Jalapeño Almond Bread

First thing’s first. I just received my fourth wedding invitation for this year. I know I am coming to the age where everyone I know is getting married but I never expected to have four weddings for eight wonderful people just this year! I can’t believe it! The problem is that Genesis and I are under or straight-up unemployed. We have my cousin’s wedding in April, my childhood friend Helen’s in June in the Yukon, my dearest friend Katie’s wedding in Banff in July, and my high-school twin is getting married to her long-time amazing partner in August in Saskatoon. I wish I could attend them all, but that would require one of us to be on Air Canada’s payroll. Alas, we will figure it out, but I am fairly sure I am going to miss a few important events this year.

Anyway, on this beautiful sunny day I decided to make some hearty chili and a really tasty jalapeño almond bread that has all the characteristics of cornbread but with a bit more texture. The meal was super filling and I know it would satisfy even the most carby of carb lovers. I munched down a ton of the chili and happily munched on the almond bread between/with bites. I am going to experiment with a few different versions of this because it came out so beautifully. I suspect I could make a sweeter version of it that uses cream cheese and some cinnamon, maybe even a swirl of chocolate. Hmm weekend-testing ideas!

Jalapenoalmondbread

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Zucchini “Noodles” with Chard

Well, we’ve had an awesome few weeks of fundraising for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Spring Sprint. So far our team has brought in over a thousand dollars and we continue to climb towards our goal! We have all the way to May 26th to raise money, so keep the donations coming, knowing that it is going to a great cause! Thank you to everyone who has donated and/or joined our team! I am really looking forward to walking/sprinting with such an amazing group of people. Gen has started volunteering with a new Hospice centre that has opened near our apartment. He heard about these Hospice walks for people who have recently lost a loved one and he really wants us to go. I think that we are going to try to make the Saturday walks, see what it’s about and get some much needed fresh air. I think it will be cathartic to spend time with people in similar situations to mine.

Anyway, I’ve been very busy this week already with job interviews, applications, and resume tweaking. I am only two business days out of my internship at Appetite and I am already wondering how they are doing. I hope I can work with the two of them in the future again, as it was such a wonderful experience. In the last two weeks of my internship we discovered my passion and intensity for cookbook proofreading. Now to find a job, preferably in the publishing industry in Vancouver (HA!), where I can put all my new-found, or newly-honed skills to work. We’ll see. In the meantime, I am going to keep on cooking, baking, and candlestick making, well no, but that would be great. This recipe is a nice, healthy base for awesome pasta sauces, meatballs, and anything else you want to throw on there.

Zucchininoodles

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A foggy Saturday and Bacon Brussels

I remember how gorgeous the sun was when I woke up around 9:00am yesterday. I was happy to see it was a beautiful day. Gen woke up about 20 minutes later, came and sat beside me and commented on the crazy fog outside. Without looking, I asked him if he had his contacts in because it was gorgeous out. Well, I was wrong, in that short time a billow of fog had rolled in. It lasted for maybe an hour before the day was glorious, warm, and bright again.

In the early afternoon I wandered over to the store, enjoying the warm sun and light breeze. I felt energized and excited to be out, feeling like spring was on the horizon. Our good friends, Heather and Tobias, came over around 3:oopm for some Minecraft and around 4:00pm we noticed that the buildings down the street had once again begun to disappear. The fog came in fast and thick, completely blinding our view of a building a block and a half away, the cranes across the street, and started to obscure the building right next to us. We could literally see wisps of fog, like smoke, blowing towards us. Huddled on the balcony, it felt like a completely different season from my earlier jaunt outside. It was the most intense fog that I’ve experienced in my year and a half in the city. It was eerie, but totally beautiful. We stood on the balcony taking pictures like tourists as buildings disappeared from view.

This is a construction site across the street.

This is a construction site across the street.

Anyway, you can imagine that the cold and the dream-like fog put me in a cozy mood. I wanted to make up a delicious dinner that would make me feel like curling up by the fireplace dvd playing on the tv. So steak was on the menu with a delicious bacon, butter, and Brussels sprouts side. These were absolutely simple and delicious, though I will forever love my cream-braised sprouts.

BaconSprouts

These could easily be made vegetarian with the use of some tempeh bacon (yum!) and vegan with non-dairy butter/margarine. The caramelization of the sprouts with the saltiness of the bacon and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar makes this dish a nicely balanced bite.

Bacon Brussels Sprouts

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 strips bacon, chopped (substitute tempeh bacon for a vegetarian treat)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 lbs Brussels sprouts (one of those great bags from Costco), trimmed and halved
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a wide pan over medium heat, cook your bacon until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to set aside the bacon pieces, reserving the bacon fat in the pan. If you are using tempeh, reserve the oil needed from cooking.
  2. Add the butter and melt.
  3. Add the sprouts and stir to coat with butter and bacon grease. Cook over medium-high heat for 8 minutes, stirring once to brown the sprouts. You want to get some good colour on the sprouts, don’t be afraid of darkness.
  4. Add the salt and pepper, stir to coat. When the sprouts are tender add the bacon, stir to combine and serve with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
This is my trimming setup. I dump all the sprouts into one  strainer or bowl, the empty bag in the sink, and use my awesome nicely sharp knife to quickly cut the bottoms, remove any bad leaves, and cut them in half.

This is my trimming setup. I dump all the sprouts into one strainer or bowl, the empty bag in the sink, and use my awesome nicely sharp knife to quickly cut the bottoms, remove any bad leaves, and cut them in half.

Browned, baconed, and ready to stir and serve.

Browned, baconed, and ready to stir and serve.

Fully-Loaded Cauliflower Bake: baked potatoes without the potatoes!

FullyLoadedCauliflower

Like in my Cauliflower Mash, cauliflowers make an excellent substitute for potatoes in this classic-tasting dish. Full of flavour, cheesy and filling, this is an awesome side dish for any day of the week. The tang of the cream cheese and sour cream pair perfectly with the salty bacon and sharp cheddar. Really everything you love about baked potatoes are rolled up in an easy to make casserole. This makes a lot, two medium casserole dishes worth, or on 9 x 13″ pan. Feel free to half the recipe, I am packing the extras up for lunches!

Fully-Loaded Cauliflower Bake

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (or water)
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 6 slices bacon, roughly chopped and cooked until crisp
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 more green onions to top, chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Take out either two medium casserole dishes or one 9 x 13 glass baking dish.
  2. In a large pot, cook the cauliflower in the chicken broth until tender (about 10 minutes). Drain and set aside in the strainer to continue to release water.
  3. In the now empty, but still hot pot, melt the cream cheese. Add the drained cauliflower and follow with the rest of the of the ingredients, reserving 1/2 cup of the cheddar and 2-strips worth of chopped, cooked bacon.
  4. Smooth the mixture into the casserole dish(es). Sprinkle liberally with cheddar and the leftover bacon.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, serve with a sprinkle of green onions.
Could already pass for potatoes.

Could already pass for potatoes.

Cheesy bacony heaven.

Cheesy bacony heaven.

Pre-serving.

Pre-serving.

Meatballs with Easy Cheesy Sauce

Meatballs

Sometimes I just really get an idea in my head for dinner but I am still at work. Conveniently my husband works a lot later than me, so I can often get him to do some dinner prep for me. Today Gen took out the pork and beef to defrost and they were perfectly ready by the time I got home. Meatballs were on the menu and my goodness I am thrilled with them! I whipped up some cheese sauce, kind of like an alfredo, to top them off and I was in an amazing cheesy dream place come dinner.

On a complete random and mostly unrelated note, I was walking home along Granville when I was a sign advertising “1/2 Pd Wings.” Most creative expression  of pound that I’ve ever seen.

Meatballs

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb minced beef
  • 1 lb minced pork
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground sage
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
  • 2 eggs

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 375°F, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium skillet over high heat melt butter and sauté onion for 5 minutes, until just translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, until fragrant.
  4. In a large bowl mash together the two minced meats. Add the sautéed onions and garlic, cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and spices.
  5. Mix well to combine, it will be gooey.
  6. Roll golfball-sized meatballs and line up on the prepared cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until browned and cooked through.

Easy Cheesy Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of water as needed

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream cheese over medium-low, stirring until melted and smooth.
  2. Gradually stir in the whipping cream until smooth.
  3. Add the parmesan and seasonings. It will be very thick at this point.
  4. Cook over low heat until smooth and creamy, adding water until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
  5. Serve over meatballs!
All-in-one ready to mash into glorious meatballs!

All-in-one ready to mash into glorious meatballs!

I pan-fried one as a tester. Works as well as baking, but browner.

I pan-fried one as a tester. Works as well as baking, but browner.

Creamy cheese sauce.

Creamy cheese sauce.

Delicious baked meatballs!

Delicious baked meatballs!

Make your own Cranberry Sauce!

CranberrySauce

Once again, we’ve come around to making something homemade rather than buying it. The things I prefer to make than buy: Mayo, Eggnog, Taco Spice mix, Dry Rub, Curry blend, Sausage spice, Bacon Jam, Beer Bread, Pita and every baked good ever.

Homemade cranberry sauce can be tweaked to your desire, but really, those freshly burst berries are awesome anyway you go about it. Dollop on a plate piled with Turkey or Tofurkey and your night is set.

Cranberry Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups cranberries (use wild berries if you can, but those gargantuan ones in the store will do too)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, stir the sugar into the orange juice. Heat until the sugar disolves.
  2. Stir in the cranberries, and cook uncovered until they begin to burst, about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.
  4. The sauce will thicken as it cools, if it seems too thin put it back on the heat for 5 minutes and allow to cool again.
  5. Serve!
Giant berries.

Giant berries.

Bursting with deliciousness.

Bursting with deliciousness.

Roasted Broccoli

This is a recipe for a super-easy side. Toss the broccoli with some salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil and you are golden (so are they). This would be a great side for stuffed chicken, roast beef, a lot of things. Eat them right off the pan.

Roasted Broccoli

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups of trimmed broccoli florets (large or medium florets work best)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/3 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl toss together the florets, garlic, and olive oil, making sure they are evenly coated.
  3. Lay the florets evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Sprinkle the florets with the salt and pepper and give them a little toss on the baking sheet.
  4. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the broccoli browns in some places.

Flecked with garlic, salt, and pepper.

Roasty and delicious.

Scotch Eggs…kinda

You know when you want to make something for a long time but you don’t have all the ingredients and then your husband just happens to bring home almost the ingredients you need and you make it from what you’ve got? Well, that is the story of these Scotch Eggs. I call them …kinda Scotch Eggs because they are not breaded nor deep fried. Still, these are delicious and could easily be the centre piece of a meal. They are the size of a baseball… though this could be because I had a heck of a time rolling the meat around my soft boiled eggs (important, so as not to have a rock-hard yolk after baking), breaking the first yolk ruined meat-rolling my confidence (the rest were perfect though). And feel free to use actual sausage meat, though I really enjoyed adding the spices myself.

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Fluffy & creamy Cauliflower Mash! May replace potatoes in your stomach’s heart!

Well, potatoes are awesome and mashed potatoes are one of my faves, but this dish could possibly ruin mashed potatoes for me forever. These are sooooooo good. This cauliflower mash is not runny, which can be an issue with these types of mashes. There is no overly skunky cauliflower flavour, just creamy, dreamy goodness. You can mix up the cheese and be sure to add spices you love (nix the garlic, add curry?). I was eating this with a spoon right from the pot, ate it from the plate with my pork, ate it while taking the pictures… notice the finger scoop mark on the right… Even cold, these are amazing.

Cauliflower Mash

Adapted from I Breathe… I’m Hungry’s Cauliflower Puree. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 2 tbsp whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 cup jalapeño havarti (it’s what I had on had, use any other sharp cheese, though this was gooooooood), shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste

*shred a little extra cheese to top

DIRECTIONS

  1. Remove leaves and the bottom of the stalk. Roughly chop the cauliflower into medium-sized chunks (evenly sized for even steaming).
  2. Steam the cauliflower in a large pot until very tender, but not mushy, about 10 minutes. (If you don’t have a steamer, buy one… but also, check out IBIH’s instructions for microwaving)
  3. Drain the cauliflower and leave in the strainer for 5 minutes to remove as much water as possible.
  4. Back in your large pot, now dry, combine the rest of the ingredients with the cauliflower, allowing the cheese to melt a bit. Use a handblender, regular blender, or a food processor, to thoroughly puree the mixture. The result should be fluffy, creamy goodness. If you find it a bit wet, pop the pot back on the stove and let it cook over medium-low heat for a 5-10 minutes.
  5. Serve with a sprinkle of cheese.

Florets, steaming away. It is a smallish large pot and they barely fit!

Ahhh flash! So creamy and dreamy.

Swiss Chard and Onion Pakoras

I’ve been having some big cravings for pakoras lately. I am not sure why I’ve wanted them so bad, they aren’t something that we’ve every regularly eaten, and I’ve never made them before, but this week I made it my mission to cook some up! Veggie pakoras can have a lot of different add-ins, often spinach is an ingredient, onion as well. As usual, I didn’t have spinach on hand but had a handful of delicious swiss chard, and knew that this would be an easy substitution. These pakoras pack a little heat, so feel free to tone down the spice. A lot of extra spice can be had with some good mint chutney, make it yourself if you dare (I will be daring to do this later, today I used store-bought… I know, I know, Stacey, get it together).

Swiss Chard and Onion Pakoras

Adapted from here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups Chickpea Flour  (aka Besan or Gram Flour)
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper (use half if you are spice-averse)
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala (make your own, essentially it is my Amazing Curry spice mix, minus the salt and the chilli powder)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 green chili pepper, thinly sliced (use half if you are spice-averse)
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 large yellow onion (or 1 medium onion, my onions were massive), sliced into 1/8inch crescents (cut in half, chop off ends, cut along ribs to create thin, but not too thin, slices)
  • 4-6 leaves of Swiss chard, fold the leaves in half lengthwise, cut off stem, and slice into 1/4-inch thick, 2-inch long strips.
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Grapeseed oil (or another mild-flavoured oil), for deep frying

DIRECTIONS

  1. Fill an 8-inch cast-iron skillet half-way up with oil. Heat the oil to 360-375ºF.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the chickpea flour, red chili flakes, garam masala, salt, baking powder, sliced chilli pepper, cilantro, Swiss chard, and sliced onion.
  3. Slowly add in the water, while mixing with a wooden spoon or your hands. Vigorously mix for a couple of seconds. The batter will be thick, and air bubbles should be evident, if not, give it another vigorous stir.
  4. If you don’t have a thermometer that goes to 360°F, don’t fret. Put the end of a wooden spoon into the oil, if there are a lot of bubbles forming around the end, and coming towards the surface, you are ready to fry.
  5. When the oil is ready, carefully place heaping tablespoons of batter into the pot. Don’t do more than three, or four at a time. If you overcrowd the pan, you will lower the temperature of the oil significantly and your pakoras wont fry, but absorb the oil. Greasy pakoras are no good.
  6. Turning once, fry until the pakoras are a pecan-brown. Drain on a cooling rack placed over a cookie sheet.
  7. Repeat with the remainder of the batter.
  8. Serve with mint chutney, sriracha, mango chutney, ketchup chutney, ketchup, anything really.

This is my kitchen situation. Small space, but now that we’ve removed the microwave, it is a lot more functional. That cord off to the left? That’s my camera cord, as right now it is the only way to use my camera… I forgot my battery charger in the Yukon and sadly the cord only allows the camera to operate, it doesn’t charge it.