Category Archives: savory

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

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

And then my dad ate a bee

The other day I made some delicious fried zucchini blossoms from a recipe in Bon Appetit magazine. The zucchini in my garden has been growing out of control, and we just can’t eat it fast enough. So I went out to harvest some blossoms to batter and fry. Little did I know that collecting the ingredients would be the most challenging part of the recipe.

Apparently bees are highly attracted to zucchini flowers. They like them so much, in fact, that some of the flowers that I picked had more than 10 bees buzzing around inside. Now, I wouldn’t consider myself a wimp, but I was panicking, envisioning a swarm of blossom-hungry bees chasing after me as I ran off with their dinner.

I managed to gather a dozen blossoms without being stung, and shook out what I thought was every last bee from the blossoms. Then I coated them in batter, deep-fried them, and served them up to my mom and dad. “Mmm, delicious,” they cooed… And then my dad ate a bee. I guess one of the little guys just wouldn’t be ousted from his blossom. Apparently bee isn’t an overly unpleasant flavour, just a hint of extra crunch.

For anyone who is willing to brave the swarms, you can find the recipe here. I swear, it’s worth the risk!

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Filed under new flavours, savory, super simple

Simple Savoury Tarts

Having spent the last couple of months cooking obsessively with cream cheese for Kraft’s Real Women of Philadelphia casting competition, I was definitely ready for a little break when I created this recipe. These tarts are actually the first item that I have made with a cheese other than Philly since learning that I was chosen as a side dish finalist. I feel like a bit of a traitor saying this, but it was a nice change of pace. (Not to worry Kraft, I have plenty more cream cheese recipes up my sleeve for the future.)

These tarts are incredibly easy to make, and can be customized to suit any season. The combination of tangy goat’s cheese and buttery puff pastry makes the perfect platform for almost any ingredients. They are light, but satisfying, and make a lovely simple supper when paired with a bowl of soup or  salad. This recipe serves 4. You’ll need:

  • 1 sheet store-bought puff pastry, thawed
  • 140 g goat’s cheese ( I used President’s Choice Blue Menu)
  • 1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 8 spears grilled asparagus
  • 4 slices smoked salmon
  • 6 slices prosciutto
  • 1 roasted red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

Preheat your oven according to the directions on your pastry. Then, combine your goat’s cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper and chives in a food processor, and blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. If you don’t have access to a food processor, you can cream them together by hand, or with a hand mixer.

Unroll your pastry onto a clean surface, and score it into four equal squares. Spread 1/4 of your goat’s cheese mixture evenly over each square of pastry. Divide your toppings among each serving, cutting them down to fit the size of your pastry. I used prosciutto and asparagus on two of my tarts, and smoked salmon and red pepper on the other two. You can mix and match, or use any toppings you like. Avoid anything that is too moist, because the excess water will make your tart soggy.

Gently transfer your tarts to a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Add another dash of salt and pepper at this point if you wish.  Create a lip around each tart by folding up roughly 1 cm of dough around the edges (don’t worry about keeping things tidy). Pinch the corners together to seal your rim, and bake your tarts according to the directions on your pastry package.

When your tarts are ready, the edges should be golden brown. You can serve them immediately, or let them cool and serve them at room temperature. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, shrink these down and make appetizer sized tarts!

I have definitely had summer on the brain recently, and can’t wait to make these for a meal out on the patio when the warm weather that has been teasing us finally decides to stick around. Give them a try any day of the week, and fear not: they won’t derail your bikini diet.

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Filed under savory, super simple

Big News!

So, if you’ve been following my blog over the past couple of weeks, you’ll know that I have been competing in Kraft’s Real Women of Philadelphia casting competition. My last post will fill you in if you have no idea what I’m talking about. Yesterday, the second set of finalists was announced (for the side dish category) and guess what? I’M IN!!!

I am absolutely elated to have been selected. I’ll be competing in a cook-off in Toronto in July against 15 other finalists for four prizes of $20,000 and the honour of hosting Kraft’s Real Women of Philadelphia website. The recipe that won me a spot in the side dish category is called Cauliflower Creme Brulee, and you can find it here: http://luvcrumbs.org/2011/04/25/cauliflower-cr%D1%90me-brulee/.

Before being chosen as a finalist, I submitted two other recipes to the competition that I thought I would share with you. One is an entrée, the other is a dessert, and they are both totally decadent.

First off, here is my recipe for Fully Loaded Mac and Cheese. It combines creamy, gooey mac and cheese with your favourite baked potato toppings. Holy delicious! This recipe serves about 6 people and takes roughly 45 minutes from start to finish.

You’ll need:

  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 4 cup(s) of dry pasta
  • 1 tbsp. of flour
  • 2 cup(s) of milk
  • 8 ounce(s) of Herb and Garlic Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 3 cup(s) of shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup(s) of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup(s) of chopped green onion
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of pepper
To prepare this dish, you can watch my instructional video below, or simply follow the written directions.
Steps:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place six slices of bacon in a large skillet, and cook on high heat for 5-10 minutes until crisp.
  2. While your bacon is cooking, place a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil, chop your green onion, and grate your cheese.
  3. When water boils, add dry pasta, and cook it
  4. When bacon is well cooked, remove it from the pan, and chop it into small bite sized pieces. Leave the bacon drippings in the skillet.
  5. Reduce the heat under your skillet, and to the drippings, add your flour and stir quickly. Once flour is incorporated, slowly add the milk and continue stirring. Now add your cream cheese, and raise heat to medium, until it is well melted.
  6. Cook your sauce mixture on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until it thickens. Add 1/3 of your grated cheese (about 1 cup), and stir until melted.
  7. In a large bowl, mix together cooked pasta, cheese sauce, and another cup of grated cheese. Add sour cream, bacon, green onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until pasta is evenly coated.
  8. Pour mixture into a casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, and cover with remaining cup of cheese. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, then broil for 5 additional minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.
  9. Remove your mac and cheese from the oven, serve, and prepare to accept the accolades of your friends and family as they bite into your delectable concoction.
This second recipe is a dessert fondue that mimics the flavours of your favourite cheesecake. Feel free to experiment with dippers and toppings until you’ve mastered the perfect flavour combination. Depending on how much room you’ve left for dessert, this recipe will serve 4-8 people and takes about 25 minutes to make.
You’ll  need:
  • 1 cup(s) of fresh fruit per person
  • 2 cup(s) of various toppings (cookie crumbs, chocolate chips, coconut)
  • 1 cup(s) of chopped Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup(s) of milk
  • 1 tbsp. of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • 12 ounce(s) of white chocolate
Again, you can follow along with my video for directions to this recipe, or just use the instructions below.
Steps:
  1. Cut fruit of your choice into bite sized pieces, roughly one cup per guest
  2. Select a variety of cheesecake inspired toppings that you think will pair nicely with your fruit. Choose as many of as few toppings as you like, and pour them into serving bowls. If you wish to make your own cookie crumbs for dipping, pulverize about eight cookies in a food processor to yield one half cup of crumbs. You should have a total of about 2 cups worth of different toppings. Arrange the table with your fruit and toppings so they are ready for your fondue when it’s nice and hot.
  3. Zap your cream cheese in the microwave for 30 seconds, and then place it in a medium pot over low heat.
  4. Whisk in milk, lemon juice, and vanilla, and continue stirring the mixture until the cream cheese is fully melted (3-5 minutes).
  5. Light the burner under your fondue pot so the pot is nice and warm when you pour in your fondue mixture.
  6. Add white chocolate to your cream cheese mixture, and whisk until it is all melted. Pour the mixture into your fondue pot and serve immediately.
  7. To eat, dip pieces of fruit into your cheesecake fondue, and then roll them in as many toppings as you like. And remember, don’t drop any fruit into the pot, or you’ll have to lay a wet one on your neighbour!

Both of these are major crowd pleasers, so give them a try at your next gathering! Thanks so much to everyone who has supported me up to this point in the competition, and good luck to all of my ladies at RWoP!
I’ll keep you guys updated along the road to the finals in Toronto. Can’t wait!

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Filed under a party, food on a stick, new flavours, pop culture, savory

Cauliflower Crѐme Brûlée

Caution: reading this post, or any other tagged ‘Philadelphia cream cheese’ may cause you to catch the highly contagious “Philly Fever”. Symptoms include cream cheese dreams, recipe-itis, and increased appetite for Kraft products. As a victim myself, I feel it is only fair to warn you.

By now, many of you have probably heard the buzz about Kraft’s “Real Women of Philadelphia” casting competition. For those of you who are somehow out of the loop, I’ll fill you in. It’s not too late to enter!

Kraft and Anna Olson have teamed up to host a cooking contest starring Philadelphia cream cheese. Entrants are asked to create recipes using the featured ingredient and submit how to videos explaining their concoctions. Last week, we had to come up with creative side dishes using our favourite Philly flavours. Here’s what I created.

Breaking away from boring side dishes can be a challenge, but with this simple spin on a favourite dessert in your recipe arsenal, vegetables will soon be taking centre stage at your dinner table. This recipe will only take about 12 minutes, and makes 4 servings.
  • 1/2 to whole head cauliflower
  • 1 tsp. of butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tbsp. of brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. of raw brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. of parmesan
  • 1/2 cup(s) of Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 1/8 tsp. of cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp. of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. of pepper
Watch my video for instructions, or simply follow the step by step instructions below.
  1. Preheat your broiler. (500 degrees)
  2. Depending on the size of your cauliflower, you will need to use between 1/2 and a whole head. Remove the leaves and core, and chop the florets and stalks into small pieces until you have roughly 4 cups. Place 1 tbsp of water and a pinch of salt into a casserole dish, add your cauliflower, and steam in the microwave for 5-6 minutes until tender.
  3. Heat butter in a pan over high heat. Roughly chop onion and add to pan, stirring until covered with melted butter. Reduce heat to med/med-low and add 1 tbsp brown sugar. Stir until combined. Remove onions from heat when they are translucent and lightly browned.
  4. In a small bowl, combine raw brown sugar and parmesan cheese. Stir until completely mixed.
  5. In a food processor, combine steamed cauliflower, quick carmelized onions, Philadelphia cream cheese, cayenne, salt and pepper. Blend for a few minutes, scraping sides, until mixture becomes a smooth purée.
  6. Divide mixture evenly among 4 ramekins, and smooth the purée to create a flat surface. Sprinkle a generous portion of your sugar/parmesan mixture onto each serving, coating the cauliflower completely. Give the ramekins a little shake to level out the sugar.
  7. Place under the broiler on a baking sheet for 1-2 minutes until the sugar has created a hard, brown candy coating. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. To prepare this side dish in advance, refrigerate your ramekins after filling them with purée. Right before serving, add the sugar topping and broil. Whether you are making it for a simple supper, or an elegant dinner party, you will be stunned by how easy this recipe is to prepare. With veggies this delicious, who needs dessert?
I hope you’ll give this recipe a  try, and while you’re at it, create your own and submit it to http://www.realwomenofphiladelphia.ca/.

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Filed under new flavours, pop culture, savory, super simple

Tiny Taco Salads

So, I am currently participating in Philadelphia cream cheese’s “Real Women of Philadelphia” competition, hosted by Anna Olson. So far, it’s been a blast. I have had so much fun creating and filming my cream cheesy concoctions. Here is a quick look at my first submission.

These miniature versions of restaurant style taco salad are the perfect party appetizer. Philidelphia cream cheese makes them extra delicious, and you can even eat the tiny little bowl! They only take about 30 minutes from start to finish and serve 8 guests. Get cooking! You’ll need:
  • 8 6-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 can cooking spray
  • 1 pound(s) of lean ground beef
  • 2/3 cup(s) of taco seasoning (1 packet)
  • 1/2 cup(s) of Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 2 cup(s) of shredded lettuce
  • 2/3 cup(s) of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup(s) of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2/3 cup(s) of sour cream
  • 2/3 cup(s) of salsa
Take a look at my helpful how-to video to get started with this recipe, or simply follow the instructions below.
Steps
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Begin by browning your ground beef in a large skillet over high heat. Break the beef up with your spoon as it cooks. When there are no pink bits left, drain off any excess fat.
  3. Add your taco seasoning and 1 cup of water. Stirring occasionally, cook on high until the excess liquid has cooked off.
  4. While your taco meat is cooking, prepare your taco bowls for the oven by spraying both sides of each tortilla with cooking spray. Using a muffin pan to form your bowls, fold the tortillas into cup shapes by creating four double folds around their edges. Gently, but firmly press the bowl shape down into your muffin pan, making sure that the bottom of your bowl is nice and flat. Watching the video will help you to master this part of the recipe.
  5. When all 8 of your bowls are ready to go, bake them for 7-10 minutes until they are nice and golden brown.
  6. Now, cut your cream cheese into small chunks and add it to your taco meat while your shells are baking. Reduce the heat to medium, and stir until all of the cheese has melted and your taco meat is nice and creamy.
  7. Remove your taco bowls from the oven, and press a large scoop of taco meat into the bottom of each one. Layer the rest of your toppings evenly amongst your eight bowls, and serve immediately.
  8. You can serve these in muffin liners for handheld appetizers at a cocktail party, plate them up for a sit down dinner, or, serve the empty taco bowls, and let your guests fill them with their favourite toppings. This super simple recipe will soon become a fiesta favourite!

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Filed under a party, savory, super simple