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Friday Night Dinner

Friday Night Dinner

It used to be a standing joke at our house – Friday night would come and someone would say “What should we have for dinner?” and I would say “Black Bean Quesadillas”, which always meant Black Bean Chèvre Quesadillas from Bonnie Stern’s Simply Heart Smart Cooking recipe book.  It was published over 20 years ago now (!) but the recipes are still amongst our favourites.  Even though her website says that it’s out of print, it still seems to be available on Amazon.  She also published a whole book of Friday Night Dinners – check it out on her website.   Black Bean Quesadillas are quick, easy and full of flavour.  We almost always used chèvre but you could substitute whatever cheese you have on hand.  Another option is to use the filling as a salad/side for almost anything (chicken breast, fish, mac and cheese, etc).  Whatever option you choose, it makes a great Friday (or any) night dinner.  Bonnie suggests barbecuing them for extra flavour or making them open faced like a pizza.  They can also be made ahead and reheated, and leftovers are great for lunches.   Black Bean Chèvre Quesadillas adapted from Simply HeartSmart Cooking   Serves 6 – Serving Size: 1 tortilla   Ingredients:   1 cup (250 mL) black beans 1 tomato, chopped and drained 1 sweet red pepper, preferably roasted, peeled and chopped 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced ½ cup (125 mL) cilantro 2 Tbsp (30 mL) fresh chives or green onions 2 Tbsp (30 mL) fresh basil 1 ½ cups (375 mL) grated light Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese ½ cup (125 mL) chèvre (soft goat cheese) or feta cheese 6  10 inch (25 cm) flour tortillas   Directions: 1.  Preheat barbecue or  heat oven to 400oF (200oC). 2.  Combine black beans, tomato, red pepper, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, chives, basil, Monterey Jack and chèvre. 3.  Place tortillas on counter in a single layer.  Spread filling evenly over one half of each tortilla. 4.  Fold unfilled half over filled side and press together gently. 5.  Place in a single layer on heated grill on the barbecue or on a baking sheet or pizza stone in the oven.  Bake for 7 – 10 minutes until the filling is heated and the cheese has melted.   Nutritional Analysis (per serving): 340 kcal, 11 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 43 g carbohydrates, 4 g fibre, 18 g protein.        ...

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Roasted Vegetable Penne Bake

Roasted Vegetable Penne Bake

With the bounty of fall vegetables available in gardens and markets at this time of year, we thought we’d serve up a recipe that takes full advantage of the best of fall flavours.  Roasted Vegetable Penne Bake is one of our favourites from the Pure Prairie Eating Plan.  It can be made ahead and served with barbecued chicken for quick weeknight dinner and leftovers, if there are any :), are great for lunches the next day. Roasted Vegetable Penne Bake Serves 6 Ingredients: 2 large zucchinis, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces 1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces 1 small onion, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces 1/2 lb (225 g) medium fresh mushrooms, halved 2 Tbsp (30 mL) canola oil 1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) Italian seasoning 2 cups (500 mL) uncooked penne pasta 14 oz (398 mL) crushed tomatoes, undrained 2 oz (60 g) shredded provolone cheese 3/4 cup (175 mL) frozen peas, thawed 1/4 cup (60 mL) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese 3 Tbsp (45 mL) grated Parmesan cheese 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt 1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper 1 Tbsp (15 mL) butter or margarine 1 Tbsp (15 mL)grated Parmesan cheese   Directions: 1. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, red pepper, mushrooms, onion, oil and Italian seasoning; toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer on an ungreased 15-inch (38 x 25 cm) baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 425°F (220 °C) for 20-25 minutes or until tender. 2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, roasted vegetables, tomatoes, provolone cheese, peas, mozzarella cheese, . cup (60 mL) Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. 3. Transfer to a greased 11 x 7 inch (28 x 43 cm) baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese; dot with butter. Cover and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 10 minutes. Uncover; bake for another 10-15 minutes or until bubbly. 4. Cut into six squares and garnish with fresh herbs, if available. About This Recipe: Get your veggies in a delicious way with this vegetable bake! There are also three types of cheeses in this recipe. Need I say more? Per Serving: 317 kcal, 12 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 33 g carbohydrate, 6 g fibre, 13 g protein Serve with a 3 oz serving of grilled chicken and add: Per Serving: 199 kcal, 13 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 1 g carbohydrate, 0 g fibre, 20 g...

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Grilled Pork Ribs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Grilled Pork Ribs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Like making homemade salad dressing, barbecue sauce can be made in minutes and is limited only by your creativity and taste.   This recipe is modified from Ly’s Grilled Fire Ribs in The Chez Piggy Cookbook.  Chez Piggy (www.chezpiggy.com) is a restaurant in Kingston, Ontario where Cathy once stopped for lunch while driving across Canada with her family.  The lunch was so good, she bought the cookbook and the ribs are definitely top of the list for great recipes.  We’ve modified the sauce to reduce the sugar.   Grilled Pork Ribs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce Serves 4.   450 g (1/2 lb) of pork baby back ribs, per person, cut in serving sized pieces 125 ml (1/2 cup) water Juice of half a lemon (about 15 ml (1 Tbsp))   Heat the oven to 325 F.  Add the lemon juice to the water.  Put the ribs on a broiler pan and baste the top with the lemon-water.  Bake about 2 hours, basting with lemon-water every 30 minutes or so.  This will soften and tenderize the ribs.   When the ribs are almost done, you can make the barbecue sauce.   125 ml (1/2 cup) ketchup 30 ml (2 Tbsp) apple cider vinegar or beer 15 ml (1 Tbsp) molasses 15 ml (1 Tbsp) oyster sauce or low-sodium soy sauce 7 ml (1 ½ tsp) Worchestershire sauce 15 ml (1 Tbsp) grated fresh ginger 15 ml (1 Tbsp) minced garlic 1 fresh Thai chili pepper or 7 ml (1 ½ tsp) chili powder or 2 ml (1/2 tsp) red pepper flakes (adjust the heat to taste)   Mix all the ingredients for the barbecue sauce together in a microwave safe container such as a pyrex measuring cup.  Microwave 30 seconds, 3 times, stirring in between.  Makes about 175 ml (3/4 cup).  Can be stored in the fridge for at least two weeks.   Brush the ribs with sauce.  Return to the oven for 20 minutes. Nutritional Analysis (per serving):  Ribs: 242 kcal, 18 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 0.3 g carbohydrate, 0 g fibre, 18.5 g protein, 87 mg sodium.  Canada Food Guide Servings: 1 Meat and Alternatives.  Sauce: 60 kcal, 0.2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 15 g carbohydrates, 1 g fibre, 1 g protein, 498 mg sodium.  Canada Food Guide Servings:  0.5 Vegetables and Fruit. Handy Tip:  When you buy fresh ginger, cut it in different sized chunks, put it in a ziplock bag and freeze it.  When you need it, take a chunk equal to the amount you need and let it sit on the counter for about 5 minutes.  It won’t dry out in storage and will be a snap to grate into your favourite recipe.  Try adding it to a fruit or green smoothie for extra...

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Salsa Time

Salsa Time

At this time of year, when the tomatoes are ripe, both Rhonda and Cathy get out their much-spattered recipe cards for their favorite salsa.  By preserving it now, there’s always fresh-tasting salsa on board for eating with taco chips but also to serve as a side for chicken, fish or South American-style beef cuts.  While salsa is pretty easy to make and preserve by canning, it’s also great eaten fresh, with or without cooking.  Another great thing about salsa is the recipe can be varied to use whatever vegetables you have on hand, and fruit like peaches is also a great base.   This recipe originally came from our friend Lori-Ann on Prince Edward Island but has evolved over the years.  The big amount on the left makes about 7 half-litre jars of preserved salsa.  The small amount on the right could serve a few friends enjoying drinks on the patio.  Use Roma tomatoes for a thicker salsa.   2.5 L                Roma tomatoes, fully ripe, diced                 500 ml 500 mL           Green peppers, diced                                   100 ml 250 mL           Hot banana peppers, diced (or to taste)    50 ml 500 mL           Yellow onion, diced                                       100 ml 500 mL           Zucchini or golden beets, grated                 100 ml 250 mL           Kernel corn                                                    50 ml 4 cloves          Garlic, minced                                                1 clove 15 mL             Ground cumin                                               3 ml 1                      7.5-oz can tomato paste                               — 250 mL           White vinegar                                                — 15 mL             Salt                                                                  3 ml To taste          Cayenne pepper                                           To taste 250 mL           Chopped cilantro                                          25 ml   For preserving:  Mix all the ingredients together in a large Dutch oven or saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until desired thickness is reached.  In the meantime, prepare jars, lids and rings by washing and then sterilizing in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Spoon hot salsa into hot jars leaving 1 cm head space, clean sealing edge, cover with lids and rings, tightening gently.  Process in the boiling water bath for 20 minutes.  Remove and let cool completely.  Make sure all the lids have sealed before storing.  (If a jar doesn’t seal, put it in the fridge and use first.)   For serving right away:  Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.  Enjoy!   Note:  The vinegar is needed to acidify the preserved salsa so that it will safely block the growth of bacterial spores that release toxins.  Vinegar isn’t needed in the fresh recipe but if you’d like a little more zest, try adding 30 ml of apple cider vinegar.   Tips on home canning:  http://www.bernardin.ca/pages/low_acid_foods_introduction_/72.php...

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Experiencing the Mediterranean Diet firsthand, part 3!

Experiencing the Mediterranean Diet firsthand, part 3!

People are interested in the Mediterranean Diet pattern because of studies dating to the 1950’s that countries around the Mediterranean (Italy but also Spain, Greece, France) had lower levels of heart disease than European countries with different dietary patterns.  More recent research has upheld the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for preventing not only heart disease but also diabetes, certain kinds of cancer, even dementias like Alzheimer’s Disease.  Why this is true is not known for sure, and everyone has a favourite theory but what is probably true is that it’s not just one food but rather the whole pattern of foods, along with other aspects of lifestyle such as physical activity, the social aspects of eating and so on. The Mediterreanean diet pyramid shows the types of foods included in the traditional diet pattern, underpinned by physical activity and social interactions. Plant-based foods are grouped together and the recommendation is that some of these foods be eaten at every meal.  This is different from Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide, which separates Vegetables and Fruits from Grains, but similar in that both recommend the most amount of food servings come from plant-based foods.  Another difference is that the legumes (dried peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas) are included here, whereas in Canada’s Food Guide they are placed in Meat and Alternatives because of their high protein content.  Next up the pyramid comes fish and seafood, which makes total sense when you live next to the Mediterranean Sea (and perhaps next to the Atlantic, Pacific or Arctic Oceans in Canada) but not so much sense in Saskatchewan!  This is followed by poultry, eggs and dairy (mainly cheese and yogurt), recommended daily to weekly.  The top of the pyramid has meats and sweets, which are recommended “less often”, implying less than once per week.  Fluid intake centres on drinking water, with wine in moderation.   One of the recipes we saw demonstrated for us was a delicious, creamy soup base, which we had eaten previously with white beans, possibly cannellini beans.  The amount of each ingredient is an approximation – have fun trying your own versions. Creamy Soup Base with Beans a la Guiseppe  Heat 1-2 Tbsp (15-30 mL) olive oil in a large saucepan. Add one coarsely chopped yellow onion and sauté until translucent but not browned. Pour in about 4 cups (1 litre) of water. Add 2 cubed white potatoes, half a dozen fully ripe cherry tomatoes cut in half and a stalk of celery, chopped. Salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and let cook until the potatoes disintegrate. At this point, add 1 cup (250 ml) cooked cannellini beans or, as Guiseppe says, whatever you like in your soup – some smoked provolone cheese, ham, fresh spinach or Swiss chard, grated carrots – the great thing about this soup base is that it’s infinitely flexible.  If you like a really smooth soup, put the base in the blender or food processor for a few seconds before returning to the pot and adding the other ingredients. Additional water can be added as needed to achieve the desired...

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Hot off the press! PPEP Summer Newsletter

Hot off the press! PPEP Summer Newsletter

Barbecuing is a favourite summer pastime – our summer newsletter tackles the question “Is BBQing healthy?” and features a simple Planked Salmon BBQ menu with fresh potatoes, veggies and dip and Rhubarb-Bumbleberry Pie.  We also identify some opportunities to participate in nutrition research for those of you in the Edmonton area.

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