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.

Grilled Squid and Baby Octopus on Purple Cabbage Salad with Lemon

GrilledSquidandBabyOctopus

Gen likes to buy new and exciting ingredients and then leave me to figure out what to do with them. Unlike the mussel situation of a month ago (delicious mussel situation, don’t get me wrong), Gen did not buy an incredible amount of squid and octopus, so I wasn’t pressured to cook an insane amount all in one shot. We invited our wonderful friends over for food and some gaming and I went to work marinating, chopping (including my finger again, sigh), and grilling. The wild thing is, seafood is super easy to prepare, no need to be intimidated by these ‘exotic’ creatures, a little marinade and some heat go a long way. I used two different marinades and I loved the combination, the squid was slightly spicy (sorry Tobias!) and the octopus was just touched with a little citrus. I whipped up a lemon-olive oil dressing that I used to top the salads to tie the flavours together and give the cabbage a little brightness. You can easily serve the seafood on top of rice or pasta, but I’ve included my salad recipe below, once again it is all about cabbage and full of colour!

Citrus Baby Octopus

From Mark’s Daily Apple

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds baby octopus (Go to Mark’s Daily Apple for instructions on how to prepare your octopus, if you have more than legs)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Pour into a large ziploc bag and set aside.
  2. In a medium pot over high heat, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Turn the heat off and dump the octopuses into the pot.
  3. Let the octopus sit in the pot for 1 minute and then drain immediately. Rinse well with cold water.
  4. Add the octopus to the marinade bag, tossing to coat. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  5. Turn your grill to high (we have a countertop grill, only one setting, HIGH).
  6. Grill for about 6 minutes, turning halfway. Remove from heat and serve warm over salad, or allow to cool to serve.

 

Grilled Spicy Squid

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb squid tubes, fresh or frozen (mine were clean and frozen from Superstore, if you can only find full squid there are many sites out there with cleaning tips)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 red chili pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse your squid tubes, slice down one side to open, and lay out on a clean dish towel or layered paper towels, pat until quite dry.
  2. Cut the squid into 1/2 inch strips and toss in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the spices.
  4. Drizzle the olive oil over the squid and toss to coat.
  5. Sprinkle the spices over the oiled squid and toss until every piece is spiced. Cover and allow to sit in the fridge until you are ready to grill.
  6. Turn the grill on high, lay pieces of squid on the grill and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes per side. Some of your pieces may curl up while cooking, that’s alright!
  7. Serve over salad!

 

Lemon Dressing to serve over seafood

INGREDIENTS

  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp fresh rosemary, minced (*optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl, drizzle over seafood, salad, anything!

 

Cabbage Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 head of purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2lb green beans, quartered

DIRECTIONS

  1. Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl, drizzle with preferred dressing and enjoy a crunchy, awesome salad!
Beautiful little octopus legs.

Beautiful little octopus legs.

Bright, fresh ingredients.

Bright, fresh ingredients.

Sliced squid tubes.

Sliced squid tubes.

Par boiled and ready to be grilled.

Par boiled and ready to be grilled.

Squid strips.

Squid strips.

Grilling away, my tester batch.

Grilling away, my tester batch.

Cabbage Roll Casserole (I know, I know, another cabbage post!)

Cabbagerollcasserole

Sorry guys, I am in a cabbagey place lately and this is just another cabbage-loving creation. I can promise you something super sweet and amazing for Wednesday (it is the Food Blogger Cookie post), so if you are hating on the cabbage, wait until then for a switch up. BUT, if you are down with awesome cabbage-loving dishes, scroll on down and get all up in this recipe. Kel and I are something like 25% Ukrainian and have always taken pride in cooking up great Ukrainian dishes (like Kel’s Chicken Paprikash), in particular we try to get together once a year to make up a huge batch of perogies and cabbage rolls to split (look forward to this post after Christmas). But, when this supplies runs out, immediately after Christmas, they are too good to keep, I have to come up with quick alternatives that offer the same flavours. This one-pot wonder is easy and delicious and makes a batch big enough for a family, or great for many lunches.

Cabbage Roll Casserole

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or olive)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes *optional
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, roughly chopped (about 4 cups raw)
  • 1/2 cup strained tomatoes (I used Pomi, it is essentially nothing-added tomato sauce, feel free to substitute your own brand, or 2 minced tomatoes)
  • 3 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup cheddar, shredded

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil and brown your ground beef. Break up the meat as it cooks to get an even crumble.
  2. Add the spices to the meat and stir well to evenly distribute.
  3. Create a well in the centre of your pot (move the meat to the sides) and add your garlic. Allow to cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, until fragrant.
  4. Add the cabbage and tomato to the pot and stir well to combine. Dollop the cream cheese on top of the mixture, cover with a lid and cook everything for 15 minutes, until the cabbage is tender.
  5. Stir the, now softened, cream cheese into the meat and cabbage mixture, taste and adjust spices if needed.
  6. Sprinkle the mixture with the cheddar cheese and allow to melt before serving.
  7. Serve alone or over rice. Top with a dollop of sour cream of creme fraiche.
Ah cabbage, my current love.

Ah cabbage, my current love.

Cheese to round it out!

Cheese to round it out!

Creamy Cauliflower & Cabbage Soup

CreamyCauliflowerSoup

This soup is creamy, buttery, thick, and delicious. I have been on a weird cabbage kick lately and here we go. This soup is awesome and hearty and can be easily veganized by omitting the dairy (or switching for vegan versions), it will still be amazing. The recipe makes a lot so you will have meals for days, or for a group. I served this up with a sprinkle of cayenne and some sausage on the side. You will see I’ve suggested that the cabbage and cauliflower can be any size, the measurements can be adjusted for different amounts of veggies (it’s hard to hunt down a particular size of veggies).

Creamy Cauliflower & Cabbage Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head of cabbage (any size), roughly chopped
  • 1 head of cauliflower (any size), roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 cups of chicken broth (or more, to almost cover the veg)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • paprika or cayenne to sprinkle

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a very large pot melt the butter. Sauté the cabbage over medium-high heat until softened and somewhat translucent. 
  2. Add the cauliflower to the pot, sprinkle with pepper, salt, and cumin.
  3. Pour the both into the pot until you’ve just about covered the veggies.
  4. Bring to a boil. Then lower heat and allow the soup to simmer for an hour until everything is very tender.
  5. Using an immersion blender, blend up the soup until smooth.
  6. Add crumbled feta and cream to the smooth soup, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  7. Serve in a large bowl and sprinkle with either paprika or cayenne.
Ready to cook down.

Ready to cook down.

Pre-blending.

Pre-blending.

This cabbage looked lovely inside.

This cabbage looked lovely inside.

Easy Curry Chicken Thighs

Here’s the background to the creation of this dish. I asked my wonderful husband to take out two chicken breasts in the morning because I had forgotten to when I went to work. He smartly took out three because they looked small and they were defrosted by the time I got home. Awesome. The only problem was that they were bone-in skin-on chicken thighs and they were really small. So I took out three more, defrosted them quickly and got to pan searing them before baking in a delicious curry and coconut milk bath. They turned out most excellently and would be great served over steamed veggies and rice. This recipe takes just 15 minutes to whip up and spends about 40 minutes in the oven, so you have lots of time to do other things, like enjoy a glass of wine.

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Egg Drop Soup with Ginger Chicken

Another easy-peasy and delicious soup recipe that I happily whip up on lazy feeling nights. Gen loves it, so it is definitely going to be a consistant sight at our dinner table. Unlike most recipes for egg drop soup, I add pieces of gingered chicken, as I felt the soup needed a little oomph. The ginger adds a little zing and the chicken bumps this up from a starter to a meal. Also, sorry for the terrible pictures, I make this soup when I am very hungry and in a hurry, so pictures were low on my priority list, but the soup is high!

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