Dressing up for lunch or dinner

with Creamy Carrot Ginger Salad Dressing

photo: d. king.

AHA – a healthy alternative to bought salad dressing

Easy to make and soooo delicious!  I think you’re going to LOVE this one.  Plus it looks pretty, especially in a pineapple bowl.

INGREDIENTS

  1. ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil.
  2. ⅓ cup rice vinegar.
  3. 2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (about ⅔ cup)
  4. 2 tablespoons peeled and roughly chopped fresh ginger.
  5. 2 tablespoons lime juice.
  6. 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon honey.
  7. 1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil.
  8. ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste.

    Photo: d. king

INSTRUCTIONS

In a blender (I use Vitamix), combine all of the salad dressing ingredients as listed. Bend until completely smooth. Taste, and add additional salt if the dressing doesn’t make your eyes light up. It should have some zing to it but you can always blend in a bit more honey if need be.

Serve over greens and add toasted sesame seeds (optional) to top it off and some shaved carrot.  TIP: you can have it as a main course if you toss in some cooked salmon or chicken.

Adapted from Love Real Food cookbook

Enjoy

 

 

 

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Food: Cravings

Simple. Savory. Satisfying.

You need only a few key ingredients to whip something up in a pinch.

Image: cravingsofalunatic
Photo: d. king 1)penne 2)scrambled eggs

These simple worthy recipes for breakfast lunch and/or dinner use only three (or four) savory ingredients – an old standby of sour cream, chives and bacon no less.  On their own they’re pretty dull, but collectively they add a powerful punch to some dishes.  Something definitely to consider but maybe not to incorporate into a steady diet.

I can’t remember the last time I went out and actually bought bacon in a store because I usually reserve bacon as a side for occasional Sunday brunch.  However I was cross border shopping and ended up buying a box of uncured fully-cooked apple smoked bacon at Trader Joe’s.  I don’t know; just had a craving. And I hate frying up bacon because of all the rendered fat and this one only needed a few seconds in a microwave or frypan.  The problem is, then you have to use it up in a  relatively short time span.

For a few days I made the most delicious BLT sandwiches, but I switched the lettuce for avocado so it became a BAT instead.  So yummy with beefsteak tomatoes, good bread and mayo.

I probably won’t eat bacon for a while now, but if you have a craving as I did, here are a few easy ideas to help use it up. With sour cream and chives of course.

Breakfast Bourdain style:

Anthony Bourdain’s Scrambled Eggs

Image: d. king

Cook time: 10 mins Total time: 10 mins Serves: 2 servings

Here chopped bacon is fried until crisp.  Eggs are whisked and added to pan (sans milk or water). When eggs are finished cooking, a dollop of sour cream is stirred into the eggs, along with chopped chives or green onions.  It works and tastes incredibly good.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup sliced bacon (about 2 slices of thick-cut or more depending)
  • 4 eggs, whisked
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbsp chopped chives
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat a medium or large pan (nonstick if you have it) over medium-high heat.
  2. Add bacon to pan and cook, stirring frequently, until bacon is crispy, about 4-5 minutes (if using regular).
  3. Lower heat and drain some of the bacon fat.
  4. Add eggs to pan, stirring constantly, and when set, remove from heat.
  5. Stir in sour cream, chives and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Lunch: Penne pasta with sour cream, bacon and chives 

INGREDIENTS for two (or four as a side)

Image: d. king
  • 8 ounces short pasta (penne, ziti, etc)
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped and cooked until crispy
  • 1/2 stick butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream at room temperature
  • Chives, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Return to the hot pasta pot.
  2. Put the pot on the lowest heat setting on your stove and stir in butter and sour cream. Stir until both are melted and combined into the pasta.
  3. Stir in chives and cooked bacon.
  4. Serve at once.

    Image: cravingsofalunatic

Dinner: Baked Potato

Whatever you’re having with a side of baked potato.  Tell me you don’t need any instructions on this. OR; even better: just a fully-loaded baked potato with added stuff like broccoli and cheese.  I know you want to!

We all have to satisfy our cravings.  Okay; I’m done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dishing: a good side of Bad-boy Cauliflower

From Bland to Beautiful. Cauliflower; you dress up nicely.

Photo: d. king

My food goal this week was to make the easiest Anthony Bourdain recipe I could find.  There were two.  But I chose this one for two reasons.  1) I had a head of cauliflower in my fridge intending to make cauliflower rice. 2) Anything that makes cauliflower more flavorful is worth a try.  This one will not disappoint.  It’s actually very delicious – tastes better than it looks.  What I find funny is that Cauliflower is one of my least favorite vegetables yet I’m appreciating how adaptable it is.  Unfortunately I’m not a big fan of the cruciferous kind.  But there are exceptions to every rule.

This recipe is dead simple to throw together too. It’s also intriguing because it mixes Greek & Italian herbs with Middle Eastern tahini and Japanese miso. Proves we can all get along.

The cauliflower gets crisp and charred on the edges. After the florets are roasted and tossed in the thick sauce of tahini, miso, red wine vinegar and a splash of water, the heat of the cauliflower will loosen up the sauce and coat every inch in delicious nuttiness, umami and a tad of tang.

It’s a side dish but Bourdain said one adult could easily polish off the entire dish for dinner. As usual, he said it exactly like it is.  I did it.

So when he described this dish as This s–t is compulsively delicious, you can bet that he was right.

“Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame” is from his book, “Appetites: A Cookbook”

It’s the last cookbook he wrote. This isn’t a collection of necessarily cutting-edge cooking, but rather recipes for dishes that he loved to cook at home — well, on the rare days that he was actually in New York and not traveling the globe for his must-see “Parts Unknown” show on CNN. They’re also dishes that Bourdain thought every home-cook ought to have in his or her repertoire.  It will be a part of mine from now on.

Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame

(Serves 4 as a side dish)

1 head of cauliflower, broken by hand into florets

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt (I used fleur-de-sel)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon white miso  (it’s a paste that you can readily find now at most grocery stores)

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds (I used a mixed sesame seasoning seed blend)

*I squeezed a little bit of fresh lemon juice over top but try it “as is” first.

All you have to do is toss the cauliflower with spices, roast, and then toss it again with your tahini and miso mixture. That’s it!

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower, oil, salt, coriander, oregano, and pepper and toss well to evenly coat the cauliflower with the oil and spices. Transfer to a sheet pan and arrange in an even layer, making spaces between the pieces as much as possible. Roast the cauliflower in the oven for 20 minutes, turning the tray and lightly tossing the pieces halfway through.

While the cauliflower roasts, combine the tahini, miso, vinegar and 1 1/2 tablespoons water in a small mixing bowl, and whisk until smooth.

Once the cauliflower is done, remove it from the oven, transfer to a mixing bowl, and toss with the sauce and sesame seeds to coat evenly.

Side note: Bourdain’s chapter on desserts is all of one page, which essentially says, “F–k dessert.” Turns out he wasn’t big on sweets, preferring cheese instead.

Adapted from “Appetites: A Cookbook” by Anthony Bourdain

 

White Wine Herb Poached Wild Salmon with Warm Brussels Sprouts and Haricot Vert Salad

How many ways to cook wild salmon?  I can count the ways.  Here’s a good one:

White Wine and Herb Poached Wild Salmon for two.

Incorporating three of the things I love most: wine, herbs and salmon.

1 salmon fillet, skinned & debonned, about 1 lb (½ lb for each)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1 lemon, sliced
6 sprigs fresh sage
salt & pepper

Check salmon fillet for any pin bones, taking care to remove with tweezers. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. In a large nonreactive skillet, place lemon slices and herbs. Pour in wine and water and bring to a boil over high heat. When boiling, add salmon on top of lemons and herbs, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook, about 10 minutes. Check doneness – if fish is firm and opaque, remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Set aside until ready to serve.

poaching

Warm Brussel Sprout and Haricot Vert Salad

1/2 lb french green beans, trimmed
1/2 lb brussel sprouts, cleaned and shredded roughly with a mandolin or a very sharp knife
1 shallot, sliced
1 tbs butter
salt & pepper

In a skillet over medium high heat, warm butter until melted. Add green beans and shallot. Season generously with salt and pepper and cook until green beans are just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add Brussel sprouts, tossing thoroughly until combined. Set aside until ready to serve.

Sage Aioli 

makes 1 cup

1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup sage
2 tbs dijon mustard
1 egg
2 tbs lemon juice
3/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

In a food processor, pulse to combine garlic, sage, egg and mustard, about 10 seconds. While food processor is running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice, season generously with salt and pepper and pulse to combine, about 10 seconds.

To serve, plate Brussel sprout & haricot vert salad, top with salmon fillet and top with a spoonful of aioli.

*The original recipe called for 1 cup of canola oil and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  You can decide.

Is canola oil healthy?
Quality canola oil is on par with some of the healthiest oils out there. Canola oil is higher in anti-inflammatory omega-3s than most vegetable oils, which may help reduce your risk of inflammatory illnesses like heart disease and cancer. Like olive oil, canola oil also contains a boatload of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. In the kitchen, canola has a mild flavor and relatively high smoke point, making it a versatile cooking oil and safe at high heats. Since cold-pressed oils can spoil more quickly than others, they should be stored in dark bottles and refrigerated to ensure freshness.

Bottom Line: Some conventional canola oils are questionable, but you can avoid the dangers and reap the heart-healthy benefits by choosing a quality expeller-pressed or cold-pressed oil that’s also organic or non-GMO.

original recipe at: http://abetterhappierstsebastian.com

 

 

Dishing: Cauliflower Rice

AHA…Another healthy alternative.  This one for rice.

I’m sure you’ve seen it on many a menu of late.  If you haven’t made it already I urge you to try it.  It’s simple and you can serve it up pretty much any way you would with regular rice.  Just add garnish.

Image: A Food Centric Life (with parmesan and herbs).

Among its advantages: It’s made from one of the healthiest cruciferous vegetables you can get, so it’s loaded with nutrients including fiber, vitamins C, K and B6, and potassium. Cauliflower has 25 calories per cup vs. 218 for a cup of cooked brown rice.

Directions:

  1. To make the cauliflower rice, break up the florets and pulse cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor until it resembles rice, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.
  2. One example: In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and white pepper; set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a medium skillet over low heat.
  4. Add the cauliflower, and stir to combine. Stir frequently, until the cauliflower has softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.Spoon the cauliflower into a large serving bowl, pour sauce over top. Serve warm.

You can gently stir fry or sauté with it using in place of rice for paella or risotto or just mixed with other vegetables. Cauliflower is like a chameleon – it will change it’s flavour depending on how you use it.  It’s not as boring as it looks.

Top 8 Health Benefits of Cauliflower

  • Helps Reduce Cancer Risk.
  • Fights Inflammation.
  • Decreases Risk for Heart Disease and Brain Disorders.
  • Provides High Levels of Vitamins and Minerals (Especially Vitamin C and Vitamin K)
  • Improves Digestion and Detoxification.
  • Aids in Weight Loss.
  • Helps Balance Hormones.
  • Preserves Eye Health.

Have you tried it?

 

 

 

Dishing: Blackened Fish

Fresh & Flavorful

Photo: Taste of Home (this is blackened Halibut)

This is such a delicious way to serve up mildly flavoured quick-cooking fish like Tilapia, Perch, Cod or Red Snapper.  Perfect for rice bowls or tacos.

After making this you have options to serve the fish alongside fluffy rice & veggies or as the main ingredient for tacos.  Rockfish like Perch or Snapper is perfect for fish tacos. The fish will flake apart nicely so you can stuff your tacos with it along with fresh salsa (see my fire-roasted corn salsa recipe below) diced avocado, extra cilantro and fresh squeezed lime.

INGREDIENTS for 4 people

  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 4 fillets (4 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons butter

DIRECTIONS

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the first eight ingredients. Add fillets, two at a time, and shake to coat.

In a large cast-iron skillet, cook fillets in butter over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Yield: 4 servings.

Originally published as Blackened Halibut in Simple & Delicious April/May 2012.

Photos: d. king  (Snapper for Two)

Fire Roasted Corn + Black Bean Salsa:

In a large bowl add chopped grape tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, jalapeño, black beans + fire roasted corn niblets (You can toast them over the stove to save time but it would be better grilled right from the husk.)  Toss with freshly squeezed lime juice + coarse salt. Add chopped avocado.  Little street tacos, rice on the side and you’re done.  It’s delicious.

 

 

Healthy Alternative: Homemade Coconut Milk

photo: the happiness kitchen

I’ve been pouring store bought coconut milk over granola, oatmeal and adding it in place of water to smoothies for a looooong time. That’s before I knew how so much more delicious and easy it is to make my own.  Trust me,  bought coconut milk does not compare to homemade. It’s great for smoothies, but after making your own you’ll realize how watery it is in comparison because they use more water to coconut ratio. I prefer coconut over almond milk.  It’s my tropical side coming out.

When you make your own it’s almost like cracking open a fresh coconut.  Really!

Ingredients (for about 3 cups)

  • 2 cups shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 3-4 cups water (use less water for thicker, creamier milk!)
  • Pinch salt
  • Add optional: 1 Tbsp maple syrup, ½ tsp. vanilla extract or scrape half a vanilla bean for added sweetness.  fyi: I have not added any extras so far

Instructions

  1. Add coconut, 3 cups of hot (not boiling) water, pinch of salt (I like himalayan), and any additional add-ins (optional) to a high-speed blender. Top with lid and cover with a towel to ensure it doesn’t splash. Blend for about 2 minutes or until the mixture seems well combined.
  2. Pour the mixture through a sieve over a large mixing bowl. Save pulp for smoothies, baked goods or add it to oatmeal. You won’t waste any and it gives added coconut taste.
  3. Transfer to a sealed container or glass bottle and refrigerate. Will keep in the refrigerator for about one week. Shake before use, as it can separate in the refrigerator (due to no preservatives!).  Some recommend squeezing the milk through a cheese cloth after using sieve but I didn’t need to do this.

FOR COFFEE LOVES (like me)

And if you want to go one step further try making your own coconut milk creamer.  I’ve been using So Good fat free Coconut Milk Creamer with French Vanilla which works really well to sweeten up coffee instead of adding sugar.  But I can’t find it easily in Vancouver and I’ve tried all the other brands which don’t compare in my opinion. I still like sweetener (that’s not gonna change) so I’m now making my own.

Homemade Coconut Milk Creamer

Homemade coconut milk creamer for coffee is also super easy to make. All you need is quality coconut milk and a healthy sweetener like honey and natural vanilla extract. Full fat coconut milk contains the healthy medium chain fats that are in coconut oil.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • 4 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

Instructions:

  1. Blend the coconut milk, sweetener of choice and vanilla extract together until the creamer is mixed well.
  2. Pour desired amount into your coffee or tea and store the remaining creamer in the refrigerator.
  3. Make sure to shake the creamer well before using. Enjoy! This creamer will be good for up to two weeks.

 Sooooo Good!

 

Super Food: Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Salad

Sweet meets Savory

This healthy & hearty salad made in one pot is hard to beat. It takes maybe 30 minutes to prepare and it’s a delicious vegetarian meal packed with protein which comes in handy for lunch. Non-vegetarians can enjoy it for dinner served as a side along roast chicken or fish. 

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetarian broth (or water)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ⅔ cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup finely diced flat leaf parsley
  • ½ cup sliced toasted almonds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add coconut oil to a large pot and place over medium heat. Once oil is hot add in onion and sauté until onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the following spices: turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and salt and pepper; cook for 30 seconds more.
  2. Next add in broth (or water) and quinoa; bring mixture to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and cook for exactly 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove from heat and fluff quinoa with a fork.
  3. Stir in chickpeas, cranberries and parsley to the quinoa and mix until well-combined. Taste and adjust seasonings. Garnish with toasted almonds and extra parsley. Serves 4.
  4. To serve: Place in mason jars or meal prep containers for lunch throughout the week. Garnish with extra toasted almonds.

Quinoa: with 8 grams per cup, this gluten-free seed-like grain is a fantastic source of protein, magnesium, antioxidants, and fiber.

Recipe & Photo: ambitiouskitchen.com

 

 

Quick ‘n Easy Coq au Vin

Hearty dishes aren’t usually described as elegant, but this classic French recipe is the very definition.

This is something I would usually reserve for ordering in a good French restaurant, and even then, it’s not something I readily crave.  But I had chicken and I had white wine on hand.  Actually I had everything except the bacon so it made sense to find a recipe.

PHOTO: Liz Andrew.  STYLING: Erin McDowell

The only problem? You need Julia Child levels of patience and skill to pull it off. Enter this foolproof version, which is ready in under an hour. Plus, it’s made with dry white wine instead of red for an elegant twist.

What you need:

3 pounds chicken (8 pieces total—thighs, breasts and drumsticks)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 strips bacon, diced

1 large sweet onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 pint cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 cups dry white wine

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until it’s well browned, about 4 minutes per side.
  2. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside. Add the bacon to the skillet and cook until the fat begins to render, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the onion and sauté until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and sauté until the mushrooms are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
  4. Add the browned chicken back to the skillet. Pour the wine into the skillet, stir in the mustard and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat.
  5. Cover the skillet and simmer until the chicken is almost fully cooked, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Uncover the skillet and add the cream. Simmer until the sauce thickens and the chicken is fully cooked, 8 to 10 minutes.
  7. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

de rien

 

Recipe: greek oregano chicken + orzo with tomatoes in garlic oil

If you’re looking for an easy, no fuss delicious dinner made in one pot – this is it!

image: halfbakedharvest.com

I’m always on the lookout for recipes that keep things simple but are healthy, hearty and smell heavenly.  Of course a touch of the exotic or unexpected is always a plus and it must look appetizing on the plate and pleasing on the palate. In this one the *orzo takes on a risotto-like texture since it gets cooked in with the chicken and peppers.  Sometimes oregano can be overpowering, but when paired with this chicken, some balsamic vinegar and smoked paprika, it’s perfect. This dish was originally a summer dish because of the heirloom tomatoes but you can still find them at select grocers and winter farmers markets.  The first part of the recipe (Tomatoes) is an extra step which is optional, although I highly recommend making it.

Ingredients:

TOMATOES

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes sliced
  • 2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes halved
  • salt and pepper to taste

CHICKEN + ORZO

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken, cut into bit size pieces
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced or grated
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt + pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano chopped
  • 2 bell peppers sliced
  • 1 cup mixed kalamata or green olives
  • 16 ounces orzo pasta (use gluten free if needed)
  • 4-6 ounces feta cheese crumbled

Instructions:

TOMATOES

  1. Add the olive oil, garlic and chili pepper flakes to a small sauce pan. Bring the oil to a low boil and then quickly reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20-30 minutes and then remove from the heat. Allow to cool and then store in a glass jar for up to a month in the fridge.
  2. Add the tomatoes to a bowl or plate and drizzle with the chili oil mix. Sprinkle with salt + pepper. Serve alongside the chicken.

CHICKEN

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium size dutch oven or large skillet set on medium-high heat.
  2. Once hot, add the chicken, garlic, balsamic vinegar, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Toss the chicken to coat and then cook until the chicken is browned all over and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the oregano and cook another minute. Remove the chicken from the pan and to a plate.
  3. To the same pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil, the bell peppers and a pinch of salt + pepper. Sear the peppers until just beginning to caramelize on the edges, about 3-4 minutes. Add the orzo and another tablespoon of olive oil. Stir the pasta with the peppers on then pour in 2 1/2 cups water. Cook until almost all the water is absorbed and the orzo is creamy. Taste the orzo to make sure it is soft in the middle, if needed, add another 1/2 cup of water and continue cooking the orzo until soft. It is important to stir the orzo often, as it wants to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Once the orzo is cooked, slide the chicken and olives into the orzo and remove from the heat. Allow the chicken to warm through, about 3 minutes.
  5. Serve the dish topped with crumbled feta cheese and a side of tomatoes in chili oil.

*Orzo is a Greek barley-like pasta, the shape of large grains of rice

Original Recipe: halfbakedharvest.com

Let me know if this is something you would make and if you make it, let me know how much you like it.