Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
May 26 some chicken chili from the freezer eaten with whole grain tortilla chips
May 27 aloo jeera, raita, flat bread and salad
May 28 Shack's birthday dinner out
May 29 Grilled Pork Chops with marinated vegetable couscous
I am working hard to find things to be exited about, as far as months of cooking for two goes. One of the things I like about cooking just for me and The Kid is that I can make side dishes like this and it can serve as our entree. Again, Shack would love this as a side but if I tried to tell him that this potatoes and chickpea bowl was all the dinner he was getting, he would have the pizza speed dial going so fast it would make your head spin. We had this aloo jeera with some raita and flat bread and a bit of salad and we were satisfied with that. I left out the heat but if you want it spicy, the way it is meant to be, just add a seeded, chopped hot chili pepper when you add the tomatoes (or more if you are really hard core).
We had a great birthday dinner out at Lolita's Lust on Saturday with friends and then Sunday, thanks to the siren son of Jen's delicious looking chops, we grilled pork chops that I marinated in olive oil, rosemary wine syrup and grainy mustard.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
May 28 - dinner at Au Pied de Couchon
As you are reading this I'm likely still based out in a foie gras coma from my dinner last night at Au Pied de Couchon. Rather than pretend to attempt to come home from that meal and write about it, I thought I'd share with you the dinner I made on Thursday night before we jetted off to Montreal.
On Sunday we went over to Royal Beef on the Danforth to pick up some meat for the week. I knew I needed a Tr-Tip, which I've already shared with you, but wasn't sure what else I wanted until I saw two love pork loin chop with a gorgeous layer or fat around the edge. That layer of fat that I'm sure so many of you shun for being bad for you, but it's that fat that keeps the chop juicy and flavorful while cooking.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
After shedding a few tears as I carefully peeled them all, they happily bubbled, rolled and tumbled in the olive oil, browning themselves to a gorgeous sweet mid-summer tan. Tiny shiny caramel candies in my saucepan. So sweet and delicious, in fact, that Austin and I fought over the ones that Maddie had carefully moved to the side of her plate (she didn't know what she was missing and we weren't going to tell her). By the time Q ate his dinner later that night, he had no idea that the onions had ever existed since they were long gone by that point. The cannellini beans were a creamy and meaty addition and my only regret with this dish was not including more onions and broccoli than the recipe called for. It's a rare day that all of us unanimously love a dish and ever rarer that we're all claiming it for our lunch the next day but that's what unfolded with this salad. Gotta love it when life's that easy for Mom the following morning. Thanks, Giada.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
May 24 Indian spiced chicken burgers with tzatziki and pasta/greek salad
May 25 Cold Dinner of beet hummus, tzatziki, pita, cheese
Ah, a new chapter in this endeavour and a new challenge as I admit something I probably would rather not admit about myself. As adventurous as I am with my eating, I am also a real creature of habit, as is The Kid. When I was a child, I would eat the exact same breakfast every morning for months on end. Then, without warning to my poor mother, I would wake up and announce that today I would like to have something else and I would go on to eat THAT every single morning for months on end. Little Shack does this too - the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
May 21 - out late shooting a video with the Canadian Pie Co & Acts of Sweetness
May 22 - dinner out a Guu for my birthday courtesy of Carole & Shack
May 23 - Meatless Monday Pizza with garlic, caramelized fennel, shaved asparaus & parmigiano with a side of sauteed fiddleheads
May 24 - trip-tip with romesco, roasted asparagus and mache salad
Yay! Finally, a full day without rain, I think Tuesday was the first one we've had since I've been home from my travels. I made the most of it. I walked, yes that's right walked, to a Zumba class and then did all kinds of errands on my walk back home. It felt so good to be outside in the sunshine, getting some good exercise and being productive too. One of my errands on my trek home was to pick up some poo bags (probably not appropriate chatter for a food blog, but I'm doing it anyway) for the pups at our local dog supply shop, while there I couldn't help but pick up some marrow bones for my loves. First, because they love them but second, because I knew I want to get some planting done and if they (specifically Stella, our puggle) were occupied with bones I could plant in peace.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Between thundershowers, we grilled some steaks and I threw together this fantastic salad to go along with it. The grilled asparagus, red pepper and croutons all added real warmth, meatiness and substance and we didn't need any other side dish to go along with it. And we all took seconds... high praise indeed.
Monday, May 23, 2011
|We had mixed rice/orzo, sautéed red cabbage and rapini and a bit of the mesa grill bbq sauce|
Sunday, May 22, 2011
May 19 Black Sesame Tilapia, Gai Lan with Oyster Sauce
May 20 Slow Cooked Rotisserie Style Chicken
Okay, The Kid is back from his retreat and Shack is in the groove of being on a movie full time and we can establish a routine now. Tonight was a typical Mama and The Kid dinner. We had a light, pan fried tilapia with some gia lan (chinese broccoli) in oyster sauce and steamed basmati rice with seasoned sea weed. If I served this dinner to Shack I would either have to include a steak on the side or he would be ordering pizza an hour after supper. By the way, if you like seaweed or have a kid who does, get that seasoned seaweed. It is delicious sprinkled on rice, crushed into maki rolls or thrown into a bowl of miso soup or soba noodles. It's great stuff.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
On to the food.... crazy week of busy nights so it seems like we've all been eating easy meals that can be served up at different times. This salad was simple to make but just needs a bit of extra cooking time for the wild rice mix. Perfect accompaniment to the pork kebabs and looking forward to eating some for lunch leftovers.
Orange Cranberry Wild Rice Salad
May 16 Leftover penne with balsamic butter transformed into mushroomy goodness
Tuesday was supposed to be gnocchi in a mushroom cream sauce but Shack wanted to take me out for dinner since it was our only evening alone before The Kid got home from his retreat and I couldn't say no to that.
Wednesday came and I knew I either had to deal with last Sunday's bland roast beef or throw it away and I really didn't want to do that. A perfect solution was to turn it into bbq since it was all falling apart and would be perfect for shredding and serving like a pulled pork sandwich. I settled on a good, old school style bbq sauce by Bobby Flay from his Mesa Grill coookbook. A couple small changes but pretty much followed the recipe. This bbq sauce is really good. It's kind of sweet, not very spicy and really full of flavour. It will be delicious with chicken or pork or even basted onto a burger.
This was the perfect thing to make too because it was delicious right away but it just got tastier the longer it sat so by the time Shack got home, it was still great after I heated it up.
Rescued BBQ Beef Sandwiches:
BBQ sauce (about half the mesa grill recipe for one roast)
1 tri tip roast, cooked all day in the slow cooker until it's falling apart, cooled and shredded
Soft white buns
Mesa Grill BBQ Sauce for my Rescued BBQ Beef
Makes about 3 cups
2 tbls vegetable oil
1 large spanish onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 28oz can plum tomatoes, pureed
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup worchestershire sauce
1/4 cup molasses
3 tbls grainy dijon mustard
3 tbls dark brown sugar
2 tbls honey
6 tbls chile powder
1 tbls chipotle chili puree
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil over medium high heat in a heavy bottomed medium saucepan. Add the onion and cook for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one more minute before adding the tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Bring that to a boil and cook, stirring from time to time, for ten minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients, lower the heat to medium and simmer, stirring from time to time, until thickened. It should take about 25 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and pour into a bowl, set aside and let cool to room temperature. It keeps in the fridge for a week.
I took my previously slow cooked roast, shredded the meat, tossed it in the bbq sauce and slowly heated it up over medium low heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Served on soft hamburger buns with coleslaw and potato wedeges.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
May 15 - dinner out in Costa Rica
May 16 - cheeseburger at the Counter in Miami International Airport
May 17 - Ramp & Ham Pizza and a mache salad with asparagus and orange segments
Well I am back to reality after 2 1/2 weeks of travel and eating out. I have to say that as fun as vacation was and as much fab food as I ate, I'm pretty pumped to be back to cooking my own meals. Because of the gluttony I happily subjected myself to during my vacation, I am ready to put the Boy and I on a serious cleanse. Especially since we will be indulging in two weeks during a birthday trip to Montreal, including a dinner at Au Pied de Cochon which is sure to include a copious amount of foie gras.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The day after a half-marathon (for me, anyway) usually spells relief and also some pain or at least exhaustion. I was lucky this time, however, that my overriding feelings were relief, a little pride that we actually didn't totally embarrass ourselves and just a bit of fatigue--but nothing requiring even a little cat nap in the aft. I guess this means Carole and I were slightly better prepared than we had expected and perhaps our (very) long-term muscle memory managed to kick in after all.
Since I wasn't feeling the need to stay horizontal on the couch for the afternoon, I figured I'd grill some meat and throw together a salad for dinner. This pasta salad is one of my family's favourite summer dishes and probably the first recipe I ever made from any of Ina Garten's cookbooks. It's a good example of how she takes simple ingredients and assembles them in a no-nonsense, foolproof way. While the pasta is rolling around in the boiling water, you pull out the handy-dandy food processor and quickly whip up a slightly tangy dressing, chop up some tomatoes, cheese and basil (I omitted the olives because I didn't feel like watching all three kiddies, with curled lips and looks of disgust, fastidiously pick out all things black off their plates during dinner... usually entertaining but maybe not that night), and that's basically it. This has been a popular dish at barbecue dinners, picnics and as leftovers.
Monday, May 16, 2011
May 12 Pork and Shrimp Potstickers, Basil Tofu with red rice and chinese broccoli
May 13 Dinner out with the neighbours
May 14 Penne with roasted broccoli and balsamic butter
May 15 Dinner out due to extreme exhaustion and disinterest on my part
Dianne and I were walking a half marathon on Sunday, which means that Saturday night I had to eat some pasta and carb up! Honestly, as a woman, being to told that I have to carb up is probably the best part about long distance walking. I wanted something really simple and clean because cream sauces and meat sauces don't work for me as my pre race meal ( this time I use the word "race"loosely since we did not train for this and will not be breaking any land speed records this time). My usual go to pasta for the night before would be whole wheat spaghetti a la olio but I can't waste that one on this "race" so it was time to find something else that would fit the bill. I found this recipe for Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter on Mel's Kitchen Cafe. The only problem was that asparagus has suddenly jumped to $4.99 a bunch and I didn't really want to pay that much for it so I bought some broccoli to roast instead. Little Shack doesn't care for asparagus so he was much happier with the finished dish and I didn't have to spend a small fortune on a vegetable that only two of us would eat. Win, win.
In the end, Dianne and I did not embarrass ourselves and managed to get a respectable time. I attribute this both our delicious pre race pasta dinners and the fact that we are both, inherently, superwomen. Hear us roar.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
May 11-13 - still in Costa Rica
This is the final and likely the favorite freezer meal I made for the Boy to have while I was out of town. It's a pretty basic recipe that can be tweaked with a wide variety of fillings, I make homemade dough but it works just as well with store bought. I made some earlier in the challenge using more ricotta, some asiago, fried eggplant and chorizo. Anything you think will be good on a pizza will absolutely work on a calzone. Have fun and play with it!
Friday, May 13, 2011
May 10 Pasta with Checca Sauce
May 11 BBQ steak
I had a pint and a half of super ripe little grape tomatoes that were going to go bad if we didn't eat them soon. I had no choice but to make some pasta again. Honestly.
I found this Checca sauce in Giada's Everyday Italian and it is very similar to something I make all the time but different enough that it counts as a new recipe. When I make my version of this I just chop up super ripe tomatoes into a pretty fine dice, toss with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper, sometimes fresh basil, sometimes not and a whack of fresh boccaccini and let it sit all afternoon before tossing hot pasta into the room temperature tomato mixture. In this version, you process the tomatoes with some scallion, garlic and parmesan until you have a nice, coarse sauce. She doesn't say to do it ahead but I let it sit at room temperature for a couple of hours to let the flavours really mingle and get to know one another.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
May 7 - May 10 - Costa Rica for family vaca
In prepping for my time out of town I knew making a few dishes that could be frozen and kept for the Boy to cook. Don't misunderstand, the Boy is a very good and capable cook, but I know that getting him to cook just for one is something that doesn't always happen. All I could think about as I planned my packing and the schedule for my trip is that 2 1/2 weeks is alot of wings and pizza. On top of that I couldn't just leave the ladies in a lurch on my posting days, especially since as you read this one I'm somewhere in Costa Rica zip lining down from a volcano or horseback riding or relaxing in a hot spring. While doing all of this the last thing I wanted to worry about was posting. So freezing some meals ahead allowed me to leave some good food for the Boy and have some recipes to share recipes that are great for freezing.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
The bulgar was a light, nutty, healthier alternative to rice and nobody pushed away their plate so that's always a good sign. This dish ended up being a combination of several recipes since it sounded good to add cooked chickpeas, nuts and berries, as suggested by various authors. Next time, I'll make sure to choose vegetables that stay relatively crunchy during roasting, like the asparagus and carrots, and perhaps skip the peppers, which got a big mushy even though I was keeping an eye on them.
Monday, May 9, 2011
May 5 Pork Carnitas, Ceviche for Cinco de Mayo
May 6 Dinner at Guu Saka Bar
May 7 leftover pork carnita on mexican rice
May 8 Mother's Day dinner at Guu Saka Bar AGAIN
We love Cinco de Mayo because we love Mexican food. That means that even though I am way more Irish than I am Mexican, I prefer Cinco de Mayo over St Patrick's day. Who wouldn't rather eat slow braised well seasoned meats, wrapped in a fresh corn tortilla with bright, fresh salsa over a plate of boiled meat and cabbage? Honestly.
Every Christmas eve I make cochinita pibil and we all really love it but it's also very labour intensive and time consuming. You have to make achiote paste and marinate the pork, wrapped in banana leaves for a whole day before you can even think about cooking it. This is why it's a once a year kind of meal and the rest of the time when we eat tacos, I do fish and chicken mainly. Now that I have this stunning Le Creuset Dutch oven I feel like it needs to be used so I decided it was time to do a pork butt in the oven but pare down the recipe so it wouldn't require all that spice rub making and marinating and banana leaving. I have been looking around for a recipe for some time and decided that I liked the sound of a Cook's Illustrated recipe I found on The Bitten Word.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
When I read Giada's description of this dish as a combination of pasta and salad, I knew I was in the right place. I liked the idea of the goat cheese simply melting to create a sauce, with the sun-dried tomatoes and mixed salad greens as the main attractions. With five ingredients that were already on hand and the process totally idiotproof, my only regret is that I can't make this again sooner. Simple, straightforward and tasty... will make sure Corbin takes this recipe off to university with him in the fall since it meets all the requirements of student cooking.
Even though the pasta could be interpreted (at a stretch) as a partial salad, I also tossed together a fresh mushroom and parsley salad as a side dish. Again, five ingredients and super-quick and easy. Unfortunately, however, it wasn't very flavourful and not something I'd make again, unless perhaps to accompany something more substantial like grilled steak or chicken. Or maybe adding some balsamic vinegar to the dressing would have given it more oomph and depth.
Cappelletti with Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese
1 cup dried cappelletti pasta
2 cups Mediterranean-style mixed salad greens
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil), chopped
1 tablespoon goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the water.
In medium bowl, mix the salad greens with the sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and parmesan. Top with warm pasta and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Toss to combine and wilt the greens. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper, or to taste.
Fresh Mushroom and Parsley Salad
1 pound large button mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-ounce piece parmesan
In a medium salad bowl, mix together the mushrooms and parsley.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and lemon juice until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Add the oil mixture to the salad bowl and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan on top and serve.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
May 4 - dinner out in LA
May 5 - Dinner at John's Restaurant in Boulder, CO to celebrate the little bro's college graduation
May 6 - Dinner at Denver airport as the fam gets ready to take the red eye to Costa Rica
Now you're likely wondering what I'm doing making a hearty soup like this at the beginning of May, well in fact I made it about a month ago to give to friends of ours who had just had twins. I made enough to send to them and keep some for us in our freezer. I did this because as you read this I'm in Costa Rica with my family while the Boy is still in TO working. To help the girls with posting and to try to ensure the Boy ate something other than pizza and wings during the two weeks I'm gone I made a few meals that froze well so that he could just heat them up and go.
Friday, May 6, 2011
I couldn't choose between two recipes I had found for Thursday night's dinner so I ended up making both. Each of them was unique and delicious in its own right. The first, with shaved raw Brussels sprouts had an unusual sprinkling of delicate egg confetti on top and ended up being a filling side dish. Luckily my kids love Brussels sprouts so they never turn up their noses up at the prospect of eating them, although we typically eat them cooked rather than raw, as they were in this cold salad. I used my food processor to make quick work of the shredding part but the other steps of this recipe were easy but more time-consuming. Gotta hard-boil, peel, separate and rice (yes, rice) some eggs, juice the three citrus fruits, simmer and reduce the dressing, and toast up some nuts. Phew. But the result was a crunchy, flavourful and zesty accompaniment to the pork. The only thing that might have improved it would have been some salty shavings of Parmigiano, but maybe I'm biased because this is how I eat a similar salad at one of my favourite local restaurants, Gio Rana's.
The second salad, pan-fried chickpeas in a smoothly spicy yogurt sauce, was my kids' favourite of the two. This was a quick and easy recipe--just a couple of steps of frying the chickpeas to a golden brown to bring out their nutty flavour and crisp them slightly, and tossing them with the creamy dressing. I even went back for seconds because it was so tasty.
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 small shallot, minced
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
20 to 30 raw Brussels sprouts, depending on size
1⁄2 cup toasted almonds, chopped
In a small saucepan, combine the orange, lemon and lime juices and simmer over moderate heat until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Pour into a heatproof bowl and let cool to room temperature. Whisk in the minced shallot and the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Rest of the week
Thursday, May 5, 2011
May 2 Swedish Meatballs and basmati rice
May 3 Stovetop Roast Chicken with Lemon Parsely Sauce (Cook's Illustrated)
May 4 Spaghetti with tomatoey sauce made using leftover bolognese from the freezer
I had planned to bbq but the weather did not agree with these plans so I was kind of left hanging, not sure what to cook. I went into the freezer for some ice and a bag of frozen meatballs fell out on on foot- OUCH- and I took that as a sign. We had pasta the night before so the next best thing to do with meatballs is go all Ikea and make Swedish meatballs. It certainly scores me brownie points with The Kid, who loves these things.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
May 1 - Grilled Eggplant Parmesan
May 2 - Dinner out at Salt's Cure with the Domestic Diva
May 3 - Dinner out at Son of a Gun with my sis and her BF
I write this post and cooked this meal from my old condo in LA, the condo that I used to share with my sis. It was brand spanking new when we moved in with the most perfect kitchen you can imagine. I was nervous that on this quick trip, only 3 1/2 days that I wouldn't get a chance to cook at all here. When we decided that I would cook on Sunday night and one of my good friends would come over, I asked my sis and her BF what they wanted. They were not too helpful at first, but then I had a mini-meltdown explaining that I have to decide on dinner ALL THE TIME, especially with no reEATS, so they had to work with me. At least make it a conversation, right? Eggplant Parmesan was requested, but their AC is on the fritz and the thought standing in front of hot oil and turning on the oven was beyond unappealing. But then I remembered the gorgeous grill up on the roof deck. Instead of frying up the Eggplant I could grill it, in effect making the whole dish more healthy. But there was still the whole baking thing. But why can't you bake on the grill, it's basically what you do when you cook with indirect heat. So I decided to try it out.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Besides getting its zippy flavour from the chipotle pepper in the dressing, the main appeal of this dish was its prettiness. Beautiful little jewels of cranberries peeked out from the caramelized sweet potato chunks and dark pecans, all freshened up with the punch of parsley. Very colourful and captivating. It even kept its beauty, banished to the fridge for leftovers, over the next couple of days. No easy feat for any salad.
Rest of the week
Monday, May 2, 2011
April 28 Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and steamed artichokes
April 29 Take out Greek
April 30 Wine Tasting in Niagara so all food consumed was served to me
May 1 Penne with Roasted Peppers, Zuchinni and Italian Sausage
I was working Sunday with my good friend and fellow makeup artist, Alice. On the drive home, she couldn't think of what to make for dinner and I told her that I still had to decide what I was going to make at this late hour myself. I asked her what she had in the fridge and told her to roast her sausages with some tomatoes and veggies, olive oil, big cloves of garlic and then toss some pasta into the roasted sausages and all the amazing juices from the veggies that mixes in with the fat from the sausages. Talking about it made me so hungry that I knew that I was going to make exactly the same thing. This is a dish that is usually a regular last minute dinner here that I have avoided making so far but I managed to get through the winter months without needing to turn to it so it was perfect for a quick meal on a rainy night.