Roasted Fiddleheads with Garlic and Parmesan

By Corinne

Fiddleheads are a special spring treat. They require some work and a bit of prep, but it’s extra satisfying eating something that you’ve collected yourself. This recipe is a delicious side for anything you’ve made on the bbq.

As with anything collected from the wild, it’s important to be able to properly identify what it is you are picking. There are photos and some tips here, as well as preparation instructions.

Fiddleheads need to be thoroughly washed and require boiling before cooking by another method- again, see this post for details.

Makes: about 3 servings

Time: about 20 minutes- though it depends on if you have already prepped your fiddleheads. If using fiddleheads that are frozen and pre boiled, or fresh prepped and boiled the time is about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450F

You will need:

  • 4 cups of washed and boiled fiddleheads
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste (I find with the salty cheese I generally don’t add any additional salt- though I do enjoy a generous grind of fresh pepper

Preheat oven to 450F. Melt butter and mix together minced garlic, parsley and butter. Place prepared fiddleheads on a sheet and toss with butter/garlic mixture.

Place in 450F oven for ten minutes. After ten minutes, remove from oven and flip fiddleheads. Sprinkle cheese overtop and return to oven for an additional 5-7 minutes.

Serve with anything you like! If you have leftovers, they are delicious in an omelet the next day 🙂

 

 

Cucumber Tomato Salad with Lemon and Dill

By Corinne

This salad comes together quickly and makes a delicious side. If you’re looking to make it a little more hearty, add some crumbled feta- if you do you should omit the salt until after you’ve tasted it with the cheese as feta is quite salty.

Makes: about 4 side servings

Time: less than 10 minutes

You will need:

  • 1 long English cucumber
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large clove of fresh garlic
  • juice of 1 fresh lemon
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped dill (add more if desired)
  • several grinds of fresh black pepper
  • salt to taste (about 1/4 tsp)

Halve the cucumber and thinly slice into half moons and put in a medium sized bowl. Quarter cherry tomatoes and add to cucumbers. Mince or press garlic and add to the cucumber and tomato. Chop dill and add to the vegetables. Add the juice of one fresh lemon and several grinds of fresh pepper and salt. Stir together. This salad can be eaten immediately, but is best if left to sit at least half an hour before serving in order to let the flavours marry.

 

Hominy with Kale and Chicken

By Corinne

Living here in the great white north I’ve only recently been introduced to hominy.  After a bit of looking around on the internet, it seems like canned hominy is easy to find and can usually be found near beans in the grocery store. Most sources recommended using canned rather than dried, and if you can find them, it will certainly save them a step. If you’re living in Thunder Bay, I haven’t found canned hominy anywhere (though word on the street is that Bulk Zone has brought in some canned hominy now!) and the only place I’ve found whole dried hominy is Renco’s Foods on Court St.

Once you’ve figured out the hominy part, this is an easy supper.

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Time: about 35-45 minutes (depends on the thickness of the chicken you are cooking)

Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 cups of hominy* (rehydrated and cooked) or probably one can drained will do
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 6 cups of washed and finely chopped kale leaves – no stems
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes (I used mini san marzano because they are my fav)
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes, or one crumbled red chili
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Juice of one fresh lemon
  • 1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth. I used white wine.
  • Salt and pepper

*If you can find canned hominy, by all means, use that. If using dried hominy, start this recipe the day before by cooking the hominy. I skipped the soaking overnight step and cooked it in the slow cooker on low overnight. It still took until early afternoon before kernels were tender and had popped. I cooked the whole bag of dried hominy and froze what I didn’t use in two cup portions so that I won’t have to do this step again for a while.

In a large pan heat 1 tbsp canola over medium heat. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and add to pan. If your chicken breasts are quite thick, you may wish to cut them in half to reduce cooking time. Cook for about 15-20 minutes (depending on the thickness of your chicken) until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Remove chicken from pan.

Add 1 tbsp canola to the pan and turn up the heat a bit to medium high. Add the hominy and stir and cook for about 10 minutes until some of it is getting a bit browned on the edges. Add the onion and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

Slice the chicken breasts and add back to pan with the other ingredients. Add the chili flakes, thyme, garlic and kale. Add the white wine and the lemon juice. Stir until chicken is reheated,  kale has wilted and the liquid has been mostly absorbed, about 5-7 minutes. Some of the tomatoes may have just started to break down, that’s ok, but if they’re all still whole that’s ok too. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper.

Slow Cooker Ribs

By Corinne

The biggest problem I’ve had with making ribs in the slow cooker is that they end up so tender they fall apart and you can’t even pick them up without them slipping off the bones. Now, that’s awesome in one way, but it means that they don’t have the crispy bbq bark goodness you get from cooking them on the bbq or in the oven. This method combines the best of both worlds. Ribs are dry rubbed and cooked in the slow cooker for no longer than 6 hours on low, then finished on the bbq or in the oven. They are incredibly tender, and still have the crisped goodness from finishing them under high heat.

You will need:

  • 1 rack of ribs, cut into 3-4 bone sections
  • your favourite bbq sauce for finishing

Dry rub:

  • 1 tbsp paprika (smoked, sweet or hot, whatever your preference)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder

Combine all ingredients for dry rub. Sprinkle generously over ribs- I usually use all the rub for one large rack of ribs.

Stand ribs up on slow cooker so they are not all laying on top of one another. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, but no longer than 6 hours. If you cook them too long you will have difficulty finishing them in the oven or on the bbq as they will easily fall apart.

Remove ribs from slow cooker. If finishing the ribs on the bbq, heat grill to medium heat and generously slather with your favourite bbq sauce, basting ribs a few times on each side over direct heat. I always think they look prettier when they’ve been finished on the bbq, but it was -25C the night I made these so this time I did it in the oven.

To finish in the oven, place ribs on a cookie sheet or baking stone. If using a cookie sheet, you may wish to cover with tinfoil to aid in clean up. Baste ribs generously on both sides and place under broil. Watch carefully, flipping and basting about every 2-3 minutes until both sides have been crisped up a bit.

Enjoy!

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Loaded Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie with Leftover Roast Beef

By Corinne

Shepherd’s pie is something I don’t make very often, mostly because I rarely make mashed potatoes, so even more rarely have any leftover mashed potatoes to use for the topping. However, I am the owner of a beautiful deep dish pie plate from Pampered Chef, and felt like shepherd’s pie is something that would suit this dish perfectly.

But, when I went to make it, I only had a couple potatoes, so decided to make a mixed vegetable mash for the topping instead of using just using potatoes. This had the side benefit of being both delicious, and probably more healthy as well.

You will need:

  • 2 cups leftover roast beef
  • 2.5 cups peeled, diced potatoes
  • 2.5 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup chopped parsnip (peeled if desired)
  • 1 cup carrot
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 cup corn
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 3-4 tbsp horseradish
  • 1-2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven 400F

Peel and chop potatoes and parsnip. Cut cauliflower into florets. Put potatoes, parsnip and cauliflower into a pot and just cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook until vegetables are fork tender.

While potatoes, parsnip and cauliflower are cooking, place 2 cups of leftover roast beef, 1 cup of diced carrot (do quite a small dice to ensure the carrot gets cooked!), 1 cup frozen peas and 1 cup frozen corn into a small casserole dish or a deep dish pie plate. Whisk 2 tbsp of corn starch  into 3/4 cup of beef broth and pour over beef and vegetables.

When potatoes, parsnip and cauliflower are fork tender, remove from stove and drain. Using either a hand or stand mixer, whip vegetables together with 1-2 tbsp of butter and 3-4 tbsp of horseradish until smooth.

Top beef and vegetables with the vegetable mash. Cook in 400F oven for one hour, uncovering for the last half hour so the vegetable mash gets some colour.

 

 

 

Balsamic Chicken and Vegetables

By Corinne

This is a fast, easy weeknight meal that is easily adapted to what you have in your fridge. You an switch up the vegetables to any that you like- for example, snap peas and cauliflower instead of green beans and broccoli. I personally would probably opt out of adding the tbsp of brown sugar- but a slightly sweeter sauce gets better reviews from my favourite taste testers. I know this seems like a lot of balsamic, but between the sweetness added and all of the vegetables, it mellows out and and is not too vinegary.

Serves: 4

Time: about 25 minutes start to finish – though it depends on how you cut your chicken

You will need:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into slices or chunks for faster cooking
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cups thinly sliced carrots (mine weren’t exactly matchstick, I quartered baby carrots)
  • 2 cups green or yellow beans cut into approximately 1″ pieces
  • 1 red pepper, halved and sliced
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 chili pepper
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Place chicken in a large skillet over medium high heat with a tbsp oil. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. While chicken is cooking, slice the red onion into half moons. Flip chicken over and add onion to pan.

While chicken and onion are cooking, slice up the rest of the vegetables. By the time you are done, the chicken should be mostly cooked through, though if it’s still pink that’s fine. Whisk together balsamic, honey, brown sugar, garlic, chili pepper and cornstarch and set aside.

If some of your vegetables are in larger pieces (my carrots for example) add them to the pan with the chicken and cover for 3 minutes before adding the more tender vegetables.

Add the rest of the vegetables and cook covered for 3 minutes.

Add the sauce, and cover for 3 minutes. If at the end of 3 minutes, you want the sauce to reduce more, uncover for an additional 1-2 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Ta da! You’re finished! If desired, sprinkle with some fresh chopped parsley. This is lovely served with rice if you’re into a carb to soak up the extra sauce.

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.

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