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.

 

 

How to: Make your Own – Mary’s Gluten Free Crackers

IMG_2133I love a good cracker.

And while taste is important, for me the crunch factor is key to the ultimate cracker experience.

I LOVE Mary’s Gone Crackers for this very reason.

So I went ahead and copied ‘em.

IMG_2047I can’t take credit for this brilliant copycat move, though.  That goes to Melissa from My Whole Food Life. I’ve adjusted the seasoning, bake temperature and time after making a couple of batches myself, but otherwise I haven’t changed a little old thing.

IMG_2097Also, these are healthy as hell.  Simple, whole ingredients baked up into a delicious crispy snack.  

I bought all of these ingredients at Bulk Barn and calculated you can make about 3 batches (each batch makes 4-5 dozen crackers) for the same price as one box ($4.99).

Here’s a little photo tutorial for y’all.

IMG_2069 IMG_2071 IMG_2076 IMG_2078 IMG_2083 IMG_2090 IMG_2092 IMG_2094 IMG_2106These are perfect for dipping because they are super hearty.  They’ve got great flavour on their own though, so don’t be shy to shove them directly in your face either.

Happy snacking,

Erin

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Mary’s Gluten Free Crackers

Serves Makes about 4 dozen crackers
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 55 minutes
Website Lightly adapted from My Whole Foods Life blog

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup flax seeds
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon fine salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 300F
2. Add rice and quinoa to food processor. Process until well combined; about 15 seconds.
3. Add salt, pepper and additional seeds and process until a ball forms; about 15 seconds more.
4. Split the mixture in two. Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll out the mixture as thinly as possible. Remove the top sheet of parchment slowly and transfer to a cookie sheet.
5. Bake for about 40 minutes, carefully flipping halfway through cooking time (don't worry if it breaks up a bit). You want the crackers to be completely dried out with a lightly toasted colour.
6. Remove from oven, allow to cool completely and break crackers up to the desired size with your hands.

 

How to: Simple Homemade Cheese

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Life is unpredictable, and sometimes messy, and often glorious, and occasionally insane. What it is not, is simple.

When life feels all jumbled up, it’s important for me to find a place I can feel grounded…  see the big picture and all that.

Spending time in the kitchen, cooking, does the trick for me.

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You should really try it.  The results are generally quite delicious.

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This is as basic a recipe as you can get.

Who knew making cheese at home could be such a cinch? 3 Ingredients!

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Cheesecloth can be found at any major supermarket.  I never find it in a specific aisle though, so you may have to ask where the store’s supply is.

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This recipe comes courtesy of Mark Bittman’s – How to Cook Everything Vegetarian iPhone app.  It’s a great investment if you’re looking for some new inspiration, and features hundreds of veggo recipes.

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Oop, here’s a peak at my grandmother’s hand.  Slash my old ass looking hand. Damn that thing is wrinkly.

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This is what I used to let my cheese rest and set.  The finished product is mildly sweet and has a slightly chewy yet crumbly texture.

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I used my finished cheese in the easiest way I could think of – with Ontario greenhouse tomatoes, basil, excellent quality extra virgin olive oil and s&p.

Keep it simple, folks.

Erin

Simple Homemade Cheese

Serves 1 pound
Cook time 2 hours
From book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian - Mark Bittman

Ingredients

  • 2l 2% or whole milk
  • 1l buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. In a heavy bottomed pot heat milk over medium high until it starts to bubble up around the edges (about 10-15 minutes).
2. Meanwhile, line a large strainer or colander with 3 layers of cheese cloth. Have a long piece of string or twine ready.
3. Once the milk starts to bubble, add buttermilk and stir constantly until the mixture separates into curds and whey. Remove from heat and add salt.
4. Slowly pour mixture through the cloth so the curds collect at the bottom and the whey drains off. Gather the corners of the cloth and twist the top and work the curds into a ball. Run the ball under cold water so you can handle it while twisting and squeezing out the whey until the budge feels firm.
5. Tie a string around the top of the bundle and the other end to a long spoon, stick or something that can be suspended over the sink to drain. Let rest undisturbed to cool and set, about 90 minutes. Remove cloth and serve immediately or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

How to: Recipe Makeover – Corn and Cheddar Chowder

 

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I’m kind of on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

This winter is killing me and I’m down to exactly zero patience with bundling up for subzero  temps.

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Thankfully, tucking in to a bowl of the this chowder has temporarily pulled me back from the brink.

It’s a little bit of summer in a bowl.

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I’ve cooked up the original recipe for this chowder by Ina Garten a few times and while it’s insanely delicious, it is not insanely (or even remotely) healthy.

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Here I’ve tweaked it to drastically reduce the amount of fat by cutting out the bacon (and it’s rendered fat), halving the butter and cheese and replacing the half & half with 2% evaporated milk.

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I cross my heart it still tastes luxurious though.

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Enjoy,

Erin

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Corn and Cheddar Chowder

Serves 5-6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Website Adapted from Ina Garten's Cheddar Corn Chowder

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium yellow onion (finely chopped)
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon tumeric
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 medium yellow or white potatoes (about 3 cups, diced)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups frozen or fresh corn kernels
  • 340 mL can 2% evaporated milk
  • 1 cup finely grated old cheddar cheese
  • additional salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley or chives for garnish

Directions

1. Heat butter and canola oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 7-8 minutes until translucent.
2. Add flour, turmeric and pepper and sauté for an additional minute.
3. Add chicken broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for about 15 minutes until potatoes are tender.
4. Add corn, evaporated milk and cheddar and cook for another 2 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.
5. Season with additional s&p as needed and garnish with parsley or chives.