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DIY Spice Jars

 

DIY Spice JarsI like to think I keep a clean and orderly house until I look at my spice cabinet…eek! I am a hoarder!  There are tiny bags of spices and herbs, different bottles of all sizes, mixed on two levels.  Is it any wonder I think I am out of something only to find it hiding in the back.  I was surfing Pinterest the other day and noticed pretty farmhouse herb and spice labels by Lia Griffith.  Being an eager beaver, I downloaded the file, changed some of the herb names to suit what I had and was quite proud of myself until I realized I had no idea how I was going to print them!  Continue Reading →

Parmesan Grilling Sauce

grilled veggies by The Culinary ChaseThe cool cold Spring has me pining away for warmer days. Warmer days sees us using the bbq more often and sees me experimenting with new, aromatic sauces that accompany a barbecue. This Parmesan grilling sauce is so versatile and scrumptious, you’ll want to smother it on everything you grill…I kid you not! It’ll work well with chicken, beef, pork, seafood, vegetables and would be perfect on kebabs. Spread it on a baguette slice and place on the grill. A super easy sauce to whip up leaving you more time with family and friends.

Makes a bit over 1 cup
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 to 2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano

veggies to grill by The Culinary ChaseCombine all ingredients. Coat vegetables, chicken, pork, beef etc. and leave to marinate. Save some of the sauce and brush on when grilling.

Parmesan by The Culinary Chase

Parmesan Grilling Sauce by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note: If you want a thicker sauce, add more cheese. Red wine vinegar can dominate the lovely flavors of the cheese and herbs so begin with 2 tablespoons first and adjust accordingly. Enjoy!

Peppers Stuffed with Couscous, Halloumi and Currants

stuffed peppers with couscous, halloumi & currantsThere is no such thing for me as a casual glance at a cookbook. And, when I see one that is esthetically pleasing to the eye with beautifully illustrated drawings, tactile, and delicious-looking recipes I am hooked!   Mr. Wilkson’s Vegetables truly is ‘A Cookbook To Celebrate The Garden‘.  For every vegetable he writes snippets of information including history, nutritional content and growing and harvesting tips.   There are more than 80 recipes so deciding which one to try first wasn’t easy.   Sometimes I am forced to plan my meal on what is available at the time I am food shopping and last Friday I was at a farmers’ market where I spotted a box of mixed baby sweet peppers.  Aha! I will make Mr. Wilkinson’s peppers stuffed with couscous, halloumi and currants.

Mr-Wilkinsons-Favourite-Vegetables-Cover-imageServes 4
adapted from Mr. Wilkinson’s Vegetables

1/2 cup couscous
6 long sweet peppers
1 1/2 tablespoons pine nuts (roughly chopped)
2 tablespoons currants
1 tablespoon mint leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon Italian parsley leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/4 oz. halloumi, cut into small chunks

colorful baby bell peppersPreheat the oven to 375°F. Place the couscous in a heatproof bowl and add 1/2 cup water. Stir with a fork for 20 seconds, cover with plastic wrap and leave for 2 to 3 minutes, then stir again to fluff up the grains. Put aside.

baby bell peppersTrim the tops off the peppers, only 1/2-to-3/4 inch from the top and set the tops aside. Insert a small knife inside the pepper and cut out the seeds and membrane. Turn upside down and shake or gently tap until all the seeds have fallen out.

stuffed peppersAdd the remaining ingredients to the couscous and mix thoroughly. Carefully spoon the mixture into the peppers, compacting it with your finger, then place the tops back on. Place in a small ovenproof baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the peppers are soft and browned.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  I left the tops off the peppers as they were baking and this didn’t interfere with the flavors. If you can’t find halloumi cheese try using Queso Blanco or if that’s not available try feta.  I will definitely make these again!  Enjoy!

Thai Larb

Thai-Style Pork LarbThe other night John and I were watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Guy Fieri was visiting a diner in Hawaii called Opal’s. It’s owned by a Thai family and as we watched the larb come together, our mouths started to water. It has been far too long since we had this! Larb is the national dish of Laos and can be made with ground meat or fish and flavored with fresh herbs and spices.  Thai larb is easy to make, perfect finger food and a fun way for your kids to eat more veggies.

Serves 2
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon agave or honey
1 to 2  teaspoons hot sauce
handful slivered red onion
handful cilantro
handful fresh mint
handful fresh basil
Boston lettuce, remove 4 layers (use as cups)
1 carrot, peeled and julienned (alternatively you can use the potato peeler)
handful finely sliced purple cabbage
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

larb ingredientsPan-fry ground pork in a bit of olive oil until no longer pink. Remove from heat and drain any liquid. Add lime juice, fish sauce, hot sauce and agave to fried pork – stir. In a bowl toss onion, cilantro, mint, basil, cabbage and bell pepper. Add pork to vegetable mixture and lightly toss. Fill lettuce cups and fold up like you would a tortilla.

larb fillingThe Culinary Chase’s Note: You can use ground chicken, beef, or fish if you don’t like pork.  and a wonderful way to incorporate veggies into a meal.  Enjoy!

Grilled Garlicky-Herbed Shrimp

Grilled Garlicky Herbed ShrimpGrilled, poached, fried, battered, roasted, sautéed, steamed – you name it I’ve tried it.  Shrimp are one of my favorite crustaceans, they take little time to cook and there are health benefits, too.  Shrimp is a nutritious alternative to meat proteins as it is low in calories and saturated fat.  It is an excellent source of selenium and unusually low-fat, low-calorie protein. Many people are confused about the fat and cholesterol content of shrimp. However, based on research involving shrimp and blood cholesterol levels, avoidance of shrimp for this reason does not seem justified.  Read more on this at the world’s healthiest foods.  Start the evening off right and serve these garlicky-herbed shrimp with your favorite cocktail.

Serves 4
inspired by Martha Stewart

3 tablespoons coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
20 jumbo shrimp, shells removed

garlicky herbed shrimp CollageCombine all ingredients except shrimp in a large bowl. Add shrimp and toss to combine making sure all parts of the shrimp is coated in the marinade. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Preheat grill on medium heat. Place shrimp on grill and cook, turning once, until pink – about 5 minutes.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
Want a Mediterranean feel?  Serve the shrimp with a roasted red pepper salad. Enjoy!

Bulgur Salad with Cannellini Beans, Feta & Mint

Whenever I feel as though we’ve eaten too much red meat, we take a break and consume loads of veggies and ancient grains such as bulgur.  It’s this sort of balance that keeps us healthy…I can’t recall the last time I had a cold or the flu.  Bulgur is made from precooked wheat berries.  It’s a perfect substitute for rice as it has more fiber and is low on the glycemic food index.  We enjoy this ancient grain and especially like its chewy, mild nutty flavor.  I’m sure you’ve eaten it before in dishes such as tabbouleh and pilafs.  Because it’s low in fat and calories, it’s a perfect way to feel satiated without adding pounds.  Bulgur is already partially cooked and therefore needs little time for preparation –  perfect for a quick meal without jeopardizing nutrition.

Serves 4 to 6
adapted from BHG

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup bulgur
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon lime zest
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 cups shredded purchased roasted chicken
1-15 ounce can cannellini beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped yellow and red sweet pepper
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chopped fresh mint
salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan bring water to boiling. Add bulgur and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Return to a boil then reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes or until water is absorbed and bulgur is tender. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a small saucepan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Add garlic and reduce heat to medium high. Cook and stir until garlic starts to turn golden around the edges. Remove from heat. Stir garlic and oil into bulgur mixture.

For the dressing, in a screw-top jar combine red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, lime zest, and lime juice. Cover and shake well. Stir dressing into bulgur mixture. Add chicken, cannellini beans, sweet pepper, feta cheese, cumin, 3/4 cup of the parsley, and 3/4 cup of the mint to bulgur mixture; toss to mix well.  Season and top with remaining parsley and mint.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  This is such a hearty salad and loaded with nutritional goodness! You can substitute the bulgur for cooked brown rice or quinoa.  Enjoy!