Monday, November 12, 2012

Best Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

I go through seasons of making certain things.

This soup is going to be my go-to soup for this winter.

Since I failed to make food for the company I had coming for Sunday lunch in advance, I ended up making this soup in the morning before church.

It came together so quickly.

A filling lunch, full of vegetables, thats tasty, and enough for a crowd equals a keeper for me.

Vegetable Beef Barley Soup 
(based on a recipe I saw on

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb ground meat (I used beef)
1 C finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
1 14 1/2 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
4 white potatoes, small dice
1 C chopped celery
1 C chopped carrot
1 chopped bell pepper
1/2 C barley
2 bay leaves
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
6 C beef broth
1 1/2 C frozen peas
1/4 C chopped parsley

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over med-high heat. Add beef, season with salt and pepper and cook until brown, stirring a few times.
Add onion and garlic, saute until tender.
Stir in tomatoes and all other ingredients except peas and parsley.
Simmer covered 20 minutes. Add peas and parsley.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Honey Butter Carrots

My friend, Rebecca, took this picture a few years back of the mantle at our beloved old cottage up north.

So many lovely evenings have been spent in that old place.

We just returned from our yearly Thanksgiving weekend when we close it up and say farewell for another season.

Fall is here and I always start to make these carrots again in the fall.

Carrots are a perfect fall food and this is the best way to eat them, in my opinion.

These carrots are simmered until sweet and soft in honey and butter.

A perfect side to our dinner, Chicken with Braised Cabbage and Fennel.

Honey Butter Carrots

5 C carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 C water
pinch salt

Place honey, butter, water and salt in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Add carrots.
Simmer 5 mins covered at medium heat.  Remove lid and simmer until liquid is almost all gone.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Spicy Shrimp with Rice and Peas

One of the few dinners I make over and over, this shrimp is so easy.

My mum and I found this recipe over the summer and loved it.

I have tried serving it with several sides but this brown rice pilaf is my favourite.

Spicy Shrimp with Lime and Parsley

  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (or 1 teaspoon paprika)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 lime

Combine salt, paprika, cumin, curry, cayenne, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Toss with shrimp.
Heat a large pan over med-high heat. Melt butter and add shrimp.
Cook until pink, 3-5 mins.
Squeeze  lime over shrimp and serve over rice.

Brown Rice Pilaf with Peas
(adapted from Everyday Food)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1tsp fennel seeds (I used Herbs de Provence)
1small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 C brown rice
1 3/4 C stock or water
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 C frozen peas, thawed
1/3 C chopped parsley

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan.
Add fennel seeds and cook 1 minute.  Add onion and cook until soft, 5 mins.
Stir in rice.
Pour in stock and soy.
Cook until rice is softened.   (30 mins or so.)
Remove from heat, add peas and parsley.
Stir and let stand 5 mins.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Our Favourite Taco Seasoning

Even though tacos are totally a staple here, they still seem like party food.

A few years ago, I started mixing my own taco seasoning.

I add it to lots of things like guacamole and Mexican-esque casseroles.

I've tried several different ones and this seems to be the favourite.

This recipe fills my small sized mason jar and lasts me several months.

Taco Seasoning
*I add around 2 Tbsp to about a pound of ground meat.

3 Tbsp chili powder
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp chili flakes
3/4 tsp dried oregano 
1 1/2 tsp paprika (I use smoked paprika)
1 heaping Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 Tbsp black pepper
1/2 Tbsp sugar (optional- We don't like it with sugar but feel free to add it if you do.)

Mix together all ingredients in a mason jar and shake until combined.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Key Lime Yogurt

I've been noticing tons of Greek Yogurt in the grocery stores lately.

When I was first married, I used to buy regular, plain yogurt, strain it through cheese cloth for a day to get the liquid out and then add a bit of sugar and some lime juice and zest. (Serve that on some grilled peach halves, it's amazing.)

I stopped doing that pretty soon after I started because it took up precious space in my fridge and took way too long for me.

Greek Yogurt is thick on its own and that's what I love about it.

I've started making my Key Lime Yogurt again since discovering Greek Yogurt.

It is so good as a dip for fruit, sprinkled with granola or on its own.

Here's how I do it.

Key Lime Yogurt
*I tell you to use sugar here but I've also done it sugar free and drizzled individual servings with a bit of honey. I love it that way too.

1 tub Greek Style, Plain yogurt (500g)
2-3 Tbsp sugar (*optional)
zest of a lime (about 1 Tbsp)
1-2 Tbsp lime juice

Open the yogurt container and mix all ingredients together in the tub.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Roast Beef

We had the privilege of spending the last week with our family in Michigan.

It was wonderful for many reasons and I loved every bit of it.

One of the things I most look forward to though, is working in the kitchen with my Mother-in-law.

As part of a luncheon after my brother-in-law's graduation, we made roast beef sandwiches with horseradish sauce.

They were delicious.

This is how to make the beef that we layered on those sandwiches.

I'm making up quite a bit of it and slicing it really thin to put in Jimmy's lunches next week.

Roast Beef

**Instead of just seasoning with salt and pepper, my Mother-in-law suggested I use 2 Tbsp of Paula Dean Seasoning.
Here is how to make it.  In a small bowl, combine 1/2 C salt, 2 Tbsp pepper and 2 Tbsp garlic powder.  Stir and store in a jar.

3 lb eye of round roast
Generously salt and pepper** (I used 2 Tbsp Paula Dean Seasoning which is 1/2 C salt

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Place roast in a baking dish or small roasting pan.
Put roast in the oven and close the door.
Reduce heat to 475 degrees and cook 21 mins or if your roast is a different size cook for 7 minutes per pound.
After your timer goes turn off the heat but don't open the oven door.
Leave the roast in for 2 1/2 hours. Don't peak.
Remove roast and slice thinly.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Vegetable Dip

My sister(I-L) Amy inspired me to eat more avocados after making this delicious meal for our family.

Since then this dip / dressing has been on basically everything.

It goes beautifully on a green salad with strawberries and chickpeas but my favourite way to eat it is on raw vegetables.

The avocados give the dip such a perfect thick consistency.

Tangy Avocado Dressing (or Dip)
(found over at apartment therapy's The Kitchn)

1 perfectly ripe Avocado
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion (I left this out)
2-3 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small garlic clove chopped
1 Tbsp fresh dill
1/2 tsp salt
dash of cayenne pepper

Place everything in a blender or food processor bowl and blend until smooth.  (or use an immersion blender)
Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more lemon if necessary to get it to the right consistency.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sweet Potato Chili and Buttermilk Cornbread

There are seasonally correct things to be doing right now on this late spring eve.

... hanging clothes on the line to dry
...watching the kids play in the yard 
...preparing and planting a garden
...fertilizing the lawn

Eating chili and cornbread for dinner, though not compellingly springlike, used up what I had in the fridge, was cheap and something everyone loved to gobble up.

That kind of dinner, friend, is always in season.

Sweet Potato Chili and Cornbread
(Spilling the Beans by Julie VanRosendaal and Sue Duncan)

Canola or Olive Oil
1 med onion, small dice
1 red pepper seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 med sweet potato, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch dice
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 19 oz can black beans (I used navy beans)
1 19 oz can red kidney beans
1 1/2 c chicken stock or 1 bottle of stout 
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder (optional)
1 Tbsp maple syrup or brown sugar
1 lime juiced
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt

In a large, heavy pot, heat oil over med-high heat.
Add red pepper and onion.   After about 5-8 minutes, add garlic.
Cook another minute.
Add sweet potato, tomatoes, beans, stock, chili powder, maple syrup, lime juice, cumin and salt.
Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Simmer chili at leas 30 mins.  Serve hot with cornbread.

Buttermilk Cornbread
1/2 cup canola or olive oil (I have used melted butter here too and it's great)
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 C yellow cornmeal
3/4 C whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 C AP flour
scant 1/3 C sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a 9 inch square baking dish.
In a large bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, and buttermilk.
Add cornmeal, flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Whisk well.
Pour into pan.
Bake for 20-30 mins or until golden and a tester comes  out clean.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Buttermilk Citrus Cake with Raspberries

I have posted a variation of this cake before.

But it's just so good, I find myself coming back to it again and again.

I love that there are so many things that you can do with a basic buttermilk cake.

In the past, I have topped it with apricots, peaches, blueberries and rhubarb.

Today I'm trying raspberries with lemon and lime zest sprinkled with turbinado sugar.

This cake takes almost no time to prepare and bake.

Would be perfect with a little whipped cream or frozen yogurt.

Buttermilk Citrus Cake with Raspberries
(Super Natural Food Everyday by Heidi Swanson)

2 1/2 C all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour (I used 1 1/2C All Purpose and 1C Spelt because I ran out of WWPF)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 C fine white sugar
pinch salt
1 1/2 C buttermilk
2 eggs
1/2 C butter, melted and cooled
1 lemon and 1 lime zested
1 C frozen raspberries
2 Tbsp course sugar (Turbinado)

Preheat oven to 400*.
Butter a 9 1/2 x 11 inch baking dish or 11 inch quiche dish.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
In small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together buttermilk, cooled butter, eggs and zest.
Gently combine wet ingredients into dry.

Pour batter into prepared pan spread to the edges.
Top with raspberries and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 20-25 minutes.  Be careful not to over-bake it.
*Start checking the centre of the cake with a toothpick at around 20 minutes to ensure it doesn't overcook.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wild Leek Stir-fry

A few years ago, my sister Julia moved to Bancroft and started telling me about wild leeks.

Wild leeks, though technically not poisonous when eaten raw, make you smell so bad that the stench actually comes through your pores.

Wild leeks cooked, on the other hand, are sweet and delicious; especially when stir fried with some peppers, ginger and chicken.

I didn't have a scrap of this left over, everyone devoured it!

Wild Leek Stir Fry with Peppers and Chicken
(adapted from Canadian Living Magazine; May 2009)
Serves 4

1/4 C sodium-reduced soy sauce
1 tbsp  cornstarch
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp grated gingerroot
1/4 tsp pepper
1 lb ground chicken
4 oz  wild leeks (about 30)
2 bell peppers, I used red and yellow, sliced into strips
2 Tbsp oil
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp (5 mL) sesame oil

In bowl, whisk together soy sauce, cornstarch, vinegar, garlic, ginger and pepper. Set aside.

Meanwhile, separate green and white parts of leeks; halve white parts lengthwise and cut leaves in half diagonally. Set green and white parts aside separately.

In large frying pan, heat oil over high heat; stir-fry chicken.  Sprinkle in some pepper flakes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Over high heat; stir-fry white parts of leeks and the peppers.  Return chicken and green parts of leeks to wok; stir-fry for 1 minute. Add sauce and a few Tbsp of  water or chicken stalk.
Stir until greens are limp.

Serve over rice with additional soy sauce if you want it.

"We love vile leaves." ~Jibs

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Wild Mushroom Toasts

We went to the market this morning.

When Clara was little we used to go almost every Saturday.

It was so good to go again.

Early on in the morning, we found a vendor selling a variety of wild Ontario Mushrooms.

They looked so good.

We bought quite a few different variety of mushrooms, including a very black smoky one, and brought them home.

So that we could really taste all the different flavours of the mushrooms, we kept it simple and made some sauteed mushrooms on toast.

I'm not sure, but I think this may be the best thing I have ever tasted.

Wild Mushroom Toasts
(Adapted from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver)
Serves 2

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
11 ounces wild mushrooms, a good variety if possible
2 cloves garlic, 1 peeled and halved, 1 minced
2 Tbsp fresh herbs, I used parsley, torn up or minced
salt and pepper
1 or more pinches red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp butter
1 lemon
slices of sour dough baguette

1.  Heat a very large, heavy frying pan over med-high heat.  Mushrooms should fit in a single layer so they brown.  As Julia Child says, "Don't crowd the mushrooms!"
Drizzle pan with a olive oil. Tear large mushrooms into bite size pieces, leave small ones whole.
Toss mushrooms into the pan and combine with the oil.  Add minced garlic and parsley. Toss the pan again.
Add a  pinch of salt and some pepper and the chili flakes.
Lower heat and fry for a few minutes.

2. Once the mushrooms brown, add butter and a  squeeze of lemon.  Not too much lemon, just enough to give the mushrooms some brightness.  Toss again.

3.  Toast  and butter the bread.  Then rub the bread with the inside of garlic halves.
Top with mushrooms.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Curried Lentil Burgers

These lentil burgers are Super!

I highly recommend you make them and then top them with thick yogurt and mango chutney.

Mango Slaw would be a wonderful side with these.

I served them with some roasted sweet potato because I ran out of the stuff to make Mango Slaw...If not, I would have definitely made it again!

Curried Lentil Burgers
(adapted from Moosewood)

1 C dried red lentils
2 C water
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 C chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 C celery, diced
1 C red pepper, diced
1 Tbsp grated gingeroot
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 ground cinnamon
2 C cooked rice (I used basmati)
3/4 C walnuts, peanuts or cashews, roasted and finely chopped
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 C parsley, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400*.

1. Rinse and drain the lentils. Put them in a small saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, add turmeric and 1/2 tsp salt. Cover, lower the heat to low and simmer 20 mins or until very soft. If there is liquid left, drain the lentils.

2. Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic in oil until soft, about 6 mins. Add celery and peppers, cook another 6-7 mins. Add a splash of water if it is sticking.
Add ginger, curry, cinnamon, the rest of the salt and cook another minute.
Remove from the heat and add cooked rice, lentils, lime juice, nuts, and parsley.

3. When mixture has cooled to handling temperature, form into patties (a heaping half cup each) and place on a well oiled baking tray.

4. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool slightly before handling.

**Top with thick, plain yogurt, lettuce and fruit chutney.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mango Slaw

When Clara was little we used to frequent this little Thai restaurant in our neighbourhood.

One of the things we ordered a over and over was their mango salad.

The restaurant has since closed but tonight I really felt like eating that mango salad.

This mango slaw is better than any I have eaten at a restaurant.

It has so much in each bite.

Sweet mango, spicy chili, tangy lime and crunchy cabbage.

I will be making this one a lot this summer!

Mango Slaw
*The recipe calls for shredded cabbage and carrot. I used 1 bag of PC coleslaw mix which has cabbage, carrot and broccoli.

1 ripe but slightly firm mango, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2- 2 C shredded cabbage
1 C shredded carrot
1/4 C thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
1/4 C lime juice, about 2 limes
2 Tbsp maple syrup or brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 pinch red pepper flakes or 1 minced chile
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated

In a large bowl toss together mint, carrot, cabbage and mango.

In a mason jar or small bowl, mix lime juice, maple syrup, salt, oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and ginger.

Toss together salad and dressing. Let stand 20 mins, if possible, so the flavours blend.

Thinking about Clara's many trips to the Thai restaurant, reminded me of this picture.
Jim's first solo trip with Jim and I to Starbucks.
He thought it was pretty great...and felt that at a place this fancy he should take off his rubber boots!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Vegetarian Night

When little Jimmy saw his plate tonight he said, "Where's the meat?!"

The boy loves meat.

Once I assured him that he'd eaten enough meat today already, he quickly forgot and totally enjoyed his dinner.

Tonight we ate two of my very favourite vegetarian dishes from Moosewod Cooking for Health.

The first is a curried millet that has lots of rich curry flavour, sweet raisins and parsley.

To go with it, some spiced kale with sweet potato also featuring curry but with a little more kick because of the chili flakes and garlic.

Both dishes are very filling and satisfying.

Curried Millet
(Moosewood Cooking for Health)

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp whole black mustard seeds (optional)
1/2 C minced yellow onion
3/4 C millet
1 1/2 tsp good curry powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 C vegetable stock
1/4 C chopped golden raisins
1/2 C minced parsley

1. In a saucepan over med-high heat warm the oil. Toss in the mustard seeds and cook 1-2 mins or until they pop. (Watch out you don't get a pop on the face.) Add onion, cook 3 mins. Add millet, cook 3 more minutes, stirring constantly. Add curry and salt. Cook a minute or until fragrant. Add stock, bring to a boil. Cover millet and cook 20 mins on low heat.

2. Stir in raisins and parsley. Fluff with a fork. Cover and let stand 10 mins.

Spiced Kale with Sweet Potaotes
(Moosewood Cooking for Health)

4 C sweet potato, peeled and diced (1/2 inch cubes)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp good curry powder
8 C kale, remove stalk and chop
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp vegetable stalk or water
1 Tbsp soy sauce
black pepper

1. Steam or boil sweet potatoes until tender. Set aside.

2. Warm oil in a large pot, add mustard seeds cook a minute or 2 until they start to pop. Add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add red pepper flakes, curry, salt and kale. Stir a few mintues.
Add stalk and soy. Cover and cook until kale is softened, a few minutes. Stir in some black pepper and serve.
(These two are pretty special.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bean Plants II

Our bean plants have done well and, on this sunny April day, we potted them.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Guacamole Salad with Josh

Since my very sweet friend gave me some of her genius salsa...for free!...

I went ahead and made Salsa Lime Chicken and Rice again.

Now, a couple observations I made over dinner.

a.) Salsa Lime Chicken and Rice tastes even better with Jan's Salsa!

b.) Nothing goes with SLCR quite as well as this quacamole salad!

c.) I love Josh and Amy like there's no tomorrow.

So, guacamole salad is everything you would mash into a regular quac.

There's avocado, tomato, lime, some peppers and beans for good measure, you just don't mash it.

The dressing is so simple.

It has loads of lime zest and juice, a bit of olive oil and some salt and cayenne.

Josh and Amy loved it.

See how nicely Josh cleaned his plate.

Guacamole Salad
(Ina Garten)

1 pint grape tomato, halved
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 can (19 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)
1 lime zested and juiced (about 1/4 C juice)
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 garlic clove, minced
dash cayenne
1/2 tsp pepper
2 avocados, peeled and diced

Place the tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, jalapeno peppers, and lime zest in a large bowl. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper and pour over the vegetables. Toss well.

Just before you're ready to serve the salad, fold the avocados into the salad. Check the seasoning and serve at room temperature.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sprouts II

Our lentils sprouted and we ate them today.

They were delicious with tuna on rye.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring is about to Sprout...

I am by no means a gardener, but I would love my kids to try and acquire a bit of a Green Thumb.

Today we started some bean plants and lentil sprouts using these video's instructions.

and this Usbourne book about the Seasons.

We are going to take pictures as the plants/sprouts grow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rich Chocolate Brownies with a Surprise

These are the best brownies I have ever had!

I think everyone has their own description of a perfect brownie.

Still, I think these brownies would make anyone happy.

Ok, confession...I have a new cookbook.

It's such a good one, too!

One of my favourite Canadian cooks, Julie Van Rosendaal has just put out a new book called, Spilling the Beans.

These brownies were in the dessert section.

Yep, they're black bean brownies.

You won't know those beans are even in there!

Truly, you wont.

Black Bean Brownies
(Spilling the Beans by Julie Van Rosendaal)

1 C rinsed and drained black beans
1/2 C butter
2 oz good dark chocolate
1/3 C flour
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
3/4 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 C chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*.

Spread the rinsed beans on a paper towel and blot dry. Reserve on the towel until you need them.
In a double boiler (or in the microwave) melt the chocolate and butter together. Don't burn it.
Whisk to combine and cool a few minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour and salt together. Set aside.

Place beans and cooled chocolate mixture in a food processor, process until very smooth. Scraping down the bowl a few times.
Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Process again.

Fold gently into the flour mixture, leaving streaks of flour still visible.
Add chocolate chips and fold again.

Pour batter into an 8 inch square pan that has been greased.

Bake 25-28 minutes.
Cool and cut.
Store in the fridge to maintain the dense texture and leave out for softer brownies.