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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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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Osso Buco

20171015_175758.jpgBy Corinne

Osso buco is is Italian for “bone with a hole”. Traditionally this dish is made with veal shanks, but also works well with beef shanks, or even lamb shanks. It reminds me of beef short ribs, in that it’s a dish that is perfect for company as it looks impressive but is considerably hands off. You can even prep everything the day before, and refrigerate overnight, and just bring your braising liquid to a boil on the stovetop before putting into the oven.

Gremolata is a delightful, bright, garnish that I tend to only make for this dish, but every time I do I think I should use it for other things.

There are a few alterations from this and a more traditional osso buco. I don’t dredge the meat in flour before browning, because I’ve found I always end up with too much burnt flour bits. If you use a bit of oil the shanks will brown up nicely even without the flour. I also skip the step of putting my fresh herbs in cheesecloth- really, it’s pretty easy to remove them at the end of cooking so I find the step of creating a little bouquet garni to be an unnecessary step.

I always save all of the cooking liquid/veg, freeze it in containers and use it as a base for future gravy on days I’ve made something where I want gravy but haven’t made a roast or what not – think poutine 😉

Time: 20 minute prep, 2 hours cook

Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 4 veal or beef shanks
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, small dice
  • 1 medium carrot small dice
  • 1 large stalk of celery, small dice
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups of dry white wine, divided (I use chardonnay)
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock – I used this veggie bouillon
  • 1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 2 large sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
    For gremolata
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley minced
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 small clove garlic finely minced

Preheat the oven 300F.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large dutch oven on medium high until almost smoking. Pat shanks dry (they will brown better) and season with salt and pepper on each side. Add shanks to dutch oven, browning on each side- about 2-3 minutes per side. Don’t over crowd your pot or they will steam rather than brown. You may have to do this one at a time depending on the size of your shanks and your pot. Set them aside on a plate. You may need to add the additional oil between shanks.

While browning the shanks, dice onion, carrot, celery and set aside.

When shanks are finished, add onion, carrot, celery to the pot. Cook for a minute or two, and then slowly add 1 cup of wine to the pot to deglaze, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Simmer veg in white wine until wine has almost entirely reduced and been absorbed by the veg.

Add 4 cloves of minced garlic. Stir for an additional minute, ensuring that you do not burn the garlic. Add the two tbsp of tomato paste and stir into the vegetables. Add the other cup of white wine, and 2 cups of chicken or veggie stock. Add the sprigs of rosemary and thyme and then put the shanks and any juice on the plate back in the pot. Your shanks should be mostly submerged in liquid, but if there are a few bits sticking out that’s ok. Place lid on pot and place in oven on middle rack.

After 1 hour, remove from oven and move shanks around ensuring that any bits that were above the liquid are now under it. Return to oven for one more hour.

For the gremolata, finely mince 3 tbsp fresh parsley, mix with zest of one lemon and one small clove of garlic finely minced and set aside until ready to serve.

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When shanks are done (they should be very tender) remove from oven. Remove sprigs of thyme and rosemary. Remove bay leaves. Serve over risotto. At this point, you can either spoon over some of the cooking liquid and veg as is, or you can use an immersion blender and blend into a smoother gravy.  Garnish with gremolata. Don’t forget that the bone marrow is supposed to be the most delicious part!

Caprese Chicken with Balsamic and Red Quinoa

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By Corinne

Summer is the season for tomatoes and basil and caprese everything! While we are heading into fall here, my basil plants growing out on my deck are still doing well, though I think this meal will probably be the last harvest I get from them.

Chicken breasts these days seem obscenely large. If you’re using gigantic ones, half is certainly enough for a serving.

Time: 30 min or less

You will need:

  • 1C red quinoa
  • 2C chicken or vegetable broth or bouillon
  • 2 large chicken breasts, halved, or 4 small chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 3C cherry tomatoes halved
  • 3 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 1/2- 3/4C balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 4 generous slices of mozzarella

Thoroughly rinse quinoa and add to a medium pot with 2 cups of the broth of your choice. While quinoa is regularly touted as a super food, it’s also super bland, so don’t just cook it in water! Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. It will take about 20 min to cook. Stir occasionally. It’s finished when all liquid is absorbed.

If your chicken breasts are quite large, hold flat on a cutting board with your non-knife hand. Using a sharp knife, slice horizontally into two even pieces.

Place chicken breasts in a large frying or sauce pan that you have a lid for. If you don’t have one with a lid, you can probably cheat and place a dinner plate over top. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat 6-7 minutes on each side until cooked through, then remove from pan.

While chicken is cooking, halve cherry tomatoes. After chicken has been removed from pan, add the cherry tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes until tomatoes have just begun to soften. Add the 1/4 C chopped fresh basil, 3 cloves of minced garlic, and 3/4C balsamic. Stir for an addition 1-2 minutes.

Add the chicken breasts back to pan, and place mozzarella on top. Cover pan with lid or plate for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.

Divide quinoa between 4 plates. Top each with a generous amount of tomatoes and sauce and then with one of the cheesy chicken breasts. Top with additional basil for garnish if desired.

Baked Harissa and Honey Chicken Wings

 

20170923_193853By Corinne

I love chicken wings. They are one of those things that I can somehow manage to keep eating far past the point where I should have stopped. These wings are spicy and a bit sweet. Both the spiciness and the sticky sweetness can be easily altered to taste.

Time: 1 hour

Makes: 2lbs chicken wings

You will need:

  • 2lbs chicken wings
  • 1 tbsp harissa spice*
  • 2 tbsp honey

Lay wings in a single layer on a stoneware baking pan, or on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle harissa spice over top, then flip wings and sprinkle remainder of harissa spice on the other side.

Bake in a 400F oven for 45-55 minutes, flipping every 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and drizzle 1 tbsp honey over wings, flip and drizzle with remaining honey. If you like them sweeter and stickier, use more honey. Return to oven for 5 more minutes.

*I’ve been using the PC brand Harissa Spice Blend. I would say it’s fairy spicy, but 1 tbsp over 2lbs of wings results in no more than sort of a ‘medium’ spice level. You can of course increase this to taste!