Week of January 12, 2015

Last week, it felt soooo good to settle back into my usual diet of eating lots and lots of vegetables. I felt like I practically hadn’t touched a single vegetable over the entire holiday break! This week is also going to be very veggie-heavy, with not one but two vegetarian meals. One of my colleagues (thanks, Alicia!) clued me into a goldmine of tasty recipes published each January by the magazine Bon Appetit, as part of their yearly “Food Lover’s Cleanse“. To quote from the website,

The whole point of the Food Lover’s Cleanse is to tempt you back into balanced, homemade, healthful eating with its vivid, delicious food (…) after fun, but disorienting, holiday seasons, where pie is a viable option for breakfast and some dinners are made only of cheese and Chardonnay.”

Perfect! Just what I need! There are 2 weeks’ worth of breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner recipes available on their website, all amazingly delicious-looking and all for free! So I’ve worked a couple into my menu this week, and I’m excited to try them. Oh, and I’ll be starting off each day with a yummy new breakfast suggested in the cleanse: Oatmeal with cacao nibs and figs. Off to the grocery store!

PS. Friday’s dinner at Medieval Times was hilarious. It was way more elaborate than I expected: the knights actually jousted on real horses, there were falcons flying around the arena, the waiters and waitresses (erm, serfs and wenches) all had old English accents and referred to us as lords and ladies, and dinner (tomato soup, a half-chicken, huge spare rib, baked potato) was served in old tinware with no utensils (JW was particularly excited about gnawing on a huge drumstick and eating everything with his hands). It was awesome!


Monday – Dijon chicken with chard and shiitake mushrooms

Photo cred : Skinny Taste
Photo cred : Skinny Taste
Photo cred : Bon Appetit
Photo cred : Bon Appetit

I found this chicken recipe last week, but couldn’t work it into my meal plan. Here it is this week, only slightly modified from the original. As a side, I will prepare Bon Appetit’s chard and sautéed shiitakes.


Dijon chicken

  • 8 small chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 lime, squeezed, and lime zest
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dried parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Rinse the chicken and remove the skin and all fat. Pat dry;place in a large bowl and season generously with salt. In a small bowl combine Dijon, mayonnaise, lime juice, lime zest, garlic and pepper. Mix well. Pour over chicken, tossing well to coat.
  2. Spray a large baking pan with a little Pam to prevent sticking since all the fat and skin was removed from chicken. Place chicken to fit in a single layer. Top the chicken with dried parsley. Bake until cooked through, about 30-35 minutes. Finish the chicken under the broiler until it is golden brown. Serve chicken with the pan juices drizzled over the top.


Chard with sautéed shiitakes

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces shiitakes, stems removed, quartered
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided
  • 2 bunches rainbow chard (about 1 lb.), stems separated and thinly sliced, greens roughly chopped


  1. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shiitakes and cook, undisturbed, until brown, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add half the chopped garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer mushrooms to a plate and wipe out skillet.
  2. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add chard stems, season with salt and pepper, and cook until stems begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chard greens and 2 Tbsp. water. Cover skillet, reduce heat to medium, and cook until greens are mostly wilted, about 2 minutes. Uncover and cook, tossing, until greens are wilted and tender, about 2 minutes more. Stir in mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday – Stuffed dumpling squash

Photo cred: The Kitchn
Photo cred: The Kitchn

Tuesday evening, JW and I will be attending our first cooking/wine-tasting class at the local LCBO. I’m really excited! We will be attending Chef Tony Andrady’s Seasonal Entertaining session, where we will “get tips on how to organize our next gathering”, and learn how to prepare: cauliflower and smoked bacon chowder; salmon gravlax martini; a rack of lamb with quinoa-hazelnut crust, mint pesto with creamed peas; and artisanal raisin bread pudding with bourbon cream. (Oh my!)

We’ll still need a lunch, though, and I found this light, vegetarian recipe over at The Kitchn.


  • 1 sweet dumpling squash, cut in half and seeds scooped out
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/8 cup shelled pistachios or other nut, coarsely chopped
  • 4 dates, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place squash face-down in an oiled baking dish. Bake until tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Remove squash from oven but keep oven on.
  2. Prepare the stuffing while the squash is baking. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until onion is translucent. Add pistachios, dates, lemon zest, and cinnamon and sauté for another minute. Stir in the cooked quinoa and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Turn the squash upright in the baking dish and stuff with the quinoa mixture. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for another 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Wednesday – Seattle Asian salmon bowl

Photo cred: Skinny Taste

love bowl-meals. The concept of having all kinds of yummy ingredients blending together in a bowl and eaten all together just really appeals to me. When I came across this one over at Skinny Taste, my mouth started to water! I’m so excited for Wednesday!


Salmon bowl

  • 1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 4-ounce avocado, diced
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3/4 cup sprouts such as daikon radish
  • 1 strip nori, shredded
  • 16 ounces wild salmon, cut in 4 pieces
  • olive oil spray
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


  • 2 tbsp less sodium soy sauce (or GF Tamari)
  • 2 tsp wasabi in tube
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil


  1. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  Heat rice and keep warm.
  2. Season salmon with a pinch of salt and fresh pepper. Heat a frying pan or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Spray the pan lightly with oil spray. When hot sear salmon, around 2 – 4 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the fish).
  3. Split rice into four bowls equally, 1/2 cup each. Top each bowl with 1 oz avocado, green onions, cucumbers, sesame seeds, and sprouts. Place salmon on top of each bowl, drizzle with the vinaigrette, and sprinkle with shredded nori. Serve immediately.

Thursday – Curried brussel sprouts, chickpeas and sweet potato

Photo cred: Bon Appetit
Photo cred: Bon Appetit

Another vegetarian meal from the Food Lover’s Cleanse. I love the Indian-inspired flavors and chunky ingredients — I bet JW won’t even notice it’s all-veg. 😉


  • 2 tbsp coconut oil or canola oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped peeled ginger
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala (optional)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound brussel sprouts, trimmed, halved
  • 1-1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into ½” cubes
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 2 dates, chopped
  • Greek yogurt (for serving)


  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add cumin and mustard seeds and cook, stirring frequently, until mustard seeds begin to pop, about 1 minute. Add onions, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in turmeric, garam masala, if using, and cayenne; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, and chickpeas and season with salt and pepper. Stir in coconut milk and 2/3 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender, 18–20 minutes. Stir in dates and simmer, uncovered, about 3 minutes more. Serve curry dolloped with yogurt.

Friday– Ricardo’s slow-cooked BBQ ribs

Photo cred: Ricardo
Photo cred: Ricardo

I’m already feeling a bit guilty about this Friday’s meal — it kind of totally goes against my whole clean-eating-after-the-holidays mantra. But we’ve had a pack of ribs in the freezer for a few months now, and I’m worried they’ll get frostbitten if we don’t cook them soon.

… And, let’s be honest — I came across this recipe in Ricardo’s new cookbook that I just couldn’t resist!


Dry Rub

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp  chili powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 5 lbs pork baby back ribs
  • extra-strength aluminum foil

Barbecue sauce

  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup apple jelly
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • A few drops Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and pepper


Dry Rub

  1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients. Set aside.
  2. On a work surface, with a paper towel, remove the white membrane on the back of the ribs. Place the ribs on a baking sheet and sprinkle generously with the dry rub, rubbing the meat well on both sides. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
  3. With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 170 °C (325 °F).
  4. Wrap the ribs, up to two racks at a time, in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender.

Barbecue sauce

  1. In a saucepan, fry the spices in the butter for 1 minute and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the sauce is syrupy. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat the grill, setting the burners to medium. Oil the grate.
  3. Unwrap the ribs and grill for about 4 to 5 minutes per side, basting with half the sauce. Keep the remaining sauce for service.

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