This week in Popsicle Mania: strawberry yogurt! These rank a little higher than the mango-lime treats I made last time, but that’s based purely on personal preference. These are creamy and smooth due to the inclusion of vanilla yogurt (for an extra strawberry flavour boost, you could certainly used flavoured yogurt instead, but make sure it’s the pre-mixed kind, like Iögo) and were met with many declarations of, “Yummy!!” from the foodNURDling. Can’t say he’s wrong.
2 c strawberries, hulled and chopped
2 ts vanilla
1/4 c sugar
1 c vanilla yogurt
1. Toss the strawberries in a bowl with the vanilla and sugar. Stir and let sit for 15 minutes.
2. Pour the yogurt and strawberries (juice included) into a blender. Pulse until smooth.
3. Split evenly among popsicle molds and freeze at least four hours.
Alright. Glad to have that out of my system.
I’m a woman who likes to have a project and I tend to have several on the go simultaneously. This summer’s kitchen project? Homemade popsicles. Who doesn’t love a popsicle and who doesn’t love being able to customize them in whatever way they choose? Need something refreshing? Berries and watermelon! Sweet tooth ruling your day? Nutella and banana popsicle to the rescue! Throwing a party? Toss in some Kahlua and you are good to go.
I started with what I had in my kitchen: mangoes and limes. It was ridiculously easy to prepare these icy treats; the hard part was waiting the four hours to eat them. The next time I make them, I think I’ll grate a little ginger into the mix for an added dimension.
2 large mangoes, peeled and chopped
1/3 c lime juice
1/4 c sugar
pinch of salt
1 c water
1. Toss everything in the blender and puree.
2. Freeze it all for at least four hours.
They’ll be good your freezer for about four days, but it’s unlikely they’ll last that long.
The foodNURDling enjoying his first (of many) popsicles.
If your eyebrow is raised archly at the prospect of zucchini in a muffin as mine initially was, let me assure you that it’s delicious. Or, perhaps more accurately, it makes the muffin delicious. The actual flavour disappears entirely because the zucchini is so finely grated. Instead, you get wonderfully moist muffins that have a punch of goodness and just a handful of chocolate chips. This is my current favourite muffin recipe – I make it nearly every other week and always eat one before I put them away for breakfast the next morning.
These would be good with half a cup of chopped walnuts if you were so inclined!
1 1/2c all-purpose flour
2/3c white sugar
1 ts baking soda
1 ts cinnamon
1/2 ts salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/4 c milk
1 ts vanilla
1 c zucchini, finely grated
1 handful chocolate chips – feel free to be as stingy or as generous as you like
1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line or grease muffin cups.
2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine the egg, oil, milk and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and then toss in the grated carrot.
3. Stir everything together until just combined and then spoon into the muffin cups.
4. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean. Leave for 5 minutes then pop onto a rack to cool off completely.
What else needs to be said? Those are four beautiful words when combined. This recipe makes something akin to bread pudding, but without the sogginess that sometimes accompanies it. This is a glorious, sweet, luscious, calorie-laden treat that I made for dinner on the weekend. (Should you so desire, you could add sliced apples into the mix or top with bananas or berries.) While it was undeniably decadent, it didn’t feel especially heavy or overly filling – I didn’t desperately want a nap post-dinner. It fed four adults and a very happy toddler and took almost no time to throw together.
You probably already have most of these ingredients kicking around your kitchen, so why not treat yourselves to a yummy breakfast for dinner this week?
1 loaf of bread, cubed
2 1/2 c milk
2 ts cinnamon
pinch of salt
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
1 ts cinnamon
1. Coat your slow cooker with cooking spray.
2. Toss in one layer of the bread, a little less than half the loaf.
3. In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients until they’re mixed together really well. Spread half across the bread in the cooker. (Don’t worry about it being perfect. Just try to get a fairly even coating.)
4. Add in the rest of the bread and the topping.
5. Combine the egg mixture ingredients and pour evenly over the top of the bread and filler.
6. Set your slow cooker to low and cook 6 hours. If you have a bit of extra time, remove the lid and cook another 30 minutes so you get even more crispy bits on top.
It’s cold out there in the big city. There’s snow on the ground, icicles hanging from eavestroughs and lots of grumpy, bundled up people. By the time you get home from a long day and maybe long commute, you want to get warm and eat something good. And quickly. I came across something perfect for just this scenario that has the added bonus of being really healthy. Vegan, even! It only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish and is full of flavour, textures and fantastic ingredients. Give it a try and I think you’ll quite enjoy it.
1b vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 ts cumin
1 ts coriander
1 ts salt
1 ts pepper
1/3 c quinoa, rinsed
2c vegetable broth (you could use chicken broth if that’s what you’ve got)
1 can white kidneybeans, drained and rinsed
2c baby spinach or 1c frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
1. In a medium pot, heat the oil to medium. Add in the onion and carrot, cooking til the onion becomes translucent (3-4 minutes).
2. Add in the garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and quinoa. Stir to combine, cooking for 2 minutes. Pour in the broth and water, bringing everything to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook partially covered for 15 minutes.
3. Stir in beans and spinach until heated through, just a couple more minutes and you’re done!
Because I just can’t stop buying cookbooks, Michael Smith’s latest, Family Meals, has appeared on my shelf. I’ve always liked Smith: he was my gateway into cooking fish for the first time and his recipes (while sometimes a bit short on the salt for my taste) never fail me. I like his philosophy that a recipe is simply somewhere to start, a thing to be played with, an idea upon which to expound. I feel the same way: when I come across a new recipe, I’ll generally leave the fundamentals alone but will alter things like seasoning and heat levels to suit my taste.
This particular book has some fantastic slow cooker recipes and quite a few vegetarian recipes that look enticing. I tried out the slow-cooked pork shoulder stew this weekend it’s a keeper. We added a few dashes of hot sauce to our bowls but kept it out of the main pot to avoid burning foodNURDling’s little tongue. It’s a simple recipe that doesn’t have a ton of ingredients. It’s hearty, filling and healthy. This recipe also makes a TON so you will definitely have leftovers. Cook once, eat many times. Works for me.
3lb pork shoulder, halved
salt & pepper
2 tb vegetable oil
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 potatoes, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 ts dried thyme and/or rosemary
2 ts salt
1c white wine (or, if you don’t want to use alcohol, skip it and add 8 cups of water instead of splitting it)
1. Preheat your oven to 300F.
2. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pan (a Dutch oven is perfect) to medium-high heat. Add the oil and watch for it become shimmery. Season the pork generously with salt & pepper and the two pieces of pork to the pan, searing on all sides until nicely browned.
3. Add in the celery, potatoes, carrots, onions, herbs, salt and liquid. Bring to a simmer. Cover with a tightly-fitting lid and place in the oven for 3-4 hours.
4. Remove the pot from the oven. The pork will now be fork-tender; shred or cube the meat. Serve and enjoy!