Category Archives: Dinner

Mac and Cheese now with covert veggies

Yes, I messed with that classic, the precious macaroni and cheese. Yes, I added vegetables. Hear me out though! Years ago kraft came out with a healthier mac that included cauliflower in its sauce. I tried it, it was ok…except that cauliflower upsets my tummy. Notice you don’t see me using it much? Well, I finally got to thinking there must be a better way. After a bit of playing around I have found it. I was torn for awhile between pumpkin and carrot,¬† but in the end carrot won. Mostly because I used up all my pumpkin making all my other delectable treats.

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  • 227 grams high fibre dry macaroni
  • 370 grams carrots, cut into chunks (I just washed them and left peels on)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1 cup light shredded cheese (I blended some cheddar and mozzarella but have fun trying out new things, I would include a sharp cheese in the blend though)
  • 1/4 cup light shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbl light cheddar cheese spread
  • 3 tbl shredded romano or parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven 375F and spray a 9×9 baking dish.
  2. Cook the pasta as directed to al dente, drain and reserve 1 cup of liquid.
  3. Place carrots in a microwave safe container. Add 1/2 cup water. Microwave for 4 minutes or until soft. Add reserved water from the pasta and puree until smooth.
  4. Add the carrot puree to the pasta and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until the “sauce” thickens.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the mustard powder, 1 cup of shredded cheese blend, cheese spread and romano/parmesan cheese. Stir until creamy and season to taste.
  6. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with the 1/4 cup light cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbling.

Serves 4. Each serving contains 338 calories, 8.2 grams fat, 53.3 grams carbs, 2.6 grams fibre, 17 grams protein. A great comfort food, I forgot about the carrots in it after the first bite and just carried on loving a creamy noodle dish of num. A little side salad and you have accomplished so many of your daily veggies or better yet cut this into smaller pieces and have it as a side dish. A 6 serving side dish is 225 calories, 5.4 grams fat, 35.6 grams carbs, 1.7 grams fibre, 11.3 grams protein.

Cheeseburger Bubble Pizza

A friend of mine approached me to try to make a healthier version of this tasty dish. Most of all she wanted to avoid the use of pre-made dough which is full of preservatives. I had to admit, I had no idea what bubble pizza was. Apparently it’s when you take dough in a can and mix it with pizza ingredients to make a delicious kind of deep dish meets casserole experience. After playing around with it a bit I found a combination that not only worked but we have now added to our own list of favourite not so naughty dishes. The best part? Leftovers can be frozen and reheated. They taste just as good as the original baking. For you freezer cooks this is definitely one I would add to your menu. Alright, enough talking about the holy grail of pizza lets get down to the details!

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  • 1 tbl honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tbl water
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (I actually used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 2 tbl light butter
  • 10 oz extra lean ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jar tomato sauce of your choice or homemade (16 oz)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 cup light mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup light cheddar
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Pizza toppings of choice (optional, not included in nutritional info)
  1. Grease a 9×13 baking dish, preheat oven to 350F
  2. Combine the first ingredients in either a breadmaker according to your directions or knead together on a floured surface to create a dough. Proof twice.
  3. In a deep skillet brown the ground beef, break up any big bunches.
  4. Add garlic and onions. Continue to cook until onions are soft.
  5. Stir in tomato sauce and basil.
  6. Grab small (thumbsized) balls of the dough and add them to the sauce mixture. 100_2984
  7. Stir the mixture very gently until all the dough balls are coated with sauce.100_2986
  8. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the cheeses and another other pizza toppings you want to include. Bake for another 10 minutes (longer if you really load it up).
  10. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting into 6 really large portions.100_2997

Makes 6 servings. Each serving contains 339 calories, 13.8 grams fat, 34.6 grams carbs, 4.2 grams fibre, 19.9 protein. So filling and so easy to make into a feast by adding a side salad. My surly dwarf was impressed with how full it made him feel after a long day of work. This might actually find a special place in our freezer to take care of those, aarrgh, let’s just have pizza kind of days. 2-3 minutes in the microwave is faster than delivery and so much cheaper.

 

Hardcore Hobbit: Mince and Taters

What a lovely Scottish dish this one is, some of you might know this better as mince and tatties. In LOTRO you make this comforting food using leek stock, carrot, taters, herbs, and beef. Like the description says this is a simple and extremely satisfying meal. A traditional approach to this tends to be a bit of a…well…rustic presentation. I’m going to pretty it up a little but I feel it’s still rustic and so tasty. I played around a bit with my usual gravy recipe too, instead of flour I worked with potato starch. A very successful experiment, I have to say as a thickener, potato starch is pretty awesome and of course, gluten free for those who worry about that.

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  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 red potato
  • 2 cups leek or beef stock
  • 2 tbl potato starch
  • 2 tbl light butter
  1. In a bowl combine beef, carrot, onion,worcestershire sauce, cloves, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Form into small, slider sized patties about 2-3 oz each.
  2. In a med-high heat pan sear each patty for 2 minutes on each side. Set aside.
  3. In a sauce pan melt the butter.
  4. Add the potato starch and stir to create a roux.
  5. Whisk continuously as you pour the stock slowly in.
  6. Allow the gravy to come to a boil for 2 minutes then lower the heat to a simmer. Season gravy to taste. Add the patties and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile wash and cube potatoes. Bring water to a boil in another pot. Add potatoes, cook until fork tender (about 10-15 minutes). Drain, add a bit of stock and mash.
  8. Serve your mince patties, with a mountain of tatties (having a close encounters moment like I did is not required), and gravy. Enjoy!

Makes 6 patties, a whole bunch of potatoes, and more gravy than you actually need…I’m a gravy eating monster and I couldn’t finish it. Each patty contains 142 calories, 9.7 grams fat, .4 gram carbohydrate, 0 fibre, and 10.6 grams protein. Each 1/2 cup of potato contains 117 calories, .1 gram fat, 26.7 grams carbs, 4.1 grams fibre, and 2.9 grams protein. Each tbl of gravy contains 12.5 calories, .8 gram fat, 1.4 grams carb, 0 fibre, and .1 gram protein. *phew* That was a lot of math today. You know what would finish this dish even better? An english pea puree. That is another story though.

Hardcore Hobbit: Rarebit Muffins

For those not in the know, Welsh rarebit is a tasty dish of a melted cheese sauce (usually cheddar and mustard) poured over toast and devoured with gusto. In LOTRO rarebit muffins are made with black barley flour, goat cheese, milk and an egg. All fabulous starting points as usual but this time I decided to use some extreme guidance from Nigella Lawson. Her recipe is simply delicious, I lightened it up, changed a few things around and it still came out delish…my husband, the Surly Dwarf, ate about 6 of them. I call that a win! Want to make some too and not feel the guilt? Let’s go!

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  • 275g flour (I used the nutrigrain flour, hurray whole grains!)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 100g rathtrevor cheese (this is a great local cheese made by Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, if you can get it go for it! If not a nice sharp cheddar is good too)
  • 1/4 cup melted light cooking margarine
  • 150g 0% fat greek yogurt (use the kind with no gelatin)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbl worcestershire sauce (keep the bottle on hand for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)
  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and mustard powder. I don’t always sift but for these I always do. They work out best this way, totally worth the effort. Here I will prove it, I actually sifted.100_2962See? Told ya.
  2. Add the cheese, reserving a couple tbl worth for topping later. Toss to coat the cheese.
  3. In a measuring cup combine the remaining ingredients.
  4. Add the yogurt mixture to the flour, stir until moistened. Don’t over stir, the lumps help make this airy when you bake it instead of dense.
  5. Scoop into a greased 12 muffin tin. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven top with remaining cheese and a sprinkle of worcestershire sauce. Back in the oven for 5 minutes.
  7. Serve while warm but not piping hot. Cheese burns are lethal.

Makes 12 servings. Each serving contains 142 calories, 5.3g fat, 17g carbs, 2.3g fibre, and 7.2g protein. Pretty great for a super tasty savoury muffin. I paired this with a salad topped with my garlic dressing for dinner. Good times. Enjoy!

Enchilada Pie

I don’t often do Mexican food (or my interpretation of Mexican food). for some reason, Surly Dwarf just doesn’t trust it. Occasionally though I rebel and push for something Mexican around here. Usually, it’s tacos but lately I’ve been wanting these enchiladas I used to make when I was a teenager. I wanted to change them up though, I figured doing them like a lasagna would not only be easy but fun too. I was right. Instead of a meat filled enchilada I decided to make a simple bean filled one, great for those meatless nights. Total success, it was so good even Surly Dwarf went for seconds on this one. It may not make for the best picture but it is full of delicious.

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  • 5 corn tortilla (warmed according to directions)
  • 398 ml fat free refried beans
  • 1 tsp smoked applewood seasoning
  • 1 tsp ground ancho chili (I freshly ground mine from a dried chili)
  • 120 grams light tex mex cheese
  • mole sauce of your choice (I used packaged stuff due to time constraints)
  1. Combine beans, applewood seasoning, chili, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Spoon a couple of tablespoons worth of sauce into a 9×9 glass pan.
  3. Cut a warmed tortilla in half, dip in the warm mole sauce. Once pliable but not over soaked place in the pan. Repeat to create the tortilla layer using two of the tortillas.
  4. Top the tortilla layer with the refried bean mixture and half the cheese.100_2925
  5. Layer the rest of the tortillas, pour the sauce remaining carefully on top, and then top with the rest of the cheese.100_2927
  6. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes covered with foil. Remove foil and bake for an extra 5 minutes.100_2930
  7. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, slice into four slabs and serve.

Makes four servings. Each serving contains 275 calories, 7.9 grams fat, 38.8 grams carbs, 7.3 grams fibre (I know!), and 15.1 grams protein. So filling, so nummy, and far less fat than a Mexican restaurant would wallop you with. Enjoy!

Hardcore Hobbit: Mushroom “Stew”

Hobbits and mushrooms are like a glass and milk! they just go together. It has been fun juggling ideas to make this recipe come to life. So much pondering. Finally I had a tasty, filling idea come to me, I bounced it off my husband and he added an idea that made it even better. In the game mushroom stew is made with just mushrooms and coney stock. Well, I don’t keep coney stock on hand so I went with chicken. Still, it needed something to make it exciting. That’s when my husband suggested “what about a blend of different types of mushrooms.” So simple and so brilliant. The end result smelt so delicious when cooking it was maddening…and tasting it warmed us to the core. A definite win.

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  • 1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced to desired size (I like to cut mine small)
  • 1 cup lobster mushrooms, sliced to desired size (I like to cut mine small)
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbl rice bran oil (or other suitable cooking oil)
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add the shallots, garlic, and mushrooms. Saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the poultry seasoning, then add the quinoa. Stir, cooking for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the broth and wine to the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer covered until liquid is absorbed, about 20-30 minutes.

It may not technically be a stew but I figured the mushrooms were being stewed as much as I would go for. Serves 4. Each serving contains 255 calories, 6.6 grams fat, 33 grams carbs, 3.4 grams fibre, and 7.5 grams protein. Experiment with your own mushroom blends, that is a big part of the fun with this dish. Great as a side or as your main.

General Tso Chicken

This past week or so I have definitely been on a meat, sauce, and sticky rice as comfort food kick. So good, so easy, and so filling! So easy to stick in veggies of choice with dishes like these. The more veggies you stick in the more you can have. The more you can win at eating healthy really. Anytime I think about dishes like these I’m always reminded of what my uncle said to my one day as we considered having leftover Chinese food for breakfast one day. “Hey, 1.3 billion people can’t be wrong.” So true, so tasty. I have said “so” a lot in an intro for General Tso chicken haven’t I? This particular dish is a north American invention, it did not really come from china granted it claims its inspiration from there. Just like so many other dishes we tend to order. Did you know the typical serving from a restaurant tends to include 1,300 calories, 11 grams of saturated fat? Yeah. Let’s see if we can do better than that.

General Tso Chicken 003

  • 1 lb skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • 5 tbl white wine
  • 2 tbl cornstarch
  • 1 tbl oyster sauce
  • 2 tbl water
  • 2 tbl soy sauce
  • 1 tbl honey
  • 1 tbl rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tbl grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped (or carrots, or broccoli, any of these or all are tasty additions)
  1. Add 2 tbl of white wine and oyster sauce to 1 tbl cornstarch. Add chicken, toss to coat and set aside to marinate.
  2. Combine the remaining white wine, water, soy sauce, honey, rice wine vinegar, sriracha sauce, and cornstarch in another bowl. Set aside.
  3. Heat pan over medium high heat. Don’t be shy, the heat helps the chicken stay moist with a quick sear. When pan is heated add the coconut oil and swirl.
  4. Add the chicken mixture to the pan. Stir-fry until browned and cooked through.
  5. Add ginger, garlic, and shallots. Stir-fry until fragrant.
  6. Add celery (or veggie mix of choice), stir fry until slightly tender but still crisp.
  7. Stir in the sauce set aside earlier. Stir constantly until the sauce thickens.

Makes four servings. Each serving contains 158 calories, 3.1 grams fat, 10.4 grams carbs, .5 gram fibre, and 16.9 grams protein. Delicious over steamed rice. Yup, this is definitely a win for north american style chinese food. A guilty pleasure and comfort food without the sad weight in the next week.

Hardcore Hobbit: Vegetable Pot Pie

I am back and as requested I have made a recipe featuring root vegetables. I absolutely had to make a pie, what is hobbit life without pie? This pot pie doesn’t have much of a topper but as we have found in the past a topper is not needed to make a delicious pie. I had a lot of fun wandering around the produce section picking out root veggies to put in this. I have found that this recipe can work with whatever veggies appeal to you most. In the game this pot pie is made with rye flour, leeks, turnips, carrots, butter, and milk. I skipped the milk but it’s still creamy! There was a part of me that wanted to save posting this for Pi day, being a root pie and all.

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Herb Savoury Crust

  • 125g flour
  • 100g rye flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbl poultry seasoning
  • 1 tbl dry mustard powder
  • 1/4 cup rice bran oil
  • 4 tbl cold water
  • 1 tbl butter
  1. Sift together flour and baking powder.
  2. Add seasonings to the flour mixture and stir.
  3. Combine the water and oil in a measuring cup. Beat with a fork until emulsified.
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  5. Drizzle over the flour mixture and add the butter. Combine until you get a good dough, do not overwork though. You may need to add water if this is too dry.
  6. Roll out and place in pie dish.

Filling

  • 1 Purple Sweet Potato, peeled and cubed (which is not purple inside as I had hoped, boo)
  • 2 Parsnips, peeled and cubed
  • 1 Carrot, peeled and cubed
  • 1 Celery Root, peeled and cubed
  • 1 Leek, thoroughly rinsed, sliced white part only
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • 2 tbl Rice Bran Oil
  • 1 Rosemary sprig, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tbl flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a pot, add garlic, stir and quickly add veggies and seasonings. Stir again and add wine. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Combine water and flour in a separate bowl until smooth. Add to vegetable mixture and stir. Cover again and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Pour veggies into the prepared crust. Top with leftover dough cut into nice shapes.

Pie (the easy part)

  • Egg white (optional)
  1. Preheat oven 350F.
  2. Assemble pie, brush topper pieces with egg white (optional)
  3. Bake pie for 30 minutes.
  4. Allow to rest 5 minutes, cut and enjoy!

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Makes 8 servings. Each serving contains 226 calories, 9.4 grams fat, 30.5 grams carbs, 4.9 grams fibre, 4.7 grams protein. So filling, so creamy, so warming! I think this might be my go to savoury pie crust this season. It’s flaky and sturdy. Even stays together when you reheat leftover pie in the microwave. Yes, the hearts are there because February is heart health month and they are tasty! This crust puffs them up a bit like a biscuit. Nummy!

Spiced Irish Beef

Can you believe it? We are still waiting to move into that house we were supposed to get at the end of May. Crazy. Now we are stuck in our old place waiting for a closing date. So, no hobbit videos until we get this all sorted out, especially since my list of hobbit recipes and their notes are already packed. For now how about some tasty beef? This one is traditionally served around the holidays in winter but it sure is tasty with a side of colcannon or on a nice summer salad. Warm or cold it is delicious! I think I may be fondest of it as a cold cut though. Ready for some tasty?

  • 4 lbs eye of round or sirloin (your choice really)
  • 12 cloves, ground
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • 1 tsp ground juniper berries
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbl ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbl brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup guiness beer or water
  1. Combine the spices and sugar.
  2. Rub into the meat and cover. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. This is best left to marinate for a couple of days, traditionally it is done for a week. Overnight is good too. Turn the meat and cover every 12 hours if possible. Should end up looking like this:
  4. Preheat oven to 350F. Remove from marinade. Place in a baking dish as close to the size of your cut of meat as possible. Cover with the water or beer. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
  5. Serve warm or allow to cool, either way slice thinly.

Makes 8 hearty servings. Each serving contains (if you used water) 305 calories, 8.8 grams fat, 2 grams carbs, no fibre, 51.7 grams protein. Great for a dinner before or after hiking. Have some of this waiting in your fridge already made and sliced for your salad and you are set! Or for a special treat, colcannon! I suggest slicing thinner than I have in the picture for a salad topper.

Colcannon

While not a hardcore hobbit recipe this is definitely one every hobbit should know. Oh it is so nummy! I’m a bit funny about cabbage sometimes, it’s one of those veggies that I keep forgetting I actually like. I will wrinkle my nose at it but then I remember all those dishes it plays a role in that I love…okonomiyaki, that tasty katsu dog at Japadog, cabbage rolls, moshu, the list goes on. I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me that colcannon would join that list of favourites once I sat down and had it. Fact is, it is just a creamy cloud of tasty on a plate. Let’s get to this healthier version of it!

  • 2 medium potatoes, I used red and did not peel, I like the colour, cubed
  • 1 cup green cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 cup evaporated skim milk
  • 2 tbl light butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 green onion, sliced thinly
  1. Place the potatoes, cabbage and some salt in a pot and cover with cold water.
  2. Bring to a boil, cook until potatoes are fork tender, usually about 15 minutes.
  3. Drain and return to the pot, add the milk, butter, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Mash until desired texture achieved.
  4. Serve with green onion sprinkled on top.

Serves 2 generous portions. Each serving contains 275 calories, 6.4 grams fat, 47.9 grams carbs, 5.7 grams fibre, 9.8 grams protein. Great special occasion dish, although I’m thinking adding a bit of sliced ham to this would make an amazing main dish. Yum!