Monday, September 26, 2011

Roasted Squash Rice Pilaf

This tastes like what Autumn should taste like. Some of my favourite flavours all together in tasty cinnamony goodness.

Roasted Squash Rice Pilaf with Cinnamon and Feta
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1.5 cups brown rice*
3 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
1/4 cup raisins
1 small acorn squash, cut into 3/4" rings and seeded - no need to peel
1 tsp olive oil
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp of each ground turmeric and ground ginger
1 tbsp olive oil
juice and zest of a lemon
salt and pepper

In a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat saute the onion in 1 tsp of olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Add rice, saute for a minute, add stock, turn heat to high, bring liquid to boil - reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 35 minutes. Add raisins and let cook for remaining 5-10 minutes or until rice is cooked. Remove lid and let cool.
While the rice is cooking, turn oven to 425°. Toss squash with 1 tsp of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Lay out on cookie sheet and put in oven. Roast for 10 minutes and then add red pepper to the pan. Roast for an additional 30 minutes, turning veggies once or twice so they evenly brown. Roughly chop the squash.
In a large bowl combine cilantro, feta, green onions, almonds, spices, olive oil, juice and zest of a lemon, salt and pepper. Add cooled rice, squash and red pepper. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.

So tasty!!

* (I used an ancient grains mix - a mix of medium grain red rice, hull-less barley, rye berries, black barley,whole oats, quinoa and Himalayan long grain red rice - from Costco)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Turkey Burger!

We had a delicious dinner tonight - so fresh and healthy.

Southwestern Turkey Burgers with Black Bean and Corn Salsa
1.5 lbs ground extra lean turkey
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 tsp each of ground coriander, cumin and chipotle chili powder
salt and pepper
splash of hot sauce

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and form patties, I got eight patties out of the mix. Heat a non stick man over medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Fry 4 patties in the pan at a time for approximately 4-5 minutes per side.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa
1 cup corn, either boiled fresh corn cut off the cob or thawed frozen corn
14 oz tin black beans, rinsed well and drained
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup red pepper, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp chipotle powder
juice of a lemon
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, season with salt and pepper as needed.
I served it by putting a scoop of the salad on a plate, topping it with a burger. A spoonful of salsa, sour cream and some avocado slices on top. Delicious!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

the easy sauce.

I worked in an Italian Deli when I was younger. I learned a few things there. If you work in a deli and your boyfriend (Matt) picks you up after work, you can't be offended when he gets excited and says "Oh, you brought olives home" if you didn't. The thing is, you stink of olive oil and olives no matter what you do to avoid it. I learned that... and how to make a really easy and delicious pasta sauce. 

The key to this sauce is the quality of Italian sausages you have. In Vancouver, I suggest Moccia, Bosa Foods or any good Italian place on Commercial or East Hastings. I'm not eating pasta these days, Matt and Hannah will have the sauce on pasta and I'll have mine on spaghetti squash (just as good!).

Italian Sausage Tomato Sauce
500 g Italian Sausage (I used mild, hot would work, half and half would be best)
2 red peppers, chopped
1 onion (red or white), finely chopped
2 gloves of garlic, finely chopped
796 ml tin of good quality canned whole tomatoes
1/2 cup basil, roughly chopped
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Remove sausage from casing and put in pot. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon and brown, takes about 8 minutes. Drain some of the fat out of the pan, leaving about 1 tbsp in the pan with the meat. Add peppers and onion and saute with meat for 5 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, squishing and breaking up the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the sauce, make sure to add all the juice from the can too. Add garlic, sugar, balsamic and half of the basil. Season with salt and pepper. Let simmer uncovered for 20 minutes until sauce has thickened up a bit and tomatoes have broken down. Add remaining 1/4 cup chopped basil and serve.

Delicious on pasta, squash, or on its own with a crusty piece of bread. Delicious with a good grating of parmesan. And like any tomato based sauce, its even better the next day!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Autumn is coming.

It's only Wednesday, but this feels like its been the longest week ever. I love the changing of the seasons, but I'm finding it a bit hard to fall into routine. I've been heading to bed early and reading books instead of zoning out on the internet past my bedtime.

As much as the weeks seem long and routines are up in the air -  I feel happy. So happy, so settled and lucky. I love my family and I love coming home from work to my happy little Hannah. I love Autumn, but I feel like this is going to be a special season for us this year. We've booked a Thanksgiving trip to Saturna with ten of our friends, a dog and two cats. I can't wait for dinners out in the field, hikes and cabin life.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Imaginary Shopping Trip - Modcloth

A lazy evening on ModCloth has left me with a bad case of the wants!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Leek and Chickpea Soup

It felt like a soup night after a lazy morning, a trip to Ikea and a family nap in the afternoon. I've been making this soup since we lived in New Zealand, it's based on a recipe from Jamie Oliver's Naked Chef Cookbook. I've made a few changes over the years and can make it from memory. It's very fast to make and tastes like it slow cooked for ages. Matt - "this is the best soup I've had in ages, the cheese puts it over the top - in a good way" stamp of approval.

Leek and Chickpea Soup
Serves 6
1 tbsp each of butter and olive oil.
2 large leeks, whites and a bit of the green - well washed and chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
14 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 medium potato, chopped
 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper
to garnish - chopped parsley, grated parmesan or aged gouda/cheddar/gruyere and a little lemon zest

In a large soup pot, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat and add leeks. Saute until tender (about 5 minutes), add garlic, chickpea and potato and cook for 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of chicken stock, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add remaining cup of chicken stock and stir.
I always puree this soup, but you could leave it as is. Blend with an immersion blender and season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with parsley, cheese and a little lemon zest.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Vegetarian Meatballs

I can't believe I haven't posted this recipe before!
My best friend first introduced me to her vegetarian meatballs years and years ago at a potluck dinner. They were so delicious and I can't even begin to count how many times I've made them since then. This is my variation on her veggie meatballs. Hannah has eaten four of them today so they are also a toddler friendly recipe in our house.

Vegetarian Meatballs with Herbed Yogurt Sauce
(I usually double so there are leftovers for a few days, they are great in salads and cold)
1 package of Yves veggie ground round (340g), either plain or Italian
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, grated
salt and pepper
splash of hot sauce
olive oil for frying, about 2-3 tbsps

Mix all the ingredients (except the olive oil) in a large bowl until well combined. Form into 1tbsp sized balls, I have one of these and it makes this really easy. Firmly press the balls so they are compact and won't fall apart in the pan. I normally get about 16 balls per batch.

Heat a nonstick or cast iron pan to medium heat and add 1tbsp of olive oil. Fry the balls about 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy all around.

Serve warm with yogurt sauce.

Herbed Yogurt Sauce
3/4 cup of plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 green onions, finely chopped
juice and zest of a lemon
salt and pepper
splash of hot sauce

Whisk well, tasting for salt and pepper, add more if you need it!
We always have some of this in the fridge, I use it on everything - grilled veggies, salmon, chicken, with bread, on sandwiches . . . 

Tasty variations: basil, chives, a bit of mustard, sumac

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Apples For Jam

Years ago, Matt's mom gave me this cookbook and it remains one of my most favourite cookbooks. The photography is incredible, the recipes are unique and inspired. Tessa Kiros has a few other books that I love almost as much (Falling Cloudberries,  Venezia, Food From Many Greek Kitchens) but this is the one that I can read over and over on rainy days with a cup of tea. I love the lentil soup and the broccoli soup.

Monday, September 12, 2011

working life and meals

I feel lucky to be able to work three days a week and not full time, it's a good balance for me. I love planning things to do with Hannah on my days off. This past Friday we went to Jericho Beach and had a picnic in the sun under our umbrella.

I'm starting to get into a routine, getting my working days prepped before I head to sleep the night before. It's all in the planning. My bag is ready at the door before I go to sleep and my lunch is in the fridge.

Meal planning is key for my breakfasts and lunches. On Sunday nights I prep food for my lunches, these are my standbys:
• big batch of soup to scoop into a glass tupperware, these are my two favourites: gazpacho and minted pea soup
• lots of clean lettuce and herbs, chopped veggies, boiled corn cut off the cob, chopped tomatoes, peppered goat cheese, leftover roasted veggies, hard boiled eggs and pumpkin seeds - any combo of these into a glass bowl with a little sprinkle of salt and pepper. I keep homemade dressing at work. Lately I've been loving a variation of this lemon miso dressing (I add a bit of olive oil, dijon, pepper, rice wine and tahini to it)

If I don't put the blender out the night before for my smoothie, I end up running out of time to make it.
My favourite combinations are:
• almond milk, dates, banana, mango, ice, cinnamon and a scoop of greens powder
• frozen blueberries, banana, yogurt, honey, almond milk and a scoop of hemp protein powder
• banana, almond butter, almond milk, cocoa nibs and ice

Do you have any favourite make-ahead, on the go breakfasts? I'm wondering what other people do. I find toast is just not a breakfast that works for me, I need something a little more interesting, protein rich and tasty!

Friday, September 9, 2011

the fiftieth.

My lovely parents are celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary today. I'm so lucky to have such amazing role models to have shown me with glowing example what it means to love unconditionally, to be gentle, to have great fun, to live life to its fullest, to share with such selfless generosity, to effortlessly make those around them feel comfortable and most of all to teach me what a happy marriage can be and that if you're lucky enough to marry your best friend that it can be easy.

Congratulations Mom and Dad, I love you.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

my brother

Happy Birthday big brother!


Monday, September 5, 2011

zucchini, zucchini

Every weekend should be three days long, life would be so much better. I feel like we've relaxed, had little adventures, seen friends, caught up on work, got my hair cut, and Hannah's first haircut (see above - bangs!), have a clean sparkly home and cooked tasty treats.

I woke up early this morning and had two batches of our favourite muffins made for the freezer and a double batch of zucchini fritters prepped before Matt and Hannah woke up. Our nanny starts tomorrow and I'm trying to get our fridge and freezer well stocked with Hannah's favourites. We've spent the morning cleaning up, relaxing and getting caught up on our computers. After the afternoon nap, we are hitting the park.

These are delicious kid friendly zucchini cakes that have heaps of healthy things in them. To make them more adult appropriate you can serve with a simple yogurt sauce (yogurt, chopped parley, a little lemon juice, grated garlic, salt and pepper) and fry them in a bit more olive oil so they are crunchy, not necessary though, they are great as is.

Zucchini, Mozzarella and Basil Fritters
2 cups grated zucchini, drained well of liquid
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated mozzarella (any cheese would work, cheddar, swiss, gouda . . .)
1/4 cup basil, finely chopped
1 cup spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
olive oil

In a large bowl, mix zucchini, eggs, cheese and basil together. Add flour, powder, salt and pepper - mix until just combined, do not over mix.
Heat a little olive oil over medium heat in a non stick pan. Put spoonfuls of the batter into the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes a side.
These keep in the fridge for 5 days or in the freezer for about 2 months.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


an easy tart

There's a briskness to the night air that wasn't there a week ago, the farmer's market had baskets and bushels of tomatoes, zucchinis are taking over the veg drawer of my fridge - it's September and I'm okay with that.
I love Autumn, it's by far my favourite season. I love cardigans and boots, scarves and apples and everything that comes with Autumn.
We've had a relaxed long weekend so far and we're only half way through. On Tuesday our nanny starts and we have a list of things to do before then, but other than that, the plan is to enjoy.
This is a dead easy tart that we had for dinner on Friday with my best friend, two bottles of white wine and garlic green beans.

Zucchini, Feta and Basil Tart
1 package of puff pastry, I love the President's Choice brand because it's pre-rolled into 2 sheets, I used 1 sheet because I prefer a thinner crust
2 zucchinis (I used one green and one yellow)
1 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 cup of good quality feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup basil, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375°.
Thinly slice the zucchini on the bias. Heat olive oil over medium heat and saute until slightly translucent, about 3 minutes, season with salt and pepper.
Roll out puff pastry to the size of a cookie sheet, if using pre-rolled - lay it on a cookie sheet. Layer the zucchini in rows on the puff pastry slightly overlapping the pieces(I alternated yellow and green). Sprinkle with feta and basil, season with salt and pepper. Bake for 18-25 minutes or until golden and pastry is golden on the bottom. 
This is so easy and you could use any variation of veggies, herb and cheese.
• Brie, tomatoes and basil (let the tomatoes sit on paper towel to absorb some of the water before cooking.
• Goat cheese, caramelized onions and thyme
• Cheddar, asparagus, bacon and parsley

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Coconut Rice with Summer Fresh Veggies

Coconut Rice with Summer Fresh Vegetables and Tofu
I love coconut rice and Hannah loves coconut rice. Its really the only time I ever use white rice, its dead easy and so tasty. 

Coconut Rice
I cup sushi rice, I really like kokono rose
1 cup light coconut milk
pinch of salt

Pour rice into a metal strainer and rinse well until the water is clear. Let sit for 30 minutes. Put the rice, coconut milk and salt in a saucepan, bring to boil and let simmer for 6-10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove lid, let sit for a few minutes and fluff with fork.

Panfried Summer Fresh Vegetables and Tofu
4 cups veggies, I used fresh peas, a yellow zucchini, yellow, beans, a red pepper and garlic. You could use any combo of veg.
1 cup pressed tofu, cubed
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped basil
1 tbsp sesame seeds, I used black sesame seeds
1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp of brown sugar
a few dashes of chili oil
juice from 1/2 a lime

In a large frypan heat olive and sesame oil over medium heat, add veggies and tofu, stirring often cook until al dente. Add basil, sesame seeds, soy,  brown sugar and chili oil, fry for one minute - remove from heat, add lime juice and serve over coconut rice.