Monthly Archives: November 2011

Pantry Raid: Mediterranean Stew

After a rough day, I was craving something warm and comforting tonight, but my fridge was looking a little bare. With the ingredients I had on hand, I came up with this deliciously flavourful Mediterranean stew. No word of a lie, this is probably my favourite recipe that I’ve ever created. I’ve been meaning to come up with a recipe for my carb-free friends Lori and Cathy for a while, so ladies, this ones for you! Sorry the photo is such crap, I was in a hurry to eat my delicious stew!

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 6 canned artichoke hearts (drained and quartered)
  • 3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 can (540mL) President’s Choice Blue Menu Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
  • 1/4 cup grated asiago cheese
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper to taste

If your chicken isn’t cooked yet, go ahead and start with that. Season them with a little salt and pepper. They’ll be ready by the time you need to add them to the stew.

In a medium sized pot, heat your olive oil on high heat. Finely chop your shallots, and add them, your garlic, and your cherry tomatoes to the hot oil. Reducing the heat only slightly, toss in your herbs, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until your tomatoes are seared and beginning to deflate.

If you are persnickety, now would be a good time to remove the skins from your tomatoes. I just left mine in there.

Add your olives and artichokes into the pot, along with your canned soup. Use whatever brand you like, as long as it is good quality, and not creamy. Look for something that contains little other than roasted veggies.

Cut up your chicken into bite sized pieces and throw it into the mix. Add your grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and let the stew simmer over medium heat until it thickens up a bit and the flavours develop (at least 15 minutes).

For a quick meal, serve this alongside a slice of crusty bread, or over a bowl of noodles. It will make enough for 2 large servings plain, or 4 over pasta. It is so delicious that I may have to shop for these ingredients intentionally from now on.

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Filed under relatively healthy, savory, super simple

Evergreen Brownies

Holiday party season is fast approaching and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll take any excuse to get creative in the kitchen, but Christmas themed baking really gets me going. Sometimes I go overboard around the holidays and spend more time slaving in the kitchen than catching up with friends and family, so I decided it was time for a treat that screams Christmas without kidnapping me for 3 hours. For these tannenbaum brownies, you’ll need:

  • one batch of your favourite brownies, baked in an 8 inch round pan. I used this recipe here, and skipped the icing. They turned out moist and delicious! A mix works just as well if you’re feeling lazy.
  • 1/2 cup green candy melts (or white chocolate and green food dye)
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles or decorations (my snowflake sprinkles are from bulk barn)
  • 8 small yellow candies like Smarties or Misty Mints

When your brownies are cool, cut them like you would a pie into 8 equal slices. Feel free to make more skinny minny slices if you want.

Put your candy melts into a ziploc bag, and microwave them on high for 30 second bursts until they are melted. Be careful not to overdo it, or you’ll scorch the chocolate. Between each blast, squish them around in the bag to help the melting process.

Lay your brownies out on waxed paper (or something) to avoid mess, and snip a tiny corner off of your ziploc bag. One by one (trust me, I tried to do them as a batch and the chocolate cooled too fast) drizzle your candy melts back and forth across each tree. To get the best results, hold the bag about 6 inches above the brownie, and move quickly. Sprinkle (or strategically place for optimum beauteousness) your decorations right away so they stick before the chocolate cools. Add a yellow “star” to the top of the tree with a dab of extra chocolate. Now, and only now, can you move onto your next brownie. Repeat this process until you’re all done.

If you want to get really spiffy, you can cut yellow stars out of fondant, or pipe them all fancy-like with royal icing, but hey, this recipe is supposed to be about simplicity.

These will keep in an airtight container for a few days, but I can’t imagine that they will last that long. With all this extra time on your hands, you can rock around the Christmas tree and chug eggnog like you’ve been meaning to all year.

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Filed under a party, holidays, super simple

Harvest Soup

I love soup. I crave it even in the heat of summer, but especially love it this time of year when the weather starts to get damp and chilly. Walking home from school on a cold, grey day just makes me want to curl up with a bowl of steaming hot soup and the latest episode of New Girl (oh Zooey Deschanel, how I love you).

This hearty soup is perfect for this time of year, and combines some of my favourite fall flavours. The buttermilk adds an indulgent texture without the guilt of cream. If you haven’t tried using buttermilk in your soups yet, try this and I guarantee you will include it in every recipe.

This batch will last you a good couple of weeks in the fridge (it makes about 12 generous servings). You’ll need:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 large russet potato
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dried sage
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 1 10 oz. can sweet corn, drained
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 litre buttermilk
  • 1 cup sour cream (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Peel and chop your potatoes and squash into 1 inch cubes. Toss them into a 9×13 inch baking dish with 1/4 cup of olive oil, your sage, and a dusting of salt and pepper. Cover the dish with foil, and roast the veggies for 20 minutes covered. Remove the foil, and roast for about another 20 minutes until they are brown around the edges and easily pierced with a fork.
2. Meanwhile, dice your onion and carrot into small pieces and heat your remaining olive oil in the largest pot that you own. Turn the heat down to medium, toss the carrot and onion with a little salt and pepper, and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the corn, sugar and chicken stock, and put a lid on your pot.
3. When your roasted veggies are ready, add them to the broth. With a submersion blender, puree your soup until it reaches a consistency that you like. I prefer to keep mine slightly thicker. If you don’t have a submersion blender, you can puree the soup in batches in your food processor.
4. After you’ve reached a nice consistency, remove your pot from the heat, and slowly add the buttermilk. If you prefer a slightly sweeter soup, you may not want to add the entire litre. Stir the buttermilk in, and add salt and pepper to taste. If you want your soup a little thinner, you can puree it again at this point.
5.You can serve this immediately, or put it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Make sure not to freeze the soup, since the buttermilk may curdle. If you’re serving it to guests, garnish the bowl with a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of chopped toasted pecans (crumbled bacon works too).
Now go find the largest bowl you possibly can, and eat yourself some soup!

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Filed under savory, super simple

Food Crush: PC Cran/Raz Greek Yogurt

I go through phases where I become so completely obsessed with a food that I eat it to death. Right now, I am majorly crushing on: President’s Choice Cranberry & Raspberry Fruit on the Bottom 2% Greek Yogurt

I have been on a greek yogurt kick for the past few months, but this stuff totally kicks it up a notch. It’s indulgently rich and creamy, and the fruit bottom topping adds the perfect amount of sweet to  the tart yogurt. It’s also less expensive than a lot of other greek yogurts, so bonus there.

It is particularly delicious with a little bit of warm fruit compote on top. Just take some ripe fruit, chop it into little bits, and simmer it on the stove with a few spoonfuls of sugar. When it thickens up a bit, let it cool and spoon a few mouthfuls over your yogurt. The contrast between hot and cold is unbelievable.

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Filed under new flavours, relatively healthy

Loafing Around

Being a passionate Canadian, it pains me to admit that I am slightly jealous of the bounty and fanfare that come with American Thanksgiving. These adorable miniature pumpkin loaves are the perfect table favour to take this already incredible celebration to the next level. Impress your guests with a pint-sized portion of major fall flavour that they can take home to savour with their leftover turkey sandwiches. This recipe makes 10 mini loaves. You’ll need:

  • 10 miniature ceramic loaf pans (I found mine at Michael’s on sale for 99 cents. Shop around for a deal) Here’s one site that sells a variety http://flourmillkids.com/Search.aspx?m=35830
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 pkg butterscotch pudding mix (non-instant)
  • 1 1/2 cups softened butter
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar
  • 4 lg eggs
  • 2 cups pumpkin pie filling
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together your flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together your milk, vanilla and pudding mix. In a third bowl, cream your butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and pumpkin pie filling once the butter mixture becomes light and fluffy. Alternating between the milk and pumpkin mixtures, slowly add your wet ingredients to the dry in 3 parts. Once everything is combined, fold in your nuts.
Spray your loaf pans with cooking spray, and divide your batter evenly between the pans. It should reach about 2/3 of the way up the edges. Bake for roughly 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, and a toothpick comes out clean.
This loaf is incredibly moist, and contains all of the warm spice of the holiday season. If you can’t find mini pans, or would prefer to serve this as a full-sized loaf, increase the cooking time to roughly 1 hour.
To make your guests feel extra special, dress up your loaves as table favours with a little seasonal flare. Happy baking everyone, and happy thanksgiving to my friends south of the border!

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Filed under cake, holidays

Half Eaten Cookies

I ventured up to Kingston to reunite with my friends for Halloween this past weekend, and as usual, everyone pulled out all the stops with their culinary contributions. Here are a few photos of our fabulous tricks and treats.

To make these simple, spooky treats, just chop the end off of a store-bought cookie (or make your own if you’re a hero), and wrap a set of gummy teeth around the “bite”. For added drama, drip of few drops of red icing around the teeth for oozing blood.

My friend Lisa used Bakerella’s recipe for these creepy eyeball cake pops. She served them on forks and knives for a little added gore.

And check out this amazing cauldron cake that my friend Candace made! She recently started up her own baking business. Check out more of her stuff here.

I know our treats were adorable, but hey, we looked pretty cute too.

Hope everyone had an epic Halloween! Now to commence Christmas party planning…

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Filed under a party, cake, candy, cookies, food on a stick, holidays