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Monday, September 29, 2008

Beef and Pepper Stirfry

The market in fall is so amazing with it bright and beautiful colors. One stand had rows and rows of large bright looking peppers in which I could not resist but buy a few. Loving colorful dishes I wanted to make simple dish that was delicious and appealing to the eye. Stirfry are typically quick, easy and healthy. In university I ate my fair share of stir frys and swore them off for a long long time. As it has been a few years since I've eaten them regularly and my culinary skills have certainly improved from the chicken stock and no flavor stir fry I thought I'd give it a chance. I was pleased with the tenderness of the beef, the flavors of the ginger and cinnamon really seeped in. And of course fresh market vegetables not over cooked but still crispy. I think I could get use eating stir frys again. Especially noting that there are many sauces and flavors that I now know can make each one a bit unique.

1 lb top sirloin grilling steak
2 T soy sauce
1 T cornstarch
2 cloves garlic minced
1 T minced gingerroot
pinch of cinnamon
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 cup broccoli
1 cup cremini mushrooms
1 onion (white)
1 T olive oil
1/4 cup beef stock
2 T hoisin sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

Slice the beef up into thin strips. In a bowl mix together the beef, soy sauce, cornstarch, garlic, ginger and cinnamon. Let stand for about 20 min in the fridge.

Cut up vegetables into long strips.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over high heat and add the beef, cooking until browned. Add the peppers, broccoli and onions. Cook for a few minutes. Add a bit of water if necessary (if sticking). Then add the mushrooms and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add remaining ingredients - stock, hoisin sauce, sesame oil and simmer for a few minutes until vegetables are still hard (do not wan them wilted).

Serve as is, or over rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for a nice presentation.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

It is another beautiful fall day and I have enjoyed puttering around the neighborhood. On my walk I finally managed to get the ingredients necessary to make these fall inspired muffins. This is a rather large recipe, making 24 large muffins. I found it off Recipe Zaar, which proclaims that the recipe is like the starbucks muffins. I have never eaten a starbucks one, but from what I hear they are yummy. But why buy Starbucks when you can make your own.

After mixing all the ingredients and just about to fill the muffin tins, I stopped because I felt like I was forgetting something. Then I realized I had not added the pumpkin. Ha! Yes that would have been nice, pumpkin muffins without the pumpkin. I did not have pumpkin pie spice, so I altered the spices slightly. They turned out really pretty and delicious. If you heat them up (or eat them out of the oven) the cheese gets nice and warm and melts in your mouth, careful not to burn your tongue. If you do not wish to use canned pumpkin, which is obviously the easier choice, you can use a real pumpkin and cook it either on the stove or in the oven. I have not tried that yet for muffins, but have for soups and it offers a nice flavor.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 pinch cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
8 ounces cream cheese
chopped pumpkin seeds(optional) pecans (optional)


Preheat oven to 350.

Put the entire brick of cream cheese on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper and shape it into a long log.

Put it in the freezer while you mix and fill the pans, up to an hour.

Unwrap and cut with a sharp knife so each cream cheese disk equals 1-2 teaspoons. If the cream cheese disks are too big around, cut thick slices and then cut them in half. This lets you push it down into the batter easier.

Mix all ingredients together (except cream cheese and nuts).

Fill muffin tins (greased or paper cups) 3/4 way full.

Put cream cheese disc in the middle, pressing down.

Sprinkle with 1 tsp pumpkin seeds or place a pecan on top.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the muffin part.

Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely. Do not touch the cream cheese until it cools.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spicy Pork Chops with Apple Chutney

Today I have been soaking up the Indian Summer weather. At 30 degrees celcius I enjoyed my bike ride along the Ottawa River watching the leaves turn all sorts of colors and then a nice walk to the Parkdale Market were I bought green beans, tomatoes and McIntosh apples. Next I will be enjoying some baking/cooking followed by a nice drink or two on the deck. The following recipe was made with my last post - apple raisin chutney. I think next time I might add some apple cider to the marinade and less oil. But the flavors of the spices were really nice.

Pork Marinade

1/8 cup olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together in a bowl and pour over pork chops (2). Let chops marinade for an hour in the fridge.

Grill on med high heat for 6-7 minutes per side for 2cm thick chops.

Serve with Apple-Raisin Chutney.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Apple Raisin Chutney

When I think of fall so many great fruits and vegetables come to mind apples, gourdes, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and of course pumpkins. At first I was going to make pumpkin muffins with cream cheese filling, but the local grocery store had none of the ingredients I required. So plan B, was to make something with apples. I really love how fruit chutneys compliment spicy dishes and I new that apples compliment pork very well. So I spiced up some pork chops for the grill and made some apple raisin chutney served with late summer yellow and green zucchinis. (Spicy pork marinade to follow). I found a few chutney recipes, but in the end I guess I had in mind what I wanted it to taste like and made my own concoction. I day later I tried the chutney with cheese and bread...mmmm... it tasted like apple pie filling.

Not only am I happy about fall being here and being able to cook with local fall foods. But today marks the 1st day of two weeks of holidays. I had plans to be abroad, but due to injury I am now at home. However I am very happy with that. With the new house I will have the time to fix it up as desired, new paint, carpet and of course more time to cook and bake. So hopefully over the next two weeks I will be able to post some nice fall dishes.

Apple-Raisin Chutney

3 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
1 cup raisins (sultans)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 T grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Place in fridge and chill. Serve with cheese or meats.

See Also

Mango Salsa

Monday, September 15, 2008

Korean Short Ribs in an Orange-Ginger Marinade

Although I grill all year round, the bbq season is coming to an end and I suspect I will be cooking indoors much more. I am looking forward to so many fall recipes. But before I delve into fall mode, I will post a few more bbq dishes.

Because I have barbecued so much this year I was looking for a change from typical bbq steak, so when I tried these short ribs at my sisters I could not resist but make them again. They are fast to prepare and only take a few minutes to cook, making for a good quick mid week dinner. I decided to make my own marinade which consisted of orange ginger flavors with a pinch of chili flakes to give them some heat. Despite how thin these ribs are they are tender and moist. Just be sure not to overcook them. These were served with herb oven roasted baby potatoes and ontario tomatoes.


1/4 cup soy
1 T grated gingerroot
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp grated orange rind
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp sesame oil
ground pepper

Combine mixture and pour over ribs. Marinade in refridgerator for 1 hour.

Preheat grill to medium high. Grill ribs for 2 minutes per side.

Oven Roasted Potatoes

10 baby red or white potatoes cut into wedges and again into halves
toss with rosemary, chili powder, pinch of cayenne, black pepper and olive oil.

Spread them out on a baking dish and cook for 35 minutes at 400F.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa

This weekend was a nice long 4 day weekend for me. I kicked it off with an evening wedding, followed by a day of recovery. I managed to make some plans for the house such as painting ideas, carpet and photo ideas that will hopefully come to fruition in the next few weeks.

As usually I also made a couple bbq meals including the same old salmon and steak. Getting tired of the same ol same, I decided to try a new recipe for bbq chicken. Since I have never tasted or made jerk anything before, and considering I missed the Carribean Celebration a few weeks ago and one of my favorite restaurants in town is Carribean I thought it was time to try it. I found this recipe from Eat Shrink and Be Merry. I found it could have used more heat, but regardless of that the flavors were extraordinaire. I personally loved the allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg flavors in the chicken. Serving it with mango salsa provided a contrast between the deep warm flavor of allspice and the fresh juicy flavors of the mango. I also served it with a simple sinach and mango salad with poppy seed dressing.

Jerk Chicken

1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup lime juice
2 T olive oil
2 T soy sauce
2 T honey
1 T ginger root grated
2 t minced garlic
2 jalapenos seeded and finely chopped
2 t allspice
1 tsp thyme, salt and pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon and nutmeg
12 chicken drumsticks or thighs

Mix all ingredients in bowl. Pour over deskinned chicken and marinade in fridge for up to 24 hours.

Preheat grill to med high. Grill on medium heat for 15 minutes, turning occassionally. Done when meat is white.

Serve with mango avocado salsa (recipe below)

Mango Avocado Salsa

1 tomato chopped
1 avocado chopped
1/2 vidalia onion chopped
1 jalapeno chopped
cilantro (as desired)
juice of one lime
1 tsp chili powder
pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and refridgerate.

See Also

Mango Chutney

Mango Salsa

Monday, September 1, 2008

Roasted Vegetable Panini: Backyard Picnic & Park

What better way to spend a Saturday then hosting some family. My in laws including mother in -law, father in-law, sister in law and 2 little nephews decided to come visit the new house. I decided that an outdoor luncheon and an outing to the park would be a fun heathy and active way to spend the day.

Because I did not want to spend the entire visit preparing food I decided on a simple and healthy menu that could be prepared the evening before. I have mentioned before how much I love roasted vegetable panini's and could not resist trying to hook my guests onto them. I served them with spinach and mango salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.

The night before I cut up an eggplant, portabello mushrooms, red onion, red pepper and zuchinni into 1/2" slices. I placed them in a roasting pan and drizzled them with balsamic vinegar, pepper, olive oil and garlic. Then roasted them at 400F for 25minutes.

Meanwhile I cut 4 paninis and spread homemade pesto on one side and creamy goat cheese on the other.

Once the veggies are done pat the veggies dry and layer them onto the paninis. Wrap them tightly with plastic wrap and refridgerate overnight.

When visitors arrived all I had to do was preheat the oven to 350F and bake the paninis for 25 minutes until warm and crispy.

Cut up into 3's so guests can eat the portion of their choice.

The paninis' were served with a spinach and mango salad with balsamic or poppy seed dressing.

In addition to having the menu prepared, I placed a large bucket cooler out on the patio making it easy for guests to grab the beverage of their choice - white wine, champagne, soda, water, juice.

Once our belly's were full it was off to the park!