Fresh Spring Rolls

Fresh Spring Rolls

  • Servings: 15
  • Difficulty: Easy
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For those who love Fresh Spring Rolls in rice wrappers, here is an easy recipe to follow and just as good, if not better, than most restaurants, as they are your own design.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of spring roll rice wrappers, found in asian food section of most grocery stores, some are square some are round. Doesn’t matter which.
  • 1 package of vermicelli rice noodles, also found in the same section as spring roll wrappers
  • 2 mangos, peeled and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 large carrot peeled and cut into thin strips (I use the peeler to make very thin slices)
  • 1 large english cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 lb of small, cooked shrimp
  • 1 bunch of mint leaves (fresh)
  • 1 bunch of basil leaves (fresh)
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Cook vermicelli noodles in boiling water, as per package instructions, usually 3-5 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Gather all topping ingredients together, including veggies, herbs and cooked shrimp.
  3. Add about 1 inch of water to a large deep dish or pie pan. Place none rice wrapper into the water and let soaker just 10-15 seconds. It should still feel firm as you remove it and lay it on your counter or plate. (It will soften up as you add the filling ingredients, but if you let it soak for too long it will get too soft and start sticking together or rip when you roll it up.
  4. Layer 1-2 slices of each veggie, a few shrimp, a few leaves of each herb and a pinch of noodles on the 1/3 of the wrapper closest to you.
  5. Fold the sides of the spring roll in over the ingredients. Then roll from the closest to you out, sealing everything tightly together.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 80
  • Fat 0.5 g
  • Sugar 4 g
  • Carbohydrates 18 g
  • Protein 1 g
  • Fibre 1 g

When you place them on your serving platter, make sure they don’t touch. They will stick together. If that is the case, wet your fingers with a little water and gently rub at the two stuck rolls to separate them.

This is a nice cool light appetizer. You can serve with your favourite dipping sauce. A nice peanut butter sauce or a spicy chili sauce. The fun part of this is your filling. I have altered mine with spinach, cooked chicken, crushed peanuts. You can add bean sprouts, sliced avocado for a nice creamy texture, bell peppers, romaine lettuce. The possibilities are endless. They never have to be the same. Remember have fun and make it your own.

Homemade White Bread

Homemade White Bread

  • Servings: 8-10 ( 8, 3 oz or 70 gr slices)
  • Difficulty: Easy
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I must confess that making bread has been a fear of mine. I never seem to make yeast work for me. I’ve made bread in my bread machine, successfully, I might add. Time to step up my game. I went looking for a simple recipe that a child can make. Found one and here it is.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of all purpose flour (I use unbleached) a little more for your counter
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp of warm water (120-130 degrees Fahrenheit or 50-55 Celsius)
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • vegetable oil spray

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Add water and vinegar. Use rubber spatula to stir and press until dough comes together and no dry flour is visible, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise until bubbly and doubled in size, at least 8 hours or up to 18 hours.
  3. After rise time, spray an 18×12 inch sheet of parchment paper on counter with vegetable spray. Set aside.
  4. Sprinkle clean counter heavily with extra flour and coat your hands with extra flour. Transfer dough to counter and use your floured hands to knead until smooth about 1 minute. (see kneading instructions below)
  5. On clean counter use your cupped hands to drag dough in small circles to form smooth ball.
  6. Transfer ball to centre of greased parchment sheet. Use parchment to lower dough into Dutch oven (let extra parchment hang over pot edges) Cover pot with lid and let dough rise until doubled in size (1-1/2 to 2 hours).
  7. Adjust oven rack to middle position. When dough is ready, place covered pot in preheated oven at 425 and back for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove lid and back until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  9. Place on cooling rack to cool.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 171
  • Fat 0.45 g
  • Sugar 0.1 g
  • Carbohydrates 35.67 g
  • Protein 4.92 g
  • Fibre 1.8 g

Kneading (for those of us who don’t usually knead bread)
– Place heel of your hand in centre of dough ball & press down & away from you.
– Fold dough over.
– Rotate dough and repeat steps 1-2 until dough looks smooth about 1 minute.
– On clean counter, use your cupped hands to drag dough in small circles to form smooth ball.

Trick for yeast
Make sure your water is hot enough but not too hot. Yeast is a living organism. Also got to find out that one of my issues with yeast was that I stored it in the cupboard next to the stove. Guess what, big mistake. I was killing it with the heat. Lessons learned.

After I made this bread, I found out that its even lower in calorie than the bread machine one. The only down side is the waiting 18 hours. I have to admit that this one tastes better, looks better and I walked around like a proud peacock that I got a bread to rise. I sure had fun and made it my own, your turn.

Money Saving Tip – Economical Pork Chops

Boneless pork chops are great. We love them. Versatile. The other white meat. Low Fat. You can bake them, grill them, pan fry them, the possibilities are endless.

The price of a boneless pork chop is not always affordable. This week, the boneless pork loin was on a sale for $4.14 a kilo or approximately $1.89 a pound. The chops were on sale for almost twice the price. The only difference was that the same roast was cut for you.

All you need is a sharp knife, about 5 minutes of time and be ready to package them.

I have a food saver machine as I’ve lost some food in the past to freezer burn or was surprised to what is in the package. (I did a post recently on shredded coconut pork)

As you see in the picture, my roasts costs 6.88 and 7.07. Totalling 13.95.  We serve 3 to 4 ounce pork chops in our house. This is usually sufficient for most people. I was able to make 24 chops out of the two roasts. This turned out to be $0.58 per chop. Where can you get 4 ounces of any meat for $0.58? I packaged mine 4 per package. I calculated that with the “sale” price on the chops, I saved approximately $7.00. On regular price I saved about $14.00. If serving a large group, or a large family or you just want to save a little money, this is the way to go. You can cut them to the thickness you need, larger if your diet demands more protein due to a very physical job or training. 

Saving money doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. You don’t need insane knife skills for this little hack. Hope you found this little tip helpful.

Coconut Shredded Pork

Coconut Shredded Pork

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Oops, that is not a package of pork chops. Every four months or so, we thaw out our freezer. We rotate the meat and such and make sure to use the older stuff. In the last few months, I’ve been using a vacuum seal method which helps prevents ice formation in the packages. Well this week, when we did our freezer, I came across an older package that looked like pork chops. Upon thawing, I realized, oops, that’s not pork chops but a chunk of pork. Now what do I do with it? This is what I came up with. Coconut Shredded Pork.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 lbs of pork chunk or shoulder
  • 1 cup of light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 tbsp of blacked cajun sauce (I use Cool Runnings)
  • 2 tbsp of flour

Directions

  1. Cut pork into small pieces.
  2. Place in airtight container with the coconut milk and cajun sauce.
  3. Put in fridge for a minimum of 3 hours.
  4. Place everything in a dutch oven or thick pan. Add shredded coconut and flour and mix well.
  5. Cover with foil.
  6. Place in preheated oven at 275 for 4 hours.
  7. When you remove from heat, shred pork with two forks.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 280
  • Fat 12.55 g
  • Sugar 3 g
  • Carbohydrates 7.5 g
  • Protein 32.6 g
  • Fibre 1.6 g

You can serve this over pasta, rice, couscous. That is all up to you. The veggies are up to you. I did mine over jasmine rice and canned peas. The choices are limitless. Have fun and make it your own.

Greek Yogourt Chocolate Cake

Greek Yogourt Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Dessert is the perfect way to wrap up a good meal. The final touch. It doesn’t have to be much. For those of us with a sweet tooth, a small piece of sweetness ends the meal perfectly. We could always use more but because I indulged in the past on seconds in the dessert section, I now have to watch my portions. This cake is moist, flavourful and even gives that little extra in protein. With this portion size, even my diabetic friends can indulge in a serving.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp of instant coffee
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour, a little more for the pan
  • 1-3/4 cups of sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of plain Greek Yogourt (I use 0% fat)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Use cooking spray on 10-12 cup Bundt pan and flour. Set aside
  2. In a small saucepan, combine butter, cocoa powder, instant coffee, salt and water and put over medium heat. Cook until just melted and combined, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Combine flour, sugar and baking soda in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Add half of the cocoa mixture and whisk until completely combined (this will be very thick). Add remaining cocoa mixture and whisk to combine. Add one egg at a time, whisking at each step. Then whisk in yogourt and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Pour into pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. Until toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Let cool in the pan on rack for 15 minutes and then invert onto rack and let cool to room temperature.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 141
  • Fat 4.5 g
  • Sugar 15 g
  • Carbohydrates 23.5 g
  • Protein 2.5 g
  • Fibre 0.7 g

As you can see, I did not frost this cake. You can make a glaze for it. I chose to simply sprinkle 1/16 of a tsp of icing sugar for the look. You could decorate with bright berries like raspberries or strawberries. It may not seem like much but it is enough to satisfy your sweet craving. Have fun and make it your own.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are always a hot subject. How much should I have, how much shouldn’t I have? Which foods are high in carbs, which aren’t? Some diets tell you no carbs, some say high carbs. I don’t claim to be a doctor nor am I a nutritionist or dietician. I won’t tell you how many carbs you should or should not be eating. I’ve personally never believed that any food should be omitted from one’s diet unless there is an allergy or you are told to by a physician. Everything in moderation. 

Here a few functions of carbs and the primary one is to provide your body with energy. Most of the carbs in foods you eat are digested and broken down into glucose. Glucose goes through your blood stream to produce fuel for your body. 

Glucose in your muscles is vital for long periods of high intensity exercise. In circumstances where your body has all the glucose it needs, it will convert it and store it as fat.

If you lack glucose in your body, muscle can be broken down into amino acids and converted into glucose to generate energy. Obviously this is not an ideal scenario. 

In carbs, fibre is also included. Fibre promotes good digestive health and reduces the risk of digestive track diseases. Eating plenty of dietary fibre can benefit your heart and blood sugar levels thus reducing your risk of diabetes.

Bottom line, carbohydrates serve several key functions in the body. They provide energy for daily tasks and are the primary fuel source for your brain’s high energy demands. The fibre in carbs help promote good digestion and reduce your risk of heart diseases and diabetes.

I’ve included a list I found on the internet that lists all sorts of products and their carb content. This is just a quick reference guide when you are making choices like, do I have a bagel or a 2 inch cube of corn bread. This guide has helped me plan some of the meals to make sure that I have a controlled amount of carbs to my diet. This can also be helpful to all you diabetics out there. 

Carbohydrate Content of Foods

So, the above is just my opinion. I believe we need to have a little of everything in our diets. It helps keep it interesting, less cravings, and I believe, healthier. We’ve all done diets that remove a food from the lineup and guess what, first day, most of us crave that food. Tell me I can’t have chocolate and guess what I crave it. Even if I haven’t had chocolate in weeks, all of in a sudden, I just have to have it. But that is just me. 

Above all make sensible choices, stay healthy and if you need help, seek advise from a nutritionist or dietician. 

Honey Mustard Pork Chops

Honey Mustard Pork Chops

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Pork chops are very versatile. Even this recipe, I’ve cooked in the oven and cooked on the barbecue. This takes a little extra time for the marinade. My suggestion, put the chops in the marinade before you leave for work and they will be ready to cook when you come home. Your side dishes might take you more time than the chops.

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless 4 ounce pork loin chops
  • 4 teaspoons of honey
  • 1/4 cup of Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp of black pepper
  • 1 pinch of cayenne (or to taste)

Directions

  1. Heat honey in micro for 30 seconds. Stir in mustard, vinegar, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Place the pork chops in a large plastic ziplock bag. Add the marinade and seal the bag, squeezing out the air, turn to coat the chops. Refrigerate for 8 hours or more.
  3. Removing the chops from the fridge 30 minutes before grilling.
  4. Preheat broiler. Discard the marinade. Place the chops on the broiler rack and broil 3-4 inches from the heat until cooked through, 6-7 minutes per side.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 178
  • Sugar 2 g
  • Carbohydrates 2 g
  • Protein 26 g
  • Fiber 0 g
  • Fat 7 g

I sometimes cook these on the barbecue. Clean up is easier and that little char flavour adds a little something. I prepare my sides while I let the chops climatize to room temperature. As you see in the picture, I made biscuits and zucchini. Cayenne of course, is to your taste, it is completely optional. Have fun everyone and make it your own.

Cajun Shepard’s Pie

Cajun Shepard’s Pie

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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I don’t know about you but I have to change things up every now and then. Shepard’s pie is one of them. I’ve made it standard with mashed potatoes and cream corn, as was always done in my family. I was so bored of having it that way that I used to douse it with ketchup just to change the taste. Well now I’m older and wiser, ok at least older, so I decided to change things up a little. Here is my version of Cajun Shepard’s Pie.

Ingredients

  • 1 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 large sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups of spinach chopped
  • 1 tbsp of cajun spices
  • 1 tsp of flour
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp of Cool Runnings Blackened cajun sauce
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp of oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pan and add chopped onion and cook until tender.
  3. Add ground beef and break up and cook through.
  4. Once cooked add your flour and water and Cajun Sauce and mix thoroughly. You should have a semi thick sauce, If not thick enough add a little flour at a time to consistency of thick gravy.
  5. At the same time cook your sweet potatoes through in boiling water
  6. Once your potatoes are cooked through, drain and mash without adding anything to the potatoes.
  7. Place meat in baking pan 8 x 8.
  8. Top meat with spinach.
  9. Top with mashed sweet potatoes.
  10. Sprinkle cajun spice over top and cover with cheese.
  11. Put in oven for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 529
  • Sugar 5 g
  • Carbohydrates 19 g
  • Protein 22 g
  • Fibre 3.5 g
  • Fat 40 g

So many things can be done to personalize this. You can sub the veggie. A friend did his with Kale. I’ve done it with Edamame beans. I try to make sure that the veggie is high in fibre. There are different types of cajun spices so you make this spicier if you wish. You can add a little cayenne pepper to this. You can make this with any ground meat, chicken, pork, even go vegetarian and go with Beyond meat (which is just as good). Have fun everyone and make it your own.

Baby Back Ribs

Baby Back Ribs

  • Servings: 4 half racks (about 6 ribs each)
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Sometimes you just need a little time to do something nice. I always steer away from making this because of the time in the oven. We all lead pretty rushed lives but sometimes we need to just step back and take the time to make something easy but good.

Ingredients

  • 2-2.5 lbs of baby back ribs (1 Kg)
  • 4 tbsp of rub (see below for rub recipe)
  • 4 tbsp of bull’s eye bbq sauce (your favourite sauce is acceptable.

Rub ingredients

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne (I might have added a little more)
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees
  2. If there is a thin membrane on the back of the ribs, remove. This will help the meat fall off the bones easier.
  3. Spread the rub over all the ribs on both sides.
  4. Place meat side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (for easy cleanup)
  5. Wrap in foil.
  6. Place in oven for 3.5 to 4 hours.
  7. Uncover and baste with BBQ sauce and put on top rack under broil for 5 minuets or so, until it caramelizes

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 463
  • Sugar 17.5 g
  • Carbohydrates 21 g
  • Protein 26.6 g
  • Fiber 0 g
  • Fat 30 g

These are very tender due to slow cooking and being covered in foil to prevent them from getting dry. Everything else is up to you. How you like your rub, spicy or not. Different spices. You could even use a simple cajun prepared spice or even a steak spice you like. Same goes for your BBQ sauce. Most sauces are relatively the same for calories and such. So besides the cooking, everything is else is up to you. Have fun and make it your own.

Easy Salsa

Easy Salsa

  • Servings: 4 - 1 cup jars
  • Difficulty: Easy
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We grow lots of cherry tomatoes and because they are sweet, they make a great salsa. I use a canning process to jar them to preserve this so that I can have some throughout the year. I put them in 250 ml or 1 cup jars. It will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks easy without canning. The recipe is without the canning process.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large spanish onion chopped
  • 2 cherry bomb peppers minced
  • 1 large jalapeño minced
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of pepper
  • 1 tbsp of white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of fresh chopped cilantro

Directions

  1. In a large bowl put all ingredients together and cover for 3 hours so all the flavours can marry. Adjust your salt to your taste.

Nutrition for complete recipe

  • Calories 244
  • Sugar 34.6 g
  • Carbohydrates 51.8 g
  • Protein 6.2 g
  • Fiber 10.8 g
  • Fat 0.2 g

Nutrition per 1/4 cup

  • Calories 60
  • Sugar 8.6 g
  • Carbohydrates 13 g
  • Protein 1.3 g
  • Fiber 2.8 g
  • Fat 0.02 g

As I mentioned you can use your favourite canning process to preserve these. If you are having a party, 4 cups spread out is not that much (trust me). There is no end on how you can change up this recipe. I usually make one batch really spicy and one batch not so much. When ready to serve I’ve added cooked corn kernels and black beans and it becomes one heck of a dip. You can add, at that time a little sour cream to it and it becomes another type of dip. I’ve used it in tacos, tortillas, and thrown a jar in for different tex/mex recipes I’ve done. There is no limit to the changes you can do and what you use this for. The only limit is your imagination. So enjoy it and make it your own. Let me know what you come up with.