Broccoli Stuffed Baked Potatoes

By Corinne

Who would have thought a twice baked potato without cheese or bacon would be so good? I mean, technically these aren’t twice baked potatoes since I cheat and microwave them whole and then bake them once they’re stuffed. Time is money as they say, and sure, if you have time to bake your potatoes for an hour and THEN do the rest, go right ahead.

Time: 35 min (or possibly faster depending on your microwave)

Makes: 4 servings

Oven: 450F

You will need:

  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 3/4 cup broccoli- in tiny florets
  • 1 shallot- finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic- finely minced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted, divided
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper- several generous grinds

Give potatoes a good scrub. Microwave them whole on high heat until tender (if you gently squeeze them they will squish). I drape them in a damp paper towel, as I find it keeps the skin from getting tough. In my microwave, this takes 15 minutes. I have the smallest, cheapest microwave because I mostly use it to reheat tea (which takes 1 1/2 minutes). In your microwave it may take considerably less time.

While potatoes are cooking, preheat oven to 450F. Mince onion and garlic and set aside. Cut broccoli into tiny florets and return to measuring cup, add water until broccoli is just covered. Melt butter and set aside.

When potatoes are cooked, remove from microwave. You can let them cool a bit until they are easier to handle if desired. Cut potatoes in half and carefully remove the majority of the flesh, placing in a medium bowl. Brush the outside of the potato skin with butter.

Microwave broccoli until hot, bright green and just tender crisp (2 minutes in my microwave). Drain.

Combine potato with broccoli, 1 tbsp melted butter, 1/2 cup sour cream, shallot, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix together until combined.

Gently spoon mixture back into potato skins. Brush the top with remaining butter.

Bake for 20 minutes at 450F until potatoes have little golden peaks. Eat as a side with whatever else you happen to be making.

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Vegan (or not) Garden Pesto

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By Corinne

Basil is amazing. I am so in love with basil in the summer I can hardly help myself from adding it to everything. Basil in every salad, basil on sandwiches, basil gently rubbed between my fingers just to smell every time I go outside on my deck… Ah! Well, enough with this summer reverie. It’s February and the days (while getting longer) are still short and dark and cold and we’ve just had two weeks of -20C without a break. I’m craving summer in a bad way!

This pesto is infinitely versatile- in the summer I use much more basil than other greens, but in the winter good basil is hard to find and pricy! Tonight when I made it, I used about 15g of basil and 15g of parsley(a small handful of each)- the rest was spicy arugula, so I omitted the pepper.

While I’ve historically always used cheese, I decided to give nutritional yeast a try for this recipe. I probably could have thinned it out a BIT more, but it actually emulsified easier than the cheese version, was smoother, and as a bit of a shock to both myself and my taste tester, was the preferred version!

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Time: under 10 minutes

Makes: about 1/2- 3/4 of a cup 

You will need:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil or other oil of your choice (I used sunflower oil)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, outer skin removed
  • 1 ½ cup(lightly packed down) fresh herbs such as basil, parsley or greens such as spinach, kale or arugula
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt – to taste
  • pepper – to taste

In a food processor or using an immersion blender(I usually use my immersion blender as this is a relatively small batch and I have a large food processor), combine the herbs/greens and garlic and process for 15 seconds.

With the food processor still running, add the oil SLOWLY until the mixture is smooth – you want it to emulsify. The mixture should look almost matte, and not oily. If your pesto looks oily you rushed the emulsification process and added too much oil at once.  You are looking for the mixture to be loose, not chunky but not watery or runny at all.

Add the nutritional yeast or cheese and process for ten seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

You can see in the picture that I did a better job of emulsifying the one version on the left than the one on the right today. I’m going to blame using a different container than I usually use!

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Toss with warm pasta, put on pizza, spread on a pork tenderloin or chicken… pesto is delightfully easy to use! This will stay good in the fridge for about a week. 

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Vegan Chocolate Snowball Cookies

By:  Julie

Time:  35 min

Serves: 2 dozen cookies

I will admit, I used to have food prejudice.  With the word vegan I associated flavors like cardboard, kale, and unseasoned lentils.  After much research, and a daughter with food allergies, I have learned much.  I have learned that Vegan can be delicious, and if you make these cookies you won’t even know they are vegan  You will just think they are awesome – and so will anyone else you feed them to.  Picture a chocolate cloud… crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, with a rich chocolate taste.  Heaven.  My sentences are getting shorter because I’m eating them and typing with one hand.  Because I can’t stop eating them.

This recipe originally came from a past edition of Our Compliments magazine and caught my interest because it was dairy free, which is important for my family.  Corinne and I wanted to see if we could make a vegan version as this is the result.  It has the same texture as the original and is just as tasty.

You Will Need:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp ground coffee
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of well mashed very ripe banana (1 large)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder.  In a stand mixer bowl, or a large bowl, use mixer to beat together cocoa powder, oil, and coffee until well combined.  Scrape down sides and beat again.  Add white sugar and brown sugar and beat until combined.  Add banana and vanilla and mix thoroughly.  Some people who are afraid of sticky dough here might chill it to make it easier to work with, but I promise, it’s fine.  Just skip it.  Time is money.  If you are sticking your finger in the dough at this point to lick it off you will get an intense banana flavor.  Most of this mellows after baking so don’t panic.  I doubt your family will even realize there is banana in there if you don’t blab and tell them.

Put icing sugar in a small bowl.  Using a spoon (don’t bother with an ice cream scoop, the texture of the dough will just make you insane if you try to use it), and your fingertips, make 1-inch dough balls and roll them in the icing sugar before placing on your lined cookie sheet.  Repeat until all the dough is gone and you have 24 pretty white snowballs.  I baked my two sheets of cookies separately because my oven doesn’t seal particularly well but if you have cooked two sheets at one time in the past with success, by all means throw them both in there at once.  Otherwise, bake one sheet at a time for 6-8 minutes (mine took 8).  You will no they are done because they will have leveled out and cracked a bit.  They will be like little molten lava cakes when you first take them out and they are delicate.  slide the parchment paper with the cookies off the sheet carefully onto a cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely before eating.  Or throw them in a bowl with ice-cream because, damn, they really are like little lava cookies.

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Let us know how this worked for you!

Easy Beer and Panko Fried Pickles

By Corinne

I like to use the pickles that are already sliced for sandwiches to make these to save a step- you can of course slice whole dills, or even slice them into little rounds if you prefer.

If you’ve never used panko crumbs, they are NOT the same as regular Italian style bread crumbs. They are lighter and cook up much crispier than regular crumbs. Panko style crumbs are made by cooking bread using an electric current rather than heat- so the loaf has no brown outside crust. This video from Upper Crust Enterprises doesn’t have the most engaging narration, but does take you on a factory tour and through the panko making process if you’re interested.

You will need:

  • 10 large slices of pickle
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1 tbsp snipped fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • several grinds fresh pepper
  • Vegetable, canola, safflower or sunflower oil for frying
  • salt if desired

Dip

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp snipped fresh dill

Heat oil over medium heat. In a shallow bowl or pie plate, mix flour and beer. Stir in snipped fresh dill. In another shallow bowl or pie plate, add panko crumbs.

Dip pickle slices into beer batter, then transfer to panko crumbs, pressing crumbs in slightly. Set aside on a plate. Repeat until all pickle slices have been breaded.

Use a few sacrificial crumbs and place them in the oil- they should vigorously bubble. If the oil is too hot and starts to smoke, remove immediately from heat. If the oil is too cold, your breading will absorb more oil then necessary.

Stir together sour cream, 1-2 cloves minced garlic and snipped fresh dill. Set aside.

Fry battered pickles in batches, one to two minutes on each side, placing on a piece of paper towel to cool until all are finished. Serve with sour cream dip.

** if you are making a larger quantity, you can keep them warm in the oven while you’re cooking the next batch, but place them on a wire rack on a cookie sheet to keep them from getting soggy bottoms.

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Quinoa Taco Salad

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By Corinne

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with quinoa as I shared in my post on Lemony Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas. I find it tends to suck the flavour out of things, and isn’t really that exciting on it’s own. Ha, ha, am I selling you on this yet? This really is a wonderful supper full of savoury flavours and delightful textures. I have found that red quinoa seems to have a bit more flavour, and I prefer it for this dish and most others. It is vegan as long as you either use dairy free cheese shreds and either omit or use a dairy free version of sour cream.

This recipe was inspired by one from Thug Kitchen 101- but edited for both additional flavour and simplicity. It could also easily be used as a filling for tacos, or as a topping for nachos 🙂

 

Time: about 35 minutes

Serves: 4 generously

You will need:

  • 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed (to rinse or not to rinse? I buy mine in bulk so rinse)
  • 1 3/4 cups water or veggie broth (I used veggie broth)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 cup canned (cooked) black beans
  • 1 large onion, small dice
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, small dice
  • 1-2 fresh jalapeño, minced (don’t be afraid to use at least one here! The quinoa really does make things less spicy somehow)
  • 2 heads romaine, washed and chopped
  • juice of one lime, + additional lime wedges for each salad
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • tortilla chips
  • garnishes- avocado or guacamole, additional jalapeño, green onions, diced cherry or regular tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, shredded cheddar or queso fresca

Combine 1 cup quinoa with water or veggie broth. Add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp oregano. Bring to boil, and then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir every few minutes until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy- about 20 min. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a bit more of everything to your taste, or leaving it as is. While quinoa is cooking, prepare vegetables.

Add 2 tbsp oil to pan on medium high heat, and add onion, black beans, bell pepper,  and jalapeño to pan. Fry until veggies are starting to get tender and getting some colour- about 5-7 min. Add cooked quinoa, lime juice, garlic, and cilantro. Stir for an additional minute or two.

Serve hot over lettuce with toppings of your choice. Also delicious cold for lunch the next day!

 

 

Chicken with Chardonnay Cream and Pancetta

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By Corinne

I love cooking with wine! You don’t have to buy a super expensive bottle, but you should buy one that isn’t horrific or that makes you gag. I often use Grey Fox Chardonnay from California for cooking, as it’s inexpensive but also not the worst if you’re going to have a glass to finish the bottle.

This recipe was inspired by one in Niagra Cooks by Lynn Orgryzlo, but has been adapted. I wanted it to be gluten free, with more sauce, and a few less steps. A grainy mustard also works well here, though will give the finished sauce a slightly different texture. I have made it before with 1/2 and 1/2 cream, if you do this, you will need more time for reducing and definitely need to finish by thickening with corn starch.

Time: about 35 minutes

Serves: 4 

You will need:

  • 4 chicken cutlets (about 1.5lbs or 0 .66kg)
  • 4 slices of pancetta, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup (about 1/2 a large onion) finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  •  1.5 cups chardonnay
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp corn starch + 2 tbsp broth, water or wine
  • a few tbsp safflower, or canola oil
  • salt and pepper

Cook pancetta until crisp in the pan you will be cooking the chicken in. Only cook pancetta over medium/medium low. It will get quite smokey if you do it on a higher heat.  Remove pancetta, add butter to pan. Add minced onion, cook until softened and starting to get golden, about 7 min. Add minced garlic and cook for about 1 more minute. Remove onion and garlic from pan, but leave any residual oil.

Add enough oil to the pan so that the bottom is covered in a thin layer. Turn up heat to medium high. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Add chicken to pan, it should sizzle loudly. You want some nice browning action so the pan has to be hot (though it should not be smoking). Cook 3-4 min on each side, turning once, until cooked through. If you are not using cutlets and are using rather thick breasts, brown both sides and then finish in a 400F oven until internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F. You may have to cook in batches. Remove when cooked and keep warm in oven.

Add the chardonnay to the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Add the onions you cooked earlier. Let reduce for a few minutes until reduced by about a 1/4. Add chicken or vegetable broth and cream. Allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes. If sauce requires additional thickening, mix together 1/2tbsp corn starch with 2 tbsp broth, wine or water. Mix into sauce.

Serve cutlets with a generous scoop of sauce, and a piece of pancetta crumbled over top. Delicious sides that go well with this sauce include rice and almost any vegetable, though tonight I made twice baked broccoli potatoes- which also worked well 🙂

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Skillet Chili Pasta

By Corinne

For a long time I had mixed feelings about chili. I don’t care for kidney beans. Sometimes people put mushrooms in their chili, and mushrooms happen to be one of the few things that I REALLY don’t like. I’m a bit picky about my ground beef. But one of the glorious things about making things yourself is you can do it how you like it. I usually make chili with stew beef rather than ground beef, but though I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, I have been inspired to make more plant protein based meals. This chili is a riff on something between my regular chili, and the chili mac from Thug Kitchen 101. It is vegan as long as you stick to vegan ‘toppers’ to finish.

You will need:

  • 2 tbsp safflower or olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped (I often use red onion, but yellow onions work fine)
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 carrot finely chopped
  • 1 large stalk of celery (or two small)
  • 1 jalapeño finely minced (use half if you are cautious about the heat, it is always easier to add more than to try and adjust it if you’ve made it too hot for your taste)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic pressed or minced
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups (500ml)  of a plain tomato sauce, or diced tomatoes (I usually use my ones I canned from my garden until I run out!)
  • *2 tbsp (30 ml)- 1/2 cup tomato paste the amount of tomato paste needed will depend on the tomato sauce you use and whether you used just canned tomatoes or an actual sauce
  • 1 can of beer
  • 2-3 cups (750ml) of vegetable broth (start with 2, add more water if needed for the pasta to cook)
  • 3 cups of small pasta (about 240g) (today I used a tri-colour rotini, but I also love small shells for this)
  • 1 can (540ml 19 fl oz) of black beans, rinsed
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp lime juice + zest from one lime
  • any or none of the following to finish – cilantro, cheese, sour cream, avocado, lime wedges, additional jalapeño. This dish is vegan as long as you stick to vegan add ins.

In a large skillet, add  2 tbsp oil and chopped onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper,  and jalapeño pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes until veggies are fragrant and getting tender. Add garlic, coriander, cumin and paprika and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Add tomato sauce, veggie broth, and beer. Cover and bring to a simmer. Add pasta, cover and cook until pasta is a bit before al dente.  The amount of time here will depend on the size of your pasta, but about 7 minutes should probably do it. Add lime juice and zest, maple syrup and tomato paste and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serve topped with any or none of the the suggested toppings. Do you have any toppings you love for chili that aren’t mentioned here?

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