Quinoa Salad

Quinoa rules. It’s gluten-free, pairs well with everything, cooks in 15 minutes, and is high in protein and other good stuff like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. We like to make this salad Sunday night and have it throughout the week as a side dish, but it would be great on its own as well.

If you buy prepackaged quinoa, it should say if it’s been rinsed or not. If not, then let the quinoa soak for about 15 minutes or longer to remove the bitter coating that contains saponins. Then give it a quick rinse and it’s ready to be cooked!

1 cup organic quinoa
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 stalks celery, chopped
2/3 cup frozen peas
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Dressing

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ginger
A dash of freshly ground pepper

1. Soak quinoa in cold water for 15 minutes and then rinse under running water using a strainer or a cheese cloth.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring quinoa, 1/2 teaspoon salt and water to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until done. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, cover, and let cool.
3. Chop the English cucumber, mint leaves and tomato and set aside.
4. Boil chopped celery and frozen peas for 4 to 5 minutes, rinse and drain, and then add to chopped vegetables.
5. Whisk together lemon juice, oil, remaining salt, sugar, water and pepper, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
6. Combine all ingredients before serving and toss gently.

Serves six.

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Kale and Boiled Potatoes

When the weather is around 30 degrees C, we like to cook Mediterranean food because it’s very light. This side dish goes well with any kind of fish, or a vegetarian burger or scrambled tofu. When buying kale, look for crisp and dark greens. Avoid those that are wilted or have yellow or brown spots. Young greens can be stir-fried, steamed, or sauteed briefly.

1 bunch Kale
3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper

1. Cook the potatoes in salted water until soft. Drain.
2. Rinse kale well in a large bowl of warm water. Drain in colander.
3. Use the leaves only. Trim away tough stem ends by making a “V-shaped” cut at stem end. Save the stems for vegetable stock! Cut the leaves into small pieces.
4. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet and add the pieces of kale. Cook and stir over medium-high heat 4 to 5 minutes until wilted and tender (older leaves may take slightly longer).
5. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet. Add minced garlic and saute for a few minutes.
6. Add potatoes and garlic to kale, stir and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Creamy Potato Soup

This recipe has been in our family for generations. It’s delicious, creamy and so comforting on a cold day. We like to eat it with grilled cheese or French bread.

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 cups water (or more, if needed)
3 Bay leaves
2 teaspoons Vegeta (or seasoning salt)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

First, make a roux (pronounced “roo”). Roux is a basic thickening agent used when making stews, soups and sauces. Traditional roux recipes call for equal parts of butter and flour, but in this creamy potato soup we prefer to use olive oil.

1. Heat oil in a pan. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the flour gradually and stir constantly. It should be smooth with no lumps. Keep stirring until the flour is light brown. Make sure it doesn’t burn.
2. Remove from heat and add water. Be very careful, the roux will be extremely hot, and when you add water, be careful not to splash yourself or get burned.
3. Add potatoes, carrots, Bay leaves, salt, pepper and Vegeta.
4. Bring to a boil and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots are soft.
5. Mash with a potato masher instead of using a blender.
6. Stir in sour cream and parsley, and remove Bay leaves. For a vegan version of this soup, omit sour cream. The soup is still very yummy.
7. Serve hot with a slice of fresh French bread or grilled cheese.

African Yam Stew

This recipe originally called for chicken. That’s not something you’re gonna find in our house, so we adapted it until it was delicious and still super filling. The peanut butter adds a lovely creaminess. The yam, peas and chickpeas are there to remind you that it’s healthy dish, even though it tastes like comfort food. It’s been cold, rainy and gloomy here, so this dish has been nice to dig into!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large yam, peeled and diced
4 carrots
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 1/2 cup water
1 cup frozen peas
3 tablespoons natural peanut butter
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley

1. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add chopped onion and saute for 4 minutes.
2. Add carrots and saute for an additional 4 minutes. Add garlic, yam, cumin, chili flakes, coriander and fry for a few minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Mix in vegetable broth and water, cover, bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Stir in the peanut butter, frozen peas and chickpeas. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 more minutes. Make sure the peanut butter is well blended.
5. Remove from heat, add salt if needed, and garnish with 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley.

Lemon Raspberry Muffins

We have a raspberry bush in our backyard. We have to watch the plant carefully and make sure we pick the berries immediately at the slightest hint of ripeness, or squirrels plan their attack and make off like bandits. Or maybe it’s the one squirrel; the guy who is always wobbling around in our backyard, stuffed with the tiny strawberries and other fruit we managed to grow.

As much as we love eating fruit on its own, sometimes it’s best in a fluffy muffin. These also make a delightful breakfast.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large lemon, zested
2 large eggs
1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees C. Spray 12 muffin cups with a non-stick cooking spray.
2. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking sod, and lemon zest. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, vegetable oil and vanilla.
4. Stir in the flour mixture.
5. Coat raspberries in flour, and fold in very carefully. Spoon the mixture into 12 muffin cups.
6. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Homemade Pizza

In Croatia where our family is from, the pizza always has a thin crust. We prefer this type of pizza to the thick, doughy fast food pizza usually served in restaurants. While Calgary does have pizzerias that offer a delicious thin crust pizza, it’s nice to roll out your own dough, lay on fresh ingredients, and enjoy a slice that is not scant on ingredients.

Pizza Dough

1 cup water
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Toppings

1 small can tomato sauce
4-5 Crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
Handful of chopped artichokes
1 teaspoon oregano
Fresh tomato slices
Grated cheese (we recommend a four cheese blend such as Romano, Mozzarella, Parmesan, and smoked Gouda)
4-5 fresh basil leaves, washed and blotted dry
Dash of truffle oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes.
3. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. In a large bowl, mix 2 cups of the flour with the yeast mixture.
4. Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth.
5. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the room temperature. Make the dough into a ball, and roll out onto a well floured surface.
6. Alternatively, you can use a bread maker on a pizza dough setting. Just pour all the ingredients into the bread maker bowl, starting with the water, oil, sugar and salt, flour and then yeast and oregano at the top. When finished, proceed with rolling dough out onto a floured surface.
7. Spread your toppings starting with the pizza sauce, cheese and then vegetables and oregano on top.
8. Bake for about 15 min on the middle rack, or until the cheese and crust are golden brown.
9. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and sprinkle with truffle oil.

Canada Day Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

It’s Canada Day! Our favourite way to celebrate anything is to eat, so DJ whipped up these mouthwatering red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting in honour of the Constitution Act of 1867. There will be fireworks, food and more food. Then dessert will follow, which will be followed by more dessert.

2 eggs
1/2 cup unsalted margarine
1 1/2 cup cane sugar
1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt or vanilla soy yogurt
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Frosting:
2 packages cream cheese or non-dairy cream cheese spread, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted margarine
2 cups icing sugar

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease two 12 cup muffin pans or line with 16 paper baking cups.
3. Beat the margarine and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
4. Mix in eggs, yogurt, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar.
5. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, salt and baking powder) and stir into the batter until combined.
6. Spoon into muffin cups and bake for 18 minutes, or until the toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
7. Remove from the oven and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, margarine and icing sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Arrange the cupcakes on the serving platter and pipe the frosting on with a big star tip.

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