food amongst family and friends

Stuffed sweet red peppers September 17, 2014

Filed under: Quick and easy,Sides,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 1:29 pm

Istuffed peppers found this recipe here and it fit all my needs: I needed to pair something with easy breezy gyoza (’cause if this would have been challenging, what would be the point?) and I had a lot of tomatoes, peppers and some feta I wanted to use up.  The whole family loved it, and it took about 5 minutes to throw together…


2 large, long red peppers
200 g (6½oz) cherry tomatoes
125 g (4oz) feta cheese, crumbled
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
10 basil leaves, chopped (I didn’t have fresh, so I used dried and it was great)
1-2 t olive oil
2 t balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
3-4 t fresh breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
Olive oil, to serve
Extra basil leaves, to garnish

Heat the oven to 400°. Halve the peppers lengthways and remove the seeds. Halve the tomatoes and put in a bowl with the feta, garlic, basil, oil and vinegar. Mix. Season with salt and pepper. Place the mixture in equal portions in each of the pepper halves and then sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Throw the peppers on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until they have softened and the tops are golden. Drizzle with oil, if desired, garnish with a few basil leaves and chow down.  Cheers! Ren


The best way to eat a sweet potato August 22, 2012

Filed under: Quick and easy,Sides,Thrifty,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 8:43 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I realize there are several delicious ways to cook sweet potatoes. Roasted, mashed, made into yam fries, sliced and baked with apples (that’s my Grandma’s famous method)…I love them all. This just happens to be my all-time favourite way to eat sweet potatoes. You cut them into wedges or rounds before tossing them with a salty/sweet concoction and throwing them on the barbecue to get soft in the centre and crispy on the edges. I make these at least once a week in the summer and nearly as often in the winter. Try them with burgers, sandwiches, pork loin and almost anything. Enjoy!


1 large sweet potato
1 T dark brown sugar
1 pinch kosher salt
A good grind of pepper
1 small pinch dried red chili flakes
A good glug of olive oil
1 t fresh grated ginger (optional) (a shake of dried ginger will work in a pinch)

Toss everything together, then put the wedges onto a hot grill and cook 4 minutes per side, or until crispy on the edges.


Vegetarian Gyoza April 16, 2012

Filed under: Appetizers,Sides,Thrifty,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 10:36 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I love gyoza. I will admit that my love affair began in high school in a non-glamourous fashion, chowing down on the pork pot stickers (aka, gyoza) my dad would bring home from every Costco shopping trip, without fail. I now order gyoza at every opportunity. It’s kind of like pizza – even when it’s bad, it’s good.

This recipe uses quinoa instead of pork and it’s much easier and quicker than I anticipated. I  followed the recipe exactly, but I’m going to write it out with the adjustments I’ll make next time. Enjoy!


yields 30 dumplings

1 C cooked quinoa
1 C boiled cabbage, minced
2 boiled carrots, minced (about 1 C)
3 fresh shitakes, minced
1.5 T minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, minced
2-3 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2-3 tsp mirin (sweet japanese cooking wine)
1/4 t ground white pepper
salt to taste

1 egg
1 pack gyoza wrappers or small wonton wrappers (the round ones are ideal)

dipping sauce
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1/4 tsp chili oil (or dried chili flakes mixed with a little oil)

1. Put the quinoa on to cook; bring a pot of water to boil, then add a chunk of cabbage and carrots and boil for 10 minutes. Mince the cabbage and carrot – heap the cabbage onto 3 layers of paper towel and squeeze out the water.

2. Mix the quinoa through pepper in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Mix in the egg.

3. Bust out the gyoza wrappers. Hold one wrapper in your left hand and plop a spoonful of filling into the centre. Dip your finger in water and wet the whole outer edge of the wrapper, then fold the wrapper in half and pinch the edges together. If you want to be fancy,  you can make pleats as you go. It’s quite similar to folding a perogy.

4. Heat 1 t canola oil in a big pan. Once the oil is hot, lay in the dumplings flat-side down.  Give them enough space that they’re not touching. Let them fry 1 minute, then quickly throw in 2 T water and cover with a lid immediately. Let sit 4 minutes, remove the lid and let fry another minute. Repeat until all the dumplings are cooked.

5. Mix up your dipping sauce and serve.


Some sort of salad-like avocado salsa February 22, 2012

Filed under: Appetizers,Make Ahead,Salads,Sides,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 9:59 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

This is the salsa you want to make with Ky’s chipotle chicken, beans and rice. It has a nice variety of veggies and greens so that you can use it to round out the meal – I skipped a side veggie altogether and I didn’t feel like I was short on veg.

This recipe is really meant to accompany Ky’s rice dish, but you could easily turn it into a dipping salsa by increasing the amount of avocado (about 4 total) and reducing the amount of all the other veggies (keep the lime juice and seasonings the same).

1 1/2 avocados, cubed
1 red or orange pepper, finely chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
8-10 grape tomatoes, quartered
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 green chili, minced
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 – 2 limes, juiced
1/2 t ground cumin
course salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Throw the avocado through cilantro into a medium bowl, then squeeze in the juice of 1 lime and toss. Add the cumin, salt and pepper, then taste. Add more lime juice and seasoning as needed. If your limes are on the dry side, you might need 2 whole limes. I usually go to town with the salt and pepper, so don’t be shy, but taste and add more as you go so that you don’t over-salt. You can reduce the amount of chili to keep things mild, but I find that even the tiniest bit really adds to the flavour.




Sour Cream Rolls January 11, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Breads,Make Ahead,Sides,Thrifty,Uncategorized — blisteringlydrunk @ 7:46 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I have a problem with fresh bread products. When I first discovered No Knead Bread I ate half the loaf in an afternoon (and then fell into a carbohydrate induced coma). OK, confession over, but when I came across this recipe in my new Homemaker’s Magazine (my grandmother has been bankrolling this subscription since I got married and as much as the feminist in me cringes at the name, I’ve gotten some excellent recipes from it), I was immediately intrigued. Of course it’s taken me a month and a half to get around to making them, but it was well worth the wait. These are crusty (not unlike the No Knead Bread) but nice and dense and chewy. A perfect accompaniment to a good soup or stew, or in our case, tonight’s conduit for Sloppy Joe’s (thank you Meagan for making my children so happy). Also, you do need to make a basic starter here the day before, so make sure to read through the recipe and plan ahead.

Makes 16 rolls

3 3/4 cups flour (approx. – I used unbleached all purpose)

3/4 cup cold water

1/2 cup warm water

2 1/2 Tbsp sugar

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/4 cups sour cream

1/2 cup spelt flour (next time I will probably increase the ratio of spelt to all purpose flour, but I wanted to try this one by the books to start)

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted

1. In a small saucepan, whisk 1/4 cup all purpose flour with cold water over medium low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and ridges form with every turn of the whisk (a thermometer should read 150 F, but I found it was hard to get an accurate reading with such a small amount of goo). Remove from heat and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but up to 2 days. This is your starter. Bring to room temperature before continuing.

2. In a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), dissolve sugar and yeast in the warm water. Let stand 5 – 10 minutes, or until foamy. Stir in starter and sour cream until smooth.

3. Stir in spelt flour and salt, then add all purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time until a shaggy dough forms. If using a stand mixer, switch to your dough hook, or dump out onto a clean well floured surface. Knead, adding flour to the surface and your hands as needed,  8-12 minutes, or until dough is smooth, moist, and still fairly sticky.

4. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (1 1/2 to 2 hours). Punch down and knead lightly for a few turns, then cut in half and form into 2 balls. Cover and let relax for 10 minutes.

5. Cut each ball into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball by pinching the sides together at the bottom. Place on a lightly buttered cookie sheet and brush the top of each bun with the melted butter. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour or until doubled.

6. Bake in the centre of a preheated 400 degree oven for 21-24 minutes, or until browned and hollow sounding when you ‘knock’ on the top. Let cool in pan on rack. If you want a crustier bun, spray the inside of the oven with water immediately before putting the buns in.



PS I didn’t price this out, as most of the ingredients used such a minimal amount of my bulk ingredients that it hardly seemed worth it. However, I imagine I used $2 worth of sour cream and butter here, and then add the very generous estimate of $1 worth of the other ingredients (combined) and you are looking at $0.19/bun. This is probably a little high, but you get the idea – cheap and way better than store bought!


Baked Camembert with Shell Pasta January 2, 2012

Filed under: Mains,Pasta,Quick and easy,Sides,Thrifty,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 8:31 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Did you resolve to eat more cheese and pasta in 2012? You’re in luck!

I made this pasta a while back and I didn’t post it because I wasn’t completely satisfied with the recipe. I haven’t made it since,  but browsing through the photos reminded me that while this isn’t the perfect meal, I really love the concept of it. The recipe comes from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution – like all of J.O.’s recipes, it’s simple, pretty and tasty. Because it is a Food Revolution recipe, it is extra quick and easy to throw together and thrifty to boot. It’s not the healthiest of recipes, but I imagine it’s a gazillion times better for you than ordering fettucini alfredo at your nearest crap chain restaurant.

So why was I unsatisfied? I just felt like it was missing something. I think I will look at this as a base recipe that you can expand on in several different ways. You could roast cherry tomatoes and stir them in at the end. You could add more fresh herbs for a green flavour burst. You could spice it up with some fresh chili slices added at the same time as the rosemary. Or you could cook it as is (with extra garlic?) and eat it as a side to oven fried chicken for a night of comfort food.

In the thrifty department: we are going to start giving a rough calculation of the cost of our recipes, as often as possible. The cheapest per plate recipes can be found in our newest category, “Thrify”.

I figure the total cost of this meal is $15.57 (details below), yielding 4 servings (as a main), which makes the per plate cost $3.89. To reduce the cost further, look  for Camembert on sale and find a cheap alternative to parmesan – Goya is an Argentinean parmesan that you can buy at Scarpone’s for a third the cost of Parmesan Reggiano.

1 8oz Camembert ($5)
2 garlic cloves, sliced ($.07)
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed from stock (or other herbs,  as desired) ($1)
extra virgin olive oil ($.50)
kosher or sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 pound dry shell pasta ($3)
6 cups chopped fresh spinach ($3)
4 oz grated Parmesan ($3)

1. Unwrap the Camembert, score a circle in the top of the skin and remove it like a lid. Lay the garlic slices on top of the cheese, sprinkle with pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Top with the rosemary, pushing the leaves into the oil.

2. Bake the Camembert in a small baking dish at 350F for 25 minutes – it should be golden and melted.

3. While the cheese is baking, cook the pasta in boiling water. When the pasta is done, add the spinach to the pot for about 10 seconds. Scoop a cup of cooking water out of the pot, then drain the pasta and spinach right away.

4. Return the pasta and spinach to the pot, letting the spinach wilt a little. Add a glug of olive oil and the Parmesan. If the sauce is too thick, loosen  it with some cooking water. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Move the pasta into a serving dish and drizzle all of the melted Camembert on top.




Mom’s Wild Rice and Mushroom casserole December 5, 2011

Filed under: Mains,Sides,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 12:56 pm
Tags: , , , ,

This is straight from my mom, no idea where she got it from, but it is hearty and nutty and wholesome and perfect for a cold day along side some sausage or pork chops or just in a bowl on it’s own for lunch. The kids love this and grown ups think it’s fancier than it is, so it works for whoever it is you have to feed. Feel free to play with the types of rice (straight wild is really lovely) and mushrooms to make it your own, although I wouldn’t recommend any white rice as it would probably disintegrate.

1 1/2 cups rice (I used 1/2 cup wild and 1 cup of a wild and brown rice blend)

2 tbsp butter

2 cups mushrooms, chopped

1 can water chestnuts, chopped

1/4 cup slivered or chopped almonds

40 oz (4 3/4 cups) chicken or vegetable broth

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup cream (whipping is best but I often use coffee cream because I have it in the house)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Fry mushrooms in the butter over medium heat until soft in either a smallish dutch oven (mine is a 2 L) or a medium skillet.

2. Transfer mushrooms to 2 L casserole dish (or leave in dutch oven) and stir in rice, water chestnuts, almonds and broth. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Remove lid and bake for another 45 minutes or until most of the liquid is gone.

3. Stir in cream, and cook until liquid no longer pools, but it’s still saucy, about 15-20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.



PS If your dutch oven isn’t hot (ie you prepped this ahead of time) it will take quite a bit longer to cook. In a pinch or if I need to shorten the cooking time, I have cooked this on the stove for a bit to get a nice simmer going before popping it in the oven.