Manadarin and Candied Almond Potluck

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Over the years I have been invited to my share of Potlucks and funnily enough I always have a hard time deciding what to make. I come up with fifty billion ideas and reject them all within a matter of minutes. Too expensive, too spicy, too time consuming, too weird and so on and so on until it’s the day of the Potluck and fortunately I finally remember this salad.

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Asparagus Spring Salad

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When I decided that I was finally going to start a cooking blog ( late bloomer) I swore I was never going to start a post with shopping at a farmers market and being inspired by local ingredients. Let me be clear, I love inspiring fresh ingredients and I totally support local but there are 50 000 other blog posts that start exactly that way. Continue Reading »

Vegetarian Black Bean Taco Salad

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Taco salads are great for so many reasons. They’re easy to make, taste fresh and delicious and feel satisfying. I usually always make mine with chicken but in my goal to reduce our meat intake at home I thought I would try to make a vegetarian version. One of my biggest pet peeves about vegetarian cooking is when a recipe just takes out the meat and calls it a day. I feel like I can tell that something is missing so I wanted a salad that can stand on its own and that you wouldn’t even consider adding chicken to. I think I nailed it and I hope it’s a hit at your home too.

The dressing has a tonne of flavour and would be a great vinaigrette for any salad. There’s lots of fresh vegetables  and  enough protein that you feel completely satisfied. Minus the cabbage and salad greens and this would even be a great salsa. Even though my son can handle a bit of spice I added the jalapeño after removing a portion for him. He loved it and finished his plate.

Vinaigrette

Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp Agave or honey
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 clove  finely chopped garlic
salt to taste

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and thoroughly whisk together.

Salad
1 540ml can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 cup diced red pepper
1 cup cooked corn
1 cup diced tomato
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
1/2 a finely diced jalapeno

I used frozen corn cooked in the microwave for 3 minutes and then drained. 
Add all of the ingredients to the bowl with the vinaigrette and allow it to all mingle and fall in love. I let mine sit about 15 minutes before serving. 

Black Bean Taco Salad

Black Bean Taco Salad

You can stop here and this is a great vegan salad that stands completely on its own. For our dinner we layered the bean salad on organic salad greens, topped with tortilla chips and a sprinkle of grated cheese. It was awesome, delicious and so easy to make. I will definitely make this a part of our regular meal plan.

Vegetarian black bean taco salad

Steak Dinner Hiding as a Salad

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I’m not a steak dinner kind of gal. It’s too heavy and I spend the rest of the night feeling like I have lead weights attached to my butt. My hubby would eat it every night but the poor guy gets meat drunk and then he’s out for the night. So, a salad that has all the elements of an amazing steak dinner and that leaves you ready to still tackle your busy evening seems like a perfect compromise.

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The combination of fresh greens, sweet sautéed onions and savoury mushrooms, with creamy goat cheese, a little spice from pepperoncini peppers plus a great steak make this a meal to keep on speed dial (does that still exist?). Even my most carnivorous of friends have left the table feeling completely satisfied and enjoyed every bite.

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I plate this salad before serving. I can only imagine the wars that would break out at the table if people didn’t feel like they got their fair share of the caramelized onions. 

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I have probably been making this salad for 8 years and for the most part the elements remain the same. However, I have found different ways of playing with it that make it special every time. Here are a few ideas:

-grill campari or small tomatoes and place those on the plate
-replace the goat cheese with blue cheese
-pan fry the steak with butter and rosemary
-add bell peppers, cucumber or any other veggies you like

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I know that most vegetarians will never get far enough down the page to even read this but I think it’s still worth saying… I would eat this minus the steak. If you grilled a portabello instead of using button mushrooms this has some awesome veggie potential.

Update: I got a new camera since I first wrote this post so I have updated the photos. I also switched up the recipe a little to separate the onions and the mushrooms and added a recipe for the goat cheese dressing I made this last time

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This recipe is meant to serve 4

Onions 

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 thinly sliced onions
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
salt 

Mushrooms

1 Tbsp Butter
small splash olive oil
2 cups thinley sliced button or cremini mushrooms
1 clove of garlic finely minced
1 Tbsp of either chopped chives, thyme or a pinch of fresh rosemary
salt

In two seperate pans over medium heat add the butter and olive oil. For the onions begin sweating the onions until they become translucent, then splash on the balsamic and salt. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for as long as you have.

For the mushrooms add all the mushrooms to the pan and saute. Once the have softened a little add the garlic and a pinch of salt. Continue cooking until they have reabsorbed all the moisture in the pan. Add the fresh herbs and reduce to low.

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Steak Marinade

2 tbsp red wine
1 clove smooshed garlic
1 tsp Dijon
1 tbsp worchestire
pinch of rosemary

Combine all the ingredients in a shallow dish. Place the steak in dish and allow to rest flipping once so each side gets some love.

Salad

A generous handful of greens per person
1 pint cherry tomatoes
about 12 pepperoncini peppers thinly sliced

Layer the salad on individual plates, starting with the greens and then topping with the remaining ingredients

Cooking the Steak

I am not going to try to say I am the steak expert so I here are two great links for making an awesome steak: One for grilling and one for pan frying.

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Slice the steak against the grain in thinnish slices. Top your salads with the onions and mushrooms then fan the sliced steak over the top. I like to serve this salad with warmed foccacia and butter, because you need bread with everything (at least I do).

This last time I made the salad I had a lot less goat cheese then I realized. I improvised and made a herb goat cheese dressing and it was awesome. This is not an exact recipe but I wanted to share because it was so yummy!

Goat Cheese Dressing

1 Tbsp Mayo

3 Tbsp Plain yogurt
1/2 small tube of soft goat cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp(ish) of chopped fresh parsley, chives, oregano and basil (really whatever you have in your garden or on hand)

Mix it all together and season with a pinch of salt

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This dinner is a part of one of my weekly meal plans. If you’d like to see how I use this dinner in my meal plan here’s the link, Meal Plan

You can also follow me on Instagram or Facebook where I post nightly meal inspirations and weekly meal plans

 

Mediterranean Chicken Meatballs with Tzatziki and Greekish Salad

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I love Mediterranean food. The combinations of herbs and spices create amazing aromas and flavours that make my mouth water. Over Christmas I experimented and made a Lebanese meal for my family which featured different types of kebabs. It was an all day process and not something I want to take on again for a long time. So, I worked out a quick kebab like meatball, which shares the same amazing flavours but can be a week night dinner.

From start to finish I can have this one done in about 30 minutes give or take. To get this on the table that quickly timing and multi-tasking are key. My strategy is that once the meatballs are browning I throw together the tzatziki so its deliciousness can mingle. When I have the meatballs in the oven I prep the salad and get the table set. Then it’s only a few minutes to pull the whole meal together and my family gets to enjoy a meal that looks like I put in a whole lot more effort.

Meatballs

1 package ground chicken
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 clove finely chopped garlic
1 tsp lemon zest
½ tsp rosemary
1 tsp parsley
¼ tsp allspice
½ cup small cubes feta
1 egg
1 tbsp chopped green onion
1 tbsp olive oil

MeatballsCombine all the ingredients except for the feta and olive oil in one bowl. Once all the ingredients are combined gently mix in the feta, trying not to break it up.

Form into small meatballs, about a tbsp size each, by rolling the mixture in your hand. I get about 20 meatballs.

Over medium heat warm the olive oil in an oven safe pan. Once the oil is heated, place the meatballs in the pan and cook about 5 minutes, turning once they are browned. Allow them to sear on the opposite side for about another 2 minutes then transfer into a 350F degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the meatballs are thoroughly cooked and have reached an internal temperature of 165F.

Tzatziki

½ cup Greek or plain yogurt
½ cup grated english cucumber
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste

Squeeze out as much water as possible from the cucumber. I wrap mine in a thin tea towel and wring it until I can’t get any more water out. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and enjoy

Greekish Salad

1 large chopped tomato
1 chopped yellow or orange bell pepper
2 sliced small cucumbers or ¾ of an English cucumber
½ cup calamata olives
½ cup small cubed feta cheese
2 handfuls of salad greens
½ a sliced red onion (optional)

Dressing

2 tbsps olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Pinch of oregano and basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Old baby food jars or other small jars are perfect for mixing dressings. Simply add all the ingredients to the jar and give it a shake.

Layer all the vegetables and top with the salad greens. Just before serving toss the salad with the dressing.

pita and chicken

I hope your family loves this Mediterranean inspired dinner as much as we do and I’d love to hear what you think. If you would like to see how this meal fits in to my families meal plan here’s the link, Weekly Meal Plan