Friday, July 27, 2012

shrimp, tomato and basil pasta

Here's the dish featured on the cover of Great Food Fast, Shrimp, Tomato and Basil Pasta. I'm not sure I was ever really excited to try this even though I love all the ingredients.
It's nice for summer and quite fresh but lacks a richness and depth (which I'm sure isn't the point of this dish, but something I like in pasta). It's a little clumsy to eat I ended up with loads of grape tomatoes left over because they'd just roll away. But if you manage bites with all the ingredients it's quite nice.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

creamy corn soup

This is our Creamy Corn Soup from Great Food Fast. What a simple beautiful soup this is. Imagine everything you love about biting into fresh summer corn without all mess and hassle of needing to floss afterwards. Fresh summer corn on the cob is so delicious you don't need anything more than butter, salt and pepper to enjoy the natural flavour. And that's what makes this recipe so stand-out.
The ingredients that go into this soup is simply fresh corn, butter s&p and water. If desired there are suggested garnishes such as scallions or corn chips. When it comes time to puree, we enjoyed ours with one batch pureed finely and the second more coarsely, that way we ended up with a really nice texture. I can't help (and felt the same way about the Potato Leek Soup) that these sort of creamy vegetable soups need the addition of heat and meat. I keep thinking if we make this again I'll add thinly sliced chorizo. This soup can be a little bit of corn-overload so having crackers or fresh bread on the side is necessary.
Just as a side note. We took all our knives in to be sharpened Saturday and they didn’t come home till last night. That’s several days of only using steak and paring knives to make our dinners. You never really notice how awkward cooking can be when you’re missing your larger knives, but it is well worth the investment of having your knives sharpened professionally every so often. Luckily, this dinner of creamy corn soup suited our knife situation perfectly because removing the kernels from the cobs is best performed with a serrated knife and our steak knives were just small enough to do a great job of this.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

chili-rubbed salmon with zucchini and sauteed corn

This is our Chili-Rubbed Salmon with Zucchini and Sauteed Corn from Great Food Fast. We are really into buying huge fillets of salmon and then portioning them. For this dinner, we made a mild version with the left-over barbeque sauce from last week's chicken for Owen, and the chili spiced one for us.
I tried both and I have to admit, I liked Owen's mild, bbq version better. The chili was just a little too one-dimensional. Using this same dinner with your favourite barbque sauce is almost better because salmon and zucchini are mild and take on flavours you match with. Whether it be chipotle or teriyaki, this recipe is really a great starting point for your own variation. As for the sauteed corn side, it was pretty much perfect. I like this as a side when you've had your fill of potato and pasta salads in summer, this is a nice healthy option as a summer side with a little kick. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

asian slaw

Buying a head of napa cabbage is a commitment for two meals. Asian Slaw from Everyday Food Light was our way of using up the leftover head from the previous night's dinner. Yes, this version is light, so you won't find any ramen noodles or slivered almonds. What I loved about this was how fresh it tasted with jalapeno, scallions, shredded carrot and a heavy-handed addition of cilantro (which totally brings this slaw together). 
This side is simple enough to put together and is actually a nice light side for summer when you are sick of indulgent sour cream-drenched salads. But in the end, it's just another tasty option I doubt we'll ever make again.

Monday, July 23, 2012

asian steak salad with cucumber and napa cabbage

Our Asian Steak Salad with Cucumber and Napa Cabbage was a nice surprise. This dinner is published in Everyday Food Light which has been the book we hesitate to cook from. We didn't expect much from this dinner but it really was quite good.
It was quite filling and simple to whip up. Delicious as it was, I'm just not sure we'd make it again.

Friday, July 20, 2012

barbecued chicken with corn and radish salad

It's been quite some time since we fired up the grill, so it was time to get back into it with this Barbecued Chicken with Corn and Radish Salad from Everyday Food Great Food Fast. 
With Great Food Fast you're pretty much guaranteed a great dinner and this recipe is no exception. Maybe Nuno's just really great behind the grill, but this chicken was so moist and full flavoured. The side salad of fresh off-the-cob corn was so delicious as well. You don't really get that pungent radish flavour because it's mellowed with the lime juice and the sweetness of the corn helps as well. Owen also loved this dinner (his salad was minus the jalapenos). He also loved eating chicken off the bone. I had my initial hesitations about giving an entire drumstick to a 2 year old, but he didn't want it any other way and didn't have any trouble with it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

toasted turkey sandwich with quick pickles

And this is the final recipe featured in the July/August 2011 Grocery Bag section of Everyday Food Magazine. It's a Toasted Turkey Sandwich with Quick Pickles and it's E-A-S-Y! It was the best recipe to make on our first dinner home from the cottage. I loved to just pick up the fresh produce, bread, cheese & turkey and make this minutes later. I even opted out of making the quick pickles because we still have several jars of the pickles I made 2 weeks ago.
This is also a dinner that can be made in so many variations. I think a cubano option would be awesome! Using pesto in place of olive tapenade and then using Italian cold cuts would be really good. You just have to remember to pile your cold cuts high. The thing that is really nice about this particular variation of turkey and provolone is the toasted flavour is reminiscent of Quizno's subs. 
We all really loved this.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

tuna-and-orange lettuce cups with couscous cakes

I got a little side-tracked from blogging while on vacation, so to catch-up I must post about our last Thursday night dinner of Tuna-and-Orange Lettuce Cups with Couscous Cakes. Again this was from the July/August 2011 issue of Everyday Food magazine. Who ever came up with the idea to concoct something like this? Just to explain because no photo could do complete justice to illustrating what this dinner is.
This is a boston lettuce wrap with crunchy slices of fennel, slices of oranges, seasoned tuna topped with a herbed couscous cake. Odd, yes, delicious? Totally! It's so strange but it really works. Now, if you take a bite missing any one of the ingredients, it's just not the same. This was really great when you had everything at once. By no stretch is this the sort of dinner that springs to mind if guests are coming over for dinner, but it's a great light mid-week dinner. In fact, I think this would have been a great recipe to have been published in Everyday Food Light's cookbook. It's quite different, interesting, healthy and light.
I was a little surprised with how much time it took to make this dinner. The couscous was leftover from Tuesday night's dinner, so that was taken care of, but frying batches of cakes took quite some time. Our basil was on its last leg, so I wasn't able to use as much as the recipe called for, so I just threw in some parsley and cilantro we had in the crisper and it tasted fantastic. I'd definitely recommend using whatever herbs you enjoy in these cakes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

long weekend at the cottage

We escaped to our family's waterfront cottage in North Bay this past weekend. 
Just Nuno, Owen, Hot Tot and I enjoying the beach, lake and city.
Every year there is something new for Owen to discover. Last year he was obsessed with feeding the ducks, this year he was asking to 'catch the fish and bugs'. Luckily, I bought this aquarium and a net for him before we left for our vacation.
Here's Owen's fish which he named 'Silver Surfer', a small minnow we caught and released.
He loved catching ants.
Owen is also into sandcastles.
 He could play endlessly in the sand. He's a real mucker, this one.
If there's a puddle, he'll splash - if there's dirt, he'll grab it. It's funny what comes just naturally to kids.
Our sandcastles were legendary. Just like my grandmother did for my sister and I as kids, I bought $2.00 Toy Story toys to keep Owen occupied for the 5 hour drive up north. They turned into items Owen couldn't part with and shared in all his adventures.
Owen is a big-time swimmer. He could not get enough time in the water. His lips were blue before he was convinced to come out.
Nap time!
Hot Tot just loved our time on the beach as long as she was shaded. 
The chipmunks kept her amused hour upon hour.
Just like the two years before, we had lots of time spent playing in the parks. 

 It never gets old....
I can honestly say we'd love nothing more than to just move right up to North Bay. Anyone have Graphic Design and Illustration jobs for us?

Friday, July 13, 2012

chicken succotash with avocado and farmer cheese

Here is Wednesday night's dinner of Chicken Succotash with Avocado and Farmer Cheese from Everyday Food magazine July/August 2011. This was a dinner that looked delicious and healthy to boot.
It's a sautee of diced zucchini, fresh off-the-cob corn, shredded rotisserie chicken, sliced tomatoes & avocado. And lima beans. Lima Beans are one of those food associations that conjure up childhood food aversions. Having never tried them before, and what succotash would be complete with out them, I was actually looking forward to trying something new. Turns out lima beans are very tasty in this because this whole dinner is very good. 
One thing that was a slight issue was locating Farmer Cheese. I couldn't find it in my limited grocery search, so I ended up using the leftover ricotta from Monday night's dinner pressed and strained through cheese cloth. It worked just fine in substitution. 
And, wow, did this make a whole lot of food. It lasted 2 nights - and then some.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

halibut with tomatoes and fennel

This Halibut with Tomatoes and Fennel was Tuesday night's dinner. We tried this recipe when it was first published back in July/August 2011 and I remember it being so outstanding I was so thrilled to have an excuse to make it again. Everything about this meal is truly one of my favourite dinners.
This is the sort of dinner I'd order at a restaurant, but once you make it, it's too simple to ever order out. Halibut isn't cheap because where I shop, you have to buy it fresh, but it's worth it as a treat. I'm even pleased Owen enjoyed it, but since it includes couscous, I guess it goes without saying.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

pasta shells with no-cook tomato sauce

This week I've decided to exclusively make recipes featured in the July/August 2011 issue of Everyday Food magazine.
I'm trying something new and making the daily recipes featured in the Grocery Bag section of the magazine. Every issue of Everyday Food magazine gives you a complete list of dinners planned daily along with a shopping list. 
I snapped this pic and it made for really easy grocery shopping saving me the work of planning the menu and writing out a list.
So to start Monday features Pasta Shells with No-Cook Tomato Sauce. Using all fresh produce eaten raw, this pasta is way more delicious then I would have initially anticipated. The key is to let the sauce sit for a while to let the flavours incorporate. I even cooked the pasta, added it warm to the sauce, mixed and then let it sit for half an hour. By the time we ate this it was fantastic! On a hot day, this is perfect pasta!

Monday, July 9, 2012

taste of buffalo

This Saturday we decided to take Owen to the Buffalo Zoo, however, when we arrived the park was closed on account of a power outage. Since we braved the Saturday morning Peace Bridge border wait, we decided to make our way downtown to the Taste of Buffalo held in Niagara Square and Delaware Avenue.
They claim to be one of the nation's largest food festivals and I love American culture, so this just seemed like a perfect fit for us.
First off, I was pleased they don't charge admission. The tickets were 50¢ each and nothing was over 8 tickets. Affordable for everyone!
It was a perfect summer day walking around this event.
We ended up pulling over at the food truck station. Some vendors offered 'taster' portions, which was perfect for Owen who told us he wanted a hamburger. A truck called The Roaming Buffalo featured 'The What?!?! Burger' in taster portion.
See that? It's a peanut butter and bacon jam topped burger and Owen loved it.
Our favourite Buffalo truck, Lloyd's Taco Truck, was there and had the longest line-up at the festival. Luckily it moved quickly and was cooked fresh to order.
So I ended up choosing a chicken taco and Krazy corn with a topping of loads of butter, chili, lime, crema, queso fresco and cilantro - delish! 
And here's Nuno's Crawfish.
This was our first time trying them and it was certainly an experience. I think these little guys kinda freaked out Owen. And me.
I love the frozen custard that's everywhere in WNY. Owen and I had soft serve chocolate/vanilla twist cones. My first cone of the summer and it was out of this world.
I tried Blue Light Lime for the first time at Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbour a few weekends ago. For some reason, even though this is a Canadian beer, it's difficult to find here in Canada. For the record, no, I had not been drinking - this kinda sleaze must come pretty natural. We took this photo as a joke, but it came out too funny not to post.
Obligatory Oscar Meyer truck photo.
Two stages of live music had Owen getting his groove back.
There was a Food Truck Eats event at the Farmer's Market in downtown St. Catharines this past Sunday which we didn't make it out to. Seems like all our attempts to visit our favourite trucks are a strain on the wallet these days with admission charges. This weekends event wasn't so hefty but still charged $10 just to enter. I'm really happy some of our favourite trucks are turning great profits now - it's very well deserved. But somehow,  it's hard to accept an admission charge when only a couple years ago we were enjoying these trucks at local wineries and all our money was going straight to the vendor.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

fast homemade dill pickles

The last recipe I made on my week with the July/August 2009 issue of Everyday Food magazine were these Fast Homemade Pickles!
Pickles are so crazy easy to make, you'd really never realize it until you give it a try. Only a few minutes and they are done. I bought a basket of fresh cucumbers this past week because they literally looked like pickles so plump and stubby. Once unloading them there were at least 20 in that small basket, I realized very quickly that I needed to double the brine for this recipe. So glad I did because in the end I made out with 6 jars of pickles. For half the cucumbers I quartered length wise into spears and then the other half I sliced 1/4 inch thick on the mandoline (perfect for burger toppings). 
This recipe is very tasty, but maybe just a little sweet for me. I'd probably hold back on the sugar next time around, but otherwise I'm thrilled with the results. There is an addition of tumeric and I don't believe it really imparts much flavour but gives the brine the look of pickles you'd buy at the store. While packing the pickles the tumeric dyed my fingers yellow, so it's probably a good idea to wear gloves when making these.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

chipotle chicken and rice

What did we decide to eat for dinner on the hottest, most humid 90 degree day yesterday? Why this spicy Chipotle Chicken and Rice from Everyday Food July/August 2009. But, when you think about it, some cultures in the warmest places in the world eat super spicy food like this regularly. Bwhaha, who am I kidding? Luckily, we are having an issue with our air conditioner right now where it runs... continuously, so it's nice and cool in our home for us not acclimatized to this crazy heat.
I was going to call this a stew, but it's really a basic paella of sorts. This was one of the funnest dinners I've made in a while. I like it because there is such little prep work and effort to accomplish something so unbelievably tasty. You could even do a hack-job of all the produce and it still would turn out great! Now, you do need about an hour from start to finish, but three quarters of that time is letting your chicken stew and the rice to cook in the sauce. That's what's so delicious about this dinner, the rice takes on such a wonderful flavour from all the ingredients. So simple, so nice, so easy and even easier to eat. Total winner of a recipe!

Friday, July 6, 2012

southwestern steak salad

This Southwestern Steak Salad is another recipe featured in the July/August 2009 issue of Everyday Food magazine. We used the extra flank steak from Wednesday night's dinner along with avocado, cucumber, red onion, tomatoes and romaine. The dressing includes a mix of lime and chipotle.
Owen is finally on board with eating salads! I focused more on having him eat raw sliced veggies for the past year and a half. I knew he was eating salads at child care, but I could never figure out how they were dressed. I decided to buy a bottle of classic Italian dressing a couple months ago and that seemed to be the key to getting him to eat salads at home. I'm so relieved because a basic salad is one of my favourite things to eat. I actually would buy a premade salad at Zehrs for lunch as an indulgence (instead of running out to A&W like most resonable people would when a craving hits). That's what happens when you go without for so long.

The recipe for this salad is available right here for demonstration.
I've been meaning to mention about something new Everyday Food has implemented. About a month ago Everyday Food announced a new an innovative way of recipe sharing. They are featuring an online stream of their featured recipe in a demo hosted by Editor-In-Chief Sarah Carey
I love this idea! After watching several clips I'd say this is perfect for people who are just learning the ropes in the kitchen. I have friends who tell me that when they cook from recipes it doesn't always turn out because they had didn't quite know how to prep the ingredients properly. Ever want to know how thin to slice your potato or small your pieces of ginger should be chopped? That is what these streams are prefect for! I definitely learned cooking and baking techniques from reading Everyday Food magazine and watching PVR'd episodes of Everyday Food's TV series during my days home on maternity leave. Getting to know you're way around the kitchen and handling food is something that takes years, but these clips fast-track by giving you a quick demo of how to prepare the featured recipe. Now more and more people are cooking straight from their iPad and iPhones, so you could literally set up a stand against your kitchen backsplash, get your demo, load the recipe and you're ready to rock. 
Also, Sarah Carey is fun to watch! She's funny, bright and shares tons of knowledge on each segment. It feels like I've known her for ages since she was the host of Everyday Food (television series) and appears on the Martha Stewart Show (which I haven't seen in years since they moved to the Hallmark Channel - which we as Canadians don't have access to. Only a slight bone of contention here). To view all episodes follow this link.