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Perogy Nachos

When you think about it, a heaping plate of perogy nachos is really just a natural evolution of the humble perogy.

And while we’re here, has anyone concluded what is the proper spelling of this potato-filled dumpling? Pierogi? Pirogi? Piroghi? Perogie? Pyrogy? Perogi? I digress…

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The key to a successful perogy nacho is crispiness.  For this experiment, I’ve opted for a healthier version and I’ve baked the perogies (because “healthy” is first and foremost on the mind of anyone contemplating a plateful of perogy nachos, for sure).  Baking this way produced a successfully crispy perogy that was slightly chewy as well.  Warning: the chewiness may be a bit too unorthodox for true perogy traditionalists.

For (blow your mind) more crispiness, try deep-frying day old leftover perogies and I guess, put whatever new year’s resolution diet you may be on, on-hold for the day.  If this intrigues you, see the alternate directions below.
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PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 30 min    YIELD: 
Ingredients:
  • 1 package of your favourite frozen perogies (cheddar variety recommended)
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced
  • 200-250 g bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • jalapeño or favourite chilli pepper to taste, sliced
 Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F, and line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread frozen perogies on baking sheet and spray with canola oil, or brush lightly to coat.
  2. Bake perogies 20 min, or until lightly browned, and maybe even a little bursting at the seams.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare toppings.  Slice green onions, tomatoes, and chilli peppers; crumble cooked bacon; grate cheese.
  4. Remove perogies from oven, pile and layer with remaining ingredients in oven-proof baking dish, and broil at 400 F just until cheese is melty, about 2 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately, and why not have some Guac on the side for dippin’ (because it’s “healthy” *wink* *wink*, *nudge* *nudge*)
 Alternate Directions:
  1. Instead of frozen perogies, use perogies that have been previously boiled and drained.  This is a great way to use up leftovers if you happen to have any.  Preheat canola oil in deep-frying device of your choice (I use the George Foreman Lean Mean Fryer) to 375 F.
  2. In batches, submerge perogies for approximately 10 min or until lightly browned, and turning halfway through.  Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, and pick up from step #3 above.
bruscetta5

Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta

Bruschetta is one of those things; there seems to be so many variations and everyone has their own version.  Is it cooked and served warm?  Cold and raw?  Does it have garlic?  onions?  cheese?  vinegar or not?  About the only thing I know for certain, is that usually always involves tomatoes, basil and toast as an open-faced sandwich of sorts.  I guess the same could be said for almost any recipe, but it does surprise me that there seem to be infinite different versions something so simple– and all by the same name.

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And this is my style of bruschetta, and I’ve tried enough to be confident to say this is most definitely my favourite.

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This unseasonably warm weather lately has me getting excited for gardening season (and pining  for fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes!)

PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 25 min YIELD: 4 servings

Ingredients:
  • 3-4 medium mixed variety heirloom tomatoes, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small onion, diced small (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped, (or substitute 2 tsp dried)
  • 2 heaping tbsp parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • small pinch of salt/pepper to taste
  • French bread, sliced 1/2″ thick
  • olive oil
 Directions:
  1. Preheat broiler to 425F.
  2. Brush oil on sliced bread and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Broil toasts under high heat for ~5 minutes, or until tops just start to brown then remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in small frying pan, fry diced onion in 1 tsp of olive oil just until softened and starting to brown (about 5-8 minutes).  Cooking the onions helps to mellow the strong flavour.
  4. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and toss in the cooked onions then let the mixture sit for at least 30 min before enjoying.
  5. Don’t top the toasted bread with tomato mixture until you’re ready to serve, otherwise the toasts tend to get a bit soggy.  Garnish with some fresh basil leaves if you’re feeling particularly fancy.
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Leftover Chicken Wrap

These wraps are lovely!  It’s a great use for leftover chicken (or turkey) Even without the wrap (or even the chicken really), the star of this post is the salad and dressing, which would make a great side-dish just own it’s own.

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This recipe is just one of a handful of reasons why I recently ventured out into the cold last week and picked myself up a copy of Jamie Oliver’s “Save with Jamie” cookbook.  I’m skipping a bit ahead in the story, let me go back…It was a typical Saturday late morning and I was perusing the TV channels, looking for something interesting to keep me from doing anything productive.  I stopped when I came across an episode of Jamie’s Money Saving Meals (considering anything with Jamie Oliver is pretty much guaranteed to be entertaining… with phrases like “just wazz it up” and “bang it in my gob”, how can you go wrong?).  Anyway, this episode included a version of this wrap spotlighting leftover chicken as a budget-friendly option (and also a couple other recipes that looked very intriguing).  End result is this book made a nice addition to the collection and I’ve acquired some new/easy dinner ideas that I’m quite excited about.

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PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 30 min YIELD: 2-3 servings

Ingredients:
  • leftover chicken (about 1/2 c or however much you have), pulled apart so it fits reasonably in a wrap
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2-3 10″ soft tortilla shells

Salad:

  • 1 cup fine rice noodles (cover with boiling water, drain after 5-10 min after noodles have softened)
  • half of a yellow pepper, finely sliced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, sliced
  • 2 tbsp green onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup carrot, julienned
  • 1 tbsp fresh chilli pepper or jalapeño pepper
  • 4 large leaves romaine or other green lettuce of choice, sliced
  • grated zest from half a lime

Dressing:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice from half a lime (about 3 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sweet chilli sauce
 Directions:
  1. In medium frying pan, over medium heat, combine chicken and hoisin sauce and re-heat until chicken starts to go crispy/sticky (~10 minutes)
  2. Meanwhile, mix together dressing ingredients.
  3. Combine salad ingredients and toss together with dressing.
  4. Now, the fun part, stuff the wrap with a little chicken and a whole bunch of salad– a little more than what you think you can reasonably fit into a 10″ tortilla shell
  5. Garnish with a little cilantro and/or sesame seeds if you’re feeling fancy, wrap it up then do your best and try to eat it without making a mess.  It’s best if served immediately (otherwise the tortilla can go a little soggy).
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Simple Coleslaw

Good doesn’t have to be complicated, time-consuming, or precious.  Proof in point:

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Feeling a little shut in from the winter, and reminiscent of warmer days with BBQ meals, we enjoyed some of this classic coleslaw last night atop of shredded pork sandwiches.  This very classic ‘slaw is a dependable favourite and is so because of the ideal balance of tangy and sweet.

PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 10 min    YIELD: 5 servings
Ingredients:
  • 3 1/2 cups (loosely packed) head green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1/2 cup (loosely packed) purple cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1/2 cup carrot, finely shredded

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 1/2 tbsp white sugar
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
 Directions:
  1. Mix shredded cabbages and carrots in large bowl.
  2. Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss with cabbage mixture.
  3. Serve immediately after mixing for delightfully crisp coleslaw
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Mushroom Walnut Stuffing

Just in time for upcoming holiday feasts!  This one takes a little bit more effort to put it together, but it’s well worth it.

PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 70 min    YIELD: 8 servings
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced small
  • 3 celery stalks (about 2 cups), diced medium
  • salt and pepper
  • 10 oz of cremini mushrooms, diced small
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage leaves, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 loaf crusty/stale bread (around 8 cups), cut into 3/4″ pieces
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken or turkey broth
  • 1 egg
 Directions:
  1. If your bread isn’t sufficiently stale, turn the oven on low and toast the bread cubes for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions, celery and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until onions and celery soften, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside for now.
  3. Add another tbsp of oil to the pan still over medium-high heat, as well as mushrooms and finely chopped sage.  Season with salt and pepper.  Brown the mushrooms, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add wine to the mushrooms, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from the pan.  Cook until wine is nearly evaporated.
  5. Remove from heat and transfer to bowl with onion and celery mixture.  Add cubed bread and walnuts.
  6. Mix in enough broth just to moisten.  The mixture should be moist but not excessively soggy.  Beat the egg, and add to the mixture.  Toss well to combine.
  7. Now, stuff the turkey!  And/or spoon into a lightly greased baking dish to cook separately.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake uncovered until top begins to brown– 30 minutes.
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Garlic Toast

A super simple and quick side to serve with steak, BBQ, pasta, salad, etc… This is one of the first things I figured out how to make for myself in my adult life– that I enjoy so much that I can honestly confess that I don’t think it can be done any better.

I prefer using focaccia bread, but this is also nice on slices of french bread.

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Please do yourself a favour and don’t consider substituting the fresh cloves of garlic for anything else.  It might be tempting to use that jar of pre-minced garlic, or maybe use powdered garlic from the pantry– but just don’t. do. it.  Call me a garlic-snob if you want, but there is really no comparison to fresh!

PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 10 min    YIELD: 8 servings
Ingredients:
  • 3 tbsp margarine or butter
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • pinch salt
  • focaccia bread (or other favourite bread)
 Directions:
  1. Turn oven on to broil at 425 F
  2. Mince fresh garlic and combine well with butter, parsley, and pinch of salt.
  3. Liberally spread garlic butter on sliced focaccia bread and place in a single layer on a baking pan.
  4. Broil until bread is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Keep a close watch because it can go from brown to black before you realize!
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Heirloom Honey Glazed Garden Carrots

I’ve always been a picky eater… proof in point: I used to absolutely refuse to eat cooked carrots (in raw form, however, they were considered perfectly edible).  My mom seemed convinced I would grow out of it when I was young, and I’d like to say I’ve proved her wrong, but I will concede that I will eat these cooked carrots.  To her disappointment, I’m sure, I do still pick them out of most everything else.

This is my go-to side dish recipe for the “big” dinners (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.).  AND it’s also my favourite use for heirloom garden carrots from the garden.

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So here it is, a carrot dish good enough to convert someone who wouldn’t eat cooked carrots.  Oh, and it is good!

PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 30 min    YIELD: 4 servings
Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1-1/2 lbs carrots
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
 Directions:
  1. Wash carrots, cut into approximately 1″ sized pieces.  Cut different varieties of heirloom carrots into a mix of shapes for a rustic presentation or not, it all tastes about the same.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add carrot pieces.  Stir once or twice and cook just until carrots start to brown, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add broth, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.  Cook uncovered until carrots are just tender-crisp and liquid becomes syrupy, about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add butter just before serving
Idressing1

Italian Salad Dressing

I think of this recipe as akin to the house dressing at the Olive Garden.  With that in mind, it goes great in a lettuce, tomato, red onion (thinly sliced) salad complete with garlic croutons and topped with some grated parmesan cheese.

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Why eat out when you can mimic the best part of the Olive Garden experience (IMO) at home, using some freshly grown lettuce from the garden?

PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 15 min    YIELD: 1 bottle
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 tsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning mix
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (optional)
 Directions:
  1. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Note the xanthan gum is optional, however it does help to make the thick consistency of the dressing.
  2. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one to two weeks.
garlicscapesto

Garlic Scape Basil Pesto

I’m still over the moon with my recent discovery of Garlic Scapes.  Craving some garlic’y pasta goodness, I decided to try  my hand at Garlic Scape Basil Pesto.  I adapted my regular go-to recipe for Basil Pesto for the substitution.

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PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 15 min    YIELD: ~2 cups
Ingredients:
  • 7 to 8 large garlic scapes
  • 1  and 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
 Directions:
  1. Cut garlic scapes in approx 1/2 inch to 1 inch long pieces then add to food processor, along with fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, salt, and lemon juice.  Process, and gradually add olive oil and mix until mixture is a fine consistency.
  2. Add grated parmesan and mix to combine.
  3. Stir the pesto into your favourite cooked pasta, or portion and freeze for future use.
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Warm Potato Salad

It may not be a mainstream menu item in most restaurants, but over the last couple of years I’ve enjoyed a few different variations of the Warm Potato Salad while eating out. Craving something dilly and in anticipation for company coming over for a BBQ dinner– I went on the search. In my travels, I came across this Earl’s copycat recipe from Playing with My Food. It was the beginning of something amazing. I’ve made a few modifications to make it more to my tastes.

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My better half is not a fan of cold salads in general, unless it’s of the lettuce variety then it might be tolerable. So, I was glad when he embraced the idea of this warm salad. BBQ season around here is definitely well underway and so far this has become a new staple in this house.

PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: YIELD: 4 servings
Ingredients:
  • 4 to 6 medium to large russet potatoes
  • Kernels stripped from 1 to 2 cobs of fresh corn; approximately 1/2 cup
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp olive oil (or just enough to lightly coat vegetables)
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and fresh ground pepper, or to taste
  • 5 to 6 strips of cooked bacon
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yoghurt or sour cream
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
 Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.  Do not bother peeling the potatoes– wash them well, but leave the skins on.  Dice potatoes in approximately 1/2 inch pieces.  Strip fresh corn kernels and combine with potatoes and minced garlic.  Using frozen or canned corn would not be a deal-breaker, but why not fresh if it happens to be in season.  Season with salt/pepper and lightly coat the mixture in olive oil.  Bake for ~30 to 40 minutes until potatoes are soft when a fork is inserted and their outsides are beginning to get crispy and golden.  Alternatively– if you’re short on time and don’t want to wait, you can microwave the potatoes prior to dicing them on the ‘baked potato’ setting, and this should cut your bake time down by 10-15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, chop bacon, dill and chives.  Combine the remaining ingredients, mix and set aside to use when the rest is ready to come out of the oven.
  3. Important: do not mix the sauce in until you’re just ready to serve.  Also a note of caution– the texture of the sauce changes not for the better (thus is the nature with mayonnaise) when the mixture is reheated, so avoid if possible.
  4. Enjoy!