Monday, May 30, 2011

Meatless Mondays ... Quinoa Burgers!

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart's "Whole Living Website". The website is full of fantastic recipes which are healthy and really delicious! She also has ideas for life balance, green living tips, fitness ideas and lots more information designed to help the reader live a full, balanced and healthy lifestyle!

This recipe is my favourite veggie burger recipe. As summer has arrived (semi-officially, marked by the Victoria Day weekend last weekend and the Memorial Day weekend for Americans this past weekend) it is the beginning of burger season in my house!! The recipe calls for pitas, which are great, but I also love them on whole wheat English muffins!! If you skip the Tzatziki sauce and replace the egg with egg substitute, you can make this recipe vegan!

Quinoa Burgers
1/2 cup rinsed quinoa, cooked
1 medium carrot, chopped coarsely
6 T, chives, chopped finely
15 ounces white navy beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 T ground cumin
1 t coarse salt
1 t ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Tzatziki Sauce
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 T lemon zest
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, chopped fine
1/2 English cucumber, shredded and drained

Place the carrots in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the chopping blade attachment. Pulse until the carrot is very finely chopped.

Add cooked quinoa, chives, beans, breadcrumbs, egg and spices to the carrot. Pulse until mixture is combined but still slightly chunky.

Form into four equal sized burger patties. Refrigerate for half an hour, or until firm.

Heat oil in a non-stick skillet (I prefer a cast iron skillet) over medium heat. Cook burgers until browned and cooked through, approximately 8-10 minutes per side.

To make sauce, combine ingredients in a bowl and serve!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes!!

I had been on the search for the best chocolate cupcake recipe for a while. I have tried a number of recipes, however I found one that comes from an old Cooks Illustrated, which has got to be the best I've found (so far!!). I really like cream cheese frosting with my chocolate cupcakes (or my red velvet cupcakes or my vanilla cupcakes or my carrot cupcakes ...), you could also do a devils chocolate icing if you want an extra boost of chocolatey goodness!! I've included the recipe for cream cheese icing as I think it is more colourful for Spring!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

~ makes 12 cupcakes, do not double, if you need 24 make two separate recipes ~

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut into 4 pieces
2 oz bitter-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t baking powder
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a standard size muffin pan with cupcake liners.

1. Combine butter, bittersweet chocolate and cocoa in a heat proof bowl. Place bowl over a pot of lightly simmering water, you may also use a bain maire / double boiler for this purpose, if you have one of these.

2. Heat the chocolate mixture until it has melted. Whisk to achieve a smooth consistency. Remove from heat and set aside to cool (to the touch).

3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk eggs to combine. Whisk in sugar, vanilla, and salt until fluffy and fully incorporated.

5. Add chocolate mixture to sugar and egg mixture and whisk until fully combined.

6. Switch to paddle attachment. Add 1/3 sifted flour mixture. Mix to just combine.

7. Add sour cream and mix to just combine.

8. Add remaining flour mixture and mix to just combine.

9. Divide batter, evenly, among muffin pan cups.

10. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a cake tester, inserted into the center of the cupcake, comes out clean.

11. Remove and cool for 10 minutes then remove cupcakes to wire rack and let cool to room temperature, prior to icing (about 30 minutes).

Cream Cheese Icing:
1 package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 t vanilla
2 cups icing sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until very well combined (whipped).
Add vanilla and mix well to combine.
Slowly add the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until fully incorporated.
Taste, for sweetness and consistency.
Add more icing sugar if you find that it is too loose or not sweet enough!
Once desired consistency is reached, add food colourings to colour the icing to the colour of your choice.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Shrimp Quesadilla - Cinco de Mayo!!

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!!

I am a big fan of Mexican food (who isn't)! It has to be one of the easiest foods to love. I have a particular fondness for spicy cuisine in any form and Mexican is among my favourites (plus who doesn't want an excuse to make Margaritas!)

This recipe for Shrimp Quesadillas is simple and quite flavourful. You can add as much spice as you can handle in the form of jalapeno peppers or thai chilies. If you want to control the spice, make sure you remove the seeds and white pith from the inside of the pepper, prior to chopping. If you like it hot, leave it in!!

Buen Provencho!!

Shrimp Quesadillas

4 6-inch whole wheat tortillas
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
100 g queso fresco or goat cheese
zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t cumin
1 jalapeno or red Thai bird chili, chopped
Salt and Pepper
1 t olive oil

Heat olive oil over medium heat and add chopped garlic. Add shrimp, season with cumin, salt and pepper and cook until no longer pink, about 2-3 minutes.

Remove shrimp from pan, set aside to cool. Slice width-wise.
Evenly spread one quarter of the cheese onto one tortilla.

Top with half of the shrimp, half of the tomatoes, half of the chopped chilies, half of the cilantro and half of the lime zest.

Add another quarter of the cheese on top of these ingredients.
Top with another tortilla.

Repeat to make second Quesadilla.

Lightly brush four sides of Quesadilla with olive oil and grill until browned and cheese is melted.

Serve with Fresh Guacamole, Rice and Beans!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Quinoa Salad

What a beautiful way to start the Week! I am in love with all of the fresh flavours of this salad, the crunchy pine nuts, the creamy beans, the chewy quinoa and the crisp veggies combined with the smokiness of the grilled zucchini and the tart citrus dressing! The best part? Don't tell anyone ... it's super healthy!   


1/2 cup dried quinoa, rinsed 
2 medium zucchini 
1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped 
1 cup English cucumber, de-seeded and chopped 
1/2 medium yellow sweet pepper, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts 
1/2 cup navy beans
1/4 cup fresh dill
Juice and zest of one lemon 
juice of one lime
1-2 T olive oil 
salt and pepper

How to Cook Quinoa: There is some debate about the proper ratio to use when cooking quinoa. I usually use a 1:2 ratio of quinoa to liquid. For the above recipe I combine 1 cup of water mixed with half of the lemon juice and all of the the lemon zest as well as a bit of salt and pepper. I usually cook my quinoa in my rice maker, but if you don't have a rice maker you can also bring the quinoa and water to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Then, remove the quinoa from the heat and let stand, covered for ten to fifteen minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve!

 Cut zucchini into long strips, lengthwise. Grill over a grill pan. Let cool.  Chop into bite sized pieces.

Toast pine nuts until browned. Let cool. 

Combine cooked quinoa, chopped vegetables, pine nuts, beans, fresh dill,
remaining lemon juice, lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss to combine. 

~ Serves 4 as a side salad / 2 as a dinner salad ~