This week the young woman living with us cooked  (with her boyfriend) a surprise dinner for us; she chose a few vegan and vegetarian recipes, and this was the appetizer.  It was amazing, and well worth sharing!  The beet gives a vibrant touch to the meal, and the flavor combinations are almost addictive.

beet & walnut dipBEET & WALNUT DIP with CORIANDER

4 small beets, scrubbed & boiled until tender (or pre-boiled beets)
1 cup walnuts
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
3 teaspoons sherry vinegar or lemon juice
a few fresh herbs, such as coriander (OR thyme, sage – your taste choice!)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup Greek yogurt (optional, to make it a bit more creamy if you’d like)

If you are using fresh beets: Cover the beets with water in a small pot and bring to a boil; simmer until tender, 30-40 minutes (less time if you chop them up first). Drain the water from the pan, then run cold water over the beets, removing stems and skins (which should slip right off now).

Walnuts: In a frying pan, dry-roast the walnuts, stirring constantly, until they smell toasty. Let them cool and, optionally, rub them in a dishtowel to remove more of their skins (which can be bitter).
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, blend the beets, walnuts, garlic, sherry vinegar, herbs and salt; scrape down the side of the bowl every now and then. Blend until the mixture looks like a coarse puree.
With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, then the yogurt (optional).
Taste the mixture and add more salt or vinegar as needed, then scoop into a bowl and serve with fresh veggie sticks, crackers, bread or pita chips.

Absolutely Revoltingly Disgusting Quesadilla-cum-Quiche Casserole

Every two weeks, two teenagers (siblings) come over for a visit, dinner, and usually a movie or baking together.  This tradition started back in 2009, and despite their busy schedules they still come!  I’ll enjoy it while I can, because soon they’ll be adults!  They love coming for the good food, relaxed atmosphere, and the fun we have together.  We have an inside joke that when they really like the dinner, they’ll say it’s “absolutely disgusting.”  Their mother almost swallowed her tongue the first time she heard her son say that to me!  This time, he said, “That was an absolutely revoltingly disgusting experiment.  You’ll have to try that again sometime.”  This dish literally takes about 10 minutes to put together, and serves 3-4.

So here’s what I did for such a high compliment:


Quesadilla-cum-Quiche Casserole

6 whole-wheat tortillas

1 small-to-medium onion, finely chopped

~½ – 1 Cup cheese, finely chopped or grated (I used Raclette cheese, but any semi-firm cheese will taste great)

spices of choice, to taste (I used a “Tex-Mex” taste combination of coriander, lemon pepper and chili powder)

~½ – 1 Cup ham, finely chopped

½ can kidney beans

You could also toss in ~½ C. finely chopped fresh mushrooms if you want to expand it.

Mix it all together; if it’s too dry for your taste, stir in a bit of plain yogurt.

Spoon the mixture down the center of each tortilla and wrap them, laying them seam-side-down in a casserole dish.  Once you have the dish full (mine was a 6-tortilla dish, but this is stretchable or reducible), mix the following:

3 eggs, whipped

~1 – 1½ C. milk

A generous squeeze of lemon juice; this combined with the milk makes buttermilk

~150 gr. grated cheese

a generous dash of chives, pepper and salt to taste

Mix well and pour over the tortillas; the liquid should fill the dish.

Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs for a crunchy top.

Bake at 200°C (400°) for 35-40 minutes, until the crumbs are golden brown.


Craft: Tin Can Embossing

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Now that Christmas is passed, I have been able to take photographs and prepare the steps for you to follow for a great new craft!  I love recycling, and any craft that is practical; I don’t like to make things just to have them stand around.  Here is something you can do for next Christmas, or use this idea to create wind chimes, window decorations, front door decorations, gift decorations, or anywhere else you’d like a unique touch.

Upcycled Embossed Tin Cans


A light-weight tin can (Soda or beer)

Scissors (dedicate a pair to metal cutting)

A straight-edge knife (be careful not to cut yourself!)

Embossing tools (if you don’t have something like the blue “pen” pictured, you can use a simple ballpoint pen, pressing less hard or you may slice through the tin)

Baking paper for transferring a design, or a cardboard template (as shown)

A piece of foam rubber or a magazine to give yourself a “spongy” base on which to press designs into the metal.  (Pictured below is a piece of black craft foam.)

A strip of fine sandpaper to smooth any cut edges required.

A hole punch

Paint (optional):  Choose a paint that bonds well with smooth metal; the best I’ve found is the touch-up colours for cars; fingernail polish might work as well.  Acrylic paint does not stick well to the smooth surface.


[Always cut metal AWAY from your face! The best would be to wear safety goggles, if you have them.]

1)  Start with a well-rinsed & dried can

2)  Using a straight knife, cut along the position of the red-dotted line in the photograph above; that is, at the top and bottom of the body of the can.  Cut as far around as you can; you may finish it off with scissors if you wish.

3)  Using your scissors, trim rough edges and round off the corners to avoid injury through metal slivers.

4) to “unroll” the metal, rub it smoothly over the edge of a table a few times.

5) If you want, save the tab and trimmed base of the can for other projects (as illustrated above).

I’ve seen it recommended that you first sand the patterned side of the can down to the tin layer; I’ve never bothered to do this, and it works fine; it’s sometimes a bit more difficult to see the tracing lines (depending on the drink can’s pattern), but not so difficult that I would add that step to the work!

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For Christmas Decorations:

On the silver side, trace your stencil or pattern through the baking paper, or do a free-hand pattern.  You could also roll a pattern onto the tin using a cuttlebug stencil (I don’t have a machine; I just use the stencils with a kitchen rolling pin).

Once you have your design (not too tight), turn the tin over and trace on both sides of each line; this will give it depth and dimension.  Repeat front and back as often as you need to, to get a clear, neat design.

You can cut the shape out (and sand down the edges lightly) either before or after you begin tracing.

At this point, you can paint the patterned side if you want.  Once it’s dry (fairly quickly with the car-paints), punch a hole in it and string or hook it however you want.

These make great gift-wrapping decorations, but you could also make wine charmers, napkin rings, anything you want!  The only limitation is your imagination & a Pinterest search! 🙂

Tool - Doming Block

If you get bit by the embossing bug, you might want to invest in a doming block set; this will give you a wide range of possibilities, and it can be used in e.g. jewelry-making or prop embellishments as well.

For a link to my own Pinterest board for tin can ideas, just click here.