June 30, 2012

blueberry banana smoothies

I don't know about you, but I feel like I always have a running list of things I've got to get done.  And even though I try to be on top of it all, I'm never quite.  Here's what I'm thinking about now: consider getting the front yard landscaped, remember a birthday, do the laundry, weed the garden, buy a new shower curtain... and on and on.

So when I find a recipe that's really, really simple, I'm happy.  One less thing to complicate my life.

This is another recipe that you can make with those super-ripe bananas that you've frozen.  This is one of the best smoothies I've had, and best of all, it only has three ingredients!

Here's the recipe!

Blueberry Banana Smoothies

1 frozen banana, peeled
1 cup of frozen blueberries
1/2 cup of milk (or more as needed)

Using a blender or a handheld blender, blend the above ingredients until smooth.  Add more milk if you find it's too thick.  Enjoy!

June 28, 2012

sneaky strawberries

I read about this trick on Pinterest.  Apparently, birds will think the painted stones are real strawberries and as result won't eat your real strawberries.  It's the classic stone-strawberry-bird decoy.

We planted strawberries in our garden for the first time, so I decided to put this tip into practice in order to give them the best chance of success. 

I've also heard that strawberries spread like crazy, but so far ours have been pretty tame.   I'll let you know how this experiment turns out!

June 23, 2012

apple cornbread muffins

I never gave a second thought to cornbread, until I tried these muffins.  We had them in little restaurant cafe in New York last summer and when I came home I knew I had to try them for myself.  They're now a regular part of my recipe repertoire.  Love, love, love.

Here's the recipe!

Apple Cornbread Muffins

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 apple, peeled and grated
1 cup of milk
1 egg
6 tbsp butter, cut into a few pieces


1) Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

2) Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and baking soda.

3) In a 2 cup measuring cup, pour the milk then add the butter.  Microwave the milk mixture on high for 30 seconds.  Stir, then put it in for another 30 seconds.  Stir it until the butter dissolves fully.  Be careful not to heat the milk too much (you'll see why in the next step).

4) Add the egg and beat with a fork to combine.  If the milk is too hot you could get scrambled eggs, which you definitely don't want.

5) Whisk the milk mixture into the cornmeal mixture until just combined.  Fold in the grated apple.  Divide the batter evenly among 12 muffin cups, fill them about 2/3 of the way up.  Bake about 20 mins, until a knife insert into the muffins comes out clean.  I like to broil them at the end for about 1 minute so that the tops get nice a golden.

These are great served warm with a pat of butter.  They're also great to have with soups or fresh summer salads.


June 15, 2012

iced tea lemonade

It's almost nine pm and it's still over 20 degrees.  Yay!  Summer is here!

Here's what I love about summer:

1) I get to see the sun.  It's out before and after work.

2) It's skirt weather. I don't have too many pants that I love wearing.  I do have a lot of skirts I love wearing though.

3) Gardening!  We plant lots of herbs, fruits and vegetables in our garden.  I love eating the food that grew in our garden.

One of my favourite summer drinks is the shaken iced tea lemonade from Starbucks.  I tried making it at home, and it's just as good as the one from Starbucks.

Here's what you'll need:

2L of water
5 bags of earl grey tea
1 can of frozen lemonade, thawed out for about 20-30mins

Boil the water and pour it into a big pitcher with the tea bags in it.  Let the tea steep for about 5-10mins.  

Remove the tea bags and add the frozen lemonade.   Stir well.

Place the pitcher in the fridge for at least 1 hour.  Once it's nice and cold, remove it from the fridge and add about 2 trays of ice.

Then, pour yourself a tall, cool glass and enjoy the summer sun!

June 13, 2012

eggplant stew

Eggplant is one of my favourite vegetables.  Now that I'm pretty much off of meat, I appreciate eggplant even more because it really fills me up.

This recipe is another delicious Persian dish.  The pictures don't do it justice.  Does anyone have any tips on how to photograph stews?

Eggplant Stew (aka Gheimeh Bademjan)
adapted from Turmeric and Saffron

4 Chinese eggplants peeled, sliced and salted--with 2 tablespoons of salt
1 large onion, diced
3/4 cup yellow split peas, cleaned, washed, soaked in water for at least 2 hours
3 tablespoons oil for sautéing
1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomato
water, 3-4 cups
1 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste—or 2-3 tablespoons sour grapes (ghooreh) or dried key limes (limoo amani)


  1. Place the salted eggplants in a colander for 30minutes in order to drain off any bitterness.
  2. Fry the eggplants in small batches until they are brown on both sides. Remove from oil and place on a thick paper towel to take out the excess oil.  You'll probably have to keep replenishing the oil because eggplant really absorbs the oil as it fries.
  3. In a large pot, heat the oil, add chopped onions, saute until translucent. Add in turmeric, salt and pepper. 
  4. Add dry split peas, fry for five minutes.  This will keep the peas more firm. 
  5. Add tomatoes and three cups of water to cover all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and cook for an hour on medium heat. 
  6. Add the fried eggplant to the mixture, adjust the seasoning and add more water if needed. 
  7. Add the lemon juice or the substitutes. 
  8. Cook for another 15 minutes. 
Serve hot over rice, with fresh herbs and yoghurt.


June 08, 2012

blueberry oatmeal muffins

Happy Friday!

These muffins are my go-to for good old fashion comfort baking.  They're great for breakfast or a snack.  I like to spread them with a pat of butter.  Divine.

Here's the recipe!

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins
adapted from eat better america

1 cup plain yoghurt or low fat sour cream
1 cup old fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1 egg slightly beaten
1/4 canola oil
1/2 packed brown sugar
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Place paper baking cups in 12 regular-size muffin cups, or grease bottoms only of muffin cups.
2. In large bowl, mix yogurt and oats. Stir in egg, oil and brown sugar. Stir in flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt (batter will be lumpy). Gently stir in blueberries. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle with sugar.
3. Bake 18 to 20 min or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan. Serve warm.


June 04, 2012

lentil cabbage salad

This is another one of my mom's awesome salads.  It's the perfect marriage of lentils and cabbage.  We eat this salad as a meal because it's got everything you need.  The cabbage gives it a great crunch too.  So much fun to eat.

Mr. A says that I can say that it's a kind of coleslaw.  I guess 'cause it's made with cabbage.

Oh, and by the way this salad is packed with fibre and other awesome nutrients.

Here's the recipe!

Lentil Cabbage Salad

1/2 head of green cabbage, medium dice
1 can of lentils, drained and rinsed
1 onion, finely diced
juice of 1 lemon
4-5 tbsp olive oil
dash of white wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Combine cabbage, onion and lentils.  Drizzle with lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil, as well as salt & pepper and toss well.  You're ready to enjoy!

June 02, 2012

quinoa and spinach cakes

We recently bought a huge bag of quinoa at Costco.  Now I'm hunting down quinoa recipes so I can use it all up.  Apparently quinoa has a lot of protein which is great because I'm not eating much meat anymore.  Two of these cakes filled me right up.

I think these cakes would work great for a backyard bbq.

Here's the recipe!

Quinoa and Spinach Cakes
adapted from Joy The Baker

makes about 2 dozen small cakes


1 1/2 cups raw quinoa
2 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups chopped frozen spinach, thawed
splash of vinegar
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped tarragon or parsley
1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried cumin
2 tablespoon canola oil for frying, add a bit more as necessary

Add a dollop of goat cheese, or greek yoghurt on top.  

Place dry quinoa in a fine mesh strainer.  Wash under cool water for a few minutes.  
In a medium saucepan place rinsed quinoa, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Place over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Cover, decrease the heat, and simmer for about 25 minutes, until the quinoa is tender.  Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and allow to cool to room temperature.  We’ll need about 3 cups of cooked quinoa for the recipe.
In a small bowl, whisk eggs and set aside.
In a medium sauté man, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add spinach and toss until warmed through, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add a splash of vinegar.  Place spinach mixture in a large bowl with prepared quinoa.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  You can speed up this process in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Add cheese, tarragon, break crumbs, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Add beaten eggs and stir until all of the quinoa mixture is moistened.  
Scoop out mixture by the 2 tablespoonful.  Use clean, moist fingers to form into a patty.  Create as many patties as you’d like.  Rinse your hands after every few patties, it makes making patties easier.
In a large skillet over medium low heat, heat oil.  If your pan is large enough, add four to six patties to the hot pan.  You’ll need a bit of room to successfully flip them.
Cook on each side until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side.  Low heat helps the quinoa cakes cook slowly. Brown on each side then remove to a paper towel lined plate.
Serve warm with a dollop of goat cheese or with greek yoghurt.