Bacon and Caramelised Red Onion Chutney

Monday was a very hard day, I took my parents to the airport. They were here for 2 weeks, 2 incredible weeks. Each trip we see them the bond my daughter forms with them gets stronger and stronger in a way that blows me away. There are times I worry about what living so far away from my family means about the kind of a relationship my kids will have with my family. But seeing her play with them and adore them the way she has on this trip has helped ease those fears. It isn’t easy having half of your heart on the other side of the world as many other expats will tell you. But thankfully technology has made this distance easier and I am grateful for that. I wanted to share a recipe with you that is already a favourite of my family here but is even more special because I introduced my parents to it this trip and they fell in love.

Chutney is a staple here in the UK, from mango chutney to tomato chutney it is a condiment that has become ingrained in the culture. Growing up I never liked mayonnaise, I still don’t, and so I have always enjoyed sandwiches dry. But being introduced to chutney has opened up my taste pallet to a wonderful new world. Onion chutney is standard in our house, with or without the bacon and I challenge you not to fall in love with this condiment. Jazz up a plain sandwich, burger or serve it with your cheese and crackers, it is addicting.

Bacon-and-Caramelized-Onion-Chutney-burger

Bacon and Caramelised Red Onion Chutney

400g red onions, sliced
200g (7oz) bacon
200g (1 c.) soft brown sugar
125mL (1/2 c.) balsamic vinegar

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Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Stuffed Butternut Squash #SundaySupper

Today is Sunday Suppers 2nd Birthday. Sunday Supper is the brain child of Isabel Reis Laessig. It was Isabel’s dream to inspire bloggers to help bring families back together at the dinner table. I joined this amazing group a year and a half ago and have loved being inspired by my other fellow bloggers. We were told to share our favourite memory of Sunday Supper today. Mine is bitter sweet in a way because my fondest memories of the last year and a half were the two times I was actually able to participate in the live twitter chat. Because of the time difference here in the UK I can’t participate in the twitter chats so the few times I have been able to participate have been so fun. These bloggers are so fun to hang out with. If you haven’t joined them yet on Sunday nights for the twitter chats you need to. Until I joined this group I had never really gotten into using twitter, I didn’t really get it. But joining this fabulous group of bloggers I discovered how fun twitter can be as a platform to talk to people all around the world. Hopefully I will be able to join in on more chats in the future but until then I just enjoy the fellowship I get with this community through our blogs.

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Stuffed Butternut Squash

2 medium sweet onions, sliced
(10 oz) mushrooms, sliced
3 Tbsp olive oil and more as needed
(1/4 c.) balsamic vinegar
1 medium size butternut squash
olive oil for drizzling
handful of chopped walnuts *optional

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NY Hot Dog with Sabrett-style Onion Sauce #SundaySupper

So I couldn’t decide at first if I would participate in this weeks Sunday Supper event, even though the theme was Holiday Music/Movie/TV Inspired dishes, which is such a fun theme. Why did I hesitate? Well today is a special day, it is my 5 year anniversary. But our recent trip to New York inspired me so I decided to honour my husband’s favourite Christmas movie, Die Hard, with this post. Every time we go to New York my husband says we need to try a authentic NY hot dog from one of the hundreds of hot dog stalls around the city. But every time we go I chicken out. I am not a hot dog fan, I don’t eat meat that isn’t at least 80% meat and even then the other 20% needs to be whole ingredients so hot dogs aren’t something I would normally eat. But I do know that for things like this a sausage doesn’t quite provide the same taste and texture. So I did some research and was happy to find there is a company here in the UK that makes a hot dog with 82% pork and the rest of the ingredients aren’t too horrific as I know what they are, when you can’t pronounce an ingredient and you have no idea it is that is when I run. So I decided to finally eat a hot dog for the first time in 10 years and I have to say it was pretty good. What made it was this incredible onion sauce that from what I understand is a staple condiment on most of the NY hot dog cards. I picture it being just the thing a tough guy like John McClane would eat.

NY Hot Dog with Sabrett-style Onion Sauce

125mL (1/2 c.) water
1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp inexpensive balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce (I used Franks RedHot sauce)
1 pinch of cinnamon
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 large red onions, sliced thin (The recipe called for red onions but I didn’t have any on hand)
1/4 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 frankfurters
4 buns
Recipe from Amazing Ribs

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Caprese Spinach Salad #SundaySupper

I did it! I followed a dream of mine and opened up a food stall and catering business! This is the most intense and risky things I have ever done and I am loving it. We had our first day in the local market yesterday and while it wasn’t a huge financial success for our first day it was still a success. We learned so much and now have a much clearer idea about what we need to do next. If I learned anything yesterday it is that no matter how far fetched your dreams can seem at the time, keep trying to reach for them because you never know how high you can go until you at least try.

But any way, enough about me. Today Sunday Supper is sharing picnic recipes. Since hubby and I are trying to eat less carbs we have been having fun exploring more salad recipes. This one was inspired from our recent trip to Italy. I love bruschetta and we enjoyed it a lot while we were there. But trying to cut out some of our bread I decided to turn it into a simple salad that would not only be a wonderful week day summer meal but perfect to pack up for a picnic.

If you are taking it with you on a picnic make the tomato salad and package it separate from the spinach and dressing until you are ready to serve. This is Katy from Happy Baking Days first time hosting so make sure you go check her out and give her some love for hosting such a fun and festive theme for the holiday weekend.

Caprese Spinach Salad

250g (9 oz) cherry tomatoes, cut in half]
150g (5 oz) mozzarella cherries, cut in half
1 Tbsp olive oil
10 basil leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
60mL (1/4 c.) Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
170g (6 oz) fresh spinach, washed

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Sausage Parcels with a Artichoke and Bean Hot Salad

I let the first of the month come and go without talking about my little meat-free challenge from January. We did learn a lot from our challenge, one of those things being we couldn’t give up meat on a permanent basis. While we did enjoy all of the meals I came up with during the month we did miss favourite dishes and were looking forward to February arriving. But it did help re-affirm in my head the financial difference not adding meat to your bill does. We already have our food budget down to a good number but January saw that budget cut down to almost half of that from not having to buy meat. I had a few people tell me that they found they spent more on their food budget when they stuck to a meat-free diet so I thought I would share a few pointers that I stuck to that kept it down.

Eat grains and beans. Things like bulger wheat, barley and quinoa seem to often get forgotten about but they are not only full of nutrition but they are also cheap. If a vegetable isn’t in season not only will you pay more for it at the grocery store but you might find that it has less flavour. Because it isn’t in season the growers have to artificially help the plants ripen that this not only doesn’t produce as flavourful of a product but it reduces the nutritional value. Sticking instead to frozen which is picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen is not only a cheaper option but can often be more nutritious. Also try cooking more for portions rather then cooking large amounts that sometimes can be wasted. If you can guarentee you will use the leftovers and won’t just over eat then it is fine to cook large batches of food. But if you are anything like use we find that we just go for seconds more often then saving the leftovers or we will save the leftovers and then end up never eating them and having to throw the leftovers away. Throwing food away is like throwing away money.

Not including meat in our diet did have us eating a lot healthier meals. So I am wanting to try and keep some of the good, healthy habits we got into while incorperating meat back into our diet. So I wanted to share with you one of the first meals I served for us. It was also my first ever attempt at cooking with fresh artichokes. I won’t lie it does take a lot of effort but fresh is so much nicer tasting them tinned artichoke hearts.

Sausage Parcels with a Artichoke and Bean Hot Salad

2 globe artichokes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, zest of whole and then squeeze out the juice
olive oil
4 good quality fresh sausages (make sure these are good quality and full of flavour)
1 red onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 pinches of paprika
140g (5oz ) runner beans
1 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Adapted from BBC Food

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