How to: Healthy Side – Roasted Sweet Potato and Lentil Salad

Guys, first off I’d like to thank you all so much for your many encouraging words after last week’s honest rant about having a newborn.  Commiserating is the best isn’t it?  Seriously, you’ve all made me feel like a normal, loving mother (*as I listen to my girl scream her face off trying to fight a desperately needed nap).

This week I have something much more fluffy and fun to write about.  A cookbook! One that sells in ACTUAL bookstores, for which I developed 6 original recipes!

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The book is called Homegrown and is written by Mairlyn Smith (published by Whitecap).  It celebrates Canadian food and only Canadian food. Within it you’ll find 160 recipes featuring the best damn food our country has to offer.  Fruit, veg, beans, grains, meat and seafood; it’s got it all – from east to west coast, too. The recipes were developed by Mairlyn and members of the Ontario Home Economics Association (OHEA).

When I learned I’d have the opportunity to contribute to this important book as a Professional Home Economist (PHEc) and member of OHEA, I was bursting with ideas. Being a local food junkie, the whole idea of featuring Canada’s best fits perfectly within my philosophy of choosing ‘homegrown’ whenever possible.

The book has been released just in time for the holidays (subtle hint: buy it for gifts!) and I got my 3 pre-ordered copies this week.  You can find it in stores now.

PS It’s currently Amazon’s #1 Hot New Release.  Fancy!

Because I tested and re-tested my own recipes while this book was in the works, I’ve been looking forward to trying some of my colleague’s recipes.

This one comes from  Rosemarie Superville, PHEc and food stylist.  It is SO insanely good. And healthy and colourful. Ooh, and quick and easy. It’s all the things a great recipe should be.

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And lookie whose recipe is on the opposite page!

You’ll notice there are some pretty obvious non-Canadian spices in the recipe. Using a variety of spices and condiments was the one rule we bent, because as Mairlyn says “we’re not writing a pioneer book!”.

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If you want your own copy of Homegrown (and trust me, you do) you can buy it through Amazon or Indigo-Chapters online or at a brick and mortar bookstore near you.

Erin

Roasted Sweet Potato and Lentil Salad

Serves Makes 4 ½ cups, one serving = ¾ cup

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato (peeled and diced into ½ inch pieces)
  • ¼ cup + 2 tspcanola oil (divided)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (divided)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 can (540 mL) lentils (well rinsed and drained)
  • 1 cup cooked edamame (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • ⅓ cup dried canberries
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro ((I used parsley))

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In large bowl toss together sweet potato, 2 tsp canola oil, ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Spread evenly on pan and roast 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown and tender. Cool slightly.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together ¼ cup canola oil, vinegar, maple syrup, cumin, coriander, curry powder, ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper.
4. Add cooled sweet potatoes and remaining ingredients and toss gently to coat. Chill at least 1 hour to blend flavours.

 

 

 

How to: Start a Cooking Club

Many of you know I’m on mat leave.  The babe is now 4 months old and I can finally say I’m starting to enjoy my time off.

I know I should be grateful that I live in a place where taking time off work to raise my child is an option. I am, but I won’t sugar coat it either.  The first three months were really, really hard.  I’m still finding my day to day hard, but I’ve learned enough about my girl to anticipate what she needs a bit more.  Also, she smiles a lot now.  You have no idea how much that improves the situation.

All along I’ve been cooking. It’s been my saving grace. I’ve been getting a lot of ‘how do you do it?’s from people who follow me on Instagram and who read the blog.  Truthfully, I do it by sacrificing other things.  Like vacuuming and laundry and showering.  I don’t watch any TV and I’ve all but stopped reading (which I normally do voraciously). Oh, and napping while the baby naps? That’s a load of malarkey. Pretty much every spare second (and there aren’t many) gets devoted to food or cooking.  That’s how I do it.

Another technique?  Strap the kid to ya…

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For a long time I saw this as a failure and it really stressed me out. I’m used to being able to knock 84 things off a to-do list in a day.  Suddenly, if I accomplished 1 or 2 I felt lucky.

Despite the pain of recovery, the fatigue, breastfeeding and learning to raise a human being, the guilt associated with not being able tackle my to-do list was the hardest part of 0-3 months for me. That being said, no one put that pressure on me except me.

I’m not sure where I got such unrealistic expectations of new motherhood but I am certainly humbled by it now. Thankfully, I have a hub who understands cooking is how I can keep my sanity and still be a good momma.  He’s been doing a lot of vacuuming and laundry.

One of the best things about being a new mom is meeting other new moms and realizing we all struggle with something or other, and no one is ‘doing it all’.  I’ve been so lucky to find myself a couple of amazeballs real-life mom friends also on mat leave. Guess what I suggested we do together?

Cook!

I figured if it’s been therapeutic for me, maybe it can be for others.  And if not, at least it’ll get a healthy dinner on the table a few nights per week. That’s 3 items on the to-do list!

Just kidding.  I’ve stopped with the to-do lists.  Other than this one:

  1. keep baby alive
  2. remain mentally stable

Now, more to the point. We’ve started a cooking club! And it’s been awesome on so many levels.

The format goes like this:

  • Every week, each member picks a recipe, checks to make sure it’s something we (and our spouses) would like and sends it to that week’s host.  The host rotates each week.
  • Host reviews recipes, triples the ingredients (there are three of us) and does all the shopping beforehand.  Receipts are kept to keep track of costs.
  • The host will prep any recipe steps requiring lots of time beforehand (roasting squash, soaking beans, letting dough sit/rise etc.)
  • We gather at the host’s kitchen, babies in tow, and cook. Breaks for feeding, naps and general freak-outs are interspersed throughout.
  • ‘Guests’ will bring appropriate containers to bring food home and snacks for the day.

That sums it up!  It’s great social time for us gals (adult conversation!!!) and the babes. Our time together generally spans late morning to late after noon.  It seems 4-5 hours is what it takes.  If this is something you’re interested in doing without babies, I’m confident you could cut the time in half and do it during an evening during the week.

In the few short weeks we’ve been doing this, we’ve also used many of our How to Eat recipes. We have focused on doing main dishes, a mix of vegetarian entrees and ones with chicken/turkey (based on group preferences) which reheat and freeze well and generally provide 4 or more servings. Because leftovers are the bestest.

Here are links to some of our favourite so far:

Butternut Squash Enchiladas (we added black beans for extra protein)

Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Eggplant and Ricotta Bake

Minestrone Soup

Mushroom Bourguignon

Chicken pot pie (we used puff pastry instead of biscuits, cut the butter by ⅔ and used milk instead of heavy cream)

Indian Saag with Tofu

This coming week, we’re mixing it up and doing a holiday baked goods exchange.  A sugar coma is imminent.

Here’s our gang. We’re as tough as we look.

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Happy December everyone!

Erin

 

 

 

How to: Seasonal Cooking – Crispy Goat Cheese and Cherry Salad

IMG_5398We’re getting to a point in the growing season when I hit the farmers’ market hard and pretty much overdo it every time.

This week, cherry overload.

Actually…scratch that. No such thing.

I’M IN LOVE WITH CHERRIES AND I DON’T EVEN CARE WHO KNOWS IT! (…jumping on couch)

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Uh.

Sorry. HaHa. That may have been a bit much.

I do really really really love seasonal cherries though.

I bought a big ol’ batch of sweet and a big ol’ batch of sour, which you would recognize as cherry pie cherries.

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This salad is a terrific vehicle for sweet cherries.  I do several takes on this salad year round.  Sub cherries and almonds for beets and pecans or pears and walnuts – boom…seasonal fall/winter salads.

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The goat cheese rounds are sooo delicious.  They can make any salad a nice light meal.

IMG_5377The freezing step will make life easier so try not to skip it.  It’s very frustrating trying to flip a round of melty cheese with tongs. It may or may not send you into an unreasonable rage.  Especially if you’re hungry.  Not that it’s ever happened to me :o

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Such a pretty little thing, no?

Erin

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Crispy Goat Cheese and Sweet Cherry Salad

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 5 minutes
Total time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 cups mixed salad greens (washed)
  • 1 ½ cup sweet cherries (pitted and halved)
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds (or any nut of choice)
  • 125g log of goat cheese (one small package)
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup canola oil

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • ½shallot (about 1 Tbsp, minced)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid honey
  • ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

1. Unwrap goat cheese and transfer to a small plate or cutting board. Place in freezer for 15-20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a frying pan over medium heat toast almonds by tossing or stirring until golden brown - about 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. Prepare dressing in small bowl by whisking all ingredients together.
4. Once cheese partially frozen, slice into 8, roughly ½" rounds. Set up a dredging station with the egg in one bowl and the panko, salt and pepper in a second shallow bowl. Transfer each goat cheese round into the egg, followed by the panko mixture ensuring each is well coated on both sides.
5. Heat canola oil over medium-high heat in a skillet or frying pan until it shimmers on the surface. In two batches, fry the goat cheese rounds, for 30-45 second on each side. The panko should be golden brown and you should still be able to flip the cheese using tongs without it falling apart/melting. Flip with a spatula if the cheese becomes too soft. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
6. Toss greens with ¾ of the dressing and transfer to serving dish. Top with cherries, toasted almonds and goat cheese and drizzle with remaining dressing. Serve while goat cheese is still warm and crispy.

 

How to: Recipe Makeover – Twice Baked Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetComing up with new, exciting ideas for the blog can be challenging.  My fave is to use the seasons as my guide, because fresh seasonal food is always inspirational.

But y’know…March in Canada is just real bitch for seasonal produce.

Hurry uuuup rhubarb!

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After a good powwow with the gals in my office, I’ve got a slew of new ideas for upcoming posts. Thanks ladies!  This one is both a recipe makeover – a healthier version of restaurant style twice baked potatoes – and a rip on one of our older recipes (Butternut squash enchiladas).

IMG_3366Sweet potatoes are so good and so good for you.  Also, eat them skins y’all.  They not only contain great healthy stuff (vitamins, mineral, fibre – you know the deal) – they add great texture.

IMG_3374I realize this is a twice ‘baked’ potato recipe and I’ve cheated by microwaving the potatoes for step 1.  It’s just so much faster.  30 minutes instead of 90. How can one argue?

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Now let’s talk chipotle peppers in adobo for just one minute.  They are HOT. The can contains about 8-10 of them, but please trust me when I say you only need one, with perhaps a teaspoon or so of the sauce, max.  Do not get rid of the leftovers!  Place them all on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet, leaving a space between each pepper.  Freeze em’ right on the baking sheet.  Once frozen place the individual frozen peppers in a freezer bag for later use.  I probably go through a can a year and have never had a freezer burn problem.

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They add a super awesome spicy and smokey flavour.  If you can’t find them, you can substitute with a teaspoon of mild chili powder and finely minced jalapeño.

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You can add all of the black beans in to the potato mixture if you like.  I left some aside to act as a garnish.  If you’re serving it to people for dinner, it will give them a sense of what’s inside.

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The green onions and lime wedge really add a pop of fresh flavour so don’t leave them out! If you’re a cilantro lover, I’m sure it would be a good replacement.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetStuffed stuff is awesome.

Erin

Twice Baked Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (washed and scrubbed well)
  • ½ cup sour cream (more for garnish if desired)
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cup canned black beans
  • 50g creamy feta cheese (goat cheese, mozzarella or Monterey jack would be great, too.)
  • 3 green onions (sliced)
  • lime wedges

Note

These would also be delicious topped with a few slices of avocado.

Directions

1. Using a small sharp knife or a fork, poke each sweet potato 3-4 times on either side toward the middle of the potato.
2. Microwave potatoes on high power. About 5 minutes for 1 potato, adding 2-3 minutes for each additional potato. For 4 potatoes, microwave for 12 - 15 minutes turning over halfway through. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
3. Preheat oven to 400F.
Cut a ¼" slice of the 'top' of each potato (on one of the sides you have poked). Scoop out the flesh of the potatoes. You will only use the flesh of 3 of the 4 potatoes to re-stuff them. Keep the remaining flesh for a different use or to snack on while you prep.
4. Combine potato flesh, sour cream, chipotle pepper and salt in a bowl and blend with an immersion blender. You can also mash everything together with a fork; just be sure to mash the chipotle pepper into a paste before mixing it all together. Add 1 cup black beans.
5. Re-stuff potato skins. Top with feta cheese. Bake for 12 minutes, with an additional 1-2 minutes under the broiler until cheese begins to brown.
6. Garnish with green onion, remaining black bean and lime wedges.