Week of April 20, 2015

Things on my to-do list last weekend:

  1. Go to a super awesome bridal show with my friend Rebecca, who recently got engaged! (And buy a bunch of things at the show, even though I am not the one getting married) — Check!  And check!
  2. Enjoy cold beers on a sunny patio — Check!
  3. Run the Toronto Yonge Street 10 km — Check!
  4. Visit Kate’s amazingly adorable and unbelievably pretty new baby girl — Check!
  5. Change my phone number to a Toronto area code (only 3 years later…) — Check!
  6. Cook all my meals for the week and update my blog — not check. Oops! I guess I can’t do 6 productive things in one weekend. Oh well! Here’s catching up…

Monday – Zucchini quiche

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I had a leftover pie crust in my freezer, 3 or 4 zucchinis that were starting to go soft, and some leftover cheese from a pizza this weekend. Enter this recipe I found over at A Taste of Home.

Ingredients

  • Pastry for single-crust pie (9 inches)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups thinly sliced zucchini (about 3 medium)
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp each dried basil and oregano
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tsp mustard

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Add zucchini and onion; cook and stir until tender. Drain and cool slightly.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and seasonings until blended. Stir in cheese and zucchini mixture. Spread mustard over pastry shell; add filling.
  3. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean and crust is golden brown. Cover edge loosely with foil during the last 15 minutes if needed to prevent overbrowning. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Tuesday – Thai chicken burgers

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I have made this recipe before from my It’s All Good cookbook. It’s fresh and summery and great with sauteed kale, bok choy or broccolette.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely minced
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 shallots, very finely minced
  • 1 tsp very finely minced red chili (or more or less, however hot you like it)
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil (such as canola, grapeseed, or safflower oil)

Instructions

  1. Thoroughly mix chicken with garlic, cilantro, shallots, red chili, fish sauce, salt, and pepper. Form mixture into 4 burgers, each about 3/4-inch thick.
  2. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Rub each burger on both sides with a bit of oil and grill for about 8 minutes on the first side and another 5 minutes on the second, or until nicely marked and firm to the touch.

Wednesday – Chickpea curry

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Interesting-looking vegetarian recipe from Budget Bytes. 

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 1-1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 8 oz spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (29 oz.) can chickpeas

Instructions

  1. Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and grate the ginger on a small holed cheese grater. Sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium heat until the onions have softened (3-5 minutes).
  2. Add the curry powder and continue to sauté with the onion mixture for one minute more. Add about 1/4 cup of water and to the skillet along with the fresh spinach and continue to sauté until the spinach has wilted. The water will help steam and wilt the spinach (no water needed if using frozen spinach).
  3. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add them to the skillet along with the tomato sauce. Stir well to distribute the spices in the sauce and heat through (5 minutes). Serve over rice or with bread.

Thursday – Asian chicken lettuce wraps

From It’s All Good. I think instead of wrapping these up in lettuce leaves I will use rice wraps.

Ingredients

  • Neutral oil (like canola, grapeseed, or safflower oil)
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 head of bibb or iceberg lettuce, leaves separated
  • A handful of cilantro leaves
  • A few scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Heat a few tablespoonfuls of oil in a large, heavy skillet set over medium-high heat and add chicken, along with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring to break the chicken up, until browned, about 10 to15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat few more spoonfuls of oil in a separate skillet over medium-high heat and add onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add carrot, lotus root, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the carrot just begins to soften, about 10 minutes. Combine chicken and vegetables in 1 pan and add ½ c. of Lee’s Hoisin Sauce along with ½ cup of water; cook for a final minute or 2 to just bring everything together. Place spoonfuls of the mixture on the lettuce leaves until you’ve used it all up. (This recipe makes about a dozen wraps, but it depends how big your lettuce leaves are.) Scatter the cilantro and scallions over the lettuce cups and serve with sriracha if anyone wants a little kick.

Friday – Sexy fish stew

I’m not sure why this is called “Sexy fish stew” but JW found it over at All Recipes and it looks pretty tasty & is highly rated!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced shallots
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • 1 pound baby red potatoes, trimmed
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 pound boneless fish filets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook and stir leek, shallots, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the melted butter until softened, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Stir wine into leek mixture, increase heat to medium, and cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
  3. Mix fennel and potatoes into leek mixture and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are nearly tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Add cream and stir to combine.
  4. Stir fish and tarragon into soup, cover and cook for 3 minutes. Stir gently, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.

Week of April 13, 2015

Guess what? We’re moving! Our landlord announced that she would be putting our apartment up for sale this week. JW and I talked seriously about buying it ourselves, and although we would have loved to it just didn’t seem realistic in our timeline of where we want to be in 2, 3 or 4 years from now. So, *sigh*, we are sad to leave our little nest, but we’re both really excited about getting a fresh start in a (much bigger!) beautiful, bright new apartment a few blocks from where we live now. We’ll have a second bedroom! And hardwood floors! And — a backyard! I could have an herb garden!! ♥



Monday – Spicy beef tortillas

SpicyBeefWrap

The fillings for the tortillas are loosely based on this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound flank steak or other beef, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp each, cumin and dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Avocado
  • Tortilla wraps

Instructions

  1. Mash the avocado with the juice of 1/2 lemon. Set aside.
  2. Julienne the cucumber and carrot, and toss with the remaining lemon juice. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large, deep skillet or wok over a medium-high flame. Add a drizzle of oil. When it starts to shimmer, add meat, peppers, fish sauce, salt, cumin and thyme. Toss to combine and stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Spread the mashed avocado on a wrap, and fill with meat mixture and vegetables. Wrap up tight and enjoy.

Tuesday – Salmon pie with rice crust

http://www.eggs.ca/recipes/salmon-dill-pie-with-rice-crust
Photo cred: Eggs.ca

I have made this recipe a couple of times. It’s a great go-to recipe when you have leftover rice on hand (as I do this week), or leftover fish or crab meat. I love the crispy rice crust – it’s particularly good with brown rice, I find.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked rice, cooled
  • eggs
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 2/3 cup fat free evaporated skim milk
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried dill)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • can salmon, drained
  • 3/4 cup shredded light Swiss cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Spray 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate with cooking spray. Stir rice and one whisked egg together in medium bowl. Press rice mixture into bottom and up side of pie plate.
  3. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.
  4. Whisk remaining eggs, evaporated milk, dill, salt and pepper in large bowl. Stir in onion mixture, salmon and half of cheese. Spread over rice crust. Top with remaining cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated 375°F oven until knife inserted in centre comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Wednesday – Lemon chicken breasts with cauliflower rice

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-chicken-breasts-recipe.html
Photo cred: Food Network

I have been wanting to try cauliflower rice for awhile. I found this great tutorial — it couldn’t seem easier. Perfect to go with lemon chicken breasts.

Ingredients

Cauliflower

  • 1 head cauliflower

Lemon chicken

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic (9 cloves)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 lemon

Instructions

Cauliflower

  1. Clean the cauliflower and chop into florets. Put florets into a food processor and pulse until the pieces resemble grains of rice.
  2. Preheat oven to 425F. Spread cauliflower rice out on one or more baking sheets (depending on how much you have) into a single layer. Don’t make yourself crazy about the single layer thing, you just don’t want to crowd the pan or it will steam and remain moist. Bake for 15 minutes, flipping the “rice” at least 1x. Remove, serve and Enjoy!

Lemon chicken

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don’t allow the garlic to turn brown. Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and salt and pour into a 9 by 12-inch baking dish.
  3. Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.
  4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn’t browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.

Thursday – Garlicky swiss chard & chickpeas

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Photo cred: Foodie Crush

This recipe came in my veggie basket this week, and I think they got it here.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 bunches swiss chard, center stems cut out and discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 15.5 ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, optional

Instructions

  1. In a larges skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add half of hte chard and cook, 1 to 2 minutes. When the first half has wilted, add the remaining chard. When all of the chard is wilted, add the chicken broth. Cover the skillet and cook the chard until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the chard through a fine sieve (strainer) and set it aside.
  2. Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until they are softened, about 2 minutes. Add the chard and chickpeas and cook until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Drizzle the lemon juice over the mixture and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle cheese on top just before serving, if desired.

Friday – Ramen

http://www.eggs.ca/recipes/salmon-dill-pie-with-rice-crust
Photo cred: Chatelaine

I liked the potential versatility of this recipe — you could add whatever meat, fish or vegetables you wanted.

Ingredients

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 85-g pkgs ramen noodles
  • 2 cups frozen edamame, thawed and shelled
  • 4 cups pea sprouts
  • 2 green onions, sliced

Instructions

  1. Place chicken breasts on a cutting board. Cover with a large piece of wax paper. Using a rolling pin or mallet, pound thickest part until chicken has an even thickness. Transfer to a pie plate.
  2. Whisk rice vinegar with soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Pour 1⁄4 cup sauce over chicken, coating evenly. Reserve remaining sauce for noodles.
  3. Heat a medium non-stick pan over medium. Add chicken and cook until springy when pressed, 6 to 8 min per side. Transfer to a cutting board. Let stand for 5 min, then slice into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Cook ramen noodles, following package directions but omitting seasoning packet, until tender, 3 to 4 min. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain well and return to pot. Stir in reserved sauce, edamame, pea sprouts, green onions and chicken.

Week of April 06, 2015

I am so thankful to have had a long weekend to breathe. As may have been apparent from my very succinct post last week, my level of busy-ness has been extreme. Having an extra day of weekend has truly been a blessing, and we made the most of it. We slept in Friday, Saturday and today, did minimal work, and yesterday we took a random day-trip: we just hopped on the Go-Train, got off a few kilometers west of here and explored the adorable little town of Oakville.

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I spent most of today preparing our meals for the week, my most favorite wind-down activity. Plus, bonus: I was able to have the windows open (yay, spring!) which is always nice because our super-sunny kitchen gets crazy hot in the afternoon.


 Monday – Smoked beets and fish

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I smoked the beets for this recipe this afternoon. I have to say, it was intense. Our whole apartment got really smoky, which I was worried about at first – but the recipe indeed suggests the use of an “exhaust fan”. Eek. Also, it’s a very involved recipe (originally, from Plenty More); as you can see, I stopped halfway through and will omit the nuts and yogurt. Not sure if I will be making this again, but it was a fun experiment for today. I will serve with a piece of white fish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • shaved peel of 1 lemon
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 12 medium beets, skin on (I only had 3…)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup macadamia nuts
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 520 degrees. Line a large sauté pan or wok with two large sheets of tin foil, leaving the edges generously overhanging the sides. Add the rice, lemon peel and thyme, and stir through two tablespoons of water. Sit the beets on top of the rice and seal the pan with a large lid. Draw up the tin foil and fold it back over the lid, to completely seal the beets and lid in foil; any gaps will hamper the smoking process.
  2. Put the pan over a very high flame on the stove top and, once you see a little bit of smoke coming through – after three or four minutes – leave to smoke for exactly eight minutes, then remove from the heat. (Note – It will get VERY smoky.)
  3. Discard the rice, lemon peel and thyme, transfer the beets to a baking tray and roast in the hot oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a sharp knife goes in easily. Remove, set aside to cool, then peel off the charred skin.
  4. Cut the beets into 2mm-thick slices and put them in a large bowl with the maple syrup, a tablespoon of olive oil, and some salt and pepper to taste. Mix together and set aside. (Note – I got lazy and stopped here; I think the smoky, sweet beets will be delicious as is.)
  5. Turn down the oven to 325 degrees. Put the nuts on a roasting tray, bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Meanwhile, line another tray with parchment paper. Put the sugar in a small saucepan and cook on a gentle heat; don’t stir as the sugar melts and starts to caramelize and turn golden. Carefully add the nuts, and stir gently to coat. Pour out the sticky nuts on to the lined tray, leave to cool, then chop and set aside. Mix the yogurt with the remaining olive oil and set aside.
  6. Spread out the beetroot slices on a large platter, drizzle with yogurt, sprinkle the chopped nuts on top and finish with the chili flakes, coriander and a final dribble of oil.

  Tuesday – Pollo fajitas

Photo cred: Cantina Mariachi
Photo cred: Cantina Mariachi

I found this recipe eight years ago when I first began cooking for myself. It wowed me then and it continues to wow me now. It’s incredibly easy and quick, and the tasty kick never disappoints.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, chili powder, garlic and hot pepper sauce. Place chicken in sauce, and turn once to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for several hours.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add chicken strips to the pan, and saute for 5 minutes. Add the onion and green pepper, and saute another 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and sprinkle with lemon juice.


 Wednesday – Fennel quinoa & Lamb

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I’m not a big fan of fennel, as I’ve said before. I am, however, a fan of quinoa and of Ottolenghi, so when I spotted this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks I trusted it would be good. Grocery stores were closed today so I will buy the fresh herbs and beans tomorrow and stir them in before serving; I’ve otherwise made a few minor tweaks. I will serve this with leftover Easter lamb from this weekend.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 medium fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup fava beans
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Handful each chopped mint, coriander and dill
  • 2-3 limes

Instructions

  1. Sauté the fennel in a skillet on low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and soft. Add the sugar, vinegar and some salt, and cook, stirring, for two minutes, then remove from heat.
  2. Pour the quinoa into a pot of boiling water and simmer for 12 minutes. Do not overcook it – taste to make sure it still has some bite. Drain into a fine sieve, run under cold water, shake to remove excess liquid and add to the fennel.
  3. Throw the beans into a pot of boiling water, cook for a minute, drain and refresh. Press the beans gently to remove their leathery skins, then stir into the quinoa, along with the chili, cumin and herbs, and season.
  4. Take the limes and, using a small, sharp knife, trim off their tops and tails. Now cut down their sides, along their round curves, to remove the skin and white pith. Over a small bowl, supreme the limes by removing the segments from each lime, slicing between the membranes. Squeeze any remaining juice over the segments.
  5. Cut each lime segment into three and add it and the juice to the quinoa salad. Add the remaining olive oil and taste, adjusting the seasoning as necessary and possibly adding a little more olive oil if it seems a bit dry.

 Thursday – Farro salad

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I have been craving whole grains this week, particularly the nutty, chewy goodness of farro. This salad is fresh enough to fool me into thinking it’s summer (never a bad thing). I modified it slightly to suit my needs and I think I’ll serve it with a piece of fish or a couple of hard-boiled eggs.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 pound tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
  • 1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Combine the water and farro in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool.
  2. Add the tomatoes, onion, chives, and parsley to the farro, and toss to combine.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat. The salad can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Friday – Ribs & Sweet potato fries

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No recipe needed for the ribs – just salt/pepper a rack of fresh ribs in the slow cooker with some onion wedges, and after 3-4 hours slather with your favorite BBQ sauce and finish on “broil”. Serve with these yummy sweet potato fries!

Ingredients

  • Sweet potatoes, at least one per person
  • Enough olive oil to lightly and evenly coat the fries
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A generous pinch each of cayenne pepper and paprika

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel and slice the sweet potatoes. Toss into a mixing bowl or a plastic bag, and pour in a few tablespoons of olive oil, enough to lightly coat the fries. Season with salt, pepper, and spices. Mix/shake to distribute evenly.
  2. Pour the fries directly onto a non-stick baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway.