This was an easy tasty salad - a perfect side dish to any summer meal.  This recipe was great for 2 for a couple of days, but can easily be doubled.  Might be the simplest salad there is!  Fresh green beans are a must for this recipe, and any good quality store bought pickled beets will work nicely.

2 cups green beans ends trimmed cut in half

1 cup pickled beets, chopped

1 round wedge of red onion - rinse well in cold water, then slice into 1 inch lengths

juice of a small lemon wedge

2 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Crumbled feta cheese

Bring a pot of water to a high boil.  Have an ice water bath ready.  Add the beans to the boiling water, and once back to a high boil, blanch the beans for 1.5 minutes, lid on medium high, drain and put into the ice bath to stop the cooking, and once cool, drain and place onto a paper towel.

Add to a bowl with the pickled beets, red onion, juice of the lemon, EVOO,  salt and pepper.  Mix well and add crumbled feta cheese.  Serve along side any main dish.














Yes - an all Vegan Potato Salad that was surprisingly delicious!  We had tried this at a local deli and I thought I would give it a try at home, never believing potato salad could taste this good with Vegan mayonnaise.  Simple to make and with a creamy texture just like the potato salad with eggs.

1.5 lb. summer new potatoes

1/4 cup green onion, chopped

1/4 cup diced celery

3 Tblsp. finely diced red pepper

1 small finely diced sweet gherkin pickle


1/2 - 2/3 cup Vegan Mayonnaise (based on taste)

2 tsp. Dijon Mustard

1-2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. paprika

salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Cook the potatoes in salted water until fork tender.  Drain and allow to cool.  Once cooled, take off any extra peel, and cut into chunks.  Add to a bowl with the green onions, gherkin pickle, celery, and red pepper - season with salt and pepper.

Mix up the dressing and add to the potato mixture, gently stirring to combine.  Check for seasonings and adjust if necessary.  A great summer side dish.














This was a quick and easy marinated beet salad - cooking was the only lengthy process.  Rather than steaming up beets for a side dish,  I thought I would make this simple marinade and turn it into a salad.  This is also delicious on top of a garden salad.

In this dish I used 3 medium sized beets - but you could certainly increase all the amounts here to have the next day or to serve a crowd.  This is best made early in the day and refrigerated 4-6 hours so the flavors develop.

3 medium sized beets, red stocks trimmed off, then wash well leaving the skin on and the beets whole

2 sliced "rounds" of red onion, rinse well in cold water, then slice to 1 1/2 inch pieces

1 Tblsp. Apple Cider Vinegar

3 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tblsp. reserved beet water

salt to taste.

Add the clean beets to a pot and cover well with water.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium, lid cracked slightly.  Cook 45 min. or longer until tender.  Reserve 2 Tblsp. of the beet water and place into a bowl.  Once the beets have cooled, take off the peels, and cut into even sized chunks.

Rinse the red onion well under cold water, then slice into 1 1/2 inch slices.  Add the beets and onions to a bowl.

In the bowl with the beet water, add the EVOO, Apple Cider vinegar and salt whisking well.  Pour over the beets and red onion mixing well.

Refrigerate 4-6 hours before serving as a side dish or on top of a garden salad.  After this post a new VEGAN POTATO SALAD THAT IS YUMMY!















We have been in a heat wave...very unusual for our area.  We ended up the first day BBQ'ing chicken and hence the above salad to accompany it.  To nite we will thankfully be having cold leftovers.  So, this all dressed potato salad is yummy served warm or cold.

1 1/2 - 2 lbs. new potatoes (scrub well, chop, and cook till fork tender)

2 large green onions, finely chopped

1 tsp. dried dill

1 tsp. garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 tsp mustard Dijon is best but here I used regular which was good too

2 Tblsp. Wine Vinegar (mine looks more rose colored so white or red should be fine)

3 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

handful of minced Italian flat leaf parsley

good sprinkling of Parmesan cheese

paprika to sprinkle over top

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain well and set aside.  Chop the green onions and parsley and set aside.  Mix the dill, garlic powder, salt and pepper, wine vinegar, mustard and EVOO in a small bowl whisking well to combine.  Pour over the potatoes and toss, then add the green onions, parsley, and Parmesan cheese mix gently to combine, then sprinkle the top with a bit of extra flat leaf Italian parsley and top with a good sprinkle of paprika.  Serve along side any other dishes.










We are in full swing with rainy season in our neck of the woods.  It is hard to believe that November is already here...where do the months slip by?  Well, with fall comes pumpkins, and squashes of all kinds.  Despite the rainy season, I always look forward to creating new squash dishes of any kind.  This gratin was light and flavorful with the added fresh sage - a great side dish to serve alongside any main dish.
(please forgive the picture quality...still learning a new camera!)
1 spaghetti squash - once baked there should be 4 cups worth
2 large leeks
2 Tblsp. fresh chopped sage
1 1/2 Tblsp. butter
salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk (we use lactose free)
2 Tblsp. butter
2 minced garlic cloves
3 Tblsp. Sweet Rice flour
2 Tblsp. Parmesan cheese
salt and fresh cracked pepper
1/2 cup gluten free bread crumbs
2  1/2 Tblsp. Parmesan cheese - mix well with the bread crumbs
grated Swiss Gruyere cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using a large 2 prong fork, poke the spaghetti squash all over.  Place on a roasting pan and bake for 1 hr. turning over half way through.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Once cool, cut in half and using a spoon scrape out the seeds.  Then use a fork to scrape out the squash.  My squash was very moist so I lay it out onto paper towel, then covered it with paper towel pressing down to remove the excess moisture.  Then place into a casserole dish.
Heat up a frying pan on low medium heat.  Add 1 1/2 Tblsp. butter, then add in the sliced leeks and sage.  Saute about 10 minutes until tender.
Add to the spaghetti squash and toss with a fork to combine.
Melt butter in a medium sauce pan on low medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute.  Once fragrant, add the sweet rice flour stirring well for a minute.  Then slowly pour in the milk & chicken stock, whisking well to remove any lumps.  Season with salt and pepper.  Whisk on medium heat quite frequently until the sauce comes to a light simmer and has thickened.  Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan cheese, whisking to incorporate.  Pour the sauce onto the squash/leeks and mix well until evenly combined.
Sprinkle the breadcrumb Parmesan mixture over the top, then add the grated Swiss Gruyere cheese evenly over the breadcrumbs.
Bake for 45 min. - 1  hour and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Before commencing with today's recipe I thought it fitting to make mention of our recent "Royal" visit.

Our fair city has been a whirl wind of activity for the past week. We have just finished our "Royal" visit with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Victoria B.C.  They spent the week touring throughout a number of areas in B.C., but their "home" base was here.
Work had no sooner slowed down then all of a sudden went crazy once again.  Although we did not see them, we sure saw the crowds and crowds of people welcoming them throughout the city.  What a lovely couple they are - truly gracious and humble.  Their visit brought huge numbers of people from all areas and internationally too.  The Royal visit is now over, although for many Victorians it is a visit that will long be remembered and cherished.  Bless their hearts for the work they do, for the humble way in which they reach out to all people.
I suppose with the Royal visit I should have created a typically English dish such as the famous "Eton Mess".  However, we are still inundated with farm fresh vegetables.
So a vegetable side dish it is.  Wow....did this ever take green beans to a whole new level.  With really bright and tasty flavors these simple ingredients really went well with green beans.  It is hard to believe we are in the first week of October and we can still get green beans at our farmers market.  It has been the start to a lovely fall in our neck of the woods.
Last year I remember practically crying because I did not stock up on enough fresh organic shallots - I have done so this year - my favorite over a regular onion any day!
You can find the sun dried tomato pesto recipe here.  Or use your favorite kind - regular pesto would be delicious here too.
1/4 lb. fresh green beans, end trimmed
1 large shallot, halved then thinly sliced
2 Tblsp. sun dried tomato pesto
juice of 1/2  a small lemon or less to taste
1-2 Tblsp. of reserved green bean water from blanching
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste
Heat up a frying pan on low medium heat with a good drizzle of EVOO.  Add the sliced shallots, season with salt and pepper and saute until lightly golden - about 8-10 min.  Meanwhile bring a pot of water to the boil, and blanch the green beans for 2 minutes.  Reserve 2 Tblsp. of green bean water.  Drain the green beans and immediately submerge in an ice bath to stop the cooking.
Remove the green beans to a clean towel and pat dry setting aside.  Once the shallots are golden, remove to a dish.  Add the pesto and green bean water, 1 Tblsp. at a time (you may only need 1 Tblsp.) to the frying pan - stirring well.  Then add the green beans, lemon juice, and check for seasonings to coat.  Toss well to evenly coat the green beans.
Serve hot alongside any main dish.

Although I do have a number of rice dishes on this blog....rice is not my favorite side dish.  Never has been. (unless it is Risotto or a lovely dessert rice pudding) However, if you make it into a pilaf, adding numerous flavorings and other ingredients, it creates a flavorful side dish indeed.
We recently discovered this wild rice blend by Lundberg.  It is a blend of long grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, wild rice, whole grain wehani rice, and whole grain black japonica rice.  Wehani and black Japonica rice? We have never heard of these types of rice before but I must say there was great flavor and texture in this rice blend.  No paid advertisement here...just wanting to share something new we all enjoyed.
I have found with these rice blends there is always the need to add more liquid and a longer cooking time than what the directions recommend...personally I do not care for crunchy rice! With the added cooking time and extra ingredients this created a lovely side dish to any main meal.
1 cup of wild rice blend
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3 crimini mushrooms, diced
1 large shallot, diced
3 minced garlic cloves
2 big Tblsp. finely diced celery with leaves
2 Tblsp. Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 - 2 Tblsp. butter
1 Tblsp. tomato paste and 1/4 cup water, mixed well
a few splashes balsamic vinegar
season blend:  1/2 tsp. dried basil, 1/2 tsp. dried fennel, 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning, 2 tsp. dried ground garlic, 1 Tblsp. dried parsley, salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, and rice to a medium sized sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Stir with a fork, cover with a lid, and turn down to a low simmer.  Cook for about 1 hour.
Remove from heat, toss with a fork, then lid back on and let sit for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat up a large saute pan on low medium heat with the EVOO and butter.  Add the mushrooms, shallot, garlic, and finely diced celery.  Saute about 10 minutes.  Then add in the seasoning blend, tomato paste with water, and the balsamic vinegar stirring well to combine.  Continue to saute for another 5 minutes.  Add the rice, mixing well.  Keep on a low heat, stirring until heated through well.  Serve alongside any main dish.

Chanterelle mushrooms are by far my favorite mushroom - even re-hydrated they have such a distinct woodsy sweet flavor.  Although, fresh is always the best.  They do have a short window of time for harvest, and as we did not get any fresh ones this year, I was happy to be able to buy dehydrated Chanterelle's.  In this dish you could certainly use a dry white wine instead of the Balsamic Vinegar - however, we have discovered we much prefer the Balsamic Vinegar in risotto compared to white wine - but, both are delicious.
What better way to showcase Chanterelle's than in a Risotto.
1 cup of re-hydrated Chanterelle mushrooms - chopped.
2 tblsp. butter
1 tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large shallot, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
4 cups chicken stock (homemade if you have it)
1 tsp. dried basil
2 tblsp. Balsamic Vinegar
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup Arborio rice
Add the mushrooms to a bowl and cover with very hot water.  Allow to re-hydrate for 40 minutes, then drain well, and place the mushrooms onto a paper towel to absorb any extra moisture.  Then chop into small pieces and set aside.
Heat up a good sized saute pan on medium low heat adding in the butter and EVOO.  Saute the shallots and garlic about 5 minutes.  Season well with salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Meanwhile, heat up the chicken stock to a low simmer.
Add in the rice, basil, and balsamic vinegar - stirring about 3- 5 more minutes.  Add a ladle full of chicken stock to the rice - stirring well, then allow to bubble a minute or so.  Continue to cook and stir until the stock has evaporated, then add in another ladle full of stock.  Repeat until the stock is finished and the rice is cooked tender, about 40 minutes. Add in the re-hydrated Chanterelles, and freshly grated Parmesan Cheese.
Check for seasonings and serve along side any main dish.  Enjoy!