Spicy Carrot Dip

IMG_7993We are in the midst of having the exterior of our house painted. A few years ago we painted the barn, checking that we liked the colours we’d chosen. We decided to change the door colour, yet we haven’t gone to the back of the barn to re-do the stall panels. The only time we see them is when we’re doing chores, and when we’re there, we can’t see any of the other outbuildings, so they’re not really a big priority. However, I will re-do them at some point. Last summer all of the other outbuildings were painted in the refigured colours. By doing them ahead of the house, we were able to watch how the colours worked throughout the year, and if they were truly the colours we wanted. On rainy or cloudy days the house in its old worn colour looked so drab, while all the other buildings now had a warm & happy glow.

The woodshed sporting the new colours, except for the gate, which will stay weathered.

The woodshed sporting the new colours, except for the gate, which will stay weathered.

Once the final decision on colours was made, a painter was hired. Someone who is willing to deal with all the detail we’d built into the house, as well as a bit of fearlessness to paint our 41’ roof peak.

Although I’m horrible about heights, and have had some anxiety issues while he’s up at the top of 40’ ladders, I am thrilled with how it’s looking.   Of course, all this has been going on while we move through an extremely busy summer. I seem to be in the kitchen for a long spell each day, figuring out recipes, doing test batches and so on. Perhaps I’m being energized by the attitude of the painter. Let’s get it done!

Here’s my take on a Spicy Carrot Dip that we’ll be serving as part of the appetizer menu for this year’s Summer Soiree & Art Auction. It is a beautiful colour (this summer is all about colour!), with a rich, warm spiciness that is lovely with a bit of flat bread. Continue reading

Chicken Marbella

IMG_5880 The Silver Palate Cookbook offers the most well known version of Chicken Marbella.  Regardless of this dish’s roots from Spain’s south coast, it is their recipe that has made the dish well known in North America.  I have always used the proportion of ingredients exactly as written, allowing for a change of amounts depending on how many I’m serving.  It creates a succulent, slightly sweet, fruity chicken that is an amazing addition to a buffet, and works equally well when individually plated.

The cooked prunes & olives complement the chicken wonderfully.  It’s a good thing to serve a dish that surprises your guests.  I’m sure this recipe has converted more than a few non-prune eaters!

Don’t feel the need to add more, as the amounts of capers, dried prunes, and olives are perfect as written.  It is essential to allow at least 24 hours of marinating time.  From the first time I used this recipe, it has always stayed in my top ten ways of preparing chicken.  Continue reading

Moroccan Salad with Quinoa

IMG_4999We used to have a flat-weave picnic basket.  It was lined in green tartan, and had a place for everything that a family might need for a great lunch.  Today we tend to pack lunches into coolers or backpacks, with lots of ice or freezer paks.  Somehow our unchilled lunches of yesteryear never made us sick.  We would have a stack of sandwiches, maybe a salad or two, some pickles, and cookies and fruit for dessert.  A bottle of lemonade would be enough for us all.  No pop tins, fancy fruit juices, or iced teas.  How did we ever survive?

There is always time for a picnic.  Don’t go overboard thinking it out, just make some things that make you happy, and get outside!  Even if you just toddle down to the local park.

This salad would be an amazing picnic salad.  Salads are great when they can be used as a main dish as well.  This colourful salad, full of fragrant spices lasts well in the fridge, and works well as a side dish for dinner, or as a main course salad, for lunches or a light supper. It’s packed full of nutrition, and is pretty as well!

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Warmed Olives with Citrus & Fennel

IMG_3323_2 I’ve always had a thing for olives.  When I was about eight years old, I can remember wanting big dishes of them with my birthday dinner.  The freedom to eat as many as I wanted was so exciting for me.

The texture and flavour are so appealing.  A few olives with some dry salami and crusty bread is pretty much a perfect lunch for me.

Even though there are so many varieties of olives available, this recipe brings them to a whole new level.  Whether you’re trying an imported jar of huge green olives, or are wondering what you’ll ever do with that can of pitted black olives, this works well for all.   The olives are heated in olive oil with citrus peel, fennel seeds and a pinch of chilies.  They’re served warm and the flavoured oil is fabulous soaked into bread. Continue reading