Sunday, November 29, 2009

Boxed Baby Lunches

Found this really cool blog where a woman takes pictures of her baby's boxed lunches. I wish my mom made me lunches like this when I was a kid. Maybe I'll do this for my baby one day???

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vegetable Soup with Wild Rice and Lentils

I didn't intend on cooking vegan last night, but I had so many fresh veggies in the fridge that I felt inspired and wanted to cook them all! I never knew a vegetable stock could be so flavourful. This soup was very comforting and tasty and I didn't miss the meat. I served the soup with sweet potato and rapini salad. Extra veggie goodness!
3 ribs celery sliced (set aside half of a celery sliced)
2 large carrots diced (set aside half of a carrot diced)
1 large onion diced
6 mushrooms sliced (set aside 2 mushrooms sliced)
2 tomatoes diced (set aside 1 tomato diced)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/3 cup lentils
1/3 cup wild rice
2 cups spinach


Vegetable Stock
Heat olive oil in a large pot and sauté celery, carrots, onions and mushrooms until caramelized. Add tomatoes, bay leaf, soy sauce and thyme and mix through. Add about 5 cups of water and allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes to make a flavourful stock. Season with salt and pepper.
Strain stock veggies and discard (they've done their job).

Add the reserved carrots, celery, mushrooms and tomatoes into the stock along with the rice and lentils. Simmer until rice and lentils are cooked through (about 50 minutes). Just before serving add the spinach into the pot and ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with a couple of extra spinach leaves.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Rapini Salad with Sunflower Seeds

I love rapini. It kind of reminds me of gai lan (Chinese broccoli) but with a slightly bitter bite. I happen to like the contrasting tastes of bitter and sweet, but if you don't like rapini, you could always substitute broccoli in this recipe.

6 stalks of rapini chopped in 2-inch lengths
1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into medium cubes
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 lemon, juiced
1 green onion sliced finely
2 tbsp sunflower seeds

Bake sweet potato cubes tossed in a little olive oil in a 400 F oven for about 30 minutes until tender but not mushy.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet and add smashed garlic to infuse oil. Once fragrant, remove garlic pieces and sauté rapini until bright green and tender crisp (about 6 minutes).
Remove from heat and add lemon juice, green onions, sunflower seeds and roasted sweet potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine salad. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chicken Milanese with Caramelized Fennel, Tomato and Arugula

Sharl felt like schnitzel tonight, so I decided to make this version I saw on Everyday Italian to the best of my memory.
I LOVE fennel. I think it's such an underused vegetable. It's got a texture sort of like celery and when it's cooked, the licorice flavour mellows out beautifully. If you haven't tried it before...this is the recipe to use!
2 chicken cutlets
Flour for dredging
1 egg lightly beaten
Parmesan cheese
1 fennel bulb (fronds and outer layer removed and thinly sliced)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 clove garlic minced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 generous handfuls of baby arugula

Dredge cutlets in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese.
Fry cutlets in a hot pan with oil until golden brown on both sides and chicken is cooked through (about 3-4 minutes per side). Set aside to drain on paper towels.
Add sliced fennel and garlic to pan. Sauté until caramelized and tender. Add tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and continue to sauté until tomatoes burst and balsamic vinegar is reduced.
Serve chicken over a bed of arugula and spoon fennel & tomato sauce on top.

Sausage, Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna

I heart lasagna! Here's an easy tasty recipe

1 jar favourite tomato sauce (I used PC Tomato Basil)
350g ground hot Italian sausage, casings removed
5-6 sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups chopped spinach
1 tub ricotta cheese
1 egg
dash nutmeg
fresh basil
9 no-bake lasagna noodles
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Brown sausage in a pot until cooked through. Add mushrooms and saute until softened. Add tomato sauce and basil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup water (to help cook the noodles)
2. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, spinach, egg, nutmeg and basil.
3. Layer some sauce on the bottom of a lasagna pan and top with 3 noodles. Spread 1/3 of ricotta mixture across the noodles. Top with sauce and repeat with the rest of the noodles. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top.
4. Bake at 350 F for about 45 minutes until noodles are tender and cheese is melted and bubbling.

Banana Muffins

Ever since I've developed an allergy to bananas I've missed them terribly. I couldn't resist buying them when I saw them in the supermarket. LUCKILY, I can eat cooked bananas, so I let them ripen on my kitchen counter waiting to turn them into a delicious baked good. It was torturous waiting for them to turn brown. Does anyone know of a way to ripen them more quickly? Anyway, I decided to bake banana muffins since I had company coming over the weekend and also wanted to bring in a breakfast treat for my dance team.
3 large ripe bananas
1/4 cup butter
3-4 tbsp plain yogurt or sour cream
1 egg
1 tps vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1. Mix bananas, butter, egg, and vanilla with a fork or hand mixer.
2. Add flour sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir until just combined.
3. Spoon batter into 12 greased or paper lined muffin cups
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes in 350 degree oven until risen and firm to the touch.
5. Cool and top with icing if desired.

My friend Nicole had made LOTS of extra cream cheese icing at our house so I decided to make use of it. I added 2 tbsp peanut butter to a cup of icing and iced the muffins. Was so delicious!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Boston Cream Pie

Sharl and I were looking for something to do on Sunday afternoon and we were also craving some kind of dessert, so we decided to bake this cake! It was a lot of fun and easier with two people helping with all of the steps and trying to amuse a fussy baby. It turned out to be REALLY delicious. I got this recipe from this old Good Housekeeping Book that I swear has EVERYTHING you could possibly want to cook and bake.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups sugar
Pastry Cream (recipe to follow)
Chocolate Glaze (recipe to follow)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans. LIne bottoms with parchment paper; grease and flour cake pans.
2. In large bowl, beat eggs until light and tripled in volume (about 5 mins with electric mixer on high)
3. Meanwhile in small pot, combine water and butter and heat to boiling. Remove from heat and add vanilla
4. With mixer at high speed, gradually add sugar to eggs. Beat until thinck and lemon colored and mixture forms ribbon when beaters are lifted (5-8 mins). In two additions fold in flour baking powder and salt until just blended.
5. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean (20 mins). Run thin knife around layers to loosen from pans and invert to cool on wire racks. Remove parchment paper.
6. Meanwhile, prepare pastry cream.
7. When cake is cool, prepare chocolate glaze.
8. Place one cake layer, rounded side down on cake plate. Top with pastry cream. Top with second cake layer rounded side up. Pour glaze over top. Gently spread glaze evenly to edge allowing it to drip down side of cake. Let glaze set.

Pastry Cream
Heat 3/4 cup milk to boiling over medium heat.
In a large bowl, beat 2 large egg yolks with 6 tbsp milk and 1/3 cup sugar until smooth. Whisk in 2 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp cornstarch until combined. Gradually whisk hot milk into egg yolk mixture until blended.
Return mixture to saucepan; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture thickens and boils, about 4 mins. Reduce heat to low; cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat; stir in 1 Tbsp butter and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Pour pastry cream into a pie dish. Press plastic wrap onto surface of pastry cream to keep skin from forming as it cools. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate 2 hours or up to overnight Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Chocolate Glaze
Heat 3 squares semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, 3 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp corn syrup and 1 Tbsp milk over low heat, until chocolate and butter melt and mixture is smooth. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Homemade pizza!

Took another attempt at making pizza. I made the dough by hand but this time, I used bread flour which made the dough more crustier. It ended up turning out really good except I wish I could make the dough thinner. Next time, I want to experiment with some different topping combinations and different cheeses.


  • A mix of low fat mozzarella and regular mozzarella (You need a little fat) :)

  • Hormel no preservatives turkey pepperoni

  • Sliced green pepper

  • Sliced mushrooms

  • Pizza sauce

  • Oregano