Farro Salad with Coconut and Mango

If you’re still a bit intim­i­dated by whole grains, then go ahead and throw some tasty Ital­ian farro in your shop­ping cart. Farro is super easy to cook, and rich in fiber, mag­ne­sium and vit­a­mins A, B, C and E - a good addi­tion to a whole foods lifestyle. Here I make a sim­ple and tasty farro salad with coconut and mango.

Farro Salad with Coconut and MangoThat’s all well said, but the truth is that my vir­tu­ous bag of farro sat in the cup­board for a year before I cracked it open… I had no idea what do to with it. I used to think that it was just wheat berries under another name — but it’s not the same plant at all. Farro is an ancient, unhy­bridized wheat-​like grain used for thou­sands of years in North Africa and the Mid­dle East. It has an earthy, nutty, al-​dente qual­ity sim­i­lar to barley/​steel cut oats. It’s not a “heavy” tast­ing grain like wheat, and the inter­nets say farro goes well in sal­ads, soups and even makes a creamy risotto (a “far­rotto”!!), except it won’t go all gluggy like rice does when cold.

I made a few “deli-​style” sal­ads in the last while, and I love to have them in the fridge. This one can be enjoyed cold, or warm. We had it with pan-​fried salmon on the first day, then cold for lunch the day after. You can skip roast­ing your red pep­pers to save time, or use roasted pep­pers from a jar. There’s no rigid for­mula — skip or add some new ingre­di­ents if you like. Btw, I had just tossed the ingre­di­ents together in the pic­tures, and added the dress­ing later. Con­tinue Read­ing…

Farro Salad with Coconut and MangoDou­blecheck you label when you buy farro, so you end up with the right thing. Farro is often con­fused with spelt, which takes hours upon hours to cook. There’s a whole thing about it online which makes yam vs. sweet potato con­fu­sion thing look like noth­ing. I’m not even going there. So, I told you it takes 20 min­utes to cook, right? Just look on the back of the pack­age and dou­blecheck this is what it says. Here is what a bag of farro looks like, to give you an idea.

I think it’s healthy to eat a vari­ety of things, and by doing so you might just find some­thing you enjoy and want to have on a reg­u­lar basis. I know I’ll give farro another go soon — I’m think­ing a salad with feta, olive oil, cran­ber­ries and toasted wal­nuts. Or a farrotto!

Farro Salad with Coconut and Mango
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingre­di­ents
  • Salad
  • 1 cup uncooked farro
  • 1½ cups mango flesh, diced
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 roasted red bell pep­per, diced (roast your own, or use one from a jar)
  • ½ cup shelled and cooked edamame
  • ½ cup sliv­ered almonds
  • ½ cup shred­ded unsweet­ened coconut
  • Dress­ing
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tea­spoon honey
  • Salt and pep­per, to taste
Instruc­tions
  1. Cook the farro accord­ing to instruc­tions. 1 cup uncooked farro will yield approx. 3 cups cooked.
  2. In a small bowl, add the fresh lime juice, coconut milk, honey and sea­son with salt and pep­per and mix well.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the cooked farro and all of the remain­ing ingre­di­ents for the salad. Pour the dress­ing over the salad and toss very well. Serve imme­di­ately or keep chilled until ready to eat.

Apple Fritters with Coconut Palm Sugar

Apple frit­ters can do won­ders if you crave some­thing sweet, but still want it to be a rel­a­tively healthy snack. Or, if you’re caf­feine deprived…like me. Apple frit­ters are noth­ing new, and I’ll some­times whip up a batch for break­fast, and eat them with a side of yogurt. I made the frit­ters with coconut sugar this time — both the in bat­ter and for the caramelized crust. I bought a huge bag of coconut palm sugar last sum­mer, and I still have enough left to last til the end of time. The brand in the link is the one I use, and I rec­om­mend it — and it doesn’t taste of coconut, btw, it’s made from the sap of the tree. I have no prep pic­tures because I made a giant mess of things.

Apple Fritters with Caramelized Coconut Palm SugarThe apple frit­ters are not deep fried — pour just enough olive oil to barely cover the bot­tom of your pan, that’s all you need. The apples inside will soften, and the bat­ter and caramelized crust will be so yum. For best results, cut the slices about 1/​3 of an inch thick at most — if cut too thick, and they won’t soften enough. I used organic Red Deli­cious apples for my recipe, although any sweet apple will do. Con­tinue Reading…

If you don’t have a 4lb bag of coconut sugar in your pantry, no wor­ries. You can swap in white sugar, but use about 3/​4 of what this recipe calls for. Coconut palm sugar is less sweet than white, but low on the glycemic index — it won’t cause a spike and crash in blood sugar. I use it because I love the fla­vor — it’s a bit like caramel, smoke and coffee…if you’ve never had it and enjoy try­ing new things, I say go for it and try.

No cof­fee drink­ing update: 10 days. I’m still on my get-​better diet after stom­ach funk, which means I con­stantly fan­ta­size about sip­ping a cap­puc­cino /​stuff­ing my face with tiramisu /​choco­late cheese­cake. The very smell of cof­fee could bring me to tears right now. And I tech­ni­cally wasn’t sup­posed to be hav­ing these:

Apple Fritters with Caramelized Coconut Palm SugarI said that I made a huge mess — ya — I had an idea that I’d dip each batter-​covered slice on a plate of sugar. You already see where this is going — plate of sugar grad­u­ally cov­ered in bat­ter, drippy, gluey bat­ter EVERYWHERE. Here’s an idea, sprin­kle some coconut palm sugar on top of frit­ters as they are brown­ing in the pan.

Apple Frit­ters with Caramelized Coconut Sugar
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingre­di­ents
  • bat­ter:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup plain white flour
  • ¼ cup coconut palm sugar + more for sprin­kling over while frying
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • frit­ters:
  • olive oil
  • 6 medium sweet apples, such as Red Deli­cious, peeled, cored, and sliced into ⅓ inch rounds
  • pow­dered sugar for garnishing
Instruc­tions
  1. Whisk all bat­ter ingre­di­ents in a medium bowl until smooth.
  2. Pour just enough olive oil into a pan to cover the bot­tom and warm up over medium heat. Dip each apple round in the bat­ter, and place in the hot oil. Don’t over­crowd the pan. When the whole batch is placed and fry­ing on the pan, use a spoon to sprin­kle more coconut palm sugar on top of each frit­ter (only one side). It will caramelize when flipped over.
  3. Serve gar­nished with pow­dered sugar.

Quick Salt and Pepper Chicken Drumsticks

Here’s a sim­ple, fool-​proof method for bak­ing tasty chicken drum­sticks — it’s a great recipe for a non-​cook in your fam­ily. These are moist and ten­der, with a nice, crispy browned crust. It’s a whole din­ner in one pot deal — the drum­sticks are sea­soned with salt and pep­per, then sat on top pota­toes and onions and set to bake. No stock is needed — this will be plenty juicy. Pop the drum­sticks in the oven while you go about your day.

Quick Salt and Pepper Chicken DrumsticksWe made these drum­sticks in Tofino last week, or rather, my hus­band made them — the man who so far only knew how to cook scram­bled eggs. I’ve been teach­ing him how to cook, since he keeps hov­er­ing around me in the kitchen, ask­ing how var­i­ous things are made. It must be all the My Kitchen Rules we’ve been watch­ing… It’s an Aussie show I men­tioned here on the blog a cou­ple of times - restau­rant food made by ama­teurs in their own homes, against a clock (and it’s always a gong show.) It sooo gets under your skin! There’s two weeks left til the end of the 5th sea­son, and I don’t know what we’ll do with our­selves after — I’m nearly as hooked as I was on LOST, when LOST was still good. Con­tinue Reading…

Quick Salt and Pepper Chicken DrumsticksThe brown­ing is the most impor­tant step — don’t skip it, and brown those drums well, it gives meat ooo­dles extra of fla­vor.. Make sure the pan is very hot, but not smok­ing, and it’s best to turn the drum­sticks over only once when the first side is fin­ished brown­ing. This makes a much bet­ter crust, with “unin­ter­rupted” brown­ing. That’s a tip I picked up on… My Kitchen Rules, lol.

The drum­sticks we used were a big on the small­ish side, so increase your bak­ing by a few min­utes if you need. It’s hard to over­cook dark meat like drum­sticks, espe­cially if cov­ered, so there is a lot of lee­way here. I find that extra uncov­ered time is just enough to lightly crispen up the chicken, while still retain­ing it mois­ture from cook­ing with the lid on. The meat on cooked chicken should pull away eas­ily, there should be no pink meat, and the juices should run clear.

Quick Salt and Pep­per Chicken Drumsticks
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingre­di­ents
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 8 – 10 chicken drumsticks
  • 5 medium yellow-​fleshed pota­toes, such as Yukon Gold
  • ½ red onion
  • salt and pep­per, to taste
Instruc­tions
  1. Pre­heat the oven to 400F.
  2. Heat 1 tbs of oil in a medium non-​stick skil­let, over mod­er­ate heat. Make sure the oil is hot, but don’t let it smoke. Sea­son the chicken drum­sticks with salt and pep­per, then brown on each side until golden and crispy. It’s best to turn only once when the first side is fin­ished browning.
  3. Peel and cut the pota­toes into small chunks, and slice the onion. Grease the bot­tom of a dutch oven with 1 tbs of oil, and add the onions and pota­toes, toss­ing lightly to mix. Place the browned drum­sticks on top and bake, cov­ered, for 40 min­utes. After that, uncover the dutch oven, and bake for a fur­ther 20 mins.

Tofino Trip — March 2014

We’re back from a quick boot to the West Coast — a small dose of much needed green­ery and proper spring. This is also the week I decided to give up cof­fee, tem­porar­ily, until I get over a bout of stom­ach funk. It’s been 4 days since my last cup… and that’s how long I’ve been in my paja­mas, just kid­ding. I nor­mally can’t sleep at all while in tran­sit, no probs now. I can nap all plane ride long while white moun­tains float by under­neath… Seri­ously, though, no caf­feine — it’s haaaard.

Tofino - Canuck CuisineTofino is a small fish­ing village/​secret celebrity haunt/​surfing cap­i­tal of Canada, way out there on the west coast of Van­cou­ver Island. Greg and I came here for the first time almost 15 years ago (15 years!), and visit the area every cou­ple of years since. Peo­ple go to Tofino for many rea­sons, and food is a big one — there are many local busi­nesses roast­ing cof­fee, brew­ing beer, and good restau­rants to hole up in for din­ner after a rainy day. I need to take time to check these out one of these days, but we’re usu­ally too busy explor­ing the wilder­ness all around. Con­tinue Read­ing…

Tofino - Canuck CuisineYou can hop on any num­ber of log­ging roads in the area and get into the real stuff — with not a soul in sight. We joked that we should start “night walks” in the rain­for­est like the ones you do in Costa Rica. LOL. I don’t think so. Here it’s not a ques­tion of what you find, it’s what will find YOU. And that’d be a cougar.

Tofino - Canuck CuisineThis is Larry Lake along hwy 4, just before a really bad stretch of cliff-​hugging road along Kennedy Lake (Larry is the weird­est name to give a lake. Why not Bob? Bob Lake.) I have a few pic­tures accu­mu­lated from this pretty van­tage point, and I’m always annoyed by this small bush in the lower right that ruins my shot. Next time I’m show­ing up with a big pair of shears and trim­ming it.

Tofino - Canuck CuisineAnd finally… my bor­rowed kitchen. The vaca­tion rental was owned by a local chef, who used to run his cater­ing busi­ness out of this house. THAT STOVE did not kid around, this thing could make a roast chicken and pro­pel a jet at the same time. I’d love to have one of these, but I know I’d leave a knob on and ker­plode the house. Those knobs were so hard to turn and adjust, like they were made for some big manly chef hands. Also, I heart the glass fridge door — but only in that set­ting. The “mess” inside would drive me nuts in my house, lol. It was very fun to have all of this for the week…

Tofino - Canuck CuisineIron­i­cally though, I didn’t do any iron chef-​ing… Only very hum­ble and quick homey meals (no caf­feine, remem­ber?) Besides… who needs to over­com­pli­cate things when you have this out­side… I told Greg that the “yard” is like a relax­ation video.

Tofino - Canuck CuisineAll of that, cool humid air that smelled of cedar trees, and the sound of rain falling and ocean waves…It was a short stroll to the beach, and we walked it twice a day, rain or shine. Our dog loved it… I’d have this beach by my house any day. Unless an aster­oid falls in the ocean, of course.

Well, time to wrap up the post and get back to real life. It’s so hard to restart the rou­tine even after a short period away. New posts soon, ttyl.

Creamy Peas and Carrots Soup

This cozy peas and car­rots soup is very sim­ple and can be made in less than 30 min­utes. I took the pic­tures at home a few days ago, but a soup like this would be per­fect for a rainy day here in Tofino, sit­ting by the wood stove and lis­ten­ing to the ocean.

Creamy Peas and Carrots Soup | canuckcuisine.comI’m on the coast this week, and the first thing I did when we got here is make a big pot of chicken broth. I like to go out and eat like any­one else, but can’t imag­ine doing this for 7 days in a row, no mat­ter how great the restau­rant food is. Good, sim­ple home­made food is as impor­tant as a com­fort­able bed.

This soup doesn’t need any­thing else added to fill you up. The only thing I’d sug­gest you per­haps include a por­tion of poached diced chicken for added pro­tein, but that’s about it. I add turmeric for bril­liant color and gar­nish with chopped scal­lions. Pars­ley and cilantro would work equally well.

Con­tinue Read­ing…

You will start off by saute­ing some onion and gar­lic, add chicken stock, chopped car­rots and peas, and if you’re in a pinch you can grab that peas and car­rots bag right from the freezer. I don’t rec­om­mend it though… Frozen peas are fine, but use only the fresh­est fla­vor­ful car­rots, okay? Slowly sim­mer every­thing until ten­der and whiz with an immer­sion blender. It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t sea­son with a bit of curry pow­der and turmeric, but don’t overdo these — these spices are meant only to be a hint on the palate.

Creamy Peas and Carrots Soup Recipe | canuckcuisine.comAs always with soups, use good home­made chicken broth as the base of your soup. It’s infi­nitely health­ier and adds greater depth of fla­vor than stock from a box, or made from cubes.

Thanks to all the peeps that fol­lowed me on ­Face­book and Pin­ter­est! And if you haven’t yet, then don’t for­get to join me for more yummy recipes!

Creamy Peas and Car­rots Soup
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingre­di­ents
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of gar­lic, minced
  • 1.5 cups peas (frozen, don’t need to defrost)
  • 450 g (roughly 1 lb) diced carrots
  • 4 cups home­made chicken broth (adjust to desired consistency)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • chopped fresh scal­lions, pars­ley, or cilantro to garnish
  • salt and pep­per, to taste
  • optional: a cou­ple of table­spoons of cream
Instruc­tions
  1. Melt the but­ter in a stock­pot over medium heat. Add the onion and gar­lic and sauté until translu­cent. Add the frozen peas and chopped car­rots, then mix well. Add the stock, milk, corian­der, curry pow­der, and turmeric, then and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and sim­mer on low until the car­rots soften, about 20 minutes.
  2. Purée the soup with an immer­sion blender (or trans­fer to a blender) until smooth. Add more chicken broth, if neeeded to desired con­sis­tency. Sea­son with salt and pep­per. Add cream, if desired. Gar­nish with chopped scallions.

Healthy Tropical Green Smoothie

A healthy trop­i­cal green smoothie that tastes über-​awesome? Like, sit­ting on warm sand under a palm tree, no chopped kale pounc­ing on you??? Yes, this one def­i­nitely falls under the cat­e­gory “green smooth­ies that don’t suck”. Super-​thick, nat­u­rally super-​sweet, creamy and not tast­ing like cow-​food. First timer’s luck? All right, all right… only a few posts ago, I said you’d never catch me with the abom­i­na­tion known as a green smoothie, but read on. This was pure happy accident.

Healthy Tropical Green SmoothieI was mak­ing an ordi­nary banana-​mango smoothie, and this is how it went: first, use sweet sugar bananas — those tiny ones that come in a big clump, and look like over­sized fin­gers (of course, I didn’t take pic­tures of them). I let them sit on the counter until they start to blacken a bit, then add them to smooth­ies… = ridicu­lously good. You can sub­sti­tute reg­u­lar bananas, too, just make sure that they’re very ripe — like, banana bread ripe.

My sec­ond secret is prop­erly ripened man­goes — in other words, imported frozen man­goes. Buy­ing ripe trop­i­cal fruit in Cal­gary is a stretch, espe­cially with man­goes — so if I buy a box, most will be dry, sour duds plucked from the tree when still babies, never allowed to ripen nat­u­rally. It’s pos­si­ble to find some per­fect, juicy, sweet man­goes in this mix, but the odds are not good. So I just buy bags of chopped frozen mango imported from the Philip­pines — per­fectly ripe and juicy — and I chuck them into the blender still frozen for a great, cold slushie tex­ture. Con­tinue Read­ing…

I add about a cup of plain yogurt — I buy these huge 4lb tubs of organic yogurt at Super­store, and go through them in no time. You can find like 4 – 5 stacked yogurt emp­ties under my sink at any given time, which makes me laugh, because dur­ing our “France travel year”, and later, “let’s pre­tend it’s still France travel year”, those stacks were made from wine bot­tles. My back lane bot­tle bum must be very sad now.

I also add about a tea­spoon of ground turmeric, mainly for color, it’s sup­posed to be anti-​inflammatory, have iron and vit­a­min A, but I doubt it does much. I still put it in… I can also add a tea­spoon of honey.

Then, I whiz it all together, and my blender sucks, so I just press all the but­tons ran­domly and per­form the blender hookah dance (I tip it all around until it starts to obey me and blend).

IMG_0004That’s what I was mak­ing last week any­way, and I decided to throw in 3 leaves of kale — the Lacinato one (long dark stems, not the curly ones) WOWZA. This thing was good. No grass clippings/​bitter green sludge here! The kale made every­thing bright and green, and added just a hint of fresh­ness. I hope you throw in some kale into your next banana-​mango smoothie!

Psss…don’t for­get to fol­low me on Face­book and Pin­ter­est for more recipes!

Healthy Trop­i­cal Green Smoothie
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingre­di­ents
  • 4 ripe sugar bananas, or 2 very ripe “reg­u­lar” bananas (as black­ened as possible)
  • 1 cup frozen ripe mango (must be ripe and sweet)
  • about 1 cup plain yogurt — use more, if needed
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 3 leaves Lacinato kale, lightly chopped
Instruc­tions
  1. Peel your fruit, and whiz all ingre­di­ents in a blender until smooth. You can add a lit­tle bit more yogurt than the recipe calls for to bring to desired consistency.

Easy Spinach and Italian Sausage Orzo

Need a fast week­night recipe? Try this easy, hearty, and com­pletely cozy Spinach and Ital­ian Sausage Orzo. The sauce is made from pureed sweet pota­toes, so it’s healthy and nutri­tious. Ital­ian sausage is always a win­ner, and you can choose a low fat ver­sion made from chicken to save calories.

Easy Spinach and Italian Sausage Orzo Dinner Recipe | canuckcuisine.comI made this easy din­ner in about 20 min­utes, my legs tan­gled around my dog who thinks I’m her per­sonal cook, and Greg spec­tat­ing his MotoGP rac­ing in the back­ground (which goes like: engines… British com­men­ta­tors… engines, “UOOOOOOOOOH!!! …” engines…“OOOOOOOOH!!!”). At least we’re even for the David Atten­bor­ough shows I make him watch. Con­tinue Reading…

If you’re unfa­mil­iar with orzo, it’s just a small rice-​shaped pasta that cooks very quickly. It’s very ver­sa­tile and great in lunch sal­ads tossed with some sautéed veg­eta­bles, or in a more sub­stan­tial din­ner dish like this one. I really enjoy it’s tex­ture, and “bite” when cooked al-​dente. I mixed all of my cooked ingre­di­ents in a big bowl, then served this as a casserole-​style dish sim­ply for the ease of car­ry­ing it into the liv­ing room and ladling on our own serv­ings — I didn’t want to inter­rupt a guy watch­ing his sports. So no wor­ries, the pan is just for show, you don’t need to bake anything!

Easy Spinach and Italian Sausage Orzo Dinner Recipe | canuckcuisine.comI used left­over sweet pota­toes to make the sauce, so it just binds the pasta. If you’d like a more creamy ver­sion, dou­ble the sweet pota­toes and milk!

Psss…don’t for­get to fol­low me on Face­book and Pin­ter­est for more recipes!

Easy Spinach and Ital­ian Sausage Orzo
Author:
Cui­sine: Ital­ian
Serves: 6
Ingre­di­ents
  • 1½ cups orzo pasta
  • 2 tbs olive oil, divided
  • 4 links of ital­ian sausage (about 450g, roughly 1lb)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium zuc­chi­nis, diced
  • 1 medium red pep­per, diced
  • 1 head of spinach, leaves only
  • 1 cup pureed sweet potatoes
  • ¼ cup milk
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt and pep­per to taste
Instruc­tions
  1. Cook the pasta in salted water until al-​dente, then drain, reserv­ing a few table­spoons of cook­ing water. Mix the water with the drained pasta to pre­vent it from dry­ing out, and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a non-​stick skil­let over medium heat. Slice the sausage to desired thick­ness and brown, stir­ring occa­sion­ally. When the sausage is cooked, remove from skil­let and set aside.
  3. Pour the remain­ing olive oil to the skil­let and warm up over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translu­cent, then add the zuc­chini and red pep­per, mix­ing well and cook until soft­ened — 2 – 3 min­utes. Add the spinach leaves and toss to com­bine, reduce the heat to a sim­mer, cover, and cook for 1 – 2 min­utes, until the spinach is wilted.
  4. In a large bowl, com­bine the orzo, the sausage, and the veg­eta­bles. In a sep­a­rate bowl, mix the pureed sweet pota­toes with milk, add a pinch of nut­meg and turmeric, then add to the bowl with the pasta mix­ture. Mix to com­bine. Sea­son with salt and pep­per, to taste. Serve imme­di­ately, or refrig­er­ate for up to 3 days.

Sweet Potato Cakes

Guys, it’s a busy week­end here. I made sweet potato cakes, sur­vived a hairy drive in a snow­storm, and broke up with my iPhone FOREVER. Actu­ally, what I really wanted to do was to hurl it into a rag­ing tor­rent — and I made sure that I said that real­lyy loud as I signed the con­tract for a new Sam­sung. I just can’t waste any more life on updates that break my phone… And iTunes? Don’t get me started. You mean, I can just drag and drop now? THANK YOU.

Sweet Potato Cakes | canuckcuisine.comAny­way, if you like healthy com­fort food and mashed things, try it a bit dif­fer­ently with these sweet potato cakes - soft in the mid­dle and crispy yum on the out­side. We include salty feta cheese, steamed kale and Ital­ian spices…what’s not to love? The recipe is pretty self explana­tory, the only thing I want to stress is that I used Lacinato (Tus­can) kale, not the curly one. I finally found where to buy these in Cal­gary (Save on Foods) — $3 for a bunch, and it’s organic, too.

I like the Lacinato kale because it’s softer than the curly one, and fits bet­ter with many recipes. I blogged ear­lier that made my peace with kale when I learned that I can steam it and use just like spinach — with­out any spinach bit­ter­ness. Kale tastes much sweeter, and is packed with beta-​carotene, folate and Vit­a­min C. It’s also one of the rich­est veg­etable sources of cal­cium and it con­tains vital min­er­als such as iron, mag­ne­sium and potas­sium.
Con­tinue Read­ing…

Sweet Potato Cakes | canuckcuisine.comThese sweet potato cakes are nice and soft, and will be eas­ier to han­dle if you refrig­er­ate them for a cou­ple of hours prior to fry­ing. It’s not nec­es­sary, though — I find that my rub­ber spat­u­las work great for flip­ping the cakes over while in the pan. And I think it goes with­out say­ing — this recipe is great for left­over mashed potatoes!

Serve the sweet potato cakes with a dol­lop of plain yogurt on the side, and a sprin­kle of cilantro, or pars­ley. And don’t for­get to join me on Face­book and Pin­ter­est for more recipes and ramblings!

Sweet Potato Cakes
Author:
Serves: Makes 12 sweet potato cakes
Ingre­di­ents
  • 2 lbs sweet pota­toes, diced
  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 4 stems Lacinato (Tus­can) kale — about 1½ loosely packed cups, stemmed and finely chopped + 1 tbs water
  • 1 tbs olive oil + more for shal­low frying
  • 1 clove of gar­lic, minced
  • 1 tsp rose­mary, fresh or dried
  • 1 /​3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup sea­soned Ital­ian breadcrumbs *
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pep­per, to taste
Instruc­tions
  1. Steam, or boil the sweet pota­toes until soft. Mash well and set aside to cool.
  2. Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a medium skil­let over medium heat. Add the onions and gar­lic, and cook, stir­ring often, for about 1 minute, until soft­ened but not yet browned. Mix in the chopped kale and 1 tbs of water, then cover the skil­let and cook for 1 minute, until the kale is lightly steamed and soft­ened. Take the mix­ture off the heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, com­bine the cooled sweet pota­toes, cooked onion and kale mix­ture, and all remain­ing ingre­di­ents until well mixed. Have a small bowl of water nearby to wet your palms, and form ¾-​inch patties.
  4. Heat more oil in the skil­let over medium heat, adding only enough to moisten the sur­face of the pan, then brown the pat­ties for a cou­ple of min­utes on each side to cre­ate a crust.
  5. They can be eaten imme­di­ately after, but will still be very soft inside. To cre­ate denser pat­ties, place on bak­ing sheet and bake in a pre­heated 350°F oven for 15 – 20 min­utes. Remove from oven and enjoy hot. Use the oven to re-​heat any left­overs, don’t reheat in the microwave, as the cakes will get soggy and lose the crisp crust.

Easy Zucchini Bake Casserole

Don’t let these pic­tures fool you — this Easy Zuc­chini Bake Casse­role is a low calo­rie recipe! I used less than 1/​4 cup of Parme­san cheese for the entire dish, and man­aged to make it sim­ple (4 ingre­di­ents!), healthy and full of fla­vor. The yummy crust is made with a layer of Panko bread­crumbs and a sprin­kle of cheese, which meld and co-​mingle together dur­ing baking.

Easy Zucchini Bake Casserole | canuckcuisine.comSo… 4 ingre­di­ents? This is the type of an easy side dish I need when the gar­den is over­flow­ing with zuc­chi­nis! Luck­ily, zuc­chini is avail­able almost year round, too, and I man­aged to get these paler “gourmet” ones this week­end. They taste the same as your reg­u­lar green zukes, so sub­sti­tute away.

The bulk of the recipe is made from zuc­chi­nis, which are strained to remove excess water after shred­ding. But don’t worry, no crazy cheese­cloth action here, just tip the pan over and strain the liq­uid. No prob­lem if some of it remains in the pan, it will bub­ble away dur­ing bak­ing. You can add the green strained liq­uid to your smooth­ies for a fresh, herby flavor.

Easy Zucchini Bake Casserole | canuckcuisine.comSee the Parme­san wedge above?? All I used was the tip! I love Parme­san, and I mean real Ital­ian Parmi­giano Reg­giano, not that hor­rid pow­dered stuff from a jar. It packs won­der­ful fla­vor and salti­ness in a tiny quan­tity, which means you can go easy on the cheese and save your calories.

Speak­ing of calo­ries… I look at my newly plump thighs and think… WTF?! What’s next, reverse biceps?? It’s like you turn 30, and your body says, “okay, now we make FAT.” It’s not for the lack of try­ing. I gen­uinely gave the gym a go in Decem­ber (6 times!!), but it’s some­thing that seems so unnat­ural that I freakin gave up! I can’t wait for hik­ing sea­son to start, and it’s warm enough now that I take my dog for longer walks with­out her mak­ing a scene and cow­er­ing under the bed. Con­tinue Read­ing…

Easy Zucchini Bake Casserole | canuckcuisine.comIf you’re going to have left­overs, warm them up again in the oven, don’t microwave — it will get soggy and lose that nice crust.

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Easy Zuc­chini Bake Casserole
Author:
Cui­sine: Ital­ian
Serves: 6
Ingre­di­ents
  • 1 tbs but­ter for greas­ing the pan
  • 3 medium zuc­chini, shredded
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • black pep­per, to taste
  • ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • A wedge of Parme­san cheese, to taste
Instruc­tions
  1. Pre­heat the oven to 375F.
  2. Grease an 8x11 inch bak­ing pan with but­ter. Tip over the con­tainer with shred­ded zuc­chini, and strain excess liq­uid. Add the egg and egg white, and use a cheese grater to grate about 1 tbs of Parme­san into the zuc­chini mix. Com­bine the mix­ture and sea­son with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour the mix­ture into the bak­ing pan and spread it out evenly. Sprin­kle with the bread­crumbs, and grate Parme­san cheese on top. When done, use a rub­ber spat­ula to gen­tly press in the mix­ture, so that the bread crumbs absorb the liquid.
  4. Cover the bak­ing pan with alu­minum foil, and bake for 25 min­utes, or until puffed up and bub­bly. Uncover, and bake for a fur­ther 10 – 15 min­utes, or until golden. Serve immediately.

Molten Dark Chocolate Pots

Who says we can’t indulge a lit­tle and improve our health at the same time? These Molten Dark Choco­late Pots are the sim­plest choco­late lover’s treat, EVER. Don’t fear dark choco­late — it’s far health­ier than its fatty and sug­ary milk choco­late cousins, and packed full of antiox­i­dants and slow-​releasing energy. Eaten in mod­er­a­tion, dark choco­late is a healthy part of a bal­anced diet. Best news is, you can whip up this dessert in less than 5 min­utes. A splash of Amaretto and lick­ing out of the pot are entirely optional, but I’m not gonna judge!

Molten Dark Chocolate PotsMy choco­late adven­ture started after I got a hold of the Grenada Choco­late Com­pany, and asked if they’d be will­ing to send me sam­ples for a post. I was dying to try their fair-​trade organic choco­late after see­ing a doc­u­men­tary about this tiny solar-​powered choco­late fac­tory in the Caribbean. I was in luck, and before I knew it, the choco­late was on my frigid Cana­dian doorstep.

Con­tinue Reading…

Cocoa beans are often sold in bulk and exported for pro­cess­ing and by mak­ing choco­late bars (think Swiss choco­late), which have a much higher value than beans alone. In the case of the Grenada Choco­late Com­pany, the beans are con­verted right on the island, and max­i­mum value is retained by the com­mu­nity that grows and makes the choco­late. Each bar of choco­late is hand-​produced and wrapped, and it was a plea­sure to sam­ple them.

Molten Dark Chocolate PotsThe taste? Well, what can you say. I had to hide the remain­ing two bars, oth­er­wise I’d eat them whole. This is hand-​wrapped organic choco­late — and the unique char­ac­ter was notice­able (tast­ing choco­late — isn’t that like a dream job?) The 71% and “Nib-​A-​licius” bars had an intensely rich, bit­ter­sweet cocoa taste, with the 60% blend tast­ing slightly sweeter. The tex­ture of all 3 bars felt a bit firmer than com­mer­cially bought dark choco­late, and I noticed that the bars them­selves were thicker, too. I’m guess­ing that deeper molds are used to set the choco­late and make them that much more unique.

I really enjoy the slightly bit­ter char­ac­ter of dark choco­late, so I didn’t add any sugar to my recipe. If this is your first foray into the world of dark choco­late, how­ever, you can add and dis­solve a bit of honey after melt­ing the choco­late to sweeten things up.

Molten Dark Chocolate PotsThat’s cocoa beans from the co-​op farms in Grenada. I wish I had that tree in my yard…!

Grab a spoon and eat the molten choco­late while it’s still warm and gooey, oth­er­wise it will begin to set, espe­cially if refrig­er­ated. The fair amount of milk we use in this recipe also makes the con­sis­tency great for dip­ping — grill some bananas, or try dip­ping straw­ber­ries, or apple slices… but I warn you that it’s easy to eat a whole choco­late bar this way!

Molten Dark Chocolate Pots | canuckcuisine.comYou can order fair-​trade organic choco­late, and read a bit more about the Grenada Choco­late Com­pany on their web­site, or stop by their Face­book page. For more infor­ma­tion regard­ing order­ing the Grenada Choco­late prod­ucts, con­tact Jes­sica. Indi­vid­ual and bulk com­mer­cial ship­ments are available.

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Molten Dark Choco­late Pots
Author:
Ingre­di­ents
  • 1 bar of dark choco­late (60%)
  • ¾ — 1 cup of very warm milk
  • optional: 1tbs Amaretto liqueur
Instruc­tions
  1. Break up the choco­late bar and place in a medium saucepan. Set the heat to the low­est set­ting, and use a rub­ber spat­ula to gen­tly coax the choco­late around as it begins to melt. Don’t over stir, and be care­ful not to over­heat the choco­late, as it will cause it to to become dry and crumbly in texture.
  2. When the choco­late is melted, slowly and grad­u­ally pour in the warm milk, mix­ing with the rub­ber spat­ula, until blended in. It is impor­tant to add grad­u­ally, and only use warmed up milk, as the choco­late may “seize” and turn dry oth­er­wise. Add ¾ of the cup at first, and if the mix­ture still feels too thick, add more milk until desired consistency.
  3. Add a splash of Amaretto to fin­ish, and mix to incor­po­rate. Pour into small cups, or a dip­ping bowl when fin­ished and serve immediately.

- Dis­clo­sure: I received 3 sam­ples of choco­late bars free of charge, and paid for my own ship­ping. I was under no oblig­a­tion to write this post, and all opin­ions are my own. -