My herb garden is overflowing with sage, rosemary, parsley, chives, mint and basil. Time is running out, so I need to use as many fresh herbs as possible in my favourite family dishes. One of our best is this super quick pasta dish made with a few uncomplicated ingredients – Crispy Sage and Bacon Pasta. In the process of crisping the sage leaves, you need to use fresh sage leaves which is a key feature of this delicious pasta dish. You will have it on the table in the time it takes to cook the pasta. Just pour a glass of wine, relax and enjoy this delicious herb from your garden.…
I have been making kombucha in the Urb’n’Spice kitchen for some time now, and as summer approaches, I wanted to try out some other fermented drinks that do not require the more protracted wait times between the first and second fermentations that kombucha requires. Pineapple Tepache (pronounced tay-paw-chay) is a good choice because you can produce a refreshing mildly fermented beverage in three days by using three simple ingredients: the rind of the pineapple, brown sugar (or piloncillo, which is a raw form of pure cane sugar in Mexico) and spices of your choice all combined with filtered water. Pineapple Tepache is considered a non-alcoholic beverage because it has a short fermentation process. The resulting mocktail (an iced drink without alcohol typically made from juice, herbs or spices and soda water) is a satisfying fizzy tropical thirst-quencher, which can be enhanced with a squirt of lime, and sprig of mint and a splash of soda or seltzer or even Prosecco.
Tepache originated in ancient Mexico. The word “Tepache” was a drink made from corn but over time, it has been urbanized and has evolved into two distinct drinks: Tepache and Tejuino. Tepache is a partially fermented drink made from pineapple, water, and brown sugar whereas, Tejuino is a fermented drink made from corn. Tepache is made from the pineapple scraps that would typically be thrown away in the compost. Yeast naturally lives on the peeling of the pineapple and this yeast helps to ferment the tepache, so it is important to consider an organic pineapple if you can.
Pineapple has distinctive properties, including a unique enzyme (found only in pineapple) called bromelain, which aids with digestion. In addition to this, pineapple is a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals; namely, Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6, calcium, iron and a high source of Vitamin C. Minerals in pineapple include thiamine, riboflavin, folate, fibre, magnesium, manganese, potassium, beta-carotene and antioxidants. When you make Tepache, probiotics are generated as part of the fermentation process. All in all, pineapples are delicious, nutritious and make one of the most refreshing summer non-alcoholic drinks that I have ever tasted. Give it a try! You will enjoy it!…
Everyones chili preferences are very personal; for example, hot and spicy, meaty, vegetarian – the sky is the limit. Chili maestros will always tell you that they make The Best Chili. Well, I am here to tell you that I make the ‘best chili’ and this is the recipe that will back up that claim! If you have been following my blog, you will know that I have been experimenting with recipes that are ‘Blenditarian’, (also known as ‘Blend-and-Extend’ in Canada). By definition, ground meat recipes are stretched with finely chopped mushrooms. For my version, I add finely chopped vegetables with the mushrooms to create an even more aromatic flavour. This represents a more sustainable and nutritious approach to healthy eating. This all ties in very well with the new Canada Food Guide recommendations of eating less meat and more vegetables. I have created a base called Savoury Meat, Mushroom and Vegetable Blend. This blend (or base) can be used in a wide variety of easy to make recipes.
In this post, you will learn how to prepare this base blend to utilize it to make a fabulous chili – “The Best Chili”. I make the blend base ahead of time and freeze it in family size portions. Once you have the blend base made, dinner can be on the table in less than ten minutes. Enjoy!
This Meat, Mushroom and Vegetable base can be used to make many dishes such as: Spaghetti Sauce; Sloppy Joes; Taco Salad; Hamburger Soup; Beef, Cheese and Macaroni Casserole; and much more. (Refer to “What Else Can I Do With This Recipe?” Section below to learn more).…
Urb’n’Spice Tips and Techniques Series
Chicken is one of the most versatile of all meats or poultry. It is prepared in a variety of ways in the Urb’n’Spice kitchen, such as Herb and Butter Sunday Roast Chicken, Pan Roasted Chicken with Creamy Asiago Sauce, or Grilled Chicken Breast with Roasted Strawberry Salsa. The opportunity to flavour chicken is limitless. In this post, I will teach you How to Prepare a Spatchcock Chicken, and also show you how to make a Quick Poultry Rub that will give any poultry dish a delicious flavour.
A Spatchcock Chicken is essentially a chicken that has had the backbone removed. This allows you to butterfly or flatten the chicken more easily for grilling or roasting. Removing the backbone can be done with a sharp pair of kitchen utility shears or a chef’s (French) knife – not a serrated knife. Alternatively, your butcher can easily remove the backbone for you. Once you have mastered the spatchcock technique, you will be able to create a delicious meal in the oven or on the grill in a much shorter time than roasting a whole chicken.
This recipe for Mini Sized Smashed Potato Pizzas is Grey Cup Party food at its best! It is quick and easy to put together, but more importantly, delicious! They are little pizzas made in a handheld form. Make lots – your guests will be clamouring for more.
I was involved in a food challenge a few years ago that wanted us to develop original recipes for the Little Potato Company. On my blog, you will find the results of my creativity including a family-sized version of Smashed Potato Pizza, as well as Sausage and Potato Stuffing, Bacon Cheese Potato Cups and Potato Crusted Quiche (all gluten-free recipes). I have re-invented the Smashed Potato Pizza and made it into small appetizer sized pizzas. These Mini Sized Smashed Potato Pizzas have the crispy edges that are so appealing and flavourful. Toppings are kept simple given the well-seasoned smashed potato base; sliced grape tomatoes, chiffonade of basil, sliced green onion, mozzarella and bocconcini cheese, and crispy bacon bits. Don’t forget to serve the Mini Sized Smashed Potato Pizzas with Dressed Up Sour Cream….
The Inspiration of Urb’n’Spice Series
Sometimes inspiration can be derived from necessity. Have you ever gone to the grocery store to purchase a specific ingredient or item and it ends up to be something entirely different than what you expected? This recipe was developed due to a case of mislabelling. I actually needed to buy mild Italian sausage, however, the package was mislabelled and I bought a spicy version instead. Not wanting to waste food, my original meal plan was altered to accommodate this Spicy Sausage and I created the following Spicy Sausage and Cabbage Fry with Greek Yogurt Sauce.
The ingredients for this dish have originated from all over the world: Hot Italian sausage; Chinese Napa cabbage; Canadian mushrooms; Greek yogurt sauce and Asian inspired seasonings. It all comes together into a balanced fusion dish. I encourage you to try it as it is a delicious, quick and nutritious meal.
BLENDITARIAN CHALLENGE SERIES
Prelude: Blenditarian.Com has initiated a monthly challenge that incorporates their Blenditarian approach into creative and fun dishes. To clarify for my readers, a Blenditarian is “one who believes the mighty, meaty mushroom makes meals more delicious, nutritious and sustainable.” This approach stretches ground meat by adding finely chopped mushrooms to create a flavourful and more nutritious dish. The theme for the month of August is all about incorporating “The Blend”(mushrooms + meat) into a back-to-school weeknight dinner dish. As Blenditarian.com suggests, “It’s that time of year: school is back in session and schedules are jam-packed. Make back-to-school dinners tastier and better-for-you by adding The Blend (mushrooms + meat) – a quick and easy technique that’s perfect for adding nutrients to dishes for those who are always on the go or simply looking for a way to incorporate more veggies into meals.” Therefore, I am sharing a recipe below for Back-to-School Blenditarian Sloppy Joes that you will want to try!
This recipe utilizes a package of savoury meat blend (the first Urb’n’Spice Blenditarian recipe). I keep several pouches in my freezer for quick meals like this and for other quick meals like date night spaghetti sauce, chili, and hamburger macaroni casserole (recipes coming soon in future Blenditarian posts). This recipe for Back-to-School Sloppy Joes can be made in under ten minutes with just a few additional ingredients.
We all have a go-to dish for our summertime get-togethers – my family favourite is a grilled vegetable platter. We love this dish because any type of grilled vegetables are delicious and nutritious and you can use any vegetables that are in season. It can be made ahead of time and served at room temperature which makes menu planning easy. I like to serve the vegetables with a simple dressing made from fresh herbs from my garden. Panini Grilled Vegetable Platter with Balsamic Herb Dressing is a dish that may well become your go-to summer favourite.
This Panini Grilled Vegetable Platter is very easy to pull together. I have created a herb and spice seasoning for this recipe called Grilled Vegetable Seasoning Blend (recipe below) that compliments a variety of vegetables. To save time, I use a Panini grill rather than the bbq, which is very efficient as the Panini grill cooks both sides at once which negates the need to turn each piece. In addition, I can grill the vegetables in batches while I am puttering about in the kitchen doing other things. Once the vegetables are grilled and plated, I drizzle a little balsamic and fresh herb dressing on top (recipe included below). If you have any leftovers, store them in the refrigerator. Just be sure to bring them to room temperature before serving. This vegetarian summertime dish is gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free and preservative free. For heartier fare, serve the grilled vegetable platter with cedar planked salmon and boiled whole new potatoes (buttered with fresh dill)….
BLENDITARIAN CHALLENGE SERIES
Prelude: Blenditarian.Com has initiated a monthly challenge that incorporates their Blenditarian approach into interesting and fun dishes. To clarify for my readers, a Blenditarian is “one who believes the mighty, meaty mushroom makes meals more delicious, nutritious and sustainable.” This approach stretches ground meat by adding finely chopped mushrooms to create a flavourful and more nutritious dish. The theme for the month of June is all about incorporating“The Blend”(mushrooms + meat) into brunch dishes. For this reason, I have developed a recipe for Savoury Blenditarian Brunch Pork with Vegetables & Fine Herbs.
A Thai dish called ‘larb’, which is one of the most popular street foods in Thailand, has inspired this Savoury Brunch Blenditarian Pork with Vegetables & Fine Herbs dish. The addition of many types of vegetables just adds to the appeal. I enjoy having vegetables cooked in creative ways to produce different textures. I also like the idea that the dish can be served warm, cold or at room temperature.
BLENDITARIAN CHALLENGE SERIES
Blenditarian.Com has initiated a monthly challenge that incorporates their Blenditarian approach into interesting and fun dishes. To clarify for my readers, a Blenditarian is “one who believes the mighty, meaty mushroom makes meals more delicious, nutritious and sustainable.” This approach stretches ground meat by adding finely chopped mushrooms to create a flavourful and more nutritious dish. The theme for the April Blenditarian Challenge is “Go Green for Earth Month.” The challenge is to create an earth-‘friendlier’ dish by incorporating The Blend (mushrooms + ground meat) into “power greens.” For this reason, I have developed a recipe called Turkey, Mushroom and Power Greens Pasta. It is a recipe that can be adapted for many dietary needs, such as dairy-free, gluten-free, heart-healthy, and is also Weight Watchers friendly.
When you use chicken or turkey in a ‘Blend’, it is called a ‘blond blend’. Lean ground turkey is an excellent choice, not only because it is a low-fat protein option, but also because it readily assimilates the flavours of the ingredients. In this recipe, spices such as cumin and chilli powder lend a subtle earthy spiciness, and using paprika helps to create an appealing golden colour to the meat mixture. The use of fresh herbs (parsley and basil) adds brightness to the dish.
Let’s talk about power greens. Power greens can be described as a nutrient-dense superfood of leafy greens contributing an energy boost with high amounts of Vitamins A and C, iron and calcium, dietary fibre and potassium. The greens can be used individually or can be found in a mix often comprised of baby spinach, Swiss chard (both red and green), and kale. For this recipe, I utilized Dinosaur Kale (also known as Tuscan kale, or black kale). I love the look of the curled dark glossy leaves. It is a sturdy green with a tough stalk. I removed the stalk by slicing along each side. Once all of the stalks have been removed, I gathered the leafy ‘strips’ and sliced them thinly (a chiffonade cut). I added the prepared kale to the pasta water during the last few minutes of cooking.