Archive for the 'Test Kitchen' Category

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa is one of those ‘super foods’ everyone is always talking about. Fights all bad things, prevents even more bad things but what I like most about it is that it is a complete protien that comes from a plant source. Great for building muscles and growing kids, but veggie friendly! Since the invention of Meatless Mondays, my family has tried going meatless three to four times per week. This of course has be being more conscious of where our protein for the day is coming from, and quinoa is a wonderful option.

Here is a recipe I made for the family the other day that comes from I have always enjoyed tabbouleh, but now even more so because it is so healthy! While it wasn’t the most favourite thing on the plate for my step daughter, she ate it which I feel is a half victory.

Quinoa Tabbouleh
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced
2 bunches green onions, diced
2 carrots, grated
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped

In a saucepan bring water to a boil. Add quinoa and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature; fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine olive oil, sea salt, lemon juice, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, carrots and parsley. Stir in cooled quinoa.

Jodi Lariviere is a blogger and food writer with a real passion for healthy, local ingredients and she also writes two of her own blogs: Simply Fresh – and the new Vegging for Two.


The other day while grocery shopping we came upon what my step daughter described as the most pretty fruit ever. She asked if we could get it, and not wanting to say no to a request for fruit I said yes. Then came the realization as I got this pretty pink specimen home, that I had no idea what to do with it. So after some quick internet research here it is! How to prepare a dragon fruit:

Step 1 – make sure it is ripe. Look for vibrant colour and a ready to eat one should feel like a ripe kiwi. Soft, but not too mushy when squeezed between your thumb and finger.
Step 2 – cut the dragon fruit in half as you would a kiwi or melon. It should be pretty easy if it is ripe.
Step 3 – remove the white fruit with black specs with a spoon, like you would an avocado or melon. If you want to be fancy you can save the skin for serving.
Step 4 – make sure you remove any left over pink skin from the white and black fruit.
Step 5 – Slice it up and enjoy!

Pretty simple really and a great, exotic treat!

Jodi Lariviere is a blogger and food writer with a real passion for healthy, local ingredients and she also writes two of her own blogs: Simply Fresh – and the new Vegging for Two –

Veggie Nachos

Healthy Veggie Nachos

Sometimes it’s just fun to eat with your hands. No matter your age, it’s true. Honestly, some nights when things are crazy and I’m looking for a fun, easy meal I turn to nachos. But not just any nachos, healthy veggie packed nachos. There is no rule about tasty fun food not being good for you too!

So here are some tips on how to turn your nachos in to a healthy veggie packed meal or snack:

- Use low sodium, multigrain chips. You are going to be eating a few of them so make sure above all else you get good ones.

- Make sure you use a low fat protein. My favourite are low sodium black beans. As easy as opening a can of low sodium beans and giving them a rinse. They are also a very affordable option. Left over cooked chicken and lean ground beef are good options too.

- Add every veggie you can think of. Avocado, corn, fresh tomatoes, green onions, a bit of shredded lettuce, peppers, mushrooms. The list goes on. This is your chance to make sure that you are getting a load of veggies in every bite.

- Use low fat cheese, and make sure you use something with a sharp taste like old cheddar. You can use less of it but still get the full impact of the flavour. Also use low fat sour cream if you choose to use it.


Corn Chips

One jar Sodium Reduced Salsa of your heat preference

Low fat protein of your choice

As many veggies as you have in the fridge that you think would go nicely on nachos

Low fat cheese and sour cream

1/2 TBSP of each Cumin and Chilli powder

1/2 TSP of each black pepper and garlic powder

In an oven safe dish layer salsa, the protein, veggies and cheese. Give it a stir with the spices. Place in a 400 degree oven until heated through. Serve with chips and sour cream on the side.

Jodi Lariviere is a blogger and food writer with a real passion for healthy, local ingredients and she also writes two of her own blogs: Simply Fresh – and the new Vegging for Two –


These great little Mexican rolls really adapt themselves to any flavours you want to add. Start with this base then try one of the suggested flavour combos below. They are mild enough in flavour for any little one to enjoy.

1 cup masa harina (a type of corn flour. I found it at my regular grocery store so not to worry)
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/8 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
Stuffing of your choice
Banana leaves or corn husks (you can buy dried ones that you need to soak for 10 minutes prior to using, or I just used my fresh corn husks after shucking my corn for dinner)

Mix the masa harina, broth, oil, salt and pepper together to form a cookie dough like texture paste. If needed add more liquid or masa harina until you have the proper consistency.

Make your flavoured filling – come up with one of your own or try one of the suggestions below!

Place two husks or leaves on top of each other with narrow ends going in opposite directions. Add 2 TBSP of the masa harina mixture and press down until it’s flat. Add 1 TBSP of filling and wrap in the corn husks like you would a burrito. Tie the ends with string or a strip of the husk.

Place in a steamer basket over boiling water for 25-30 minutes until the dough is solid but not hard. Unroll and enjoy!

Topping suggestions
- diced zucchini with cumin, olive oil and cilantro
- spicy salsa
- cooked squash or sweet potato with cinnamon

There are so many ideas for flavourings! What kind are you going to try?

Jodi Lariviere is a blogger and food writer with a real passion for healthy, local ingredients and she also writes two of her own blogs: Simply Fresh – and the new Vegging for Two –

Chickpea Divan

Chickpea Divan

I’m always looking for veggie meals that will leave me with the feeling of comfort food, but a healthy version. This recipe is just the ticket. Warm, comforting but by using half and half instead of a thicker cream and chickpeas instead of meat it’s healthier too! This is a spin off Anna Olson’s Turkey Divan – same idea but no meat!

2 cups broccoli, cooked half way and then chilled in cold water to stop the cooking
3 TBSP butter
1 small onion, diced
2 cloved garlic, minced
2 carrots, shredded
2 spoonfulls all purpose flour
1 TBSP minced fresh oregano
2 cups veggie broth
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup white wine
2 TBSP mustard
1/4 cup un-cooked quinoa
2 cups shredded cheese of your choice (I used cheddar), divided
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup bread crumbs
2 TBSP minced chives

In a non stick pan, melt butter, saute onions, garlic and carrots until soft. Add flour and stir to coat. Add liquid, mustard and quinoa and reduce until quinoa is soft and it is a thicker consistency.

Melt in 1.5 cups of cheese, add chickpeas and cooked broccoli.

Transfer to an oven safe dish, top with bread crumbs, left over cheese and chives. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Asian Marinara Sauce

Asian Marinara Sauce

Noodles of any kind are always a big hit at my house. There is something about them that the whole family loves. So warm, so comforting. But sometimes I grow tired of the same old same old. That’s why when I saw a recipe for Japanese Noodles in my Moosewood cookbook I was keen to give them a go. But of course in the hustle that is my week night I needed to make a couple of changes to the recipe for time sake. The finished product was something a little off the beaten path, but close enough to home that the kid gave it a thumbs up!


3 single serve packages of Udon Noodles (you can find these in most grocery stores near the rice noodles)

2 TBSP sesame oil

2 TBSP soy sauce

1 TBSP olive oil

2 cups diced salt free canned tomatoes

5 spring onions chopped finely

salt and pepper to taste

In a small pot add all ingredients minus the undon noodles. Bring to a simmer and let sit on low heat to warm through.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the udon noodles for 3 minutes, or by package instructions. Drain and return to large pot. Add heated sauce and serve immediately.

Test Kitchen: Toad in a Hole

Shouldn’t Mother’s Day happen all the time? Well it can certainly feel like it by teaching your kids to make one really great breakfast all on their own. It won’t take much before they want to make you a special breakfast every weekend! What’s so great about this recipe? No sharp knives needed, it has a funny name and it’s really tasty.

Kids will need supervision and a crash course on cooking safety, but older kids will be able to pull off this recipe pretty much on their own once they have been given some instruction. Remember how excited you were when they learned to tie their own shoes because you knew you wouldn’t always have to be the one doing it?? Prepare to feel that times 10 because this time you get something delicious out of the process!


  • 4 slices of bread
  • 4 eggs
  • Butter
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 handfuls of grated cheese

Spread the butter on the bread. Using a 3-inch circle cookie cutter (other shapes are fun too! Just make sure they are big enough for the egg to fit into) cut out a circle in the centre of the bread. Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Place all pieces of bread on the pan and crack an egg into the middle of the cut out. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 2-3 minutes until egg white begins to cook. Flip the bread and the egg together and the ‘holes’ over and cook until egg is cooked to desired consistency. I like mine over easy… hint hint, nudge nudge family. Over each egg add a handful of cheese and top with the toasted ‘hole’ or ‘lid’.

Jodi Lariviere is a blogger and food writer with a real passion for healthy, local ingredients and she also writes two of her own blogs:  Simply Fresh – and the new Vegging for Two –

Image credit: Toad in a Hole by flickr user domit

Test Kitchen: Raspberry Turnovers

I hate the amount of sugar in store bought baked goods. I find that if you are using seasonal fruits the amount of sugar you need to add lessens significantly. With that in mind I wanted to make some really easy raspberry turnovers, using the frozen raspberrys I had picked earlier in the year.

If you don’t have berries you picked, it’s alright – any frozen berry or any fruit or vegetable for that matter, is always picked at the hight of ripeness and frozen right away.

1 sheet of puff pastry
2 cups frozen berries
1/2 cup sugar

While your berries are defrosting, add the sugar to them and let sit at room temperature.

When your berries are no longer frozen, test them for sweetness. You want them to keep their flavour, but not be too tart.

Take your sheet of puff pastry and cut it into triangles. Using a slotted spoon add some berries to the large end of your triangles and roll the dough up to form little crecent rolls.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until the pastry is golden brown. About 10 mintues.

Jodi Lariviere is a blogger and food writer with a real passion for healthy, local ingredients and she also writes two of her own blogs:  Simply Fresh – and the new Vegging for Two –

Test Kitchen: Poached Pears

I’m always looking for ways to sneak more fruits and veggies into my family’s diet. I’ve found there is always room in our snacks and desserts for a little more nutrients. That is why I love the idea of poached pears! Simple and easy to do, it turns eating a pear from ‘that thing you do to get your fruit and vegetable serving’ to a yummy treat that might even have you going back for seconds!

Hubby and my step daughter love them when they are served warm. Of course my step daughter likes them best when served with a little vanilla yogurt – or even vanilla frozen yogurt. But a little calcium isn’t bad for you either!

1-2 pears, peeled, halved and core removed
4 cups water
1 mint tea bag
3 TBSP lemon juice
1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar

While you are halving, coring and peeling your pears – put the water in a saucepan over high heat, bring to a boil then turn down to a light simmer. Add lemon juice and mint tea bag and allow to steep for at least 20 minutes.

Add sugar 1/4 cup at a time – test after each addition until sweetened to your taste. Add pears and cook until fork tender.

Remove pears when finished and set aside. Keep 1/2 cup of the poaching liquid – discard the rest. Return liquid to the pot and boil until thickened into a syrup. Serve warm syrup over pears.

Jodi Lariviere is a blogger and food writer with a real passion for healthy, local ingredients and she also writes two of her own blogs:  Simply Fresh – and the new Vegging for Two –

Test Kitchen: Making Sushi

Believe it or not, ‘The Kid’ actually asks me to make this on a regular basis. We are pretty lucky to have the opposite of a picky eater on our hands, but even so I don’t think it’s the food that she loves in this meal, it’s using chop sticks.

Either way, sushi is easy and inexpensive to make at home. If you are introducing it to your kids for the first time, try sticking with flavours they know such as vegetable sushi and shrimp. Let them work up to more flavourful rolls such as salmon. 

- Nori – seaweed paper
- Sushi Rice – a sticky rice that is usually white. Use brown if you like but make sure it is ‘sticky’ so that it will hold the rolls together
- Rice vinegar
- Vegetables cut into thin strips such as carrots, celery, zucchini, avocado, red peppers or anything your family likes that will add a bit of flavour and crunch
- Raw, fresh fish such as tuna, crab, salmon or shrimp cut into long strips
- Optional condiments: soy sauce, wasabi paste or pickled ginger

Cook rice according to package directions, adding 2 TBSP of vinegar when it is finished.

On a piece of wax paper lay out a piece of nori and cover it lightly with rice.

Add a layer of vegetables and / or fish in any combination you like, then roll sushi into a tight spiral. Pack it tightly and the rice should help it to stick.

Slice the roll in to several pieces of sushi. Serve with soy sauce, wasabi paste or pickled ginger.

Jodi Lariviere is a blogger and food writer with a real passion for healthy, local ingredients and she also writes two of her own blogs:  Simply Fresh – and the new Vegging for Two –

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