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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Chicken Stew with Acorn Squash & Quinoa

So, I went a little quinoa crazy last month and bought a couple of huge bags of organic quinoa because they were such a great deal. What I failed to consider is what I was going to do with all of this quinoa.  I already felt that I had exhausted all quinoa salad possibilities (okay, don't get me wrong... I love quinoa salad like this one with chicken and apple, but, well, you can't eat it everyday) and was just getting sick of the same old quinoa preparations.

So then I made these Sundried Tomato and Olive Quinoa Cakes which I have to admit, renewed my interest in the whole quinoa thing. However, it still didn't help in reducing my massive pantry stash of quinoa.  I had to keep looking.

Then, I came across a recipe by the Cookin Canuck. Hmm.... a stew with quinoa? Had to be worth a shot. So, I modified the recipe a little according to what I had around, and made an acorn squash, chicken, quinoa stew. And it was surprisingly fantastic! I kinda thought that the quinoa would turn to mush, but it really manages to hold it form and texture. And the olives gave a great saltiness to each bite. Really, it was phenomenal. And another quinoa recipe to add to my repertoire.

Chicken Stew with Acorn Squash & Quinoa
Adapted from recipe from
Serves 6

1 Acorn Squash, peeled, seeded & chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 can (14 oz) petite diced tomatoes
2/3 uncooked quinoa
3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, oregano and squash and sautee for a few minutes. Add about 1/4 cup of water, cover, and let steam for about 5-8 minutes, until squash just starts to soften.

Add chicken and broth. Cover and let simmer for another 8-10 minutes.

Stir in the tomatos and quinoa. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes.

Pull out the chicken, remove the bones, and shred.
Stir the chicken, olives and pepper into the stew and simmer, uncovered, to heat, about 5 minutes.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Individual Ricotta Cheesecakes with Wild Blueberry Compote

My sister was coming over for dinner with some fresh Fanny Bay Oysters. She asked me to make a salad. I did, but I felt that it just wasn't enough of a contribution to this dinner. After all, she was bring fresh oysters. From Fanny Bay. On the island. And was sharing them with me. That is sisterly love.

So, I needed to bring something equally fun and loving to the dinner table. 

As I have said time and time again, I am more of a savory girl. My sister, however, loves her sweets. So, I thought I would make her some ricotta cheesecake. But, it couldn't just be any ricotta cheesecake. Because, as I mentioned before, she had the oysters. Fresh, beautiful, huge Fanny Bay oysters. And my dessert had to be worthy of those.

So I made the cheesecake with wild blueberry compote. In individual mason jars. To show my love and appreciation for my sister. Oh, and did I mention the oysters?

Individual Ricotta Cheesecakes with Wild Blueberry Compote
Makes 4 individual cheesecakes

250 grams Ricotta
2 Large Eggs, seperated
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp Sugar
1 1/2 tbsp Flour
Zest of 1 Lemon
Pinch of Salt
4 Small Wide Mouth Mason Jars (250ml) or ramekins or individual springforms
Butter and Sugar for Mason Jars

For the Wild Blueberry Compote
Makes about 2 cups of Compote

3 cups Wild Blueberries, frozen
1/3 cup Sugar
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
1 tbsp Cornstarch

To make the cheesecakes:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Butter 4 small wide mouth mason jars (250ml size). Sprinkle sugar inside the jars. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the ricotta until smooth. beat in the egg yolks and sugar. Stir in the flour, lemon zest and salt.

In a seperate bowl, beat egg whites with 1 tbsp sugar until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites gently into the ricotta mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared mason jars, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 30-35 minutes until firm and golden brown on top. Let cool completely.

To make the compote:
Combine all ingredients into a saucepan and simmer on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes until thickened. Let cool completely. Spoon onto the cooled cheesecakes before serving.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie

Today is my birthday.

And there is no way that I would rather spend it than with my family and in the kitchen.

So, I am having some dinner tonight with my family. On the menu? Maple Chicken and Ribs, Boiled Baby Potatoes, and my fave.... Lemon Meringue Pie!

So, let's start with the pie.

I am really not the biggest sweet fan. I am more of a savory girl. However, I do love anything lemon. I think it's because of the delicate balance of sweet and sour. So for my birthday, a lemon meringue pie would be the perfect treat.

Lemon Meringue Pie
Adapted slightly from

Makes 1 Pie

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, cold and cubed
1 Large Egg Yolk
1 tsp Lemon Juice
3 tbsp Ice Cold Water

For the Filling:
1 cup White Sugar
6 tbsp Cornstarch
1/2 tsp Salt
2 cups Water
4 Large Egg Yolks, beaten
1 tbsp Lemon Zest
1/2 cup Fresh Lemon Juice
2 tbsp Butter

For the Meringue
5 Large Egg Whites
1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/3 cup Sugar

Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC)

For Pie Crust:
In a food processor, mix flour with salt. Add cubes of butter and pulse until mixture resembles course meal. Add beaten egg, lemon juice, and 1 tbsp ice water. Pulse to combine. Continue adding ice water by the tablespoon and pulsing until dough just starts to come together. Take the dough from the processor bowl and press into disc. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 30 minutes or for up to 3 days.

On lightly floured surface, roll out pastry so it is large enough to cover a 9 inch pie dish without stretching. Trim edges of pie crust. Line with foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in bottom third of 400ºF (200ºC) oven for 15 minutes. Remove foil and pie weights. Prick shell all over. Bake 10 minutes or until evenly golden. Let cool on rack.

For Filling:
In heavy saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in water. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Whisk one-quarter into egg yolks, whisk back into pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon rind, lemon juice and butter. Set aside.

For Meringue:
In bowl, beat egg whites with cream or tartar until soft peaks form. Beat in 1/3 of the sugar at a time until stiff peaks form.

Pour filling into cooled crust, smoothing top. Starting at edge and using spatula, spread meringue around outside of hot filling. Sealing to crust, which prevents meringue from shrinking.

Spread over remaining filling making attractive peaks with back of spoon. Bake in center of 400ºF (200ºC) oven for 5 to 6 minutes until golden. Let cool on rack for about 5 hours or until set.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sundried Tomato and Olive Quinoa Cakes

I have definitely been on a quinoa kick lately. I absolutely love the stuff. It's easy to make, has a great nutty texture, and is really good for you.

However, this quinoa kick has put me in a little bit of a rut. I find myself making the same things with quinoa. I cook it, then mix it with veggies and turn it into a salad of sorts like my Summer Quinoa Salad with Chicken & Apple.

I mean, don't get me wrong. These one meal wonders with quinoa are delicious. But I felt the need to break out of this quinoa rut and try something different.

For starters, I figured I should make something warm. Like a warm quinoa side dish. But of course, I got caught up in adding stuff to the quinoa, and before I knew it, it was another room tempurature salad of sorts. Again.

So, this time, to break out of the mold, I decided to use the quinoa as a basis for pan fried cakes. I added sundried tomatoes, olives, onions and zucchini for flavor; I added eggs to bind everything, and pan fried them. Then, for a final burst of flavour, I mixed up a little garlic mayo.

I served these cakes with some pan seared wild coho salmon and a little salad and it was a fantastic dinner! The perfect dish to make quinoa interesting again!

Sundried Tomato and Olive Quinoa Cakes
Makes 8 cakes

2 Large Eggs
1/3 cup Onions, finely chopped
1/3 cup Sundried Tomatoes, finely chopped
1/3 cup Olives, finely chopped (whatever kind you like)
1/2 cup Zucchini, finely diced
2 cups Cooked Quinoa, room temperature
2 tbsp Whole Wheat Flour
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil canola oil for pan

Garlic Mayo
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
2 tbsp Grainy Mustard
Salt and Pepper

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the onions, sundried tomatoes, olives and zucchini. Then add the quinoa and flour. Mix until incorporated. Let rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.

In the meantime, combine all ingredients for the garlic mayo in a bowl. Mix and set aside.

Heat some oil in a large pan over medium heat. Form the quinoa mixture into balls and place in the preheated pan, pressing down to form patties. Cook until browned on both sides (about 5 minutes per side).

Serve warm with the garlic mayo.