Pomegranate and Blood Orange Salad with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

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By Corinne

I didn’t realize that eating pomegranates was something people struggled with until I started seeing various videos being posted about the ‘right’ way to peel them, or how to eat them without making a mess. Even still, a shocking number of these videos called for you doing this in a bowl of water? I feel like that seems like more trouble then it needs to be.  I use this method, and always have- though I’ve never really thought of it as being a ‘method’ exactly.

Pomegranates are often a bit pricy, but they are SO pretty and tasty and make such a pretty addition to dinner salads, fruit salads and drinks that I feel they are totally worth it. I also love that they are a bit of work to eat. They also keep amazingly well in the fridge. And even when the outside starts to look a little dried and sad, they are usually still perfect and bright on the inside! They are a good sort of picking at snack… for when you’re not *really* hungry, but looking for a little something.

At least around here, you can generally only find pomegranates in the winter, so they are something I associate with winter salads rather than summer ones.

Time: about 10 minutes

Serves: 2 as a very generous side

Dressing– makes about 1/3 cup of dressing (more than you need for 2 servings)

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup of pomegranate arils
  • 1 blood orange(or regular orange)
  • about 4 cups salad greens
  • a few shavings of a hard sharp aged cheese (parmesan, pecorino, romano, asiago – anything aged and sharp)

Dressing 

  • juice of one or two fresh lemons – you want about 1/4 cup of juice, so it will depend on the juiciness of your lemons
  • 2 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • several generous grinds of fresh pepper
  • *1 tsp apple cider vinegar if you feel it needs a bit more acid

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Taste your dressing. If you feel like it needs a bit more of an acidic punch, add 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar.  Mix greens and dressing (you probably don’t need all of it, but it depends on how dressed you like your salad)

Add dressed greens to bowls and top with pomegranate arils, blood orange slices, a few curls of a sharp salty cheese of your choice and a few grinds of fresh pepper.

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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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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.

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Curried Parsnip and Cauliflower Soup

By Corinne

Lately I’ve been having a bit of an autumn love affair with parsnips. They are one of those vegetables we didn’t eat growing up, so I’ve come to this love rather late in life. At our local market there are a few vendors who sell them but for some reason I’m particularly enamored of these.

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I don’t even think they’re ugly. They’re sort of adorable. Can vegetables be adorable? Mostly though, they are delicious.

This soup is creamy and smooth, without being heavy. Most of the creaminess comes from the pureed vegetables rather than an excessive amount of cream.

Time: 30-35 min.  10-15 min prep, 20 minutes cook.

Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 1 large onion – diced
  • 2 stalks celery- diced
  • 2 cups parsnip, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups small florets of cauliflower
  • 1 1/2 cups diced potato (I left the skin on mine, whatever you prefer)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic- minced
  • 1 chili pepper (if desired) minced
  • 7 cups of reduced sodium chicken broth, or veggie broth.
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin *I toasted and freshly ground my cumin- if you don’t, you may need to add more than this and adjust to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt to taste (if needed – I didn’t)
  • freshly chopped cilantro

Add 2 tbsp of butter to pot on medium heat. Dice onion and celery and add to pot once butter has melted. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. While onion and celery are cooking, prep other vegetables.

When onion and celery are softened and beginning to get some colour, add the garlic and chili (if using) and stir for about one minute until garlic is fragrant – do not allow the garlic to burn.

Add the broth slowly, scrapping up any browned bits from the bottom of pot.

Add the diced parsnip, cauliflower, and potato and increase the heat to medium high to bring to a boil.

Keep at a gentle boil for about 20 minutes until veggies are soft. Add the cumin, coriander and turmeric. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. Taste and add salt if needed – though this will depend on the saltiness of the broth you used.

Stir in cream and serve with fresh chopped cilantro.

Chili Lime Roasted Acorn Squash and Black Bean Wraps

By Corinne

My husband is a wonderful person to cook for. He is ever appreciative, isn’t picky and loves ALMOST everything. In fact, even things he doesn’t LOVE he will eat and then when asked for a review of our meal, he will say that it’s, “not my favourite”.

Among things that fall into the ‘not favourite’ category, are any of the sweet vegetables. He doesn’t generally care for cooked carrots, no matter how savory you make them, and generally isn’t a fan of any of the squashes except spaghetti squash, as all the others fall into the ‘sweet vegetable’ category.

But even knowing this, I sometimes can’t help myself at market. I buy squashes because they are beautiful and I like eating them. And I am sure that if do it just right, he won’t notice what he’s eating, and sometimes I’m right 😉 This was one of those meals.

I made my own tortillas, but certainly store bought ones will work just fine.

Makes: about 7 or 8 wraps, depends a bit on how full you make them. They are quite filling.

Time: about 10-15 min prep, 25-30 min bake

You will need:

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I used marble for these pics because I happened to be out of cheddar, but when I have cheddar, that’s what I use)
  • about 2 cups of greens of some sort, romaine works fine, I used a spicy radish mix from the market

For the dressing:

  • juice of three limes – about 1/2 cup
  • 1/4 cup canola
  • 3 tbsp minced cilantro
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 thai chili pepper if desired

Preheat oven to 450F. Halve squash lengthwise, cut off stem ends. Remove seeds and roast if desired (if you like roasted pumpkin seeds, do this! They are delicious!). Cut squash into 3/4″ wide wedges. Brush lightly with canola and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast squash for 15 minutes, and then flip. Roast for an additional 10-15 minutes. While squash is roasting, prepare the ‘dressing’. Juice limes, mince garlic, cilantro, and chili pepper (if using) and whisk together with canola and lime juice and set aside.

At the 15 minute mark after you’ve flipped the squash, add 2 tsp of canola or butter to a pan. Chop onion and add to pan. Cook for 5-7 minutes, then add the can of drained, rinsed black beans.

When squash is finished roasting, you have two options. You can leave the skin on, or peel it off the slices after  you’ve let them cool for a few minutes. I don’t mind leaving the skin on, as it is generally pretty thin and I don’t mind eating it. In fact, even when I take it off, I umm…generally eat it as I do so.   I find the variegated variety of acorn squash does tend to have an even thinner skin so am more likely to leave it on, but I removed it tonight.

Drizzle about 1/4 cup of the dressing over the baked squash.

Pour the rest of the ‘dressing’ into the black beans and onions.

Cook black beans and onions for about another 5 minutes until dressing has reduced a bit. Using a potato masher, give black beans a few mashes, you aren’t going for a perfectly smooth texture, you just want them to be broken up enough that they won’t be rolling all over the place.

Place your wrap on a plate, sprinkle some grated cheese down the middle, a few tbsp of the mashed black beans, a few pieces of the roasted squash and some greens. Fold up from the bottom, then fold over the sides (I always do right side first, tuck it in, then left, but the opposite works just as well!) and poke in a toothpick to keep it together. Eat and enjoy!

 

Lemon Pepper Chicken with Snap Peas and Cherry Tomatoes

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By Corinne

This is one of my favourite mid-week meals. It’s healthy, comes together quickly, and the combination of bright cherry tomatoes and snap peas is delightful. One caution, because you leave the cherry tomatoes whole, they are VERY hot and juicy when you go to eat them, be careful not to burn your tongue!

Serves: 2 – though is easily scaled up (because I wanted some leftovers for lunch, I also made a side of toasted orzo)

Time: about 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness of chicken breasts

You will need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • lemon pepper seasoning
  • 8oz snap peas (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • 1 clove of garlic if desired
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottomed  pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Sprinkle both sides of chicken breasts with lemon pepper seasoning. Cook chicken until browned and no longer pink inside, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from pan, place on a plate, and cover to keep warm.

In the same pan, add snap peas, then after a minute or two, cherry tomatoes. If necessary, add another tbsp of oil. Cook, stirring occasionally until snap peas and cherry tomatoes have some colour and some of the tomatoes have started to split – about 5-7 minutes. If desired, in the last minute of cooking add 1 crushed clove of garlic and salt and pepper to taste. You may find you don’t need to season the peas and tomatoes as some of the lemon pepper seasoning is likely stuck to them from the chicken 🙂

If necessary, you can add the chicken back to the pan to reheat when tomatoes and peas are almost finished cooking, I find this is generally unnecessary as long as you cover the chicken to keep warm.