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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Festive Eggnog Pancakes (can be whole wheat!)

So I recently did a post about these awesome eggnog muffins. I originally made them because I had some eggnog leftover from when my sister came over. Well, needless to say, I loved these muffins so much that I bought some eggnog to make some more. And what do you know, I still have eggnog left in the fridge. And so begins that vicious cycle of leftover eggnog.

I figured I should make something else besides the muffins. And since my husband was off from work yesterday, I decided to make something for breakfast besides our usual bowls of oatmeal. So I made pancakes. With eggnog. Oh, and I added a little extra nutmeg and cinnamon just to emphasize the fact that these were eggnog pancakes.

I made the pancakes with whole wheat flour, but you could use white flour or a mix of white and whole wheat. The pancakes were delicious and fluffy. You could eat these with maple syrup, butter or jam, but I highly recommend eating them with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk. I think the milk adds to the spirit of the eggnog pancake.

They were fluffy and delicious and oh so festive.

Merry Christmas to you and your families!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pulled Pork Enchiladas with Spiced Tomato Sauce

A couple of month ago, I wrote about nesting, freezer meals and preparing for the arrival of our first child. Well, our daughter arrived at the end of September, and boy am I glad that I took the time to stock up the freezer! For those days when you just don't have time to think about lunch or dinner, these make ahead meals really save the day!

One of the make ahead dishes that I already shared with you was my Roasted Chicken (or pork) Enchiladas with Salsa Verde, Sour Cream and Cilantro Sauce. 

In addition to those enchiladas, I also made another variation of this dish with a spiced tomato sauce.  After a long, cold day, we pulled one out of the freezer last night and happily enjoyed this warm, homemade but pre-made meal.  It was so comforting on such a cold day, but because it had been made in advance, it took only an hour in the oven, and literally no work!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

(It doesn't have to be leftover) Eggnog Muffins

During the holidays, there is an abundance of eggnog to drink. Not only can you buy it and drink it plain, but you can also drink it in a bar with rum, at a coffee shop in a latte and of course, at every holiday party that you attend.

Not only that, but eggnog makes an appearance in a plethora of food items as well. Eggnog cookies, eggnog cupcakes, eggnog ice cream... the list goes on and on.

A lot of people buy eggnog to have at their house for entertaining. I, however, am not one of those people. I rarely buy eggnog because I honestly don't really like to drink it. But, I just happened to have some leftover eggnog in my fridge this week because my sister brought some over. So, like many others out there, I went online to figure out what I could do with this leftover eggnog. And I came across some eggnog muffins that seemed like they might do the trick.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Nutella Pinwheel Cookies

'Tis the season for cookies and cookie swapping! Every year, my sister and I host a cookie swap. Each of the attendees bakes enough of one kind of cookie to give half a dozen to each person. That means, if there are 10 other people, you arrive with 5 dozen of the cookies you baked and leave with 5 dozen cookies that are 10 different varieties! 

I love this event, especially this year when I am crunched for time with a newborn. Essentially, I can make 1 type of cookie and end up with 10 kinds, many of which I have never tried before! 

This year, I wanted to make a simple cookie and one that I could make ahead. That way, I could make the dough at any point in the month leading up to the cookie swap, and bake them fresh the day before. I though the perfect choice would be a sliced icebox cookie. 

The tough decision was the filling. I was toying with making a cranberry orange compote for the inside or using my favorite jam, and then it hit me. Nutella. Who doesn't love Nutella? So, the nutella pinwheel cookie was born.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Heartwarming Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

It's getting cold outside. This means, that it's time for some heartwarming soups. Thankfully, I had anticipated this need a couple of months ago before our little one arrived and made a huge pot of gumbo, portioned it, and froze it for times like these!

Okay, perhaps it was more of a craving than anticipating my future need. But whatever the case, I made lots, ate a bunch and froze the rest. And I sure am thankful for it now.

The first time I had gumbo was actually when I lived in Austin. I worked in a restaurant that served this amazing seafood gumbo. It was slightly spicy, and so flavorful and rich. I have thought time and again of trying to recreate it, but never gotten around to it. Then one day, I was wandering around the grocery store and saw that Campbell's had a Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. I thought I would try one. And to be honest, for store bought soup, it was delicious. But it also furthered my determination to make my own.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bacon & Apple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

With the holidays fast approaching, I am always looking for some new, slightly different side dishes to add to our traditional spread.  Some people in my family might argue that we should just stick to the classics, but I think it's nice to mix things up a little and try something new. Who knows? One of these dishes may be so tasty and loved that it becomes a new family tradition!

This time around, I decided to work with the classic mashed or baked sweet potato. Nothing wrong with a good old sweet potato, but no harm in trying to jazz it up a little. So, I thought it would be interesting to add some saltiness, sweetness, and texture to our what might be a fairly simple mashed sweet potato. I did this by adding bacon (I mean, really, who doesn't like the addition of a little bacon?), some chopped apple, and some celery to the mix.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cornmeal Buttermilk Freezer Biscuits

As you may already know, I gave birth to an amazing, beautiful baby girl 8 weeks ago! Wow, people were not kidding when they said that time would fly with a newborn. It certainly has! 

My day's priorities are now determined by my daughter. Despite my "to-do" lists and "need to try" recipe spreadsheet, even if the only thing I accomplish during the day is keeping my daughter happy, healthy and active, that is enough.

But, here's the catch. A girl's got to eat at some point. And it's not the eating that's the problem. It's the "what to eat" that is. For me anyways. I mean, there are times when I learn to settle with a pile of cheese and crackers, or even just a pile of crackers, but a girl can only last so long on the basics. Especially someone like me that strives to make every meal healthy, fresh and tasty. And really, that boils down to homemade. Not store bought or pre-packaged or take away. Homemade.

Yup, homemade is hard to do when you are juggling a newborn on one arm and trying to brush your teeth with your free hand. Or, try doing the dishes with one hand. Yes, it's possible, but takes about four times as long to do. So, if I had to cook and bake everyday? Would not happen.

Don't get me wrong. I still cook and bake. But I do it on her time, not mine. That means that when I finally get her down in her crib for a nap, I frantically cut veggies, cook quinoa, make bread dough and do as much as I possibly can. And the thing is, I never know if that time I have is 5 minutes, or 2 hours. I just use every minute-- every second-- and do as much as I can.

And then there are the days when I can't do anything extra. My daughter won't nap, is extremely hungry, and needs me to hold her and rock her from morning until night. Those are the days when I am thankful for my organization and "to-do" lists. The ones that reminded me everyday in the last 2 months that I was pregnant to make meals ahead and freeze them. The ones that convinced me to make these cornmeal freezer biscuits so that one day, when I didn't have time to make a batch of fresh biscuits (which at the time I could not fathom-- I mean, after all, there is always time to cook or bake, isn't there?), that I could reach into the freezer, pop a few of my homemade frozen biscuits onto a tray, bake them, and enjoy them.

Yes, I am able to enjoy fresh, homemade biscuits with a newborn! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Stuffed Jalepeno Peppers
(Mini Sweet Peppers, Mushrooms or Squash)

It's that time when we need to start thinking about bite sized appetizers for holiday entertaining (or hockey night entertaining, or just plain entertaining).

And, as always, the best entertaining dishes are the ones that you can prepare a majority of in advance so that you can spend your time entertaining rather than running around frantically in the kitchen! These stuffed peppers work well because you can prep them in advance then just pop them in the oven. 

Oh, and did I mention that they are also super versatile... You can use jalapeno peppers if you like the kick, or if you are looking for something a little more conservative, you can stuff mini sweet peppers instead. You could even stuff mini squash or mushroom caps with this mixture! Wait a minute! Did I say "or"?? You don't have to choose. Stuff all of the above and assemble a beautiful platter of stuffed veggies using the same tasty filling!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Citrus Chicken and Potato Bake

As the weather gets colder, I am really into recipes that use the oven and heat up the house. Yes, multitasking at its finest! But not only that-- with a newborn baby in the house, I don't have as much time as I used to, so meals that I can prep in less than 15 minutes, stick in the oven, and forget about until the timer goes off are the new "go to" type of meal. And this is one of them.

In a nutshell, all of the ingredients get squished together in a large ziplock bag (or bowl if you like). This can be done at your convenience, when you have a spare minute or two-- for me with a newborn, these moments can be at random times during the day. Once this is done, you can place the bag or bowl in the fridge for up to day until you are ready to bake.  Then, it's bake, forget, then dinner is served! How easy was that? Oh, and did I mention, you can double or triple this recipe if you want to with minimal extra work (and if your oven is big enough).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

As I have mentioned time and again, I am more of a savory than a sweet person. When given the choice between a piece of cake and a roasted chicken, I would go for the chicken every time (and wouldn't mind eating the cake afterwards if it's still around!).

However, in the last days of my pregnancy, I found myself wanting more sweets. And by sweets, I don't mean sickeningly sweet pastries and candy, but good, homemade sweets using the ingredients I already love, like dark chocolate.

One such homemade goodie that I found I could not get enough of was my peanut butter dark chocolate chip cookies. Perhaps it's because they balance savory (with the peanut butter) and sweet. Or perhaps it is just because they are so darn good!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Green Tomato Sauce

It's official. Fall is here and my tomato harvest is officially over. Okay, it's been over for a few weeks now, but I've finally gotten around to harvesting the green tomatoes off of the plants before cleaning the beds up for the winter.

I have lost all hope that these green tomatoes will turn red. And unfortunately, with the rainier and cooler August and September that we had, there are lots and lots of green tomatoes. So, what to do with all these completely green (and only partially ripened) tomatoes? Well, I decided to make some tomato sauce.  Now you might think that to do this you need to combine ripe tomatoes with a small quantity of green tomatoes, but that's really not the case. In fact, I used 100% green and partially ripened tomatoes and the sauce tasted fantastic!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pumpkin Pie

I've never been a huge fan of pumpkin pie. As a kid, pumpkin pie would always show up at the Thanksgiving table, and I would always pass.

It's a little strange, because I do love pumpkin. I love it roasted, in soup, as a puree or a mash... just not as a pie.

This year, however, is different. It's a year of new beginnings. It's our daughter's first Thanksgiving. It's our first family Thanksgiving in our new house. And it's the year that I give another chance to the pumpkin pie.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Curry Rice Noodles

So, I was craving Singapore Fried Noodles-- the thin, vermicelli noodles that are stirfried with curry. It's funny because I have only ever had them once, when I went to a noodle house with my mom and she ordered them. But they have stuck with me. And I have been thinking about making them ever since.

Well, today was the day. The day that I wanted them so badly. Unfortunately, I didn't have vermicelli noodles, nor ground pork or shrimp which is what the noodle dish I ate with my mom had in them. But that's okay. I improvised to get the flavours that I was craving. And it turned out to be exactly what I had been thinking about.

Just goes to show that you can use what you have around and still recreate the flavours and textures you are craving. (No longer necessary to run to the grocery store in the middle of cooking!!).

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

So, I am officially 3 days overdue and taking this opportunity to continue this whole "nesting" thing.  I have moved on from savory dishes like the Pulled Pork and Chicken Enchiladas, lasagnas, and chili to cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. I've been enjoying every moment--- baking, sharing, eating and freezing for later.

I have made lots of my favorites, like these surprisingly delicious Lentil Cookies, packed with protein from the lentils, nuts and seeds; Nutella, Cranberry & Chocolate Cookies, a yummy blend of gooey nutella with chewy dried cranberries; and of course, Triple Chocolate Cookies-- need I say more?

But today, I felt like making a classic-- oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I thought since I am making tons of cookies these days that I would make them with completely whole wheat flour which makes them nuttier, heartier, and a little bit healthier, but of course, you can stick with white all purpose flour or a blend if you like.

I kept them simple with just oatmeal and chocolate chips, but if you are feeling like a little extra something, feel free to add walnuts or dried cranberries to the mix.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Quinoa Zucchini Cakes with Sriracha Aioli

Yesterday, we pulled out all of our zucchini plants and turned over the beds. Sigh... as the weather cools down, it seems to be the end of the growing season for me. I can't really complain though. As a first time gardener this year, I was very fortunate to get a huge crop of veggies throughout the season. Some of the veggies were more successful than others, but overall, it was definitely worth the hard work.

So, as I turned over a majority of our beds last night in preparation for perhaps a little bit of fall/winter gardening but mostly to prep for spring, I reflected on what the growing season looked like for us and all the great recipes that came out of it.

Fortunately, before calling it a season, I was able to get a few more zucchini out of the plants and thus able to make one more great garden fresh meal.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pulled Pork or Roasted Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde, Cilantro and Sour Cream Sauce

It's official. I am nesting. With the upcoming arrival of our first child, I have found myself stationed in the kitchen making freezer meals for the time crunched days and nights ahead.

Lasagna's and chili already done, I was looking to make something a little different. So started my stroll through the grocery store, where I picked up a massive pork shoulder to make a pulled pork with crispy pork crackling! Now, with only 2 of us in the house at the moment, I figured I would need to do something else with the pork besides eat it for lunch and dinner for the next week, so I stopped at the market where my favorite little Mexican joint is and bought some corn tortillas. Enchiladas here we come!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Split Red Lentil & Zucchini Curry (or Soup)

So, I hate to say it, but with temperatures cooling down and the rain falling non-stop, it's starting to feel like summer is over. The last couple of weeks of rain, I was really in denial, hoping that this was just a blip in the weather map. I was praying that it would soon pass and give way to an extended dry and warm summer season like last year, which lasted into October. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case this year.

As a result, I found myself whipping up a quick lentil and zucchini curry, still taking advantage of the bountiful squash harvest from my garden of course, but creating some warmer flavors, comforting as we head into (gulp) fall...

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Buttermilk Waffles

Nothing like an amazing breakfast to start off a long weekend!

What is your favourite breakfast? For me, it is usually something savory with eggs, bacon, sausages and good bread; however, I have taken a liking lately to pancakes and waffles, which my husband adores. Especially waffles, now that we have our own waffle iron. 

I got a waffle iron for my husband for Christmas. Unlike many households, who have an electric countertop waffle iron, I did not want yet another single use appliance sitting on our counter top. So I found a stove top waffle iron which is fantastic. Use it on the stove like a pan, then put it away. It takes very little space and it works great! No need to search for an electrical outlet or clear the counter to make space for it!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

Yes, the gardens are still spilling over with squash!! And trust me, I am not complaining! Squash is one of the most versatile veggies. You can stuff them, saute them, fry them, grate them, add them to soups and stews... the possibilities really are endless!

In this case, I decided to turn them into one of my favorites-- Zucchini Muffins (or Bread). Great for eating now or freezing and eating later.  Also, the use of whole wheat flour in addition to the squash makes them a healthier muffin alternative. What a great way to get some veggies into your loved ones!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Stuffed Summer Squash
(Ground Beef, Lentil & Brown Rice Stuffing)

One of the greatest things about summer are the farmer's markets. Today I walked down to one and as always, found an amazing selection of seasonal and local summer fruits and vegetables. blueberries, raspberries, cherries, beets, potatoes... but what really caught my eye were the beautiful round summer squash.

I have lots of squash bursting out of my garden these days, but none that are this shape. So of course, I had to get some!! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Blueberry Maple Muffins

There is definitely an abundance of blueberries in my fridge. Not that I am complaining. Nothing makes me happier that seeing lots and lots of blueberries.

They are one of my favorite fruits and in the peak of the season, I could eat them all day! On yogurt or ice cream, with cereal, and even in salads. And let's not forget the bowls and bowls of fresh blueberries that I eat by the handful when I need a sweet snack or a nibble which doing other things.  Nothing is better than fresh blueberries!

Today, however, I decided that I had so many blueberries, that I could spare some in a batch of muffins as a quick grab and go breakfast. They were so good, I am thinking of making a double batch and freezing some to have available to just warm in the oven later too!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Summer Risotto with Peas, Mint, Lemon and Parmesan

Gotta love the summer! Especially as the hard work of the spring pays off in the garden. I am a little late posting this... probably because I was too busy gardening, picking and eating my early spring veg, but this recipe is good all year round, garden or no garden!  It is however made just that much better with some amazing summer fresh peas and garden fresh mint!

This is actually my first year having a full blown garden. Previous to this, I lived in places with balconies, so my gardening was restricted to containers. You can do a lot in containers, but you have to make serious choices because space is prime.

This year we are in our new house with a yard, and in the spring, we built 5 beautiful raised cedar beds. Perfect for experimenting with the veg I love the most! So, I went crazy and planted everything I every wanted in my garden... potatoes, tomatoes, peas, beans, herbs, beets, carrots, squash, garlic, radishes... the list goes on and on. Perhaps it's actually too long of a list as some of my beds have become a tad overcrowded as the seeds have sprouted and the plans have grown! I suppose I wasn't sure of my success rates with seeds so I went a little nuts. But now I know for next year what works and what doesn't, and how many seeds I actually need to plant!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wild Rice Salad

I love summer. Sunshine, music, farmers markets, bbqs....What could be better than that?

In Vancouver, this weather lasts just a few months, but it's these few months that propel us through the rainy and grey days during the rest of the year. Then, when the warmth and sunshine returns, we somehow quickly forget about those cold, wet days and become happy and social again!

So, to take advantage of the sunshine, I am spending as much time outside as I possibly can, trolling farmers markets, working in the garden, and of course, enjoying summertime meals. For this summer evening meal, I combined some farm fresh ingredients with some hearty wild rice, feta and dried cranberries to create this amazing salad that I really think I could eat all year long!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Kale Caesar Salad
(and other great uses for Caesar Salad Dressing)

Who doesn't like caesar salad? Even if you aren't an anchovy fan, the rich and creamy taste of caesar dressing is just addictive!

I used the Rebar Caesar Salad Dressing Recipe, which is absolutely fantastic and flavorful, made even better with roasted garlic, capers, and dijon. Then I made it a little healthier by using non-fat yogurt in place of some of the oil.

Besides having a great dressing, having fresh salad ingredients is also important. I personally love to make caesar salads with chopped kale. I find that it makes the salad heartier and the salad stays crisp and crunchy. In the picture above, you can see I used a mix of kale and romaine. Or of course, you could use the classic romaine if you wish (or really any other salad green you like).

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sweet and Sticky Grilled Chicken Wings

Everything seems to taste better on the grill. And chicken wings, although fantastic baked in the oven until sticky, are no exception.

What I love even more about this recipe is that there aren't piles of dishes to clean up afterwards, and on a hot summer day, the house doesn't get heated up with the oven. Oh, and did I mention that the grill just intensifies the amazing flavour of the marinade while keeping the wings nice and juicy?

You can marinade these wings for as little as an hour or overnight. Just take them out of the fridge for about 30-45 minutes before cooking so that they come up to a more ambient temperature (you should do this for everything you put on the grill or in the oven for even cooking).

And one more thing... make sure you have a ton of napkins or wet wipes to clean yourself up after devouring a pile of these!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Fresh & Filling Asian Lettuce Wraps

As the warmer weather hits, I am always looking for delicious recipes that are filling and fresh. I have lots, but most of them are some form of salad. Here are some of my favorites in case you missed them...

Anyway, as much as I love summer salads, this time, I wanted to do something different. And I have found the perfect recipe--- Asian Lettuce Wraps.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Beef Dip with Rosemary Garlic Butter

There is something about beef dip that is so comforting. And in times like these, when the summer whether hasn't quite kicked in yet; when spring showers and grey skies push you into sweats and winter behaviour, a beef dip seems like the answer to life's problems.

The great thing about making a beef dip is that it requires very little effort and makes enough food to get you through the rainy day blues. Served with great bread and a rosemary garlic butter, this sandwich just cannot be beat!

In this recipe, I use a slow cooker for the first time. I borrowed this slow cooker from my sister to see how it works. To be honest, I still don't have any inclination to get one for myself. I find that it's another appliance that I need to store and that takes up counter space. If you are like me and don't have a slow cooker, this recipe works just the same in a large casserole covered and put into the oven and left to cook low and slow (at about 250-275 degrees Fahrenheit) or on a low stove top.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Homemade Chicken (or Turkey) Noodle Soup

The ultimate comfort food. Who doesn't like Chicken Noodle Soup?

I was  sitting in my office at work the other day when one of my staff walked into my office with a cup of instant chicken noodle soup. The smell was so comforting and I instantly wanted some.  So on the weekend, I went to the grocery store and wandered down the soup isle until I found the cup-a-soup. But I just couldn't bring myself to buying it. I knew if I wanted tasty, satisfying Chicken Noodle Soup, that I would need to make it myself.

As I was buying all the ingredients, I noticed that there were turkey parts available in the poultry section, so I thought I would put a little twist on the classic, but of course, you could make it with a whole chicken or chicken parts as I usually do.

The result was so delicious, and honestly, it is quite simple to make. You could make a whole stock pot and then freeze the stock for later use as well.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Stirfried Crab with Ginger and Green Onion

So here's the thing. I was craving stirfried crab. And the thing about me is that once I get something into my head, especially with regards to food, I just have to have it.

Now, it would have been easy if I was craving pizza or pasta or fruit. But crab? Asian style? Go figure.

For anyone that loves crab, you know that it is darn expensive to have in a restaurant. So, I decided to see if I could make it myself.  I went to my local grocery store where I remembered seeing fresh crab and lobster tanks, and sure enough, my memory did not fail me. However, when I asked if they could kill it for me, they said they couldn't and also reminded me that it would taste far better if I did it myself right before cooking. Yikes!

So, with plastic bag containing crawling giant crab in hand, I headed home. First thing I had to do was figure out how I was going to kill it. According to sources on google, putting the live crab in the freezer for about 20 minutes stuns the crab and it doesn't move as much, so I tried that. 20 minutes later, the crab was still moving, I almost think more than it was before!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Manakeesh with Zaatar and Cheese
(Middle Eastern Flatbread with Thyme and Cheese)

Some of my favorite memories from living in the Middle East involve food. Particularly in Syria where the people were so hospitable and the food was so fresh and delicious.

When walking down the street, you often pass bakeries with a variety of amazing baked goods, including these little mini "pizzas" with a variety of toppings. They are called Manakeesh and they are a typical quick lunch or snack. But you don't just find them in the city. Go for a drive in the country, open your windows and you will smell these delicious flat bread baking in the stone, tandoor type ovens long before you even see them. 

Manakeesh can have a wide variety of toppings and they can be filled and folded over, kind of like a calzone. My favorites are the classic Zaatar with Cheese or the folded over Spinach Manakeesh.  Zaatar is a spice combo involving dried thyme, sesame seeds, salt, and the middle eastern spice, sumac. (Sumac is a spice made from red berries that are ground into a powder. It gives a subtle lemony flavor and is used a lot in middle eastern cooking. If you can't find it, you could substitute some lemon zest.) Alternatively, you could find already mixed Zaater in middle eastern grocery stores. Add some olive oil to form a paste, and eat it with Arabic bread, cheese and olives for a very typical middle eastern breakfast. Or use that paste on top of your Manakeesh!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Eggplant and Zucchini Roll Ups

Happy Mother's Day!! 

What a great day to celebrate all the wonderful times we have had with our mothers over the years! While a lot of families chose to enjoy this day over brunch or lunch at one of the city's great restaurants, I prefer to spend the day at home or outside with my family.

Last year, we celebrated mom's birthday and mother's day at the same time, and made Eggs Benedict. This year will be similar, spending the day with mom and having lunch.

If you are planning on doing the same, I have the perfect recipe for you. And you can make it the day ahead, put it in the fridge, and just put it in the oven before lunch. That way, you have maximum "mom quality time." Alternatively, if you like to spend time in the kitchen with your mom, this could be a dish that you assemble together!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Baked Zucchini Fries

It's Stanley Cup season and that means game food! Unfortunately, game food although tasty is usually hard on the waistline. That is, until I discovered these baked zucchini fries. They are crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, making for an addictive game day snack. Enjoy them with regular ketchup, or elevate them by serving them with a warm marinara sauce.

They are very easy to make and will disappear so quickly, you will question whether they were actually zucchini! In fact, kids love them too!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Baby Roasted Potatoes with Garlic, Rosemary & Sea Salt

Baby potatoes. They are so darn delicious roasted because they get that crisp skin on the outside that leads to a creamy interior.  They are a great accompaniment to anything that you roast in the oven because, well, the oven is already on! So if you are making a roast, pull the roast out to let it rest and put the potatoes in. When the potatoes are done, the roast will be well rested and ready to carve. Alternatively, roast the potatoes at the same time as a chicken, or start them roasting before adding a side of salmon into the oven for the last 15 minutes.

I am always trying to find ways to make meals easier and to utilize appliances that are already working, so these baby roasted potatoes fit the bill. And if you don't have baby potatoes, use the same recipe with quartered regular sized potatoes.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Beer Battered Fish and Chips with Tartar Sauce

Okay, I will admit that I slightly misnamed this post.

It isn't actually beer battered fish and chips. It's beer battered fish with Roasted Baby Potatoes (which are just as yummy and provide a great alternative to chips). Or you could serve it with Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Why not regular french fries you ask? Well first of all, with the fish already fried, a healthier side dish might be preferable. But the real reason? It's just plain difficult to perfectly fry fish and potatoes at the same time. And let's face it, if you fry one first, then the other, the first item is surely going to be cold. And who wants to eat cold fried fish or chips?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

They say that most people have a preference for either salty or sweet. Me, I love salty. So, when I am in the mood for something comforting, I turn to savory favorites. And as a snack, I often think about eating things like crackers, nuts, chips, and fries.

Most of the time, I can let the day go by without succumbing to my desire to eat these kinds of snacks, because I know that some of them aren't the healthiest of choices (i.e. chips and fries). But sometimes, I just can't get them out of my head.

Today was one of those days. I wanted fries. Badly.

So, I decided to turn on the oven and make some baked fries in hopes that they would satisfy this urge. And to make them even healthier (and in my opinion, more delicious), I made them with sweet potatoes. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spaghetti and (Turkey) Meatballs

Who doesn't love spaghetti and meatballs? It is comforting and delicious, and has some sort of romantic quality (yes, too much time watching Lady and the Tramp....). But seriously, it's a home and restaurant favorite for so many people, including myself.

I love making spaghetti and meatballs. You can pan brown them or bake them, and you can make them traditional or you can spice things up with a variety of flavour combinations. In this case, I made my meatballs with ground turkey and lots of yummy, flavourful ingredients including feta cheese and basil. If you prefer other types of meat, you could use beef or a combination of beef and pork. You can even turn this mixture into a meatloaf (just bake in a loaf pan at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 45 minutes, until the meatloaf is cooked through).

Turkey Meatballs
Makes about 36 meatballs

Meatball Ingredients
1 Small Onion, finely chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Large Egg
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
2 tbsp Ketchup
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tbsp Dried Basil
1/4 cup Crumbled Feta
Salt and pepper 
500 grams Ground Turkey

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cups Marinara sauce or Pasta sauce of choice
1/2 cup Water
Cooked Spaghetti

Mix together all meatball ingredients except the turkey. Add the turkey and lightly mix by hand until all is incorporated. Shape into about 1" balls.

Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs (you might need to do this in batches). Cook until nicely browned on all sides, 3-4 minutes. Drain off excess oil from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low.  With all of the browned meatballs in the pan, add the tomato sauce and water.  Simmer until the meatballs are fully cooked, about 5-8 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with spaghetti or pasta of choice

Friday, March 22, 2013

Stir Fried Beef and Vegetables

Stir fries are great because they are simple, quick and versatile. Choose your protein and veggies (or skip the protein), add a few pantry ingredients, and voila... dinner is served!

My favorite combination for a stir fry is beef with some crunchy green vegetables. My preferred vegetable for this stir fry is broccoli and that is generally how my mom used to make it. However, because my husband doesn't like broccoli, this dish has been modified in our household and is now made with celery, bok choy, green beans, zucchini and just about every other green vegetable that you can think of.

In this recipe, I am using a mixture of celery and baby bok choy. Use whatever vegetable you like and use a quantity suitable for 2 servings.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chinese Rice Porridge (Congee)

This is the most fragrant and therapeutic dish ever. I grew up with this rice porridge. In a lot of households, when you are sick, your mom makes you chicken noodle soup or hot water with lemon. In our house, it was congee. Whenever I was sick, this plain porridge made with chicken stock and a little green onion was the perfect remedy for a cold.

However, I don't only eat this porridge when I am feeling under the weather. I love to make a big pot of it at home, especially in the winter, to cure those winter blues. I also enjoy eating congee in Chinese noodle houses. So much so, that I struggle whenever I go to a Chinese restaurant as I am faced with the dilemna of ordering noodles or a bowl of this wonderful concoction. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Panzanella Salad (Italian Bread Salad)

When people think of salads, they often think about them as accompaniments rather than main courses. However, there are a lot of ways to make a salad a hearty and filling meal. For example, you can add protein like meat, fish, nuts, beans or eggs or you could add a starch like rice, potatoes or pasta.

Today, I am making a Panzanella Salad which is essentially an Italian bread salad. The bread adds a heartiness to this salad making it a great side dish or main course. The bread is also toasted, giving nice texture to the salad while soaking up some of the tasty dressing.

I love this salad because it is full of some many amazing flavours. The salty anchovy adds great depth to the dressing, the olives or capers add tanginess and salt, and all the veggies and basil add a freshness that elevate this from just a simple salad with croutons to something spectacular.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sausage and Egg Breakfast Sandwich

I am not really a fast food fanatic. I rarely eat it nor do I even crave it. Well, except for one thing. The Sausage and Egg McMuffin. That is my one guilty pleasure.

I love the saltiness of the sausage, the crisp chewiness of the English muffin and the fluffy, perfectly cooked egg. Every bite is just juicy perfection. But it's just not possible for either my body or my conscience to eat the Sausage and Egg McMuffin every day. After all, it is still fast food and not exactly the healthiest breakfast choice.

My husband, well aware of my weakness, went out and bought some lean ground pork last week. When I asked him why, he said it was so that we could make sausage and egg breakfast sandwiches at home!  It was easy, tasty and probably much healthier than the fast food version. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Easy Valentine's Day Meals

Happy Valentine's Day!

Going out to a restaurant on Valentine's Day is not my favourite thing. The reason is because I feel that you get crammed in like a sardine, the experience is expensive and the menu might be limited or set, the service is sub par, and on top of it all, you are rushed to leave so the table can be set for someone else.

So, I prefer to make a quiet and delicious dinner at home.

Now you are probably thinking.. what if I mess it up? I can't cook an impressive dinner! Yes you can! And here are a couple of simple main courses to help you through.

Add a nice tossed salad and a simple dessert (strawberries and ice cream or whipped cream anyone?) to accompany any of these dishes and dinner is served!

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Mom Miranda’s Tourtiere (Quebec Meat Pie)

Last night I had dinner with my family and was reminded of a fantastic meal that I had only a couple of months ago. 

We had all just arrived home for the holidays a few days before Christmas. Upon entering my parents' house, we were greeted with the smell of my mom's cooking--- just in time for lunch!

My mom had prepared a meat pie. Her version of the Quebecois Tourtiere. She had actually prepared three of them... two for lunch and one, wrapped and ready for the freezer to enjoy on another day.

Lunch was amazing. The pie's crust was flaky and the meat filling was delicious. My mom served the meat pie with green beans simply sauteed with garlic.

So, how was I reminded of this fantastic lunch last night? Because that third meat pie made an appearance! Thawed and baked to perfection, it tasted exactly like the lunch we had a couple of months ago. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Chinese Salted Pork Stuffed Vegetables

I have shared with you my mom's Chinese Steamed Pork with Salted Egg, which I fondly refer to it as Chinese meatloaf. It is salty and meaty and great with steamed rice and some simple sauteed veggies.

Today, I decided to mix it up a little and stuff this "Chinese Meatloaf" into some vegetables. Kind of a fusion between my husband's beloved Tomate Farcee (stuffed tomatoes in French) and my Chinese Meatloaf. A happy marriage of sorts.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Easy Puff Pastry Pot Pie

I previously wrote that you can't have a pot pie without top and bottom crust.

And I really do believe that the best pot pies have both crusts. However, I also understand that sometimes, we are pressed for time and can't make our own pastry to line our pies.  The best option in these cases is usually frozen puff pastry. You just thaw it, roll it out over your pie filling, brush it with an egg wash, and put it in the oven. No fuss whatsoever. The down side? No bottom crust, as the puff pastry will be soggy and doughy.

So, sometimes we have to give a little to take a little. Compromise that crust we love so much for the conveniences of frozen pastry. And while I still believe that both crusts are best, I am okay with the compromise once in a while.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cheesy Corn Muffins (Blue and Cheddar)


Happy New Year everyone and thanks for trying and sharing my recipes this past year!

A new year means new beginnings, new challenges and new friends--- it also means new recipes! Typically in January, there are lots of low fat, get fit recipes and cleanses being passed around in an attempt to shed those extra holiday pounds.

I have never found the January diet craze to work for me to me honest. I actually prefer to continue to eat the things I love in moderation. What does that mean? Well, it doesn't mean loading up on fast and sweets all the time. It does mean choosing flavorful ingredients, eating 1 instead of 2, and looking for ways to add healthy components.