Grilled Vegetables


fresh

It doesn’t get any easier than this:  no recipe required!

Chop up whatever vegetables you like, mix with a dressing, or even just plain oil for the purists,  throw it all in a BBQ wok, and toss frequently.  There  are no rules (though I do recommend a bit of oil, that’s not even necessary!)

I use this basic balsamic dressing.

 

Here’s how it looks done!

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Easiest Alfredo Sauce

Alfredo plus shrimp

I love a good fresh tomato sauce, but this Alfredo is such an easy go-to meal in a pinch, with most of the ingredients already in the house.

Ingredients
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
  • Extra Special Addition:  Shrimp!

Alfredo

Directions
  • Melt butter over medium heat.
  • Whisk in flour, and cook, whisking for about 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn.
  • Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Add milk slowly, about 1/2 cup at a time, and gradually turn up the heat to a boil.  Whisk almost constantly. so it doesn’t burn.  You will see the sauce begin to thicken, if not, you probably need more heat.
  • Once it is noticeably thicker, remove from heat and add parmesan.

Pour over any kind of cooked pasta.  Alfredo sauce is generally considered best for fettuccine noodles, but you’ll be happy using it with spaghetti, rotini or penne.

Switch or Ditch
  • add Home Roasted Peppers
  • 1 or 2 cloves of fresh garlic can be used instead of garlic powder
  • I grilled the shrimp on the bbq with butter and fresh garlic
  • Grilled peppers and/or chicken are also excellent additions to this dish
  • Fresh or dried herbs are also easy to add, parsley, basil, oregano

 

 

 

Bruschett-za

 

bruschetzza 2My family has a love for food that contains any combination of fresh basil, feta cheese and balsamic vinegar.  This week for dinner, along with salmon on the bbq, I made what has been dubbed “bruschett-za” in our household.

The version that I made was very, very simple, and there are many additions that can be, and probably will be made next time.

I made 2 bruchettzas for 3 people.

What you will need:
  • 2 small tortilla shells
  • 1/2 pint chopped grape tomatoes (next time i will use romas  and cut out the seeds to decrease extra liquid…our bruschttzas were a little tomato-soggy)
  • balsamic vinegar reduction OR balsamic straight out of the bottle (see note below
  • olive oil
  • chopped basil, about 1/4 cup
  • crumbled feta cheese, about 1/4 cupbruschettza

Start by lightly brushing the shells with oil.  Place them in the oven set to broil for about 5 minutes. (When I use broil, I usually put the racks down on the second rack, so it takes longer to burn if i forget about it…which, sadly, is often.)

b-zza with balsamic

Next, distribute the chopped tomatoes, basil, crumbled feta, then drizzle with the reduced balsamic.  (I could have done a better job with the drizzling!) Place back under (but not directly under) the broiler and check often.  You will probably notice the edges brown sooner than the middle.

Transfer onto a cutting board, cut into four or six pieces, and serve.

Why reduce the balsamic?

I use balsamic vinegar straight out of the bottle for many things, but I find, especially when cooking tomatoes, anything that can cut down on the excess liquid, goes a long way in maintaining the flavour, rather than “watering” it down.  When balsamic is reduced, it has a thicker consistency, and more intense (ie. yummy) flavour.

Switch or Ditch
  • sun dried tomatoes
  • black olives
  • onions
  • pesto, as the “pizza” sauce
  • …all of the above!

 

 

Anytime Bars

squares

Fruit, protein and grains, portable and tasty, these bars are great for on-the-run in the morning, or as a snack with a coffee or tea a little later.

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 mashed bananas
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions
  • Pre heat oven to 350 F.  Grease or line a 8 X 8 baking pan
  • combine butter, brown sugar and bananas.
  • Stir in vanilla, then add peanut butter
  • Add baking soda and oatmeal, mix, then add chocolate chips.
  • Mix until well combined.
  • scoop into the pan, spread/pat until flat, and bake for 30-35 minutes
  • cool, then cut into squares
Switch or Ditch
  • The entire amount of butter/peanut butter is 1 cup…I tried cutting the butter and using only peanut butter, but would recommend the 1/4 butter, 3/4 peanut butter split.
  • I use a baking stone, and parchment paper.  Then flip the baked “square” onto a cutting board then cut into pieces
  • Chocolate chips can be semi-sweet, milk chocolate, white chocolate. whatever you like and would enjoy with the banana flavour

breakfast bars

Recipe adapted from food.com

 

 

Preparing Your Own Beans

Trust me…It’s.  So.  Easy. beans

I do my best to avoid using canned goods. I find it’s impossible to completely avoid them, and they are so amazingly convenient, but if I organize myself properly, I can prepare a load throughout the day when I’m not even home.   Freezing them, them pulling them out of the freezer for next time is certainly no more trouble than opening a can.

What’s great about preparing your own beans?

  • although canned beans aren’t expensive, the base price is cheaper to prepare dry beans yourself.  I have not calculated the hydro it takes to cook your own, but pre-soaking, before cooking them with whichever method you choose, drastically cuts down on cooking time
  • no risk of bpa from the inside lining of the cans!  (see link below for more information)
  • Since beans EXPAND when soaked and cooked, a bag of beans is way easier to transport, store, and requires way less packaging than multiple cans

These are kidney beans I used for Chili…I often use this method for pinto beans, to use for “refried” beans.

First, rinse the beans:

beans

Next, enter my 26-year-old Crock Pot! (or slow cooker, or whatever it’s called)

For my size crock pot, I use about 3 cups of dried beans, then fill to (almost) the top with water.  I recommend staying home the first time you do this…you want to be sure that the water does not boil dry.

beans in pot

I might leave them on low for 8 hours, or high for about 5.  I start testing them, usually after about 5 hours to see how soft they are.

Once they’re done, I rinse and measure them, then either use or freeze.

Interested in learning more about BPA?  Read what he Canadian Cancer Society says about the risks of, and how to avoid Bisphenol A (BPA)

 

Chili with Ground Chicken

This easy, exceptionally yummy recipechili ingredients

 is a family favourite…but it  wasn’t always! Can you imagine, trying to feed small children kidney beans, peppers and (blech) dill!

I first tasted this when my mom made it, and it was such a tasty treat, considering that drab food we had become accustomed to eating with little kids. The kids picked at theirs, and I gobbled mine, with abandon.  I made it a few times and cut anything spicy, but still, the kids would not eat it.

Now, when I make it, and we all (gloriously) enjoy it…seems rather civilized and adult-like, really!

I made it this week and took some pictures. Once again, if i can do it, you sure can too!

Chili With Lean Ground Beef (or Chicken)

chili

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or chicken
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or dehydrated garlic, or garlic powder)
  • 1 sweet green pepper, chopped
  • 1 sweet red pepper chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes (28 oz/796 ml)
  • 1 can red kidney beans (10 oz, 540 ml) I used frozen, previously prepared beans
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill or parsley
  • 1/2 cup apple juice (or apple sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped jalapeno pepper or 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

 

  • In a large saucepan, heat oil and brown the beef or chicken
  • Make a well and add onions, garlic, peppers and celery
  • sauté until the onions are translucent
  • Stir in tomatoes, kidney beans, dill, apple juice, chili powder, salt and pepper and tomato paste.
  • Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.

You can either follow the recipe above, follow mine below, or use both as a base, and do what your heart desires!

Switch or Ditch:

  • I almost always use ground chicken for chili and spaghetti sauce
  • I didn’t have green pepper, so I used one red and one orange sweet pepper
  • did not use jalapeño or hot sauce…my husband and I always add extra chili pepper to our own bowls
  • sadly, I didn’t have fresh garlic, so I used dehydrated
  • also did not have celery
  • no apple juice, so i scooped in a bit of jarred apple sauce, though it didn’t really change the flavour much.  I think it sweetness is meant to decrease the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • I had frozen kidney beans, so I did not use canned (learn how very easy it is to prepare your own beans)