Friday, August 31, 2012

no bake summer lasagna

Last night we tried Everyday Food Light's No Bake Summer Lasagna. I know my initial impression was that this was far too light to be enjoyable. But I stand corrected.
It was very much a free-form pasta that didn't really even taste very much like the lasagna we're used to eating. This recipe is assembled by layering sauteed grape tomatoes, zucchi and a ricotta mixture between lasagna noodles. Layering like the above photo made it very difficult to eat because, as you can imagine, the process of baking a lasagna helps glue the layers so they slice easily. With this dinner, tomatoes and noodles were sliding everywhere! You can only imagine how a 2 year old would tackle a dinner like this - with hands! And I have to admit, I opted to snack on my own self-made pasta tacos by folding the toppings between the noodles and eating it with my hands. It was really super tasty that way and was almost like eating an appetizer. But this meal is so summery and fresh - just perfect for these last few hot days of summer.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

grilled lemon chicken with tabbouleh

Here is last night's Grilled Lemon Chicken with Tabbouleh from Everyday Food Light.
This is a really super simple and quick dinner that is healthy and light. I chose chicken breasts instead of the recommended chicken thighs only because we have a bit of an overflow of chicken breasts in our freezer we need to try and eat though. I give full credit to my husband for his grillin' skills because bbq'd chicken breasts tend to be quite dry. But these were so moist and flavourful. Speaking of, this simple marinade of garlic, lemon, olive oil and s&p was so delicous! It tastes just like greek chicken, we all really enjoyed it. If we were to make it again I might just cut the chicken breast/thigh into chunks and skewer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

grilled new england seafood 'bake'

I can remember when I first flipped through Everyday Food Light in January I saw this recipe and wished it was summer so I could make it right away. To me it seemed like one of the most interesting recipes in the book. Last night we decided to give this Grilled New England Seafood 'Bake' a whirl, and unlike many of the recipes in this book, we were pleasantly surprised!
A combination of potatoes, fish, shrimp, corn, herbed butter and lemon goes into a tin-foil packet and is grilled on the BBQ. This was quick prep and really fun to prepare. 
We used fresh sole fillets as our choice of fish and jumbo prawns along with farmstand corn. 
Wow, what a flavour combination! This was the most flavourful and easy to eat recipes we've made in ages. Along with a side of fresh baked dinner rolls, this meal was one of the best of the summer. You really get that fragrant seafood flavour (especially in the rendered liquid, which we dipped our rolls in). The only critique I have of this dinner is lack of control you have over how well done each of the ingredients are. I like my shrimp just a little bit more underdone than how they came out. But despite that it really was still incredible.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

broccoli chowder with corn and bacon

Who doesn't love a good chowder? I know Nuno was just excited to say "Chow-dah" in his New England Kennedy-style accent. Then we have Owen always asking to eat broccoli since last week. Using farm stand corn, this is our Broccoli Chowder with Corn and Bacon from Everyday Food Light.
This soup was alright but certainly nothing we'd ever make again. The broccoli didn't really suit the flavour of the soup. We also found it's very light tasting, so it's a little empty of richness that you need in a good chowder. We love Everyday Food's Edamame Corn Chowder so much more. It's relatively light, tastier and easier to make. Edamamae Corn Chowder is actually one of our regular make-again recipes.

Friday, August 24, 2012

lobster mac and cheese

Lobster Mac and Cheese was always on my culinary to-do list. This week I came across canned lobster meat on sale and I knew it was time to make it happen. At $18 a can I think it's pretty good deal to have all the work done for you where all you have to do it chop and bake.
But having said that, this entire can cost just as much as the rest of our groceries for the week. Not that we keep a grocery budget (I'll always spend what I need to to make a meal happen), but we definetly found ourselves eating cheap this week leading up the the finale. Right now if you buy produce such as tomatoes and peaches from the farm stand, you make out like a bandit (at least we do). 
To make this Lobster Mac and Cheese we used an Ina Garten recipe. I've never tried one of her's before, but of the few episodes I've seen of Barefoot Contessa, I've always found myself thinking, "Yep, I'd eat that. No better yet, I'd make it and eat it!". This recipe is stellar. The ratio of pasta, to sauce, to cheese to lobster - all perfect! When it comes to pasta recipes especially, I weigh my ingredients because I find that sauce to pasta ratio matters and if left without a scale I dump the entire package of pasta into the pot and end up with a dry pasta dinner. The scale even came in handy when we fell a few grams short of cheese and used some of Owen's marble to make up the difference. This recipe made piles and piles of food - enough for 2 (and then some) dinners. I was a little concerned at the lack of effort to thicken the roux, but the saucy cheese is perfect in a mac and cheese and even BETTER the next day.
This recipe tastes like a seafood chowder version of mac and cheese which is something very nice and different. The blend of sharp cheddar and gruyere is a wonderful adult flavour that didn't fare well with Owen. He was telling everyone at childcare that he eats crab, octopus and tonight he was going to eat Lobster! He also said that he likes lobster best. Yeah kid's got some expensive taste. But because Owen's a different little eater, he's not really into pasta and this cheese flavour might just have been a little bit too strong for his palate. Oh well, it really wasn't too difficult to polish off Owen's portion as well as our own with this meal.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

mixed tomato salad

We tried the Great Food Fast's Mixed Tomato Salad on the side of our Roasted Tomato Frittata. I blogged about this frittata a few months ago and again, it's a stellar recipe.
The tomato salad on the other hand was good, but not great. I used both roma and beefsteak tomatoes over arugula. I'd really like to use heirloom tomatoes and try this again, but they are very hard to come by. When it comes to simple tomato salads this one, this one or this one are better.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

sauteed shrimp with arugula and tomatoes

I wanted something quick, simple and light so I turned to Everyday Food Light and made this Sauteed Shrimp with Arugula and Tomatoes.
It was quick, simple and light - but hardly edible! Even for an arugula lover like me nothing really fit together with this. Because I wasn't sure from the get-go on this I knew it wasn't much of a fit for Owen so I had an altogether different meal preped for him.

Monday, August 20, 2012

broccoli pasta with parmesan croutons

The September 2012 issue of Everyday Food magazine is available now, so I decided try the Broccoli Pasta with Parmesan Croutons.
This is a fairly straight forward pasta with minimal ingredients. The contrast in texture is neat. It took quite a while to refine the seasoning but once we nailed it it was great. Owen loved everything except the pasta - picking out the broccoli and croutons and leaving the shells.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

stuffed poblanos

There are some recipes from Everyday Food that become staples and go-to's. It might seem like we are always trying new recipes, and we are, but on the off days (usually weekends - because I can’t stand dinner fails on weekends) we stick to what we love. To qualify as a make-again the dinner must meet a unanimous approval from both Nuno and I. Recently I've decided that if we love it, I'll do it justice and mention it again. 
One such recipe that we've made it at least 4 times since is Everyday Food Fresh Flavor Fast’s Stuffed Poblanos. I think we enjoy this because I could take a pass on stuffed bell peppers in general, but the little bit of heat you get from a poblano or anaheim chile is just perfect. I’m so pleased these types of peppers are now easy to find in Canada because I had to travel to WNY to buy them the first time I made it 2 years ago.
This recipe was originally inspired by the Mexican favourite, Chili Renellos, which are stuffed poblanos coated and deep fried, then baked in sauce. This recipe is a lot less effort, lighter and the results are always fantastic. The other big reason thisrecipe works for us is because the majority of the ingredients we keep on-handin our pantry. If we want to make it we just end up buying our poblanos and a jalapeno pepper in the supermarket and then do a pantry raid on the rest. This dinner is great in the fall and winter as a warm-up, but we had it on Tuesday's rainy August day and it was wonderful.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

chorizo, potato, and egg tacos with salsa picante

This is Chorizo, Potato, and Egg Tacos with Salsa Picante from Everyday Food June 2011. Quite possibly one of the most econmical and in-a-pinch sort of dinners you could ever whip up.
This is a really neat Portuguese meets Mexican idea that works wonderfully. It reminds me of the sort of scrambles my mother-in-law came up with for quick dinners, but once it's paired with poblano peppers, corn tortillas and spicy salsa that makes it a really neat taco option.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

bbq margherita pizza

We needed to make a quick & impromptu dinner once we got home from the cottage Sunday. So we made this Pizza Margherita on the barbeque and it was totally delicious.
Here's how it's made. Grill the first side of your pizza dough on the bbq. Once grilled, flip and brush with minced garlic & olive oil. Add a light layer of canned crushed tomatoes blended with Italian seasoning. Then spread a layer of soft mozzarella cheese & parmesan. Top with fresh field tomatoes, salt and pepper and grill till melted. Finish with chopped (or whole) basil leaves and pepper. This is truly a great mid to late summer taste when you can get the tomatoes and basil from the farm stand/market.

grand bend weekend

I promise, my last cottaging post for the summer here... This past weekend we were in Grand Bend for a 19 person cottaging extravaganza. For this experience we were able to get the whole family together under one roof for 2 days. Owen's so lucky to be able to grow up with an ever-growing group of first cousins. Between Nuno's 3 siblings we are now at a count of 6 kids and one on the way, all 5 and under. The little munchkins were an absolute riot together, so I'll share what I can of our good times. 
We enjoyed the beach on what was projected to be a wash-out of a weekend. Owen and I just loved jumping into the white caps of the large waves crashing onto the shore.
Lots of backyard play.
Star War's light sabres provided hours of duels.
Portugal meets Vietnam, my brother-in-law's cod-fish croquette banh mi.
And celebrated my niece Paige's 3rd birthday.
In the annual tradition, we arrived with a sweet treat choosing Everyday Food 2009 issue's S'mores Cookies! Some people like their s'mores really toasty so about half had that nice char on top. This was a cookie I didn't have to buy anything for as everything was right at hand in the pantry. This is a wonderful cookie which is second best to the real thing. Come to think of it, I enjoy these even more than the real thing since you don't risk burning your mouth (I can never wait for my S'mores to cool).

Every year, we have awesome food, amazing times and the best company. It was a wonderful weekend that I'm thoroughly exhausted from. Luckily my day job finds me at a desk, so I'll be able to have the time to recoup from all the running around.

Friday, August 10, 2012

skillet corn, edamame and tomatoes with basil oil

Here is Skillet Corn, Edamame and Tomatoes with Basil Oil featured in the August 2012 issue of Martha Stewart Living. This is basically a succotash using edamame in place of lima beans. Because of our success with succotash a couple weeks ago, I was game to give it another go. We used fresh farm stand cobs in this as well as a combination of grape tomatoes and farm stand tomatoes. 
I'm not sure I was able to get the right texture with the basil oil, but even though the leaves weren't completely smooth, the flavour was intense and added so much to the final dinner. The extra effort of making this oil is what elevates this from a sautee to something really interesting and flavourful.

I've blogged before about how much Owen loves edamame beans, I know, it's a little bit of an odd thing for a kid to enjoy. But when you find something healthy that hits the spot with a wee one, you really want to keep it going. So it wasn't much of a surprise Owen loved this. He had a habit of eating all the edamame first, so he ended up with lots of refills.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

pasta with pesto, potatoes and green beans

This Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans is from Great Food Fast .Right now green beans and basil are in season and readily available at markets and farm stands, so this recipe is a great option for this time of year. I was delaying this recipe since I first glanced at it because the idea of eating potatoes and pasta together is just a little off-putting. If it wasn't for my effort to try every recipe in this book I don't think I'd ever have given it a chance.
I've made pesto with many different combinations of herbs and nuts, but never combined so many different options in one. This pesto in particular was one I concoted using leftover of both parsley and basil as well as pine nuts and walnuts. Once complete, this meal was so delicious. It really was a pleasant surprise, all three of us just loved this so it's a total keeper.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

back up to the cottage

Last week we went back up north. This time our cottaging was with my parents, sister and her boyfriend, Mouth. For me, this trip was a real vacation. Obviously from work, but also a break from cooking. My parents treated us to dinner the entire week with the exception of my sister making a delicious bbq'd honey cumin chicken. The one little indulgence I took up with my free time was actually making use of Instagram. After a couple days I was a little concerned I might be mistaken for one of those obnoxious parents who sit at parks and bury themselves in their gadgets while their children play unattended. Apps are quite addictive so I definitely see the attraction, but decided to try and limit it to a before bed indulgence (along with blasting JAMC on my headphones). So here is a collection of photos, most taken with a digital camera but others through my new toy - Instagram (add me @ feelscript)!!
On the beach playing.
It might as well have been Christmas when Aunt Katie and Mouth arrived stacked full of gifts for Owen. Here he is enjoying his monster pop - a cute popsicle molds we filled with juice.
Colouring on the rainy day. You know, it happens - even on vacations.
Pontoon bikes known as hydrobikes provided hours of enjoyment. Man, can you book in and around the bays with these!
Feeding the ducks.
And then there were the frogs...
Aunt Katie rocked the frog catching and helped teach Owen how to hold them on his own (even though he had a few Lenny moments).
Don't worry, no frogs were harmed in his man-handling.
Owen surfs.
We were really roughing it up here - that's a view from the hot tub and my mom, sister and I enjoyed a glass (of two) of wine while watching the sunset - which usually happened around 9:30 pm. 
But the sunset was gorgeous on the deck as well.
I was nervous the fire-ban would restrict all campfires, but we lucked out and there was one almost every night which even included roasting s'mores. So, so tasty!
 And finally, the boat...
For me, there is no better feeling that speeding fast in an open boat on the water and Lake Nipissing is so large it's great to do just that. 
Owen seems to be a little carbon-copy of me when it comes to the exhilaration of speed. Unlike his sea-sick dad, Owen loves crankin' it out on the open water.
It's also nice to go for a sunset ride and admire all the islands with million dollar cottages people summer on. 
It's great to get the family and spend a good chunk of time together. Especially since Katie's moved to Toronto, time like this is precious and valuable. As kids, we used to cottage every summer with my cousins and we have so many great memories vacationing together. My sister and I loved it so much we are hoping to make this a yearly event and are hoping to round up even more of the family next year.

Friday, August 3, 2012

the jesus and mary chain at buffalo place rocks the harbor

I'm back after a relaxing week away at the cottage (more on that to come soon), but first I've got to blog about the most amazing rock show I attended last night with Nuno. Owen stayed behind with Nana and Papa but I left early from the cottage to attend the Jesus and Mary Chain show at the Erie canal harbor as part of our fifth wedding anniversary night out.
The JAMC's final album Stoned and Dethroned was one of the first indie rock tapes I'd ever purchased at the age of sixteen. I managed to completely wear it right out and from there my sister and I became huge JAMC fans. I can even remember us watching the "Reverence" music video when my mom came walking in the the room completely shocked with what we were listening to. Sorry mom, catholic school couldn't save us from rock n' roll.
The band split before I was ever old enough to make it out to one of their shows, so I never got to see them live. However their reunion tour is finding them performing what I consider to be a collection of their best of.
OK, so I went out of my mind at this show but I was not alone. The crowd went nuts when Far Gone and Out, Reverence and by the final song of Never Understand I was in the middle of a crazy sweaty pit of madness. I LOVED IT! My gosh, what a trip to see this music loud and performed right in person. 
As I mentioned, we were celebrating our anniversary and I'm so appreciative of Nuno for not being embarrassed of my rock out. Nothing speaks love more than joining your wife relive the old glory days in a sweaty mosh pit. No seriously, it really should go without saying, but Nuno is the best husband and father I could ever wish for. I love you sweetie.