Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tandoori Chicken

I can't take credit for this recipe...it was my father-in-law who prepared everything and my husband who BBQ'd. Lucky me, I had the night off! The food was so delicious. My father-in-law is one of the best cooks that I know.

1 Whole Chicken , cut into pieces
1/2 Cup Plain Yogurt
2 tbs. Tandoori Masala
2 tsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Crushed Ginger
1 tsp. Crushed Garlic
1 tsp. Red Chile Powder

Wash Chicken. In a separate bowl mix remaining ingredients. Cut one to two deep cuts in each piece of chicken (to allow paste to marinade). Next mix chicken with the paste.
Refrigerate the chicken overnight in a sealed container. Bake chicken at 350 degrees for approx. 15 minutes. BBQ on med-high heat for 9 minutes per side or until cooked through and charred. Serve with Raita (yogurt mixed with cucumber and onions), sliced onions and naan.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


South African Cuisine is unique in that it blends a mix of African, Indian, Malaysian, Dutch and British influences. Most dishes are heavily meat-based as South Africans LOOOOOOOOVE to braai all types of meat and game. So much so that it's almost a sacrilege to compare braai to BBQ. To remind us to keep up the South African heritage in our household, my in-laws sent us this awesome cookbook called Rainbow Cuisine, full of South African recipes. I decided to make Frikkadelles for supper which are meatballs spiced with seasonings found in the famous rustic Boerewors (farmer's sausages.)

500g lean ground beef, lamb or mixture of the two
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic finely minced
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 slice bread
65 ml milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

Mix together the minced meat, onion, garlic, coriander, cloves, salt and pepper in a bowl. Place the bread on a flat plate, pour the milk over, crumble and add to the mince with the beaten egg. Set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes to let the flavours mingle.
Form into balls, and fry in oil over medium heat for 12-15 minutes until cooked, turning occasionally. Make sure that they are cooked through without burning. Drain and place in a hot dish. Serve with spicy tomato sauce and rice.

Kirkland Fruit and Nut Medley

I'm eating this delicious snack right now and thought it would be worth sharing.

I was at Costco with my mom last weekend and picked up this bag of Fruit and Nuts. I first had it at my aunt's house during Christmas and let me tell you...it is the BEST 'trail mix' I've ever come across.
There are huge chunks of dried fruits and nuts: cherries, mangoes, pineapple, raisins, kiwis, strawberries, bananas, papaya, apples, walnuts, almonds and peanuts.

This stuff is SERIOUSLY addictive.
If you have a Costco membership or know someone who does, GET THIS!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Simple orzo salad

This was one of the very first Greek dishes I made. I had actually never heard of orzo until I met Steve and we had lamb together. I loved it. Orzo is a pasta but has the shape of rice. It is generally used in soups.

I really like orzo as a side. Orzo really takes on flavor and I love the smooth and creamy texture. Orzo can be served either hot or cold.
  • 2 cups of orzo

  • 2 chopped tomatoes

  • 1 cup chopped or whole olives

  • 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil

  • salt and pepper

  • feta
Boil water and cook orzo for 10 minutes. Drain all but 1 cup of pasta water.
Cover for 5 minutes. The starchiness of the pasta will create a creamy texture of the orzo.
Add tomatoes, chopped or whole olives, salt and pepper and olive oil. Mix and top with feta!

Chicken Fajita Bowl

This dish was inspired by my craving for chicken fajitas and my lack of motivation to go to the store and pick up tortillas. This recipe serves 4 (perfect for tonight's dinner and tomorrow's lunches).

2 chicken breasts sliced
2 peppers sliced (red & orange)
1 onion sliced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tomato chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 lime zest and juice
1 tbsp chopped pickled jalapenos
2 cups cooked rice
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Saute the garlic in a hot skillet until fragrant. Add cumin, chili powder, lime juice, lime zest and chicken and stir until coated and cooked through. Add onions, peppers, jalapenos and tomatoes and saute until tender crisp. Stir in sour cream to create a sauce. Serve over rice and top with cheddar cheese and extra sour cream.

This was a very good concoction. When I stirred everything together in my bowl it looked like this...YUM!!

Eggplant Provolone

My friend Bella came over for dinner last night, and I taught her how to make eggplant provolone sandwiches. It's pretty much the same thing as Eggplant Parmesean except with delicious provolone cheese!
We documented our cooking with lots of pictures, but for some inexplicable reason, when I tried to upload the pictures they were GONE....wiped clean from the memory card!!! I'm really irritated about it. The sandwiches were soooooooo good and photographed really well. But anyway...please try to use your imagination. The recipe is still worth writing about. This recipe makes 6 sandwiches, and we ate them all between 3 of us!!

1 medium eggplant cut into 1/4 inch rounds
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp dried basil
salt & pepper
6 slices provolone cheese
1 cup marinara sauce, heated (I used Ronzoni's Tomato & Basil, which is my favourite jarred sauce)
6 large fresh kaiser buns, split

Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet at medium heat.
Set up 2 plates - one with beaten egg, and the other with breadcrumbs mixed with basil, salt and pepper.
Coat both sides of eggplant rounds in egg and dredge in breadcrumbs.
Fry eggplants in hot skillet until golden brown on both sides and soft in the middle (about 4 minutes per side).
Place 1 or 2 rounds of breaded eggplant on kaiser bun, top with cheese and marinara sauce.
We also added my homemade "La Bomba" Antipasto hot sauce to the sandwiches which gave them and extra flavourful spicy kick.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sodium nitrite

Steve came home one day and searched through the fridge for cold cuts, bacon and hot dogs. Then he pulled out the trash can and threw it all out.

WHAT?? Especially to Canadians like me, you just don't throw out bacon..

For goodness' sake, we ALL know that bacon isn't exactly a source of Omega 3 or the "good fat”..

Steve explained the food additive, Sodium nitrite, is found in these products. Specifically, processed and cured meats, hot dogs and preserved fish.

Known to kill bacteria, and add color, this ingredient is linked to cancer and toxins are most evoked by high temperatures. This means frying bacon or grilling hotdogs.


The biggest issue is how carcinogenic these toxins are when ingested. “When consumers eat sodium nitrite in popular meat products, nitrosamines are formed in the body where they promote the growth of various cancers, including colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer, says Adams. "Sodium nitrite is a dangerous, cancer-causing ingredient”.*

I would think the more genetically predisposed one is to cancer based on lifestyle and family genetics, the more higher the risk this is.

The good news is that there is sodium-nitrite free deli meats and bacon. In fact, we now eat these products by Hormel. I will post more links to preservative-free products as I continue my education and awareness.

Here is some links that aided my research:

Processed meat consumption results in 67% increase in pancreatic cancer risk, says new research

12 Food Additives to Avoid

*Quote pulled "Processed meat consumption results in 67% increase in pancreatic cancer risk, says new research".<http://www.naturalnews.com/007024.html> March 2009.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Club sandwich

Have I mentioned that I love sandwiches? One of my favourite classics is a turkey club...perfect for a Sunday afternoon.

Ingredients (for 2)
6 slices bread, toasted
6 slices roasted deli turkey breast
6 slices bacon, cooked
2 slices cheddar cheese
4 slices tomatoes
2 or 3 large leaves lettuce
salt & pepper

Spread mayo on first slice of toast and add a slice of cheese and 3 strips of bacon.
Top with a second slice of toast and add 3 slices of turkey, 2 slices of tomatoes and lettuce. Salt & pepper the tomatoes!
Spread mayo and mustard on third slice of toast and cover sandwich.
Insert toothpicks into the corners and slice on a diagonal.

I like big sandwich pieces so I only sliced it in half instead of quarters. Serve with kosher dills.


Fasting for Lent is a quite a culinary challenge! Steve and I have been working hard to prepare meatless and dairy-free meals on Wednesdays and Fridays.

So I looked to my Greek family for ideas. Yiasou!


  • 1 med onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 2 cups of cooked brown rice
  • 2 frozen packages of spinach thawed
  • 28 oz of pureed tomatoes
  • feta
  • oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Add rice and tomatoes. Turn down heat and let simmer. Add spinach. Stir. Add oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Top with feta (unless fasting) :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Dessert for tonight's home church meeting was pavlova. It's such an easy and yummy dessert. I first had it in Montreal made by one of my Grandma's friends who was from New Zealand. I'll never forget my first crusty chewy pillowy bite of the delicous merengue topped with cold whipped cream and fresh kiwis. I made the pavlova last night as the recipe said that it could relax all day in a dry oven. I got the recipe from Joy of Baking.

Sarah came over before home chruch and helped prepare and assemble the toppings.

Et voilà!

Since we have a lot of people at home church, I added an extra egg white and sugar from what the original recipe called for.


5 large egg whites
1 1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tbsp cornstarch

1 cup whipped cream (could have used more)
1 pint each of strawberries and blueberries macerated with sugar and vanilla
4 kiwis, peeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F
Beat egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form.
Slowly mix in the icing sugar 1 tbsp at a time until well blended.
Add vinegar and cornstarch and fold in with a spatula.
Put some parchment paper on a large baking sheet and mound mixture into the shape of a circle. I like to create a big well in the middle of the circle with the edges slightly higher to create a space for the whipped cream and fruit.
Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the pavlova is slightly golden and crispy on the outside
Turn off oven, keep the oven door ajar and leave the pavlova inside to dry overnight.
(You can also remove from the oven and cool if you are serving sooner)

Once the pavlova has cooled, fill the well with whipped cream and fruit.

Grilled Vegetable and Havarti Sandwiches

My inspiration for this sandwich came from Closet Cooking. I had some vegetables leftover from making the 'La Bomba' hot sauce so I sliced the leftover vegetables and grilled them in the oven (450 F for about 10 minutes per side). Here's what I came up with...

4 rounds of grilled eggplant
4 slices of grilled red peppers
4 thick strips of grilled zucchini
2 tsp la bomba sauce (or marinara sauce)
4 slices whole grain bread
havarti cheese

Make sadwiches from the grilled eggplant, red peppers, zucchini and havarti cheese.
Spread 'La Bomba' sauce on the inside of the sandwiches.
Butter the outsides of the sandwiches.
Grill sandwiches on a hot grill pan for about 6-7 minutes per side until cheese is melted and oozing and bread is nicely toasted. I put a heavy pan on top of the sandwiches to press like a panini maker would.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"La Bomba" Antipasto Hot Sauce

It's St. Patrick's Day... I can hear the pub downstairs getting lively. They've set up tents and outdoor porto-potties on the patio too. It's quite the set up. Pretty soon it will be filled with drunken party-goers. I can't drink since I'm all knocked up, the husband is out drinking green beer somewhere, so to celebrate I'm staying in and cooking up a storm. More importantly, I'm raising a glass (of chocolate milk) to my BESTIE and flog partner-in-crime, Amanda because it's her birthday today!
Happy Birthday, special!!

Well the first thing I made today was an antipasto hot sauce. I got the idea from the MOST delicious hot sauce I've ever tried, called La Bomba. I was introduced to it when I asked for hot sauce at Cafe Cinquecento. Since then, I found it at Metro in Liberty village. I'm almost out of it so I thought I'd try to make some at home. I basically just looked at the ingredients listed on the jar and threw in what I had on hand and thought would taste good.

Here's what I came up with:

1 cup eggplant diced very small
8 mushrooms diced very small
1 red pepper diced very small
1 banana pepper diced very small
5 cloves garlic minced
1/4 cup of the best olives you can find, pitted and minced
4 tbsp olive oil
6-7 basil leaves torn
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
7 HOT dried chilies crushed

Saute garlic and dried chilies on med-low heat in 1 tbsp olive oil until fragrant. Add the mushrooms, red peppers, banana peppers, olives, basil leaves and fennel seeds. Saute until all the veggies are soft. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool for a bit and transfer to a jar. Pour 3 tbsp olive oil over the top and store in the fridge. This should last in the fridge for about a month.

La Bomba sauce tastes DELICIOUS on pizza, pasta sauces, crunchy bread or even just tossed with fresh hot pasta.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Balsamic vinaigrette glazed vegetable pita


  • 1 green pepper julienned
  • 1 red pepper julienned
  • 1 cup asparagus
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced
  • 2 tomatoes finely chopped
  • Pitas
  • 4 tbsp balsalmic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Saute all vegetables with vinegar and brown sugar until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in pitas topped with chopped tomatoes. This is a great Lenten meal! Steve loved it.

Make it in the Office: Chocolate cake in a mug

I got this recipe in a forwarded email from my mother-in-law. Of course I had to try it myself! I sent the recipe to some people on my team, and each person brought in an ingredient. It was a fun collaborative effort. Great for a team building activity too!
Try it yourself. It's not bad. The texture is a little spongy at the top, but at the bottom, the chocolate chips are melted and create a gooey surprise. It does the trick to fix your chocolate craving and sends a delicious home-baked smell throughout the office!

1 large mug
4 tbsp flour (Thanks, Shiva!)
4 tbsp sugar (Thanks, Markus!)
2 tbsp cocoa (Thanks, Kendi!)
1 egg (Thanks, Kevin!)
3 tbsp milk (courtesy of our in-office coffee supply)
3 tbsp oil (I hope everyone appreciated that I spent an inflated price of $5 for a small bottle of canola oil at The Kitchen Table)
3 tbsp chocolate chips (Thanks again, Markus!)

1. Put everything into a large mug. Ensure everyone is laughing and having a good time while doing so.

2. Mix well. Continue to be excited for what is to come!

3. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Enjoy the delicious smell that permeates through the office and be prepared to answer questions and strange looks from passers-by.

4. Et voila!! The original recipe said the cake would rise higher than the mug, and not to be alarmed, but ours looked like this. We might have not been paying 100% attention to the task at hand.

5. Enjoy right out of the mug. 1 cake will serve 2 people. See? Yum.

Thanks, Tetiana for capturing the moment on film. :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

How to prepare and eat whole artichokes

I had never grown up eating artichokes. The only kind I had ever eaten were the marinated artichokes in jars or antipasto bars. The first time I saw fresh artichokes in the grocery store I decided to buy some and experiment. It was not so intimidating once I found out how easy it was to prepare them and I discovered how delicious they are!! Now artichokes are one of my go-to easy appetizers to serve when guests come over. They are pretty and fun to eat.

Here is my step-by-step method or preparing fresh artichokes.

1. Run water vigorously over the tops of the artichokes separating the leaves slightly so any dirt that may be inside the layers are forced out.

2. Peel away the tough outer petals. (Approximately 2 layers) Using a sharp knife, cut off the stems of the artichokes so that they can stand upright. Also cut the top of the artichoke off to expose the inner layers.

3. Using kitchen scissors, snip the thorny points off of the remaining outer petals.

4. Cut a piece of garlic in half and rub the tops of the artichokes.

5. Squeeze a quarter of lemon into the tops of the artichokes, separating the petals slightly to get inside the layers.

6. Stand the artichokes upright in a pot. Place some crushed garlic cloves on top and fill the pot with about 1-2 inches of water. Add the just-squeezed lemon wedges into the water to create aromatic steam. Cover the pot and steam the artichokes on medium heat for about 20-30 minutes or until the petals can be removed easily when pulled.

7. Serve artichokes with lemon wedges and dijon-mayo dip (recipe below...)

Dijon-Mayo dip
Artichokes and mayo are a match made in heaven.
To make a perfect mayo dip for the artichokes, mix the following into a small bowl:
3 tbsp mayo
1 tsp dijon mustard
squeeze of lemon
1/4 tsp of dried dill
salt & pepper to taste

To eat the artichoke, pull a petal, dip the end into mayo, and use your bottom teeth to scrape off the inner flesh of the petal. Discard the outside as it will be too woody to eat. The further you go into the artichoke, the more tender the petals become.
Once you reach the center of the artichoke, you'll come to the heart. Pop off the 'cone' of remaining petals, and you'll see the fuzzy 'choke' that looks like a thistle. Using a teaspoon, gently scrape out and discard the choke, and you will be left with the delicious tender heart at the base of the artichoke. You can eat the entire base...it's the best part! Dip into mayo and enjoy!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spicy minced pork with vegetables

To make this dish, you'll need some black bean chili sauce. You can pick some up at a Chinese supermarket, although I think they might also sell it at Loblaws too, depending on where you live. I use Lee Kum Kee's guizhou black bean chili sauce which comes in a jar like this:

1 lb ground pork (or turkey)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 ribs celery diced
large handful baby carrots diced
1 tsp of soy sauce or more depending on your taste
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp Chinese cooking wine
2-3 tsp black bean chili sauce (depending on how spicy you want it)
2 cups baby spinach

Brown the pork until cooked through. Drain fat.
Push the meat to the edges of the pan to create a hole. Pour a little oil into the centre to heat and saute the garlic, celery and onions until soft. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, Chinese cooking wine, and chili sauce, mixing thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss in spinach so that it wilts lightly as you stir everything together.
I usually serve this dish with white rice and wrap with large lettuce leaves.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Epic Trifle

I love collaborating with Sarah for desserts to make for our home church. She's so much fun to cook with! Tonight it was an 'epic trifle' layered with homemade chocolate cake, custard, cream, strawberries, mangoes and kiwis.

Sarah's homemade chocolate cake cut into cubes
1 package of instant custard prepared (or you can use Jello instant vanilla pudding)
2 cups whipping cream, whipped with sugar and vanilla
2 pints strawberries sliced and macerated with sugar
5 kiwis sliced
1 can of mangoes in syrup (reserve syrup too!)

In a large glass bowl, create layers of chocolate cake, custard, fruit, syrup and whipped cream. Allow to soak in the fridge for at least an hour. Serve into bowls.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spaghetti with chickpeas, cherry tomatoes & spinach

I think a sign of success of a good vegetarian meal is if I can get my husband to eat it without noticing he's missing meat. ;) We both LOVE chickpeas, and I could snack on them like chips. This recipe was super easy and tasty and all the ingredients are of things I always have in the pantry or fridge.

Dried Spaghetti (cooked al dente - 10 1/2 mins)
1 can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups fresh baby spinach
6 or 7 cremini mushrooms
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp hot chili flakes (for a milder dish, use less or omit, but I like things SPICY!)
parmesean cheese

While pasta is boiling, heat up olive oil in a large skillet.
Saute garlic until fragrant. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until softened, about 3-4. Add tomatoes, chickpeas and hot pepper flakes. Allow to heat through until tomatoes release their juices and become slightly wrinkled. Ladle some boiling water from the pasta pot into the sauce, and season with salt and pepper.
Drain spaghetti, and toss with sauce and spinach. Spinach will slowly wilt from the heat of the spaghetti. Top with parmesean cheese and enjoy!

Lobster Roll

I saw this on the Food Network and have been craving to make it! Steve thought it tasted exotic!

It was a very easy, quick and light dinner.
I think I would have used more lobster though. Maybe after the recession ;)


  • 1 cup Greek yogurt or plain
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons green onion
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 hotdog buns
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • **2 lobster tails

** I used 1 lobster tail.

I bought frozen lobster tail yesterday and thawed it over night in the fridge. Today, I steamed it for about 7 min until the tail curled.

In the meantime, I mixed the yogurt, mayo, celery, green onion, lemon juice and salt and pepper together.

Once the lobster was done, I chopped up into fine pieces and folded it into the above mix.

I toasted the bread, spread the mix on and served with some tomatoes on the side.

"Lobster roll"http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/lobster-roll-recipe/index.html March 2009.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The BEST Chili con Carne

I LOOOOOOVE homemade chili, and though I still think my mom is the master, this recipe is just amazing. And super easy too. It has a surprising secret ingredient - cocoa. I introduced the recipe to my co-worker, Tetiana and at first she was VERY skeptical (Her reaction was, "Chocolate in chili is just disturbing!!") but she has already made it twice since I gave it to her! I think that's a pretty good sign!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 red peppers, chopped
500g ground beef (one packet)
3 pickled jalapeno chiles, seeded and finely chopped (2-3 tbsp)
2 tbsp chili powder
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can tomatoes, chopped
1 can white kidney beans rinsed and drained
Brown ground beef in a large pot
When cooked through, push the meat to the edges of the pot to create a hole.
Pour olive oil in hole and saute onions and garlic until softened and translucent (5 mins).
Add red pepper and saute until tender crisp (5 mins).
Stir in jalapenos, chili powder, cocoa, salt coriander, oregnao tomatoes with their juice; heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer stirring occasionally until slightly thickened (15-20 mins, though sometimes I like to leave it longer for richer flavour!).
I like to eat this over rice or sprinkled with cheese. If I'm feeling ambitious later, I might just make Mandy's cornbread!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cubanos at Delux Restaurant

Cubanos are HANDS DOWN my favourite sandwiches in the world. Amanda introduced me to them during our trip to Florida. I’ve since had one in Atlanta, Buffalo and finally, Toronto!! They are not as popular here in Canada as they are in the States…in fact, very few people have heard of them. I don’t know why, because they are crunchy, cheesy, melty, pickly, meaty delights. I have tried making them at home, but will try again because I didn’t exactly get the flavours down to my liking.
Anyway, I went out with Marissa this week to Delux on Ossignton, simply because they serve the BEST Cubano sandwiches. I found it a little overpriced, but it's still worth it, since we've been back twice. Inside a cuban sandwich you'll find, Grilled pressed bread with brined pork, ham, swiss cheese, garlic flavoured mayo, mustard and pickles. I'm not exaggerating when I say it's pure heavenly bliss to bite into one. I am going to try to make this at home once again, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Jerked Pork Tenderloin with Rice and Peas

I happen to love the 'Memories of..." sauces from Loblaws. I know I usually like to make sauces from scratch, but I have my exceptions, especially on weeknights. For this quick and easy Caribbean supper, I picked up a 'Memories of Montego Bay' jerk sauce and marinated a 1.25lb pork tenderloin with it in a large Ziploc bag. I baked it for 45 minutes in a 375 degree oven. I served this with some rice and peas cooked in the rice cooker. Here's the recipe for the EASY rice and peas.

(I didn't really plate this nicely because I was hungry and in a rush!)

3 cups of rice
1 can of kidney beans
3 cloves of garlic crushed
1 chili (You're supposed to use a habanero pepper, but I only had a thai chili, so I used that)
2 tbsp minced onion
1 cup of coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 teaspoons of dried thyme

Put everything into a rice cooker and wait until the light goes off!
I would have served this with some fried plantain if I had more time.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Going green: lifestyle change: #1

Thermal coffee mug.

You can take me out of Canada, but you can't take Canada out of me.

I miss the coffee culture.

I never really realized how much a part of my life it was until I moved. I never appreciated that it was a social activity, "something to do" and I just miss it. I loved going to Tims for coffee, cookies, ice caps, bagels and sandwiches.

It was fun no matter where. Drive- through, road-trips, sitting in the car, school. It was always that “go to” place.

So, I have become an active Dunkin Donuts customer. Starbucks is a little too $$ for moi and no Tims in Chi..

I stop at a Dunkins religiously on my way to work now. They even have my coffee ready when I walk in.

I used to get coffee every morning with a Styrofoam cup and just felt plain guilty about it. Plus I spilled it a couple times.

So my new accessory is a stainless steel thermal mug. She is with me at all times and is used for coffee, tea and water. She also doesn't spill and no more coffee cups for me.

Saving the environment one change at a time.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Sharl was reading over my shoulder as I was reading through my blog list, when he saw this recipe on Canadian Baker, he begged me to make it. I didn't use the frosting recipe from the recipe because my brother had given me his leftover cream cheese icing that he made a TON of. I used 1 cup of the cream cheese icing and mixed in 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter. It was heavenly.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

6 oz (175 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 oz (125 g) unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1/3 cup (75 mL) butter
1/3 cup (75 mL) natural peanut butter, at room temperature
2 cups (500 mL) granulated sugar

1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla

4 eggs
1-2/3 cups (400 mL) all-purpose flour

1 cup (250 mL) chopped unsalted peanuts

Pinch salt


1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, softened
1/4 cup (50 mL) natural peanut butter, at room temperature

1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
2 cups (500 mL) icing sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) milk

3 oz (90 g) bittersweet chocolate, melted

: Line 13- x 9-inch (3.5 L) metal cake pan with parchment paper or grease. In saucepan, melt bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate, butter and peanut butter over medium-low heat; let cool for 10 minutes. Whisk in sugar and vanilla. Whisk in eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each. Stir in flour, peanuts and salt. Spread in prepared pan. Bake in centre of 350°F (180°C) oven until cake tester inserted in centre comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging, about 25 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack.
In bowl, beat butter, peanut butter and vanilla until creamy. Beat in icing sugar in 2 additions; beat in milk. Spread over brownies. Drizzle with chocolate. Refrigerate until firm, 1 hour. (Make-ahead: Remove from pan; wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Or overwrap in heavy-duty foil; freeze for up to 1 month.) Cut into bars. Makes 60 bars.

Lamb on Naan with Greek Salad

Not all leftovers have to be boring. If you turn them into something completely new, you'll never know they were leftovers. I used the left over roast lamb we had on Saturday and gave it a middle eastern twist by spreading baba ghanoush on warmed naan bread and serving it with a simple Greek salad. Delicious!

I very seldom buy prepared salad dressing because it's easy and fresher to make your own.
To make a simple Greek dressing at home, combine the following into a small mug and mix:

juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 clove lightly crushed garlic

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pizza Party!

I LOVE to share food with others, and even better if we can cook together! Anita and I made 2 types of pizza tonight, and had a lot of fun doing it.

While Anita rolled out the dough, the boys 'helped' out in the background.

Pizza # 1:
Quatro Stagione (For Seasons) Pizza

Pizza sauce
Layer the pizza with sauce, cheese, artichokes, olives and mushrooms, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 450 F. Once the pizza is removed from the oven, top with proscuitto.

Pizza # 2:
Caramelized Onion and Bacon Pizza

6 strips of bacon crumbled
3 onions sliced into rings
1/2 tsp butter
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp thyme
pinch of saffron (we were feeling decadent)
salt and pepper to taste
mozzarella cheese
pizza sauce

1. In a hot skillet, fry bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels.
2. Drain bacon fat, but leave browned bits in pan. Melt butter.
3. Add onions, thyme and rosemary and cook until they turn brown and become caramelized (the key is not to stir them too much)
4. Remove from heat and let cool for a bit.
5. Top pizza dough with sauce cheese, onions and bacon (we also added artichokes) and bake for 20 minutes at 450 F

*If you are baking 2 pizzas at once in the oven, rotate between upper and lower rack halfway though.

Et voila!

Pizza Dough

Anita and Ivan are coming for dinner and we're going to make homemade pizzas together.
Anita's picking up ingredients, so I thought I'd make the dough ahead of time so all we have to do is roll it out and prepare and assemble our toppings.
Kneading dough is quite the workout. I think I will take up bread-making while on maternity leave to help me lose the baby weight!

Here's a simple recipe for pizza dough found in my Good Housekeeping cookbook.

1 1/4 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
4 cups all-purpose flour

1. Combine 1/4 cup warm water, yeast and sugar in large bowl. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy (5 mins).
Stir in remaining cup warm water, oil, salt, and 1/2 cups flour until smooth.
Gradually add 2 cups all purpose flour and stir until dough comes away from the side of the bowl.
2. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (10 mins). Work in enough of the remaining 1/2 cup flour to keep dough from sticking. Shape dough into ball and place in greased large bowl, turning dough to grease top.
3. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in volume (1 hour).

Roast Leg of Lamb with Yorkshire Puddings

My father-in-law is an AMAZING cook. One of my favourite things (among many others) are his roast dinners. Last night, he made roast leg of lamb with roasted potatoes and Yorkshire puddings. I know Yorkshire puddings belong with roast beef, but we thought... why not with lamb too?
One of his tricks in making super flavourful lamb is stuffing garlic pieces into the meat before cooking. Then he coats the lamb with salt and pepper, butter, rosmary and thyme.
Because Yorkshire puddings are my absolute favourite part of the roast dinner, here's the recipe...

Yorkshire Puddings

1 cup flour
pinch of salt
2 large egg
300 ml milk
300 ml water

Ensure oven is heated to 400 F
Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth, scraping down sides occasionally.
Put about 1/2 tsp vegetable oil into the bottom of each well of a muffin tin and place in hot oven for 3 minutes.
Once the oil is hot (should be smoking), carefully but QUICKLY pour batter into each well.
Bake for 10 minutes at 400 F, then reduce heat to 325 F and continue to bake until puffy and golden brown.

Here's a picture of Sharl digging in. It must have been torture for poor little Xhosa.