Tag Archives: not really a recipe

Spicy Taco Salad

I made tacos last weekend, using a boxed kit. It was all very tasty, but those taco shells are so tiny. So confining. I kept breaking them with my overly ambitious and optimistic attempts to fill them. I eventually gave up and just made piles of the filling.

Today, I used up the leftovers in this delicious salad. I had about a cup each of spiced refried beans and cumin spiced beef. I heated them in the microwave, and then dressed the plate, first with beans and then with the meat. I topped all of that with cheese (a mozzarella-cheddar blend). I microwaved that gently to melt the cheese. Then, I placed freshly chopped romaine lettuce around the edge of the plate. I topped the cheese with a generous helping of pickled jalapeno slices and dollops of sour cream. I slathered everything with green tomatillo salsa and then sprinkled chopped green onions over it all. Finally, I sprinkled two broken up taco shells across the top.

This was so delicious. There was lots of crunch from the lettuce and the taco bits. And the temperature contrast between the hot beans, beef and cheese and the cold lettuce and sour cream was great, too.

I think next time, I won’t bother buying taco shells. I’ll just use nacho chips. I used the packaged spice mix, but I can replicate that quite easily too. I also think chopped cilantro would be a fantastic addition on top.

I highly recommend this approach to tacos if you too are finding yourself hemmed in by very tiny hard shells.

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Fried Plantains

I was on vacation in the Caribbean recently and had a ton of delicious food while I was there. One of my fondest memories is of dinner at a rib shack that included your choice of any three sides with an order of ribs. I chose coleslaw, beans and rice, and plantains. Ever since, I have been thinking about eating plantains again.

I bought a couple of green plantains about two weeks ago and have been patiently waiting until the skins turned black enough for me to fry them.

I made these today, as a side for spicy shrimp and rice. I used this recipe as a guide. I fried them in a stovetop wok in a mix of butter and oil. As they turned brown, I removed them to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. I generously salted them, and then I got to try them.

They were fantastic hot. I am taking some for lunch tomorrow, and will eat those ones cold. They were so tasty and so easy to make. I will definitely be making these again soon.

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Fried Onions, Pickled Eggplant and Banana Peppers with Cheese on French Fries

Some time ago, I bought a large jar of pickled eggplant. I like eggplant and was curious what the pickled version would be like. I had no idea how to use it, though, so I googled it. Of course, most of the answers involved bread products (sandwiches, crusty bread). And while I do use bought bread products occasionally, I try not to eat them too frequently.

I am also attempting to systematically use up items in my pantry. So that meant coming up with a non-bread way to use my eggplant. I like the idea of using it in a red Thai curry, and I like the idea of using it with pasta. I plan to try those later.

Yesterday, I decided to use it in a topping for french fries. I sliced up three small onions and fried them until they were just starting to turn golden. I added in about 1/4 cup each of pickled eggplant and pickled banana peppers. I put some fries in the oven to bake and let the onions, eggplant and peppers continue to cook together on medium low, and grated some old cheddar.

When the fries were done, I laid out a base layer on a plate. I added a layer of grated cheese, and then all of the onion topping. I added another layer of cheese and then placed the plate back in the hot oven for about five minutes to let the cheese melt.

The combination of flavours in the topping is fantastic. Cooking the vegetables together on the stove let the heat from the pickles infuse throughout the mixture. It was sweet, tangy and spicy. The acidity cut through the richness of the cheese nicely.

I think the combination would work well as a non-fry topping as well, either hot or cold. I am going to experiment with that next. It would be great to come up with an interesting vegan side dish. After all, I have a 750 mL jar of pickled eggplant to get through…

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Buffalo Chicken Dip

It occurred to me today that one of my guiding principles in the kitchen may simply be finding new ways to eat melted cheese.

Gluten-free living means eating far fewer sandwiches and more things that are free form, like dips.

I happened to have leftover buffalo wing sauce so, in the interests of using up leftovers, I made this dip. I sliced up four green onions, gently cooked two large chicken breasts in the microwave, and grated about two cups of old cheddar. I mixed a package of cream cheese with the leftover buffalo wing sauce, and added in the onions, shredded chicken and half the cheese. I put it all in a pie plate, sprinkled the rest of the cheese on top, and put in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.

As predicted, it was incredibly cheesy. And good. You can vary the heat by choosing how much hot sauce to add. My version had gratuitous butter, in the name of using up leftovers. This made it a bit richer than necessary, but it was still very tasty.

If we ever have potlucks again, this would be a good dish to take. And the heated up leftovers will make an awesome addition to an egg sandwich tomorrow morning.

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Hashbrowns with Kimchi, Onions, Cheese and Eggs

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I had an amazing meal today. My goal was to finish up the last bit of kimchi in the fridge.

I sliced up some onions and fried them in a pan until they were soft. Then I added the kimchi and a little bit of water that I used to get out all of the deliciousness in the kimchi container.

I let the kimchi topping simmer while I fried up some hashbrowns in another pan and melted some butter for eggs in yet another pan. I also grated some sharp cheddar and chopped up some green onions.

When the hashbrowns were getting golden, I cracked two eggs into the pan with butter and quickly fried them sunny-side up, keeping the yolks runny. When they were ready, I put down the hashbrowns in a layer, topped them with a generous layer of the kimchi and onions, added a layer of cheese, slid on the eggs and then scattered green onions on top.

The result was fantastic. Very savoury and filling, but special enough that it would make a lovely brunch dish. It was a three-pan meal, but it was definitely worth all the dishes.

 

 

 

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Yogurt with Chia Seeds and Hemp Hearts: A Cereal Substitute

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I was lucky to get a chance to spend a week in Greece last fall. Both of the hotels we stayed in offered breakfast buffets, and both offered rich, creamy Greek yogurt and pots of golden local honey. I made sure to have some every day.

After I got home, I kept up the ritual, but also thought about how I could add more nutrition to it. And this is what I have come up with: high milk fat plain yogurt + honey + hemp hearts + chia seeds + dried nuts or fruit.

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Sweet Potatoes and Cheese

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Lunches are a challenge if you are avoiding gluten. Packing a lunch that’s nutritious, got protein, and is affordable, filling, tasty AND fast to pull together is no small feat.

Here’s one of my go-to lunches—roasted sweet potatoes with melted cheese. It’s a good way to use leftovers, but also simple to make from scratch.

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Breakfast Nachos!

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I had a hectic schedule this week, where food was often a necessary afterthought. It was a pleasure to finally have a little time to think up a delicious breakfast. This is nachos with old cheddar, baked in the oven until crispy, doused generously with tomatillo salsa and dotted with sour cream.

Some people have a bowl of cereal topped with fruit to start the day. How is this that different? Corn, dairy and fruit… It’s practically the same thing.

While that may be debatable, what is definitely true is that this was a tasty treat and a very welcome meal.

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Feta Fries

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Here is a fast and delicious side dishfeta fries. Bake up some fries so they are nice and crispy, and then toss them with some crumbled feta and any other flavourings you like. This batch has oregano, for a Greek flair.

Also note the other sides in the back. There’s mushrooms fried with butter and garlic. And there’s grape tomato salad with fresh basil and balsamic dressing. We had these, along with caramelized onions, with burgers as a way to kick off the summer barbecue season. All simple to make, and all really tasty. Let the barbecues begin!

UPDATE: We have found, through extensive scientific research, that the best feta fries are ones where the feta is crumbled into small pieces, the fries are well salted and dusted with seasonings after baking, and the dressed fries are put back into a hot oven for a few more minutes. We toss ours in a metal bowl and throw it in, directly on the rack. The extra time in the oven helps the feta melt a bit and stick to the fries better.

 

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Spicy Nachos

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I just made this outrageously delicious version of nachos.

I picked up a jar of Huy Fong chili garlic sauce this morning and was mulling over how to use it. Then, a craving for nachos struck. The answer seemed obvious.

I used one can of refried beans, and mixed in a couple of spoons of the chili garlic sauce and one bunch of chopped green onions. I used the cheese I had, which was extra old cheddar.

The chili sauce gave the beans a nice kick and the green onions added a nice freshness. The extra old cheddar went really well with the spiciness, too. And, luckily, I had some sour cream on hand to help tone down the spice a bit. (Full disclosure: I always have sour cream on hand.)

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It was a great combo. I am looking forward to eating the leftovers for breakfast tomorrow, and I will definitely be making these again.

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