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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Farmer's Market Lasagne

There is nothing like heading to the market, picking up whatever's around, and turning it into a fantastic meal.

Today at the market.... local BC zucchinis and eggplants. Both were looking fantastic. So, I decided to turn them into a healthy lasagne that we could enjoy tonight and whenever we needed a quick lunch or dinner.

Farmer's Market Lasagne
Makes 1 Lasagne

12 Whole Wheat Lasagne Noodles
1 Large BC Eggplant, sliced (#bceggplant)
2 BC Zucchini, sliced (#bczucchini)
1 jar (650 ml) Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce
Corn Kernels from 2 cobs (or 1 can corn kernels, drained)
300 grams Ricotta Cheese
1 1/2 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Salt and Black Pepper

Cook the lasagne noodles as per the package instructions.

In a large casserole dish, start layering the eggplant and zucchini. Add 1 layer of lasagne noodles and top with 1/3 of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with half of the corn.

Add another layer of eggplant and zucchini. Top with noodles then spread with 1/2 of the ricotta cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Add another layer of eggplant, zucchini, noodles, tomato sauce and the rest of the corn.

Add the final layer of eggplant, zuchini and noodles. Spread the noodles with the remaining ricotta and tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Cover and bake in a 375 degree oven for about an hour until bubbly.

**Make ahead tip: You could make this ahead, cool it, cut it into portions, and freeze the portions for later!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Peanut Butter Flax Nut Oat Bars

I love Starbucks. I know there are tons of other coffee companies out there, but I still favour this one. Why?

I like the consistency. I like to know what I am getting. And I love those damn Oat Bars!!!

Yes, the famous Oat Bar. I started this relationship with the Oat Bar and the Flax Oat Bar when I worked for Starbucks in Victoria, BC. At that time (and I think still now), the baked goods were supplied by Cakes Etc, a local bakery.

And they made that "to die for" huge, square Oat Bar and the less famous, but just as good if not better, Flax Oat Bar. I remember putting these yummy bars in little brown paper bags for endless numbers of customers. Then, during my break, I would line up with everyone else to enjoy one with my coffee.

That was more than 10 years ago. And today, I still fondly think about those Oat Bars. Unfortunately, the oat bars here in Vancouver have been reduced to a smaller, rectangle sort, although still delicious, but the flax oat bar is never to be found.

So, I decided to start making my own oat bars. I started with neither a traditional oat bar nor a flax oat bar. This one is a peanut butter, flax and nut oat bar.

It ended up being less oat-y than the traditional, with the peanut butter taking centre stage followed by the almonds. Absolutely delicious, but not really an Oat Bar. This one was also a little more of a crumbly texture than chewy like the real thing.  Perhaps next time I will try to replicate the real thing!

Peanut Butter Flax Nut Oat Bars
Makes 1 - 9" by 13" pan of bars (cut into 20 squares)

1/4 cup Butter, melted
1/2 cup Honey
1/2 cup Natural Peanut Butter
1/3 cup Whole Milk
1 Egg
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 cups Quick Cooking Oats
1/3 cup Slivered Almonds
1/3 cup Unsalted Sunflower Seeds
1/3 cup Flax Seeds
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" by 13" pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together melted butter, honey, peanut butter, milk, egg and vanilla.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Push the mixture into the pre-greased pan so that it is tightly packed.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until brown on the edges.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Raspberry Tart

A raspberry tart needs no reason. It speaks for itself. The perfect end to a weekend lunch or dinner.

And frozen raspberries make this tart possible all year round... So in the dead of winter, you can still enjoy a little bit of summer...

Raspberry Tart
Makes 1 Tart

For Tart Pastry:
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/8 tsp salt
½ cup butter
3 tbsp ice cold water

For the filling:
5 cups Raspberries, frozen
2 tbsp White Sugar
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla
4 tbsp Cornstarch
Zest of 1 Lemon
Juice of 1/2 Lemon

To Make Tart Pastry:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the flour and the salt in a medium bowl or food processor.

Add the cold butter pieces and cut in using a pastry blender or by pulsing in the food processor.

Add ice water, 1/2 tbsp at a time until the dough forms into a ball. Gather up and pat into a disk. If possible, refrigerate dough for 30 minutes before rolling out.
When ready to use, roll dough out on a lightly floured board. Gently fold into quarters using a little flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place dough in pie plate and carefully unfold, fitting loosely and then pressing into place. Trim the edges and crimp for a decorative crust.

Prick the crust with the fork (be sure not to go all the way through) so that it doesn't puff up during blind baking or fill with foil and dried beans if you prefer.
Bake the crust at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

For the Filling:
Reduce the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl. Pour into the pre-baked pastry crust. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until the filling is thick and bubbly.

Let cool completely before serving.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Salad

As the summer ends and fall arrives, we are greeted with a plethora of "wintery" vegetables and a feeling that we just aren't ready for the summer to leave.

So, we find ourselves wanting to ease the passage of another summer by making dishes that reconcile both summer and winter seasons. Gone are the fruity, leafy salads, and fast arriving are Sunday night stews.

I think this dish perfectly expresses this changing of the seasons. Hearty vegetables are roasted and served room temperature or slightly chilled. An easy complement to the final summer grill out or a wintery roasted meat.

Roasted Vegetable Salad
Serves 4

1 Large Red Onion, cubed
1 Large Parsnip, cubed
1 Red Pepper, cut into chunks
1 Zucchini, cut into chunks
1 Sweet Potato, cubed
1 Eggplant, cut into chunks
4 cloves Garlic, whole peeled and crushed
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

1/2 cup Crumbled Feta Cheese

Dressing Ingredients
2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp Maple Syrup
3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Toss all the vegetables and garlic cloves in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the vegetables on a baking tray and roast for about 50 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool.

For the dressing, place all ingredients into a jar and shake together. Once the vegetables have cooled, toss with the dressing. Crumble the feta cheese on top.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Walnut Bread

I am a savory person. Some people love sweets, but I love salt. So when it comes time for dessert, I usually prefer to have things that aren't too sugary sweet. I err on the side of fresh fruits and dark chocolate.

However, to appease those around me who thrive on more sweetness, I usually make some kind of "bread".... banana bread, carrot cake, or zucchini loaf. Somehow, these choices seem to satisfy both ends of the salty- sweet spectrum.  Plus as a bonus, they are full of fruit and veg.

And just in case there is any left over, no one will feel guilty snacking on the leftovers!

Chocolate Zucchini Walnut Bread
Makes 1 loaf

1/4 cup Butter
1/3 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1/4 cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce
1/2 cup Buttermilk
1 cup Zucchini, shredded

1 1/4 cups Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
Zest of 1/2 Lemon

1/3 cup Chopped Walnuts
1/3 cup Chocolate Chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf tin and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then beat in the eggs.
Stir in the apple sauce, buttermilk and the zucchini.

Sift together the dry ingredients. Stir into wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in the walnuts and the chocolate chips.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until done. Cool on a wire rack.