Archive | December, 2011

1 Dish 2 Spoons: Dips

30 Dec

‘Tis the season for entertaining!  And even if you’re not the one hosting, many people like to bring a dish as a contribution to dinner.  Dips are guaranteed crowd pleasers, especially when you serve them with a variety of dippers, such as cut up vegetables, pita wedges, or crackers.  The only problem is that most dips are laden with cream, cheese, mayonnaise, and other hidden ingredients that, sure, may taste good, but don’t mesh at all with your goal of not gaining any weight over the holidays.  Here are our healthy variations on everybody’s favourite snack:

Tess’ Take

I’m getting a bit too predictable.  The first two places I look for recipes are Oh She Glows and Martha Stewart.  It should come as no surprise then to our regular readers that today’s post comes from Ms. Stewart: Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip. Now, I’ll be honest and say that this does require a bit of labour, but I promise you it’s worth it!!  This was the best dip I’ve had in quite a while.  I could really taste the toasty bread and walnuts, and the lemon juice and balsamic gave it a nice tang.  I was supposed to bring some of this to Jess’ NYE party tomorrow, but I’m afraid it may not survive that long…. sorry Jess!!

Ingredients

  • 3 red bell peppers, halved and seeds removed (I didn’t have enough red peppers, so I used half red and half orange)
  • One 6-inch pita bread (or, if you forgot to buy your pita bread like I did, use some whole wheat sandwich bread instead)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 4 ounces walnut pieces, plus a bit more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Directions
1. Broil the peppers until charred.  Meanwhile, toast the walnuts and bread (until golden and crispy).
2. Set the peppers aside in a bowl and cover with saran wrap.  Leave them for 15 minutes.  Tear the pita (or sandwich) bread into 2 inch pieces.  Place in a bowl and cover with the water.  Let them soak for a few minutes until soft.
3. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the walnuts and garlic and process until the mixture is crumby.

My brand new food processor! This was a Christmas gift from my mom. I can't wait to really put this baby to the test!

4. By now it’ll be time to take the bread out from the water.  Transfer it to a sieve (or strainer) and press out the excess liquid.  Once you’re done that, remove the skins from the red peppers (you can discard the skins).

Notice Zuhri in the background, begging for food as usual. Hey, he didn't get to be a big strong dog by not eating his veggies!

5. Add the bread, peppers, paprika and cumin to the food processor and blend until smooth.  Add in the vinegar, lemon juice, oil, s&p and pulse until combined.
6. Transfer mixture to a bowl and refrigerate (covered) for 1 hour.  Ideally, you should let this sit for a whole day before serving as the flavors will blend together better.  I definitely can’t wait a whole day to eat this, so you’ll just have to try it for yourselves!

Jess’ Take

I discovered this dip quite accidentally when I was trying to use up some white beans I had in the fridge.

Combining the flavours of bean dip with guacamole, it also packs a nice protein punch making it ideal as a spread, dip or addition to your salad.

This is a quick and easy dip to prepare using very few ingredients, so it’s perfect for those last minute guests that happened to drop in.  Or for any of you entertaining on NYE, a great healthy appetizer 😉

Ingredients:

½ can white kidney beans

1 ripe avocao

Juice of 1 lime

½ tsp Herbamare

¼ tsp dried garlic

¼ tsp ground coriander

Directions

Put all your ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve with some cut up veggies.

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Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

29 Dec

I’m back, and I have pictures!  Christmas at the Grise residence was very low-key and chill.  I always love going home and visiting my mom and sisters.  Not just for the visiting, but also for the food!  My mom loves to experiment, and my sisters love to bake.  And of course, we all love to EAT!

The Grise clan at half force

Kim's first attempt at Red Velvet Cake. Considering this was her first shot and it was amazing, I can't even wrap my head around how good it's going to be with some practice!

John being silly with the puppy

Though, I can’t say our dogs felt as relaxed as we did.  My sister had brought up her dog as well, and those two played almost non-stop all week.  Except for the odd mid-day nap 😉

All tuckered out

The following dish was adapted from Angela’s recipe.  I didn’t change much except that I swapped the brown sugar for stevia, and omitted the butter altogether.  I don’t know what her version tastes like, but this one was pretty dang good, and has since become my #1 favourite breakfast meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup water (or low fat milk of choice)
  • 1/2-1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt & nutmeg, to taste
  • 1/2 cup packed finely grated zucchini
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds or ground flax
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • 2 tbsp chopped pecans (I maybe walnuts or almonds)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions:
1. Add water/milk, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, vanilla, and oats to a pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer for a few minutes, until most (but not all) of the liquid is absorbed.
2. Add zucchini, chia/flax, raisins, and half the pecans.  Cook for another 5-6 minutes.  You may need to add more liquid, depending on the consistency you prefer.
4. Serve with remaining pecans for garnish.
I sweetened mine with stevia, but you could also try sucanat, honey, or even pure maple syrup.  I’ve also tried this recipe with grated carrots instead of zucchini to make a carrot bread version, and it turned out very well!  The only difference is that you have to cook your carrots a bit longer.
 -Tess


Halfway Point

26 Dec

Ok people, we’re halfway through the Holidays.  If you’ve been good so far about resisting all the “naughty” foods, then good for you!  Don’t let up now.  It’d be a shame to let all that hard work go to waste!  And if you slipped and have maybe put on a couple pounds, then it’s still not too late to turn things around; don’t wait until New Years to start your resolution.  Go for a walk tonight, drink some water, then start tomorrow anew. 

One big celebration down, and one to go!  You can do it!

-Tess

15 Holiday Questions from Tess and Jess

25 Dec

We recently saw this post by the lovely Chelsey and thought we’d each answer these questions, too.

From our kitchens to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the best for the New Year.

Love,
Tess and Jess xo

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

Jess: Oh they are definitely wrapped, but funny you mention because the wrapping paper Santa uses is the same as the wrapping paper from my parents… wait… !

Tess: Wrapped.  Because if they weren’t it’d be too obvious which were from your parents and which were from Santa!

Colored lights on tree/house or white?

Jess: I always liked the multi-coloured lights, they add some festive flair to the tree.

Tess: Coloured.  The blue themed ones are the best.

Do you hang mistletoe?

Jess: No.

Tess: Where does one even find mistletoe? 

What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

Jess: When I was a kid, it was definitely mashed potatoes.  I LOVED mashed potatoes.  Now, it’s probably the Squash with Wild Rice stuffing I posted about earlier.

Tess: Ooooh, it’s a three-way tie.  1) shrimp rings, 2) escargot, 3) green beans with slivered almonds.  The first two may seem like an odd Christmas dish, but they’re tradition in my house 🙂

Favorite Holiday memory as a child?

Jess: Before my Grandma passed away, I used to go to her house and help her decorate sugar cookies.  It was a special little tradition we used to share together that I hope I’ll get to do someday when I have grandkids. (In the really far future!!!)

Tess: Awww Jess, that’s a sweet one!   My favourite memory is going to midnight mass.  We’re practicing Catholics, so going to mass was something we did every week anyways, but we always got especially dressed up for it, the lights in the church would be dimmed, and the music was extra beautiful on Christmas.  To me, it’s not Christmas until I’ve been to mass.

Snow? Love it or dread it?

Jess: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!   Actually can the damn snow hurry up and get here already, I would really like to go skiing. Thanks.

Snow, dammit!

Tess: My opinion on snow is that  if you hate it so much, then move to a warmer climate!  Otherwise, I love the look of a white landscape and smell of the crisp air.  Nothing is cozier than snuggling in front of the window and watching the snow fall.

Real tree or fake tree?

Jess: I’ll be honest and admit that I currently have this teeny tiny fake tree occupying the living room of my apartment.

It was a housewarming gift from my parents a couple of years ago.  However, I definitely prefer real trees. The look, feel, and smell of them, is just so much more festive than a fake tree.

Tess: Real.  The smell of fresh pine add an extra dimention to the Christmas decor in a home.  I’m proud to say that I have chopped and hauled my own tree on more than one occasion 🙂

What’s the most important thing about Christmas for you?

Jess: Definitely it’s about spending time with my family.  Living 6 hours away from them, I can’t see them whenever I want.  So to me, the holidays are a time when we are able to relax and spend some time together at the cottage.

With our barn

Tess:  PRESENTS!  I mean……. in all seriousness though, I think the most important part about Christmas is giving thanks to God for everything he’s given us – our family, our lives, our food, our homes, and our incredible good fortune.  Even if you don’t pray to the Christian God (or maybe no god at all), it’s important to take the time we’ve been given off of work to really enjoy everything we have, and reflect on how we’ve gotten here.

What is your favorite Holiday dessert?

Jess: No contest, Nanaimo Bars.  Pretty sure my younger brother and I have gone through about 20 of these babies in the past 3 days.  It’s a good thing I’m running every day!!

Tess: My mom makes these things called Beaver Dams.  They’r like little drops made out of Chow Mein noodles and peanuts, with melted chocolate and butterscotch chipits binding them together. 

What is your favorite tradition?

Jess: My family always insists on making these god-awful Christmas crackers with ridiculous tissue-paper hats.  It is mandatory that you wear them throughout Christmas dinner.

Another tradition is my Mom will make a delicious scone a few days before Christmas.  On Christmas morning, she’ll heat it up and serve it with jam and Devonshire or clotted cream- so good! If you’re all nice, I’ll see if Mom will let me post up the recipe 😉

Tess:  Bahaha, Jess we have the same little hats at our place!  I actually like them though lol.  We always got to open one gift on Christmas Eve after midnight mass.  That one gift was almost always a box of cereal, which we would eat the following morning while opening the rest of our presents.

What tops your tree?

Jess: On my tree in my apartment, this tiny little star I picked up from the Dollar store.  At the cottage, we have a star also, but it likes to lean over at times- too much eggnog.

Tess: We have the oldest, tackiest star you have ever seen on our fake tree.  I think it’s made out of tinsel.  We’ve had it for as long as I can remember though, so we love it all the same.

What is your favorite Christmas Song?

Jess: Bing Crosby’s version of The Christmas Song, or Baby It’s Cold Outside

Tess: Oh Holy Night, by anyone who can hit the high note.  Celine Dion does a good version.

What do you leave for Santa?

Jess: We used to leave cookies with milk and some carrots for Rudolph.

Tess: I thought everybody left the same things?

Do you have a Christmas morning tradition?

Jess: When we were kids, my brother and I would go and bring up the stockings to my parents’ bedroom and we’d open our stocking stuffers there.  10 minutes later, we’d go down and open the rest of the presents.

Now, we open everything up in the living room, starting with our very mature stocking stuffers:

Tess: Aside from eating our Christmas cereal, our tradition involved impatiently waiting for dad to finally be awake to open presents.   Again, I think everybody has similar “traditions” here, no?

Do you prefer to shop on-line or at the mall?

Jess: I’ll do a combination, and now that I work for a clothing company a lot of my Christmas shopping gets done at work.  If I do hit downtown or the mall, I try and go in November to avoid the rush.  I cannot stand crowds and get fed up with stupid people.  You know, the ones that come out in droves during the holidays?  Ah well, ’tis the season!

Tess: I’m a tactile shopper, and I like to actually visualize the recipient holding the gift, so I shop at the mall.  Plus I don’t have a credit card.

Jess: Joyeux Noël from my family to yours!

Tess:

1 Dish 2 Spoons: Salad

23 Dec

Tess and Jess show you some healthy salads to keep you balanced during the holidays 🙂

Jess’ Take:

I’ll admit it: I’ve been feeling a teensy-tiny bit guilty over the fact that I’ve been broadcasting only sweets and unhealth(ier) dishes these past few posts.

What can I say? I’m not perfect and I don’t spend my days eating nothing but tofu and kale.  Well, sometimes I do, but then I’ll feel guilty for that and eat 3 or 10, cookies.

It’s a vicious, vicious cycle I tell you.

So after my last few postings, I figured it would be fun to show you all my “healthier” side to eating since you’re probably tempted enough as it is by the office pot-lucks and Mom’s famous shortbread. Thus this week’s edition of 1D2S was born. Oh, and Tess makes some truly killer salads so really, it’s a win-win for you guys.

Kale salads have sort of become my “go-to” dish whenever I feel the need to pack a punch of greens into my diet, especially in the winter where warm kale salads rock.  Seriously- who wants to mow down on a cold salad when it’s -20 outside?

This version utilizes some root veggies I had in the fridge that were begging to be used up:

After this dish, I am pleased to announce that was the last of the parsnips. Well, until I buy another bag anyway.

For my protein, I decided to use some tofu, but for you non-vegetarians, grilled chicken would work nicely or use some white beans if you want to stay away from the soy.

The key to making good tofu is to press the excess liquid out. Tofu acts like a sponge, so when you press the liquid out, it naturally wants to absorb the flavours you give it, thus creating good flavor and a much better texture. For mine, I typically use 1-2tbsp olive oil, 1 clove of garlic, ½ tsp herbabmare seasoning, and the juice of 1 lemon.  Dice your tofu into ½ inch cubes and toss with the marinade; let it sit while you prep the rest of your salad ingredients.

Since my oven is still broken (hoping it will be fixed by the time I get back from Holidays), I had to steam my beets and parsnips before sautéing them with the tofu.  Just make sure you steam the beets first for a bit as the parsnips will cook faster.

Once the tofu has had some time to marinate and your root veggies are ready to go, heat up the good ol’ frying pan over medium high heat.  Toss in your tofu with a chopped up shallot.

Stirring constantly allow the tofu to get crispy and golden before adding in your parsnips and beets.  Cook for a few more minutes then toss in your kale.  Sauté for 2 more minutes then remove from heat and toss in your dressing.

I decided to use a cashew-cream based dressing but your favorite vinaigrette would do too.

Serve and enjoy!

Warm Kale Salad with Beets and Parsnips

1 bunch of kale, torn into bite sized pieces. Large stems removed.

3 small golden beets, peeled and cubed

3 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

½ lb tofu, cut into ½ inch pieces

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 lemon, juiced

½ tsp Herbamare seasoning

1 shallot, finely chopped

Directions:

Combine tofu, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and herbamare into a small bowl. Let marinate for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam parsnips and beets until tender crisp and then set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat then toss in your marinaded tofu along and shallot and saute stirring constantly for 3-5 minutes.  Once tofu is golden and crispy, add in your parsnips and beets and cook for another 2 minutes before adding in your kale.  Saute mixture until kale is slightly wilted then remove from heat and add in your dressing.  Serve and enjoy.

Cashew-cream dressing

1/3 c. cashews

¾ c. water

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

¼ tsp herbamare seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Let your cashews soak for at least 20 minutes, then pop everything into the blender.  Blend until smooth- add more water if you want to thin it out a bit.

Tess’ Take

Jess is right – I make the biggest, busiest salads ever.  John likes to say I eat them out of a trough, because they’re so huge.  My concept is basic: to have each colour of the rainbow represented in my bowl.  Blue is the only tricky colour, as there aren’t many fruits or vegetables that are blue, with the exception of blueberries.

After saying all that though, I didn’t choose to make one of those types of salads for this post – sometimes I just want something fancier than “the trough”.  One of my go-to sites for creative salads is Martha Stewart Living.  Hey, say what you want about the woman, but she  makes some good food!  Sometimes one has to sort through the recipes to find some “clean” or healthy ones (she also really loves her butter and fats!) but there are some real gems if you look for them.

Which brings me to my recipe: Seared Shrimp with Cucumber Salad

Unfortunately, since I'm home for the holidays I can't post my pictures until I get back to Ottawa, so this one from the website will have to suffice.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 1 jalapeno chile pepper, ribs and seeds removed, minced
  • 1 can (15 ounces) hearts of palm, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails removed)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil

Directions:

1. Mix together the onion, pepper, palm, oj, and vinegar.

2. In a separate bowl, mix up the s&p, cumin, coriander, and oregano and coat the shrimp.

3. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over high.  Add the shrimp, and cook until brown.

4. Mix the cooked shrimp with veggies, and enjoy!

I served my salad with a side of couscous to complete the meal.

I liked the recipe, though if I had to make it again I’d use less onion, maybe even cook the onion, and use freshly squeezed oj instead of the carton stuff.  I absolutely LOVED the heart of palm though.  I’d never had it before and it added a really cool texture.  I think I’ll have to start using it in my trough salads as the white colour representative 😉

Tracking Progress (Personal Records)

22 Dec

I’m terribly sorry for posting so late in the day, and for my recent lack of creativity!  Since being home, admittedly, I’ve just been enjoying the time with my family, and some R&R.

Now, when I say “R&R” I don’t mean that I’ve been taking time away from the gym.  Come on…. that’s just crazy talk!  In fact, I’ve set two new personal records for myself this week!

1. I Leg Pressed 360lbs for 20 reps (that’s 8x 45lb plates!)

2. I Bench Pressed 50lbs for 6 reps (I know that may not seem like much, but it’s a huge improvement for me)

This leads me to my little “food for thought” bit for today: How do you measure your progress?

There are so many ways to guage progress – distances run, time spent in yoga postures, increases in strength, lowered resting heart rate…. there are so many things aside from your weight that will let you know how your body and health are doing.   Too often we’re so caught up beating ourselves up over the number on our scale that we completely overlook all of our other accomplishments!

Try this: next time you’re feeling down on yourself, lace up your shoes/grab your yoga mat/put on your ski goggles/strap on your weighlifting gloves and set out to beat a personal record.  I promise you will feel empowered, and that empowerment will make you feel confident, and that confidence will make you sexy as hell!

-Tess

The Vegetarian Diaries: How to Survive the Holidays

20 Dec

The holidays, while supposedly a time for eating, drinking and being merry with your family and friends, can be very stressful for vegetarians and vegans.  Actually with shopping, family obligations, and cooking to be done, they can be stressful for anyone. But I’m a vegetarian so we’re going to focus on that angle.

As I’ve mentioned before, I adopted the vegetarian diet about 6 years ago.  While this decision was not a huge shock to those around me (the idea of steak grossed me out to no end) my family wasn’t initially pleased with the idea.  The usual myths and stigmas surrounding my new lifestyle cropped up repeatedly.  “Where will you get your protein, iron, vitamins, etc…?” “What will you EAT?” and all the usual questions were quickly brought to the forefront, and I was singled out as a vegetarian as though it were a disease.

Roasted Garlic "Cream" Sauce, anyone?

Okay, I’m being a bit dramatic. But my family did voice their concerns and were cautious about supporting me on this.  When you grow up in a traditional omnivorous diet that is, for all intents and purposes, healthy your family members will have questions.  They will be wondering why you’re suddenly giving up the status quo in favour of something foreign to them. They will also be freaking out over what to serve you besides mashed potatoes and green beans. If you’re a vegan, they’ll most likely be freaking out over what to serve you at all. While this can seem exasperating and frustrating (and to me, mildly amusing), it pays on your end to be understanding and compassionate.

Paella works well, too!

No, I don’t mean to eat the turkey and grin and bear it.  No, this is your choice to live this lifestyle and you should be allowed to do so regardless of the time of year.  I just mean you should try to make it as easy as possible on your friends and family.  So here are a few tips to accomplish that.

1)      Let people know your dietary restrictions asap.  If you had a nut allergy or were a diabetic you would tell people.  Same goes if you’re a vegetarian, it’s the polite thing to do.  Just make sure it’s not the day before.  As soon as you receive an invite, or it’s decided that Aunt Mildred is hosting Christmas dinner, call them up and let them know you’re a vegetarian and specify what this entails.  I can’t tell you how many times it’s been assumed that I’ll eat fish. I don’t, and if you don’t either- tell them!

2)      Offer to bring a vegetarian friendly dish.  Typically, the vegetables and side dishes accompanying the big dinner will be perfectly fine for you to eat but the main dish poses a problem.  Rather than load more stress onto your host with this add-on to their menu, suggest that you are more than happy to bring a vegetarian main course dish that you can eat.  Make sure you bring enough to share with others so they can see just how delicious it is to go veggie once in a while. I sometimes even bring a copy of the recipe to give out- people have told me they have used it for their next party as they had a vegetarian coming!

3)      If you’re attending a cocktail party, eat something small like soup or a nutrient-dense salad beforehand in case there aren’t many vegetarian options available.  When you arrive, ask your host which items are vegetarian friendly and focus on those.  If you’re at a party with wait-staff, kindly advise the waiter with the pork-belly crostini that you’re a vegetarian. Once done, you can best believe every vegetarian-friendly tray will be brought to you first.  I find when you’re polite, people are only more than happy to accommodate you.

4)      Don’t be on the defensive.  As soon as you get defensive about your diet, people automatically assume you’re not entirely sure in your choice, or there’s something bad you’re not telling them.  I’ve rarely encountered someone who was extremely negative or overly critical on my diet choices.  Instead, they’ve merely been curious.  Be open, be confident, and be happy to answer their questions.  Misinformation is the basis for the negative stigma on vegetarianism so look upon this as your opportunity to set the record straight.

5)      Get off the damn pedestal.  While it’s all well and good to be open and share your opinions on vegetarianism, don’t get elitist on them.  If people ask, feel free to share. If they don’t ask, don’t go on and on about how great you are because you don’t eat meat and how awful they are because they do. You sound like a braggart and a snob.  Remember, you made this choice for yourself, let other people do the same even if you don’t agree with it.

Like everything in life, to survive the holidays it pays to be prepared and to go in with a positive attitude.  Be happy in your choices and everyone will think you’re just fine. Oh and if all else fails, chocolate.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your families!

Jess

Cutting Calories

19 Dec

I was reading the latest health articles on MSN.com (I’m a sucker for those “5 quick tips” pieces) and came across some Simple Ways to Cut 100 Calories.  In addition to the tips in this article, here are some of the things I do when asked to clean up my diet and start cutting calories:

-Choose fruit wisely: 1 banana is 110 calories, whereas a cup of blueberries is 40.   I’ll also start cutting back on fruit in general, as there’s alot of sugar in them.

-Cut out the milk from my coffee, and switch from sugar to stevia

-Stop drinking calories: cut out fruit juice (1 cup = 120 calories), milk (1 cup = 100 calories), and booze (those should be obvious though).  Thankfully I’m not someone who enjoys pop, but if you are, you should cut it out for more reasons than just weight management!!

-Cut out all the little “add-ons” used on food like butter, sauces, nuts (yes, they’re healthy, but they do add up!), jams, condiments, etc.

-Limit oil used in cooking.  For example, instead of sauteeing in olive oil, cook them in some water, and use Pam Olive Oil cooking spray instead of straight oil.

-Limit yolks in morning omelets.  Instead of using two whole eggs, I’ll use 6 egg whites.

-Drink more WATER!

-Start measuring the weights and quantities of foods.  4oz of chicken looks an awful lot like 5oz to me, and it’s easy for those extra 50 calories to add up quickly!

-And of course, cut out sweets and junk and processed foods.

Tess

Easy Enchilada’s

18 Dec

Hello Everyone!

How was your Sunday? Good? Mine too.  Sort of.

I had good intentions and you know what they say about the road to good intentions, right?

Well I started mine off with the idea to bake some festive Christmas cookies followed by a fantastic Enchilada dish for dinner. Naturally I started things off on a high note with the cookies, despite not having the softened butter beforehand.

What can I say? My lack of a microwave is only leading to great creativity, like when I need to soften butter for cookies, apparently.

Now, as brilliant an idea as this was, I forgot one thing: my oven is currently out of order.  Last week the pilot in my gas oven was broken, and so the repairman shut it off so it could be fixed.  However, it appears that my lovely landlord did not send someone to repair it this week like he promised. Since I don’t use my oven on a regular basis (more just the stove-top), it didn’t occur to me to make sure it was working. It only dawned on me to check when I was about 3/4 the way through making the batter for these cookies.

Awesome.

Thankfully, I have an amazing friend nearby who let me crash her kitchen and finish making them. Oh and then we watched Love Actually and ate crazy-good enchiladas.

I know they look amazing, don’t they? Want the recipe?

Consider it an early Christmas present

Actually this dish is ridiculously easy to make, and it’s all in this sauce:

Start things off with onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin seeds, salt and pepper.

Then add in 2 cans of tomato sauce and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes.  DON’T wear white while making this sauce you will not come out on top.

Once it’s had a chance to simmer, strain out the onion mixture so you’re left with a smooth, smoky and spicy sauce that will take your enchilada’s to the next level. I used black beans and corn as my filling, but feel free to get creative with your veggies.

You easily make this dish vegan by subbing the cheese in for Daiya or even nutritional yeast.  Don’t forget to top with the jalapenos, those just make the dish.

Easy Enchiladas

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil

½ white onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp chili powder

½ tsp cumin seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cans tomato sauce

1 c. black beans

1 c. corn (canned or frozen)

7-8 small whole wheat tortillas

¾ c. shredded cheddar cheese

Pickled jalapenos for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F

Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, add in onion and cook for 2 minutes or until softened.  Add garlic and spices, stir to combine and cook for another minute.

Pour in tomato sauce and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool 5-10 minutes.

Strain sauce into a medium sized bowl, discard onion and garlic mixture.  Pour ¼ cup of enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13” casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, combine black beans and corn with ¼ cup of enchilada sauce to make filling. Take one of your tortillas and put 2-3 tbsp of the filling at one end then roll tightly and place seam side down in dish.  Repeat until all tortillas have been used.

Pour sauce over the enchiladas, top with shredded cheese and jalapenos.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes until cheese is golden.  Serve with Rice.

Serves 2-4

Bon Appetit!

Jess

1 Dish 2 Spoons: Kitchen Sink Soup

16 Dec

This week’s edition of 1 Dish 2 Spoons sees Tess and Jess explore their leftovers to give you tasty and satisfying soups- perfect for those cold winter nights.

Jess’ Take

What’s for dinner?

Don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure people have been uttering that question since pre-historic times.  It’s definitely a question I’ve been asking since I knew what dinner was- much to my mother’s annoyance, right Mom?

Though I’ve grown up (slightly) and live on my own, I still ask myself that timeless question day in, day out. To answer it, my favorite tactic is to head to the grocery store to see what looks good and concoct something in my mind.  Some of my best dishes have come into existence that way.

Other times, I’ll challenge myself to use up what I already have lurking in the fridge.  While this can seem boring at times, I find it a great exercise in creativity, not to mention a good way to prevent waste.  So when Tess and I were pondering over recipes, we both separately came to the conclusion that this week’s edition of 1D2S would be soup- but soup using ingredients we already had.  It’s really true when they say great minds think alike 😉

From some previous recipes I had some parsnips and carrots hanging out in my crisper and a half-full carton of veggie-stock.  Not a bad start if you ask me.

Peaking in my pantry I found some cashews, spices and a can of diced tomatoes.

This was just getting better and better.

I started this soup off with my usual flavour base: onion and garlic.  I found some red curry paste in the fridge so I decided to throw that in as well as some ground ginger.  Carrots + Ginger= match made in heaven.

Once that had a few minutes to cook and come together, I added in my cashews, carrots, parsnips and diced tomatoes.   Again, let the ingredients simmer for a few minutes.  As soon as carrots and parsnips have softened slightly, go ahead and add in your water and veggie stock and let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes.

When the veggies are tender remove from heat and blend the soup  either in the blender or with an immersion blender.  The cashews in the soup will really give it that creaminess without adding in cream or soy milk.

Soup is such a great way to use up extra vegetables and pantry ingredients.  With some key ingredients and spices you can change yesterday’s roasted veggies into a whole new dish.  Feel free to change or modify this recipe to your taste- a sweet potato thrown into the mix would work beautifully, or use different spices for a completely different flavour.

Curried Ginger Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

1 tbsp vegetable oil

½ red onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp red curry paste

3/4 tsp ground ginger

Salt and pepper to taste

3 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1 medium parsnip, peeled and diced

1/2 c. unsalted cashews

1 can diced tomatoes

1 c. water

2 c. low-sodium Vegetable Stock

Directions

In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium high heat and add in your onion.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant then add in your garlic. Stir for another 30 seconds before adding in cashews, curry paste, ginger, salt and pepper.

Stir constantly and allow mixture to cook for another 2 minutes then add in carrots, parsnip, and tomatoes.

Bring to a simmer then add in your water and vegetable stock before covering and allow it to cook for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, taste and adjust seasonings.  Blend until smooth.

Serve and enjoy.

Serves 4-6

Tess’ Take

Today was just a crazy busy day.  We leave for Georgian Bay tomorrow morning so today is all about getting the apartment ready, packing, finishing up a Christmas project for my mom, and going to an interview!  Plus of course there’s a belly to feed and a blog to post.  Crazy day!

Needless to say, I didn’t have hours to cook a fancy meal.  Not only that, but I had to use up some items in my fridge so they wouldn’t go bad over the holidays (I hate throwing out food!)  All of these things were the inspiration for today’s recipe: Crockpot Kitchen Sink Soup

By 5:00, I’d been cooking my soup all day in the slow-cooker.  I’d thrown everything I could think of into a crockpot around 10:30am, and hadn’t checked on it since.  Uh-oh.  Big problems: my soup tasted like poop!  Ok ok, it’s not like it was inedible, but there was one thing in there that was just tripping up all the other flavours and it just didn’t taste quite right.  Here’s what I used:

-bit of lemon juice

-1/2 can diced tomatoes

-1/2c okra, sliced

-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced

-1c vegetable broth

-5c water

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-1/2 onion, diced

-3 stalks celery, chopped

-1c green beans, chopped

-1/2c dry spelt

-dash of s&p, chili flakes, rosemary, thyme, parsley


Anybody have any idea where I went wrong?  See, this is why I need to follow recipes! lol

Well regardless of what I did wrong, I needed to either fix my flub or make something completely different for dinner.  So, I did what any logical person with little-to-no soup-making knowledge would do….. I added a can of pre made soup!!  Lol  In swooped Amy’s Organic Tomato Soup to save the day!  And you know what, by gosh, it actually worked.  

I still wouldn’t say my soup is the most amazing thing I’ve ever cooked, but at least now we might actually get through a whole bowl 😉

-Tess