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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras

Yes today is Fat Tuesday, better known as Mardi Gras. It is a day to collect as many beads as possible (not fun when you reside in Canada's capital, brrrr!). But you can then warm up with a hearty bowl of gumbo. As I will not be cooking tonight I have posted a few cajun and creole recipes for the occassion. Enjoy!

Blackened Salmon
Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya
Cajun Salmon

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kiss me Muffin, It's Valentine's Day!

God forbid I ever call my husband muffin or vice versa. We have our fair share of nicknames and cheesiness – but names like muffin or pumpkin are really not us, unless we are in a mocking type of mood. In addition to no cheesy nicknames my husband and I are not much for desserts (I can hear the gasps and see the eyes rolling). That is not to say we do not have our indulgences, it just does not take the form of a slice of cake or wedge of pie. Rather we both enjoy savoury dishes with a well paired wine or beer. Of course as a women there are times when chocolate is my best friend, and I'd kill to get it. But generally speaking it is not something I eat. Consequently when it comes to Valentine’s Day chocolate or desserts are typically things we do not indulge in.

Instead of a dessert I decided to make something we could have as an afternoon snack that we could take with us while we checked out Ottawa’s Winterlude festivities. I decided on some simple banana-bran muffins (nothing says V-Day like bran :) ) to go with a thermos of coffee & Kahlua. What makes these banana muffins special is that they are sealed with a chocolate kiss. Yes Yes I know after that rant on no chocolate, I use chocolate to cook.

Banana Bran Muffins with a Kiss

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 bananas, mashed
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a muffin pan or line with paper muffin liners.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together until fluffy. Add bananas, milk, vanilla and eggs; mix well. Stir in flour, bran, baking powder, soda and salt; blend just until moistened. Stir in walnuts. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool in the cups for 5 minutes, and then remove muffins and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

If using mini muffin pans, bake for 12 minutes or again until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

It made 9 large muffins and 7-8 mini muffins (I filled them almost fill, usually best to fill 3/4 of the way). Could also cover the kiss entirely with more batter so it is a surprise kiss.

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cajun Salmon with Spinach Salad

Two Sundays ago I started to feel sick, by Monday afternoon I could not keep my eyes open or head up and a wicked sore throat came on. Having been prone to sore throats, I knew the drill and by Wednesday evening was getting a strep test and penicillin. The strep test was apparently unable to be processed. The sore throat was getting better so I did not go back for a second test.

However by the next Sunday I was doing worse and worse, so ridiculously tired, I could barely move, headache, sore neck and heavy head. Seriously would fall asleep eating, talking, in the bath/shower – felt like I had narcolepsy. I started to wonder if perhaps I had something more than just strep throat and if it could not be mono. I went to my doctor, who sent me for blood work. I have not heard back from the clinic yet. Everytime I think I am getting better I get hit hard with it. The minute I exert myself even slightly (like doing the dishes or cleaning up) I am once again overwhelmed with exhaustion, shortness of breath and this overall malaise feeling.

Needless to say I have not been cooking, unless you count opening a can of soup (which by the way are no match for homemade soups). Last night was my first real meal in about a week. I was feeling like I needed real food and healthy food to beat this bacteria or virus. My husband grilled a nice salmon fillet with Cajun rub and served it with a nice spinach salad with tomatoes, avocados, onions and mushrooms drizzled with ginger soy dressing.


2 6oz salmon fillets

Cajun rub

1/4 cup paprika
1 T garlic flakes
1 T onion flakes
1 T thyme, dried
1 T oregano, dried
1 T black pepper
1 T white pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground Bay leaf

Drizzle oil on salmon and rub some of the Cajun rub into the salmon fillet.

Preheat the grill to med heat. Place the salmon skin side down on the oiled grill. Grill for 6-8 minutes (turning after 5 min).

Serve immediately

Spinach Salad

Bunch of baby spinach
1/4 red onion sliced
1/2 avocado sliced
1/2 tomato diced
6 large button mushrooms, sliced
almonds (optional

Soy Ginger Dressing

1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 lemon, juiced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
ground black pepper to taste

Whisk together soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, mustard, honey and pepper. Once these are thoroughly combined, add the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Chill before drizzling over salad.

Other Delicious Salmon Recipes

Grilled Salmon with Brown Sugar & Mustard Glaze
Sesame Ginger Salmon
Blackened Salmon
Lemon Pepper Salmon Cakes

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sesame-Ginger Salmon

This weekend I stumbled upon an old cookbook my sister bought me while in University. As I did not cook like I do now (perhaps the occassional stirfry) and hence I can't say it was used much. The cookbook is called Good Mood Food by Michael Van Straten the author of Superfoods and Superjuices. The book is separated into chapters of recipes for vitality foods, brain foods, sleeping foods, wake-up foods, aphrodisiac foods, peace foods, macho and sensitive foods. It also provides herb, spice and recipe recommendations for common ailments in the index. As there is no doubt that the foods we eat play an integral part in how we feel it is a good book to have on hand or one of similar context.

Noting it has been bone chiling out this winter I thought I would share some Good Mood Food foods to help those with circulation problems out - basil, chives, coriander and sorrel all contain vitamins and phytochemicals which help stimulate circulation. Ginger and chilli have similar actions. Oily fish contain omega 3 fatty acids and nuts and seeds provide vitamin E - both essential for a healthy heart and circulation.

I do not have circulation problems per se, but reading this got me thinking that since the cold weather came I have not been eating my usual once per week salmon fillet. Since the cold set in I have migrated more towards hearty dishes be it vegetarian or red meat. It was time I get more fish in my diet again, so I decided to make a nice baked salmon with veggies. I mixed together this tangy sesame-ginger soy marinade. The results were delicious, the salmon cooked until moist and flaky. The sesame seeds not only provided a nice presentation but added a nice light crunch. I managed to get some oily fish, seeds and ginger all into one simple and delicious dish. I even added some cayenne which is also said to get the blood flowing.

1 lbs of atlantic salmon fillet
4 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
splash soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
pinch of cayenne
sesame seeds to sprinkly on top

Mix all in a small bowl and spread over salmon. Let sit on salmon in fridge for about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450F and bake on a greased cookie sheet for 15 minutes until fish is opaque.

Serve over green beans.

Great Recipes

Blackened Salmon
Grilled Salmon Skewers
Grilled Salmon with Brown Sugar Mustard Glaze
Thai Curry Salmon

Monday, February 2, 2009


Well for those of you that enjoyed watching Superbowl XLIII I am sure you also enjoyed snacking on game day snacks. In my house and probably most homes, chili is a staple on game day. My husband makes a great chili which with his permission will be posting soon. Another great game day staple is guacamole and tostitos. There are some many unhealthy foods that accompany sporting events, , that you can at least feel a bit healthier eating guacamole. I made this for a BBQ this weekend and also for Superbowl. It is one of the better guacamole's I have tasted, with a nice creamy texture and tangy citrus punch to it. And of course the cilantro adds a nice fresh taste and aroma to it.

3 large very ripe avocados
1 lime juiced
1 tomato diced (sometimes I add 1 and 1/2)
1-2 fresh chilis, finely chopped and seeded or 1 jalapeno.
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 T finely chopped cilantro
2 T sour cream
2 drops of hot sauce
Mash avocados and add the lime juice. Mash until smooth consistency. Add the remaining ingredients and stir.