Friday, April 30, 2010

tilapia with arugula and tomatoes and baked polenta fries

Here is last night's Tilapia with Arugula and Tomatoes and Baked Polenta Fries.

I managed to knock off two recipes for this meal. When I chose to make the tilapia dish it was perfect because I had to use up the rest of the arugula and tomatoes in the fridge before they went bad and the rest of the ingredients were in my pantry & freezer. Inspired by the Italian ingredients in this dish I wanted something else to make this meal more substantial so I decided on baked polenta fries. I like how these two dishes went together, but I won't make this again. The only thing I liked about the meal was the way the fish was seasoned and cooked. Arugula and tomatoes were not all that great and quite bitter. The polenta fries were just not worth it. They get stuck in your teeth as you eat them which annoyed me. I did enjoy working with polenta though. The texture was really cool and I'll definitely try and find a new recipe which will give me a chance to cook again with polenta.

quick navy bean stew

A couple nights ago we had Quick Navy Bean Stew for dinner.

Like the previous recipe, this looks healthy and it is! High protein and low fat. I really enjoyed it and I think this will be my go-to detox meal if I find myself having a string of days indulging in too much alcohol and desserts.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

farafalle with arugula and white bean

Yesterday I gave Farafalle with Arugula and White Beans a try. I've really been looking forward to this recipe in particular because I love every single ingredient and couldn't wait to taste them together.

This recipe took very little prep. It was basically opening boxes, cans and containers and assembling in sequence. This was great because I was holding Owen and dealing with car insurance over the phone all while making dinner, so to have my head not focused on dinner and still have it turn out was a feat onto itself.

When Nuno saw what was for dinner he said, "Looks healthy." And I have to make it clear, this recipe is not healthy. Half a stick of butter goes into this recipe, so that's not a picture of health. But it tasted fantastic. I think this recipe would only be pleasant for people who enjoy the flavours of cannellini beans, arugula and walnuts. Otherwise, forget it because there isn't any parmesan or tomato sauce to disguise the flavour.

A coworker of Nuno's gave us their old Jolly Jumper. My mother always swore by them because of how happily occupied my sister and I were in one, so I was pleased to be given this item. Owen has very few hand-me-downs since we don't have many people in our lives with children. I actually like it that way because Owen's been able to get the newest and safest of everything. But this item, I'm just not sure how safe it is. We decided if he's supervised we might as well give it a go. We set it up in the kitchen door frame this morning and, wow, Owen loves it! It's given him a new type of mobility he's never experienced and he's so happy to be upright.

In the past week Owen has shown an interest in petting Hot Tot and my parent's dog Abby. He loves to reach out and touch them and Hot Tot responds happily with kisses. They are so sweet together and seem to enjoy learning about each other and bonding.

Here Tot managed to steal a kiss from Owen. Happy baby + happy doggy = happy parents!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

salami - olive pizza

Oh - my - god, this Salami - Olive Pizza is so yummy!

The last pizza I blogged about I had Nuno take care of the dough for me. Working with anything that includes yeast makes me nervous. But I took a chance and made this pizza all on my own and it worked out perfectly!

I didn't understand why this book would include a recipe for ingredients on a regular pizza. I mean, you really can't think much of salami, black olives and arugula. But, holy cow, taste them together and it really is an incredible combination of flavours that work
so well together. This is not only a make again, I'd highly recommend this to anyone who is into making homemade pizzas. I love the combo so much I'm going to make a sandwich with the same ingredients only using an olive tapenade instead of sliced black olives. This week there is another upcoming arugula recipe and I can't wait to give it a go.

Friday, April 23, 2010

swim class!

We were lucky enough to have our own cheering section for swim class this week. Aunt Katie, Grandpa and Dad made it out.

Aunt Katie felt like baby paparazzi snapping tons of photos of us just so I could get them online. Thanks Katie!!!

It's really hard to get Owen to look at the camera while at the pool because he is always checking out all the cute girls in their swimsuits. Actually, Owen is very interested in watching the kids in the pool. We were waiting for class to begin and some 6 years old boys learning to kick on the side of the pool. Owen was watching them and began to kick right along.

During class we sing lots of songs Owen loves like London Bridge and Hokey Pokey.

Here is Owen learning to jump into the pool.

Although we didn't get a photo Owen has found a way to suck his fingers and swim at the same time.

I'm really looking forward to this summer by the pool at my parents house and swimming in the lake at the cottage.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

eggplant and mozzarella melts

Eggplant and Mozzarella Melts are an open face eggplant parm sandwich. The breading and baking of the eggplant made for the most delicious eggplant dish I've ever made. They aren't Lina Linguini's deep fried delicious-ness, but way healthier therefore just as great. I'm so happy with the breading results I think I'll try cutting eggplant into fries, bread, bake and serve with marinara sauce. Speaking of the marinara sauce, I went all out for this meal by buying a jar of sauce from Antipastos Di Roma and buying the panini from their adjoining bakery. Well worth it! This one is a keeper and a definite make again.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

chicken and dumplings

Here are Chicken and Dumplings.

This is a recipe I'd never have considered making, but since I'm cooking my way through Everyday Food, I gave it a try. I've never tasted a dumpling before or known anyone to make one so it was exciting to try something totally new.

The ingredients that to into dumplings aren't too flashy. They are made up of flour, baking soda, salt, milk and dill and then dropped by tablespoonful into a chicken stew/soup. After leaving them to cook for 20 minutes they plumped right up and absorbed the flavour of the dish. It really was pretty cool. They tasted great too! I think I'll make this again when it's cold and snowy outside.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

food is my religion

I found a copy of The Cake Bible discounted at the Book Depot a couple weeks ago. I've been wanting a copy of this book for years now and the timing was perfect because I had already decided I was going to bake the only recipe I had from the book, the Cordon Rose Banana Cake. I became aware of this book through my brother-in-law who was really into baking wedding cakes several years ago. I happened to be visiting the weekend he baked his tester of the Cordon Rose Banana Cake and all I can remember is that it was the most delicious cake I'd ever eaten!

This weekend was my first attempt baking a cake from the book. There was nothing more satisfying than seeing this cake come together. The author of The Cake Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum, seems like a baking chemist and gives explicit detail to the importance of things like temperature, sifting and timing to make the cakes turn out bakery quality. I love how detail oriented she is and it's because of all the explanation that this cake came out with the most wonderful texture imaginable! I wish this cake was more of a looker, but to taste, this cake is out of this world!!!

It is so moist, rich and velvety in texture. Now that I know I'm capable of baking something this fantastic, I'm looking forward to finding an occasion where I can bake several layers, fill them with a pastry cream and frost with chocolate icing.

Friday, April 16, 2010

mini turkey meatloves and sweet-potato pancakes

Here are Mini Turkey Meatloves and Sweet-Potato Pancakes. Certainly a comfort dinner. I never really understood the attraction to meatloaf. I mean, it's a more boring hamburger, right? Well, the only thing that saves it is the topping of sweet chili sauce. I can only justify eating meatloaf if it's made lighter with turkey. Overall it was really enjoyable. The vegetables keep the meat juicy and it really was a quick bake in the oven. The most fun part of making this recipe was squishing the assembled ingredients and forming them into loaves. It was nice to get some use out of my mini loaf pan, but the recipe doesn't require one. They recommend free form loaves.

A side of Sweet Potato Pancakes are a perfect accompaniment. These are basically the same as latkes but using sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. You know what? These are seriously better than sweet potato fries. They would have taken a little bit of time if I used a box grater the way the recipe asked for so I did myself a favour and used the food processor with the shredder blade (which I've never used before). The benefit of quick and pain-free grating outweighed having to clean all the attachments. I just love these and luckily we overbought sweet potatoes so it looks like we will be eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lucky me!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

pasta with goat cheese and roasted asparagus

We are entering asparagus season so I had to go ahead and make this Pasta with Goat Cheese and Roasted Asparagus. I never thought I liked asparagus since I grew up eating it boiled, but if you roast it seasoned on a baking sheet or on the grill it's absolutely fantastic. Like all other pasta recipes I've made from EF, this came together quickly. The sauce is a mixture of butter and goat cheese and the chives go very nicely with it. I also added loads of extra pepper to finish because this recipe is made for pepper!

Yesterday Owen turned 5 months old. What a doll he's turning out to be. His swim class was great. It was his first time being in water and he even dunked his head. I'm proud of him, no fussing - just tons of fun. The class is huge, I even reconnected with a couple moms from prenatal yoga class. I hope to get some photos next week and post them.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

moms don't get sick days

Today was a day I'd been looking forward to for a long time. I really couldn't wait until the day came that I could teach my children to swim! I was a swimming instructor in my teens and I loved teaching the parent & tot classes the most. Now the day is here and I'm sick. I have the flu and I don't feel like leaving the house. I'm also in a state of cautious mother bird looking for any first signs that Owen may have picked it up as well. The only comfort I'm having about the situation is that his nursing will help him build up immunity to the bug and hopefully it won't hit him as hard as it is for me. Yeah, it's not the best day to take a swimming class, but since Owen has napped so well today I'm taking the chance and we'll play it by ear.

One other reason today was special is because Nuno and I were going to see the Wedding Present at the Horseshoe (our fav place to see bands back in the day). A show perfect for us. We even had a sitter lined up. But for the past two nights I can't make it past 7pm and when Owen's out, I'm out.

If I was working I'd definitely have taken a couple sick days. You can cancel out of work, classes and concerts when sick, but you can't take a parent sick day. Truthfully, it's not hard tending to Owen under the weather, just rather difficult carrying the little tike up and down the stairs with such low energy. Hopefully in the near future some other good concerts will come to town and we can call upon the line-up of friends and family who told us they are dying to babysit Owen.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

pork enchiladas with green sauce

Here is last night's Pork Enchiladas with Green Sauce.

This is the second recipe that appears in Everyday Food that I've been making for years. I actually blogged about it a couple of years ago. I had my own revisions to the recipe in that post, but I made the recipe according to plan yesterday. I've always used Monterey jack cheese in the past, but decided to use old cheddar this time around and it is WAY better. This is a great recipe that lasts quite a few meals. I always serve it with sour cream on the side and it's delicious.

Monday, April 12, 2010

egg-white omelet with goat cheese

This was our delicious lunch yesterday, an Egg-White Omelet with Goat Cheese.

We felt like we went out for lunch this was so yummy! My first omelet didn't work out because I used a pan that was too large. Guess it helps to read the directions fully first. But now that I have the hang of it I'll be having this for lunch all week. Yep, that's the perk of being home on maternity, stove-top lunches!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

pork paprika

Here's Pork Paprika!
I've only made turkey paprikash before and I wasn't too hot on it. This recipe is very similar to the one I've made before. I just don't think I'm a fan of paprika in general. I'm someone who loves strong flavour whether it's over the top Buffalo wing heat or intense curry spice. This just seemed to have the volume set to 2 on my 11 notch setting. I'd use this recipe again and replace the spice with something I enjoy more, like garam masala.
So this is not a recommendation or make again, however Nuno commented that the way the pork was cooked was quite good.

Friday, April 9, 2010

panko-crusted fish sticks with herb dipping sauce and sauteed beets and greens

I managed to make two Everyday Food recipes for dinner last night. Panko-Crusted Fish Sticks with Herb Dipping Sauce and Sauteed Beets & Greens. In order to make dinner work out I had to make them both simultaneously, which was a little bit of a challenge, but they came together very well and in perfect timing.

So a little bit about these two recipes. These fish sticks are absolutely delicious! I'll never buy the frozen kind (I don't think I ever have), but these are so great there isn't any need to buy processed and boxed. I was super excited to have the seasoning addition of Old Bay! I don't come across too many recipes that ask for it and to get some use out of my stash I've been adding it to popcorn. The herbed mayonnaise sauce on the side is fantastic as well. It calls for horseradish and I've become a huge fan of the flavour added to fish and red meat. I mean, tartar sauce and wasabi both include a horseradish flavour so it makes perfect sense. I can imagine Owen will also enjoy these (maybe not the horseradish sauce) but at least the fish sticks in a few years.

The sauteed beets & greens were actually a little time consuming only because you need to clean, trim, discard parts and eventually roast for 45 minutes (and that's just the prep work!). But to make things go smoother I did the prep first thing in the morning so I could enjoy a day of shopping to return to minimal tasks. An obvious tip, but I'll state it anyway, wear rubber gloves when handling beets. Also be careful not to be too messy because they stain clothes and are a pain to clean off counters. The recipe is seasoned with rosemary, which can be a very strong herb - almost overpowering, but it was a perfect choice with beets because the two flavours go so well together.

I don't know, I'm consistently impressed with the results in Everyday Food.
I have to commend this book for creating recipes that work out so well. I've been feeling like a real success while cooking through it because I haven't encountered many problems. Every night Nuno and I are very happy with the dinner results and feel as though our diet has never been full of such variety and balance.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

salmon with braised napa cabbage

Here is last night's Salmon with Braised Napa Cabbage. We ate salmon once a week before I started cooking from Everyday Food and I think this is the first salmon recipe we've had since.
It takes only 4 ingredients which means most of the flavour comes from the bacon. Yes, bacon makes everything taste better. I wasn't even convinced that this would be very good until I took a final taste and, yep, delicious! Even with the addition of bacon, it's still very light which is exactly what I needed from a day of gorging on Easter eggs.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

happy easter

When I was expecting Owen I had this crazy obsession with bunnies. I would see one every morning and sometimes multiples. I was so charmed by them that one day I had a bunny counting record of 5 in one day! I thought throughout my pregnancy that somehow I had Owen's child-like wonder over bunnies.

Owen's first Easter was a lot of fun. He was showered with gifts of plush bunnies, cute clothes and books about bunnies. One of which is the Velveteen Rabbit. This story stands out the most in my mind as one that effected me deeply as a child. It's a story of attachment and validation. I read it to Owen this morning and lost it into the second page. I forced myself to get through the entire thing with tears streaming down my face. I don't think Owen has shed as many tears in his life than I had reading this story to him. It's now my mission to compose myself enough to read this book without so much as a quiver in my voice for when Owen's old enough to realize.

My grandmother came down for Easter and we finally had a chance to snap a 4 generations shot for the other side of the family.

Here's Owen and Dad, dressed similar. Even the bunny Great Grandma gave happened to dress similar as well!

Monday, April 5, 2010

lemon-ricotta tart and carrot cake

Don't you just love Easter baking? Hot cross buns, European Easter breads with eggs baked in the middle, Easter Pie, Carrot Cake... I know I couldn't hold back from baking two different desserts for the holiday.

I first started with a classic Carrot Cake. This is Anna Olson's recipe printed in a bulk barn flyer this year. I'll post the recipe because if it was published in a flyer it should be OK for me to share on my blog of all 5 readers.

Anna Olson's Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
3/4 c vegetable oil
3/4 c golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 c pure maple syrup
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 c grated carrot
1 c golden raisins

1/2 c cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c icing sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease an 8 inch square pan. Whisk together oil, brown sugar, eggs and maple syrup. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger and stir into wet mixture to blend. Stir in carrot and raisins and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 to 30 minutes, until tester inserted in center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before icing.
To prepare frosting, beat cream cheese and butter together. Beat in icing sugar until smooth and stir in vanilla. Spread over cooled cake and store chilled until ready to serve.
Makes one 8-inch square cake. Serves 12 to 16

I had my reservations about baking this recipe only because I always stay true to form in baking with unsalted butter as the main fat and this calls for vegetable oil. I realized that pretty much all carrot cake recipes call for oil and the reason is because it works! Cream cheese icing completes it, but I always keep it optional because... well you know, I don't like icing. You know what's extra great about carrot cake? You can pretend it's the same as a carrot muffin so you have an excuse to eat a slice for breakfast!

I couldn't let the holiday go by without bringing the Everyday Food book into play. My mom said that she needed a dessert contribution to Easter dinner so I made the Lemon-Ricotta Tart.

Criminally easy. I don't feel like there is any challenge in baking in this book. Which in a way is nice - minimal effort, maximum flavour and little room for any errors.

So rich and creamy (even using light ricotta and light cream cheese) and not overly sweet! I'll make both of these recipes again and again.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

roasted vegetable pizza

Happy Easter to all those who celebrate it!

I've been busy baking, yard work, stroller walking and visiting family. Tonight is dinner at my parents and I'll be blogging about my baking hopefully tomorrow.

To keep up with the Everyday Food dinners we had Roasted Vegetable Pizza last night. The roasted vegetables are a mix of garlic, red onion, new potatoes, butternut squash and carrots. After they are roasted they are the topping of a pizza which also includes ricotta cheese and mozzarella.

Look delicious? Yes! I have to give props to Nuno for taking care of the pizza making. Years ago he made the most delicious pizzas at a restaurant in Brampton, so I knew he was a better candidate for completing this meal. When eating this pizza I felt like it needed more flavour. It reminded me a bit of the Spicy Perogy Pizza at Boston Pizza. So to spice it up we discovered adding Frank's hot sauce was a great accompaniment. Even hot pepper flakes were a great addition.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

paprika steak fries

It's hard to want to blog when it's such a busy holiday with beautiful weather keeping us outdoors, but I have to mention another Everyday Food recipe knocked off. It's Paprika Steak Fries!

This was the side for our leftover Chicken with Tomatoes, Olives and Cilantro. Believe it or not, this is our first Everyday Food potato recipe that actually worked according to directions! They were nice and crispy and delicious. I'm not sure I took a bite without adding a little extra salt and dipped in Trader Joe's Ketchup. You gotta know something is special if I break out the good ketchup!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

chicken with tomatoes, olives and cilantro & swiss chard with raisins and pine nuts

I made the meal on the cover of Everyday Food cookbook yesterday. It's Chicken with Tomatoes, Olives and Cilantro. I've been thinking about how many of the recipes in EF are side dishes, which means we could enjoy two recipes in the same meal. So when I felt like the chicken dish needed a bit more, I cooked up some egg noodles and also made one of the side dish recipes of Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts.

I'm quite used to making the stand-by wilted spinach as a side and saw this as a good switch-up. But I've never cooked with swiss chard. Actually, come to think of it, I've never tried it before! When it came time to making it I saw it in the fridge it took half a shelf the monstrosity it is. It was very sandy and it didn't look terribly appetizing. But like all greens, it wilted down to very little. Once complete, I wasn't really expecting much. That is until I tasted it. Holy cow, what a surprise! This recipe has totally opened my eyes to how I truely need to keep my mind open with new food. Both these recipes are simple but the flavour seem like restaurant quality. And when this book was titled fresh flavour fast, I believe this to be the best way to characterize most of these recipes I'm making. I have to admit, I will never again eat wilted spinach - the Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts is THAT good!

I wanted to also mention a quick note about Owen. I'm so pleased he learned to roll from front to back and back to front this week. He's just loving the sensation of finally making it onto his tummy on his own. He's also pretty happy about hanging out in his baby bjorn as you can see. The only problem is as I walk around with him on my tummy I will suddenly hear a 'splat'. The bjorn seems to make him puke (not spit up - outright puke!). I must be doing something wrong. But does this face look like something could be wrong?

The only other thing that brings such giant smiles is when we listen to The Free Design together. Owen is bonkers over them especially the songs, 'Bubbles' and 'Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street?'. Our little guy already has great music taste!