Monday, January 30, 2012

Seven Layer Dip

With Super Bowl Sunday just around the corner, I wanted to share my go-to game day snack with you.  To me, Super Bowl Sunday is all about the food.  Seriously, I watch very, very little football.  Though this year I did actually watch more football than usual, and actually watched several Giants games.  I promise that I'm not a Giants fan though.  I'm also not a Patriots fan.  I'm a food-you-eat-while-watching-football fan and that is it!  Sadly, I won't be watching the Super Bowl at all this year as I accidentally booked a flight right in the middle of the game.  Happily, that flight means that I will be in NYC this weekend visiting some of my favorite people!

Okay, so back to the dip.  It is heaven.  It is happiness.  You will be the hit of the party if you bring this.  And you won't miss the heavy refried beans that you usually find in similar dips.  Trust me, even after substituting black beans for the usual refried bean layer, this dip was still a huge hit with my taste testers.

For more Super Bowl Snacks:
Cooking Light Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Baked Buffalo Wings

Or click the link below to see more Super Bowl Snacks over at Eat Yourself Skinny!

Seven Layer Dip

1 can black beans, drained slightly
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chipotle pepper, plus a bit of adobo sauce
3 very ripe avocados
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons light sour cream
1 tablespoon light mayonaise
1/2 packet low-sodium taco seasoning
1 cup cheddar cheese (you could also mix in some Monterey Jack)
3 roma tomatoes, diced
2 green onions, sliced

Blitz together black beans, olive oil, and chipotle pepper in a food processor until it reaches your desired consistency.  Mine was closer to smooth than chunky.  Spread the black bean mixture in the bottom of a pie pan or 8x8 inch glass dish.

Mash avocados in a separate bowl.  Stir in jalapeno, lime and lemon juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Try not to eat all of this guacamole before you assemble the dip!  Spread the guacamole over the black bean mixture with a spatula.

Stir together sour cream, mayo, and taco seasoning until well combined.  Spread this over the guacamole.

Sprinkle the cheese onto the dip next, then spread the tomatoes evenly across the cheese, and finish with green onions.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mom's Mac and Cheese

homemade macaroni and cheese recipe

I'm not even going to pretend that this Mac and Cheese is healthy.  But I can promise that it is awesome - so cheesy and delicious!  I've been eating this Mac and Cheese for ages.  It's the recipe that my mom always makes, and I've continued to make it myself.  Obviously, I don't recommend eating this very often.  Let's say that moderation is best here (right Paula?).  Despite this sinful recipe, I've actually been doing pretty well with my resolutions of eating healthier, and I tried a barre class tonight.  Have you heard of barre? Have you tried it? Ottawa's first barre studio opened last week - Inside Out Studio.  It's amazing.  Definitely a tough workout.  My whole body was shaking several times throughout the class, but in the end I felt great.

Mom's Mac and Cheese

1 pound small elbow macaroni
1 pound Velveeta cheese, cut into chunks
1 pound Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Cook macaroni to al dente (just less than the time suggested on the directions).  Drain the macaroni and place it in a large 9x13 inch buttered pan.  Mix in the flour, then the cheddar and Velveeta cheese.  Salt and pepper the top.  Pour milk into the bottom of the pan to make about half an inch of milk.  Cook at 375°F for about 30 minutes, stirring at least once to combine the cheese.  Broil for a few minutes at the end of the cooking time to make the top a little bit crunchy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Meyer Lemon Tom Collins

So... a cocktail recipe in the middle of the week may not be entirely appropriate in the minds of some.  Others will say, "yes! please, get me over this hump and one step closer to the weekend."  This week, I'm in the latter camp.  We are only 2 days through the work week and I've been swamped, to the point of being overwhelmed, and stressed.  I think that I may have gotten through the worst part of the week, but it was not easy.  Given my week so far, I unfortunately didn't finish editing the video that I made to share with you all.  Therefore, we have cocktails on a Wednesday.  But, these are gosh darn good cocktails.  They are like a shot of sunshine on these cold, dreary winter days.  Meyer lemons provide a herbal, citrus quality that makes this version a little bit more special than your run of the mill Tom Collins.

Meyer Lemon Tom Collins
From Serious Eats via the Hot and Hot Fish Club (Alabama)

1 1/2 ounces gin
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
1 teaspoon sugar
Chilled soda water

Combine gin, juice, and sugar in a highball glass. Stir well. Add ice (use a lot of ice, the bigger the cubes the better) and top off with soda, stir lightly if desired and serve. Skip the gin to make this a super refreshing spritzer!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Huevos Rancheros

I hope everyone had a lovely, relaxing weekend!  My Sunday was definitely made lovelier by the addition of these Huevos Rancheros for brunch.  Coupled with a hot cup of coffee, these will fill you up and help you start your day out right.  In fact, this dish is so filling and delicious that it could also be served for dinner.  My favorite part of Huevos Rancheros is the spicy ranchero sauce.  It is so good that I will have to make to serve with other dishes, like tacos or even just grilled chicken.

Huevos Rancheros
Serves 2-4

For the Ranchero Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, diced
2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Add the onion and sauté until it becomes translucent.  Add the jalapeno and cook for about two minutes.  Pour the entire can of tomatoes into the skillet, and then add the chipotle pepper along with the adobo sauce and red wine vinegar.  Let the sauce simmer on medium for 15 minutes, until the sauce thickens.

For the Black Beans:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 can black beans, only partially drained
1/2 cup water
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, diced

While the Ranchero Sauce cooks, sauté onion in olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Once the onion softens, add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.  Add the beans, water, and chipotle pepper.  Cook the beans for 10 minutes.

For the rest of the dish:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 flour tortillas
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
4 eggs
Sliced avocado

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Heat a large skillet so that is very hot. Warm some vegetable oil and lightly brown each tortilla on each side.  Place the tortillas on a cookie sheet and sprinkle each with some cheese.  Place the tortillas in the oven while you cook the eggs.  Using the same skillet, cook four eggs over medium.  You could also scramble the eggs or cook them sunny side up.

To assemble: top the cheesy tortilla with some ranchero sauce, then one egg each.  Serve with the beans on the side or scoop them right on top. Sprinkle with any leftover cheese.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pecan Pie

favorite pecan pie recipe

In our household, Christmas dessert must include pecan pie or we have some unhappy people. My favorite recipe is one that has been used for over 25 years (when Kelsey was a wee one). I was on the organizing committee for the Calgary Flames Wives Charitable Organization and we decided to do a cookbook for a fundraiser. All the players, coaches, staff and owners contributed their favorite recipes. This recipe is from Becky Hotchkiss and I asked her for it for the cookbook because she had made it for a dinner that she had us to and I fell in love with it. I believe it was published in the "Red Hot Recipes" cookbook around 1985 or so. This pie has pecans throughout it and no thick jelly layer. It has a heavenly, buttery flavor that is delightful and has converted several "non pecan pie eaters" to people who fight over the last piece. Give it a try and you may find that you will want to make it at times other than Christmas!

Pecan Pie
From the Calgary Flames Cookbook "Red Hot Recipes"

1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
1 cup dark corn syrup
½ cup butter
2 cups of coarsely chopped pecans
+ enough pecan halves to line side of pie pan (optional)
9” unbaked pie crust shell

Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare pie crust shell using favorite recipe or a ready-made on.

Press pecan halves around the edge of the unbaked pie shell.

In saucepan combine sugar, salt and syrup. Simmer until sugar is dissolved.

Beat eggs until foamy.

Into syrup, stir butter, vanilla, and pecans. Add eggs.

Turn into the pie shell and bake for 40 minutes. Pie should be just barely set in the middle; do not overbake.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Peanut Butter Granola

healthy skinny peanut butter granola recipe

Okay, so we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  But sometimes breakfast on weekdays before work is boring, or sometimes you wake up late and there isn't time to really make yourself anything.  I usually have cereal with fresh berries in the summer and oatmeal in the winter before work, but I needed a break from my breakfast routine rut.  Luckily, I've added some healthy inspiration blogs to my reading list, and I came across this awesomely delicious granola recipe.  It is pretty simple and you could definitely play around with it to make it your own.  I followed the recipe this time, but I will probably change things up the next time I make it (which will likely be next weekend given that N loved it so much and is already begging me to make more).  The best part about the granola is that my breakfasts this week have been super easy - Greek yogurt, granola, and some berries (that actually taste decent for it being January).

Homemade Healthy Peanut Butter Granola
From Jessica at Yoga Babes via The Skinny Confidential

3 cups of old fashioned rolled oats
1 ¼ cup of nuts (cashews & almonds unsalted)
¼ cup of flaxseed
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (I left this out as I'm not a huge coconut fan)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
½ cup honey
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients & stir. Then add in the wet ingredients. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil & transfer this mixture evenly onto them. Bake for 20-30 minutes & mix the granola every 10 minutes so nothing burns (Be careful! My oven is hot and the edges of my pan definitely got a little crispy). Granola is done when it is golden. Let the granola cool on the pan, then transfer to cute little holders or a Tupperware.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Veggie Lasagna

I love lasagna!  Lasagna of all kinds.  Though I still haven't posted my basic lasagna, we've had gluten-free lasagna and Tex-Mex lasagna on the blog so far.  Now we have this version, which is a veggie lasagna, because we are trying our best to stick with Meatless Mondays.  The great thing about this lasagna is that you can put any veggies that you want in it.  I threw some eggplant, zucchini, and spinach in mine.  I also bought red peppers for it, but let's face it, sometimes I'm a little bit absent minded when I cook and I forgot all about the peppers.  I also give you another version of a basic tomato sauce - this time with a bit of red wine. 

Veggie Lasagna

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 cup red wine
2-28 ounce cans whole Roma tomatoes, crushed in a food processor
10 leaves basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Lightly sauté the garlic for 30 seconds.  Pour the wine into the pot and allow it to simmer for 2 minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, salt and some roughly torn basil.  Allow the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes.  You will end up with about 4 cups of sauce.  I used roughly half of the sauce and then saved the rest to make pizza.

1/2 large eggplant, sliced very thin
2 zucchini, sliced thin
18 lasagna noodles
1/2 cup pesto
1-1/4 cup low-fat Ricotta cheese
1 egg
Salt and pepper
2 cups baby spinach
2 cups part-skim mozzerella, shredded

Slice the eggplant into very thin slices, lay it in a single layer on a paper towel.  Sprinkle the eggplant with salt, and place another paper towel over top. Slice the zucchini into thin slices.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Once it has started to boil, add the lasagna and cook following the directions on the package.  Drain the noodles once they've cooked and rinse them with cold water so you can handle them. 

While the water is boiling, mix together pesto, ricotta, salt, pepper, and the egg.  

Once the noodles and sauce have cooked, begin assembling your lasagna.  Layer sauce, noodles, eggplant, cheese, sauce, noodles, ricotta mixture, zucchini, sauce, noodles, spinach, cheese, sauce, noodles, sauce, and cheese.  (Or any way you like!)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Kahlua Cake

My dear friend, Debbie, from California gave me her amazing recipe for this Kahlua Cake.  She usually makes the cake in two small bundt pans and puts it in the freezer, so that she will have some cake on hand for guests or to give to a friend who needs cheering up.  The cake is really moist, so it freezes well.  It is also rich and chocolately.  The best part of this cake is that it is so easy to make!  It starts with a boxed mix, but it ends up tasting like its been made from scratch.  I made the cake twice over the holidays, once for Christmas Eve and once for New Year's Eve.  For New Years, I made it with a simple raspberry sauce - raspberries and a cup of sugar. You could also serve it with fresh raspberries, dusted with powdered sugar.  On Christmas Eve, our friend said that this was the best chocolate cake he had ever had.  I took another small one up to him and he put it in the fridge in individual servings, so he could have a piece every day.

Kahlua Cake
From Deb R.

1 package Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
1 package Vanilla Instant Pudding
1/4 cup Oil
4 eggs
1/4-1/2 cup Kahlua (1/2 is the best)
1 pint Sour Cream
12 ounce package of Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Mix all the ingredients together as listed and pour into a Bundt or tube pan.  Bake at 350°F for 1 hour.  Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, raspberry sauce, or powdered sugar.

We will have to make the cake again and actually remember to take a picture this time, before the cake is half gone!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pasta Fagioli Soup

It has officially been cold here in Ottawa for a few weeks.  And by cold, I mean it got down to into the negative teens in Fahrenheit (or negative 30s in Celsius).  That is cold folks!  I finally had to break out my head to toe down parka.  Thankfully it is a bit more stylish than the parkas that my swim friends and I used to wear to swim meets (think bright blue, lined with yellow fleece or even worse, brown from head to toe).  Even though we had a bit of a reprieve from the cold over the weekend, I was still craving soup.  And the Pasta Fagioli Soup that I made seriously satisfied my craving!  It turned out really well - hearty, with a  deeply flavoured broth (got to love red wine in soup!).  This soup could also fall into the meatless category if you substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

Pasta Fagioli Soup
Takes about 45 minutes
Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon)
2 bay leaves
1-28 oz can low-sodium whole tomatoes (or try to find San Marzano tomatoes)
1/2 of a 14 oz can of low-sodium diced tomatoes
2-14 oz cans low-sodium Cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
Salt and pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups Ditali pasta
2 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup fresh basil

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes or until the onions become translucent.  Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds.  Do not brown the garlic.  Pour in the red wine, scrape the browned bits at the bottom of the pot, and let it simmer for about 3-5 minutes.

Crush the whole tomatoes in a food processor, then add them to the pot along with the diced tomatoes, beans, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  Simmer for another 10 minutes, then add the chicken broth.  Once you add the broth, bring everything to a boil. (I put a lid on my pot, but you don't have to).  After the broth starts to boil, add the pasta and cook for about 8 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.  With about a minute remaining for the pasta to finish cooking, add the spinach.  Finally, add the fresh basil.  Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese and with crusty bread.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Avocado

quinoa salad with roasted tomatoes and avocado recipe

So far, I've really enjoyed adding some meatless meals into our repertoire.  This quinoa salad is packed with flavour and was a perfectly healthy, satisfying lunch to have after the gym.  (Okay, so I don't actually eat my meatless meals on Monday - since I have to blog them for you!)  The best part of the salad was the tahini vinaigrette.  My sister first introduced tahini vinaigrette to me, and I don't know why I haven't made my own until now.  It will be a go-to dressing for me now for sure.  Tahini is sesame seed paste.  It is what makes hummus so addictive.  It is available in most grocery stores (at least up here in Canada), so look for it with the other Middle Eastern or Mediterranean items.

Okay, so my meatless goal is going well.  My healthy living goal, in terms of eating is going well, but the gym only so-so.  How are you doing with your 2012 goals?

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Avocado

1-1/2 cups Quinoa
1 pint Grape Tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1-1/2 Avocado, diced
1-1/2 cups baby spinach
Salt and Pepper
Tahini Dressing

Boil two cups of water.  Once the water is boiling, add the quinoa and turn the heat down to simmer the quinoa.  The quinoa should cook for about 15 minutes.  Fluff with a fork when it's done cooking and allow it cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Cut the grape tomatoes in half and lay them in a single layer in a glass baking dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Roast the tomatoes for 25-30 minutes, or until they start to caramelize.  Allow the tomatoes to cool slightly.  (Make the dressing while the tomatoes roast, see recipe below).

Mix together quinoa, tomatoes, avocado, and spinach.  Drizzle with tahini viniagrette (I used about 2/3 of what I made) and season with salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Tahini Vinaigrette 

1/4 cup Tahini
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 whole lemon, juice (about 4 tablespoons juice)
1 teaspoon honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together the dressing ingredients.  Make the dressing about 15 minutes ahead of mixing it into the salad.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


roasted beet and potato borscht recipe

I love borscht.  I also love my new fennel green Le Creuset.  I've used it almost every single day since I brought it home.  Thank you Auntie and Uncle!!  I have cooked things on the stovetop (soups, pasta dishes, stew) and I baked some chicken in it covered in beer in the oven.  It's multi-purpose and everything that I've made in it has been divine. It also cleans up like a breeze.  So, I made this borscht in it.  Roasting the beets and potatoes first gives this borscht an incredible flavour, and makes this a really easy soup to make.  I like mine with a little zing, so I added more vinegar than the recipe calls for, but you can adjust to your own preferences.  (PS it's not Monday, but you can make this meatless just by substituting veggie broth for the chicken broth).

From Serious Eats

2 pound red beets (about 5 medium), scrubbed, peeled, and cut into medium dice
1 pound russet potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and cut into medium dice
2 shallots, coarsely chopped
3 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 cups homemade chicken broth or low-sodium canned broth
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (I added 3 tablespoons, since I like mine strong)
Sour cream
4 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 400°F. Meanwhile, toss vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread out in a single layer on rimmed baking sheet and tuck the sprigs of thyme in amongst the vegetables. Roast until tender, about 45 minutes, discarding the thyme once they are finished cooking.

Bring the chicken broth to a simmer in a large saucepot and add the cooked vegetables. Mash roughly with a potato masher or wooden spoon, add the vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper and more vinegar if needed. Serve in bowls topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of parsley.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yaki Udon

yaki udon noodles recipe

Last week, I had a rough day.  Seriously rough.  It was non-stop drama from the time I left work to about 9:30 pm, so by the time I ate dinner, it was nearly 10:15!  Luckily, I had decided to make myself a quick and easy dinner anyways, and though I got to it late, I was really glad that I chose to make this Yaki Udon for dinner.  It was quick, and to me, it was the definition of comfort food.  After a long day, the deep flavours and noodles soothed my soul.  The leftovers for lunch the next day were absolutely perfect too.

Yaki Udon
From Serious Eats

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
6 ounces pork, thinly sliced
2 ounces shredded Savoy cabbage
1 large carrot, end trimmed, peeled, cut into matchsticks
12 ounces fresh or frozen udon noodles
1 scallion, chopped

Combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook according to the directions on the packaging (my udon took 2 minutes).  Drain in a colander, and then rinse under cold water.  Set aside in the colander to drain.

Pour the oil into a large wok (or pan) set over high heat. When just starting to smoke, add the onion. Stir-fry until onion is soft, about one minute. Add the pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is no longer pink. Add the cabbage and carrot. Stir-fry until the cabbage is starting to soften, one to two minutes.

Add the noodles, and stir-fry for a minute. Pour in the sauce and stir well. Stir-fry until the sauce has been absorbed, one to two minutes. Add the scallions, stir well, and then turn off the heat.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lentil and Beet Salad

lentil and beet salad recipe

Welcome to K&K Test Kitchen's Meatless Mondays!  One of our goals this year is to eat meatless at least once a week, and to keep us on track I thought it would be a great idea to participate in the Meatless Monday movement.  We are going to try our best!  Why meatless?  Skipping meat once (or more) a week is a healthy, budget friendly option.  There are so many delicious alternatives.

This Lentil and Beet Salad is just one of millions of delicious meatless meal possibilities.  It is really filling and has a wonderful variety of flavours and textures.  My intention was to make this recipe from Leela Cyd, but of course in my post-New Year's Eve / intense Settlers of Catan playing haze, I forgot the honey and mustard for the dressing and the shallots.  My version of the salad was good, but I would highly suggest following the recipe below.  The honey would have cut a little bit more of the bitterness of the radicchio.  We also used fewer lentils (maybe 1 cup) and they were just green lentils.  Try to find French lentils, because they will hold their shape better and use 1-1/2 cups of lentils to balance out the radicchio better.

Lentil and Beet Salad
Adapted from LeelaCyd

1 1/2 cup French Puy Lentils, rinsed
3 cups water
4 roasted beets, roughly chopped
1 head radicchio, roughly chopped
I used thyme (because I had it leftover from the night before and was out in the woods), but you could also use Italian parsley and basil, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup capers
2 shallots, minced
2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

(If using green lentils) Bring 3 cups of water and 1-1/2 cups of lentils to a boil.  Turn the heat down slightly and simmer for 60 minutes. Follow the directions on the package for French lentils.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Scrub beets, cut the tops and bottoms off, and rub the outside with olive oil.  Wrap them in aluminum foil and place in the oven.  Roast for 45 minutes.  When the beets are roasted, let them cool until you can handle them.  Peel the skin off and chop roughly.

When the lentils are done cooking, let cool slightly, then mix with the radicchio, beets, capers, and shallots.  Mix three tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and honey together.  Dress the salad, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and herbs.

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