Avocado Lime Rice

By Corinne

Oh Avocados!

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As the cartoon implies, when you go to buy an avocado, it seems as though they are all either over ripe or hard as rocks. I generally buy them in a bag when the price is right, and of course, they all seem to ripen at exactly the same time, leaving me needing to use up 4-5 avocados in a short amount of time.

This rice is delicious in a wrap, or with Chipotle Pepper Beef.

Time: about 25 min – 5 min prep, 20 minutes cook

Serves: 4 as side

  • 1.5 cups rinsed brown rice
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup finely minced cilantro
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced or pressed
  • juice of one lime (if your lime isn’t very juicy, feel free to use two)
  • half a minced jalapeño

Cook rice using your preferred method. I generally use a rice cooker, but just follow your usual method.

While rice is cooking, remove skin and seed from avocado. To do this, run a knife lengthwise along the avocado through the fruit around the seed. Twist halves apart, and use your knife to knock out the seed. I generally cross hatch it with my knife and then use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, but since you are mashing it you can just take it out in one chunk if you like. Discard skin and seed and place flesh in a bowl. I was going to take photos of this process, but sometimes I don’t feel like re-creating the wheel so to speak. There is a lovely diagram of how to cut an avocado here as well as additional information about them.

Juice lime(s) over avocado. Mince about 1/4 cup fresh cilantro and mince or press clove of garlic. Add to avocado. Use a fork to mash together. Season with a pinch of salt.

When rice is cooked, mix together with mashed avocado mixture. Serve hot.

Party Appetizer Round Up!

by Corinne

Christmas isn’t the end of parties and appetizers, so here’s the round up of the last few weeks if you’re looking for something for a New Year’s party! There’s something here for everyone, whether you’re looking for vegetarian, gluten free, fast and easy, freezer friendly or indulgent deliciousness.

Marinated Feta Dip

Smokey Caramelized Onion Dip

Three Cheese Spinach Dip

Mini Lasagnes

Pears with Prosciutto and Cheese

Caprese Bites

Pesto Tortellini bites

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Crispy Wontons with Pork Filling

Antipasto Kabobs with Oregano Marinade

 

 

 

Easiest Scalloped Potatoes

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By Corinne

I love scalloped potatoes, but sort of hate making white sauce for them. While this recipe uses heavy cream, making white sauce uses copious amounts of butter, flour and milk or cream, so I feel like it more or less evens out in terms of fat/calories and being easy and even more delicious means doing it this way wins for me.

These are seriously so easy that there’s no need to save them for a special occasion 🙂 Plus, the sauce thickens to creamy deliciousness without adding flour, so they happen to be happily gluten free.

Cooking time will depend a bit on whether you are using a deeper square shaped 2 quart dish or a shallower rectangular shaped dish. 
You will need:

  • 4-5 medium/large potatoes
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • paprika
  • fresh ground pepper
  • about 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup (250mL) heavy cream
  • about 1/2 tbsp butter

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Rub butter on a 2 quart baking dish. Finely mince about half of a large red onion, about 1/2 a cup and set aside. Grate about 2 cups of shredded cheese and set aside. Use a mandolin to slice potatoes very thin. I usually leave the skin on as because I hate peeling potatoes and like the skin anyway. This is pretty much the only reason I have a mandolin, and it’s TOTALLY worth it, even though I don’t do scalloped potatoes very often.

Layer two layers of potatoes into dish. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, paprika, about 2 tbsp of minced red onion and a light sprinkle of shredded cheese. Continue layering potatoes, stopping every 2 layers to repeat onion, pepper and paprika. On the final layer, top generously with shredded cheddar cheese.

Drizzle 1 cup of heavy cream over potatoes, cover dish with foil, and bake in a 350F oven until potatoes are tender, 60-80 minutes depending on the size of your dish and the thickness of your potatoes. Broil to finish for a few minutes if a more crispy bubbly top is desired.

Spaghetti Squash with Goat Cheese and Garlic

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By Corinne

I came to spaghetti squash late in life and skeptical of any one who claimed it was ‘just like’ spaghetti. While I quite like it, could possibly even wax poetic about my love of it, I still think it only superficially resembles the pasta it’s named after.

I love this dish as a side for just about anything (pictured here served with veal cutlets), and have also been known to eat it as a vegetarian main served with a nice crusty bread and a salad.

Serves: 4 as a side dish

You will need:

  • 1 medium/large spaghetti squash
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
  • about 70g or 2.5oz of soft goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut stem ends off of spaghetti squash, scrape out seeds (roast like pumpkin seeds if you wish, they are super yummy!) and cut in half length wise.

Place cut sides down on a cookie sheet and place on middle rack in oven for 45min. At 45 min flip over and check to see if strands separate easily from the skin. If they do not, put back in oven for another 15 min (you can leave cut side up). When squash is tender, remove from oven and use a fork to gently pull the squash flesh from the peel and to separate the flesh into strands. You can either use the skin as a bowl or put it all into a separate bowl for serving.

Melt 2 tbsp of butter and mix in the chopped fresh parsley. Mince or press garlic into the butter. Give it a good whisk. When squash is finished cooking and you have scraped it into ‘spaghetti’, drizzle with butter/parsley/garlic mixture and sprinkle with goat cheese for serving.

 

Toasted Orzo

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By Corinne

This is a quick and tasty side dish. If you have some fresh herbs, add them at the end when you mix in the cheese. If you’ve been following the blog, you may notice that I often use fresh asiago instead of fresh parmesan. I find it has a similar delicious nutty flavour, but is generally less expensive.

Time: 25 min-  most of this is hands off time.

Serves:2-3 as a side

You will need:

  • 1 cup orzo*
  • 1 1/2 cups veggie broth  or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or use 2 cups of broth if not using wine)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh shredded asiago or parmeasan

Place butter in a pot to melt over medium heat. When butter is bubbly, add orzo. Do NOT add the broth at this point! Stir pasta in butter for about 3-4 minutes until about half of it has turned brown and toasty looking.

At this point, add the wine and broth of your choice, and cover. Cook about 15 minutes covered, stirring occasionally, until nearly all liquid is absorbed. When liquid is almost all absorbed, remove from heat and keep covered for about 5 min. Stir in shredded cheese and herbs if using and serve.

*if you find this isn’t QUITE enough for you, but doubling would be too much, try 1 1/2 cups of orzo, 3 cups of liquid for a bit more 🙂

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini and Mushrooms with Watermelon Salad

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By Corinne

This is a perfect summer supper. While we had this as dinner, the mushrooms and zucchini would also make a wonderful side or appetizer. I personally dislike mushrooms, but my husband loves them. Cremini are his favourite and what I used here, though I imagine this would work just fine with those white button mushrooms.

Serves: 3-4

Time: about 45 min

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini and/or Mushrooms

You Will Need:

  • 4 italian sausage removed from casing-I used 2 hot, 2 mild because there were no medium about 1 1/4 pound or .665 kg (from Tim’s Meats)
  • 1 onion- chopped
  • 1 clove garlic- minced
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine, I used Grey Fox Chardonnay
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • some combination of zucchini and mushrooms – I used 2 zucchini and 5 large cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 1-2 tbsp canola for brushing vegetables

Watermelon Salad

You Will Need:

  • 3 1/2 cups cubed watermelon
  • 2 cups thinly sliced cucumber (I used 3 of those mini kirby cucumbers)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced or small dice red onion
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh mint if desired
  • freshly ground pepper

For the zucchini/mushrooms

Place sausages (casing removed) and chopped onion in a heavy bottomed pan. Cook on medium until sausage is well browed with lots of little crispy bits! If your sausage was particularly fatty, you should probably drain off some of the fat before deglazing. I use local sausage that tends to be quite lean and don’t need to drain anything.

Use the 3/4 cup of wine to deglaze the pan- add it a bit at the time scraping up all the browned bits of goodness. Add the minced garlic, lemon zest and juice and let reduce until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and mix in about half of the grated asiago- the rest will be used to top your zucchini/mushrooms.

White your filling is cooking, prep the zucchini and mushrooms.

Pull the stems out of mushrooms. Chop up stems and use it in omelettes for tomorrow morning, or for pasta sauce if you’re into that sort of thing, or compost them if you’re not:)

Trim zucchini ends, and slice in half length wise. Cut into approximately 2.5″ pieces, and using a melon baller or a spoon, scoop out insides, being sure to leave a ‘cap’ on each end of your section so your filling will stay put! (I ended up with about 12 pieces from my two zucchini) With the leftover inside bits, you can save for another purpose, or compost. If I had just been making zucchini ones, I might have used less sausage and used the zucchini ‘insides’ as part of the filling as well. But I didn’t, and you don’t have to either 🙂

Brush tops and bottoms of zucchini and mushrooms with canola or olive oil. Place them on the grill on high/medium high top side down for only a minute or two until they have some nice grill marks. Remove from grill and fill with sausage, top with cheese.

Return to grill on low for about 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and zucchini and mushrooms are heated through. If you prefer your zucchini softer/more cooked leave them on a bit longer.

For the salad

Chop watermelon, cucumbers, onion add to bowl, mix gently. Crumble feta over top and juice of one lime and mint if using. Stir gently again to mix. Add fresh pepper to taste and serve.

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Chickpea Caprese Salad

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By Corinne

Little tastes more like summer to me than basil. I grow a large pot of it on my deck every year, and add it to everything.

This is a twist on the classic mozza, basil, and tomato salad. The addition of chickpeas makes it perfect for a light summer meal, or a lovely side at a BBQ potluck.

You will need:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • about 20 bocconcini halved (about 7 oz)
  • 2 cups of delicious tomatoes – if you are using ‘juicy’ ones, seed them first. I halved mini san marzano tomatoes because I’m a bit obsessed with them
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 tbsp to 1/4 cup of finely minced red onion- depending on the ‘power’ of your onion
  • generous handful of fresh chopped basil. If you don’t have fresh basil- make another recipe!
  • about 1/4 cup of a good balsamic or possibly a balsamic reduction
  • generous grind of black pepper
  • salt if desired, I tend not to use any when using the canned chickpeas

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Taste your red onion. Sometimes they are VERY strong, in which case, less is more so to speak. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix! Will need a quick stir up before serving.

If you are using a “regular” balsamic, you may want to add a tbsp or two of oil in order for the ‘dressing’ to be thick enough and not too vinegary. The one I used was a rather sweet and thick balsamic and I didn’t need that addition.

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