Monday, August 2, 2010

Tuna Cakes

My grandma used to make something similar to this when I was a kid, but out of canned salmon. I'm not a big fan of canned salmon, and I'm a big fan of adding herbs to things, so I revamped her "recipe" to use tuna and fresh herbs. You can make them small and serve with veggies and potatoes or rice, or make them larger and serve on a hamburger bun. A single can of tuna and 1 egg combine to feed 2 people, and it really is a good way to "fancy up" canned tuna. I bought this can on sale for $.79, and the fresh herbs are from my little herb garden, so this recipe really is cheap.

What you'll need:

This time around I used fresh basil, fresh thyme, and green onion, but you can also use fresh or dried dill and green or red onion. I have tried dried basil and thyme and they really take away from the fresh flavour of the tuna cakes. You can use fresh lemon juice or bottled. If you have some pieces of stale bread or crackers, you can crush them up instead of buying bread crumbs. The mayo you see there is "light" mayo that I mistakenly bought while high on morphine. It's fine for things like this, but kind of icky in sandwiches. Go for the real thing or disguise the flavour with herbs.

Drain your tuna well, and then combine in a bowl with the egg, green onion, basil, and thyme. Squeeze in the juice of 1/4 of the lemon (about 2 teaspoons) and add pepper to taste. Kitchen scissors make quick work of the green onion and basil (roll it up into a cigar shape, then slice). Mix well, but don't break the tuna up too much. You want pieces of tuna, not some weird paste.

Once you have everything mixed, add about 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs and a tablespoon of mayo. Mix well.

Roll into balls and flatten. Coat in breadcrumbs.If you aren't going to eat all of the mixture tonight, store the leftovers in the fridge, unshaped, for a maximum of a day and a half. Don't let it sit longer than that. Trust me.

Fry the tuna cakes over medium heat in a frying pan, with a little bit of oil or butter, until golden brown on both sides


This recipe will make enough for 2 people


  • 1 can of tuna, packed in water, drained
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • fresh basil and thyme or dill, or dried dill
  • black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 egg
  • juice of 1/4 of a lemon, or 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of mayo
  • 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, plus extra to coat
  • 1/2 tablespoon of oil or butter, for frying

  • In a bowl, combine tuna, green onion, herbs, egg, and lemon juice. Mix to combine, but don't make a paste.
  • Add breadcrumbs and mayo, stir to combine
  • Shape into patties and fry in oil or butter over medium heat until golden brown
  • Store any unused mixture in fridge for a maximum of 1 1/2 days
Serves 2

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Zucchini and Black Bean Burritos

I really love burritos, but meat can get expensive (and I'm really not a big meat eater anyways). One of my favourite fillings is completely vegan and made with things you probably already have in your cupboard.

Gather your ingredients. You can use white or yellow onions, canned beans or cooked dried beans, and canned, frozen, or fresh corn. I buy taco seasoning in bulk, which is usually half the price of the little packages. You'll also need about 3 cloves of garlic or some jarred minced garlic.

Cut the zucchini and onions about 1/8 inch thick. Don't worry about precision

Cook on medium heat, covered, with 1/4 cup of water until onions are clear and zucchini starts to soften.Yes, my stove is pink.

When zucchini and onions are soft, add the garlic. Cook uncovered for a few minutes.

While you're waiting, rinse and drain your beans. Shave the corn off the cob if you're using fresh, or run hot water over frozen corn to thaw.

Add beans, corn, taco seasoning, and about 1/4 cup of water to frying pan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir well and cook until beans and corn are hot and water has evaporated

Spoon onto tortillas, garnish with sour cream, salsa, cheese, etc. Guacamole would be a nice addition if you're dairy-free.

Wrap and enjoy. They don't look exciting, but they're delicious, healthy, and cheap! Makes 4, but you can easily increase or decrease the amounts. The mixture will keep for a few days in the fridge, and reheats well.


1 medium zucchini OR 2 small zucchini, sliced 1/8 inch thick
1/2 large white or yellow onion, sliced into half-rings, 1/8 inch thick
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2-4 tablespoons of taco seasoning (to taste)
1/2 can of black beans OR 1 cup of cooked dried black beans
1/2 can of kernel corn OR 1/2 cup of frozen kernel corn OR 1/2 cup of fresh corn
4 tortillas

Salsa, cheese, sour cream, or guacamole to garnish

  • Cook zucchini and onion in covered frying pan with 1/4 cup water until softened
  • Add garlic, continue to cook until water evaporates
  • Drain and rinse beans, thaw corn if using frozen
  • Add corn, beans, and taco seasoning to pan. Stir well and reduce heat to medium-low. Heat thoroughly 
  • Spoon onto tortillas, garnish as desired

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pico de Gallo/Fresh Salsa

Salsa is one of my favourite condiments, but the store-brand stuff that I can afford is kind of gross, and the name brands can get expensive. I bought everything for this batch of salsa for about $1.50-2.00, and a jar of store-brand salsa runs about $2.50-3.00 or more. I really like salsa that's more chunky than liquidy, so making my own solves the problem. It's really easy, but here are a few hints to make it even better.

Start with Roma tomatoes, a white onion (not yellow), a lime (or bottled lemon juice), garlic (whole fresh cloves or jarred minced garlic), a bunch of fresh cilantro, and a jalapeno. You can use canned jalapenos, but I really prefer fresh. They're usually about $2/lb at my local store, and a single pepper doesn't weigh much at all.

Fresh salsa can sometimes be a little too onion-y, so I always soak my diced onions in cold water for about an hour and a half before I make anything with raw onions. Just dice them up, stick them in a bowl of cold water, and let sit for about an hour and a half. When you're ready to make salsa, drain them and pat dry with a towel. You'll get the flavour of the onions without the eye-burning raw onion taste. 

When your onions have finished soaking, you're ready to start the salsa. I usually use half of the jalapeno, and I like my salsa spicy so I leave the seeds in. If you prefer a milder salsa you can take the seeds out before finely mincing.

To cut tomatoes nice and small, use a very sharp chef's knife. A dull knife will require you to saw at the tomatoes and will just pulverize them.

Start by making a horizontal cut in the tomato half, but don't go all the way through. Leave the narrow end intact

Make another horizontal slice, leaving the end intact

Then proceed to finely dice the tomato. Leaving the end intact keeps the slices from sliding apart while you're dicing, so it's faster and you can cut smaller pieces easily.

When you chop the cilantro carefully separate the thicker stems from the leaves. You only want leaves in your salsa, and the tiny stems that they're attached to, not the main, woody stems.

Mince the garlic (or open the jar if you're using prepared garlic!). Mix everything together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and squeeze in half a lime (or a squirt of lemon juice). Sticking a fork in the lime and twisting helps get all the juice out so none is wasted.

Ta-da! Fresh salsa! 4 or 5 tomatoes will make enough for a party, or a couple of days worth of snacks and meals. Eat with tortilla chips, add to tacos, use instead of salad dressing on lettuce, or add to quesadillas.

  • 4 or 5 medium sized Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a large white onion
  • 1/2 of a jalapeno
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, or 2 teaspoons of jarred minced garlic
  • a handful of fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 of a lime or a tablespoon of lime or lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Finely dice onion. Soak in cold water for 1.5 hours, then drain. 
  • Finely chop remaining ingredients. Discard jalapeno seeds before chopping for a milder salsa. 
  • Combine in a bowl, season with lime/lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  • Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fried Rice

Homemade fried rice is a great answer to leftover rice (either from cooking too much or a Friday night Chinese food binge), and it's cheap, easy, and filling. I usually use a pork chop and egg as my protein, but you can just as easily substitute chicken, beef, or tofu for the pork.

Start with your meat or tofu. Cut it into fairly small bite size pieces. A fairly simple marinade will add a lot of flavour to your rice at relatively little expense, assuming you have everything on hand. If you're missing one or two things, leave them out. The soy sauce and garlic are all that is really necessary.

Use about 2 teaspoons of each of the ingredients, except the ginger, garlic, and dried chilis - cut it back to about 1 teaspoon each. I use jarred minced garlic because it's easier and really doesn't cost any more than fresh garlic, but you can use a clove of chopped garlic if you'd like.  Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl, toss the meat or tofu to coat, and let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to 4 hours.

When you're ready to start cooking, gather your veggies and chop. This time I used white onion, celery, broccoli, frozen red peppers, and frozen peas and carrots. I've also used cabbage and mushrooms in the past when I've had them handy.

Heat a large pot or a wok on medium heat with a little bit of olive or canola oil. Lightly scramble your egg, and then set it aside. Scrambling the egg first ensures you'll have pieces of egg in your finished rice, instead of rice coated in cooked egg.

Next, cook your meat and veggies. Be careful not to overcook the veggies or your rice will be mushy.

When the veggies and meat/tofu are cooked to your liking, dump in the rice. Leftover rice works best for this, because it's not as wet as fresh rice, but if you're really craving fried rice you can use freshly cooked rice.

Madly stir the rice around so it soaks up any of the lingering meat marinade and starts to brown. At this point, add about a tablespoon of soy sauce and a little bit of rice vinegar if you have it handy.

When the rice is hot, add the egg and continue to cook only until everything is hot. If you overcook the egg will be rubbery.

Dinner's ready! The recipe below will make 4-5 servings of rice. Feel free to use whatever veggies and proteins you have on hand.


  • 1 egg
  • 1 pork chop, chicken breast or thigh, slab of extra-firm tofu, or beef
  • Meat/tofu marinade:
    • 2 tsp. soy sauce
    • 2 tsp. hoisin sauce
    • 2 tsp. seasoned rice vinegar
    • 2 tsp. sesame oil
    • 1 tsp. minced garlic or 1 garlic clove, finely minced
    • 1 tsp. dried chilis
    • 1 tsp. ground ginger or grated fresh ginger
    • pepper to taste
  • Veggies 
    • A combined 3-4 cups of:
      • carrots
      • onions
      • celery
      • cabbage
      • mushrooms
      • red or green peppers
      • broccoli
      • or anything else you have on hand that would taste good! 
  • 2 cups of cooked rice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
- Cut meat/tofu into bite-size pieces
- Mix marinade ingredients and toss meat/tofu to coat. Let sit in fridge for 30 minutes - 4 hours
- Chop veggies into bite-size pieces
- Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive or canola oil over medium heat in a large pot. Lightly scramble egg, then set aside.
- In same pot, cook meat/tofu and veggies just until meat is cooked and veggies are slightly softened
- Add rice, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Stir to combine.
- When rice is hot, add egg. Don't overcook!


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Panini without a press!

I think I just ate the best sandwich of my entire life... a turkey sandwich, on sourdough bread, grilled like a panini (but without a press).

Start with two generous slices of sourdough bread. Spread minced garlic and mayo on one side and spicy brown mustard on the other. Arrange fresh basil on one side.


Add old cheddar cheese and thinly sliced red onion:


And then some turkey, tomatoes and black pepper:


Spread the outside with butter, and cook in a frying pan. In order to get a sandwich this thick to warm in the middle before it burns on the outside, you need to weigh it down. If you don't have a panini press or a George Foreman grill, you can use a regular loaf pan. Wrap it in tinfoil and fill it with hot water. Carefully balance it on top of your sandwich. If you use hot water it will also keep the sandwich warm while you grill the second side.