Lamb Boats

It’s time to start thinking about the upcoming holiday season and party food. Whether you’re hosting a party or you’re a guest at a potluck, everyone needs a great party appetizer recipe at the ready.

Lamb Boats
Lamb Boats

This recipe is one of my favourite party appetizers. These little flavour bundles definitely stand out at a party thanks to their unique shape, and the spices blend well with a Tzatziki sauce on the side.

LAMB BOATS

*makes approx. 60 boats

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 oz. pine nuts (about ½ cup)
  • 8 oz. ground lamb or beef (1/2 pound)
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of allspice
  • S&P
  • 1 lb ready-made pastry dough
  • 1 egg, beaten (for glaze)
  • Tzatziki sauce for serving (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and toast until golden. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the lamb, onion, tomato, garlic, parsley, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Set aside.

Roll out the dough to about ¼ inch thick. Cut the dough into long strips about 2 inches wide, then across to make squares. Cover the dough while you make the boats.

Brush egg glaze down two opposite sides of the square. Add small amount of lamb filling to the middle of each square. Fold in half with the glazed edges together, leaving an opening in the center. Press the boat gently against your work surface so the boat sits flat, and pinch the ends together forcing up the filling.

Put the boats on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and meat is cooked through.

Serve immediately.

*any leftover boats can be frozen once cooled completely.
Lamb Boats
Lamb Boats
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Buffalo Quinoa Bites

It’s fall, my favourite season. There are so many reasons to love the fall…cool, crisp air, warm sweaters, cozy fires, and of course, the fall colours. Then there’s the food. After months of grilling meats, tossing salads, picnic lunches, and sunny dinners on the deck, it’s time to switch gears and enjoy dishes and flavours that warm the soul and celebrate the season.

vegetarian quinoa buffalo bites
Buffalo Quinoa Bites

After a summer of indulgence, my daughter recently decided to become a pescatarian. She spent one year as a vegetarian in the past, but found the diet challenging and gave it up at the beginning of the summer. Now, with steak season come and gone, she’s decided to clean her diet up once again, this time allowing herself fish and seafood to help keep enough protein in her diet (made more of a challenge during the school year given schools here don’t allow peanut or other nut products in school lunches). Her only reservation was having to give up some of her favourite foods, especially her Friday night favourite, Buffalo wings. Or so she thought.

One of her favourite Buffalo recipes are Buffalo chicken quinoa bites. There are a lot of different versions of the same recipe out there (you can search the internet for them), but all of these little flavour bundles are packed with quinoa, chicken, and cheese. Serve them with a little Ranch dip on the side, and they are a great substitution for Buffalo wings. Thankfully, with a few changes, I was able to make a vegetarian version that would pack a good protein punch for my daughters school lunches, while still giving her the Buffalo wing flavour she craves.

vegetarian quinoa buffalo bites
Buffalo Quinoa Bites

Using the inspiration of the typical carrot and celery stick side dish for restaurant wings, I substituted grated carrot for the standard shredded chicken. I also switched out the bread crumbs for quinoa flakes in an effort to add put more protein to the recipe, and served the bites with a yogurt Ranch dip. Success! And a very tasty one at that. At least this is one dish my daugther won’t have to sacrifice in order to stick to her new diet/lifestyle.

BUFFALO QUINOA BITES

makes 12 bites

Ingredients

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 egg

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

1 large carrot, shredded (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup Frank’s Buffalo wing sauce

1/2 cup Mozzarella, shredded

1/2 cup quinoa flakes

1/4 tsp garlic powder

S&P to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well.

Divide mixture evenly into well-greased mini muffin pan. Be sure to fill each cup completely and press the mixture down to compact (this will help hold them together and make removing them from the pan easier).

Bake 25 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Serve with your favourite Ranch dressing or dip.

“How do you milk an oat?”

If you’ve had to switch to a gluten-free diet, the change in what you eat and how you bake and cook can be overwhelming and frustrating. I know because I’ve had to do it. A friend shared this video with me this morning and I love it. It pretty much sums the experience up in one short video. It is too funny not to share.

Food Matters has created this Les Misérables food allergy parody video called One Grain More. 

I hope it adds a smile to your day.

Happy Friday, everyone.

 

 

How to Create a Great Cheese Platter

Holiday entertaining often involves cheese trays in all sizes and varieties, with fruit, vegetables or meat, and without. You can pick one up at your local grocery store, but they are a quick and easy option to put together on your own if you know a few basic rules.

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Cheese Platter

 

The general rules for a great cheese platter say the plate should include a blue cheese, a firm cheese, and a creamy cheese. If you are entertaining a larger crowd, you can also add a nutty cheese, and a fresh cheese, such as Goat cheese. Be sure to keep your guests in mind and provide a variety to accommodate everyone’s tastes, those who are beginners and those who are true cheese lovers. Including 3 to 5 different cheeses allows you to mix textures, colours, and tastes.

Nuts, fresh and dried fruits, and crackers or bread sticks are also great additions to any platter.

Cheese platter with dried fruits and puff pastry straws.
Cheese platter with dried fruits and puff pastry straws.

To maximize their flavours, be sure to allow the cheese to rest at room temperature approximately 45 minutes before serving, leaving them wrapped until ready to use.

Whatever you decide to add to your platter, you determine the quantity and the variety so it’s easy to stick to a budget. Get as creative as your imagination and your budget allows.

Enjoy!

 

 

Homemade Hot Chocolate

The next few weeks will bring Santa Claus parades, tree-lighting celebrations, and plenty of cold, blustery nights. One of our favourite ways to warm up on these cold occasions is with a warm mug of hot chocolate.

Hot Chocolate Bar
Hot Chocolate Bar

On parade day (it’s actually parade night in our town), my girls know that I’ll have a hot chocolate bar set up and ready to go when we all return home, shivering from the cold. It takes little time to set up, yet it adds so much to the fun and festivity.

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Marshmallows, candy canes, chocolate chips, caramels, whipped cream, sprinkles, chocolate covered spoons…the topping options are endless. Get creative with your toppings! While I put out marshmallows, I also added a few dipped in chocolate, and then dipped a few of those in holiday sprinkles. Easy and delicious!

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Without question, there are many instant hot chocolate mixes on store shelves these days, but the best hot chocolate is the kind you make from scratch. It’s even better when it can be made in advance and left in a crockpot so it’s ready and waiting when you come in from the cold. This recipe is perfect for just that.

So the next time someone in your house says “Can I have a hot chocolate, please?” consider throwing together a hot chocolate bar and making an occasion of it.

HOMEMADE HOT CHOCOLATE

 (makes about 10 cups)
¾ cup sugar
1 cup cocoa
1 cup chopped chocolate
1 cup hot water
8 cups milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
 

 In a medium saucepan over med/low heat, add sugar, cocoa, chocolate, and hot water.

Whisk well until the chocolate has melted. Add the milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Whisk to combine and heat through.

Pour the cocoa into your crockpot and leave on low or the Keep Warm setting if you have one. Enjoy when you’re ready, garnished with your favourite toppings.

Homemade Hot Chocolate
Homemade Hot Chocolate
*you can easily half this recipe for a smaller group

 

Spiced Meringues

“The ornaments of your house will be the guests who frequent it’.

AUTHOR UNKNOWN

Spiced Meringues
Spiced Meringues

One of the reasons I love the holiday season so much is the time we get to spend with family and friends creating new memories. In our house, we love nothing more than to open our doors and welcome guests for quality time spent gathered around platters of good food and drink: appetizers, beverages, and desserts of all kinds.

This weekend was no exception. Looking for an excuse to try some new recipes, I decked the halls, set the table with lanterns, ornaments, and candles in all the holiday colours, and once again opened the doors of our home to friends.

One of the many sweets on the table that delivered big flavour for little effort, were these Spiced Meringues. These crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth clouds are made with a spicy trio of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, and are then dipped in dark chocolate. The flavour combination is pure Heaven as they melt in your mouth.

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They were a big hit with everyone and will no doubt be a regular guest at our future holiday celebrations.

SPICED MERINGUES

2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp water
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground nutmeg
4 egg whites, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 oz dark chocolate, melted

 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the cream of tartar, vinegar, water, and spices. Set aside.

In a glass or metal bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the spice mixture.

Transfer the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.  Pipe the meringues onto the baking sheets. Place in the oven for 3 hours or until the meringues are completely dried and peel easily off the parchment paper. Cool completely on the baking sheets.

Dip the bottom of the meringues into the chocolate. Place back on the baking sheets to allow the chocolate to set.

These will keep in an airtight container in a cool dry place, up to 3 weeks.

This recipe has been adapted from the recipe for Spiced Dried Meringues in the holiday edition of Ricardo magazine.