Watermelon, Cherry Tomato and Feta Cheese Salad

This time of year we see many snowbirds returning north and a flurry of activities involving them – thus this post is a little late! At one such dinner, we were served a salad very similar to this one at our friends’ home here. Searching Pinterest, I happened on this one which I think is very comparable to that one with friends. I would add the dressing an hour or so before serving and possibly hold back on some of the feta cheese until plating…NOTE that I always chill my salad plates in the freezer an hour or so before plating.

Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad

Ingredients

  • 5 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta
  • fresh mint + basil leaves
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 tbsp honey

1. Cut up watermelon and tomatoes and add to a large bowl

2. Add fresh mint and basil leaves.

3. Top with crumbled feta cheese.

4. In a small bowl whisk lemon juice and honey. Pour over the salad and serve.

COPYCAT Texas Roadhouse Cinnamon Honey Butter

Ever since the first TRH opened in our nearby city, we have been enamored with the fresh rolls and butter. After our recent Christmas dinner where we had leftover dinner rolls, I decided to search out that wonderful cinnamon honey butter. Et voila, this one came very close. Elsewhere on Pinterest you can find the Copycat rolls recipe, but the butter is the star for me.

Copycat Texas Roadhouse Cinnamon Honey Butter

  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 30 seconds, or until pale in color. Add the powdered sugar, honey, and cinnamon and beat until well combined, light, and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately or store, covered, in the fridge for up to 5 days. Serve butter at room temperature, on hot rolls.

Roast Christmas or New Year’s Duck

Traditionally, we always have duck for Christmas Eve due to the reality that most people will have turkey for Christmas Day! This is a new recipe I found in place of the Duck L’orange that I have roasted in the past. The combination of balsamic vinegar, honey and lemon was incredible. It would be great for New Year’s Eve or Day!

Roast Christmas Duck

Ingredients

  • 6 lb whole duck
  • salt
  • 5 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 lemon small or medium, chopped

GLAZE

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lemon, freshly squeezed juice
  • 1/4 cup honey

A. If you purchased frozen duck, make sure to defrost the frozen duck in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Once the duck is completely defrosted (in the refrigerator), take the duck out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking to bring it more or less to room temperature.

B. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. You will be roasting the duck for a total of 3 hours (3 hours will be divided into 4-time chunks where you will be flipping the duck, brushing it with glaze, etc. – see the instructions below).

1. Remove the giblets from inside the duck. Rinse the duck, inside and outside, with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.

2. Set the duck on the working surface. Score the duck’s skin on the breast in a diamond pattern, making sure you only cut the skin, without reaching the meat. Poke the other fatty parts of the duck with the tip of the knife all over, to ensure fat release, especially in very fatty parts. You don’t need to poke the duck legs as the skin is pretty thin there (except for where the duck legs connect to the duck body). Season the duck very generously with salt both inside the cavity of the duck and outside on the skin, legs, all over. Place the duck breast side up.

3. Put 5 chopped garlic cloves and lemon slices inside the duck cavity (these are just for flavor, not for eating – you will discard them after cooking). The duck will have flapping skin on both ends – fold that skin inwards, to hold the garlic and lemon inside. Tie up the duck legs with butcher’s twine.

4. Place the bird breast side up on a large roasting pan with a rack (roasting pan should have a roasting rack to lift the duck from the bottom of the pan and allow the fat to drip below the duck). Roast the duck, breast side up, for 1 hour at 350 F.

5. After 1 hour of roasting, flip the duck on its breast and roast it breast side down (roast the other side) for 40 minutes, at 350 F.

6. Remove the roasting pan with the duck from the oven (you now have roasted the duck for 1 hour + 40 minutes), carefully remove the duck to a platter (making sure the lemons and garlic from the cavity do not fall out – keep the skin on both ends of the duck folded), and carefully pour off all the duck fat juices from the roasting pan into a large heat-proof bowl or container.

7. Flip the duck breast side up again on a rack in a roasting pan (the pan will have no fat juices now). In a small bowl, combine ½ cup of balsamic vinegar with the freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon. Brush all of the duck with the balsamic mixture (especially the scored duck breast) and cook the duck breast side up for another 40 minutes at 350 F, brushing every 10 minutes with the mixture.

8. Now, in a separate small bowl, combine ¼ cup honey and 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar lemon mixture that you will have left over from the previous step. Brush the breast side of the duck with this honey-balsamic mixture, and roast for another 40 minutes, brushing the duck breast side every 10 minutes with honey balsamic mixture. You can even carefully broil the duck for the last 10-15 minutes if you like (do it carefully, checking the duck regularly to make sure it doesn’t char too much). Final temperature should be 180 F or 82 Celsius!!!

9. After the duck is cooked, remove it from the oven, let duck stand for 15 minutes. Then, carefully remove and discard the lemon from the cavity (being careful not to get burned).

Carve the duck and serve!

TOTAL COOKING TIME: The duck should be roasted for a total of 3 hours at 350 F. These 3 hours of roasting are divided into 4 distinctive time chunks (1 hour breast side up + 40 minutes breast side down + 40 minutes breast side up brushed with balsamic-lemon mixture + 40 minutes breast side up brushed with honey-balsamic mixture).Calories: 2862kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 79g | Fat: 267g | Saturated Fat: 89g | Cholesterol: 517mg | Sodium: 438mg | Potassium: 1558mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 1145IU | Vitamin C: 48.8mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron

Firecracker Salmon with Peach and Avocado Salsa

Travelling this week, so this posting is a little late! Our hostess had some salmon in the freezer and some nice fresh peaches. Surprisingly she also had avocados which we always have on hand in Mexico. Both the salmon and the salmon were awesome! Pinterest never fails me…We served this with some sauteed Brussel sprouts to round out the meal. We chose to grill the salmon, but the directions for making it in the oven are included.

Firecracker Salmon with Peach and Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

For the salmon:

  • 1 ½ pounds salmon
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

For the peach salsa:

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 peach, diced
  • 3 tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Make your salmon marinade: In a small bowl whisk together avocado oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, crushed red pepper, and ginger.

2. Add your salmon to a large bowl skin side up (so that the salmon sits in the sauce) and pour marinade over the top. Cover and place salmon in the fridge for no more than 1 hour.

3. While your salmon is marinating, make your peach salsa. Add avocado, peach, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper to a medium sized bowl and mix until well-combined. Refrigerate.

4. Once ready to bake salmon, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place salmon on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and place marinated salmon skin side down. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until salmon easily flakes with fork.

5. Top salmon with peach avocado salsa and serve with brown rice, black rice quinoa, or extra veggies for a fullmeal. Serves 4

Directions for grilling the salmon: Preheat a gas grill over medium-high heat. I would also lightly brush both sides of the salmon (including the skin) with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking. Be sure to also generous oil your grill.

Place salmon skin side down first on grill, close grill lid and grill about 6-8 minutes. Carefully flip salmon and cook 6-8 more minutes or until cooked well. Salmon is tricky, but it’s best to undercook rather than overcook your filets. The salmon was perfectly cooked at 6 minutes per side on medium heat.

Korean BBQ Meatballs with Zoodles

By now you know how much we prefer zoodles over pasta. Here is a different take on the zoodles with a great sauce!

Korean BBQ Meatballs with Zoodles

Ingredients

  • 2-3 large zucchini (400 g)
  • 4 Spring Onions
  • 1 large Carrot
  • 1/2 Red Pepper
  • 1/2 Small Onion
  • 1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dressing

  • 1.5 T Soy Sauce
  • 1 T Sesame Oil
  • 1 T Honey
  • 1 tsp Minced Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Sesame Seeds
  • 1 package fresh meatballs*

*Prepare meatballs according to your preference. I made mine in the microwave and then added them to the skillet and it worked well!

1. Wash and prepare vegetables. Spiralize zucchini and set aside. Slice red onion into thin strips. Julienne carrot, roughly chop small onion. For the Spring onion I chopped the white part small and then cut the green portion into 1/2-inch strips. I used about 2 full spring onions and only the white portion of the other two.

2. Prepare a large wok or frying pan add olive oil and heat oil through. Add carrot and onion, let soften and heat through for 3-5 minutes. Add chopped onion, Spring onion, and red pepper cook for another 3 minutes. Add salt to taste while preparing vegetables.

3. Prepare meatballs. IF using frozen you can put them on a plate in the microwave covered with Saran wrap, leaving a corner for the steam to escape. Three minutes should do it as they will cook in the sauce…

4. Add prepared zoodles. In a separate bowl mix all of the dressing ingredients together and then add them to the wok with all of the vegetables together. You want to heat the zoodles

5. Add meatballs to the vegetables and serve immediately.

Salmon and Avocado Salad with Japanese Ponzu Dressing

If you have a nearby Costco, they usually carry Norwegian smoked salmon (the one with three rows of different smoked salmon). This comes in handy for pizzas, pastas, quiche, etc. You can buy “ponzu” soy, but I prefer making this dressing as shown. In place of the arugula I used baby romaine as a bed for the salmon.

Smoked salmon and avocado salad with Japanese Ponzu Dressing

Salmon & Avocado Salad with Japanese Ponzu Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. smoked salmon – thinly sliced
  • Large handful of wild arugulas
  • 2 avocados – diced
  • 1 English cucumber – cut in rounds and halved

Homemade Ponzu Dressing:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice or lime juice (or a combination)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/2 tsp of chili pepper flakes

Method:

1. In a large salad bowl, combine the ingredients for the ponzu dressing, and whisk well.

2. Add in the arugula, avocado, and cucumbers. Give it a good toss. Add in the smoked salmon and lightly toss again. Taste and adjust any seasonings if needed. Enjoy immediately!

Chilled Asparagus with Citrus Dressing

For a great summer lunch try this chilled asparagus with some salmon poached in wine. I usually do the salmon with cold green beans (blanched), but not having found any at Costco, I went for using asparagus, which I believe you northerners are seeing IN SEASON. We started the meal with a cold strawberry soup ( which is somewhere on this blog if you do a search). The great thing about this meal is that you can easily prepare it all in the morning and just plate it up when company arrives.

Chilled Asparagus with Citrus Dressing

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-pound asparagus, woody ends cut off
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • Juice of an orange
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2. Add in the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Immediately remove the asparagus from the boiling water and place it into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

4. Once the asparagus has cooled remove it from the water, blot it dry with a towel, and place it in a large bowl.

5. In a glass measuring cup combine the remaining ingredients (everything from zest down to pepper) and whisk together to form the citrus vinaigrette.

6. Pour the desired amount of vinaigrette over the asparagus and toss to coat.

7. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, then top with a little more salt and pepper.

Asian Zucchini Zoodles

For those of you trying to avoid regular pastas, “zoodles” are a fun and tasty way to replace them with extra nutrition. Many grocery stores now sell already “zoodled” vegetables, like cucumbers, zucchini and beets! My favourite are the zucchini zoodles, made easier with a proper “spiralizer”.

Zoodle away with this simple dinner or lunch option!

Asian Zucchini Zoodles

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar use honey (I preferred honey)

Preparing the zoodles.

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 large zucchinis spiralized (yellow and green)
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes to taste

1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, and brown sugar; set aside.

2. To a large skillet, add 1 teaspoon oil (any type) and onions. Cook onions down for 2 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Next, add the sauce to the skillet and cook for about 1 minute then add the spiralized zucchini noodles and cook just for 1-2 minutes or until fully coated with sauce. Add pepper flakes. Serve immediately!

A Blast from the Past

So many of you have joined this blog since it was begun back since 10 years ago, that I thought you might enjoy a flashback from the past, more or less the recipe that started it all! Hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as myself and many others have turned to so many times… Thanks for hanging in there my friends! Originally posted March 19, 2011

Rose and Thistle Salad Dressing

Technically, this recipe was stolen from a little restaurant in Kingsville, Ontario, Canada. The restaurant is/was The Rose and Thistle.  As a special request was made, I decided to post this one early…let me know how it turns out Bev…

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup salad oil (NOT Olive)
  • crushed garlic to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 T honey
  • Dash Worcestershire
  • Dash pepper

Put into a blender for 1 to 2 minutes. I cheat and pout it in a shaker and shake hard.

Make it ahead as it keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks. It is great on almost any salad, including spinach!

Shrimp Stir Fry

I am always looking for new stir fry sauce recipes and I came across this one on my favourite sites, Pinterest. I almost always use peeled and deveined shrimp to simplify cooking prep and this suited what I had on hand. Since we began a KETO diet years ago for the most part, we avoid rice and pastas, with some exceptions. You do not need to have rice with this, and thus, it becomes a shrimp “stew”…LOL. We always have a stir fry blend of vegetables on hand in the freezer, so you can substitute these with the frozen vegetables.

Shrimp Stir Fry

Ingredients

  • 1 lb large shrimp (I usually buy peeled and deveined)
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 8 oz baby Bella mushrooms or other variety
  • 8 oz snow peas
  • 1/2 cup diced green onion
  • 2 bell peppers

Stir Fry Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth can also use vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp chili paste more if you want spicier
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

Instructions

Peel and de-vein shrimp if needed. Whisk all ingredients for the sauce together and set aside. Chop vegetables and set aside.

Preheat a large cooking pan or a wok over medium heat and add peanut oil.

Sauté vegetables, mixing often, until start to soften. Don’t cook vegetables all the way because it will continue to cook after you take it out of the pan and later with sauce.

Take veggies out of the pan and add a little more oil to the pan.

Sauté shrimp over medium-high heat until just turns opaque on each side.

Add vegetables back into the pan and stir.

Whisk the sauce again and pour it into the pan. Stir well and cook for a few minutes, just until sauce thickens.

Stir in green onions and serve right away.

You can serve shrimp stir fry over rice, with noodles, or just on its own.