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.

CREAMY Fire and Ice Salad, Plus My Veggies For The Week

Creamy and cool and perfect for summer!

Fire and Ice Salad often contains some sort of pepper (cayenne or jalapeno) to create fiery heat, and then combined that with super-crisp and thoroughly chilled cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions, to create a super-refreshing salad that both teases and cools the palate. I decided to take that concept, mix it up with the concept of a cucumber raita (a yoghurt and cucumber condiment/salad used to cool the palate in between hot curries) and make it my own!

Hence, I present…CREAMY Fire and Ice Salad!

I make my own preservative-free ranch dressing mix, and I used that as a base for the dressing, mixing it with sour cream, yoghurt, mayo, and a dash of lemon juice, for a refreshing salad that makes the perfect accompaniment to any summer meal.

This can easily be thrown together in 5 minutes, and then set in the fridge to chill until the rest of the dinner is ready. If you don’t want to make your own ranch dressing mix, you can definitely replace it with a store-bought package. You do you, boo!

 

5 from 1 vote
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CREAMY FIRE & ICE SALAD

A deliciously cool and creamy salad, perfect to serve alongside BBQ during the summer months!

Servings 6 people

Ingredients

  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 English cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp. ranch dressing mix
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 c. yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp. mayo
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Mix sour cream, lemon juice, mayo, yoghurt, and dressing mix together.

  2. Toss with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion.

  3. Chill and serve!

I mentioned my veggies for the week in the title to this post. I tend to buy whatever is on sale and whatever looks especially good. I just finished my weekly shop, so this week’s veggies are sweet potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh spinach, and sweet peppers. I’m making Sweet Potato and Hummus soup, garnished with avocado and sour cream; Coleslaw, using my mum’s recipe (oil and vinegar based); Spinach Salad (IF the strawberries that I’m growing on my balcony ripen in time); and of course, today’s recipe, CREAMY Fire and Ice Salad. Given that I’m cooking for two but using family-sized recipes, I’ll have lots of delicious and nutrient-filled veggie dishes for the week!

Next Post: Probably something veggie-filled. Although I’m also craving some fruit. Watermelon smoothies, anyone? 

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

Green Apple & Kale Smoothie: Nutritional Dreams are Made of This

Such a lovely pale, summery colour!

I’ve been dreaming of green apples lately. Crisp, tangy Granny Smith apples, that one bites into with a snap and that lovely sweet and sour taste that makes you pucker up and want to eat more. I’m guessing it’s a pregnancy craving, as at the same time that I’m craving lemonade and green apples, I’m also becoming slightly turned off sweets. I KNOW. WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING! But I believe in listening to my body, and apparently baby likes her fruits and veggies. All fruits. All veggies. All. The. Time. So, today’s recipe is a new smoothie recipe, that combines fruits and veggies for a healthy meal replacement that is perfect for the summer heat that has just arrived: Green Apple & Kale Smoothie!

Frozen banana gives it a creamy, milkshake consistency, and sweetens it up naturally, while green apple and kale give it a lovely fresh green colour while cramming in the nutrients. Plus, a little yoghurt and milk adds some calcium & protein. You could add some almond butter in for a proper serving of protein, but I prefer the fresh taste of the smoothie as is.

You know you’re feeding your body healthily when you drink this smoothie! 3-4 servings of fruits and veggies are packed into this smoothie, and it still feels like you’re giving yourself a treat. There’s nothing like sitting outside in the sun on your porch, deck, or balcony, enjoying the weather, while keeping cool drinking this whole food smoothie. Yum, yum!

Let’s get to making one!

GREEN APPLE & KALE SMOOTHIE

This deliciously creamy smoothie is also packed full of good nutrition! A great way to get your nutrients on the go.

Servings 1 person

Ingredients

  • 1 c. kale, frozen
  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1/2 c. yoghurt (can be replaced with coconut yoghurt)
  • 1/2 c. milk (can be replaced with nut milk)

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in the blender and...liquefy! 

  2. Serve in a chilled glass for maximum yumminess!

By the way, you can make this a vegan smoothie by using coconut yoghurt instead of dairy yoghurt, or simply replacing the yoghurt with the nut milk of your choice. I personally find that homemade cashew milk is a great way to increase the protein and nutrients in this smoothie.

Next Post: Not entirely sure. Probably something with fruit and veggies because this gestating woman has got CRAVINGS! 

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

Best Ever Macaroni Salad, and…Eating for Two

Best ever macaroni salad!

I hosted a family BBQ this weekend, as it was a long weekend here in Canada (Victoria Day weekend, also known as May 2-4 weekend). One of my contributions was my Best Ever Macaroni Salad! It was a hit! This macaroni salad isn’t your sad buffet macaroni salad, but is a fresh version with no preservatives but a whole lotta flavour! A variety of spices give it flavour, and the secret ingredient, balsamic vinegar, gives it that umami taste that makes your mouth water in anticipation.

This is a very easy macaroni salad to throw together, and it gets better the longer it sits in the fridge. I have used fresh red and green peppers in the salad (for colour and crunch) and other times I’ve used dehydrated red and green peppers. The seasonings can of course be adjusted to your own taste. Make it your own!

Want to make some? Let’s get started!

5 from 1 vote
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BEST EVER MACARONI SALAD

This easy pasta salad is great to bring to BBQs or family dinners. Easily thrown together from mostly pantry ingredients, you'll knock of everyone's socks with the great taste of this salad! 

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 3 c. cooked macaroni
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried onion
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c. chopped red & green peppers (or substitute 2 tbsp. chopped dried peppers)
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp. chopped green onion (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together, and let sit in fridge for at least two hours. Serve chilled! 

 

Oh, and guess what? The title to this post referenced it, but…I’m pregnant! Did you figure it out from my gender reveal cake post a few weeks ago? I wasn’t announcing it then, so I tried to imply that it was for someone else, but it was really about ma bebe. Because I’m having a little girl! Am so excited. My husband and I call bebe-to-be by a nickname, Baby Pina (baby pineapple), so I think that shall be her blog name. Baby Pina is expected in about 5 months, and let me tell you, I can really notice an increase in appetite (at least now that the all-day and all-night morning sickness has eased off a bit). I need to eat every few hours or else I get all vomity. Fun times. So, lots of protein-rich food it is! I made Easy Enchiladas yesterday, but used a heavy hand with the beans to up the protein, and plan to make yoghurt tomorrow to add into my favourite smoothies during the week. In other words, lots of healthy food!

Next Post: Something healthy but delicious, I think! Heavy on the delicious. I haven’t decided what to make yet, but am craving something creamy. And sweet. Maybe a custard cream cake? Not so healthy, but oh so delicious! 

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

Super-Easy & Pectin-Free Bumbleberry Jam!

Bumbleberry jam goes great on toast!

Ever since I figured out how to make jam, I’ve been making batch after batch of fruit jam. Why? Because homemade jam tastes WORLDS different from any store-bought jam! It’s just packed so full of flavour, that you don’t feel like you’re eating jellified sugar as with some packaged jam — homemade jam is worth the VERY small amount of time it takes to make. And you don’t even have to decide on one fruit; you can mix up a number of berries and make Bumbleberry Jam!

I’m mixing up blueberries and blackberries today, to make my own version of bumbleberry jam. And, to make it even easier, I’m leaving out the pectin too. All you really need to make this jam is berries, sugar, and a dash of lemon juice! (Not even water.) I like to make pectin-free jam as it’s one less packaged thing I need to add to my food (I told you I was a hippie-in-the-making!). It does result in a slightly looser-set jam, but I’m quite ok with that. You could also add fruit pectin via apple cores (I use this when making apple jelly) or lemon seeds (I have still to use this tip) but it’s also quite ok to leave out the pectin entirely; you just have to the berry and sugar mixture to a jammy stage (I’ll explain more on this later).

Let’s get to making us some homemade jam!

 

BUMBLEBERRY JAM

This berry jam contains only a few ingredients, and is easy to spread on toast or to mix in with yoghurt. 

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 c. mixed berries (I used blueberries & blackberries. You could also add in raspberries if you wanted to.)
  • 2 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together and place over medium heat. 

  2. As the sugar melts and the juices of the berries are drawn out, mash the berries so that only some whole berries are left. 

  3. As the mixture becomes more liquid, bring to a boil, and keep at a boil. 

  4. When the mixture reaches the "set" or "sheeting" stage (see below for more info), remove from heat and pour into a sterilized glass jar. 

  5. Let cool, and store in fridge. Will keep for a few weeks. Enjoy it spread on toast! 

Recipe Notes

If the jam starts to smell caramelized, you've overcooked it. But not to worry -- add a dash of water to thin it out and call it 'caramelized bumbleberry jam'. Whose to know that you didn't do it deliberately? 🙂

I mentioned about how you need to boil the mixture until it reaches a jammy state. When that happens, you can safely say that your jam will have ‘a good set’; in other words, it will be jam-like, instead of a runny sauce. How to know when it has reached this stage? Place a small dish in the freezer. Pour a small spoon of the hot jam mixture onto the plate. Swipe your finger through the mixture. Does the jam run together to become one blob again, or does it stay separated into two blobs? If it doesn’t run together again, then it’s a good set! Another way to measure if a jam will have a good set, is to take a wooden spoon and let the jam mixture run off the side. Does it run off in several rivulets? Not done. Does it run off in one thick drip? Then it’s “sheeting”, and it’s going to have a good set! One warning: better to undercook than overcook. This particular jam (with blackberries) tends to be prone to caramelizing, so again, better to undercook than overcook. A slightly saucy jam is better than a solid lump of candied berries! FYI, you can always save an overcooked jam — just heat it in the microwave, add a bit of water, stir, and you’ll have a looser jam (perhaps not properly set, but good enough to spread on toast!).

You might look at this recipe and think, wow, that’s a lot of sugar! Don’t worry, it won’t over-power the flavour of the jam at all. I usually use the 1-1 rule (1 c. berries to 1 c. sugar) when making berry jams (especially strawberry jam), mostly because I use them to stir into my morning yoghurt to make homemade fruit yoghurt (topped with homemade granola, of course!). You can use less…but it won’t taste as good and it won’t set as much (lots of sugar in integral to get jam to thicken. Not enough sugar and you’ll end up with berry sauce). While normally, I’m all for making a recipe healthier, I suggest trying this one as is before trying to reduce the sugar. Even if (and I don’t think this will happen!) you didn’t like it, ANYONE you know will be happy to eat your homemade jam!

As I said, I like to use this jam to stir into my morning yoghurt, but it’s equally delicious on toast, or between cake layers, or to top a jammy cookie (make a pie crust, cut into cookie-sized circles, top with jam, and then top with crumble topping. Bake, and enjoy!). Let me know how you end up using this delicious jam!

Next Post: I’m working on fine-tuning my Best Ever Macaroni Salad. I thought I had gotten the details right, but then it mysteriously disappeared from the fridge when I got up to snack on it at midnight. The DH had a slightly guilty but satisfied look on his face, so I take it that the recipe is a hit! 

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday!

Greek-Style Lemony Potatoes: Who Needs Take-Out?

Deliciously fragrant and herbed!

I’ve been craving those amazing lemony potatoes that one can buy at Greek fast-food takeout shops recently, and finally decided to come up with my own recipe. The secret to making these taste amazing? Aside from fresh potatoes? Chicken-flavoured bouillon! And yes, there is a vegetarian version of chicken bouillon — who knew? So, that’s this week’s recipe: Greek-Style Lemony Potatoes! Fluffy potato wedges, redolent of lemon and olive oil, with chicken and garlic undertones…so, so yum!

I read through several recipes to get the gist of how they are usually made, and then came up with my own short-cut version. By partially boiling the potatoes (in a garlic & bouillon stock) prior to baking them in the lemon, oil, and herb mixture, you cut the cooking time significantly. And who wants to spend extra time cooking if you don’t need to?

These delicious potatoes are soooooo good that they can be eaten all by themselves, but they would also be fabulous served with a Greek salad (such as my The Only Greek Salad Recipe You’ll Ever Need). For meat-a-tarians like my husband, a skewer of meat would probably complement the meal nicely, but really, the potatoes are so flavourful that I think a side salad is all you need.

Let’s get to making some!

GREEK-STYLE LEMONY POTATOES

This herbed and lemon-flavoured potato dish is a homestyle version of the takeout classic. A stock make of chicken-flavoured bouillon and garlic gives it the classic flavour! 

Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 6 potatoes
  • 1 tsp. oregano, thyme, and rosemary, each
  • 2 cubes chicken-flavoured bouillon (enough to make 8 cups of stock)
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 8 c. water
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice (fresh is best, but bottled is ok too)

Instructions

  1. Add bouillon and garlic to water, and bring to a boil. 

  2. Cut potatoes into wedges (6 to a potato) and add to garlic & bouillon stock. Boil until firm but can be pierced by a fork. (Be careful not to cook potatoes fully, or else they'll turn into mashed potatoes in the oven. Delicious, but not the aim of the recipe.)

  3. In an oven-proof container, mix olive oil, herbs, 1 c. of the bouillon and garlic stock (along with all of the garlic from the stock), and the potatoes. 

  4. Bake in a 400 degree oven, until potatoes reach their desired level of doneness. (Some people prefer softer potatoes than others.). I baked for about 30 minutes, until most but not all of the liquid had been absorbed/evaporated; I suggest checking every 15 minutes to make sure they reach your particular taste for doneness.  

  5. Served with a Greek Salad, and enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

I used McCormick vegetarian chicken bouillon because I'm vegetarian, but if you just have regular chicken bouillon, that's fine too. And if you find another vegetarian chicken bouillon, let me know! So far the only one I've ever come across is McCormick's.  

 

I made these last weekend, thinking that there would be enough for several meals worth, but…apparently they are too delicious to sit in the fridge for long. The next day there were all gone. The culprit? My beloved DH who enjoyed them for snacks and for dinner the next day. I came home after work to find him serving himself the last of the potatoes for dinner, topped with some cheese. He did look slightly guilty that he hadn’t left any for me, but…not guilty enough to have left any. In other words, Greek-Style Lemony potatoes are dee-licious!

Next Post: Either Blue & Blackberry Jam, or The Ultimate Macaroni Salad. I have amazing (and EASY) recipes for both! 

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday!