Quinoa and Edamame Cakes with spicy dill yogurt dip

My friend Tim hates quinoa. How can anyone hate quinoa? It’s one of those innocent grains that don’t have a lot of flavour on their own but paired with a few simple ingredients can be fabulous.

Tim, don’t be a hater.

Try these quinoa and edamame patties spiced with cumin, dill and dried chilli peppers. Just one patty and you’ll change your mind about quinoa.

Trust me.

I had a couple of cups of left over quinoa and edamame from the previous nights dinner. I’ve been thinking about making a corn cake or a patty of some kind for a while. I found this recipe by Heidi Swanson from her blog 101 Cookbooks. I own Heidi’s Super Natural Cooking cook book and have been a big fan for awhile.

I used Heidi’s recipe as the base which did not have edamame in it. I only had 2 cups of quinoa and so I used about 3 eggs, half the flour and half the breadcrumbs that the original recipe called for as I wanted a really moist patty. We didn’t have scallions or fresh dill. Instead I chopped up a bit of thinly diced red onion, and added a little bit of fresh dill I had scavenged from a “a fresh herb salad kit” along with a sprinkle of dried dill. I did not measure when adding the herbs and seasonings and I wish I had.  The flavour was underlying but not as strong as I would have liked. Next time…. or not. I did however add a generous amount of feta which was perfect in this patty as it was creamy but salty.

I chose to pan fry the patties in a bit of olive oil. The patties were crisp and golden brown but moist on the inside. I made a quick dip with a couple of tablespoons of Oikos greek yogurt, franks hot sauce, dried dill and dried chilli peppers.

Delicious!

**Even though this blog post makes it seem like I just whipped those bad boys up, don’t be fooled. It took me nearly three hours to get 9 patties finished as chaos reigned supreme in the kitchen that morning. Between my baby fussing about, my sous chef being M.I.A and various interruptions from company and phonecalls (“Honestly Lindsay! How long does it take you to make those things!”- my Noonie), it was a wonder that they turned out as good as they did. I also had a hard time figuring out the right temperature for panfrying the patties. This took a little bit of time but once I did it went quite smoothly.


Lasagna Soup and Cheesy Garlic Bread

Are you on Pinterest yet? If not, why not? It’s the latest internet time waster. But it wastes it oh-so fabulously. If you don’t know what pinterest is, read about it here.

I love Pinterest. But more specifically, I love following cousin Dawn on pinterest. Seriously. This woman has an eye for everything cool, delicious, trendy, helpful, fashionable, easy, organized etc. Everything she pins I want to make and/or have. The other day my mother and I inadvertently spent the afternoon cooking recipes we found off of her “recipes” board.

Thank you Dawn for all of the delicious inspiration!

We made lasagna soup from the blog A Farm Girls Dabbles and cheesey garlic bread from Lauren’s Latest blog.

Making the cheese bread was disastrous! Don’t get me wrong, the finished product was delicious. But despite having my mother with me in the kitchen (“Lindsay, maybe if you cooked with me more often you would be a better cook”. Thanks Mom), it was still a gong show. It took us three tries to make the dough. The yeast had been expired for two years so we had to go get more. I added way too much flour to the first batch and it ended up being dry and tough and wouldn’t form into a ball. Eventually we got it right and it was soooo good. Soooo good.  The pizza crust was crisp but chewy. The topping was oh-so garlicy and ooey gooey. Divine! Next time we won’t put in quite as much garlic into the butter as it was slightly over powering.  And of course I forgot to take a picture of the  final product. So the “before” picture will have to suffice.

Lasagna soup! I feel like I don’t need to say anything about it, that just the title itself conveys this recipes sheer awesomeness. If you love the zesty spiciness and creamy cheesiness of lasagna you will flip for it in soup form.

Make this soup. Make it this weekend.

You won’t be disappointed.

We pretty much stuck to the recipe as written and measured the ingredients as required. I could not find fire roasted tomatoes anywhere so we used a can of diced tomatoes and 4 tbsp of Mezzetta Fire Roasted Marinara Sauce. For the noodles, we used multigrain lasagna noodles that we broke up and cooked separately, adding it into the soup bowls with the cheese before spooning in the broth.

Serve the soup with the cheese bread and a green salad and you will experience dinner time perfection!


Maui Part I: The Restaurant that Stole my Heart

I’ve been away from this blog for too long. But I have a wonderful excuse! I was resting and relaxing in the tropical paradise of Maui. It was a wonderful vacation. And it ended much too soon for my liking. Every morning I would wake up (at 4am because the baby was still on Calgary time) and make myself an earl grey tea latte to enjoy on the balcony. Kristine and I would sit on the balcony with our babies and watch the sun rise through the palm trees and over the ocean, where we would often see whales breaching.

This was our view

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In our condo we had a kitchen where we prepared a lot of delicious meals (future post to come) but we also managed to sample many of Maui’s fine eating establishments.

The obvious favourite was Fred’s Mexican Cafe in Kihei which we ate at three times. This place served the best mexican food I have ever eaten. Ever. The best. For realsies.

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Todd was crazy for the Chicken Tortilla Soup which had a light broth but was incredibly flavourful with many different layers of spices and flavours. The broth was served with large pieces of roasted chicken, half an avocado, grilled corn salsa, monterey jack cheese and garnished with crisp tortilla chips. Incredible! I spent half an hour dissecting and analyzing the soup in order to recreate it one day. As my husband demanded “If you make nothing else for the next year, you have to make me this soup. You have to!”.

I’m up for that challenge! So stay tuned….

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My favourite dish at Fred’s was the Pescado Taco. This was a grilled fish taco that changed my life. It was that good. The pieces of marinated fish were large, not small chunks like other more disappointing tacos we sampled (ahem, Maui Taco). The sauce was tangy with a bit of spice to it which was a nice accompaniment to the crunch of the lettuce, cabbage, and tomatoes.

So good. I’m currently scheming on how I can get back to Maui for those tacos.

Oh and I guess the beaches were okay too.


Super Bowl Party Buffalo Chicken Dip

I know, I know, the Super Bowl was two weeks ago and this post is old. Fair enough. But I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen cooking and spending much less time on the computer. But I promise that good eats are following.

I promise!

The Super Bowl is taken very seriously in our house, as my husband loves football.  Every year, our group of friends take turns hosting the party and every year, I look forward to attending.  But not for the game. Nor for the hilarious mess of a half time show. No, I do not go for the football but for the food. It might as well be called Super Buffet of Excellent Noshing as far as I am concerned because I have no idea who is playing or what the score is.  All I care about is what’s on my plate and how I can get it in my mouth.

This year, I had two parties in one day: a bridal shower in the morning for which I made my Caramelized Onion and Brie Tart and then a Super Bowl Party at Andy and Amy’s for which I made a Buffalo Chicken Dip. The tart was a hit (as always) and the Buffalo Chicken Dip became a new favourite (especially with our friend Jorge, who loved it so much that he requested that I give the recipe to his wife who then had to make it the next day!).

The original recipe came from the Rachael Ray show and can be found here. It’s basically every wonderful thing that you get when you order a plate of wings at the pub. The only thing it’s missing is the beer and carrot sticks. The first layer is cream cheese and I used light cream cheese. The second layer consists of a deli chicken which I substituted for diced roasted chicken thighs, buffalo chicken sauce ( I used Frank’s Louisiana Hot Sauce), and 2 tbsp of melted butter. I also added a 1/2 tsp of garlic salt and pepper. The third layer calls for blue cheese dressing.  I bought fresh blue cheese crumbles and had intended to add it to ranch dressing but of course I didn’t have any on hand. You top it all off with shredded cheese, I used a nacho mix. Bake in the oven and serve with nacho chips.


Homemade Pasta Boot Camp

Last week I had the most fabulous day learning how to make fresh pasta with my cousin Catherine and her sweet baby, Ruby. Now to be honest, I was a little nervous about  making my own pasta ever since the Great Gnocchi Debacle of 2002. Without getting into the gory details, it was an ignominious failure. And although ten years have passed, the memory is still strong ((silent shudder)). However, I had great faith in the culinary abilities of my cousin and therefore was eager to learn and VERY eager to test out the Kitchenaid pasta attachment!

And it ended up being a great experience!

The day started out with a kind stranger paying for our Tim Horton’s order, followed by a surprise visit from cousin Briley, her son Evan and my grandma Noonie and ended with a delicious plate of fresh homemade pasta. I now have renewed confidence in my own ability to make fresh pasta and am jonesing to own the Kitchenaid pasta attachments for myself (I don’t think I can wait for my birthday in July and will have to dip into my shoe fund…)

We made three different kinds and each was a variation of a basic egg noodle recipe:

  1. Basil and cracked pepper linguine
  2. Red Chili Pepper Rigatoni
  3. Plain bucatini

Basic Egg Noodle Recipe from the Kitchenaid Pasta Attachment manual

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups of sifted flour (which we didn’t sift)
  • 1/4 cup water

Place eggs, water and flour in mixer bowl. Attach flat beater to mixer. Turn to speed 2 and mix for 30 seconds. Remove flat beater and attach dough hook. Turn to speed 2 and knead 2 minutes. Hand knead dough for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Cover with dry towel and let rest for 15 minutes before extruding through pasta maker.

Variations:

Basil and Cracked Pepper: Crush peppercorns in mortar and pestle and to basic egg dough with 2 tbsp of basil paste

Red Chili: 2 tbsp of red chili pepper paste and 1 tsp of chili powder added to basic egg dough


Wontons

Wontons aren’t just for chinese restaurants. Nope. They are easy to make right at home to be enjoyed whenever you want them. My grandma Noonie and I have been making wontons for several years now and we can whip up a couple of batches in less than an hour. We use store bought wonton wrappers and one package makes a few dozen.  My grandma and I like to use bbq ground pork cutlets from the IGA. It sounds strange. But trust me, the bbq spice really adds something to the filling.

Mixing the meat and ingredients in a medium bowl with my favourite assistant.

Wrappers brushed with water

A teaspoon of filling placed on every wrapper

Wontons

  • 2 packages of ground pork cutlets
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 package of wonton wrappers
  • water

In a medium bowl combine the first 7 ingredients until thoroughly mixed. Spread your wonton wrappers onto a clean, flat surface and using a pastry brush, brush the edges with water. Put a tsp of filling in the centre of the wrappers and pinch together. Working in small batches, put the raw wontons in a pot of boiling water until they are floating about 7 minutes. If you aren’t going to eat them right away, place them on a cookie sheet until cool and then freeze before packaging.


Bacon and Roasted Cauliflower Cream Sauce

You know how it goes. You get this idea and it seems really great in your head but then somehow, it turns out oh so terribly wrong in real life. Like wearing toe socks. Or purchasing the slap chop.

I had this vision for a beautiful light cream sauce accented by golden cauliflower florets and crispy browned bits of bacon. It was going to be amazing. The inspiration came from a recipe out of the Company’s Coming Slow Cooker cookbook but I didn’t have any of the ingredients that that recipe called for, so I just made up my own.

That is where everything went wrong.

I rarely make cream sauces. In fact, I never make cream sauces. I can rock an oil based or tomato based pasta sauce like nobody’s business but milk and butter and flour is new territory. So why did I think that this would turn out amazing?

I roasted the cauliflower at 375F for an hour, turning them over after 30 minutes. Before putting them in the oven, I brushed the florets with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and cracked fresh pepper.  While the cauliflower was slowly caramelizing, I fried six slices of chopped bacon in a small frying pan and then placed them on a paper towel to soak up the excess fat. In a large non-stick frying pan, I melted 2 tbsp butter over medium heat and a tsp of the left over bacon fat. To this, I added two chopped leeks (thoroughly washed and rinsed) and 2 cloves of garlic diced.

At this point our house smelled divine.  All was going well. I added 2 tbsp of all purpose flour and let it brown for a couple of minutes.

That is when I discovered that we had less than a 1/4 cup of milk left. Milk was supposed to be the main liquid in this sauce! The flour, leek and garlic mixture sucked every ounce of milk and left a gooey dough. In a panic I ransacked the pantry for chicken stock. Nothing. In desperation I found a jar of evaporated skim milk but it expired in 2009 (I was going to use it anyways, until I opened it up and realized that it had been rotten for a very long time. Oh my.). So I kept adding cup after cup of water. In response the flour mixture just kept expanding.

At this time the baby was bawling, my hair was frazzled, and my husband was confused. I shouted at him to make me some chicken oxo, thinking he knew how to do that. He didn’t. I added that cup of whatever it was into the mix anyways, along with the cauliflower and bacon.

The sauce never thinned out, it only expanded.  Getting bigger and bigger and more gross looking.

It was like this sauce had a mind of its own and was going to reach up and slap me in the face. So I threw some shredded cheese at it and stabbed it with my wooden spoon.

Defeated, I took the sauce off the burner and added it to my pasta. I only had speghettini which was a terrible choice. The sauce was too heavy and thick for such a delicate noodle. It ended up looking like runny scrambled eggs.

Guys, this was the Jabba the Hut of pasta dishes. To dress it up, I garnished it with chopped fresh parlsey. But like putting a french beret on Jabba, no one was fooled. It was still a hot mess with a bit of parsley.

Thank goodness my husband will eat ANYTHING I place in front of him. He even took the left overs to work the next day. Next time, if there is a next time, I will follow a recipe when making a cream sauce.

And on that note, what’s your go-to cream sauce recipe?