Garlic Confit

lizzie homemaker garlic confit baked in the oven
Garlic confit is an indispensable condiment in our kitchen.  The secret to making it is low and slow.

Garlic confit is incredibly easy to make and it’s a staple that we always have in our fridge.  Compared to raw garlic it is rich, sweet and creamy.  It’s great in marinades, mashed potatoes, sauces, soups and stews.  I love using it as a base when I cook up greens.  You can even spread it on bread.  The garlic infused oil is perfect for roasting vegetables, in dressings and dips and adding to tossed pasta.  Really, it can be drizzled on anything you fancy.  It is so versatile.

There are two ways to make it – on the stovetop or in the oven.

Garlic Confit

Ingredients

  • 2 or 3 heads of garlic, peeled (you can easily double or triple the recipe – use as much as you want)
  • enough olive oil to completely cover the garlic

Directions

STOVETOP METHOD

Place peeled garlic cloves in a small saucepan, completely cover with olive oil, and slowly poach at a very low temperature for about 45 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to cool and refrigerate immediately.

OVEN METHOD

Preheat oven to 275F.  Place peeled garlic cloves in an oven proof dish, completely cover with olive oil, and bake for about an hour and a half until golden brown.  Allow to cool and refrigerate immediately.

The garlic confit can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for several weeks.  The cloves should be completely covered with the oil.

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

lizzie homemaker chocolate chip granola bars
These chocolate chip granola bars are easily one of my family’s all-time favourite recipes.

When I started making these chocolate chip granola bars in the fall they quickly became a family favourite that was put into heavy rotation.  I whip up a batch every week.  They are easy to make, tasty, and infinitely cheaper and healthier than store bought.  They are nut-free and sesame-free, making them safe to bring to school and community spaces with allergy-friendly food policies.  They also keep well.  I pop them into the daughter’s lunch box, and pack them for snacks at the park and for after-school activities throughout the week. My husband also takes them to work to munch on when that afternoon slump hits.  The ingredients are all from the pantry.

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

  • Servings: 24 bars
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

DRY

  • 4 cups large rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao nibs (optional)
  •  generous pinch of salt

WET

  • 1/2 cup avocado oil (or another neutral flavoured oil)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2.  In a large bowl combine dry ingredients.
  3.  In a medium bowl or large measuring cup combine wet ingredients.
  4. Drizzle wet ingredients over dry ingredients and THROUGHLY combine.
  5. Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet and PRESS DOWN FIRMLY to shape it into a rectangle (about 11×12 inches). If you don’t press it together well and it’s loose then you’ll end up with granola instead of granola bars.
  6. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the top starts to turn golden.
  7. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes, then cut into bars (thirds lengthwise, then eight across).

 

These granola bars can be stored in a container for a couple weeks (if they last that long).

Vegetable Marrow Fritters

lizzie homemaker vegetable marrow fritters
These vegetable marrow fritters make a great lunch but we usually enjoy them as a vegetable side dish for dinner. Either way they satisfy.

I recently discovered vegetable marrow.  It’s very similar to zucchini but it’s a little less watery which makes it great for things like fritters so you don’t have to take the extra step of salting and draining the vegetable to get out the extra moisture.  I am always short of time so I appreciate anything that cuts steps and makes my life a little easier.

Vegetable Marrow Fritters

Pair these fritters with a green salad for a lovely light dinner.

Ingredients

  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 large leek, sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup feta cheese, diced
  • 4 medium or 5 small vegetable marrow, grated (about 4 cups)

Directions

  1. Drizzle olive oil in frying pan and cook leeks over moderate heat for 5 minutes.  Allow to cool while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.
  3. In a small bowl whisk eggs and milk then add to flour mixture and combine.
  4. Add leeks, feta and vegetable marrow to flour and egg mixture and combine.
  5. Heat olive oil in frying pan over medium heat.  Adding heaping 1/4 cups of fritter mixture to pan and flatten.  Fry for 5-7 minutes flipping halfway through.
  6. Serve with dipping sauce (see recipe below), sour cream or applesauce.

 

Fritters can be kept warm in oven.  You can substitute veggie marrow with zucchini but you should salt it, let it sit, then drain off the excess water.

Yogurt and Dill Dipping Sauce

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

Directions

Combine ingredients in a small bowl and serve alongside fritters.

 

Vegetable Marrow

Lizzie Homemaker Vegetable Marrow hand artistic beautiful
Vegetable Marrow

I recently came across vegetable marrow at the grocery store.  It’s a summer squash that’s similar to zucchini.  It can grow large but is most tender when small.  Native to North America, I was surprised that we had never crossed paths before.  When I polled friends, very few of them had heard of it either.

Cousin to the courgette, this low-calorie, high fibre veg has many health benefits.  It contains high levels of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and iron.  Including it in your diet helps lower cholesterol, improves energy, circulation, gastrointestinal flow, and it also helps maintain weight.  It reduces the risk of anemia, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Veggie Marrow is in season August and September. The smaller the marrow, the more nutritious and flavourful it can be.

 

Not sure what to make with this vegetable – try these delicious vegetable marrow fritters.  They satisfy.

Salt Dough Ornaments

salt dough ornaments lizzie homemaker
The salt dough ornaments are left to dry after acrylic paint and glitter glue are applied.

We make homemade salt dough ornaments every Christmas.  It’s a lovely tradition that we look forward to every year.

If you have never made them and want to, it is incredibly easy.  Simply mix 2 cups of flour with 1 cup of salt, then mix in 1 cup of warm water. Roll out dough, cut out shapes, poke a hole in the top with a straw, then bake at the lowest temperature that your oven allows until the dough is completely dry. This can take several hours depending on the temperature and the thickness of the dough. Allow the ornaments to completely cool, paint, and add glitter glue if inclined. Lastly, thread a ribbon or string through the hole and tie for hanging.  Done!

ballerina salt dough ornament lizzie homemaker
Lizzie Homemaker’s five-year-old daughter making a ballerina salt dough ornament.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup warm water

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine flour and salt.
  2. Add water and mix together.
  3. Remove dough from bowl and place on counter, shape into ball, and knead with your hands until thoroughly combined.
  4. With rolling pin, roll out dough.
  5. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes.  Using a straw, poke a hole in the top of the ornament.  Continue to combine dough scraps into a ball and re-roll out until dough is used up.
  6. Place ornaments on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  7. Bake ornaments at 200F or the lowest temperature that your oven allows until the ornaments are completely dry.  This can take about 2-3 hours depending on the temperature of your oven and the thickness of the dough.  Allow to cool completely.
  8. Paint – we use acrylic paints.  Add glitter glue (if desired).  Allow to dry.
  9. Thread a ribbon or string through hole and tie for hanging.

The ornaments puff up at higher temperatures which is why I recommend the lowest temperature possible.  My old oven could be set to 200 F but my new one only goes as low as 250 F.  A dehydrator can also be used and gives very consistent results.

If the dough mixture is a little dry simply add a tbsp of water at a time until it comes together.  If the dough is too sticky simply sprinkle and knead in a tbsp of flour at time until the dough is no longer sticky.

Vegan Collard Greens

healthy vegan collard greens
Lizzie Homemaker’s healthier take on collards keeps the classic smokey flavour intact.

We love collard greens.  We adore them.  We can’t get enough of them.  BUT we’re trying to eat healthier and we also have friends and family that are vegan.  I switched up my traditional collards recipe with pleasing results.  The key was keeping that lovely smokey flavour in the recipe that a ham hock or bacon can provide.  Adding a little liquid hickory smoke did the trick.

Vegan Collard Greens

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup veggie stock
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp liquid hickory smoke
  • pinch of red chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 large bunch of collard greens, remove coarse stems and slice

Directions

  1. Add oil to a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot.  Add onions and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or so until browned and softened.
  2. Add vinegar, stock, sugar, liquid smoke, and chili flakes (if using), bring to a simmer.
  3. Add collard greens, tossing until wilted (I use tongs to toss)
  4.  Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

If you have never bought liquid smoke – it’s near the barbecue sauces at the grocery store.  Be warned if you start experimenting with it – a little goes a long way.

Shrimp and Soba Noodle Soup

I love soup.  It is probably the ultimate comfort food.  And often when I am sick or fatigued it is exactly what I want to eat.  On those days I also don’t want to put much effort into cooking.

For this soup you simply toss aromatics into a pot of broth, simmer, cook the add-ins in the broth, garnish, and dig in.

easy faux pho soup by lizziehomemaker asian inspired soba noodles shrimp
This soup is pure comfort food and requires little effort.

Shrimp and Soba Noodle Soup

  • Servings: 2 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For the broth base

  • 2 quarts (8 cups) stock (vegetable, fish, or chicken)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced or finely diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced or finely diced
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (optional)

Add-ins

  • 160 grams soba noodles (2/3 of a pack)
  • 16 raw shrimp, peeled, tail-on
  • 1/2 cup peas (frozen work fine here)
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach

Garnish

  • green onion
  • fresh chives
  • sesame oil
  • black pepper
  • chili peppers (optional)

Directions

  1. Add all the ingredients for the broth base to a stock pot, bring to a boil, then lower heat and gently simmer for 10 minutes or so.  The longer you simmer, the stronger the flavour.
  2. Add soba noodles and bring back to a boil, simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp and peas, simmer for 3 minutes.
  4. Add baby spinach, cook until wilted and noodles and shrimp are cooked through, approx a minute more.
  5. Add garnishes.

This recipe can easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock, omitting the oyster sauce, and omitting the shrimp or replacing it with tofu.

Pear Chia Jam

Lizzie Homemaker breakfast of overnight chia oats topped with a homemade pear chia jam blackberries dried blueberries Newfound Pure wild blueberry powder hemp hearts cacao nibs bee pollen
Overnight chia oats with a hodgepodge of delicious toppings: pear chia jam, blackberries, dried blueberries, wild blueberry powder, hemp hearts, cacao nibs, and bee pollen.

I make a batch of fresh chia jam every week with seasonal fruit. It’s great for topping oatmeal, pancakes, or toast. This week I was able to get my hands on some lovely local pears.  Chia jams are insanely easy to make and so healthy.  Give it a try.

Lizzie Homemaker child fresh local Ontario pears fruit
Local Ontario pears in November! We had to scoop them up when we saw them.

Easy Pear Chia Jam

This fresh jam can be put together in less than 10 minutes. Then you simply pop it in the fridge and wait for it to thicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped pears (peeled, if you prefer a smoother texture)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)

Directions

Cook pears over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the fruit breaks down, mash, then add chia seeds, vanilla, and maple syrup (if using).  Refrigerate for several hours while the chia seeds plump up and thicken the jam.

This recipe can easily be doubled.  Store in fridge for 4 or 5 days or freeze.  Canning is not recommended.

 

Vegan Cream of Carrot and White Bean Soup

A bowl of vegan carrot soup and white bean soup garnished with chopped cashews and carrot tops by Lizzie Homemaker
A hearty vegan cream of carrot and white bean soup.

We picked up some lovely fresh carrots from our local farmers’ market.  It is amazing how much sweeter they are.  Using good carrots and garnishing this soup with some chopped cashews for crunch and fresh herbs really elevates this dish.

Cream of Carrot and White Bean Soup

  • Difficulty: easy
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Pair this hearty vegan soup with a green salad and some fresh bread for a lovely light dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of carrots, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cups cooked navy beans (or 2 cans of white beans)
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 quart (4 cups) veggie stock
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions

  1. Add olive oil to a dutch oven, add carrots and onion, cook for 5-10 minutes over medium-low heat until lightly browned.
  2. Add garlic and ginger cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil then lower heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove bay leaves and puree in blender.  Garnish with fresh herbs such as chives, parsley, or carrot tops and chopped cashews.

This soup can be made in advance and freezes well.

My Local Farmers’ Market

A bunch of fresh organic carrots from Lizzie Homemaker's local farmers' market
Cooking with local fresh organic carrots is ideal. The carrots are sweeter and the skins are left on which makes it faster to prepare and more nutritious.

Today was the last day of the season for my local farmers’ market.  I’m incredibly sad to see it shutter its doors and I feel like spring is an eternity away.

I love taking my kids to the market every Tuesday to try and get them excited about healthy food and to gain an appreciation for those that produce the food we eat.

My neighbourhood market has published the following mandate:

“The Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market mandate is to support and increase access to fresh, local, sustainable, naturally grown and certified organic agriculture.  To educate the community in the food they eat, the source from which it comes and how it is grown and/or prepared.  We like slow food, not fast food and eating at hearth and home with your loved ones”.    TBFM

How can I not be for this?  How can I not want to support this and visit every week?

I also appreciate that these vendors work very, very hard and offer fresh seasonal food that is so much better than what I can get at the grocery store and I am happy to see my money go directly to them.

artisanal cheese, gerkins, olives, baguette
Providence cheese from Monforte Dairy picked up at our local farmers’ market.

This year we bought a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) plan with Monforte Dairy, a lovely artisanal cheesemaker from Stratford.  We will receive a bundle of the most delicious cheese in December and they can count on that revenue.  I want to see businesses like this thrive.  They deserve to.

 

 

I just came across this TED talk.  I’m hoping that my kids will be just as passionate about how our food is produced as this 11-year-old.  Taking them to our farmers’ market is probably a good start.