Monthly Archives: June 2012

culinary burn-outs


I’ve been rather uninspired when it comes to cooking these past few weeks. Nothing seems appealing, my meals don’t turn out the way I expect them to and (the horror!) I don’t feel like cooking most evenings. I’m going away on holiday in two weeks and that’s all I can think about… 9 days at my parents’ idyllic home in the Laurentians. 9 days of no laundry, no cooking, no chores and… no relaxing. Trust me. Keeping a 2 and a 4-year-old alive and more importantly occupied for 9 days straight is a far cry from a relaxing vacation. But I’m looking forward to it nonetheless! Hopefully once we’re back I’ll have a new, fresh perspective on dinner cooking!

Monday night I made one of the first recipes I posted on this blog, Sweet potato coconut soup. I forgot to thaw chicken so we had it sans meat. It was still as delicious as ever. I need to add this to the rotation more frequently. The boys devoured it.

Last night.. Oh last night. Let’s not get into too many details about last night. Let’s just say it was far from my best culinary creation. Last week, paneer was on sale at the grocery store and I thought to myself “Oh! Awesome! I love paneer. I’m going to make a delicious curry with paneer!”  Sounds good, right? Well, apparently, despite it being in their flyer, the grocery store had no paneer. “We don’t stock it at this store.” the clerk tells me. “So why is it in your flyer?” I ask. “Because the flyer’s the same for all the stores in the area.” le sigh.

Anyhow, in an attempt to rejig my meal plan on the fly, I eyed some firm tofu and thought to myself “I’ll just make tofu curry” instead.  Sounds good again, right?

Wrong. Why? Because I’m pretty much the only person in the house that likes tofu (although I’ve discovered my eldest will tolerate it) And because I decided I’d improvise a curry recipe using the various indian spices I had in my cupboard.  And because I’m scared of deep-frying and my supposed “crispy” tofu idea turned into a soggy mess. And despite my telling the boys they were eating chicken curry, they were on to me the moment they bit into that soggy tofu. Do you remember the scene in BIG where Tom Hanks tries caviar for the first time at a holiday party?  How he spits the massive black gunk out and proceeds to wipe his tongue clean with a napkin? Yeah… I wish I had a video of Max at dinner to share with you.

I ate it. It was OK. It looked beautiful.

But honestly? Two words: Culinary.Burnout.

Trust me. You don’t want my recipe.

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beef with broccoli and bell peppers


I stole and modified this beef with snow peas from The Pioneer Woman. And, while I’ve been making her exact recipe for a couple of years, I’d never made it with broccoli before. It turned out perfectly! The trick, I think, is to cut the broccoli into small enough florets that they cook quickly. Everyone devoured their meal, including the kids. Score one for me!

Beef with Broccoli and Bell Peppers

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp sherry or cooking sherry
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 1/4 lbs flank steak, trimmed of any fat and sliced against the grain
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 largish head of broccoli, trimmed into small florets
1 red bell pepper, sliced
3 tbsp peanut or canola oil
Sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds
Crushed red pepper for heat, as desired

In a bowl, mix the first five ingredients. Add meat to bowl and toss. Set aside for 5-10 minutes.

In the meantime, prep your veggies and heat oil in skillet over high heat. Add broccoli and cook for 45 seconds, then throw in pepper and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Finish up the veggies with the garlic, cooking for another 30 seconds. Make sure you’re stirring often enough or things with burn and stick. Remove to a clean plate and set aside.

Allow pan to get very hot again. Add half the meat mixture, leaving most of the marinade still in the bowl. Add half the scallions. Spread out meat as you add it to pan, but do not stir for a good minute. (You want the meat to get as brown as possible in as short amount a time as possible.) Turn meat to the other side and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove to a clean plate. This is very messy and beware, it will splatter. A lot. On your hands. Ow.

Repeat with other half of meat, allowing pan to get very hot again first. After turning it, add the first plateful of meat, the rest of the marinade, and the vegetables. Stir over high heat for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Mixture will thicken as it sits.

Serve immediately over rice. Sprinkle crushed red pepper over the top to give it some spice and finish off with more scallions and some toasted sesame seeds.

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toasted sesame ginger salmon


I came to the sad realization tonight that my children have joined the dark side. They’ve turned into those kids… the “I don’t liiiiiiiike it.” to every.single.food item.on.their.plate.

Tonight, it was salmon.

“I don’t like it”, says the eldest as the youngest was chewing on a big hunk of fish. A nanosecond later, said fish was being expelled from the child’s mouth as though he suddenly realized I was clearly out to poison him. Not pretty.

I took their dinners, re-plated it in the kitchen and plopped it back in front of them, telling them I’d made them chicken instead.

They ate it.

Suckers.

 Toasted Sesame Ginger Salmon
courtesy of How Sweet It Is

 1 1/2 pounds raw salmon
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
4 green onions, sliced

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack over top. Spray the rack with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl or baking dish, combine olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, vinegar, brown sugar and whisk well until combined. Add salmon to the dish or place everything in a ziplock bag, then refrigerate and marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the broiler in your oven. (Or preheat your grill, etc if you prefer to use something else.)

Remove salmon with kitchen tongs and place directly on the wire rack. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper, then place directly under the broiler. Cook for 10-12 minutes, depending on the salmon’s thickness (our’s was just about an inch thick), until opaque and easily flakable with a fork. You can flip the salmon halfway through cooking if desired.

Remove and serve immediately, with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds, green onions and the glaze below.

Sesame Ginger Honey Glaze

1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour over salmon.

I also served it with a broccoli and bell pepper salad. No particular recipe was followed. I tossed the veggies with about 1/4 cup of light mayo, a large teaspoon of cider vinegar and a bit of granulated sugar whisked together. I seasoned it with salt and pepper. It was great!

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i’m not on pinterest, but if I was…


I’m lying, sort of. I’m on Pinterest, but I use it to browse links from friends of stuff they’ve found there. They get to do the dirty work and I reap the benefits!

I tested out two Pinterest “referrals” yesterday and was very impressed.

First I tried out a new rub for my whole chicken in the crock pot. I followed this recipe to a “T” and was pleasantly surprised!

Crock Pot Whole Chicken with a Spice Rub
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 roasting chicken
1 chopped onion

Mix all the spices together in a bowl. (or small jar!)

Place Chopped Onions in the bottom of the crock pot.

Rub the spice mixture onto the chicken.

Cook on high for 4 -5 hours or on low for 6-8. I cooked it on low all day while I was at work and the meat was, surprisingly, still very tender.

Here’s a picture! Please excuse the shoddy quality, I took it with my phone. I left my memory card in my husband’s laptop yesterday and he hid it on me. It’s found now!

Secondly I made these potatoes. 

The blogger was not wrong. This recipe may pretty much be enough for one person! I may have shared a few with the husband but was more than happy to comply when the boys declared “We don’t like theeeeese.” Their potatoes did not go to waste.

Salt and Vinegar Broiled Potatoes
1 pound fingerling potatoes, sliced lengthwise to 1/4-inch thickness (I used red potatoes and this turned out just fine)
2 cups white or malt vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher Salt
Pepper
Sour cream
Green onion thinly sliced.

In a small pot, combine the potato slices and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until fork-tender, about 8 minutes. Let cool in liquid for 30 minutes. Then drain well and pat potatoes dry with paper towels.

Preheat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches below the heat source. Dump the potato slices onto a sheet pan, sprinkle very generously with olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Arrange the potato slices in a single layer. Broil until lightly browned on top, about 7 minutes. Then flip the slices and broil until the underside is lightly browned, about 5 minutes more. Top with green onion and serve with sour cream as dip. Serve warm. (I ate them cold. They’re just as yummy!)

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lemon-blueberry glazed scones


We had a repeat dinner last night and enjoyed some spicy black bean soup (recipe already posted)  but it wasn’t very spicy. I’ve misplaced the jalapeno pepper I bought at the grocery store on Saturday and have this strong suspicion it’s at the bottom of one of my grocery bags…in the trunk of my car…in this 40°C weather…growing hair… and legs and a mind of its own.

I did whip up these amazing blueberry-lemon scones for dessert though. I brought them in to the office this morning and they’re mostly gone already, too. Depending on how hot our place is tonight, I may whip up another batch. I still have about 5 or 6 cups of blueberries to use up; if you have any awesome recipes to recommend to use them up, let me know!

Lemon-blueberry scones with a lemon glaze
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
6 tbsp cold butter
½ cup milk
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ tbsp lemon zest
1 cup blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter and using a pastry cutter until the butter is well distributed with no pieces larger than a large pea.

Add the milk, lemon juice and lemon zest, stirring until the dough comes together. You may or may not need an extra splash of milk (I did).

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently for 45 seconds. Flatten dough and add blueberries. Knead gently again for 30 seconds to distribute the berries – careful not to crush them like I did!

Divide dough into two balls; flatten until about 3/4” thick. Use a knife and divide the discs into sixths (the recipe I was following called for quarters but I found that to be too big!)

Place scones on baking sheet and bake for 18-22 minutes until the scones are golden brown.

Lemon glaze
1/2 cup confectionner’s sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

Whisk glaze ingredients together until smooth, then drizzle over still-warm scones before serving.

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pasta with asparagus, peas and cherry tomatoes


How do I love thee, summer? Let me count the way.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My stomach can reach when I catch sight
Of the myriad of fruit and veggies at the market …

I was so excited to discover all the in-season produce when I hit up the neighborhood fruit and veggie market on Saturday. I may have gone a little overboard or maybe not: fresh peas, Ontario Asparagus, grape tomatoes and berries… mmm. Berries. I do have about 3 lbs. of blueberries to use up still: I see blueberry lemon scones in my future!

I decided to use most of my purchases up in one meal on Saturday night and I have to say the results were more than pleasing! After a quick Google search, I landed on a recipe by Giada Laurentiis and decided it was exactly what I needed: a simple recipe that would let the fresh ingredients shine. And that it did! This recipe definitely did not disappoint.

Pasta with asparagus, peas and cherry tomatoes
8 ounces pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (about 9 ounces) cherry tomatoes
1 cup shelled fresh peas
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the asparagus, season with the salt and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes until slightly soft. Add the cherry tomatoes and peas. Cook for 2 minutes. Pour the chicken stock into the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes start to burst and the stock is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the asparagus mixture to a large serving bowl. Add the cooked pasta and 1/2 of the Parmesan. Toss well, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Garnish with the remaining Parmesan and chopped basil.

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lime & ginger chicken with coconut rice


I’d be lying if I didn’t say this was one of the better meals I’ve made in a long, long time! I love coconut rice, and combined with the sweet & tart of the lime sauce it was perfection! I can’t wait until lunch time tomorrow to have leftovers!

Lime & Ginger Chicken with Coconut Rice

Marinade
Juice of 1 large lime
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
3 large skinless, boneless chicken breast

Sauce
1 tbsp canola oil
1 lime
2 tbsp liquid honey
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
Pinch of salt & black pepper
2 green onions, sliced
2 small bell peppers, thinly sliced
4 Shanghai bok choy (or baby bok choy)

Cut chicken into thin slices and place in a small bowl or shallow dish. Pour in lime juice, ginger and garlic. Toss to coat & refrigerate for 20 minutes.

After meat has marinated, heat oil in pan or wok. Cook chicken and remaining marinade until chicken is no longer pink (about 3 minutes).

Meanwhile, squeeze juice from half a lime into a small bowl. Stir in honey, ginger, salt and pepper.

When chicken is no longer pink, throw in bok choy and peppers. Cook, stirring often, until bok choy is slightly wilted. Pour honey mixture overtop. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Serve and sprinkle with green onions.

As for the coconut rice, easy. Just follow this recipe!

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