Friday, April 29, 2011

Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Pizza

We made this amazing, guilt-free pizza a few nights ago, but unfortunately we then had a major power outage, so I had to wait to post the recipe.  I've been dying to share it with you and I'm dying to eat this pizza again myself.  If I had my way, I wouldn't have shared it with N at all!  The pizza is light and fresh tasting, with a hint of lemon and bites of sweet, juicy tomatoes.  You will devour it.  You can make your own pizza dough, though we have very fortunately found a few good pre-made options, which help to make this a really easy meal.

shaved asparagus and tomato pizza recipe

Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Pizza

1 whole grain flatbread (I used President's Choice Blue Menu Whole Grain flatbread)
1 medium sized bunch of asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Shave the asparagus across the length of the stalk with a vegetable peeler into ribbons.  Put the asparagus into a bowl and drizzle with lemon juice, one tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Brush the remaining tablespoon of olive oil all over the flatbread.  Be sure to get the edges, so that they brown and crisp in the oven.  Spread the minced garlic all over the flatbread and gently press it into the dough.

Top the flatbread with the asparagus, sprinkle with the mozzerella cheese, and then spread the cherry tomato halves over the cheese (consider seasoning the tomatoes with salt and pepper).

Bake the pizza for 15 minutes at 400°F.  Towards the end, put the oven on broil and brown the edges of the pizza.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Steak and Soba Noodle Salad

Delicious and nutritious, this salad is packed with veggies, gluten-free soba noodles, and lean beef.  The salad made awesome leftovers for lunch.  I ate it cold and it was just as good as when I had it warm the night before.  Feel free to adjust the marinade and the salad dressing to your own taste.  For example, N thought the dressing was better before I added the lime juice.  The steak would also be much better grilled, but our apartment complex isn't a fan of BBQs.

Steak and Soba Noodle Salad
Time: 1 hour

1.5 lbs. flank steak
1 package soba noodles
2 cups Chinese cabbage, sliced into thin strips
1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 cup carrots, julienned
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 jalapeño, sliced into thin rounds
1/4 cup green onions, chopped

For the steak marinade:
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar

For the dressing:
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar

In a bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the steak marinade.  Place the steak in a glass dish and pour the marinade over the steak.  Cover with a lid or with plastic wrap and put the dish in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

Before you cook the steak, put a pot of water on the stove to boil in order to cook the noodles.   Cook the noodles for about 8 minutes once the water has come to a boil.

When the steak has finished marinating, take the steak out of the fridge.  Put a large skillet on  the stove over medium-high heat.  When the skillet is hot, sear both sides of the steak for 5-6 minutes per side for medium rare, 7-8 minutes per side for medium.

As the noodles and steak cook, prepare the vegetables and the dressing.  Slice the cabbage, peppers, and carrots into thin strips and the jalapeño into thin rounds.  Wash the snap peas (cut in half or thirds if desired).  Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.  Be sure to taste test.  Toss the vegetables in half of the dressing and reserve the rest for the noodles.

When the noodles have finished cooking, drain, then toss in the rest of the dressing, and add to the vegetables.

When the meat is finished cooking, let it sit for about 5 minutes before carving it into thin slices.

Serve the noodle salad topped with steak and garnished with green onions.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Double Chocolate Kale Muffins

These muffins are the result of a lot of random leftovers. You may have noticed a few recipes lately with buttermilk, and this recipe finally used up the last of the carton.  I had originally planned to make some buttermilk chocolate cookies that I saw on Tasty Kitchen, but decided that I wanted muffins instead, so that I would have something easy to grab in the morning this week for work.  I also bought a huge head of kale to make a salad for dinner on Sunday night.  My director at work brought in muffins with kale and cauliflower greens before and they were quite good, so I thought I'd put the extra kale into the muffins.

The muffins were delicious and you won't even notice the kale!

Double Chocolate Kale Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins
45 minutes

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups chopped kale
1 cup large milk chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375°F and butter the cups of a muffin pan.

Clean the kale and chop it into small pieces.  Put the kale in a steamer over boiling water and steam the kale for about five minutes or until it is wilted.  Put the kale into a food processor with a tablespoon of milk.  Pulse until the kale is chopped into very small  pieces.

Mix together the dry ingredients - flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt - in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk and the egg.  Add the oil and vanilla.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Stir to combine, just until the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Add the chopped kale, chocolate chips, and walnuts and stir well.

Scoop about a third of a cup of batter into each cup of the muffin pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375°F.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Orzo Greek Salad with Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette

Orzo Greek salad is delicious. Period.

That was all that I was going to write, but it felt strange.  This salad is delicious though, and it makes killer leftovers - I didn't leave a single piece of orzo in my tupperware dish.  Feel free to adjust the dressing to your liking.  I'm still getting the hang of actually writing down the "measurements" that I use, and especially for sauces it is likely that you will have to do some taste testing.  I'd say pump up the volume on the lemon!

Orzo Greek Salad with Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette
Prep time: 20 minutes

450 g orzo pasta
1 english cucumber, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1/4 cup kalamata olives, diced
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, slivered
freshly ground salt and pepper
1/3 cup feta cheese

For the Vinaigrette:
2 lemons, juiced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons oregano

Cook the orzo to the directions on the package.  When the orzo is al dente, drain and rinse with cold water.  Put the orzo in a bowl and sprinkle with freshly ground salt and pepper.

While the orzo is cooking, dice the vegetables.  Season the vegetables with salt and pepper, then add them to the orzo.  Crumble the feta cheese on top of the orzo and vegetables and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and oregano.  Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and mix well.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tropical Pancakes with Strawberries and Pineapple

Springtime is a fantastic time of year.  All of the yummy fruits and vegetables come back to the regular grocery stores, and they have actual flavour.  The fact that strawberries are back in season makes my heart pitter-patter, and I almost died when I smelled how perfectly ripe the pineapple was the other day!  What is your favourite springtime fruit?

N wanted pancakes last week.  Since our weekday mornings are literally a blur, I convinced him to wait until the weekend to indulge in pancakes.  He also wanted the unheard of "healthy" pancake.  Sometimes, I just smile and nod, cook something, and then spout all of the "healthy" details about the meal.  Aka fake it til you make it.  But, surprisingly enough, this breakfast is actually somewhat healthy, at least as healthy as pancakes can get.  It is also heavenly delicious and will make you feel like you've flown away to a tropical island!

oatmeal pancakes recipe with strawberry and pineapple

Tropical Pancakes
Makes 10 pancakes

1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
dash of salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 tbsp. toasted coconut, divided
2 tbsp. ground flax
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup skim milk
3 eggs
1/4 cup butter, divided

1 pint strawberries, quartered
1 whole pineapple
1 cup low-fat cool whip

Preheat oven to 400F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread coconut onto the parchment paper.  Place in the oven.  Toast for up to 5 minutes.  If the coconut is sweetened, pay very close attention to make sure the coconut does not burn. Remove the coconut from the oven when it is toasted brown.  Reserve.

Reduce the temperature of the oven to 200F.

Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl: oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, brown sugar, flax, and half of the toasted coconut.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the milks and eggs.  Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mix.  Use the whisk to stir together until all of the dry mix is incorporated.

Let the pancake mix sit for about 5 minutes without stirring.

Heat a large skillet or a large frying pan on medium high heat.  Once the pan is hot enough that a drop of water instantly sizzles away, you can add the butter to the pan.

Once the butter is melted to the point of sizzling, measure out approximately 1/3 cup of batter and pour it into the pan for each pancake.

When there are bubbles visible in each pancake, flip the pancake over using a large spatula.  Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Place pancakes on a baking sheet and put in the oven to stay warm until the rest of the pancakes are finished cooking.

Serve the pancakes with strawberries, pineapple, cool whip, and toasted coconut. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Test: Quinoa, Chickpea, and Spinach Salad with Paprika Vinaigrette

As I've mentioned before, I have a whole slew of recipes saved up in a Google document that I've been waiting to test out.  Two weekends ago (pre-new camera), we were looking for an easy, healthy dinner salad option and I remembered that I had a few quinoa options saved.  This quinoa, chickpea, and spinach salad from Serious Eats was filling enough to eat as a main for dinner and it was delicious.   The recipe makes a lot of salad, so it's perfect to take to a potluck, summer BBQ, or to pack for a few lunches.

Quinoa, Chickpea, and Spinach Salad with Paprika Vinaigrette
From Bon Appetit via Serious Eats

1 1/2 cups quinoa (about 10 ounces), rinsed and drained
4 cups baby spinach leaves
2 (16-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cups cucumbers, chopped into 1/3-inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta (about 7 ounces)
1/4 cup Sherry wine vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and black pepper

Pour the quinoa into a large pot. Top with enough water to cover by an inch, and season with a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Carefully drain quinoa. Spread out on large baking sheet and let cool for a few minutes.

Combine the spinach leaves, chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, mint, and half of the feta in a large bowl. Add the cooled quinoa and toss well.

Whisk together the vinegar and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. Serve with some more crumbled feta on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Grandma's Zucchini Bread

This weekend, I got a gorgeous new Nikon DSLR camera for my birthday.  It is beyond awesome and I am so excited for you all to see the improvement in the pictures on the blog, though of course it will be a work in progress.  So, I took some time out from celebrating my birthday weekend in Toronto to test out the camera on some food.

Grandma Betty contributed this recipe to the cookbook my mom made for my sister and me.  I used freshly squeezed orange juice in mine instead of orange extract. We also didn't have any nuts in the house.  N might disagree because he is a crazy person that doesn't like nuts in baked goods, but I think the bread would have been even better if I had just gone to the store to get some nuts.  It was delicious though just the way it was!

zucchini bread recipe

Grandma's Zucchini Bread
From Grandma Betty

1 cup sugar                                        
½ cup oil                                                              
2 eggs
1 tsp grated lemon peel
(1 tsp orange extract) or juice from ½ orange
1 ½ cup flour (I used bread flour and the bread was extra fluffy!)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp nutmeg                
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp cinnamon                                  
½ cup pecans, chopped
1 ½ cup grated unpeeled zucchini

Preheat oven to 375°

Beat sugar, oil, egg, lemon peel, and orange extract until well blended.  Add sifted dry ingredients and zucchini alternately and mix well.  Stir in nuts.  Pour into a greased loaf pan.  Bake for 55 minutes. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Make Your Own Sushi

Our friends had us over for a "make-your-own-sushi" night a few weeks ago.  We all went to the huge, Asian market to get supplies and then to the fish market to get fresh, sushi grade ahi tuna and salmon.  The night was a success.  The sushi was delicious and we all had a lot of fun being creative with our rolls.  Thanks again to our wonderful hosts!

Remember to make sure you make the rice early enough that it can cool completely before you start to make your rolls. We made some appetizers - edamame beans and tempura green beans - while we waited for the rice to cool.

Sushi Rice

2 cups Japanese Rice
3 cups water
1/4 cup sushi vinegar (or 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/4 tsp salt)

Place rice into a large, deep bowl. Fill with cold water and rub rice together with hands until the water turns milky white. Pour off the cloudy water, being careful not to pour out the rice. Repeat 3 or 4 times until the water is clear.

Cook the rice as per the directions on the bag or if you are using a rice cooker, as per the directions for the rice cooker.

After the rice is cooked, spread it out in a large, shallow bowl.  Using a spatula or large spoon, quickly but gently fan the rice around the bowl. Pour the sushi vinegar over the rice and continue to quickly move the rice around the bowl to distribute the vinegar.  Be careful not to smash the rice.

The rice should cool completely before you use it in your sushi rolls.

K's Roll

1 sheet nori (seaweed)
1/2 cup sushi rice
3 slices ahi tuna
2 tempura green beans
Spicy mayo

Lay a sushi mat on a cutting board and cover the mat with a piece of plastic wrap.  Lay your nori flat on the plastic.  Spread sushi rice onto the nori using your fingers.  Keep a bowl of water nearby in order to keep your fingers wet so that the rice is easier to spread. In the middle of the roll, arrange the slices of tuna and the green beans.

To roll, start on one side and fold the sushi mat over so that the rice and nori cover the tuna and green beans completely.  Tuck the mat tightly and evenly.  It should feel like you are squeezing the mat underneath the roll.  Untuck the mat and continue to roll the mat over the sushi until the mat rolls completely off the sushi.  Unwrap the plastic wrap.

Cut the sushi in half and then cut each half in half again.

Other ingredient ideas: 
Spicy mayo (Andrea made a delicious spicy mayo- with mayo, sour cream, chipotles in adobo sauce)
Panko bread crumbs
Sushi grade salmon
Crab sticks
Shrimp (we made tempura shrimp)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

I took these Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies into work last week, because we were having a social gathering and I needed to come up with something really easy the night before.  I'm not sure how everyone else liked them, but I ate at least 3 cookies over the course of the day... okay maybe it was more like 4 or 5, but who is counting? The butterscotch is a nice alternative to chocolate chips, though I've just now convinced myself that these cookies would have been even better with half chocolate and half butterscotch chips! 

P.S., I'm getting a DSLR camera on Friday!! I'm so excited that I might burst!

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened 
3/4 cup granulated sugar 
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar 
2 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
3 cups quick-cooking or regular rolled oats
1 package butterscotch chips

Heat oven to 375°F. 

Beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. 

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in oats and butterscotch chips; mix well. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. 

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Test: Beef and Broccoli

The last post was for a delicious, but time consuming recipe, so I had to follow it up with something that you could easily make on a busy weeknight.  This beef and broccoli dish is quick, easy, and full of flavour.  It came together in less than 20 minutes.  (We even cheated and used a quick cooking brown rice.)  You will have dinner on the table in no time!

Beef and Broccoli
Adapted from Home Made Simple
20 minutes

4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 (455 grams) flank steak, trimmed and cut across the grain into long, thin strips
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 medium head of broccoli, rinsed, patted dry and cut into bite-sized pieces

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook onion and minced garlic in sesame oil for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. Add steak and cook for 5 minutes, flipping frequently.

Add chicken stock, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger and cornstarch. Once the sauce begins to simmer, toss in broccoli. Cook for 3-5 more minutes, stirring frequently, until steak and vegetables are tender.

Serve with brown rice.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hearty Chicken Ragu

There is a lovely Italian market in town, but it isn't quite as convenient as the other grocery stores in our area.  Fortunately, the past two weekends we've been close enough to the Italian market that it made sense to stop there for a few dinner ingredients. I had decided to make a rich, hearty ragu or bolognese-inspired sauce, so I wanted to make sure that I had good canned tomatoes.  They have the best canned tomatoes there, imported from Italy, and if you aren't using fresh tomatoes to make sauce, it is good to use the authentic canned ones.  N was somewhat skeptical that I wanted to make a "ragu," but he changed his tune once he actually smelled the sauce cooking.  It was truly delicious.

This chicken ragu is a perfect Sunday night dinner, since it takes longer to cook than most of us have on a weeknight.  Though time consuming, it is fairly easy to put together as most of the work is done by the food processor.  We also ended up with a lot of leftovers, so you will have plenty of sauce for weekday lunches or to freeze for another night.

Hearty Chicken Ragu
Cook time: 2 hours

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided in half
1 large chicken breast
1 large sweet onion, halved
5 cloves garlic, minced
5 carrots
5 stalks celery, including insides with leaves
1/2 cup italian parsley
3 tablespoons oregano
1 cup red wine
2-28 oz. cans whole, peeled tomatoes
Cremini mushrooms, about 1 cup chopped
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Slice half of the onion into thick slices and cut the garlic cloves in half.  Arrange chicken, garlic cloves, and onions on a baking sheet; sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast the chicken for 35 minutes.  When the chicken is cooked, let it cool and then shred with two forks.

While the chicken is cooking, heat the remaining olive oil in a large stockpot on medium-high and prepare the vegetables.  Using a food processor, chop onions, carrots, celery, and parsley, starting with the onions.  Once the onions are finely chopped, add them to the pot and sauté them for 3 minutes until they begin to soften.  Add the the chopped vegetables (not including the mushrooms) and the oregano.  Cook for 5 minutes, then add the wine and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Using the food processor again, puree the tomatoes and then add them to the vegetable and wine mixture.  The garlic that was roasted with the chicken can also be chopped in the food processor and added to the pot.  Turn the heat to low and cover the pot until you are ready to add the chicken.  Once the chicken is cooled and shredded, stir it into the sauce along with the mushrooms.  Cover again and let the sauce simmer for an hour.
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