Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pozole! (Hominy Corn & Pork Stew)

Pozole Al Estilo Sinaloense is a stew common to the American Southwest and Mexico, and traditionally served for special occassions like Christmas.  Not too common in Calgary!  But I like to experiement, don't you?!   Like many traditional & heritage dishes, there are endless variations, this recipe I found really easy to follow, and using ingredients I was eager to play with!

I came across this recipe when I was looking for a recipe to use the Hominey corn I had bought while in Montana.  Hominy is dried slack corn, which along with the Pasilla and Guajillo Chiles in this recipe, can be hard to find in Calgary.
I recently found an oasis for Latin American ingredients in Forest Lawn called La Tiendona, they have a tonne of amazing ingredients, I was stunned by the selection and great prices!  This will be my new go to spot for ingredients, instead of having to stock up when we go state side. Here's a great website for other Latin Markets in Calgary, but I cannot recommend La Tienona highly enough!

Since I had never made this stew before, and had never really worked with these particular chiles, I wasn't sure what time of flavours they would impart.  The stew was much milder than I expected, but still very earthy and flavourful.  A website with great flavour descriptions for chiles is SpicesInc, check it out!
This stew does need some time commitment, but it can be done in stages! With the prep done ahead, it's not that hard to throw together, and it was a fun new recipe to bring to the table!

Pozole al Estilo Sinaloense (Sinaloa-Style Corn & Pork Stew)
Recipe adapted from:

1 13 ounce can white hominy 
4 pasilla or guajillo chiles (I did 2 of each)
3 tablespoons canola oil
approx 2 pounds pork roast or pork steaks, cubed
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander 
1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
2 onions, chopped
10 cloves garlic, sliced

chopped cilantro
finely shredded cabbage
minced onion
sliced radishes

**Advance Prep Step!  Put the chiles and enough water to cover in a medium size saucepan, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Reserve the water, drain the chiles, remove the seeds and stems. Place the chiles and the water in a blender and blend until completely liquefied.  Set aside and refrigerate overnight at this point.**

Heat the oil in a large pot and saute the meat for 2 minutes, and then sprinkle with the salt, black pepper, coriander, oregano, onions, garlic, and saute for 3 minutes.
Drain and rinse the canned hominy, then add to cooked pork.  Add the reserved blended chiles, and cover the mixture with warm water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to simmer, cover, and cook for about 3 1/2 hours, adding more water if necessary to keep the mixture covered. Taste the mixture and add more salt to taste.

Serve the pozole in large bowls and garnish with the cilantro, cabbage, sliced radishes, and onion. Served on top of rice, and with warm tortillas, or quesadillas as a side, makes this stew a super-filling meal!


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Funday = French Toast Roll ups!

This recipe may not be the healthiest, but is so totally kid approved!  It may have been the sugar high, but they were RAVING about this breakfast!  And were already asking if I can make it again, even though we still  mid-meal!  This is the first time I've made these Roll ups, but I've had the recipe in my "to try" file for ages, and it does not disappoint!

They can be a family affair to make:  an older child or grownup to cut off the crusts; a child to wield the rolling pin and flatten the bread; another child to spread the fillings, and a grownup to pan fry the roll ups; and finally someone to roll them in the cinnamon-sugar!  I didn't have any cream cheese in the house, but how good would they be filled with cream cheese and fresh blueberries or strawberries, or even jam?  Oh man!
I think these French Toast Roll ups are going to be a regular thing in our house both for breakfast or for a fun lunch box treat!

French Toast Roll ups
Recipe adapted from: Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

1-2 Tablespoons butter or coconut oil, for the pan
8 slices sandwich bread
peanut butter, jam, cream cheese, dulce de leche,  fresh fruit, nutella, etc

Egg Dip
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Sweet Coating
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon

maple syrup, for dipping

Using a serrated knife cut the crust from the bread (save for croutons or duck food) and flatten the bread out with a rolling pin.  Spread a teaspoon or so of your chosen filling in the centre of the bread leaving space on the edges so it doesn't spill out the side as you roll the bread up.
I use a large square sandwich Tupperware container, so I can mix up the egg dip, in the same dish I will dip it in (save dishes!).  Whisk the milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until well combined.  If you are going to skip on the sweet sugar & cinnamon exterior, add an additional Tablespoon of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to the egg wash.  Using medium heat, melt a tablespoon of butter or coconut oil in pan.
Coat the rolled topping filled bread in the egg mixture on all sides then place them in the prepared pan seam side down.  In a sandwich container or small bowl mix the sugar & cinnamon for rolling.  Cook the rolls in batches until golden brown, turning them to cook and brown on all sides, and then transfer to the cinnamon & sugar to get the final sweet coating.  Serve with maple syrup for dunking.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Mexican Popcorn!

Even Salem (the dog!) approves of this appetizing and spicy seasoned popcorn!  This Mexican popcorn is perfect for your next fiesta, or a Friday night feast, parked in front of a movie with your bestie, or your fave dude, or dudette (or dog!), by your side.

Mexican Popcorn

1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (more or less depending on your heat preference)
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 -4 Tablespoons olive oil/canola oil/coconut oil/or butter

I use a air-popper for my popcorn, and then do my best to remove any unpopped kernels.  My technique is to use two bowls, shake the the first bowl so the seeds fall to the bottom, and then transfer popcorn to the second bowl by hand, leaving all the kernels behind.
If you're using a solid oil or butter, use a small pot to melt it (or you could also do this step in the microwave).  In a separate small bowl, add together the cumin, chili powder, cayenne, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, salt & pepper.  Add the melted oil or butter to the spice mix, and stir until well combined. 

Pour about half of the spicy mixture over the popcorn, and give popcorn a toss (you may need to toss with your hands), add the second half of the spicy mixture, and toss again - so that it's distributed throughout the popcorn!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vegan Mayan Coconut Milk "Ice Cream"

How hard is your father to buy presents for? Any parent or grandparent, really?  They already have everything!  And everything we seem to give to my dad, he just hoards away, saving it for some special occasion, or more likely to re-gift!  This past Christmas when my sister gave my dad a B.E.A.utiful Cuisinart Ice Cream maker, I thought it was total genius.  You see, My dad can eat astonishing amounts of ice cream, not a large amount in one sitting mind you; he typically eats small amounts at a time, but has a bowl both after lunch...AND after dinner...AND he doesn't gain a pound!!  Totally unfair, why could I get that part of the genetics, instead of the OCD, and thinning hair!!

Anywhoo, this ice cream maker you would assume to be the perfect gift for him, but when I was visiting my folks a few weeks ago, I asked my dad how he like his ice cream maker? and does he use it lots?  I was totally surprised to hear him say, that he's only used it once!  I thought I'd try my luck and see if he would consider loaning it to me, as I had been wishing for an ice cream maker myself, but other expenses with more priority kept coming before the purchase of an ice cream maker.  He said yes!! I promised to make him ice cream on their next visit, and that he could have it back whenever he might wish.

I could not wait to get back from the remainder of our vacation, to get to experiment with my new toy!  I skipped all the traditional recipes, and went straight to experimental!  I really wanted to try an Ice Cream recipe using coconut milk, instead of the traditional heavy creams and whatnot.  So I researched a number of sites to get the idea of measurements, and then came up with the idea for a Mayan coconut milk ice cream.   Creamy, sweet, and spicy, all together in a delicious frozen treat.  I was all over it!  And if you enjoy some heat in your (non-dairy) frozen treat, you'll love it too!

The flavour profile was a little too intense for my kids, and with Cory out of town, I was left to eat the majority of it, so that I could free up freezer space for my next ice cream foray!  The family consensus is for something more vanilla.  So many more frozen treats to come, wish there was more summer left!

Mayan Coconut Milk Ice "Cream"

2 14-ounce refrigerated cans coconut milk (full fat for optimal creaminess)
1/2 cup agave or honey
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Pinch salt

Using a blender, add together the cans of chilled coconut milk and agave until fully incorporated.  Next add the cocoa powder, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt.  Blend until thoroughly mixed.
Transfer the mixture to your ice cream machine, and churn according to the manufacturers manual.
If you desire a firmer consistency, place in container in freezer for an hour or so, and serve with toasted coconut.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Blueberry Crumble Bread

It's blueberry season!!  I have a fridge full of Blueberries already, and every time I go to the grocery store, those huge cartons are on sale, so I buy more!  Just think ahead to January or February when those teeny tiny pint sized cartons will be like $5.00, and you can easily justify purchasing another.  But, it's getting to the point, where we can't possibly consume all these berries while they're fresh.  

If you've never frozen blueberries before I recommend doing so, so that you can enjoy the fruits of summer all year long.
Here's how I freeze my berries, which works for virtually any berry, except strawberries, which you should remove the hull from first, and maybe cut into halves.

First, wash blueberries and gently pat dry.
Place the blueberries onto a cookie sheet in a single layer. This will keep them from freezing together in clumps.
Place the tray in the freezer, and leave it until the blueberries are completely frozen.
Transfer the frozen blueberries to a freezer bag or another freezer-safe container of your choice.

Blueberries should be used within six months of freezing.

Frozen blueberries are best suited for use in recipes like waffles, smoothies, crisps, or cobblers.
One new favorite recipe of mine is this delicious Blueberry Crumble Bread, which can be used with either fresh or frozen blueberries, and is slam packed with them!  This bread is not over sweet, is perfectly spiced, and super duper moist!  Did I mention packed with blueberries?!  It is PACKED with blueberries, seriously.

Blueberry Crumble Bread Crumble
Recipe Adapted From: The Corner Kitchen Blog

1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Melt butter either by microwave or stove.  In a small bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Add melted butter and maple syrup.  Combine with a fork until crumble forms. Set aside.

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 large egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter & flour a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside.
Melt stick of butter by microwave or stove, and set aside to cool.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.  Toss blueberries with a spoonful of flour, and also set aside.
To the melted and cooled butter, whisk in egg, brown sugar, maple syrup, Greek yogurt, and vanilla until well combined.  Add the wet butter mixture into the dry flour mixture stirring until just combined. Batter will be thick - and that's okay!  Fold in the blueberries and 3 tablespoons of the crumble.
Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan. Top with crumble, and slightly press the crumble into the batter.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a inserted toothpick comes out clean.  The really hard part...allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Aloo Chana Chaat

Aloo = Potato
        Chana = Chickpea
 Chaat = Snack

I've been holding out on you.  I made this Aloo Channa Chaat dish back in June, for a ladies night potluck.  I've been meaning to share the recipe ever since, and for some reason I just keep putting it off.  I have no idea why, because it is one of my favourite dishes! This Chaat is something that I love to bring and share, is healthy, and absolutely perfect as a refreshing summer salad served either as a side, or with some naan (or pita), and tzatziki (or yogurt) as an entree! 

Chaat is a common Indian street food snack, usually bought from a food cart, or roadside vendor, and is one of those recipes that you will never taste the same way twice.   Dependent on the traditions handed down to the chef, or based on region or ingredients available, all these factors become variants on the way the recipe evolves. 

There was a little coffee shop adjacent to my work that made their Chaat in such a delicious way, I wish I 
had asked for the recipe, and unfortunately the employee who made the Chaat no longer works there, and took her Chaat making abilities with her. *sobs*

The most common ingredients in Chaat are chopped onions, and cilantro, yogurt, sev (dried seasoned noodles), and the masala or spice mixture.  The masala for chaat is usually amchoor (dried mango powder), cumin, coriander, ginger, Kala Namak (rock salt), and black and red pepper.  Most traditionalists will grind the spices on their own...I bought mine at the store!  Much easier!  I used the Shan brand Chana Chaat seasoning mix, and purchased it from the OK Food and Produce store (3250, 60 St NE), which is in walking distance from my home, but follow this link for other Indian/Pakisani/Bangladeshi/Desi Merchants in Calgary.

Instead of the more traditional sev, I topped my chaat with an "all in one" snack mix.  I eat it by the handful straight out of the bag, it's so yummy! It's a crunchy and spicy blend of sev, puffed rice, cornflakes, nuts and raisins!  So tasty!

Aloo Channa Chaat

2-4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
about 1 cup, chopped cilantro
3 Tablespoons chaat masala
1 lemon, juiced.
top with sev or favourite snack

In a medium pot of water, bring the potatoes to a boil, and cook until just soft, but not overcooked or mushy.  Meanwhile, drain and rinse your chickpeas, and chop up all your veg.  Drain the potatoes, and run under cold water in the colander, to cool and stop cooking process.  Mix all ingredients together (not the sev snack though), and chill in the fridge.  Just before serving, top with the sev snack!


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Funday = Camping!

I've been on a wee hiatus, I believe it's referred to as a vacation?  But it didn't really feel like a vacation.  More like being trapped in a vehicle for lengthy amounts of time, with whining/fighting children, and a summer head cold, but with a better view.  Does a vacation ever get back to feeling relaxing after you have kids?  There were awesome moments, don't get me wrong!  I tried my darnedest to make the best of things despite feeling less than awesome, and create some memorable memories (that's a thing!) for the kids.

We picked up the kids from my folks' place in Nelson, BC.  So the first photo is of waiting for the ferry to arrive, so beautiful!  We stayed a couple days, and I got to reconnect with some girlfriends!  The best kind of girlfriends...even though we are all busy with kids or whatnot; that it feels like we just hung out the other day!  Getting to see them helps me feels grounded, and I miss them already.

We carried on from Nelson to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  We stayed at a nice family friendly campground, where there were a ton of other children for my kids to play with, and they had canoe rentals!  So we rented a canoe, and cast off onto the canal.  Cory chose the moment that we were trying (with great difficulty) to navigate the waters, that he's never been in a canoe before!!  But we managed, and didn't tip or anything!

From Coeur d'Alene, we went to Flathead Lake, in Montana.  We didn't make reservations for anything, by the way, we were "winging it"; so, feeling a little stressed once we were coming upon campground after campground that had NO space!  We managed to find a spot at the Blue Bay campground, that had the most amazingly clear water, and colourful rocks everywhere, of which we came home with our fair share of.

One thing I take for granted from my childhood, was being able to see the stars every night, something that my city kids don't get to experience.  So past bedtime, we took our blankets down to the dock, and laid out under the stars.  I did my best to show them the constellations I remember, and both Sloane and I saw three shooting stars!  The boys still don't believe us though. Pffft.

From Flathead Lake we travelled a short distance to West Glacier, careful to bypass Kalispell, and all it's shopping opportunities!  As this was our "penny pinching" camping adventure, we basically had the budget for gas and groceries, and not much more.  It was much easier to ignore the lure of American shopping, now that we have Target in Calgary.  But I missed my American Goodwill hunting, so sad.  Next summer.

We did take in The Great Bear Adventure, which we haven't been able to do it in past years as we had an RV.  But with our new trailer, and being able to unhitch, we were able to make our car our cage!
The bears are born in captivity, and are pretty used to humans; there were workers walking around the whole time, so I didn't feel like a bear was ever going to carjack us or anything.  Cool for our city kids, to gawk and take pictures.
We also took in the House of Mystery, which we had never done on previous trips to the area.  The grounds are a sacred site, and home to a vortex, which is explained as a gravitational anomaly that may re-define the laws of physics and nature.  They've built a house on the grounds at a slant, which makes it feel more like a fun house, and makes it less believable; but once you see the way the trees grow around the vortex site, all slanty in a circle formation, it makes it more convincing.  And I was soooo dizzy the whole time.  Mysterious.

I'll leave you with some camping tips, in lieu of a recipe.  If you travel with your food in a cooler, one tip is to freeze all your meat (hot dogs, bacon, etc), and almost all the water, other than the bottles you'll want to keep for the drive.  That way once you arrive at your campsite, your meat and water has thawed/melted, and in the meantime kept everything chilled, without using a bag of ice, that just melts and water logs all your food, and is a waste.

One other thing I always do ahead is put together the ingredients for pancakes.  Instead of purchasing one of those boxes of pancake mix that are full of chemicals, make your own!

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt

When you're ready for breaky, you just add 1 cup milk, and 1 egg, and mix it up!  If you use a big jar, or recycle an old yogurt container, you can mix it up up in whatever you transport it in for less dishes, as well!  Yay!

One last tip to share is something I collect all year in preparation for camping, and is something we all have in our homes...empty toilet paper rolls, and lint from the dryer!  This combo makes a great Firestarter!  I saw versions of these for sale in stores for $7.00!!  Ridiculous!
Simply stuff the lint into the toilet paper roll, and you're done.  Could not be simpler.  I keep mine in a zip lock, as my dryer lint also contains massive amounts of dog hair, which gets everywhere!


Happy Trails to you !

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thai Chicken Skewers & Spicy Peanut Soba Noodle Slaw

You know what's awesome?!  Grandparents, that's what!  This week my lovely parents took my children to stay with them in B.C.  Both of them!!  I haven't been in a house empty of both my kids (with the exception of overnighters) for 4 years!!  Yesterday I cleaned the house before leaving for work, and when I came home that evening, it was still clean!  Went to bed, and when I woke up the house was still clean!  Oh man, so nice!

Another nice treat, is to eat a meal, without having to negotiate, beg, and bribe my picky little man. 
I could make a meal for grownups, something spicy and with all ingredients touching, and not listen to anyone whining at me! 

These amazing Thai chicken skewers fit the bill perfectly!  They have such a vibrant flavour, and are perfect for grilling, or I've also pan fried them with coconut oil and served with rice on colder days.  But if you're grilling them why not serve a nice soba noodle slaw type salad alongside?  So crunchy and refreshing and and so so tasty with a spicy peanuty dressing!

A perfect meal just for two for a warm summer evening, enjoying peace and quiet, a clean house, and good company.

Thai Chicken Marinade:
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 Tb. brown sugar
2 Tb. fish sauce
1 Tb. ground coriander
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. salt
**Wooden Skewers, soaked - Soak the skewers in water for at least 30 minutes, or even overnight.**

Combine the coconut milk, brown sugar, fish sauce, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and salt, in a well-sealing container. Shake or stir the marinade and add the chicken tenders.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes. I usually start the marinade and soak my skewers the night prior, or in the morning before heading out for the day.  Put the marinated chicken onto the soaked skewers, while your BBQ is preheating.  Using a foil-lined cookie sheet, or lay tin foil straight onto grill on medium-high temperature, grill for about 5 minutes per side or until chicken is fully cooked. 

Spicy Peanut Dressing
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger minced or grated
1/3 cup water or chicken broth
2 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons rice vinegar or lime juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tb. sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 Tablespoon chili-garlic sauce, or a pinch of red pepper flakes

Using a small bowl, or a well sealing container, mix all ingredients together with a fork (or you could use a blender and transfer to container).  Set aside while you prepare your slaw, and allow time for flavours to mingle.  This is another step that I do the night prior, or in the morning, to save time when throwing it all together.

Noodle Slaw
Soba Noodles, cooked and chilled
half a head cabbage, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated or matchsticks
2 green onions, chopped
a big handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
sesame seeds

Cook soba noodles according to package directions, and then drain noodles, running under cold water in the colander to stop cooking process, and cool the noodles.
Toss the noodles, cabbage, and veggies together with the dressing, and sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving along with your Thai Chicken Skewers.  If you make a huge salad, maybe just toss individual bowls with dressing, so your salad leftovers stay crisp!