Roasted Asparagus: the best way to enjoy it!

roasted asparagus as a side dish to a summer bbq meal

If you don’t roast your asparagus, you really must start. I have converted asparagus haters by roasting it. It’s easy and so good, I can’t imagine going back to steaming it.  I’m not going to say much more about it, just follow along and make it– you will love it.

Roasted Asparagus

1 lb asparagus

2 tsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper

zest of one  lemon

Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash asparagus and snap off the ends. If the stalks are thick, give them a quick peel. (This makes them nice and tender).  Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil.  Use your hands to roll it back and forth to make sure they are coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and grate lemon zest over top. Place in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, until tender. Enjoy!!

* can be done on the bbq in an aluminum pan, high heat, upper shelf with opposite side burners on, (one side lit only). Close cover while cooking.

* also tastes great with parmesan cheese and if you have any leftovers, throw them in your salad the next day.

purple asparagus, who knew?

peeled asparagus

add some grated lemon zest

ready for the oven or bbq

Yum!

Healthy Salad with Creamy Japanese Dressing

Notice how I titled it, “Healthy” salad? I did so because there are so many salads that are extremely fattening and high in carbohydrates –but this one really is very healthy with steamed veggies, sauteed peppers,  feta, and toasted almonds. You can add whatever you like — bean sprouts and some red onion would be nice – some roasted red peppers would add great flavour and perk up the colour as well. I put this together with what I had on hand, and so should you. The creamy Japanese dressing ties this salad in nicely with the previous post, “Ginger Soya Glazed Salmon Skewers”.

Vegetable salad with Creamy Japanese Dressing

 

Healthy Vegetable Salad

1 head boston lettuce

2 cups baby spinach

2 cups broccoli, cooked until tendercrisp

2 cups cauliflower, cooked until tendercrisp

1/2 yellow or red pepper, sliced

1/4 cup feta cheese, diced

2 Tbsp toasted sliced almonds

1/2 cup Creamy Japanese Dressing (see recipe below)

Cook broccoli and cauliflower in boiling water until tendercrisp, about 5 minutes. Immerse in a bowl of ice water. Cool, drain.  Saute pepper strips for 2-3 minutes in a tsp of butter or oil.  Remove from heat. Toss lettuce in a bowl with dressing. Place on platter. Surround lettuce with cauliflower, broccoli and sauteed peppers. Sprinkle feta and toasted almonds on top. Drizzle a little more dressing on vegetables.

Creamy Japanese dressing, vegetables and salad

Creamy Japanese Dressing

adapted from Chatelaine magazine

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 Tbsp ketchup

2 Tbsp mayonaisse

2 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

1/2 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously.  Serve over salad greens. Refrigerate remainder. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Ginger-Soya Salmon Skewers

ginger soya salmon skewers with salad

This is a great way to make salmon now that we have our bbq’s fired up for the season. Make sure your grill is well greased — fish notoriously sticks and can turn into a mess. This marinade works well with salmon filets as well and you can cook them up in the oven (400F for 10-15 mins) all through the year. The marinade is super easy and can be made up ahead of time, then throw it on your fish to marinate an hour before cooking. The skewers cook up really quickly and served with a salad makes a healthy and satisfying dinner.  This recipe is delicious enough to serve to company and makes a great addition to your dinner repetoire.

* I served this with a big salad made with a variety of vegetables and a Creamy Japanese Dressing to tie the flavours together. Recipe to follow.

Salmon Skewers

1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon filet, sliced into  1/4 inch thick strips (against the grain)

1 Tbsp sesame seeds

8 wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 15 minutes

Ginger-Soya Marinade

adapted from The Gourmet Prescription

3 Tbsp soya sauce or tamari (check label to verify gluten free if necessary)

1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

Mix all ingredients. Place salmon strips in a non-reactive container and pour marinade over. Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Skewer salmon strips by weaving onto wooden skewers, about 2 strips per skewer.

Transfer marinade to a small saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes.

Spray grill with Pam.  Heat BBQ to 400 F.   Place skewers on grill and cook for 3-4 minutes. Turn carefully. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cook for another minutes. Remove from grill.  Serve with heated marinade.

Everyone can spoon a tablespoon or so of the marinade over their salmon skewers.

skewers on the grill, sprinkled with sesame seedssalmon skewers with healthy salad with creamy japanese dressing

 

skewers on the grill, sprinkled with sesame seeds

salmon skewers with healthy salad with creamy japanese dressing

BBQ Beer-Can Chicken with Broasted Shallot Potatoes

beer can chicken and broasted potatoes

If you haven’t made a beer-can chicken yet, you might as well start. The result is a moist, delicious roast chicken — and it’s practically effortless. Plus, who doesn’t love roast chicken?  You can purchase your  beer-can chicken holder at a hardware store– they are widely available…or simply stick your chicken on a beer can and place on an aluminum pie plate.  The key is to have a great tasting “rub” to slather on your chicken, and to use your BBQ as a convection oven. Easy. Delish. Do it.

Beer Can Chicken

1 chicken

1 330ml can of beer

beer-can chicken holder or aluminum pie plate

3 Tbsp chicken rub (see recipe below)

2 Tbsp olive oil

Rub for Chicken

adapted from Anna Olsen,  foodnetwork.ca

2 Tbsp cumin seed

2 Tbsp coriander seed

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp ground oregano

1 Tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika

1 Tbsp smoked Spanish paprika

2 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp fresh ground pepper

Turn  LEFT  side of BBQ on high. Remove upper shelf if you have one. Close lid and let heat up to 400 F.

Meanwhile, make rub. Dry roast cumin and coriander seeds in frying pan on medium heat until they begin to smell aromatic. Remove from heat and grind in a coffee grinder or use a mortar and pestle. (You can use ground cumin and coriander instead, if you want to skip this step — the roasting of the seeds gives it more intense flavour).  Mix all spices together. Place about 3 Tbsp. of the mixture in a medium sized bowl with 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil and stir.  Place your chicken in the bowl, and using your hands, slather the rub all over your chicken, being sure to get it in to all the crevices. Pour half of the beer out of the can. Place beer can into holder and slide chicken over.

*Save the rest of your leftover rub for the next time

place beer in holder

chicken on holder with rub slathered on

chicken on bbq, left side on, right side off

Place chicken and  holder onto the RIGHT side of your BBQ, breast facing the heat on left side. Close lid. Check chicken every 20 minutes or so, rotating each time. Maintain BBQ temp at approx 350-400F.  Once drippings begin to accumulate in the bottom of the holder, start to baste the chicken each time you check it. When the chicken reaches and internal temp of 165 F, remove from heat and let stand for at least 10 minutes before carving. Devour.

Broasted Shallot Potatoes

Slice up some potatoes, slice up some shallots (or onions). Place potatoes on squares of foil.  Fit shallots in between slices of potatoes. Top with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Wrap up foil packets securely, and place on the bbq beside your chicken. Cook until fork tender, approx 40 minutes or so.

potatoes with shallots, olive oil, salt and pepper

Pecan-Almond Granola

pecan almond granola

This granola is a staple in our house. I suppose that’s primarily because it’s so easy to make, but I also like knowing exactly what’s in my granola, and you cannot compare the cost to store-bought. The price of cereal, particularly a high-quality granola is one of the things that really bugs me! Sooo, I make this all the time. It’s also great if you have kids away at school – it mails perfectly in a ziploc bag, tucked into a parcel or a bubble envelope for that matter.  Give it a try – so tasty and easy. I eat about 1/4 of a cup of it with soy milk as part of my breakfast, or as a bedtime snack. LOVE IT.

Pecan Almond Granola

adapted from Cuisine at Home

3 cups large flake oats (preferably organic)

1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup water

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 300 F.  Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together oats, pecans, almonds, salt and cinnamon.

mix dry ingredients

In a small pot, heat water and brown sugar until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add vegetable oil, vanilla and almond extract.  Pour over oat mixture.

pour sugar mixture over and toss

Toss. Spread onto baking sheet. Put in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, stir around and spread out again. Put back in for another 5 minutes.

spread onto baking sheet

Take out of the oven, and let it dry out uncovered for 1/2 hour or so. Place into an airtight container. Try it with milk, yogurt, kefir, or simply on it’s own. Enjoy!

Hearty Spring Salad

Hearty Spring Salad

I like this salad for dinner with some grilled fish or chicken. It’s extra filling because of the roasted asparagus and avocado. Putting it on a platter instead of a bowl is a nice way to present it. Toss your greens with dressing before putting on the platter, add your extras, then drizzle a little more dressing on top. The skies the limit here, it IS a salad after all.

Hearty Spring Salad

serves 4-5 as a main course with lean protein

5 cups mixed greens

1 pound roasted asparagus

1 avocado, sliced

2 tangerines, sectioned

3/4 cup grapes, sliced

1/2 cup shaved fresh parmesan

1/3 cup old-fashioned dressing (see recipe below)

Wash and dry mixed greens. Place in bowl. Prepare remaining ingredients. When ready to assemble, toss salad greens with salad dressing. Place on platter. Top with remaining ingredients as seen in photo. Drizzle with a tablespoon or more of dressing. Serve. Enjoy. 🙂

roasted asparagus

To roast asparagus:Preheat oven or bbq to 400.  Snap off ends. If asparagus is thick, peel stalks.  Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 8-10 minutes until tender. Cut into smaller pieces and add to salad.

Old-Fashioned Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp mayonaisse

Mix all ingredients together in jar and shake vigorously. Refrigerate remaining dressing.

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins (with mini peanut butter cups)

peanut banana muffins

Peanut butter and banana is a classic combination, so I thought I’d try it in the form of a muffin. This creation is inspired by Grandma Harper’s much loved Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe, a well-worn recipe card in our house.  I had a bag of PC mini peanut butter cups, so I used those instead of chocolate chips, added peanut butter into the batter and topped the muffins with chopped peanuts. What can I say?  I love peanuts and peanut butter. The result is a  perfectly delicious muffin, fluffy and tender– I only wish I’d thought of it sooner.

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

makes 12 regular sized muffins

1  1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3)

4 Tbsp vegetable oil or melted butter

4 Tbsp peanut butter (use whatever you have on hand, I used a pure peanut butter, no additives)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup PC mini peanut butter cups (or any other kind of chocolate chip if unavailable)

1/4 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin tin with baking cups or grease well. Place muffin tin on baking sheet.

Beat together first six ingredients. (banana, oil, peanut butter, egg, vanilla and sugar).  In separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to banana mixture, stirring and folding gently until just combined.  Fold in mini peanut butter cups.  Divide batter equally among muffin cups, then sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if using.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until tester comes out clean. Let cool. Enjoy!

mix first 6 ingredients together

In separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to banana mixture, stirring and folding gently until just combined.  Fold in mini peanut butter cups.

fold in mini peanut butter cups

Divide batter equally among muffin cups, then sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if using.

divide batter evenly

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until tester comes out clean. Let cool. Enjoy!

*These freeze perfectly.