Chocolate Rhubarb Brownies

While I’ll never grow tired of the classic pairing of strawberries and rhubarb, I love rhubarb too much to let it simply be a sidekick to those sweet berries. Not only can it hold its own, but it also begs to be matched up with many other flavors that give it new life.

Eating seasonally doesn’t have to be difficult when it tastes so delicious. Finding inventive ways to incorporate locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables into breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes is actually a very easy task.

When making desserts, chocolate and rhubarb bring very different flavors to the table. The result makes a perfect balance. High-cacao chocolate is rich, subtly sweet, and creamy. Fresh rhubarb, meanwhile, is tart and comes into its own when offset by a dash of sweetness.

Celebrate rhubarb season with a stellar dessert like fudgy rhubarb brownies.

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Chocolate Rhubarb Brownies
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk sugar, butter, eggs & vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder & sea salt.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients & mix until they are just incorporated. Add the rhubarb, chocolate chips & nuts. Mix only until they are combined. The batter will be quite thick. Pour batter into baking pan & spread it out so that it is even.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or just until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. DO NOT OVERBAKE.
  6. Remove brownies from the oven & allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. Slice into squares.

Shrimp Orzotto in Creamy Wine Sauce

Cooking with wine is a bit of a misunderstood area. It’s not quite as simple as many people believe it to be with such a wide range of wines available to cook with and a variety of ways in which to use them.

Wine is used in a similar fashion to seasoning. You’re not pouring it in to change the taste of the entire dish, but more to enhance and complement the flavors already there. The alcohol present in wine actually triggers the release of flavor molecules in the sauce, making every ingredient the wine contacts taste even better.

White wines can be wonderful in a whole host of dishes, which is why you’ll often find them in chicken, fish and seafood recipes, as well as vegetarian.  Seafood such as lobster and shellfish are considered full-bodied, so are better partnered with creamier, full-bodied whites like Chardonnay. White wine sauce has been described as ‘a classic sauce for fish’.

A common misconception when cooking with wine is that all alcohol content is burned off during the cooking process. This isn’t completely true. Typically, the majority of the alcohol will evaporate, but in order to eliminate all traces you would need to cook something for a good three hours or more.

It’s not just alcohol content that is evaporated either. All wines contain a small amount of sulphites, a natural result of the winemaking process. These evaporate along with the alcohol, while the flavors are concentrated. The undesirable stuff comes out, the good stuff is enhanced!

This shrimp orzo is nicely complimented with the creamy wine sauce.

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Shrimp Orzotto in Creamy Wine Sauce
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Instructions
  1. In a large bowl pat the shrimps dry with paper towel, & mix them with salt, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning & crushed red pepper flakes.
  2. Melt 1 tbsp. of butter in a large, non-stick skillet on medium heat. Add shrimp & fry for 1-2 minutes on each side, just until it cooks through.
  3. Meanwhile bring 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth to a boil & cook orzo pasta until all the broth is absorbed & orzo is tender. Set aside.
  4. Remove the shrimps from the skillet & set aside. In the same skillet, add the remaining 1 tbsp. of butter & melt until it just starts to brown. Add onion & garlic and cook until translucent & fragrant.
  5. Once the garlic is cooked, add wine & cook for a couple of minutes. Next add heavy cream & once the liquid is simmering, add salt & 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Add orzo & crumbled gorgonzola cheese.
  6. Add shrimp back into the skillet & reheat. Serve with chopped parsley.

Garlic Salmon w/ Roasted Veggies

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!

Food has always been a powerful symbol especially at the start of a new year. Fish on New Year’s Day is like turkey at Christmas.

People all around the world eat a variety of traditional foods from grapes to lentils, to smoked fish at the stroke of midnight. Fish have also been linked to prosperity or wealth with their scales round and abundant like money. Because fish swim forward, they’re considered a lucky food and represent progress. Not only that, but salmon travel in schools, which is supposed to symbolize prosperity. 

There is also a German tradition of eating fish for the New Year’s Eve dinner, and keeping a fish scale from a carp in your wallet all year to ensure wealth for the whole family.

New Year’s celebrations bring thoughts of new beginnings, letting go of the past and a future of wealth and good fortune.

Whatever food you chose to have today, enjoy it to the fullest with family & friends as we enter this new year.

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Garlic Salmon w/ Roasted Veggies
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Instructions
  1. In the microwave, bake potatoes with skin on until almost done. Remove & carefully cut into wedges. Set aside. Take beans out of freezer.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  3. Spread salmon with mustard; sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  4. In a skillet over medium-high, heat oil & add garlic. Cook, stirring often until garlic is fragrant & light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Pour hot oil over salmon on a large baking sheet. Place potato wedges at one end & spread out beans on the other. Sprinkle potatoes & beans with salt & pepper.
  5. Roast until salmon flakes easily with a fork & vegetables are tender & roasted. Remove from oven.
  6. Transfer salmon to a platter; sprinkle with tarragon & chives. Arrange vegetables on platter & serve.

Grilled Salmon w/ Mango Avocado Salsa

When it comes to favorite summer condiments, salsa is top of the list. For many North Americans, salsa is almost considered a basic food group, and not just as a nutritious dipper for corn chips. Packed with garden-fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables that are easy to get your hands on, it’s as terrific a topping for chicken, beef, or seafood as it is a colorful add-in for pasta, rice and salad. Plus, it requires virtually no cooking, making it the perfect dish to throw together when summer heat and humidity make you feel like you’re melting.

The history of salsa sauce originated with the Inca people. Salsa, which has typically been a combination of chilies, tomatoes and other spices, can be traced to the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas. In recent years, the use of different fruits combined with vegetables makes for a spicy fruit salsa.

Modern North American cooking has become a fusion of traditions, flavors and dishes from virtually every part of the globe. The tradition of eating tomato-based salsa was likely regional until the practice of eating Mexican food spread throughout the continent. Exactly how mango salsa reached North America isn’t really known, but it was likely brought from the Caribbean by travelers. Modern North American salsas are still primarily tomato based, but many people appreciate the sweet, salty, sour and spicy combinations of flavors in a well-balanced mango salsa.

Versatility and adaptability are salsa’s biggest selling point. Chunky or finely diced, spicy or mild, crafted with fruit or vegetables, and sometimes both, salsa is unlimited with possibility.

The salsa that Brion & I are having with our salmon today is an interesting mix of avocado, mango, grape tomatoes & red onion marinated in lime juice. Should be good!

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Grilled Salmon w/ Mango Avocado Salsa
Instructions
Salmon
  1. In a small bowl, mix melted butter & all other salmon ingredients. Rub the spice mix all over salmon in foil ( mainly on the no-skin side but getting a little on the other side as well). Leave at room temperature while the grill heats up. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
Salsa
  1. In a bowl, combine salsa ingredients & refrigerate until salmon is ready.
Grilling
  1. Grill the salmon wrapped in foil for about 15 minutes or to your liking. Salmon should flake easily & not be overcooked.
  2. Serve hot on a bed of rice with the mango salsa on top.

Chicken Pancakes w/ Mushroom Sauce

ENJOYING SHROVE TUESDAY!

Shrove Tuesday is a ‘holiday’ with a movable date, due to its relationship to Easter. The final day before Lent, it has many meanings, both spiritual and practical. The spiritual purpose of Shrove Tuesday is to take stock of the year and determine what things one must bear in mind during repentance.

Practically speaking, Shrove Tuesday is the last day before the great ‘fast’ of Lent. As a result, many would take it as an opportunity to have a final feast and party. Because this holiday marked the last day to use up one’s stocks of fats and eggs, a British tradition was born: Pancake Tuesday. Pancakes make use of ingredients that were banned during Lent and would spoil before its end.

Although many traditions of the past have gone by the wayside, whether you know its history or not, Pancake Tuesday seems to still be a ‘thing’. Brion & I don’t eat pancakes a lot but certainly enjoy them when we do. As always, I can’t resist a new idea, so today we are having some chicken pancakes w/ mushroom sauce. Yum!

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Chicken Pancakes w/ Mushroom Sauce
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Instructions
Mushroom Sauce
  1. In a skillet, heat oil & add mushrooms & onions. Sauté for about 5-8 minutes until moisture releases & evaporates. Whish in flour & allow to cook for about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, thyme, salt & pepper; cook an additional 30 seconds. Add milk, whisking constantly until cooked & thickened. Remove from heat & set aside.
Pancakes / Chicken
  1. In a skillet, heat oil & add ground chicken, herbs & spices. Scramble-fry until chicken is no longer pink. Remove to a dish & set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine flours & baking powder; add cooked chicken & grated cheese.
  3. In a small container, whisk together eggs, milk & oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry & mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Be careful to not over mix the batter. Let mixture stand for about 3 minutes before cooking.
  4. Heat griddle to about 250 -300 F. Place a small amount of butter on the griddle to coat the surface.
  5. Cook pancakes on one side until golden brown then flip to the other side & cook until golden as well. I made 4 large pancakes with this amount of batter.
To Serve
  1. Place one large pancake on each serving plate, top with 1/4 of the mushroom sauce, another pancake & another 1/4 of the sauce. We found this to be a very filling meal!

Potato Pie w/ Artichokes & Sausage

Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes and is noted for its regional diversity and abundance of difference in taste.

Tortiera di Patate Carciofi e Salsiccia or ‘potato pie with artichokes and sausage’, is classic, simple comfort food at its finest. A seasonal dish that can serve as a hearty vegetable side dish (omitting the sausage) to a meat or fish meal, but which can also be the main course by adding the sausage meat as I did here.

Being a vegetable lover, I think vegetables are all good, but put together they make for fantastic preparations. 

This is a very easy preparation, which does not require special techniques or even special skills. Potatoes go very well with artichokes and sausage, making it a dish with a harmonious and truly savory taste.

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Potatoes Layered w/Artichokes & Breadcrumbs
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Béchamel Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, add milk. Slowly whisk in flour until blended then add salt, pepper & smoked paprika. Bring to a boil over medium heat while whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low & simmer, stirring for about 5 minutes. remove from heat & stir in parmesan.
Veggies & Sausage
  1. Cook potatoes in microwave until soft but not overcooked. Peel (if you wish) & slice into 1/4-inch slices; set aside.
  2. Clean artichokes, remove the harder outer leaves, cut them into fairly thin slices & brown in a pan with oil, season with salt. Add water & cook only until soft. Drain any excess water & set aside.
  3. Scramble fry sausage meat, remove from heat & drain on paper towels. Grate cheese. Prepare some breadcrumbs for topping.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line a 8-inch round baking dish with foil & brush with oil. Place a layer of potatoes in the bottom of pan then top with a layer of artichokes. Sprinkle half of the sausage meat on top then half of the grated cheese. Spread half of the béchamel sauce over all. Repeat the same procedure to form a second layer.
  3. Bake for about 45 minutes or until bubbling & hot. Remove from oven & allow to cool about 10 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate. Carefully remove foil & sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Serve.

Turkey Breast w/ Savory Sweet Potato Stuffing

Christmas Day 2022! It’s amazing how fast this time of year arrives. Nevertheless, the day has arrived, and we are celebrating it for its spiritual meaning as well as a family birthday. Today is my sister Rita’s birthday and though it has been many years since we could all be together at this time as a family, her birth date brings many precious memories. Nostalgia is a very strange thing. It pops up when you least expect it. Taste, smell, music can take you right back to a moment.

My siblings & I grew up on a farm in southern Alberta. Christmas for our family was less about gifts and more about family time & great food. I have such good memories of uncomplicated things that were so special. The Christmas cards hanging on strings decorating every room of our house, cookie cannisters full of Christmas baking, having a wonderful Christmas meal, evenings, when the chores were all done, all of us sitting around the dining room table cracking nuts & eating a few candies with some homemade root beer as a family. And of course, Rita’s birthday meant an added bonus of a birthday cake. In today’s world, all of these things seem so insignificant but they were definitely some of the best and simplest pleasures of a lifetime.

Today, Brion & I are making our day special by having some turkey breast with sweet potato stuffing. Stuffing is a lot like meatloaf — no two recipes are the same, but each one is the best. Aside from sweet potato fries, I’m guessing that most people eat sweet potatoes primarily at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It seems like people fall into one of two categories for the big meal: those who like marshmallows with their sweet potatoes, and those who find the sweet-on-sweet combination revolting. In fact, despite its reputation as a holiday for ‘togetherness,’ these occasions seem to inspire much food-related conflict: should stuffing have fruit in it? Is green bean casserole delicious, or repellant? Is deep-frying a turkey awesome, or deeply terrifying?

Neither Brion or I like the traditional ‘candied yams’, but after making some savory sweet potato bread around Easter this year, I got an idea. Why couldn’t this bread be used in a stuffing for the turkey?? Here’s what evolved from that idea.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RITA! WE LOVE YOU & CELEBRATE YOU ON YOUR DAY.

SEASONINGS GREETINGS TO EVERYONE WHO ENJOYS & FOLLOWS OUR BLOG

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Turkey Breast w/ Savory Sweet Potato Stuffing
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Savory Stuffing
Herb Butter
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Savory Stuffing
Herb Butter
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Instructions
Stuffing
  1. In a saucepan, sauté onion, celery, garlic, mushrooms & seasonings in margarine. Remove from heat. Place vegetable/seasoning mixture in a large bowl & combine with dry sweet potato bread cubes & broth, adding only enough broth to make proper stuffing consistency. Set aside.
Turkey
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Lay turkey breast on a clean work surface so that it lies open & flat. Cover with plastic wrap, then pound lightly with a meat mallet to flatten into an even thickness all over. Discard plastic wrap. Spread the inside of each half with a bit of the herb butter.
  3. On one half of the turkey breast place a thick layer of the savory. Fold the adjoining half of the turkey breast overall. Fasten with metal skewers if you wish to help to keep stuffing enclosed.
  4. Place a wire rack in a roasting pan & lay stuffed turkey roast on it. Brush herb butter over turkey breast. Roast uncovered, until turkey reaches an internal temperature of 180 F. about 2 hours. Cover loosely with foil if top browns too quickly.
  5. Place any extra savory stuffing in a buttered casserole & bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is lightly toasted.
  6. Remove turkey breast from oven, tent with foil & allow to rest for about 5-10 minutes. Slice & serve with extra stuffing.
Recipe Notes
  • The recipe for my savory sweet potato bread was previously posted for an Easter Brunch on April 17/2022. I made one recipe & used half of the loaf for this stuffing.

Spicy Apricot Mango Stilton Galette


This spicy galette makes an interesting dessert with the sweetness of mango and apricot fruit, as well as savory with the creaminess of stilton, crunchy pepitas, and the perfection of a cornmeal pastry crust.

Stilton cheese takes its name from the village of Stilton, in the east of England. White Stilton has a light, fresh, slightly acidic flavor that makes it a perfect partner for fruit.

White Stilton with mango & ginger is a blended cheese which incorporates mango and ginger to impart a sweet, savory intense flavor to the traditional Stilton cheese. Stilton on its own is extremely creamy and delicious but the addition of fruit accords the cheese a new dimension. As it melts, the unusual combination of the mango adding a fruity flavor and the ginger adding a mildly warming, spiced overtone. White Stilton with mango & ginger is perfect for a breakfast or dessert cheese.

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Spicy Apricot Mango Stilton Galette
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Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or fingertips, cut in the butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not, add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. Do not overwork dough.
  2. Press dough into a disk shape & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two or it can be wrapped airtight & frozen for a month. Thaw, still wrapped in refrigerator.
Filling
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, add apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, anise seeds, cloves, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon & sea salt. When mixture starts to bubble, add dried apricots & mangoes. Cook, stirring often, until fruit is soft. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  3. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll or press out chilled pastry into a 13-inch circle. Spread mixture evenly over dough, leaving about a 1 1/2-inch border. Gently fold pastry over filling, pleating to hold it in. Sprinkle with crumbled Stilton cheese. Brush with egg wash (if using).
  4. Bake 35-45 minutes until filling bubbles up & crust is golden. Remove from oven & sprinkle with pepita seeds. Serve.
Recipe Notes
  • If filling seems too dry, add a bit of water or apple juice.

‘Everything Spice’ Sheet Pan Salmon

A sheet pan takes the concept of a one-pot meal and flips it onto a pan. It saves time, makes clean up easier and doesn’t require expensive equipment or fancy ingredients. Just start with your protein choice, then add vegetables, fat and flavorings and roast until everything is golden brown.

Although using a sheet pan seems relatively straightforward, timing and sizing are everything. The way in which you cut ingredients will greatly affect the outcome. Some ingredients that are roasted for longer than intended, like a potato, may be surprisingly delicious. Others, however, like overcooked shrimp, can ruin the meal.

Think of seasonal and natural flavor pairings when combining your sheet pan meal. Tomatoes and garlic are a classic combination, while squash, sweet potatoes and carrots make a wonderful base for proteins.

Sheet pan cooking requires shallow baking pans made of aluminum or steel. Make sure you’re actually using a sheet pan. The darkness of the metal makes the meal cook faster, so things will burn before they are cooked through.

I think sheet pan meals are such a great way to cook a whole meal and of course, adding some of my favorite everything bagel seasoning just makes even better.

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'Everything Spice' Sheet Pan Salmon
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Place salmon in the center of the sheet pan. Blot the salmon with a paper towel (you want the top of the salmon to be dry enough for the cream cheese to spread). Evenly spread the cream cheese over the salmon.
  3. Sprinkle the salmon with 'everything seasoning'. Arrange potatoes & green beans on your sheet pan. Drizzle potatoes & green beans with olive oil & a sprinkle of salt.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes. If you think the salmon is cooked before the vegetables, place foil over the salmon or remove the salmon from the oven.
  5. Remove from oven & serve.

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Stuffed Shells

Instead of making the basic ricotta and spinach stuffed pasta shells which you can easily find in the frozen section at your local grocery store, I wanted to kick the flavors up a notch. The savory and salty prosciutto pairs perfectly with the creamy, butteriness of the brie. 

Brie is a soft, creamy, buttery cheese that originated in France, and is produced internationally. It has a creamy interior with a soft, bloomy, edible rind of white mold. Brie is traditionally made from cows milk, but can be made from goat’s milk. 

Nothing beats a bubbly pasta bake, piping hot straight out of the oven. No matter what the reason you may need some comfort food, these stuffed giant pasta shells filled with chicken, wrapped in prosciutto and covered in a creamy Brie sauce is one for the repertoire.

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Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Stuffed Shells
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine shredded chicken, zucchini, red onion, artichokes, reserved marinade and sea salt. Toss to combine. Stuff mixture into al dente cooked pasta shells. Cut 10 pieces of prosciutto into half lengthwise. Wrap each shell in a piece of prosciutto, placing closely together into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
  3. In a heavy bottom saucepan, add flour & butter, whisking over medium-low heat until a blond roux has formed. Add brie, whisking well until smooth. Pour brie sauce over chicken stuffed shells.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until shells are fully heated. Remove & top with minced parsley and Parmesan cheese.