What Katie Cooks

Feisty Fiddlehead Soup

Posted by on May 16, 2011 in What Katie Cooks | 0 comments

The other day, I taught you a method to clean and cook fiddleheads that results in some tender, tasty little greens. Today I’m going to make use of that method to make a colourful soup with a creamy potato base. This dish takes awhile to make, so keep that in mind when you decide to cook it. You’ll want to start it early in the afternoon in order to have it ready for supper. Prep time: 1 hourServes: 2-4 peopleCooking time: 2-3 hoursDifficulty: ModerateCost: Under $20 Ingredients -3 or 4 large potatoes, chopped-1 carrot, finely chopped-1-2 cups fiddleheads-3 green onions or mild leeks-4 cloves garlic-2 cups (soy) milk-5 cups water-salt, pepper and spices to taste-1 tbsp. cooking oil of choice-1 tbsp. butter or margarine-2 bay leaves-1 stalk celery, finely chopped Start by washing the potatoes and peeling them (if you wish. I didn’t peel mine because potato skin is very nutritious and will add texture to the soup), then chopping them and boiling them. While the potatoes are boiling, prepare your fiddleheads using the method I suggested last time. Proceed to cook them as I described also. TIP: Make sure they are fully cooked but don’t over-cook, or you’ll risk losing flavor! Finely chop the garlic cloves and saute them in oil in a frying pan until they are just brown. When the potatoes have finished boiling, mash them and add some milk and butter/margarine. When the garlic has been sauteed, add it to the mashed potatoes. Transfer potatoes to a large pot. Chop the leek/green onions and add them to the mashed potatoes. Finely chop the carrots and celery as well and add them, too. Pour the water, milk, and add spices into the pot with the mashed potato mixture. Stir well. Simmer over medium heat and add fiddleheads. Cover and leave to simmer, careful not to boil. Continue to add herbs and spices to taste. This should result in a creamy and flavorful soup. TIP: If the soup is not quite as thick as you’d like, try adding some instant mashed potatoes as the soup is cooking. Please follow and like...

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Fantastic Fiddleheads

Posted by on May 13, 2011 in What Katie Cooks | 0 comments

Fantastic Fiddleheads

Spring time is one of the most highly-anticipated times of year for dwellers of eastern Canada. The melting of the snow and longer days give way to thoughts of summertime, and eliminate the depression of the short, cold days of winter. In addition to that, it’s also the time to harvest fiddleheads. Fiddleheads are a wild vegetable that grows, typically, in the east. New Brunswick, where I’m from, is full of them, and Quebec and the eastern United States also find the little green coils springing up come May. The fiddlehead is a vegetable that is the youngest part of various species of fern, and produces a tender yet savory flavour. Fiddleheads are considered a popular seasonal option for vegetarians, vegans and carnivores alike because they are a fitting accompaniment to any meal and go especially well with potatoes. They can become a flavourful base for soups, creating a meal on its own. They are also high in nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, iron and fibre. In addition, they have antioxidant activity and are a source of Omega 3 and 6. Cooking them properly is very important, as they are wild vegetables that grow close to the ground and do tend to have dirt caught up in their coils. Cleaning them properly is also important. I’m going to go over how best to clean them and one, very basic, way to cook them, in this post. Considering I just cooked half my bag and have another half waiting, I may have another recipe surfacing over the next couple of days. For now, though, we’ll go with this. This recipe is going based on 1 lb. of fiddleheads, which should produce a fair serving for up to 4 people. I paid $4 for a pound, which is reasonable for a side dish so rich in vitamins and minerals. It seems like I will get 2 meals out of it, too, so that’s a bonus! The best thing about fiddleheads is that they are naturally grown and rarely cultivated, so you can go for a walk in the woods and may find a bunch of them. Picking them is a whole other animal, so I won’t get into it here (though here is a great site for tips on picking fiddleheads), but keep in mind that picking them will make them a FREE FEED for you. What’s better than free food when on a budget?! Prep time: 30-45 minutesServes: 2-4 peopleCooking time: 20-30 minutes (depending on whether you boil them and have that be all, or if you saute them afterward)Difficulty: ModerateCost: roughly $5/lb… free if you pick your own! Start by cleaning the fiddleheads. You should remove any yellow or brown parts and trim the stems, especially if the fronds are not freshly picked. Place them in a bowl and leave them to soak for about 10 minutes. I went the extra mile and changed the water to leave them to soak a little longer. After they are cleaned to your satisfaction, boil them on high for about 10 minutes. Change the water, then bring them to a boil once more for another 10. After this, you may strain them and serve them with some butter. Try adding hollandaise sauce if you’re in the mood for something a little richer. After they’ve been steamed, you can also saute them in a pan with some butter and a splash of lemon juice. I did this and they were fantastic! Add a little salt and a small amount of vinegar to give the fiddleheads some zing. And there you have it! A delicious, healthy side dish that is even a little rare due to its short harvesting time. Use fiddleheads you picked to give your meal the illusion of being a fancy, expensive dish, or to impress friends from out of town. EDIT: Enjoy watching this inane video of me cooking some fiddleheads. Please follow and like...

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Autumn Harvest Pie

Posted by on Oct 12, 2010 in What Katie Cooks | 0 comments

Autumn Harvest Pie

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in Canada, and while most families were spending hours cooking turkeys, I opted for a Tofurky meal instead. My fiance unfortunately didn’t get the chance to have a home-cooked meal with his family this weekend, so I decided to whip up something extra special for him. I had been toying with the idea for a few weeks, and I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to try it. What resulted was a vegetarian, Thanksgiving version of a shepherd’s pie that I have dubbed Autumn Harvest Pie. This takes all of your standard Thanksgiving dinner components and puts them together in one convenient dish. Prep time: 30 minutesServes: 4-6 peopleCooking time: 2-4 hours (ingredients cook separately as well. Amount of time depends on whether or not you have more pots than I do!)Difficulty: ModerateCost: Under $20Classification: Vegetarian, easily made vegan Ingredients – 1 medium-sized squash of choice (I used buttercup)– 5 potatoes– 2 large carrots– 1 small onion– 3 cloves garlic– 5-6 slices Tofurky deli slices (if you want a thick layer of Tofurky, use a whole package)– 1 tsp. cinnamon– sprinkle nutmeg– 2 slices bread– 1/4 cup (soy) milk– butter or margarine– 1 can vegetarian-or-vegan-friendly gravy – 3 tbsp. cooking oil of choice (e.g., olive oil)– herbs and spices of choice (e.g., garlic salt, chives, oregano, basil, dill) Tools– Numerous pots and pans with lids– casserole dish Directions Begin by cooking squash. Cut and separate the flesh of the squash, and boil. Mash the squash with butter/margarine and (soy) milk. Add half the cinnamon and nutmeg, and (optional) 1/2 tsp. of brown sugar. Coat the bottom of the casserole dish with the squash, then sprinkle the remaining cinnamon and nutmeg on top. Next, chop the cloves of garlic and place in a pot with the cooking oil. Cook on low. Chop carrots while garlic is cooking, then add in. Chop onion, then add and turn up the heat a bit. Put the cover on and continue to cook until carrots are tender. While this is cooking, shred Tofurky into very small pieces and coat the layer of squash. See the picture on the right for how it should look. Do this until the layer of squash is completely covered by shredded Tofurky pieces. Now is a good time to preheat the oven to 390 degrees Fahrenheit. Place potatoes in a pot with water. I left the skins on, because the skin is very nutritious, and it also adds nice colour to your dish. Bring to a boil, then cover. Cook until tender. Remove from heat, drain. Mash with butter/margarine and (soy) milk and some salt. Whip until potatoes have a uniform, creamy texture. Layer carrot, onion and garlic mixture on top of the layer of Tofurky. Now, for my favourite part: open the can of gravy and pour evenly over the carrot layer. It should look like the picture to the left. Layer mashed potato carefully over the gravy. This part can be sort of tricky so take care while spreading the potato over top. Finely crumble bread into small pieces and sprinkle on top of the potato. This is considered the “stuffing” part of your meal so feel free to add a small amount of cooked onion or celery as well, if you wish. Go nuts with the spices! Sprinkle them on top. Bake uncovered on lower rack for 20 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the gravy is bubbling steadily over the crust. Breadcrumbs should be very crispy as well. Leave to sit and cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy with cranberry sauce if you wish! Suggestions – This is a great way to get rid of bread heels. I used the heel of the loaf for both slices of bread and it made a fantastic crispy crust.– If you have to reheat it later, use your oven or toaster oven. Don’t use the microwave or your breadcrumb crust will go soggy.– You can add other vegetables if you have a really deep casserole dish and are feeling adventurous. Turnips...

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Poppin’ some corn

Posted by on May 20, 2010 in What Katie Cooks | 1 comment

Poppin’ some corn

I was over at a friend’s house last night, and she told me she was going to make some popcorn. I got very excited, because popcorn is delicious and it’s one of my favourite snacks. To my surprise, instead of grabbing a bag of microwave popcorn, she pulled a bag of kernels from her cupboard. I didn’t think she had an air popper, and it turns out I was right. She was going to use her stove top. What followed was a fun and really easy way to make popcorn at home, without having to worry about buying an extra machine like an air popper, and without all the fat and sodium content of your average bagged popcorn. In addition, it’s ridiculously cheap! Everything but the kernels will likely be something you use in your house already, so all you’ll need to buy will be the bag of kernels, which only cost me $2.19 for 1 kg. This will make you a lot of popcorn; at least 5 pots worth. Prep time: Less than five minutesServes: 2-4 peopleCooking time: Less than five minutesDifficulty: Super easyCost: Roughly $0.50 per serving! Ingredients – popcorn kernels– cooking oil of your choice– 1 tbsp. margarine/butter (optional)– salt to taste (optional)– other seasonings (I like my popcorn with ranch dressing. Shut up, it’s good!) Tools – a medium pot with lid– a large bowl Start by adding just enough oil to the pot to coat the bottom. Add enough kernels to do the same–you shouldn’t be able to see the bottom of the pot. It may not sound like much, but trust me, this much will make a lot of popcorn. Put the pot on the stove, and the lid on the pot, with just enough of an opening for steam to escape. Turn on the heat to high, and wait by the stove to hear popping sounds. Once the corn starts popping rapidly, reduce the heat to medium. When popping has slowed considerably, remove pot from heat. Caution! When removing the lid from the pot, stray kernels could still pop. Keep the pot away from your face! Put popped corn in a large bowl. You may then melt your butter or margarine in the same pot you used to pop the corn, over low heat. Once it is melted, pour over popcorn while shaking gently to ensure it is evenly spread. Add salt, and shake to even it out as well. Add other seasonings if desired. Enjoy! If you’re a parent, this is a great way to do some bonding with your kids before a movie. If you have a glass dome on your cooking pot, you can watch the popcorn as it’s popping. Even if you don’t have kids, watching the popcorn pop is interesting (in a rather silly way, if I might) as well. Making this popcorn can give you a salty snack without spending the extra money on other junk foods. It’s very cheap, and it’s fun and easy to make. Since you can make it however you like, you don’t need to worry about whether or not the ingredients are vegetarian or vegan. As an added bonus, you have no preservatives or additives. There’s no reason to buy overpriced bagged popcorn anymore! Please follow and like...

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Keeping lunches on the low

Posted by on Apr 26, 2010 in What Katie Cooks | 0 comments

Maybe you’re a student. Maybe you’re a full-time employee. Maybe you just like to take long walks in the early afternoon and sit by the pond. No matter what it is you do–unless that includes sleeping past the morning on a regular basis–chances are you need a lunch midway through the day to keep you going. Myself, I’m a full-time employee, so I get a half hour for lunch every day to replenish and rest. I work in a mall and have access to the entire food court, but as I am on a budget, I prefer to pack myself a lunch. This usually includes some nuts (cashews are my favourite), gelatin-free yogurt (Astro Bio Best), fruit that’s both fresh and dried (usually berries for the fresh and apricots for the dried, but I’ll occasionally mix it up a little too), a vegetable (usually carrot sticks), a treat (because I’m five years old) and a main course (usually soup or a Tofurky sandwich). To me, it’s really important to cover all of the food groups during your lunch, because you’ll need that energy for the rest of your work day to last you until supper–sometimes it is your supper. If you’re at home, it’s easier to cook up something, but if you’re going to be out and need to pack a lunch, here are some good tips to help you out. – Whenever you cook yourself a big meal, such as a soup, chili, pasta, etc., make plenty of extra and refrigerate it. Freeze if you’ve made enough to last more than a few days. Bring it to work or school with you in a microwaveable container and heat it up. Nothing costs less than something you’ve already made! – Baby carrots from your local grocery store are good vegetables to add to your lunch. They’re inexpensive, and they’ll last you a long time, especially if you put less than 10 carrots in your lunch. – This may be obvious, but keep an eye open for specials. Fruit specials are my personal favourite as you can get several lunches out of just one container of fruit. Fruit is also very versatile; it can be eaten alone, or added to a salad of your choice, such as a spinach salad. – Only pack what you need, and only buy what you’ll pack. Don’t over-purchase on food that will spoil easily. In addition, eat sparingly. A Tofurky sandwich, for example, can be made with only 2-3 slices of Tofurky. Add more lettuce to make the sandwich more filling, and your Tofurky will last you longer. – Skip the luxury items. Dressings and sauces may make your sandwich taste better, but they will cost you extra in the end with little to no extra benefit. Chips and cookies may be tempting, but in the end they’re going to suck up your money. Work on getting rid of food items that may be sitting unused in your cupboard instead, especially if you have some sweets left over from gifts. Buying something new is always tempting, but more often than not, it’s completely unnecessary. – Forget plastic bags for putting food in. Instead, get a Tupperware set. Tupperware is completely reusable and washable, and will save you money in the end, as you’ll be throwing away your plastic bags more often than not. Tupperware is more environmentally sound anyway, especially if you purchase some Tupperware made from recycled plastic. – If you live in your own home or have access to a balcony, consider growing your own food. Growing some fruits and veggies of your own is an excellent way to make sure you get all your essential nutrients, and will certainly save you money. Hopefully you’ll find some of these tips useful. Please feel free to share some of your own in the comments section! Please follow and like...

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Easy oven-roasted potatoes

Posted by on Apr 19, 2010 in What Katie Cooks | 0 comments

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love potatoes. What’s so great about them isn’t just their taste or how good for you they are, but also how amazingly versatile they are; potatoes make a great side, but also a fantastic dish all their own. Potatoes also tend to be very filling, which is great if you’re on a budget. The point of this blog is to save money and not starve, after all. This particular recipe is best as a side. It’s very simple and makes use of spices and seasonings you already have in your cupboard. If you have absolutely no seasonings then I suggest picking two or three from the list and buying some of those. In all honesty, though, simple salt and pepper will do nicely! Prep time: 5 minutesServes: 4 people (as a side dish)Cooking time: 40 minutesDifficulty: Super easyCost: Under $10, using things from your cupboard Ingredients – 2 lbs. mini potatoes, quartered– 2 tbsp. olive oil– 1 tbsp. seasonings of your choice (suggested: lemon pepper, garlic salt, minced fresh garlic, dill, oregano, rosemary, thyme, diced chives, chili powder or paprika.) If you’re feeling extra fancy or have the extra ingredients on hand, try throwing other vegetables, like onions or carrots, into the mix.– 1 tbsp. lemon juice (optional)– 1 tbsp. salt– a dash of pepper Directions Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the potatoes in quarters. Combine olive oil, lemon juice and seasonings in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Place potato quarters in the mixture and toss, making sure all potato quarters are evenly covered in the mixture. Spread covered potatoes evenly on a baking tray and sprinkle salt and pepper evenly on top. Place in oven to roast 40 minutes, turning over at 20 minutes. Potatoes are ready when they are golden brown on both sides and crispy. Hope you all enjoy these as much as I did! For a cheap and filling meal, I recommend eating it as a side dish with some rice, or with some greens and a protein of your choice. Please follow and like...

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