Thursday, January 23, 2014

Refrigerator Oatmeal

Guys, this stuff has changed my life!

I had never heard of refrigerator oatmeal until last week, but now I make it almost every day. 

The premise is really simple: add some oats and dairy to a jar, add some flavours, shake and put in the fridge overnight.  While you sleep, the oats suck up some of the moisture and flavour, and leave you with a hearty breakfast that is low in calories and fat, but high in protein.  It keeps me full until lunch, and doesn't require me to get up any earlier (which really is the best kind of breakfast for me).


I'm going to share my favorite recipe so far: Banana Chocolate with protein powder.  The protein powder here really gives this some substance, and because it sits overnight, you don't get that chalky taste.

The basic recipe is like this:

1/3 cup rolled oats (not quick oats or instant oats)
1/3 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk

To make this extra awesome, add:
1/2 banana, sliced
1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder
1/2 tsp cocoa powder

1 tsp hemp hearts


1 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes


1 tbsp blanched, slivered almonds

Put it all in a jar and shake it!  Tomorrow, you will have a filling breakfast with no effort. 

Other flavours that I've toyed with:

I substituted cherry-flavoured greek yogurt and added a couple spoonfuls of frozen blueberries instead of bananas.

I added blueberries and a spoonful of peach butter (no cocoa or protein powder)

I added frozen strawberries, unsweetened coconut, and a few drops of vanilla extract.

Invent your own!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Beet pie!

So, this happened last night:

My garden did disgustingly well this year. I mean, really.  I am still working through fresh tomatoes and zucchinis, despite having made loads of spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, zucchini bread, and tomato jam. I also canned a bunch of beets, but I was still left with 20 lbs of them taking up space in my fridge. Now, I love pickled beets, but a person can only eat so many. 

So when I was home for Thanksgiving, I had an epiphany... Can you make beet pie?  I asked google and came up with surprisingly few answers, but I did see one or two recipes. So last night, with the help of a couple of girlfriends, we set about to invent a sweet beet pie. 

We had intended to use a sweet potato pie recipe as a jumping off point, but once we puréed the beets we thought they had a consistency more similar to moist puréed pumpkin, so we went there instead. 

We started by peeling, cubing, and boiling 3 or 4 beets, then pureeing them in the food processor. Added a few tablespoons of flour to pick up some of the moisture, then spiced the mix with cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace. Added a pinch of salt, and about 1/3 of a cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Threw in 1 cup of scalded milk as per my mother's pumpkin pie recipe, then 2 eggs, well-beaten. Poured into a pie shell, then baked at 450F for 10 minutes, and 325F for 45 minutes. 

The texture and flavour are very similar to pumpkin pie, but with that great beet taste underneath the spices. And the colour!  Well, the colour is plain fabulous. In the future, I might fool with separating the egg yolks and beating the whites to stiff peaks before folding them in right before baking. I think it could make it fluffier. Also, the mix could use a little less liquid, either by draining off some of the beet juice, or by reducing the milk.

Overall, I'd say it was a raving success, and well worth the wine consumed in the making!  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday Morning Breakfast Hash

My husband and I have very different ideas about what makes up the most delicious breakfast. I lean towards sweet breakfasts: crepes, waffles, pancakes. If you ask my husband, he will invariably answer, "bacon and eggs". So on weekends, I usually make one sweet breakfast and one savoury one.

But let's face it, bacon and eggs get boring, and aren't particularly good for you. How do I satisfy hubby's salt tooth while making the job of cooking less tedious and more healthy? Breakfast hash.

This breakfast is awesome for the boonies cook because it's kind of like a "choose-your-own-adventure". Start with a meat (or not): bacon, ham, sausage. Add a starch: sweet potato, potato, quinoa. Mix with veggies: onions, garlic, mushrooms, green pepper. Crack an egg in the middle of it all and wait. Serve over toast, if you're so inclined.

Here are the details:

Chop up some potato or sweet potato into 1/2 inch cubes and boil for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft, but not mushy. Or use cooked quinoa. Drain.

While the potatoes are boiling, chop up your meat and fry it in a deep skillet over medium heat.

As the meat starts to crisp, add your chopped veggies and sauté until soft. Add the drained potatoes or quinoa, season with salt and pepper, and sauté a few minutes longer.

Make a few wells in the hash and crack an egg into each well. Cover the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the eggs are soft to your liking. Scoop the eggs out with a spatula and serve the hash around them, or on toast.

Bask in the glory of being an awesome breakfast cook!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pork Chops with Leeks and Mustard Sauce

One of the issues (I don't want to call it a problem..) with buying an entire pig from a farmer, like we do, is having to find multiple inventive uses for pork chops.  There's always the good old "pork chops in mushroom soup" fallback, but that gets tiresome fast.  So I've been testing a lot of different pork chop recipes.

This recipe makes use of a couple of fresh herbs, which may not be readily available in winter.  The herbs in question, though, are easily grown in northern gardens in the summer, so I kept this in the "boonies recipes" pile.

The original instructions call for letting the pork chops rest in the salt rub for an hour or more, but I find that this makes them far too salty for my taste.  I rub them down about 15 minutes before they go in the pan.

Pork Chops with Leeks and Mustard Sauce

(adapted from Epicurious)

  • 4 bone-in pork chops
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
  • Olive oil (optional)
  • 4 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 3 large)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 cups low-salt chicken broth (alternate - substitute 1/2 c of brandy or white wine for some of the broth)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage (or 3/4 teaspoon dried sage)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup sour cream

  • Combine salt, thyme, rosemary and pepper in a small bowl.  Rub on both sides of chops at least 15 minutes (and up to an hour) before cooking.

    Cook bacon bits in a deep skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. 

    Raise heat to medium high and place pork chops in pan, searing both sides. Remove chops and set aside. 

    Pour off bacon grease until there are 3 tbsp left (or add olive oil until there are 3 tbsp of fat in the pan). Add leeks and saute until soft - about 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir for a minute. Add chicken broth (you can also add a bit of white wine or brandy at this point) and bring to a boil. Add cooked bacon and sage to skillet, then nestle the pork chops in the leeks. 

    Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until pork chops are cooked through, flipping the chops after a few minutes. 

    Remove pork chops and cover them to keep them warm.  Boil any remaining liquid off from the leeks, then add mustard and sour cream to skillet and stir to combine. Serve leek mixture over the pork chops.

                              Tuesday, November 20, 2012

                              Main dish minestrone

                              When I was a little girl, my dad made three things really, really well: pancakes, spaghetti sauce, and main dish minestrone.  The original recipe for the minestrone I think came out of a Canadian Living magazine, and was a staple in our house... until it was misplaced. No more minestrone.

                              A couple of years ago, I asked my dad about that recipe and he said he could barely remember it. I guess it only really imprinted on me, but I have craved it on and off for YEARS.  Every so often, I would do a quick google search and come up with nothing.  That is, until recently.  My googling finally paid off and I found what I think is the Exact. Same. Recipe. on, submitted by a reader.

                              I'm telling you, I did a little dance right there, and made it that night.  It tasted every bit as good as I remember!

                              There are many, many wonderful things for the boonies cook in this recipe: you can change the veggies you use, you can change the beans you use, you can take out the beans, you can add barley or lentils... you get the point.  It's one of those recipes that everyone needs when they haven't been shopping in a week and there's a snowstorm outside. 

                              So thank you bert for posting this longed-for recipe!  I owe you one!

                              Recipe Notes:

                              The original recipe calls for Italian sausage, but dad always used regular old pork breakfast sausages.  They don't slice very well, so I cook them first, then fish them out and slice them up.  You can replace the beans with any other beans, or leave them out entirely.  You can replace the pasta with barley, or add barley along with the pasta (mmm, carbs).  On the second day, the pasta and barley will soak up more liquid and it will be like a thick stew... still delicious!

                              Main Dish Minestrone

                              (Originally from Canadian Living (maybe?), posted on by bert)

                              • 2 tablespoons olive oil
                              • 2 tablespoons butter
                              • 1/2 lb sausage, sliced or crumbled
                              • 1 large onion, chopped
                              • 1 clove garlic, minced
                              • 1/2 cup chopped celery
                              • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
                              • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
                              • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
                              • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
                              • 1 pinch dried thyme
                              • 1 bay leaf
                              • salt & pepper
                              • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (or 19 oz can)
                              • 4 cups chicken stock
                              • 2 cups shredded cabbage
                              • 1 cup cooked or canned kidney bean
                              • 1/2 cup elbow macaroni (or other pasta)
                              Heat the butter and oil over medium heat and saute the sausages until brown and firm.  Retrieve from the pan and slice them into 1" sections, then return them to the pan. Add the onion, garlic and veggies and saute until soft. Stir in the herbs and spices.

                              Stir in the tomatoes and stock.  If you're using canned tomatoes, pour the liquid in too and decrease the stock to 3 1/2 cups. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

                              Add the cabbage, bean and macaroni (or substitutes) and simmer for 30 minutes. You can add more broth at this point if it's too thick for your liking - it will thicken even more as it cools. 
                              Serve with some crusty bread!

                              Wednesday, October 24, 2012

                              Stop the presses!

                              Or at least, that's what I've wanted to say since I discovered broccoli fritters this week.

                              Broccoli is a staple veggie in many boonies kitchens - holds together well in the fridge, can be frozen, is a good way to get green veggies in the dead of winter when wilty salad isn't looking so appealing...  But for years, many boonies cooks have resorted to simple steaming or boiling to get their broccoli fix, smothering them in cheese sauce so the kids will eat them.  Well, no more.  I tell you, I'm going to eat my broccoli in fritters from now on. 

                              These were so delicious that I was eating them straight from the pan, barely waiting for them to cool.  By the time I finished cooking the end of the batch, I had 2 left  *urp*. 

                              Recipe Notes:

                              If you don't have good parmesan cheese, cheddar works as well.
                              I've heard that Canadian flour is somehow different from American flour, and this has affected most of my attempts to make bread.  I know that American bread recipes call for way more flour than I can mix into the dough, and this seems to be the case with this recipe too.  When I made it, I added a couple of teaspoons of water to the dough to get the rest of the flour in, but next time I will probably just use slightly less flour - maybe 1/3 c.  Depending on where you live, this is something to consider.

                              Broccoli Fritters

                              Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

                              1 small bundle fresh broccoli crowns (3 cups, chopped into 1" pieces)
                              1 large egg
                              1/2 cup all-purpose flour (maybe a little less - see Recipe Notes)
                              1/3 cup finely grated parmesan or cheddar cheese
                              1 small clove garlic, minced
                              1/2 teaspoon salt
                               A pinch of red pepper flakes or several grinds of black pepper
                              Olive or vegetable oil for frying

                              Steam the broccoli for about 5 minutes until it is soft, but not too mushy. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.

                              Mix remaining ingredients. Mash the broccoli with a potato masher and mix into batter until it's all the same consistency.

                              Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until it spatters when you drip water in it. Add large spoonfuls (2-3 tbsp) of batter to the oil, keeping the fritters a couple of inches apart. Flatten slightly with the back of a spoon or spatula.  Fry until golden brown (2 - 3 minutes), then flip and repeat. 

                              Drain the fritters on paper towel before serving (or eating with your fingers from the plate.. *ahem*).

                              Thursday, September 20, 2012

                              Demobilizing the garden

                              It's that time of year - we've had a few hard frosts and if you haven't rescued your veggies from the garden, you're running out of time!  Here in Smithers, the growing season is pretty short, and despite having said it every year for the past 3 years, I have no yet rebuilt my greenhouse.  So I have to rely on crops that will put out under the normal outdoor growing conditions in my area.  This year, the growing season was surprisingly hot here, but it was still too short for my liking.

                              Today I want to share some recipes for things to do with the stuff from your garden, particularly where it comes to saving them for later.


                              I could actually use a bit of help with zucchini this year.  I'm overwhelmed with it at the moment, and I already have 6 loaves of zucchini bread in the freezer!  Is there anything else to do but make more zucchini bread?  Here's my favorite recipe from Our Best Bites

                              Chocolate Zucchini Bread {makes 2 loaves} 

                              Recipe by Our Best Bites
                              • 2 c. flour
                              • 2 tsp cinnamon
                              • 1/2 tsp salt
                              • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
                              • 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
                              • 1/2 c canola oil
                              • 1 c sugar
                              • 1/4 c brown sugar
                              • 3 eggs
                              • 2 tsp vanilla
                              • 1/2 c sour cream
                              • 3 c grated zucchini
                              • 3/4 c mini chocolate chips (I just use regular ones)
                              • optional: zest from one orange
                              • 2 T brown sugar
                              • 2 T white sugar
                              • 1/2 t cinnamon
                              Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 loaf pans and set aside. For the record, this recipe fits perfectly into one 8" and one 9" loaf pan.
                              Mix topping ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

                              Place flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

                              With a stand or hand mixer beat oil, white sugar, brown sugar, and eggs until combined and slightly fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix until combined. Gently stir in the grated zucchini (and zest if you’re using).

                              Take a spoonful of the flour mixture and stir in with the chocolate chips, then mix the remaining flour mixture in with the wet ingredients. Stir just until combined. Add chocolate chips and stir to combine. Divide the batter between the two pans. and sprinkle topping over each. Bake in your preheated 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes

                              Pumpkin Zucchini Loaf (with chocolate chips, which are not mentioned in the original recipe but which I feel are entirely necessary for any loaf... *urp*)

                              • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
                              • 2 cups sugar
                              • 1 cup canned pumpkin
                              • 1 cup butter or margarine, melted
                              • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
                              • 3 cups all-purpose flour
                              • 1 teaspoon baking soda
                              • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
                              • 1/2 teaspoon salt
                              • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
                              • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
                              • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
                              • 1 cup shredded zucchini
                              • 1 cup chopped walnuts (or chocolate chips, if you're like me)
                              In a mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Add pumpkin, butter and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients; gradually add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Stir in zucchini and nuts. Pour into two greased and floured 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until breads test done. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack. 


                              We loooove pickled beets!  We eat them all the time in winter, and you can use the brine in lieu of vinegar for interesting salad dressings. My go-to recipe for pickling beets is this one: Canned, spiced pickled beets

                              You can also use the beet greens - just steam or saute them like you would spinach, and serve with a bit of butter.

                              Don't want to pickle all of your beets?  Beets last for a looooong time in the fridge, so you can probably keep them in there for at least a month after you pick them.  Try roasting them with other root vegetables for a fantastic side dish: Roasted beets n' Sweets


                              I always get a fair ton of potatoes from the garden - a different variety each year.  Two years ago, I went with Russian blue (purple potatoes!), last year with red, and this year I tried Yukon gold. They've all been pretty fabulous, but these Yukon gold are so moist and juicy!  Delicious!

                              I keep most of our potatoes in the crawl space in the cardboard box raised off the dirt.  That keeps them cool and dry, and I just bring enough up for a few meals at a time.  We often roast potatoes with the Easy Roast Chicken, but I'm a sucker for mashed potatoes... even more so at Christmas, when my mom makes then "special".

                              Special Mashed Potatoes

                              Peel and boil enough potatoes for about 10 people.  Once you've drained them, add 1 cup of sour cream, half a cup of cream cheese, and a head of roasted garlic cloves (squeezed from the skin).  Mash together with a bit of salt and pepper, adding butter and milk if it's really lumpy.  Then put the whole mess in a casserole and pop in the oven at 350F for about 20 minutes until the edges start to brown a little.  Better smashed taters you will never taste!


                              I really thought with the warm weather we had this summer that this would be the year that my tomatoes ripened.  Alas, last Saturday morning I woke up to the first hard frost of the season and had to go running outside to rescue 10 more pounds of green tomatoes.  Thankfully, there are wonderful things you can do with green tomatoes. One of our favorites is this green tomato chutney, which is fantastic on pork chops and sausages.  Every year that I make it, I fail to write down the exact recipe or where I found it.  But this is basically what I do:

                              Green Tomato Chutney

                              • 2 1/2 pounds firm green tomatoes, about 6 cups diced
                              • 1 cup golden raisins
                              • 1 cup chopped onion
                              • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
                              • 1 teaspoon salt
                              • 1 1/4 cups cider vinegar
                              • 1 teaspoon chili powder
                              Trim the tomatoes and dice them up into smallish pieces. Add cider vinegar to a large pot over medium-high heat, and add the brown sugar, stirring until it dissolves.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour until the tomatoes and onions are soft and the mixture is thickened. Spoon the chutney into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Add lids and process in a water bath canner for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on your altitude (I use 20 minutes for Smithers). If any jars do not seal, use them immediately.

                              Green Sauce

                              Another great green tomato recipe is the green sauce that I make to go with Tacos de Lengua.  Click the link for the full taco recipe (fantastic recipe too, btw). This recipe isn't really boonies-friendly, but if you have access to the more unusual ingredients I'd highly recommend it as a substitute for regular guacamole.
                              • 2 tomatillos
                              • 2 green tomatoes
                              • 1 jalapeno (1/2 seeded)
                              • 2 garlic cloves
                              • 2 avocados
                              • juice of 1 lime
                              • cilantro
                              • salt
                              Coarsely chop tomatillos, green tomatoes, garlic & jalapeno & saute over medium heat until soft.

                              Halve & scoop out the avocados & puree in a mixer. Add softened vegetables, 1/2 a bunch of cilantro, juice of 1 lime and salt and puree until smooth. Put in a bowl to cool.


                              This is actually my first year for growing kohlrabi in the garden, but I can tell you it won't be my last.  Kohlrabi looks a bit like a turnip, tastes a bit like broccoli, and grows like crazy in my garden. I've been told that I should have harvested it when the bulbs were about 2" in diameter, but I've been harvesting big bulbs and just trimming off the hardened root and some of the skin.  So far, I've only eaten it raw, sliced and sprinkled with a little bit of salt, but I'm excited to try the following recipe from Farmgirl Fare.

                              Kohlrabi Puree

                              • 4 kohlrabi bulbs with leaves
                              • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
                              • 1 large onion, chopped
                              • 3 cloves garlic, minced
                              • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
                              • 3 tbsp cream (or milk, chicken stock, olive oil, or water)
                              • Salt and pepper to taste 

                              Rinse the leaves (discarding any that are yellow) pat them dry, and coarsely chop. Set aside. Trim the kohlrabi bulbs, peeling them if the skins seem tough. Cut the bulbs into 1-inch chunks.

                              Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil, and add the kohlrabi chunks. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
                              Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, another 1 to 2 minutes. Don't let the garlic brown.  
                              Add the mushrooms and the reserved kohlrabi leaves to the skillet. Cover, and cook 5 minutes. Then uncover, and cook, stirring, until all the liquid has evaporated, 3 minutes. Set the skillet aside.  
                              Drain the kohlrabi chunks and place them in the bowl of a food processor. Add the mushroom mixture and the cream (or whatever substitute you're using). Purée until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer the purée to a saucepan and reheat over low heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Serve warm.

                              And those are just a few of the things that I'm rescuing from my garden this week!  Hope that you've also had some gardening success, and if you haven't started a garden yet... why not try?