January 31, 2012

Chopped Salad with Garlic Dressing


How can you feel guilty eating a salad!?  I don't know, but I am the queen of guilt, I loved it so much if felt naughty.  I love this salad, especially the dressing, which I've made before.  It's like smack-you-in-the-face-garlic-y, or vampire slayer garlic-y, which is awesome!  I'd recommend using great garlic here, but I didn't have any one hand, so it's not bad you regular run-of-the-mill garlic either.

David Lebovitz has the recipe, or rather the template I used for this salad.  I just love how versatile it is.  I'd suggest you take a look at his site, and also at your fridge.  Be inspired.

Chopped Salad with Garlic Dressing

Source: David Lebovtiz
Serves: two

2 cloves garlic, mashed on a microplane
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp grainy mustard
1/4 cup great olive oil

romaine
spinach
chives
cabbage
goat cheese
grated carrots
sunflower seeds
half avocado, diced

Mix together the garlic, lemon juice, salt and mustard in a small bowl.  With a fork mix in the olive oil, but don't worry about it emulsifying, you don't really want that anyways.

Toss all the ingredients of your salad with the dressing.  Feast!

January 30, 2012

Quinoa Salad

It's nutritious, it's clean...well it cleaned out my fridge anyway!  It was supposed to have kale, in fact it did for a few minutes, until I realized the kale was going moldy.  Then it was brussel sprouts which have been sitting in the crisper for a while, and a handful of brown mushrooms starting to shrivel up.  It was the last shallot in the bin and now it's all in a salad.

This was the inspiration for the recipe, but I changed a lot of it.  You could too.

Happy Birthday Natasha!

Natasha, on her birthday last year.
Happy Birthday! to a wonderful sister of mine.  I can not believe that exactly one year ago to this day we we're traversing the streets of Gastown, sipping Natasha's first legal beer, laughing, giggling and taking pictures without any notion of how the year would unfold.  Oh how a year can change things.  In the year since that day, you've completely changed the focus of you schooling, changed schools, and moved 11 hours away from the house you lived in last spring. You've worked bad jobs, and great jobs, the whole time keeping yourself out of any debt.  How many students can say that?!  It's proves your hard work ethic is stronger than most and for that you should be proud, you can do anything when you put your mind to it.

My brilliant (I mean it!), determined, courageous (just how do you live so far away from us?), hardworking (five classes plus a part time job?!) sister turns the big 2-0 today; the age in life where anything in still possible and you are just getting old enough to take advantage of it.

You are the kindest person I know, helping us out in wonderful ways, planting tomatoes in the summer and keeping them alive so that I could still enjoy homegrown tomatoes, even though I missed the season.  Sharing snowboard passes without question, looking after our house whenever we ask, or even things like running to the store when I've forgotten my 49th thing at Christmas time.  You never complain!  Thank you!

Be sure to follow your dreams Natasha, because at the end of life we'll want for only one thing: happiness.  A life of no regrets means fun was realized, we are after all, only here for ourselves!  So my beautiful inspirational sister, I raise a mug of coffee to you! and another wild and eventful year!  Happy Birthday!
 I sent Natasha's gift in the mail overnight.  The package had these wonderful things in it: wax and a seal, ink and what I know as a quill except metal and the most beautiful paper.  Along with that I sent four lemon-berry cupcakes in jars, because every person deserves homemade cake on their birthday.  Pretty awesome if you ask me!

January 28, 2012

Salad

My fifth salad was not even green!  It was thrown together in haste between finger cramps from writing and jumping up and down for cups of coffee.  It was an on-the-go lunch if you will.  German potato salad, one made with mushed up potatoes and vinegar.  It's a little away from the norm compared to the potato salads I know, but healthier I'm sure you'll agree, with an absence of mayo and anything cream-y.  I posted the recipe about a year ago, right here if you'd like to see.
Do you know how long it's been since I've made a meal Shane hasn't liked?  A long time, he's an understanding guy.  But this salad just didn't cut it for him I'm sorry to say, and I was rather indifferent to it.  It was edamame and avocado salad, but my biggest complaint was that it wasn't well balanced.  I found it overwhelmingly vinegar-y even with the honey in the dressing to balance it.  This salad needs more work before I'd eat it again and to be honest I'd rather eat my avocados in guacamole and my edamame in this salad.  If you are interested in the recipe here is where you can find it.

January 27, 2012

Creamy Avocado-Citrus Salad Dressing


The start of this salad is the dressing.  It's a creamy dressing that is 100% good for you.  In fact, rather than make the salad more palatable it actually is it's own healthy ingredient.  It's creamy, tart, sweet and fresh like brisk January air.  I'm looking forward to having this salad again for dinner tonight, it's crave worthy.

Mediterranean Inspired Salad


Makes: two salads
Source: inspired by this

A blend of lettuces and spinach for two plates
green olives, about 5-6, diced small
A few Tbsp of crumbled feta
halved cherry tomatoes, in season

1/2 an avocado
2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 1/2 Tbsp parsley

In the bowl of a small food processor puree avocado, red onion, lemon juice, vinegar and salt/pepper until there are no chunks.  Add the olive oil, honey and parsley.  If the dressing is too thick add a Tbsp or two of water, or more citrus juice, like orange.  I added two Tbsp of water to get the dressing how I wanted it.

Place the lettuces/spinach, diced olives and feta in a bowl with the dressing.  Toss to coat evenly.  Eat!

The dressing can be stored in the fridge if necessary for a few days.

January 25, 2012

Blood Orange and Parmesan Salad

This salad was inspired two weeks ago by a beautiful blood orange sitting on my counter.  The glory of fresh citrus in January littered my counters and I searched for interesting flavours to compliment.  It's fairy well balanced I'd say.  Tart and sweet, nutty and chewy.  The first salad I made was better, so I'll write the recipe for that one.  (Pictured below)
Blood Orange Inspired Salad

Serves: Two

Lettuce for two
Two medjool dates, chopped small
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1 blood orange, segmented, all the skin taken off
parmesan in slices

Combine all these ingredients in a mixing bowl, saving a little for garnishing on top.  Toss with vinaigrette and plate up.

blood orange vinaigrette:
juice of one blood orange
small dash of white wine vinegar
double the amount of orange juice in olive oil
a tiny bit of dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Place these ingredients in a little container or jar, shake well.

Date Squares

These are not your mother's date squares.  I mean, they are like your mother's, in the sense that they have dates and oats in them, but compared to these I'm going to be blunt: your mother's suck.  I know that seems like a wild accusation, how can I go around telling you I did it better?  Because dear reader, these are the best.  They are soft and crunchy in just the right places.  The crumb is tender and light, perfectly sweetened and spiced.  The date puree is soft and oh-so-light.  The dates taste like butterscotch and the citrus burst is so bright I hear trumpets of euphoria and  angels singing.  Did your mother's date square do that for you?

I've never tasted better and I'll never make another recipe.  It's just that good.  They shouldn't even be called just date squares, maybe: date squares of my dreams or, date square that make my heart pitter-patter or, date square that make me tie my shoelaces in knots.  Try it and see.
Date Squares

I made a half batch of these in a 6-inch pan and baked them for 32 minutes.  I also substituted tangerine zest instead of clementine, but I imagine the effect was the same.

Makes: 32 small squares
Source: Seven Spoons

280g (10 oz 2 cups) pitted and halved medjool dates
1 cup water
zest from a clementine
1/2 cup ground walnuts (could use pecans or almonds as well)
60g (1/2 cup) all purpose flour
60g (1/2 cup) whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
pinch of cloves
200g (1 cup) dark brown sugar (could use slightly less)
170g (6 oz, 3/4 cup) butter, cut into cubes and let to sit out a little while
1 cup rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9-inch pan with parchment, leaving an overhang.  Grease the pan and paper with butter.

In a small sauce pan place the dates and water over medium-high heat to bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer and stirring frequently cook until all the liquid is evaporated and dates are soft, about 10 minutes.  Take off heat, add zest.  Let the mixture cool down for a while.

Puree date mixture in the food processor, then scrape out into another small bowl.  Grind the nuts; add flours, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Pulse to combine.  Add the sugar and pulse again, to mix well.  Keeping the pieces separated, crumble the pieces of butter into the flour mixture.  Pulse until the butter and flour resemble a coarse uneven crumb.  Dump the flour/butter mix into a bowl and stir in oats.  

Press a generous half of the oat mix firmly into the 9 inch pan.  Spread the date puree in an even layer over the oat mixture and top with remaining crumbs, pressing only lightly.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the crust is firm and golden brown.

Let the bars cool completely on a rack.  Once cooled place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.  Slice into little pieces and serve either chilled or at room temperature.  

January 24, 2012

Feta, Pea and Herb Salad


I loved this salad.  So much so that I had a hard time restraining myself from devouring the leftover. (aka: dinner)  It's super fresh, peas frozen from the summer that pop like little balls of July's sunshine.  Edamame beans are earthy and toothsome and the super salty feta is creamy and grounding.  There are herbs and lemon, it's basically a bowl of spring sitting before a dreary January drizzle.  Maybe the most interesting component is the roasted chickpeas, though.  The salad would be amazing still without, but that tiny kick of spice; it complements and intrigues.  I guarantee this will be in regular rotation around these parts, because when the puddles outside are ankle deep and the snowplows ruined any chance of outdoor running for the last ten days and the next five, my head needs a vacation.  Now if you'll excuse me, I might be having toast for dinner.

Feta, Pea and Herb Salad


Serves: two side salads
Source: adapted from here

1/2 can chickpeas
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala

Mix four ingredients together. Spread in a small baking pan, in a single layer.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven, for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes for even cooking.  This will make for slightly crispy, still soft chickpeas, (what I wanted) if you cook them for 40-50 minutes they will get crispy.

1 cup edamame beans, cooked according to the package (mine were simmered 3 minutes)
1/2 cup frozen summer's peas, thawed in cold water
60 g (1/4 cup) crumbled greek sheep's feta
small handful of parsley and mine, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp capers, minced
a few swipes of lemon zest
juice of 1/4 lemon
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
pepper

Combine all ingredients together and refrigerate to melt flavours.  Serve cold and with chickpeas mixed in.  

January 23, 2012

13 Days of Salad

Sounds awesome right?!  
You see, I've got somewhere important to be in 13 days and I'd really like to look my best.  For me that means, no sugar for at least a week (to clear up my skin) preferably two.  It means running for darn sure, and it means vegetables, so belly is not swollen, lots and lots of vegetables.  
Thus, 13 days of salads was born.  I'm very excited.  Today's was a good way to start: Pomegranate and Apple Salad.
It's just a few things stuck together, use whatever amounts you would like.
fresh pomegranate seeds, about 1/4 cup
1 granny smith apple, I only used half, cut into matchsticks
pine nuts, toasted, I used about 2 Tbsp
a spoonful of goats cheese, I used the peppercorn variety
greens
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp or so good quality olive oil

I also added about 1/3 cup white beans, fried in a little butter for some protein and because I had them lying around.  So good! 

Spaghetti and Meatballs


If we need to talk about comfort food we're headed for spaghetti and meatballs.  It's like a warm fire on a cold day, or slipping into a pair of flannel pajamas.  It's a natural fit and I'm all to happy to indulge.  Since every time I make spaghetti and meatballs, all be it once a year, I google a new recipe, it seems intelligent that I'd write down a winning recipe.  You want a hint?  Don't muddle up your sauce, keep it simple.  Simple always wins with spaghetti in my books.  No vinegars, no sugars, who has basil in the middle of winter anyway?  Use great summer tomatoes (canned or otherwise) and super quality oregano and you've got a winning recipe.

Can I mention something else?  This upcoming summer I need you to do something.  Buy the boxes of really cheap tomatoes from the farmers market in mid-September, when people are desperate to get rid of them.  Like a box for $5 bucks kinda cheap.  Stick the entire box in the freezer.  That's an order not an option.  There, you've "preserved" the tomatoes.  Now throughout the fall/winter/spring you've got tomatoes...and they taste great!  You want them peeled?  Let them thaw on the counter a few minutes, the peels slide right off.  Don't care? Toss them into your cooking frozen, they'll melted away in no time.  Please do this, you'll love yourself next year.  Just think about all the money you'll save!

Spaghetti and Meatballs


Serves: 5-6 people
Source: Adapted from here & my meatball recipe

4 parts beef (500g)
1 part sausage (125g)
a couple strips of bacon (1.5)
handful of panko crumbs (3-4 Tbsp)
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper
chopped parsley (2 Tbsp)

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 of an onion, grated
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 cloves of garlic, minced
12-15 whole tomatoes from the freezer with the stem-end chopped off, or 28oz awesome quality canned tomatoes
salt and pepper

1 box of good quality pasta (The best I could find was Barilla, and I liked it!)

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs together.  Roll into small balls and refrigerate until needed.

In a large pot melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onions, oregano and 1/2 tsp salt; cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are getting to be golden or the liquid has evaporated, only a few minutes.  Add the garlic and cook quickly, 30 seconds or so.  Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer.  Turn the heat down to maintain the simmer, about medium-low.  Drop in the meatballs and simmer until the sauce is thickened.  It took about 30-40 minutes for mine.  It will take for less time with canned tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper.

While the sauce is simmering bring a very large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente.  Drain the pasta and set aside while you wait.

Enjoy with a wonderful slice of garlic cheese bread and a simple green salad.  It doesn't get much better!

Here and now.

It's always in updates, my life in little blocks.  Wonderful bits and pieces of a simple life.  I'm a lucky gal.
Secret stash of my favourite chocolates.
My boy dog who dressed up in pink.  (I have a hard time taking him seriously in this bandana.)
This snow needs to go away, the sidewalks are still 3 feet deep in snow.
I organized my pantry, I'm super excited, no more throwing things into the back and shutting the door.  I also gave away/threw out many jars of jam to cut back on the clutter and make room for this year's canning.  (That is the stash I'm not sharing.)
Meet sourdough Sal, we're going to be good friends.
Cuddles with the cat.
Can we talk about this amazing soup I made last night??!  I'm looking forward to the leftovers for dinner! Follow this recipe to a "t" and your in for a treat.
We can talk about amazing leftover.  Heck ya spaghetti and meatballs!
New headphones.  It was time.

January 19, 2012

Winter Storm 2012

The last two days have been nothing short of blissful.  House bound we've been, relaxing and totally enjoying a few bonus days off.  With long underwear beneath our clothes and simmering cups of coffee in our mugs, we've cozied up beneath blankets and whittled away the hours with puzzles and technology, and maybe a little cuddling.  Any excuse to turn on the oven has been welcome, while I sit in the kitchen and absorb heat.  The wind rattles the windows and the ice creeps up the panes, freezing the fabric curtains to it.  The snow reflects the most perfect light into every room, even with such a low cloud cover the lights are all off.  The drifts of snow move and mold with the gusts strong wind and ice forms a deceptive barrier that makes walking hard.

When we did venture out, in snow pants and ski jackets our fingers were numb after scraping off the car, we ran between pockets of warmth as the cold sucked the air from our lungs.  We managed a trip to the grocery store and one sojourn to the gym, because despite my hatred of the treadmill the energy radiating from my muscles was mind-blowing.  Four days without a run was four days of pent-up power, I blasted out my best run ever (53:30!)

Because it was so cold outdoors (wind chill values of minus twenty!) I broke my cat-in-the-house-ban and Cyrus was allowed indoors.  So far he's been great and encouranged much cuddling.  I'll go back to work today, our impromptu winter stay-cation is over, it will be remembered fondly as a winter storm of my dreams.
Stuck. This is what started our stay-cation.
Ice patterns on the inside of the door. 
There was more snow by the third day.
Kale and Garlic Pizza!
Cyrus.
Cuddles.
Swiss chard and potato frittata.
Drifts.
This is the plant "island" in my front yard.  Completely covered, thank god.
Peanut butter caramel popcorn, drizzled with chocolate.
I boiled a batch of beans (I'm terrible at cooking them!) and completely overcooked them, so we had a black eyed pea dip.

January 16, 2012

Snow!

We've had our once (or maybe twice) yearly dump of snow-fall today.  Enough snow that Shane got sent home from work early.  Of course we love a good snow day, a chance to cozy up inside and try to stay warm.  The worst is forecasted still to come, so I'm secretly wishing for another snow day tomorrow.
Biting the snow, a favourite past time of his.
We ended up with more than this!
Egg salad sandwiches


I baked a loaf of oatmeal bread.
Puzzles are great for snow days!