Here is a quick, easy and healthy lunch or dinner that’s great for using up leftover noodles/pasta. I made this for lunch last week and my family devoured it, begging me to “make this again!” (oh, how I love to hear those words, especially from the children!). The best part is you can use whatever noodles and vegetables you have on hand. My preference, of course, is to use whole wheat or grain noodles (such as kamut or spelt, available at the Bulk Barn); however, my favourite for frittatas is whole wheat linguine. Sometimes I add cheese (cheddar, gouda, or feta all taste great) and/or ham to the egg mixture. Or, you can sprinkle some cheese overtop the frittata once plated, but still hot. Chopped ham or fresh basil would also be a great addition. Serve with a side garden salad, using my Honey Mustard Salad Dressing.

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped vegetables (I used red pepper, zucchini, purple green onions)

leftover pasta (at least 1 – 2 cups)

6 eggs, beaten

salt, pepper & paprika to taste

Directions:

1. Saute vegetables over medium-high heat in frying pan sprayed with olive oil or grape seed oil, until softened.

2. Add noodles and gently stir.

3. Once noodles are warm, pour beaten eggs over top. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Reduce temperature to medium.

4. Once eggs have set (approximately 5 minutes), gently slide frittata onto a large plate. Then flip frittata back into frying pan so the other side gets cooked (approximately 5 more minutes). Slide back onto large plate. Cut using a pizza cutter and serve!

Late this morning, as I stood in front of my open refrigerator, I wondered what on earth I would make for today’s lunch. I couldn’t help but notice that I had a lot of green onions – they have been included in every CSA box since the deliveries started in June and I have not been able to use them all up before the subsequent week’s delivery, so there were A LOT! After searching for some recipes online, I decided to make a Creamed Green Onion & Broccoli Soup Sans Cheese (from Group Recipes), Green Onion Pancakes (from delicious days), and Green Onion Quick Bread (from Best Recipes Ever).

The soup was a big hit with everyone, even the children. It is quite similar to the Broccoli Leek Soup I posted not too long ago, though it is a little more indulgent than the leek version because it calls for butter, which along with flour and milk, is used to thicken this soup. I even had fresh broccoli from my latest CSA box delivery from just a couple of days ago, so the flavour of the soup was outstanding. I used some of my homemade chicken stock from the freezer, to which I barely add any salt, so this soup was definitely as low sodium as you can get! If you do not have any homemade chicken stock on hand, I recommend using PC Blue Menu Reduced Sodium Chicken Stock. The recipe suggests pureeing the soup only slightly, so there are still broccoli pieces in the soup, however knowing my children’s aversion to chunky soups, I opted to puree the soup until all the vegetables were liquified. I love it when my children say, “Mami, make this again!” and that’s exactly what they were saying today!

I actually started preparing the Green Onion Pancakes first (though why they’re called pancakes is beyond me, since they resemble more a flatbread). Despite the blogger’s command to, “make them now, you won’t regret it”, I quickly became skeptical that these would turn out (I mean, hot water added to flour and  a little salt hardly sounds or looks appetizing, I don’t care how many green onions you add to it!). So while I put the dough to rest for 30 minutes as per the recipe’s instructions, I decided I’d better make the quick bread, too (besides, I still had lots of green onions available)! The quick bread looks so tasty in the picture on the website, and everything I have ever tried making from “Best Recipes Ever” has always been a success, so I thought for sure it would be a winner. Well, the quick bread tasted quite bland and I was so glad I had continued making the “pancakes”, because they were truly amazing  to the point that I will overlook the fact they are made entirely with white flour and are fried in oil, which is so not in line with the purpose of this blog! Given that the quick bread has whole wheat flour and is baked (not fried), I will try it one more time, except I’ll add a little more salt and some (or maybe lots of) grated cheddar cheese.

So, if you have a bunch of green onions and broccoli in your fridge, I highly recommend making this soup. And if you have a little extra time on your hands and would like to try out something different, I highly recommend making the “pancakes” to accompany the soup. If you decide to make the quick bread with my modifications, please let me know how it turns out!

Here are a few photos of my “in-progress” lunch preparations:

This is the soup just before I pureed it, thickened it, and simmered it for 5 more minutes.

 

These are the “pancakes” just before I added the green onions and then fried them in olive oil.

 

This is the quick bread before I placed it onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper and baked it in the oven for 35 minutes.

Are you part of a CSA? What is your favourite part about receiving your box of vegetables?!

There’s just something about a roasted red pepper that takes a meal to the next level. Last night it was just me and the kids for dinner and so I decided to make something vegetarian. Thursdays is when my weekly CSA box arrives so it made sense to use at least one of its (entirely green!) contents – enter broccoli. I had opened a new jar of tomato sauce (my favourite one is from Costco – see picture below) at lunch time for some 10-Minute Pizza and so I decided to boil some whole wheat Fusili and voila – I had a quick and tasty meal for the children. I usually stay away from carbohydrates at dinner time, but I was famished and the children’s dinner smelled soooo good, and who really wants to eat like a rabbit every lunch and dinner!?!? Then I recalled the roasted red pepper in the fridge, left over from a BBQ dinner earlier this week, and together with some of the fresh basil in my CSA box I served myself a big bowl of bliss!

How to Roast a Pepper on the BBQ:
Spray* with olive oil (or rub on some oil using your fingers)
Place on hot BBQ and turn pepper every few minutes (leave BBQ on medium-high)
Remove the pepper once it has softened and blackened (approximately 10 – 15 minutes)
Let pepper cool slightly and then peel the skin off and discard the skin, stem, and seeds

How to Roast a Pepper in the oven:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Spray* with olive oil (or rub on some oil using your fingers)
Place pepper on baking tray or in casserole dish
Remove the pepper once it has softened and blackened (approximately 15 – 20 minutes)
Let pepper cool slightly and then peel the skin off and discard the skin, stem, and seeds

* Several years ago I purchased a refillable oil mister and highly recommend them, as they make it possible to use as little oil as necessary for stir fries, etc. I have seen them at Winners, Kitchen Stuff Plus and Costco.

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

June 11, 2012

If you’ve been wondering if I was ever going to post another recipe, rest assured that I have not forgotten about my blog! It’s just that I was away on vacation for two weeks and returned less than a week ago, and it has taken a few days to settle back into “normal” life with three young children. I wish I could tell you that I had a relaxing holiday, however most of you already know from first-hand experience that there is no such thing as a “vacation” when you are a parent!

Now, don’t get me wrong – we had a lovely time in PEI, where we rented a cottage (really, it was more like a house) near Cavendish (where there is a wonderful beach where my children had great fun playing in the red-tinted sand) and we were blessed to have our good friends from Nova Scotia come visit us for a few days. It’s just that being away from home means your children are in even more need of your constant attention, and that just gets to be E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-N-G!

I know this may sound strange to some of you, but cooking and baking have the opposite effect on me. The kitchen is where I “recharge”, so to speak. That is why it was important for us to have accommodations with a decent kitchen – and the kitchen at this cottage was pretty amazing, actually. The first day our dear friends from Nova Scotia stayed with us we had a BBQ dinner: pork souvlaki for the adults, sausages for the children, and today’s featured recipe post – Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers.

My mother introduced me to these D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S peppers, which I have since made many times. Each time I use slightly different ingredients so they are never the same. My mother heard about the original recipe while watching the Dr. Oz show, and subsequently found it on his website. The original recipe is made with ground turkey and can be served as a complete meal.

Now, I did not actually take the time to photograph the stuffed peppers I made that evening in PEI, but I did make and photograph them shortly before we went on vacation and so will use those photos and ingredients below. Here, I made a vegetarian version, which can be used as a complete vegetarian meal, or as a side to grilled meats.

Ingredients & Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash 4 red peppers (any colour will work, really – I prefer red though) and cut lengthwise, including the stem. Leaving the stem in place makes possible an impressive presentation. Spray with olive oil (or rub on the olive oil if you haven’t got any spray). Place on baking sheet or in casserole dish and bake for at least 20 minutes, until they begin to soften.

2. Meanwhile, saute 1 shredded carrot, 1 shredded zucchini, 1/2 finely chopped onion, 1 finely minced garlic clove. (I also like to add some fresh baby spinach if I have some on hand.)

3. Add left-over grilled eggplant (or add some sautéed mushrooms, preferably coarsely chopped) and cooked quinoa (approximately 1 cup). Sometimes I reduce the amount of quinoa and replace it with cooked brown rice. (If you don’t have any left-over eggplant or mushrooms from last night’s dinner, just saute some for a while BEFORE you add the shredded carrot, zucchini, etc. in step 2 above!)

4. Add cumin and chilli powder to taste. Add salsa (approximately 1/4 cup).

5. Spoon quinoa mixture into red peppers, cover with foil and bake for approximately 20 minutes.

6. Remove foil, sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Continue baking uncovered for approximately 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

7. Serve with plain greek yogurt and a side salad. I sometimes add 1/4 of an avocado on top of the yogurt. ENJOY!

Here is a picture from our vacation on PEI. I would add more, but I seem to be having issues uploading photos without it taking what seems like an eternity!

Have you ever been to PEI? What was your favourite part of the island and/or vacation?!

Quinoa-Veggie Burgers

May 4, 2012

If you’ve been following my blog since its inception just over two weeks ago(!), you already know that I adore quinoa. Well, today I finally had a chance to try out the Quinoa-Veggie Burger recipe that I discovered while flipping through an issue of Chatelaine during one of my many visits to the walk-in clinic (when you have three young children, you go there A LOT!). These tasty “burgers” are surprisingly quick and easy to make.

Chatelaine gives the preparation and cooking time as 20 minutes each (for a total of 40 minutes), but really the preparation (peeling and chopping vegetables) can be done in about 5 minutes, and if you use left-over quinoa instead of cooking a fresh batch, the cooking time can also be reduced to 15 minutes – meaning you can have lunch or dinner ready in about 20 minutes!

You can view the Chatelaine version of this recipe here, or you can follow along below to view how I made my burgers.

Ingredients:

1 and 1/4 cup cooked quinoa (I usually cook 1 cup quinoa – which turns into approximately 3 cups once cooked) at the beginning of each week so I have some readily available throughout the week for recipes like these Quinoa-Veggie Burgers, Quinoa Carrot Muffins, Greek Yogurt Delight, etc.)

1 egg, scrambled – EDITOR’S NOTE: by scrambled, I mean whisked & uncooked!

2 Tbsp cornstarch and 1 Tbsp brown rice flour (because I ran out of cornstarch, though you could use 3 Tbsp of either ingredient – I purchase my brown rice flour at the Bulk Barn)

2 Tbsp ground flaxseed (optional)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cumin (because I didn’t have any cayenne pepper, which the Chatelaine recipe calls for and I thought cumin would taste good – it did!)

1 tsp canola oil

approximately 115 g cremini and portobello mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

1 coarsely grated medium zucchini

1 coarsely grated medium peeled carrot

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Directions:

1. Transfer quinoa into a large bowl. Stir in egg, cornstarch (and/or brown rice flour), ground flaxseed, salt and cumin.

2. Heat a large, wide non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add oil, then mushrooms, zucchini, carrot, onion and garlic. Cook until soft, about 5 min.

3. Add cooked veggies to quinoa and egg mixture and stir.

4. Heat the same non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Firmly press quinoa mixture into a 1/3-cup measuring cup. If the burgers are not sticking together well, add some more cornstarch or brown rice flour to the mixture.

5. Turn and release into pan. Gently press to shape into a patty. cook until golden and warmed through, about 4 minutes per side. Repeat until quinoa-veggie mixture is “all gone” (picture my almost-two-year old here shrugging her shoulders and holding out the palms of her hands upwards as she says “all gone”- too cute!).

I THOROUGHLY enjoyed my quinoa-veggie burgers along with some romaine lettuce, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado, topped with a generous dollop of hummus. Of course, I drizzled the raw veggies with my Honey Mustard Salad Dressing! [Though I have made my own hummus in the past, I prefer the one from Costco (brand name: “fontaine sante”) because let’s face it, I don’t really have time to make EVERYTHING from scratch, and the listed ingredients are “normal”: chickpeas, tahini (sesame butter) canola oil, lemon juice concentrate, sea salt, vinegar, garlic juice (garlic juice, salt).]

Chatelaine suggests topping the burgers with tahini sauce and roasted plum tomatoes. Their photo of the cooked burgers shows them served on top of a grilled portobello mushroom and arugula. It looks soooo yummy, I think I’ll try this next time!

Will you give this recipe a try? Are you interested in more “meatless” meals?

I just adore quinoa. Although it is referred to as a whole grain, it is actually a tiny seed, and it can also be ground into flour. Cooked whole quinoa has a slightly nutty flavour and a lovely crunchy texture. But what I love most about quinoa is that it cooks in just 15 minutes and is a complete protein! Oh, and it’s gluten free! I use it often instead of rice and prefer it over couscous, but it is even more versatile than that – you can add it to virtually any meal or snack. When I cook quinoa, I make sure to cook enough to last several days in an airtight container in the fridge. Please refer to a previous link for more information about quinoa.

Here are a couple of ideas for using cooked quinoa: Add 1/4 cup of cooked quinoa to the Greek Yogurt Delight recipe to boost it’s nutritional value and satiety. Or, you can add any array of roasted/grilled vegetables to some quinoa and drizzle it with some Honey Mustard Dressing and sprinkle some feta cheese over top (and some sliced almonds or chopped pecans are also a nice addition).

This afternoon, however, I decided to add some cooked quinoa to the “Carrot Spice Muffins” in Patricia Green & Carolyn Hemming’s national bestselling cookbook, entitled “Quinoa 365 – The Everyday Superfood” . These muffins are kid-friendly, gluten-free, and of course, contain vegetables! And as an added bonus, they contain no oil or butter! Rather, they are moistened by the addition of plain yogurt. Serve these for breakfast, lunch or snack time!

Here is the recipe with some slight modifications.

Ingredients:

2 1/3 cups quinoa flour (can be purchased at the “Bulk Barn”)

2 tbsp ground flaxseed (can also be purchased at the “Bulk Barn”)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt (I usually omit salt from my recipes)

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (or omit these and replace them with an additional 1/3 cup raisins)

2 large eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar – NOT packed (I always try to reduce the amount of sugar in a recipe!)

2/3 cup plain yogurt (I used PC’s Greek Yogurt, of course!)

2 1/4 cups finely grated carrots (you could reduce the amount of carrots and add grated zucchini instead to add more vegetable variety!)

1/2 cup cooked quinoa (I buy mine from Costco as it’s organic and pre-washed. The brand name is “truRoots”)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking oil. Combine the first eight ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Stir until well blended. Mix in the raisins and nuts (if using) and set aside. Whisk the eggs, sugar and yogurt in a large bowl. Stir in the grated carrots.

Using a spatula, gently stir the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until just blended. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin cups. Bake on the centre oven rack for 20 – 24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven and allow them to cool completely before removing them from the pan. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month, but I doubt they’ll last very long – the batch I made this afternoon is already devoured!