Friday, July 27, 2012

Stuffed Bell Peppers & Portobello Mushrooms

This goes beyond cheating, but I felt pretty comfortable with it considering I had been donated a box of readymade potatoes. Of the two veggies, I preferred the stuffed portobellos and would likely stick to mushrooms the next time I make like this. I think the nice surprise with this recipe is that it's got a number of vegetables in it. You can beef this up with ground chuck or turkey, or actually follow the recipe and add shrimp to the top of the casserole (I forgot to thaw my tiger prawns, so that limited my options).

I have developed an aversion to anything a little too easy lately because I don't know what's in it. Instant potatoes and pre-shredded Tex-Mex cheese are the two offenders here. If you're a purist, go for the real ingredients. If you're a cheater like me, use the insta-food just this once and pound back a beer while your preparing this bad boy. You're a wild one and don't you forget it! 

Post Oven!
Adapted From:


  • 2 bell peppers 
  • 2 portobello mushrooms
  • 24 oz instant potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups Tex-Mex cheese
  • 1/4 t ground cumin
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • Kernels from 2 raw ears of corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 small, white onion, diced
  • 1 T adobo sauce
  • 1/4 t kosher salt


Heat oven to 400F. Slice peppers in half, lengthwise and seed them. Remove stems from mushrooms and place them along with the peppers face up in a casserole dish, 9"X13" or larger. 

In a mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, half a cup of the grated cheese, corn, zucchini, cilantro and cumin. Spoon the mixture into the peppers and mushrooms. The potato mix should be heaving over each of its receptacles. 

In a separate bowl stir in the tomatoes, onion, adobo sauce and salt and spoon the mixture around the peppers and mushrooms. 

Bake uncovered for thirty minutes, then add the remaining cheese to the tops of the stuffed veggies and return to the oven for ten minutes or until the cheese has browned a little. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Raspberries in Syrup

It's now just after 6 am and I am currently sinking my teeth into some delectable pancakes, my craving now satisfied. As an eggs and bacon advocate, I tend to go for the savoury breakfasts with the exception of my once-a-year attempt at pancakes. I tried a banana recipe last year and while delicious, I don't think I bothered posting it. My photos of these charred, lumpy-looking turds didn't sell it. But these, when smothered with fruit and yoghurt, hide the charred spots that I can't help but get every time I make pancakes. If I wasn't lazy, I'd wipe down the pan with each round to avoid getting darker pancakes each time. I also learned this time to make small pancakes so I have better control over how they cook. 

Oh yes...the other reason I don't make pancakes that often is because they don't sustain me for very long. There isn't enough in the way of complex carbs and protein to keep me going. Well, after having spotted a number of cottage cheese pancake recipes, I thought I might have a go at one of them. This one in particular looked easy and after having read some Martha Stewart versions, I wanted one that took less effort (Martha, I'm just not up for foraging for elderflowers at 5 am). The protein in cottage cheese, just might help bridge that energy gap I need and today is no exception. We're cycling 100kms just north of Edmonton today and I need energy. Let's see how this breakfast holds up compared to my Sunday egg on toast.

A bit less turd-like than last year's batch.
Adapted From:

Serves 3-4

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 T honey or agave syrup
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • cooking spray or vegetable oil for the fry pan
  • Container of frozen raspberries in syrup (shockingly lazy, I know)


Whisk the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another. Add the wet to the dry again, mixing well. Heat a non-stick fry pan on medium heat and coat with either cooking spray or vegetable oil. Spoon a few tablespoons of the batter on to the fry pan (I seemed to have better luck cooking three pancakes at a time). Cook pancakes for 2 minutes on each side and set aside on a plate. 

Serve with fresh fruit, the thawed raspberries and a dollop of thick yoghurt.

*After having eaten I thought these might be even more hearty if I were to add a fistful of thick cut oats to the recipe. I might have to adjust my wet ingredients to balance out the extra dry. Just a thought!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cherry Balsamic Pork Chops, Quinoa Pilaf & a Crunchy Salad

While I know I haven't stopped eating, I couldn't figure out why the blog entries have suddenly come to a halt. My analysis brought several excuses. First and foremost was the elusive patio. I've hit every patio I could find over the last month, which has kept me out of the house and the kitchen. Summer cooking also seems less like cooking than the experiments I try in the winter. I think barbecues just call for simplicity and I haven't quite figured out how to make my grill-top creations exciting enough to write about. Finally, I pulled out several of my old favorites and repeat entries just don't make for good reading.

Now that I've given you all my excuses, here's what I ate for Sunday dinner. A good price on pork chops and incessant rain called for an attempt at a way to make pork chops juicy and delicious. I included some goods sides that I can carry as lunches too. 

Pork Chops in Balsamic Cherry Sauce

Adapted From: Fairchild, B. (2006). The Bon Appetit Cookbook. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons. p. 293. 

Serves 4

  • 4, 140g pork chops
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette*
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries


Place the pork and vinaigrette in a dish to marinate for 15 minutes. Make sure that the chops are turned at least once to coat.

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Lift the pork from the marinade, shaking off the excess liquid and place in the skillet, reserving the marinade. Sprinkle the pork with pepper. Saute until brown, at least three minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a plate. Add the shallot to the skillet and stir until soft, about one minute. Add the broth, cherries and reserved marinade and bring the mixture to a boil, scraping off the brown bits from the sides of the pan. Return the pork to the skillet and simmer, turning the pork once until it is cooked through, the cherries are tender and the sauce has thickened, about four minutes. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper if required. Transfer the pork to plates, top with the sauce and serve.

*You can make your own by whisking a 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar with 1/4 cup of any oil of your choice and seasoning it with salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon of dijon mustard for some additional kick.

Quinoa Pilaf with Mushrooms & Caramelized Onions

Opted for oyster and porcini mushrooms 


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup toast pine nuts
  • 2 T parsley, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Bring the broth and quinoa to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the onions and mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and let cook for about a minute. Empty the quinoa into a bowl and add the mushroom mix to it, mixing well.  Toss in the pine nuts, parsley, salt and pepper and serve.

Chopped Salad with Feta, Lime and Basil

Adapted from:

  • 3 cups, crunchy vegetables, chopped
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 T chopped basil
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

The original recipe used various wax beans, cucumber and radishes for the vegetables along with mint as the herb of choice. I opted for green beans, asparagus, both blanched, radishes and basil as my herb. Go nuts with your favorite herbs and veg people!! That's what this salad is meant for!

Combine the vegetables, feta, onions, sunflower seeds and basil into a bowl. In a separate dish, add the lime juice with the oil, chili powder, salt and pepper. Whisk well until all ingredients are well combined. Add the dressing to your vegetables and toss well. This salad can be eaten immediately, but makes for great leftovers.