Monday, November 29, 2010

Clean Out the Fridge and Pantry Week

First off, sorry there's no food photo. I forgot to take a photo of today's recipe until it was already on our plates and it didn't photograph very well then. Instead, this is a funny picture of our dog because everybody likes funny animal photos, right?

Last week we decided to only buy produce and a few staples (milk, eggs, cheese) at the grocery store and use up what we have in the pantry, fridge and freezer for our weeknight meals. We normally spend spend about $120 on average a week on groceries (there's only 2 of us!), last week we spent $50 and we've still eaten well. I think we will do this again this week I still have lots of beans, rice, etc in the cupboard. Only I do want to buy some ricotta cheese because I have a craving for it. Here's what we ate this week on our budget menu:

Monday: Mushroom and Butternut Squash Risotto
*Arborio rice from the pantry, then I sauteed mushrooms and squash in a pan until cooked, made risotto (I don't follow a recipe anymore, but I started out making risotto according to Jamie Oliver's recipe) and stirred in the squash and mushrooms before serving

Tuesday: Whole Wheat Fettuccine and Italian Meatballs
*Pasta and sauce out of the pantry, PC meatballs we had in the freezer

Wednesday: Chicken Pot Pie
*Chicken breasts from the freezer, and the rest is produce and fridge staples (recipe tomorrow)

Thursday: Chorizo, Cheddar, Squash and Leek Bread Pudding
*I found some sausage in the freezer, and I've been keeping the stale ends of bread in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for a couple of weeks for a time when I wanted to make bread pudding. Recipe below.

Friday: Prosciutto, Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Pizza
*We already had all the ingredients in the fridge except for the mozzarella, but was on sale at the store

One Year Ago: Easy Drop Biscuits

Serves 2 but recipe is easily doubled, tripled, etc
If you love Thanksgiving stuffing as much as I do (really, who doesn't love stuffing?) then you'll love this- it's like making a meal of stuffing. Almost any meat and veg can be used in this dish- use whatever you have on hand.
  • 1/2 small butternut squash, cut into 1-inch dice
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • butter
  • 2 cups day old bread, cut into bite sized pieces- Italian or French loaf rather than sandwich bread is best
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 uncooked Chorizo sausage, casing removed
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, washed well and chopped into half moons
  • 1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly butter a casserole dish. Toss squash with a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper, roast until squash is cooked through and browned, about 20 minutes. Scrape into prepared dish. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together eggs, milk, thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Add bread, stirring to coat. Leave to let bread absorb the egg mixture 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a saute pan over med-high head, cook sausage until no longer pink and it is a bit crisped, breaking sausage into small pieces with a spatula as it cooks. Scrape into casserole dish, leaving any liquid in the pan. In same pan over medium heat, saute leeks until they are softened but not browned. Add to sausage. Pour bread mixture and 1/2 cup of cheese into casserole dish and stir everything together. Top with remaining cheese. Bake 20 minutes covered with foil. Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Organizing Your Life

Click to view larger
Okay, well just your recipes. But for me, having my recipes organized on my computer means I don't have piles of magazines with recipes I want to save piled up around the house, or pages that I've ripped out lying around, and this makes me more sane. Or feel that way anyway.

So I wanted to share how I save recipes with you. I have tried many different systems over the years. I say "over the years" as if I am middle aged or something, but I've been cutting recipes out of magazines for probably 15 years*. I recently flipped through my journals from when I was backpacking through Australia when I was 18, and there were recipe cut outs pasted in there. I was living in a tent and cooking over an open fire at the time for god sakes (and yes, buying magazines that cost a third of a weeks "rent" at the campsite, because I am addicted).

I've tried pasting recipes them into journals, putting them in file folders, albums, writing them onto recipe cards, but all of these were time consuming or made it hard for find the recipe I wanted. Thank goodness for the Internet. 99% of recipes in magazines, on TV, etc, can be found online (no, that's not a scientific fact or anything). Now I only save as many magazines as will fit in one magazine file and when it's full I spend some time going through what I've dog eared and saving them to Internet bookmarks that I have organized into folders. Sometimes I save the same recipe to multiple folders, like "Cakes" and "Chocolate"- sort of cross referencing them. I you have the same problem as I had with "recipe clutter", hopefully this will help. Now I just need to find a good system for saving stuff I find in design magazines... 

*I also remember watching Yan Can Cook on sick days when I was probably only 8 years old. That and the Flintstones which was always on at noon.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vegetable of the Week: Cauliflower

I love cauliflower. I think it's underrated in the vegetable world. Sure, butternut squash and mushrooms and tomatoes are sexier, but I am here to contend that the humble cauliflower is just as delicious and nutritious. You wouldn't think that cauliflower is very nutritionally dense being that it's white, like potatoes (which are very good for you as well), but it is high in fiber, folate, vitamin C, and according to Wikipedia, sulforaphane- an anti-cancer compound.

My favorite way to eat cauliflower is to roast it. I first had this at Thanksgiving a few years ago at my Grannie's, and I make it all the time now. All it needs is a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and a hot oven and the little white trees get crispy, browned, and nutty tasting. The soup that I am sharing with you today is super easy and delicious too. Bonus- the cauliflower makes it creamy without any cream! So, if I haven't convinced you to give cauliflower another try, below are some more recipes from my bookmarks that I want to make featuring our friend the cauliflower.

Oh, and it all that wasn't enough, it also makes a good Halloween costume in a pinch.

Penne and Cauliflower with Mustard Breadcrumbs
Oriccheitte with Cauliflower, Anchovies, and Fried Croutons
Sausage-Cauliflower Spaghetti
Roasted Cauliflower with Panko and Pecorino
Potato and Cauliflower Curry
Cauliflower Risotto
Curried Cauliflower Fritters (which I will probably never make- as you may recall I don't deep fry at home. Or anywhere else for that matter)

Serves 3-4

  • olive oil
  • 1 small head cauliflower, trimmed of leaves and cut into large chunks
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, washed well and sliced into half moons
  • chicken stock
  • milk
  • salt
  • ground white pepper*
  • croutons to garnish, if desired

Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add leeks, cook until just softened but not browned. Add cauliflower. Pour in enough chicken stock to halfway cover vegetables, add milk until vegetables are just covered. Bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer until cauliflower is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender, or in a regular blender (careful- it's hot!) until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper. Top with croutons and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

*Black pepper can be used but you will have black flecks in your soup. White pepper makes it look nicer.


  • cauliflower, separated into bite sized florets
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • pepper

Toss cauliflower with a drizzle of olive oil, a big pinch of salt, and freshly ground pepper. Roast at 400 degrees F until browned and crispy, about 20 minutes, stirring to ensure even cooking partway through cooking.

** I have now written "cauliflower" so many times that it doesn't even look like a real word anymore

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pasta or Pizza?

I was torn whether to write about the pizza I made last night or the pasta I made tonight, so I am going to include both in this post. The link between them is the wine. There is no wine in the dishes, but the glass of wine that I drank both nights was perfect with each dish. The wine: 2007 Wayne Gretzky Un-oaked Chardonnay. I usually don't drink white wine and actually, I usually only have a glass of wine on the weekend, but I'm glad I made an exception with the pizza and the pasta. Do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle of wine and make one of the below recipes. Even if it is a Wednesday.


  • 1 pizza dough, homemade or store bought
  • 1 potato, sliced as thinly as possible, using a mandoline if you have one
  • 3 slices prosciutto, sliced into ribbons (roll into a cigar shape and slice)
  • 170 g round Camembert cheese, sliced
  • 3 tbsp white sauce

White Sauce:
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper to season

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F with oven rack on lower middle setting. Boil a large pot of water and season the water with salt as you would for pasta. Add potatoes to water and cook 4 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Meanwhile, make white sauce. Place butter and garlic in a small sauce pot. Turn on heat to medium, saute until garlic starts to sizzle. Whisk in flour, cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk, thyme, salt, pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce is thick. Turn off heat and set aside.

Roll out pizza dough- not too thinly as the toppings are somewhat heavy. Transfer dough to pizza pan. Spread 3 tbsp sauce over dough. Top with potatoes, overlapping slices to cover pizza. Scatter over cheese, then prosciutto. Bake 15 minutes or until crust is browned on bottom and cheese is starting to brown a little.

Adapted from Ricardo Larrive
Serves 6 (can easily be halved)

  • 500 g farfalle (bow tie) pasta, or other dried pasta such as penne
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp butter, divided
  • 227 g package sliced mushrooms
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup juice from canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional to serve
  • 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to season

Cook pasta in salted boiling water until just al dente. Meanwhile, place pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat until golden brown, shaking pan a few times during cooking.

While pasta is cooking, melt 1 tbsp butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat and add mushrooms, breaking them up a bit as you add to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Saute mushrooms until they have released their liquid and are browned. Add garlic and green onions, cook for a minute. Add vodka, boil until pan is almost dry.

Move mushroom mixture to sides of pan and add remaining 2 tbsp butter and flour in the middle. Cook flour and butter for two minutes to in order to cook out the flour taste. Add milk slowly while stirring to ensure no lumps occur and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes and juice. Simmer until sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes.

Pasta should now be just al dente and ready to finish cooking in sauce. Remove pasta from cooking water with a slotted spoon and drop directly into saucepan with sauce. Stir for about 2 minutes to coat pasta with sauce and finish cooking. Remove from heat, stir in Parmesan cheese and parsley. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper as needed (I found this dish shockingly bland until I adjusted the seasoning- with enough salt and pepper it is stellar).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

I love Sundays, and this Sunday was no exception. Sleep until the baby wakes us up around 8:30 or 9, play with the baby and the dog in bed for a while, eat a weekend breakfast, then cook, read, or nap while Tyler watches football and hangs out with the baby. What could be better?

One question though... Why is it that having a drink while still in your pajamas seems so trashy? It was one o'clock in the afternoon last Sunday and Tyler and I wanted to have a beverage but we both agreed that we should get dressed first. Even if you don't shower, I feel you at least need to change out of your PJs into track pants. Agreed?

Tyler loves pancakes on Sundays. I'm not a huge fan of pancakes, but these are really good. They have more flavor than regular white flour pancakes. Plus basic pancakes are pretty nutritionally devoid, but these are a healthy start to the morning, with or without the berry sauce. I haven't tried this, but you could probably freeze cooked pancakes and thaw to eat on weekdays too.

These pancakes would also be great with chopped up apples or bananas in the batter like my dad used to make us on weekends. Just don't top with chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, sprinkles, and whipped cream as my brother and I were allowed to do once for some reason. Pancake sundae for breakfast = tummy ache for the rest of the day.

Makes 6 large pancakes

Dry Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter, cooled or canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  •  Maple Berry Sauce (below)

Preheat a large non stick pan over medium heat. While pan is heating, mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a large bowl. Add dry to wet and stir until just combined.

Spray pan with cooking spray. Pour in 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook until pancakes look set around the edges, there are holes from bubbles in the middle and the bottom is lightly browned. Flip, cook until lightly browned on second side. Serve with berry sauce or other pancake topping of choice.


Thaw 1 cup frozen mixed berries. Blend until smooth. Stir in a glug* of maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon.

*Yes, that is the technical term

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Korean Style Pork Tenderloin with Vegetable Stir-Fry

I used to be scared of cuts of meat that I hadn't cooked before. I think Tyler and I had been living in our own place for a year before I cooked a pork tenderloin. Don't make the same mistake I did! There is nothing to fear. Pork tenderloin cooks quickly and is a great alternative if you find you're always making chicken. One tenderloin is enough for Tyler and I for dinner with a bit leftover even.

The only kind of tricky part, for me anyway, the first time you cook with this cut of meat is removing the silver skin. Check out this video demo. You can probably ask the butcher at the grocery store to do it as well, even if you get it in a package in the meat case- they'll just package it up again for you after they deal with it.

This Korean Style Pork Tenderloin from For the Love of Cooking is so delicious. You have to try it. It tastes like Asian barbecued pork with all the good crisp browned bits, only it's done in the oven. I only marinated the pork for a few hours as I didn't realize the recipe called for 8 to 24 hours of marinading (is that a word? It sounds wrong), but it was still really flavorful and moist. I can't wait to make this again and marinate it for the full time period.

For the vegetable stir-fry: start canola oil, minced garlic, and minced ginger in a cold pan. Heat over med-high until sizzling and fragrant but not browned. Add your choice of veggies*, fry for a few minutes, tossing frequently, until veggies are tender-crisp. Add some soy sauce and a drizzle of sesame oil to finish. Simple, delicious, and healthy.

*I used some bok choy along with peppers, onion, mushrooms, broccoli- if using bok choy don't add the leaves until the veg is almost finished cooking

One Year Ago: Hawai'i