Poke Bowls

A few weeks ago while out for a nice dinner with my husband, we ordered poke (pok-ay) as our appetizer. We ate it so fast that we barely spoke to each other, when we finished he looked at me and said "I bet you could make that."

So, of course, I did.

The most challenging parts of this are: 1) finding SUSHI GRADE fish. This is VITAL if you like to not have parasites or bacteria in your GI tract. Ask your fish monger about it. If you're in Halifax, Fisherman's Market has a whole section of Sushi grade fish. 2) REALLY good knife skills. Even cutting of the fish and vegetables are a big part of the flavour and enjoyment of the dish.

Anyway, here's what I did:

INGREDIENTS

  • 10oz sashimi grade salmon or tuna, cut in to 1/4" cubes
  • 3 tbs light soy (kikkomon is best)
  • 1/2 tbs chili garlic paste (omit for non-spicy version)
  • 2 tsp pure sesame oil + more for drizzling
  • 3 tbs toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 green onions finely minced OR 1/4 cup white onion minced
  • 1 cup avocado in 1/4" cubes
  • 1 carrot julienne cut
  • Smoky Hibachi seasoning
  • 1/2 cup of white onion fried until golden brown (Optional)

DIRECTIONS

  • Mix soy sauce, chili garlic paste, minced onion and sesame oil in large bowl
  • Add your cubed fish and toss in the sauce. Let sit 5 mins (I usually cut my avocado and carrot while the fish marinates a bit)
  • Add carrot and avocado and toss
  • Top with fried onions, sesame, hibachi and remaining green onions 
  • Drizzle with remaining sesame (a little goes a long way!)
  • EAT!

NOTES

  • We often have this with steamed brown rice
  • These are our preferred combinations, feel free to make your own!
  • If you decide to add citrus, be conscious that the acid in citrus and/or vinegar will cook  the proteins in the fish changing the texture (and making a totally different-yet delicious dish: ceviche)
  • This does not keep over night so eat it all or toss it.
 Tuna poke with julienned carrots, green onions, avocado and sesame

Tuna poke with julienned carrots, green onions, avocado and sesame

 Salmon poke with avocado, minced white onion, fried white onion, sesame, smoky hibachi

Salmon poke with avocado, minced white onion, fried white onion, sesame, smoky hibachi

Wilted WildComment
Rita's Matzo Ball Soup

Growing up in a family that had influences from different cultures was part of what made my childhood so interesting. My grandparents all played a very important role in my life, and their lifestyles couldn't be more different. I think that helped me see that everyone has something important to give to the community, no matter where they come from. 

I got to tell the story of my maternal grandparents in the Chronicle Herald last month. You can read it, and get a little peek in to what helped form me.

 Image courtesy of Kelly Neil  www.kellyneil.com

Image courtesy of Kelly Neil www.kellyneil.com

 

CHICKEN STOCK

  • One 3-5-lb. whole roaster chicken cut in quarters, breasts and legs separated, skin on
  • 6 celery stalks, cut in 3-inch pieces
  • 6 carrots, cut in 3-inch pieces
  • 2 yellow onions, skin on, halved
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
  • 1 tbsp. black peppercorns

MATZO BALLS

  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup schmaltz (see note), melted
  • ¼ cup club soda
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. baking soda

FOR THE SOUP

  • 2 carrots, cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds
  • Fresh dill for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  • In a large stockpot, cover all chicken stock ingredients with cold water and bring to a low simmer for 20 minutes. Remove chicken breasts, shred meat, and set aside.
  • Continue to simmer stock for three to four hours then strain through a fine mesh sieve. Once strained place in fridge overnight to cool completely.
  • Skim top layer of fat (called schmaltz — see note below) from the chicken stock and reserve for cooking.
  • Combine matzo ball mixture ingredients in a large bowl and let sit for 20 minutes.
  • Bring skimmed stock, plus one cup of water to a low simmer.
  • With wet hands, roll matzo mixture into small firm balls and gently place into heated stock. When all matzo mixture has been rolled and added to pot, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add carrots to pot with matzo balls and simmer 10 minutes more.
  • Place shredded chicken breast meat in the bottom of a soup bowl. With a slotted spoon, remove matzo balls and place on top of chicken. Ladle broth and carrots over matzo balls and garnish with fresh dill.

Note: Rita’s matzo ball soup recipe teaches you how to make schmaltz, essentially rendered chicken fat. Once the chicken stock has cooled in the fridge overnight there will be a puck of fat sitting on top of the stock. Skim it off, crumble it up, and keep it in a jar to use as cooking fat.

 

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Hat Tip to Shawarma Bowls

I love Chicken Shawarma. I love the tang of all the pickled goodness with highly addictive taoum or tzatiki sauce, and the pungent spices of the seasonings used to marinate the chicken.

The shawarma you get in Mediterranean shops around here is often a mix of chicken breasts and thighs marinated and then piled on to a spit roast tightly. They cook slowly on a grill and then get shaved and served to order.

Well, I don't have a spit. But I can marinate chicken, and do all the toppings I like. So I decided to make bowls one day. I used brown rice as my base, but you can use white rice, or even lettuce. It's all up to you.

 My shawarma bowl with my insulin pump and diabetes kit in plain sight. It's never far when I am cooking or eating.

My shawarma bowl with my insulin pump and diabetes kit in plain sight. It's never far when I am cooking or eating.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 chicken thighs, de-boned & skinned
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1  tsp salt
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Taoum
  • Tzatziki 
  • Various pickled items (I like turnips, dill pickles, black olives and hot peppers)
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Roasted Broccoli
  • Brown rice, cooked
  • Salt & Pepper to tase

DIRECTIONS

  • Combined seasonings with olive oil and lemon juice and marinate chicken thighs for 1 hr up to over night. 
  • In a cast iron skillet, or on your BBQ grill on med-high, place chicken thighs smooth side down flip after 7 mins. Cook an additional 7 mins until 160f internally.
  • To make your bowl: add 1 cup of cooked brown rice, Top with your veggies, add chopped chicken and top with your desired amount of taoum or tzatziki.

NOTE: these are excellent food prep meals because they will keep for several days in the fridge and you can prepare a lot at once.

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Artichoke & Garlic Flatbread

I am always in search of ways to eat more garlic. It's very, very high up on my list of favourite flavours.

When I walked by the antipasto station at my grocery store the other day, I saw a big pile of fresh marinated artichokes and sundried tomatoes, I immediately scooped up around a cup of each knowing that flatbread was the destination.

My recipe was made on Piedina-style flatbread, but this can work on any sort of flatbread/dough you'd like.

 

 Artichokes at the Antipasti station at the grocery store.

Artichokes at the Antipasti station at the grocery store.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup marinated artichokes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella/pizza mozzarella chopped
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed chilies
  • 1/4 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs butter
  • salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

For the Garlic Base

  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Slice 1" off  top whole bulb garlic, peel as many layers of paper off as possible.
  • Place garlic in aluminum foil pouch, drizzle 1tsp olive oil on garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Close aluminum foil in a pouch shape, place in oven for 40 mins
  • Once done, remove the cloves from foil and remaining garlic paper.
  • Mash all cloves with butter, red wine vinegar, 1 tsp olive oil, chilies, and salt & pepper to taste

Build the Flatbread

  • When your garlic is complete, spread it on a your bread/dough
  • Layer on chopped artichokes and sundried tomatoes
  • Top with mozza
  • Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 15-20 mins until golden and bubbly.
  • Eat!

NOTE

I like to drizzle a little extra olive oil and crushed sea salt on top, but you do you.

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Corn Salad

Corn salad is a frequent visitor to our supper table. It's quick, easy, and an easy way to pile some vegetables in to our meal. We often will cook up a pan and eat the whole thing in one night. 

As with most of my recipes, this is customizable. You can edit the seasonings to your tastes, serve it warm or cold, make it in batches, or use it as a topping for a mixed green salad. It's customization is truly endless. 

This is based on a classic Mexican street food that involves a cob of corn roasted, and being topped with Cotijo cheese, herbs and spices. 

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cobs of corn, or two cups of frozen niblets
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 white onion, diced (around the size of corn niblets)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3 oz of cotija cheese ( or dry crumbled feta)
  • Juice from one lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  • If you're using the cobs of corn: grill the corn on your BBQ before starting this salad or under the broiler until you get a few browned bits on each cob, then remove the kernels from the cob-this step is worth it.
  • Saute onions in large frying pan, in vegetable oil until transparent
  • Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds
  • Add peppers and saute for 3 mins
  • Add corn and saute for 5 mins
  • Stir in cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper until veggies are well coated
  • Remove from heat and add chopped mint, parlsey, lime juice and cheese. Stir to combine
  • Re-season with salt and pepper if desired

NOTES:

  • Frozen corn, and canned corn will work- but there's a special taste with grilled fresh cobs
  • You can also sub cilantro for the herbs if you want.
  • We often will omit the red and green peppers depending on price 
  • Admittedly, we make this spicier than this recipe calls for. But you do you.
Pulled Beef Tacos

I admit, tacos are not normally my thing.

I don't like the salty, weird seasoning. I don't love ground beef for that application, and the hard corn shells are bleh. My husband loves tacos, so I am always trying to think of ways that I will eat them and enjoy them so he can also have joy. Well folks, I found it. 

Slow cooked beef roast (I used blade roast, but you can use whatever cut you desire), crunchy bright veggies and soft, warm tortillas seemed to be the gateway by which I fall in love with the amazing taco.

 This picture sucks, but I was so hungry a cell phone photo is all we get today.

This picture sucks, but I was so hungry a cell phone photo is all we get today.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 lb beef roast
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 /2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon Beef 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 package small wheat tortillas (Or corn if you're lucky enough to have access)
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 shredded carrot
  • Salsa (optional)
  • Guacamole (optional)
  • Sour Cream (optional)
  • Hot Sauce (optional)
  • Cheese (optional)
  • Lime wedges (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  • In your slowcooker OR Instant Pot, add beef, cumin, cinnamon, water, bouillon, oil, vinegar, salt, garlic, cayenne.
  • For slowcooker: set on low for 5-6 hours until beef is fork tender and pullable
  • For pressure cooker: Set on high for 45 mins, do a Natural Release
  • When beef is ready, remove from pot and pull with two forks, it should fall apart.
  • If in pressure cooker, remove lid and turn on saute button, add shredded beef back to juice and reduce for 15 mins until the beef absorbs the sauce
  • Toast tortillas until golden 
  • Fill with whatever combination of toppings you like. I like guacamole, lime, sour cream, hot sauce, and cabbage/carrots. My husband likes cheese, tomatoes, salsa and cabbage and carrots. Play around with them and make them yours!

NOTES

  • This should be enough for 1 dozen tacos
  • You could also add cilantro to these if you were a person with no taste buds.
  • These are especially good after a workout that you completed after putting in a full day of work ;)
Wilted WildComment
Pho-inspired broth

Listen, I am white. I have no place in writing an "authentic" Pho broth recipe. It is not part of my culture, I did not grow up with it. However, I have eaten a lot of Asian soups, including Pho, and I feel like i have a good grasp on how it can taste.

I started googling about Pho broth and other asian broths a long time ago. I learned that the secret in the velvety, smooth broths that have lots of flavour and texture is actually in the process of boiling the bones. It needs to be low, slow and with minimal bubbling to prevent the proteins breaking down in the liquid making it gloopy.

I never did try one because it seemed like such along process, and really....expensive on my stove top to be honest. 12 hours of simmering means leaving my stove on for that long, and it draws of a lot of energy.

Enter: my instant pot. Electric pressure cookers are not a new technology, however they've recently become really mainstream and who am I to deny a tool as amazing and time saving as this. 

So, for this recipe, you will need a pressure cooker. Sorry. I mean, you can try the stove top version, but you will need at least 6-8 hours of stove top simmering.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 marrow soup bones (beef)
  • 1 chicken's worth of bones + skin 
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 star anise pods
  • 1 whole head of garlic, cut in half
  • 2 white onions cut in half, skin on
  • 5 dried thai chili pods
  • 1 tsp MSG (can omit-but if you have it....use it.)
  • 1 tbs rice vinegar (red wine or apple cider will work)
  • 1/4 cup mint
  • 2" piece of ginger cut in chunks
  • 1/4 cup lemongrass
  • 1 tbs black peppercorns
  • water

DIRECTIONS

  • Place all ingredients in your Instant Pot.
  • Cover with water to the max fill line
  • Put on Soup setting at the highest pressure for 2 hours
  • Do a natural release
  • Strain in a strainer and leave sit over night in a glass bowl
  • The next day: skim some of the fat from the top (Leave some for the proper mouth feel of Pho), reserve in mason jar to cook vegetables or stir fry in
  • This broth will keep in the fridge for 5-6 days, or almost indefinitely if frozen. 

NOTES

  • Pho varies wildly, depending on where you get it.
  • My version: has thinly sliced  raw beef laid in the bowl under a bed of rice noodles, and some thinly shaved white onions. Then I top it with the steaming broth, and sprinkle Thai basil, fresh bean sprouts and a squeeze of lemon and hot sauce. Some people would add cilantro but they're heathens and part of the problem.
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Cabbage Roll Casserole

I love cabbage rolls, but the work that goes in to them can be daunting, especially if you have only a short time to prep your food. 

This casserole gives you all of the comfort of cabbage rolls with the convenience of a simple casserole. All it takes is a few steps and you will have a hot comfort food dinner on the table in little time.

 Cabbage image courtesy of Pixabay

Cabbage image courtesy of Pixabay

I apologize that I don't have a photo of the casserole I made last night, but we dug in before I could even open the camera on my phone.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium head of cabbage (I prefer savoy simply because I find it cooks faster)
  • 1 large regular onion, diced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup brown basmati rice
  • 1 large tin diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1.5 cups tomato sauce
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of beef broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Saute onions sprinkled with salt in a large frying pan with 1 tbs of warmed olive oil.
  2. Add ground beef and fry until brown.
  3. Add garlic, italian seasoning, and cayenne. 
  4. Add canned diced tomatoes and tomato sauce
  5. Add rice and bring to simmer.
  6. Cut cabbage in 1.5 inch strips
  7. Rub casserole dish with remaining tbs of olive oil.
  8. Place a layer of cabbage strips in the dish.
  9. Pour 1/2 cup of brown basmati rice
  10. Top with half of the mixture from the frying pan.
  11. Add another layer of cabbage and remaining rice. Pour beef broth and soy sauce over.
  12. Top with what is left in the frying pan, season with salt and pepper.
  13. Cover casserole dish with tin foil, and bake in pre-heated oven at 400 for one hour.
  14. Let sit for 15 mins uncovered before serving.
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French Onion Soup

I'm back. Puppy is in a more manageable stage, so I may be able to take time to write again. I assure you I have not stopped thinking about getting my writing done. It's a goal of mine to do better and maintain this site more. 

This past week, of course it's the holidays, I have come down with a miserable virus. Fever, chills, sinus and chest gunk, zero energy: the whole meal deal. There's really only one thing I want to consume when I feel like this, and it's soup.

To be specific something deeply salty, and full of savoury umami flavour. I went straight to cooking a large pot of French Onion Soup yesterday, and just finished the last spoonful for breakfast.

Here's how I did it:

soup-2831534_1280.jpg

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 medium yellow onions, chopped roughly & sprinkled with salt
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs dried thyme
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 4 tbs Better Than Bouillon (beef flavour)(Or 1.5 L of your choice of beef stock)
  • 1.5L of water (If you're not using stock)
  • 1 cup red wine (NOT cooking wine-the good stuff. Pour a glass and drink it-save a cup for the soup)
  • Shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • SLiced french bread OR texas toast croutons
  • 1 tsp of Maggi Seasoning liquid (or fish sauce)

DIRECTIONS

  • In a large stock pot cook onions until caramelized in 1tbs of butter and 1 tbs of vegetable oil. Put them in the pot on low-med eat and walk away. Come back to stir every 25-30 mins until they are a nice caramel colour. This step is important and time consuming. It took my onions an hour and 20 mins yesterday. 
  • Add thyme, garlic, remaining butter and flour and stir for 2 mins until the onions resemble a caramel paste
  • Add cooking wine, bouillon, and maggi seasoning. If you are using stock DO NOT add it yet. Let this mixture cook for 10-15 mins on med-low. It should have barely-breaking-the-surface bubbles.
  • Once the mixture is cooked down, it should resemble a dark brown or black paste. Add water.
  • Bring to a low simmer.
  • Cover pot and let simmer for 30 mins for flavours to meld. Taste, if it's too salty, add more water and bring to a simmer.
  • Season to your taste
  • Spoon in to an oven proof bowl, top with french bread slices and grated cheese.
  • Put under broiler until cheese is melted and browned.

It seems like a lot of work, but it's not that bad, and it's totally worth every ounce of energy.

 

NOTES

  • The Better Than Bouillon paste is extremely intense. It can be a bit salty, so make sure to taste and add water. I found I needed more water than the jar called for.
  • You can use regular bouillon cubes, or the Knorr stock cubes, but it won't be as flavourful.
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Easy Stir Fry

I have to address the fact that I haven't posted in over a week: my husband and I got a new puppy, and we have been SO busy. I usually write my posts in the evening and schedule them to post during a high-traffic time of day. I haven't had a spare moment lately to do that.

That being said, my meal prep has also taken to the whatever is fast and easy so I can get it done side. One of my favorite simple, quick and nutritious meals is stir fry. You can include any vegetables and seasonings that you like and really customize it to your tastes.

Stir fry is dead simple, and I don't think it really needs a recipe, but I wanted to share with you what we like and the method I use to make sure that the veggies are cooked evenly. I also like to make my sauce from scratch to ensure the taste is catered to me and avoid extra thickeners etc.

 Simple prep, and proper cutting makes stir fry easy peasy

Simple prep, and proper cutting makes stir fry easy peasy

INGREDIENTS

Veggies

  • 6 heads of baby bok choy, halved
  • 2 large carrots, sliced thin
  • 2 white onions, sliced
  • 2 cups quartered button mushrooms
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pkg firm tofu
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions, for garnish

Sauce

  • 4 tbs fermented soy sauce (Kikkomon Brand is my favourite)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tsp Sriracha
  • 2 tsp Honey
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp corn starch

DIRECTIONS

  • Heat oil in large skillet or wok on medium-high.
  • Add onions, saute for 2 mins.
  • Add carrots, saute for 2 mins
  • Turn heat up to high, add mushrooms saute for 2 mins
  • Add tofu and bok choy, saute for 1 min
  • Crack eggs in, and stir to scramble and toss veggies in
  •  Quickly add sauce once eggs start to set, and toss to combine. Stir vigorously for approximately 2 mins until bok choy starts to wilt and sauce thickens slightly.
  • Serve over steamed rice, noodles...or just in a big bowl with a large sprinkle of green onions

NOTES

  • Change up your sauce to whatever you like. Some other mixes could be: honey, soy and sesame oil, maybe curry powder with a bit of fish sauce and chilies. Use whatever flavors you enjoy!
  • If you are using a wok, it's important to keep the veggies moving to prevent burning

 

 

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Low Carb Enchiladas

I will start this post with a huge caveat: I am not a huge fan of "Mexican" food. Mexican in quotes because I am referring to the American version of Mexican: ie: tacos, fajitas, soupy tomato salsa etc. Mainly because a lot of cilantro is used in those recipes, and I really, really hate cilantro.

So, one day I grabbed a jar of enchilada sauce at the grocery store because I know Todd loves Mexican food and it didn't have cilantro listed in the ingredients. At that time I made rice and black bean enchiladas and they were good.

Yesterday I had another can in my grocery cart and my wheels started to spin on how I can lower the carb count in the enchiladas and still have them be delicious. These are not carb free by any means, but I did cut the carbohydrates where I could to minimize the impact on my blood sugars.

These are good, gooey and SPICY. You can omit the chipoltes to even it out.

IMG_0066.jpg

INGREDIENTS

For the filling:

  • 1 lb ground pork, chicken, beef, turkey or veggie ground
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil

SAUCE

  • 1 Can Enchilada sauce (I used La Victoria)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 can chipotles with adobo (I used this one)
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Splenda
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice & rind of one lime
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella (Or cotija if you can find it) 

WRAPS

IMG_0067.JPG

 

  • 2 packs of Protein Up, Carb Down wraps (pictured above)

DIRECTIONS

  • Cook onions with salt and pepper until translucent in olive oil
  • Add garlic and cumin
  • Add ground meat/veggie ground and cook until browned
  • Add corn, tomato and green pepper
  • Turn on low and cook around 15-20 mins so the flavors meld together and the water the veggies omitted evaporates
  • While the filling is cooking, mix sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan, and bring to a simmer. Once the sauce is bubbling, blend with a hand blender until smooth. Add salt if necessary.
  • Oil a large baking dish with a bit of olive oil.
  • Roll the filling (~1/4 cup per wrap) inside the wraps like you're making a wrap. You can leave the ends open rather than fold them in. 
  • Line them up side-by-side in the pan, they can touch- no problem
  • Pour the enchilada sauce smothering the rolls.
  • Top with cheese, bake in oven at 375 for around 25 mins, or until the cheese is melty and gooey.
  • Serve with slices of avocado, lime wedge and a dollop of sour cream.

 

Wilted WildComment
Potato & Leek Soup

Comfort food posts continue. 

I love leeks. I rarely buy them because they are often expensive, and I see them as sometimes frivolous when I can get a similar flavour from a spanish onion or green onions depending on the recipe.

When I received my farm box from Nourish Your Roots (definitely take a minute to read about that amazing program), I saw two beautiful large leeks and I knew exactly what I wanted to make: classic potato leek soup. This isn't a really complicated recipe, it's just a marriage of flavours that are so subtle and delicious that it leaves you wanting more.

 I couldn't wait to dig in.

I couldn't wait to dig in.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Large leeks sliced thin
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 4 red potatoes, diced
  • 1 tbs fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup blend or coffee cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  • In a large soup pot, saute leeks in butter until soft
  • Add thyme, garlic, celery salt to the leeks and saute until fragrant
  • Add potatoes and stock and bring to a simmer
  • Simmer for 45 mins on low until potatoes begin to fall apart
  • Blend with stick blender until smooth, add cream.
  • Season with salt and pepper to your taste

 

See? Easy, comforting and delicious!

Wilted WildComment
Chili

You've probably noticed a theme with my recipes lately. Comfort food, warm and delicious...hearty.

My chili isn't any different. It's a big hit, and easy enough to make a huge batch that we can freeze and eat for awhile......if it lasts that long. We like it spicy, but as with all of my recipes-modify to your tastes.

I don't have much of a story on chili, I don't know the origins though I hazard to guess it's a south western US staple food. I believe it's inspired by mexican ingredients and stews that involve tomatoes, cumin and slowly braised pork or other meats.

The origin of my chili is trying to find a low carb, yet hearty stew that we could make on a budget. Success :)

chili-con-carne-2293111_1280.jpg

INGREDIENTS

  • 2  large cans diced tomatoes (no salt added) with juices (approximately 5 cups)
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tbs cooking oil
  • 1 can romano or black or kidney beans, drained
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced with seeds removed
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 heaping tbs chili powder
  • 1 heaping tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 375ml Beer (whatever beer you want-it's all good)
  • 1 cup turnip, diced
  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 rib of celery, diced
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1.5 lbs ground pork or beef or chicken (or a mix of all) (Optional: omit for vegetarian)
  • Shredded cheddar or sour cream for topping

DIRECTIONS

  • In a large soup pot or casserole, heat oil and sauté salted onions until translucent on medium heat
  • Add garlic, chili powder, cayenne, oregano and stir for 1 min
  • Add ground meat and cook until browned
  • Add chopped jalapeno, turnip, celery and carrot and cook until veggies are softened
  • Add tomato paste and cook for 5 mins while stirring. Make sure everything is well coated in the paste
  • Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beer, fish sauce and beans. Bring to a simmer and reduce to low heat.
  • Season generously with salt and pepper
  • Cook covered for at least 1 hour. 
  • Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheddar                                                                                                  

NOTES

  • The longer you simmer, the better it is. Usually around 4-5 hours on low is my time.
  • You can transfer everything to the slow cooker before adding the diced tomatoes, sauce etc. 
  • Change up the spices to satisfy your heat preference
  • I add carrots, turnip and celery because I like to add vegetables wherever I can. If you're a purist, simply omit!
Coconut Curry With Chicken

I wrote earlier about curry spices, and the need for a cook to know that curry isn't actually a spice (despite what western markets are selling) it's actually derived form the Tamil word Kari meaning gravy, or spiced sauce. So when I say I made Coconut Curry with Chicken, I mean the thick sauce that the chicken is swimming in is the curry and it's the star.

I remember the first curry I ever tasted. It was a lamb dhansak (spicy, pungent, fall apart lamb cooked down with lentils), and after my first bite I was hooked. A good curry takes time, the spices need to bloom and combine with the other flavors. Indian curries especially need a little TLC and an appreciation that time is the secret ingredient. This, of course, is a dish that is inspired by indian curry, with a little bit of thai inspiration as well. Southeast asian food is always so delicious and flavourful-I often combine them!

green-curry-2457236_1280.jpg

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cans of full fat coconut milk
  • 4 chicken breasts sliced thin
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes with juices (around half a large can)
  • 2 white onions sliced thin in half circles
  • 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder or 1 Thai bird chili sliced thin (optional)
  • 2 tbs hot curry powder 
  • 1 cup diced vegetables of your choice (suggestions: zucchini or eggplant-they absorb sauces well)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Thai basil to garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  • In a stock pot, sauté onions with a good bit of salt in 1/2 tbs vegetable oil until softened
  • Add garlic and sauté for 1 min
  • Add curry powder and cayenne (or chili) and stir to coat, add 1/2 tbs vegetable oil and turn down low. Keep stirring for around 1 min so the spices don't burn.
  • Add chicken and brown for 2 mins, stirring occasionally
  • Add diced vegetables and stir for 2 mins
  • Add vegetable broth, tomatoes and coconut milk and bring to a low simmer. Simmer for at least 30 mins uncovered on low.
  • Add shredded coconut and simmer for another 30-45 mins uncovered.
  • Season generously with salt and pepper
  • Serve piping hot over steamed rice, as a stew, or with Naan bread for dipping.
Cabbage Rolls

This recipe is at my mom's request. She has always been the one who made our cabbage rolls growing up. I fed these ones to her recently, and she said they were the best she ever had. So these are for you, mom.

I started this blog with full intentions of touching on culture and ingredients I love from around the world. These are a food that take me back to childhood, specifically the holidays. In Cape Breton there is a large Lebanese community and these were one of those treats that were often found at big gatherings.

Let's set things straight: I love cabbage. I think it's super versatile, healthy and tasty. I also love tomato sauce, so when you mix them together they create something truly divine and crave-able. These freeze really well, so if you are going to  put the labour in to this, I would highly suggest doing this in large batches and clearing space in the freezer.

 Meal prepped cabbage rolls 

Meal prepped cabbage rolls 

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large head of cabbage
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 cup arborio rice or barley
  • 1 large white onion, diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced small
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 can of tomato soup concentrate (not the diluted kind)
  • 1.5 cups veggie broth
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  • In a large pot, boil cabbage for around 40 mins until soft. Put in ice water to shock.
  • In large sauté pan, fry onions with salt for 3 mins until translucent and soft. 
  • Add 1 clove garlic, thyme, 1/2 tsp cayenne and saute until fragrant
  • Add rice to pan an sauté 3 mins.
  • At 1/4 of a cup at a time, add the vegetable broth to the rice. Only add another 1/4 of a cup at a time after the previous is absorbed by the rice.
  • Add beef and cook until brown
  • Add half can of tomato soup and bring to a simmer. Set mixture aside.
  • In a sauce pan, add 2 cloves garlic and tomato paste saute for 2 mins
  • Add large can of diced tomatoes w/ juices, remaining tomato soup, tomato sauce, 1/2 tsp cayenne & fish sauce
  • Bring tomato sauce to a low simmer. Let simmer for 30 mins.
  • While sauce is simmering, roll the cabbage rolls.
  • One leaf at a time, put around 1 tbs of the meat/rice mixture in the leaf at the end near your body. 
  • Roll the meat in the leaf in one rotation away from your body
  • Tuck both sided in and continue to roll. This will make a tight bundle.
  • Place cabbage rolls in a roasting pan that is greased with olive oil (You can also line with additional cabbage leaves)
  • Pour bubbling sauce over the cabbage rolls 
  • Bake in the oven at 350 for 45 mins.
  • Bring to a complete cool before freezing.

 

Delicious!

Wilted Wild Comment
Butternut Squash Soup

Squash season is among us, and I am nothing short of excited. I love squash in almost all of its varieties. The natural sweetness combined with its health benefits makes it a perfect veggie to add in to the rotation once they start their season.

I will have a recipe soon on spaghetti squash, but this one is all about hot comfort. The warm spices combined with the natural sweetness of the squash makes this one crave-able.

The hardest part about this soup is breaking down a full squash. They're very hard with a thick skin so peeling can be a challenge. I usually cut it in chunks and remove the skin with a sharp knife. Some people use a strong veggie peeler. I try and buy a big squash just so I can make a huge batch and freeze it.

 Beautiful and fresh butternut squash

Beautiful and fresh butternut squash

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Large butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1" cubes
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs cooking oil
  • 1 tbs dried thyme
  • 2 tbs curry powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dried ginger
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS

  • In a large pot on medium-high, heat up oil, salt onions and add themto the hot pot. Cook onions down until translucent and sticky.
  • Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
  • Add all spices and seasonings. Stir for around 1 minute until fragrant.
  • Add squash and coat with the mixture.
  • Add vegetable stock and brown sugar and turn on low.
  • Simmer for around 45 mins-hour.
  • Once squash is falling apart, blend with an immersion blender (hand blender/stick blender) or in your regular blender until smooth.
  • Season to your taste with salt and pepper.
  • OPTIONAL: serve with a dollop of goat cheese.

 

This soup freezes really well. I usually have it with brown bread for dipping.

Wilted WildComment
Pad Thai

Sweet. Sour. Spicy. Salty. Umami.

Thai food, as I know and understand it, captures all of the flavours and ties them up in a neat little package to be delivered to your mouth. When you eat Thai food, every bite should be exciting and full of flavour.

With these thoughts in mind, I wanted to re-create a Westernized version of Thai food. From what I understand, Pad Thai is normally a street food served from carts in Thailand. It varies in ingredients and flavours simply because it's more a style of dish rather than one with strict ingredients. With that in mind, I created a dish using flavours that I think represent the essence of Thai food that also suits how me and my family eat.

Fair warning: rice noodles are NOT low carb, and they aren't any more "healthy" than wheat/semolina pasta (unless of course you are gluten-free or gluten sensitive). Their texture is quite different than semolina pasta, they absorb a little more sauce and are slightly more slippery.

Adjust the seasonings to your taste, but here's our veggie Pad Thai.

 Mise en place is important :)

Mise en place is important :)

INGREDIENTS

Sauce:
1tbs white sugar
1tbs molasses
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup fish sauce
3 tbs sriracha
Juice and pulp of one large lime
Pepper to taste
1/2 chopped clove garlic

Dish:
2 eggs
1 pack of firm tofu (or chicken, pork,  beef, shrimp)
1/2 cup chopped peanuts, toasted
1 head of bok choy
6 green onions
3 cloves of garlic
8 mint leaves
1 pack thick rice noodles

DIRECTIONS

  • Cover noodles in hottest water from tap, set aside
  • Mix sauce and pour on cubed tofu, set aside
  • Stir fry white ends of bok choy 2 mins (until softened), add white ends of green onions finely sliced and chopped garlic, stir fry until fragrant, add peanuts stir fry until fragrant, add beaten eggs fry until partially cooked,
  • Add tofu without sauce (drain sauce into separate bowl) stir fry until warmed through,
  • Add bok choy greens, green onion tops and stir fry one minute.
  •  Add noodles and stir until well coated
  • Pour sauce over noodle mixture and mix well
  • Serve garnished with chopped mint (or cilantro if you're a heathen) and a lime wedge
  • EAT IN LARGE QUANTITIES
 Dig in!

Dig in!

Wilted WildComment
It's Fall, Honey(crisp)

It's fall. The climate is changing. It's so bizarre to remember October being sometimes-snowy, and filled with pockets of tissues and pink cheeks with runny noses. Some days this month you could have worn a pair of shorts, some days this month you could have worn a parka and scraped your car.

It's fall. The pumpkin spice lattes are steaming, and the pumpkin pies have been cut. Despite the odd temperatures, there's something deep inside me that needs a warm bowl of soup and to be buried under a blanket in the evenings while I relax with my husband. It makes me wonder if perhaps my 33 years of living in a climate slightly different than the one now may have biologically altered me to need warmth and comfort from the inside despite warmer temperatures.

 A photo I took last week enjoying an early fall morning.

A photo I took last week enjoying an early fall morning.

It's fall. The leaves are changing. When you drive down a winding road in Nova Scotia these days, the forests are speckled with vibrant oranges, red, yellows and deep greens. It's stunning, lush and every turn provides you a new opportunity to take a picture. There's beauty in the death of summer, walking in the woods can refresh your soul-just listen to the leaves crunch under your feet. Pay attention to the plant life taking cover and running from winter. I wish I could live in fall forever.

It's fall. That means it's apple season in Nova Scotia. More specifically, it's Honeycrisp season. A lot of people feel that the hype around this specific apple is too much and it's not worth the money. I am not one of those people. I love apples, almost any apple is delicious to me, but something about the crisp texture and deep sweetness of a Honeycrisp makes me very happy. And honestly, I don't have a recipe for you. Why bother? Pick up an apple, and bite it. Experience the texture and juice of a fresh Honeycrisp yourself. Sometimes there is perfection in simplicity and I would like to believe that this is what embodies the Honeycrisp.

 Image from cbc.com

Image from cbc.com

So, why is the Honeycrisp so popular? Well...the cellular structure of the apple is different than most eating apples. It's got bigger cells, so when you bite in to it, your mouth is full of juice and the bigger cells provide an extra crunchy texture.

I promise I will get back to writing recipes soon. I just...happen to be eating apples for almost every meal right now.

Wilted WildComment
Edamame & Sweet Potato Cakes

Sometimes I need to make a meal or snack out of things in my fridge or pantry that need to fuel my family for a few days where we are so busy, we may only see each other passing in the hallway.

As I prepare for camp this weekend with Connected in Motion , my husband is working 12 hours a day right through until Monday. Both of us will need easy to grab and prepare food that will keep our bellies and energy full for awhile.

I saw some sweet potatoes that were ready to turn, and I remembered my friend eating a sweet potato and black bean burger on the weekend at a restaurant. She said it was lightly sweet with a strong curry flavour.

I didn't have black beans, but I did have a bag of frozen edamame out of the shell, So I figured that this would be an excellent replacement. A few other veggies thrown in and we would have a good meal in one place. You can change up the seasonings if curry isn't your thing, I suggest garlic, thyme and cayenne.

 So, they don't look great, but they taste fabulous!

So, they don't look great, but they taste fabulous!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, diced with skins on (fibre and nutrients!)
  • 1 bag of frozen edamame
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1/2 white onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs curry powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 eggs****(for vegan use 1/3 cup silken tofu)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  • In a large steamer basket (or in a bowl in the microwave with 1" of water), steam allveggies together until soft and flaking apart. It may take around 7-10 minutes of steaming over a rolling boil on the stove, or 2 intervals of 5 mins in the microwave.
  • Drain all water off veggies. Pat dry using paper towel to ensure excessive moisture is removed.
  • Add all steamed veggies, eggs (or silken tofu) and spices/parsley to a large glass bowl and mix with a hand blender until smooth. Alternatively: you can add this all to your regular blender or food processor until smooth.
  • Place breadcrumbs in shallow dish or plate, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Take a palm-sized amount of your veggie mixture roll in to a ball and flatten slightly on your hand. Drop in to the breadcrumbs and flip over so both sides have a light dusting. Set aside on another plate. Do this for the remaining veggie mixture.
  • In a large, high sided frying pan heat 1 tbs olive oil on medium-high heat. There should be a light coating that's visible on the bottom, add more if needed.
  • Drop the patties/cakes evenly on the frying pan, and flip after 2 mins or when golden brown. Remove from the pan and place on a cooling rack to drain and cool. Do this for all of the patties.

NOTES

It made around 40 palm-sized patties for me. We are planning on making burritos on Protein Up wraps with them and adding some chickpeas, tomatoes, lettuce, hot peppers, cheese and salsa to them. But today I took them as they are for lunch with a curried mayo dip.

You can leave the breadcrumbs off if you want to cut down on the carb content but you will definitely be sacrificing some of the crunch. Plus, it won't even use the whole cup for the whole batch- splurge a little ;)

 

Stock

When cold months set in, there's nothing better than a warm bowl of homemade soup. Even going back to my Broccoli and Cheddar soup, you can see that at the base of every delicious soup there is an even more delicious stock. Often times I will use the boxed stock from Campbells or Knorr, but when I can I make big, big batches of homemade stuff. This helps me control seasonings, sodium and of course quality. It's always nice to know exactly what you're putting in your body.

Stock can be a bit fickle, and is definitely time consuming-it's best to make it in big batches and freeze in jars in the freezer. I use 1L and 500ml mason jars, and leave around 2" of space at the top for expansion.

At the base of any stock is bones. Using the bones from turkey, beef, chicken, lamb, duck etc.- will not only use every part of the animal (which is important for waste), but it will give you the absolute best stock. The bones contain gelatin, and when you slowly simmer gelatin out of bones you create a rich stock that has a luxurious mouth feel. Have you ever bellied up to a big bowl of soup at a restaurant and wondered just how their stock/broth was so silky and delicious? Gelatin!

In order to extract the maximum amount of gelatin, and to maintain clarity, the liquid needs to simmer slowly over a long period of time. Personally, I do 4-5 hours minimum, on low heat. It helps develop the flavours, slowly incorporate the gelatin and fats in to the stock and will also extract all the vitamins left in the bones and vegetables. This will leave you with an incredible healthy and versatile liquid that every kitchen should have.

Since this past weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada, I will tell you what I did.  You can easily change out any of the bones for any meat bones. If you prefer to not eat animals, add in extra vegetables (I also suggest mushrooms and a scoop of Miso-I will add that to the recipe below.)

 Around 4L of stock from my turkey this past weekend.

Around 4L of stock from my turkey this past weekend.

INGREDIENTS

  • Bones from turkey (or whatever you have. Ask your butcher too!)
  • 1 bunch fresh Thyme ( 1 tbs dried)
  • 1 bunch Parsley (3 tbs dried)
  • 1 tbs black peppercorns
  • 4 whole carrots
  • 1 whole yellow onion
  • 1 /2 cup chopped turnip
  • 1/4 cup miso** (for vegetarianoption only)
  • 1 packet of unflavoured gelatin** (for vegetarian option only)

DIRECTIONS

  • Put all ingredients in a pot and cover with water. (please see notes below for vegetarian option changes)
  • Bring to a low simmer- meaning the bubbles should be just barely breaking the surface. Leave covered for 2.5 hours.
  • After 2.5 hours uncover and let simmer on low for another 2.5 hours. This will reduce the liquid and concentrate the flavours. Check in every so often to make sure all the bones and vegetables are submerged.
  • Pour directly in to mason jars. If you want to make sure no bits get in your jars, pour through a fine colander.
  • Let cool completely. Refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze for 4 months.

NOTES

  • For vegetarian options: in the last 30 mins add the miso and the gelatin. Adding these with your veggies will make it too salty and the gelatin will have broken down. The gelatin and miso will create a deep, rich flavour with the smooth mouth feel without using meat or bones. I can't say it's vegan due to gelatin use, however you can always omit that and lack a tiny bit of texture.
  • Use any and all vegetables and scraps you have for both meat and vegetarian stocks! Onion peels, leek trimmings, carrots, turnips, parsnips, broccoli stems, brussels sprouts ,cabbage. Any hearty and sturdy vegetable will add a depth. It's a great place to use kitchen scraps before heading to the green bin. You can save these in the freezer for a few weeks.
  • Use this in soups, as bone broth, forgravies, sauces and more. It's endless and a great staple.