Author Archives: Margaret

About Margaret

A self-trained cook, cooking for herself and her husband in their condo. Cue the cozy domesticity! So, yes, this blog is about the creative satisfaction of cooking, about making meals that real people eat, in real people time (I also work outside the home), about trying to find the best recipes out there and about trying to stretch my cooking skills while I’m at it. Join me? I’ll link the recipes to the blog posts, so that you can try them too (I’m interested in feedback), and put in pictures so that you can see how they turned out.

5-Minute Easy Cheesy Broccoli Baked Potato Soup and a New-Found Love of Frozen Peas. Plus a Special Announcement!

Basically a cheese sauce and broccoli topped baked potato, but in soup form. Yum!

I’m sure that you’ve noticed that I haven’t posted a new recipe in a few weeks, right? Well, that’s because I…gave birth! To the most perfect little girl the DH and I could ever have imagined! At 7 lbs and 4 oz (ish. I’m too tired to properly calculate the conversion from kg to lbs), with a head full of hair and (so far) blue eyes, she’s keeping us on our toes! But, we still need to eat. So, I pulled out some of the Easy Cheesy Broccoli Baked Potato Soup that I made during the last week of pregnancy. So easy. So cheesy. Basically a broccoli and cheese topped baked potato, but in soup form. And ready in 5 minutes. Are you hungry yet?

You use baked potatoes in this recipe (which I nuked in the microwave because I don’t have time to wait for them to cook in the oven. My beloved newborn is a time suck!)  as well as cheese sauce and cooked broccoli (I defrosted from frozen) and toss it together with a couple of other items, then blend it all, and voila, dinner (or lunch!) is served! Easy, yes?

The reason that I say it only takes 5 minutes to make, if that I assume you have a batch of leftover homemade cheese sauce lying around your kitchen. If not, just whip up one from my recipe here (or dump in cheez whiz or something. Sometimes eating something not super-healthy is better than eating nothing. Like when you have a newborn). Homemade cheese sauce is really easy to make though. It’s basically a roux with cheese and extra milk. Like I said, check out my recipe here.

Now, let’s get this soup train on the road!

 

5 from 1 vote
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5-Minute Cheesy Broccoli Baked Potato Soup

Leftovers transform into a hearty soup with this dish, perfect for lunch, dinner, or freezer!

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 2 potatoes, large
  • 2 c. cheese sauce (homemade is best)
  • 1 1/4 c. broccoli, cooked
  • 2 c. chicken boullion (vegetarian)
  • pepper, to taste
  • cheddar cheese, grated optional, as topping

Instructions

  1. Bake (washed) potatoes in microwave.

  2. While potatoes are baking, place all remaining ingredients in a large soup pot and simmer.

  3. Once potatoes are baked, add to soup pot, skins and all.

  4. Using an immersion blender, blend to desired consistency.

  5. Serve with a sprinkle of grated cheese on top!

Like lots of potato-based soups, this soup tends to thicken up when cooled down and left for a day. So feel free to add a bit more milk or water or broth to thin it out. I like it thick and hearty, but to each his own!

Oh, and I nearly forgot to tell you about my newfound love of frozen peas! Well, I’m sure any new mom would be happy to tell you how useful they are. For sitting on. Just keeping it real, folks! (Seriously though? LOVING the frozen peas! Not too tmi, I hope?)

And on that note, I’m off to check on my daughter (eeeek! I have a daughter!) and hopefully grab a nap. Laters, all!

Next Post: I have a recipe for Alphabet Soup that can be tossed together easily, is hearty, and even got the nod of approval from the soup-tired DH! When will I post it? Well, take that up with Little Miss Poopy-pants. She now runs the roost around here. 🙂

Rosemary-Roasted Potatoes & Why I’m So Exhausted

If you’re a dedicated follower of this blog (and hey, aren’t you all?), you’ll have noticed that I haven’t posted any new recipes for a few weeks. Why? I’m in my last month of pregnancy and I’m wiped out. I know that most new moms will laugh at my exhaustion and tell me to get some sleep before baby comes, and believe me, I’d like to. But between my normal insomnia and pregnancy-induced insomnia, my energy is a little on the low side. Which is why super-easy and super-quick side dishes like today’s recipe for Rosemary-Roasted Potatoes are so fabulous!

This recipe tastes like you put a lot of time and effort into making delicious potatoes, when all one has to do is a quick chop, toss with oil and fresh rosemary, and roast those taters in the oven. Seriously easy-peasy lemon squeezey!

I’ve mentioned before that I grow a few things on my balcony garden, and fresh herbs are one of the easiest things to grow! So today’s recipe uses some fresh rosemary, picked just minutes before I used it in this recipe.

Let’s get cooking!

 

ROSEMARY-ROASTED POTATOES

This quick and easy side dish makes use of fresh rosemary for flavour and presentation. Seriously easy!

Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 7 small potatoes (or use at least one large potato per serving)
  • 2 stalks fresh rosemary
  • 3 tbsps. olive oil

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Line a cookie tray or baking sheet with foil (this makes for an easy clean-up).

  3. Chop the  potatoes into bite-sized chunks, strip the rosemary leaves off the stalks, and discard the stalks. 

  4. Toss potato chunks, rosemary leaves, and olive oil together. Spread mixture on foil-lined baking sheet.

  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden all over and crunchy on the bottom. 

  6. Let cool slightly before removing from foil and serving. This prevents the deliciously golden and crunchy bottom of the potatoes from sticking to the foil.  

While I’ve been pregnant I’ve been eating more organic produce than usual, and I’ve found that organic potatoes and organic grapes taste way better than conventionally-grown ones, at least from the stores that I shop at. If you have access to organic potatoes, I recommend using them in this recipe! Otherwise, eh, use what you’ve got! Potato, po-tah-to!

Let me know what you think of these super-easy rosemary-roasted potatoes! I made just enough for the DH and I to have for dinner tonight, but then I taste-tested them…and taste-tested them…and unless the DH gets home soon, there aren’t going to be any for (his) dinner! I mean, hey, I’m eating for two now, right?

Next Post: Not sure yet! Possibly macaroni and cheese, either potluck-style or my mother’s style. Or, something else entirely! We’ll see what I’m craving next! 

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday and Happiness is Homemade!

Very Cherry Crumble Bars: A Delicious Way to Use Up Frozen (or Fresh) Fruit!

So incredibly delicious! Seriously. Make these!

This week’s recipe is for Very Cherry Crumble Bars! I tend to have an over-stocked freezer (I don’t have a deep freeze, just an over-the-fridge- freezer) as I’m always stuffing in pre-made meals to pull out for later. At any given time, I can usually pull out Carrot Ginger Stew, Easy Enchiladas, homemade bread, ingredients for smoothies, and various fruits and veggies that I’ve bought and frozen. As I want to stock the freezer in anticipation of baby’s arrival, I decided to use up some of my single ingredients. Today, that ingredient was local cherries, that I had pitted and frozen!

With school lunches approaching for a lot of people, these bars can easily be baked, individually wrapped, and kept for the week’s lunches. I personally try to pack them for my work lunches, but…they tend not to stay around too long. Unless I freeze them in layers, and that kind of defeats the purpose of clearing out my freezer.

I came up with the recipe after mashing together and then modifying a few different recipes. I liked the easy crust from one recipe, but changed a few ingredients, and the streusel from another recipe (again changing a few ingredients), and then just made up my own filling, based on what I know about fruit pie fillings. See? It really is easy to play around in the kitchen. If you’re a bit hesitant about switching up ingredients, you can start out with simple substitutions. If you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll also get a free copy of my e-book, This for That: Easy Kitchen Swaps and Hacks. You can find the sign-up on the right-hand side of the blog.

But back to these delish bars! Let’s get to making some!

VERY CHERRY CRUMBLE BARS

With a shortbread crust, a very cherry filling, and a streusel topping, what's not to love? 

Servings 24 bars

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c. butter, softened
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 3 c. frozen cherries, defrosted and drained
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. corn starch
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. almond flavouring
  • 1/4 tsp. almond flavouring
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. butter, softened

Instructions

  1. Line a lasagna-sized tray with tin foil (for easy removal of bars).

  2. Mix the crust ingredients (the first four ingredients) together with a mixer until a fine crumb (almost sandy) appears. 

  3. Press the crumb mixture into the lined tray.

  4. Mix the fruit filling (the next 5 ingredients) together, and pour over the unbaked base.

  5. Mix the streusel topping (the last four ingredients) together, until a semi-lumpy crumb is formed.

  6. Sprinkle streusel topping over the fruit filling. 

  7. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, until the topping is golden. 

  8. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 30 minutes (this helps the base and filling become a bit firmer).  

  9. Once cool, either cut in pan, or lift out of pan using the tin foil edges and cut on a wooden cutting board.

  10. Serve and...enjoy!

 

This recipe makes a big batch (a lasagna-sized tray full) so it’s great for a family, a potluck, or just to Netflix with your bestie. If you do freeze some, make sure you freeze them with wax papers between the layers of bars, and make sure the container is well-wrapped to protect against freezer burn.

Oh, and one more hint about substitutions. You can definitely switch out the cherries for other fresh or frozen fruit. If the fruit is super-juicy, keep the flour and corn starch amounts the same, but if it’s a sturdy fruit such as apple or plum, just remove the corn starch (I add it to thicken up any juices that the fruit releases). Also, use an extract that works with the fruit. For example, I would use vanilla extract with apples, but almond extract with apricots. You do you, boo! And then comment on this post to let us know how it turned out!

Next Post: Maybe my Potluck-Friendly Potato Salad. Or perhaps a pasta salad. Or perhaps something else entirely! We’ll see what baby is craving next week. 🙂

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday, Happiness is Homemade, and the Clever Chicks Blog Hop!

Creamy Vanilla Pineapple Float: A Yummy Way to Beat the Heat!

Super easy and super creamy!

This summer I have been all about the cold drinks. It’s been steamy hot where I live, and I tend to wilt in the humid heat. If I step outside and my sunglasses fog up in seconds, that’s too humid for me! I like a nice dry heat. So, in order to beat the heat or at least exist with it, I tend to walk around carrying lots of bottles of cold ice water, eat a yummy green smoothie for dinner to cool down, and if I’m still overheated in the evening, this week’s recipe for a Creamy Vanilla Pineapple Float sure hits the spot!

This recipe is modified from one that my mother used to make when I was a child. And as a ice-cream based dessert float goes, it’s pretty healthy! Pineapple juice and powdered milk form most of the base of the float, so you’re getting lots of vitamins and calcium, and then it’s topped with a scoop of ice cream, the least healthiest but super delicious part.

I asked my mother where she got the original recipe from, and she actually doesn’t remember, but thinks it may have been from a magazine ad or so. I’m part of the generation that had an analog childhood but digital adolescence, so while I remember not having the internet of recipes at my fingertips, it still takes me a few seconds to grasp how different it must have been not to have instant access to recipes for everything available at all times. I wonder how my bebe-to-be’s life will be different from mine. Change is the only constant in life, I guess!

Speaking of change, you could easily change up this recipe. You could definitely make the ice cream yourself, if you wanted to cut out all preservatives and such. I have several no churn ice cream recipes on this blog, such as this one and this one. Just make the basic ice cream base (whipped cream and evaporated milk, plus an extract) and away you go! Or why not switch up the juices and extract and come up with your own creamy vanilla fruit juice float?

If you want to make this exact (and delicious!) one however, here’s the recipe!

 

5 from 1 vote
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Creamy Vanilla Pineapple Float

This creamy float is healthier than you'd expect, and sure hits the spot in the summertime!

Servings 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 c. milk powder
  • 3 drops vanilla extract (about 1/16 tsp.)
  • 1 squeeze fresh lemon juice
  • 1 scoop vanilla bean ice cream

Instructions

  1. Blend the first four ingredients together, until milk powder is completely dissolved. 

  2. Pour into a chilled glass, over ice, and top with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. 

  3. Sip and enjoy! 

 

I’ve been drinking this float quite often over the past few weeks. I keep telling myself that if I don’t serve it with a TON of ice cream, it’s really quite nutritious! And even ice cream contains calcium, so…bottoms up!

Next Post: Possibly Easy Cherry Crumble Bars, or my Fan Favourite Potato Salad recipe. Mmm…want to eat them both right now! 

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday, Happiness is Homemade, as well as the Clever Chicks Blog Hop!

Mini Croissants Stuffed with Smashed Chickpea Salad and Baby Greens

Healthy and delicious equals winning!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m on a quest to add more vegetarian protein to my meals so that my bebe-to-be gets her protein needs met. One easy recipe that I make is called Smashed Chickpea Salad. There are various versions floating around the internet, but this is my version.

Reminiscent of a chicken or egg salad, this salad uses chickpeas both for the protein and because of the lovely texture. I used store-bought mayo in this recipe just because of the risk of salmonella in homemade mayo, but when not preggo, I definitely make my own mayonnaise. Homemade tastes heaps better than store-bought, and is super-easy to make.

Growing up I always loved the egg salad-stuffed croissants from a local café near my home, and one of the ways they made it so delicious was by adding in alfalfa sprouts. So, this recipe also uses alfalfa sprouts! I think it definitely adds to the flavour, so while you could definitely adapt the sandwich to meet whatever you have in your pantry, I think it’s worth it to buy some alfalfa sprouts. I also used baby lettuce, as that’s what I’ve been growing in my balcony garden. Oh, on a side note, interested in seeing what I’ve harvested from my balcony garden this week? Check this out!

This week’s balcony garden harvest!

But back to the recipe at hand: Smashed Chickpea Salad Stuffed Croissants! I recommend getting really good, super-buttery croissants for this recipe. It definitely adds to the mouth feel (so flaky!) and taste (so buttery!) and elevates a good sandwich to café quality.

As with all of my recipes, this one can be easily adapted! Like fresh parsley? Add some in instead of dried! Like celery? Add some finely chopped celery in! And of course, adjust the seasonings to your taste. Once you know the basics of any recipe, you can adapt it and make it your own! You could even make this vegan, by using vegan-aise or a similar vegan mayo.

But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of this recipe!

 

5 from 2 votes
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SMASHED CHICKPEA SALAD STUFFED MINI CROISSANTS

This hearty sandwich is easily thrown together, and elevated to cafe quality by the use of alfalfa sprouts and extra-buttery croissants. Mini croissants make serving sizes a breeze!

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 c. mayo
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley (or fresh!)
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 mini croissants
  • 1/2 c. alfalfa sprouts
  • 16-20 baby lettuce leaves

Instructions

  1. Rinse and drain chickpeas. 

  2. Using a potato masher in a large bowl, smash about 2/3 of them. 

  3. Add in mayo and remaining ingredients, and stir.

  4. Let sit to let flavours develop, or use right away. 

  5. Slice mini-croissants in half length-wise. Layer baby lettuce and alfalfa sprouts on bottom half of croissants. 

  6. Top with smashed chickpea salad, and place top half of croissant on top. 

  7. Serve and enjoy!

 

I like to eat these stuffed croissants for lunch, but they’re equally good served as a light dinner, especially on hot summer nights. A fresh fruit salad as a side, and my taste buds and tummy are happy! And I know that I’m feeding my bebe-to-be some good nutrition!

Next Post: I’m going to share a childhood favourite with you, an easy Pineapple Float! Just typing it out and thinking about it makes my mouth water, so stay tuned! 

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday and Happiness is Homemade! As well as Full Plate Thursday!