Main Courses · Rice and Beans · Sides

Smokehouse Beans

This makes a lot of beans. Enough for a side for 6 people plus a second dinner for Kevin and I. These are wonderful alongside steak or ribs and for a quick dinner, they go well on toast. So, if you are expecting a crowd, or even if your not, these are a wonderful addition to your summer BBQ.

Soak the beans overnight for a more even cook. Whole Foods also suggests that soaking beans helps rid them of the sugars that cause flatulence, incase you were interested.

Smokehouse Beans
Smokehouse Beans

1 lb dried pinto beans, cleaned, rinsed and soaked overnight
12 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
3 teaspoons kosher salt (or to taste)
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
cotija cheese

Drain beans and place in large pot with 10 cups of water. Add garlic and salt, and bring to a simmer, cooking until beans are just tender. 35 minutes to 1 hour, depending on age of your beans.

Stir in salt, coriander, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne and cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Taste and season with more salt if desired.

Stir in onion and tomato, cook 5 minutes more. Transfer to serving bowl, top with cilantro and cotija cheese, if using ,and serve hot. Will keep, refrigerated up to 5 days.

Chicken · Main Courses · Rice and Beans · Soups and Stews

Quinoa Corn Chowder

Quinoa Corn Chowder

Quinoa is high in protein compared to most plants and grains. It also contains essential amino acids that our bodies need, making it an excellent protein source. That means we can have our “Mostly Meatless Mondays” and still get the protein we need. If you are interested in the benefits this grain, you can read more here.

This is a chowder, so of course there is still some meat here, in the form of BACON, and we are using chicken stock, so its not really meatless, but sorta close. If you want to go meatless, sub in vegetable stock and leave out the bacon.

1 Tablespoon oil
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 small potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup quinoa
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
parsley, finely chopped - for garnish
1 scallion, finely chopped - for garnish
Heat the oil and butter in large stockpot over medium heat.  Add onions and potatoes, garlic, a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper and cook, stirring often until onions are soft and potatoes begin to brown. About 7 minutes.

Add chicken stock and quinoa. Increase heat to high, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender and quinoa is cooked. About 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp and transfer to paper towel to drain. Set aside.
Add Corn to the simmering soup and cook another 10 minutes.
Add cream, stir well to combine and heat through.
Spoon soup into bowls, garnish with bacon, parsley and scallions. Serve hot.
Main Courses · Rice and Beans

Mushroom Fried Rice

Aside from being great with a stir fry or a batch of ginger beef, this makes a great side dish for a pork roast or chops.   Or, toss in a diced chicken breast and you have a complete meal in a bowl (and one pot!)   Cook the rice a day in advance for best results.  If you forgot to cook your rice in advance, you can use warm rice.  The flavours will still be there, but the texture may be a bit mushy.    Inspiration for this dish comes from LCBO Food and Drink Holiday 2017

Mushroom-Fried Rice

4 Tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes, seasoned with salt and pepper (optional)

4 cups sliced button or brown mushrooms

4 green onions,  sliced – white and  green parts separated, greens sliced and reserved

1 Tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups cooked white rice, cooled

2 Tablespoons water

2 Tablespoons sherry

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

3 cups roughly chopped spinach, tough stems removed

Sesame oil for garnish

Sesame seeds for garnish

Additional thinly sliced green onion for garnish

In small bowl, combine water, sherry, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.  Set aside

Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in a large wok over high heat.  If using chicken, add to wok and stir fry until nearly cooked through.   Using more oil if needed, add the mushrooms and cook 1 minute, just until they begin to soften.  Add 2 more Tablespoons oil, the white parts of the green onions, ginger and garlic.  Stir quickly around in the pan for 1 minute.

Add rice and stir to coat rice with oil, pressing to break up any lumps.  Add sliced green onion tops, stir briefly, then add reserved water/sherry mixture.  stir to combine, season with salt & pepper.  Stir in the spinach until it is mostly wilted, about 30 seconds.

Transfer to serving bowl, drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle sesame seeds and sliced green onion over top.  Serve hot.



Main Courses · Rice and Beans

Lentils with Sausage

This is a tasty budget friendly meal and it is ready in under an hour.  After all the over the top food eaten during the holidays, I am happy for a simpler, lighter meal this week.  For a vegetarian version, skip the sausages and serve over cooked brown rice.

This recipe comes from the Lentil Hunter, and one of my favorite TV personalities, Chef Michael Smith.  Did you know Canadian lentils are shipped world wide?   Awesome!

Lentils with Sausage

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4 cloves  garlic, minced
1 tomato, chopped
2 cups green lentils
6 cups water
1 tsp salt
6 Italian sausages
1 baguette
Additional olive oil for drizzling

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic.  Stir gently without browning for about 5 minutes,  the heat will brighten the flavours and colours. Add the tomato and stir a few minutes longer, 10 minutes in total.

Add the lentils and stir for a few moments, evenly coating each seed with a thin film of oil. This will help the lentils stay distinct. Pour in the water and toss in the salt.  Increase heat to high, and, stirring gently, bring the works to a full, furious boil.  Reduce heat, lowering the pace to a slow, steady simmer. Cover and continue cooking until the lentils cook through and tenderize, about 30 minutes.

As the lentils simmer, cook and brown the sausages in frying pan.  When they’re done  transfer the sausages and any liquids or brown bits to the lentils in their pot.  Alternatively, you could simply submerge the raw sausages in the simmering lentils. By the time the lentils are done, the sausages will have cooked through.

Cut the bread into long, thin slices and toast, bake or grill until lightly browned and delicious.

When the lentils are done, serve them with the sausages and crisp bread. Feel free to slice the sausages or simply serve them whole. Drizzle the works with olive oil, too. Enjoy!

© Chef Michael Smith



Main Courses · Rice and Beans

Brown Rice and Black Beans with Chile-Ginger Salsa

I don’t make a lot of vegetarian dishes.  I was raised a meat and potatoes girl and I don’t see that changing soon.  However, this one caught my eye and I am glad it did.   I have made a few changes from the original recipe to suit our tastes and what could be found in the market.  When you make this, don’t skip the salsa part!  You only need a little dab, but without it, this would be just another bland bowl of rice and beans.

Start to finish, this will be done in about the time it takes to cook the rice.  This recipe makes a nice dinner for 2, with some rice left over.   It can easily be doubled.


Brown Rice and Black Beans with Chile-Ginger Salsa

2 Tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 large onion, chopped, divided

1 cup raw brown rice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, divided

1  15 oz can black beans, rinsed & drained

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 Anaheim, or Cubanel pepper, halved, seeds & stems removed

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup lime juice

1 Tablespoon lime zest

1 avocado, halved, pitted and chopped

12 grape tomatoes,  halved, or 1 tomato, diced

2 radishes, thinly sliced

Rice:  Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in pot over medium heat.  Add 1/4 the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent.  Do not let it brown.  Stir in rice and stir for another minute.  Add 2 cups water, salt and pepper.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and cook until rice is tender.  About 40 minutes.   Remove from heat and let stand, covered 10 minutes.  (See cooks notes)

While rice is cooking, make the beans and salsa.

Beans:  heat remaining tablespoon of oil in saucepan over medium heat.  Add the rest of the onion, and cook stirring frequently until onion is soft – about 5 minutes.

Add cumin and coriander to onions, cook, stirring one minute until spices are fragrant.  Add beans and chicken stock.  Bring to boil, reduce  heat and simmer, mashing beans until thickened.  About 10 minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Salsa:  Pulse chiles, garlic, ginger, lime zest, lime juice and last of the onion in a blender until a chunky sauce forms.   Taste and season with salt.  Pour into small serving dish.

Remove cover from rice, fluff with fork and stir in half of the cilantro.

Place rice in bowl, add beans and top with diced avocado, radishes and tomato.  Serve salsa and the remaining cilantro on the side.

COOKS NOTES:  Cooking instructions for rice are general.  For best results, check your package of rice and follow instructions on the package for amount of water and cooking times.