An Evening in the Maritimes

Another Ridiculously Easy but Very Impressive recipe, one that is so easy your friends won’t believe it when you tell them how you made it.

In years past, I’ve appeared on  “A-Channel Morning” here in Ottawa to help publicize “An Evening in the Maritimes”, a fundraiser hosted by Citizen Advocacy.  I have been a volunteer with CA for 7 years, and it is a wonderful organization with a very “hands-on” approach to service.  Each volunteer is matched with a member of the community who is at risk of social isolation due to a disability or illness, and the pair just hang out and do whatever they want to do.  My match and I go to movies, out to eat and shop, and check out gardens and craft shows.

Details of the May 31 fundraising dinner can be found here… There’s a delicious meal (including meat and vegetarian options as well as the traditional lobster dinner), Maritime entertainment, and an auction with amazing items.

Here is the super-easy recipe I made on the morning show in 2008… Serve it with a side of steamed local asparagus for a lovely little lunch.  If you don’t relish the idea of cracking up your own lobsters, use canned lump crabmeat for an easier preparation.

Lobster and Avocado Salad with Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise

Serves 2 for lunch or 4 as an appetizer

1 head of garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup mayonnaise

2 – 1 pound lobsters, cooked

1 ripe avocado

Chop the tips off the head of garlic and place onto a sheet of aluminum foil.  Pour oil over the top, and wrap the foil around the garlic.  Roast in 400°F oven for 40-60 minutes. To save energy, do this while you’re cooking something else in the oven.

Let the garlic cool for at least 30 minutes, then squeeze the garlic out of the skin, mash it and stir it into the mayonnaise.

Remove lobster meat from the shells and chop into large pieces.  Halve the avocado, remove the pit, and chop into large pieces.

Toss the lobster and avocado with the garlic mayonnaise.

Lemon cream pie or squares

Fresh lemon sweets make me think of spring…. so I thought I would share this ridiculously easy but very impressive (REVI) recipe with you today. I’ve noticed that the more exotic Meyer lemons are available in grocery stores here in Ottawa lately, and this recipe would be an excellent way to try them. Meyer lemons are a bit less sour than regular lemons, and the skins have a deeper yellow colour.

Lemon Cream Pie

One small graham cracker or other crumb crust – make your own (a recipe is usually on the side of the graham crumb box, or use the one below) or buy one already made.

One can of sweetened condensed milk

½ cup lemon juice

1 tbsp. grated lemon zest (optional, but adds immensely to the “impressive” part)

Prepare crust if necessary.

Preheat oven to 350°F

Whisk together milk, juice and zest – it will thicken as you mix it.

Scrape mixture into crust with a rubber spatula and smooth it flat.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until firm.

Cool completely before cutting.

Crumb crust – use for cheesecakes or any other kind of goodie that needs a crumb base.  I like chocolate wafer, vanilla wafer or bran cookie crumbs… just whiz up the cookies in a food processor or place them in a big Ziploc and crush with a rolling pin.

1 ¼ cups crumbs

¼ cup sugar (white or brown)

1/3 cup melted butter or margarine

Mix crumbs and sugar.  Stir in butter, then mix by hand to combine well.  Press into pan.

Creamy Pineapple Chicken Curry

If you’re looking to get more vegetables into your family, here is the recipe for you – cream of mushroom soup is a magic ingredient; it makes children eat vegetables.  You can use just about any combination of vegetables, so use this recipe to clean out your veggie crisper the day before you go shopping, or unearth some frozen veggies when you tidy up your freezer and throw them in.  If you want to go vegetarian, skip the chicken and throw in some chickpeas…

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” cubes

1 tsp. oil (optional)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tsp. each chopped garlic and chopped ginger

2-3 tsp. curry powder or curry paste – adjust this to your liking.  If you don’t like really spicy food, use mild curry, but use at least 2 teaspoons.

1 can pineapple tidbits in juice

2-4 cups of chopped vegetables

1 can cream of mushroom soup

Cut chicken into cubes.

In a large pan or pot, heat oil, if using, over medium heat.  Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until they are softened and translucent.  Add chicken, garlic and ginger, and stir to coat.  Add curry powder and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Open the can of pineapple and save the lid.  Use the lid to keep the pineapple pieces in the can while you pour the juice into the chicken mixture.  Stir to coat, and add in any hard uncooked vegetables like raw carrots or celery.

Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until chicken and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the can of soup and any softer or pre-cooked vegetables.  Stir in the pineapple.  Taste and add salt if necessary – but the soup is probably salty enough.

Serve with brown or basmati rice

Substitution – to make this recipe lactose-free and gluten-free, use half a can of coconut milk in place of the cream of mushroom soup.

Ridiculously easy Christmas pudding

Three years ago I went to my parents’ place for Christmas, and immediately posted this recipe on FB with comments below…. it’s a great recipe!

“My mom made this for Christmas this year, and I’ve been eating it incessantly since I got here 24 hours ago. The recipe came from Bonnie Quick, my mother’s friend Holly’s mother.

A nice simple steamed pudding, delicious and Christmassy, and best of all, allergen free for me! Served with a sauce that can be festively “hardened” with a splash of rum… ”

Pudding/cake:

1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup water
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups cranberries, cut in quarters

Combine all ingredients, folding in the cranberries last.
Pour into a 2 quart greased tube pan, and set the cake pan in a roasting pan.
Add water to the roaster to come at least halfway up the side of the pan, and cover, either with the roaster lid, or tightly wrapped with foil.

Bake 45 minutes at 350°F.

Sauce:

1/4 cup margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup cream

Mix butter, sugar and vanilla well, then add cream. Bring to a boil.

Serve wedges of cake with sauce poured over.

Cherry Blossom Fudge

After baking some shortbread cookies last week, I ended up with waaayy more chopped cherries than I needed to decorate them – my son got carried away with the knife and cutting board – so I decided to come up with a new recipe. I remembered Cherry Blossom chocolates from when I was a kid, and came up with this easy fudge recipe to recreate that flavour.

This really is an easy recipe – no candy thermometers, and I did everything in the microwave. It does take some time from start to finish, though, because three different layers have to chill separately. I’ve posted step-by-step photos on our Magic Fridge Facebook page!

Ingredients:

1 and 1/3 cans of condensed milk

2 cups chocolate chips – semisweet or dark, depending on your taste

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup unsweetened coconut

1 cup chopped maraschino cherries, drained, or glace cherries

1 cup chopped nuts (I used salted cashews)

Directions:

Place chocolate and white chocolate in separate glass microwave safe bowls. Open one can of condensed milk and scoop 2/3 of it into the chocolate bowl and 1/3 of it into the white chocolate bowl.

Microwave the chocolate bowl for 30 seconds on high, then remove and stir with a microwave-safe utensil (I use a rubber scraper/spatula). If chocolate is not fully melted, microwave for another 10 seconds and repeat. Scrape *two-thirds* of this mixture into a well-greased 8×8 pan and cover with a piece of cling film. Press the chocolate into the pan with your hands, using the cling film as a barrier. Leave the film on and chill for an hour in the fridge. Save the remaining third of the chocolate mixture for the topping later.

Once the base is chilled, microwave the white chocolate bowl for 20-30 seconds and stir until melted, then add the coconut. Sprinkle cherries over the base, and pour the white chocolate-coconut mixture over top. Use the cling film trick again to flatten the white chocolate mixture and make sure it is well adhered to the base. Chill, with cling film on top, for at least 2 hours – this layer is softer, so it will take longer to set up.

To make the third layer, add 1/3 of a can of condensed milk to the reserved chocolate mixture and microwave 20-30 seconds; stir until melted. This layer will have a thinner consistency than the base layer. Take out your chilled fudge and evenly sprinkle the nuts over the white chocolate mixture. Pour the thin chocolate mixture over the top, and once again use some cling film to press the last layer evenly over the top of the nuts. Chill for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight, since this last layer is even softer than the other two.

When it is thoroughly chilled, remove the fudge from the pan and cut it into pieces, making sure the nut layer is on top for easier cutting. It will keep well in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Easy Broccoli Quiche

I don’t even want to think about it yet, but the holiday season is upon us – if the commercials on TV are to be believed, anyway :) Soon, we’ll be planning parties and RSVPing to things, and one of them is bound to be a potluck.

Here’s Ridiculously Easy but Very Impressive (aka REVI) recipe, one that is so easy your friends won’t believe it when you tell them how you made it after serving it to them at a potluck brunch.  It’s also vegetarian.

Easy Broccoli Quiche – serves 4 hungry people or makes 8-12 potluck brunch slices

From allrecipes.com

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, minced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 cups chopped fresh broccoli – gotta be fresh, frozen makes it watery.

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese

4 eggs, well beaten

1 1/2 cups milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon butter, melted (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F

Over medium-low heat melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onions, garlic and broccoli. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft.

Meanwhile, press 1 cup of the shredded cheese into the pie crust to keep it from getting too soggy.

Spoon vegetables into crust.

Combine eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in melted butter, if using.

Pour egg mixture over vegetables and top with the other ½ cup of cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until center has set.

Luc’s Garlic Pasta Salad

Serves 6 as a meal or 12 as a side dish

This is a fabulous pasta salad that can be “veggied up” for a healthy meal, or served as is for a rich and satisfying side dish at a BBQ.  Known simply as “that garlic salad”, it was enthusiastically requested at every potluck lunch, summer or winter, at my former place of work.  Thank goodness Luc gave me the recipe before I left!

Dressing:

1 cup mayonnaise

½ cup balsamic vinegar

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

3-6 cloves of garlic, crushed or very finely minced

Combine ingredients in a medium jar with a tight lid, and shake vigorously.  Store dressing in the jar until you are ready to serve the salad, up to two days ahead.

Salad:

900 g fusilli or rotini pasta, cooked and cooled

1 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced

Top with ½ cup chopped parsley, if you want to get fancy

Optional – peppers, broccoli, snow peas, carrots… just about any vegetable, really

Toss salad with dressing just before serving.  Make sure everyone has some so you don’t offend each other with your garlic breath for the rest of the day.