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!

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Improv Challenge: Cinnamon and Sugar (Strawberry Cobbler)

Once again I find myself thinking… it’s been way too long since I’ve posted on my blog! Last post, I had just made it through the exam season. Since then, I’ve been quite busy as usual.

I took a short vacation to visit one of my very best friends and her family in Northern Ontario. I spent 3 wonderful days visiting and relaxing. The time out of the city was much needed.

Waterfall in South River

Waterfall in South River

We made a day-trip to Pickerel River where H’s aunt and uncle own a lovely cottage. It had been about 10 years since my last visit. As children, we visited for a week most summers, not a whole lot has changed (except they finished building the house). We even fit in a short kayaking trip! I wish I had been brave enough to bring my camera along, the was a waterfall down the river that was still frozen.

Pickerel River

Pickerel River

A beaver swimming in the Pickerel River

A beaver swimming in the Pickerel River

I have to admit I didn’t really want to come home. Don’t get me wrong, I missed Bryan and Loki. And I was looking forward to starting my summer classes. But a full week away would have been nice. 🙂

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 cinnamon and sugar. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, my dish is inspired by my trip up north. When we visited Pickerel River, H’s mom made a lovely peach cobbler that we took along for dessert. For the challenge, I made a Strawberry Cobbler!

Strawberry Cobbler

Inspired by S’s Peach Cobbler

Ingredients

Fruit Filling

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 cup COLD water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 cups sliced strawberries – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.10

Topping

  • 1 cup flour – approximate cost $0.40
  • 1 tablespoon cane sugar – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 cup whole milk – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided into 6 – approximate cost $0.30

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the fruit filling.
    1. Combine the cornstarch and cold water in a cup.
    2. Mix well.
    3. Add cornstarch mixture and brown sugar to a sauce pot.
    4. Cook over medium heat until thickened and sugar is dissolved.
    5. Remove from heat.
    6. Add lemon juice.
    7. Add strawberries.
    8. Pour into a 9×13 baking dish.
    9. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  3. Prepare the topping.
    1. Combine flour, cane sugar, baking powder, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Add milk, stirring constantly.
    3. Add water, stirring until well-mixed (no dry flour).
  4. Spoon the topping over the fruit (leaving it in dumpling shapes).
  5. Dot each dumpling with butter.
  6. Bake the cobbler for about 25 minutes (or until topping is cooked through and golden brown).
  7. Cool slightly.
  8. Serve warm and enjoy!

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $0.60 per serving).



Improv Challenge: Peas and Carrots (Shepherd’s Pie)

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 peas and carrots. So far, I’ve shared:

For this month’s Improv Challenge, I made Shepherd’s Pie! When I heard the challenge ingredients were peas and carrots, I knew exactly what I would be making (It happens to be one of Bryan’s favourite meals). I changed up the recipe a bit from the usual… I added some crimini mushrooms and cut the amount of mashed potatoes in half. The mushrooms were a great addition. I missed the extra potatoes (Bryan seemed to enjoy it more this way)! If you love mashed potatoes… DOUBLE the amount called for in this recipe.

Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil – approximate cost $0.05
  • 4 onions, sliced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 bunch (9 small) carrots, sliced – approximate cost $2.00
  • 250 grams crimini mushrooms, sliced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 pounds learn ground beef – approximate cost $9.00
  • 2 284 milliliter cans of beef broth (+ 2 cans of water) – approximate cost $2.40
  • 500 grams green peas – approximate cost $3.00
  • 3 pounds potatoes, diced – approximate cost $3.00
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons paprika – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 cup milk – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/2 cup butter – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Prepare the meat and vegetable mixture.
    1. Preheat the grapeseed oil in a large pot over medium heat.
    2. Add the onion slices.
    3. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft.
    4. Add the minced garlic.
    5. Cook until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes).
    6. Remove the onion and garlic mixture and set aside in a mixing bowl.
    7. Add the ground beef to the cooking pot.
    8. Brown the ground beef.
    9. Use a wooden spoon to break the ground beef into small pieces.
    10. Return the onion and garlic mixture to the pot.
    11. Add the carrot, mushrooms, and green peas.
    12. Mix well.
    13. Add the beef broth and water.
    14. Bring the pot to a boil.
    15. Cook for about 5 minutes.
    16. Add the paprika, rosemary, and black pepper.
    17. Mix the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup cold water.
    18. Stir the cornstarch into the broth slowly.
    19. Stir frequently until thickened.
  2. Prepare the mashed potatoes.
    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
    2. Optional: Peel the potatoes. (We dice them right away, leaving the skin on)
    3. Dice the potatoes.
    4. Boil the potatoes until tender (about 10-15 minutes).
    5. Drain the potatoes.
    6. Add the milk and butter to the potatoes.
    7. Use a potatoes masher to mash the potatoes.
  3. Put it all together!
    1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
    2. Divide the meat and vegetable mixture evenly between two 9×13 baking dishes.
    3. Top with an even layer of mashed potatoes.
    4. Bake the Shepherd’s Pie for about an hour and a half.
  4. Remove the shepherd’s pie from the oven.
  5. Let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes.
  6. Serve and enjoy! (Makes fantastic leftovers)

Makes 16 servings (approximate cost: $1.58 per serving).



Piparkakut (Finnish Gingerbread) Cookies

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 hearts and flours. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, I’m sharing a gingerbread cookie recipe I got from my friend Kas (with slight modifications).

  • The original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon ground cardamom in addition to the other spices. However, I left this out because I didn’t have the ingredient readily available in my pantry (and it was Family Day, so I couldn’t go to the store to buy some).
  • I used fancy molasses instead of unsulphured molasses.
  • I baked the cookies for 8 1/2 minutes (which made for crunchy cookies, but I would have preferred they turned out soft like Kas’s cookies).
  • I used lactose-free milk instead of regular milk.
  • I used cane sugar instead of white sugar.
  • I used sea salt instead of table salt.

Kas’s Piparkakut cookies are amazing. She tends to make them around Christmas and, if you’re lucky, you get a pack of cookies as a gift. this year, I had the privileged of making a double-batch of cookies with her during a visit. I’m not great at baking, so it was nice to go through the process with a pro (it is her family’s recipe after all!). The ones we made over the holiday were decorated with sprinkles and divided between the two of us. I gave a few away, but Bryan and I kept most of that batch for ourselves.

So, after getting the stand mixer a few weeks back, I decided it was about time that I try making these cookies at home. So on Family Day (this past Monday), I enlisted Bryan’s help with some cookie making. One thing I must point out is that the cookie dough is just as delicious as the cookies themselves. As we were rolling out the cookies, Bryan and I enjoyed many tastes of the dough before it even made it into the oven! We just got our first set of cookie cutters and made several shapes: hearts (as per the Improv Challenge), stars, multi-pointed stars and a shape we cannot agree on (I think it’s candy — Bryan thinks it’s a bone). At the end of the night, we’d sampled so much dough that we were too full to sample the finished cookies! I may have had cookies for breakfast on Tuesday morning, just to make sure they tasted ok.

A single batch, we found, was wayyyyy too many cookies for the two of us. So I’ve given a few to friends as taste testers of my first batch.

Kas and her partner got half a dozen. I was upfront with her about the changes I’d made. Their verdict? Not bad for the first batch! And they didn’t miss the cardamom too much, They only complaint was that I’d left them in the oven a touch too long and they were a bit crispier than they should be. I was already aware of this.

Another half dozen went to my childhood best friend and her sister. Our visit was unplanned, but I was glad to have a few cookies to share with them. They had also tasted a few that I had made with Kas over the holiday and had a point of comparison. They too thought the cookies were pretty good!

Finally, I gave another half dozen to my friend and her four-year old son when I went to babysit last night. She, as far as I know, hasn’t tried a cookie yet, but they also seem to be kid-approved! I allowed him to have one cookie during my visit last night and he savored it over about half an hour.

Hooray for a successful batch of cookies!

Piparkakut (Finnish Gingerbread) Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter – approximate cost $2.50
  • 1 ¼ cups cane sugar – approximate cost $1.00
  • ¼ cup fancy molasses – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 large egg – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 tablespoons lactose-free milk – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (and a bit extra for rolling the cookies) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger – approximate cost $0.10
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves – approximate cost $0.05
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.03

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together the butter, sugar, and molasses until well mixed and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and lactose-free milk and stir until well mixed.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, sea salt and pepper in a separate large mixing bowl.
  5. Slowly add the flour and spice mixture (1/2 cup at a time) into the butter and molasses mixture, mixing constantly until the two are well-combined.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface (the dough should be about 1cm thick).
  7. Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies.
  8. Gently peel away the unused dough.
  9. Work the unused dough into a ball.
  10. Place cookies on a cookie sheet.
  11. Bake cookies for 7 1/2 minutes (until golden brown but still soft).
  12. Remove cookies to a wire rack.
  13. Repeat steps 6-12 until you use up all of the dough.
  14. Cool cookies completely before packaging or enjoy warm.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie-cutter shapes (approximate cost: $0.15 per cookie).



Improv Challenge: Bananas and Nutmeg (Fried Bananas with Brown Sugar Sauce)

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 bananas and nutmeg. Yum! So far, I’ve shared:

Today, I’m sharing a recipe that my dad used to make for me when I was younger. I’ve been trying for years to replicate his recipe but, for some reason, even though I started out using the same ingredients it’s just never the same… so I changed things up a bit and made it my own (Dad leaves out the nutmeg and the vanilla).

Fried Bananas with Brown Sugar Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1/4 cup butter – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla – approximate cost $0.20

Method

  1. Slice the banana in half lengthwise and then horizontally (you should have four long and thin pieces).
  2. Melt half of the butter (1/8 cup) in a frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the banana slices to the frying pan.
  4. Cook until the banana begins to turn golden brown.
  5. Flip and cook until the banana begins to turn golden brown.
  6. Remove to a plate.
  7. Add the remaining butter, and brown sugar.
  8. Cook until sugar is melted.
  9. Remove from heat and add vanilla to sauce.
  10. Stir well.
  11. Pour sauce over fried banana pieces.
  12. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon.
  13. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $0.85 per serving).



Improv Challenge: Chocolate and Marshmallows

It’s been way too long! It’s hard to believe it’s been an entire month since I posted. But I’m back, and ready to take on blogging once again! Over the last month I’ve been swamped with school work. Between essays, projects and presentations, the deadlines kept me busy. However, I’m glad to have made it through my first term as a PhD student and can’t wait to start all over again after the holiday!

That said, what better way to get back into blogging than participating in the Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker?! I was disappointed to miss a few months of the challenge, but happy to be participating today. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, the challenge ingredients are chocolate and marshmallows. Yum!

I wasn’t going to have an evening at home to prepare my recipe, so, last night I enlisted the help from my friend’s 4-year-old (who I was babysitting). That is, I made making a delicious dessert using chocolate and marshmallows our activity for the evening. And it went over surprisingly well! The little one was super excited to help me cook, loved decorating his own dessert, and devoured the tasty treat just before bedtime. It made a great activity!

What did we make? Crispy rice squares!

Crispy Rice Squares with Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter – approximate cost $0.50
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows – approximate cost $0.90
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla – approximate cost $0.10
  • 6 cups crispy rice cereal – approximate cost $1.60
  • Chocolate sauce for decorating – approximate cost $0.50
  • Chocolate and Rainbow sprinkles for decorating (optional) – approximate cost $0.30

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large, non-stick pot.
  2. Add the marshmallows, stirring constantly until melted.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Add the vanilla.
  5. Continue stirring.
  6. Add the cereal, 1 cup at a time, and stirring constantly until well-coated in marshmallows.
  7. Place in a 9×13 baking pan
  8. Cover with a piece of waxed paper.
  9. Press the cereal mixture into an even layer that is the shape of the baking pan.
  10. Remove waxed paper.
  11. Decorate with chocolate sauce (and other edible treats such as chocolate or rainbow sprinkles).
  12. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to set.
  13. Slice and enjoy!

Makes one 9 x 13 tray of crispy rice treats, about 12 servings (approximate cost: $3.90 or $0.33 per serving).



Improv Challenge: Zucchini and Brown Sugar

I’m excited to be participating in another Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! Each month I strive to come up with something a bit more exciting or creative than the last. So far, I’ve shared:

This month, the challenge ingredients are zucchini and brown sugar.

My recipe this month isn’t exactly creative. Instead, I opted for something much more sentimental… my Nana’s Zucchini Bread recipe (with a slight modification). The original recipe calls for white sugar, I’ve substituted brown sugar for the purpose of the challenge, and it worked out great!

Nana’s not sure where the recipe comes from anymore. She thinks she might have got it from one of her sisters, who possibly got it from my Great Grandmother. Either way, it’s been in the family for a while and I enjoyed many many pieces of zucchini bread as a child, especially in the fall when Nana picked the zucchini fresh from the garden.

Growing up, I thought zucchini bread was one of the healthiest treats. Why? Because it’s got vegetable pieces in it. Therefore, it must be healthy. Right? I was a bit surprised going through the recipe when I saw how much sugar it calls for. Not exactly healthy. It won’t kill you to enjoy the bread once in a while either though. Just something I will likely choose to enjoy in moderation instead of abundance, like I did as a child.

I’ll likely experiment with making a healthier version of the recipe at some point. Substituting the white flour for whole wheat, or maybe a gluten-free flour. Try cutting out some of the sugar. But that’s for another day when I’m not scrambling to make something delicious for the Improv Challenge.

Excuse me while I got enjoy some fresh from the oven zucchini bread for breakfast. I just baked it this morning!

Nana’s Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs – approximate cost $0.60
  • 2 cups white sugar (I used brown sugar for the purpose of the Improv Challenge) – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini, skin included – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 cup oil (I used canola oil) – approximate cost $0.40
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla – approximate cost $0.30
  • 3 cups flour – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 teaspoons salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon – approximate cost $0.30
  • 1 cup walnuts – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, and grated zucchini in a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix until well combined and set aside.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, cinnamon, and walnuts in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Mix until well combined.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  7. Pour the bread mixture into two (greased) loaf pans.
  8. Bake for 1 hour (or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean).
  9. Allow to cool before serving.

Makes 2 loaves, about 16 slices (approximate cost: $3.30 per loaf or $0.41 per slice).


Improv Challenge: Tomatoes and Peppers

I’m excited to be participating in another Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker (my fourth month participating)! Each month I strive to come up with something a bit more exciting or creative than the last.

So far, I’ve shared:

This month, the challenge ingredients are tomatoes and peppers.

This month is the first time that I’m not sharing the dish I had initially made for the challenge. Over the weekend, I made a curry-like dish with chicken, peppers, and tomatoes. It was good, but tasted a bit more like Mexican food than Indian food. I was a bit disappointed by this because it didn’t pair very well with naan bread. Also, it was wayyyy too spicy for me! I ate half a bowl. Even Bryan mentioned that it was spicy (his tolerance level is much higher than mine). He was able to finish, but was surprised I made it as far through the meal as I did. Because I was unsatisfied with the results, I haven’t have much inspiration to write about the experience, nor did I want to share the recipe as part of the Improv Challenge (I may share it in a week or so).

Instead, I made a last minute trip to the grocery store on Tuesday while running other errands to pick up more peppers and tomatoes so I could try again. Earlier in the day, I had been reading a blog post series on Chiles at MJ’s Kitchen. The posts were very informative, explaining that “the green chile pepper [is] called by many names – New Mexico chile, Anaheim pepper, California chile, Hatch, Big Jim, Rio Grande and Sandia – to name a few” (MJ’s Kitchen). I’d never heard it called California pepper, Big Jim, Rio Grande or Sandia! I was even a bit skeptical that an Anaheim pepper would be the same, though I’ve heard the peppers called by that name before.

Reminiscing about the amazing food in the Southwest US. I wanted green chiles afterwards, but that’s not something that’s regularly sold around here. In fact, the only Hatch Chiles I’ve seen are dried red chiles sold at specialty stores with a fairly high price tag. It’s always good, but not quite the same as green chiles.

Very much to my surprise, there was a large basket of “Anaheim Peppers” at the grocery store this week. I had to have them. The price was also surprisingly reasonable. Here’s hoping that they will start to carry these chile peppers regularly!

I’ve never really cooked with green chiles. My experience with them has mostly been meals someone else has cooked or take-out. So, for this Improv Challenge, I’m sharing one of Bryan’s recipes that I’ve adapted. This is one of the few things he would cook for me when we first met!

Green Chile Pepper and Tomato Soup

Adapted from Bryan’s recipe (I think he said he learned this from his family?)

Ingredients

  • 500 grams lean (or extra lean) ground beef – approximate cost $5.50
  • 10 fresh green chile peppers (New Mexico chile, Anaheim pepper, California chile, Hatch chile, Big Jim chile, Rio Grandechile or Sandia chile) – approximate cost $3.50
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 can diced tomatoes – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 cup water

Method

  1. Roast the chile peppers, making sure all sides are roasted (so the skins will peel away easily later).
  2. Set the roasted chile peppers in the fridge to cool.
  3. Remove the cooled chile peppers from the fridge.
  4. Roll each of the chile peppers to loosen the seeds.
  5. Cut off the tops of the chile peppers.
  6. Pour out as many seeds as possible.
    1. If you want the soup spicy, reserve a few of the seeds.
    2. If you want the soup mild, gently wash the inside of the peppers with cold water to remove the remaining seeds.
  7. Wash your hands very well with lots of soap and avoid rubbing your eyes for a while to ensure the chile peppers will not burn you.
  8. Peel the roasted skin away from the chile pepper.
  9. Discard the skin.
  10. Dice the chile peppers.
  11. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot.
  12. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  13. Add the ground beef.
  14. Break the beef into pieces using a wooden spoon.
  15. Brown the beef (there shouldn’t be any more pink).
  16. Add the chile peppers.
  17. Mix well.
  18. Add the diced tomatoes (as well as the liquid from the can).
  19. Mix well.
  20. Add half cup water (the beef mixture should be just covered by the liquid.
  21. Bring to a boil.
  22. Add the sea salt.
  23. Taste the broth and add more salt if necessary.
  24. Remove from heat.
  25. Serve hot in soup bowls.

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $2.65 per serving).



Improv Challnege: Corn and Butter

I’m so excited to be participating in another Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker! For those of you keeping track (I know I am for now), this is my third month participating in the challenge. Each month I strive to come up with something a bit more exciting or creative than the last.

Check out my previous Improv Challenge creations:

This month, the challenge ingredients are corn and butter. This combination of ingredients was especially difficult for me. Not that it isn’t a great combination, but because I love a simple cob of corn with butter. I rarely feel compelled to go beyond this with the ingredient combination. Generally, I will grill a few pieces of corn on the cob (husks on), roll it in butter, and season with salt and pepper.

This challenge forced me outside my comfort zone. I’m glad it did. The resulting salad is easy to make, affordable, and delicious. Best of all, the cilantro was fresh from my garden!

Cilantro Tomato Corn Salad with a Lemon-Butter Dressing

Adapted from Cilantro Tomato Corn Salad at AllRecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1/4 cup butter – approximate cost $0.50
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Soak the red onion pieces in a bowl of cold water for a minimum of 20 minutes.
  2. Melt butter in a pot over medium heat.
  3. Allow butter to brown.
  4. Add corn and lemon juice.
  5. Cook until corn is a vibrant yellow and heated through.
  6. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  7. Drain the onions and place in a large mixing bowl.
  8. Add tomato pieces, jalapeño, cilantro, sea salt, pepper, and corn.
  9. Toss well so the lemon-butter coats the ingredients.
  10. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $2.04 per serving).

Serving suggestions

Best if enjoyed the same day the salad is prepared. If kept in the fridge, tomatoes will lose some of their flavour and the butter will harden.



Improv Challenge: Cherries and Almonds

I’m so excited to be participating in another Improv Challenge hosted by Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker!

I actually had thought I missed the Improv Challenge . Somehow I had convinced myself that the posts needed to be up on June 15th. A big thank you to Liz from That Skinny Chick Can Bake who pointed out that I had misread the date and still had a week to write the post!

This month’s ingredients are cherries and almonds. I don’t recall ever pairing these ingredients. However, I’ve been assured over the last month that I would love it. And I do!

My cherry and almond recipe is inspired by the heat wave going on right now. It was 32 degrees Celsius today (89.6 degrees Fahrenheit). I didn’t want to turn the oven on to bake (we don’t have A/C). So I made an icy drink instead. I enjoy it very much! Bryan’s not a fan of the texture of the ground almonds. I’ll make this with an almond extract next time.

Icy Drink with Cherries and Almonds

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup raw almonds – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/2 cup frozen cherries – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 sprigs of mint leaves – approximate cost $0.06
  • 1 cup water
  • 10 ice cubes

Method

  1. Soak almonds in a glass of water for at least 2 hours.
  2. Drain almonds.
  3. Blend almond in blender until finely ground.
  4. Add cherries and continue to blend.
  5. Add water and ice cubes.
  6. Blend until smooth (you may need to add a bit more water).
  7. Serve in two tall glasses and garnish with sprigs of mint leaves.

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $1.03 per serving).



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