Tag Archives: orange

Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad with Apricots and Almonds

5 Mar

Today I’m paying homage to my dad (Happy Birthday Dad!) by writing about his favourite vegetable: Brussels sprouts.

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Growing up, we never ate Brussels sprouts because my dad detested them. This probably stemmed from his mother’s ill preparation of the green, cruciferous vegetables: boiled, grey, mushy, and sulfurous. It’s not her fault; she was British! As a result of my dad’s whining, I grew up assuming Brussels sprouts = yucky.

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Fast forward to when I first started dating E. He cooked dinner for me on one of our first dates and set out to make me a Brussels sprouts believer, knowing that I had never tried them before. Not surprisingly, I loved them. They had a similar flavour to other members of the Brassica family that I enjoyed (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) but had a different texture and a unique appearance. From that day forward, steamed Brussels sprouts became part of my vegetable repertoire. But my dad remained unconvinced. Until this Christmas (or so I’d like to think).

I brought a side-dish of roasted Brussels sprouts to our family Christmas gathering, not in spite of my dad, but because they are a simple side dish that remind me of the holidays. (Sidenote: it’s the easiest yet tastiest recipe and can be found here). My dad was a good sport and tried them, and remarkably… even liked them. Success!

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In an attempt to convert him into a Brussels sprout believer, I am sharing a recipe for a different kind of dish: a roasted Brussels sprout salad with apricots, almonds, and a hint of citrus. The sweetness of the apricots distracts from the slight bitterness of the Brussels sprouts, and the citrus Dijon vinaigrette contrasts really nicely with the earthy toasted almonds. I can’t guarantee that my dad will try this one, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying.

Happy birthday, Dad!

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Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad with Apricots and Toasted Almonds
(from Rose Reisman, courtesy of metronews.ca)

1½ lb trimmed Brussel sprouts, cut into quarters
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp orange juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp grated orange rind
½ tsp minced garlic
Salt and pepper
10 dried apricots sliced thinly
1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place quartered sprouts on baking sheet lined with foil and greased with vegetable oil. Roast for 15 minutes or just until tender and browned.
  2. To make the dressing: combine oil, juice, mustard, rind, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Place Brussels sprouts in serving dish, add sauce and apricots and garnish with toasted almonds.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 170 kcal, 8.2 g fat,  20.8 g carbohydrates, 6.6 g fibre, 5.8 g protein.

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Loaf Potion #9: Cranberry Orange Nut Loaf with Zucchini and Carrot

14 Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day! February is heart month, where national organizations in both Canada and the US strive to increase awareness of heart disease. In addition to achieving a healthy body weight (check here to see where you’re at) and being physically active, diet plays an important role in reducing your risk for heart disease. Limiting sodium, saturated fat, and trans fats can help prevent heart disease along with increasing your intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, and soy.

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Instead of making E’s favourite brownies for Valentine’s Day, I decided I would switch things up (much to his dismay) and make a healthy loaf full of whole grains, vegetables, and nuts— all for a happy heart. This loaf recipe has been one of my favourites since I discovered it many years ago. Grated carrots and zucchini add a hint of colour and texture, dried cranberries add a pop of sweetness, and the addition of orange zest and juice seem to bring all of  the flavours together really nicely. It tastes good the day it’s made, but even better the next, so make this loaf a day in advance for maximum flavour.

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In my opinion, there’s no better way to say “I love you” than with a heart-healthy loaf this Valentine’s Day. Or at least that’s what I keep telling E…

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Loaf Potion #9: Cranberry Orange Nut Loaf with Zucchini and Carrot
(from The Looneyspoons Collection)

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour (the original recipe calls for all-purpose flour)
2/3 cup oat bran
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup grated, unpeeled zucchini

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or coat lightly with oil. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, oat bran, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Make sure you get all of the lumps out of the brown sugar. Stir in cranberries and nuts.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, eggs, orange juice concentrate, and orange zest. Stir in carrots, and zucchini. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake on middle oven rack for 45 to 50 minute, or until loaf is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in centre of loaf comes out clean.
  5. Cool loaf in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and cool completely on rack. Cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature or in fridge. To serve, cut loaf into 8 thick slices, then cut each slice in half (this is easier than trying to cut into 16 thin slices!)

Makes 1 large loaf (16 slices). Per slice: 150 kcal, 5.3 g fat (0.8 g saturated), 24 g carbohydrate, 2.6 g fibre, 268 mg sodium, 4 g protein

Spiced Sweet Potato Salad with Pecans and Raisins

14 Sep

What happened to August?  It disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving little time for blog posts (among other things).  Cora didn’t help the matter when she decided to chew not one, not two, but THREE power cords in the course of a week.  That left both myself and E without power to our trusty laptops, meaning no blog posts and certainly no after-hours work.  Probably part of her ploy to steal us away from our screens for more play-time.  Thankfully she’s lost most of her baby teeth so the biting seems to be winding down.  I think.

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Last month I had two dear friends over for a weeknight dinner before one moved out of the city to return to school in BC.  I needed something that could be prepared in advance since prep time is minimal after a day of work.  Overnight-marinated chicken that goes straight from fridge to oven? Yes.  A quick green salad made the day-of? Easy enough. But I was stumped on the starch. Quinoa salad was the first idea that popped into my mind except I had cooked my go-to recipe the last time these girls were over.  Too much of a good thing is not a great thing.  Then I remembered a wonderful sweet potato recipe given to me by a friend.  It’s both sweet and savory, and can be served hot or cold.

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The beauty in this dish is that it can be easily adjusted based on what you have in your pantry.  Each time I’ve omitted slightly different ingredients,  yet the final product comes out tasting similar to the original.  One exception to this rule is the sherry vinegar.  It has a unique taste so finding a substitute can be challenging. I caved by purchasing a bottle, but some sources say either cider vinegar or rice vinegar can be used if you’re in a bind.

Even though I served this dish in the summer, the ingredients scream AUTUMN: cinnamon, raisins, pecans, ginger, orange, and sweet potatoes.  Perfect for the cooler weather that’s just around the corner!

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Raisins
(Original source unknown)

You can double the dressing if you want stronger flavours.  This recipe can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.

4 medium sweet potatoes (~500 g total), unpeeled and chopped into 2 cm cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tablespoons pecans, chopped
4 green onions, roughly chopped
¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tbsp roughly chopped cilantro (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Dressing:
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spread the chopped sweet potato out on a baking tray and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, mix well with your hands, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until just tender. Gently turn them over halfway through cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, toast pecans in a skillet over medium heat until aromatic and lightly browned.
  3. Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
  4. When the potatoes are ready, transfer them to a large bowl while still hot. Add the green onion, cilantro (if using), chili flakes, pecans, and raisins. Pour the dressing over the potato mixture and toss gently to blend, then season to taste.  Can be served hot, at room temperature, or refrigerated overnight and served cold.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 170 kcal, 3 g fibre, 10 g fat.

Got Almost-Expired Buttermilk? Make Cranberry-Orange Scones

27 Mar

The leftover buttermilk from my spiced sweet potato muffins has been calling out to me each time I open the fridge.  Visions of scones and buttermilk pancakes have been dancing in my head.

Traditional buttermilk is the liquid left behind after churning butter out of cream.  Commercial buttermilk, on the other hand, is just milk with added bacteria—similar to yogurt but made with slightly different bacterial strains.  When I explained this to E, he asked “Why do they call it buttermilk? They should call it yogurtmilk.”  (Side note: at the time, he was slightly bitter after unknowingly adding buttermilk to his freshly brewed cup of coffee. The grimace on his face hung around for days).

If you don’t have buttermilk when your recipe calls for it, thinning plain yogurt with a bit of water or milk makes a great substitute.  Alternatively, you can add 1 tsp of vinegar to 1 cup of milk and let sit for 10 minutes.  Words of wisdom: the latter is better suited for muffins and loaves, NOT scones.  It doesn’t give you the same thick consistency needed to hold a dough together. I learned this the hard way a couple of years ago.

Last night I finally stole some time to bake up the scones that I’ve been dreaming of for the past two weeks.  I was skeptical about substituting whole wheat flour in place of all-purpose but I just HAD to do it.  The result was a heartier scone than you might be used to, but still crumbly and tender.  I also got away with reducing the sugar a touch.  It was not missed.  These scones are a nice alternative to muffins and the perfect accompaniment to tea.  Or a mid-week glass of wine.

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Cranberry-Orange Scones
(from The Looneyspoons Collection)

1 ½ cups all purpose whole wheat flour
½ cup oat bran
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
1/3 ¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp grated orange zest
½ tsp vanilla
1 egg

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray (or line with parchment paper) and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, oat bran, cranberries, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, orange zest, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Stir until a soft dough is formed. Add a bit more flour if dough is too sticky.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 2 pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball. Place balls on baking sheet and pat dough to ¾-inch-thick circles, about 6 inches in diameter. Using a sharp knife, cut each circle into 6 wedges, but do not separate them.
  4. To make glaze, lightly beat egg with 1 tbsp of water in a small bowl. Brush glaze lightly over top of dough (you will use less than half of the glaze).
  5. Bake for 15 – 17 minutes, until scones are puffed up and golden.  Cool slightly. Pull scones apart and serve warm.

Makes 12 scones.  Per scone (Lisa’s tweaked recipe):  120 kcal, 3 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 3 g protein, 20 g CHO, 2.2 g fibre, 311 mg sodium.

Giving Thanks for Friends, Family, and Food

8 Oct

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ve always told my mom that I have no interest in voluntarily sticking my arm up a turkey’s butt and that she would be in charge of turkey dinners for as long as she lives.  Yet for reasons unbeknownst to me, this year I was filled with the desire to stuff and cook a turkey for some of my dearest friends.

The centrepiece: a pseudo-cornucopia filled with gourds and apples

Wanting to avoid the last minute rush that often comes with a big dinner, I scoured the Internet for make-ahead recipes that would allow me to relax and enjoy my company.  I was pleased with how well they turned out and how calm I felt all day.  The most popular dish was the cheesy mashed potatoes, which were cooked the day before and re-heated in the crock pot while the turkey was in the oven.  Personally, my favourite component of the turkey dinner was the cranberry sauce (with the stuffing coming a very close second).  While I grew up eating the canned variety, I’ve learned that homemade cranberry sauce is marginally cheaper and tastes a whole lot better.  The best part: I’m able to control how much sugar is added.

I started with one bag of fresh cranberries, 1 cup of orange juice, 1/3 cup of sugar (opposed to the 1 cup that most recipes call for), and a pinch of cinnamon.  The resulting sauce was fairly tart so E insisted on a touch more sugar.  Since the cranberries had already cooked down, I added sweetness in the form of maple syrup to avoid leaving any sugar undissolved.  The final product had that hint of tartness characteristic of cranberry with the warm flavours of orange and cinnamon subtly shining through.

Easily eaten by the spoonful!

Even better than my cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mashed potatoes combined?  The homemade hubbard squash pie brought over by Jacalyn.  It was my first time having squash pie and it tasted identical to pumpkin pie.  The crust was perfectly flaky and the filling was much richer than you’d ever get with canned pumpkin (or squash).

Remnants of Jacalyn’s fabulous squash pie

Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey is merely a vehicle for Cranberry sauce

 

Cranberry Sauce with Orange and a hint of Cinnamon

1 package (12 oz/340 g) fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup sugar
Dash of cinnamon (approx 1/4 tsp)
2 tbsp pure maple syrup

Combine orange juice and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, add cranberries, cinnamon, and maple syrup and return to a boil.  Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cool completely at room temperature.  Refrigerate before serving.

Makes 2-1/4 cups.  Per 2 tbsp serving: 37 kcal, 9 g CHO, 1 g fibre.

Jicama and Orange Spinach Salad with Ginger Dressing

17 Sep

Contain your excitement, please.  This week I bring you not one but TWO recipes that use a relatively uncommon vegetable.  Jicama, pronounced ‘heek-ah-mah’ (also known as yam bean), is a starchy sweet root vegetable native to Mexico.  With a crispy texture resembling a cross between a potato and a pear, jicama is commonly eaten raw in salads and slaws or dipped into salsas.

Jicama keeps a low profile. An addictively crunchy texture is revealed once its unassuming fibrous exterior is peeled away.

 

While living in London, I tried to get my hands on jicama for what felt like forever.  Coincidentally, every time it was on my grocery list jicama was nowhere to be found.  I did spot it the odd time (London is not that small) but never had the confidence to pick it up without a recipe in mind.

Now that I’m in Toronto, jicama is readily available at some of the larger grocery stores.  I’ve fallen in love with its crispiness and subtle sweet taste.  It’s the perfect snack straight up: no dips or dressing necessary.  For my first jicama attempt, I followed a recipe for an orange, jicama, and red pepper spinach salad with a soy-based vinaigrette.  The salad wasn’t particularly fancy but the flavours worked really well together.

My next jicama attempt?  Stay tuned…

Spinach salad with Jicama, Orange, Red Pepper, and Red Onion.

 

Jicama and Orange Salad with Ginger Dressing
(from Rose Reisman)

2 cups peeled jicama, sliced into strips 1/2 inch wide by 3 inches long
6 cups baby spinach
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 large orange, peeled, membranes removed and cut into thin strips

Dressing:
4 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
2-1/2 tsp sesame oil
2-1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1-1/2 tsp olive oil
1-1/2 tsp water
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp minced fresh ginger

Garnish (Optional):
1-1/2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley

  1. Place the jicama, spinach, red pepper, onion, and orange in a large serving bowl
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, olive oil, water, garlic, and ginger.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.  Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro, if using.

Makes 6 servings.  Per serving: 137 kcal, 3.9 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 24 g CHO, 5.3 g fibre, 2.9 g protein, ~100 mg sodium.