Sunday, June 16, 2013

Greek Salad Skewers


I was recently invited to a friend's barbecue and was incredibly excited when I learned that the evening had a theme - food on a stick!  I went to my favourite foodie websites to find inspiration and found some really great ideas!   BLT's, caprise pops, and sticks of strawberry shortcake were all top contenders, but as I set off to the grocery store the morning of the barbecue, I still had no idea what I was actually going to make.  As I perused the vegetable isle, my eye caught some baby tomatoes and the idea hit me - greek salad on a stick!  With easily kebob-able vegetables and my Uncle's greek dressing recipe, I knew I had a winner.  This was confirmed when I saw a couple of kids excitingly eating a stick filled with vegetables!  :) 

Ingredients
- 1 small zuchinni
- 1/2 english cucumber
- 1/2 medium purple onion
- 1/2 each yellow, red, and green peppers
- 1 box cherry tomatoes
- 1 small jar pitted kalamata olives
- 1-2 heads of romaine lettuce
- 1/2 brick feta cheese

Dressing:
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 2-4 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano
- 1/4 tsp pepper

Directions
Cut the zucchini, cucumber, purple onion, and peppers in veggies into bite sized pieces.  Toss with cherry tomatoes and olives and set aside. 

Combine all ingredients for dressing in a blender (I use my magic bullet for this - it's the perfect size). 
  Pour all but 1/4 cup dressing onto cut veggies and marinate in fridge for a minimum of 2-3 hours. 

Chop romaine into bite sized pieces and carefully slice feta into cubes. 

Place veggies on a skewer alternating every third veggie with romaine lettuce.  Place feta on skewers last (trust me, they won't make it the entire way down the skewer without breaking). 

Drizzle with any remaining 1/4 cup dressing and serve! 
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Sunday, June 9, 2013

French Onion Dip

Here is my latest column that was published in the Hinton Voice.

[When I was little, my Mom used to keep a plastic container filled with different soup mixes in our lazy Susan.   These mixes weren’t usually meant to be used for their intended purpose, but rather to spice dips and salad dressings (and the occasional meatloaf).   We’d mix the packages with sour cream for dips, and mayonnaise for salad dressings.   French onion was always a favourite of mine, and because I was never very decisive, I would mix the mayonnaise and sour cream together rather than choosing one over the other. Nearly every dip I make today starts with this base, with one exception - I now swap the sour cream for Greek yogurt (or for a hot dip, cream cheese).

Ever since I discovered plain Greek yogurt a few years back, I’ve used it in place of sour cream.  Not only do I use it to make dips or salad dressings, I also use it as the “secret” ingredient in a lot of my baking (namely my favourite banana bread recipe). The taste and texture are fairly similar, only Greek yogurt has far fewer calories and fat, so I feel like I’m eating something a little bit healthier.

Sweet onions have always been my onion of choice for anything French Onion related.  This advice first came from my husband’s Uncle Frank (who also happens to be French) when he taught me how to make his recipe for French onion soup.  He was very adamant that you needed to always use sweet onions, and after having made his recipe several times now, I can definitely see why.  Other types of onions are more pungent, whereas sweet onions have a milder, sweeter flavour (hence their name).  You could easily use whichever onions you have on hand, but sweet onions work the best for this recipe, and any thing else where you’re looking to achieve a true French Onion flavour.]
  
- Recipe yields 2 cups -

Ingredients
-        1 tbsp butter or olive oil
-        1 large Vidalia (sweet) onion, sliced into ¼ inch rings
-        1 clove garlic, minced
-        1 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
-        ½ cup mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip)
-        ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
-        Black pepper & sea salt, to taste
-        Chives for garnish

Directions

Pre-heat a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes, or until caramelized (golden brown).   Add the garlic and sauté for an addition 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and let onions cool for about 5 minutes.   Chop onions into fine pieces and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, mix yogurt, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and sea salt.  Fold in onion mixture and place dip in fridge for 1-2 hours (for best results, overnight). 

Top with chives and serve with your favourite fresh veggies, chips, crackers, or for a true French Onion experience – a thinly sliced baguette topped with greyer cheese and toasted until the cheese is melted. 


- Nutritional Info (2 tbsp) -

Calories - 34   Fat - 2    Carbs – 1     Protein - 1   Fibre – 1

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hemp Cookies


I remember the very first time I tried hemp, it was in cookie form.  My local health food store had a basket of hemp cookies attached to samples of hemp hearts (presumably so you could make your own cookies at home).   I really enjoyed hemp in cookie form and recently decided to re-create that lost recipe from so many years ago.  These cookies are light and crisp - the perfect cookie to go with a cup of tea! 

Ingredients
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 medium egg
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup hemp hearts
- 1 cup flour

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter and allow to cool slightly.  Whisk in egg and add brown sugar.  

In a separate bowl combine cinnamon, hemp and flour.  

Mix wet and dry ingredients together until just combined. 

Drop 1 tbsp balls onto cookie sheet and flatten with your fingertips.
 
Bake for 8-10 minutes until cookies are lightly brown around the edges.

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