Monday, April 30, 2012

My Go To Recipes

We all have them. No matter how many blogs, magazines, cookbooks I read, I have recipes that I keep coming back to. They are the first ones that come to mind when I am out of ideas on what to make, or I need something I know will turn out great. Here's my list. What are your go-to's?

Pasta with Pea Pesto
Pizza (have you noticed how many pizza recipes I've posted here? When in doubt, throw some veg and cheese on some dough)
Stir Fry

Roasted Root Vegetables
Creamy Orzo
Quinoa Salad

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Lemon Yogurt Pound Cake
Molly's Chocolate Cake
Chaussons Aux Pommes

Pea Pesto on toasted bread
Bruscetta on toasted bread
Bran Flax Muffins

Monday, April 23, 2012

South Indian Lentil Burgers

What would you do if you had an extra hundred bucks this month? For me this is hypothetical, as I never have an extra $100 or even $20 by the time I get paid again. I am, how you say... a spender? Yeah. Terrible at saving. Tyler, on the other hand, always has extra money in his bank account (we keep our money outside of household stuff separate).  In this fantasy where I have an extra 100 bills here's what I would do.

I'd like to say I'd hire a cleaning lady, but that seems unfair that I have to spend my $100 windfall on something boring like cleaning. Plus, Tyler thinks it's crazy to pay somebody to clean when he has a free cleaning lady. Me.

I should probably also buy a new hairdryer as the nozzle on mine is currently being held on with hockey tape (all I could find) due to Parker chucking it across the bathroom. More than once. But I think what I'd really do is spend half on cheese and other gourmet food at a specialty food store and spend the other half on a new top or make up for spring. I'm so practical that way.

Luckily, these South Asian Lentil Burgers are cheap, cheap, cheap to make. You probably have most of the stuff already. These can also be eaten on their own with a salad or roasted veg on the side rather than having them as a burger. Either way, these are super healthy with high fiber but huge on flavour too. Just don't do what I did and respond to your husband's request of burgers with these. Delicious, yes, but "man burgers" they are not.

Serves 4
The lentils and rice have to soak for 3-5 hours, so plan accordingly.
  • 1/2 cup dried green or brown lentils
  • 1/4 cup brown rice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 inch piece peeled fresh ginger  
  • 1/2 small jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed (optional)
  • 1 cup packed kale, stems removed, or spinach or arugula
  • 1/2 cup peas, thawed if from frozen
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
  • 1 scallion, cut into 1/2 lengths
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt  
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 Naan bread, cut into quarters
  • topping for burgers: Thai sweet chili sauce is good, or the raita in the original Bon Appetit recipe which I didn't feel like making
Place lentils and rice in a bowl and add water to cover by 3 inches. Set aside for 3-5 hours, then drain and proceed with recipe.

Place lentils, rice, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno if using in a food processor. Process until a grainy paste forms (add a little water if necessary). Add peas, parley (or cilantro), scallion, salt and pepper. Process until all is chopped and well combined.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil. Form 1/4 cup lentil mixture into a ball, then flatten into a patty and place in pan. Repeat with 3 or 4 more- as many as will fit in pan without crowding. Cook 4 minutes, then drizzle 1tbsp olive oil over tops of patties. Flip and cook for another 4 minutes. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining lentil mixture.

To serve, place 1 lentil patty on Naan bread "bun" (two quarters of Naan bread) with desired toppings. Serving size is two burgers per person.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bookmarked This Week

Photo Credit: Bon Appetit
I have 24 hours (I'm halfway in) to bake 7 zucchini bread, 3 banana bread, 3 pumpkin-cranberry loaves, and 4 multi-grain breads. Is this a baking marathon challenge? Am I having a party? No, this is an order for my fledgling side business, Baking By Amy. Ultimately, I want to work with food as a full time job, so this is attempt #1. I have other ideas if this doesn't work out (and unless I open a bakery I don't see how it would constitute a full time job, really).

Oh, and within that given 24 hours I work at my real job for 4 hours tonight. So forgive me for no real post today. Lucky for you, I've found some good recipes in my Internet travels this week. Enjoy!

Deals on Meals: 5 dinners for $100 from Bon Appetit This is our menu for this week. All the recipes look great. 

Sweet Melissa Baking Book recipes from Tastespotting A roundup of recipes from this book from around the web with beautiful photos. I had this book checked out of the library a while ago and it was fantastic.

ABCs of Potty Training from Baby Centre Not food related, obviously, but Parker is 20 months old and it may be time to start thinking about potty training. This list of tips is one of the best I've found. Let me know if you have anything that worked for you!

Corn and Bacon Pie from Bon Appetit (Photo above) That just sounds like summer

Confetti Corn Muffins with Cream Cheese "Frosting" from Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Cute

Cinnamon, Sugar, and Coffee Roasted Chickpeas from Baking Serendipity I would have never thought to make these sweet, but they sound awesome

Petite Vanilla Scones from Pioneer Woman Like the ones at Starbucks!

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream from Amateur Gourmet There's a pineapple upside down cake recipe in there too, but I came for the ice cream

Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling and Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting from Adventures in Baking Just look at this frosting! I am in awe of the beautiful purple frosting.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

This is another recipe I have now tried out from the last "Bookmarked" post. Told you I was itching to get back in the kitchen after my failed cleanse week. You have no idea how much happier I am cooking without restrictions.

I love it when recipes have something a little different- a "secret" ingredient, a new technique. This pumpkin pie entails the simple step of cooking the pumpkin puree first to get a deeper, caramelized flavour, then mixing the hot pumpkin with the rest of the filling ingredients and cranking up the oven to cook the pie in only 25 minutes. Sounds intriguing, right? This was a pretty good pie, but honestly not the best I've made. That honor goes to Lady Martha Stewart, whose pumpkin pie I made at Thanksgiving. 

For this pie I didn't make my own crust. Tenderflake makes good crust, and if it's good enough for the almost-winner of Top Chef Canada Season 1, Connie DeSousa and the judges*, it's good enough for me. Also, I seem to have a problem with always ending up with extra pie filling. If you call having to bake an extra pie to use it up a "problem". There wasn't quite enough filling left to fill another full pie, so I added a couple of sliced and peeled apples to make Apple and Pumpkin Pie. It was really good. You could also bake extra filling in ramekins to make a kinda-pudding. 

If you want a good, solid pumpkin pie in under an hour, go with this recipe (you never know when you need some pumpkin pie STAT, right?), but if you have more time go with Martha's. Either way is a win in the pie column.


*Does anyone else remember that episode? It's the one I remember most because the pie crust was such a revelation

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Parker's Chocolate Cake, Redux

Remember the cake I made for Parker's birthday? I have made it twice since- for a friend's birthday and again for my Dad's birthday. And remember how I couldn't share the recipe because it wasn't published anywhere online? Finally Mairlyn Smith, the author of Healthy Starts Here where the recipe is from, demoed it on Cityline so now it is published on their website for all to see.

Yes, this is a diary-free, low fat cake make with soy and prunes. If you don't tell anybody, they will never know, I swear. I had originally made this cake for Parker's 1st birthday as he was having a problem with dairy. He has now been given a go on dairy from the allergist, but now my little bro is lactose intolerant after a bad stomach flu. So lactose intolerant that a smear of butter on bread at Easter made him sick. That is rough. Since he hosted Dad's birthday dinner and all, I figured should be nice and make a cake that he can actually eat. It was a no-brainer really, because this cake is amazing.

What's even more amazing is the icing I used in this third incarnation of this cake. I shared a link to Just Chocolate Mousse in my last "Bookmarked" post. That is what I iced the cake with. This stuff is like magic. You know that normally water + chocolate is like kryptonite + Superman, right? Well, this mousse turns that truism upside down. It is made of only water and chocolate. I still can't believe that the photo above came out of these two ingredients (one of which is free. Score!).

If you are using this mousse as frosting, keep in mind that it thickens up to a nearly un-spreadable consistency quickly after whipping it to what you think is the perfect point. Make sure you have everything ready to go to frost the cake as soon as the mousse is ready. I made the mousse, it got too hard, so I melted and re-whipped it again and the same thing happened again. I could have probably melted it again with some added water to keep it softer, but it was late so I just ended up working with what I had. Let's just say there was a hair-dryer involved.

One Year Ago: Easiest Ever Chicken
Two Years Ago: Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Pasta (one of my favourite meals ever!)

The frosting in the original recipe linked above is amazing as well if you don't want to use the chocolate mousse to frost the cake. The mousse frosting actually turns out more like a really fudgy, decedent chocolate coating rather than a fluffy mousse.

  • 1 cup (250 mL) whole-wheat flour   
  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) all purpose flour
  • 1½ cups (375 mL) granulated white sugar   
  • 2/3 cups (150 mL) natural cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp (7 mL) baking soda   
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) canola oil       
  • 1 cup (250 mL) fortified organic chocolate soy beverage   
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) fresh lemon juice       
  • 1 - omega-3 egg       
  • 1 - 4.5 oz. (128 mL) jar baby food strained prunes   
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly spray a 9x13-inch (23x33 cm) metal cake pan, or line with parchment paper or two – 8-inch round pans.

In a large bowl mix together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Add the chocolate soy beverage, lemon juice, oil, egg, prunes and vanilla. Beat the ingredients together for 1 minute, scraping the bowl often.

Turn the speed up to medium or whisk like your life depended on it for 2 minutes. Pour into prepared pan or pans, even out the top, and bake in the centre of the oven. For the 9x13-inch pan bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. For the two 8-inch round cake pans bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove from the pans and continue cooling.

Once cakes are completely cooled, make the frosting. To frost the cake without mess, place the bottom layer of the cake on whatever you are using to serve the cake. Place parchment or waxed paper just under the outside edge of the cake all the way around. Once the cake is frosted and decorated, remove the paper. Leave frosted cake uncovered at room temperature up to 1 day. If keeping for longer, cover and refrigerate.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Blogging for Newbies

The title is actually a bit misleading. I'm not going to tell you how to write a blog- I barely have that down- but rather how to read and interact with a blog. My blog. Selfish? Yes. But you gotta look out for numero uno, non? (Yes, that was English, Spanish, and French all in one sentence).

Example 1

Example 2
So, first off. Comments. Either click on Comments at the bottom of each post (example 1), or click on the post title to open the post on a page of it's own and the comments will be at the bottom of the page (example 2). You can comment on every post. It's more fun that way. I get to know what you like (or don't like, but be nice). Maybe you have a question about the recipe. Perhaps you'd like to let me know you tried a recipe and how it turned out. Maybe you just want to say hi and tell me how awesome I am. That's ok too.

If you do not have a Google account, you will be commenting as anonymous, but you can put your name at the end of your comment if you like. Or sign up for a Google account. Which every way you do it, just do it. Please? I want to feel the love!

Do you forget about me sometimes? Alright, you're only human so I forgive you. Did you know that you can get new posts via email? Yes! And for the low low price of FREE. Clicking on subscribe will take you Feedburner (also a Google entity- don't worry it's safe) where you put in your email address, complete the annoying Captcha, and you're done! You can also subscribe via RSS or Atom, of course, but if you know what I'm talking about you don't need this tutorial.

There is also the inevitable Facebook page, of course. Whenever I complete a new post I also share it on Facebook. Go ahead and "Like" me on Facebook. I would love to get to even just 100 "likes". It's just a nice round number. Help me out, stay informed. It's a win win.

Got all that? Great. Now let me walk you through a few other features that will help you to fully experience Four Seasons Kitchen (or most other blogs too. Traitor).

At the bottom of each post there are labels (also called Tags). It's kind of like an index to categorize the recipe or post. Click on a label to see all posts tagged with that label. There is also a list of labels on the right hand side of Four Seasons Kitchen where you can also click to see all posts with a certain label. 

Looking for more posts? At the bottom of each page there is link to Older Posts. You could follow Older Posts all the way back to the very first post on Four Seasons Kitchen. You can see all posts cronologically under Archives on the right side as well. To get back to Four Seasons Kitchen home page click Home at the bottom of the page, or click on Four Seasons Kitchen header in the photo at the top of every page.

Knowing is half the battle. Now that you are armed with the knowledge go forth and conquer.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Soft Scrambled Eggs

I had the best day with my son, Parker, on Friday. I'll be honest- the first year was rough and made me not want to have any more kids. He's 19 months now, so it's just beginning, I know, but so far the toddler years are so much fun! Sure, he has tantrums and sometimes screams at the top of his lungs in the middle of the grocery store, but at least we're now getting some sleep. Everything is doable if you have more than 4 hours of sleep a night.

Parker and I started the morning by watching Samantha Pynn's (I love her interior design style) show Summer Home and drinking coffee (me, not the kid obviously... worst parent ever). Then we went for a long walk. Long time-wise; it was only 1 km to the store but it took us 45 minutes. Parker wanted to pick up every stone, compare every pine cone, chase every robin, and touch his forehead to every tree branch within reach (I've said it before and I'll say it again- my kid is weird and awesome). We went to the grocery store, baked a pie (I cooked, Parker ate gobs of pureed pumpkin the whole time), made a pizza. To end the evening Parker had a fun bath where he "washed" all of his sea animal bath toys. I love getting to know this wild and crazy guy.

Then to top off that wonderful day, Saturday morning I made the best scrambled eggs of my life. I will never make scrambled eggs any other way again. Sure, there are lots of ways to make scrambled eggs- even microwaved scrambled eggs are decent. But nothing compares to these Soft Scrambled Eggs from Bon Appetit this month. They are custard-y, buttery, and don't take all that much longer than your standard scrambled eggs. Mother's Day is coming up and your mother wants you to make her these eggs. Trust me.

The above link also has a video on how to make these eggs, with great tips on the technique. I cooked mine a little further than how they do it in the video- personal preference. Also, I started the eggs just above medium heat and then reduced to medium-low when they started to cook. I have a gas stove, but if you are using electric I would stick to medium-low the whole time as you don't have the instant temperature control of gas. Also, I use salted butter for everything. So although the original recipe calls for unsalted, salted is fine too but you probably won't need to season with more salt.
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp butter, divided
  • pinch cayenne pepper or ground black pepper (I prefer black pepper, but the eggs won't be as uniform in colour)
  • salt to season, if required
Combine eggs, 1 1/2 tbsp butter, cayenne in a small saucepan. Place over medium-low heat, whisking gently and constantly while scraping bottom and sides of pan, until eggs are just thickened, creamy, and small curds begin to form, 3–4 minutes total. (If mixture begins to stick to pan while cooking, remove from heat; whisk gently for 30 seconds, then continue cooking over heat.) Remove from heat. Add 1/2 tbsp butter; whisk until melted. Season with salt if needed. Serve immediately.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bookmarked This Week

Photo Credit
It has been a busy week of reading about food. Living vicariously much? Lots of inspiration here. I've actually already made one of the recipes, stay tuned for my next post, which at this rate will probably be tomorrow for I am a blogging machine this week, for how it turned out (I know, you are waiting with baited breath).

Back In the Day Bakery's Lavender Shortbread from Cityline Have you heard about this cookbook yet? It's all the rage. The cat's meow. Let's see if these cookies live up to expectation.

English Muffin Bread from Brown Eyed Baker English muffins in loaf form? Oh yes, this is happening this week.

Strawberries and Cream Angel Food Cake Roll from Brown Eyed Baker The virtuousness of angel food cake meets the sinfulness of whipped cream. Looks amazing.

Meta Given's Pumpkin Pie from Food52 Food52 has a Genius Recipes feature where they post recipes that are, well, genius in that there is something unexpected that makes the recipe the best. I read every one of them.

Just Chocolate Mousse from Food52 Chocolate mousse made with just water and chocolate. I generally give molecular gastronomy the stink-eye, but this is amazing. And more practical than say, smoke foam or grapefruit caviar.

Baking Sheet Macaroni and Cheese from Food52 Mac n' cheese with more crunchy cheese ratio. And no making a bechamel sauce. What's that? Yes, genius. This series is aptly named.

Sweet Braised Whole Scallions from Food52 Just one more from Food52. Scallions made the star. Intriguing.

Rye Crumble Bars from Orangette Finally I can use up the rye flour lurking mockingly (you know- as in "haha what the hell are you going to do with me other than make rye bread?")in the back of my cupboard.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cleanse Day 4

I have decided that this cleanse is going to last a total of 4 days. That's the better part of a week. I can't avoid dairy all weekend. I just can't. Plus, as you will see in my upcoming Bookmarked This Week post, there are just too many good things I want to make and eat this weekend (where to begin!?! Perhaps with one of these epic grilled cheeses).

So. With Day 4 behind me, hello coffee this morning! I think if I was giving up coffee and dairy and such for good would actually be easier, but knowing that there is an end in made it really tough. I knew this already, but this week confirmed it- I have an all or nothing mentality. Tyler can attest to that. My mantra is "If you going to do something, do it right or not at all". Type A much?

Thursday Day 4

Breakfast: Smoothie with strawberries, kale, avocado, protein powder, almond milk. Herbal tea.

Lunch: Crispy Potato, Onion and Mushroom Rosti. This, as you can see from the terrible photo, turned out more like a hash than a rosti (which should be like a giant, crispy potato pancake the photo in the link to the recipe is way more appetizing). Next time I will use a non-stick skillet rather than the cast iron pan. Still delicious either way though.

Snack: Carrot Cake (see Day 3) and tea.

Snack (yes, again): dark chocolate

Dinner: Left over Black Bean Taquito (Day 3) and left over fried rice (Day 2). More carrot cake. And more dark chocolate. Doh.

Easter Cupcakes or Google Saved My Buttercream

This was starting to feel like a diet blog. Ugh. Yes, I am still on cleanse train. I made these cupcakes last week, or what I now refer to as "the good old days". These might be the perfect cupcakes for spring. The cake has fresh strawberries, and the buttercream icing, is well, buttercream icing. Leftovers were almost the undoing of the cleanse. If you have never made buttercream icing before, brace yourself. The first word is "butter" for a reason.

This was the first time I made buttercream. Because you are making an emulsion of butter (like whipping cream or making mayo), it can be finnicky. As I found out the hard way. Everything was going smoothly; the sugar dissolved, the egg whites whipped up nicely, and then I started adding the butter. It is very important that your butter is room temperature. I always forget to take my butter out of the fridge when I'm baking, so I softened it in the microwave. I guess it was still too cold, cause my buttercream looked like cottage cheese. Martha Stewart said this would happen partway through, but no amount of mixing on high speed would make my buttercream smooth. Thank God for Google. And one of my favorite blogs The Kitchn. I soaked a tea towel in hot water, wrapped it around the bowl, and whipped at high speed. A buttercream Easter miracle!

Funnily enough, the blog, Wee Eats, that I am linking to for the cupcake recipe, tells the same tale of breaking and then fixing the frosting for the exact same cupcakes. The recipe is from Martha Stewart Cupcakes and rather than writing it out for you here somebody else has already done that for me. Excellent.

The strawberry buttercream recipe there is what I wanted to top my cupcakes with but I underestimated the amount of strawberries I would need so I ended up making a plain buttercream.

To decorate the cupcakes with the nest, sprinkle chocolate shavings, or chocolate sprinkles, on top of the icing and press in three Cadbury Mini Eggs each. If not serving right away, refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cleanse Day 3

Yesterday was pretty easy. I think maybe already by body has stopped crying out for coffee and milk. I went to Zumba last night and I had tons of energy. I think I may make it the week.

I thought that I would feel like something was missing in our dinner of Black Bean Taquitos, but I made a quick salsa and avacado spread to dip them in and they were just fine. However, next time I make this recipe there will be cheese involved, and probably sour cream too.

Wednesday Day 3

Breakfast: Smoothie with protien powder (it was whey which is dairy, but I attribute this to my sanity yesterday), 1/4 avacado, 1/2 cup berries, kale, almond milk. Tea to drink.

Lunch: Egg salad sandwich on whole grain bread. Egg salad made with 3 eggs, 1 finely chopped celery stalk, 1 finely chopped dill pickle, 1 tbsp pumpkin puree, 1 tbsp mayo, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.

Dinner: Black Bean Taquitos (recipe below) with salsa avacado dip. For dip mash 1/2 an avacado, add 1 tbsp salsa, a squeeze of lime juice, salt and pepper.

Dessert: Healthy Carrot Cake from Cook Yourself Thin on The Food Network, 1/2 kiwi, piece of dark chocolate. I know there is sugar in this cake, but there is no dairy (I didn't make the icing) and it has heart healthy nuts. Plus, I really needed to bake something... again, a sanity issue. I halved the recipe and baked it in 4 mini loaf pans for 25-30 minutes.

Sprinkle in some cheese before rolling the taquitos if desired.
  • 1 onion, small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • taco seasoning or make your own- i.e. chili powder, cumin, corriander seed, garlic powder, oregano, cayenne
  • 1/2 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 4-5 canned plum tomatoes, crushed (I just squeeze them in my hand into the pan)
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 small whole wheat tortillas
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat a large skillet with olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, saute 2 minutes. Add red pepper, saute until vegetables are soft. Add taco seasoning, stir to combine. Add black beans, pumpkin, and tomatoes, heat through. With a potato masher, roughly mash the black beans. Remove from heat and add the parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Add about 1/4 cup of bean filling to the bottom third of a tortilla. Roll, ensuring the filling all stays in the tortilla. Place on a baking sheet. Once all tortillas are filled, bake in the middle of the oven 15 minutes, or until taquitos are golden brown.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cleanse Day 2

I'm now onto day 3 and I think this must be the longest in my life I have gone without dairy. All I can think about is cheese. Is this what quitting smoking feels like? Dang, quitting cheese... I mean smoking... is tough work.

Yesterday I realized when I got to work that I forgot to pack some dark chocolate. The only treat I get all day. That I was looking forward to all day. AHHHH! Sorry, but apples just don't cut it. On the plus side, I wasn't as starving day 2 as I was the first day.

I was, however, worried that I would be unable to refuse a leftover Easter cupcake at my parents when I dropped Parker off before work. I actually mulled over this scenario the whole drive there and decided that I literally have no will power and would eat the cupcake. Which lead to a fantasy of biting into the strawberry cupcake, what it would taste like, the smooth buttercream, dense cake.

So that just got awkward... Anyway, this whole scene that I worked up in my head did not occur so the cleanse is saved!

Tuesday Day 2

Breakfast: Egg over easy cooked in olive oil on whole grain toast. Carmel Rooibos tea with lemon

Snack: I planned on having a smoothie but didn't have time

Lunch: Brussels Spouts Fried Rice with Crispy Cauliflower from Serious Eats. This was quite good, but did require some hot sauce in my opinion. The good thing about Asian food is you don't feel like you are missing out on something (i.e. CHEESE).

Snack (2pm): Roasted Madras Chickpeas and chai tea with honey

Snack(4:30pm): Half a peanut butter and jam sandwich on whole grain bread

Dinner: Leftover whole wheat pasta with Braised Broccoli and Tomato Sauce and an apple. I think the sauce is better the second day.

Snack: Egyptian Licorice Tea. This tea is delicious and naturally sweet. It's my fave.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cleanse Day 1

I feel like I have been on steady diet of bread, eggs, and cheese for the last while, even before Easter. So I have decided this week to do a "cleanse". I've made up my own rules, hence the quotation marks. No dairy, no sugar other than a little dark chocolate, eat whole grains, little meat, and no coffee. Today is day 2. Somebody shoot me.

Why am I doing this if I am miserable? Because I feel unhealthy, but mostly because now that I have started I want to see if I can really go a whole week following these rules. I am guilty of being hypocritical- on hand I can't understand why people say, can't stop eating chips when they are on a diet or quit smoking, but on the other hand I have never actually finished a diet of my own. Yikes. So caffeine headache be damned, I'm going to finish out the week. I'm hoping I'll see a payoff- better skin, shiny hair, more energy. Or at the very least have better poops (sorry, had to go there). Something at least.

In preparation, I read through The Food Lover's Cleanse from Bon Appetit and The Vegan Experience on Serious Eats. I figure if these people who work in the food industry can do it, so can I for a week. I will post if not every day, every couple of days at least.

Monday Day 1

Breakfast: Oatmeal with dried cranberries, cinnamon and almond milk
Rooibos tea with lemon

Snack: Smoothie with 1/2 banana, 1/2 kiwi, 1/4 avocado, kale, almond milk, handful bran cereal (next time I will add berries- it wasn't sweet enough)

Lunch: Rice paper rolls filled with carrot, cucumber, red pepper dipped in Thai sweet chili sauce

Snack: Chai tea with honey, Roasted Madras Chickpeas, 2 crackers (not whole grain, sadly) with tuna salad (tuna, pumpkin puree, mayo)

Dinner: Whole wheat pasta with Braised Broccoli and Tomato Sauce, 1 slice (white!) bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Snack: dark chocolate and 1/4 whole wheat bagel with jam

So I was basically starving all day yesterday despite eating all that food above. I think I have a problem with deprivation and my brain is trying to trick me into eating some cheese. Also I had a headache all day probably due to lack of caffeine. This gets easier, right? The pasta for dinner was okay, but next time (haha there will be no next time) I would use my Roasted Vegetable Sauce.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Meatball Deep Dish Pizza

Did you know April 5th is Deep Dish Pizza Day? You will notice that I have tagged this post under "holidays". Okay, obviously it is not a real holiday, as in you don't get to stay home from work and get paid. Would somebody get on that please? I think it would boost citizen moral.

I have given you a recipe for deep dish pizza before on Four Seasons Kitchen, in fact it was one of my very first posts, but that one was all boring with mushrooms and pepperoni. This pizza has meatballs. Meatballs on a pizza. That's right folks- let's celebrate this "holiday" in style.

Serves 4 to 6

Although the dough is easy to make, it does take some time to rise. Pre-made dough will work too.

Pizza Dough
2 cups frozen mini meatballs
1 medium onion, sliced
100 g or 1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a small pot of water to boil. Drop in meatballs and simmer until thawed. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and saute onion, mushrooms, pepper, garlic until just cooked and onions and mushrooms are starting to get some colour. Remove to a bowl. Drain meatballs, add to skillet and saute until browned on all sides.

Spread a tablespoon of olive oil each in two 8-inch round cake pans. Divide pizza dough in half and roll out each to fit into pan with a little dough coming up the sides. Spread each with tomato sauce, add equal amounts of onion mixture and meatballs to each. Top with cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes, until crust is browned and cheese is starting to brown. Cool in pan 5 minutes before removing and slicing to serve.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Vegetable of the Week: Cabbage

A new low on Four Seasons Kitchen; the chicken fingers on this sandwich are from a box
Sometimes people think I'm all fancy and such. I know this because they'll say "Amy, you're so fancy and such", generally after I talk about making ricotta or caramel or something. Sure, I also like to wear (fake) pearls, I've been to France, and I try to emulate Martha Stewart in my decor, but here's the thing- I also like chicken finger sandwiches. And potato chips on my burgers. That coleslaw in the photo above? Made with bottled Thousand Island dressing. Who's fancy now? Not I.

Cabbage is the ultimate cheap healthy food. I have had a head of cabbage in the fridge for probably almost a month and it's still good. Seriously. This thing was the size of a basketball and it only cost a dollar. A dollar! I've just been slicing some off, wrapping it up in plastic wrap, and sticking it back in the fridge. Amazing. Here are some recipes from the Four Seasons Kitchen archives and others that I have bookmarked to try.

Two Years Ago: Nada 


Grate 1 apple and 1/4 head of cabbage. Mix in bottled dressing (Ranch would be good, Thousand Island wasn't the best choice as it turns out), a splash of apple cider vinegar, and season with a little salt and lots of pepper. Stir to combine.

Sweet and Sour Cabbage (Four Seasons Kitchen)
Fried Udon Noodles (Four Seasons Kitchen)
Potato, Cabbage, and Leek Soup with Lemon Creme Fraiche (Bon Appetit)
Cabbage and Kale Soup with Farro (Food and Wine)
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cabbage and Pine Nuts (Food and Wine)
Cottage Pie with Irish Cabbage and Peas (Chef Anthony Seklak via Steven and Chris Show)