Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Birthday To My Little Bear!

I just wanted to share the cake I just made for my little guy's first birthday. I'm kinda just a little proud of myself. This may be the first cake I've ever made, and yes it was from a box and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Thank you Mr. Duncan Hines! In my defence I didn't feel like spending my last day of mat leave slaving away in the kitchen. Can you blame me?

Tomorrow I head back to work where I sincerely hope I will remember how to do my job as an EEG tech. My good friend Ashley Faris told me a year ago that I couldn't forget it even if I tried. I sure hope she's right. So wish me luck tomorrow on my first day as a full-time working mom.

I started this blog while on mat leave to as way to maintain my sanity and do something for myself. And so even though I'll be busy while I'm back at work I hope to still share my cooking adventures with you all in my spare moments. Please don't forget to leave comments! It always brightens my day:)

Take care all!

xox Lorelei

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

So it's no secret around here that I'm a big Jamie Oliver fan,  I may have mentioned him once or twice. So you can just imagine my excitement when my good friend Lena told me that he has a new show called Jamie's 30-minute meals. How exciting is that?

The main idea of his show is to be able to cook a full meal in well under 30 minutes. And by meal he actually means a main course, a side, usually a salad and a dessert as well. After watching several episodes I think it may be slightly ambitious to think I could do all that in under 30 minutes while also watching a 1 year old so I decided to start small and cook a main course from one of his episodes cauliflower mac and cheese - a healthy twist on the comfort food classic. 

So I gathered my ingredients and set things up beforehand like he suggests - kettle full of water and set on boil, pans out, chopping block and knives ready and food processor out and ready to go. I was ready as I would ever be. So I set my timer and went to work. I was fairly surprised when I managed to get the dish into the oven in about 11 minutes flat. Wow! I didn't think I had it in me. And it was cooked and ready to eat in about another 15 minutes as well. So it is possible to make a meal quickly afterall.

I made a few variations from Jamie's recipe - he puts crispy bacon into the topping which I omitted, although I'm sure that would make the topping even better. He also used creme fraiche which I could not find at my local grocery store and so I substituted in plain, thick greek yogurt. Also, I apologize big time for giving measurements in weights but unfortunately that is what Jamie did on the show. Sadly I don't own a kitchen scale and so I approximated the weights based on the weight given on the front of the package. 

Nonetheless, the end result was a yummy, creamy mac and cheese with a healthy twist  of added cauliflower. I ended up making 2 small pans and froze the second pan (uncooked) for another evening when I don't have 30 minutes:)

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (serves 6)
adapted slightly from Jamie Oliver's 30-minutes-meals

200g cheddar
a handful of fresh basil (fresh oregano or thyme would also work well)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
250g plain greek yogurt
about 2 cups starch water from the pasta
4 slices old bread
salt and pepper
1 head cauliflower (quartered)
1 package whole wheat macaroni

1. Fill Kettle with water and turn on. Once water is boiled add to a pan with quartered cauliflower and the package of macaroni. Cook together until pasta is almost cooked. Remove pasta and cauliflower and keep starchy water that it cooked in.

2. Meanwhile, make the bread topping - In a food processor place your bread, 1 clove garlic, handful of basil (or other fresh herb), olive oil, pepper and pulse until you have a nice crumbly like consistency.

3. Place cooked pasta and caulflower into a baking pan and next use a potato masher and quickly mash the cauliflower slightly to break it up.

4. Add to your pasta in the baking pan the 250g yogurt, 200g cheddar also grated in the food processor (if you have that attachment), 1 clove minced garlic and add 1 cup of the leftover starch water that the pasta cooked into. Stir until you have a nice creamy consistency. Add more starchy water if you need it. I used about 2 cups I think.

5. Spread crumb topping on top and cook at 375 degrees until the cheese starts to bubble. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pesto Prawn Pizza

One of my very favourite things I like to order when I go to Earls, a popular chain restaurant here in British Columbia is their pesto prawn pizza. Seems like I've been ordering it a lot lately in fact. 

I wouldn't normally go to Earls so regularly but since we've moved to Burnaby we just so happen to live quite close to an Earls and so we find ourselves there fairly often these days. Plus, now that we have a child we are banned from all pubs, not that there are any good ones here in South Burnaby anyway, no offence. Go ahead and call me a snob but we seem to be living in the Wings pub district..pubs called Wings and House of Wings are all within 2 blocks walking distance of our home. I know what you're thinking...classy area right? It's not so bad. And maybe their wings are actually the best in town, but I'll never know since I can't tote a child in there anyway.

So Earl's it often is. There's no shame in it. The food is always tasty and FAST and always always reliable. I emphasize FAST because I think they must serve everything on a timer or something. One time I ordered steak and fries (I must have been pregnant) and seemingly 5 minutes after I placed the order and server came running out and apologized profusely for the tardiness of my meal and so they comped my whole meal! Unbelievable. I couldn't even get a latte on Robson St. in that amount of time.

Anyway, I had a hankering for my favourite pizza and so I decided to attempt to make it myself.  I started out by making Jamie Oliver's pizza dough recipe which was pretty easy and tasted great but I'll admit it made a heck of a mess on my kitchen counter, seriously cleaning my counter was the most labour intensive part of this whole meal! Anyway, once the dough is done the rest is easy and takes very little time. 

I will definitely make this pizza again, prawns and pesto is one of my most favourite combos. The Earls pizza also used feta cheese which I suspect would take this pizza to the next level but alas I forgot to pick some up. Next time for sure.

Pesto Prawn Pizza (serves 2)

Pizza dough - I used Jamie Oliver's recipe here. (I substituted in 1 cup of whole wheat flour which worked well)

capers (about 8 capers)
chili flakes
cracked pepper

1. Prepare pizza dough or if you feel like it use a store bought pizza shell or use whole wheat pita as I often do. 
2. Pre-cook the prawns separately in order to remove some of the excess water, this will prevent your pizza shell from getting soggy. 
3. Spread pesto onto pizza shell. place prawns and capers evenly onto pizza shell. 
4. Place mozzarella on pizza. Sprinkle with chili flakes and pepper.
5. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes or until cheese starts to bubble and pizza dough is cooked all the way through.
6. Let cool for a few minutes and serve.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Spicy Turkey Chili with White Beans

Well, September is here and with it invariably comes the end of summer. Lately, in the evenings I've been sitting out on our patio with a cup of tea or glass of wine and savouring the last fleeting moments of summer before it suddenly slips away. Next month will bring rain and more rain and slowly the days will get darker and shorter. So I guess it goes without saying that I can't say I'm exactly excited about the summer ending. But it sure was fun while it lasted.

Not to be all doom and gloom about it all. I mean, I guess there must be some nice things about the impending darkness that is otherwise known as Vancouver fall and Starbucks pumpkin scones, the Apple Festival, the new season of Dexter, going to one of these fun looking pumpkin patches and a Jane Birkin concert in November that my sister Melody and I have front row tickets to. Okay, I'm starting to feel optimistic already!

For me, September always seems to signify some sort of change.... going back to school, going travelling, starting a new job, having a baby and this year..going back to work in a few weeks after one year of maternity leave. I'm still not sure how I feel about that last bit but I must admit I am looking forward to more adult conversation and having an actual reason to put makeup and clean clothes on in the morning:)

So with all this talk of autumn, I thought I'd share an autumn type of dish with you all: turkey chili with white beans. Classic comfort food. I've been making chili as a staple for so many years now that I don't need a recipe anymore. If you like your chili on the spicier side add more chili powder and peppers and if you prefer it milder add less. Simple as that. Also feel free to add whatever veggies you'd like or have on hand. Mushrooms would be a great addition if you don't have someone in your home "allergic" to them. Serve with some crusty bread or blue corn chips as I did and you really can't go wrong.

Happy fall all!

Lorelei xox

Turkey Chili (serves 5-6)

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can plum tomatoes (795ml)
1 fresh tomato, chopped
1 jalapeno, deseeded and chopped finely
1 fresh corn on the cobb, shave off corn with a knife (a handful of frozen corn also works)
2 Tbsp chili powder
1-2 tsp pureed fresh chipotle peppers
1 zucchini, chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp cumin
1 can white kidney beans
1 package ground turkey
1 caribbean red hot pepper

garnish options

shredded sharp cheddar
blue corn chips
dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt

To make vegetarian or vegan

Omit ground turkey and add another vegetable of your choice.

Fry onion until soft. Next add the garlic, jalapeno and turkey and fry until mostly cooked. Add peppers, corn, canned tomatoes, fresh tomato, tomato paste, beans, zucchini, cumin and chili powder. Simmer for at least 30-45 minutes until cooked. You could also make this in a slow cooker if you have one.