Tuesday, March 30, 2010

pasta with peas and ricotta

Here is Pasta with Peas and Ricotta.

This recipe is so easy - it's awesome! What I love about it is that the veggies cook in with the pasta. After draining the peas and pasta you add the ricotta and the herbs. When they said it takes 10 minutes they weren't kidding. I wish more of the recipes in this book were this quick and easy.

Monday, March 29, 2010

not from Everyday Food

I have a new food interest - edamame! Ever since I made the chicken & edamame noodle stirfry I've been wanting to find ways of including more edamame in my diet. I came across this recipe from Alton Brown and made some minor adjustments to it based on what I always have around the house. This is very easy to make given that most of the ingredients are pantry or freezer items. Right now I can't not have this in the fridge. I love this salad so much that I just have to share the recipe.

Roasted Edamame Salad
adapted from Alton Brown

2 cups frozen edamame (President's Choice sells great bags in the frozen produce)
1 cup frozen corn
1 finely diced shallot
1 clove of finely minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 pint quartered cherry/grape tomatoes, seeds & pulp removed
1/4 cup fresh herb such as basil or chives
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the edamame, corn, shallot, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper onto a 13 by 9 sheet pan and stir to combine. Place on the middle rack of the oven and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, just until the edamame begins to brown. Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature and place in the refrigerator until completely cool, approximately 30 minutes.

Add the tomato, basil and vinegar to the edamame mixture and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, as desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Friday, March 26, 2010

manhattan fish chowder

Last night's dinner was Manhattan Fish Chowder. I've never had the real deal before, but this recipe is absolutely delicious! Not only is it a 'make again', I'll be having this as a stand by for a regular meal choice.

As I sing the praises of this soup, I have to draw attention to another Everyday Food potato issue. The undercooked potato happened again with this recipe. There is nothing grosser than an undercooked potato and nothing more annoying than to have to unexpectedly wait another 50 minutes on top of the estimated cooking time. Clearly I don't have a heck of a lot of experience cooking potatoes, but Everyday Food isn't helping me any. Well, that's it! I've decided whenever a recipe calls for potato I'm par-boiling without question. I wonder if American potatoes are grown mushier than rock hard Canadian potatoes because I can't seem to figure out why Everyday Food seems to think a potato can be cooked to perfection in half an hour (or less in some cases).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

half-hour chicken gumbo

This is something totally new for me - Gumbo. The recipe for Half-Hour Chicken Gumbo is, in theory, a good idea. But when it came time to making it last night I got nervous. I was first unsure about the taste of the andouille sausage, afraid I wouldn't like it. It has been several years since I've even eaten sausage (I feel like the high fat (bad fats) content of sausage isn't worth it). I was then totally disgusted by the okra. For anyone who doesn't know what it is or hasn't used it, it doesn't look like food (at least to me), it wasn't fragrant or appetizing and when slicing it it looked like Slimer's poop. Lastly, I was concerned with how to eat it. Is it a soup? Is it a stew? Did it need rice? How about the seasoning? I am in completely forgein territory. So I followed the recipe and trusted that cornbread was the best side.

Once everything was assembled I had Nuno take a taste because I was so unsure. He said it was good, so I nervously took a taste. You know what? It's really good!! I would have never tried gumbo if it wasn't for cooking through Everyday Food, now I don't think I'd have any reservations about making this in the future. It's just a nice, winter warming comfort food.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

peanut butter surprise cookies

Rainy days are great for baking. I've been meaning to bake these cookies for months now, but today was a nice day to get it on.

Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies! So delicious. And get this - it's not part of the Everyday Food book.

green curry chicken

This is last night's dinner of Green Chicken Curry. It's is one of several recipes from the Everyday Food book that I've made before. I stumbled across it last summer when I was going through back issues of EF magazine looking to try something new and different. I've made it several times since. It is such a great recipe! Simple, quick, healthy. I rate this one high on the 'must try' list.

Monday, March 22, 2010

thyme-roasted chicken with potatoes & snap-pea saute

We usually spend Sunday evenings at my parents or Nuno's, but this week Nuno and I held our own Sunday dinner at home. We had a very traditional meal of Thyme-Roasted Chicken with Potatoes with a side of Snap-Pea Saute. This time around I was not going to have another potato disaster like last week's roast beef and potato mess up. So my solution was to par-boil the cut potatoes first and then roast according to Everyday Food's directions. The rest of the recipe was quite accurate, we took the chickens out exactly as directed and look at this dinner of beauty!

I'm super proud of myself for making a traditional dinner like this since I'm so inexperienced in this sort of cooking. Having said that, I've made a few roast chickens in my day. The only way I've done it is to pull back the skin on the breast and season between the meat and skin with herbs and salt. I also season down the cavity of the chicken. It always works out and this recipe called for the same technique.

In order to get the potatoes the way I like them (super toasted and crispy) I placed them on a baking sheet back in the oven with the broiler on high while the chickens rested. And it worked out perfectly.

The side was another Everyday Food recipe of snap pea saute. Dead simple. We now have tons of left over chicken for all the chicken recipes this week.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

wishing it was food time

I have been having some of you asking for Owen updates.

He just turned four months old and had a major growth spurt. Along with it comes alot of self discovery, notably his voice. He is now very vocal with loads of squeals of delight and some of displeasure. He has a fuss time now of 5pm till 7pm. It seems to correspond with dinner. We figured out what's been eating at the little guy - his inability to eat our food. I guess all this cooking from Everyday Food creates aromas that Owen wants to try. He is fascinated by watching us eat food and now associates the smell of delicious food to us eating. So I have to be sure he's good and full before I eat and most of the time I'm interrupted by his fussing while I try and enjoy dinner. So I hope he ends up being a good little eater since Nuno and I enjoy cooking so much. I'm very much looking forward to making him fresh food. At six months he will be eating purees and I can't wait to go shopping at the Farmer's Market for all the fresh produce in spring and summer.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

jam-filled french toast

The perfect Saturday morning treat was making Jam-Filled French Toast this morning. I've never made a stuffed french toast before and after trying this I doubt I'll make it any other way again. This was so amazing!

We used the left over bread from yesterday's open-face roast beef sandwich. I bought a country miche loaf at Panera Bread in Amherst NY yesterday specifically for these two recipes. You need to be able to cut very thick slices of bread in order to stuff the slices. The stuffing is a mixture of cream cheese and apricot jam. Now, you can use any type of jam for this, but apricot jam gives a very non-invasive sweet cream flavour. It is really lovely and you'd never think the filling was a combo of these two ingredients since they blend so nicely.

I can't wait to make this again, we just need some overnight guests!

open-face roast beef sandwich

Another option for our leftover roast beef is this Open-Face Roast Beef Sandwich. The sauce is a mix of horseradish and sour cream; it is so delicious. I used to turn my nose up at horseradish but I think it's definitely the sort of thing you gain a taste for with age.

This is a very simple meal, but it's very tasty. Maybe the enjoyment is amped up because I didn't have to work very hard for this one.

Friday, March 19, 2010

liberty of london at target *swoon*

Wow, if I had a daughter she'd have to own this:

Liberty of London items are at Target now. I bought two killer swimsuits for Owen and my starfish swim class next month.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

roast beef sandwiches with pesto mayonnaise

It's nice to have leftovers from that mega piece of roast beef last night. This is the Roast Beef Sandwiches with Pesto Mayonnaise. The best part of it is the tiny gherkin pickles. I've been snacking on them like mad! When I was a kid my favourite after school snack was dill pickles with chocolate milk. I actually had that combo last night for the first time in 20 years and it wasn't as great as when I was young. It's actually stomach curdling!

I made pesto this recipe calls for from scratch yesterday. I love making pesto and then freezing portions for the future. There is no link for the roast beef sandwiches with pesto mayonnaise recipe, but there is a link for the pesto I made yesterday. Here it is.

roast beef with peppers, onions and potatoes

We have our first failure from Everyday Food. Last night I made Roast Beef with Peppers, Onions and Potatoes.

All the ingredients are to roast in the oven for 40 -50 minutes. Now, after that time everything was cooked - but the potatoes were completely raw! Even though I cut the potatoes to 1 inch, no part of them was even slightly soft.

Admittedly, I've never cooked a roast beef before, but I knew going into this that when my parents make roast, the potatoes will usually stay in the oven for much longer as the roast rests. But who am I to question the book that has banged out consecutive successful recipe after successful recipe?

So we cut our losses and removed the potatoes to cook longer and ate the rest of dinner without them. Believe it or not, the potatoes weren't finished for another hour above the estimated cooking time!
It's really hard for me to choose to eat the red meat dishes in this book, but after this experience I might be even more likely to put them off.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

cheddar corn spoon bread

We froze the rest of the tex-mex turkey and bean chili from last week and had it for dinner last night. It froze great and it was, again, delicious. On the side I made Cheddar Corn Spoon Bread. Every time I say the name of it I get 'Spoonman' by Soundgarden in my head. Sort of annoying, but whatever. Anyways, it was delicious and for all future Tex-Mex meals I think I'll be making it on the side.

I can officially say this is runner up to Mexican Wedding Cakes for my favourite recipe. There is something unbelievably satisfying about the texture of this pudding. It gets me - you know the thrill of cracking the top of creme brulee? That's how nice it is to eat this spoonful by spoonful.

The one thing I never liked about cornbread is that it's too dense and heavy for me. This recipe solves that issue by creating lightness in whipped egg whites. The flavour is sweet and it's surprisingly creamy. I'd like to dive into leftovers right now, but since we had four people eating it last night there aren't any leftovers. Well, that's probably for the better anyways (waistline speaking).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

chicken and basil stir-fry

Here is last night's Chicken and Basil Stir-Fry. I'm not sure there is a heck of a lot to explain here because this is pretty much your average dinner for Nuno and I.

I went to the Asian market for Thai basil since that is one of the main ingredients in the dish instead of using grocery store basil. I have to make pesto later this week and the Asian markets tend to sell fresher and more plentiful packages of basil.

This recipe was very quick to prep which is nice. The flavour is good, nothing too different or special, but I'm sure this is the sort of meal that could please just about anyone.

Monday, March 15, 2010

kinder frames

Like I mentioned, this weekend was a get-together with all the in-laws. Joe, Sara and Paige were back from Calgary, so it was a great time to see everyone. Paige and Owen seem to becoming closer and closer in age now, it's super cute.

With infrequent visits, we do a lot of story swapping and photo sharing to fill in the time gaps. I decided I wanted to make special photo frames for everyone with Owen's most recent pics (taken yesterday - his four month birthday). I found my old Kinder Surprise collection from high school and used the toys as inspiration for these frames.

I love how they turned out and so did everyone else!

orange cornmeal cake

We visited the in-laws yesterday, so I baked the Orange Cornmeal Cake to bring.

It was kind of hard to grab a snapshot of the cake in front of everyone. I didn't get a photo of how the cake was plated but it included slices of orange mixed with marmalade. The garnish wasn't necessary in my opinion, but then again, I'm a girl who doesn't eat icing on cake.

This recipe is quite different than any cake baking I've baked before. It calls for olive oil and white wine - a savory cake then? It was actually quite sweet from the sugar and orange zest. It was very easy and very good. Very light with a crunchy top. I have a brother-in-law who is lactose intolerant and doesn't usually eat any dessert, but this cake is dairy-free so it was nice to bring something he could enjoy as well.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

beef and scallion stir-fry

Last night we had the Beef and Scallion Stir-fry. It starts out with slices of beef fried in oil on high. This made me nervous and with good reason. I had some major splash back even though I patted the meat dry. The entire stove top is a oil speckled mess! Once I got over that hurdle the rest of the meal came together super fast. Almost too fast, you don't have time to do anything but throw your prepped ingredients in minute to minute or you may burn the garlic, over cook the scallions and risk drying out the sauce. But I luckily avoided that by reading this recipe ahead (which I admit, I don't always do).

The best ingredient in this recipe is hoisin sauce. I've made many Asian flavoured dishes with hoisin, such as moo shu pork, and it's a great way to add a ton of flavour with no effort. I've even used it as a sauce on wraps, it's the HP brown sauce of the East! The recipe also call for red pepper flakes. I ended up adding twice the amount the recipe called for because it's a wonderful dish to have red pepper flakes stand out. Oh, I also added quite a bit more salt than the recipe called for. Sorry Martha, your Everyday Food recipes aren't always seasoned enough.

Consensus: it was good but not great. At least I've managed to put one beef recipe behind me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

tropical fruit salad and tex-mex turkey and bean chili

Here's a twofer! Yep, I managed two recipes in one day.
Let's start with the most simple, recipe, if we can even call it that. Tropical Fruit Salad is more like an obvious mixture of fruit. But, is it
that obvious? Well, not for me. First off, I rarely eat fruit - I'm totally on team vegetable. And if I were to make a fruit salad I'd probably always throw bananas in since that's the only fruit I eat regularly. But the ingenious creation of this salad has all fruits with equal texture, size and bite which is why it works. That, and using brown sugar to deepen the flavour. It's so delicious I ate an entire half this recipe in one day!

Then for dinner I made what turned out to be an army infantry
size pot of chili. This is Tex-Mex Turkey and Bean Chili this recipe is not online, so I can't share the link. So I'll go into detail about the unusual ingredients this chili takes. Starting with cooking bacon to crispy, you then cook ground turkey in the bacon fat - FABULOUS IDEA! You then add onion, garlic, tomatoes and jalapenos. For seasoning this recipe calls for cocoa powder, chili powder and cumin. There is also an addition of molasses. Finally adding my favourite bean - Pinto beans! Sound odd? Well, it's the best chili I've ever made (and I've made at least 5 different kinds in the past). I'll probably just use this one from now on.

Now, when I cook Tex-Mex, I always garnish with Montery Jack cheese, sliced avocado, sour cream and sometimes cilantro if we have it in the house. Since cooking through this Everyday Food book is my effort to enjoy a bit of a departure from what I normally do, I decided to buy pickled jalapeno peppers as a side. Wow, I'm so happy I took a chance and did because I now wonder where they've been my whole life! It's like discovering how great pickled ginger is compared to eating it fresh.

And while I'm finding the time to indulge in a longer blog entry I wanted to note that these Everyday Food recipes make huge amounts of food. Most keep Nuno and I eating at least 2 dinners off one recipe. Which means it will probably take over a year to cook through this book. And these recipes taste better a day later - I'm totally serious. It's especially true of the pasta recipes because the flavour enriches after sitting around for a day in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

chicken, edamame and noodle stirfry

Here's a concoction I'd never have come up with on my own. It's Chicken, Edamame and Noodle Stirfry! I'm surprised I've already managed to cook a couple recipes that have included ingredients I've never cooked with before. Edamame is an example. I love the texture of edamame beans in this dish and I'll probably try and find other ways of cooking with them in the future. This recipe was quick and, of course, easy to prepare. After I prepped all the ingredients it looked like a ton of food, but once the napa cabbage cooked down it was a lot more manageable.

Something I've learned from years of making Everyday Food recipes to coat chicken in seasoned cornstarch for frying. It's the best way to quickly fry bite-sized pieces of chicken without drying them out or having them absorb too much oil.

So overall, this meal was average. It was great for something different, but nothing I'd recommend to anyone as a must try.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

presenting a complete baby nursery!

I didn't really have an official presentation of Owen's nursery.

Nuno and I never felt like it was complete until this weekend when we assembled Owen's bookshelf. It's funny that a 3 month old can have such an extensive collection of books. They are mostly board books but we also have my childhood collection of Beatrix Potter books. The shelf itself is actually constructed in a similar style to the crib (with tapered legs) and the wood matches the glider & crib in a cherry finish.

The train bookends are hand crafted and were given to Owen from Uncle Joe, Aunt Sara and Paige.

This puggy bank was given by Aunt Sandy and Uncle Paul with an engraved collar for Owen's First Christmas.

This before shot is from last July when we started the nursery. Nuno didn't really grab a very telling photo, but you get the idea. This was our spare bedroom in pukey green.

Owen's room is, we think, the nicest room in our home. Our bedroom is quite lack-luster with a high quality mattress & beautiful handmade quilt being the only items worth anything. But we wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

linguine with cauliflower and brown butter

Since it was Friday night I figured we could have one of the more indulgent recipes from the book, Linguine with Cauliflower and Brown Butter. One of the things that cooking from Everyday Food has taught me over the years is that pasta is so much better when you don't use jars of tomato sauce. This recipe uses butter, cooking liquid from the pasta and parmesan for the sauce. It was good, not overwhelming in flavour, but nice. I actually had a bit of difficulty even detecting the sage which is uncommon when adding herbs to dishes. Maybe because the parsley is a much stronger flavour. I liked the added touch of bread crumbs at the end which gave the dish a great texture. This one I'm not quite sure I'll make again since there wasn't quite the payoff butter, pasta and parmesan tend to bring to food.

Friday, March 5, 2010

mexican wedding cakes

OK, here is my first attempt at baking from Everyday Food. I was worried about this because Nuno doesn't eat sugar and I'm not knowledgeable enough on baking substitutions to figure out how to rework these recipes to use agave nectar or Splenda. In order to get through all the sweet recipes I have to have a good excuse to share the baking or I'll end up eating everything myself! Today is an office meeting, so it is the perfect excuse to bake. Because I hadn't planned on baking anything this week I had to bake from ingredients I had on hand. This fit the bill for the Mexican Wedding Cakes. I have a stash of pecans in the deep freeze that my dad would bring home from Georgia when driving back to Ontario from Florida. It kills me to use them though because he no longer drives, so my pecan supply is now dry.

So, baking doesn't get any simpler than these cookies, it's almost as easy as buying those tubes of chilled Pillsbury dough. OK, a few more steps, but you get what I'm saying. The only thing about this recipe is
that it takes a little time because of a few extra steps. It requires you to chill the dough for an hour before baking, then cooling before the powdered sugar completes the cookies. They are so fragrant while baking because of the cinnamon and the texture is dry and crumbly but melting when eaten. My gosh, they are so delicious I can't begin to tell you all the ways I love these cookies! I might just accidentally forget to bring them to that meeting today.

shrimp and snap pea salad with ginger dressing

Last night we had Shrimp and Snap Pea Salad with Ginger Dressing. I started prepping this recipe at 2pm because salads take a very long time to prep, which may be why I don't eat them as often as I should. This recipe was probably the most monotonous recipe I've made in a long time. I had an assembly line of trimming and pulling the ribs off of 50 sugar snap peas & peeling and deveining shrimp. Not to mention the not quite as labour intensive, but still no fun task of washing and chopping all the produce. I did all of this with Owen in the Baby Bjorn, just to see how it would go. It went very well although I hope I'm not considered too haphazardly of a mom for using a huge knife with a baby against me. I do have limits though, the only things I could not complete with Owen was juicing a couple limes and blitzing the blender.

So, some comments about this recipe. I like that it calls for Boston lettuce, it's probably my favourite salad leaf. It has a beautiful texture and I think it tastes better than any other leaf. One slight revision I made to the recipe (and I'm so glad I did) was to add a second head of lettuce. This made for way more salad (stretch this one out for another meal) and this truly would have been a garnish heavy salad if I hadn't. Another note is how much I enjoyed the sugar snap peas. I've actually never had sugar snap peas before because I'll usually choose snow peas. Well, I'll totally be making the switch to sugar snaps now. They were probably my favourite part of the salad.

If I made this again I'd add avocado. After this experience I'll probably look at some of the recipes in this book and ask myself, "Would avocado go nicely in this?" because I can't get enough avocado in my life. Shrimp and avocado are one of my favourite combinations!

So the consensus on this recipe is it is fresh, delicious and a total 'make again'! It was well worth the time and effort because this is the sort of food that makes you feel really good to eat.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

braised chicken with shallots

To kick things off with the Everyday Food book, I made Braised Chicken with Shallots last night. This recipe was very simple and inexpensive to make. I haven't done much meat browning before (does taco beef count?), so this was a bit of a new experience. I have roasted shallots on several occasions and LOVE them (if you haven't tried them, you must!). That's probably why I chose this recipe first. I also chose it because it's a winter warm-up sort of dish.

Well, not really much of a looker, but it tasted quite good. I had planned on serving this over egg noodles but didn't have quite enough so I opted to serve over basmati rice instead. That was probably the better choice anyhow because the rice absorbed the sauce which is something we really liked.

I would make this again in the future because it was fairly easy although somewhat time consuming since it's a stew. However, it made so much I feel it can really stretch out your dollar and time.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

(literally) every day food. my personal challenge!

So many of the recipes I use are Martha Stewart's. I have been subscribing to her digest publication Everyday Food for 5 years now and most of what we eat are straight from years of reference to this magazine. 2 weeks ago she released her second Everyday Food book, Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast: 250 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Any Time of Day. Since I really enjoyed the first one, I'm thrilled to see this second release.

Since I know I'll be getting loads of use out of this book, I've decided to pull a little Julie & Julia and I'll be sharing what I cook & bake from this book as I work through it. Now that Owen enjoys spending time watching me cook in the kitchen while in his bouncer, I'm finally finding the time during the day to make complete meals.
So, having declared my commitment, I must say, I'm not going to be doing this daily. It might take a long time before I'm through it all considering there are 250 recipes, but my eventual goal is to have tried every one of them.
Wish me luck and check back to hear all about my happy eating!

Monday, March 1, 2010

real cool baby

Katie came back from Toronto this weekend with these rad shades for Owen.

Owen is so baby cool.