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Red Deer Foodie

…getting busy in the kitchen!

Finally it feels like summer time and that means backyard bevvies and patio noshing!  This weekend I took advantage of the great deals on strawberries and whipped up a batch of strawberry salsa – I usually just “wing it” and make up the recipe as I go, but this time, I decided to record as I went so I can share with you!

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Strawberry Salsa

Ingredients:

1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped small IMG_0683

1/2 small green bell pepper, finely chopped

1 – 2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped

zest & juice of one large lime

2 tbsp agave nectar

2 tbsp each finely chopped fresh mint & finely chopped cilantro

1 tbsp finely chopped red onion

1 tbsp olive oil

dash/crank of sea salt

Method: IMG_0685

Preparation is pretty easy.  Chop all of your fresh stuff, add the rest and stir to combine – how easy is that?  I let it stand at room temp for about an hour to let all of the flavours mesh together.   Serve with your fave chips and margaritas!!

 

 

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A few months ago, I picked up one of the best paleo resources ever, Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo –  such a great book for those considering paleo or needing to eliminate junky stuff from their diets.  So many of my friends are switching their diets lately due to celiac disease, leaky guts or just the desire to be healthier.  I try really hard to cook mostly paleo, though my addiction to carbs and cheese sometimes effs things up for me!  Last week I whipped up a couple of batches of cookies that I adapted from one of the recipes in the Practical Paleo book – they whip in no time and are the perfect present for anyone you know who is trying to get bad stuff out of their diet!  I wanted to spice them up, so used some McCormick Cocoa Chili Spice Blend – the results were amazing, though don’t forget to pre-warn people that they are spicy (forgot and gave to boss!)  I also made a using of Seedy Quinoa Stacks using puffed quinoa that Erin brought me back from Peru (check out this link for a similar product).

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Paleo Chocolate Chili Haystacks (makes 12)

Ingredients:

2 eggs

2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

3 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 tsp vanilla paste (available at Big Bend Market in Red Deer) IMG_0578

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 tsp cocoa chili blend

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp baking soda

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs and add rest of ingredients (MAKE SURE that butter is cooled otherwise you’ll have some egg chunks!!)  Once combined, let the batter rest in the bowl for about 5 minutes to kind of “firm up” then divide equally into 12 plops on the cookie sheet.   I baked for exactly 20 minutes and they came out perfect!

If you want to try making some seedy cookies for the little tweet tweets out there, method is the same, but here are the ingredients:

2 eggs

2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

3 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 tsp vanilla paste (available at Big Bend Market in Red Deer)

1 cup puffed quinoa IMG_0579

1/4 cup pepitas

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp baking soda

 

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For those of you who have haven’t discovered Thug Kitchen yet… get your ass over to this blog STAT.  WARNING though – if you are not a fan of swearing, then you will need to brace yourself, and by this I mean take an ativan or down a big glass of wine first.  Anyways, a friend sent it to me and I am totally in love with the recipes AS WELL as the hilarious instructions that go with the recipes.  Todd and I LOVE cilantro, so when I spied the recipe for Cilantro Pesto, I knew it would become a new fave in my kitchen.  I decided to pair it with chicken and stacked it up on some warm tortillas with a corn salsa fresca and some ripe avocado slices – super nom.  Bonus recipe: I had some of the pesto left over and also stuffed some pork loin chops with it the following night – delish!  Super easy to make , which means you need to make it NOW!

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Chicken Wraps with Cilantro Pesto

Chicken Ingredients:  IMG_0566

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp each cumin and chili powder

2 tbsp coconut oil

Cilantro Pesto Ingredients (adapted from Thug Kitchen)

1 cup baby spinach leaves

1 bunch cilantro & stems

1/4 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlicIMG_0565

2/3 cup slivered almonds

1 tsp lemon zest + juice of half lemon (or about 2 tbsp)

pinch of salt

Corn Salsa Fresca Ingredients:

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, chopped

1/3 cup corn kernels

1 tbsp finely chopped jalapeno

juice of half a lime (use the other half of the lime for the chicken)

pinch of salt

serve with: warm tortillas, ripe avocado, lime slices

Method:

Combine the spices for the chicken and set aside. Heat coconut oil over medium high heat in a large skillet.  Pat the chicken breasts with a paper towel and then rub in the spices.   Cook for about 8 mins per side, until cooked all the way through.  After flipping the chicken for the first time, I squeezed in the half lime I had left over from the salsa!  Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside, cover with foil.

While your chicken is cooking, make your pesto and your salsa!  Combine all of the pesto ingredients in your food processor and whir away until a smooth consistency is reached, then set aside.  For the corn salsa, simply combine the ingredients in a bowl and also set aside.  This is pretty easy hey?

Now that everything is ready, thinly slice the chicken breasts and warm the tortillas.  Assembly is simple from there; spread some pesto on the tortilla, add some chicken and top with avocado and the salsa.  Garnish with lime slices and finito!

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Happy Easter!  Hope everyone is having a great long weekend with their families and friends.  Last night I got together with some pals to celebrate a Ukrainian Easter – we had perogies, cabbage rolls and the traditional spiral ham.  That ham was huge and today I used some of the leftovers to create an easy ham and bean soup using stuff I had in cold storage and in the pantry.

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Ham, White Bean & Rosemary Soup

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil  IMG_0553

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

2 ribs celery, finely chopped + 1/4 cup celery leaves, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 cups chopped leftover spiral ham (or any leftover cooked ham will do!)

4 cups chicken broth

1 can white kidney beans, rinsed – reserve half cup! IMG_0554

salt & pepper

1 bay leaf

Method:

In a large stock pot, melt butter and olive oil over medium high heat.  Cook onions, garlic and rosemary sprigs until onion is translucent.   Add the celery, celery leaves, carrots and chopped ham and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the chicken stock and bay leaf and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, rinse the beans under cold water and remove half cup to a mixing bowl.  Mash the half cup of beans with a fork.  Once the soup is boiling, drop the heat to medium and whisk in the mashed beans.  Then you can dump in the rest of the beans.  Season with salt and pepper – be careful not to ad too much salt because the ham usually is already salty enough.  Cover and simmer over medium low heat for about 30 minutes.  I originally had planned to remove the rosemary sprig from the pot BUT I forgot and all of the “needles” fell off.  Anyways, they are a pretty edition to the soup, so no harm there.  IMG_0556

Serve with a nice dark rye bread and a pinch of parmesan cheese.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all you leprechauns out there!  Hope everyone gets to enjoy a green beer today.  Yesterday I ran in a little fun run 5 km race and the weather was a nightmare – it lasted till this morning too, so I took my 10 km run to the indoor track at the Collicutt Centre.  It was still snowing like a mofo when I got home and I decided I didn’t want to venture out on my usual Sunday grocery trip, so instead attacked the deep freeze and pantry!

Inspired by St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to put together a Steak and Vegetable Pie, using some sirloin steaks and puff pastry that were in my freezer.  I’ve seen a lot of versions of this dish to include Guinness, but I just didn’t have a can kicking around… so I made a much simpler version instead, using something probably everyone has in the fridge: ketchup.  It turned out great and is so easy!!  Takes about 2 hours to cook in total, so maybe it’s not something you could throw together at work – definitely a Sunday supper!!

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Steak and Vegetable Pie

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

2 slices smoky bacon, chopped into small pieces

1 lb sirloin steak, cubed small (1 cm)

1 medium onion, chopped IMG_0530

2 ribs celery, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup ketchup

1 cup beef broth

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 –  397 g pkg Tenderflake Puff Pastry

1 egg, beaten

salt, pepper, flour

Method:

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat and add bacon.  Cook until golden.  Meanwhile, cube the steak very small, about 1 cm pieces.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and lightly coat with flour.  Add the beef to the pot and brown over medium high heat, about five minutes.  Next add the onions, carrots and celery and stir, lifting the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

Next add the beef broth, ketchup, Worceshtershire sauce and bay leaf.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 45 minutes with a loose fitting lid.  Stir occasionally, to make sure things aren’t sticking to the bottom.  Take a taste at about 30 minutes and decide if you need to season more.  Preheat your oven to 400F and roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface (it comes in 2 squares – if you love pastry, roll out both squares, one for the bottom and one for the top – alternately, just roll out one half for the topper)  Coat a small baking dish (9×12″) with cooking spray and layer with one of the pastry sheets if you decided to do top and bottom pastry.

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Fill the dish with the beef mixture and top with a sheet of pastry  make sure to remove the bay leaf!!  Crimp the edges and cut a few slits in the top.  Brush the top with the beaten egg and chuck in the oven for 30 minutes.   When cooked, let the pie stand for 15 minutes before serving.

st pattys scurry

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One of the greatest compliments has to be when a kid says “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten” and proceeds to eat 3 huge bowls in one sitting!  I actually had not planned on blogging this recipe until I got that reaction, so I snapped some photos  post-meal.  This is a dinner that is ready in under an hour and you can easily sub in different ingredients depending on your kid’s favourite flavours!  Sometimes a bit of improv in the kitchen pays off in a big way!!

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Chicken Taco Pasta Bake

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

3 small chicken breasts, diced

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tsp onion powder

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

fresh ground pepper & sea salt to taste

1 small red bell pepper, diced

1 cup corn kernels, frozen or canned

1 can cheddar cheese soup

1/2 cup prepared salsa

1 1/2 cup Tex Mex shredded cheese

1 cup crushed tortilla chips

Garnish with: chopped cilantro, jalapeno and sour cream

2 cups uncooked bowtie pasta

Method: 

this is all that was left!!!

this is all that was left!!!

Preheat oven to 350degrees.  Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta to the perfect al dente.  Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high and brown chicken, about 5-6 minutes.  Add seasoning and cook for another minute.  Add the red pepper and corn, continue to until the pepper is tender.

Back in the pasta pot – add the can of soup and salsa and stir to combine.  By now the chicken/pepper mixture should be done – add to the pasta mixture.

Pour this goo into a 9×11 baking dish and top first with the crushed tortilla chips, followed by the cheese.  Bake for 20 mins and then broil for another 1-2 minutes to get bubbly.  Let sit for about 5 minutes and dinner is on!  Just like with tacos, dress with your favourite toppings and enjoy!!

"this is the best thing I've ever eaten!!"

“this is the best thing I’ve ever eaten!!”

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Today I got up early and made a batch of my yummy Banana Chocolate Chunk Quinoa cookies and a big batch of a seed filled granola that would make any bird’s feathers fly!  This granola is full of pepitas, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds and even tiny little poppy seeds!  I chucked in some shaved coconut and sliced almonds too, this is so good – sprinkle it into yogurt, top muffins with a sprinkle of it before baking, or add it to your oatmeal for a bit of crunch.  This was inspired by a recipe in the latest Bon Appetit magazine.

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“Seedy” Granola

Ingredients:

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup agave syrup

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

3 cups rolled oats

2 cups coconut shavings

1 cup each pepitas and sunflower seeds

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 tbsp each poppy seeds and  flax seeds

Method:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment and lightly coat with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, combine the egg with the syrup, coconut oil, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon.  IMG_0468

Add all of the other ingredients and stir to coat evenly.  Spread onto the cookie sheet and chuck into the oven.  Bake for about an hour or so, stirring every 15 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown (this doesn’t really happen till the last 20 minutes or so!)

When all nice and golden, let cool completely before storing in an airtight container – it will stay nice and fresh for a couple of weeks.

 

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