Individual Beef and Mushroom Pies

This. Was. Delicious.  And since it’s only about 340 calories a serving, it’s definitely on my make again list.  It also freezes well too, so it’s a perfect candidate for weekend make-ahead cooking.

If you’re making this for company, ramekin dishes would look great.  For practical reasons (and the fact that I couldn’t find white ramekins with seal-able lids), I used small glass Pyrex dishes.  Hey, my mother-in-law already likes me, if she comes over for supper, she won’t need the extra presentation.  😉

Goes well with a dinner roll and a side of vegetables. Continue reading “Individual Beef and Mushroom Pies”

Pastry while on a Diet

Maple leaves and acorns

I love pastry!  I love the buttery taste, the flaky texture, and the rich smell of it while it’s cooking in the oven.  Unfortunately, I hate all the calories (and so do my hips).

I’ve tried a few “lower calorie” versions found on the internet, but I don’t like any of them.  Vegetable fillers sound like a good idea, but you lose the taste & texture of real pastry, and low calorie butter substitutes are evil and should be avoided like the chemical loaded fake food plague they are.

So what’s a pastry lover on a diet to do?  I’ve found only one solution – eat the pastry, just less of it.  Instead of making an entire pie with both top and bottom crust, make single serving mini pies in ramekins, and put pastry cut-outs on the top only.  This looks beautiful, avoids trying to serve a piece of pie without a bottom, looks like you did a lot of work (you actually did less – shhhh), and puts the small bit of pastry that you do eat right under your nose where you can see and smell it.

This is the recipe I used for mini beef & mushroom pies (to be posted on Thursday).  As it’s a savoury pie, I didn’t add sugar but if you’re using it for sweet pies, add a tsp or two of sugar in step 1.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Extra pastry freezes well. To thaw, bring it out of the freezer the night before – don’t use the microwave.
  • Use a fine grater (cheese shredder) to cut the butter into the flour.
  • Very cold butter works best. If you have the time, pre-measure and freeze it.
  • Butter gives you a nice buttery flavour, but shortening or lard give the best flaky texture. Margarine never works well.  A mix of half butter / half shortening gives both flavour & texture, but you can decide what you want to use.

Continue reading “Pastry while on a Diet”

Apricot Red Lentil Soup

Apricot-red-lentil-soupA while ago I had “high tea” with a friend and her mother. (Hi N!) If you’ve never had high tea, I highly recommend it, it’s a great way to sample new foods and teas. One of the foods I instantly fell in love with was the red lentil and apricot soup. It sounds like a weird combination, but OMG it was delicious.

Sooo, I had to figure out how to make it. After much research and testing, I’ve come up with the recipe below. If you’d prefer a vegetarian version, feel free to use vegetable broth and omit the sausage. Both ways taste great. 🙂

Extras freeze well and can be reheated in a slow cooker on low.  Goes well with a bread roll.

Continue reading “Apricot Red Lentil Soup”

Easy Honeyed Apple “Cream Cheese” “Pastry”

apple-biscuitsI’ve been eating these for breakfast for a week and OMG what a treat.  They freeze well and warm up in the microwave easily – perfect for work.  My co-workers are jealous when they smell them…  😉

This is a sweet variation of the Quick Biscuits I posted last week. I wanted something easy for breakfast that tasted like it was off the diet radar.

The easy part is that they’re quick to make and you can make them ahead of time and freeze them.  The “yum” part is the honey and cardamom – they’re a nice hint of sweet and spice without being overwhelming.

The secret to the diet part is plain non-fat Greek yogurt; the extra thick yogurt cooks like soft cream cheese without all the extra calories. The other diet secret is that this uses biscuit dough instead of puff pastry. Trust me though, no one will notice. 😉

Continue reading “Easy Honeyed Apple “Cream Cheese” “Pastry””

Slow Cooker: Butternut Squash, Lentil and Gnocchi Casserole

gnocchi-casseroleI have no idea what else to call this but a casserole. It was an amalgamation of things I had in the fridge or freezer and it turned out really well. The parmesan kicks up the flavour, the red pepper and spinach pump up the visual appeal, and the creaminess of the squash contrasts nicely with the bread crumbs. It also happens to be healthy and easy, so bonus points all around. 🙂

I had some quick gnocchi that I’d made earlier and froze, and some roasted butternut squash (also made ahead of time and frozen). If you don’t have gnocchi handy, just skip it and serve with rice, and if you don’t already have some roasted squash, just toss it in the crock pot raw. Continue reading “Slow Cooker: Butternut Squash, Lentil and Gnocchi Casserole”

Quick Italian Wedding Soup

wedding-soupI love Italian wedding soup. I especially love it when it takes almost no time to make and can be prepped for later. I made two of these and froze them for later in the week.

In this version, I used a spicy sausage. Sausage is a lot easier to make than tiny meatballs, and I like the little extra kick, but you can use whatever type of sausage you like.

Goes really well with a soft bread roll. Continue reading “Quick Italian Wedding Soup”

Quick Biscuits

biscuits

I made these as a breakfast biscuit, but this recipe is so versatile it can be used for a lunch soup accompaniment or supper side dish.

In this version, I added a diced jalapeno because my other half is a little weird that way, but if you’d rather add 1/4 cup of grated cheddar or 2 Tbsps of dried herbs, feel free to customize.

Goes well with a slice of cheese and a good jolt of caffeine.  😉 Continue reading “Quick Biscuits”