Roasted beet, garlic and walnut pesto

A tasty twist that’s as delicious as it is colourful!

I love making big batches of traditional basil pesto each summer and often have enough tucked into the freezer to enjoy all winter long. Over the past few years, I’ve had fun experimenting with new pesto recipes, including with garlic scapes, roasted peppers and more. This latest creation, made with roasted beets and garlic is a real winner. Not only does it turn the past a vibrant shade of magenta (which might be fun for a Valentine’s Day menu), it imparts such a delicious, rich flavour to the noodles. I’ve also used this beet pesto as a dressing for roasted vegetables and for barley salad, as well as to stuff mushroom caps and all three variations were huge hits with my taste testers. Like most pestos, this one freezes beautifully.

Ingredients

  • 1 large beet, peeled and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) toasted walnut pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoons (2.5 mL) salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Put the beets and garlic in a 1 quart oven safe casserole dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the olive oil and toss to evenly coat the beets. Cover tightly and bake 35 – 40 minutes, until beets are tender.
  • Remove beets from oven and let cool 15 minutes or longer, still tightly covered.
  • Put beets, garlic and accumulated juices in a food processor or sturdy blender. Add toasted walnuts, pepper, salt, lemon juice and olive oil. Process until mixture is uniformly pureed.
  • To serve on pasta, add a few tablespoons of pesto at a time to hot, drained pasta. Toss with two forks until pasta is evenly coated, adding a bit more pesto if needed. Top with grated parmesan cheese (or your favourite vegan cheese alternative) and serve hot.

Makes approximately 1.5 cups of pesto.

This original recipe first appeared at ymc.ca

 

 

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Protein-packed blueberry and banana muffins

A satisfying nutritional boost for breakfasts or snacktime!

I am not sure what my family would do if I stopped making muffins. There are always a few different varieties in our freezer and they seem to be a staple breakfast item for everyone. I love them for their portability as I’d much rather reach for something homemade than have to purchase a snack when I’m out having a busy day away from my kitchen. Given that they are such a family favourite, I recently experimented with trying to add a little more protein to one of my standard muffin recipes. This new version contains egg, yogurt or sour cream, quinoa flakes and walnuts, which means they are more deliciously filling than many recipes. Moist and flavourful, they freeze beautifully, which is great because this recipe makes a big batch.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups (415 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) quinoa flakes *
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup (250 mL) fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) toasted, chopped walnuts or pecans

* look for quinoa flakes at your local health food store. They resemble tiny oat flakes.

Method

  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Line 18 muffin tin compartments with paper liners.
  • Combine flour, quinoa flakes, baking powder and baking soda and set aside.
  • Put sugars in a large mixing bowl; add melted butter and stir to combine.
  • Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in yogurt (or sour cream) and bananas, mixing until well blended.
  • Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  • Stir in blueberries and walnuts, then transfer batter into the prepared muffin tins.
  • Bake 18 – 20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

Make 18 scrumptious muffins

 

Posted in baking, Berries, Breakfast, brunch, Muffins | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gluten-free fruit crisp bars

Classic dessert topping becomes the star of the show!

I don’t know about you, but whenever I eat fruit crisp (or crumble), my favourite part is the topping. Crunchy oats, sweet brown sugar and all that buttery goodness….what’s not to love? I decided to transform traditional crisp or crumble topping into a new delight and I have to say, these bars are phenomenally tasty. Alternatively, spread a layer of very thinly sliced apples dusted with sugar and cinnamon for another variation but the seedless jam was just so easy I couldn’t resist making the bars this way. You can easily make your own oat flour by pulsing rolled oats in a blender or food processor. If you don’t wish to make these bars gluten-free, substitute with all-purpose flour.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (500 mL) rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) oat flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) seedless raspberry jam

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Line an 8×8 inch (20×20 cm) baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, oat flour baking powder, salt and brown sugar. Stir to blend well. Drizzle in the melted butter and vanilla and stir until completely incorporated.
  • Spread half the oats mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan and pat down.
  • Heat the jam in the microwave until it is slightly thinned; stir and drizzle over oats mixture in pan.
  • Sprinkle remaining oats mixture over the jam and press down lightly with your fingertips.
  • Bake in preheated oven until top is uniformly golden brown and jam is bubbling, about 25 minutes.
  • Let stand at least 10 minutes, then slice into bars. Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.

Makes  sixteen one inch (2.5 cm) square bars.

 

Posted in baking, Dessert, Desserts, Fruit, gluten-free | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mini pizza quiches

A tasty mashup of two favourite classics!

If given a choice, the menfolk in my family would likely always choose pizza over quiche, while the ladies would most certainly vote the opposite way. To solve this tie vote, I decided to create a mashup of these two favourites. It’s so quick and easy to prepare (thanks to purchased pastry shells), I know I’ll be making it often. Best of all, you can enjoy these cute little pizza-inspired quiches for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even snacks. They’re ideal for tucking into lunchboxes AND you can freeze them once baked! Feel free to use your favourite pizza toppings – and skip the meat, if you wish – but remember that the mini tart shells have a limited capacity. You could easily make one full sized quiche by doubling this recipe for a large pastry shell; just be sure to increase the cooking time by 5 – 8 minutes or so.

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 12 mini tart shells, frozen and unbaked
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons (10 – 15 mL) olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) diced prosciutto OR 1/3 cup (90 mL) finely diced pepperoni
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) each diced onions, mushooms, green pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) heavy (35%) cream
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried oregano
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon (.65 – 1.25 mL) hot red pepper flakes (optional but delicious)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried basil
  • Few grinds kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) grated mozzarella
  • Pizza sauce, to serve

Method

  • Start by preparing the fillings. You’ll need to cook the prosciutto and vegetables to release their moisture and therefore won’t not make the quiches soggy. If using pepperoni instead of prosciutto, it does not need cooking.
  • Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of oil and cook the prosciutto until crispy. Remove to a small bowl and return the pan to the heat. Repeat the process with the onions, mushrooms and green peppers (these can be cooked together).
  • While vegetables cook, beat together the eggs and cream in a small bowl or glass measure. Add the seasonings and stir to combine. Set aside.
  • Note that all of the preceding steps can be done up to 12 hours ahead and everything can be covered and refrigerated until you are ready to proceed.
  • To assemble the quiches, preheat the oven to 375F and arrange the frozen tart shells on a baking tray. Put 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of cheese in the bottom of each shell. Sprinkle a little bit of the prosciutto or pepperoni in each shell, then divide the onion/mushroom/green pepper mixture among the shells.
  • Top with the egg, cream and herb mixture – I find the easiest way to do this is with a small cookie dough scoop. The egg mixture will settle a little as it trickles in around the filling ingredients, so you may need to go back and add another half-teaspoonful to some of the quiches.
  • Bake for 18 minutes, then sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top of the quiches and return to the oven for 3 – 4 minutes until cheese is melted, pastry is browned and filling is completely set (quiches do not jiggle when you wiggle the baking tray).
  • Serve with pizza sauce for dipping.

Makes 12 mini pizza quiches; recipe can easily be multiplied.

Posted in appetizer, Breakfast, brunch, cheese, eggs, family-friendly main dish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Review: New cookbook helps make the most of the Instant Pot

Canadian team demystifies modern pressure cooking

The runaway success of the Ottawa-invented Instant Pot certainly seems to suggest this kitchen gadget is no flash in the pan (pun intended). Loads of online forums share ideas, recipes, tips and techniques, but I think many people new to this style of cooking will appreciate a more concise, consolidated source. The answers – especially for those who found an Instant Pot under their Christmas tree – have arrived in the form of a great new cookbook called Instant Favourites, published this week by HarperCollins Canada.

The book contains more than 125 easy, original recipes tested to perfection by the Ontario-based husband and wife team of Mia Bachmaier (a chef, recipe developer and food stylist who has worked on Anna Olson’s highly-acclaimed TV shows Bake and Fresh on the Food Network) and Mike McColl (a chef and food photographer whose wonderful images have appeared in more than 20 cookbooks). With three kids at home, they favour dishes that are healthy, delicious and nutritious or, as they describe it, ‘real food, fast’ – which is what most of us want to serve too, right? Best of all, they’ve opted to exclude  recipes for meals that would work better made another way than in an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker.

One of the book’s great strengths –aside from its appealing photos and step-by-step recipes – is that it does a really good job of explaining how to get the most out of an electric pressure cooker. An overview on both the machine and optimal ingredient selection precedes the recipes, many of which also include notes regarding ingredient substitutions, serving suggestions and other helpful tips.

I’ve been working with my Instant Pot for over a year, and have years of pressure cooking experience as well. Like Mia and Mike (I feel like we’re on a first name basis now, so well-thumbed already is my review copy of their book), I appreciate the pressure cooker’s ability to save time and energy (both human and hydro) while also delivering great flavour. Despite not being a newbie to the world of pressure cooking, I can confirm I have already learned so much from this book. In the past, I’ve pressure cooked loads of legumes, made gallons of soups and stews, whipped up oodles of risotto and even made pulled pork, but I haven’t ventured into other uses like desserts, breakfast dishes or preserves, but now I’m ready to give these a go. Thanks to Instant Favourites, I’m also eager to dive deeper into the world of manual settings on my Instant Pot. I also feel like I have a better understanding, thanks to Mia and Mike, of why some of my Instant Pot experiments didn’t turn out quite like I expected.

The well-organized book is divided into twelve sections with a nice selection of recipes in each. I’ve tried several already (including the one below) and found them easy to follow and absolutely delicious. If you feel like you’re not getting the most out of your Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker, I suggest you consider letting Mia and Mike give you a kind, helpful shove in the right direction.

One-Pot Quinoa Power Bowl

(reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Canada)

Quinoa is a seed, not a grain, and is considered a whole protein because of its abundance of essential amino acids. It’s easy to cook and complements many other foods, like this power salad. If you want to make more quinoa than the recipe calls for, keep the quinoa and water at a 1:1 ratio.

  • 2/3 cup quinoa
  • 2/3 cup water
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs

For the dressing:

  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tsp liquid honey
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 lime, juiced (3 tbsp)
  • freshly ground black pepper

Suggested garnishes: 

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cucumber, sliced or diced
  • 1 large carrot, grated, sliced, or peeled in strips
  • 1–2 avocados, sliced or diced
  • 2 cups salad greens and/or sprouts

Method

  • Rinse and drain the quinoa. Add the quinoa to the pot with the ⅔ cup of water and the ½ tsp of salt.
  • Place the trivet in the pot and set the 2 eggs on it.
  • Secure the lid and set the machine for 1 minute on high pressure. Allow for a 10-minute natural release before completely depressurizing the pot. The pressure indicator may say it’s completely depressurized before the 10 minutes are up, but allow for a full 10 minutes before opening the lid.
  • Remove the lid and take out the eggs and the trivet. Place the eggs into a bowl of cold water for 3–4 minutes before peeling. Then give the quinoa a little stir. Allow it to cool 5–10 minutes before turning it into salad.
  • For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the ¼ cup of water, olive oil, tahini, honey, 1 tsp of salt, and lime juice. Season with freshly ground black pepper and set aside.
  • Cut each peeled egg into halves or quarters.
  • Divide the quinoa into bowls, top with the eggs and vegetable garnishes, and drizzle with the tahini dressing.

Serves 4 and can be doubled easily.

 

 

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4 New Year’s Nutritional Boosters

Tasty tips to put healthy things on your plate and in your belly!

I’m often asked for tips and tricks to make meals a little healthier. As an omnivore who adores her morning cup(s) of tea and will rarely say no to a friendly glass of wine, I know it can be really hard to give up all the good stuff in the quest for better health. My answer is to take it simple – make just a few flavourful changes at a time and don`t forget to reward yourself for good behaviour by enjoying the things you love, in moderation.

Here are four of the things I’m incorporating regularly into my own menus this month (click on the underlined text for details) and to look for more ideas check out the many other healthy posts on my blog.

Golden lattes

Almond milk, turmeric, ginger and more – a fantastic way to start your day or enjoy a mid-afternoon pick-me-up!

Golden Lattes are delicious breakfast boosters

Mocktails with Seedlip distilled non-alcoholic spirits

Seedlip products make delicious ‘placebo drinks’ that offer the taste and aroma of a delicious cocktail – but one you can feel quite virtuous about enjoying! Find them at either Jacobsons  or Pot & Pantry in Ottawa, Ontario and at Pan Chancho in Kingston, Ontario. Check here for other stockists around the globe).

 

Soups with fresh zucchini noodles instead of pasta or rice

This quick switch up makes for a soup that is colourful and tasty; as a bonus, it’s gluten-free!

gluten-free chicken soup

Raw vegetables – spiralized zucchini & spicy peanut sauce

We all know that most vegetables (one of the exceptions being tomatoes) lose some of their nutritional value when cooked. Raw zucchini ‘noodles’ tossed in a spicy peanut saw are one of easiest and tastiest ways to add a healthy dish the whole family can enjoy to your regular menu rotation.

Posted in Drinks, healthy, salad, spices, vegan, Vegetables, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Raw zucchini noodles with spicy peanut sauce

Spiralized vegetable dishes are fast, fresh and fun!

I really miss the fresh tastes of summer during our long Canadian winters. While I am a big fan of root vegetables and I love a hearty soup or stew, the bright, fresh-from-the-garden flavours that characterize many meals from June through October are pretty elusive right now. My solution has been to try and incorporate more raw vegetables into my menus, especially those whose flavour is not compromised during this season. This vegetable carpaccio is a wintertime favourite, as are spiralized zucchini noodles which can be dressed up all kinds of ways or even added to soup instead of pasta. This delightful zucchini ‘noodle’ dish honestly takes just five minutes to prepare and you may find it’s a hit with everyone in your family. Plus, it’s so packed with flavour and nutrition that it will leave you feeling full and happy for hours afterward. With its judicious touch of Sriracha heat, it might just warm you up a little too!

Ingredients

Peanut Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) peanut butter or cashew butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free version)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) very finely minced ginger
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (1.25 to 2.5 mL) sriracha (Asian hot sauce), to taste
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) water

Salad:

  • 2 medium sized zuchinni
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) roasted peanuts or cashews, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • Lime wedges

Method

  • Combine all of the sauce ingredients and whisk vigorously until it has a smooth consistency. You want to be able to drizzle it on your dish, so add a bit more water if needed to thin it just a little. Taste and adjust seasoning if you would like it sweeter or spicier.
  • Trim both ends of the zucchini and use your spiral cutter (or a vegetable peeler) to cut them into long, thin ‘noodles’. Place zucchini ‘noodles’ in a serving bowl.
  • Drizzle sauce over zucchini and toss gently to combine.
  • Garnish with chopped nuts and cilantro and serve with lime wedges to squeeze over top.

Serves 2 as a side dish; can easily be multiplied.

This original recipe, created by me, was originally published at ymc.ca

 

Posted in gluten-free, healthy, Main DIsh, peanut sauce, raw, Salads, vegan, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments