Black Bean Millet Mix July 29, 2008

I recently discovered millet – that sneaky little grain that apparently pre-dates even rice. This delicious little ball is easy to make, and hey, goes so well with just about anything, including that your favourite beer of yours too (did you know that a lot of beers are actually made with millet?). You can toast it, serve it hot or cold, or even make a sweet pudding out of it. It’s high in protein, low fat, rammed full of nutrients and wickedly cheap. It’ll even make all your gluten free pals happy too.

1 cup Millet, uncooked
3 cups Water (or stock)
1 1/2 cups Black beans, cooked (or 1 can)
2 lg Tomatoes, chopped
1 can sweet corn
1 small green onion – chopped finely
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 tbsp dried cilantro (or a handful of fresh – coarsely chopped)
splash of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat a fry pan and toast the millet for about 5 min – shaking the pan so it doesn’t burn (hint – it will start to pop once it’s toasted, so as soon as you hear that ‘popcorn’ like noise, take it off the burner).
2. Cook the millet in 3 cups of boiling water until all water is absorbed (simmer about 30-45 min).
3. When done, fluff with a fork and allow to cool slightly.
4. In a very large bowl, combine cooked millet and all remaining ingredients (but not dressing).
5. Mix all dressing ingredients until well-blended, then pour over the salad and toss to blend.
6. Serve warm OR cover and refrigerate until the salad is very well chilled.

You can serve this on lettuce leaves or even stuff into pita breads.
You can also substitute the millet for couscous or quinoa or buckwheat.


Summer-Slaw July 16, 2008

Hmmm, saving money, making tasty food AND eating healthy … what a trio … and this slaw fits the bill. Cabbage is a cheap veggie that is often overlooked these days. I say “bring back the ‘bage!” Plus, this recipe is just a loose guide. You can add just about any fresh/crispy veggie to a slaw, and if you want it really creamy instead of ‘zingy’ just add some mayo and sour-cream instead of oil and vinegar. Keeps nicely for about 2 days, but that’s about it. A mandolin REALLY helps here – it’ll cut down your chopping time significantly.


1/2 medium head of green cabbage, shredded

1/2 small head of red cabbage, shredded

1/2 small red onion, chapped finely

2-3 celery stalks, chopped finely

1/2 orange pepper, chopped finely

6-8 string green beans, copped finely (I cut them diagonally)

1/4 cup each of diced cashews and sesame seeds, toasted (you can use almonds too – or omit nuts completely)

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/4 cup salad oil

salt and pepper to taste


1) Prepare all veggies, add to a large bowl with nuts and toss.

2) Whisk all liquid ingredients with salt and pepper, pour over salad, and toss to combine.

3) Chill for at least an hour before serving. To serve, simply toss and sprinkle with a few sesame seeds.


– you can turn up the heat a little bit by adding some cayenne pepper or a few drops of hot sauce to the seasoning

– great additions include shredded carrots, raisins, black sesame seeds, slices of mandarin oranges, or even dried crsipy noodles.


Pea-sotto July 14, 2008

Risotto. Rice and peas. Oh, and wine, butter and cheese. It rhymes and it tastes like heaven. Don’t be afraid of making risotto. Yes, you have to stand over the stove for 30 minutes or so, but as long as you slowly stir continuously, it’s literally easy-peasy. You’ll impress yourself and your guests with this simple and succulent side or main. Tastes just as good on day 2 as well, if you’re lucky enough to have any left over that is.


1 small spanish onion, finely chopped

olive oil

1 cup arborio rice

5-6 cups of stock (use any you’d like – I used veggie obviously, but you could use chicken)

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1 cup white wine (use one you’d drink, as it retains the flavour)

1 tbsp butter

1/3 cup grates parmesean cheese

salt and pepper to taste


1) Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, add onions to pan, and saute until transparent (about 3-5 min).

2) Meanwhile, in a separate pot, heat stock and simmer.

3) Add 1/2 cup stock and 2/3 cup of peas into a blender and blend until smooth.

4) Turn saucepan heat to high, and add rice to onions and toast slightly for 1 min, then add 1 cup of wine and simmer until evaporated.

5) Add 1/2 cup of stock and simmer on high until absorbed. Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, making sure it is completely absorbed before adding next cup – for about 25-30 min (until rice is still somewhat firm and just cooked).

6) Add in pea mixture into rice along with salt/pepper to taste plus the cheese and butter, and cook for 2-3 mintues until butter and cheese are completely melted.

7) Add in remaining peas and stir. Serve with freshly grated parm on top and voila!!


Diablo Margaritas (or beer margaritas) July 10, 2008

Filed under: Cheers — s mcdowall @ 9:05 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Really … you CAN have the best of both worlds sometimes. Tasty beer + delicious margaritas = heaven in a tall glass. These are easy and come with the following warning: make LARGE batches as they won’t last. All you need to do now is find the perfect patio to sit out on.

Four bottles cold light-flavored beer (best to use either Corona or Brahma)
1 cup high-quality tequila (you know the ones to avoid)
1 can frozen limeade concentrate
Kosher or sea salt (for rimming glasses)

1) In a large pitcher, combine beer, tequila and limeade and stir vigorously.
2) Rub a lime wedge around the rim of each of glass and dip it in the salt. Fill glass with ice.
3) Pour the margaritas into the glasses and garnish with a lime wedge.
4) Sip and refill as desired.

Note – you can also make these a frozen treat by putting everything together in the blender (use more ice) and then pour into your favourite mug or glass.


Cupped Huevos Rancheros

Filed under: Starters & Sides,Veggie Mains — s mcdowall @ 8:54 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

This version of “huevos rancheros,” which is a classic Mexican dish of fried tortillas and eggs), features cute tortilla-shaped cups filled with eggs and beans. So good for a nice brunch, or even a dinner with friends (make sure you serve with beer margaritas then). I am obsessed with Mexican food and drink, so any time I can incorporate a Mexican element into my days, I will. Even if it just means snuggling with my little chihuahua!


8 (5-inch) corn tortillas

Canola oil spray

1 (15-ounce) can re-fried beans (Eden organic makes the best!)

8 large eggs (just try the free-range organic kind – you’ll never go back to the scary ones afterwards)

1/2 cup salsa (try making your own!)

1/4 cup cheddar or very sharp cheese, crumbled or grated

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 avocado, sliced thinly


1] Preheat oven to 350°F and oil a 12 cup muffin pan.

2] Heat corn tortillas one at a time in a dry skillet over medium-high heat for 15-20 seconds on each side, just until they are soft and pliable.

3] Spray each warm tortilla with canola oil on both sides, and press/fold each tortilla into a muffin cup.

4] Place a small ball of foil in the centre (or an extra small creme brule ramekin) to hold in sides of tortillas and bake 5 min.

5] Remove foil and add 2 tbsp of re-fried beans to each tortilla cup, pressing down into bottom of cup.

6] Make a small divot in middle of re-fried beans and carefully crack an egg into each.

7] Bake in middle of the oven until whites are just set, about 15 min.

8] Remove from oven, cool slightly, and remove cups from the muffin pan carefully (easiest to use 2 spoons or tongs).

9] Top with a spoonful of salsa and sprinkle with cheese, cilantro, avocado and serve immediately.



I have been meaning to post this simply incredible recipe for months now. I keep getting distracted by new ventures in the kitchen! This is based on a birthday menu my brother in law put together for me 2 years ago, and I’ve been making it steadily ever since. If you can’t be bothered with the roasting, this tastes just as good sans cooking!


1 pound cherry, grape, or small tomatoes
1 small red bell pepper
1/2 large cucumber, chunked
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce, to taste
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1/4 cup cold water
3-4 ice cubes


1] Preheat oven to 425F, spray an 8×8-inch baking dish lightly with olive oil and place the tomatoes in it in a single layer.

2] Spray a smaller dish, and place the whole pepper in it, and roast for 15 minutes.

3] Stir tomatoes, turn pepper, and roast for 10 more minutes (hint: when tomatoes are wrinkled and have leaked their juice, remove them from the oven to cool.

4] Turn the pepper and continue to roast until the skin has darkened on all sides, then remove it from the oven and seal it in a storage container until it is cool enough to handle.

5] Peel off pepper skin, discard the seeds and stem, and cut it in half.

6] Once tomatoes are cool, put in blender.

7] Add half of peeled pepper and half of the cucumber, cut into chunks, setting the remaining bell pepper and cucumber aside.

8] Add all of the remaining ingredients, except ice cubes, and puree until vegetables are finely chopped.

9] Refrigerate until chilled.

10] When ready to serve, finely chop the remaining bell pepper and cucumber and add it to gazpacho, along with a few ice cubes, and serve!

NOTE: this looks really sharp when served in stemless martini or parfait glasses (or any fancy glass for that matter). It is a great starter on a hot summer night. Garnishing with a fresh mint leaf or small slice of avacado make a nice touch too.


Popeye Lasagna

I am all about easy and tasty kitchen endeavors and I love a good leftover – and this recipe has it all. Don’t be frightened at the prospect of making your own lasagna. Once you’ve done it a couple of times, you won’t even need a recipe! And the stuff freezes immaculately. Delicieux! Plus, this version is a low-fat treat. If you want something dairy-free, use silken tofu instead of cottage cheese, and swap in Soy Parm for the regular.


1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced (or 1 small can of pre-sliced if you’re stuck)
1 tsp. chopped garlic

1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp. oil
2 x 26-oz jars of tomato sauce (or your own homemade pasta sauce)
9 x lasagna noodles (regular, uncooked – I use the whole wheat variety)
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sliced black olives (optional)


10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed (or 1 pound of fresh, washed baby spinach)
1 pound tub cottage cheese
1 tsp. salt (optional)
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper


1] Sauté mushrooms, onions and garlic over medium heat in oil until tender; remove from heat and add the spaghetti sauce to the pan and stir.

2] Place cottage cheese and thawed spinach in blender and process briefly, then add the remaining filling ingredients to processor and blend until smooth.

3] Preheat oven to 375F degrees.

4] Spread half of sauce in the bottom of a 9×12-inch pan, then place a layer of noodles over sauce (use about 3 dry noodles ensuring you leave a little space in between them).

5] Spread half of cheese/spinach mixture on noodles (easiest to drop by spoonfuls and then spread), cover with another layer of 3 noodles and then spread remaining cheese/spinach mixture over them.

6] Top with a final layer of noodles, and pour remaining sauce over this.

7] Cover dish tightly with foil or glass lid, and bake for about 30 min.

8] Remove foil or lid, and bake for another 30 min (watch you don’t burn or dry out the lasagna!).

9] Remove from oven and sprinkle with grated Parmesan and sliced black olives if you want. Put under broiler for a few min to melt the cheese. Be careful not to over do it!


The lasagna will cut better if you allow it to cool for 10-15 min before serving.

Seal tightly before freezing!

You can add in mozzarella if you’d like, to make this cheesier (just add to cheese/spinach mixture before cooking).

Garnish with a fresh sprig or parsley or basil.