About This Blog

I like food. A lot. In this blog, I will divulge all my delicious recipes, giving you a full list of ingredients, step-by-step instructions, and notes to help you successfully make the dish. Feel free to try these at home, and let me know how it went in the comments for the dish! If you have any questions, I will answer them as quickly as possible. If you use my recipe and discuss it on your site, please link back to this blog. Happy eating!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mushroom Bourguignon

Man, I am really behind on updating. I swear I have been cooking up a storm (followers of my Facebook and Instagram know this), but internet is a tricky thing in our house, so I can't always get at the computer and get things done.
So anyway, this dish goes back at least a month, maybe two, but it's worth mentioning because it is so so so good!
As you may already know, Rich and I are *trying* to be healthier. It doesn't always work, but we try. This dish comes from that desire to be a little healthier and, inevitably, eat more vegetarian dishes. Which is totally cool, because this dish is worth not eating meat.
By the way, have I mentioned that we pretty much don't buy beef anymore? It's like a once-a-month thing now, and that's pretty exciting for me. I'm really enjoying it.
Anyway, I got the idea for this dish at Food52 (again!), and it looks kind of daunting at first, but it's actually really easy. If you're looking for something with rich flavours but is still at least kind of healthy for you, give this dish a go. That said...

Man. Isn't that beautiful? That's just carrots and onions. Rich and I wanted to stop cooking and eat right then and there.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 pounds 1/4-inch sliced portobello or cremini mushrooms
1 cup pearl onions (thawed if frozen)
1/2 carrot, finely diced
1small yellow onion, finely diced
1teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups beef or vegetable broth (beef broth is traditional, but use vegetable to make it vegetarian; the dish works with either)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Egg noodles, or starch of choice

Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms and pearl onions until they begin to take on a little color, but the mushrooms do not yet release any liquid — about three or four minutes. It helps to do this in a few batches. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and a several grinds of black pepper into the pan and cook for 10, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute.
Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add back the mushrooms and pearl onions with any juices that have collected and once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender.
Combine remaining butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the stew. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Season to taste.
Serve over egg noodles.

We do NOT have a Dutch oven. We actually used our two bigger pots to make this dish, and just ended up pouring everything into the bigger of the two when everything reduced down enough.
You can do this with beef, too. Just add some, and switch out the vegetable broth for beef broth.

Okay. One more time.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Vegetable Noodles

Another fabulous Food52 find; these noodles made out of vegetables. After making those zucchini ravioli, I'm no stranger to turning vegetables into noodles, but it was super cool to give it a go with other vegetables.
We used this as a side dish to some sandwiches, and it was actually pretty heavy on its own at this portion size, so it could just as easily qualify as a meal.
The flavours at work here are so harmonious it's practically sinful. Fresh sage and lemon, a hint of sweetness from maple syrup. A quick punch of spice from freshly ground black pepper to garnish. Absolutely lovely. Some day, I'm going to get a better photograph of this, because this one does not do it justice. It's so beautiful. I blame my kitchen lighting.

1 sweet potato, washed and peeled
2 carrots, washed and peeled
2 parsnips, washed and peeled
1 zucchini, washed
for the glaze
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup sage
3/4 tbsp butter
1 1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Using a vegetable peeler, slice thin ribbons from each vegetable, peeling from top to bottom and turning slightly after each strip is removed, until the core is reached or until it is too small to peel anymore.
In a large saucepan, melt butter and cook sage for 1 minute.
Add vegetables (except zucchini) and toss with tongs, cooking until they begin to wilt.
At this time, add zucchini. Add lemon juice, salt, and maple syrup, as well as a quick grind of pepper. Add about 3/4 cup water.
Cook over medium heat, turning occasionally with tongs, until the liquid boils away and the vegetables are glazed and tender. Serve immediately.

1 portion of vegetable produces a LOT of noodles, so keep that in mind when you're scaling up. Rich and I made a little more than what's listed here, and ended up with two more servings. I tried to write a scaled down version so that it serves two people a little more easily.
I added the zucchini last because it is a softer vegetable than the root veggies, and I didn't want it to turn into mush. The timing I have written will give you the vegetable sufficiently cooked whilst remaining intact. If you only want root vegetables, you can exclude the zucchini.

Grilled Hot Sausage and Vegetables Somen Noodle Bowl

For a while, noodle bowls were my thing. Asian noodles (soba, somen, udon) are easy and pretty cheap to get at my local asian grocery, so when I first moved here, I made quite a few of these. I started making them when I was still living at my dad's, though, when I started getting sick of eating the same things all the time.
Anyway, I haven't made a noodle bowl in a long time, although Rich and I talk about them often. It was actually the first meal I made in my new apartment, and since he helped me move, he got to have some. It was the three of us -- Rich, our friend Kevin, and myself -- sitting on the floor of my new place, with nothing unpacked, no furniture in the whole place, eating an imitation crab noodle bowl with mushrooms and broccoli, and probably carrots. I don't think I had a broth that time, though. Anyway, the noodle bowl has some fond memories for me.
The nice thing about noodle bowls is that they are pretty easy, and super versatile. All veggies, tofu, beef, chicken, pork. Wanna add an egg in there? Go for it. Seafood is always a winner with these. Try every combination you can think of.
For the broth for this noodle bowl, I used the teriyaki "broth" from my sirloin and veggie bowl a while back. It worked really well with the hot sausage, and the somen noodles carried it pretty nicely.

2 hot sausages, casings on
3 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 package mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thin
1 green onion, chopped
2 bunches somen noodles
Teriyaki broth

Grill hot sausage until cooked through and the outside is charred slightly.
Meanwhile, combine ingredients for teriyaki broth in a large pot and bring to a boil.
Add carrots, bring pot down to a simmer, and cook until tender. Add mushrooms and cook for another one to two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove carrots and mushrooms and place in bowls.
Add somen to broth and cook until done. Use tongs to place noodles in bowl, and pour broth into each.
Slice sausage thin, add to bowls along with green onions.

A dish like this can easily be made spicy. Add chili powder or white pepper to adjust the spice level.
Instead of making the teriyaki broth, you can just as easily use 2 cups of vegetable broth, spiced to your preference.
1 bunch of somen noodles is a lot for one person, and not everyone may be ready for that kind of commitment. If you're worried it might be too much, try using a half bunch per person.

Peach Galette

What says summer quite like a pastry made with stone fruit? Very few things.
I never even heard about galettes until this summer, when all of a sudden, every recipe site I peek around is talking about them. And man, do they all look delicious.
I made this a while back, when peaches were on sale for a dollar per pound, which is good because this thing requires like, four peaches. It's totally worth it. I loved this thing, and I want to make it every year when stone fruit comes to season.
I got the pastry recipe from Jessica at How Sweet It Is which, as I have already mentioned, is an awesome food blogger and I love pretty much everything she makes. She fills her galette with ginger seasoned peaches, but I took a different approach, instead using brown sugar, maple syrup, and some cinnamon and nutmeg. The sugars bring out the sweetness of the peaches, the syrup adds depth, and the spices take it all up a notch. I could have just eaten those peach slices without the pastry. Oh, wait.

I totally did, because there were some leftover peaches. Mmmm.
I probably could have gotten away with just using three peaches, but then I wouldn't have had this delicious bowl to snack on whilst the galette baked.

Galette pastry
Note: This will make enough pastry for two galettes
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3 teaspoons salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 cup ice cold water
1 1/2 cups cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (3 sticks or 24 tablespoons)
1/3 cup sliced almonds + extra sugar for sprinkling
for brushing: 1 egg + a few drops of water, beaten together

Add the flour, sugar and salt to a bowl and whisk. In a small bowl, whisk mix together the egg, vinegar and water. Add the cold butter pieces into the bowl and mix with a hand mixer until small coarse crumbs remain. Sprinkle the water/egg mixture over the flour and mix again until the dough comes together. If needed, use your hands to kneed the dough into a single unit.
Remove the dough with your hands and wrap it in plastic wrap. This dough makes enough for 2 galette crusts, so you can either separate it into 2 sections now, or separate it after it's refrigerated. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

4 peaches, sliced thin
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

In a large bowl, place all peach slices.
In a small bowl, mix syrup, sugar, and spices and whisk until sugar is melted.
Add syrup mixture to the peaches and toss to coat.

Assembling the Galette
Take out one of the dough packets from the fridge, place on a sheet of parchment paper, and roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Don't worry about making a perfect circle -- you want the edges to be rough to make it "rustic-looking."
Starting about two inches from the edge, begin placing the peach slices so that it creates a round. Make multiple layers, leaving about an inch from the previous layer, and repeat until either all the peach slices are used or no more can be placed.
Fold over the edges of the galette, making sure the seams stay together so it doesn't unfold.
Brush eggwash over folded crust. Press almonds into crust, and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
Transfer galette (with the parchment paper) onto an overturned cookie sheet.
Bake for 40 minutes or until the crust is golden.
Once cooled, cut into slices and serve with ice cream or homemade whipped cream.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pasta With Peas and Toasted Almonds

So, this is the second time I've made this dish, but the first time, it didn't photograph well, so I waited until I could make it again. Quite frankly, I blame the peas. The first run through with this recipe, the peas were kind of dull looking and not fabulous. This time? Fabulous.
So, this dish was inspired by Sommer at A Spicy Perspective, and hers definitely looks more fabulous, but my dish is only slightly different from hers: I did not use smoked almonds, I toasted some sliced almonds in a dry pan. I also reduced the amount of lemon added to the vinaigrette, as the first time I made this, I found it to be way too lemony and not enough of the other flavours.
This dish is super versatile -- It can be served as an entree, with a side salad or maybe a light crusty bread, or as a side dish to a lean protein entree, or even cold, as a re-vamped pasta salad that isn't oozing mayo. Either way, Rich and I found this to be light, refreshing, and all around delicious. And this recipe makes a lot, so we had some to pair with sandwiches for lunch for a few days afterward! Sometimes, it's better to have to feed only two, am I right leftovers fans?
Also, can I just say that I'm writing this whilst a big ol' batch of sweet potato chips bakes in my oven, and I'm so excited for those chips? But more importantly, I used the mandolin to slice them, and I was super nervous about it, and I feel like I need a whole chocolate pie or something to deal with that stress.

16 oz small pasta, like ditalini or macaroni
10 oz frozen peas
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
1 green onion, roughly chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
5 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions.
To toast almonds, add them to a dry skillet over medium low heat, stir every few minutes, until some begin to brown and they are fragrant.
About two minutes before pasta is done, add peas. Drain.
To make vinaigrette, add lemon juice and zest, oil, mustard, salt, pepper to a bowl and whisk until emulsified. Add to pasta and peas.
Stir in almonds and dill.

Sommer uses a whole lemon for her recipe, but as I noted before, we thought it was far too strong. If you're unsure of what to do with the other half of lemon, pour 1 cup of water into a small pot, add juice from the lemon half, 2 tbsp honey, and bring to a boil. Steep 1 black tea bag in it for about 3-5 minutes and BOOM. Honey lemon tea.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pretzel Crusted Apple and Pepper Jack Grilled Cheese

Welcome to the new world of grilled cheese.
Let me just say that I *love* grilled cheese. I grew up on it. On wanna-be Kraft slices melted between two slices of buttery wheat. Mmm...
Just recently, I started going through some old cooking magazines my mom had given me (we're talking two to four year old magazines here), and I found a photograph of a pretzel crusted jalapeño melt, and I thought that was pretty neat. Rich is not too fond of jalapeños, so I decided to used the pretzel idea with something new.
Enter this sandwich. Cheesy, salt, sweet, soft, crunchy, everything. This sandwich is everything. And more. I wanted to eat like a thousand of them. I want to eat some right now.
This sandwich is the perfect opportunity to up your soup-and-sandwich-night game.

Italian bread, or some crusty whole grain bread
Pepper jack cheese, two slices per sandwich
1 Granny smith apple, cut into rounds, core and seeds removed from the rounds
1/3 cup pretzels, crushed
1 egg
2-3 tbsp milk

Heat skillet or griddle to medium heat. Melt a small amount of butter for sandwiches.
Lightly beat together egg and milk. Dip one side of slice of bread into mixture, then coat with pretzels. Place on skillet or griddle.
Repeat for all slices of bread. Add one slice of cheese to each piece of bread, and two or three slices of apple to half of the bread.
Heat sandwich halves through, until cheese is starting to melt. Be careful not to burn the pretzel side!
Combine sandwich halves: 1 cheese only half with 1 cheese and apple half. Let sandwich sit on skillet or griddle for another minute or until cheese is completely melted.
Serve with homemade chicken noodle soup or a salad and chips.

This recipe, as written, made three sandwiches for us, but we used Italian bread, and the pieces were fairly small.
This would probably work with any cheese you prefer, but I really like the combination of low heat from the pepper jack with the sweetness of the apple -- a perfect harmony of deliciousness.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Spanish-Inspired Vegetable Stew

We've talked about my half-Guatemalan heritage, right? Okay, good. 
Every once in a while, I get the craving for some food that tastes like it came out of a Spanish-speaking country. Most often, that means tacos. But not this time.
I had some vegetable stock left over from when I made roasted cauliflower and saffron soup for Rich during his four days of madness at work, during which time he was working night shifts. Anyway, it's hard to find something to do with just two cups of stock, so I spent some time trying to figure it out. I settled on this stew, which I just sort of made up on the fly. It is super simple, really fast, and really delicious. Rich loved it, I loved it; everyone wins.
We also served it with some homemade garlic bread. And by served it with, I mean we piled spoonfuls of stew onto the bread and ate it like some mutant bruschetta, and it was fabulous.
If you like Spanish-y flavours, I encourage you to give this a shot.

2 or 3 medium red potatoes, peeled and chopped small
12 baby carrots, cut small
1 ear corn, kernels shaved off, or 1/2 cup frozen corn
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt, ground black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika (I used Hungarian paprika)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1/4 cup small pasta (optional) [I used small-cut tomato basil pasta pieces for mine, purchased from my local farmers market]

In a large pot, add garlic with a small knob of butter (or 1 tbsp of your favourite oil) and warm over medium heat until garlic is fragrant.
Reduce heat slightly, and add corn, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
Add carrots, potatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil.
Add spices, adjust to taste.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender.
Serve with crusty bread or tortilla chips.

This ends up pretty spicy, so if you want it more mild, add less of the chili and cayenne and then adjust to your preferred heat level.

Chicken and Tortellini Soup

Not one of the best photos I've ever taken. But give me a break, the lighting in my house is not fabulous.
Anyway, I got the idea for this some time ago, and I've actually been making it since like, May or something, but I thought I'd share it. It's just one of those meals that sort of got lost in my phone's photo album.
This is a nice all-around, all-weather sort of soup, except maybe the hottest summer days. It's actually pretty light when portioned in the appropriate servings, and the spice content can be adjusted to the season. Cold or rainy? Add a little white pepper or chili powder to make give it some heat to warm you up. Warm and pleasant? Use fresh herbs and feel like you're sitting outside, enjoying a gentle breeze.
The recipe itself is not at all complicated, but it's definitely a nice go-to when you're not sure what you want for dinner, or only have thirty minutes to cook.

Boneless chicken breast or tenders, cut into bite-size strips
2 or 3 whole carrots, peeled and chopped small
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
Low sodium chicken broth
Cheese tortellini, about 5 to 7 pieces per person
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh chopped parsley
Additional herbs and spices, according to preference

In a large pot, add olive oil and garlic and warm over medium heat until garlic is fragrant.
Add chicken and cook through.
Add carrots and broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are tender.
Add spices and herbs, bring to boil.
Add tortellini and cook until pasta is done.
Portion out tortellini into bowls, top with other components of soup.

I like to make a full batch of this soup (minus tortellini) and then save whatever Rich and I don't use that night for another meal. Sometimes that means heating it back up, throwing more tortellini in and enjoying it all over again. Other times, that means throwing in some sort of small pasta, like alphabets, and giving it a quick heat before bringing it in for lunch.
I've made this soup in a few ways, spice-wise. It definitely has a lot of range and possibilities. I encourage you to play with the flavours.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Red Miso Braised Butternut Squash Over Cauliflower Couscous

This might be one of my favourite dishes of all time. A touch of heat, hearty enough to feel good in your stomach without being so heavy that you wish you hadn't eaten the whole plate. Topped with cilantro, green onion, and Fuji apple, the flavours all come together in a beautiful harmony that leaves you wishing there were leftovers somewhere in the house.
I originally got the idea from Food52 with their recipe for red cooked butternut squash. Have I mentioned that I love Food52? Because they have some awesome stuff going on over there. I love a food community, where everyone works together to share and create awesome things.
Anyway, I made two separate batches of the braising sauce and then, when everything was pretty well done, I combined them, added some flour and thickened it up before warming the chicken back up in the sauce. It goes so nicely with everything that I wanted to eat it all day. Rich threw it all down like food was going out of style. Needless to say, it was a success.

1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 cups beef broth
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 red chiles, hot ones
1 tsp red miso paste
Butternut squash rounds, from the neck of 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
Boneless chicken breasts or tenders, cut into bitesize pieces
1 tbsp flour
sesame seeds, scallions, cilantro, and Fuji apple for garnish

In a medium sauce pan, place garlic, broth, sesame oil and chile. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for three minutes.
Add squash and miso Bring to a boil and simmer until tender (between 20-30 minutes).
Do the same process for chicken, using a separate supply of sauce.
When chicken and butternut squash are cooked, set aside. Combine sauces, increase heat, and add flour, whisking constantly until thickened. Add chicken and squash and warm in sauce.

Meanwhile, prepare cauliflower couscous by processing 2 cups of florets in food processor until it resembles rice. Add cauliflower to heat wok with small amount of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, red chili flakes, and cumin, to taste. Warm through.
Serve chicken and butternut squash over couscous. Add garnish.

It's a little technical as far as a dish goes, but it's totally worth the time it takes to make this magic happen. And you should make it happen.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

Can macaroni and cheese get any better? Sure it can. You can home make it, bake it, get a nice crust on. But it gets better. Buffalo chicken mac and cheese. Say what? Oh, yes, I totally just said that. Let me answer your questions up front:
Is it the cheesiest thing since cheese? Yes.
Is it full of all the best buffalo chicken mac and cheese flavours? Oh Yes.
Is it a little labour intensive? Kind of.
Is it totally worth it? YES.
I found this recipe over at one of my favourite food blogs, How Sweet It Is. Can I just say that the author, Jessica, is like, a food genius? She has amazing recipes -- ones that I will be producing in my kitchen for a long time coming. I love her photos (mine is not as pretty as hers), I love her voice, and I love the long list of awesome recipes.
Anyway, I'm sitting here with a half portion of the mac in my fridge right now, wondering if Rich or I will get to eat it. But you guys come first. I'll abstain so that you can share in the glory.

2 boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into cubes
1 pack whole wheat shells (we found organic whole wheat shells at our grocery for a great price!)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika (I used Hungarian paprika)
1 cup Buffalo Wing sauce
2 tbsp flour
2 1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
6 oz fresh shredded fontina cheese
4 oz shredded sharp cheddar
4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan

Cook pasta according to directions. When done, drained and set aside.
To a medium to large sized pot (I used a 1 litre pot, so not terribly huge), add olive oil and 2 tbsp butter.
Heat over medium heat until butter is melted.
Season chicken and add to pot. Cook through and brown slightly. Add half of the wing sauce, toss to coat, and set chicken aside, leaving the liquid in the pot.
Add remaining two tbsp of butter and melt. Add flour and stir until thickened.
Add milk and stir until it thickens a bit.
Lower heat and add dijon mustard and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.
Stir together pasta, chicken, remaining wing sauce, and cheese sauce and serve.

You may notice Jessica added green onions and cilantro to hers. I didn't, partially because Rich doesn't care for either of them (he thinks cilantro taste like soap), and partially because I forgot to buy the onions.
I also changed out the gorgonzola for mozzarella cheese. I haven't really liked gorgonzola the times I've had it, so I switched it out. I think most cheeses would probably work for this recipe.
Last note: Make this. Make it now. Make it every day, and bask in its glory.

Beef Medallions Served with Muhamarra Sauce and Cauliflower and Parsnip Puree

So, this is the muhamarra sauce, which I got from Dassana, at Veg Recipes of India. We don't have a gas stove, so we just threw it onto the coals on the grill. It worked just as well. That said, it was super easy to make, and has absolutely fabulous flavour. We put it on some beef medallions, as you can see below, but I also put some on a turkey and swiss sandwich. It would pretty much go with everything. I suggest you try it as soon as possible.

Here, we paired the beef with a cauliflower and parsnip puree, which was fabulous and light. It had the texture of mashed potatoes, but none of that starchy heaviness. Simply lovely. I'll give you the directions for the puree after the muhamarra. Do it. Quickly.

1 red pepper
3 medium gloves garlic, dry roasted
1/2 cup toasted almonds
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
sesame seeds and fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Roast the pepper on a fire or hot charcoals, turning every few minutes, until charred all around.
Dunk pepper in cold water for five minutes. Peel pepper, and chop.
Add pepper and other ingredients, sans garnish, to a blender or food processor, and blitz until smooth.

Cauliflower and Parsnip Puree
1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
2-3 parsnips, peeled and chopped into small pieces
3-4 medium garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup milk (I used organic soy milk)
Ground nutmeg
Fresh ground black pepper
white pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Add garlic and saute until they start to turn brown.
Add cauliflower and parsnips.
Add tap water to cover the vegetables, bring to a boil, and cover pot.
Boil until vegetables are tender.
Drain water, add vegetables to blender and add milk. Puree until smooth.
Add puree to rinsed pot over low heat, add spices to taste.

For the muhamarra, I toasted sliced almonds and dry roasted the garlic whilst the pepper roasted. That said, this is a very simple recipe. Put it on everything. Even eggs. I haven't tried on eggs yet but you should and you should tell me about it.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Journey to Homemade

I just want to spend a minute talking about hand-making things, like this beautiful bowl of strawberries and cream.
So, since moving from the Middle of Nowhere, New York to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I'm been trying all kinds of new things. New foods, new techniques. One reason is that I have a pathological need to learn new things all the time, and part of the reason is that, when I moved here, I vowed that I would never have a meal that I considered boring, as long as it was in my power.
Through no fault of their own, my parents subscribed to the school of rotating menus when I was young. Cheap-as-free nasty baked-in-water chicken thighs that I can no longer eat because of an illness (I don't consider this a loss). Pork chops that are impossible to make interesting until interesting means attaching one to a rocket and shooting it into space. Maybe 0.3% fresh vegetable intake per year. Again, there were circumstances my family had to adhere to and work with that made this lifestyle necessary.
But when I knew I would be living on my own (and later with Rich), and that I would have far less restrictions, I swore that I would try everything I could get my hands on. Which is why I now love avocado, cauliflower and peppers. Which is why I buy fruit once a week. Which is why I started hand-making things I used to buy in a box or a tub.
It started with a yellow cake, but really took off with a red velvet cake which, prior to moving here, I had never actually eaten. But I wanted to. So I made it. And I have a shirt somewhere still stained from flung red gelatin food colouring -- the never-come-out-of-your-anything kind from Michael's. But it was totally worth it.
From there, I've expanded, most recently culminating in the photo above: whipped cream. For a long time, I considered that whipped cream was never really a thing a human being could make -- it was this foreign, fluffy entity of cloud deliciousness that appeared out of machines and into grocery stores. Like, it was maybe what cloud tears were really made of, instead of boring old rain. But then I got to reading about it a few years ago. And this year or, more specifically, a few weeks ago, I tried it.
It turns out that making whipped cream at home is crazy easy, even by hand, which is how we do it because I don't have a fancy schmancy mixer with a whip attachment. I have one broken stand mixer and one finicky hand mixer. So, Rich and I take turns whipping and in maybe 20 minutes, we have whipped cream! Totally worth it.
I've found that hand making things we would normally buy in the store, like cake and whipped cream, makes me have a better appreciation for the thing I'm eating. Sure, I could have paid $2.00 or something for a can of grossly-sweet Redi-Whip, or for Cool Whip, but when I make my own, I can make it as sweet as I want, which is not at all. We don't add any sugar to this -- just a touch of vanilla extract. We do add some sugar to the strawberries and let them sit for a few minutes, but we generally have a very calm dessert here.
I am always looking for and learning new things in the world of homemade, and I hope you'll try it, too. I think that, if we all made as much as we feasibly could at home, like our grandmothers or great-grandmothers used to, we could all have a better appreciation for our food, and it could be something we purely enjoy, instead of something we involve ourselves with because we have to survive. And then maybe we would eat less McDonalds and more strawberries and cream which is obviously better for you because look at that; what could possibly go wrong?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Spinach and Basil Flavoured Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini Ravioli with Homemade Marzano Tomato Sauce

Look at that piece of magic, huh? Dang. I got the idea for these babies from Zavida at The Healthy Maven last week and just had to give them a try. And it was super simple, albeit time consuming because I made everything except the cheese and veg myself. 
Anyway, I don't have a spiralizer, and into order to avoid slicing my finger open again, I used our vegetable peeler (NOT the potato peeler) to make the super-thin zucchini slices. Rich wanted to use the mandolin. He even brought it down off the pantry shelf. He even sliced some zucchini with it. I cringed every time the vegetable wrapped in his hand passed over the knife. Even if he had his hand in the super-thick Ov-Glove, I could still imagine long strips of finger being torn away. Is that weird? That I'm now afraid of the stupid mandolin? 
Anyway, the mandolin cut considerably thicker strips than I was looking for, but it still worked out.
I did a couple of things differently for this recipe. First, I cut up the spinach, along with some fresh basil from my pots, and sautéed them together and then mixed them into the ricotta. I just liked it better that way. I also made the tomato sauce from some leftover marzano tomatoes from the lobster dish. Part of the reason is because I needed an excuse to use them (says the person who hates tomatoes) and partially because I have a hard time eating red sauce in general (because of an illness when I was a teenager), so I figured that I might as well give myself the best chance and make my own. I liked it (Rich liked it more), but I thought it was a touch sweet, really only a symptom of using marzano tomatoes, which happen to be very sweet.
Anyway, I also made the vinaigrette for that salad there. Nothing fancy, just red wine vinegar, dijon mustard and some spices and oil. 

It's like you don't want to look away.
Zucchini, sliced into thin strips with a vegetable peeler
1 tub part-skim ricotta cheese
Small handful spinach leaves, coarsely cut
6 or so fresh basil leaves, coarsely cut
2 garlic gloves, peeled and diced
Tomato Sauce
6 marzano tomatoes, blanched, peeled and crushed or pureed
2 fresh basil leaves, diced
1 garlic glove, peeled and diced
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F.
With a small amount of oil sauté the garlic for the ravioli until fragrant. Add the basil and spinach and sauté until wilted, about a minute. Remove from heat and add to ricotta, mixing thoroughly.
Using two strips per side, arrange strips in an "x." Place a small teaspoon of ricotta where the strips meet and fold them over (Zavida has a really nice step-by-step for this in photo). Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for twenty minutes. When done, place onto a plate.
Meanwhile, sauté the garlic for the sauce with the basil and oil for a few seconds, then add the tomatoes. Add to the ravioli. Top with parmesan and serve.

I served with this with salad topped with imitation crab, but this would be good with a lot of things, including some nice crusty bread.
Make sure when you're cutting the zucchini slices, you don't cut into the seeds -- it will make for strips pocked with holes, and the seeds fall out. So as soon as you start to see seeds, switch to another side.

Okay, one more time:

Mmmmm, tasty.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Loaded Sweet Potato Rounds

Can I just say that I love these? Like a lot. Like, I wish I had some right now as I'm writing this. They are so refreshing. So delicious. And they were a perfect accompaniment to my butter poached lobster tails. Rich and I were fighting over these.
I urge you to make them. ASAP.
I got the inspiration for these from Sonja and Alex over at A Couple Cooks. They have some really great recipes, so I suggest you check them out.
Anyway, you'll notice that my potatoes look nothing like theirs. That's because I really hate sour cream. And I love avocados and am always looking for reasons to go buy an avocado and devour one.
Basically, I followed their recipe up until the toppings part.
That's a lie. I had one major difference.

Whilst slicing the potatoes on my mandolin slicer, I also sliced off a portion of my fingertip. Ouch! There was tons of blood everywhere (thankfully not on the potatoes), and I had to go to the emergency clinic because the bleeding wouldn't stop. At the clinic, they still couldn't stop the bleeding, and so they just cleaned it out with about 500mL or so of isopropanol and by smashing it into a tub of warm soapy water (also ouch). Then they put three cubes of surgical foam on it and taped it down and told me let it heal completely before I get it wet, either via showerbathing or dishes or what-have-you. So that means Rich is stuck doing all our dishes for the duration of my injury, which doctors estimate will be about a month or whatever.
I lost so much blood that I was dizzy by the time they got it bandaged. They had to give me a Dr. Pepper to get my blood sugar levels up enough to move again.
This is what it looks like under the gauze. I actually partially bled through the surgical foam, too. I'm not supposed to remove that tape until a scab forms and the foam is no longer attached to my body and keeping my lifeblood inside my finger.

Anyway, back to potatoes.
So I had Rich help me with the rest of the prep. Thank goodness he's so keen on helping with meals.

2 sweet potatoes
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
4-5 marzano tomatoes, diced
2 green onions, chopped
1-2 avocados, seed removed, flesh removed into a bowl and pressed into guacamole
Fresh grated Parmesan

Preheat over to 450F
Slice potatoes into 1.4 inch rounds (not cutting yourself like me). Put rounds into a large bowl.
Add oil and seasonings and toss to coat.
Place rounds in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for ten minutes, flip all rounds, and bake another ten minutes, until soft.
Remove from oven, grate parmesan over each round, and allow to cool slightly before adding toppings.

Butter Poached Lobster Tail with Marzano Tomatoes and Wilted Spinach and Basil

Wow, lobster is expensive. I mean, I've always known that, I guess, but I've never purchased lobster or pieces of one. And I bought two tails to make dinner for Rich and myself and holy cow, I paid $14USD for so little biomass. Crazy.
Anyway, I got the idea for this dish from Jaden over at Steamy Kitchen, here. And mine isn't photographed nearly as nicely as hers, but it was super delicious and I've never cooked lobster before, so I'm proud of my dish.
One difference I made is that I used marzano tomatoes, whereas she used a combination of yellow and a different red tomato.
Here's the thing: I hate tomatoes. I hate the juice. I hate the flavour. I hate everything about them. Except ketchup. Mmmm...
Here's the other thing: I loved these marzanos. At least, I loved them in the dish. I doubt I'm going to go popping the rest in my mouth all willy nilly. But man, did they shine in this dish.
Also, they're expensive, too.
Anyway, this dish is pretty simple as long as you can master poaching in butter, which is actually harder than it sounds, if only because it requires more patience than I normally have.
That said, digging deep for that extra patience was totally worth it.

2 lobster tails
1 tbsp water
1/2 cup butter, cut into 1 tbsp chunks
9-12 marzano tomatoes, cut into small pieces
6-7 baby spinach leaves, cut into large pieces
4 Basil leaves
Fresh ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced

Using sharp kitchen scissors, cut tail along the top and bottom and gently remove the meat. Set aside.
Heat the water in a medium pot over medium-low heat until just simmering. Add butter chunks one at a time, stirring with a whisk until completely melted.
Add the lobster tails and poach for 5-10 minutes, turning every minute or so (mine took a little longer than the five minutes Jaden recommends).
When fully cooked, remove lobster into a bowl. Add garlic and stir until fragrant. Add tomatoes to butter in the pot.
Cook tomatoes until soft, just a few minutes. Add spinach and basil and cook until wilted, under a minute. Add tomatoes, spinach and basil to bowls and pour a small amount of butter mixture over the dish. Top with small amount fresh ground black pepper.

The tomatoes should be cut to sizes large enough to be considered "bite size." Don't cut them too small!
This can be done with a whole lobster, too, if you're willing to go through the process of killing/cooking one and getting all the meat out. Jaden has some excellent notes for that process.

Cauliflower "Couscous" with Spiced Veggies and Wilted Spinach, Topped with Spiced Shrimp

Wow. What a title.
So, I made this a little while back, and it is the result of having an amount of cauliflower that is too much for a side and too little to build something like tacos or the penne dish with.
I had become intrigued with this idea of turning cauliflower into couscous for a while now. I saw it mentioned on a blog somewhere some time ago, and I thought it was so neat.
This recipe is so fast, it's done in maybe ten or fifteen minutes, depending on your prep speed.

1 small head cauliflower, washed and cut into small florets.
2 small to medium sized carrots, peeled and diced
1/4 small butternut squash, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
small handful baby spinach leaves, cut into small squares
garlic powder
ground black pepper
red pepper flakes
olive oil

In a food processor, blitz cauliflower for a few pulses until the pieces are small and resemble couscous.
In a small pot, boil diced carrots and butternut squash in a small amount of water for 5-10 minutes, until soft. Drain, stir in a small amount of olive oil, nutmeg, coriander, and cinnamon, enough to coat.
In a large skillet or wok, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-low to medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about twenty seconds. Add cauliflower and spread out evenly over cooking surface. Add garlic powder, salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper and stir.
Stir couscous occasionally until warmed through. Add carrots and squash and stir in, allowing them to reheat. Add spinach and cook until spinach is wilted, less than a minute.

Super simple, right? This can be served as is, or with shrimp or other protein. In this case, I chose the shrimp because I had a hankering for seafood. I just fried those up in olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin. Finish with a small knob of butter when they're cooked through.

I have a super small processor, so I actually had to blitz the cauliflower in batches. Make sure not to overstuff your processor, or you'll end up with tiny bits on the bottom and unblitzed cauliflower on the top.
Cauliflower couscous is as versatile as the regular kind! Add pine nuts, broccoli, onions -- whatever you can think of!
I like to heat my "couscous" in the wok because I like the warmth of the cauliflower with the rest of this dish. I've read some blogs that keep it raw, and some that boil it for a minute or two to soften it up. Prepare it in whatever way suits your taste!

Roasted Cauliflower Tacos with Lime Crema

So, I did this waaay back in May for Cinco de Mayo. What's that? Cinco de Mayo was just last month? Oh. Well, so many things have been going on that I'm losing track of time!
So, anyway, Cinco de Mayo. As some of my readers know, I'm half Guatemalan, courtesy of my father, and although I am aware the holiday is a Mexican one, it gives me a super lame excuse to make pseudo-Spanish-esque food. Wow, that's a lot of clauses. Anyway, you may remember that last year, I made taco bowls with beef and chicken as the protein. This year, I wanted to try something totally different. Enter the cauliflower taco.
I'm really digging cauliflower lately. You may recall that I never used to like it. Now I love it. We keep it in the house at all times now. And I'm super happy about that.
I found the recipe here, at Two Peas and Their Pod, and I was blown away by how good it looked. I decided that this would be our Cinco de Mayo dinner. And man, am I glad that this is what I chose to make. The flavours work so well together, and the meal itself isn't too heavy so that you feel like regret when you're done.
As a note, I didn't include chickpeas when I made this, mostly because I don't like them at all and hate their texture, too. But everything else is pretty much the same.

2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water
1 small head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
tortillas (I used flour tortillas)
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 jalepeño, seeded and chopped
1 avocado, seed removed and sliced thin

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine spices, oil, and water in a bowl. Toss cauliflower in seasoning until well coated.
Place cauliflower on a greased baking sheet and roast for 30-35 minutes until tender. Allow cauliflower to cool slightly before transferring to a bowl (for serving).

To Make Lime Crema:
Combine 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with 1/8 cup fresh lime juice and 1/4 chopped fresh cilantro in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

One main thing I want to note is that the crema is AWESOME. Like crazy awesome. Like, I don't like Greek yogurt and I loved this crema so much. It's so delicious, so bold. It would go great on a lot of things. Most notably salads. I suggest you make it, even if you don't make these tacos.
I also made blackberry margaritas with this dish, using half the recommended amount of liquor for them, because I'm a pansy and I don't like to drink a lot.

I was pretty excited about these. After I finished making them and tried them, I exclaimed to the apartment, "Tequila is my lady!" (bonus points if you know that reference without looking it up)
Guess what?
Tequila is not my lady.
After drinking the margarita and barely being tippy and having two glasses of water before bed, I woke up as if I hadn't slept in weeks, nauseous, and achy all over my body.
At least the drink was good.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Braised Cauliflower and Butternut Squash With Whole Wheat Penne

Lately, it's been our goal to eat healthier food, and that has inexplicably translated into eating more vegetarian dishes. Food like this can really convince me to eat vegetarian more often...
I found the recipe for this on Eating Well, whilst I was looking around for recipes that would be both healthy, and designed to feed two, so that I didn't have to scale anything down.
That said, this dish is bursting with flavour. The veggies are tender, but maintain enough of their bite so as not to be mushy. The penne is robust. Rich and I both loved this so much.
I had in fact never eaten cauliflower before this dish, so it was a very pleasant introduction to the vegetable.
I'll write the recipe here, but just keep in mind that Eating Well is the source.


1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cups vegetable broth
4 ounces whole-wheat penne (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup 1-inch cauliflower florets
1 cup 1-inch pieces peeled butternut squash
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add broth, penne, cauliflower and squash. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce heat to a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, until the pasta is tender and the liquid is thickened and greatly reduced, 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove from heat, stir in pepper and let stand for 5 minutes.
Serve topped with cheese.

Notice that I used vegetable broth, whilst the recipe hints at a chicken flavoured vegetarian broth. I made this decision for two reasons: 1. That kind of broth is fairly difficult to find in my grocery, and 2. I did not keep the thickened broth in the dish. I poured all the solids into the bowls, coated them lightly with broth, and tossed the rest. I didn't want my dish to end up too soupy.
Also, I used a different kind of cheese. Partially because I forgot which cheese I needed when I was shopping for this dish. Partially because I like the taste of freshly grated parmesan. Not that bottled stuff. That stuff is horrible. But fresh from the block? Yes please.

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

    Avocado, How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways...

    When I was a kid, I hated avocado. My dad eats a ton of the stuff. Like, half of one a day, by himself. He would always slice off a bit with his spoon and hold it out to us kids and say, "You should have some. It's delicious," and we would cringe and whine and decline in all the classic ways kids do when they're afraid of a food. Now, I love it. It's an acquired taste, I suppose.
    I've really been into avocado lately. Like, really into avocado. Creamy. At once bold and subtle. A perfect addition to virtually anything. Sandwich? Yep. Wrap? Of course. Salad? You betcha.
    As a result of me wanting to consume avocado at every available opportunity, I've been adding it to a lot of dishes. For example, above, I made these spring greens, carrot, and avocado spring rolls, served with a acidic-tangy-sweet dipping sauce. They were an accompaniment to a vegetarian dish I'll discuss soon. But man, were these spring rolls nice. Light, flavourful, bursting with avocado.

    And then there were these seasoned chicken, mushroom and swiss wraps that were just begging to have avocado added to them.

    Which Rich made into a fantastic sandwich.

    And on a mushroom swiss burger, served with mutant tater tots.
    What are your favourite ways to eat avocado?

    Sunday, May 4, 2014

    Dark Chocolate and Spearmint Cookie Crisps

    Do I have your attention, yet? Good.
    These crisps are absolutely amazing. Light. Crunchy. Bursting with chocolatey flavour, with a hint of mint at the end. Positively divine.
    I've been wanting to bake something for a while (as I regularly get urges to produce baked goods), and as I was looking around for ideas, I stumbled upon the recipe for these at Heather's French Press. What a cute idea -- making cookies that are crispy instead of gooey. Not a novel idea by any means, as there are those little 100 calorie cookie crisp packs in the store for people who both want junk food and have commitment issues. But when when you think, "I want to make cookies," you rarely think of anything but gooey, chaotic deliciousness, right? Well, stop right there, because when you make these, your whole idea of cookies will be turned on its head!

    I'm going to write down her recipe here, but it's totally hers, so go check out her blog, too. She has tons of tasty things going on over there!

    1/2 cup butter
    1 cup sugar
    1 tsp salt
    1 egg
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
    3-4 drops Aftelier Chef's Essences No. 2 Spearmint extract

    Cream together butter and sugar.
    Add egg, vanilla, salt, then flour and cocoa.
    Pull dough together and flatten out in bowl. Add spearmint extract drops in a few places on dough surface and work it into the dough by hand.
    Cover dough and chill for at least 30 minutes.
    Preheat oven to 350F.
    Roll portions of dough onto cocoa-dusted surface to about 1/8 inch thickness.
    Cut cookies out of dough, place on non-stick cookie sheet, and bake for about 9-10 minutes.
    Allow to cool on cookie sheet completely before transferring.

    The addition of spearmint extract is my idea. I bought the extract on sale from William Sonoma a couple of months ago, and I've been looking for a way to use it. We all know that dark chocolate and mint go super well together.
    That said, this extract is very strong, so you only need a couple of drops to flavour the dough. Also, the addition of just a few drops keeps the mint flavour at the end of tasting the cookie, so you get rich dark chocolatey deliciousness when you bite in, and it finishes with calming mint. It's as sexy as it sounds.
    Chilling the dough is imperative, as it ensures that you'll be able to work with the dough to roll it out and cut it without it falling apart. Do not skip this step!
    As Heather mentions, any sort of cutting device will work to cut the cookies out of the rolled out dough. Like her, I used a glass (because I don't actually have any cookie cutters), but you can use whatever you have on hand, really. You can even cut them with a knife to make extra-dunkable rectangles.
    I got about thirty cookies out of this recipe, which is plenty for me and Richard, but if you are, say, feeding a family with these cookies, you might want to consider doubling up, as they go fast. Rich ate five last night!

    Friday, May 2, 2014

    Grass-fed Sirloin with Veggies in a Teriyaki "Broth"

    What looks better than a perfectly cooked, medium rare hunk of beef? NOTHING. That's what.
    Anyway, I spend a lot of time looking for new recipes to explore, learn, tweak, and try. Playing with new flavours is so exciting.
    Also, can you believe that this recipe holds about 500 calories per serving? No joke! And the low-cal count doesn't come with a sacrifice of flavour -- the "broth" is bold, the steak is rich, and the sweet potatoes ensure you end up pleasantly full!

    1.5 pounds of sirloin steak
    8 tbsp teriyaki sauce
    4 tbsp soy sauce
    5 tsp ginger, peeled and grated
    ground black pepper
    olive oil
    4 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
    2 tbsp packed brown sugar
    5 cups water
    2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin rounds
    1/2 sweet onion
    3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin rounds
    1 handful snap peas
    toasted sesame oil

    Mix 2 tbsp teriyaki sauce, 2 tbsp soy, 1 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp black pepper in bowl. Soak steak in sauce for a few minutes each side.
    Heat pan to medium-high heat.
    Cook steak for 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Rest for five minutes on a cutting board before slicing.
    Meanwhile, combine 6 tbsp teriyaki sauce, 2 tbsp soy, 4 tsp ginger, 4 tbsp rice vinegar, 2 tbsp brown sugar, and the water in a saucepan and set to simmer. Add onions, potatoes, and carrots and cook, covered, until vegetables are tender. Add peas, cook for five minutes.
    Serve in bowls, drizzle toasted sesame oil on finished dish.

    I adapted this recipe from one on the Food Network's website, here, namely because my potatoes were larger than the ones indicated in the recipe, so I just ended up making more broth. I am also not fond of oyster sauce, so I used soy instead.
    This dish is originally written for two diners, but it can be very easily scaled up for family dinners!
    Although I consider medium-rare to be the optimum temperature, I am well aware this preference isn't universal. Be sure to cook the beef a little longer on each side to your preferred doneness. In the interest of the flavour provided by the beef, I would recommend not going much past medium.
    Rich and I bought grass-fed beef for our sirloin, and it was positively delicious, if a little more expensive. If you can, I recommend giving it a try.

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    Fake doesn't have to mean boring! Imitation crab with seasoned carrots and seasoned rice.

    Another beautiful photo. Love it.
    Tell me; when you think of imitation crab, what do you think? Stir fry? Rangoon? A cold salad laden with mayo?
    Poo on that, I say! Poo!
    I decided we would approach out fake crab with a little more flair! And it's a good thing -- it was so delicious, I can't wait to do it again.

    1 package imitation crab
    2 or 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced thin
    long grain rice
    1 lime
    sesame seeds
    slivered almonds
    black pepper

    Heat olive oil in a skillet to medium heat. Add imitation crab, salt and pepper. Cook to allow some browning on the crab. Finish crab with some butter and sesame seeds.
    In a small pot, add a cup of water, the carrots, and the juice of half the lime. Heat over medium heat until carrots are tender. When cooked, drain water. Add juice of remaining half of lime, almonds, cumin, coriander, honey, salt and pepper to taste.
    Cook rice according to package instructions. When fully cooked, stir in sumac.

    Honestly, I didn't even measure out the spices. I just sort of added it and tasted and adjusted and found the best mix that way.
    The sumac has a very nice citrusy flavour, but try not to add too much -- it can be fairly overpowering.
    Finishing the crab with butter helps to give the crab an extra punch, so don't overlook this step!

    Grilled Salmon Burger with Marinated and Grilled Summer Squash

    I know I don't normally post the photos this big, but look at that beauty. So beautiful. So delicious. So... summer.
    Yes. I made this last summer, and it just never made its way here.
    It was really just an experiment. We ended up with salmon burgers because they were on sale. I generally never end up with fish, especially in the summer, because I'm too busy grilling up hunks of land animal (mostly beef) to care about water dwelling creatures. Nonetheless, we ended up with these salmon burgers, and it was my task to figure out what to do with them.
    Since it was summer, my thought went to summer squash: both of the zucchini and yellow variety. In the end, I decided to use them kind of like pickles on the sandwich.
    The problem with summer squash is that they can really dry up on the grill if you're not careful, so I marinated them with this fantastic balsamic glaze from Market District. I gave them a ten minute soak in the glaze to let them pull the deliciousness in and then set them on the part of the grill not *quite* over the bars. They turned out amazing.

    Salmon burgers
    Sandwich buns of choice
    Bibb lettuce (or whatever not-Iceberg you prefer)
    1 yellow squash, cut in thin rounds
    1 zucchini squash, cut in thin rounds
    Market District balsamic glaze (or equivalent)

    Grease grill to prevent sticking. Heat to medium heat.
    Cook salmon burgers, ensuring they are fully cooked before removing from grill.
    As burgers cook, soak squash in glaze, making sure they are fully coated.
    Five minutes before burgers are done, place squash on place on grill not directly over heat. Cook for five minutes, or until they are tender.
    Assemble sandwich and drizzle top with more glaze.

    Admittedly, these could have benefitted from some nice, creamy slices of avocado, but I didn't think of it at the time.
    These would be really good served with a light salad, a grilled veggie kebab, or some homemade french fries or chips. Explore the possibilities of flavour!

    Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

    I recently became starkly aware that I haven't updated to this in quite some time, which is a darn shame, because some pretty neat things have been happening in my kitchen lately.
    So this is the stuffed Portobello. It's a recent concoction, and totally delicious.
    I keep reading and hearing all these benefits to going vegetarian, but the reality is that I can't, because bacon and beef are both things. So, I will be a meatasaurus until the end of my days.
    That said, this dish can easily convince me to make a higher percentage of my meals vegetarian.

    4 to 8 large Portobello mushrooms, depending on their size
    1 cup diced yellow tomato
    1 cup diced red tomato
    1 cup shredded mozzarella
    1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
    1/2 cup chopped chives
    salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

    Preheat broiler.
    Remove mushroom stems.
    Clean gills out of inside of mushroom.
    Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat lightly with olive oil.
    Broil mushrooms, gill side down, for five minutes.
    Combine tomatoes, cheese, Panko, and chives in a large bowl and mix well.
    Stuff mushrooms with filling, and broil for five minutes, or until cheese is melted.
    Serve with light salad, or as a side dish.

    The gills are kind of a pain to get out of the mushrooms and spooning them out can result in tearing into the flesh, so try to be as gentle as possible.
    The mushrooms shrink a LOT in the oven, so account for that when you purchase them. We only bought four and ended up with a lot of stuffing left over. Thankfully, it worked super well in pizza several days later!
    If you've never had them before, you should know that yellow tomatoes are really quite sweet. I didn't know this ahead of time, as I'm not much of a tomato person, so I was taken back by the flavour. I think it throws the dish off a bit, so I would probably give them a soak in something savory next time to counteract it, but the sweetness is not a deal breaker, by any means.