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Monday, 5 September 2016

It's Labour Day, so as usual at this time of year, everyone and everything is jacked up on pumpkin spice.  Don't get me wrong, I love a little pumpkin spice, but it's been such a long hot, dry summer in Southern Ontario, that I'm still not ready to embrace the pumpkin spice yet.

However, there is a lot of back to school talk obviously, since it starts tomorrow for most people, and everybody is talking about lunches, and healthy snacks. And granola bars are often busy Mom's go-to for lunches.

I do love me a granola bar, but I have a hard time embracing the pre-packaged ones in the stores.  I decided to investigate making my own.  This recipe below is the result of that investigation.  I expected they would be a little sticky at first because of the honey, but they ended up being a little crumbly instead.  I suggest adding just a little more honey to help keep them together.  But they are still pretty tasty and they are a lot healthier and easier to digest than the ones you can buy in the stores. 

Fresh & Chewy Granola Bars


Recipe by Fluudbloggler

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Yield: 16 bars
Calories per serving: 204
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup canola oil or grapeseed oil
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup flaxseeds
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts *
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips**
Cooking Directions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350.
  2. Line a glass 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray or lightly grease with butter.
  3. In a large bowl add the honey, egg whites, oil and vanilla, and mix until smooth.
  4. In another bowl combine the oats, flaxseed, and spices.
  5. Pour oatmeal mixture into honey mixture until well combined.
  6. Add to this mixture the nuts, and dried fruit.
  7. *I'm allergic to walnuts, so I omitted these. You can substitute peanuts or pecans.
  8. **The chocolate chips are also something that can be substituted for something like dried apricots or something similar. It's all personal taste. 
  9. Spread mixture evenly into baking pan.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes until golden.
  11. Let cool for at least 30 minutes, cut into 1" squares or bar shapes.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Avocado Caprese Salad


It's tomato season, and I've been getting a bit tired of lettuce in my pursuit of trying to eat healthier lunches. At a recent trip to a local farmer's market I found lots of multi-coloured cherry tomatoes that I wanted to incorporate into one of my salads.

I found this easy caprese salad and decided to give it a try.  It takes literally 5 minutes to make, but is very tasty and can easily be doubled for  a BBQ or quartered if you wanted to make one for lunch as I did in these pictures.

I've discovered that with the My Fitness Pal app, I can upload my recipes and get the calorie count if you are interested in those kinds of things. The boconcini does add to the calories, and you COULD leave it out, but why would you want to.  If you don't like the idea of the oil and balsamic, you can easily switch to a light drizzle of balsamic glaze. (Sorry my first picture was a bit blurry.)




Avocado Caprese Salad

Ingredients
  • 2 cups red cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups yellow cherry tomatoes
  • 2 avocados diced
  • 8 ounces bocconcini cheese (minis)
  • 1/2 cup basil (fresh, chopped)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
Cooking Directions
  1. This recipe should be prepared just before serving, not ahead of time. The mozzarella will go brown from the dressing, and the avocado will brown.
  2. Slice tomatoes in half.
  3. Slice bocconcini balls in half. 
  4. Finely chop basil leaves. 
  5. Combine oil, vinegar, mustard and honey, mix well.
  6. Toss tomatoes, basil, cheese and dressing together. 
  7. If you don't like the look of the brown bocconcini, mix salad and then add on top.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Tortilla Chips and Corn Salsa

On a recent trip to Mexico, as always, we would pig out on the fresh tortillas, and the tortilla chips.  I was surprised, actually that the tortilla shells were a lot smaller than the ones we find on the shelves here.

Also,in my pursuit of buying less and less processed foods, I decided to try making my own tortilla shells.  With some success I might say.  So because those looked pretty good, I decided to make my own baked tortilla chips.  And of course there had to be some sort of dip to go with those chips, so below is what my Sunday afternoon experiments have yielded.




Tortilla Shells

Ingredients
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (can also use canola)
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a food processor or by hand until a soft dough forms.
  2. Divide into 8 even balls slightly bigger than a golf ball.
  3. On floured surface roll into rounds until as thin as possible.
  4. In a heated frying pan with a little bit of oil, place one circle in the pan and cook on each side for about 1-2 minutes until brown.
  5. Remove from pan and use as you would use any other tortilla shell. 

Home-made Baked Tortilla Chips

Ingredients
  • 8 or more flour tortilla shells (store bought or as above)
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
Cooking Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. With a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut each tortilla into wedges.
  3. Place on baking sheet in a single layer and brush or spray oil on one side and sprinkle with a bit of salt.
  4. Cook for about 9 minute until crisp.
  5. With tongs, turn over, brush this side with oil and salt, and cook again for another 9 minutes until crispy. 

Roasted Corn Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups corn (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/2 red or green pepper finely chopped
  • 1 small tomato finely chopped
  • 1 scallion OR 1/4 cup white onion finely chopped
  • couple of splashes hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried cilantro - do not use fresh as it overpowers the rest of the flavours.
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
Cooking Directions
  1. In a small frying pan, with a small amount of oil, roast corn until just starting to brown - about 6 minutes.
  2. Place in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Mix all other ingredients in with corn.
  4. Cover and refrigerate about an hour until all flavours have blended. 
Serve with home-made tortilla chips or store bought. 

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Master-chopped night for Valentines

So I think I've posted before, how my girlfriends and I do, what we call Masterchef-Chopped nights.  Basically they bring food items that I don't know ahead of time, and I have two hours to make an app, a main, and a dessert with the ingredients. 

There is always some kind of theme.  The most recent one being Valentines Day/Birthday (since one of the group has her birthday on Feb. 14, and another on Feb 15.)

The rules are similar to the cooking shows Masterchef and Chopped. The Masterchef portion is the fact that all the items are a surprise and we call them "mystery box" items.  Chopped comes from having to make an app, a main, and a dessert - with sometimes really odd ingredients.

For your information and inspiration, here are pictures from our latest night.  Recipes, in case anybody is interested will follow in a subsequent blog.

Going with the Valentine's theme.  Her are our place settings.  Accompanied by pink champagne.

The items brought to me for the appetizer were:


Mushrooms, beets, chocolate and strawberries.  Since it was pancake day, I was thinking crepes.  The strawberries and chocolate threw me off a bit since this was an app, but this is the result:

 Mushroom and beet crepes with a hollandaise sauce.  And strawberry crepes with a chocolate drizzle.  This was voted the best course by the attendees.  I've actually never made crepes before, but these were very good, and really pretty easy.

Next was the main course.  Steak was the main protein provided.  The rest of the items were:


Red peppers, lobster claws, brie cheese, and artichoke hearts.  I can honestly say the artichokes were something I've never eaten or cooked, so was a little baffled by this.  And so even though it's against our "rules" to look up recipes, my friends looked up a few things for me.


This was the result of the main course.  Steak with lobster butter on a red pepper puree, with artichokes.  The artichokes weren't good and were baffling even to eat.  Any suggestions from any readers out there as to how to best cook and consume them would be appreciated.


The steak portion with the lobster butter and red pepper puree was a hit.

Next dessert. 

Confetti cake mix, whipping cream, caramel chocolate bar, and Goldschlager.  Again, something I've never had before, but since it was a Valentine's theme and it tastes like cinnamon hearts, it was an item.

The dessert, while tastey was a bit of a let down as I will often make a mousse, and so my friends are getting a little tired of it.  The Goldschlager, was a little overwhelming as well.  But what I created was a chocolate-caramel  mousse with Goldschlager with a confetti cake crumble topping.


If you enjoy cooking and are up for a challenge, I would suggest trying one of these Master-Chopped nights yourselves.  I get very excited trying new things, and my friends get very excited eating them.  Cheers!

(Thanks to my fellow-blogger Janice Fitness Cheerleader for the photos.)

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Saturday Sloppy Joe's

For some reason, many years ago, Saturday night became "hamburger night" in our house.  And as Canadians, we generally BBQ year round, so Saturday night became barbeque'd hamburgers night.  However, today was an exceptionally WINDY day, and the BBQ King in our house didn't want to stand outside getting blown to kingdom come, so our usual hamburgers turned into Sloppy Joes.  In the past, when our kids were young, the Sloppy Joe sauce came out of a can, and for some reason my husband liked to put Cheese Whiz on the buns.  These days I'm trying to stay as far away from processed foods as much as humanly possible which meant that our Sloppy Joes tonight are going to be made from mostly fresh ingredients, and real cheese.

This recipe is still very simple, and so easy to make ahead on a busy Saturday. I made this recipe in half, but the one below is enough for 4 people. We like our Sloppy Joes open face, so are happy with how sloppy this recipe is.  However, if you prefer your filling between the bun, reduce the amount of water by half. And the recipe below that is for 4 people, can be stretched to feed 6.  Enjoy!


Sloppy Joe's

Recipe by Fluudbloggler
Home made-sloppy Joes in the slow cooker.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 3-4 hours
Yield: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds Extra Lean Ground Beef
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper (green works too if you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 minced garlic
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 can tomato paste (small)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 block cheddar cheese (enough to slice to place on buns) The cheese is optional
  • 8 hamburger buns 
Cooking Directions
  1. Brown ground beef until cooked, drain fat.
  2. Place in slow cooker.
  3. Add all other ingredients (except cheese and buns), and stir until well-combined.

  4. Cook on low heat for 3-4 hours.
  5. Take regular hamburger buns, and place slices of cheddar cheese on them to cover surface of bun.
  6. Place in oven on broil until melted.
  7. Place cheese buns on plates, and place sloppy joe mix on top.About 1/4 cup each.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Warm Crab Dip

I've always said that I'm not very good with appetizers, and so I'm always on the hunt for easy, delicious pre-dinner munchies or finger foods for parties.

My daughter was planning a house warming party, and while helping her look for good easy hors d'oeuvres, I came across a few easy sounding warm crab dips.

The one here, is just what the two of us came up with the Saturday before the party, but it was so good, it will, for sure, be one of my go-to's from now on.  It can be served with crusty bread, crackers, or even chips.There is not a really strong crab flavour, so you don't have to worry about it being too "fishy". 

Since this has very few ingredients, and I already had everything in my pantry, this was a no brainer, and it will be for you too.  Enjoy!


Warm Crab Dip

Recipe by Fluudbloggler

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cream cheese
  • 1 can (120 gms) canned crab meat - you can also use fresh, but canned works just as well.
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
  • 1 finely chopped spring onion (can also use 1 tbsp finely chopped white onion)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 drop hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
Cooking Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400. 
  2. In mixer, whip cream cheese until creamy
  3. Drain liquid from crab.
  4. Add crab, red pepper, onion, garlic, hot sauce, lemon and cayenne, and mix until smooth.
  5. Add cheddar and stir until well combined.
  6. Place in baking dish, bake at 400 for 20 minutes until heated through, and top looks slightly crispy.
  7. Serve warm with crusty bread, or crackers.
  8. Can also be kept warm in mini crock pot. 
Makes about 2 cups of dip.  But the recipe can easily be doubled.  Can be assembled the day before and just heated before ready to serve.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Fried Onion Strings

As you may have noticed, I'm a lot about desserts.  However, I do like other types of cooking as well.  I'm a huge fan of onion strings.  I find that the pre-packaged ones in the stores are a little over-priced for what they are.  Let's face it, onions are a pretty cheap product in and of themselves.  Plus I'm not a fan of buying pre-packaged foods.  If there's something I can make from scratch that you can buy packaged or bottled, I will learn to make it myself.  Such is the case for fried onion strings.

I love them!  I love them on salads, I love them on burgers, and I even love them as just as snack.  However, since Saturday nights are traditionally burger night in our house I thought I would try making them for burger night.  I like fried onions on my burger, my husband likes raw, but we both love fried onion strings. I couldn't believe how easy this was.

Now, they ARE deep fried in oil, so don't go thinking they are healthy, they are just healthi-ER than buying them out of a bag. And a lot cheaper since I always have onion and oil on hand.

This recipe was so easy, I'm also going to try doing the same thing to zucchini and eggplant.


Fried Onion Strings

Recipe by Fluudbloggler
Ingredients
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 1/4 sweet white onion
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup whole milk or buttermilk*
  • 1 tsp white vinegar (If you don't have buttermilk)
Cooking Directions
  1. Slice 1/4 onion very thinly into strips.  As thin as you can slice them. 
  2. If using buttermilk, go to next step, if not, put 1 tsp vinegar in whole milk (or table cream), wait 5 minutes.Voila! Instant buttermilk/sour milk.
  3. Pour buttermilk/sour milk over onions, and let sit for at least 30 minutes, an hour is best.
  4. Mix flour and spices until well blended.
  5. Heat oil in a pan or deep fryer until hot.
  6. With your hands put milky onions into flour mixture and mix until well coated.Do not just pour as you will get excess milk poured into the flour and you don't want that. 
  7. To test if the oil is hot enough, put one piece of onion string in the hot oil, and if it starts to bubble and crisp, it is the right temperature.
  8. In two batches, place coated onions into hot oil, and fry until browned.Note: When you first put in the oil, it will all bubble up and you can`t see the onions.  Do not worry about that.  Once the onions start cooking, they will float to the surface and you can see them clearly.
  9. Place on paper towel, and continue with second batch.
  10. Serve hot or cooled.