Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Tag: Cook Once Eat Twice

I have added a new tag to some previous posts, and to this new one. Cook Once, Eat Twice. It could be called Cook Once, Eat a Bunch of Times but that was too long.

I love it when I can use up leftovers in a new way. It makes meals so quick and easy. So why not plan meals to have left overs to re-invent the next night? I'm not talking my step mom's classic "casserole". Growing up when we were having "casserole" it meant leftovers mixed into rice and warmed up in a casserole dish.

So today's recipe is a roasted vegetable puree that can be made in to many other meals. Or just mix a little into whatever you are making- I mixed some into Bolognese sauce last night and nobody was the wiser. Since Tyler doesn't read this blog (because he says "he lives it"), it's still our little secret.


ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLE PUREE

The vegetables and their amounts are a rough guide- use which ever vegetables you like, but ensure they all have roughly the same cooking time. 

To peel celery root, use a knife to take off the outside 1/4-inch all around the vegetable- the skin is too tough to use a peeler. The squash and sweet potato aren't peeled as the skin adds more fiber and nutrients, and it get soft in the oven and pureed anyway.
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and chopped into large pieces
  • 1 medium celery root (celeriac), scrubbed, peeled, and chopped into large pieces
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash, scrubbed and chopped into large pieces
  • 1 large sweet potato scrubbed and chopped into large pieces
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped into large pieces
  • 1 large onion peeled and quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups chicken stock
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large, or 2 small, baking sheets with parchment paper or foil. If using foil spray with cooking spray. Toss all vegetables with a good drizzle of olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Arrange on baking tray so that they are all in one layer. Roast until golden brown on the bottom, about 15 minutes. Stir the vegetables on the tray and return to oven for another 10-15 minutes- until vegetables are golden and cooked through. Allow to cool on the tray 15 minutes.

Peel garlic cloves and discard the peels. In two or three batches, puree vegetables with enough stock to just cover them in a blender until smooth- use water if you run out of stock. Puree can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days, or frozen in smaller portions for up to 4 months.


ROASTED VEGETABLE SOUP

Add enough water or chicken stock to vegetable puree above to get it to the consistency you want for soup. Heat and serve. With grilled cheese would be nice.


SAUSAGE AND KALE PASTA WITH ROASTED VEGETABLE SAUCE AND FETA
Serves 4
Some white kidney beans would be a good addition as well. Or to make this vegetarian, replace the sausage with beans.
  • 500 g dried pasta
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1 onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 hot Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 small bunch kale, washed, ribs removed, chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • roasted vegetable puree
  • tomato sauce
In a large pot of salted boiling water cook pasta to al dente and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, butter, onions. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to break up onions into individual strands. Cover for 5 minutes. Remove lid and cook onions, stirring occasionally, until just slightly caramelized. Remove onions from pan and set them aside.

Heat same pan to medium high heat. Add sausage and break up into small pieces with a spatula while it is cooking. Once sausage is cooked through and browned, add kale. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add 2 large ladles of roasted vegetable puree and the same amount of tomato sauce. Stir until heated through. Add pasta and feta. Stir to combine. Add enough pasta water until the sauce is the consistency you want. Serve with a little more feta crumbled on top if desired.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Slow Cooker Pulled Beef

Grilled Cheese with Pulled Beef
I have made this beef twice and both times didn't take a photo for the blog. I wish I had a nice, juicy, mouthwatering photo of a hunk of beef to show you, but alas, you'll have to use your imagination. It is a thing of beauty. And easy. I'm not even going to give you a real recipe for the beef.

Here's what you do for amazing falling-apart beef: Get a good sized bottom round roast. We get ours marinated already from the store, but if yours isn't seasoned then coat with your favorite rub. Cut it in half. Place in the bottom of your slow cooker. Add about 3/4 cup of water. Set to low and go about your day. It is done when it shreds easily, 6-8 hours. If you have to leave it longer, don't cut the meat in half. I'm sure it's possible to overcook it, but it would take a really long time. Remove from the slow cooker, shred the meat (discard the liquid in the pot), add barbecue sauce.

So, what do you do with all that beef? A better question would be what don't you do with all that beef? This is what we used it for. It could also be frozen in small portions.

Pizza with Pulled Beef, Mushrooms, Broccoli, Feta
Grilled Cheese with Pulled Beef
Beef Wraps with Giardinera
Pulled Beef Mac n' Cheese
Pasta With Pulled Beef, Roasted Peppers and Goat Cheese
Pulled Beef Ravioli (I didn't make this, but it would be easy to make with wonton wrappers)
Pulled Beef Sandwiches - on Kaiser buns with more BBQ sauce. And just in case you thought I was getting too fancy with the ravioli; I like to put potato chips on my sandwiches (I'm in love with these ones)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Leek, Chicken, and Feta Stuffed Pitas


First off, sorry if you had tried to read Four Seasons Kitchen in the last few days. There was "suspicious activity" and I was temporarily shut down. Everything is good now, obviously. I had a mini coronary when I went to my blog and it wasn't there though.

Last night I finally made a dinner worth blogging about. I've made some good meals in the last couple of weeks, sure, but with getting Parker fed, Christmas stuff, wine, etc I forgot to take photos. The fact that there is a photo of this dish from last night isn't saying that there was no wine with dinner- in fact Riesling went very well with this dish- I just finally got my butt in gear. Kind of. Hence the smile fries accompanying the pitas. Shut up, they're awesome.

One Year Ago: Chicken Pot Pie

Two Years Ago: Spanakopita 

LEEK, CHICKEN, AND FETA STUFFED PITAS
Adapted from Food and Drink
Serves 2-4 depending on what you have on the side

If you are having trouble opening the pita, microwave them for about 30 seconds to soften. This recipe is pretty forgiving if your pitas rip though, because the egg holds everything together.

  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large leeks, washed well, sliced thinly (white and light green parts only- save the tops for stock)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped 
  • salt and pepper 
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 pita pockets, sliced in half and opened carefully

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Saute leeks and garlic until softened, stirring occasionaly, about 10 minutes. Remove to a bowl. Increase heat in pan to medium high. Add remaining oil and chicken, season with oregano, salt and pepper, saute until chicken is browned and just cooked through- about 5 minutes. Add white wine to pan to deglaze, letting wine boil until almost all is evaporated. Add contents of pan to bowl with leeks and let cool slightly.

To chicken and leek mixture add parsley, feta, egg, Parmesan and stir to combine. Stuff pita pockets with mixture and place on a baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

On Kale and Man Food

A funny thing happened in our kitchen last weekend. Tyler was making pancakes for breakfast on Saturday morning*. I suggested that he make them with whole wheat flour at least to make them healthier. He refused, saying something to the effect of "don't mess with man food". I was in charge of making BLTs**. I made BKTs instead. Bacon. KALE. Tomato. Take that man food.

I think kale can stand in for lettuce almost all of the time. Tyler seems to agree, cause he assembled sandwiches for us the next meal using... you guessed it. Go on, healthy up your bacon man-wich with some kale.

*Since I have starting working at 8am on Sundays, Tyler has learned to make pancakes. He keeps telling me how much Parker loves pancakes, but I hadn't witnessed the pancake phenomenon until this weekend. Wow. The kid goes bananas for pancakes. He ate more than I did. Incidentally, he also goes bananas for bananas. I wonder what would happen if we gave him banana pancakes?

**Are BLTs global, or is this a Canadian acronym? Just in case, BLT stands for Bacon Lettuce Tomato sandwich.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Shortbread

Have you noticed I enjoy lists? I have shared my recipe organization method (lists inside lists), and I have had lots of posts with lists of recipes featuring specific ingredients. Outside of the regular lists- grocery, to do- I have a few ongoing not-so-common lists. Currently in my Blackberry I have ready for a list of my lists?):

Kareoke You never know when you might find yourself at a kareoke bar needing that perfect song. Featuring Bon Jovi, Bonnie Raitt, Shania Twain.

Gifts I hate it when I think of a good gift for somebody and then forget what it was when Christmas/birthdays roll around. Problem solved.

Books Books I wants to read. Obviously.

Downloads Songs to download. I also hate when I hear a song on the radio then forget what it was when I get home. It took me weeks to finally remember to get "How Do you Like Me Now" by The Heavy. I then declared it the song of the summer last year.

LBCO Wines and drinks I want to check out at the liquor store.

Wines I Like I swear I don't have a problem.

I have had this cookie recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini saved in my browser favourites since April last year. I saved it to try because a) she called them Squeeze Cookies b) they are made with roasted flour. I have never heard of roasting flour. Clotilde writes, "Grilled notes of chocolate and hazelnut come through in every bite, the consistency is a fine crumbliness unlike that of any sablĂ© I know, and all that comes from a simple twenty-minute roasting step." Sold? Me too. It is quite amazing what roasting the flour does. The flour doesn't take on any colour in the oven, but the cookies come out tasting caramelized, nutty, and vanilla-y. Yet none of these things are in the cookies. 

To save time, rather than squeezing the dough into cookies (read the post on Chocolate and Zucchini to find out why you would do this), I pressed the dough into a square baking pan and made shortbread. I also love these cookies because there is only 6 tablespoons of butter in the recipe- usually shortbread calls for about a cup. Get thee to the kitchen and make these cookies today- I bet you have everything you need already, so no excuses.

Recipe: SQUEEZE COOKIES via Chocolate and Zucchini 

 
Two Years Ago: Easy Drop Biscuits

Thursday, November 17, 2011

France Part 1: Eating In

When I was 16, I spent three months on exchange in France. I didn't have a life changing food experience there, a la Julia Child. In the past 10 + years I have often said that I didn't have any amazing food. But like the simplest recipe, taken as a whole the food I had in France is more than the sum of it's parts. I have to work hard to remember any individual meals but lots of times a dish, promptly forgotten at the time, comes back to me at unexpectedly with a bite at a restaurant, a scene in a movie, a sentence in a book or magazine.

Today's post is about the home cooking I had in France. Part 2 will be about eating out, and we'll see what is left over in my memory bank for a part 3 perhaps.

I actually have two French families; the family I stayed with, and the family I was supposed to stay with. More on the latter in the next post. The family I stayed with, the Machpy's, were not foodies. I had, as we North Americans have of Europeans, the impression before going to France that even the most ordinary weekday meal is a gastronomic affair. Not so. Like us, weekday meals were not gourmet, they fed their three kids (four, with me)something quick, simple, nutrious. Sometimes it was something the kids liked- fries night comes to mind- and sometimes it wasn't, like spinach night.

Photo Credit
 Of all the home cooked meals I can remember, spinach night is the brightest in my mind. Dinner was always eaten at the big farmhouse table in the den/dining room, rather than in the kitchen where we ate breakfast and lunch. Put in front of us at that big, rustic table was a big, rustic plate of boiled spinach topped with a fried egg. I think I had only been there about a month, so I didn't want to be rude. I don't think I had ever eaten spinach before, let alone an entire meal of it. I took a bite and tried not to make a face. Then I proceeded to eat it all without chewing much, rationing the egg to ensure there was some in every bite, to take the edge off the greenness of it all. I was the first one finished. The kids still hadn't taken more than three bites, they were complaining about having to eat it. "Look, Amy finished all of hers. Now you eat yours too". I mouthed "sorry" to them, but of course they didn't understand.

There was always a baguette with dinner- this cliche actually turned out to be reality. After dinner was always yogurt and cheese. They would pull this plastic Tupperware bin of different cheeses wrapped in paper out of the fridge and that, with the yogurt and some more bread, was dessert. I have no idea what type of cheeses I was eating, but lots were stinky and all delicious. I blame that, the bread, and the delicious butter, on my 15 pound weight gain.

I had to go to high school in France. I think I was the only exchange student in the history of the school, and they didn't know what to do with me. I had school work from back home to do so that I didn't have to redo the whole semester I was away, so at first I worked on this during class since there was no requirement to get any marks at French school. The teachers didn't like this and there was a call to my French family and there after I had to pay attention and take notes like everyone else. High school there is more a lecture- more like what we do in university here. Although my notes were frequently non-sensical as I was trying to write down what the teacher was saying (the French classes we take all through school in Canada are almost useless when faced with a fast-talking lecturer on biology), I probably picked up a lot of language that way.

The teachers all must have thought I was really stupid, in particular the chemistry teacher. The material was advanced of what we were learning back home. I was pretty good at science normally, but the periodical table is different in French (I thought it was in Latin and therefore the same everywhere, but not so). To add to my embarrassment that I couldn't answer even one question on the exam although yes, Mr Teacher I do study chemistry back home, the teacher was smoking hot.


I don't know why I just gave you a big long story about school because all I have to say about the food is that you got a hot meal every day, and every day it was bad. Except, again, fries day. I think it was actually fish and chips, but the lunch lady would give you just the chips if you asked. It is also this day that I learned from my girlfriends that the French don't call them "French fries" because they were actually invented by the Belgians (les Belges). So they say. Wikipedia says so too.

Wednesdays school was only a half day, so we had lunch at home. This sounds too good to be true, right? Right you are. We also had to go to school on Saturday for a half day. Lunch at home was always, as far as I can remember, mystery meat in puff pastry and then pasta. I asked once what the meat was. I understood it as rabbit, so from then on it was another meal that I swallowed without chewing. The pasta they still managed to make very french. No tomato sauce here. I don't know if this is common or not, but they ate it (perhaps it was just the kids actually) with creme fraiche, Gruyere cheese, and ketchup. This is surprisingly delicious and I still eat pasta this way sometimes, substituting sour cream for creme fraiche. Come to think of it, creme fraiche should also have a place of honour on the list of Food That Made Me Fat in France.

Photo Credit

Breakfast. We're working backwards here, aren't we? Breakfast was always left over baguette with butter (and the dad and I put maple syrup on it too) dipped in a bowl- similar to above- of hot chocolate. The baguette from the night before was kept in a tall bread bin, so in the morning you'd reach in and find a hard end of bread, so the hot chocolate was actually a necessity rather than an indulgence. I suppose in other families the hot chocolate might be subbed for coffee, but my family didn't drink coffee that I recall. Or wine, except when company was over. Red wine every night and even the kids having a tumbler of watered down wine is one cliche that turned out not to be true, to my chagrin.

Photo Credit
 There are two exceptional things I ate in the home of the Machpy's that stand out in my mind. The first weekend I was there, we went on a picnic with another family. Lunch was thickly sliced ham and cold butter on a baguette (baguette jamon). There might have been a schmear of Dijon mustard, I can't be sure. This might have been the best sandwich I have ever eaten.

The other is a chocolate birthday cake. I think we had this twice while I was there. It is not the mile high, layered and frosting-ed North American birthday cake. French birthday cake is fudgy, fallen a little in the middle and crackly on top- like the top of a good brownie. There is no icing. The cake itself is bitter-sweet, like dark chocolate. Whereas I bake cakes and cookies and all manner of baked good for no reason at all, the Machpys only had this cake if it's someone's birthday. I wish I had Mrs. Machpy's recipe, but I have the third best thing (the second best thing being another French aquiantance's recipe)- I Googled "French Chocolate Cake". I ate a slice last night and this recipe is pretty close to what I remember. I also had some for breakfast today. And it's not even my birthday.

 
FRENCH CHOCOLATE CAKE
When beating egg whites the bowl and the tools you use for mixing must be totally clean and grease-free. Wipe down tools with a little vinegar, then rinse and dry to be sure everything is clean. Otherwise your egg whites won't whip. Cream of tartar helps to stabilize the egg whites, if you don't have any it can be omitted. A standard round cake pan can be used in place of a springform pan.

  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 10 oz dark chocolate
  • 3/4 cup salted butter, cubed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 egg, seperated
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • dash cream of tartar (optional)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F with rack in middle of oven. Generously grease a 9 1/2-inch springform pan and dust with a little sugar, tapping out the excess.

Set aside 3 tbsp of sugar. Place the remaining sugar, chocolate, and butter in a micowave safe bowl. Microwave on medium heat 1 minute at a time until chocolate is almost melted. Stir to finish melting the chocolate. Stir in vanilla, set mixture aside to cool slightly.

Beat the egg whites in a very clean, grease free bowl until foamy. Add cream of tartar, if using, and whip until soft peaks form. Add reserved sugar, whip until stiff peaks form (see photo following recipe). Set aside.

Beat yolks into chocolate mixture one at a time. Stir in flour and lemon juice. Add 1/3 of egg whites to chocolate mixture, stir to combine. Add the remaining egg whites and fold until batter is a uniform colour. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake on a rack, removing the sides of the springform pan. Cool completely before removing the base. If using a standard cake pan, remove cake from pan only after cooled. 

Egg whites beaten to stiff peaks

Monday, November 14, 2011

Homemade Chicken Stock

Photo credit The Art of Doing Stuff
I was going to write a post about making chicken stock. But somebody else did it for me. Karen over at The Art of Doing Stuff makes stock exactly the way I do- up to and including measuring it into baggies and freezing it flat. So... read her post but remember I am also a genius cause I do it the same way.

Why would you make your own stock? Because it tastes better, you can use up scraps that would normally go in the garbage, and it's cheaper. Do you need any more reasons? How about it's easy and healthier because you control the salt and ingredients. And you will impress your friends because making homemade stock sounds chef-y but it's a matter of bringing some kitchen scraps to a boil, simmering for a while, then letting it cool. Easy.


Homemade Chicken Stock at The Art of Doing Stuff


Two Years Ago: Hawai'i 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween Wreath

I know it's a bit late but perhaps you can file this away for next year. I made this wreath in 20 minutes the day of Halloween, otherwise I would have posted it before.

I tend to not get excited about Halloween until the day of, then I stress that I have nothing cool. For the holiday. I also sometimes stress that I have nothing cool in general... but that is another post for another day (or not).

I made this wreath with dead stuff I cleared out of my garden on the weekend. Except for the skulls. Those are not from the garden.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chinese Five Spice Powder

I have been using Chinese five spice powder in place of other spices in all kinds of recipes lately. I've had this jar in my cupboard for a few years (I know, spices should be replaced sooner but it still smells ok); I probably bought it for one recipe and haven't used it since. Now that I have been putting it into my regular rotation of spices, I am even going to recommend that you get yourself a jar.

Chinese five spice powder is a blend of (you guessed it) five spices, the most common being star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel. It is a warm blend of spices- think pumpkin pie spice with an Asian flair. Here are some recipes and quick ideas:

  • Replace cinnamon with 5-spice powder in Bran Flax Muffins 
  • Use 5-spice powder instead of other spices in my Olive Oil Granola
  • Asian BBQ Pork: Sprinkle pork tenderloin with 5-spice powder and grill, basting with hoisin sauce in the last 5 minutes of cooking (can also substitute chicken)
  • Pumpkin Pie: I am going to try this in the next few weeks- replace the regular pumpkin pie spices with 5-spice. I think it will be epic
  • Exotic Cinnamon Toast: Spread toast with butter, sprinkle with a little 5-spice powder and sugar
  • Roast Chicken: sprinkle a whole chicken with 5-spice, salt and pepper, roast as you normally would 
  • Smoothie: I just had this for breakfast as I was writing this post and it was delicious. Blend an apple, 1/2 a banana, handful baby spinach, small handful rolled oats, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1/4 cup apple cider, a sprinkle of 5-spice powder.
And from around the web:
Two Years Ago: Halloween Food

Friday, October 28, 2011

Apple Cheddar Soup

Photo from Cityline.ca
I made another amazing recipe from Healthy Starts Here the other day for Apple Cheddar Soup. It is perfect for the cold wet weather we've had lately. Tyler liked it, but declared it not to be in the "man soup" category. Apparently "man soup" has to have red meat or sausage. I served it with a quick bread made with beer, however, so that helped up the man-quotient.

A note about the recipe: If you cannot find unsweetened apple cider, use a little less cider and more water or some chicken stock. We found the soup a bit on the sweet side.

Two Years Ago: Deep Dish Pizza


Recipe: Apple Cheddar Soup via Cityline


BEER BATTER CHEESE BREAD
Adapted slightly from Best of America's Test Kitchen 2009
  • 8 oz old cheddar cheese, 4 oz shredded and 4 oz cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 pepper
  • 1 (12-oz) bottle light-bodied beer (I used Blue)
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with rack in middle. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

Combine the cheese, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, pepper in a large bowl. Stir in the beer and mix well. Pour the batter (it will be quite thick) into the prepared pan, pushing batter into the corners and smoothing the top. Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the top.

Bake until loaf is deep golden brown and a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean (try a couple of spots because it may look wet if you hit a pocket of cheese), about 45 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and finish cooling on a rack. Can be kept at room temperature for 3 days in an airtight container, although is better toasted on the 2nd day.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Two Years + 100th Post!

This post marks both 2 years of Four Seasons Kitchen AND my 100th post! I didn't even plan that, I swear. Actually, I really should have planned a bit. When I realized that both these blog milestones were coming this week I figured the recipe for this post should be an amazing one. However, we hadn't done grocery shopping for real food (just Thanksgiving food) for a couple of weeks. Hmm... what to make?

The best thing I've made lately was something I didn't think I would even post, let alone allow to represent these milestones. But the more I thought about it, it came to me that this dish really represents why I write this blog and how my cooking has evolved in the last few years. It is quick, easy, healthy, and unexpectedly delicious.

I started Four Seasons Kitchen because I wanted to share my recipes and inspire anybody reading to get cooking and try something new. Comparing posts from the start of this blog to now, I now put more thought into eating healthy, especially in the last year since Parker was born. Since my first post October 17, 2009 I have gotten married and had a child. Amazing.

So without further ado, here it is- Lentils with Chorizo, Brussels Sprouts, and Balsamic Vinegar.

Ok, a little more ado. I feel I have to justify this dish. I had some lentils, chorizo, and brussels sprouts hanging around in the fridge and I needed a quick lunch for myself and Parker. I wasn't sure I'd like what I had created but I figured it'd have to do cause I was starving. And the rest is history. I loved it and so did Parker (I know, the kid will eat anything). I beg you to try it. Report back on how much you like it. I won't even say I told you so.

Two Years Ago: Caldo Verde Soup (also with chorizo, funnily enough)

LENTILS WITH CHORIZO, BRUSSELS SPROUTS, AND BALSAMIC VINEGAR
In true Four Seasons Kitchen style, this is not a recipe so much as a method. Use your judgement on amounts and seasoning. 

To cook lentils, cover dried lentils in a pan with water and add a carrot, celery stick, a couple whole cloves of garlic, half an onion, and a bay leaf. Simmer until lentils are tender, drain and remove vegetables and bay leaf. Can be frozen for quick meals.

  • brussels sprouts, quartered
  • olive oil
  • dry chorizo sausage, sliced
  • cooked lentils
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Heat a pan with olive oil over medium high heat. Add brussels sprouts and saute, turning them over a few times throughout cooking, until golden brown on all sides. Add a splash of water and cover pan. Let steam until brussels sprouts are just tender. If there is still some water in the pan, uncover and increase heat to high to let it evaporate.

Add chorizo, saute a couple of minutes. Add lentils to heat them through. Add a good splash of balsamic vinegar and cook until pan is almost dry. Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Review and Reveal

Photo from Serious Eats
So Thanksgiving at my place was a hit. All the food turned out as planned, amazingly, and I even had time to sit down to eat and chat because I did so much in advance. The pumpkin pie was announced "the best I've ever had" by my dad.

Also, remember the secret dish I alluded to in my last post? That was turducken. Turducken! I know. It was amazing. I used a recipe from Serious Eats that makes a smaller turducken. Usually turducken is a a deboned turkey, stuffed with a deboned chicken, stuffed with a deboned duck. That is a lot of work and apparently takes a whole day to make. Serious Eats made one using duck breast, chicken thighs, and turkey cutlets. Much easier. I doubled the recipe to make enough for everybody to have a little, and I used the same stuffing we had for the meal rather than what the recipe called for. To do that pulse dry, uncooked stuffing mixture in a food processor (or Magic Bullet) until fine, add stock or water a little at a time to make a cohesive, but not soggy, mixture.

The one tip I have from all the recipes is that the pumpkin chocolate tart recipe makes A LOT of filling. After I baked the tart shell it looked like it wasn't going to hold all the filling. I also realized the recipe called for a 14 oz can of pumpkin, not a 22 oz like I had, so I doubled the rest of the filling ingredients. I pulled a Tenderflake crust out of the freezer to make a straight up pumpkin pie (Tyler got his wish in the end). There was still filling left, so I filled another pie shell. In all I ended up making 5 (!!!) pies, 3 of them pumpkin. Two days later there is only half a pie left.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thanksgiving

Image Bon Appetit
We are hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year for my family on Saturday. This should be interesting, considering Parker doesn't like anybody but Mommy or Daddy to hold him. Despite inquiries from everybody as to whether they can bring anything, I am doing it all myself. Otherwise I'd be sending out an email such as this - The Thanksgiving Letter. Type A personality over here much?

Usually I end up writing a post after the holidays, but then nobody can use the recipes until next year (who's going to make another turkey between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Not I). And the reason I write this blog is to share recipes and ideas that people can use. So, here is what I will be cooking this weekend, along with a secret dish as long as I can find the ingredients for it. More on that later if it comes to fruition.

Anybody else hosting Thanksgiving? What are you cooking?

Images: Foodland Ontario, Bon Appetit, Cityline, Martha Stewart

Pre-Dinner Nibbles:
Cheese, Chorizo, Crostini, White Bean Hummus, Rosemary Fried Almonds


Soup:
Parsnip, Apple and Brie Soup - I tested this recipe last week and it is delicious.



Dinner:
Sage Butter-Roasted Turkey with Cider Gravy - I made this for Christmas a few years ago and it was amazing!
Whole Wheat Stuffing with Bacon, Chestnuts and Parmesan
Italian Roasted Vegetables
Polenta in place of mashed potatoes cause I love it

Dessert:
Chocolate Pumpkin Tart - Tyler wants straight pumpkin pie, but being me I have to jazz it up of course
Lemon Tart

The Plan:
Thursday: Defrost turkey (I bought turkey parts rather than a whole turkey so that I can cook the white and dark meat seperately to ensure it's all cooked perfectly)



Friday: Dry brine turkey, start stuffing, make desserts, cut up vegetables, make secret dish, make soup (all this after grocery shopping and while Tyler is golfing, go figure)

Saturday morning: Cook vegetables, clean house, make almonds and hummus, assemble app platter

Saturday afternoon: Everyone arrives 3-4 pm, put in dark meat at 4:00, white meat at 5:00, 5:30 put in stuffing and secret dish, 6:00 take out turkey and rest, make gravy, polenta, put in vegetables to warm, warm up soup and eat soup

So we'll see how this all goes down, but I feel better having a plan. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fried Udon Noodles

These noodles are my favourite. Udon noodles are thick, slightly chewy noodles. I think they hail from Korea, but correct me if I'm wrong. When I was in backpacking in Australia at 18 I stayed in Melbourne for a couple of months and there was a small Asian restaurant down the street from our hostel. My friend Liz and I would go there once in a while when we were feeling flush (which was not often when backpacking, to be honest) and I would always order the udon noodle dish with chicken. Liz would order vegetarian. Either way it was delicious. This is my attempt to recreate it. It's close. I think. It's been 10 years.

I've had a hard time finding udon noodles here. They finally carry them at Zehrs (aka Loblaws for other folks) and they were on sale a few weeks ago for $1.00 each. Score! One package will serve one of me, perhaps two of you if you don't eat as much as I do, which is entirely possible since I eat a lot.


FRIED UDON NOODLES
Serves 1

Adding some chicken, shrimp, tofu, beef or pork would be delicious and make this a more filling meal for dinner- I made it for a quick lunch here so I didn't use any of that. The vegetables can be whatever you have available.
  • 200 g udon noodles
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 2 cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • handful shredded cabbage (I shredded 2 brussels sprouts which I had in the fridge)
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 green onion, sliced
  • sesame seeds, for serving
Pour boiling water over noodles, let sit for 1 minute, then drain and set aside. This is to loosen them from being vacuum packaged.

Mix together soy sauces, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add vegetables, stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add noodles, fry a couple more minutes. Add sauce, fry 1 minutes until sauce thickens slightly and is bubbling. Serve sprinkled with green onion and sesame seeds.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Parker's Birthday Cake

I promised I'd let you know how Parker's dairy-free birthday cake turned out. It was amazing! One of the best chocolate cakes I've had. I was a little worried to be honest. Don't cook something you've never made before for guests is practically the first rule of entertaining. Plus this cake is really different- there's whole wheat flour, prunes, and soy milk in it. My worries eased when I tasted the icing (also made with soy milk!). The icing is just about the perfect, creamy, chocolaty icing you could ever want. This will now be my go to icing.

Rather than piping "Happy Birthday Parker" on the cake and having it look amateur, I did "worms and dirt"instead- you know like that dessert you had when you were a kid with the pudding and cookie crumbs. Plus, everybody knows who the cake is for without a name on it, right?

Here's the catch- I'm not giving you the recipe. Ha! I want you to buy the book because I love it, and I don't want to infringe on copyright. The cake is from Healthy Starts Here by Mairlyn Smith. It's great because the book is organized into chapters according to the healthy ingredients in them i.e. Berries, Beans, Greens, etc. There is a lot of great information about why these things are so good for you and why the recipe calls for a tablespoon of cinnamon, for example (cinnamon slows your body's sugar absorption).

I am, however, going to share with you another recipe from the book as it is already published online. These Double Chocolate Muffins are high in fibre and made with pumpkin (which you'd never know), but most importantly are delicious. I have one for dessert or for a snack with a cup of tea during the day and feel healthier and virtuous. And my digestive system thanks me in turn the next day. Just saying.



via mairlynsmith.com

Here's the menu for the rest of the food at the party, in case you're wondering.

Chips
Veggies and Dip
Thai Chicken Kebabs (will post recipe soon)
Caeser Salad
Potato Salad
Fresh Bread

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Father's Daughter

I can't believe it's taken me this long to write about Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook, My Father's Daughter. I received it for my birthday - in July - and I have made probably a quarter of the recipes in it. They are all so easy but showstopping delicious, and healthy to boot.

I didn't want to like it, to be honest. There was a lot of hype when it came out, and I always thought she was a raw-food-macrobiotic-health nut. And she was. She addresses this phase and finding balance in eating in the book, and in that is one of my favorite lines; "Could I use some butter and cheese and eggs in my cooking without going down some kind of hippie shame spiral? Yes." Gwyneth Paltrow is like that girl in high school that you hated because she pretty and good at everything but you secretly wanted to be her friend. She can act, sing, cook, write. She's probably good at sports too. Ugh. However, I am now a Paltrow convert. I even loved Country Strong (I totally called the ending).
Photo from GOOP

There are so many recipes I wanted to try in this book that I developed a new system. Now when I get a new cookbook I write a list of the recipes that sound good as I read through it. Then I don't have to flip through the book all over again when it's time to decide what to cook- it's all on the list kept in the front cover. As you can see, there are a lot of recipes I need to try from My Father's Daughter, plus more on the back of that paper too. I also write on the front page of my cookbooks the recipes that are really good that I would make again with the page number. Again, saves flipping through the book- or multiple books- down the road.

 Rather than reproducing a recipe here for you, since Paltrow has been featured in a few magazines and countless other publications and websites have reviewed the book, here's a roundup of her recipes around the "Inter-web" instead. Then you should buy the book to get all the other amazing recipes that haven't been published online. I'm kind of shocked at the number of recipes that I found online... hopefully when I write my cookbook people will have to buy the book to get the recipes (LOL).

Duck Ragu
Slow Roasted Tomatoes - which she uses to make soup in the book. Yum
Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano  I made this one and it's the best lemon pasta I've had 
Peanut Butter Cookies
Blue Cheese Dressing
Grilled Tuna Rolls
Bruce's Dip
Blueberry Pavlova
Bruce Paltrow's World Famous Pancakes These are delicious. The batter is made the night before so it gets a bit of a sourdough thing going on
Roast Chicken, Rotisserie-Style
Blythe's Blueberry Muffins
Healthier Version of Blythe's Muffins
No-Fry Fries
Classic French Fries
Fudgy Chocolate Brownies
Tuna and Ginger Burgers
Ivy Chopped Salad
Seasonal Crumble
Fried Zucchini Spaghetti Tried. Loved.
Cold Pea and Basil Soup
Fish Tacos
Playwright's Melt
Crispy Potato and Garlic Cake
Best Stir Fried Chicken It is really good
Fried Rice with Scallions Also yummy and healthy
Basic Tomato Sauce, Vinegarette, and Asian Portobello Burgers


Bon Appetit had a few recipes from Paltrow that are not in her book that look good:
Grilled Chicken with Peach BBQ Sauce
Corn Vichyssoise
Strawberry Shortcake Sliders
Peach Cooler
Grilled Halibut with Mango-Avocado Salsa
Roasted Tomato and Anchovy Oreganata Pasta

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Potato Vegetable Cakes

Parker is a year old today! We are having his birthday party on Saturday and I have a (hopefully) delicious dairy-free chocolate cake planned. I'll let you know how it turned out.

My newest discovery in the kitchen is quinoa flour. Other than in the baby food post, I haven't talked about quinoa, have I? It's very healthy and a source of protein- read all about it on Wikipedia. I only care about all that stuff if it tastes good. And it is really delicious. It's nutty, and you can use it in place of rice as a side dish, in a salad, or now as I've discovered as a flour substitute.

I read a post about zucchini bread made with quinoa flour at Goodlife Eats and I was intrigued as I am trying to find different sources of protein for Parker as he is off beef and pork for the time being as part of the dairy allergy thing. I had a recipe for these potato and vegetable pancakes sitting on my counter for the last week, but I thought I could make them healthier. First off, they used Egg Beaters and packaged hashed brown potatoes. I prefer to use non-packaged food whenever possible; cracking some eggs and shredding some potatoes isn't a big deal. I added more vegetables to the original recipe, and then experimented with quinoa flour in place of the white flour called for.

As I said above, I'm not going to use something if it doesn't taste good, BUT if it tastes just as good and is way healthier, why wouldn't you make the change? Quinoa flour is going to be a staple here. I wouldn't substitute for it in baking, as baking has to be so exact, but for things like these vegetable cakes it's a no brainer. It really easy to make. I just put some quinoa in my Magic Bullet and whirred away. You could also try a blender, spice grinder, or food processor. I wouldn't recommend a mortar and pestle, however. This was my first thought, but after three minutes of grinding and no flour to show for it, I ditched that idea. Unless you are sitting outside your hut while your husband hunts for dinner and you have nothing better to do, use an electric option.


POTATO AND VEGETABLE CAKES
Makes 10 servings, 1 serving = 2 cakes
These can be frozen easily by layering them between waxed paper. Parker likes these plain, but I like them with a topping- salsa, tomato sauce, pesto, or ranch dressing would all be good. The veggies can be changed up to use whatever you have lurking in the crisper, and the spices can also be swapped out to suit your taste; curried potato cakes would be good, southwest spices would work, etc. A food processor makes quick work of shredding the veggies.

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 medium potatoes, grated
  • 1/2 large zucchini, grated
  • 1/4 head cauliflower, grated
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

To make quinoa flour, place quinoa in a Magic Bullet, blender, spice grinder, or food processor and pulse until ground to a flour consistency. 

Set a large non stick pan to preheat over medium high heat. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs, vegetables, salt and pepper to season, mix together well, ensuring there are no dry flour streaks and all vegetables are coated.

Drizzle pan with a little olive oil. Pack batter into a 1/4 cup dry measure and drop into pan. Press lightly with back of measuring cup to spread batter- you don't want them too thick. Repeat with as many as will fit in pan without touching. Cook to golden brown on both sides. Cool on baking rack if not eating right away.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Breaded Porkchops and Creamy Orzo

Yesterday I participated in a boot camp for breast cancer. Have you ever done a fitness boot camp? This was my first time. Parker: I'm sorry Mommy can't play on the floor with you today, but I won't be able to get up again if I do. It was intense, but I had a lot of fun. I may even sign up for classes. Even though every part of my body except my face hurts today, I kind of like it. Is that sick? Next week I'm doing Zumba, which should be less painful but more hilarious as I'm "a spaz" as my brother kindly puts it.

Since I worked off so many calories yesterday morning, I felt free to use up some of the 35% cream that I have in the fridge from Friday when we had Tyler's cousin and his girlfriend over for dinner. They made the main meal, an amazing steak with brandy cream sauce (I am going to get the recipe and share with y'all, don't worry). Tyler said it was the best orzo dish I have made. Of course. For those of you, however, who have not done a boot camp lately I've noted substitutions to lighten it up below.

BREADED PORK CHOPS recipe via Bon Appetit

CREAMY ORZO
Makes 4 side dish servings
I've instructed to chop the vegetables small because orzo is a small pasta. It's nicer to have your vegetables about the same size as your pasta. 

To lighten it up, use half and half or low fat cream cheese + some milk. Turn down the heat to low when you add these though, high heat will cause lower fat options to separate. 

  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2 medium zucchini, diced small
  • 1 tomato, diced small
  • 2 tbsp basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper 
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta 1 minute less than package directions. Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion, saute for 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium high, add zucchini and saute for 1 minute. Add tomato, along with as much juice you can salvage from chopping it, and pesto. Add pasta and cream to the pan, stir to combine, season with salt and pepper. Turn off heat, add Parmesan cheese and stir. Serve immediately.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Baby Food Part 2: Textures

I knew when Parker was around 8 or 9 months old that I should be starting him with some finger foods. I was very nervous about this. I reviewed baby CPR online, then I gave him a quarter of a Cheerio (actually, a Nutrio- Cheerios for babies). He cried like was trying to alert the neighbours of a crime. I fished the offending food out of his mouth before he inhaled it and we tried again in a couple of days. He then worked up to half Nutrios, then whole ones.

Does this count as a finger food?
I also started leaving some larger pieces of food in his purees and giving him some soft foods to eat with his hands- banana, cooked sweet potatoes, avocado. Now, as I mentioned in the previous post, he won't eat anything off of a spoon. Except oatmeal, actually. It took me a while to figure out what to give him that he could eat with his hands but it would still be really nutritious as lots of it end up on the floor. Any fruits and veggies, raw or cooked if they are hard, are a go, cut into small pieces. Also we discovered he loves butter chicken and Thai coconut chicken. Usually now we give him small pieces of whatever we are eating, so I try to plan meals with this in mind. He also LOVES these muffins.

Below is a what he ate yesterday, for example, and then some recipes that Parker loved. Bonus: they are good for the grownups too. Hopefully this helps anybody reading this who is completely confused as to what to feed the baby.

NOTE: Parker is still waking up in the night for a bottle, although we working with a (amazing!) naturopathic doctor to wean him off of formula altogether and he slept through the night last night finally! You may notice that there is no dairy in his meals- we suspect he has a dairy sensitivity, so we have eliminated dairy for the time being.

Breakfast 9 am: 1 cup Berry Oatmeal, 1/4 peach, 1/4 banana water from sippy cup
Bottle 10:30
Lunch 2:00: Barley Risotto (offered, he only ate 2 bites) + bottle
Bottle 6:00
Dinner 8:00: 1/2 cup roasted vegetables, some canned tuna, 1/2 a tomato, handful Nutrios, water from sippy cup
Bottle 9 pm

BERRY OATMEAL
Makes 3 baby servings
I made another double batch today and froze some in a muffin tin in 1/2 cup servings. When frozen, pop them out of the muffin tin and store in an airtight container. You could also change up the fruit to make different flavours i.e. grated apple and cinnamon, pumpkin with pumpkin pie spice, peaches, etc

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup frozen berries
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 2 egg yolks

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add oats, simmer until water is almost all absorbed and oats are cooked. Add molasses, ginger, flax, and berries. Stir until berries are thawed. Add egg yolks, bring back to a boil, stirring constantly. Mash berries with back of a spoon or potato masher (some oatmeal will get mashed too, that's ok). Store any uneaten portions in fridge up to 2 days, or freeze. You may need to add some water to leftovers when reheating as it will thicken.

PUMPKIN PIE FRENCH TOAST

  • 2 slices whole grain bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk or water
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • butter for pan

Mix eggs, milk or water, pumpkin, and vanilla in a shallow dish. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Soak bread in egg mixture for 30 seconds each side. Melt a little butter in the pan, add saturated bread. Cook until golden brown, flip, and cook same on other side.


ITALIAN VEGETABLE CASSEROLE
Adapted from Everyday Italian
Makes 6 side dish servings, or many more baby servings
Leftovers are good to toss into pasta. Vegetables can be changed up depending on what you have.
  • 2 medium potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed clean and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, thickly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced into large pieces
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large zucchini, cut in quarters and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, sliced into 1/2 inch thick sliced
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Toss both types potato, carrots, fennel, onion in a large bowl with 2 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to season. Spread in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Layer zucchini, then tomatoes over vegetables. Drizzle with remaining olive oil, season with salt and pepper. 

Mix together breadcrumbs, Parmesan, dried herbs in a small bowl. Top vegetables with this mixture. Bake 40 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Baby Food Part 1: Purees

Parker's first solid food!
Parker will be a year old next week. As all moms say, I can hardly believe it. I didn't think I was going to write anything about baby food, but lately since Parker no longer wants to eat anything off of a spoon I have had to get more creative with making him food. Of course, I turned to the Internet and cookbooks for ideas, so I figured I'd share what worked for me and maybe it will help another mom (or dad!) who is panicking because all of a sudden their child won't eat any of the purees stashed in the freezer.

Baby food is really easy to begin with, to be honest. Start with steaming single vegetables, puree them, freeze them in ice cube trays. The hardest part, for me anyway, is getting over your fears that the kid is going to choke to death. I had to tell myself lots of times that everybody obviously goes through this, because do you know any adults who still only eat pureed food? Me neither.

These are a few books that were really helpful with baby food info and recipes. Each book has it's own merits, and I think it's good to read a few in order to get different points of view and form your own opinions on what to feed your baby. For example, the author of Sprout Right doesn't believe in giving your baby meat or wheat until after 12-18 months, but Better Baby Food (and the public health unit) recommends meat as a first food.

Better Baby Food 2nd Edition by Daina Kalnins and Joanne Saab. Endorsed by The Hospital for Sick Children. Great info on breastfeeding, lots of great recipes for toddlers, a few recipes for 6-12 months.

The Baby's Table by Brenda Bradshaw and Lauren Donaldson Bramley. Mostly recipes, tons of great recipes for 6 months and beyond.

Sprout Right by Lianne Phillipson-Webb. Good info on breastfeeding, eating well during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, choosing a baby formula, a whole chapter on baby poo (yes, really) organic and natural foods, more complex recipes.

And just in case that is not enough info for you, here are a few websites that I used as well:

Sweet Potato Chronicles
Weelicious You can see recipes by age or type (i.e. puree) on this blog
Baby Center
Cooking with My Kid Recipes for toddlers and up, but I have found some great recipes on here for just me and Tyler too
Today's Parent
How to Be a Dad Not food related, but hilarious
Distracted Daddy Also not food related but really funny. Dad blogs are funnier cause the dads aren't in the trenches 24/7 methinks.


I learned a few things in the first few weeks of starting Parker on solid food:
  •  A blender or Magic Bullet does a better job of getting things smooth than your food processor or a potato masher. 
  • Be careful not to give your baby all "binding" foods. I started Parker on rice cereal, squash, bananas, and applesauce, all of which cause constipation. Sorry little dude.  
  • When starting to transition from really smooth purees to a little chunkier textures, whole wheat couscous is a good start. It takes 5 minutes to make, its tiny, and easy to mix into any vegetable puree. 
  • Most fruits you will peel, but you can leave the skin on pears and puree them raw if they are really ripe. Also if you are cooking down apples for applesauce the skin can be left on as it will soften and puree nicely too.
  • Save the water you use to steam or boil vegetables in the fridge for up to a few days to use to thin out purees or to make baby cereal. Perhaps the extra nutrients are negligible, but every little bit counts I think.
  • Mix up flavours by adding spices from your spice cabinet rather than adding them to the whole batch while it's cooking as you would normally do, as most recipes make a ton of food (for a baby). Parker loved cinnamon, ginger, Chinese 5-spice, and curry powder. Beware of garlic powder, especially if baby spits up a lot. Garlic breath does is not becoming of a baby.
  • You know how asparagus makes your pee smell? It makes baby pee smell too. Just a warning.
  • Blending potatoes makes glue.
I have really started to think about how to get the most nutritional bang for my buck with making Parker's food, which has carried over into what I make for me and Tyler too. If the baby is only going to eat a few bites, I want to pack as much good stuff in as I can. So apart from the single ingredient purees (which you can always combine to make different dishes when you defrost them), here are a few simple recipes that Parker loved and are super healthy. These are recommended for 8 months and up.


LENTIL STEW
Adapted from Sprout Right
Makes about 3 cups
Author's note: For toddles, you can serve this puree as a sauce for noodles. It's wonderful on it's own, mixed with rice, or served as a soup for mom and dad with extra lentils and stock.

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups water or no sodium vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 3 carrots, scrubbed and chopped small
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped small
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer until all vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Mash or puree to desired consistency.

CHICKPEA STEW
Adapted from Sprout Right
Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 1/2 cups water or no-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 can (14 oz/398 ml) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer until all vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Mash or puree to desired consistency.

BABY QUINOA
 Adapted from Sprout Right
Makes about 3 cups

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped
6 spears asparagus or green beans, chopped (snap off tough ends and discard)
1 small bunch kale, chopped after removing ribs
6 pitted prunes, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer until soft, 30-40 minutes. Add a bit more water if needed to thin out, mash or puree to desired consistency. 

BEEF AND VEGETABLE STEW
1 lb stewing beef, cut into small pieces
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 small head broccoli, chopped
1 small head cauliflower, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stalk fresh rosemary
Place all ingredients in a pot and add water so that everything is just covered. Cover, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer until beef is very tender and pulls apart easily with a fork. Remove rosemary stalk (all the leaves will probably have fallen off). Mash or puree to desired consistency.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wing Mash Up

Drumsticks with Caesar Salad and Grilled Corn
You heard it here first folks: chicken drumsticks are the new chicken wings. We were going to make the barbequed chicken wings from Eating Forward by Sandi Richard (which I borrowed from the library but am going to buy as it is excellent) but they didn't have any wings at the grocery store. I got drumsticks instead, which are cheaper anyways, and now I am of the opinion that they are better. That doesn't mean I won't eat wings at the pub; that is ludicrous! But I will make them more often at home. These are inspired by Wild Wing restaurant where they do all these crazy mixed up flavors that turn out to be amazing (our favorite flavour is Farmer's Daughter).

Notice I used "we" in the above paragraph? I don't know if that has ever happened in reference to cooking on Four Seasons Kitchen. I use "we" today because Tyler was actually responsible for cooking the chicken. I don't barbeque. I don't like smelling like meat (although I have found that eau de brisket attracts the opposite sex) and Tyler does it best anyway. So really, this is his recipe. Also a Four Seasons Kitchen first.

JERK HONEY GARLIC HOT WINGS

  • 10 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 tbsp jerk seasoning
  • 1/4 cup honey garlic sauce
  • 1/4 cup Franks Red Hot sauce

Toss chicken and jerk seasoning together in a Ziploc bag and put in fridge overnight. When ready to cook, grill on high direct heat 2 minutes per side. Move drumsticks to indirect heat and cook 40 minutes, turning once. Mix honey garlic and hot sauce in a large bowl. Toss cooked drumsticks in sauce.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Vegetable of the Week: Tomatoes

Is your garden exploding with tomatoes? Mine is. I picked all the tomatoes pictured here in one go. I can't grow flowers for the life of me, but if there's food involved I'm all over it. What to do with all these tomatoes? Here are some ideas from my list of recipes to try.

Tomato Basil Tartlets
Fried Green Tomato BLT
Jarred Tomatoes
Spaghetti with Cheesy Broiled Tomatoes
Summer Fettucine
Chicken Breasts with Tomato-Herb Pan Sauce
Tomato and Cheddar Pie
Corn, Tomato, Feta, and Basil Salad
Tomato Tian
Goat Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes
Tomato Tart

And from the Four Seasons Kitchen Archives:
Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Pasta
Tomato Bruschetta with Feta


"No one is going to improve upon the tomato sandwich. No one- not Alice Waters, not that Danish guy whose place was noted Best Restaurant in the World, maybe not even God. Put a few slices of the juiciest tomato you can find on your favorite toasted bread with mayo, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a couple of grinds of pepper. Eat open-face."
-Bon Appetit June 2011

Also, I made a PESTO AND TOMATO FLATBREAD that was so good that I forgot to take a picture. Bonus: it used up four tomatoes in one go. It's easy-peasy:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with oven rack on bottom position. Roll out pizza dough, spread with pesto, cover with sliced tomatoes (I squeeze them a bit to remove the seeds which will make it watery), sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake 15 minutes or until crust is golden and tomatoes are softened.

One Year Ago: Vanilla Iced Coffee  

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe. I know it sounds like a kids show. Cacio is a mouse and Pepe is a frog and together they get into mischief and learn about friendship along the way. Can you tell Parker is now almost one (can you believe it!) and will watch cartoons for 10 minutes?

K, for real, we're talking pasta here. The easiest and most delicious pasta that you can make in the time the pasta cooks. This is for those days when you don't know what to make for dinner so you stare at the fridge, freezer, pantry, fridge, freezer, pantry, and then just end up eating a frozen Jamaican patty. Make this instead. Cacio e Pepe. Pasta with Black Pepper. It is so much more than the sum of it's parts.

One Year Ago (I'm a little behind on this): 

CACIO E PEPE
Serves 2, recipe is easily doubled
Inspired by this recipe in Bon Appetit, I like my modified version better. Read through their article on How to Make Perfect Pasta. It will be a revelation.
  • 1/2 lb (250 g) dried penne
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (from a block of cheese- don't use the stuff that comes in a container)
Cook pasta 1 minute less than package directions, or until just a little more than al dente (firm) than you would eat it. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water before draining.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a saute pan over medium high heat. Continue to cook butter until foaming subsides and butter is lightly browned and smells nutty. Add pepper, saute for 30 seconds. 

Reduce heat to medium. Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Add cheese and pasta to pan, toss pasta for 1 minute to coat and finish cooking pasta. 

Turn off heat and cover pan for 1 minute- this allows the sauce to thicken and everything to come together. If sauce is too thick and isn't coating pasta nicely add more pasta water a little at a time. Serve immediately.