Quinoa and Goat Cheese Salad with Orange Ginger Vinegrette

By Corinne

I haven’t quite managed to jump on the quinoa bandwagon, but have discovered that I do prefer the red quinoa to the white variety. It seems to have a little more flavour than the white variety and it cooks up exactly the same. This is a healthy and filling supper salad. It’s even better if you make the quinoa and dressing the day before and it has a chance to really soak in, which means it makes for amazing lunch the next day

Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cups water (I use a little less water because it’s going to absorb some of the dressing later)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 crispy apple (I used Red Prince variety)
  • 3/4 cup of pepitas
  • goat cheese- I’m not putting an amount because I like a lot. Full disclosure, I even added a few more chunks after I took the photo.
  • salad greens of your choice
  • Not pictured – but some slices of cucumber also work well with this dressing

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup olive or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • zest of one orange
  • 4 tsp freshly grated ginger (taste, you may want to add more)
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
  • Several grinds of fresh pepper and a generous pinch of salt

Before cooking quinoa, give it a good rinse in a fine colander under running water, scrubbing it a bit with your fingers. Cook quinoa in 1 3/4 cup of water, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low for 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Fluff and remove from heat- leave uncovered to cool.

While quinoa is cooking, whisk together dressing ingredients.

In a dry pan, toast pepitas over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, shaking the pan every few minutes. You will hear some of them start to ‘snap’ and get a bit brown. They don’t all need to brown, but when they start to smell toasty they are done.

When quinoa is finished cooking and has cooled a bit, add half of the dressing to the quinoa. Let this sit for at least 10 minutes, though this could be done earlier in the day and refrigerated. Let the quinoa cool to about room temperature. (Though if you’ve made it earlier in the day or the day before and it’s cooled completely, that’s great too!)

Slice apple just before serving so it doesn’t brown.

Place salad greens in bowl, add several spoonfuls of the dressed quinoa on top of the greens. Top with apple slices, goat cheese, toasted pepitas and additional dressing.

wp-image-1767964857jpg.jpg

Growing Sprouts

By Corinne

I don’t remember what originally inspired me to grow my own sprouts, but it’s so easy and economical that I’m continually surprised it’s not more popular. Why should  you bother? Well, other than being simple and cheap, it’s also fun, and it seems like it would be a fun thing to do with kids. In terms of effort, its only a few seconds a day, and no matter how many times I’ve done it, I’m still amazed at the changes you see everyday. Once they are ready to eat, sprouts are a yummy addition to salads and wraps, or really anywhere where you might use lettuce.

In terms of nutritional benefits, it seems sprouts may have beneficial enzymes that are part of this early growth. If you do a little googling, there are a lot of claims about just how amazing sprouts are, however, I’m a little skeptical of some of them since few of the sites making these claims back them up with any sort of evidence, references, or studies. That being said,  a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables is well established as being beneficial, and sprouts are a fun way to get a little more variation.

There are a few cautions though – it is important to source seeds that are meant for sprouting and raw consumption. Often seeds meant for planting in the garden are treated with fungicides and other things that you don’t want to be eating, or can even potentially be contaminated with salmonella. I order my seeds from Mumm’s, though there are certainly other reputable sites.  My favourite mixes of seeds I’ve tried so far are Spicy Lentil Crunch mix and Crunchy Bean mix.

Equipment

You can buy a special sprouting jar, tray or sprouting bag. But you really don’t need to. If you buy a sprouting jar it will come with a mesh top, but an elastic and piece of cheesecloth work just as well. I use a 1L jar (2 pint), you can use a smaller one, but ensure you reduce the amount of seeds you put in. A wide mouth jar would probably be a good idea, though I generally don’t have too much trouble getting them out of the one I use.

Process

The amount of time it takes to get your sprouts to edible form depends a bit on the type of seeds. Most packages will give you both instructions for sprouting and the number of days it will take to sprout. In general, many are about 5 days, though some seeds take less time, others take more. General directions and helpful hints below.

Step 1. Place 2 tbsp of sprouting seeds into a 1L jar. Cover top of jar with cheesecloth and secure with an elastic. Cover with water and allow to soak overnight or for 6-8 hours.

Step 2. Drain water and refill with cold water, swirling seeds around to rinse and drain again. If there are a lot of seeds stuck to the cheesecloth, just give them a little flick with your finger to knock them down. Sort of roll the seeds around in the jar so they aren’t all clumped up together- as seen in the middle photo below. Lay the jar on an angle and place it out of direct sunlight.

Step 3. Rinse and drain sprouts twice a day for the next 4-6 days, leaving jar at an angle between rinsing.  For the last day of sprouting you may wish to place the jar somewhere it will get sun for a few hours for the sprouts to green up.

Step 4. When your sprouts are ready for eating, take the cheese cloth off and rinse and discard the seed hulls. Depending on your jar, you may find it easier to put sprouts into a large bowl and skim the hulls off the top. You don’t need to worry about getting them all.

Step 5. Allow sprouts to dry for a few minutes on a clean cloth or piece of paper towel. They can be stored in a covered container with a piece of paper towel in the bottom. They are best if eaten sooner rather than later – I often plan to use them the day I know they will be ready, but they can be stored in the fridge for about 3 days.

As you can see in the above photo, 2 tbsp of seeds made a lot of sprouts, about 4 cups as they are really packed into that jar!  I probably could have let them grow for another day, but I wanted to use them in Harissa Chicken Wraps with Hummus.

img_5192

The photos above are all of the Spicy Lentil Crunch mix. Below are photos featuring the Crunchy Bean mix.

Avocado Lime Rice

By Corinne

Oh Avocados!

avocado7.png

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.

Creamy Vanilla Whisky

By Corinne

This makes a delightful drink that is creamy without cream, flavoured with vanilla and just a hint of coconut.

After I posted Homemade Irish Cream I had a request for a dairy free version. Now, when making things like this, whether it be gluten free, or dairy free, I don’t want the best part of the recipe to be the absence of the ingredient, but rather I like them to be delicious in their own right. For instance, I prefer the extra chewiness that the chana flour imparts to My Favourite Brownies, so I make them this way whether or not I’m making them for someone who is gluten intolerant.

This one is a little more effort than the Homemade Irish Cream, but if you’re looking for something dairy free, or just something a little different, it’s a win.

img_5029

Makes: about 4 1/2 cups or about 1L

Time: about 20 minutes to reduce coconut milk, + cooling time

You will need:

  • 2 cans of full fat coconut milk (2 x 398 mL) or 28oz
  • 2 1/2 cups (20oz) of Wiser’s Vanilla Whisky or other vanilla whisky
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar, but regular will work)
  • 2 tbsp of chocolate syrup
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

In saucepan or pot, pour contents of two cans of coconut milk and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Whisk together and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about 1/3 or 8oz – this took about 20 minutes for me, but will depend on the surface area of your pan, if you are using a pan or pot with larger surface area, it will take less time, if you are using a regular pot, it will take longer. If you skip this step it will result in a rather watery end product.

Once reduced, remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Add 2 1/2 cups vanilla whiskey, 2 tbsp chocolate syrup and 1/4 tsp of almond extract to the cooled coconut milk. Whisk together until blended and pour into a container. Keep refrigerated for at least a month- though it’s probably good for much longer but my bottle ends up mysteriously empty sooner. Shake well after being refrigerated.

Enjoy on the rocks or added to coffee.

 

 

 

Brie and Apple Salad with Cider Vinegrette

By Corinne

This is one of my favourite salads. It comes together quickly, and even though you bread and fry the cheese (just a little bit and it’s totally worth it) I still think it qualifies as a pretty good post-holiday-gluttony supper.

I absolutely adore pomegranate. It has a reputation of being difficult to peel and messy, but really it’s super simple. I was going to take pictures of how I peel it, but here’s a great video instead. You can even be less finicky with cutting off the top than this person is and it will still pull apart beautifully.

Time: 20 minutes or less – tonight I started this at 6 and we were finished eating at 6:30.

Serves: 4 as a light supper salad (I usually do half of this for just two of us)

You will need:

For the salad

  • 2 small heads of romaine, washed, chopped and dried
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 2 small crisp apples
  • 1 7oz (200g) wheel of double cream brie
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 tbsp canola for frying

For the dressing

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 tsp grainy mustard
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or olive oil if that is your preference, though I find it is sometimes over powering, especially in a salad like this that has rather delicate flavours)
  • several grinds fresh pepper
  • pinch of salt to taste

Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

Chop, rinse, and dry romaine. Open pomegranate and put all of the arils (that’s what you call the little bits you eat!) into a bowl.

Heat 3-4 tbsp of oil in a small frying pan.

Cut brie wheel into eight equal pieces – two will go on each salad.

Whisk one egg in a small bowl and put 3/4 cup of panko crumbs into a pie plate.

Dip each piece of brie into the egg and then into the bread crumbs, pressing them in and coating each side.

When all brie pieces are ready to go, core apples, halve, and thinly slice. You want to wait until now to do this step so your apples don’t brown before you are ready to serve the salad.

Place 4 slices of brie into the pan, they will only take a few seconds on each side for the breading to brown. Remove and drain on paper towel. Repeat with remaining 4 slices.

Arrange salad on plates- romaine, apple slices, handful of pomegranate arils and then top with two pieces of fried brie. Give the dressing another whisk before drizzling on top.

img_5017

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

 

 

 

Pesto Tortellini bites

By Corinne

This appetizer has a short ingredient list, but is big on flavours. They come together quickly and can be prepared the day before your party if desired.

Makes: about 25-27 skewers with 3 tortellini each if you use the whole package

Time: about 10 minutes to cook pasta, assembly depends on how many you decide to make. It took me about 10 minutes to put together about 20.

You will need:

  • 350g rainbow tortellini (or plain will also work)
  • 3 tbsp of pesto
  • seasoned sundried tomatoes in oil
  • bamboo skewers or toothpicks

Cook tortellini according to package directions- if using fresh tortellini, usually the boiling time is only 2-3 minutes. Do not over cook. Drain and stir in a generous 3 tbsp of pesto. Let cool completely. This part can be done the day before if desired.

Slide a tortellini, piece of sundried tomato, tortellini, piece of sundried tomato and tortellini onto wooden or bamboo skewers. Repeat. That’s it. You’re done.

These can be prepped the day before and stored in an airtight container overnight if needed. I usually serve these cold, though they are certainly good heated.