Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pad Thai

Hot, sour, salty and sweet....thinking about Thai food always takes me back to when I was an eager and naive 18 year old backpacking through Thailand without a care in the world, or at least that's how I remember it now. I'm sure I must have had some worries.. like what should I eat today? how late should I sleep in today? Aaaah, to be 18 again.. I was so young I never even drank alcohol since I genuinely hadn't developed a taste for it yet and I wore nothing on my feet but a cheap pair of flip flops for 4 solid months. The only way I'd ever do that now is if I was pregnant and my feet were too swollen to fit into proper shoes.

As I ate my way through Thailand as I like to say, I would frequently gobble up pad thai from the street carts, devour sweet coconut sticky rice with mango, indulge in heavenly coconut green curry and oh, not to forget my all time favourite Thai dish Som Tam - green papaya salad. The food was absolutely mind blowing to my 18 year old small town Canadian self. It's a no wonder I came home with my face a little rounder and my cotton hippy clothes just a little tighter. But hey, at least I stayed healthy on my travels right? and I had one heck of a time.

Fast forward 14 years...and I still have a soft spot for Thai food and one of my favourite Thai dishes to make at home is pad thai which translates as "fried thai style".  I'll admit it's not necessarily a throw together at the last minute type of meal but if you've got a little extra time it's well worth the effort. I made mine with tofu but feel free to use shrimp, chicken, beef or any other protein you'd like.

Pad Thai (serves 5)
adapted slightly from Rebar Modern Food Cookbook
prep time: approx. 45 minutes

1 package rice noodles
3/4 cup frozen peas (run briefly under warm water to thaw)
1 block firm tofu
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
3 cups bean sprouts
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro or basil, or both
3 eggs, beaten
8 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 Tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)

crushed roasted peanuts
chopped basil (or cilantro)
wedge of lime

1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
3 Tablespoons molasses
1 Tablespoon sambal Oelek
pepper to taste
2-3 teaspoon red pepper flakes (this is personal preference)

substitute prawns, shrimp, chicken, pork or beef in place of tofu


1. Cook noodles in boiling water until done. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water and put aside.

2. Make the sauce by whisking together sauce ingredients.

3. Beat eggs and scramble, place aside

4. Toss cubed tofu in sesame oil and bake on high until lightly golden. Note: This is an added step which I like. You could omit this and just toss the cubed tofu in with the pan before frying the noodles. Note: This step is not needed if using alternate meat listed below.

Now fry it all together!

5. Heat peanut oil in a large wok or very large frying pan and fry garlic until golden. Add noodles, cooked eggs, tofu, bean sprouts, peas and sauce. Once warmed and bean sprouts have become less crunchy add chopped green onions and basil and/or cilantro. Garnish and serve.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Zucchini Muffins

Well, what did I just learn? It isn't easy making little brown muffins look appetizing. What can I say guys?  I do promise they taste much better than they look.

So about these muffins....the other day while at the park with my friend Kylee and her little guy she whipped out a container of these yummy muffins she had made for her just 1 year old son. I suddenly realized what a rut I've been in with feeding my little guy. I'm always just giving him the same old crackers and bananas for snacks probably partly out of laziness but also out of defeat since he spits out anything unusual or different. He is my son after all. Anyway, I had never really given my almost 11 month old son muffins before but he gobbled it up like it was chocolate cake. So I sneaked a taste and they were so tasty I asked if she wouldn't mind sharing her recipe.

So here are Kylee's Zucchini muffins...Thanks Ky!!!  She cleverly substituted the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour and so I did the same and also threw in some oat flour which worked well. I also substituted pear puree for apple sauce since I didn't have any. Weird, you must be thinking that I would have pear puree lying around but not apple sauce but that's what happens when you have a small child I guess. Anyway, these muffins are a tasty snack for the whole family.

PS. These muffins taste awesome with nutella spread on them!! although I don't recommend giving nutella to a 1 year old child.

Zucchini Muffins
adapted from Parenting

Into a large bowl mix

2 cups all purpose flour ( I used 1 cup oat flour and 1 cup whole wheat)
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 tsp allspice

Stir In

2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup grated apple

In another bowl, beat

3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup apple sauce (I used pear puree)

Mix dry with wet until combined. Pour batter into a muffin tray and cook for about 20 min at 350 until done.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cuban-Style Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I've been making this tasty little side dish for a few years now and it's a favourite around here. Fresh lime juice with garlic and herbs combine with sweet potatoes to make a tangy, comforting side dish. I've seen the recipe on a few different food blogs but it is originally from Alicia Silverstone's vegan food and lifestyle blog called The Kind Life. I am by no means a vegan but I am a big fan of her blog which is where she shares yummy recipes, fashion and lifestyle tips all in a mother earth lovin' kind of way which she actually manages to do without being annoying. She also has a popular cook book of the same name which looks very tempting.

This recipe called for sweet potatoes or yams although according to Alicia what we call yams are actually orange coloured sweet potatoes. I think she said real yams can only be found in Africa or are really hard to find here. Anyway, go ahead and use yams or sweet potatoes I say. I've even used squash before which works equally well.

This dish goes great as a side dish with grilled fish or it would also pair well with my sister's yummy recipe for Spicy Chipotle Grilled Chicken. You could also use it as a filling with beans in tacos or enchiladas. The possibilities are endless and if there are leftovers, count yourself lucky.

Cuban-Style Roasted Sweet Potatoes (serves 4)
adapted slightly from The Kind Life

3 large sweet potatoes, cubed
4 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1-2 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley or cilantro

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place cubed sweet potatoes in a bowl and toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread cubed sweet potatoes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and roast until cooked all the way through. Cool for 10-15 minutes and then place in a bowl. Toss with lime juice, minced garlic, cilantro or parsley and remaining olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Moscow Mule

Last fall, in the cold and rainy weeks and months after I first had my baby boy, I spent most of my time alone with my baby inside our apartment. In fact, some days I never even left. And I'll admit it now, while I was caring for my newborn baby and trying to maintain a moderate level of sanity I also watched a lot of daytime television. And so every day at 4pm I eagerly turned the TV on to see what my new best friend Oprah was up to and everyday I laughed and I cried right along with her. I kept telling myself it was all those raging postpartum hormones and so I indulged myself.

One of my very favorite episodes in Oprah's Fairwell Season was when Oprah and Gayle went camping in Yosemite Park. I sang along with them in their car, I watched in envy as they went fly fishing and I laughed out loud to my baby all their crazy antics.

One of my very favourite moments during their trip was when Oprah whipped up a big batch of Moscow Mules and served them to all her camping neighbours, I was left drooling with jealousy at home. I had never heard of this exotic drink before but something about the freshly squeezed lime juice combined with fresh mint and cold ginger beer sounded utterly fantastic and so I vowed that I would make it once summer came.

Well, summer and sunshine are finally here in Vancouver and so I finally made this much needed cocktail.

Moscow Mule (serves 1)
from Oprah

1 ounce vodka
1 tsp sugar syrup
freshly squeezed lime juice (to taste, about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup ginger beer
1 spig fresh mint
1 slice of lime

Oprah recommend's using a copper mug, but who has that lying around? So if you don't have one use a regular glass and pour vodka over ice. Add sugar syrup and lime juice. Top with ginger beer and stir. Garnish with lime wedge and mint sprig.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chickpea Salad

It's been a busy, busy week here...we just got back from Vancouver Island where my 60 year old pops and I participated in the Sri Chinmoy Triathlon in Victoria, B.C. That's right, my old man did his first ever triathlon at the ripe age of 60 and not only did he complete it, he won a bronze medal in his age category! How's that for inspiration.

I was nervous about completing it myself but I got through it with a smile on my face and shockingly even managed a third place finish in my age group as well! And before you judge me for being smug I will mention that it's been a heck of a lot of sweat and tears to get to this point. When I look back to this time last year I was hugely pregnant, almost 40 lbs heavier and could barely walk around a mall to get ice-cream let alone walk up a hill without gasping for breath and almost passing out from exhaustion. So what I'm trying to say is, welcome back old self. We made it.

So I haven't had much time to hang out in the kitchen this past week but last night we grilled some steaks and I whipped up this tasty salad that I found on Jamie Oliver.  Hearty and simple it make it's perfect for a light supper or a tasty side dish. Makes awesome leftovers for lunches as well.

Summer Chickpea Salad (serves 4)
adapted slightly from Jamie Oliver

1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced and chopped
1 jalapeno, deseeded and minced
handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 can of chickpeas
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
handful of chopped mint
handful of chopped basil
2 lemons
handful of chopped feta cheese

Mix finely chopped onion with minced jalapeno and tomatoes and drizzle with lemon juice and enough olive oil to coat, about 2 tablespoons. While that is marinating drain and rinse can of chickpeas and warm on a pan for a few minutes. Add about 90% of warm chickpeas to salad and mash remaining 10% of chickpeas with a fork or potato masher. Add the chickpea mash to the salad which will add a nice creamy texture. Serve warm or cold.

Smiling because I can see the finish line. Wohoo, I made it!