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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day! 

July 1st.



Summer is here - and before we know it, it will be gone. So I am planning to embrace as much of it as I can. Eat out on the deck every night unless we have torrential downpours, or hurricane winds. I plan on  having my husband BBQ as much as we possibly can to not have to use the oven. I plan to keep all of my flowers and veggies alive by giving them lots of love and water. I plan on running in the heat and crying before, during and after. (WHAT? I am being honest - who doesn't cry when they are running in the heat? Well, you're probably saying a lot of people - and you're probably right.) I plan on spending time with friends on our deck with cold Corona's with lots of fresh lime. I also plan on using the Vitamix to whip up some icy drinks. I plan on taking some time off to spend time with family. I plan on  wearing tank tops when it is so hot out, even though I despise my arms. I plan on taking Jozie to the park almost every day (on my dog walking days) so that she can roll in the snow bank behind the arena.

I have big plans this summer!!!

What are your plans?

For today I had an early dog walk, and then went with my friend Shellene, and we walked the Gorge Waterway - taking in a bunch of local artists, games, old cars, food and a ton of people watching. I haven't had July 1st off in so many years - so it was a treat. It was hot. Having a Corona on the deck when we got home was deelish.



Lately, I haven't been cooking too many different dishes. During summer we tend to do a lot of grilled meat and vegetables. What I did make not too long ago was a twist on my Rhubarb Custard Pie.
This time they were small and sweet, and oh so good.



The recipe below is altered from the link above.


1 package of puff pastry
2 cups of rhubarb - chopped into pieces
2 cups of fresh strawberries - thinly sliced
1/2 cup of sugar 
1 8 ounce can of canned milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Allow for your puff pastry to thaw. Roll out on a flowered surface and use a bowl to trace a circle that will cover a muffin tin. Spray the muffin tin lightly with cooking spray - and gently push the puff pastry into the muffin tin. 

Put your rhubarb and strawberries in your pie crust. In a large bowl mix your egg, sugar, vanilla, milk and stir until a thin consistency. Pour over top of the rhubarb. Bake in a 425 oven for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven to 350 and bake for another 30 minutes. You may want to watch your pies as they may start to overflow slightly. I ended up adding a sheet of aluminum foil under to catch any drippings.

 

Allow them to cool and use a metal spatula to remove from the tins. Serve with a dollop of ice cream, fresh cream or just on it's own.


Loves.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sweet, sweet potato puffs

I literally am trying to write this post in less than 10 minutes.

GO!!

I am in the middle of cooking dinner, watering the 'farm', trying to clean the kitchen - how do two adults make it so messy??? and sharing a new fave recipe.



Sweet Potato Puffs 

Adapted from http://www.runningtothekitchen.com/

I made these for an appy the other night for dinner - Father's Day to be exact. My mom and her neighbour came for dinner. They were a big hit, and I will definitely have to make them again.

3 medium sized sweet potatoes

3/4 cup goat cheese
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp (or more) red pepper flakes
Kosher Salt

1 egg
1 cup panko bread crumbs - I added mine to the food processor to make them finer and not so coarse
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Peel and chop the sweet potatoes and bring them to a boil in a pot of water. Boil for about 15 minutes, until they are soft. Drain.
In a large bowl, add to the sweet potatoes - the cheeses, rosemary, kosher salt and pepper flakes.  With a potato masher, mash everything all up. Put them in the fridge, and let them completely cool. 20 minutes should be a good amount of time.

Pre-heat the oven to 425.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a shallow bowl, beat the egg. In another shallow bowl, mix together the parmesan and panko bread crumbs.

Using your hands, form little balls with the potato mixture. Mine were about the size of golf balls. Place them on the lined baking sheet. When you have made all the balls - dip them (one at a time) into the egg, and then gently into the bread mixture. Use one had for wet, and one had for dry. It will make your life much easier.

Once you have breaded them all, using a spritzer and spray the balls with olive oil.

Bake in the 425 oven for 20 minutes.

Then for the last 5-8 minutes, broil on high.



These are delightful. They are crispy. They almost melt in your mouth.

You should definitely try these again.

We are just over 10 minutes - and it's time to sit on my royal Canadian.

Loves.

Enjoy!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mother Nature, I love you.



Motha Naytcha.

Mother Nature.

Seriously, Mother Nature, I love you.

I love this time of year. I love it when things in my garden start to grow. They start from something tiny that doesn't look like much - and start to grow into the wonderful lushness that they are supposed to. I feel so fortunate to live in a place where the weather is relatively cooperative, and allows the plants' natural course of action.

I like to call my backyard, my farm. It's by no means a farm. Not even close. Probably the only thing that could sort of be found on a farm that is found in our yard is the weeds growing in one of the side gardens. And maybe the unexpected little 'patties' that our pups leave from time to time. And maybe the vegetables that are growing in the garden. And maybe the fence around eh backyard to keep the livestock in. And by livestock I mean the pups and a cat. But... one pup has repeatedly escapes and the cat can jump over the fence and I am pretty sure you don't see cows doing that. Actually my brother's cows did plough through the fence. I digress...

Anyways, within the past few weeks I have planted all of my tomatoes, herbs, strawberries and flowers. I have tended to them quite consistently - giving them lots of water and love. I have weeded around them and tried to keep the 'livestock' from out of their domains.



I planted herbs in wooden wine boxes this year. My friend, Linn, gave me 3 and I had one that my cuzzie Mitch gave us with some deelish wine in it. I LOVE THEM. I love the look of them - and love the incredible herbs and strawberries that they are growing.


Cilantro 

Basil

Chives

Strawberries

I was so excited tonight to harvest a bunch of herbs and make a tasty, fresh dressing for a quinoa salad. This is the easiest dressing. It's so incredibly flavourful. And it's healthy!!! It's practically Salsa Verde -  just a little fresher.



Fresh Herb Dressing

Cilantro
Chives
Basil
2 cloves of gardlic
2 tbsp of olive oils
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt

Add herbs and garlic to the food processor. Chop/grind. Add in the olive oil, lemon juice and kosher salt and chop/grind again.

I use as much of the herbs that I want - and just add a bit more olive oil or lemon - if it needs to be a little more liquidy.



And then I added the 'dressing' to cooked and cooled quinoa with chopped peppers and goat cheese.



Chris rated this a 5++++.

I would love to make this for friends - if you're interested, leave me a comment.

Loves.

Enjoy!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Summer Salad



I spent part of the day with this little punk. My new nickname for his is 'Bratatouille' - like Ratatouille but with a B on the front - and emphasizing on the 'Brat'. Oh I love him. He is a lot of fun - and I am grateful that he still wants to hang out. I still remember one of the first times I took him out on his own, and he cried and cried. We were on an outting to find him some new shoes. Oh did he cry. We stopped in at the A&W for some french fries, and all was good in the world. It's funny that, was probably over 13 years ago, and I can remember it like it was yesterday.

After a day of hanging with the 'phew, dog walks, time in the garden, Corona's on the deck, I whipped up a tasty salad for dinner. I think that this may be the new go-to meal of the week. For the longest time my Cabbage Roll Soup was the Sunday go-to. For awhile it was Turkey Meatballs with spaghetti squash or zucchini. Now that summer is here, it pretty much has to include something that can be done on the barbeque - and something that can be whipped together quickly, that can be eaten with one hand while the other is holding a nice cold one. Oh I love summer!



Summer Salad 

Although it's technically not quite summer - the sun has been hot, flowers and vegetables are blooming and spending most of our time outside is here. My friend, Tina, told me about a salad that she had the other day and immediately my brain started working overtime, and I have been wanting to try it ever since.

Salad

Romaine lettuce - I used 2 small romaines
1 large orange pepper - chopped
2 cups of grape/cherry tomatoes - halved
1 zucchini - sliced thinly into quarters
1 cup of corn - I used frozen - good organic frozen corn is quite deelish
1 can of black beans - rinsed thoroughly
3-4 cups of chicken* - chopped (I used chicken that we did the previous night on the barbeque - I will definitely be sharing the recipe soon)

*If you don't want to use chicken - hardboiled eggs, salmon, steak or nothing (keep it full vegetarian) would work

Add everything to your biggest bowl - you'll need it - so that you can give this thing a good toss.



Dressing

1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 jalapeno  pepper
1 tbsp cumin
Kosher salt
2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1/4 cup mayonnaise or greek yogurt (if you use yogurt, add a squirt of honey)
1/4 skim milk
1/4 cup feta cheese


This is from my garden!!!

Add the first 5 ingredients to a food processor and chop/grind it all up. Add the remaining ingredients, and blend it all together.

Now the dressing is quite strong with flavours, but once it is on the salad, it goes together in the most amazing way.

Toss the salad in the dressing - serve it up on a plate or a bowl - and enjoy. The only thing that I would have liked to have added to this was - avocado (my grocer didn't have any that were ripe enough) and a few tortillas for crunch.


Loves.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Muffin tins - 3 ways




I recently used my muffin tins once, and then twice, and then a third time, ALL in the same day.



This old tin, I have had for years. It gets a lot of use. It's not fancy. It's not the best tin. It's a Zeller's special that has been a great value.

Speaking of Zeller's... I miss it! There was one - minutes away from our house, and it was my go-to for cleaning products, seasonal stuff, cheap socks...

Back to the muffin tin. I enjoy muffins, but I rarely bake, so this tin is used weekly for my egg white  muffin cups. A great source of protein and a deelish snack.

I put this old pan to use and baked/cooked up a storm.



Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Now I am not a baker, but when I do bake, I try to make them as healthy as I can, so that when I have one I don't feel guilty. I feel that a homemade muffin, that you know exactly what went into it, is better than a bulk bag full of chocolate covered peanuts. Sigh.

2 cups of flour - I used 1 cup of whole wheat and 1 cup of all purpose
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

5 small ripe bananas - or 3-4 large ones
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup low fat coconut milk - I had this in the fridge and thought that it would add moisture, so I could reduce the oil
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chocolate - I used chocolate wafers that I had leftover from making my Tiger Fudge for a silent auction at work. I chopped it up and it added in nicely.

Pre-heat the oven to 375.

In a large bowl mix all of the dry ingredients.

In another bowl, using a fork, mash up your bananas. My bananas weren't too ripe, so they were still a little chunky, which I liked. Add to that the rest of the ingredients, except for the chocolate.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together. Add in the chocolate chunks and gently fold them all in.

I use a cooking spray to lighly grease the muffin tins. You can easily add liners though.



Bake in the oven for 16 minutes - and they are a golden brown.


The second use of the muffin tin was making my egg white muffin cups. I eat these pretty much every week day at work. They are easy. Easy. Did I mention that they are easy? They are a good source of protein and I can make them on Sunday and they keep for the week. Re-heat them in the microwave for 45 seconds, and you have a great snack.



Egg white muffin cups

Pre- heat the oven to 375. Gently spray the muffin tin with cooking spray. Add in whatever vegetables you like. I almost always use broccoli florets and the stocks and sometimes add in chopped red peppers.  I then add in 3 very tiny pieces of cheese. Seriously, they're small. Then add in either some italian seasoning, or some sort of seasoning that you love. Then fill the muffin tins with the egg whites. I find that 1.5 of the medium sized cartons fill the tins generously.

Bake in the oven for 17 minutes.

This particular week, I ran out of egg whites, so I added 3 eggs with a bit of water, whisked it all up, and filled the remaining 3 tins. My husband likes these too, so those were his.

A big part of staying on track and eating well (FOR ME) is doing this sort of thing in advance. And having them in the fridge in easy to grab containers. If it's not done - getting ready to leave for work in the morning, it's harder to say 'I'll grab something at work' when there is food already prepped in the fridge.

The third and final were mini meatloafs. I love meatloaf. It's not something that I make often - so when we do have it, it feels like such a decadent treat.



Mini muffin tin meatloafs (Say that 10 times)

1 pound of ground turkey - if you don't have turkey - then chicken, beef, whatever you like. Turkey is leaner, and I personally like the flavour more.
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp olive oil
1 egg
1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove grated
1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes - or more if you like
Kosher salt and pepper
12 cubes of mozzarella

Pre-heat the oven to 400.

In a small bowl, mix the panko, 1/4 cup of the parmesan and olive oil. Set this aside.

In a larger bowl, add the remaining parmesan cheese, red pepper, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and pepper and mix. With your hands, add in the ground turkey, and mix it all together.

Spray the muffin tins with cooking spray.

Fill the muffin tins about half way up with the meatloaf mixture. Add one piece of cheese in the middle. Cover the cheese with the remaining meatloaf mixture and gently pat them down.

Cover each of the mieatloafs with the panko/parmesan mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes.




Serve with salad, a tomato sauce, a butternut squash hash with lots of colourful veggies (that's what I did).

Well friends, there you have it. One tin, 3 ways. I should try and think of a fourth. Challenge accepted.

Loves.

Enjoy!


Monday, June 2, 2014

Birthday party! And a favourite 'go to' dressing.



Yesterday was my mom's birthday. Jules the birthday girl. She spent a part of the day doing what she loves, at the ballpark watching her grandson play ball. Then the other part was spent on our deck, soaking in the sun and spending time with a lovely friend and her family.



My mom and dad shared the same birthday. Married with the same birthday - love of their lives. I still remember the birthday parties that my sister and I would throw for them. We would do some sort of barbeque, salad, and maybe a potato or something. Then I would break out my baking skills and make them a layered cake. It would be a Duncan Hines, chocolate cake mix. Then I would use a package of Dream Whip mixed with chocolate pudding for the icing and the layers. Oh it was fancy. In all honesty,  those cakes were always deelish.

Birthday's are a little different now. My dad is no longer here - but fortunately for me - my mom's birthday is always a reminder of him - and I am so grateful for all of the great memories that I have of him. He was a wonderful man, that worked so hard to bless his family with a wonderful life. I miss him so.

I am not sure if he would have loved the menu last night. He wasn't an onion or garlic fan. He liked simple, tasty food. Not that last night's was overly fancy - but I went a bit of s different route, making it tasty, healthy and full of flavour. My mom is on a huge weight loss plan - and has lost 20 lbs. she looks amazing and I think feels amazing too. Although you need to enjoy a treat on your birthday, I didn't want to have her over indulge and regret it. Lord knows we have all been there before. Take me for example. On Friday, I grabbed (what was supposed to be a tiny sample) chocolate covered peanuts and a bit too many came out of the canister. Well I thought that I would just have a few and tuck them away in my desk. I didn't. Regret. All night felt not well, internally cursing myself for being a glutton. When will I learn? WHEN???



On the menu:


Mango Salsa with wonton crisps


Pineapple and Prawn skewers


Carrot with Thai Peanut Sauce Salad


Kale Caesar Salad

*I served the salads and steak on matching platters - it looked really pretty.

Grilled Steaks with roasted mushrooms and onions

And for dessert, my sister made rhubarb crisp with rhubarb from her garden.


I thought that I would share my favourite, 'go to' dressing. I use this for a  lot of salads. For me, it's the richness of using mayo - but it has more flavour and is better for you. I add to it if I want to enhance the flavour, which is why it has become my 'go to'. Should I call it an 'all purpose'? 'Basic', maybe?

Anyways, here it goes.

My Go-To Salad Dressing

1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt
1 heaping tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp - 1 tbsp honey (use less or more depending on your tolerance for the spice from the dijon)
Kosher salt

Mix it all together - and voila.

When I use it for Caesar Salad, I add 1-2 cloves of minced garlic and tsp of Italian seasoning. Adding in parmesan cheese, a bit of good bacon and topping with some homemade croutons - you would never know that it wasn't a true Caesar.


I use it for this gem of a salad too.



Broccoli salad with craisins and sunflower seeds.

Chopping the florets into tiny pieces, finely chopping the stocks, and adding in the craisins and sunflower seeds. It's a fave.



What I love about this, is that it's a treat to have every once in awhile. That it's full of flavour and I don't have to feel guilty when I eat it.

Loves.

Enjoy!


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Say what? That's not pasta??



Oh Ogre. He is our adorable, loving, cuddly, humorous, sly, furry, fierce cat. We love him so. Even when he sleeps on my side of the bed during the day when I am at work - and sheds all over the blankets - making it a hive-fest for me if I don't notice and crawl into bed without first vacuuming and scrubbing my hands.

Even when he uses our downstairs bath mat as his litter box (several times) throughout the winter.



Even when he wakes you up with the loudest MEOW in the early morning hours to let you know that he wants a treat.

Even when he claws my brand new sweater and leaves pull marks.



We love him so. He is our 'Ogey Pogey', our 'Harry P'ogre', our 'Fat Cat', our 'Ogey Boy' and our 'Ogurt'.

I bought a new kitchen tool the other day - and I am really loving it. I may be addicted. Now, the name is a little 'different' - but once it's out of the package you can call it what you like.

It's the the Veggetti

It's relatively easy to use once you get the hang of it. I have used it to make a thai peanut carrot salad, and a zucchini pasta with a lemon, ricotta sauce.

Carrot Salad with Peanut Sauce



Use the veggetti to spiral carrots. I used 5 carrots. It's best if the carrots are very firm to avoid them breaking off.



Toss it in your favourite peanut sauce, add in cilantro and some chopped unsalted peanuts.



So good. We had this along side chicken skewers that we grilled on the barbeque. I did a quick sauce of soya sauce, honey, garlic and lots of fresh lime juice.



Zucchini 'pasta' with lemon and ricotta sauce



Used the veggetti to spiral two zucchinis.



Sauteed one diced onion. Added in 1/2 cup of white wine, garlic and lots of fresh lemon. Added in the zucchini and tossed. Added in 1/2 cup of ricotta and some italian seasoning. Topped it with some fresh parmesan.



So good. Doesn't it look like fettucini????



So fresh.



These are what were left of the two zucchinis.

I am not sure what will be on the menu next with this - but Challenge Accepted.

Loves.

Enjoy!