Tag Archives: summer

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?

Burger Bonanza

1 Aug

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I’ll admit it. I had a total “food baby” after last night’s delicious BBQ supper. But it was SO worth it. You all know how much I love burgers. Add on a buffet of delicious toppings, AMAZING local corn on the cob, tasty salads, baked beans and multiple tempting desserts? Summer perfection!

 

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These pictures don’t do it justice, but here you can see the array of toppings on the burger bar. This is the third time I’ve done build-your-own-burger as a summer party, and I have to say, it’s one of my favourite ways to entertain in the summer. After all, who doesn’t love a good burger? I used store-bought burgers and buns, but the tasty toppings take it up a notch.

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To choose from, we had:

  • sliced tomatoes
  • bacon Smile
  • sautéed onions
  • hot peppers
  • sliced avocado and leftover guacamole
  • salsa
  • the standard mustard, ketchup and relish
  • Dijon mustard
  • spicy mustard (mix of Dijon, grainy mustard and Ancho chile powder)IMG_2393
  • BBQ sauce
  • Velveeta cheese slices
  • goat cheese
  • homemade pickled red onions
  • homemade dill pickles
  • homemade red wine onion relish (those last three items are from my new Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries and Shakes book – they were all pretty simple and DELICIOUS!)

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To start things off before the burgers, we had “Cowboy Caviar,” which is a tasty dip made with fresh corn (recipe says used canned, but why would I when the fresh stuff is so good?), black-eyed peas, green onions, tomatoes, avocadoes, fresh flat-leaf parsley (recipe calls for cilantro but I switched it – there’s a lot of haters out there when it comes to cilantro) and oil/vinegar/seasonings. Sooooo good! That big bowl disappeared pretty quickly! We also had a Hungry Girl cucumber dip and veggies.

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Main course was the aforementioned burgers, a salad I made, 3 other tasty salads brought by guests, baked beans Red heart brought by a guest, and LOTS of corn on the cob (I may have overestimated there just a bit – there’s quite a bit leftover – guess what you’ll be seeing in my meals this week? Winking smile). I had some of everything, and went back for more of the sides!

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Desserts. SO. GOOD. We had fruit (watermelon, muskmelon, honeydew, cherries) – gotta keep things healthy, you know? I made peach blueberry cobbler (I think what my family calls a cobbler is technically a crisp, as it has an oatmeal topping, but we’re not going to change now). Mmmm…one of my all-time favourite summer desserts. So simple, yet so delicious! To go with the cobbler, I made homemade vanilla bean ice cream – I may never buy store-bought again! And to top it all off, I made “Better than you-know-what Cake” (I think you can all guess what “you-know-what” is without me telling you, right?Winking smile). For those of you unfamiliar with this dessert, it’s basically a chocolate cake with chocolate chips, soaked in sweetened condensed milk (AKA the Nectar of the Gods) and caramel sauce, then topped with Cool Whip and Skor bits. Not for the faint of heart! But I cut back on the oil and sugar in the cake and used low fat Cool Whip, so it’s practically calorie-free, right?IMG_2421

It was a great night – tasty food, warm weather (as the shiny-ness from my sweaty face in this picture shows), and great friends. If I’m going to splurge on some 80/20 food, this is my favourite way to do it – tasty, homemade, comfort food…mmm!

I’m not going to share all the recipes with you today – but I’ll start with Bobby’s Red Wine Onion Relish. This stuff was so good, I would have no problem eating it straight up (in fact, when I got my second plate, I took a spoonful and did just thatEmbarrassed smile). And it was actually easier to make than I expected. I would have thought that you had to caramelize the onions, but the recipe only calls for sautéing for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Before I give you the recipe, let me just say, even if you don’t like wine (which I don’t), this stuff is GOOD. It definitely kicks the burger up a notch, and I think it would be good on any sandwich, or even grilled meat. You really should try it soon!

Red Wine Onion Relish from Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries and Shakes

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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, halved and thinly sliced (I used one red onion, one Vidalia, because I have lots right now and I love their sweet flavour)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with a lid and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the wine, vinegar, honey and thyme and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens to a jam-like consistency, 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl, stir in the parsley, and let cool to room temperature. The relish can be made 2 days ahead and stored, covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving. Makes about 2 cups.

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Sautéing the onions. The 10 minute cook time and occasional stirring were much more low maintenance than caramelizing them!

 

 

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This is right after I removed from the heat and stirred in the parsley. I didn’t transfer to a bowl first (sorry Bobby), but by now, that shouldn’t surprise you, as you know what a rebel I am in the kitchen.

 

Ok, for the other recipes, I thought we’d try something fun. Leave a comment in the comments section or on facebook, or email me, and let me know which recipe you’d like to see on here first. Depending on the response I get, I will post whichever recipe gets the most votes in an upcoming post (don’t worry, I may share more than one). I thought I’d do a “readers’ choice” post later this week, where I share the recipe you choose and answer the questions I got last week (don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten)! So, the more you respond, the better the post will be!

Fellow Canadians, how did you celebrate the long weekend?

Fajita Fiesta

30 Jul

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Happy Long Weekend fellow Canadians (and happy Saturday everyone else)! I hope you are enjoying the beautiful summer weather.

Last night was our first round of entertaining for the weekend, so I decided to do a BBQ version of fajitas. I love fajitas. They’re actually one of my go-to choices at restaurants when there’s not a lot of healthy stuff to choose from, as it’s easy to pick and choose which toppings you want. And it’s a great meal to feed a group for the same reason – you put what you want on your fajita, so it suits a variety of preferences.

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But since it is summer time and grilling is practically an institution when entertaining, I decided to take things outside and do the meat and veggies on the BBQ instead of in a skillet on the stove (bonus: saves calories because you don’t need oil).

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I decided to do a “mixed grill” of chicken and steak (but I marinated all the meat in the same bag – I don’t know if that’s a no-no or not, but you know me, always the rebel).

The marinade was pretty simple, and, not to toot my own horn, but it turned out really well. The meat was tender and super-flavourful. I used 2 Mesquite-marinated steaks from M&M, so they added a bit of their seasoning, then I added:

  • lime juice
  • red wine vinegar
  • Ancho chile powder (Ancho is great because it’s not as spicy as a lot of other chiles, but still adds great Mexican flavour)
  • cumin
  • Epicure salsa seasoning
  • a few cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • salt and pepper

IMG_2336I put my steaks and chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag and marinated in the fridge for several hours, turning the bag several times to distribute the marinade.

I grilled the meat over high heat, then removed, covered with foil and let it rest while I grilled the veggies (red pepper, Vidalia onion and zucchini), which I sprayed with PAM for the grill and seasoned with salt and pepper.

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After the meat had rested for about 10 minutes (this helps keep all the juices in), I thinly sliced it (along with the veggies) and plated it all up. For tortillas, I went with Dempster’s whole wheat Body Wise tortillas (I know corn is more authentic, but the grocery store didn’t have them and I wasn’t in the mood to go hunting).

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We had a wide variety of other toppings, which included:

Our sides were delicious, local corn on the cob and red cabbage slaw (same recipe I made for my mom’s birthday, only with the addition of a Granny Smith apple I had leftover) .

I think it was safe to say that the meal was enjoyed by all. This is a pretty easy meal to put together for summer entertaining, and a nice change from the usual steaks or burgers (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Speaking of burgers, we’re hosting a build-your-own-burger bar supper here tomorrow night for between 12 to 18 people! It’s going to be epic, with lots of decadent toppings and some seriously delicious 80/20 style desserts! So I may or may not make it on to HHH to update you tomorrow, but I plan to do NOTHING Monday, so for sure I’ll be back by then.

Since in my town on the August long weekend, we celebrate Friendship Festival (yes, one of the advantages of living in a small town, we are cool enough that we have a weekend-long festival devoted to friends), I would like once again to wish you, my blog-friends, a happy long weekend. May it be filled with food, family, and FRIENDS!

Sorry….salads!

26 Jul

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Just to clarify the title, these are not sorry salads, as in, salads that have seen better days. More like, sorry…I’m posting salads AGAIN! But it’s hot, it’s summer, and this really is what I’m eating these days. So if you’re a salad hater like my cousin Jonathan, my apologies.

But before I give you the down-low on my latest salad sensations, some exciting news: I WAS FEATURED IN MY LOCAL PAPER YESTERDAY! Check out the article here. I called the paper to tell them about my blog and upcoming trip to the Healthy Living Summit, and to see if they wanted to write an article about me…turns out they did! As a Canadian blogger in a small town, there are many strikes against me when trying to promote HHH, but there are also benefits (ie, if I call up the paper, I get an interview and an article. Also, my stats jumped way up yesterday, so I guess even the smallest media feature helps. And if you are a new reader who found me via the Reformer, welcome!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled salads.IMG_2285 When I tell you the main ingredients of my Sunday lunch salad, it’s going to sound sort of like a weird casserole your hippy-Aunt would make.

  • kale
  • beets
  • quinoa
  • spinach
  • zucchini
  • portabella mushroom

….see? But it’s really good, I promise! This was my first time eating raw kale, and I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but it was actually pretty good. I mixed the kale with arugula and spinach for my IMG_2286greens, and tossed in some beans and peas from the garden as well. Then, I grilled a slice of zucchini, Vidalia onion and a portabella mushroom cap; sliced them up and tossed them in. I topped it all off with a cup of cooked, sliced beets (I pre-boiled and chilled them so they’d be at the ready when I needed ‘em), half a cup of leftover, cooked quinoa, fresh thyme and basil, and feta cheese. My dressing was made up of fancy cranberry wine vinegar, grainy mustard, oil and fat-free Italian salad dressing.

Oh. Wow. This salad was seriously yummy, and not in a weirdo healthy way at all. I love beets, and the sweetness of them and the cranberry vinegar in the dressing worked perfectly with the saltiness of the feta. The mix of grilled and fresh veggies provided a nice mix of textures as well. Mmmmm! And, as seen in the last close-up, one thing I love about beets is how they colour everything around them – I think it’s just so purdy.

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Salad number two is another grilled veggie wonder – grilled corn and zucchini, tossed with fresh spinach, onion, cucumber, red pepper, tomato and a bit of broccoli slaw. I put a bit of ham and feta in the mix, along with fresh dill, salsa, red wine vinegar and fat-free Italian dressing. Another winner! This salad was nice and light, and was the perfect pre-pool party lunch for Friday when I knew I’d be nibbling all afternoon.

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This is not a very good photo (I only have two hands, and I don’t have my own personal photographer), but I am attempting to show you a little trick I learned from Rachael Ray: when stripping corn off the cob, stand the corn up inside your bowl vertically, and run your knife down the cob – then all your kernels will end up in the bowl!

This may seem like a lot of salads, but starting today, it won’t be like that the rest of the week. I’ve got two lunches out planned (thanks groupon and wagjag), a BBQ/dinner planned with family and some friends visiting from BC, a potential girls’ pool party (rescheduled from last weekend), and we’re hosting two BBQs on the long weekend….so wish me luck! This is going to be one of those weeks when the 20% of the 80/20 rule won’t be enough for all of the splurging I want to do!

Do you like eating salad all summer, or do you get sick of it?

Q and A’s for Summer

25 Jul

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Happy Monday! Today’s post has a question and answer theme. I’m not enough of a “big-time blogger” yet that I receive multiple questions via email (maybe some day), so I’ve decided to create my own questions, and give you the answers…enjoy!

Question one: Why does the propane tank on the BBQ always run out on me when I’m home alone, I’ve waited too long to have dinner, and my stomach is eating itself in hunger?

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Answer one: I’m gonna have to say I don’t know on this one, but at least I had a nice grilled veggie, dill and goat cheese pizza (basically the same as this one, only no bacon, dill instead of parsley, and goat instead of Tex-Mex cheese) at the end of it all (with a side of beets and sautéed beet greens to go with it).IMG_2257

Question two: How do you improve upon the culinary triumph that was the bubbling berry biscuit bake?

Answer two: Find the oven-safe dish you couldn’t last time, make it with a mix of raspberries and blueberries, and bake at 400 for 20 minutes (perfect time and temperature). Enjoy the biscuits, berry goodness, and melt-y vanilla ice cream. Smile

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Question three: How do you switch up the cool and creamy red pepper and tomato gazpacho you’ve been loving lately and give it a bit of a south-western kick?

Answer three: Make it exactly the same way you have in the past, only swap out the basil for cilantro, add a splash of lime juice, and a touch of cumin, chili powder and chipotle chili powder. Garnish with chopped cucumber, tomato, green onion, cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Mmm….this was cool and creamy like I’ve been loving, but I enjoyed the different flavour profile. It is kind of odd though, to eat something that’s spicy and cold at the same time. Not bad, just a different sensation.

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Question four: What do you have for a Saturday afternoon snack that you can eat while blogging/catching up on other blogs that is healthy but just a little decadent?

Answer four: A bowl of the best cherries you’ve had all summer and a fiber one 90 calorie chocolate brownie, naturally! Healthy cherries and chocolate? Sign me up!

 

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Question five: What do you eat for supper when you’ve been cooking all day in preparation for the pool party you’re catering for your Aunt, you’ve been grazing all afternoon in the kitchen (including way more mocha cupcake batter and coffee frosting than you care to admit), you’re hot, you’re sweaty, and you want something light, filling, and that doesn’t require any heat?

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*Okay, side note here before we get to answer five. Public service announcement: the coffee frosting I made yesterday should be illegal. It is just WAY too good. Now, I’m not saying that to brag and tell you how awesome I am for making it. It’s just the truth. I’m not posting the recipe for two reasons: 1. It’s seriously dangerously good and addictive. 2. I made it up as I went along and didn’t pay attention to measurements. You see, I’m a cake and icing SNOB, I’ll admit it. Birthday, anniversary, shower cakes that are purchased from a grocery store and decorated with sugary frosting? Duncan Hines from a can? I’ll pass. I find that stuff pretty flavourless and uninteresting (not trying to be mean, just being honest). But this icing, man, it was something else. Because of the coffee in it, it had loads of flavour, but the bitterness of the coffee kept it from being overly sweet. And while I’m not a straight-up coffee drinker, I LOVE anything coffee-flavoured. Cappuccino frozen yogurt, anything with the word “mocha,” my homemade iced coffee drinks, Starbucks frappuccinos (don’t even get me started)…I’m there! Which is why this icing was SO DEADLY. I just kept eating it. I may have even dreamt about swimming in the stuff. Anyway, just had to warn you. That concludes this public service announcement.*

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Answer five: a nice plate of bits and bites, comprised of a seriously tasty salad of baby cucumbersRed heart, garden-fresh beans and peas, tomatoes, red onion and a dressing of seasoned rice vinegar, fat-free Italian dressing and olive oil; veggies and artichoke hummus;  a roasted red pepper spread with goat cheese and fresh basil and rolled up; ham slices wrapped around the last of the pineapple you had leftover from making pineapple chicken teriyaki skewers and fat-free Lays Ruffles chips from the US of A. And for dessert…lemon ginger frozen yogurt with fresh berries.

That about sums up today’s Q and A.

Two Q’s for you: What have you made/someone made for you that you found absolutely irresistible/dangerously delicious? And…are there any questions you have for me (don’t be shy). Winking smile

I’m in love…

24 Jul

alton brown

…with this guy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…and also with this stuff.

 

 

Now, there is a link between the two, allow me to explain.

 

For those of you who don’t know, the guy at the top is Alton Brown, host of Food Network’s Good Eats, and Iron Chef America. Now, if you know me, you know that I choose odd people to have crushes on. People like Alton Brown, my dentist, random characters from made-for-television musicals, characters from audio dramas I listened to as a child, and Cory Matthews from Boy Meets World (I still have a crush on him and the series ended over 10 years ago). Don’t question, don’t judge, just indulge me, ok? I love me some Alton…I just love his dry sense of humour, food knowledge, and, of course, his recipes.

Which brings us to our second photo. By now you may have guessed it, the lemon ginger frozen yogurt you see above is a recipe from Alton Brown. Ladies and gentlemen, I must proclaim that this is my favourite recipe made so far with my new ice cream maker (after one spoonful, my mom agreed). It is perfectly tart and refreshing, and even if you don’t like lemon, I’d give this a try, as the lemon is present, but not overwhelming. I’ve only tried it on the day it was made, so I’m not sure how hard it will freeze, so I’ll have to report back on the texture. But oh, I just love this stuff so much! Here’s how you make it (my adaptations noted).

***Update: It DOES freeze pretty hard, but after softening up/a bit of microwaving to help things along, the texture is just fine, better than the other light ice creams/yogurts I’ve made.

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Adapted from Alton Brown (from Good Eats).

  • 8 cups plain yogurt (I used mostly fat-free, but a bit of 1 %)
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup (I didn’t have enough, so I used 1/4 cup corn syrup, 1/4 cup agave nectar…worked fine)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (original recipe called for 3/4, but I found 1/2 produced the nice tart frozen yogurt taste I like, but was still sweet enough for me)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup sliced crystallized ginger

Place yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined colander (I used paper towels because I didn’t have cheesecloth – worked A-OK) set over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours. At end of 12 hours, discard the liquid and cheesecloth.

In a bowl combine the drained yogurt, corn syrup, sugar, lemon juice, lemon peel, and fresh ginger. Transfer mixture to ice cream maker and process per manufacturer’s instructions, about 25 minutes, adding in the chopped crystallized ginger about 5 minutes before it finishes churning. Transfer frozen yogurt to an airtight container and freeze for 2 hours.

Alton says it makes a quart, but I had a little more than that (because I love you Alton, I’ll for give you).

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The yogurt and paper towel-lined colander over a bowl, ready to see action. FYI, 8 cups of plain yogurt is almost exactly 3 containers.IMG_2260

 

 

The yogurt begins its overnight transformation in the fridge. This is where I became very thankful for our extra fridge in the garage so I didn’t have to re-arrange all our miscellaneous condiments to make room for this in the kitchen fridge.

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The two photos above show what the yogurt looked like the morning after. From 8 cups of yogurt came almost 4 cups of liquid! Just for kicks, I tasted the liquid. It tasted like (gasp!) yogurt. Shocker.

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I just wanted to show you how thick the strained yogurt was (that’s a spatula standing straight up in it). I got between 4 and 5 cups I think. Essentially, you are making Greek yogurt at home. I’ve read about doing this before. I haven’t done a full cost analysis yet(sorry for the financial-speak, my mom’s an accountant/financial planner), but I think this may be cheaper than buying Greek yogurt, and really, it’s not that hard.

 

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On the left we see all the ingredients (minus the crystallized ginger) in the bowl before mixing. On the right, it’s all mixed together.

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Tip time! If you don’t have a microplane zester/grater, you’re gonna wanna get one before making this recipe. Trust me, it will make your life a lot easier. If you are still living on the dark side and grating lemons on a box grater (I’ve been there, I know), buy a microplane and step into the light. They’re not that expensive, and they do so much more than zest lemons and grate ginger. They also do Parmesan cheese, make chocolate shavings and grate fresh nutmeg. Really, I wouldn’t use fresh ginger without having one of these. Being as it’s so potent, you want it really finely grated.

Speaking of fresh ginger…tip # 2: (for this one, I give credit to my brother-in-law and Rachael Ray) When using fresh ginger, peel it, grate what you need, and put the rest in a resealable bag in the freezer. It’s actually much easier to grate this way (not as tough and fibre-y as fresh) and you won’t waste any. There you go!

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Adding the chopped, crystallized ginger right before the end of churning. Make sure you chop this stuff finely, it’s pretty potent!

 

 

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It’s ready! Now into the freezer you go to firm up for a little while.

 

 

 

 

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This last step is completely optional but highly recommended: enjoy your first scoop on the front porch while reading a magazine and listening to your “Summer Day” playlist on your ipod. Have most of it finished by the time “Soul Sister” by Train is done playing.

 

If you have an ice cream maker, MAKE THIS NOW! If you are lactose-intolerant, my sincere and deepest apologies. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, come over and enjoy some with me (Katie, (and anyone else) I’m sorry if this feeds your and Jeff’s ice cream maker envy).

It’s summer. And Sunday. Seize the day, blog friends (although I confess, I’m hoping it rains, as I am feeling rather shackled to the hose these days).

Quick and Cool

22 Jul

As per the subject line, this is just going to be a quick post, as I was gone for about 12 hours yesterday (funeral out of town).

Tuesday night I needed supper fast. It was after 6 o’clock, and I was hungry. It was IMG_2222hot outside, and I didn’t want to make something that would require a lot of time and heat. So I went for something burger-inspired that only needed a microwave – no grill, stovetop or oven – Hungry Girl’s Big Bad Burger Wrap. I have to say, this is one of my favourite HG recipes. It comes from her 200 under 200 Cookbook. It’s easy to make, and full of classic burger flavour. Here’s how it all goes down.

Hungry Girl’s Big Bad Burger Wrap from 200 under 200

    1 large tortilla (low calorie if possible – I use my beloved flatout wraps)
    1 Boca Original Meatless Burger (or whatever type you can find here in Canada)
    1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss cheese
    1 pickle spear, chopped (you can also add chopped onion, as I often do).
    1 teaspoon mustard
    1 teaspoon ketchup
    2 dashes Hot Sauce of your choice
      Prepare Boca patty according to box directions, either in the microwave or in a pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Chop patty into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
      To make sauce, combine mustard, ketchup, and hot sauce in a small dish. Stir well and set aside.
      Warm tortilla in the microwave for 10 seconds. Lay tortilla flat and spread cheese wedge on top.
      Place chopped burger and pickle in the center of the tortilla. Top with sauce. Fold the sides of the tortilla in, and then roll it up from the bottom. Enjoy!

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    On the side, I had a HUGE, super-awesome Mediterranean Quinoa Salad. As best as I can remember, here’s what went in it:

    • chopped tomatoes
    • chopped pickling cucumbers (LOVE the crunch!)
    • spinach leaves
    • chopped green onion
    • chopped red onion (hey, I love onion – what can I say?)
    • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (I love cooking up a big batch and having it leftover in the fridge)
    • chopped red pepper

    My dressing was a mix of fat-free Italian salad dressing, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and olive oil. Of course, there was salt and pepper over it all. Mmm….this salad was absolutely delicious, very filling, and loaded with fresh summer flavours. In other words, pretty much perfect – I’d definitely make it again!

    Happy weekend friends! Hope you can enjoy the beautiful weather – but stay cool! Any exciting plans? I’ve got 2 pool parties on the horizon (I’ll be sharing the tasty appetizer recipe I made for today’s party shortly).

    Shake it up Baby!

    20 Jul

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    Weather forecast: it is HOT! Sun…. just in case you didn’t know (I’m sure you all needed me to tell you that). According to CBC radio and my guy Nick Czerncovich (I googled him just so I would spell his name right on the blog, okay? Leave me alone), it is officially a heat wave when the temperature is at or above 32 degrees Celsius (I learned that last week).  Yesterday, Nick told me that Thursday’s temperature in Toronto (surprisingly, he wasn’t commenting on Simcoe’s weather) could break an all-time record for the city…as in, not just for that specific month, or day, but ALL TIME! If it’s above 38.3, we have ourselves a record. Nick also told me that more likely than not, we’ll be in that heat wave territory by the end of the week. Now aren’t you glad I listen to CBC radio (only in the car) so I could pass this information on to you all?

    Anyway, other than locking yourself in an air-conditioned building and/or mooching off of your friends and family who have pools (that’s what I do)…how can you beat the heat? Nice, cold milkshakes and smoothies, of course. So I’m here to share a couple cold drinks that have come our of the HHH kitchen lately.

    The first one, pictured at top, is a berry lemonade smoothie. To make it, I used:

    • 2 individual containers of Source strawberry yogurt (any brand/berry yogurt flavour would do)
    • Sugar-Free Cranberry lemonade crystals (any lemonade-type mix would do here…the one I used was from the US…in Canada, your best best would be to use a single-serving package of Crystal Light Pink Lemonade)
    • Cold water (I didn’t measure…probably about 1/2 or 3/4 cup – use more or less, depending on how thick you want your drink)
    • About 6 ice cubes

    To make it, just put everything in a blender and blend until smooth – you’re good to go!IMG_2219

    The second recipe I’m going to share with you is definitely more of a shake than a smoothie – it was Monday night’s dessert.

    Cherry Mocha Shake

    Serves 2

    • 1 cup black forest ice cream (don’t have a batch of homemade ice cream in your freezer? Just use your favourite chocolate fro yo and add in a few pitted cherries…honestly, you couldn’t even really taste them)
    • 1 cup skim milk
    • Between 1/2 and 1 cup cold brewed coffee (I didn’t measure….sorry!)
    • 1/4 cup sugar-free chocolate syrup
    • Ice cubes (about 6)
    • A fresh cherry and fat-free Reddi-Whip for garnish, optional

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    Combine all ingredients (other than garnishes) in blender. Blend until smooth.

    Pour into two tall glasses. If desired, top with a squirt of Reddi-Whip and a cherry (cut through on one side with a knife first so it will sit on the glass).

    ….you couldn’t really taste the cherries from the ice cream, but this was still good! Basically just a chocolate shake…nothing wrong with that though!

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    The last recipe I’m sharing with you isn’t a shake or a smoothie, but it’s a cold, sweet drink, so it works, right? (and it’s my blog, so I’m the boss)….I’m talking my basic iced coffee recipe (side note: isn’t it cute in my Target cup?). And although it hasn’t made it on here much (I don’t want to bore you with the same thing over and over again), I’ve been drinking these A LOT this summer…they’re so easy, I figured it was time for a quick tutorial. And at less than 50 calories for the whole thing, this is WAY better than what you’ll get at Starbucks and the Golden Arches, for a fraction of the price. Let’s get going!

    Basic Iced Coffee for One

    • 1 cup unsweetened original Almond Breeze (or use a flavoured one, I just have lots of unsweetened original since I bought it at Costco)
    • Cold brewed coffee (I just steal my mom’s leftovers, make it from instant/water or brew a pot then refrigerate it in a jar)to taste (use more for a stronger coffee flavour, less if you like it weaker)
    • Splenda to taste (or if you have sugar-free flavoured syrups, those are awesome. I sometimes use caramel and it’s delish!)
    • A splash of vanilla (omit if using flavoured syrup)
    • LOTS of ice

    Combine all ingredients except ice in a tall glass. Stir, add more coffee or Splenda if needed. IMG_2221

    Load that cup up with lots of ice.

    Enjoy!

    If you’ve got a travel mug (like mine? It was free from the Teacher’s Credit Union at an orientation last fall…and I don’t even bank with them), any of these drinks can be enjoyed to-go!

    2 more things before I go:

    1. Speaking of cool things, I really want to try a Starbucks Bistro Box! Have you heard of them? They’re little portion-controlled cold meal boxes that come in tasty-sounding flavours like chipotle chicken wraps, sesame noodles and more. And they’re all less than 500 calories, and most come with chocolate…sweet! If you try one, let me know (and I will do the same).

    2. Thank you so so much for all the support and love via comments, texts, emails and facebook after I shared with you my gloomy mood in Sunday’s post. I know it was a bit of a pity party, and I debated sharing with you, but I really try to keep it real on here, and I wanted to be up front and honest with you all. I’m happy to report that I’m out of my funk, and I felt so loved after hearing from all of you…so once again…thank you!

    Happy hump day all! SmileAny favourite shake ore smoothie recipes/tips to share?

    Oats, peas, beans and barley grow

    19 Jul

    Oats, peas, beans, and barley grow,IMG_2208
    Oats, peas, beans, and barley grow,
    Can you or I or anyone know
    How oats, peas, beans, and barley grow?

    …anyone else know this song? I feel like it may have been a Sharon, Lois and Bram classic. Anyways, that’s what was going through my head as I picked snow peas and beans from my garden today. I just need some oats and barley to complete my song! Or maybe I could rewrite the lyrics: “herbs, peas, beans and zucchini grow”? Any takers?

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    So you know me, almost as soon as I got those guys outta the ground, I had to get them into my stomach! Exhibit A: my delicious watermelon, ham and veggie salad for lunch yesterday (there are peas and beans under all that pink-ness, I promise!). My greens were spinach and garden-fresh arugula, the vegetation was red pepper, cucumber, yellow and green beans and snow peas from the garden, cucumber, red onion and tomato. I used up the last of the watermelon leftover from the fruit bouquet and 4 slices of lean deli ham (preservative-free, thank-you-very-much). For herbage, I added some fresh cilantro.

    I topped this all off with salt and pepper and a delicious vinaigrette made from schmancy maple wine vinegar, fat-free Italian dressing, oil and Dijon mustard. Once again, another salad winner, folks! Peppery arugula, sweet and juicy melon (just that combo alone was FANTASTIC), crunchy veggies, and herb-y freshness from the cilantro: summer perfection! Another added benefit? The lovely pink hue. Nothing like a salad in your favourite colour to get your week off to a good start!

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    Exhibit B: The delicious bean side dish I made for supper last night. It was a riff on a Martha Stewart recipe I made last summer for my mom’s birthday called Neapolitan Green Beans. The original recipe calls for simmering the beans with fresh tomato, slice garlic, chili flakes, and basil. I have done my own variations on this dish several times, and they all turn out great. Here is a loose recipe guideline to help you re-create and/or re-invent this dish.

    Neapolitan Green Beans

    Adapted from Martha Stewart

    • Green and/or yellow beans to serve as many as you’d like
    • Tomato/some sort of tomato product (you can use any kind of fresh tomato – plum, cherry, regular, or canned tomatoes, or tomato sauce, or any combination of the above) This time, I used a bit of frozen spicy tomato sauce and part of a fresh tomato.
    • A pinch of chili flakes (omit if you don’t like things spicy or if you’re using spicy tomato sauce, as I did this time)
    • Fresh garlic, sliced (use as much or as little as you’d like)
    • A few sprigs fresh basil
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Trim the beans and cut in half. Place the beans, chili flakes, garlic, tomatoes and salt and pepper in a pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer on medium-low for about 10 minutes. Add basil sprigs (leave whole), increase heat to medium and simmer, uncovered for 5 to 7 minutes until liquid is slightly reduced. Remove basil sprigs and serve.

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    When the beans have simmered for about 10 minutes and look like this, it’s time to….

     

     

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    ….add the basil! Then simmer away some more.

     

     

     

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    This is what it looks like when it has simmered and is ready to go…just take the basil out first!

     

     

     

    This is a seriously simple side that tastes amazing! It will be even better when made with the fresh tomatoes that will arrive in my garden in a few weeks. No taste better captures the essence of summer than fresh tomato and basil, if you ask me.

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    Now, what to pair these beans with for a garden-fresh summer meal? So glad you asked. How about a Sobey’s Compliments Chipotle BBQ chicken breast, quinoa with balsamic sage mushrooms, and corn on the cob? Yes, I think that would be nice.

    All joking aside, this was one tasty, summer-licious meal. The only downside? A lot of pots to clean – between cooking the quinoa, the beans, the corn and sautéing the ‘shrooms – that was 4 pans!!! Good thing there was no clean up from grilling the chicken! Smile with tongue out

    Do you have any favourite “unconventional” summer sides (besides the usual suspects – potato salad, corn-on-the-cob, etc)?

    Corny

    18 Jul

    Happy Monday everyone! First, of all, to address the “loose ends” from yesterday’s post. If you haven’t read it yet, I really suggest you do so, it’ll make this one make a lot more sense…go ahead, I’ll wait.

    Back now? Ok. IMG_2207First for the potluck summary. I sort of felt an “angel on one shoulder, devil on the other” vibe with my contributions – a big bowl of watermelon and cherries and then peanut butter chocolate gooey butter cakes with m&ms. And that, my friends, is where the pictures stop. Based on my general mood lately, I made a deal with myself that I was going to go, eat what I wanted, enjoy, no pictures for the blog…and I did. And it was fun.

    I had a hamburger( with a bun…gasp!), some tasty salads, more dessert than I care to admit (mine and stuff that other people brought) and some fruit (see…I was healthy). I spent the afternoon sitting in the sun, chatting, with a bit of swimming thrown in to cool off, then ate 2 pieces of Delissio pizza (it’s been AGES since I had that stuff, and it is seriously yummy) and had ice cream for dessert. All in all,  a perfect summer day.

    My “de-funking: list? I did it all. I’d love to say that I instantly and magically snapped out of the funk, but it didn’t happen quite like that (but really, when does life happen like that?). It was nice to be out of the house and with other people for most of the day yesterday to keep myself distracted. Sometimes, funks just happen, but you can’t let them take over…you just have to pray, be grateful for what you have, and move on with your life…at least that’s what I try to do.

    I hope I didn’t scare any of you off with all of what I shared yesterday. It really was helpful for me though to have a place to share my feelings and be honest…so once again, thanks for listening!

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    Now that we’ve got that our of the way, let’s move onto happier things – like the fact that corn is in season (now you’re starting to get the post title)! I used that corn in an absolutely delicious grilled veggie and bacon pizza creation Friday night, and I’d love to share it with you.

    Friday was sort of a weird day eating-wise, with a late lunch, then a classy snack, and a late supper. So since I knew I’d be eating dinner pretty late, I prepped in advance before I went out.

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    I grilled an ear of corn, a big fat slice of zucchini and two thick slices of Vidalia onion, then chopped them up and put them in a tupperware for when I got back.

    I tossed the cold grilled veggies with cumin, salt and pepper. I crisped my crust as per usual in the oven, then for sauce, I used some of this absolutely delicious corn, black bean and roasted red pepper salsa I bought when we were in Buffalo (brand is Desert Pepper, but can’t find a link online). I topped it with 1/3 cup shredded light cheese, and most of the veggies (the rest of which I ate cold…delightful!), then sprinkled lots of chopped fresh parsley on top of that, and topped it all off with 1 tablespoon of bacon bits.

    Now, I know that bacon bits are processed and real bacon is probably better, but I don’t really use bacon all that much, so it would go to waste if I bought it, so for that reason, bacon bits work better for me….sorry! I baked this guy to melt the cheese, just 5 or 10 minutes (although it was so late that this seemed like much longer). IMG_2188

    Let’s go in for a close-up, shall we? ‘Cause this guy was GOOD! Herby freshness, just a touch of spice from the salsa, the charred taste of the veggies, gooey cheese, and salty bacon. Pretty much summer pizza perfection…so simple, but so good!

     

    If you were to create a perfect summer pizza, what would you put on it?