Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Strawberry Soup

Fresh berries are amongst my favourite foods and we take advantage of the yummy local berries every year by going strawberry picking. I typically pick enough to make mountains of jam, but opted not to make any this year, given that I've got an 8 week old and a stash of jam still in the freezer from last year.

But I couldn't skip the strawberry picking all together though this year. They're so much tastier (and cheaper!!) when you pick them yourselves. We always go to the Fraiserie de la Veille Grange, but somehow this year ended up at Fraiserie Gravel instead. The pickings were a bit slim this year and I gave up after 3/4 of a basket, as Logan started screeching every time I bent down to pick more. So we ended up with 2 baskets instead of the 4 I had hoped for. But good thing, as they quickly bordered going off, since we left them in the car all afternoon while picking a vanity and ceramic for the bathroom we're renovating. Not too smart, which we knew at the time...

So we've been eating mass quantities of strawberries for the past few days (yum!) and I've been hunting down new recipes to make with them. When we were on a Carnaval cruise to the Caribbean with my sister and husband awhile back, we were served all sorts of delicious fruit soups as appetizers. They all tasted like cream and were delicious (though I'm sure, not overly healthy!). So I searched out a similar recipe to make with my strawberries. I chose a recipe off of Allrecipes that used yogurt instead of cream, to make it healthier. I used Liberty plain yogurt, as it's nice and thick and omitted the cardamom, as I didn't have any. I would cut back a bit on the amount of sugar next time, as I don't feel it needed to be quite so sweet (you could always start with 1/4 C and add more in, as necessary). I served this as the start to a meal, as had been done in the Caribbean, but next time, I think I would perhaps serve it as a dessert instead.

4 C strawberries
2 C plain yogurt
1/2 C orange juice
1/2 C white sugar
1/2 C water
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom

1. In a blender, combine the strawberries, yogurt, orange juice, sugar, water and cardamom. Puree until well mixed. Chill and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pork Tenderloin

I had been looking for a simple but tasty recipe to make for dinner for this weekend, as my family was back up again and I don't have a ton of time on my hands these days to be making complicated meals. Brandi had made this for me a few weeks back and it was really good, so I begged her to pass on the recipe ;) And got lots of compliments on it yesterday. Brandi barbecues the whole tenderloin and then heats it up for quick meals during the week with her boys. I made a quick tomato-fresh mozzarella salad and sweet potato fries to go with it, for a super quick meal.

1 pork tenderloin
1/4 C soy sauce
1/2 C water
1/4 C honey
2 tbsp. wine vinegar
1 tbsp. garlic
pinch grated fresh ginger

Marinate for a few hours and then barbecue whole tenderloin for 10-15 minutes per side.

Freezer-friendly once cooked. Undercook slightly so that it won't be too cooked when reheated.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mars Bars Squares

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking for a quick dessert to make for when my family came down to visit. My grandmother used to make this 'gourmet' twist on classic rice krispie bars for us as kids. It turns out that both my dad and my uncle, who were down with my grandmother for a visit, were a bit miffed that she had never made this for them as kids. They really only take about 2 minutes to make (and maybe less than that for them all to disappear off of the plate!).

4 Mars bars (I used dark chocolate Mars bars)
2 tbsp. butter
2 C rice krispies

8-inch square pan. Refrigerate.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies

I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago when I was invited to spend some time with Cynthia and her kids. Cynthia can't eat dairy, so I dug through my recipes to find a treat that I could bring over for the kids that she could also eat. The recipe below calls for shortening. I would normally replace it with butter, but by using shortening instead, Cynthia was also able to enjoy a couple of cookies after lunch. This recipe has quite a bit of sugar, which could probably be cut down. I didn't want to try it when taking it to a friend's house though, just in case ;)

3/4 C shortening
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C white sugar
1 egg
1/4 C water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 C raisins
1 C quick-cooking oats

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

2. Mix shortening, sugars, egg, water and vanilla.

3. Stir in remaining ingredients.

4. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonful onto baking sheet.

5. Bake 12-15 minutes. Immediately remove from baking sheet.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chia Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Heather first introduced me to chia seed, which is considered to be one of those really healthy 'super foods'. Yes, this is essentially the seed used for chia pets. But it happens to also be a great addition to various meals. I don't find that it has a lot of flavour in and of itself, but it adds a bit of crunch to meals. Chia is very high in omega-3s and also happens to be gluten-free. It is an antioxidant and is high in both protein and fiber.

Chia can be added to all sorts of different foods - sprinkled into pancake or muffin batter, burger patties, onto salads, etc. Unlike flax seed, it doesn't need to be ground to derive its nutritional benefits. And I don't bother grinding it in the following recipe, even though it's recommended. You can find chia at your local health food store. The brand Salba is carried at our local health food store, the Health Tree. However, it is rather expensive. Another brand (the name of which is escaping me at the moment) can be found at Costco for a more reasonable price.

Chia Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

4 bananas
2 eggs
1/2 C maple syrup
1/2 C milk
6 tbsp. butter, melted (or coconut butter)
2/3 C ground chia seeds
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 3/4 C whole-wheat flour or brown rice flour
2/3 C chocolate chips (to avoid dairy, use dairy-free chocolate chips) 

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Farenheit.

2. In bowl, beat egg. Add other wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir well. 


3. In second bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir well. (I ran out of ground chia, so I finished it off with some regular chia).


4. Grease muffin tins with oil. Fill muffin cups with dough 2/3 C full. Bake for 30 minutes. 


Makes about 18 muffins.

These muffins are very moist. However, because of that, they spoil quickly on the counter if covered.  Either leave the lid off of the container, if you have used muffin liners, or freeze whatever hasn't been eaten after approximately 2 days.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Warm Rhubarb Pudding

I chose to make this recipe to use up the remainder of the rhubarb that I had bought last week. Though the rhubarb cake was good, I think that I preferred this to the cake.

1/2 C sugar
1 tbsp. soft butter
3 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. orange zest (I omitted this b/c I had no oranges)
1/4 C orange juice
3/4 C milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, separated, whites whipped until stiff
1 1/2 C diced rhubarb

1. In medium bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Add flour; mix well. Stir in orange zest and juice, milk, vanilla and egg yolks; beat with electric mixer until smooth.

2. Fold in whipped egg whites (note: to successfully whip egg whites, be sure they are at room temperature and add a pinch of salt). When no lumps remain, gently fold in rhubarb.

3. Pour mixture into greased 8-inch baking pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree Farenheit oven for 35 minutes until puffed and light brown.

Serve warm. Serves 4-6.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Maple Syrup Muffins

My good friend Brandi brought these muffins to the hospital for us the night that Logan was born. I think that we managed to eat through the entire batch within two nights. Clearly, these were much better than eating the tasty hospital food ;) They were much enjoyed and very much appreciated! These are super yummy and relatively quick to mix up (must be, since Brandi whipped home from work, mixed up a batch and had them for us at the hospital by maybe 8pm that night!).

The glaze on top is delicious enough that I had to restrain myself from eating it by the spoonful. It'd be great on top of ice cream. Tastes just like sucre à la crème. I'm pretty sure that you could make some and just heat it up in the microwave before pouring it on ice cream.

1/2 C softened margarine
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 C milk
1/2 C white sugar
1 1/4 C flour
3/4 C rolled oats
1/2 C maple syrup

2 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 C icing sugar
1 tbsp. maple syrup

1. Blend together margarine, sugar and salt. Add other dry ingredients and blend together. Mix in oats.

2. Blend milk and syrup together. Pour over dry ingredients.

3. Bake in 350 degrees Farenheit oven for approximately 20 minutes.

4. Mix glaze ingredients together and spread over top of slightly cooled muffins.

Makes 10-12 muffins.

Freezer-friendly without glaze.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Homemade Taco Seasoning

I try not to use too many pre-prepared products when cooking, as they're not typically the healthiest and are tend to be chock-full of products that you can't even pronounce. Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food provides an excellent discussion of how the majority of what we eat nowadays consists of man-made products that didn't even exist 100 years ago and that are not healthy to be eating. In my opinion, the book needs to be interpreted with a bit of moderation, otherwise you could drive yourself crazy trying to follow his principles of health eating. However, his arguments seem quite sound and convincing to me (ex. only eat foods your grandmother would recognize, only eat foods whose ingredients you can pronounce, etc.). I definitely recommend this book as a good read.

So that being said, I use the following recipe to season beef when making tacos instead of using the prepared Old El Paso seasoning packets. The taste isn't quite the same, but I find it similar enough. I sometimes stir some water into the beef to blend in the spices and then just let it cook off prior to serving.

It hadn't crossed my mind yesterday when making this that this is the most impractical meal to make when you have a month old baby. Almost all meals are now eaten with one hand while breastfeeding Logan with the other. Tortillas are messy enough to eat with two hands!! I don't think that I'll be making this again for awhile!

1 tsp:
chili powder
cilantro (I used ground coriander b/c I usually don't have fresh coriander on hand, but I'm sure that would be better)
garlic powder
dried onions
seasoning salt

Add to taste, as desired:
black/red pepper
dried chilis

Friday, June 4, 2010

Chocolate Banana Muffins

I went a little overboard on the banana buying this past week and they turned bad in the blink of an eye, so I made these to pop in the freezer for future visits.

1 egg
1/4 C vegetable oil
1 C buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C brown sugar
1 C mashed ripe banana (about 2 bananas)
1 3/4 C whole-wheat flour
3/4 C natural wheat bran
1/4 cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/3 C chocolate chips (optional) (I put in 3/4 C of dark chocolate chips)
1/4 C macadamia nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Farenheit. In a bowl, which egg with oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in sugar until dissolved, then add mashed bananas.

2. In a large bowl, using a fork, stir flours with bran, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in centre of dry ingredients. Pour banana mixture into well and stir just until blended. Do not overmix. Spoon mixture into muffin cups. Bake about 20 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins