Monday, January 31, 2011

edamame and corn chowder

I don't know how long I've put off making this recipe. I always have a few dinner ideas that I keep on stand-by as fillers because they don't use any fresh produce and Edamame Corn Chowder is an example of one. Everything in this soup is pantry and fridge/freezer staples.
I made this on Friday night and it really was unbelievably good. It's crazy I've put off making this for so long because it was a big payoff. Very simple to make, inexpensive and lasts 2 dinners and lunches. I might just add crab next time I make this.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

great storage solution

I love our home but I don't always take the time to appreciate how cute it is until we add a new piece of furniture. Nuno and I bought these Cubicals on sale at Target this week and the fabric containers came in the perfect shades in the playroom and living room.

They not only look great, but are super useful.
We had major issues with all of Owen's tiny little blocks, finger puppets, plush food and books scattered on the floor with no real place to keep them. Our home was starting to look like a hurricane ran through it and after stepping on all these tiny toys I felt we needed some sort of solution. These are perfect for containing these toys and the soles of my feet have never been so thankful.

egg in a sombrero

Ever since I first blogged about the egg in a hole recipe, Nuno's been modifying the recipe based on what we have around the house and how he feels. He's been telling me all about his latest invention which is Egg in a Sombrero and made one for me this Saturday morning.

Talk about delicious! The tortilla gets nice and golden & crisp in olive oil and the egg was perfectly cooked to my taste. There is a ring of sliced avocado and garnish of tobasco sauce. I think it really does look like a sombrero except I went so heavy with hot sauce that mine ended up looking like the sombrero of someone who had a run-in with the Mexican drug cartel.

Friday, January 28, 2011

so... I'm an early 90's indie rock mom

If blogs had existed when I was in high school, I would have had one. And I know I would have obsessively wrote about indie music. But since there wasn't I made mix tapes, wrote pen pal letters to other friends with similar taste in music, wrote a zine and watched The Wedge & City Limits on Much Music.

Fast forward to almost present day and I'm 8 months pregnant - not sleeping and restless. I turn on the TV and the Wedge is on at 4am. Wow, music just isn't what it used to be. Or maybe it's just the Wedge. I decide to make a series recording on my PVR for the Wedge. Now, from that moment to present I'm now a mom finding the only spare time I have in front of the TV is while nursing Owen and the Wedge is only viewed in fast forward. I might have caught the occasional Pavement or My Bloody Valentine video and grown nostalgic for my 10 VHS recordings of music videos.

Well, this week I'm home with a sick baby and while he's napping I thought I'd fast forward through another hopeless episode of the *yawn* Wedge. Oh crap! The PVR recorded some guy who's looks like he's into hip hop, wow, I'm way out of touch - DELETE! - Wait... He said the word "Wedge" and a new logo appears on the screen. I give him 1 minute and he explains that they've reformatted the show. He's live to air and he's not doing too bad of job all things considered. So I give it a shot and it's really super good!

Mind you, this is only the first episode, but the VJ Damian Abraham (from F**ked Up) seems to know his stuff. The videos he's playing actually hold my interest. But I also remember Sook-Yin Lee's first episode of the Wedge in the early 90's and how exciting it was when she was live to air. She also played what she wanted on the Wedge. Can Damian restore that feeling of excitement about music? Or will the show eventually turn back to a black hole of music nothing-ness? Well, only time will tell. But I'm excited to see what's in store because it really looks like this show (which truly has a whole lot of potential) has been taken back by the fans.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

slow cooker green chili and pork & cabbage slaw burritos

Nuno came home one night with a huge pork shoulder that he bought on sale. It took him quite a lot of time to remove the skin, bone and excess fat, but once complete we ended up with lots of pork. He first made my dad's slow cooker pulled pork. Then we ground a couple pounds.

The last of the meat was used in Slow Cooker Green Chili from Everyday Food's October 2010 issue.
There aren't too many ingredients that go into this recipe, but one key ingredient is Poblano or Anaheim peppers. I guess these two peppers aren't a part of anyone in Niagara's diet because they aren't available here. I had my parents bring me 6 Anaheim peppers from the U.S. at Wegmans in order to make this dinner.

This recipe is positively delicious!  The whole family loved it, even Owen. I truly think this is one of the best recipes I've ever come across for a slow cooker. Everything that goes into this recipe is very inexpensive and lasts two meals (and a couple lunches). I made a side of Cilantro Lime Rice which made this dinner go even further.

The next night the left-over chili is used in Pork and Cabbage Slaw Burritos. Although the recipe doesn't call for it, I added the rest of the Cilantro Lime Rice from the day before. Again, so delicious! I usually dollop tons of sour cream and salsa on burritos because they tend to be a little dry for me, but the cabbage slaw really helped make these perfect! There is just something about cilantro - lime flavour combo that is a real pick-me-up in the middle of winter. Fantastic meal I'll be sure to make again very soon.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

quinoa and roast beef, cabbage, butternut squash & carrots

I've been rifling through the four most recently published Everyday Food magazines and bookmarking a few interesting recipes. I missed out on a lot of recipes by focusing on cooking through the book most of the 2010 issues really got overlooked.

I decided to cook up some quinoa this weekend. With my batch I first made a Mixed Grain and Herb Salad (from Jan/Feb 2011) which used up some fresh herbs I had left over from last week's dinner (basil & parsley), olive oil and salt and pepper. It was so good and I think I'm liking quinoa better than bulgar wheat. It's an awesome way of using up fresh herbs that might otherwise end up in compost.

I then decided to use the rest in a batch of Quinoa Cakes. This recipe was easy and light (as in - low fat & calorie). But, wow, did these cook fast! So fast that I burned the entire first batch. Once I got the hang of it I popped these out in mere minutes. Since this recipe doesn't call for sugar (only a couple tablespoons of maple syrup) these were delicious with some of the jams I made from the summer which included strawberry/rhubarb, apricot and my mom's black currant.

Overall, quinoa pancakes are a thumbs down. It's like when people try and make cake using whole wheat flour or sugar substitutes - it isn't the same. If you're going to indulge, do it right. And if you subsitute, you better be pretty damn good at it.

One final recipe I tried for the first time was from Everyday Food's November 2010 issue Roast Beef, Cabbage, Squash and Carrots. It worked out great, but tasted too traditional and a little boring. It lasted a couple meals, which was really great, but I doubt I'll make it again.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

roasted beet, arugula and clementine salad

I often blog about what we eat for dinner, which is always something different months at a time, but my lunches are always the same - for weeks and weeks. I get hooked on something and drive it right into the ground and this salad is my current go-to salad. I love it because it's hard to eat seasonal in the winter and this  is what I consider to be a perfect salad for December and January. It's Orange, Roasted Beet & Arugula Salad which I originally discovered through Everyday Food, Fresh Flavor Fast (a variation was published in Everyday Food's October issue).

It was between these two recipes and what I had on hand that I've been enjoying this salad which uses clementines, roasted beets, arugula and pecorino romono shavings. The dressing is a mixture of dijon, orange juice, white wine vinegar (balsamic also works great), olive oil, s&p.

Monday, January 17, 2011

banana strusel muffins

I asked for the SoNo Bakery Cookbook for Christmas this year.

This cookbook was created by John Barricelli who, for those familiar with Everyday Food, is a longstanding contributor to the magazine and host on the Everyday Food / Everyday Baking television shows. Lucky for me I received a copy of his book over the holidays and this weekend was my first opportunity to make something from it. 

To kick it off it could only be but these Banana Strusel Muffins. As a longtime banana baking vetran, I thought these might just as well be banana bread muffins, but boy was I wrong. Regular banana bread is quite dense and heavy, but these muffins are so incredibly light, moist and tender - almost cake-like. I'm baffled as to how that happened without cake flour or leavening flour. I guess this was achieved by the equal amount of baking soda and baking powder. Everything about these muffins is balanced and so beyond a home baking taste - they really taste bakery quality. 

This is one recipe I wish I'd invented. And if I did, I'd bask in the glory of having created the perfect banana baked good. But we have John Barricelli to thank for what will now be a staple breakfast and dessert in our home from now on.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

slow cooker bacon jam

This weekend was designated indulgent bacon weekend for us. I've been dying to try this Slow-Cooker Bacon Jam from December's issue of Everyday Food and decided to make it this Saturday. Just the title may make you feel slightly squeamish or you may just think I'm kidding - but in all seriousness this is the most delicious way I've ever tasted bacon. Even if you aren't sure if bacon is really your thing this bacon jam will make you a total convert.

This was so much fun to make. All ingredients are household staples, so you really just need an afternoon to make it. I had Nuno pick up good quality bacon from Lakeshore Meats. Then along with the bacon you add onions, garlic, cider vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, coffee (I used leftover Dunkin Donuts Hazelnut coffee from the morning). It's hard to let it sit in the slow-cooker with the cover off (!) for 3 hours and not dive in, but keep in mind it's well worth your wait even with its irresistible aroma filling your home. This recipe makes a lot, so it's great to share with others since it only lasts a week in the fridge.

See! It's very fragrant and deep in flavour and presented on these melba toasts would make a sophisticated canape. But I had way bigger ideas for this condiment. Here are some of the endless possibilities this jam could be used in. Of course, I'm having it daily in a grilled cheese sandwich, but it would be delicious in pretty much any sandwich. I might try it with a roasted tomato sandwich later this week. It would be a great topping on waffles with maple syrup. I could see it working well as a garnish on meat or fish as well as on soup such as Manhattan Fish Chowder or French Onion Soup. Top this on your veggies such as roasted potatoes or steamed green beans and I'm sure they'd go down easy. Eat it straight up with potato chips (or blend it with French Onion Dip). You could mix it with oil and vinegar as a salad dressing. 

I even took this too far by topping it on a Reese Peanut Butter Cup and I'm not kidding, bacon and peanut butter is total heaven.  I enjoyed my bacon jam late into the night last night watching Marie Antoinette and it really felt like a decadent and over the top food & movie match made in heaven.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

sushi and peanut butter

Sushi and peanut butter are two highly contested foods for children which I chose to have Owen try this past weekend. 

We took Owen to our favourite sushi restaurant Amakara Friday night. This restaurant is very tiny and the seating is very close together, which is risky for dining with a infant. But Owen loves to eat out and was so well behaved that one of the dining couples came over to tell us how sweet and well behaved he was. Here he is eating sushi and trying rice from chopsticks.

Now, when I say he ate sushi, he really ate vegetable maki rolls. Here he is eating a yam roll.

For years parents have been told to hold back on introducing foods with a high instance of allergic reaction such as peanuts. Although this is a commonly perpetuated ideal, it has been recently revealed that delaying introduction has made no difference whatsoever to the number of peanut allergies - if anything they continue to rise. So I felt that since Owen's over a year old, was home with us on the weekend and has no family history of peanut allergies he could try a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Was he ever in love with the taste of peanut butter, so much so that he was trying to use his fingers to remove the peanut butter from the sandwich.