Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘cheese’

Retro New Years

For those of you who have been following this blog for any length of time well know, that my philosophy towards food is “Do the best you can with what you’ve got!”  And that if you can eat properly 90% of the time, then that 10% when you indulge , shouldn’t really do that much harm.

So, that being said, if you are one of my uber-healthy, vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, etc type blog friends, then, I suggest you just move on from this particular post……..nothing to see here.

I gave the Chef a cheese fondu set for Christmas.  We live in the sort of climate that welcomes bread dipped in molten cheese type dishes, and New Years Eve is a perfect time to indulge!

I was probably about twelve the first time I ever tasted cheese fondu and it was made by ACTUAL Swiss people, new neighbours who had moved in and invited our family over for dinner.

Coming from the “boil it or fry it” cuisine that I grew up with, this “Swiss Fondu” had to be the most exotic and delightful thing my young palette had EVER had!!

And all the ritual around it, with having to kiss the person next to you if you should inadvertently lose your bread in the pot!!

( The Chef pointed out that perhaps this played a part in the 70’s when both fondu parties and swingers were at their peak of popularity!!)

My love of fondu continued in the 90’s, back in Montreal, when my friends and I often frequented a restaurant called Alpenhaus which specialized in fondu.  There was not a better place to be on a cold Montreal night, than tucked into the dark wood laden walls of this Swiss Chalet stuffing your face with warm cheese on bread, to warm the cockles!

So to say good-bye to 2012 we fired up the fondu pot!

Now as the holiday season winds down ( although mine doesn’t finish for another week because January 7th is my birthday so all resolutions in my world start on the 8th!) you really start to feel as though if you NEVER had another meal it would be TOO SOON!!

So we tried to add just a little healthiness to the meal by adding a salad and instead of just bread as dippers, we also had blanched cauliflower, lightly sauted mushrooms……so yes and some (pre-cooked) spicy Italian sausage!

Here’s to 2013!!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kinda lasagna sorta

The worst part about moving of course, is trying to find anything!

All the best and most organized packing in the world can still result in a lot of things being “misplaced”.  That is what is so disruptive about moving and makes you feel so unsafe.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but they say moving is up there with the top 10 most stressful happenings in life……up there with divorce or deaths!!

And when you are packing, you tend to do crazy things that must seem a good idea at the time and perhaps even logical.  But on the unpacking end you often find your self asking “WHAT was I thinking there??”

So this past weekend was the first time the Chef and I have both had the whole weekend off together and been able really get a handle on the new place.  Most of the stuff has been unpacked for a bit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is in the right place.

I kid you not, we spent almost four hours arranging and rearranging the living room.        We purchased some new furniture that will be arriving in “two to four weeks” so it is even harder when you don’t even really know what things will look like.

We had already had a number of configurations that we had tried for a week or a few days at a time, but nothing felt right.   But I think we finally found one we can work with……until the furniture comes and then we have to start all over of course!

But we did manage to finally arrange the pantry.

It’s been hard to cook or eat because we didn’t know where anything was….or if you thought of a dish you might only have half the ingredients, but then only to discover in a different cupboard the other stuff you would need.  It’s been chaos!

So after a long day of “arranging” neither of us felt like going out to a store, nor did we really feel like cooking but…….you gotta eat right?

So this is what I came up with.

Baked cabbage with cheese and veg

*********************************************************************************************

I present this as only a guideline of what you can do with a bunch of random stuff.  Please feel free to substitute or omit  as needed.

First I cooked up a pot of green lentils.  At first I thought I would make some sort of lentil dish fried up with onions and veg on rice etc.

But then I found a cabbage in the fridge.  When I say “found” you know what I mean, a recently purchased one, not one that came with the fridge!

And so I thought I’d really like to use that too.

There were also some nice Portobello mushrooms and some red peppers.

Hmmm….what next?

Okay.

So in a large skillet with a little oil add:

  • 1 -2 chopped onion
  • 1-2 cups sliced mushroom
  • 1 red, green, yellow or combo sliced pepper

Cook those down until nice and soft, feel free to add any herb or spice flavours that inspire you.

When these are cooked, toss them into a flat baking or lasagna style dish and spread them around.

Then add in the cooked lentils and mix them in well.

Meanwhile, in the same skillet, add a little more oil then add finely sliced cabbage.  Sliced very thin like you are making coleslaw but don’t stuff the pan too much.

I used a whole small cabbage.  But cook it in batches so that it cooks down nicely and it is okay if it gets brown bits on it.  Adds flavour!!

As you finish each batch of cabbage, add it to the baking dish and continue to mix it in with the other vegetables.

Once you have done about half the cabbage, sprinkle with a layer of good melting cheese like mozzarella or other cheese you might use in a lasagna or pizza.

Once all the cabbage is added then add a tin of tomato  or prepared spaghetti sauce and thoroughly mix through everything.  I only had half of a tin on hand, but it really needed a whole one!

Once it is well mixed, layer with another layer of the melting cheese and then a bit of what ever other cheese you might have just as an accent.  I used some orange cheddar and some blue cheese.

Then bung it in the oven at 350 for about half hour ( it’s mostly all cooked just need to heat and melt cheese) and then pop it under the broiler for a few minutes till the cheese on top starts to brown a little.

There you have it!

Kinda lasagna sorta

Now I will admit, if I had to do it again, there would be a few things I would do differently.  Like make sure I had enough sauce.   And I would probably put some extra fried onions on top.  Or even better, those old school crispy onions that Grandmothers seem to like to put on green bean casseroles at the holidays!!

It would make a fine Vegetarian supper with a salad and some nice bread.  Or actually it would do fine as a side dish.

The point is, you can usually make something out of nothing when you have to!  Be creative!

We did end up getting to have some Thanksgiving Turkey dinner after all and it went very well, just missing a couple things…..like the gravy ladle.

It will show up….with the damn blue lampshade I can’t seem to find.

Savory Bread Pudding

Here’s another little gem you might want to enjoy over the holidays……..

I call it a “savory bread pudding” but I’m sure you could come up with other names for it.

Savory Bread Pudding

This could be used as a nice alternative to stuffing (dressing) if you are still looking for a bready side dish without all the turkey bother.  It does have dairy and eggs, but no turkey juice, so the vegetarians can eat this.

Here is what you will need:

  • aprox 3 cups of cubed bread of some kind
  • 1 onion or shallot finely diced
  • 1 cup of mushrooms of your choice, sliced
  • 1 -2 cups of chopped baby spinach ( depending on how much you chop it)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme ( or poultry spice if you have that)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of 1/2 & 1/2 cream ( or whipping cream if you are inclined)
  • few dashes of hot sauce
  • some cheese ( I used some good white cheddar and a little bit of blue and parmesan cause I had it)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a pan with butter or olive oil.

Then in a frying pan with a bit of butter or olive oil, saute the onion and mushrooms, then add the thyme or PS and the S&P.

Meanwhile, cube your bread into 1/4 or 1/2 inch cubes and add them to your greased pan.  Then add in your cooked onions and mushrooms and toss them all together.

*************************************************************************************************************

Then lay on a layer of spinach and a good handful or two of the cheddar cheese and then stir those into all the other stuff till everything is thoroughly mixed.

***********************************************************************************************************8

Then is a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the cream and the hot sauce.

Then pour the eggs and cream all over the bread then kind of swirl it around to make sure everyone is getting a little of the creamy love!

Even squeeze the bread down into the cream a bit to make sure it is all getting a bit soaked.

Then finish with a few sprinkles of the other cheeses like some blue cheese and parmesan.

Pop into the hot oven for at least 1/2 hour and then have a look at it.  Giggle it a bit, if it is still too wabbly, put it back in for a few minutes.

Then you might want to put it under the broiler for a few minutes just to brown off the top.

*************************************************************************************************************

*************************************************************************************************************

To be honest, I probably could have just eaten a big bowl of the stuff by itself.   But instead I used it as a side dish with a spicy sausage stuffed Portobello mushroom.

************************************************************************************************************

But I definitely feel it is worthy of a holiday side dish!

Pierogi Stuff Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I know what you are thinking.

That after getting back from our eating orgy in Oregon, that would be it! 

We’d get back on track and get back to “practice what I preach” and healthy eating and all that!

I know, I know but I just HAD to share THIS thing with you…..even if you NEVER eat one, you NEED to know that it is out there….for better or for worse!

Last weekend I was working at the Rifflandia music festival here in Victoria, so for the most part I was sequestered on the site the whole time can couldn’t go off in search of a healthy green smoothie ( although I bet if I looked hard enough, someone was probably making them there!) so I was at the mercy of what was available to eat.

What is nice is that instead of the regular concession stands normally found at these sort of events, they had several of the local food trucks and restaurants set up with their own fare.  This brought a lot of variety and local feel.

I couldn’t keep away from The Hungry Rooster food truck which specializes in pierogi based dishes.  I ate nearly every meal there!  I just couldn’t help it!

But the most note worthy, and what this story is even about, was The Slam Down.

Are you ready for this?   It is a grilled cheese sandwich, stuffed with bacon, grilled onions and PIEROGIES!!!  IN the sandwich!!  I mean seriously?  Could there be a more decadent and wonderous thing??

I didn’t have my camera with me but I talked about my sandwich so much that one of my co-workers broke down and got one herself so here is a picture of hers!

Pierogi stuffed grilled cheese sandwich

Look at the picture of it on the Hungry Rooster site to get a better look and the full list of ingredients.

I told the Chef about this mythical sandwich and he was most intrigued so I thought I would try my hand at making him one for his Sunday breakfast yesterday……

So first you need to cook up some bacon.  Three slices per sandwich.

And then, in the drippings of said bacon ( this is optional if you want it “healthier” which to me is like diet coke with your cheese burger!) cook up one onion sliced so you are getting the longest pieces that you can.  Cook till soft and a little brown.

Then boil up some frozen pierogies, two per sandwich.

Once those are all set to go and keeping warm, you are ready to start.

I just grilled the bread in the oven under the broiler.  I would imagine at the Hungry Rooster they are actually grilling them on the flat top for that grilled deliciousness, but I didn’t want to get int the whole flipping thing!

So grill the bread on one side and then turn it over.

They add “aioli” to theirs which is fancy mayo.  So I just used regular mayonnaise and a bit of Dijon mustard.

Then top each slice of bread with some quality cheddar ( NOT the individually wrapped “cheese food product” IF you know what I mean!) and put the bread back under the broiler till the cheese melts.

Then on one side per sandwich lay out the three strips of bacon, then add a generous mound of fried onions and then finally two pierogies, strategically placed so you can cut the sandwich on the diagonal.

Top with the other slice of cheesy bread and cut in half.

Voila!  Pierogi stuffed grilled cheese sandwich!

Pierogi  stuffed grilled cheese sandwich

I didn’t find it quite as good as the Rooster’s…..didn’t have the same “ooy-gooy-goodness” but then again, I’m sure there is a good reason for that!!

The Chef liked his a lot but commented “I guess I won’t be getting THESE too often!”

Once a year should be the limit!!

Cheesy Eggy Pie

I think I might be watching too many episodes of “Top Chef” on the food network, because I am getting very good at just putting something together out of whatever happens to be around!!

For those of you who have never seen the show, Chefs are often given a few random ingredients and are expected to make something editable out of it.

I’d say my cheesy Eggy Pie might qualify!

So here is what is in mine, but as is always my motto, what ever you happen to have around will do!

  • 1 medium onion finely sliced
  • 1 bell pepper sliced ( any colour or combo)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.

Toss these into a frying pan with a slosh of oil and saute till wilted.   Then add them to a casserole dish.   Then I added:

  • a large handful of chopped spinach
  • asparagus chopped in 1 inch bits ( fresh or left over cooked)
  • 2 green onions chopped

Toss in with the peppers.   Chopped tomato  or zucchini would go fine too.

Then add some cooked pasta.  I used rotini, but any short hearty pasta will do.  If you are going to use noodles, I would break them in half before cooking.

Toss all that together.   Feel free to add some chopped fresh or dried herbs like oregano or parsley.

Then, you will mix up some egg with cream or milk like you are going to make something like a bread pudding.   Add a few shots of hot sauce if you like, or paprika.

Then pour this mixture all over the pasta and vegetables.   It shouldn’t be swimming but enough to maybe fill up the sides half way.

Then sprinkle with your favorite cheese and bung it in the oven at about 350 degrees for about 20 minutes to half hour.

You will know it is ready when you take it out and shake it a little and there is no liquid moving around and the cheese is melted nicely.

Spoon it up and serve with a little green salad and you have a quick Summer supper!

Cheesy Eggy Pie

Just Because

I don’t really have a very good reason for writing this particular post other than the fact that I have a nice picture to go with it.

The Chef always seems to be very concerned about what I will have for “lunch”.  I haven’t the heart to tell him that most days I don’t actually eat “lunch”  per say.

But he made me these lovely sandwiches.

Don’t you find that sandwiches ALWAYS taste better when someone else makes them??

And don’t sandwiches somehow taste better when presented nicely, with fancy toothpicks and condiments.

Maybe it’s a childhood thing, from when we used to get cute crustless gems.

I don’t know.

Enjoy your sandwich.

***********************************************************************************************

a damn fine sandwich

**********************************************************************************************

Left overs salad

I think sometimes people get hung up on what food is supposed to “look like”.

As in they think that there are some kind of rules about what something is, just because you call it something.

Example, salad.

When you say “salad” what immediately comes to mind?  Some kind of lettuce, few chopped carrots or cucumbers, maybe some sliced radish for colour……..

Or maybe you go to chunky potato salad with the obligatory cup of mayonnaise?

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with any of those, but sometimes it is okay to get out of the box.

Came home and needed something to eat.  What to do?

Well, I had some slightly old baguette so I chopped that up into bite size squares and tossed it with some chopped garlic, chopped rosemary and some olive oil.   Then on to a tray and into the oven to crisp up.

What next?

I had a romaine lettuce so I washed it and chopped it up and dried it well.

In the bottom of the bowl that I tossed the croutons in, there was some of the oil, garlic and rosemary left, so I used the same bowl and made a little dressing.

Mostly, it was a Caesar dressing only minus the raw egg and anchovy:

  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp Keen’s hot mustard ( or Dijon)
  • a few shots of Worcestershire sauce
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a couple of twirls of olive oil
  • salt & pepper

whisk that up at the bottom of the bowl.

Then add the Romain lettuce and toss with the dressing.   Then add a few handfuls of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

But is that it?  No no no……let’s see what we have in the fridge??

Well, how about some left over roasted cauliflower?  Why not?

I just tossed it into a saute pan for a couple of minutes to take the extreme cold off of it and mellow the flavour a bit.

What else do we have?  Oh, here is some left over South West salad, let’s toss that in too!

All right then, I think we are in business!

We have the lettuce tossed in dressing with cheese, then cauliflower and then the bean salad.  Last but not least, the croutons and toss well and serve!

Perfect any night “Salad”!

What have you got in YOUR fridge that you can call salad?

“Left Overs” salad

Oscar nachos

We didn’t have an Oscar party, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have some sort of party like food while you watch…….does it?

I whipped up a batch of nachos!  What better and easier, to stuff your face with while you yell at the TV?

First I started with making some fixins to go with them.   The beauty of nachos is that there are really no rules, so you can put anything you like on them!

 

Nacho fixins

I chopped up some red onion, green onion, tomato.   Then I grated some cheese and squished up some avocados into guacamole.   And then I added a few drops of my favorite Chipolte tabasco sauce to some sour cream.

I took a baking sheet and put down a layer of nacho chips ( use your favorite kind, I used white corn) then I added some left over chili I had kickin around in the fridge.  But make sure you heat it up first to make sure it is properly brought back up to temperature.

 

I spread that and some pickled hot peppers and then sprinkled some grated cheese.   Then added a few more chips and did the same again.   That way you don’t get that big melted mess in the middle.

 

Toss them in the oven under the broiler for…..as long as it takes……..just long enough to melt the cheese and the outside chips start to get slightly brown…..or to your taste…..but KEEP AND EYE ON THEM!!

 

 

Oscar nachos with all the fixins

 

Add some fixings and serve immediately.

Leftovers stuffed peppers

I had some  black bean and beef chili left over from Superbowl day.

Left over chili is always good just on its own but I needed to jazz it up just a bit.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A few bell peppers ( what ever colour you enjoy).  Wash them and put them on a baking sheet in the over at 350 degrees for only about 10 minutes, just to take the “bite” off them.

Meanwhile, cook up a cup of brown rice ( you could use the cooked rice of your choice) and then mixed it with the heated left over chili.

Take the peppers out of the oven and let cool enough till you can touch them.   Cut off the top and scoop out the seeds and veins and then stuff them with the rice and chili mixture.  

You could also add some grated cheese at this point if you were so inclined, but I didn’t on this particular occasion.

Put the stuffed peppers back in the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes till everything is nicely heated through.

Serve alone or with your favorite accompaniment!   Quick dinner.

 

 

 

Chili and rice stuffed peppers

Spanish Rice

Spanish class is coming along nicely.

We had a substitute teacher this week and she clearly thought we were a lot smarter than we actually are.  I mean we DO know a lot of words but clearly we are missing a few of the fillers because when she spoke to us completely in Spanish, we all stared blankly.  It was comforting that everyone had the same reaction and that is wasn’t just me!

But in keeping with the mood, I’ve keep trying to make pre-class dishes to get us in the mood.

I cooked up a little meal size Spanish rice to tide us over.

Here’s what you will need:

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper of your choice, chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of chili flakes ( more if you like)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Heat up your dutch oven and add olive oil.  Then add all of the above and cook till wilted about 5 – 7 minutes.

Then add:

  • 1 cup brown short grain rice ( I’m a brown rice kinda gal but any rice will do)

Mix the uncooked rice in with the cooking vegetables until it is well coated with everything.

Then add:

  • a splash of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tin of diced tomatoes + some water or stock if it is a small tin

Bring this up to a boil and then turn down to #2 on the dial, put on a tight fitting lid and let the rice cook.  The time will depend on what kind of rice you are using.

When the rice looks nearly cooked you will then add:

  • 1 tin of black beans ( rinse them first)

Stir them in and replace the lid until the rice is nice and tender.

At this point it is still a vegan item but you could have added some chorizo sausage somewhere along the way or on the side.

But tonight I just served it up in a bowl and sprinkled with some grated cheese and a few chopped green onions.

Very satisfying.

Buenas noches!

Spanish rice

Cauliflower and Cheese

I like cauliflower.  It’s an unassuming vegetable.  Not all in your face with bright colours and what not.  It’s sturdy and holds its shape and doesn’t really taste like much so you can add all sorts of flavour to it!

I love macaroni and cheese but sometimes all that pasta, cheese and cream can be kind of heavy.  So why not replace the pasta with cauliflower?   Killing two birds with one stone, comfort food that is chock full of veggie!!

To add extra flavour I first roasted the cauliflower with some chopped onion,  garlic, a sprinkle of curry powder for colour and drizzled with a little olive oil.

Roast some cauliflower

Meanwhile, make your cheese sauce.

I will leave this part to your discretion and taste.  A proper cheese sauce is made by starting with equal amounts of butter and flour in the bottom of the pan.  Heat and mix together to form a “roux” which is French for “butter and flour cooked together”!

Once that is well mixed and bubbling somewhat, start adding a fuller fat milk, as in NOT skim.  Add the milk and bring it to a boil then turn it down immediately to a simmer till it begins to thicken.   When it gets thick enough that it sticks to the back of the spoon, it is time to add the cheese.

A good quality cheddar or a mixture of your favorite melty cheeses.  You could add a little smokie paprika like I did and a little S & P.

Now HERE is where the controversy starts.  Let’s say…….you wanted to make it gluten free…..I mean you already have taken the pasta element out of it……but there is the pesky flour in the roux.  WELL, what you could do, instead of using the roux to thicken the milk, you would just start with say, half and half cream!

Put it in the pot and reduce it by half, till it is nice and creamy and think.  Then add the cheese as above.  So you are trading gluten for high fat.  It is a choice.

I suppose you could use non dairy products.  I actually used almond milk instead of real milk cause I didn’t have enough, but then I added real cheese so kinda defeated any non dairy attempts.  And to be honest, the almond milk wouldn’t thicken up right so I had to add more butter and flour……….

Cheese sauce

Once your cauliflower is good and roasted we will add it to the cheese sauce, just like you would macaroni.

Creamy cheesy cauliflower

Then just serve it with whatever you might serve your macaroni with!   It’s worth a try.

And there is no reason why you can’t use this as a side dish or the main event!

Public Markets

You would think that a place like Victoria would have a public market!

I hadn’t really noticed that they didn’t have one until I was back in Toronto last year and was at the St. Lawrence Market and thought to myself “that’s what they need in Victoria!”  In fact when I got home I discussed the matter with a friend in the food business and tried to talk him into getting one going.

I spoke to another friend and she said, “I’m afraid that someone has beat you to it!” and handed me a brochure from the Victoria Public Market Society.  Seems these people have been on the case for awhile!

And this past weekend put on the “EAT HERE NOW 2011” festival in Spirit Square in downtown Victoria.

Eat Here Now festival

It was well attended and had an array of local farmers, vendors and Chefs from many restaurants with delicious samples.  As well as representation by many other relevant worthy causes.

Eat Here Now Festival Victoria

 

Eat Here Now Festival Victoria

 

Eat Here Now Festival Victoria

We have quite a few summer markets in various neighbourhoods where the farmers and artisans sell their wares, but we don’t have a permanent year round facility.

The likes of:

 Seattle’s Pike Place Market

or

Vancouver’s Granville Island Public Market

or

Montreal’s  Atwater or Jean Talon Markets

or

Ottawa’s   Byward Market

All wonderful places to get fresh produce, meat, cheese, baked goods and usually other exotic hard to find gourmet products!

A food friendly town like Victoria should absolutely have a Public Market of their own!

You have my vote!

Creamy chicken and sausage pasta

Sometimes the BEST meals come from “cleaning out your fridge”!

That’s pretty much what this dish was all about.

I still had some left over sausage and peppers from the other night and it seems we always have some left over cooked chicken kickin around so that was the base for how this dish evolved.

I started with a hot deep skillet and then added:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • one large onion ( of your choice) coarsely sliced or chopped
  • 4 -5 gloves fresh chopped garlic

Let those cook up awhile and get to know each other.  Then add:

  • left over sausage and peppers
  • left over cooked chicken ( cubed up)
  • any other interesting left overs  ( I had about a 1/4 of caramelized onions for some reason)

Heat those through so that everything is nice and warm then add:

  • about a cup of heavy cream 

Now if you are a non-dairy type you could add crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce of some sort at this point and go in that direction.  But then we couldn’t very well call it “creamy chicken and sausage pasta” anymore.  So if you want that on your conscience so be it!

Heat until the cream is almost coming to a boil, turn it down a little and let it “reduce” by about half.

Then add in some of your other favorite flavours.  I added:

  • some poultry seasoning
  • some thyme
  • some oregano
  • some smokie paprika

keep stirring and then add some cheese if you wish.  Again, I was just cleaning out the fridge and found a partly used pack of pepper corn Boursin cheese which I added and a reasonable chunk of blue cheese to give it extra zing.

Once that was all melted down and everything was super creamy I added a few handfuls of washed baby spinach, just to give it some extra colour and nutrition count.

Then it was ready.

In goes your favorite cooked pasta, toss it up and there is no time you have a yummy yummy creamy pasta dish!

Top with a little fresh grated parmesan cheese if you have it and away you go.

Creamy pasta with chicken and sausage

Another quick pasta dish

I’ll admit it, pasta is my “go to” dish.

It is fast, comforting and rarely can you put something on it that doesn’t taste good!  And IF by chance you mess it up and it isn’t good, you can usually always fix it with cheese!!

I, like a lot people in “experimental years” was a vegetarian for a while.  I hadn’t been to nutrition school yet and didn’t have all the facts to make an informed decision about why exactly I was doing it.  Nor was I doing it properly, because you can’t just “not eat meat” and assume that you have a healthy diet.

This is a particular problem with teenage folk who find out about vegetarianism, think it’s cool and then eat nothing but french fries!  I knew this girl back in the day who was a vegetarian, and a dancer so was always watching her weight and all she would eat was one vegetarian take out pizza a day, every day.  In fact, she had various loyalty awards that she received from the pizza chain because she ordered from the same place every day, commemorative mugs and such!!

But the point of this story is that, when I stopped being a vegetarian and went back to eating meat, the one thing I couldn’t get enough of was sausage!!   To this day I do LOVE a good sausage!  But now that I know better, I try to get good quality sausages with fresh ingredients and from a reputable vendor.

See, healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring, you just need to take a little responsibility for what you are putting in your body.

So back to the easy pasta dish.  This is one of my favorites that I crave and make quite often.

Start by boiling the water for the pasta of your choice.

Then in a large skillet and amounts will vary depending on how much you are making, add:

  • Some nice sausages

Brown on all sides and then add a little water or stock to the bottom of the pan and put the lid on tightly.  This will sort of steam them and make sure they are actually cooked.   Meanwhile chop up:

  • 1 large onion into big slices
  • 1 – 2 peppers of  your choice also into slices

Take the lid off the skillet and toss these in with the sausage.   By now the sausages will have cooked up a bit and will be fairly firm.

I take them out one at a time and slice them, slightly on the bias, into bite size bits and then put them back in the pan.  Make sure you don’t lose any of the sausage juice, be sure and pour it back in then pan if there is any.   Repeat until all the sausages are in pieces and keep tossing every thing around.

At this point I usually add a bit of herbs or spices like some oregano and chili flakes  ( if the sausages aren’t already hot!) and a few cloves of fresh chopped garlic.

Then when the sausages are no longer pink inside and the onions and peppers are soft I add “some” jarred tomato sauce.  When I say “some” I mean just a bit, not the whole jar as though you are making spaghetti sauce!  Just enough to coat the stuff in the pan but it should NOT be swimming!

Sausage and peppers

Let this cook together for a little while longer while you boil your pasta.  Then you can either add the pasta directly to the sausages, if there is room, and mix thoroughly or just top the pasta with the sausages and pepper sauce, which ever is easiest or the most impressive presentation if you are entertaining.

Pasta with sausage and peppers

Top with a bit of cheese……..if you are so inclined!

Breakfast idea?

So what to do with left over corn bread pizza crust?   Could happen!

Well, why not make it into some sort of breakfast item?

Replace your usual toast, english muffin or what ever else you usually put under your eggs with the corn bread.

Think of a nice eggs “benny” (  that’s what they call eggs Benedict around these parts) on corn bread.

Or some rancho huevos on corn bread instead of tortilla!   Adds so much extra flavour!

Or what I did this morning, just some grilled up bacon with an egg on top and my favorite ol chipolte style Tabasco sauce on top!

Add a little tomato and avocado to freshen it up!   You could even have this for lunch!

Bacon and eggs on corn bread

**************************************************************************************************

Corn bread Pizza

It’s Friday night pizza time again.

This week the Chef whipped up a surprising treat!  Pizza with a corn bread crust!

I was delighted and what a wonderful surprise this was.   Very flavourful and a great texture and no waiting for the dough to rise!

So you can use your favorite corn bread recipe or try this:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup of corn meal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup of milk ( what ever kind)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion ( green onions would work too)
  • 1/2 of a finely chopped jalapeno pepper ( or one tsp crushed chili flakes)
  • 1 cup fresh or canned corn nibblits
  • 1/2 cup grated smoked cheddar cheese

Mix these all up thoroughly until you get a nice thick goopy batter.  Then on a baking sheet lined with parchment ( to make things easy) turn out the batter.   Spread it evenly to the corners and then bake at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes till it starts looking a little done.

Corn bread pizza crust

Let cool till it is nice and firmed up and then top with your favorite toppings.  On this evening we had:

  • Roasted veg
  • green olives
  • pine nuts
  • Boursin cheese

But you can top with whatever you have around.  I wish we had have had the corn bread crust when we had the pulled pork pizza!  Note to self!

Veggie corn bread pizza

 

Eat as is or add some little sides to round it off.    The Chef always likes a little meat with HIS vegetarian meals!

 

Corn bread pizza with grilled chicken and salad

 
***************************************************************************************************
 
 
 

A Day on Salt Spring Island Part 2

After lunch we did the town wander.

There are a multitude of art galleries and interesting shops and all sorts of activities.

Big mobile whirling sculpture thingy

View of the marina

View of the harbour

And there is quite a selection of restaurants as well.

So after we saw all that we could see in town, we headed out into the country side in search of other things to eat.

Salt Spring Island boasts several wineries and is famous for lamb and cheese.

Lamb Farm

I guess if there was ever any sort of trouble, they would do pretty well at sustaining themselves there for awhile.

In FACT, Salt Spring Island has what’s called a “seed sanctuary” .  Which is this place that collects all sorts of seeds, so that if something should ever happen, you know, like an “end of the world” type scenario, then they could start over and be able to grow things again.

If you are interested further in this topic,  check out a documentary called “Hijacked Future”  ( click here to get info on this ).

Then we decided to make the trek up Mount Maxwell  (  click here to check it out ).  Well, in the car anyway.  I would recommend if you are going to do this, that you have some sort of 4 x 4 or sport utility vehicle because honestly, that road is the worst!  But the view at the top is quite spectacular.

View from Mount Maxwell

Looking over to Vancouver Island from Mount Maxwell

Finally it was time to head back to catch our ferry.  

What’s strange about the ferry from Vancouver Island to Salt Spring Island is that you pay to get there but you don’t have to pay to leave.  Strange really.

So we wanted to get down to the dock early enough because this ferry isn’t very big and the last one leaves fairly early.

We arrived at Fulford Harbour and found our place in the line up, parked the car and went to look for something to eat.  It had been hours after all!

There is an interesting little area around the ferry terminal with little shops and restaurants.

There is this one really groovy place that sells all kinds of super healthy stuff including books about healthy eating and enviromental type topics.

Groovy cafe

Groovy cafe

Regrettably we didn’t go there.

Instead we went next door to the other place.

Now, anyone who knows the Chef and I, knows that we are pretty good eaters and are pretty open minded about what we will eat and are always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt.

But I gotta tell you, we had some of the worst food that I have ever had in a restaurant in my life!  I mean, we ate it, because we were starving, but it was just awful.

Regrettable food

 Now, maybe they were just having a bad day but I don’t really see how these things could have been any better.  I normally wouldn’t bother saying anything, but they really do have a captive audience at this place so they really need to step up their game.

We ordered a couple of appetizers.  The first item sounded wonderful, some lamb meat balls with a mango dipping sauce. Sounded great and what with lamb being a local favorite, how could you go wrong?  Unfortunately were dry and tasted odd and came with a weird piece of grilled baguette and random loose lettuce.  Perhaps they wanted you to construct your own meatball sandwich?

The second item we ordered was some sort of baked chicken tortilla thing.   I take it back, this one we couldn’t really eat.  It had unfortunate bits of yellow squash and tasteless chicken and then topped with an even more tasteless sauce and then obviously microwaved to death because the tortillas themselves had gone to mush.   Disappointing wouldn’t even begin to describe this one.    Boo!

So please, when leaving Salt Spring Island, I suggest you skip this one.  Bring your own snacks from town!

Finally we boarded the ferry and sailed away.

Sun setting on Fulford Harbour

Pulling away from the dock

Heading back to Vancouver Island

The sun setting on Mount Baker

A day well spent.

************************************************************************************************

Raw Almond Cheese

So now that you know how to make raw almond milk ( click here in case you missed it ) you’ll see that you have left over raw almond pulp.   Seems cruel to toss it away after all you’ve been through together, so how about raw almond CHEESE??

This one is easy and delightful.  And really good for people who can’t eat dairy!

You can do an easy version where you will literally take your pulp and mix it with the juice of half of a lemon and a teaspoon of salt, mix that up and away you go!

But if you’d like something a little more interesting, try this:

In a food processor grind up:

  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 2 – 3 sun dried tomatoes soaked and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs like basil, oregano, parsley etc
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • juice of half a lemon
  • left over almond pulp
Mix thoroughly and then transfer to small containers like ramekins.  Then cover with some plastic wrap.
Okay now here’s the CRAZY part!!  You are just gonna leave them out on the counter or shelf for a day or two!!
I KNOW!  Sounds ridiculous!  But this is what gives it the “cheesiness”!  This is the fermenting process.
Then after a day or two of sitting out you can put it in the fridge or enjoy at your leisure.
Don’t really expect a cheesy consistency.  It is really more of a “spread”.  But then again it does sort of resemble the crumbly consistency of say  Boursin  cheese.
You can experiment to your hearts content with what you want to add to this cheese so it can be different cheese every batch!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Raw Almond Cheese

And here’s another little tip:

The “raw Pizza” crusts  ( click here if you missed it ) that we made for our raw pizza also make GREAT raw crackers if you just break them up into cracker size bits!

Horseradish Cheese

I am a fan of cheese and like to try new ones any time I can.   Right now, I can’t seem to get enough of this one!
 
Horseradish cheese

This is a beautiful smooth Monterey Jack style cheese that is made in the Okanagan Valley of BC.  Please check out their website to see what they’re about.   www.villagecheese.com

 
But don’t be fooled by the innocent white colour.  This cheese has a kick to it!  If you don’t like horseradish, then please don’t even bother trying this cheese because then you will just be wasting it for those of us who LOVE it!
 
If you don’t like that slow burn that crawls up your sinuses and then makes your nose hairs stand on end and your eyes water, while it makes you make a face like you might sneeze even though your face is actually just paralyzed, then seriously, don’t even bother!
 
This cheese is great absolutely alone, or on a cracker.  But if you tire of that, melt it onto your favorite sandwich like thinly sliced roast beef or on your favorite burger (meat or veg). 
 
This one will WAKE YOU UP baby!!!

Friday Pizza Night

So now it’s Friday night, you’ve got yourself some pizza dough in the fridge, time to make some PIZZA!

Where we last left off, we rolled out the dough, sprinkled the tray with a little cornmeal, put the dough on the tray and drizzled with a little olive oil.

Pizza dough ready to go

There is nothing more fun than a pizza party.  Whether for a gang or just Friday night hangin at home.

Go in your fridge and drag out all you favorite things to eat and then chop them up, or grate them or do what ever needs done.  Then put them in little bowls if you are being more formal, or just make piles of stuff on a cutting board and then start to create!

Pizza dough with sauce

You can start with a little sauce.  Either your favorite jar or canned version, or like ours was just some tomato paste mixed with some dried herbs and garlic.

I then like to put a loose layer of cheese ( if you choose to use) because I find it helps everything else hang on.

Then pile her up with your favorite toppings.

Build your own pizza

I had peppers, red onion, mushrooms, spinach, prosciutto and fresh garlic.  And then some blue cheese and mozzarella and then some parma at the very last minute.  I also added a few sprinkles of hot chili flakes and some oregano.

Pizza ready to go

But as you know, now a days, the toppings are endless.  Chicken or nuts or lately I’ve even been seeing pull pork on pizzas!  Or you can make it completely meatless.  That’s what’s great about a pizza party is that everyone is happy because they have exactly what they want on it.  No fighting.

Bake them up at 400 degrees in the middle of the oven so the bottom doesn’t burn.  Bake until the cheese is melted and everything looks nice and melded into each other.  Yum-eee!

Pizza with meatballs

Then dish her up!  You could have it with a side salad and all that, to make it healthy and all.  But what I do, mostly because at this point I am really ready to get on with it, is I will plot of handful of baby arugula right in the middle of my piece of pizza.

The rocket lettuce adds a nice peppery zing and of course is your “live” thing with your meal.

Everyone’s happy!

Homemade pizza topped with arugula

%d bloggers like this: