Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hand Me a Pie

I love getting fresh garden treats from our CSA at Almost Urban farms. Even though I do silly things like plant my own zucchini, beans, and potatoes and at times get overwhelmed with too much of a good thing, I still love it.  Some times I feel inundated with the dark leafy greens....there I said it. I love garden fresh veggies, but get tired of kale, Swiss chard, lovage, beet greens, and even plain old lettuce.  I'm not a huge salad lover.  The Boy loves sautéed greens and creamed greens but Hubby isn't a fan of cooked greens.  I like them mixed in with salads, but I can only eat so much salad.

What is a girl to do? Well, first off, I'm always on the hunt for new ideas, second, I seem to have a back log of magazines with recipes in them....soooooo it is that I happened upon a recipe for Kale and Spinach hand pies in the January 2013 edition of Chatelaine magazine.  It is a spanokopita inspired hand pie with feta using a pastry dough instead of phyllo. Of course I didn't follow the I ever? 

Greens and spinach hand pies 

1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, cold and cubed

Break out the food processor for this one.  Give the cottage cheese and egg yolk a whir with the blade.

Add the flour, salt, and butter.

Pulse until a ball forms.

Divide into 2 even portions, roll into rectangles, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about 1 1/2 hours.  This is a soft and squishy type of dough. You should still see tasty bits of butter through out it.

While the dough is getting its chill on, heat up a large skillet and wash up some dark leafy greens and get your ingredients ready. This time I used:

A handful of kale
A bunch of Swiss chard
Beet greens from 5 or 6 medium sized beets
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
A healthy grating of nutmeg
2 tsp chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup feta, crumbled

Wash your greens how ever you normally wash your greens, remove any large and tough ribs from the greens. Chop them all up into bite size pieces. (I hate biting into something and having a long string of greens pull the rest of the filling out.)

Sauté the onion until soft (some garlic would be a great idea here too!)

Add in the hot pepper flakes, greens, and grate in the nutmeg.

Continue to sauté until the green are wilted.  Set aside to cool.

Once cool, drain any excess liquid and stir in the feta.

Now you are ready to rock n roll and assemble.

Pre heat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

The amount of dough should get you 10 rectangles approximately 6" x 5", give or take.  Mine never turn out the same size.

Lightly flour the counter and roll out the dough and cut into 10 somewhat even rectangles.

Divide your greens into 10 somewhat even portions.

Scoop 1 portion of greens onto the middle of each rectangle and fold the pastry in half (short end to short end) to enclose the deliciousness inside pressing to seal the edges. Crimping with a fork makes a nice pretty edge....

Brush the tops with an egg wash and use just the tip of a sharp knife to puncture the tops of the pies to vent the steam.

Pop into the oven and bake. For about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

These were wonderful!  The pastry was flakey and easy to work with.  The Boy enjoyed leftovers direct from the fridge when he came home from work, or before work, or before bedtime....

Until next time, stay warm and eat well.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bacon and Beans

Garden season is in full swing. Not only are we getting fantastic veggies from our CSA, I harvested my first ripe tomato from my own garden today and everyday brings in more handfuls of beans.  Today it was the purple pole beans.  They are gorgeous!  Now beans are great for munching on straight from the garden, in fact I watched my friend's 5 year old daughter pack away a bunch of the beans I brought over the other day.  That's how you know they are tasty! There are many ways to prepare fresh beans, that s if they make it in from the garden....

A while back I tried a side dish at a restaurant that was called 'firecracker beans'.  It was basically over cooked beans with limp bacon and no spice....not too appealing.


Tonight I decided to make my own firecracker beans and boy oh boy were they tasty. There really wasn't too much to it.  My bacon was in the freezer and since I've been doing quite a bit of cooking with it, I unwrapped it and hacked of the end, sliced it up and tossed it in the pan. 

2 slices bacon, sliced
1 big handful of beans
1/2 to 1 tsp hot pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
A large fry pan

 Once the bacon is close to crisp, pop in a good pinch of hot pepper flakes. (If your bacon has left lots of grease, drain enough grease to leave about a tablespoon) Use up to a teaspoon, depending on how spicy you like it.
  Let the flakes heat up a little and add the beans. Sauté the beans for no more than 3 minutes.  You want the beans to still have some snap and not get soggy.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Eat the beans.

Until next time, stay warm and eat well!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Quinoa Salad is Berry-licious!


I really have no excuse for not posting too regularly except for the fact that I have been enjoying some much needed alone time.  How is this you ask? For one, I am on holidays from work until September.  Two, Hubby has been working during the day, as per usual. Three, the Boy is on a fantastic Me to We adventure in Ecuador building a school, playing games with kids, and having a blast. (He's a keeper!)

Not to brag too much, but I have been sleeping in, watching Netflix, and hanging out in the garden.  Nothing too exciting but seems to be just what I needed.  That being said, many apologies if I haven't kept in touch. I must also admit to spending a good amount of time browsing Pinterest.  I love seeing the ideas and thing people come up with and sometimes it inspires my own thought processes.

I found some salads featuring quinoa and berries.  The dressings didn't seem to appeal to me so I figured honey and lime always go well with berries and boom....there you have it. 

Berry Quinoa Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

4 cups mixed berries 
    - I used a mixture of blueberries, cherries, raspberries, and strawberries
1/2 cup un cooked quinoa
1 cup water
Slivered almonds, toast almonds in a dry pan until slightly golden and allow to cool.

Honey lime dressing

1/4 cup lime juice
2 tbsp honey
3 tbsp oil (use a neutral tasting oil such as canola)
Pinch of salt

Combine the quinoa and water in a pot.  Bring to a boil, slap a lid on it, reduce the temperature to low and set the timer for 15 minutes.  When the timer dings, take it off the heat, fluff it with a fork and set it aside to cool.

Wash and dry the berries, cut up the strawberries, pit and halve the cherries, and put it all to the side.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake it until everything is combined. Give the dressing a taste to see if it needs more honey, or lime, or salt.

Once the quinoa is cooled, combine it with the berries, almonds, and the dressing. Chill until serving time.

This salad was divine....Hubby gave it rave reviews!

Until next time, stay warm and eat well.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Supper Central: Meal Assembly 101

Oh my, have things been busy around here.  The Boy graduated high school!!  There was convocation, a dinner and a dance, a limo full of teenagers.... Now that graduation things are over, we had to get the Boy registered for University classes in the fall!  By the way, he earned himself an entrance scholarship!  The last of our excitement is underway as way as well:  the Boy leaves for his Me to We trip to Ecuador!  Wow!

 A while back I had the opportunity to check out Supper Central.  They had teamed up with the Manitoba Chicken Producers to sponsor a meal prep gathering. I had heard about this place but had never been. Supper central is a dinner assembly kitchen. You order your meals, set a day and time to go in, and rotate through the statio stations assembling meals. Here's the neat part: they do all the prep AND the clean up! What's not to love? At the end of the evening you leave with your meals, each one neatly packed in a big zip top bag complete with meat, grain or pasta, and veggie.

Packing your meal couldn't be easier. Rice and pasta are pre measured into baggies, meats are already portioned out into another baggie....seriously.  All you need to do is follow the recipe instructions they provide to add marinade ingredients to the meat, smoosh it up, reseal it and put it into the larger zip top bag.  Now grab your grain or pasta, toss that in, and assemble your last part.  On this meal that was the mango salsa.  In another meal, it was grabbing a Baggie of frozen green beans and adding honey and soy.

As you assemble your meals you can adjust seasonings to your family's liking, we like spicy so I added extra spices accordingly. Supper Central will also provide you with a handy prep card with instructions on how to prepare your meal.

Meals come together quickly and easily. For a busy family or couple, this is a fabulous dinner option.  The chicken and mango salsa were tasty and came together quickly with a quick grill of the chicken, boil the rice and thaw the mango salsa. Everyone in the house enjoyed it.  We got 5 chicken breast with the 'full size' meal. The pieces were quite smaller than I would normally buy when grocery shopping but if you are feeding smaller kids, they are a good size. If you are feeding a giant teen boy, there most likely want be leftovers.

The Quick and Easy:

I am in love with the concept of supper central and will most likely make use of them during busy times. They are organized, clean, and they do the work for you.  The meals are tasty and well thought out as well.

Supper Central is allergy aware with nut free stations, gluten free options and the like.  

They have plenty of single meals pre frozen to store in your freezer and which are great options for singles or people who aren't able to cook.

Supper Central offers a packing service where they will assemble your meals and all you need to do is to pick them up.

If their meals seem pricey, think about the time component. All the chopping and cleaning pins done for you. You just show up and assemble.

Definitely worth checking out.

Until next time, stay warm and eat well.

Please note that I assembled 2 meals at Supper Central which were generously provided to those in attendance by Manitoba Chicken Producers. Thank you for the opportunity to try out meal assembly. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Fair to Remember

The Red River Exhibition is on and boy, has the Ex ever changed since I was a kid! I must confess to not having been the Ex for quite sometime now. Probably about 10 years or so. What I remember from when I was a kid is the Ex always being set up in the Polo Park area around the old stadium and the old arena. It was always so much fun to walk around and play those carnival games, even though Mom always warned us those games were fixed, stand in line to get on the rides that will make you dizzy, and try some of that carnival food!

Nowadays, the Ex has a larger site on the west side of the city and so much more has been added. More games, more rides, more family activities, and more food. Food is what I am going to talk about. 

Monday evening the Boy, Hubby, and I ventured out to see what the Ex has to offer.  We were quite surprised at the variety of foods offered. It really isn't just corn dogs and candy floss anymore.  I highly suggest you do a full walk about before committing to a food choice. The concessions are spread out throughout the park and some concessions offer the same food item, but have a different take or recipe. (Also, if planning on partaking in the rides, ride first, eat later...)

Now, on with the food!

As I said before, take the full tour first. The 3 of us walked around, took in the sights and smells, and marvelled at a few of the vomit inducing rides.  We had 6 coupons to spend on any concession item we wanted. I enforced the sharing with your favourite food blogger law to make sure we all got to taste a little bit of everything.

This could be best expressed with the help of photos...

My memories of Ex food:

Corn dogs, candy floss, and snow cones..

Some of the food offerings this year:

Some of what we ate:  

Chipstix: fried potato on a stick. I was expecting this to be crispy  but was merely a soft, greasy fried potato on a stick. You do get to choose the sprinkle flavour of you choice, but this was a disappointment.

Souvlaki Skewers with chicken, lamb, and beef, all in the same pita! This was fabulous. All the meats were cooked just right and had all the Greek flavouring you would expect. The tzaziki was garlicky and delicious.

Tacos from Yo Quiero Tacos Tacos Tacos. Hubby ordered a trio of shredded beef tacos and the boys at the truck loaded them up with everything. They were messy and wonderful.  

Hubby here!  These tacos were awesome - nicely cooked meat, a hint of spice, cilantro, tasty tortillas and fresh vegis.  I would recommend these if you are a fan of Mexican food.  For me, they could have used more heat, but I recognize that what is spicy for most people barely registers for me.  Sadly, Yo Quiero is a native of Vancouver, but if you are out that way, find them and enjoy some mouthwatering Mexican cuisine.

Poutine from the Poutine King topped with bacon, mushrooms, green peppers, and green onions. (It was called the Canadian).  The fries were perfectly cooked on the outside and soft on the inside. The variety of different toppings offered was interesting.

Some more food we ate:

Deep fried foods are their own food group which happens to include Oreos, pickles, and mini donuts.

The pickles had a nicely spiced batter that had some dill and red pepper flakes in it. They were tasty and great for sharing.

Deep fried Oreos.....these are a must try. You will get 5 in your order and you will need to share. They are Rich, chocolatey, and have a hint of cinnamon.

Mini donuts. Freshly fried and coated in cinnamon sugar. Enough said.

I must not forget to mention the chocolate covered bacon... Or the free concert that happens every night.

The Boy thought the chocolate covered bacon was quite amazing. I felt it needed to be a better quality/tasting bacon for it to work better.

The quick and easy:

Parking at the Exhibition grounds will cost you 5$, so if you drive, be prepared for that.  City transit also makes regular runs out there.

Entrance to the park will cost 13$/person with children under 6 getting in for free.

Ride tickets bought on site run 1$/ticket with some price breaks on larger quantities.  Rides tend to be about 5 tickets each.
Ride all you want wristbands can be purchased for 45$, which, if you plan on riding a lot,  is a good deal.

Food costs vary and depend on what you order. There are many items in the 5$ range for quick snacks and sharing but you will also find items upwards of 10$ or more.  Have a look around.

Bottom line: bring money but plan out your time there. With so much to do and see, it will be easy to spend your money before the night is done.

Now don't get me wrong, once in the park there are some free things to go see. Entertainment such as  the lumber jack competition, concerts, animals and agriculture events, and so on.

The Ex also offers free admission during of small windows of time.  Check out their website for more info and entertainment line ups.

All in all, we were well fed and entertained while at the Red River Exhibition. It was a nice evening out for the three of us.

Until next time, stay warm and eat well.

Please note that while our evening at the Ex was generously donated to us, it has no bearing on our opinions regarding quality and taste.