Slow Cooker Risotto-Stuffed Peppers

I love stuffed peppers…so when I saw a recipe using aborio rice, I thought I’d try it.  That’s the same rice you would use to make risotto, so it’s a rounder grain, it produces a creamier finished product, and I found the entire stuffed pepper held together really well when you sliced the pepper in halves or quarters.  Recipes for stuffed peppers are a dime a dozen, and  I’ve adapted this version from the current (Aug/Sept 2011) edition of Cook’s Country magazine. There is no meat in my version, but you could easily reduce the rice and add in some sauteed ground beef, chicken or sausage.  Also, you could bake these in the oven, but it’s nice and easy to throw in the slow-cooker and walk away for a few hours. Continue reading

Middle Eastern Spiced Kebabs with Raita

Indian Spiced Kebabs

If you enjoy the exotic flavours of Middle Eastern foods, you will love these kebabs. They are as easy as mixing up a batch of burgers, but the flavour is so awesome — you might forget about standard burgers altogether.

You can adjust the heat in these depending on how spicy you enjoy your food– add more cayenne as necessary. The cucumber raita cools things down and compliments the flavour of these kebabs perfectly. I make them in a log shape–kebabs without the sticks– about 5 inches long by 2 inches wide.   They are also great in a burger shape, served on a bun with raita, lettuce and tomato. Once you make them, you will be asked to make them again. Use a good quality ground beef. I buy pasture-raised, grass-fed beef and it does taste alot better. { Investigate your local farmer’s market to find organic beef and many other wholesome products.}

*once you have mixed up your mixture and shaped them into logs- they freeze perfectly too.

Middle Eastern Spiced Kebabs

makes 8 (4 oz) kebabs, or 4 (8 oz) burgers

2 lb ground beef

1 medium onion, grated

2 tbsp grated fresh ginger

4 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 tsp  ground cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp garam masala (spice mixture available at asian / indian markets)

2 egg yolks

1 tsp salt

a handful of fresh coriander, chopped finely (if you have it)

Mix up ingredients. Shape into logs or patties. Cover and refrigerate, let the flavours meld for at least 1/2 an hour.  Heat bbq up to medium (about 325-350F). Cook directly on the grill, turning frequently, until cooked through and kebabs have reached an inner temp of 170F. Serve with raita. (see recipe below)

meat mixture with all ingredients

kebabs shaped into 5 inch logs

grill kebabs

Cucumber Raita

1 cup plain yogurt

1/3 cup grated (and squeezed out on a paper towel) cucumber

1/2 tsp cumin

Mix ingredients. Serve with kebabs.

raita mixture

kebab with raita and salad – a healthy lunch or dinner

Tandoori Chicken

tandoori chicken

This is a great recipe for this time of year–bbq season– but also very good in the oven – and you will want to make this all year long. It’s got great concentrated flavour, and all you have to do is put together a super-easy,  yogurt-based marinade, score your chicken, let it marinate and then bbq or bake it.  The yogurt base tenderizes your chicken and the Middle Eastern spices make it aromatic and exotic tasting.  Make sure your spices are fresh –  it makes all the difference. You will be making this again and again, so you might as well get some fresh spices.  I like to serve some cucumber raita alongside. (recipe below). You can use any type of chicken pieces you like. I usually use bone-in chicken breast, skinned and cut in two.  You can marinate a big batch of chicken and put half in the freezer — it’s perfect for that. This recipe makes enough marinade for about 5-6 pounds (3 kg) of chicken. It will be a family favourite. Great the next day for lunch on a salad or with rice. TRY!

Tandoori  Chicken Marinade

1 medium onion, grated (or minced in processer)

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp minced  fresh ginger

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander seed

1/2 tsp tumeric (for colour, if you don’t have any, don’t worry about it)

¼ tsp cayenne (more if you like it hot)

1 tsp salt

1 cup plain yogurt

Juice of ½ lemon

[1-3 kgs of chicken pieces]

[½ cup melted butter for basting at the end.]

Mix up ingredients except chicken and  melted butter–feel free to throw it all in the processor or grate and chop and mix by hand.  Remove skin from chicken, and score deeply. Massage marinade into chicken. Best if meat is marinated for 24 hours. (minimum 6 hours)

*divide remaining marinade into freezer containers (1/2 cup each approx) and freeze. You can marinate the chicken and freeze it too -it works out perfectly.  Defrost and use when needed.

Cooking Instructions

If using BBQ

Turn one side of bbq on med-high. Put chicken in a  foil pan. Place it on upper level on side of bbq that is unlit, to create a ‘convect’ affect. Cook until internal temp of 165 F., approx. 30-40 minutes. Remove chicken from pan with tongs and place on direct heat of grill. Baste with butter , turning until nicely charred. Serve with Cucumber Raita.

If using Conventional Oven

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place chicken in roasting pan. Cook until internal temp of 165F. Melt butter. Baste chicken with butter. Turn on broiler, and place chicken under broiler until browned and glistening. Baste again before serving. Serve with Cucumber raita.

mixing up the marinade ingredients

use a cleaver to chop breast in half, then score the meat about 1/2 inch deep

massage marinade into the crevices, and let sit in the fridge to marinate

after baking on top shelf, place on grill, baste with butter until charred nicely

delicious with a salad ( healthy and low fat, low carb)

Cucumber Raita

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup grated cucumber

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (optional)

Grate cucumber and squeeze out liquid with paper towel. Mix into yogurt with cumin and salt.  If you have some  fresh coriander (cilantro) around, add that in too.  Serve with chicken.

Miso-Glazed Pork Kebabs – great for BBQ

miso glazed pork kebabs

I noticed this recipe in the June 2011 issue of Chatelaine magazine and realized it would be the perfect recipe to finally use ‘miso’. I had never used it before but was eager to find out how to use it and how it tasted. I’m glad I did – this marinade is a perfect introduction to using it. I bought the ‘white’ miso at the health food store – it was in the cooler area where yogurt and that sort of thing was located. You can probably find it at an Asian grocery store as well. Give it a try, if you enjoy Japanese flavours, you’ll really enjoy these – easy, with great flavour and a minimum of ingredients – my favourite way to cook. Give it a whirl.

Miso Glazed Pork Kebabs

slightly adapted from Chatelaine magazine

2 tbsp miso paste

2 tbsp dry sherry

2 tbsp maple syrup or honey

1 tsp freshly grated ginger (or more if you love ginger)

1 tsp olive oil

1 lb (500 g) pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 yellow, orange or red pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks

1 onion, cut into 1 inch chunks

Whisk together miso, sherry, maple syrup, ginger and oil in bowl.  Add pork tenderloin chunks to marinade and let stand for 15 minutes. If using wooden skewers, soak  skewers in water at least 20 minutes to prevent burning.   Preheat bbq to med-high. Thread pork, onions and peppers onto skewers.  Brush skewers with remaining marinade.  Oil grill, and bbq skewers, turning every few minutes, until pork is cooked through– about 10 minutes.  Delicious!

white miso paste

mix up marinade ingredients

prep your ingredients, can do ahead of time

thread your skewers, some plain for PICKY people

with a salad, a perfect dinner

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.

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