Saturday, 31 May 2014

Strawberry Banana Muffins

These muffins make a wonderful grab-on-the-go breakfast, they are packed with fresh strawberries and banana and have the added benefit of whole wheat! I also replaced the sugar with coconut sugar and the butter with coconut oil, they were moist, flavourful and a perfect medley of sweet and savory, and all topped with toasted coconut. You really can’t go wrong while devouring these delicious muffins.. But be warned, it will be hard to eat just one! Especially if you’re like me and feel the need to sample straight out of the oven! But don’t worry, I won’t judge you for eating 2 of these in one sitting, after all, they are made with healthy ingredients so you don’t even need to feel guilty. And the best part? They taste like such a treat that no one will know! Shhh.. it’s our little secret!

 [Make sure to whisk the dry ingredients to remove any clumps]
[Then whisk the wet ingredients until smooth]

I'm actually quite a new baker, never having much interest in the past as I never ate a lot of baked good, but when I moved in with Sean I realized that it would be incredibly cost AND health effective if I attempted to make more muffins and cookies. This way I can control what goes into them, no more seeing him eat baked good packed with artificial flavours, processed flours and white sugars. The thought of that stuff makes me cringe! So I knew that I had to learn how to make muffins for his breakfast during the week, it took a while, my first few batches came out very dry and I often over baked them. But finally, with this recipe and my few modifications, I feel that I've really come up with something that satisfies his desire for a tasty, moist muffin and my desire to feed us healthy foods!

 [Just loaded with fruity goodness!]
 [I love the crunch of that sweet toasted coconut]
 [Ah yes; happiness is a fresh muffin hot out of the oven]


Strawberry Banana Muffins
These light, airy muffins are bursting with berry-banana goodness with toasted coconut to top!

Time:
Prep Time: 10 minutes // Cook Time: 20 – 22 minutes // Yields: 12 muffins

Ingredients:
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk + 1 TBSP white vinegar
  • 1/3 c. coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 c. strawberries, dices
  • 1 banana, diced
  • 2 TBSP shredded, unsweetened coconut

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 12 count muffin pan with coconut oil; set aside
  • In a measuring cup, stir together milk and white vinegar and let sit for 5 – 10 minutes*
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside
  • In a separate bowl, whisk egg and coconut sugar until creamed, whisk in soured milk, coconut oil and vanilla extract.
  • Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just moistened, do not over stir. Add strawberries and bananas to batter and gently fold in.
  • Even distribute the batter into prepared muffin tin, and sprinkle each muffin with shredded coconut. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack.


* This process of mixing milk and white vinegar will “sour” the milk, making it more buttermilk like and creating lighter, moister muffins; you cannot taste the vinegar.


Friday, 30 May 2014

Slow Cooker Beef Dip Sandwiches

If there is one sandwich that I would say 100% is my favourite, it’s the Beef Dip. Hot melted cheese, tender roast beef and crusty sandwiches with a side of Au Jus; what’s not to love? I've been making different variations of beef dip sandwiches for as long as I can remember cooking and I really feel I have finally perfected it. One thing that really makes the sandwich is the slow-cooked beef, I just love how tender it is and because it’s shredded it’s easy to bite through, nothing is worse than taking a big bite and having all the fillings come out of it!

[A hot, cheesy sandwich with garlic, roasted beef and Au Jus to dip!]
[Stuff the garlic right into your roast, and sprinkle with the spices]
[Fry the mushrooms and onions in olive oil]
[Shred the roast in the slow cooker and add 1-2 TBSP reserved liquid]
 [Top buns with all your favourite fixings and pop into the oven]
 [Mmmmmm!! Enoy]

Slow Cooker Beef Dip
The meat is so tender and melt-in-your mouth delicious, topped on a crusty, toasted bun with savory fried mushrooms/ onions and melted Swiss cheese.

Time:
Prep Time: 10 minutes // Cook Time: 8 hours + 15 minutes // Yields: 4 sandwiches (Plus leftover meat)

Ingredients:
For the Beef:
  • 2-3 lb beef roast
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp Steak seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes


For the Onion/Mushroom Mix
  • 10 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste


The Rest:
  • 4 crusty buns
  • 4 slices of Swiss cheese
  • Mustard


Directions:
The Beef:
  • Make 8 small incisions into your beef roast and stuff with garlic cloves
  • Place onion slices and in the bottom of your slow cooker, and cover with beef broth
  • Place roast into the cooker, sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder, steak seasoning and red pepper flakes
  • Cover and cook on low for 8
  • When cooked, remove roast from slow cooker and drain liquid through a fine mesh strainer, reserving the liquid. Place roast back into cooker and shred, adding 2 TBSP of reserved liquid if desired.


Mushroom/Onion Mixture:
  • Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, add onions, mushrooms, salt & pepper and sauté until cooked and onions are translucent, about 10 minutes; set aside.

Assembly:
  • Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  • Cut buns in half and top with mustard, a heaping amount of beef, onion & mushroom mixture and a slice of Swiss cheese, then place in oven to toast for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted, you can turn broiler onto high for the last two minutes if preferred, but be sure to watch it!
  • Serve immediately, with reserved liquid on the side for dipping. 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Creamy Parmesan Tomato Soup

Last weekend we headed out to the Roughnecks Lacrosse Championship game, and in an attempt to avoid those greasy arena hot dogs I decided to make this soup. I was a little sceptical at first; I’ve never been a big fan of tomato soup as I find them so acidy and often boring. But this soup was not like that, not at all. It was smooth, creamy, rich and full of flavour! It’s definitely going to become a constant rotation in our house, and the leftovers were even better and made the perfect work lunch!

[A hot bowl of creamy, tomato soup]
 [I always do all my prep before I start cooking]
 [Including pre-mixing my spices]

No matter how hot it gets outside, I am always in the mood for soup, but in the summer I am definitely looking for lighter, healthier soups to maintain the healthy diet! In this soup I swapped out heavy cream for 2% milk, I also didn't use any butter for frying. You could play around here, add any veggies that strike your fancy -- or you can make it as is! Once you try it, you might not want to make any changes because it's so delicious as is!

 [Lightly stir-fry your veggies to soften and then add tomatoes, herbs and broth]
 [Let simmer for 15 minutes to really let the flavours come together]
 [Carefully (it's hot!) use your blender to reach desired consistency]
 [Enjoy this delicious soup!!]

Tomato Soup
A light, easy to make soup that comes together un under 40 minutes. Full of veggies and delightful flavours, this is a perfect weeknight dinner

Time:
Prep Time: 10 minutes // Cook Time: 35 – 40 minutes // Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients:
  • 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 4 ribs celery, diced
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups Vegetable broth
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 4 TBSP grape seed oil
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  •  

Directions:
  • Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat, add celery, onions, garlic and carrots, cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add basil, oregano, bay leaf, tomato and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.
  • While soup simmers, prepare a roux. Melt grape seed oil over low heat, add flour and cook, whisking constantly until forming a loose paste. Slowly stir in 1 cup of soup, then add another 2 cups and whisk until smooth and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes
  • Stir back into soup and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until soup is thickened. Add parmesan and whisk to blend, stir in milk, salt & pepper. Simmer over low 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve hot, topped with parmesan, if desired.


Recipe adapted from: http://utah.todaysmama.com/2012/03/20/tomato-basil-parmesan-soup-in-the-slow-cooker-or-on-the-stove-top/

Monday, 26 May 2014

Eggs Benedict with Home-made Hollandaise Sauce

This weekend we woke up to absolutely gorgeous weather, it was sunny and hot right from the first moment we opened our eyes. Sunshine in the morning is always so rejuvenating, it really made me want to have a bright, delicious breakfast so we would have energy for the long day ahead! We decided to go to the lilac festival downtown, and the farmers market. So to start the day I decided to attempt something that's been on my bucket list for years but I've always been to intimidated to try! Boy am I feeling foolish I waited so long, how many packages of hollandaise have I gone through while stifled by my fear! Never again! This hollandaise was everything I wanted it to be, lemony, creamy, smooth, and best of all, EASY! It was SO easy! You can bet I'll be making this again.. maybe even next weekend!







Eggs Benedict with Home-made Hollandaise Sauce

Time:
Prep Time: 5 minutes // Cook Time: 30 - 45 minutes (For all components) // Yields: 2 servings

Ingredients:
2 english muffins, halved
4 eggs
8 slices bacon
1/2 tomato, diced
paprika, to ganish
1 tsp white vinegar

For the Hollandaise:
1/4 cup butter
4 egg yolks
1 - 2 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1-2 TBSP warm water
salt & pepper to taste

Direction:
In a large pan, cook bacon over medium heat to desired doneness (I like mine pretty crispy), transfer to paper towel lined plate to absorb grease; set aside. Dice tomato; set aside.
Fill a large pot with enough water to cover eggs by 1-2 inches, bring to a low boil over medium-high heat, add vinegar.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl beat the egg yolks, whisk in lemon juice, Dijon, salt & pepper; set aside.
Heat butter in a small sauce pot over low heat, being careful not to burn, slowly add it to the egg mixture, whisking vigorously until mixture is creamed. Add back to pot and heat on low, whisking gently, until mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute; Here I found my mixture to be a bit to thick, so I added 2 TBSP warm water and used a spatula to make sure I got the around the edges of the pot mixed in. Remove from heat; cover and set aside.
Toast your english muffins, add your eggs to the boiling water and poach until desired doneness (I like mine medium, so I poach them for 3 1/2 minutes).
Add bacon, tomatoes and egg to english muffins. Distribute hollandaise sauce evenly over eggs.
Sprinkle with paprika and enjoy!

*Note - I only slightly adapted this recipe by omitting the heavy cream and adding Dijon for flavour; it turned out to be quite lemony which I love but if you aren't as big a fan I recommend only use 1 TBSP lemon juice and adding to taste!

Reciped adapted from: http://www.thetaylor-house.com/eggs-benedict-homemade-hollandaise-sauce/#_a5y_p=1233846

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Greek Chicken

Sometimes I get into a creative mood where I feel like doing some meal prepping, it doesn’t happen all the time but I try to set aside time about once a month for this. Last time I decided to make these marinated chicken breasts and popped them in the freezer for a quick week night meal; this process of meal prepping is especially helpful in the summer when it’s to nice out to spend a lot of time preparing and cooking dinner. You simply have to thaw your chicken, pop it into the oven and then come up with some type of side! I generally make something easy, like roasted broccoli or Creamy Parmesan Rice for a healthy side.





I really liked this marinate because the prep was almost non-existent (I just had to peel and mince 6 cloves of garlic) and then it was ready to be poured onto the chicken! You can also prepare this chicken many different ways, we don’t have our BBQ yet so I baked it, but if you could grill it as well. And the leftovers would be perfect for a nice chicken Caesar salad for the next day’s lunch! Either way you’ll enjoy the light flavour of this chicken!

Greek Chicken
A flavourful marinade that will keep your chicken moist and tender, perfect for a quick weeknight meal!

Time:
Prep Time: 10 minutes // Cook Time: 30-35 minutes // Yields: 2 Servings

Ingredients:
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. Dried basil
  • 1 tsp. Garlic powder
  • Black pepper

Directions:
  • Mix all ingredients, except chicken breasts, in a freezer safe Ziploc bag; set aside.
  • Trim fat off chicken breasts and scored them, then place in the marinade; shake to coat, and seal the bag, pressing as much air out as possible; freeze.
  • To thaw, simply place bag in a shallow dish in your fridge overnight
  • Preheat oven to 375°F, place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and pour remaining marinade over top, bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked with no pink in the middle.


*I made this marinated chicken ahead of time and froze it for about a month, but if you are looking to have it that night I recommend letting it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour before cooking – the longer it marinates, the more flavour it will have!


Friday, 23 May 2014

Creamy Garlic & Parmesan Rice

For reasons unbeknownst to me, we seem to eat a lot of rice with our dinners. Maybe it’s because I love the taste of it, and it goes well with most of the dishes I make. Don’t get me wrong, I mix up our grains, sometimes I’ll make a creamy polenta or quinoa, but a lot of the time its brown rice. I prefer the taste over white rice, unless you’re making my coconut rice, but lately I’ve been feeling more adventurous with my rice sides, that’s how I came up with the idea for this Creamy Garlic & Parmesan Rice.


 [Cook the garlic until fragrant and slightly coloured]
 [pour in the milk, water and salt and stir well]


I already had the idea for a garlic parmesan rice dish, but wanted to make sure I had a base idea in case I failed miserably in my own creation so I searched on the all-knowing Pinterest, and low-and-behold after searching “rice” I came across a recipe that reflected my feelings! I did alter it slightly though, to suit my own taste and needs!

[Mix in all that cheese, parsley and spices until fully melted]

Creamy Garlic & Parmesan Rice

Time:
Prep Time: 5 minutes // Cook Time: 50 - 55 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp roasted garlic flakes or garlic powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 TBSP Parsley, and more to garnish (optional)


Directions:

  • In a medium sauce pan, heat oil over low-medium heat, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes; add rice and stir until mixed with garlic.
  • Turn heat to medium-high, add milk and water and then bring to a low boil; stir well, cover and reduce heat to low; let simmer 45 – 50 minutes or until rice is fully cooked, stirring occasionally. When cooked, fluff with a fork and let stand for 5 minutes.
  • **do not stir rice too often, just enough to not let it burn on the bottom.
  • Stir in parmesan cheese, roasted garlic flakes, parsley and pepper until cheese is melted and all ingredients are well combined.
  • Top with more parsley, if desired.


*Note – If you use white rice, adjust cooking time according to package instructions


Recipe adapted from: http://www.bloglovin.com/viewer?blog=4923175&post=2445501825

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Quinoa Salad

Now that the weather is steadily becoming nicer out, and the days are becoming longer, I am becoming aware of the winter pounds that like to nestle onto us during the long months of cold days and hearty, warming meals. Needless to say I've been looking for some lighter options for my lunches that I can make ahead on the weekends to avoid rushing in the morning. I've been a fan of quinoa for a long time, I love the texture and pop of the grain, and the light nutty flavour it has. That’s how this salad came into my mind, I wanted to have a light, healthy lunch time meal that had enough protein to get me through the day







The sweet tomatoes and cucumber, paired with the tart peas and nutty quinoa makes this salad the ultimate lunch. Throw on that delicious blend of lemon and balsamic and your taste buds will be singing a little spring ditty while devouring every last bite of this delicious meal! I divided mine into 5 containers so I`d have lunch all week.



Summer Quinoa Salad
Loaded with protein and nutrients, and packed with flavour, you’ll be feeling refreshed and well nourished after a helping of this salad!

Time:
Prep Time: 10 minutes// Yields: 5 servings

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups cooked, cooled quinoa
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1 container grape tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup snow peas, halved
  • 1/4 cups feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • parsley, finely chopped, to garnish
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP balsamic
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pepper to taste


Directions:
  • In a large measuring cup or small bowl, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and pepper and whisk with a fork until well mixed, set aside.
  • In a large bowl, add quinoa, cucumber, tomato and peas; pour in dressing and stir until well mixed together; top with feta, olives and parsley.
  • Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

What an incredibly exhausting and busy long weekend we've just had, accompanied by some very random weather! Sometimes I wonder about the weather here in Calgary, it can be hot and 20+ and then thunder showering/hailing.. oh well, I suppose we will just have to keep extra layers with us at all times! We played in a tournament this weekend, and with three games on the first day I knew I wasn't going to feel like cooking dinner; so I decided to make my favourite dish: Pasta with meat sauce. I decided to make it in the slow cooker so I could come home, cook up some noodles and enjoy a hearty, warm meal after a long day of playing ball.




Making meat sauce in the slow cooker is probably one of the easiest things to do, with the exception of browning the meat there is virtually no work, and the clean-up is minimal. Best of all, you get a hot, carb-loaded meal that makes you feel warm from the inside-out; its comfort food at its finest! I served it over rotini with fresh biscuits and you can bet we were both stuffed after devouring generous helpings of this delicious dinner

Rotini with Slow Cooker Meat Sauce

Time:
Prep Time: 10 minutes// Cook Time: 8 hours, 15 minutes// Yields: 6-8 servings

For the Sauce.
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • Garlic to taste, minced (I used 6 cloves for the sauce)
  • 1 package mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 2 TBSP Garlic powder
  • 1 TBSP Chili Powder
  • 2 TBSP dried oregano, finely crushed
  • 2 TBSP dried basil, finely crushed
  • 1 TBSP Franks Red Hot Sauce
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:
  • In a large pan over medium heat, heat oil and add onions and garlic, sauté until translucent, about 3 - 5 minutes.
  • Add beef and pork to the pan and brown evenly
  • Add the meat, all the chopped veggies, crushed tomatoes, garlic powder, salt, pepper, chili powder, oregano, basil, anchovy paste and franks red hot to the slow cooker and stir until thoroughly mixed.
  • Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours.
  • 30 minutes before serving, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook rotini (or pasta of your choice) according to package directions.
  • Serve over pasta, topped with fresh parmesan, if desired.
Baking Powder Biscuits
Time:
Prep time: 5 minutes// Cook time: 12 - 15 minutes // Yields: 6 biscuits

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c chilled butter, cubed
1 cup milk or more if needed

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450°F
Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, whisk to combine.
Cut in the cold butter with a pastry knife, fork or your hands; until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Slowly add the milk, stirring as you go, until the mixture is sticky and slightly wet.
Drop the batter by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet, and bake for 12 – 15 minutes until the tops are slightly golden.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Coconut Rice

One of my favourite things about eating out a Thai restaurant is the piping hot pot of coconut rice that you can order! No matter how full I am, I always seem to go back for another spoonful of it! So when I made my Hoisin Pork Lettuce Wraps for dinner, I just knew that I had to re-create my favourite restaurant side at home! This coconut rice recipe might be one of the tastiest and easiest side dishes I've ever made, it’s truly as easy as cooking rice but the coconut milk gives it such a creamy texture and delicious flavour! It goes great with any Asian or Thai inspired meals that you make and is such a nice break from regular rice. I usually serve brown rice with dinner, but this is one of the times you’ll want to use jasmine rice! It really compliments the flavour of coconut.


 {Fluff it with a fork, and let it stand for 5 minutes}
 
I made a double batch of both and we ate it for lunches the next day as a simple rice dish! One of the nice things about this rice dish is that you don’t need any butter or soy sauce (or your favourite rice dressing) because the flavour is so full and vibrant! And the smell as it cooks is heavenly, that light air of coconut and rice, it's a treat for your nose!



Coconut Rice
This rice is so creamy and delicious that you might just want to skip the main course and eat it all on its own!

Time:
Prep Time: 5 minutes // Cook Time: 20 minutes // Yields: 4 - 6 servings

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups uncooked jasmine rice, rinsed
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 400 ml can of coconut milk
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  • Add all ingredients to a medium sized sauce pot, bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to low, cover and let simmer until rice is fully cooked and liquid is dissolved, stirring occasionally to avoid burning on the bottom, for 15 – 20 minutes. 
  • Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Garnish with finely chopped green onions. 
*One thing to note, is that the coconut milk tends to make the rice burn a bit on the bottom, so make sure you stir it really well and then let it simmer on very low, stirring occasionally throughout cooking time. 
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