Cooking

Potato Salad Nicoise!! Delicious!

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I made this salad recipe to serve with our home made ribs fresh out of my husband’s new smoker.  The ribs were excellent and this recipe was voted a clear winner.  So I thought I would share it.

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Potato Salad Nicoise

3/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces

3 pounds of new potatoes cut into bite size pieces if too large

1/2 small red onion diced small, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup of pitted Kalamata olives, rinsed, drained and chopped small

2 Tbsp drained and rinsed capers chopped small

6 hard-boiled eggs peeled and sliced

Dressing

2 garlic cloves minced

1/2 cup olive oil

juice of a lemon

3 Tbsp white wine vinegar

1 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

dash of Worsteshire sauce

Mix all dressing ingredients well and set aside.  In a large pot, bring salted water to the boil, place green beans in the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, remove the beans and place in a bowl of ice water.  Place potatoes in boiling water and cook for 15 minutes til tender when pierced with a knife.  Drain potatoes and place in a bowl.  Cover the hot potatoes with the dressing.  Add the olives, capers and onions.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  Drain the green beans and add them to the potatoes and dressing and mix well.  Top with the sliced eggs.  Serve.  If you are not serving the salad right away, place in the fridge to keep cool.

I hope you enjoy this salad.  Cheers, Michele

Hungarian Cucumber Salad!!

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Since my cucumber patch in my garden is producing a bumper crop I though I would share one of our favourite ways to prepare them. This recipe is a family favourite and is inspired by my Uncle Matthew’s recipe and is very easy to make.  It takes a little time for the cucumbers to release their water and for the dressing to soak into the cucumbers.

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Hungarian Cucumber Salad

3 large English or Lebanese cucumbers sliced very thin

1/4 cup of salt

3 cloves of garlic minced fine

1 cup of sour cream

3 Tbsps of white vinegar

1/4 cup of minced fresh dill

1/4 cup of finely minced chives

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika

Place the sliced of cucumber in layers with the salt in a colander over a bowl.  Place a plate on top and press down with a heavy weight.  Leave for one hour to let the cucumbers release their water.  Mix all the rest of the ingredients except the paprika together.  Rinse the cucumbers several times and then place in the centre of a clean dry tea towel.  Twist the tea towel with the cucumbers inside to press out the water.  Once you have extracted as much water as possible, place the cucumbers in the bowl and mix well with the dressing.  Sprinkle the paprika over the top and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Place in the fridge for an hour to let the flavours meld.  I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe.  Cheers, Michele

Gluten-Free Chicken Quesadillas!! Spicy Deliciousness!

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I have been working quite hard at staying gluten-free in my diet and the one day I ate some regular cookies, I had a huge headache.  So am back to gluten-free again.  This recipe is so easy and quick and with a nice fresh salsa is a lovely dinner.  If you are a vegetarian you can change out the chicken to add more beans.   I have added a recipe for a sour cream and cilantro dipping sauce which is delicious with the quesadillas.

Chicken Quesadillas

2 packages corn tortillas (~20 tortillas)

1 cooked chicken, skinned, meat removed and chopped into small pieces

1 red pepper chopped small

1/2 small red onion chopped small

1-2 large jalapeño peppers minced fine

3 tomatoes chopped small

1 can black beans drained and rinsed

1 can corn drained and rinsed

1 tsp of cumin

1 tsp of dried coriander

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander

2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup cream cheese

juice of 1 lime

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix all ingredients (except for the tortillas) together well.  Lay the tortillas out and spread the mixture equally over half the tortillas.  Place the second tortilla on top to form a sandwich.  In a non-stick fry pan preheated over medium heat, place 1 tsp of vegetable oil.  Fry each of the quesadillas until lightly browned on the outside and then place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Once all the quesadillas are fried, place in oven and bake for 10 minutes until cheese is melted.  Cut into quarters and serve with salsa and this sour cream and cilantro dipping sauce.

Sour Cream and Cilantro Dipping Sauce

1 container of sour cream

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp lime zest

1 green onion chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp sugar

Mix all ingredients together well.  Serve with the quesadillas.  Enjoy.  Cheers, Michele

Little Things That Bring Me Joy!!

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Thinking about my mom makes me realize that I am a very lucky person because I have many big things in my life that bring me joy; my family, my dog, my home, my job, my friends, my garden, etc.  But I often find that the little things in life can bring a lot of joy too.  These are just a few of my favourite joyful little things.

  1. Having exact change when paying for something.
  2. The perfect thrift find….obviously.
  3. When I can thread my sewing machine on the first try without squinting myself into a headache.
  4. The sound of chickadees calling to one another.
  5. Chipmunks. Ground hogs and squirrels!!
  6. The smell of a new book and a bookshelf full of new unread books or old favourites to re-read and a comfy chair in which to read them.
  7. Hard marshmallows.
  8. A ice cold Pimm’s cup with strawberries and cucumber on a hot day.
  9. A cold chocolate covered peppermint patty.
  10. Peeling an apple or an orange all in one long strip.
  11. Having a very sharp pencil to do Sudoku.
  12. Finishing the New York Times crossword in pen and doing it right.
  13. A perfect soft poached egg.
  14. A rain shower when the sun is out.
  15. The smell of un-burnt pipe tobacco reminds me of my dad when I was little
  16. Hot runny cinnamon toast.
  17. The smell after a rain shower in the spring or summer.
  18. The smell of fresh mown grass.
  19. The smell of a dog.
  20. Toasting marshmallows over a campfire…peeling each cooked layer off the outside and retoasting the inside again and again until it is all gone.
  21. Laughing so hard my stomach hurts.
  22. Holding my husband’s hand while watching a movie.
  23. Jumping in puddles…yep, still love to do that.
  24. Breaking the thin layer of ice on a frozen puddle.
  25. When someone says thank you and smiles at me.

These are only some of my favourite joyful little things.  What are yours?  I would love to hear them.  Cheers, Michele

Artichoke, Avocado and Roasted Red Pepper Salad!! So Quick and Delicious!

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This salad of artichoke hearts, avocados and roasted red peppers is so quick and delicious that it is almost criminal.  Using jarred or canned artichokes and roasted red peppers makes this a quick “throw together” dish.  It is perfect with a summer BBQ.

Artichoke, Avocado and Roasted Red Pepper Salad

2 jars of artichoke hearts drained, rinsed and quartered

1 large jar of roasted red peppers sliced into strips

1 can of sliced pitted black olives drained

3 avocados peeled, pitted and cut into chunks

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsps balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

3 cloves of crushed garlic

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until vegetables are well coated.  You can leave this salad to marinate for a while as the flavours will meld even more.  Hope you try out this recipe.  Let me know if you do.  Cheers, Michele

 

Plan Overs Perfect Steamed Rice!! Three Upcycled Recipes!

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For years I struggled to make perfect rice, but it was hit or miss…and mostly miss.  It would be all stuck together, or stuck to the pot, or undercooked.  But, luckily for me, a friend of mine, Dulcie, taught me how she and her family make perfect rice in the oven and I have used this recipe ever since.  She said in her culture a woman isn’t ready to be married until she can cook perfect rice.  I don’t know about that, but I do know this recipe works perfectly every time, doesn’t boil over and doesn’t stick to the pan.  It seems like a simple thing to make such a basic thing as rice well, but I thought I would share this great tip.  The oil coats each grain of rice, keeping them separate and fluffy.

Perfect Steamed Rice

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup basmati or jasmine rice

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups water or stock

2 tsps butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  On the top of the stove in a heavy saucepan, heat the oil on high heat til hot.  Add rice and stir well to coat with oil.  When about a third of the rice has turned bright white instead of the normal translucent, add salt and water or stock and butter.  Bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally and then put the lid on and pop it in the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes and then remove from oven.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes on the stove off the heat with the lid on.  Enjoy.  Such a simple recipe but after years of ruining, burning and boiling over rice, this was a wonderful change.  Perfect rice every time.   Now on to the “Plan Over” recipes.

Photo courtesy of jocooks.com
Photo courtesy of jocooks.com

Mexican Chicken Rice Salad

2 cups cooked rice

2 cups chopped cooked chicken

3 tomatoes chopped small

1 cucumber chopped small

1 red pepper chopped small

3 green onions with tops chopped fine

1 can of corn drained

1 can of black beans rinsed and drained

juice of 2 limes

1/2 cup sour cream

4 Tbsps olive oil

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

large pinch cayenne pepper

In a large bowl mix all ingredients well until well combined.  Let sit for 10 minutes to allow ingredients to absorb dressing.  Top with shredded cheddar cheese and salsa to serve.

Photo courtesy of www.kalynskitchen.com
Photo courtesy of www.kalynskitchen.com

Stuffed Peppers

4 largest any colour peppers, tops removed and reserved, seeds and ribs removed discarded

1 cup cooked rice

1 pound ground beef or turkey

2 Tbsps olive oil

1 large onion chopped fine

3 cloves garlic minced fine

1 jar tomato sauce

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp oregano

1/2 cup of grated cheese of your choice; mozzarella or cheddar or Gouda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Oil a large baking pan with 1 tsp of the olive oil In a large fry pan, heat the rest of the oil.  Sauté onion until soft, add garlic and ground meat and cook til meat is soft.  Add 1/2 cup of tomato sauce and the cooked rice to ground meat.  Cook 5 minutes more.  Place stuffing into the peppers and place in baking pan. Place tomato sauce mixed with paprika and oregano over peppers and top with cheese.  Bake for 20-25 minutes til peppers are soft and cooked.  Serve.

Image courtesy of www.recipe.com
Image courtesy of www.recipe.com

Creamy Rice Pudding

1 1/2 cups of cooked rice

1/2 cup half and half cream

1 cup 2% milk

2/3 cup golden raisins (the only ones my daughter Katie will eat…fussy girl)

1/3 cup of sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp grated orange peel

1 egg beaten

1/4 cup half and half cream

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the saucepan in which you cooked the rice, add cream and milk, sugar, cinnamon, orange peel and raisins. Heat to a simmer. Put lid on rice and place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes. Once the rice has absorbed the cream and milk, stir in the egg, cream and butter. Stir very well until creamy and smooth. Place in oven for a further 3 minutes with cover on. Once done, take lid off and allow to cool. This is good warm or put in the fridge and allowed to chill where it will thicken even more.

Hope you like this use of left-over cooked rice. It is a wonderful basic comfort food that can be used in hundreds of ways.  These are just a few.  Cheers, Michele

No Pasta Lasagna!! A Gluten-Free Version!

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Lasagna is a pasta lovers ultimate dish, but for those of us who are gluten intolerant, it can be the untouchable dream.  So using a recipe inspired by one from Canadian living, I want to give you all the best things of lasagna without the gluten.

Gluten-Free Lasagna

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Meat Sauce

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 pound ground beef or turkey

1 onion chopped fine

3 carrots chopped fine

4 ribs of celery chopped fine

4 cloves of garlic chopped fine

1 jar tomato sauce

1 large can chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup red wine

1 Tbsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried marjoram (optional as it is not always easy to find)

pinch of red hot Chili flakes

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

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Cheese Layers

2 containers of cottage or ricotta cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1 tsp dried basil

1 cup grated mozzarella

2 eggs beaten

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“Pasta” Layers

2 Tbsps olive oil

3 large zucchini sliced length wise into long strips

1 butter nut squash peeled, seeded and cut into thin slices

ground pepper and salt

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Cheese Topping

2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and Coat both sides of zucchini and butternut squash slices with a brush dipped in olive oil.  Lay the zucchini and squash on the parchment paper and season with salt and pepper.  Place in oven and bake until they are soft and lightly golden browned on the edges about 25 minutes.
In a large sauce pan, place 2 Tbsp of olive oil, chopped onions, carrot and celery.  Sauté until onions are soft.  Add ground meat and cook till no pink shows in meat.  Add rest of the ingredients for the meat sauce and allow to cook while the vegetables in oven are cooking.
Once vegetables are done, remove from oven and allow to cool.  Turn oven down to 350 degrees F.
Lightly oil a large lasagna pan.
Mix all ingredients for the cheese layer in a bowl.
Once zucchini and squash are cool enough to touch, begin assembly of lasagna.  Place 1 cup meat sauce on bottom of pan and spread to even layer.  Cover with one layer of zucchini slices laying edge to edge.  Cover with 1/2 cheese mixture, then 1 layer of squash.  Continue this process until all the zucchini and squash are used up.  You should get 2 layers of zucchini and 2 layers of squash in total.  Top with remainder of meat sauce and cover pan with tinfoil.  Place pan in oven and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and remove tinfoil.  The dish should be bubbling well.  Cover with the remaining 2 cups of mozzarella and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Return to oven for 10 minutes until cheese has melted and browned.  Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes to set up and cool before cutting.  Serve with a tossed salad and your gluten-intolerant stomach will thank you for it from the bottom of it’s little heart. (Anatomically incorrect I know, but you get the meaning!)

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I hope you enjoy this recipe, as with all lasagna, you will have to judge each layer by how much meat sauce you have, although if you have any left over, it can be frozen for a future meal.  Enjoy, Cheers, Michele