Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jalepeno Poppers or Death Boats to Hades

Ok I know this is a food blog, so I'll use a related expression. Couldn't you just eat him he's so cute? He helped hand out candy.

He's a frog, in case you didn't get it. AND I got all the materials for his costume at the dollar store. Again, in case you couldn't tell. I'm sure this is going to be a case of Parker wondering what the hell his parents were thinking ten years from now, but I'm pretty proud of myself.

I made BBQ Jalapeno Poppers (or, on October 31st "Death Boats to Hades") from The Pioneer Woman Cooks for a snack today. I forgot to put the BBQ sauce on them as directed in the recipe, but they were still delicious. Really delicious. I also sliced the bacon into smaller pieces and just laid it on top rather than wrapping it around the whole jalapeno as that seemed like a lot of bacon. I find that the easiest way to remove the seeds and white membranes is to use the tip of a potato peeler as it is just sharp enough (I use this to scrape out squash too). That being said, watch out for the bastard jalapeno. You know the one I mean- there's always a super hot one that slaps you in the face when you least expect it despite your best efforts to remove the all the really spicy bits.

I also carved a pumpkin for the first time in probably fifteen years. It didn't quite live up to the picture in my head. The mouth was supposed to be a spider. So I made the eyes lopsided too so that it looked intentional. I don't think it's bad for a first try, right? I think it's kind of scary. Or at least I freaked myself out a little when I took it into the bathroom with the lights off (cause there's no windows in the bathroom of course... does anybody else do that?). I have a new found love for Halloween. I even clapped my hands and hopped around a little when I was getting out all the Halloween stuff today. Too bad the book that I ordered from Chapters didn't come in time, but next year it is on like donkey kong.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kale Chips

I just opened a savings account for Parker. My 6 week old son now has more money than I do. This is a sad state of affairs... maybe I shouldn't have bought that Martha Stewart Living magazine today. Especially considering I have a pile of 5 magazines waiting to be read because I am a magazine junkie and currently have five subscriptions. But c'mon, it's Martha Stewart!

Moving on, I made kale chips today. I didn't think I'd like them. But I do. In fact, I almost ate them all before I took a photo even though I was typing this post as the kale chips were baking. They taste nutty and salty and are super crispy. They kind of taste like roasted cauliflower, which on a side note, if you haven't made before make it tonight- trust me. This would be a good time to use the sea salt you never use because you think it should be used on special dishes. Or maybe that's just me.

Here are some more kale recipes too.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash and dry as much or as little kale as you like. Chop or tear kale into bite sized pieces, discarding the stem.

Place kale on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Toss kale with oil and lay out in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt.

Bake 10 minutes or until crispy. Do not let the kale brown.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Breaded Shrimp and Vegetable of the Week

One day last week there was nothing in the fridge to cook and Tyler didn't feel like having any of the pre- made meals I have stashed in the fridge (not even chili with the promise of fresh biscuits!), so I had to put my thinking cap on. Shrimp is easy to defrost quickly so I started there. But then I was stuck. I didn't have lemon juice to make a lot of the recipes I was finding and there was no feta cheese to make my favorite shrimp dish. I knew I wanted have this rice as a side dish (I don't recommend it), so I came up with this breaded shrimp. It's easy and quick and perfect for dipping- Ranch dressing for Tyler as always and PC Memories of Bengal Curried Mango sauce for me. It's all about the dipping.

So, to the Vegetable of the Week. Following the theme of my previous post, each week I want to use one vegetable in a few ways to bump up the nutrition in our meals. Last week was kale*. I usually use kale in soup and that's about it. I also found that I like it in other dishes as well. I chopped it up, steamed it in a pan with salt and pepper and added it to the rice as you can see in the above photo. I also added some to pasta. Just put chopped kale into the pasta pot for the last 5 minutes of the pasta cooking. I still have a few leaves left, so I'm going to try kale chips today. I'll report back.

*With leafy or thin-skinned vegetables I try to buy organic as these vegetables can absorb more pesticides. Also, I just saw that peaches have the highest pesticide concentrations of any fruit- another one to buy organic I would say.

Serves 4

  • 1 lb large (31-40 count) shrimp, cleaned and peeled
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne 
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • water
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Dry shrimp on paper towels. Mix flour, salt, pepper, cayenne in a Ziploc bag. In a shallow bowl or baking dish, mix egg, Dijon, and a splash of water. Place bread crumbs in another shallow bowl or baking dish. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Put shrimp in bag with flour, seal, and shake to coat the shrimp in flour. Working with a few shrimp at a time, remove from bag, shaking off excess flour, coat in egg mixture, then in bread crumbs and place on baking sheet.

Bake shrimp 11 to 13 minutes or until just pink all over (you'll be able to see the color a bit through the bread crumbs) and they are curled up. Ensure to flip them over half way through cooking.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hiding in Plain Sight + 1 Year!

It has been exactly a year since I started this blog! A year ago I wasn't sure how long I would continue this. I thought I'd just see how it went and I figured I'd lose interest after a while to be honest. I tend to do that with hobbies. I know I haven't been posting much lately- hopefully that will change as this baby thing gets easier.

Lately, however, I have been putting a lot of thought into how I can boost the nutrition in what we are eating. When I do get a chance to make something to eat when Parker goes to sleep, I want it to pack in as much vitamins, fibre, etc as I can without compromising flavor. I mean, if I want to eat mac n' cheese, I don't want some super healthy bastardization of mac n' cheese with tofu and cauliflower instead of noodles or some such nonsense. But I do want something a little healthier- and I hate side salads- so I try to think of some way to boost the nutrition a bit so as to not feel guilty about eating just a bowl of noodles and cheese for lunch. Plus I get a certain satisfaction from saying, "How do you like the mac n' cheese? HA! There's pumpkin in it and you didn't even know it!"

So, this post is about sharing some of the more creative ways I have been upping the nutrients in our meals.  Hopefully I will inspire you to trick your kid, husband, or yourself into eating just a little healthier.

Leafy Greens: For the last few weeks I have bought a tub of baby spinach or arugula to keep in the fridge. Then I find ways to use it throughout the week, mostly by throwing a couple of handfuls into the pan at the end of cooking and letting it wilt. This works great for pasta, rice, etc. and was delicious with a fried egg on toast (pictured at the top). I have even put a small handful of greens into my morning smoothie.

Pureed Pumpkin: I used canned pumpkin left over from making pumpkin pie in all kinds of things. Add a quarter cup to mac n' cheese or Kraft dinner and you won't even know it's there. I also put it into a spread for crostini (pseudo-recipe below).

Beans: White beans are delicious in pasta, or pureed with herbs into a hummus-type spread.

Frozen Vegetables: I would say throw frozen veggies into any number of dishes, except that I hate frozen veggies. I find them watery and gross. So what I do is thaw them, drain off any excess water, and puree them with tomato pasta sauce.

Frozen Peas: I'm sure you've caught on to my love of frozen peas by now- see this post and also this one- but I also put peas in anything that I think needs a boost of veggies.


I haven't listed measurements here for two reasons: I didn't measure as I made this and because it is really a throw together recipe that I came up with because I had all these odds and ends of leftovers in the fridge. 

  • cannelini beans (also called white kidney beans)
  • roasted squash
  • pureed pumpkin
  • roasted garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • splash of lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • fresh parsley, rosemary, or sage

Puree everything but herbs in a food processor until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Add herbs, pulse a few times to chop herbs small and combine into spread. Serve on crostini, crackers, or even use as a sandwich spread.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Labour Pasta

Despite the deceiving title of this post, this is a really easy dish to make. I made it while in labour. Seriously. It was almost three o'clock September 14th and I hadn't eaten lunch yet so I was starving. While the pasta was cooking I went into labour. But I still finished cooking the pasta, made the sauce, and ate it. I needed my strength, right?

The pasta sauce is basically this fresh pea crostini spread from a previous post with a couple of other things added. As in the previous post, I am giving you ingredients with no measurements- use the amounts you feel in your gut and then taste. To give you a place to start, for one serving I used a 1/2 cup of peas. All you are doing is pureeing everything in the food processor which means the sauce is done before the pasta, and because it isn't cooked you don't lose any nutrients. This is my new favorite pasta dish right now, please try it!

I can't sign off of this post without mentioning, as you've guessed, that baby is finally here!!! Parker is perfect and healthy and keeping me very busy so I'll try to post when I can. There's not a whole lot of cooking going on right now in our house... good thing I froze so many meals while I was waiting for his arrival.

  • frozen peas, thawed in a sieve under running water
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • feta cheese
  • small handful arugula or baby spinach
  • flat leaf parsley
  • dried short pasta such as rotini, penne or farfalle (bowties)
  • Parmesan cheese to serve (optional)
Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Meanwhile, puree all other ingredients in a food processor. Drain pasta, reserving some cooking water, and add pasta back to pot. Add pesto sauce and stir- the heat from the pasta will warm the sauce- adding a little of the pasta cooking water at a time if the sauce is a bit dry. Serve with Parmesan cheese grate over top if desired.