Beef · Main Courses · Pasta · Pork

Bolognese Sauce

BologneseA family favourite in our house, and so easy to put together.  It does take time, so its a good ‘Sunday afternoon when there is nothing much to do’ project.  The good news is that the flavours are even better the next day, so make on Sunday to enjoy later in the week.  After a long day at the office, dinner will be a snap!  Just boil your favourite pasta and you have a quick and easy mid-week dinner.  This serves 8 generously, and freezes very well.

 

Bolognese Sauce

 

3 Tablespoons oil

2 yellow onions, diced

5 celery ribs, diced

3 medium carrots, shredded

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 lb bacon finely chopped

1 lb lean ground beef

1 lb lean ground pork

1 can tomato paste (6 oz)

14 oz can tomato puree

1 cup dry red wine

1/2 cup water

1 cup milk (whole milk is best, but skim will work too, if that’s what you have)

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Get your big pot out… not that one, the bigger one – 6 – 8 quarts.   There is lots of stirring and simmering involved here and you will want the extra room a larger pot gives you.

Heat oil in pot over medium heat.   Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until onion is translucent and vegetables are slightly soft.  Do not let them brown.  About 15 minutes.

Increase heat to medium- high, add bacon, beef and pork and cook, stirring to break up  any chunks until meat is no longer pink.  About 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and stir in tomato paste  until well combined with meat and vegetables.  About 2 minutes.

Stir in tomato puree, wine, water, milk, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered until liquids reduce and sauce is thickened.  About 2 hours.  Remember to stir occasionally while sauce simmers.

Spoon over cooked pasta and serve immediately or cool sauce uncovered, at room temperature.  Once sauce has cooled, cover and refrigerate.  Will keep  3 days in the fridge or frozen up to 3 months.

 

 

Welcome

Welcome to Heathers Fresh Cooking!

I love food, and you do too, if you are reading this.  I especially love food that is prepared from scratch using fresh ingredients and few processed foods.

My recipes have all been tested in my own kitchen by me.  My “support team” and hardest critic is my husband Kevin.   He is my board to bounce ideas off of, he helps me research recipes, he tests and tastes along the way and encourages me every step of the way.

I hope you enjoy my offerings!

Appetizers and Snacks

Peach and Blue Cheese Toasts

 

The original version is a bit more complex, I have simplified this just a bit.  You can make it even easier by just washing and drying the peaches well to remove most of the fuzz, instead of peeling them

Peach and Blue Cheese Toasts

Serves 4

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2 ripe peaches

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons honey

8 crostini

1 Tablespoon olive oil

4 oz blue cheese

freshly ground pepper

Cut an ‘x’ in the bottom of each peach and drop into a large pot of boiling water just until skins begin to peel back, about 1 minute.  With tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water; let cool for a minute.  Peel the peaches, then, holding the fruit over a  small bowl to catch the juices, cut into thin wedges.  Add lemon juice and honey to the sliced peaches and their juices and toss to combine. Set aside.

Brush crostini with olive oil and spread with cheese.  Top each piece of bread with 3 peach slices.  Drizzle some of the honey mixture over top of each toast and add a bit of freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.

 

Salada

Fresh Corn and Zucchini Salad with Zucchini Blossoms

Super simple to make, crunchy and full of flavour.

The corn is raw,  so be sure to use the freshest sweetest corn you can find.   As for the zucchini blossoms,  if you have zucchini growing in your garden right now, this is a nice way to take advantage of those blossoms.  Just be sure you have not sprayed any chemicals on your plants.

We like this as a side with BBQ Chicken.

 

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Fresh Corn and Zucchini Salad

Serves 2

1 ear sweet corn

2 small zucchini, diced into 1/4′ pieces

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint (optional)

4 zucchini blossoms, torn into large pieces (optional)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Red Pepper flakes

Freshly ground black pepper

Using a sharp knife, cut kernels from corn cob into medium bowl.   Add diced zucchini, basil and mint (if using).

In a small bowl combine oil, vinegar and pepper flakes.  Mix well with fork and pour over corn mixture.  Toss to combine.

Put into serving bowl, top with torn zucchini blossoms, a few red pepper flakes and freshly ground pepper.

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Chile Peanuts and Pepitas

The perfect combination of salty and spicy and very addictive.  The original recipe, from Bon appetit August 2014,  called for baking in a 400 F oven for 7 minutes.    It is summer.  I don’t know about yours, but my kitchen is hot enough already so my instructions are for stove top cooking.  I have reduced the salt by a third to suit our personal tastes.

 

1 cup raw peanuts, removed from their shells

1 cup raw pepitas (peeled pumpkin seeds)

2 Tablespoons cooking oil

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Heat oil in deep sided frying pan until shiny, medium high heat.    Add nuts, salt and cayenne pepper and stir well to combine.   Reduce to medium and cook, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until pepitas are popping and peanuts are starting to turn a nice golden colour.  About 10 minutes in total.  Allow to cool completely before serving.

 

Salada

Fresh Tomato Salad

When you have a perfectly ripe tomato, less is more.   This is a simple salad that lets  the tomato shine.

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FRESH TOMATO SALAD

ripe tomatoes

1/2 preserved lemon, rinsed, pulp removed and finely diced

fresh chives, mint or basil, finely sliced

olive oil

pepper

Chop tomatoes into bite size pieces.  Toss with preserved lemon,  fresh herbs, a generous drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground pepper.  Let stand several minutes, taste for salt and add if necessary.

 

COOKS NOTE:  Even after rinsing, the preserved  lemons are fairly salty and will impart some of that saltiness to the tomatoes.   Taste before adding salt.

 

Breakfast

Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl

Oh, yes, this is a thing in our house.  We eat it a lot really, especially on days we know we are going to be busy, because it is a hearty meal that keeps us going most of the day.

I first discovered this way back when grain bowls began to be the next big thing.   But, it sounded so outlandish that I left on the shelf.   However, the concept kept nagging at me, and finally, I had to try it.

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Ever the supportive spouse, my better half looked skeptical but said nothing when I presented him with a lovely bowl of plain oatmeal topped with a perfectly fried egg.

After a few deep breaths, he finally managed a taste and  actually, quite liked it!  We both did.  And we still do.

 

Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl

serves 2

2 cups water

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats, uncooked

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon butter

1 teaspoon oil

2 eggs

freshly ground pepper

Sriracha or other hot sauce of your choice

Maggi or Soy Sauce

Add water, oatmeal and salt to medium pot.  Bring to boil over high heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat butter and oil in your favourite egg pan add the eggs, pepper and a little salt and  cook the eggs to your liking.

Divide oatmeal between 2 bowls, top each with an egg.  Serve with Maggi and Sriracha.

egg & brown riceCOOKS NOTE:  You can sub the oatmeal for leftover cooked brown rice.  Reheat the rice in the frying pan and cook the egg with the rice as it re-heats.  Add some radishes and a few scallions.   Yeah, it sounds a bit strange, but give it a try before you write it off.

 

Beverages

Mango Margarita

Why, yes, I did just post a recipe for Watermelon Margaritas.  What can I say,  we are now in the middle of mango season!   Remember, you can always leave the alcohol out of this one, in which case, you could actually have it for breakfast!

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Anyway, the response to the photo on our Facebook page was immense, so I thought I would share the recipe.

If you don’t have access to fresh mangos, frozen will work just as well, maybe even better.

Oh, just to give you fair warning…I found a recipe for “The Ultimate Margarita” which is actually lime based and includes making a tincture from Chile d’Arbol.   Once I have tried it, I will let you know all about it.

Mango Margaritas

(SERVES 2)

3 large ripe mangoes, pit removed, peeled and cubed

1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 cup simple syrup

1  cups water (plus more if needed)

1/2 oz cointreau

3 oz tequila

Tajin  for garnish

ice cubes for serving

Plunk everything in your blender, and puree until smooth.  Pour into 2 glasses, sprinkle with Tajin to taste and sit back and enjoy.

 

Chicken · Main Courses

Conquering Dinner for 1

 

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Piri Piri Chicken Thighs with Peanut Satay and Fried Plantain

Kevin has been away these past few days, and his absence has reminded that  while I love to cook, I don’t so much like cooking for 1.    Mostly, because it seems like a whole lot of effort for just me.   A psychologist may want to delve deeper into this thought; perhaps I feel I am unworthy of a healthy home cooked meal, but the reality is that I  enjoy the temporary freedom from meal planning and the need to have something more substantial than a sandwich or bowl of noodles on the table every night.

Which is why, in the past 2 weeks I have eaten Ramen Noodles for dinner at least 3 times!  Yikes, I do love ramen,  but I reluctantly had to admit last night that I had eaten too much of it for my own good.

So, I took a break from sloth and convenience, and actually cooked dinner for one.    It is obvious that my plating needs work, but aside from its lonely appearance on the plate, my one-pan dinner was extremely satisfying.

Peri Peri Chicken Thighs with Peanut-Lime Sauce and Fried Plantain

1 Tablespoon cooking oil, plus more for frying the plantains

4 chicken thighs

1 teaspoon Peri Peri spice blend (or more to taste, see cooks notes)

2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice ( from about 1 large or 3 Mexican limes)

2 Tablespoons water

1 green plantain, cut into 1″ slices

Sour cream to top the fried plantains

sliced radishes

Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat.  Rinse and pat chicken dry with paper towel.  Sprinkle with Peri Peri spice on both sides and put in pan, skin side down.  Cook 15 minutes, then turn chicken over.   Reduce heat to low and cook about 20 minutes more until thermometer inserted into centre of thigh reads 175.  Cooking time will vary, depending on size of the thighs.  Remove from pan to plate and tent with foil.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix peanut butter, lime juice and water together.  Mixture will seize at first, keep stirring until it becomes liquid and creamy again.  Add more water  by teaspoons if mixture it too thick.  It should be runny, but not soupy.  Set aside.

Put a paper towel on a clean plate and set aside.  Add more oil to pan to depth of 1/2 inch and heat over medium heat until shiny, but not smoking.   Using tongs, carefully place plantain slices flat in the oil.  Fry about 2 minutes and carefully turn over and cook 2 minutes more to brown the other side.   Remove from oil to paper towel lined plate.

Reduce heat under oil to low while you do this next step, and   work quickly.   Place the fried plantain pieces between 2 sheets of waxed paper and using a meat mallet or the flat bottom of a glass press gently to flatten each piece to a thickness of about  1/3 inch.  (Be gentle, you want to just squish them, so they will still be soft and chewy in the inside, not flatten them beyond recognition. )

Increase heat under oil, until it shimmers again, and with the tongs, gently place each flattened plantain in the oil and re-fry for about 3 minutes, until they are golden.   Remove from oil, back onto paper towel lined plate.

Put a smear of peanut butter sauce on the place, add chicken and plantains, some radishes or other fresh veggie on the side, a little sour cream for the plantains and you have a dinner for 1 ready in under an hour.

Bonus:  for me, the leftover chicken thighs are going into a chicken salad for tomorrow nights dinner.

COOKS NOTES  – depending on the brand of Peri Peri you have, and your personal taste, the amount you use will vary.  I used 1 teaspoon of Silk Road Inferno Peri Peri blend, for all 4 thighs and found it very tame so I sprinkled more onto the chicken after it was cooked.  Remember, you can always add spice, but you cant always take it out.