Tag Archives: chili

Corn to be wild

2 Aug

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I made a lot of corn on the cob for Sunday’s BBQ. So much so that I had to cook it on the stove in our HUGE roaster. See these bags of corn? That’s *almost* all of the leftovers (minus the one cob I used for lunch today).

My mom informed me that she’s kind of tired of corn on the cob right now. I told her it’s a bad time to be tired of corn. So what to do with it all? Here’s what I’IMG_2424ve come up with so far….

For lunch yesterday, one cob’s worth of corn kernels made their way into a tasty salad, along with the teensiest bit of leftover “cowboy caviar,” red pepper, green onion, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, pickled red onions, fresh basil and parsley, and a tasty dressing made with chardonnay peach vinegar.

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What are those herbaceous cheesy topped veggies beside the salad? SO glad you asked. They don’t contain corn, but they were so tasty, I just have to share with you! I grilled a slice of eggplant and a portabella mushroom. Then I topped them with a couple of tablespoons of light ricotta cheese, salt and pepper, chopped thyme, basil and oregano, and lemon zest and juice. Mmmm! Summer deliciousness to the max. All the flavours worked SO well together and made a great light bite.

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Lunch was good. But more corn still remained. What to do, what to do? Then I thought, “I bet if I made cornbread with fresh corn kernels, it would be really good.” Then I thought, “I bet I could find a recipe that uses buttermilk, since I still have buttermilk kickin’ around in the fridge after making these biscuits.” Then I looked in Pioneer Woman’s cookbook and found her recipe for buttermilk cornbread. Then I though, “I bet I can make this healthier.” And here we are.

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I think that Pioneer Woman would be disappointed in me if she saw what I did for her cornbread. And this is why: 1. I sweetened it. I think I’ve heard that southerners DO NOT like their cornbread sweetened…but I do. And not only did I sweeten it, I used Splenda (the horror!). 2. I cut out the shortening and used a reduced amount of oil. You know how PW loves her ranch food. Since my long runs can never come close to the rigors of working on a ranch, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, ya know? I also used a square pan since I don’t have a cast iron skillet. PW, I love you, and hold you in highest esteem. Please don’t hate my northern cornbread, ok?

Fun fact: It took me three tries to get my “ingredients” (or cast of characters, as PW would say) shot since I kept forgetting things! The things I do for the blog!

Northern Girl’s Healthified Corny Cornbread

  • 1 cup Yellow CornmealIMG_2430
  • 1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ cup Splenda
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled jalapeno peppers (optional)
  • non-stick spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. While oven is pre-heating, put a 9 inch square stoneware pan or other oven-safe pan in the oven to get nice and hot. MAKE SURE YOUR PAN IS OVEN SAFE SO YOU DON’T HAVE A TRAGIC ACCIDENT AND HURT YOURSELF!!!!

Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder and Splenda in a bowl. Stir together.

Measure the buttermilk and milk in a measuring cup and add the egg. Stir together with a fork. Add the baking soda and stir.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until combined.

Slowly add vegetable oil to the batter, stirring until just combined. Gently fold in fresh corn and jalapenos (if using).

Remove the hot pan from the oven and spray liberally with cooking spray. Pour the batter into the hot pan. Spread to even out the surface. (Batter should sizzle.)

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Edges should be crispy! Cut into 12 pieces.

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Dry ingredients.

 

 

 

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Plus milk/buttermilk/egg/baking soda mixture.

 

 

 

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Add in the jalapenos and the corn kernels.

 

 

 

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Mix it all up, and ready to go in the oven.

 

 

 

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My pan is nice and hot. It’s really fun to pour in the batter and hear it sizzle.

 

 

 

 

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Now what goes good with cornbread? Can’t you tell what I’m going to make with olive oil, MORE CORN, zucchini and tomatoes from my garden, red pepper, mushrooms, onion, garlic, cauliflower, black beans, crushed San Marzano tomatoes, canned black beans, and leftover outside-in tamale pie (a little freezer burned after almost 4 months in the freezer, IMG_2441but not much worse for wear)? Don’t those leftovers just look SO appetizing in the photo? Smile with tongue out 

What? It’s not obvious? Ok, I’ll tell you: chili! And a darn tasty chili too! I just combined the above ingredients (well, sautéed the fresh veggies in the oil first) with a bit of water, salt, pepper, spices and Epicure seasonings, simmered away, and voila!

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The chili was delicious, and even better topped with Greek yogurt and leftover pickled onions, with a side of a cool cucumber salad, and of course, cornbread! I picked a pretty hot day to have chili, I’ll admit, but it did use up a lot of leftovers, so mission accomplished. At the end of the day, I said I felt like all I’d done was cut corn off the cob…do you understand why?!?!

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I was literally sweating after eating the hot chili for supper, so this chocolate cherry sundae (low fat vanilla ice cream, fresh sweet cherries, fat-free biscotti, light chocolate syrup, fat-free Reddi-Whip) cooled me down nicely.

 

I’ve still got a big bag o’ corn left. Any bright ideas to use it up?

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1-2-3 Chili

14 Apr

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I’m all about doing things ahead. One time in university, I had an entire draft of a paper written 2 weeks before the due date (seriously – who does that?). Every day, as soon as I get home from school, I layout workout clothes and work clothes for the next day. If I can, I like to make my lunch before I even eat supper. Even better than that is if I can make a batch of soup or chili on the weekend that can serve as multiple lunches for the week ahead. So today, I thought I’d share with you my basic recipe outline for veggie chili – one of my favourite make-ahead meals. It’s very flexible as to your taste preferences, spice tolerance, the number of servings you want to make, and what veggies you have on hand. I made the batch I photographed a week and a half ago and froze one portion, which I enjoyed yesterday. I LOVE having a ready-to-go meal in the freezer for nights that are too busy to think about lunch. Just pop it out of the freezer – no though required (added bonus: you don’t need an ice pack). But enough talking, let’s get chili-ing! Smile

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To start, chop up whatever veggies you like/have on hand into bite-size pieces. My favourite veggies for chili are onions and green peppers – but anything goes! This is a great way to use up veggies that are past their prime. I also mince up some garlic – a MUST for me in my chili (and almost anything I cook). Heat some oil (I use 1 teaspoon for every portion I make – so for example, for two days’ worth of lunches, use 2 teaspoons) in a saucepan (I use non-stick for easier clean-up) over medium-high heat. Add all your veggies and garlic, then sauté for a few minutes until slightly softened and maybe a little browned.IMG_0648

Next, add some canned tomatoes, a touch of water or stock (chicken or veggie, you choose), and whatever kind of drained canned beans you’d like (I use 1/2 cup for every portion). Just like the veggies, it really doesn’t matter what kind of beans you use. Add salt and your spices – for a basic chili, all you need is cumin and chili powder. Of course, I like to play around and experiment, especially with Epicure spices (I use different combos like Guacamole dip mix, Pueblo Bean dip mix, Nacho Cheese dip mix, or salsa seasoning). For a walk on the wild side, try a little bit of chipotle chili powder or a touch of chopped chipotle pepper. Chipotle adds a great smoky spiciness – but careful, it’s HOT! A little goes a long way! Two “secret ingredients” that I sometimes add – a splash of coffee or a pinch of unsweetened cocoa powder – they both add a unique depth of flavour.

Bring this to a boil and reduce heat, cover and simmer.IMG_0651 The simmering time frame is flexible – I would say go for at least 20 minutes, but you could go for up to an hour, to develop the flavours more. Let the chili cool to room temperature, then put it into containers. You can eat it right away, the next day, or freeze it and eat it whenever you want!

You can really make this chili your own – add extra ingredients to bulk it up (if you want a meat chili, just brown some ground meat of your choice with the veggies). You can stir in any frozen veggies you like, and of course, extra toppings (sour cream, cheese) are always good!

I know it’s a little past prime chili season now that the weather’s getting warmer, but I still enjoyed this lunch on a spring day. A great go-to healthy option. When it comes to chili, are you a spicier-is-better person or can you not take the heat? (I’ve gotten spicier as I’ve aged. My mom used to be the heat-lover in our house, now she says it’s spicy when I cook, and I don’t think it’s hot at all!)

* One note: I have recently purchased glass containers for reheating lunches in the microwave. Given all of the stuff that you hear about plastic, I figure you can never be too careful, right? I don’t want any freaky chemicals leaching into my body from plastic if I can avoid it!

My Favourite Things – meals for one

27 Jan

Time for another installment of My Favourite Things. As per a request after my last post, this one is devoted to some of my favourite meals/cooking tips for one person. I lived on my own for three years during university, and I am alone for meals a lot of the time now, so cooking, shopping and eating for one have become second nature to me. I really didn’t even realize that cooking for one is a challenge for some people until my sister mentioned it to me. So here are a few of my best tricks/favourite meals.

A nice big pasta supper. See my basic recipe for pasta with meat and veggies. Then you can change up the veggies and meat (or go meatless, use cheese or beans) and play with it until you have the flavours you like. Pasta is a fairly inexpensive meal that comes together quickly, which is great after the end of a long day.

Soup and Sandwich Supper

The nice thing about eating alone is that you have no one to answer to. If you just feel like a soup and sandwich, you can go for it! The sandwich can be whatever you like – grilled cheese, meat, both, veggie. You can use any kind of bread – make a quesadilla with a tortilla (or roll it into a wrap), use normal bread, a bagel, pita or English muffin. I really love sandwiches made with grilled or roasted veggies (and you can make these ahead – use them in salads or soups too) and goat cheese. Sandwich these between bread, grill it in a panini press/grill pan/frying pan and enjoy cheesy deliciousness. 🙂 Grilled portabello mushrooms also make FABULOUS vegetarian sandwiches. Grilled cheese sandwiches with a little bit of fruit (sliced apples are great) are another favourite of mine. If you want a meatier option, sandwich meat is always a quick option, or you can use up your leftovers to make another meal. And if all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with a good old peanut butter sandwich for supper.

As for soup? Mmmm…love it, especially this time of year! Here are a few of my favourite soup tips:

Classic quick chicken noodle

Veggie puree – I love vegetable cream soups…with just about any veggie. Broccoli; cauliflower; squash and apple is a great combo; zucchini…the list goes on.Basically, you just cook the veggies (I usually saute in a bit of olive oil), puree with a bit of liquid (you can just use water and salt or use broth), add milk (or fat free cream cheese or laughing cow cheese are really great), season and heat through. Nutmeg is always good in veggie cream soups. Squash soups taste great with a bit of cinnamon mixed in, or curry is good if you like it (I am not a huge curry person myself though). I love using my immersion blender to make soups (LOVE this gadget, one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever received…seriously).

A lot of canned goods are inexpensive and great for adding to soups. Canned beans make a great healthy, tasty and cheap addition to soups for protein. Canned tomatoes are excellent for adding volume/liquid to soups, particularly veggie ones. You can add the trinity of southwestern flavour (as I like to call them) – paprika, chilli powder and cumin – and do a yummy southwestern veggie soup. Tomatoes, corn and black beans work well together.

Chili

I love a nice pot of chili. I never use a recipe – like many other things I make, it depends on my mood/what’s on hand. Quite often, I make vegetarian chili using just beans, or sometimes add soy crumbles. You can use whatever meat (or not) is your preference.  Two of my favourite “secret” ingredients are a pinch of cocoa powder and coffee (either add liquid or even some dried instant coffee). Both add a nice depth of flavour to chili – try it sometime! Even if you’re only cooking for one, make a big batch. Chili freezes well and is GREAT for leftovers. You can use leftover chili to: top a baked (or “microwave-baked”) potato, put on a taco salad, top chili fries (either make homemade regular or sweet potato fries, or use frozen ones) or nachos (and of course, don’t forget the cheese!) and to make a dip – nothing like a good old Mexican layered dip with chili – you can do one layer of taco seasoning mixed with cream cheese/sour cream, a chili layer, then cheese over all, microwave and enjoy (ok, I know that last one is not a traditional “meal,” but it sure is a tasty way to use up chili).  You know what’s great about all of these recipes? If you don’t feel like/don’t have time to make chili, they all work with canned chili (such as my FAVOURITE one).

Stir Fries

Stir fry is a healthy, quick meal that can be easily reduced or expanded depending on how many people you are serving. Again, you can use whatever protein (chicken, pork, beef, tofu, shrimp) and veggies you have on hand. For me, garlic is a must for seasoning. Fresh ginger adds a nice Asian flair. And, if you’re like me and can take the heat, dried chili flakes are great too. I start by having my ingredients all chopped and ready to go. The basic method is to heat a pan (non-stick is best) till it’s nice and hot over medium-high heat, add a pit of oil (or use PAM), then add your meat and garlic (and ginger and chili flakes if using), cook until the meat is almost done, stirring occasionally but not too often (or the meat won’t brown). Then add all your veggies, cooking and stirring until crisp-tender. Near the end comes the fun part – seasoning! Now, if you’ve used ginger, garlic or chili flakes, you can just add salt and pepper and call it a day. But in the last few years I’ve discovered some Asian sauces that make your stir-fry taste decidedly more “restaurant-y.” Try any of these on their own, or mix and match to create your own “secret sauce.” Soy sauce is a classic, Teryaki is great, but my three new favourites are black bean sauce, oyster-flavoured sauce (doesn’t taste fishy, trust me, I HATE all fish/seafood) and chili garlic sauce. I bought these because I was making recipes that called for them, and now I love them on their own. They are available in the Asian section of most grocery stores (even here in Simcoe!). Once you’ve sauced and seasoned your stir-fry, cook and stir a few minutes more. You can serve your stir fry over rice, pasta, bulgur, couscous or quinoa (all of which are pretty cheap and easy to make).

I have more ideas, but this is a long enough post already. These are just some of the classic single stand-bys. It looks like I’ll have to do a Part II of favourite meals for one.

Let me know if you have any great single meal ideas or if you have any requests for favourite things posts.

My chili crush

20 Jan

It’s been almost 3 and a half years since I started Weight Watchers. Since then, I have found many products that I love and that make healthy eating easy and delicious, one of which is Stagg Vegetable Garden Chili. I can’t say enough about this stuff…I love it! A one cup serving is only 3 WW points, and 1/2 cup is only 1 point (these are all the old points system, not the new points plus…I don’t attend meetings now so I don’t have the info for the current system). It is packed full of different beans and veggies, not to mention loads of flavour! There are so many ways you can eat this stuff – over baked potatoes (sweet or white), on nachos, as part of a layered dip, eating it straight up, or over squash, as in today’s lunch (which I made on my snow day).

To start, I halved and seeded a delicata squash (also called sweet potato squash, I believe) and microwaved for six minutes until tender. I topped it off with 1/2 cup of the chili. On the side, you can see I have a couple of tablespoons of Kraft light Tex-mex shredded cheese. I melt this over the top…but I pack it on the side since it doesn’t need to be added until the last minute or so of heating. I also packed 2 Source yogurts for my “dessert” (they are from the tropical flavour pack). I will eat this during the second nutrition break at school (for those of you who don’t know about this system, all schools in my board now have two 40 minute nutrition breaks rather than one long lunch). Typically what I do is eat something small during the first break, then eat the bulk of my lunch at the second one. I will actually probably eat the yogurt during the first break and then have a fibre one bar or something for dessert.

Mmm…I love this chili…and this lunch….definitely one of my favourites…and pretty quick to make. And, in case you were wondering, I’m not a vegetarian. I do eat that way a lot of the time, but only because it’s healthy and I like it. I do eat meat on a fairly regular basis.