July 27, 2012

garden fresh




We made a caprese salad for dinner using the first tomatoes and the basil from our little garden.  Oh, my, goodness!  It was ridiculously delicious!  I've never had a better caprese salad in my life.  I think the secret was the garden fresh tomatoes and basil.

Here's the recipe!

Caprese Salad

Ingredients
3-4 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 bococcini cheese package, sliced
1 cup of basil leaves, washed
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper

Directions

Place tomato and cheese slices in on plate in an alternating pattern.  Spread basil leaves on top of the cheese and tomatoes.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

July 24, 2012

make-ahead chana saag


Cooking on weeknights can be such an elusive thing.

Here's my typical weeknight come-home-from-work/make dinner scenario:

Leave work, think about what to make for dinner
On the subway, think about what to make for dinner
On the bus, go through a mental list of things we need to use in the fridge asap before it goes bad
Get home, still no idea what to make for dinner
Stand in the kitchen, decide to go pick up some pizza

That's why I love recipes that I can make in a big batch (like this flavourful and comforting chana saag), freeze in smaller portions and have on hand for days just like these.  Let it thaw overnight and presto! you've got dinner ready in jif.

Here's the recipe!

Chana Saag (Chickpea and Spinach)
adapted from Moderate Oven

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds (I didn't have the seeds so I just used ground here too)
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 inch piece of ginger, finely grated
6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1-2 small hot green chiles (Serrano or jalapeno)
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
4 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 10-oz boxes frozen spinach, NOT thawed
½ cup plain yogurt 
2 15-oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon of kosher salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala


Directions:

In a large skillet with high sides, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the cumin, cloves and cardamom to the hot oil.  Cook and stir for just 1 minute, being careful not to burn it.  Add the onion, ginger, garlic, and green chiles to the skillet and cook, stirring often, for about five minutes or until the onions begin to brown around the edges.  Add the ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and paprika and stir well to combine the spices with the onion mixture, then add the canned tomatoes.
Reduce the heat and simmer for about five minutes, stirring often.  Add the frozen spinach, stir the tomato mixture around and on top of it, then simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes.  Every five minutes or so, give the spinach a good stir to break up the bits that have thawed.   Once the spinach is fully thawed, cook another five minutes.
Remove the skillet from heat and add the yogurt.  If you have an immersion blender, use it to puree the spinach now, processing until smooth.  If you have to use a blender or food processor to puree, you will want to allow the spinach to cool a bit before proceeding.
Add the chickpeas and salt to the pureed spinach in the pot.  Simmer, partially covered, for ten more minutes.  Stir often and check that the mixture is not too dry; add a bit of water if necessary.  Sprinkle garam masala over the top and serve over rice.
Enjoy!

July 22, 2012

1,000 reasons to go

This weekend we took a road trip to 1,000 Islands.  We took a boat ride around the islands and learned about a tragic love story on Heart Island and Boldt Castle, and we kayaked in the sunshine.  Just 3 of the 1,000 reasons to go. :)



July 16, 2012

mango lassi


I've been craving lots of junk food recently.  I've tried to stay away from it {I succeed about half the time}, and mango lassi is one of my strategies for achieving this.  It's crave-able, yet still healthy.

We had some frozen mangoes that we had to use as soon as possible because they are being attacked by freezer burn.  Mango lassis for everyone!

Here's the recipe!

Mango Lassi

Ingredients:
1 cup frozen or fresh mangoes
1/2 cup yoghurt
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup water
pinch of salt

Directions:
Combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth (I use my trusty hand blender).
Enjoy!

July 14, 2012

date night!




Tonight we had dinner and a show!  Except we did the show first and dinner second.  It was awesome!

a_brief_history_of_history_a_3-disc_box_set

The show was a friend's Fringe comedy sketch:  a brief history of history: a 3-disc box set.  It was hilarious.  If you're in Toronto, their last show is tomorrow at noon.  I highly recommend if you're looking for a good laugh.

Dinner was at DT Bistro.  I had the mushroom pappradelle along with a passion fruit iced tea.  It was so delicious!  

Best part was, I got to go on a date with Mr. A.  I'm such a lucky gal.

vegetable pad thai


During the summer, I like making recipes that use the veggies in our garden.

We planted some thai basil this year {I love basil!} so I used that as my inspiration for making vegetable pad thai.  This dish is chock full of veggies, which made me happy because our fridge is full of fresh veggies and I need to use them asap.  Some of the veggies came from a local farm, like the scallions and then snap peas.  They were super tasty.



Here's the recipe!

Vegetable Pad Thai
adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces dried wide, flat rice noodles
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce, such as Sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon packed dark-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 package (14 ounces) soft tofu, drained
  • 1 cup snap peas
  • 1-2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons roasted salted peanuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh thai basil leaves if you have them
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Cook the noodles according to package instructions; drain. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, soy sauce, chili sauce, hoisin sauce, and brown sugar.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/2 teaspoon oil over medium-high, tilting to coat pan. Add egg, swirl to coat bottom, and cook until just set, about 1 minute. Transfer eggs to a cutting board, loosely roll up, and cut crosswise into thin strips. Add 4 teaspoons oil to skillet and heat. Add tofu in a single layer and sautee until golden brown on both sides, 7 minutes. Transfer to separate dish.
  3. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, carrots, garlic, snap peas, and scallion whites to skillet and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add lime-juice mixture and bring to a simmer. Add noodles and cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute. Add eggs, tofu and bean sprouts and gently toss to combine. Season to taste with salt. Serve on a plate or in a bowl, and top with peanuts, cilantro, basil, and scallion greens. 
    Enjoy!

July 08, 2012

blueberry muffin bliss


I've always made oatmeal blueberry muffins, but I've never made a straight up blueberry muffins, sans the oatmeal.  This recipe is now my go-to for straight up blueberry muffins.  They are definitely more indulgent than the oatmeal variety, but they're a great treat.  They are so fluffy and delicious (I think it has something to do with the browned butter which gives it a nutty flavour), and I love the abundance of blueberries.




I brought them over to a friend's house for lunch and they were a hit. :)


Here's the recipe!

Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins
adapted from Joy The Baker

Makes 12 fluffy muffins

Ingredients:

7 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions:

Put a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Coat the muffin pan cups with cooking spray.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over low-medium heat.  Melt and cook down the butter until little brown bits appear in the pan.  The crackling will subside and butter will begin to brown fairly quickly after that.  Keep a close eye on the butter because the browning happens fast and you don't want burnt butter.  Remove from heat and let it cool a bit.
Whisk milk, egg, yolk and vanilla until combined.  Add the brown butter slowly so as to not cook the egg, and stir to combine.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Add milk and butter mixture all at one and stir gently to combine.  Gently but thoroughly fold in the blueberries.
Divide the batter evenly  among muffin cups.
Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes then remove from the pan.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


Enjoy!

July 05, 2012

thoughts on gardening

the good

seeing little fruits and veggies growing in your own backyard
picking said fruits and veggies and being amazed that you succeeded in growing something
eating said fruits and veggies and being amazed by that








the bad

weeding
getting scared by bugs


and the ugly

mourning when our pear tree got rust again. {Such a pity!}  We got so many pears for a couple of years.  These were the most amazing pears I'd ever tasted.  Then, last year our tree got rust and lost all its fruit.  I was hoping it wouldn't strike again this year, but it did.  We've got rust and no pears.


Has anyone ever had any luck with getting rid of rust?  If so, please share!