Japanese Cabbage Salad

Japanese Cabbage Salad

Japanese Cabbage Salad served in a square wooden bowl and garnished with sliced green onions.

Japanese Cabbage Salad

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Shredded cabbage, green onions, ramen noodles and almonds on a wooden cutting board being prepaired for Japanese Cabbage Salad.

Spring has sprung, and it’s time to start thinking about grilling, fresh berries and salads. Japanese Cabbage Salad is fresh, light and a little bit crunchy for the perfect picnic, side or lunch salad. The change of season brings about fresh and light recipe ideas for blogging but also a welcome change for everyday living. It’s the opportunity to jog outdoors, enjoy long walks and drive to and from work in daylight. These are important things in my world. What’s got you excited for spring?

Japanese Cabbage Salad served in a square wooden bowl and garnished with sliced green onions.

What I enjoy most about this salad is the almonds, they give a great crunchy texture to every bite. Using the chicken seasoning package from the noodles in the dressing is also genius. It provides a wonderful savoury and salty addition to the mound of cabbage. Japanese Cabbage Salad is great for picnics or potlucks because it holds up very well and there is no mayonnaise to cause concern if left to sit for a while. Have it as a meal by adding grilled or rotisserie chicken, it’s a great lunch.

The recipe suggests letting the salad rest for 30-60 minutes to meld the flavours, but truthfully, I enjoy it just as much the next day after the cabbage has absorbed more of the dressing. It’s rather embarrassing how much of this salad I can eat in one sitting, stopping only because my gut aches from eating so much raw cabbage. I’m not sure that salads are usually what people can’t stop eating but this one hits all the right notes for me. Enjoy

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

Japanese Cabbage Salad served in a square wooden bowl and garnished with sliced green onions.
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Japanese Cabbage Salad

Prep Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 pkg chicken ramen noodle seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • to taste pepper
  • 5 cups finely shredded cabbage, lightly packed about 1 pound
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 3 each green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pkg instant chicken ramen noodles

Instructions

  • Whisk together the first six ingredients and set aside.
  • In a large bowl toss together shredded cabbage, almonds and green onion. Add dressing and toss to coat evenly. Break apart ramen noodles into small pieces with your hands and toss with salad. Cover salad and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes to meld flavours and soften the noodles slightly. The salad can be made up to 2 hours in advance, tossing lightly just before serving.

Notes

-Slivered almonds are preferred as they offer the best crunch and size.  To toast the almonds preheat the oven to 350°F.  Arrange almonds in a single layer in a pie plate or other shallow baking tray.  Toast for 8-10 minutes until just starting to turn golden. 
-Easily make this salad into lunch by topping with cooked chicken.

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Potato and Mushroom Gratin

Potato and Mushroom Gratin

Potato and Mushroom Gratin

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Sliced mushrooms, gruyere cheese and potatoes in a basket are being prepped for Potato and Mushroom Gratin.

With Easter just around the corner, you’ll want to be dinner ready for family and friends. Hopefully, with some luck, the Covid-19 gathering restrictions will ease in my area and a modest gathering can take place. I do miss my family and friends, and I miss cooking for them. It’s the best part of any gathering, in my opinion. You’re gonna love this easy and delicious Potato and Mushroom Gratin. It feeds 8 people, it’s easy to assemble and bakes up golden and creamy every time. There’s no messing around with cooking a white sauce, there’s no boilovers and no pre-cooking potatoes. It’s a no-fuss casserole, loaded with earthy mushrooms and Gruyere cheese, and has become my favourite to serve with ham. It’s also fantastic served with roast chicken, pork or grilled steak.

Sauteed mushroom in a stainless steel skillet that have been cooked for Potato and Mushroom Gratin.
A prepped and layered Potato and Mushroom Gratin in a red casserole dish ready for the oven.

What makes this potato casserole a winner in my books is the simplicity of the sauce. The mixture of cream and sour cream makes it extra creamy and the sour cream gives a little tang. The sauce is whisked together cold and poured over the potato slices. I find there’s no need to be fussy with the potato arrangement either. Simply toss the slices into the casserole dish and spread them around evenly instead of trying to layer them ever so carefully. If you don’t have a mandolin for thinly slicing the potatoes, that’s no problem, simply slice as thin as you can by hand and cook for the longest time suggested in the recipe. Remember, dinner doesn’t need to be fussy. This simple casserole is not only delicious, but it also feeds a small crowd and is worthy of your family gathering. Enjoy!

Potato and Mushroom Gratin baked golden in a red casserole dish and garnished with chopped green onions.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

Potato and Mushroom Gratin baked golden in a red casserole dish and garnished with chopped green onions.
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Potato and Mushroom Gratin

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 8 people

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tbsp unsalted butter plus more for dish
  • 16 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced see note
  • 1 small onion, thinly slice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sour cream, full fat
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes see note
  • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F and butter a large 3-quart casserole dish.
  • Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until starting to foam. Add mushroom and cook until lightly browned and the moisture has evaporated. Add minced garlic and continue to cook, stirring often for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove to a clean bowl.
  • Melt another 1-2 tbsp of butter over medium heat and add sliced onions. Sprinkle with salt and sauté for 4-5 minutes until starting to soften.
  • While mushrooms and onions are cooking, whisk together cream, sour cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg. In a separate bowl whisk together milk and flour until smooth. Add to the sour cream mixture and whisk until incorporated. Grate the cheese and set it aside.
  • Peel and thinly slice the potatoes and dab dry with a paper towel. Spread half of the potato slices evenly in the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Scatter half of the sauteed mushrooms and onions over the potatoes. Top evenly with half of the cheese. Repeat with remaining potatoes, mushrooms and cheese.
  • Pour the cream mixture evenly over the potatoes. Give the pan a gentle shake to help flatten everything out. Cover and bake for 45-60 minutes (this will depend on how thin you've sliced the potatoes) Start checking at 45 minutes. The potatoes should be "just" tender in the center. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 20 minutes until the top is golden and the potatoes are cooked through.
  • Remove from oven, cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or sliced green onions if desired.

Notes

-The cooking of the mushrooms and onions, along with the mixing of the sauce can be done several hours and up to one day in advance. So all you have left to do is slice the potatoes, assemble and bake the casserole.
-Russet potatoes work well for this recipe, however, I've also used red potatoes with equally good results.
-The covered cooking time will vary slightly depending on how thin you've sliced the potatoes.  I find cutting them by hand instead of using a mandolin requires closer to 60 minutes covered.
-I like using a mix of cremini and white mushrooms for this recipe but either/or will work well.

Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas

Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas

Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas

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Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas are on regular rotation in my house. They’re not only quick and easy but tasty, family-approved and customizable. I like to use cheddar cheese and load mine up with fresh cilantro. But Monterey jack, spicy Mexican blend, or mozzarella cheese are also great options. Go ahead and be adventurous with the toppings too. Sour cream and salsa are always family favourites but also try diced avocado, taco sauce, pickled jalapeños, green onion…and the list goes on. But that’s what makes it fun and perfect for the whole family.

There’s a huge variety of tortillas available too. I like the flour and corn blend while my husband prefers plain flour. These are the basic options, you may want to try a multigrain, garden vegetable or sun-dried tomato tortilla. Again, there are lots of options to please everyone.

Sauteed beef, onions and green peppers in a cast iron skillet in preparation for Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas.
Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas ready to be folded in a skillet.

The black beans extend the ground beef, making these budget-friendly too. You can easily cut back on the ground beef further and sub in a few more black beans. I like just enough to give a little texture, fibre and added nutrition. I use drained and rinsed canned black beans out of convenience but you can certainly cook your own dried beans, which will reduce the cost further. Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas are a great weeknight meal for the whole family no matter how you stack them up. You’ll want them on regular rotation, enjoy!

Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas cut and stacked three high on a wooden plate, garnished with cilantro and lime.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas cut and stacked three high on a wooden plate, garnished with cilantro and lime.
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Beef and Black Bean Quesadillas

Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp canola oil plus more for tortillas
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tbsp taco seasoning or 35g pkg
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup canned black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/2 cup corn niblets
  • 4 10" tortillas
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese about 8 ounces
  • as needed chopped fresh cilantro optional
  • as needed salsa optional
  • as needed sour cream optional

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a medium skillet, add beef and cook until just starting to brown, breaking up larger pieces as it cooks. Drain or dab out any excess fat.
  • Add green pepper, onion and garlic. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until vegetables start to soften and beef is fully browned and cooked through.
  • Stir in water, taco season, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium until liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes.
  • Stir in black beans and corn and heat until warm. Adjust salt to taste.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat and drizzle in 1/2 tsp of oil. Add one tortilla and sprinkle the entire tortilla with 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces). Spread approximately 1 cup of beef mixture evenly over half of the cheese-covered tortilla.
  • Allow to cook until the bottom of the tortilla is golden and the cheese is melted. Fold the tortilla in half and press gently to hold it together. Remove to a cutting board and cut into 3 wedges. Repeat with remaining tortillas and serve immediately with your favourite garnishes like sour cream and salsa.

Notes

-

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Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

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The Keto diet continues to be very popular and I was asked by a friend to whip up a few Keto treats. Although I am familiar with the diet, having done it with my husband about a year and a half ago, we did not eat any sweets. Not only were we not hungry, my husband (who has the sweet tooth) didn’t seem to miss sugar. We were all about the savoury side of the Keto diet, eating meat, avocado, eggs and cheese mostly. So I jumped in with both feet to experiment and learn the world of Keto baking. My Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites are delicious proof that perseverance pays off. They’re rich, chocolatey, not too sweet and the perfect size to treat yourself while staying within the parameters of the Keto Diet.

Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites being prepared in a mini muffin tin on a blue background.

Baking sweets for Keto was new to me as I’d never baked with artificial sweeteners. I started by baking a batch of cookies, and they were dry, bland and had an odd texture. I then moved on to make mini cheesecakes with greater success. Probably the biggest part of why cheesecake is a great Keto treat option is because the texture is as it should be, smooth and creamy.  With other baked items such as cookies, cupcakes and brownies the texture is not necessarily bad, but just a little different than what you would expect. Next came the cupcakes. I experimented with chocolate, chocolate chip and coconut cupcakes. I found a blend of almond flour and coconut flour work well, along with the addition of Xanthan gum which helps give structure to risen products when there is no gluten to fulfill that job.

I quickly learned that artificial sweeteners are not created equal!! If you’re just starting out using sweeteners in baked products, I highly recommend doing some research first. I started by using Splenda because I just happen to have a big bag of it. But several recipes later I learn that Splenda contains dextrose and maltodextrin, both of which are sugars and starches. So while the items made with Splenda were still considered low carb, they were not Keto-friendly.  Because Splenda was a bust, I moved on to using a monk fruit /Erythritol granulated blend, powdered Erythritol and a brown sugar Erythritol. The products worked well, tasted good and are suitable for the Keto diet. The problem with Erythritol is it has the tendency to crystallize when cooled. I found this out the hard way after chilling a batch of chocolate cupcakes. The frosting which was made with powdered Erythritol was smooth and creamy when I piped it but when I tasted a chilled chocolate cupcake from the fridge, the frosting had a gritty feel. Again, with some prior research, I would have known this could happen. I was rather disappointed but left the cupcake to sit a room temperature and tasted it again. Although the icing was not as smooth as when first made and piped, the grittiness was almost non-existent and the cupcake was good to eat. So it is important to bring items to room temperature before eating if you’re using a Erythritol sweetener that is prone to crystallizing. 

Baked Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites displayed on a wooden board with fresh raspberries on a blue background.

I think the biggest issue I have with artificial sweeteners and no added sugar chocolate is the availability and cost. Not all sweetener varieties are available for purchase in my area. I have to travel almost an hour to find some varieties at a health food store or Costco, otherwise, I have to order online. The cost seems to vary but even the best priced Erythritol blend at Costco works out to about $2.25CND per cup of sweetener. The other sweeteners I purchased which included powdered and brown sugar were more expensive yet. No added sugar chocolate is also very expensive and not a convenient item to shop for.

There are many different sweeteners to choose from, each with pros and cons. I can’t stress enough how important it is to read and learn about the varieties. Some can be a 1:1 substitution, some have a cooling sensation and some are better for baking than others. Here’s a good article from The Spruce Eats to help get you started. Happy Keto baking!!

Per one Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bite:

Calories: 85

Fat: 8 grams

Net carbs: 2 grams

Protein: 2 grams

Baked Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites displayed on a wooden board with fresh raspberries and almonds on a blue background.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

Baked Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites displayed on a wooden board with fresh raspberries and almonds on a blue background.
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Keto Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 24 mini bites

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1/2 cup almond flour/meal
  • 4 tsp granulated sweetener I used monk fruit/Erythritol blend
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp espresso powder optional
  • pinch salt
  • 3 tbsp melted unsalted butter

Cheesecake

  • 8 ounces full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sweetener I used monk fruit/Erythritol blend
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp espresso powder optional
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 ounces no added sugar semi-sweet or milk chocolate I used Lily's milk chocolate bar
  • 1 1/2-2 tbsp no added sugar seedless raspberry jam see note

Instructions

Crust

  • Preheat oven to 300°F spray 24 mini muffin cups with non-stick spray and line with paper liners.
  • Add all the dry crust ingredients to a medium bowl and mix until there are no lumps. Add melted butter and mix until combined.
  • Scoop approximately 1 tsp of crust mixture into each mini muffin liner and press down evenly with your fingers.
  • Bake for 12 minutes, remove and allow to cool slightly while proceeding.

Cheesecake

  • Beat cream cheese until smooth using an electric mixer. Add egg and beat until combined. Add sweetener, cocoa powder, vanilla, espresso powder and salt. Beat until combined and smooth.
  • Finely chop the chocolate and melt in the microwave using 30-second intervals, stirring between each until melted. Add to cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth.
  • Using a cookie scoop, scoop the mixture generously into prepared cheesecake bases. Smooth out each using a spoon that is moistened with water. They will appear quite full.
  • Warm the raspberry jam slightly in the microwave and drizzle evenly over the cheesecake. Using a toothpick swirl the jam two or three turns.
  • Bake for approximately 15 minutes at 300°F. The centers should be slightly soft but not sloppy. Remove and allow to cool before removing from the mini muffin tin. They will firm up as they cool.

Notes

-I did not use liners for the pictures, however, they were a challenge to remove, so liners are recommended.
-If you can not find seedless no added sugar jam, warm jam and press through a mesh strainer.
-I used a disposable piping bag with no tip (just cut a very small hole) to drizzle the jam. 
-Alternatively, you can drizzle the jam over the baked cheesecake base prior to adding the cheesecake filling, eliminating the need to swirl it.  I've done it both ways and while the jam on the base is easier, they have a nicer appearance with the swirl on the top.
-The cheesecake bites can be kept in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 3-4 days or several weeks in the freezer.  It is recommend to allow cheesecakes to come to room temperature before eating.

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Cheddar Jalapeño Muffins

Cheddar Jalapeño Muffins

A shallow wooden serving bowl stacked with freshly baked Cheddar Jalapeño Muffins.

Cheddar Jalapeño Muffins

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Cheesy and spicy with crispy, golden edges make these tender Cheddar Jalapeño Muffins one of my favourites. I have made them more times than I can remember because I like them that much. They are the perfect accompaniment to chili, stew, tomato soup or green salad and so good about ten minutes out of the oven. Just long enough for them to cool down enough to handle but are still warm on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Baking ingredients being prepared for Cheddar Jalapeño Muffins with a muffin tin in the background.

This lovely recipe originates with one of my favourite food bloggers, Joy the Baker. Joy notes that you can bake these muffins with liners in the muffin tins. You certainly can, but trust me, you do not want to! I find it is best to generously butter non-stick muffin tins to achieve a wonderfully golden muffin bottom that is crispy and chewy when eaten while still slightly warm. They will pop right out of the muffin tins too. When using liners, the muffins need to cool completely before peeling away the liner, otherwise, they will stick and you’ll miss out on the best part. In a nutshell, it’s lots of butter, no liners!!

Freshly baked Cheddar Jalapeño Muffins on a wire rack..

Do not be skimpy on the cheese!! It will seem like a lot, and the batter will be thick with an abundance of cheese, but the result is a gloriously cheesy muffin. It is also important not to over mix the batter. This is a quick bread and does not require gluten development, so only mix the wet and dry ingredients until they are combined. The batter won’t be completely smooth and that’s okay. The cheese needs to be folded in last so it doesn’t clog up the whisk and make everything gummy. It’s a quick and easy recipe that freezes well too. Simply store cooled muffins in an airtight container or bag for up to a month. Allow to thaw and warm gently in the oven or microwave. They don’t retain their crisp exterior, but they’re still delicious. Enjoy!

Freshly baked Cheddar Jalapeño Muffins on a wooden serving board garnished with a pickled jalapeño.

Author:  Compelled to Cook

 

Freshly baked Cheddar Jalapeño Muffins on a wooden serving board garnished with a pickled jalapeño.
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Cheddar Jalapeño Muffins

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted plus more for pan
  • 3 cups grated cheddar cheese about 8 ounces
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped drained pickled jalapeños plus more for garnishing

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and generously butter a 12 cup non-stick muffin tin.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Set aside.
  • Whisk the egg, add the milk and melted butter and continue to whisk to fully combine. Stir in jalapeños.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet stirring until just combined. Fold in cheese until evenly distributed in the batter.
  • Scoop batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes in the pan. Gently loosen the muffin tops if any have slightly stuck and pluck out the muffins placing them on a wire rack to cool further.

Notes

-these muffins are best served slightly warm out of the oven.
-use a non-stick muffin tin for this recipe and be sure to butter generously. The butter not only helps the muffins not to stick but ensures a crisp and golden bottom. 
-you can use muffin liners but the muffins will need to cool completely before trying to peel off the liner.
 

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