Venison Meatloaf Topped with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

When I came across some ground venison at the local butcher shop, I knew I had to buy some and re-live my childhood just a bit. When I was a child, my dad would go hunting each year.

During Dad’s week away, my mom would spoil my brother and I. We got to watch more TV than usual and stay up late. I liked to stay up late and spend time with the family dog, Rocky (I needed an excuse to share this adorable picture I came across while cleaning this week!). We weren’t allowed to go out for walks after dark, so I would work on teaching him tricks, chasing each other around the living room, and snuggling (even when he got bigger, he still liked to snuggle. There were a few years where I’m pretty sure the dog was bigger than me).

9-year-old me and Rocky (somewhere around 15-weeks old at the time), both looking a bit sleepy.

Most years, Dad would come home with some tasty venison. I always tried my best not to imagine that what I was eating what was once a cute deer. I still try not to think about it too much. The only things I recall my parents cooking with the venison were jerky (we had our own dehydrator) and chili. More recently, we make meatloaf.

Because it’s been a cold, rainy week around here, I decided that some comfort food was in order. And venison meatloaf hit the spot! But I did go a bit overboard. I made a double-batch of meatloaf. After 5 days of eating meatloaf, I took a few leftover pieces to some friends. The remaining slices have been put in the freezer for the coming weeks.

While I’ve since come up with my own recipe for venison meatloaf — no matter how it is spiced — it reminds me of my childhood.

Venison Meatloaf Topped with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

Venison Meatloaf

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground venison – approximate cost $20.00
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon cane sugar – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 teaspoons paprika – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained – approximate cost $1.25
  • 4 large eggs – approximate cost $1.20

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the breadcrumbs, sea salt, cane sugar, black pepper, paprika, allspice, nutmeg, and garlic in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the ground venison, tomatoes, and eggs.
  4. Mix until well combined.
  5. Divide mixture into two.
  6. Form into two loaf shapes.
  7. Place into a loaf pan.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes (this is a great time to start preparing the horseradish mashed potatoes).
  9. Remove from oven.
  10. Top the meatloaves with the horseradish mashed potatoes.
  11. Return to oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes (or until cooked through).
  12. Broil for a few minutes so the potatoes are crispy and golden (Watch it closely though, they can burn quickly if you aren’t paying attention).
  13. Remove from oven.
  14. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
  15. Serve and enjoy!

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 large potatoes – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1/2 cup butter – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 tablespoons spicy horseradish – approximate cost $0.30

Method

  1. Optional: Peel skin off of the potatoes  (I left the skins on).
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  3. Slice potatoes into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Boil potatoes until they can be easily pierced with a fork (approximately 15 minutes).
  5. Drain water.
  6. Combine potatoes, horseradish, and butter.
  7. Mash until well-combined.

Makes about 16 servings (approximate cost: $1.73 per serving).

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Bryan’s Mom’s Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Woops! It’s been a little more than a month since I last posted. How time flies! We’ve been super busy around here. Most of my time has been occupied by studying for a big exam that’s coming up in December. I’m loving being a teaching assistant — I look forward every week to my two hour lecture.  I’m also taking a professionalization course and learning so many things about academia that I was unaware of before. And so much more! (I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I had any free time!)

One of the recent highlights was a potluck with Bryan’s colleagues. I love potlucks because they’re a good time to showcase your best recipes. I also like when to see a large diversity of foods from other cultures. We had just the right recipe to fit the bill: Bryan’s Mom’s Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole! It was perfect because I was able to find fresh Anaheim chile peppers at the grocery store that week, it’s difficult to find Mexican or Southwestern food here, it’s one of our favourite meals, and I was sure it was something that no one else would contribute to the potluck. (We also made Green Chile Pepper and Tomato Soup for ourselves while I was roasting all those chile peppers).

We had a fantastic evening full of good food and fantastic company! I hope we get an invitation to the next potluck despite that Bryan has now graduated.

I’m happy to report that the dish was well-received! We took one enchilada casserole with us to the potluck and kept one at home. Good thing I made extras, because there weren’t any leftovers to bring home.

Bryan’s Mom’s Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Changes from the original recipe:

  • The original recipe calls fora package of frozen “Bueno Hot Autumn Roast green chile.”  These chiles aren’t available here and the closet thing I can get is fresh Anaheim peppers.
  • The original recipe calls for wrapping some cheese and chicken in each of the (large size) tortillas. I could only find the small corn tortillas and opted for the casserole style used in Bryan’s Step-Father’s Red Chile and Enchilada Casserole. Thus, all the cheese went into the sauce instead of reserving some to fill the tortillas.
  • The original recipe calls for a Mexican cheese blend. The blends that I found either have chili or jalapeño peppers in them, which I didn’t want because this dish is spicy enough as is… so I opted to make my own blend using Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.
  • I doubled the quantities because we wanted lots of leftovers for lunch!

Green Chile and Cheese Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter– approximate cost $0.50
  • 4 (slightly rounded) tablespoons flour– approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt– approximate cost $0.05
  • 4 cups whole milk– approximate cost $3.00
  • 7 cups cheese (a blend of medium Cheddar and Monterrey Jack), shredded – approximate cost $9.00
  • 1 onion, chopping– approximate cost $0.75
  • 2.2 kilograms (4.85 pounds) fresh Anaheim (Green) chile peppers – approximate cost $20.00

Method

  1. Preheat your oven’s broiler.
  2. Roast the Anaheim chile peppers.
    1. Arrange the chiles in a roasting pan.
    2. Roast under the broiler for 5 minutes.
    3. Turn the chiles.
    4. Roast for an additional 5 minutes.
    5. Turn the chiles.
    6. Roast for an additional 5 minutes.
    7. Turn the chiles.
    8. Roast for an additional 5 minutes.
    9. Note: The chiles should be blackened on all sides at this point.
    10. Allow the chiles to cool.
  3. Peel the blackened skin off of the chiles.
  4. De-seed the chiles as necessary (more seeds = more heat).
  5. Chop the chiles into 1/4″ pieces and set aside.
  6. Heat butter in a large pot over medium heat until melted.
  7. Turn down the heat.
  8. Stir flour and sea salt into the butter.
  9. Stir constantly until the flour dissolves.
  10. Add milk.
  11. Stir until hot, but not boiling (the sauce should be quite thick)!
  12. Add cheese blend.
  13. Stir frequently until melted.
  14. Add the roasted chile pieces.
  15. Remove from heat.

Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breasts – approximate cost $24.00
  • 48 small corn tortillas – approximate cost $1.80
  • Green chile and cheese sauce
  • Cooking oil– approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the chicken.
    1. Bake the chicken breasts until cooked through (about 15 minutes)
    2. Allow the chicken to cool until you can handle it.
    3. Chop the chicken into small, approximately 1/4″ pieces.
    4. Set chicken aside.
  3. Prepare the corn tortillas.
    1. Heat 1/4″ oil in a frying pan.
    2. Very lightly fry the corn tortillas.
    3. Place on paper towels as they come our of the frying pan to remove some of the oil.
  4. Assemble the casserole!
    1. Distribute half the fried tortillas into an even layer in the bottom of 2 9×13 baking dishes (it’s ok if they overlap).
    2. Top with half of the chicken.
    3. Smother with 1/2 of the green chile and cheese sauce.
    4. Distribute the second half the fried tortillas into an even layer in the baking dishes.
    5. Top with remaining chicken.
    6. Cover with remaining green chile and cheese sauce.
      1. Note: Once assembled, you can refrigerate the casserole and bake it at another time.
  5. Bake about 30-45 minutes, or until the sauce begins to bubble.
  6. Remove from oven.
  7. Let stand on the counter for a few minutes.
  8. Serve and enjoy! (Optional: Serve with beans, rice, and flour tortillas)

Makes about 24 servings, or 2 9×13 casseroles (approximate cost: $2.51 per serving).

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Pan-Fried Perch

I’m back! I took a break for finals, some “me” time, and orientation week. I did a lot of writing the last month and needed a break in my personal time.

A lot happened during this time, but I think the highlight was the AcroYoga workshop that I attended. I attended my first beginners AcroYoga workshop back in January and have been attending the bi-weekly classes over the summer. I was super excited when I got the opportunity to attend an intermediate workshop! The focus of the workshop was Star Pose, and we learned a lot of poses that lead up to it, including: stag, candlestick, folded leaf, and a few others.

For me, the most exciting part of the workshop was right at the moment this photo was snapped! (Thanks for capturing the moment Leena!) There, in the green tank top, is my FIRST EVER ever handstand.

Acro-Yoga Hanstand! Photo Credit to Super-Amazing Yoga Instructor Leena Miller -Cressman (http://instagram.com/p/dOBTerMKgY)

Handstands, unassisted, still freak me out a bit a lot. However, I’ve made a point of practicing them with my AcroYoga friends. They’re becoming less intimidating, and I’m more confident. Having spotters around makes the idea of falling much less scary as well.

The weekend after the workshop, I visited my Nana for dinner. I made some pan-fried perch fillets. She made the side dishes: long grain rice and yellow beans (her favourite vegetable).

Pan-Fried Perch

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds perch fillets  – approximate cost $20.00
  • 1 1/2 cups flour  – approximate cost $0.40
  • 2 tablespoons paprika  – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder  – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper  – approximate cost $0.10
  • Oil for frying (I used canola oil)  – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Combine flour, paprika, baking powder, sea salt, and pepper in a large freezer-sized zipper bag.
  2. Shake well to mix ingredients.
  3. Add 2-3 perch fillets to the flour mix.
  4. Seal and shake until fish is well-coated with the flour mixture.
  5. Set fish on a plate.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 until all of the fish fillets are coated with the flour mixture.
  7. Preheat a frying pan adding about 1/4 inch oil in the bottom of the pan.
  8. Fry perch fillets — a few at a time so as not to overcrowd the pan — until golden.
  9. Flip and continue to fry until the other side turns a golden colour.
  10. Remove to a plate with paper towels (they will soak up any excess oil).
  11. Repeat steps 8-10 until all of the fish is cooked.
  12. Serve with your favourite side dishes and enjoy!

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $3.68 per serving).

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Another Leibster Nomination and Berkshire Pork Chops with Roasted Garlic Asparagus

A big thank you this week to Kumu, who blogs over at A Tea Spoon of Love who nominated me for the Leibster Blog Award! I was actually nominated for the award earlier this month as well. I’m so honoured to have fellow bloggers recommend my blog! That said, I love the questions and how they give you a better idea of who I am. However, I don’t think I follow enough blogs (let alone ones that meet the criteria of the award) to nominate another 11 blogs/bloggers. I’ll give it my best shot though!

liebster-award

Here are the rules of the Leibster award as I understand them. The blog/blogger nominated for the award…

  • Answers 11 questions posed by the nominator. (In my case, Jon has given me 7)
  • Nominates 11 other blogs (with 200 or fewer followers)
  • Creates their own new set of questions for the nominees.

Responses

  1. Favorite vacation spot of all time?
    1. This is difficult to answer! I’ll give you my top three: New York City; West Palm Beach, Florida; and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Yes, these are all in the U.S. As a full-time student, I don’t get much time to travel for a vacation. I love all of these locations for visiting family and friends. NYC is very interesting for walking and sight-seeing. I love snorkeling at the coral reef beaches in West Palm. And the gorgeous mountains and hiking in Santa Fe. At some point, I hope to travel much more! On my list of places I’d like to see is Venice, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Paris, and many more!
  2. Favorite book and why?
    1. I assume this isn’t supposed to be the question that is overly difficult. Yet I find myself humming and hawing, changing my mind, second guessing my answer. Do I pick something I enjoyed reading? Something that I’ve ready that has been very useful afterwards? I decided to go with books I’ve enjoyed reading for the sake of reading. My favourite, momentarily, is probably Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. I love both the book and the movie. This is one of the few adaptations I’ve seen that dares to change the ending of the story. I saw the movie first and read the book just last summer. I couldn’t out it down and, despite having seen the movie, loved every moment reading the book. Other notable candidates, in no particular order, include:
      Sabriel by Garth Nix
      – The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
      The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima
      Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
      The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
      The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
      The Legends of Vancouver by Pauline Johnson
  3. Food tradition you love?
    1. Family dinner! I love when my large extended family gets together for a day of cooking, eating, and spending time together. I’m very fortunate that this tradition happens a few times per year!
  4. If you could go to dinner with any 5 famous people (dead or alive) – who?
    1. 10-year-old me is screaming THE SPICE GIRLS!!! I think I’ll go with that. 🙂
  5. Favorite cuisine?
    1. Not sure I could choose! Probably Guyanese food. Not only is it delicious, it has nostalgia. Growing up, my next-door neighbours (who were really more like my second family) would cook Guyanese food frequently and share it with my family. I remember loving most of it, except the really spicy wiri pepper hot sauce (that was so hot is once made me cry). When I visit them in New York, I eat them clean out of food, the spice doesn’t both me as much as an adult. I’ve even tried to replicate a few of the recipes at home.
  6. House is on fire – family made it out – what is the one thing you grab? (you can only grab one)
    1. I’m counting the cat as family that has got out safely. My camera bag. It has my camera, lens, and ALL of my photos in it. I tend to buy huge memory cards and keep them as back-ups.
  7. Favorite type of chocolate?
    1. Dark chocolate, hands down. My favourite is 80% cocoa with almonds.
  8. Favorite beverage?
    1. Moroccan Mint Tea with honey
  9. Movie you most relate to.
    1. I’m not sure I really relate to any movies. I can’t think of anything… but my all time favourite is Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
  10. If you can trade places with a famous person for 24 hours, whom would you pick?
    1. I’m drawing a blank on this one. I’m quite happy not to be the center of attention, even if it just for a 24 hour period.
  11. A TV show you love to watch.
    1. We don’t have cable or Netflix. We mostly watch shows on DVD (ones that come highly recommended by friends) or are available on YouTube. We most recently watched and enjoyed Game of Thrones. I’ve also been sporadically watching episodes of The Dog Whisperer. I also like Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Friends, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother and probably many more that I cannot think of at the moment.

Nominees

In no particular order…

  1. Sophie’s Foodie Files
  2. MJ’s Kitchen
  3. Dominican Heat
  4. from the Bartolini kitchens
  5. Whip a Dish
  6. Love Bakes Good Cakes
  7. Doggie at the Dinner Table
  8. Lisa is Cooking

Questions for nominees:

  1. What 3 words would you choose to describe yourself?
  2. Do you have a blogging mentor who has made a huge difference along the way?
  3. Have you met any of your blogging friends in real life?
  4. What inspires you to continue writing your blog?
  5. What is your favourite family recipe?
  6. Which of your own blog posts are you most proud of?
  7. What is your favourite type of food?
  8. What is your favourite pastime?
  9. Where would you most like to go for your dream vacation and why?
  10. What is your favourite genre of music?
  11. If someone made a film about your life, who would you want to play you?

As if this post wasn’t long enough… I’d also like to share some recipes today!

Bryan asked me if there is a testimonials section for the blog… I asked him to leave a comment. Instead, he asked me to inform you in this post that: “This food-girl makes the best noms.” Thanks Bryan!

Berkshire Pork Chops with Smoked Paprika and Espelette Pepper

Ingredients

  • 2 bone-in Berkshire Pork Chops (about 3/4 pound each)  – approximate cost $10.50
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 teaspoon espellette pepper  – approximate cost $0.10

Method

  1. Heat grapeseed oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add pork chops (you should hear them sizzle when added to the frying pan).
  3. Cook for 4 1/2 minutes.
  4. Turn.
  5. Sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, died sage, and espellette pepper.
  6. Cook for an additional 4 1/2 minutes.
  7. Test for desired doneness and cook more if necessary.
  8. Remove from frying pan and let stand for 3-4 minutes.
  9. Pour half of the glaze over each of the pork chops.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus – approximate cost $4.50
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil  – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced  – approximate cost $0.30

Method

  1. Turn the oven to broil.
  2. Place the asparagus in a large roasting pan.
  3. Sprinkle with salt.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and garlic.
  5. Broil until the asparagus turns bright green.
  6. Flip the asparagus.
  7. Broil until the other side is bright green and the tips begin to brown.
  8. Remove from oven.
  9. Serve with pork chops and enjoy!

Note: These dishes take about the same amount of time to cook. I started the asparagus first then cooked the pork chops.

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $7.98 per serving).

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Trout with Caper and Butter Sauce and Roasted Balsamic Asparagus

Did you hear about the big storm that hit KW last Friday? I’ve never seen anything like it. The wind and rain was intense. The thunder and lightning actually worried me less than the former. It seems almost everyone in the city has their own story to share… and we’ve been sharing stories all week!

I was at Vincenzo’s, a local grocery store, when the storm hit. The winds were so strong that we could see and hear them shaking. My little brother was on a bus at the time. The bus had to pull over due to poor driving conditions. A tree was struck by lightning nearby and fell onto a hydro pole, which then fell on the bus! I’m happy to say that my brother and everyone else on the bus is ok. We exchanged text messages and a few photos — he was bored being stuck on the bust for almost an hour afterwards!

Trees and branches are still being cleared even today! Check out some images of the damage the storm caused:

I’m also happy to tell you that my garden made it through the storm! No planters were knocked over or damaged. My neighbourhood seems to have missed the worst of the storm.

I started my garden quite late this year. I didn’t plant anything until mid-June. I have two lovely tomato plants, a basil plant, chives, and mint. The tomatoes are from my aunt at Sun Root Organics (if you’re in Ontario, check out her blog and Facebook page). Despite planting the tomatoes later than I’d have liked, they’ve really taken off and are growing like crazy! I took the photos a few days ago, and the tomatoes are more plentiful already! The basil is from a vendor at the St. Jacob’s Market, and the chives and mint came back from last year. I have been using the chives in my cooking recently and can’t wait for some fresh basil and tomatoes!

Since the storm, it has cooled down enough to cook again! Hooray! I’m quite enjoying being back in the kitchen. 🙂

Trout with Caper and Butter Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 pound steelhead trout fillet – approximate cost $8.50
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/4 cup butter – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 100 mL jar capers – approximate cost $2.00

Method

  1. Preheat a frying pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add butter and grapeseed oil.
  3. Heat until butter is melted.
  4. Add garlic.
  5. Cook until garlic is fragrant.
  6. Sprinkle salt over fish.
  7. Add fish (skin-side down if there is skin on the fillet).
  8. Cook until about 3/4 cooked.
  9. Turn the fish.
  10. Add capers.
  11. Cook until done.
  12. Remove from frying pan.
  13. Serve and enjoy!

Roasted Balsamic Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus – approximate cost $4.50
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Turn the oven to broil.
  2. Place the asparagus in a large roasting pan.
  3. Sprinkle with salt.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  5. Broil until the asparagus turns bright green.
  6. Flip the asparagus.
  7. Broil until the other side is bright green and the tips begin to brown.
  8. Remove from oven.
  9. Serve with trout and enjoy!

Note: These dishes take about the same amount of time to cook. I started the asparagus first then cooked the fish.

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $8.25 per serving).

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Improv Challenge: Peaches and Herbs (Pork Chops with a Peach and Sage Glaze)

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are peaches and herbs.

Due to the heat wave, I’m keeping today’s post shorter than usual. It’s hot in my apartment. So hot, that I’d rather be outside! Loki is spending most of her time in the bathtub or in front of the fan to keep cool. I’ve gotten to know my neighbours better this week because many of us are sitting in the shady backyard.

I made the dish for the Improv Challenge, lucky for me, just before the heat wave hit. The dish came about by chance. There were some pork chops at the butcher shop that I just *had* to try. It’s from pasture raised Tamworth x English Black pork. Let me say, this pork was worth the hefty price tag… but definitely something we will have only as a treat. I really like to cook pork chops with sage. And peaches go well with pork.

The result? Bryan loved this dish just the way it was. I thought the peach flavour hadn’t infused the glaze enough. Next time I make the glaze, I will blend it before serving over the chops then add a few extra peach pieces for presentation.

I served this with a tomato, avocado and cucumber salad.

Pork Chops with a Peach and Sage Glaze

Ingredients

Pork Chops

  • 2 bone-in Tamworth x English Black pork chops (1 3/4 pounds) – approximate cost $22.00
  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil – approximate cost $0.20

Glaze

  • 1 cup frozen peaches – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 fresh sage leaves, torn into small pieces – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (+ enough cold water to make a paste) – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Prepare the glaze.
    1. Combine peaches, water, and sea salt in a sauce pot.
    2. Cook over medium heat until peaches are unfrozen and heated through.
    3. Add corn starch and cook until thickened.
    4. Remove from heat.
    5. Stir in sage pieces.
    6. Cover and set aside.
  2. Prepare the pork chops.
    1. Heat grapeseed oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
    2. Add pork chops (you should hear them sizzle when added to the frying pan).
    3. Cook for 4 1/2 minutes.
    4. Turn.
    5. Cook for an additional 4 1/2 minutes.
    6. Test for desired doneness and cook more if necessary.
    7. Remove fry frying pan and let stand for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Pour half of the glaze over each of the pork chops.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 2 very large servings (approximate cost: $11.90 per serving).


My previous Improv Challenge contributions include:

Please check out the other Improv Challenge recipes!

Leibster Blog Award and Panko-Crusted Sole Fillets

A big thank you to Jon from The Local Kitchener who nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award! If you haven’t yet, check out Jon’s blog. I’m not sure how Jon came across my blog, but I am glad he did! We’re just a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from each other. He is the first food blogger that I’ve met (online only) in the same(ish) city. I’m thrilled to meet another blogger in the area!

liebster-award

The Liebster award is a fun way of highlighting smaller blogs within the blogging community. Leibster, I’m told, German word meaning “beloved, dearest, lovely, etc.”

Here are the rules of the Leibster award as I understand them. The blog/blogger nominated for the award…

  • Answers 11 questions posed by the nominator. (In my case, Jon has given me 7)
  • Nominates 11 other blogs (with 200 or fewer followers)
  • Creates their own new set of questions for the nominees.

Some set of rules call for 11 questions and nominations… other for 5.

My questions and responses

  1. How would you describe where you live without naming any places?
    1. Hi-tech university town with lots of Canadian geese.
  2. When was the last time you wrote a letter (a real one, you know, that you sent in the mail with a stamp)?
    1. Do cards with a short message count? If so, just yesterday! If not… probably 6 or 7 years ago. My childhood best friend and I exchanged letters for many years before switching to Facebook.
  3. What is your favorite non-English word?
    1. Okonomiyaki — It’s a Japanese cabbage-pancake type dish.
  4. What (if any) blogs did you follow before you started blogging?
    1. I followed quite a few. I know I followed Jeanette’s first blog — she now maintains This Dusty House. And I definitely followed, and still follow The Kitchn.   I follow many many more since I started blogging.
  5. Do dogs belong in the city?
    1. Yes. I love dogs. I couldn’t imagine a city without them! In fact, just last night, I stopped to pet 3 wonderful and friendly dogs while walking to the post office and back. It made my day so much brighter! I could get carried away answering this one, but I’ll stop here.
  6. Are there any books that you have lent to more than one person (and if so, what is it called)?
    1. No. I don’t often lend books. I tend to need them for school. I’m also quite particular about their condition. However, there are quite a few that I could recommend from my own collection. Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Sabriel by Garth Nix, Snowcrash by Neil Stephenson, The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, Menace by L.R. Wright, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling… and many many more! I’ve also got a huge list of books that I would like to read!
  7. Do you plan your meals in advance, or just “wing it”?
    1. A bit of both. I tend to plan, at most, a day ahead of time. We tend to have a full freezer with a good selection of meat and vegetables. If I remember, I’ll take food out of the freezer ahead of time. If not, it may mean a trip to the grocery store. It usually depends on how groggy I am in the morning! Often, I’ll have to make a quick trip to the grocery store to buy a few things I don’t have on hand.

Nominees

(I wish I could list all the lovely blogs that I follow. I’ve done my best to adhere to the 200 followers or fewer rule. However, in some cases, this information was not available.)

In no particular order…

  1. A Corso in the Kitchen
  2. Ginger Bakes
  3. Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
  4. RV Life and Food
  5. Cookaholic Wife
  6. Cook Lisa Cook
  7. The Not So Desperate Chef Wife
  8. Cupcakes and Kale Chips
  9. The Ranch Wife Chronicles
  10. From My Sweet Heart
  11. Bark Time = Everything and Nothing

Questions for nominees

  1. What 3 words would you choose to describe yourself?
  2. Do you have a blogging mentor who has made a huge difference along the way?
  3. Have you met any of your blogging friends in real life?
  4. What inspires you to continue writing your blog?
  5. What is your favourite family recipe?
  6. Which of your own blog posts are you most proud of?
  7. What is your favourite type of food?
  8. What is your favourite pastime?
  9. Where would you most like to go for your dream vacation and why?
  10. What is your favourite genre of music?
  11. If someone made a film about your life, who would you want to play you?

And now… as if this post wasn’t long enough already… here’s a recipe! I’ve been hanging on to this one for a while. I made it a while back and served the fish with an Asian-Inspired Bean Sprout Salad with Citrus and Soy Dressing. It’s not a family recipe. I didn’t really have a story to go along with it. This seemed like a good opportunity to share it with you. (It was delicious and I couldn’t not share this with the world!)

Panko-Crusted Sole Fillets

Ingredients

  • 4 sole fillets – approximate cost $6.00
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/8 cup parmesan cheese – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the panko bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Rinse the fish in cold water.
  5. Place the fish in the panko mix.
  6. Cover with panko mix.
  7. Gently press the panko mix so it sticks to the fish fillet.
  8. Turn the fillet.
  9. Cover with panko mix.
  10. Gently press the panko mix so it sticks to the fish fillet.
  11. Move to a baking sheet.
  12. Bake until cooked through (about 15 minutes).
  13. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $1.91 per serving).

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Improv Challenge: Fish and Chips (Fried Fish-Shaped Chips)

I’m excited to once again be participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! This month, the challenge ingredients are fish and chips.

Sounds a bit limiting as challenge ingredients, doesn’t it? My initial plan was to make a traditional fish with a beer batter and chips. Then… Kristen sent out the update, making this challenge a bit more interesting!

“Fish can, of course, be any real fish like tuna, snapper, salmon, tilapia or trout, but you can also use Swedish fish, or any fishy crackers/pretzels or fish shaped bread from Pepperidge Farm. Chips can also be the traditional homemade thick cut fries, but feel free to use anything that is a chip: potato, tortilla, sweet potato, veggie, chocolate, butterscotch, etc.”

This opened up so many more possibilities! This month, I decided to go with something simple yet fun. I played with the idea of fish-shaped food… and because the second half of this challenge was to include chips… I made fish-shaped chips! This is a great way to change up your every-day chips.  And I’m sure these chips would be a fun activity if you have children helping you in the kitchen.

Fried Fish-Shaped Chips

Ingredients

  • 2 large potatoes – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • Oil for frying – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Draw an oval on a small piece of paper.
  2. Fill in the details showing where you need to cut to make a fish shape.
  3. Preheat a frying pan with enough oil to shallow-fry the potatoes.
  4. Set the paper near your cutting board as a reference.
  5. Slice the potato so you have several large oval-shaped pieces.
  6. Follow your diagram to cut the potato slice into a fish shape.
  7. Use a chopstick (or similar tool) to poke a hole in the potato where you would like the fish’s “eye.”
  8. Repeat steps 4-7 for each of the oval slices.
  9. Cut the unused pieces of potato into bite-sized pieces.
  10. Salt the potato pieces.
  11. Fry the fish-shaped potatoes and bite-sized pieces in batches so as not to overcrowd the frying pan
  12. Turn the potatoes once when about half-cooked (after approximately 5 minutes).
  13. Continue to fry until cooked through (about 10 minutes total, depending on the thickness of your chips).
  14. Remove from oil.
  15. Allow chips to drain on a paper towel.
  16. Serve hot and enjoy!

Makes 4-6 fish-shaped chips and bite-sized chips (approximate cost: $0.53 per serving).


My previous Improv Challenge contributions include:

Creamy Asparagus Soup

For those of you who follow regularly, you might be a bit confused just by the title of this post. Creamy soup? What is she doing? I thought Amber was lactose-sensitive?

Well, turns out I can have milk… I just had to shop around for the right type! How exciting is that?!

I still can’t have most dairy. I still have to be careful when eating out, asking if and how much dairy is in a dish. I still have to politely decline milk products when visiting friends. But, when I cook at home… I can have as much as I want! I’ve been enjoying a glass of milk with my breakfast every morning… just because I can. Seriously, I didn’t realize how much I missed copious amounts of dairy in my diet until I found a way to enjoy it again.

Guernsey cows — the blurry one was trying to lick me as I took the picture!

(This is yet another post that was a long time in the making… I started drinking milk again in late February and have been cooking with it regularly since about April.)

So, what makes this milk different? It comes from a different breed of cow: the Guernsey (most milk comes from Holstein cows), and it is A2 grade (most milk is A1). The Bovine‘s article “Mercola advocates raw milk, discusses A1 A2 beta casein in connection with autism, diabetes, heart disease, etc.” gives a good explanation of the differences between A1 and A2 cows:

The type of proteins in milk, and the proportion of various proteins, varies depending on the breed of cow and the type of animal (sheep, goat, cow, etc.).

One of the major proteins in cow’s milk is casein, the predominant variety of which is called beta-casein. In older breeds of cows, such as Jersey, Asian and African cows (called A2 cows), the beta-casein contains an amino acid called proline.

In newer breeds of cows like Holstein (A1 cows), however, the proline has mutated into an amino acid called histidine.

[T]he proline that exists in A2 cows has a strong bond to BCM-7, which helps keep it out of the cows’ milk. The histidine in the newer A1 cows, however, has a weak hold on BCM-7, which allows it to get into the milk, and also into the people who drink the milk.”

Guernsey Cow

Back in February, I visited an A2 Guernsey cow farm. The farmers showed me around, explained their product, and shared delicious samples with me. They even insisted I wait around for at least 1/2 an hour so I would be somewhere comfortable if I had a negative reaction. So kind of them! After a wonderful experience, I signed up to buy a share in the herd of cows. I now get my milk straight from the farm. (Which I LOVE visiting… the cows are docile and let me pet them, the farm dog is friendly and always greets me enthusiastically, a few of the barn cats are friendly, and I love to look at the gorgeous horses) The benefit? I enjoy dairy and no longer fear the consequences of accidentally eating a bit too much. I am confident that I will not be ill when consuming milk products.

Sylvester the Barn Cat — this handsome little guy LOVE attention (and the camera)

I’m excited to make and share family recipes that I had given up for the last 10 years or so! 😀 Today I’m sharing my family’s Creamy Asparagus Soup recipe.

And I’m going to share a little secret… we usually make this with the “scrap” pieces of asparagus. That is, when we cook asparagus, we save the ends that we snap off for this soup. I like to buy an extra small bunch of asparagus so we can reserve a few spears to make a pretty garnish. However, this is not necessary if you don’t like a smooth soup. This is a great way to use up something that would otherwise go to waste.

Please, please, please share any great recipes you have that use a large amount of dairy products. I’m so used to cooking without milk, I find it hard to come up with anything but soups. I need more ideas of delicious milk-based foods that I can now enjoy without worry!

Creamy Asparagus Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chicken broth – approximate cost $1.25
  • 4 cups asparagus pieces, spears reserved – approximate cost $2.50
  • 2 cups whole milk – approximate cost $2.66
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.10

Method

  1. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add the asparagus pieces (reserve the spears if you would like to use them to decorate your soup later).
  3. Cook the asparagus in the broth for 7-10 minutes (the broth should reduce by about half and the asparagus will be very tender).
  4. Allow the asparagus and broth to cook slightly.
  5. Move asparagus and broth to a blender and add half of the milk (1 cup).
    1. Note: An immersion blender is not ideal for this soup because you will need to strain it.
  6. Blend until smooth.
  7. Pour the asparagus through a fine strainer back into the soup pot.
  8. Press the asparagus gently to help release the liquid from the tough pieces. Be patient, this can take a while!
  9. Discard the pieces in the strainer.
  10. Turn the burner on medium-low.
  11. Add the remainder of the milk (1 cup), sea salt, and black pepper.
  12. If you reserved any asparagus spears, add them now!
  13. Cook the soup until it is steaming.
  14. Serve hot with crostini pieces or your favourite sandwich.

Makes 2 large servings (approximate cost: $3.28 per serving).

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Bryan’s Step-Father’s Red Chile and Enchilada Casserole

Bryan and I don’t often go out of town. You might not guess because I’ve posted already this month about travelling to Northern Ontario. This time, the destination was much closer: Toronto. Bryan’s sister is currently living in Toronto and his step-father came for a visit, so we took the opportunity to finally visit. And we hope to visit his sister M again soon!!

We spent most of our day at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

I didn’t get any “good” shots of the group. Bryan and his step-father managed to make a “kissy-face” in every one! 🙂

Race time!

This is not my usual sort of activity. Honestly, I was a bit skeptical about it as well. I brought a book with me just in case I was bored. Fortunately, that was not the case. I had such a great time with Bryan and his family. They’re a lot of fun to be around!

However, I think my favourite part of the day was dinner. We went back to M and C’s place in Toronto where Bryan’s step-father taught us how to make his Red Chile and Enchilada Casserole. We all pitched in one way or another (despite the kitchen being a bit on the small side). The “kids” made guacamole while the “parent” worked on the Red Chile and Enchilada Casserole. He went through the recipe with us step-by-step, explaining what he was doing and allowing for the occasional photo-op along the way.

The master chef showing us how to fry a corn tortilla.

There was enough left over that we got to bring some of the red chile home. I’ve since made another enchilada casserole. I’m so glad we documented the process… now we can make our own red chile sauce at home!

Red Chile

Bryan’s step-father’s recipe, posted with permission

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef – approximate cost $6.50
  • 3 heaping + 1 level tablespoons all-purpose flour – approximate cost $0.30
  • 4 ounces (red) guajilli molido chile powder – approximate cost $4.00
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • Approximately 1/2 cup canola oil – approximate cost $0.25
  • Water (about 6 cups)

Method

  1. Brown 1 lb ground beef in a large pot.
  2. Drain any liquid from the ground beef.
  3. Heat 1/4″ oil (approximately 1/2 cup) in a small frying pan over medium heat.
  4. Turn down the heat.
  5. Stir 3 heaping + 1 level tablespoons of flour into the oil
  6. Stir constantly until the flour dissolves.
  7. Add 4 ounces of (red) guajilli molido chile powder.
  8. Stir until it becomes a thick paste.
  9. Add chile paste to ground beef.
  10. Fill the pot to about half with water (about 6 cups).
  11. Add a teaspoon of garlic powder and a teaspoon of sea salt.
  12. Bring to boil and let the sauce thicken.
  13. Stir frequently.
  14. Remove from heat and divide into three batches.

Makes 3 batches of red chile (approximate cost: $3.73 per serving).

Red Chile Enchilada Casserole

Also Bryan’s step-father’s recipe, posted with permission

Ingredients

  • 2 cups red chile – approximate cost $1.24
  • 12 yellow corn tortillas – approximate cost $0.40
  • 2 cans of pinto beans (liquid reserved) – approximate cost $2.20
  • 2 cups Mexican cheese blend, shredded (cheddar, mozzarealla, and american cheeses) – approximate cost $4.00
  • Canola oil (for frying) – approximate cost $0.25

Method

  1. Heat 1/4″ oil in a frying pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Very lightly fry 6 yellow corn tortillas.
  4. Place on paper towels to remove some of the oil.
  5. Pour 1/2 juice from the can of pinto beans into a 9×13 baking dish (it should coat the bottom of the dish).
  6. Distribute the fried tortillas into an even layer in the baking dish (it’s ok if they overlap).
  7. Pour the can of pinto beans (and remaining liquid) on top of the tortillas.
  8. Top with 2 ladles of chile sauce (about 1 cup).
  9. Sprinkle with 1 cup of shredded cheese.
  10. Repeat steps 3-9 to make a second layer on the enchilada casserole.
  11. Bake about 30 minutes, or until the cheese and sauce begin to bubble.
  12. Let stand on the counter for a few minutes.
  13. Serve and enjoy! (Optional: Serve with flour tortillas to soak up any extra sauce)

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $1.35 per serving).

Wednesday Link Parties

Cast Party Wednesday

White Lights on Wednesdays

Fluster Buster

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