Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Zucchini Pasta with Prawns

With Spring finally here and Summer just around the corner I thought I'd post a new favourite recipe of mine that is light and refreshing. And as an added bonus it pretty much feels like a detox just eating it. Feel free to omit the prawns, I just wanted a little extra protein on mine. We love this recipe so much that it's definitely going to be making a regular appearance on our table and I swear you wont even miss the traditional wheat based pasta one bit. I definitely wont be missing the carbohydrate induced slump that regular pasta gives me.

Zucchini Pasta with prawns
from Whole Living 

prawns (as many as you like)
2-3 medium sized zucchini

7 oz box of cherry tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons (or more) ripped fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, sliced finely
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Use a peeler to grate the zucchini into shoestrings. This peeler works really well. Sprinkle with salt and let the noodles drain on a paper towel for 10 minutes or so. Try to soak up as much excess liquid as possible. Combine sauce ingredients. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spicy Mexican Black Bean Soup

This is my current favourite to soup to make. Simple and absolutely delicious as can be. Just throw everything in the slow cooker, walk away and get on with your day. I've tried many different online black bean soup recipes but they never turned out quite right. I was always craving the kind of black bean soup that one would find in a tiny little hole in the wall restaurant on some dusty street in Mexico. So after after many disappointing attempts and sad meals of bland and lumpy black bean soups I have finally come up with my own recipe which I feel hits the mark. Since I don't follow a recipe the amounts that I've listed below are somewhat approximate and so feel free to add a little more or a little less of each ingredient. You could also throw in different types of dried peppers if you have them. Enjoy.

Mexican black bean soup

2-3 cups dried black beans
1 onion, quartered
1 jalapeƱo, deseeded and roughly chopped
4-5 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp pureed chipotle peppers
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp mexican oregano (use regular oregano if you don't have mexican)
chicken stock (probably 5-6 cups at least)
1 lime

Garnish (optional)

tortilla chips
feta cheese

Other garnish ideas

roasted pumpkin seeds
plain greek yoghurt
sliced green onion
a spoonful of salsa

Rinse the dried black beans and throw into the slow cooker with the onion, jalapeƱo (deseeded), garlic, cumin, chipotle and chili powder. Don't worry too much about chopping things nicely since it will all be pureed in the end anyways. I usually throw my garlic in whole and quarter the onion. Fill the slow cooker so all the ingredients are well covered with chicken stock. You may need to add more water or chicken stock later since the black beans will absorb a tonne of liquid. After cooking for 6-7 hours check to ensure beans are cooked all the way through.  Puree in a blender.  At this point you may need to add a little more chicken stock or water so that it is a nice soup-like consistency. Also, taste it and perhaps and adjust the seasoning if needed. Before serving squeeze a  slice of lime into each bowl, this part is ESSENTIAL even though it may not seem important. Sometimes I like to squeeze two slices of lime even! Sprinkle with feta and avocado if you have it and serve with tortilla chips.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chimichurri Sauce: my favourite go-to-sauce

This is actually my favourite sauce. Whenever we have a lazy saturday evening where we want to make something incredibly tasty for dinner, after the kids are asleep, I almost always think of grilling some meat or seafood and making this sauce. Serve with some crusty bread and a glass of red wine and it will be a meal to remember. My favourite is grilled prawns and scallops with this sauce.

Chimichurri Sauce is originally from Argentina and is a popular dipping sauce for grilled meat. I've never been there but would love to one day! A gal can dream. I've found various recipes online using various proportions of parsley, cilantro and other herbs but this recipe I find the simplest and tastiest. All you really need is fresh parsley and lemon and the other ingredients are usually on hand.

Chimichurri Sauce
from Gourmet June 2008

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon minced shallot
3/4 teaspoon hot chill flakes
3/4 cup flat leave parsley, chopped

Chop finely and blend OR do as I prefer and throw in the blender and puree.

This guy doesn't eat the sauce but such a cute photo I couldn't resist including it:)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Quick Healthy Lunch Idea: black bean tortilla roll-up

I don't know about you but I find it extremely difficult to find quick fast lunches on the go that are healthy and vegetarian. It's pretty much impossible. McDonald's is out, let's face it the salads there are crap. And most other fast food options are equally terrible. I am constantly annoying my husband when we are out and about around lunchtime and everyone is hungry and just wants to stop where ever and picky ol' me refuses to eat a burger and fries for lunch. Sorry guys, but I just know myself and I know if I eat poorly I'll feel sluggish and grumpy for the rest of the day. 

So here is one lunch option I decided to make at home today and I think it could easily be packed up for a work lunch. I got the idea from the latest GOOP e-mail on Superfoods. Thanks Gwyneth!

Here is what I put in my wrap. I just know I'm going to feel great for the rest of the day after eating this for lunch.

Black Bean Tortilla Roll-up
adapted slightly from GOOP

1 whole wheat tortilla (I toasted mine on the pan but not necessary if taking it to go)
hot sauce
black beans
1 smear of plain yoghurt

Friday, January 11, 2013

Aggression Cookies: a classic oldy

One of my very favourite cookies to bake when I was a child was called aggression cookies. They are the perfect oatmeal cookie in my opinion. Sweet and simple with a lovely oaty crunch. The recipe that my sisters and I would use was from a children's cookbook of which I cannot recall the name but I'm quite sure it is still somewhere collecting dust at my parents house. Anyway, I suddenly had an urge to bake these cookies this afternoon and so I did a quick google search and there were countless agression cookie recipes that popped up. All the recipes were pretty much the same with the same 2:1:1:1 proportions of oats to brown sugar, flour and butter. I also added a touch of vanilla in the end. It now makes perfect sense to me that these cookies were in a children's cookbook due to the simplicity of the ingredients.

I never gave the name aggression cookies much thought but according to the many recipes posted online the name comes from the fact that one can get their aggressions and stress out while making these cookies, the longer you knead the better! Put some serious elbow grease into it. I remember it was fun as a child to get my hands all messy with the cookie dough and knead away.

Aggression Cookies

1 cup butter (unsalted and softened)
1 cup white flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 sugar old fashioned oats (don't use quick cook oats)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mash with your hands until mixed very well. Roll into 1 inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Press the cookies flat with the back of a glass. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly golden in colour. Remove from heat and let cool COMPLETELY before removing from cookie sheet or else the cookies will crumble. This recipe makes anywhere from 20 - 60 cookies depending on how large you make your cookies.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Top 5 recipes from 2012: Mel and Lor's Picks

My sister Melody and I thought a fun way to sum up the year would be to each post our 5 favourite recipes of the year. While not necessarily from 2012, these are the recipes we made over and over - the ones we love and look forward to eating and making.  I cannot wait to try some of her recommendations!

Lorelei's Picks

1. Salmon Hash - I just love this recipe. It requires very few ingredients which I usually have on hand - mostly just potatoes and canned salmon, which I'm very lucky to always have a plentiful supply of thanks to my fisherman dad Richard Wey. This dish is true west coast comfort food.

2. Mexican Rice from Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday. I found a link to it here. This recipe takes me back to when my hubby and I were carefree and more importantly child free on vacation in La Paz, Mexico and stuffing our faces with amazing mexican food and lime margaritas every day. What a dream.

3. Garlic shrimp and white beans from here. This is actually my favourite find of the year. So tasty.

4. Swiss chard tacos from Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday, I found a link to it here. Looking back I think this was my favourite cookbook find of the year. Fabulous and easy to cook mexican recipes that are quick enough for weeknights. Love it.

5. No Knead bread - I feel so smug whenever I whip up a loaf of artisan quality bread. Lovely with a nice bowl of steaming hot soup.

Melody's Picks 

1. Glory Bowl from a fellow Canadian food blogger, Dollop of Cream. The dressing is so unbelievably tasty, you'll be tempted to bathe in it.

2. Creamy corn polenta with roasted tomatoes and asparagus. Again, amazing and this recipes is vegan. During the summer, I made this almost once a week using freshly shaved corn of a cob.

3. Made this recipe for Chinese New Year earlier this year and have been making it ever since. Great quick side dish.

4. Roast chicken with chickpeas, tomatoes and paprika.  This recipe is one my sister blogged about a year ago, this dressing (the first five ingredients listed) is amazing and has become my go to dressing for roasting vegetables. My favorite combination is squash, tomatoes, chickpeas - roast for 20 minutes - then add feta cheese and chopped kale and bake for another 5-10 minutes. The perfect side to anything!   

5. Chopped salad with feta, lime and mint. Great recipes using loads of crunchy raw veggies and (my favorite) feta!

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Favourite Tomato Sauce

Over the years I've tried countless grocery store varieties of tomato sauces in an attempt to throw together a quick weeknight meal but I'm always left feeling disappointed and quite unsatisfied. They always taste a little too heavy and a little too sweet for my liking. Then many years ago I was lucky enough to stumble upon this fabulous recipe from the concise gastronomy of Italy. It looks deceptively simple but I promise you that it tastes amazing. 

The first time I made it I wondered why on earth I would be adding celery of all things, but you wont even be able to taste the celery in the finished sauce. It simply adds a light fresh taste to the sauce as if you are sitting out on a patio in Italy on a beautiful spring day enjoying a fresh bowl of pasta. 

Throw this beautiful sauce on your favourite pasta, grate on some fresh parmesan cheese and enjoy.

PS. I usually double the recipe so I can freeze the leftover sauce. 

Tomato Sauce 

Makes 600 ML

800g canned plum tomatoes
2 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
2 onions, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp red wine
25 g/2 tbsp unsalted butter

Chop tomatoes coarsely and then put tomatoes into a saucepan with their liquid with the tomato paste, sugar, onions, celery, onions, olive oil and salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes or so and then puree in a food processor. Return to the saucepan and add the wine and continue cooking for another 40 minutes. Mix in the butter.