Slow Cooker Nuts and Bolts

Nuts and bolts are a holiday cocktail party staple, we can’t imagine the season without them. It’s fun to experiment with different flavours — sweet, spicy, curried — but we also like sticking to this classic, dressed with Worcestershire and plenty of butter. Since our ovens are usually full of cookies, flaky appetizers and other goodies over the holidays, we like turning to the slow cooker to take care of the nuts and bolts. You have to be around to stir the mixture so it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the crock, but they do cook up fairly quickly (compared to other slow cooker recipes at least).

This recipe appears in our book The Family Slow Cooker (which also includes a sweet snack mix) and can be easily adapted to use up whatever cereal or crispy snacks you may have on hand. We often leave out the peanuts out for friends who may have allergies and to keep the mix school safe. Read More

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate is a staple around here, but we sometimes get tired of the usual cocoa mix (cocoa + icing sugar) swirled into warmed milk. Since we’re all fans of peanut butter and chocolate, years ago I tried swirling a spoonful of creamy peanut butter into hot chocolate, and it was a hit. Rich and delicious, it’s enough of an energy boost to take with you in a Thermos to the ski hill, skating, or when you come inside after some snow shovelling or snowman-building.

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Barley Banana Bread

 

Banana bread is a staple at all of our houses, but we always like to sneak in a nutritional boost wherever we can. This loaf is made with overripe bananas (the ones that tumble from the freezer whenever you open the door) and barley flour – along with regular all-purpose flour, it adds a delicious nuttiness and boosts fibre even more than whole wheat flour would. You can find it alongside the other flours in the baking section of most grocery stores, and once you try it you’ll find yourself using it in pancakes, cookies, muffins, cakes – and as a bonus, it’s Canada’s third largest crop (after wheat and canola), and more than half the barley grown in Canada is right here in Alberta.

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Samarna’s Mutthiya Kebabs

My sister works with plenty of great cooks, but Samarna stands out as a truly exceptional home cook – she invited me to her kitchen earlier this year to cook, and made the most amazing ground meat kebabs – like large meatballs she shaped in the palm of her hands. They were simple, but delicious – you could make them with ground beef or lamb, and mix together a quick tzatziki to dip them in or dribble overtop. The perfect kind of food when you have a few extra people at the table.

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Creamy Chicken, Corn & Vegetable Chowder

With so many veggies at their peak in the fall, it’s a great time to make a hearty bowl of chowder. This recipe makes great use of leftover roasted turkey and stock, too – often we’ll just use a meaty stock that has not been strained, rather than measure out leftover roast chicken or turkey. This soup is equally delicious with leftover chopped ham in place of the chicken.

As with most soups, ingredients can be played with and measurements are approximate – use what you like, add more carrots if you like carrots, add a handful of baby spinach (we did, when we reheated the leftovers) or chopped kale or chard. Soup is infinitely versatile, inexpensive, and can be frozen for a quick meal down the road.

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Herbed Bulgur Salad

 

Herbed Bulgur Salad
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup dry bulgur (cracked wheat)
  2. 1 cup boiling water
  3. big handfuls of fresh parsley and cilantro, leaves pulled off the stems and coarsely chopped (a bunch or two)
  4. a smaller handful of mint and/or dill
  5. a small handful of chopped toasted walnuts
  6. juice of a big, juicy lemon
  7. a good drizzle of good olive oil
  8. if you like: tiny tomatoes, crumbled feta, shaved cucumber
Instructions
  1. Put the dry bulgur into a bowl and pour the boiling water overtop; cover with a plate and let stand for 10-15 minutes. Pour off any water than hasn't been absorbed (I like to do this in a sieve, shaking it to make sure all excess moisture is gone) and transfer to a bowl and set aside or in the fridge to cool.
  2. Add the herbs, squeeze over the lemon juice and a good glug of oil, toss and add the toasted walnuts (and anything else you think would taste good). Serves 4-6ish.
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Many people overlook fresh herbs as a potential salad ingredient – classic Middle Eastern tabbouleh is a notable exception, loaded with flat-leaf parsley, grains and typically cucumbers and tomatoes. It’s a perfect candidate if you have all three growing in your back yard (or at their peak at the farmers’ market), but if you want to make use of a wider variety of herbs, this leafy, herb-heavy bulgur salad is packed with green goodness: parsley, cilantro, mint and dill, but you could use anything you have on hand and love. 

This salad is simple to make – bulgur is simply soaked in boiling water, so you can plug in the kettle and don’t even need to put a pot on the stove. A squeeze of lemon gives it a brightness and brings out all the green, herbal flavours, and a drizzle of olive oil adds richness, healthy fats, and smooths everything out. We added a handful of chopped toasted walnuts, but pine nuts would  be delicious too. Feel free to add tomatoes and cukes to make it more like a classic tabbouleh.