Vegetarian Chili Soup

This Chili Soup was a real last minute dinner fix, a quick look in the pantry revealed a half used packet of chili seasoning and among other delicious pantry type goods, black beluga lentils. By chance I also had marble cheese and sour cream in the fridge and this delicious and very satisfying soup was born… I must admit, the best dishes are the last minute , what the hell am I going to make for dinner, ones…..

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Makes 4 – 6 servings

1 tbsp olive oil

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

4 garlic cloves, sliced

1 red pepper, diced

1.5 L beef stock

1.5 tbsp + 1/2 tbsp chili seasoning

1 medium tomato, diced

1/4 cup italian style rice

1/8 cup black beluga lentils, rinsed

small handful of curly leaf parsley, chopped

salt and pepper

sour cream and grated cheese to serve

Sweat the carrots, onion, garlic and pepper in a large pot with the olive oil for 5 minutes until the onion is softened and transluscent. Add the beef stock to the veggies along with the 1.5 tbsp of chili seasoning, and diced tomatoes, cover the pot and allow the soup to simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the veggies are softened.  Remove the pot from the heat and use a hand held blender to puree the soup, leaving the liquid just slightly chunky. Add the rice and beluga lentils along with the remaining chili seasoning and chopped parsley. Simmer uncovered, until the lentils are cooked, about 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with sour cream and grated cheese.

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Banana and Bran Breakfast Muffins

It has been quite some time since I have made some muffins, and so I took a shot at making some  healthy banana bran muffins. I used olive oil instead of butter or oil and I can say that I will most definitely use olive oil in my muffins as it is a healthier choice.

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makes 9

2 large overripened bananas

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup bran

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 375*

place the bananas and brown sugar in a large bowl and use a fork or potato masher to crush the bananas until smooth.  Add the eggs, olive oil and vanilla, and combine using a wooden spoon.

Throw in all the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

Divide the batter between 9 greased muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and a tooth pick inserted into the middle of the muffibs comes out clean.

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Mushroom and Red Pepper Israeli Cous Cous, with Garlicky Mustard Roast Chicken Thighs

I love Israeli cous cous and was all out for a few months because I hadn’t had the chance to get to bulk barn to buy any. By chance I came across some at the organic foods store near my home and finally was able to stock my pantry with some! Because I made the cous cous in a large pan and not a pot, I believe that more of the beef stock evaporated than was absorbed into the cous cous therefore I had to keep adding more liquid that would probably not be necessary had I used a pot with a lid. Having said that, for this cous cous recipe I am calling for 3.5 cups of stock rather than the 5 cups that I used, however more stock or water can always be added should you find the need to add it.

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Ingredients for the cous cous- serves 2- 4

3 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 long sweet pepper, sliced

4-5 white button mushrooms, sliced

3 garlic cloves minced

1/4 cups Israeli cous cous

3 1/2 cups beef stock

1-2 kale leaves, finely sliced

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, add the onions, sliced pepper, and mushrooms, cook until the veggies begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Next, add the cous cous and minced garlic to the pot, stirring for about 2 minutes, and allowing to cous cous to “toast” a little bit.  Finally add the beef stock, the sliced kale leaves, and grated carrot.
Simmer the cous cous for 15-20 minutes, covered and stirring occasionally, until the cous cous has softened, adding extra liquid if needed. Season with salt and pepper.

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Ingredients for the chicken- serves 2-4

4 chicken thighs, skinned and bone in

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp paprika

salt and pepper

1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste

1/4 cup water

2-3 tsp Dijon mustard

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

t tsp brown sugar

Pre heat the oven to 375*f

Line a baking tray with parchment paper ( I also lined my tray with foil to make for easier clean up! ), place chicken pieces on the baking tray, brush with the olive oil and season with the paprika, salt, and pepper. Bake the chicken for 30 minutes until it starts to brown. Mean while,

Combine the remaining ingredients in a small pot over a medium heat, simmer for literally just 2 minutes, just to blend the flavors together.

Remove the chicken from the oven and pour the sauce over each piece, return the chicken to the oven and continue baking for another 15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink on the inside.

Carmelized Onion and Bacon Tart

This is an onion and bacon tart that I made for dinner a few days ago, what I like about this tart is that is not too “eggy”.

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Ingredients *9 inch tart

For the pastry

1  2/3 c flour

8 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces

3-4 tbsp cold water

For the filling

2 tbsp butter

5 medium size onions, peeled and thinly sliced

3 slices of thick cut bacon, or 5 slices of regular bacon, diced

50g Swiss cheese, grated or sliced

30g Havarti cheese grated or cubed

1/3 cup 35% heavy cream

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 large egg

Salt and pepper to taste

Place the flour in a large bowl, and work the butter into the flour using your fingers until it resembles bread crumbs, stir in the cold water, 1 tbsp at a time until the dough comes together.  Shape the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To make the filling, melt the butter in a large pan over a medium heat, throw in the onions and allow the onions to slowly brown, and soften, about 20 minutes or so. Add the bacon to the pan and continue to cook the onions allowing the bacon fat to render off, about 15 minutes.  Take off the heat and allow the onions to cool.

Pre heat the oven to 345*f

Roll out the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin, to about a 1/8 of an inch thick, and lay the dough over a 9 inch tart pan, gently pressing the dough into the sides and cutting off any excess dough away.

Fill the tart with the onion and bacon mixture, layering the onions with the cheese. In a small bowl combine the heavy cream, minced garlic and egg, season with salt and pepper and whisk, pour the egg mixture over the onions, bacon and cheese mixture in the tart shell.  Sprinkle with paprika for some colour.

Bake for 45 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.

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Cheesy Rice Cakes with Marinara Sauce

I have been wanting to make cheesy rice balls since the day I first had them at a food show last year.I made these into small circular patties instead. These rice patties have a nice crispy exterior, encasing a creamy and cheesy, rice filling. They are great on their own or with a side of Caesar Salad.

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 Ingredients makes 12

4 cups cooked * Italian * style rice

300g grated Gouda cheese ( or mozzarella or other cheese you like)

1 tsp dry oregano

 4 garlic cloves, minced

 pepper to taste

 chopped parsley to taste

For the bread Crumb Coating

 1 cup dry bread crumbs

2 tsp dry oregano

1 tso dry basil

2 tsp garlic granules

salt and pepper to taste

Combine the cooked rice, grated cheese ,oregano, garlic parsley and pepper in a large bowl, using your hands, combine all the ingredients until thoroughly distributed.Divide the rice mixture, and form 12 patties about an inch or so thick.

Combine the ingredients for the bread crumb coating in a shallow dish. Dip the rice patties into the bread crumb mixture and ensure even coating. Set the patties on a baking sheet and refrigerate while making the marinara sauce.

 For the marinara sauce;

2- 796ml can of chopped tomatoes

1 cup water

6 garlic cloves, minced

8 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves only

8 sprigs fresh basil, leaves only

2 tbsp brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients for the marinara sauce in a large pot and simmer over a medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Use a hand held blender to puree the sauce, ensuring to allow the sauce to remain some what chunky.

You want the sauce to be pretty thick… if it is not at this point, than return the sauce to the heat, and simmer until the sauce reaches desired consistency.

Heat a shallow non stick pan with enough oil to come up about half way each rice patty, over a medium – medium high heat.

Remove the rice patties from the fridge, brown each patty in the hot oil for about 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown.

 Serve with the Marinara sauce and extra herbs for garnish.


Beef and Barley Risotto with Asparagus

This dish can certainly be made using risotto rice, but I like the texture of the barley in place of the rice, you’ll a whole lot more flavor with the barley as well. The beef I used, had had other plans prior to me deciding I would use it in a risotto and so it had alreadybeen marinated for 2 days in red wine, garlic , and malagueta. You dont have to marinate the beef before using, but you will add that much more flavour if you do.

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Ingredients, serves 3-4

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

150 g beef cutlet, marinated

½ cup pearl barley

½ cup small pasta, like orzo

1 medium onion, sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

225g white button mushrooms, washed and sliced

1 Litre of beef stock + more if needed

1 bundle of asparagus, trimmed and cut into large pieces diagonally

Chopped parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat, brown the beef cutlet about 2-3 minutes a side, set on a plate to cool, slice into bite size pieces.

Add the barley, and pasta to the pot, stirring for 2 minutes, browning the pasta and barley. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms to the barley and pasta stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes.  Slowly add the beef stock, scraping the bottom of the pot to get all the browned bits off.  Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the chopped asparagus pieces, parsley, and the cooked beef. Simmer for another 15 minutes or until the asparagus is cooked the way you like it.  At any point during simmering you may or may not have to add a little extra beef stock if the stock simmers off before the barley is cooked, I like to add just a ½ cup at a time.

Sopa Da Ti-tia ( Auntie’s Soup )

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So a few weeks ago I made this simple red pepper and potato based vegetable soup, I had my Mom send some over to my sisters house and My Niece  the cutie loved the soup. She is probably the soups biggest adorer. The original I made took Israeli couscous, unfortunately I have none in my pantry at the moment and used alphabet pasta instead. In addition to this soup being yummy, it is also a healthy soup, loaded with veggies…

Ingredients serves 4-6

1 red pepper, diced
4 stalks of celery, sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced + 1 medium potato peeled and diced, saved for later
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2.5 L chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups broccoli florets,
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1/3 cup +2 tbsp small pasta
1/3 cup milk
1 heaping tbsp all purpose flour

Place the pepper, celery, 2 medium potatoes, garlic, and stock in a large pot and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Remove the pot from the heat.

Puree the soup in a blender or in the pot using a hand held blender until smooth. Add the remaining diced potato, broccoli, grated carrot, and pasta to the soup and continue to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally  until the vegetables and pasta are tender.
At the last minute, combine the milk and flour in a small bowl, pour into the soup and simmer the soup for 2 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of dry basil.

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Panettone Bread Pudding


I originally purchased a whole panettone in the hopes of making some panettone french toast. While at the grocery store I noticed a sale on what I was assuming was older, not the freshest panettone, seeing as I was going to make french toast anyways I saved myself some change and got the would be old stuff… when I got home I opened the bag that the panettone came in and I had a slice which turned into 3 slices, which then turned into me and mother sitting at the kitchen table devouring more than half of the loaf. Needless to say, the old panettone was delicious, and there was now not enough to make my french toast, in turn I used what was left to make some panettone bread pudding with a vanilla cream sauce. IMG_5787 (800x533) IMG_5800 (800x533) IMG_5821 (800x533) IMG_5828 (800x533)


Jamaican Sorrel Drink

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A co-worker was kind enough to let me take a bottle of her home made Sorrel off of her hands this Christmas.  Sorrel is, from what this nurse told me, a plant that grows around Christmas time, which is then made into this wonderful drink consisting of, along with this Christmas plant, Rum, Ginger and wine….  The result is this deep red colored fluid, mildly spicy, tasting not of wine or ginger and not of rum, but a sweet and smooth blend of all these flavors.  Sorrel tastes like nothing else Ive ever had, and a must try drink for everyone.