Mediterranean Dip

Mediterranean Dip

This dip is easy to put together and is packed with fresh Mediterranean flavours — it’s nice to have in the afternoon on the deck, or if you have some friends drop over.  As ‘entertaining’ season begins (at least for me, being at the lake), it’s nice to have some easy appetizer ideas.  As usual, you can modify this to your taste. Continue reading

Lemon Ricotta Cake – gluten-free

Lemon-ricotta cake – gluten-free

This is a delicious and simple cake that translates perfectly into a gluten-free recipe.  The original recipe, which is so great, is here: Louisa’s Cake – however,  if you are looking for a moist and delicious gluten-free cake,  give this a try.  It is surprisingly moist and lemony – hard to believe it is gluten-free. Continue reading

Valentine’s Day Beet Salad

Beet Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette

That’s right. I said salad.  No truffles, cupcakes, chocolates, cookies, mousses or cakes.  Salad. It’s February and I know for me, it’s my natural instinct to commit “carbicide” — I want to make a cake and some peanut butter cups and cookies and stuff them into my face. But I’m going to be controlled and dedicated to eating healthily. Seriously, the party’s over. I’ve been on a binge ever since the beginning of December and now my pants are getting tight and my boobs are looking huge and I’ve got to take control. So. Here’s your Valentine Guilt-free Salad. It’s delicious anyway and it looks cute. Continue reading

Almond Thumbprint Snack Cookies

Healthy Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookie

Use your favourite jam

 

When you’re feeling like eating some baking, but you really shouldn’t go too crazy, as in, you want to justify eating cookies because they are made with healthy ingredients — or you are looking for a nice snack cookie – these fit the bill perfectly.  I really like these because they taste like an excellent treat, but all the ingredients are essentially healthy. I made them with mostly organic ingredients as well, so all the better. You can customize them by adding your favourite jam for the centers. I have used raspberry here and they are so good.  I still ate 4 or 5 of them, but oh well, I threw caution to the wind. So sue me.

I imagine they would suffice for a breakfast on the run as well.  Super easy and they freeze well.

Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies

inspired by The Nourishing Gourmet

Makes about 24-30 cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups whole or sliced almonds, ground coarsely in processor

3 cups oatmeal, ground finely in processor

1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup maple syrup

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

Directions:

Heat oven to 350F.  Prepare baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.

Grind almonds coarsely in a food processor  by using the ‘pulse’ button. You don’t want them too fine, you still want to see little chunks of them.  Remove from processor and place in large bowl.

Process oatmeal the same way, except you want it to be quite fine, so push the ‘run’ button for 10-20 seconds.

Mix all ingredients together in the bowl.  Form into 1 1/2 tablespoon size clumps. (a small cookie dough scoop works well for this).  Place on cookie sheet about an inch apart and bake for 9 minutes. Remove from oven to indent your cookies with your finger or a cylindrical spoon handle. Return to oven and bake for another 8-9 minutes until starting to brown on the edges. Using a tiny spoon, fill indents with your favourite jam. Cool. Enjoy.

Grind up your oatmeal in processor

After baking 9 minutes, remove from oven and make your indents. Return to oven.

When fully baked, add a dollop of your favourite jam

A delightful snack with a cup of tea

Delightful and healthy

 

 

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

As the frosty days of January settle in, it’s such a comfort to have some warm and soothing soup. I made a batch of this squash soup and enjoyed it so much.  I’m sure it tastes better the second day too.  This is an easy recipe and the addition of a bit of orange or apple juice and a grated apple at the end just balance it out perfectly. I added 2 tsp of curry powder when I cooked the onions…for those of you who know me, you know I love me some curry. If you love it,  add the curry too…but this soup stands up beautifully on it’s own as well. Here’s to keeping cozy.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Makes about 9 cups

1  2lb (approx) butternut squash diced (about 5 cups)

1/4 cup butter

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

5 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2-3 tbsp orange juice or apple cider

1 large apple, grated

Directions:

In large saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and cook until softened, about 7-8 minutes. Add garlic and ginger, stir and cook 2 minutes. Add squash and stock. (enough to cover).  Increase heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 minutes.

Using handheld blender, puree soup.  Add orange juice or apple cider, and grated apple. Taste and adjust seasoning – salt/pepper.

*this soup is also excellent with the addition of curry powder. Stir 2 tsp. in after adding garlic and ginger.

Saute onions, garlic, ginger - add squash and stock.

When squash is tender, puree soup with a handheld blender

Add orange juice or cider and grated apple. I like to use granny smith's.

So delicious and easy. And you can see me in the spoon. 😉

Deep Dish Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Deep Dish Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

the insides....yum

These are fun to make – everyone loves these, and they taste so much better than the ones you buy – a real treat.  I would use a milk chocolate or if you want it darker than that – maybe a chocolate around 55-60% at the most. Give them a try — easy, but there are a few steps involved.

Deep Dish Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

from Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen

makes 8  large treats

8 muffin liners

8 ounces of milk or dark chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup cream cheese

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp pure vanilla

1/2 tsp grated fresh nutmeg

Directions:

Place muffin liners in muffin tin. (this recipe uses regular sized muffin liners).

In a heatproof bowl over a pot with about an inch of boiling water, place chopped chocolate, stirring occasionally until fully melted. Turn off heat.  Using a small pastry brush, and holding the muffin liner steady, paint the bottom and about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the liner with chocolate.  Place pan in refrigerator until chocolate has hardened.

Place peanut butter and cream cheese in processor and process until smooth. Scrape down sides and add honey, vanilla and grated nutmeg. Remove chocolate cups from fridge and place 2 to 3 tablespoons of peanut butter filling into each cup.  Smooth top of filling to make level. Place back in fridge to firm up, abotu 15 minutes.

Reheat your leftover chocolate over hot water until melted again. Spoon chocolate over top of your chilled peanut butter filling, sealing the edges.  Refrigerate again until firm. To serve, peel off liners. Enjoy. Keep refrigerated, but they taste best if you let them warm up a bit (10 minutes or so) before serving.

melt chocolate in heatproof bowl over an inch of simmering water

Mix up peanut butter filling with cream cheese in processor. Add other ingredients.

paint insides of muffin liners with chocolate, about 2/3 of the way up the sides. Let harden.

place filling into cups, leveling it. Place back in fridge to firm up.

Spoon remaining chocolate over filling to seal edges. Back in the fridge to harden.

Yum

Santa likes these.

Slow-Cooker Beef Pot Roast

Slow-cooked pot roast, pureed cauliflower, gravy, green salad, beet horseradish

This is a great time of year to pull out the slow-cooker and figure out how to cook with it.  I use it as often as possible because it means I’ve dealt with my dinner-making obligation early in the day and I can move on to other fun stuff – like baking and eating baking.  Besides that, everyone should know how to make a pot roast, it’s a Canadian staple dinner.

Anyhow, I bought a grass-fed beef sirloin tip roast – it works well for pot roast — or use a blade or other tough chunk of beef. We’ll be cooking it low and slow so all those fibrous strands of meat will break down in the process, all the while providing some great flavour.  I chose ‘grass-fed’ because that is what cows are supposed to eat naturally and I believe that it is way, way more healthy to eat this kind of beef.

You will need to make a flavour base to cook this in. Follow along with what I’ve used, but please feel free to stray from this guideline and use what you like and/or have on hand.

Slow-Cooker Pot Roast

serves 6

2-3 lb beef roast (blade, sirloin tip)

2 medium onions, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 cup beef broth

1/2 cup red wine (I used shiraz – use a good wine)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (use any kind)

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp tamari or soya sauce

2 tsp ground ginger

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 tbsp chili garlic sauce

1/2 cup salsa

1/2 cup bbq sauce

ground black pepper

to thicken gravy:

1/2 cup water mixed with 2 tbsp cornstarch

Directions:

Turn slow-cooker on to high.  Spread diced onions along bottom of cooker.   Unwrap and wipe off roast. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In skillet, heat 1 tbsp butter until melted over med-high heat. Brown roast on all sides.  Place browned roast on top of onions.

In separate medium-sized saucepan, put in the rest of the ingredients (except water and cornstarch).  Bring to a boil and stir. Pour mixture over beef roast in slow-cooker. Cover and cook for 6-7 hours on low, or 4 hours on high.  When roast is tender (can pull apart with a fork), remove from liquid to a plate and tent with foil. Mix up water/cornstarch mixture and stir into liquid in slow cooker (on high). (If there is alot of fat on top of liquid, remove as much as possible before doing this). When thickened, pour into a gravy boat. Slice meat. Serve with horseradish (or beet horseradish – even better)…boiled or mashed  potatoes and carrots – or for a healthier, lower carb option – pureed cooked cauliflower and a green salad. Cheers.

Brown roast over medium-high heat

Brown roast on all sides

Mix all ingredients (except water/cornstarch) in medium saucepan.

pour mixture over roast in slow-cooker

Add cornstarch/water mixture to liquid in slow-cooker to thicken

Slice roast, serve with gravy