

3/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

3 tbsp tomato paste

2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1 cup water

Salad ingredients:

1 Romaine heart, chopped into bite sized pieces

1/2 red onion, finely diced

1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced

1 jlapeno, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

3/4 cup Mexi-blend cheese

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (fat or non-fat up to you!)

1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

Method:

Get the quinoa going – in a large skillet that has a tight-fitting lid, heat the oil over high and add the chopped onion, garlic and quinoa.  Saute until fragrant – the quinoa will start to smell nice and nutty/toasty.  Add in the seasonings and tomato paste, stir to coat the quinoa.

Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Stir and then drop the heat to low – cover and cook for 20 minutes.  When times is up, turn off the heat but let it sit on the burner for another 5 minutes before taking off the lid and fluffing with a fork.

MEANWHILE – quinoa is cooking and you need to get your taco meat ready (you could also do ground chicken or pork – even that veggie ground round if that’s something that turns you on!).  In another skillet, brown the meat, drain any excess fat, then add the seasonings and tomato paste to coat.  Add a cup of water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Drop the heat to medium and let simmer till this thing has thickened up – guess what?  I bet that quinoa is about ready.  Add the cilantro at the end and stir.  Set aside for assembly.

While all that is going down, prep the salad ingredients – or get someone else to do it for you!  Wash and chop those veggies and dinner is almost on the table!

To plate – start with a good scoop of quinoa, then a scoop of meat right in the centre of your bowl.  Build up the edges with lots of that lettuce, then sprinkle with onions, peppers, whatever else you got going on – some cheese, more cilantro, a big dollop of the yogurt and the grand finale – a couple lime wedges.  Quinoa Taco Bowl is served and it’s awesome!

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People following this blog have probably figured out that I am super lazy when it comes to cleaning of any kind (Hot Toddy actually does all the dish-washing in this kitchen!) Sometimes I feel like I should give him a night off pots n pans duty, so I whip out the always dependable tinfoil!!!  So great for cooking on the BBQ – seals all the juices in – creates amazing flavours!  Here’s a really easy weeknight dinner that cooks up in about 12 minutes on the grill. (pssssst PS these foil recipes are also great to bust out when camping – will make you look like a total super-star when you serve up a posh dish like this rather than weiners and beans!)

Foil-cooked Salmon and Vegetables

Salmon Ingredients:

3 – 4 small salmon filets

1 large lemon, sliced thin

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp white wine (something citrusy like a crisp Pinot Grigio – and don’t you dare use a wine that you don’t like b/c then the dinner is going taste like some crap wine that you don’t like!)

2-4 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives

fresh cracked sea salt & black pepper

Vegetable Ingredients: 

3-4 mini zucchinis, sliced about an inch thick

1 cup assorted grape tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, whatever you have on hand

1-2 tbsp olive oil

6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and cut in half

1 tsp Italian Seasoning

fresh cracked sea salt & black pepper

Method:

Preheat your BBQ to medium high – if you can get it to stay at about 400degrees, this would be ideal!  Rip off two big sheets of tin foil – and lay flat, shiny side up.  For the salmon, layer the lemon slices to cover the middle of your foil – big enough to create a bed for the salmon filets to rest on (this helps give extra moisture to the salmon, while at the same time prevents the salmon from burning to the bottom of the foil).

Place the salmon on top of the lemon bed and drizzle with olive oil and white wine.  Season with salt and pepper – then garnish with the chives.  Seal up tightly and set aside.

Now get the veg ready – centre the chopped zucchini, tomatoes and garlic in the middle of the foil – drizzle with oil and seasonings and then seal up tight.

The BBQ has been waiting for you – chuck your packages on the grill, close the lid and walk away for about 12 minutes.  Resist the urge to open the BBQ lid!  Go have a glass of wine – you already have that bottle open for the salmon…. Take the packages out of the BBQ and guess what – dinner is ready!  Serve with whatever starch or carb you’re down with – we had a little pile of fresh spinach on our plates, and some rice for Nick.

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Rhubarb is so great – especially when it’s grown by someone else and not infesting your property!  Since I’m the laziest gardener ever, I prefer to purchase my rhubarb at the farmers market and feel safe knowing that it’s not from a co-worker’s back-alley and a million dogs have taken a wizz on it!  Anyhoo… sometimes I get excited and buy beautiful produce at the market, then realize I have to scramble to do something with it!  I had already pre-chopped the rhubarb, so was so happy to find a muffin recipe that whipped up in a snap!  I’ve adapted this recipe from Canadian Living online recipe collection – the main thing I changed was the oven temp (raised from 350 to 400degrees) and baking time – 15-18 minutes, not 25.  I also substitued milk + vinegar rather than buttermilk because that is just not something I have chilling in my fridge at all times!

Rhubarb Muffins

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 cup skim milk + 1 tsp white vinegar (before you start mixing ingredients – pour the milk in a measuring cup and add the vinegar, let stand on the cupboard for 5 minutes and it will curdle for you)

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups finely diced rhubarb (chop it according to how big you want your rhubarb bites to be)

Topping: 1 tbsp melted butter, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Method:

Preheat oven to 400degrees and line 2 muffin pans with paper liners (this recipe makes exactly 24 muffins!)  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt & baking soda and set aside.  In another bowl, combine brown sugar and oil.  Whisk in the milk, egg and vanilla.

Pour the wet into the dry, along with the rhubarb.  Still till moistened but remember in baking muffins, it’s okay to see little flour bits – don’t overmix!

Fill each muffin paper about 3/4 full and then top with the brown sugar/butter mixture.  Bake one pan at a time for about 17-18 minutes (check at 15 minutes if you’re paranoid).

Let cool on a baking rack completely!  So delightful these muffins are – the brown sugar topping is such a nice contrast to the tart rhubard – you will love them xo

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Red Deer Foodie

Every once in a while I get the strongest craving to make dough – bubbly, light pizza dough… and grill it on the BBQ on a hot day.  It’s one of my specialties!  Today I made 2 types of dough: regular and whole wheat.  I made two varieties: BBQ Hawaiian Chicken and Spicy Margherita.

Here’s how the dough went down; the regular is straight out of Martha Stewart, the whole wheat is is my healthy adaptation:

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Ingredients:
1 tsp agave syrup
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp olive oil and more for the bowl
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

Method:
Pour 1 cup of warm water into a medium bowl; add sugar andsprinkle with yeast.  Let stand until foamy, 5 minutes.

fizzzzzz

Whisk oil & 1 tsp salt into the yeast mixture.  Add flour…

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