Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Quinoa, Pear & Spinach Salad with Moroccan Spiced Lemon Dressing

Here's a quick and easy recipe that I've been asked for a few times, and instead of giving it just to those who've asked, I'm sharing it with everyone! (Good things should be shared, right?)
It's chock-full of healthy, seasonal fruits and veggies and tastes fresh and delicious!
And since I forgot to take pictures I'm including some factoids on some of the super-foods that are included in the recipe. Enjoy!

Moroccan spiced lemon dressing

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about half a large lemon) and zest, minced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (if using water or unsalted chicken broth)
  • Moroccan spiced lemon dressing
  • 8 cups baby spinach
  • 1 pear, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ small red onion, finely sliced
  • ¼ cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), toasted
  1. Prepare quinoa. Bring stock to a boil (with salt) and add quinoa, stir to prevent lumps. Reduce heat to med-low and cook, covered, for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, fluff quinoa with a fork and let rest, covered, for 5 minutes. 
  2. While quinoa is cooking, prepare dressing: whisk lemon juice, yogurt, honey, cumin, cinnamon and ginger in a small bowl until blended. Slowly whisk in oil so the dressing becomes smooth and emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Transfer the quinoa to a medium bowl and toss with ½ of the prepared dressing. Let cool.
  4.  Just before serving, toss the spinach with the remaining dressing and top with quinoa, pear, tomatoes, onion, and pepitas. Toss to combine and serve.
  •   Make Ahead Tip: This recipe makes 2/3 cup dressing (Step 2). Prepare through Step 3. Cover and refrigerate the quinoa, salad and remaining dressing separately for up to 2 days.
Buen Provecho!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tom Kha Gai ~ Thai Coconut Soup

Last night I hosted our Amazing Race night and was told by one of our racers, Sarah, that "this is the best soup I have ever tasted, and I'm not even exaggerating!". Well, after a long lapse in posts, I thought that a comment like that deserved its own blog post. She also made the pottery in the pictures; doesn't she sound like a lovely friend to have?
This one's for you, Sarah!

Tom Kha Gai

½ Tbsp coconut oil
½ white onion, thinly sliced
1 hot Thai chili pepper (or more, depending on your spice preference), minced

2 cans coconut milk (full fat makes for a richer, creamier soup)
1 cup chicken stock
2 inch piece of galangal or ginger, thinly sliced
1 stalk lemon grass, slightly bruised/flattened with a mallet or cleaver and chopped diagonally into 4 pieces

8 kaffir lime leaves
4 Tbsp fish sauce

1 or 2 chicken breasts, very thinly sliced
½ cup fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup white button mushrooms, sliced
juice of ½ a lime (approx. 2 Tbsp)
½ Tbsp coconut sugar or honey
10 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup fresh spinach
fresh cilantro, scallions/green onions and 
coconut rice for serving

Melt the coconut oil in a large soup or stock pot. Add the onion and cook for 1 minute then add the chili and stir 1-2 minutes more until fragrant.

Shake the cans of coconut milk before opening to redistribute the separated cream and milk. Pour into the pot and bring to a boil. Add the chicken stock, galangal, lemon grass, kaffir leaves, fish sauce and chicken and simmer for 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Then add the shrimp, bell pepper, mushrooms, lime juice, coconut sugar, tomatoes and spinach and simmer for another 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are tender but not mushy and the shrimp is bright pink.

To serve, place a scoop of coconut rice in the bottom of a bowl, spoon soup overtop and garnish with fresh cilantro and scallions.

Serves 4

Buen Provecho!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chicken Bacon Meatballs

Today is the last day of April and we got a snow storm. [cue my super unimpressed face]
This past weekend I was wearing a tank top and flip-flops and now I'm back in my winter gear braving snow and 60-90 km/h wind gusts. Spring this year has been interesting to say the least.

So how about a recipe for some healthy(ish) comfort food to tide us over until summer arrives?

I recently inherited a KitchenAid stand mixer with a grinder and pasta maker attachment (YES!!). When I went to the store to pick up the ingredients for this recipe I can't say I was terribly disappointed when they didn't have any ground poultry. Time to do things the (not-so) old fashioned way!

If you've never ground your own meat, I highly recommend it. Something about it was strangely liberating and gratifying. "Screw you store, I can grind my own meat!"

I smell sausages on the menu soon...
Anyway, back to the recipe.


2 slices bread, torn into small pieces (approx. 1 cup)
1/3 cup milk
3 strips bacon, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp each, salt and pepper
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp hot sauce
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (or 1 tbsp dried parsley)
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 heaped tbsp tomato paste

Position oven rack in top 1/3 of oven; preheat to 400° F.
Soak bread in milk until soggy.
Cook bacon on medium heat for 3 minutes, add onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Sauté until onion is translucent; cool.
Squeeze the bread to remove excess milk and discard the milk.
To the ground chicken add: bread, egg, hot sauce, bacon mixture and breadcrumbs; mix to combine. If it feels too soft, add more breadcrumbs until desired consistency is reached.
Form into 30 (or so) medium sized balls.
Incorporate tomato and oil (they won't really incorporate, but mush them together and make due). Brush paste onto prepared meatballs.
Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 20 minutes.
Serve with your favourite dipping sauce.

I prepared a spicy, sweet and sour Asian sauce and a chipotle mayo dip. Both were excellent with the meatballs.

Good luck getting them from the cookie sheet to a serving plate. El Señor and I ate quite a few before we remembered they were supposed to be for guests.
And then I barely got a picture of them with the guests before they were all gone!

Buen Provecho!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Russian Cream with blackberry, blueberry and rose petal compote

Hallelujah its spring! Happy Easter!

Apparently I went into hibernation over the winter and didn't make a single post. Sorry friends.
I've got a good one for you now though. Our Amazing Race feasts are back in full swing and tonight I'm on dessert duty which is my favourite dish to prepare (and let's be honest -eat too).
I love that our Sunday feasts are so multi-cultural, offering an assortment of foods and traditional dishes from all over the world. How appropriate for Amazing Race, no?

For example here's our menu from last week:
Beef empanadas with pickled onions, cucumbers and salsa to start. Corn, avocado, baby tomato and cilantro salad, spinach parmesan mashed potatoes, Hungarian chicken Paprikash and homemade whole wheat sourdough artisan bread as the main. Homemade chocolate and chocolate-chocolate chip cookies sandwiched around vanilla, cookie-dough or birthday cake ice cream.

Tonight I'm told that we're having beef Vindaloo with rice pilaf and naan bread. I have no idea what the salad and appy are going to be, but I'm already excited.

So to keep with the multiculturalism, here's my contribution tonight:

Russian Cream with blackberry, blueberry and rose petal compote

Serves 12

4 cups cream (whipping or half & half)
2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp plain gelatin
2 cups sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups fresh berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries etc.)
2 Tbsp dried rose petals
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Fresh berries or fruit to garnish

Blend sugar and gelatin well. Add them, along with the cream to a pot. Stir over medium-low heat until the sugar and gelatin are completely dissolved. Cool to a slightly warm temperature and add the sour cream and vanilla. Mix quickly until well blended and smooth. Pour into mould(s) and chill for 3 hours or overnight.

Crush berries with sugar in a pot over low heat. Heat until mixture is syrupy. Add rose petals and lemon juice and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Allow to cool and then spoon over gelled cream. Allow to chill for an hour or until set.

Garnish with fresh fruit, berries, mint, pirouette cookies, crushed toasted nuts or whatever you choose!

Enjoy! I hope everyone tonight does...

Buen Provecho!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bacon Guacamole + Salsa Cruda

Every Sunday my family and friends get together for 'Amazing Race Night'. If you haven't seen Amazing Race (what rock are you hiding under?), it's an American reality TV show with several teams of 2, racing around the world for a $1,000,000 prize. Our group is fairly adventurous and well traveled so we really enjoy all the different tasks they perform and locations they go to (and the drama amongst the teams is pretty entertaining as well).

We all take turns hosting each Sunday. Whoever hosts prepares the main course, with the rest divvying up appetizer, salad, bread/side dish, dessert and drinks. Last week I brought my Greek yogo honey pops, which were a hit! This past Sunday, I was responsible for the appetizer. Since our hosts were making Pozole (a traditional Mexican soup prepared with hominy and shredded meat and served with several fresh vegetable garnishes), I wanted to bring something to fit along with the Mexican menu.

I love avocados! I love bacon! As my friend said on Sunday, you'd be hard pressed to find something that is not improved by the addition of bacon. So I made bacon guacamole! After trying it, I'm not sure how bacon is not a mandatory ingredient in all guacamole recipes, but at least for me, (and maybe everyone who tried it on Sunday) it will be from now on.

After I finished making the guacamole I felt I needed something more (we have a crew of 11 adults and 1 toddler), so I used almost all the exact same ingredients and whipped up a fresh salsa cruda (mentioned here) as well.

They were both raved over, and disappeared in minutes (I'm slightly ashamed to tell you that we even drank the juice from the bottom of the salsa cruda bowl). Fresh. Simple. Delish. A great start to the amazing Pozole that followed (and I have to mention the crème brûlée that followed that, omgsogood)!

So, here she is in all her glory:


Bacon Guacamole

6 slices bacon
4 large ripe avocados
4 Tbsp fresh lime juice from 1 large lime (and zest minced, *optional)
4 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro packed, roughly chopped
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1 medium tomato, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1  jalapeño, finely chopped (or other chilli of choice, I used an inferno chilli from my garden)
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Fry bacon until crisp, then leave to cool/drain on paper towels.
[Easy no splatter bacon tip: place cold bacon on a tinfoil lined, edged cookie sheet. Put in a COLD oven and turn heat on to 400° F. Bake for 20 minutes. Bacon:done.]
Spoon the avocados into a large bowl and roughly mash with the lime juice. Crumble the bacon and mix in along with the rest of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Rest in fridge for 1 hour before serving to let the flavours blend. Serve with tortilla chips.
Makes approx. 4 cups.

Salsa Cruda

[aka Salsa Fresca, Salsa Mexicana, Pico de Gallo & Salsa Bandera]

3 medium tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice from 1/2 a large lime (and zest minced, *optional)
1/2 cup red (or white) onion, diced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro packed, roughly chopped 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small jalapeño, finely chopped (or other chilli of choice)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Add all ingredients into a medium sized bowl and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let rest an hour, refrigerated, to allow flavours to blend. Serve with tortilla chips.
Makes approx. 2 cups.

I usually add a finely diced (yellow) bell pepper to my salsa to add more colour and texture, I just didn't have any on hand this time.

Purists will tell you that salsa cruda (pico de gallo) should only consist of jalapeño, white onion and tomatoes. This is supposed to represent the colours of the Mexican flag. I however, disagree because cilantro, garlic and all the other fresh ingredients added together make it SO much tastier! I say get creative, throw some diced jicama or mango in there. Serve it on chicken or with seafood (or with eagle and snake to truly satisfy those purists). Explore food, make it your own and enjoy!

Buen provecho!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cheesy Zucchini Bites

Cheesy Zucchini Bites

2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used green onion)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°. Squeeze the water out of your zucchini with some paper towels. Throw everything in a large bowl and mix to combine. Grease some mini muffin tins, and spoon mixture in to fill. Put in preheated oven and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
That was easy, right?

Unless you used regular sized muffin tins and over-filled them. And then decided that they probably wouldn't cook through so you pulled half the mixture out but didn't re-grease the pan. And then after they were cooked, you tried to pull them out but they were all stuck to the bottom. And then you ended up finishing them off in the cast iron pan to crisp the broken bottoms up. Don't do that, okay guys?

I made a spicy mayo dipping sauce to serve with. Yum. Delicious, even if you completely screw them up!

Happy Halloween, friends!
Buen provecho!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Homemade Crock Pot Greek Yogurt + Frozen Yogurt Honey Pops!

Homemade Crock Pot Greek Yogurt

Yesterday I started a batch of Greek yogurt, in my crock pot. I will never make yogurt any other way. It's so simple!
Homemade yogurt is extremely high in lactobacillus acidophilus live cultures which are great for fighting the yeast present in your body. When making yogurt make sure your starter contains 'live and active cultures'. These cultures multiply during the yogurt making process and when ingested, help your body to beat yeast infections and fight fatigue as well as assisting with weight loss. If consumed on a regular to semi-regular basis, homemade yogurt can eliminate the internal yeast infection present in your body and help you lose up to 25lbs! Plus, it tastes way better than store bought yogurts and is much cheaper!

8 cups milk (whole, 2%, 1% or skim; not ultra pasteurized)
1/2 cup plain yogurt (store bought or from a previous batch) [this is your starter]

Other materials:
Crock pot
Candy thermometer
Large strainer and bowl

Pour milk into crock pot, cover and set to low heat. Leave it to heat for approximately 2.5-3 hours.
Check the temperature using your candy thermometer. Once the milk has reached 180°, turn off the crock pot, remove the lid and leave to cool for an hour or so.
When the temperature has dropped to 110°, remove a cup of the warm milk and whisk into it 1/2 cup of plain yogurt. Pour mixture back into crock pot and stir.
Replace lid, cover crock in a heavy bath towel and place in the oven with the oven light on. Leave to rest for approximately 8-12 hours or overnight.
Carefully remove crock from the oven, unwrap, uncover and check to see that the milk has thickened to yogurt. If not, place it back in oven and re-check in an hour or so.
You now have your own homemade yogurt!

Oh, but you wanted Greek yogurt, right? Okay,

Place crock in the fridge for 3 hours to completely cool and thicken.
Line strainer with several layers of cheese cloth and place inside a large bowl. Pour yogurt into strainer and refrigerate. The longer you strain the yogurt the thicker it will be (minimum 2 hours), just don't strain it for TOO long or you'll end up with cream cheese!

The yellowish liquid in your bowl is whey. Don't throw it out! It's super high in protein, vitamins and minerals and can be used in so many wheys (ways, get it?)! My favourite uses are: lacto-fermentation or as a substitute for water in almost any recipe, especially in baking and soup. (I'm also working on a whey after-workout protein supplement recipe for El Señor, which I will post as soon as I have perfected it.)

Oh, by the way, your Greek yogurt is ready!
Isn't it so thick and creamy? Don't you just want to throw some berries in and eat it by the bowl-full?
Yum! Just make sure you save 1/2 cup for your next batch!

Frozen Yogurt Honey Pops

The other day my Brother and cuñada (sister-in-law, for all you gringos), gave me a honey flavoured Greek frozen yogurt bar, which really, was my inspiration for making yogurt in the first place.
It was delicious! Rich, creamy, sweet and surprisingly not ice cream. But I did notice that the 3rd ingredient is sugar.
So I re-created it and my bars only have 2 ingredients, not 9 (and sugar isn't one of them).

1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
1/4 cup honey

These proportions may vary to the size of your molds, so adjust accordingly. This gave me approximately five 1/3 cup servings.

Measure out both ingredients into a bowl and stir to thoroughly incorporate. Spoon into molds and freeze for 8 hours or overnight.
Run bottom of mold under hot water for 10 seconds to release popsicle.

I find them to be slightly more tart than the store bought yogurt bars, but I like it. Tastes like the delicious yogurt we just made!

"If they're so good for you, let me try some!"
Buen provecho!