Monday, 21 October 2013

Thai Coconut Carrot Ginger Soup

Mmm... Thai! I don't know about where you live, but the kosher food situation in Toronto is pretty destitute. *Sadface*. All we have is burgers, falafel, pizza, shawarma, and... oh some more falafel! Don't get me wrong, I love all of these things, but where's the Indian and Thai??? Whenever I talk about the food situation, I end the sentence by saying 'this is why I cook!' If I didn't cook, I think I would be seriously depressed!! And no, I do not want to open a restaurant. Not for me, I'll stick to Social Work, thank you very much! I am quite content cooking at home and sharing wonderful recipes with the world on my blog!
This recipe was inspired by a delicious soup I tried in this amazing restaurant Thai Treats in Miami! It's called Tom Kha Gai, and it is a creamy coconut chicken soup with ginger/galangal and lime (understated by me so look it up!) I dream about it sometimes at night; it's that good! As much as it is sad that there is no good quality kosher food in Toronto, I am comforted by the fact that I can make authentic dishes like this at home, and hope to share more with you soon! This soup is quite simple to make, but will definitely impress your guests! 'Nuff said, lets get to it!

Thai Coconut Carrot Ginger Soup
Serves 4
2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil (coconut gives it a nice Thai flavour)
1 red or white onion, diced
2 stalks celery (optional), cut small
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 birds eye chili, minced (optional, or pinch chili flakes)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
6 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
4 1/2 cups water
1 tsp (or so) salt
1/3 can coconut milk
Slices of fresh lime to garnish
In a large pot, melt coconut oil on medium-high heat. Saute onion and celery until softened. Stir in ginger, garlic and chili if using. After another minute of cooking, add in carrots. Cook for five minutes, stirring often. Pour in water and season with salt, to taste. Bring to a boil, and then cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until carrots are soft. Puree soup, adding a little water if too thick. Once pureed, pour in coconut milk, and stir until combined. Serve soup hot with a wedge of lime to squeeze on top! So yummy!!!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Tomato-covered pesto tilapia

Hello world! (again!!) Sorry for my absence, I have been thinking a lot about blogging and wishing I had more time for it, but I don't :(... Anyways, I have another great recipe for you, which was inspired by my insane brain trying to think of what to make with leftover pesto I made the week before!!! My brain takes me places I never knew existed before! Actually it is similar to a recipe I made before with olive tapenade instead of pesto... I'll link you to it as it is also quite yummy! Anyways, I love to explore different nationalities when I cook. This pesto took me to... Italy! I served this tilapia with zucchini risotto! All I needed was a glass of wine and I was there! Oh the possibilities of cooking! Enjoy this recipe and don't be afraid to improvise!

Tomato topped pesto tilapia:

4 fillets tilapia, skin optional
5 tbsp parsley walnut pesto, recipe below
2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°. Pour olive oil in the bottom of a glass pan. I didn't have a big enough pan or oven (I used a toaster oven), so I had to split it into two, which was fine. Using your hands, smear the oil all around the bottom of the pan. Place tilapia skin-side down in the pan. Spoon pesto onto the tops of the fish, and use the spoon to smear it all over. Don't be too afraid to use a lot, because it gets less strong when cooked. Cover fish with thinly sliced tomato rounds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put in oven for 15-20 minutes, until fish is firm and cooked, and tomatoes are cooked well. Broil on high for a few minutes to get some colour, but make sure not to overcook the fish, otherwise it will be dry. Enjoy!!

Parsley walnut pesto:
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, washed and cut up
1/3 cup walnuts
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a blender, put in parsley, walnuts and garlic. Add a little cold water to help the blending process, and slowly drizzle in the olive oil through the hole in the top of the blender. Add salt and pepper and blend until consistency is smooth. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. You can use pesto in almost anything! You can put it in sandwiches, pasta, salads, grilled chicken, the opportunities are endless! Busy in brooklyn did a great post on the endless varieties of pesto, and here it is:.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Pop poppin some popcorn!

I feel like every few weeks I have to apologize for my lack of posting! It's hard to maintain a blog when I have tons of other stuff to do! Who doesn't? Well something I've wanted to do for a while is post a bunch of great popcorn recipes! Popcorn is something that's generally unappreciated. The humble, tiny kernel that literally explodes into airy goodness; what's not to love? It's extremely economical, thats for sure! If you pop it yourself, a bag of kernels can cost under 2 bucks, and it makes so many batches! Done right, it's perfect to bring to a party or if fancy enough, as a present or an addition to a dessert table! You can go sweet or savoury, simple or extravagant, healthy or... sinfully unhealthy. I bring you a mix of all these things! Many of these recipes are my go-to for Shabbat, as many of my friends know, and are insanely addictive!!! Some are easier and less complicated than the others, and some more 'patchkedik' and laboursome. It all depends what youre looking for and how much time you have!
Whenever I mention that I make the popcorn on my stovetop, people are in shock! They simply can't believe its possible and it must take me forever! I know, I live in the stone age. Have I mentioned that I don't own a microwave?
Anyways, it's really not as hard as people think, you just need patience, and once you get poppin, it doesnt take much time at all!
I'll start off with a basic recipe for plain popcorn, as most of the recipes call for this.

Plain popcorn:

1/2 cup popcorn kernels (or enough to cover the bottom of the pot)
Salt, to taste

Heat a large pot until bottom is hot. Haha, rhymes... Add kernels, and put the lid on. Every so often, carefully shake the pot so the kernels move and get toasted on each side. This may take a while (the first batch always does, but don't get disenheartened, it's a labour of love!). Once you hear the kernels start popping, shake the pot more often, so the kernels at the bottom don't get burnt. When you hear that the popping starts to slow down, leave it on for a few more seconds, continuing to shake the pot, even turning down the heat, and then, carefully pour into a bowl. You may notice that I didn't add oil in the beginning. You may choose to if your pot isnt very good, or if you're eating it plain, but a)it isn't necessary and b) most toppings include oil or margarine. While it's still hot, shake salt over the popcorn to your liking, making sure to mix it well! I do this with my hands, my favourite cooking tools! Depending on how much you need, you may need to make multiple batches of this. For big crowds, I've made 5 pots worth! It is really quick after the first batch, so it's not that bad! If you're eating it plain, pour a few tablespoons of canola oil or olive oil if you like the taste, and mix well!

Ok so once you've mastered the art of popping dat corn, it's time to take it to the next level!

Sexy popcorn:
Sorry for the language, it's the only word I can use to describe this!

recipe borrowed from my friend N.S! Sanks yous!!!

2 batches of salted popcorn (1 cup unpopped kernels)
6 tbsp olive oil
6 tbsp honey
1 tsp chile powder

That's it, I know, it's absurdly simple, but it covers everything you need! Sweet, salty, spicy amazingness! Once you put the popcorn in a bowl and salt it, return the pot to the stove and add the remaining ingredients. Let them bubble and dissolve. Pour over popcorn and mix really well. It's a bit of a sticky mess, but that doesn't stop us from demolishing the bowl every time. You also have the option of omitting the chile powder, its still really good!

Sweet and spicy kettle corn:
Someone told me this was the best popcorn they've ever tasted! This is pretty similar to the previous recipe, except that it's made differently and also is not sticky, which makes it good for taking on trips. Also extremely addictive!

1/2 cup unpopped kernels
3 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp white sugar
Salt and chile powder, to sprinkle

Heat a large pot... until hot! Add kernels, oil and sugar, stir til theres no random sugar and kernels, lets say combined-ish?? Keep stirring til it starts to look really hot. Close the lid and shake very often once it starts popping. Pretty much follow the same directions as regular popcorn. Pour into a large bowl carefully (very hot!!) Sprinkle salt and chile powder over to taste, making sure to mix well! P.S. this only makes one batch!

Chocolate peanut butter drizzled popcorn:
This kinda tastes like nutella, looks pretty, and is quite amazing actually! This can be really dressed up for fancy events, is a little more work than the average batch, but is worth it!

2 batches lightly salted popped popcorn
2 tbsp margarine or butter, you could try coconut oil to make it healthier
5 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Pour your popcorn into a large deep pan. Try to spread it out as much as possible. In a double boiler (bowl on top of a pot of simmering water), place the rest of the ingredients, and let them melt, stirring every so often. As soon as it all melts, drizzle evenly over popcorn. Let it cool in the pan (if you can resist), and store in a bowl or Ziploc bag.

Other notable popcorn seasoning combos and possibilities:
-Cinnamon kettle corn (sprinkle cinnamon instead of chili powder for a sweet treat
-Drizzle with different melted chocolates (white and dark for pretty contrasts
-Parmesan olive oil (this is something cheesy and different! Use canola oil for a lighter taste, and feel free to sprinkle some chili flakes and/or garlic powder for more flavour!
-Za'atar and olive oil (not everyone is a great fan of this, I will admit, but if you like za'atar, you will like this!!
-Caramel corn! This is a little more complicated than the others because you need to make a caramel and then bake the popcorn with the caramel for like 1 1/2 hours! But it's worth the wait! Recipe to follow shortly...

The possibilities are endless as you can see! I haven't even touched a fraction of what's out there, but hopefully this will give you some ideas to start poppin! (Corny, I know ;)) Ta-ta for now!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Avocado Chile Tuna Salad

Hey y'all!!! It's sure been a while! My apologies, I know you were anxiously awaiting my next post ... so here it is!
I'm all for mayo, it tastes really good in lots of recipes (especially my scalloped potatoes which I should post at some point). But it is super duper fattening, and I try to avoid it if I can! In this case, I was able to sub it with creamy mashed avocado and olive oil! So crazy, it just might work! (And it did because the result was yummy!) I know avocado and olive oil are also pretty fatten, but it's healthy omega-3 fats, and I have no shame using those! Plus, everything in moderation, right?
Anyways, I've always wanted to try this, and you should too! You can season it however you want, too! In my case, I went all chili-lemon styles cuz I'm cool like that! I also stuck in some relish, even though my senses told me not to, but there are no rules here, so who cares? Be creative and enjoy the recipe!!
Avocado Chile Tuna Salad
1 can light or white, chunk or flaked tuna, drained
1/2 avocado
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2-1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp lemon zest (optional)
1 thai chili* minced, or 1/4 tsp chili flakes
1 tbsp dill pickle relish (optional, doesn't go with theme but if you like relish in tuna, you will like this!)
*These are extremely spicy, don't be mistaken by their cuteness! They also go by the name 'bird eye' chili, and if you dont have, use another spicy pepper like jalapeno! Ooh and you could go all mexico stylez with cilantro... yum!
In a small bowl, mash avocado well. Set aside. In another bowl, flake in tuna, and break up using a fork. Add in the rest of ingredients and stir until well-combined. Eat! Oh and I suppose you could sub tuna for cooked shredded chicken! Yummy quick sandwich! Just cut out the relish!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Chili-Garlic-Herb Grilled Chicken

I heart BBQ-ed chicken. T'is the season after all! Sometimes, the most classic flavour combinations end up being the best. It's all about the balance- spicy, tangy, garlicky, all in one! The other day I got a pack of tiny thai chilis. It came with so many, and the thing is, each tiny chili is super spicy, so I was like, there ain't no way I'm finishing this before it goes bad! So I did the sensible thing and froze them in a ziploc baggy. Now, I put them in EVERYTHING! You use them the same way as chili flakes, and you can always replace with those if you don't have fresh, but fresh is always better! 
Anywhoo, I'm obsessed with anything chili-garlic. So Jamie Oliver-esque. 
I also got a pack of fresh thyme, and froze that too because when do you ever need more than a sprig or two? Otherwise it gets too thym-ey up in there. Ain't nobody got thyme for that! Ha! 
So, for this recipe, I just grabbed a few sprigs of thyme from the freezer. Freezing thyme (get it?) actually makes it easier to take it off the stem than when it's fresh.
Of course, you can use dried thyme for this, but I happened to have fresh, so... yeah....
Ok so this chicken.... I had chicken scallopini which I usually fry and make shnitzel out of, but I was feeling  the grilled route more. Plus, it's healthier! 
Scallopini is a super thin cut of the chicken breast, but you could use regular cutlets for this too, just change the cooking time. Or, you could butterfly the chicken breasts (google helps!) to make them thinner.
I did get a little nervous cooking such a thin piece of chicken on the grill, but don't be! As long as you're watching it to make sure it doesn't get overcooked, it won't! 
Ok... here it is!

Chili-Garlic-Herb Grilled Chicken:

4 boneless-skinless Chicken Breasts (butterfly/scallopini-cut optional)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tbsp garlic, minced finely
1-2 red thai chilies (or any red chili), minced or sliced finely (these had seeds but I didn't remove them because the chilies are so small to begin with, plus, it adds more heat!)
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp parsley flakes 
few shakes of salt and pepper

In a glass dish OR a large freezer bag, put all ingredients except for chicken. Mix all ingredients until combined well. Place chicken in dish or bag, cover/seal and place in the fridge. If using thin cuts of chicken, you will only be able to marinate for 15-20 minutes until the lemon juice starts to tenderize the chicken, and you don't want to do this for too long because it will start to break down! (not good!) If using regular cutlets, you can probably marinate for 30 minutes. Halfway between your 'designated' marinating time, flip over the chicken! Ok! We are ready to grill!
Preheat your grill on a low-medium heat. As soon as it's hot, place your chicken on the grill. Let those babies cook! Once you see that the bottom is getting nice grill marks and is browning, flip over and cook the other side. This whole process only takes a few minutes, don't leave your grill or you might get dry chicken! Ew. My worst enemy! 
Anyways, once both sides are brown and have grill marks, they should be ready! Don't let it cook a minute longer than it needs to! Once the inside is fully white (might have to cut into one to check, or you can tell by feeling it, but that takes practice), take it off! 
Now, there's many things you can do with grilled chicken. What I did, I will be saving for my next post, because it was that good! I'll give you a hint.... grilled chicken, peppers and zucchini tossed in chili-garlic oil infused linguine. Ok, that was more than a hint, but get excited! Perfect summertime meal! 
You can also... make paninis, flatbreads, salads.... or eat it just the way it is! 
 My artistic expression? Oh and p.s. I made half this recipe because I only had one pack of meat.
                                              My chicken taking a bath in awesomeness
                         Perfect, tender, juicy, flavourful chicken! I could probably eat all that...

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Garlicky Chummus

Wow, I've been busy in May with no time to post! School's gotten the best of me, I suppose... Well, no excuses, right? I made a Shabbat dinner last week for 30+ people, and my job was salads and desserts. Of course, I never give myself an easy time with things; I need to make everything from scratch and it HAS to be complicated. This recipe happens not to be complicated but everyone loves it and are shocked that it's not store bought. Come on, everybody does it; I should conform at some point, right? Never! Making chummus at home is cheaper, for one.  You also get so much more out of the recipe than a tiny store bought container, and it tastes ten times better! I got this recipe for chummus from my friend's Israeli/Iraqi mother, it's authentic and amazing. It is spicy, but you can adjust the level depending on how much garlic you decide to put. It goes well with everything, especially with other salads and fresh challah. I might just share that recipe with you too (at some point). There's also room (as with every other recipe of mine) to variate on ingredients. I've tried putting white beans, avocados and kale (not all at once but I'm sure that would be interesting). I've also heard of sweet potato chummus! The possibilities are endless!

Garlicky Chummus:
Anat's Recipe

1 28 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 jar tehina paste
4-5 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and whole
couple squeezes of lemon juice (to taste)
salt (to taste)

In a food processor, blend chickpeas with tehina, garlic and lemon juice, and slowly add in 1 glass of cold water, until it's the consistency you like. Blend until smooth. Add salt to taste! Plate it with a spoonful of schug (spicy chili paste), drizzle with good quality olive oil, and sprinkle with zaatar- in that order. 

                                                                    It's so pretty!!!
                                                                   My babies!!! 
Pictured here, which might be featured as recipes soon are, starting from the top left: Moroccan carrots, babaghanoush, beet salad, Italian bean salad, matbucha, and oh popcorn which I have an extremely addictive recipe for. 
ALL homemade and quite healthy if I may add!!! STAY TUNED!!!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Note of caution: this is NOT my recipe, it's my friend's, and I didn't make any changes because it's perfect just the way it is! Nobody said anything about healthy :P but when you need to entertain and want a great recipe that people love, you whip out the hardcore margarine and sugar (yuk). It's okay once in a while...

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies:
By L.P

3/4 cup margarine
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp water
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3 cups oats
1 1/2 cups raisins

In a large bowl, cream the margarine and sugars until fluffy and well incorporated. Beat in the egg, water and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients. These don't spread out naturally if you leave them as balls, so form these into round, flat (not too flat) cookies on a greased baking sheet. Makes about 24.
Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. They are ready when lightly browned. They may seem underdone when they come out of the oven, but they continue cooking from the heat of the pan, and harden a bit as they cool. On that note, leave them on the pan for 5-10 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. These have the perfect chewy consistency I look for in my cookies! F.Y.I, they also freeze incredibly! 

 Enjoy! And please comment and let me know if you like what you read!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

My Dessert Table :)

This weekend, I made a whole dessert table for a Friday night dinner I hosted (with lots of help). Everything turned out really well and lots of people asked for recipes... so, here you are! But instead of re-typing every recipe I used, I'll just link you to them :). Let's start with my pride and joy... my mini cinnamon buns!
They'!!! And delicious!!! And surprisingly easy to make! I got the idea and recipe from  
Of course, everyone loved them. How could they not? They're so cute and mini! I made them pareve (dairy-free) by using nondairy coffee cream instead of the heavy cream.

The next thing I made were Chewy Molasses Ginger Cookies from Overtime Cook! Thank you, they turned out amazing! You can find the recipe here:

I also made yummy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies! I got the recipe from my friend which I will post soon!

I made my Blueberry Pumpkin Mini-Muffins, but instead of pumpkin, I used banana! You can find the measurements with the variations at the bottom of the recipe. So good warm from the oven and still good the next day.... And the day after that... and so forth. :)

Everything also looked much nicer when it was spread out on fancy plates, just by the way! We put the mini muffins in a huge basket, it was so cute!Also, my camera phone sucks, so bear with me!

My 3 am bakings!

Hope you enjoyed!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Not-So-Chunky Monkey Cookies

I'm stubborn when it comes to choosing a recipe. When it comes down to it, I'd rather make something up... which is what I did! I get stuck between going crazy healthy and super fattening, so this time, I took the best of both worlds, and stuck them into a cookie! My original idea was to make banana peanut butter truffles, but then cocoa powder got into the mix (literally) and they became more chocolatey than anything, perfect for the chocolate lover! But with much less guilt than the average chocolate cookie! For starters, no sugar added! Instead, the sweetness of the bananas, peanut butter, plus chopped dates (shh!) replaces the need for sugar! Also, I used the peanut butter instead of oil! I took the idea of the zebra cookies that everyone loves, but instead of icing sugar, used a mixture of graham cracker crumbs and pb2! It's like chocolate peanut butter heaven! If you want to go all the way, chop up some marshmallows into the dough and its like smores!!! I'm doing that next time! For something I completely made up, I am quite impressed! Try them and you'll see!!!

Not-so Chunky Monkey Cookies:

2 bananas, mashed
5 dates, pit removed and chopped finely
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional- you can also use puffed rice if you have)
1/4 cup chocolate, chopped into pieces, or chocolate chips

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup PB2 (peanut butter powder, if you don't have this, you could probably sub finely ground nuts)

Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, blend together bananas, dates, peanut butter, egg and vanilla until well combined. This will be pretty chunky because of the dates but mix it the best you can! In another bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Pour the wet into the dry and mix with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough. Mix in walnuts and chocolate. 
In a shallow pan, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs and PB2. Roll the dough into teaspoon-ish sized balls with your hands, and toss them around in the crumb mixture until all sides are covered. Place on your parchment-lined baking sheet, giving a little space in between each. From experience, they really don't spread much, so you don't need to give them so much space. With your hands or a flipper, squish them down a little. Put them in the oven for about 10 minutes, until they're lightly brown on the bottom. It's hard to tell if they're ready or not because they're chocolate, but if they hold their own, they should be ready. Enjoy! 

If any of you are good at math, you will notice that there are a few missing... what? someone has to do the quality control around here ;)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Oven Southern "Fried" Chicken

What is it about fried chicken that's so appealing? It's that crispy coating and that moist chicken inside, right? What if I told you that you could get that same result, with NO OIL? Not only is it not fried, but I put no oil in the pan at all. Parchment paper is the best, it's magic! It doesn't let the chicken stick (or anything for that matter), and it makes the pan easier to clean (just throw it away)! Hooray! 
You will also notice that I take the skin off of the chicken pieces. Real southern fried chicken is made with the skin on. I think it's gross anyways, regardless of how unhealthy it is for you. It's up to you whether you want to keep it, but I think it was fine without it. The breading keeps it really moist.
The way the real southerners make this chicken is by letting it sit in buttermilk and spices for at least a few hours. Now, this flavours and tenderizes the chicken a lot, but if you don't have time to let it chill, you will be fine! Also, since this is a kosher blog, so to create that buttermilk flavour, I replace it with: (this may sound gross but trust me, it works!) soy milk and vinegar. The vinegar kind of curdles the soymilk and makes it thicker so it coats the chicken. Okay, enough about that!
The trick to breaded chicken, especially done in the oven, is something I learned from someone my friends and I call: the chicken lady. She knows what she's talking about, she's from the south! Legit!
 It's all in the seasoning baby! Read the recipe, you shall see! 

Oven Southern "Fried" Chicken:

9 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin removed, OR 1 chicken cut up, skin removed
1 egg
1/4 cup soy milk
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1/2-1 tsp hot sauce 

1- 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (I happened to use pita crumbs, clearly any kind works)
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder or cayenne
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp chicken soup mix
1/8 tsp thyme (optional)
1/4 tsp pepper
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375°
Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper

In a medium bowl, pour in soy milk and vinegar. Let sit for a few minutes until it gets thicker. Crack in an egg and pour in the hot sauce. Whisk together until combined well. Place chicken in bowl and mix around so the chicken is coated. Now, you can either let it marinate, mixing every few hours, OR, if you don't have time (like most normal people), just make sure each piece got coated well. In a shallow pan, mix the rest of the ingredients. Dip each piece of chicken in the breadcrumbs, making sure both sides get covered in crumbs. Put the chicken on the pan, and stick in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown. Flip the chicken over, and continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes until both sides are brown and crispy. 

Serve while hot with whatever you'd like! I kept it light because I had a hearty soup beforehand, so I served it with a tomato and avocado salad, but you can have it with mashed potatoes, fries, whatever your heart desires! F.Y.I, I love to drizzle the chicken with honey, it's so good that way!


Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette

This is my favourite go-to recipe for salad dressing. Everyone loves it, my friend was literally eating it with a spoon. It's super simple to make and it's not heavy and mayo-ey like every other salad dressing in town. You can choose to go fancy shmancy or simple, whatever you like! Also, it's super changeable to whatever you have in the house (hmm, sound familiar? like every other recipe I have on this blog!) Improvise is my middle name! Vinaigrettes traditionally have a little vinegar and a lot of olive oil. I personally like my dressings to have more of a tang, so I've changed it up. Who needs rules anyway?

Maple- Dijon Vinaigrette:

2 tbsp dijon mustard (you can also use a grainy mustard)
3 tbsp real maple syrup (you can sub honey or maybe even agave, haven't tried)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or white wine, or balsamic- gives it a stronger flavour)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, mix together dijon mustard and maple syrup. Combine the vinegar, and then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Taste! This is important! Some people like the dressing more mild, more sweet, more tangy; it all depends on what you like. Drizzle dressing over a romaine lettuce salad.  It's good just the way it is. If you want to go fancy, top salad with candied pecans (roughly chopped or left whole), and/or pomegranate seeds, and if you are having a dairy meal, you can put in chunks of creamy goat cheese! Yum!!!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Grilled Eggplant Salad with Spicy Hoisin Glaze

I'm always looking for new recipes to do with eggplant, but I can never find what I'm looking for. Boo hoo. Poor me. What ends up happening is I play around with the ingredients in the house until I come up with something (hopefully) awesome! This recipe is really simple to put together and is full of flavour! It was a hit this at this past Shabbat table, and it's a great addition to any salad spread!

Grilled Eggplant Salad with Spicy Hoisin Glaze:

1 large eggplant, trimmed at the ends
2-3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp chili-garlic sauce (or chili flakes+garlic powder if you don't have)
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
2-3 tbsp rice vinegar
1-2 tbsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil
splash water
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp green onions, sliced diagonally (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°.
Slice eggplant thinly lengthwise. Sprinkle salt over eggplant, let sit for 15 minutes until it starts to 'sweat.' I know, its gross: beads of eggplanty liquid start to come to the surface. Apparently, salting gets rid of the eggplant's bitterness. If you are able to use Japanese eggplant which is the long purple ones, apparently they aren't as bitter so you can skip this part. Anyways, once it gets all sweaty, rinse and dry the eggplant slices off. Pour olive oil in the bottom of a 9x13 pan and spread it around so the bottom is greased well.

In a medium bowl, mix the hoisin, chili-garlic sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and sesame oil. Add a splash of water, and taste to see if it is to your liking. The good thing about Asian cooking is if you overpower your sauce with something, there's always another sauce to balance it out. It takes a lot of playing around to get it 'perfect,' so don't give up! It should be a pretty thick sauce, more like a glaze/bbq sauce you would use for basting. Place your eggplant slices in the pan in a single layer.  Stick the eggplant in the oven for 5-10 minutes until it is soft and starting to brown. Flip the pieces over, and put it back in the oven. When it is just about ready, take the pieces of eggplant and put them in the bowl with the sauce. Toss to coat with two forks, and then put back in the pan, and into the oven for 1-2 more minutes for it to finish cooking. Take out of the oven and slice into thin strips or chunks. Put into a serving bowl, and sprinkle with sesame seeds, and if you're feeling adventurous, sliced green onions too. Pretty! Sorry, no picture this time, you're going to have to use your imagination and try it yourself!!!

These would also be pretty fantastic if you made a bit extra sauce (and added more vinegar and soy sauce to make it thinner) and tossed it with noodles! Or on top of quinoa... Yum! You could probably use this sauce for chicken or tofu too! 

Blueberry Pumpkin Mini-Muffins

I love blueberry muffins, especially when they're healthy! Using pumpkin puree instead of oil or butter made them really moist and cut out a lot of unnecessary fat! Just in case you might be freaked out by the pumpkin, there's not enough in this recipe that you actually taste it, it's just enough to add moisture. If you wanted these to be healthier, you could use a combination of whole wheat/white flour. I decided to make them in mini-muffin pans and they came out so cute! They had a really nice crispy muffin top, but they stayed super moist on the inside. Just saying, even though these muffins are healthy, they don't taste healthy, they taste amazing! Shh! No one needs to know our little secret ;). Enjoy!

Blueberry Pumpkin Mini-Muffins:
Adapted from Skinnytaste

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg or 2 egg whites or 1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water, let sit for a few minutes to thicken as egg substitute
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla 
1 cup unsweetened almond, soy or skim milk
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Add in:
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350°. This recipe makes 24 mini- muffins. If you are using silicone mini-muffin pans, you don't need to spray them. If you are using metal pans, lightly spray pan with oil. 

In a medium bowl, mix the wet ingredients well. In another bowl, whisk the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and mix until well combined and there are no streaks of flour left. Fold in blueberries. 

Spoon the batter into the mini-muffin pan, all the way to the top. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the tops are lightly brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

This recipe is so versatile, you can change up the ingredient combinations to suit your own taste.

 For example:

Apple Cinnamon Raisin:
-sub 1/2 cup applesauce instead of pumpkin, put 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1/2 cup raisins instead of blueberries
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip:
-sub chocolate chips instead of blueberries
White Chocolate Cranberry:
-can use 1/2 cup applesauce or still pumpkin, and sub 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and 1/2 cup dried cranberries instead of blueberies
Spiced Apricot Almond:
-sub 1/2 cup applesauce instead of pumpkin, sub 1/2 cup slivered almonds, 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots instead of blueberries, and use 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp powdered ginger and 1/4 tsp nutmeg
Banana Walnut:
-sub 1/2 cup mashed banana instead of pumpkin, use 3/4 cup chopped walnuts instead of blueberries, use 1 tsp cinnamon
***NEW***: Pear Gingerbread Muffins:
- add 1 tbsp molasses and 1 tsp grated fresh ginger to wet ingredients. Instead of pumpkin puree, add 1 peeled pear and 1 banana, mashed. This equals to more than 1/2 cup of puree, so I only put 3/4 cup soy milk. In the dry ingredients, I put 1 1/2 cups of white flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour. I put 3/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger and a pinch of nutmeg. Instead of blueberries, I put 2 peeled pears chopped into small chunks. I also baked these as large muffins for around 22 minutes! Very seasonal and yummy!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Two-tone Oven Baked Chili "Cheese" Fries

Okay, so this isn't the most healthy thing I could have made, but it's awesome, and that counts for something right? Now, I have to admit, *gasp,* I didn't actually make this entire dish, but I know for a fact that it would work. I made the fries and the chili, but didn't have fake cheese to make it a whole dish. What I did eat was amazing, and I know that everything together would be redunkulous. 
I'm posting this recipe in two parts- one post for the fries recipe and one for the chili. You're gonna have to stay tuned to get the chili recipe... don't worry, I won't keep you hanging...  muahahaha! :P

Anyways, it's probably much healthier than the chili cheese fries that you would find anywhere else, because I baked the fries, made the chili with tons of veggies, and soy cheese isn't as fattening as regular cheese (I think?). Who knows these days, anyways... All I know, is that these are awesome and that I hope you will love them as much as I do (in my head)!!! 

Two-tone oven baked chili 'cheese' fries:

I made two different recipes, one for regular potatoes and one with sweet potatoes. I'm not normally into separating things (it all goes to the same place, right?), but you need to put them in their own pans anyways because of space, so why not get a little creative? You can go wild with these but I kept them pretty simple. I kept the skins on, because I hate peeling and I like the skin anyways, and there's apparently tons of fiber and nutrients in them, so why the heck not? Just scrub them like crazy and take off any gross looking parts.

Oven roasted sweet potato fries:
Adapted from SippitySup

Note: This recipe is easily doubled; it all depends on what you have on hand. Also, don't be freaked out that I only used one sweet potato, some of those things are HUGE! 

1 large sweet potato, skin on, scrubbed, and cut into fries
1 egg white
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4-1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4-1/2 tsp dried parsley
1-2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 450°. Line one large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy. Add in the cut-up sweet potatoes and spices, and drizzle on the olive oil. Mix well with your hands (don't be afraid to get all messy up in there!). Pour your sweet potatoes onto the pan, and make sure they're all in one even layer. Bake for 10 minutes, then carefully flip pieces over. Stick them back in the oven for another 15 (or so) minutes until they're nice and golden brown. Be careful during the last few minutes, they caramelize quickly! 
Serve them fresh and hot with any dipping sauce (such as a sriracha lime aioli which I have yet to perfect...) OR with a hot cheesy pile of chili! Mmm sounds tempting.... Wait for the regular potato fries though! They're next!

Oven baked potato fries:
Adapted from The Comfort of Cooking

Note: Now I know you've probably seen all those recipes that call for soaking the potatoes in water, etc etc etc... Ain't nobody got time for that! Honestly, I'm sure it makes them a bit crispier, but these came out just fine without that (more than fine actually!)

3 large potatoes, skin on, scrubbed, and cut into thin-ish fries
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 450°. Line one large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, toss the fries with the olive oil and half the salt until they're well coated. Like above, spread the fries in an even layer on your pan. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 5 minutes. Remove the foil and let it bake for another 15-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes. Or be like me and forget to. Don't worry if a few come out a little too browny, those are for taste testing anyways :P. Flip those babies over after the 15-20 and keep them baking for another 5-10 minutes until they're golden brown and crispy. Right when they come out of the oven, sprinkle them with the other half of your salt, to taste. 
Serve hot from the oven, plain, with ketchup, or... keep them for your chili cheese fries, if you can!

At last!!! The time has come to put this post together!!! 

1 recipe of the oven roasted sweet potato fries
1 recipe of the oven baked potato fries
2 or so cups of chili (recipe to follow)
1-2 cups of soy shredded cheese (I've tried a few brands and the one I've found melts the best is Daiya and it comes in a pepperjack flavour which tastes pretty good too!)

Set oven to 400°.
Throw your fries into a square 9x9 or 10x10 casserole dish. They might not all fit, if they don't, you're just gonna have to eat the remainders. Poor, poor you. Pour chili on top. Sprinkle cheese on top. Stick it in the oven until 'cheese' is 'melted.' Enjoy while hot!!!

P.S. you can totally make the chili with soy meat or just veggies, and put real cheese, or not if you're vegan! 

Avocado 'Caesar' Dressing

Probably my all-time favourite salad dressing has to be caesar! It has the perfect creamy tangyness everyone loves! Every recipe that I find for it (now I'm not talking about real caesar with the egg yolk and olive oil) has tons of fattening mayo. Now, while mayo does make it taste awesome and creamy, I always wonder if I could replace it with something a little healthier. After all, we are eating salad, right? 
Avocados are awesome. Yes, they're green and not mayo, but when blended up, they have a really nice creamy texture, perfect for salad dressings! Don't believe me? Try it for yourself! Also, I used light sour cream but you could easily sub with fat free or low fat plain Greek yogurt. Honestly, it's whatever you have in your house!
Also, caesar dressing usually has either anchovies or worcestershire sauce. I didn't have any in my house but next time, I would add a dash of worcestershire sauce to give it more of a salty tang. Ooh and one last thing, I put garlic powder when I made it, but I would try minced garlic (1 or 2 cloves) next time to give it more of a fresh kick. 
Now, be warned, you are using avocados which do have the tendency to brown, so it's not the kind of dressing you can make and store in the fridge for a few days. Trust me, I tried... Not the most appealing thing to look at. However, made fresh, this dressing is perfect! 

Avocado 'Caesar' Dressing:

1/2 avocado
1/2 lemon, juiced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp light sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (or nondairy sour cream)
1/8 cup milk/soymilk (or more to thin it out to your liking), optional
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, optional
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, mash or blend avocado until it's smooth. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients. If you are looking for more of a dip-like dressing, omit the milk. If adding the milk, pour it a little at a time until you are satisfied with the consistency. 
You can drizzle it on a bed of romaine lettuce with croutons and parmesan cheese on top! If you want to be fancy, you can use only non-dairy ingredients (if you keep kosher) and top it with sliced grilled chicken breast and avocado! Yum! Oh and I might be getting ahead of myself but... if you fry pastrami and cut it up, you have yourself a chicken avocado caesar salad with 'bacon'! Booya! Oh the possibilities... 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Spinach Asparagus Quiche

Mmm... quiche..... 
Funny story, last week I was supposed to be writing an essay and mid-procrastination, I decided to make quiche! It's always a good idea; who likes writing essays anyways? Quiche is soo much better ;). Especially this quiche. It's so filled with veggies and protein, it's practically a meal. (and so it was!) My only problem with quiche is the super fattening crust it usually has. In typical 'me' fashion, given the choice between frozen pie crust and making my own, I decided to make my own! Sorry for all the weird measurements, but that's what happens when you make stuff up on the spot! Don't get all nervous on me now, there ain't no rolling required! You literally mix it up and press it into the bottom and sides of the pan! Making my own crust gives me the freedom to put whatever I want, without any nasty hydrogenated ingredients I usually find in the store- bought pie crusts. Sound interesting? Check out the recipe!

Spinach Asparagus Quiche with Whole Grain Crust:
Adapted from Divaliscious

1/2 cup +2 tbsp white flour
1/2 cup +2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1/3 cup +2 tbsp rolled oats
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
1/2 tsp salt
3-4 tbsp canola oil (you can also use coconut oil)
Few tablespoons cold water (until it forms dough-like consistency)

1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
4 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk (or milk replacement)
1/2 box frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
1 cup shredded cheese (any, I used mozzarella)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg

For crust:
Preheat oven to 450°.
Put flours, oats, flax seed and salt in a medium bowl. Add in oil and then slowly add in water until dough comes together, not too sticky but wet enough for it to be workable. Press into a pie pan of your choice, making sure it reaches up to the sides, and that it's equally spread around. Take a fork and prick the pie crust all over. Stick it in the oven for 5 minutes until shell is slightly set.

For quiche filling:
Turn oven down to 350°.
Steam the asparagus whole in a pot or a steamer for 5 minutes until bright green but still not fully cooked. Truth be told, this is probably the most labour intensive part of the recipe (you have to get a pot out, fill it with water, what a hassle). Once the asparagus is cool-ish, cut up half into little 1-inch pieces, and save the rest for prettifying the top. In a small bowl, whisk a few tbsp of the milk with the flour so that it's well incorporated and not lumpy. In a big bowl, mix the rest of the filling ingredients. Make sure to mix the eggs in well!! Whisk if you care about it being super smooth. Add in the flour mixture. Mix all together and pour into your prepared pie shell which should be cooled, but if it's not, don't worry, everything will be O.K. This is where you get to be creative. Place your leftover whole asparagus stalks on top of the quiche, whichever way you'd like. Stick it in the oven for about 30 minutes, until when you shake the pan (carefully with an oven mitt), its set and not all jiggly in the middle. It should also be lightly browned on the top and on the crust. 
Now, you're supposed to let it set for another 10 minutes outside the oven, but that's if you have time to wait... Well if you don't mind a quichey mess, then dig right in! 

This is what it looked like before the oven and it's magic...

Oh the oven and it's wondrous ways! So pretty!


Hello World + Banana Nut Cookies

Oh, hello there! This is my first post, woohoo! Now I know I'm not professional like all the hundreds of other bloggers out there, with all those fancy pictures and life stories and step-by-step instructions, but I don't care, I do this for fun and I hope you guys enjoy my blog! 
To celebrate the birth of this blog, I will share with you a really cool recipe that I have improvised to a SCIENCE! I've made these so many times and they've turned out incredibly every time! I mean, where can you go wrong when you mix bananas and peanut butter? I know, right? You CAN'T! 
 I've experimented and made these a bunch of times, I realized the best combo is half and half whole wheat and white flour. I tried with all whole wheat and while it tasted really good, it was a bit dense. Of course all white flour tasted really good, but it would be nice to get some goodness with the whole wheat. 
Secondly, you may be wondering- peanut butter? Applesauce? Where's the butter and/or oil? Well if you've been on pinterest lately, you would know that you can use these as replacements in baking, which work awesomely! Now, you may say- peanut butter is just another fat! While this is true, (and not to say there's anything wrong with that, I'm not crazy), I've discovered something awesome you may have heard of- it's called PB2. It's basically peanut butter where they've somehow removed most of the fat and turned it into a powder. To this, you add water and it turns into super low fat peanut butter! Awesome!!!!  
Hope you enjoy!

Apologize for the horrible picture, but you get the idea!

Banana Nut Cookies:
Adapted from Skinnytaste

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp peanut butter
1/4 cup applesauce 
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water, let sit for a few minutes to thicken as egg substitute
1/4 cup mashed banana
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Stir in:
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (or any other nut, I've used almonds and it was also really good)

Preheat oven to 350°, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. 
In a large bowl, cream together the peanut butter, applesauce and brown sugar. (You can do this with a mixer or by hand). Add in the flaxseed/water mixture, followed by the mashed banana and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture by hand, and the oats until just combined, and no streaks of flour remain; stir in the chopped walnuts.
Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Before you do this, however, feel free to snack on the egg-free batter :P, it is delicious on its own haha!

Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies become light brown at the edges.
Let cool on baking sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 30 cookies you can feel good about eating for breakfast AND dessert!