Get Your Veggies with All-Season Salads

There’s a tendency, perhaps precipitated by cooking magazines, to move off of salads this time of year, and focus on warmer fare, like soups or stews. I know that this seems logical, but there are so many great veggies available now, that it seems a shame to only eat them cooked. Sure, local lettuce may be less available. What I’m suggesting is that if you have the privilege of accessing fresh fruit and veg in your local market, please do take advantage.

What I am not saying is that everyone is as fortunate as we are in Toronto. A head of hydroponic Canadian lettuce is out of reach for many families. Heck, there are some places (not in far-off lands, but here in our own country), where fresh produce of any sort is just not in the store, or it costs so much that you can’t possibly afford se it to feed your family. This is a travesty. Please speak out about this.

And while we are on the subject of hunger, if you do have enough, do support your local food bank or soup kitchen. You would be amazed how far they can make a dollar go. I learned from one of them that they can get wholesale prices, making better use of their money, although I’m a big advocate of having your kids choose foods from the store, so they learn about sharing and healthy choices). When our kids were small, we started emptying our coins into a jar at the end of the day. Once a month, we would use this money to buy food bank food. We still give regularly, even though the kids are grown.

If you have all these ingredients, make a great salad. If you don’t, I’m not giving a recipe. Try using whatever veg you can get. If you have frozen veg, give them a quick refresh under cold water rather than cooking. Or if you have “winter veg” (beets, carrots, turnips, cabbage), shred them. Use leftovers. They’re all good. Here is what I did today:

Chopped some hydroponic butter head lettuce onto a plate.

Diced celery and yellow pepper (both “ugly vegetables”  ). Use whatever veg you have, truly. Serve in a bowl if necessary, and use a spoon instead of a fork.

Drizzled with this dressing:

2t/10ml Dijon – it emulsifies, thickens, adds flavour

1T/15ml vinegar

2t/10ml canola oil (it’s Canadian!)

Next add some protein. I had cheddar. You might have hard-boiled egg, tofu,  beans, nuts, seitan, or leftover pork chop. No matter. Protein builds muscle and helps your blood pressure stay regulated. Not too much! A couple of ounces. It’s lunch!

Here’s what it looked like, when it was done. Enjoy. Use stuff up. Appreciate what you have, and give someone else a hand.

Have an awesome day!

Crunch Fall Salad

 

Turkey Soup, Two Ways

Turkey Chickpea Curry Rice SoupSoup season has arrived! (Okay, to be fair, it is always soup season at our house). Each time we have a bag of parings, ends, and leftover veg bits, we make stock. And the same goes with something like the Thanksgiving turkey. We don’t eat much meat these days, but when we do, we are conscious of using every bit.

This starts with putting some sliced onion (skin and all) or other vegetable parings underneath the bird as it cooks. These will add flavour to the stock. We like to use a large roaster with a lid, and cook the stock right in the same pan, or otherwise put some parchment underneath so every bit can be transferred to the stock pot. We always keep stock on hand, and we love to make traditional soups, like Traditional Turkey, or new ones, like Turkey Chickpea Curry Rice soup.

What’s your favourite soup?

Oh, cheese!

This is not a good post for you if you are one of my vegan or non-dairy friends. We are still in cleanup mode prior to doing a spring refresh on cupboards and fridge – one of many steps of renewal we take during Lent. Right now I am targeting cheese. 

Following a busy holiday season I’ve realized we were giving safe harbour to far too much cheese. I’m willing to eat cheese, but it does contain a large amount of fat – and so should be eaten sparingly, if at all. Since we are also frugal eaters and shoppers, though, I see no sense in throwing away perfectly good food. Better to eat it up and then simply cut down or stop our purchases.

Hence, today’s lunch was more tasty lentil pasta, tossed with sage, celery, and a creamy cheese sauce. No packaged macaroni dinners for us, when in the time it takes to cook the pasta, one can make a tasty sauce:

In a nonstick or smooth, easy to clean pan, melt 2 T (30ml) butter and stir in 2 chopped stalks of celery and a few chopped herbs – we had sage left over from another dish. 

Sprinkle in 1-2 T (40ml) white flour and stir until it sort of coats everything but doesn’t brown. Add 1/2c (125ml) milk (1% for us but even skim will do as cheese provides more than enough fat). Then add grated cheese – max 2 oz or 60 g per person. Stir over low heat until the sauce bubbles, then mix in your cooked pasta. Serve with a grind of pepper or some freshly grated nutmeg.

  

Something from nothing…

The fridge is starting to look a little bare as we get ready for a cleanup and refresh. Whether it’s because you’re going away, there’s a change of season, or your cupboards and fridge just need a good sorting, it helps cut down on waste if you take one day a week to cook just with what’s on hand. 

Here’s what I saw that needed to be used:

3 homemade sourdough buckwheat buns – I keep these in the freezer because with whole grains and no preservatives they spoil easily.

Sundried tomatoes in oil – bought for a recipe; I prefer the dry-packed, as they keep longer without electricity.

Green olives – good for martinis but alas, we are out of gin.

A can of tuna in water.

Kozlik’s Tripke Crunch mustard, which I love but which has, of late, been ignored in favour of Old Smokey.

Some cheese bought “off list” on last week’s market excursion and needing to be finished off.

I chopped the tomatoes and olives, mixed with the tuna and mustard, and spread this on the buns (sliced in half). Next I grated the cheese and put it on top, popping under the broiler just until melt-y.

That’s it! Another weekend use-it-up assignment complete:

  

Lunchovers?

Call them what you will, one of the best ways to stretch your grocery bill is to incorporate leftovers or things that need using up into your lunch. 

We’re off to run a couple of errands before the Super Bowl and we were smart enough not to eat the two extra lamb chops in the grocery store package (on sale last week and held in the freezer). We broiled the lot last night and sliced the leftovers for lunch. They’re served on a bed of local baby greens and cukes, both hothouse-grown.

  
For the dressing:

1/4 c / 60ml homemade wine vinegar

2T / 30ml olive oil

1oz / 30g crumbled feta

1T / 15ml Dijon

1T / 15ml dried oregano or basil 

6 dry-cured olives, chopped

Sprinkle on top:

1T / 15ml chopped sundried tomatoes 

Don't Waste the Taste!

As part of our “use it up” series, today’s lunch is the remainder of last night’s fish pie.   
It started with leftover celeriac gratin, to which we added some steamed carrots and sliced mushrooms. Any leftover veg would do, though. We also had part of a container of whipping cream, and of course, the last of our amazing roast haddock from Hooked. Again, if you have other leftover fish, or even a tin of wild-caught salmon, this will work nicely. No whipping cream? Try regular milk with a tablespoon of cornstarch stirred in. 

Heat all of this to bubbling over gentle heat in an ovenproof dish, while you heat your oven to 400F

Meanwhile, make the biscuit topping like so:

In a medium bowl, combine 1 c each white flour and whole wheat flour. This makes a thick topping for four, otherwise feel free to halve it! Stir in 1/2 T brown sugar, 2 t baking powder and 1/2 t baking soda. Give a grind of salt and pepper. Quickly stir in 1 c fat free yogurt, just until blended. You may need to knead a couple of times by hand. Turn out onto a floured surface and pat to the size of your casserole. Place on top of the fish filling.

After 15 minutes drop the heat to 350 and bake another 15 minutes. At this point you can turn the heat off and it will stay warm in the oven for another 15-20 if someone is running late. 

Leftovers? Reheat from refrigerator cold by placing in a cold oven. Turn heat to 350. When your oven comes up to 350, time for 15 minutes and you’re set.

Also, the same topping can be rolled into biscuits – skip the pepper and follow the method as given. Roll 1″ thick and cut into circles. Bake on a cookie sheet w parchment at 400 for 20 minutes.)

Any meal, anytime…how can I use THIS up?

  
For us, today is meal-planning and market day. We mostly plan dinners, eating leftovers the following day, or a salad or soup. At the end of the week we take stock: what didn’t we make? What made too much and needs to be used up?

Last week we tried a recipe for bacon and leek risotto. Even reducing the arborio by half, it was more than a meal’s worth for the two of us. So we tucked away the leftovers in the fridge with all good intentions. Here we are, Saturday, and that little package of risotto either must be used or thrown away. Sure, it could form the basis of a creamy rice soup. Or it could get buried in some casserole, or formed into patties and browned until slightly crisp on the outside, given that it has absorbed the liquid and sort of, well, solidified. But all that seemed boring. 

What about breakfast? I sautéed an onion, four mushrooms and a stalk of celery (all sliced or diced) with any leftover fresh herbs from the fridge, chopped. Then I tipped in the risotto (about a cup, for two) and a chopped tomato that was on its last day. A quick stir, and then I cracked in two eggs. On low heat with a lid, it took just 5 more minutes for a tasty medium poached breakfast bowl to be ready for each of us.

A grind of pepper on top and we are off to a healthy, happy start to our weekend!

There's something fishy about this curry…But we're bananas for it!

   We’ve been in “use it up” mode at our house lately, finding creative ways to avoid the grocery store and use what’s on hand. This includes working down things we have in the freezer, in anticipation (hope?) of another season of garden bounty. Also, I was once again fooled into buying bananas. Here in Nova Scotia, even if the bananas look as green as grass, they won’t last more than a day or two. So here’s what we did – enough for last night’s dinner and lunch today…

Dice a large carrot, an onion, and two peeled white potatoes. Put on to boil in some vegetable broth, then simmer 10 minutes til tender.

Chop up half a pound or about 200g of fish, or use leftover cooked fish, and add to the veg along with a couple of large spoonfuls of dried unsweetened coconut and a tablespoon (15ml) of curry powder. Simmer until fish ish opaque and stir in a cup or so of milk. 

Heat through…and here’s the surprise: in each bowl, slice in half a banana. Top with the soup and some chopped herbs – we have basil and Vietnamese coriander growing in the window. 

It was delish, and we hope you enjoy it.

Turkey Apple Caesar

Delicious! We are always inspired to find new ways to use things like a basic roasted turkey. Soups, salads, stews, chilis…it’s all good. Today’s lunch finished off the last of the bird.

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For two:

1 package of romaine hearts – chop or leave whole and arrange on plates
Top with:
110g diced roast turkey
1 medium apple
For the dressing, mix:
10ml/2t anchovy paste
15ml/1T each Dijon and lemon juice
30ml/2T fat free plain yogurt
Drizzle over your salad and grate on a light serving of Parmesan cheese.

A fishy take on leftover pizza

A couple of nights ago we made our homemade pizza (check out the artichoke pizza recipe in the Recipes tab). This time it was 100% whole grain flour – a mix of spelt and wheat. For the toppings, olive pesto, red pepper, mushroom, anchovies, feta and mozzarella – a light touch on the cheese so the crust doesn’t steam. It has a delicious crispy, nutty flavour.

This morning, with a nod to the French, the Italians, and anyone else who thinks egg on pizza is inspired, we topped the leftovers with a perfectly poached egg.

Our return to post-holiday fitness is on track and things are (ahem) firming up nicely. On today’s agenda, a good long walk. This should give us enough energy to get that done.

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