Friday, April 24, 2015

Trying something new - with Ricardo

I have heard it said that you should never try making a new dish for the first time when having people over for dinner. Meh. Whatever. I get the point. I mean, you don't want to be stumbling through a long, unfamiliar recipe when you have hungry people at your table. But I like making new things. In my mind, what better excuse is there to try out a new dish than having people over for dinner? Live a little.

So, with a family member visiting from California, I decided to invite her and my parents over for a sit down dinner. To go easy on myself, I chose a very simple dish to make from Ricardo - Chicken with Olives and Grilled Lemon. The flavours had me thinking of Mediterranean and Moroccan cuisines. So I whipped up a spiced whole wheat couscous salad to go with the chicken. Served with a green salad and a fruity white wine, it was a really lovely dinner.


The only thing I changed in the chicken recipe was the olives. The recipe called for green olives packed in oil, but the grocery store I shopped at didn't have any. What?! I know. I had to get back to the preschool to pick up my youngest and didn't have time to get to another store, so I grabbed some brined olives from a jar instead, and of course the dish was still very tasty.

I don't actually use recipes very often, which is maybe odd for a recipe writer. But I do love Ricardo magazine, and get a lot of inspiration from each issue. Whether it's a new idea for a quick weeknight dinner or an adorably-presented entertaining dessert, the content is fresh and family-focused. I also love that that it just oozes Canadian charm.

Needing some inspiration? Check out the entire collection of Ricardo chicken recipes and try something new! Maybe even when people are coming over.

Do you try new dishes when you're having people over? Or do you stick with the tried and true?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Canning Kitchen - COOKBOOK TRAILER

Here is a sneak peek at my upcoming cookbook The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes. After feeling like I have been keeping secrets for a long time, I am thrilled to finally be sharing some of the look and feel of the book with you.
I hope this glimpse of the book gets you feeling excited for the growing season and all the delicious things you're going to preserve this year.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rhubarb Shrub

Rhubarb is about optimism.

All winter long I wait. For things to start growing again. For colour to return to the little kitchen garden I can see from the window over the kitchen sink. I watch and I wait and I hope. And every spring the very first thing that changes in the garden is the arrival of the wrinkled, determined leaves of the rhubarb plants, stretching up out of the soil after a long winter's nap.

Despite the anticipation, it feels like it comes as a nice surprise. Like taking out last year's spring coat and finding a five-dollar bill in the pocket. Even though you left it there on purpose to bring a smile to the face of your future self.

Rhubarb was part of our Easter dessert this year, but the second cuttings went into this rhubarb shrub. A shrub - also known by the old-fashioned term 'drinking vinegar' - is a way of preserving fruit or flowers using vinegar and sugar. You can get really creative with different flavours for making cocktails or non-alcoholic drinks. Rhubarb is perfect for making shrub because of its distinctive flavour, seasonal appeal and vivid colour.

Get my recipe for rhubarb shrub below...


Rhubarb Shrub

2 cups (500 mL) chopped rhubarb
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) red wine vinegar
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) granulated sugar

Add the rhubarb and vinegar to a medium saucepan. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the lid and pour in the sugar. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, just until the sugar is dissolved (1 to 2 minutes). Remove from the heat. Strain the hot liquid through a fine mesh sieve (lined with cheesecloth if you have it for the clearest shrub), allowing the liquid to pour into a bowl or jar.

Store in the fridge in a covered container for up to 2 weeks.

Tip: Try mixing your rhubarb shrub with 1 part gin or vodka and top up with tonic water, or mix with sparkling water for a non-alcoholic beverage. I love it with a sprig of fresh rosemary from the garden.

What are you making with rhubarb this spring?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spicy Roasted Yams

No one else cooks the way you do.
Cooking comes from the very heart of us. It is cultural. It is emotional. It is personal. It is one of the most intimate things we do as human beings. Our cooking reveals our tastes and our passions, our creativity and our moods. You can tell a lot about someone by the way they cook. Maybe that's why some of us share our cooking easily while some of us shy away from putting our ideas onto a plate for others to stab with a fork.
No two home cooks are alike. Even if a few home cooks followed the same recipe, they would each create something a little different. We have different tools, access to different ingredients, and our own unique instincts. The way you cook is specific to you and to your kitchen.
Your food is your snowflake. Unlike any other.
These spicy roasted yams are a window into my life right now. They are made by someone who is taking care of herself with wholesome foods. Someone who needs energy for running the long distances she has been putting in lately. These tender, tasty bites are made by someone who thinks of herself as a little sweet and a little spicy at the same time. She also wants to share them with you. Please fork carefully.
Get the simple recipe below...

Spicy Roasted Yams
Makes 3 to 4 side servings

1 very large yam (one of those big honkin' ones)
1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
2 tsp (10 mL) chili powder (hot or mild, it's up to you)
2 tsp (10 mL) garlic powder
1/4 tsp (1 mL) cinnamon
Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

Peel your honkin' yam and chop it into thin strips about 1/4-inch (5 mm) thick. Spread them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Drizzle the yam pieces with the olive oil. Sprinkle the chili powder, garlic powder and cinnamon somewhat evenly over the yams. Toss to coat. Spread the pieces out again into a single layer.

Roast in the centre of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the yams are tender and just starting to brown at the edges. Season with salt if desired.

What does your cooking say about you?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Whole Grain Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Jumping in for a quick muffin post today. These tasty and healthy apple cinnamon muffins are made with whole grain flour. Perfect for breakfast or hand-held snacks on the go, they get all their natural sweetness from apples grated with the skins on.

My very first bag of whole grain flour is in my kitchen right now. While whole wheat flour is something I have used for years, baking with whole GRAIN flour is brand new to me. What else should I bake with it? Leave a comment at the bottom and share your ideas.

But first, scroll down to get this fluffy and wholesome muffin recipe...


Whole Grain Apple Cinnamon Muffins
Makes 1 dozen muffins

1 cup (250 mL) grated apple, skins on
1/2 cup (125 mL) plain Greek style yogurt
1 egg
1/3 cup (75 mL) lightly flavoured oil, such as canola or sunflower
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) whole grain flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
A pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the apple, yogurt, egg, oil and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to the wet mixture, stirring just until combined.

Scoop the muffin mixture equally into a well-greased or paper-lined muffin pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

What are you baking with whole grains? Leave a comment and share your ideas!