Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cranberry Lemon Squares

Another holiday season come and gone. Who can believe that tomorrow is the last day of 2010? I certainly cannot! This year has flown by at a frightening pace, leaving all of my many crazy nights, hazy mornings, thrilling adventures, laughter, tears, mistakes, inside jokes, unexpected turns of events, and so on in a blur in my mind. It amazes me how much my life has changed over the past year and, more significantly, how I have changed as a result of it. Come to think of it, it wasn't so much me changing as a result of life changes, but my life changing as a result of my own personal growth. This year I learned that life can throw you some pretty big curve balls that can throw your mind out of whack for whatever reason. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something new and unknown, or even ghosts from your past that you thought you had shaken, are sure to enter your life again. But hey, you live and you learn, and some of those scary curve balls can turn into a home run. It's all about rolling with the punches, embracing all of those mistakes, and learning from them in the future.

A few months ago a sniffly cold and lack of focus left me making a big mistake when making Cranberry Coconut Lemon Squares. I accidentally made the squares in a pan much smaller than the recipe had called for. At first I was really mad at myself for being so careless, thinking that I had wasted all of those ingredients and my time. I kept telling myself how stupid I was, and I thought it was just so typical for me to do something so silly. Low and behold the squares turned out incredible! Because I baked them in a small pan, they were extra ooey gooey and each bite gave you an almost overwhelming burst of extra tangy lemon flavour. Who would have thought that my mistake would turn into such a hit. Despite how delicious my Ooey Gooey Cranberry Coconut Lemon Squares were, I couldn't help but want to try my hand at them again, but this time with a clear mind, remembering my past mistake. I decided to try out a new recipe this time to switch things up a bit, so I used a recipe for Cranberry Lemon Squares with coconut from Canadian Living, changing a few things here and there to suit my taste. I secretly thought that they really would taste better making the squares in a larger, correct pan (I apologize for my past dishonesty), but in the end they were both just as tasty. I couldn't even pick which ones I preferred. Despite how much control I had over the recipe this time and how careful I was, it turns out that mistakes can end with just as positive of a result. So let go, embrace your mistakes, and look at how much more you have gained in the end...even if that may be weight from eating so many of your delicious mistakes. Cheers to more mind blowing mistakes in 2011!

Tip: To add just a touch of extra sweetness, dust the baked squares with icing sugar.

Ingredients:
Crust:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, cubed and softened
Filling:
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
zest from half of a lemon
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, cut in half
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Directions:
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the dry ingredients for the crust: flour, sugar, and salt. Add in the butter and mix until butter is well incorporated, crumbly, and holds together when pinched.

2. Evenly, pat mixture into the bottom of a greased 13 x 9-inch cake pan. Bake in a 350º oven for 20 min, or until golden.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the dry ingredients for the filling: flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix in the flour mixture. Stir in cranberries and coconut.

5. Reduce heat to 325º, and bake until filling is firm in the centre, 45-50 minutes. Let cool, then cut into squares.

Listening To:
La Roux - Quicksand (Alex Metric Remix)

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chocolate Almond Biscotti


Less than a week till Christmas, which means jingle bells a-ringing, carolers singing, cookies baking...oh and long line ups, crowds, crying children, and most of all, stress from not having all of your Christmas gifts ready in time! Sure it's a pretty pessimistic way of looking at the holiday season, but let's face it, that's a reality when it comes to Christmas shopping during those last two weeks before the big day. So if you're like me and you still have those few last minute gifts to get, take my advice and avoid shopping altogether! I don't know about you, but it seems like no one even has a Christmas list this year anyway. Whenever I ask anyone about what they would like for the holiday this year, I always get the same few responses, either "I don't know", "I don't need anything", and lastly (and the most sappy of all) "just time with you". I have to admit, that I'm actuallJustify Fully one of those people this year who doesn't have anything on my list. I'm at a point in my life where I would much rather receive something personal and/or sentimental rather than some new clothes or jewelry.

So this year when my mom was stressing over what to get her staff for Christmas, we decided upon homemade baked goods. Sure, there are some nice gift baskets out there, and hey, who doesn't need another Santa figurine (I kid!), but a nicely gift-wrapped bag of homemade treats tops any gift you can buy at the mall. Making homemade treats as holiday gifts allows you to give the people you care about something unique, personal, and most importantly, it shows that you took the time to make them something really special.

One of my favourite cookies, and a good ol' no fail standby, is my Almond Cranberry Biscotti. Perfect for gift giving, this biscotti has just the right amount of sweetness to keep everyone happy, it's really easy to make, looks pretty and festive with flecks of ruby red cranberries, and the best part...drum roll please...you can make these cookies as much as a week in advance because of their dry and crumbly texture. Because we were giving the biscotti as gifts, we thought it would be extra special to give two different flavours of biscotti. So I developed a recipe for Chocolate Almond Biscotti. Although the most prominent flavour in the cookies is chocolate, they aren't too sweet, making them a great accompaniment to your morning coffee. I promise you, your friends and family will light up like a Christmas tree when you hand them a beautiful bag of my homemade biscotti!

Tip: If you prefer your biscotti on the sweeter side, melt some semi-sweet chocolate to drizzle over the baked biscotti. This also makes the biscotti look more "store-bought".

Ingredients:
1 cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped
1 1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar at high speed until light in colour and the mixture no longer feels gritty when rubbed between your fingers.

2. Add the eggs, one at a time, at low speed until combined. Add the vanilla and combine at low speed.

3. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Add the flour to the sugar and egg mixture in several increments, while mixing at low speed. Stir until just combined.

4. Stir in the almonds. Separate the dough in half and, on a floured surface, form each half into a log about 3 1/2 - 4 inches in width. Carefully transfer logs to a lined baking sheet and bake at 350º for 30 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and carefully transfer logs to a wire rack. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

6. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into slices about 3/4 of an inch thick. Lay cookies on their side on baking sheet and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let cool and serve with coffee. Store in an airtight container.

Listening To:
Marilyn Monroe - Santa Baby

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tetley Colour Therapy Contest WINNER!

I placed the names of everyone who entered my Tetley Colour Therapy Giveaway in a bowl, and had my mama randomly select the lucky winner! Congratulations to Jamie M.I.T. our lucky winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered! This won't be the last Ginger Rose giveaway, so be sure to check back often!

Lots of love
xoxo Danielle AKA Ginger Rose

Listening To:
Frank Sinatra - Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Potato & Leek Soup

I've been getting the dreaded closing shift at work more often than I'd like lately. Sure it means I can sleep in and take my time making a great breakfast, but it also means missing out on dinner at home. Because I refuse to spend money getting takeout or fast food every day, I always pack a dinner for me to bring...and I admit, it's kinda fun making everyone else at work jealous as they eat their stale Starbucks baked goods (Seriously guys? When do you think that stuff was made?). If I'm going to be eating my dinner at work, it better be just as tasty and satisfying as what I could have had at home. So I've been trying to come up with some interesting winter dishes that I can make in advance and bring with me to work throughout the week.

My Potato and Leek Soup is the perfect example of a warm, filling, tasty, healthy dish that you can easily make on the weekend and keep in your fridge all week, ready to pack up and re-heat! The classic flavour combination of potatoes and leeks is enhanced by additional hearty veggies, herbaceous thyme, tart lemon, and aromatic bay leaves. Top it all off with some finely grated cheddar cheese and you're sure to get the whole office talking!

Tip: You can easily turn this into a vegetarian soup by using vegetable broth instead of the recommended chicken broth.

Ingredients:
3 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
3 leeks , white and light green parts only (equals about 4 cups)
4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1/4 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
juice from 1/4 lemon
salt and pepper
shredded cheddar cheese for garnish (optional)

Directions:
1. In a large soup pot, melt butter on medium-high heat (you may add a little olive oil if you like at this point so that the butter doesn't burn). Add the onions, leeks, carrots, and celery. Cook until soft, about 8 minutes.

2. Add the potatoes, chicken stock, water, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook, with the pot top on slightly, on medium-low heat until potatoes are very soft, about 20 minutes.

3. Remove bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup mixture until it has reached desired consistency. Add the lemon juice and taste. Season accordingly with salt and pepper. Serve hot, garnished with finely shredded cheddar cheese (optional).

*Don't Forget to enter my Tetley Colour Therapy Giveaway!
Listening To:
Blonde Redhead - 23

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tetley Tea Giveaway! What's Your Colour?

There's nothing like curling up on the couch in your favourite cozy sweater, candles burning, music playing, reading a great book, with a steaming hot mug of tea. All your senses become active and your mind is able to forget the days stresses to relax and feel comfortable and safe. No matter where your head was at that morning, this relaxing ritual allows you to escape into whatever mood you choose. Depending on the mood I feel (or would like to feel), I always pick my music, book, and tea accordingly. Tetley Tea has taken this experience to the next level with their new line of Colour Therapy Herbal Teas. Tetley has taken the concept of colour therapy (the idea that every mood or feeling can be associated with a different colour) and pushed it to a whole new level, designing teas that fit every mood on the color wheel. Everything from Turquoise - a calming blend designed to bring calm and serenity to your day, to Pink - a blend meant to induce feelings of warmth, hope, and inspiration, Tetley Colour Therapy has it all!

After seeing a commercial for Tetley Colour Therapy last week, I couldn't wait to get my hands on one of their many different colours to choose from. So you can imagine my excitement when, that very same day, I was contacted by Tetley Tea, kindly (understatement of the year!) offering one of my lucky readers a beautiful and incredibly abundant gift basket (shown in the image above) containing not one, but two containers of each of the ten types/colours of tea from their Colour Therapy line, as well as a Tetley teapot, and 50 mood influencing greeting cards! How incredible is that?! I have actually tried both the Turquoise tea (a calming, stress relieving tea) and the Mint Green tea (which helps make you feel more fresh and energized) and fell in love with both! They were both so delicious and full of flavour, and truly influenced my mood in the best way possible!

For a chance to win this fantastic gift basket, check out the Colour Therapy website and leave a comment below, telling me what colour you are today and a little about your tea drinking ritual. A winner will be selected at random this Friday December 17th!

Lately i've been feeling very Violet and Pink, ready to take on whatever comes my way, feeling positive about opportunities in the new year, motivated, and most of all INSPIRED! So tell me, what's your colour today?

Good luck! xo

Listening To:
Serge Gainsbourg & Francoise Hardy - Comment Te Dire Adieu

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

My Mama's Lasagna


You know, me and Garfield have a lot in common, we both have orange hair, were very sarcastic, moody, we don't like exercise (although I've been forcing myself to at least 3 times a week for the last few weeks), we love a good cat nap, and we both have a deep and passionate love for the Italian miracle lasagna! Despite how crazy lasagna made Garfield, I can bet that he would have been driven into an insane asylum if he had tried my mom's lasagna.

I know, everyone says that that their mom makes the best lasagna...but really, mine does! I think it's the simplicity of my mom's lasagna that makes it so perfect. Just the right amount of cheese, ground beef, and noodles allow you taste every savory flavour in this dish. My mom has been telling me for years how easy it is to make her lasagna, but the sheer size and weight of this pasta dish had me too intimidated to ever attempt. I finally gave in this past weekend and we made it together. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it took hardly no time or effort at all to complete this masterpiece. An added bonus was that we could wrap it up and keep it in the fridge days before baking, so that we could do all the prep in advance and simply pop it into the oven when we were ready to eat! Hey Garfield, where you at?

Tip: To prevent the cheese from sticking to the aluminum foil, place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the top layer of cheese before covering with the foil. Unfortunately I heard about this tip a little late to use it this time around, but it's great to know for next time!
Tip: This is a great entree for feeding a crowd!

Ingredients:
1 650 mL jar tomato sauce
1 package fresh lasagna pasta sheets
1/2 250g container cottage cheese
1 egg
1/4 - 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 package lean ground beef
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 cup water
1 500g package mozzarella cheese, cut into thin slices

Directions:
1. In the bottom of a large lasagna dish, spoon in a thin layer of tomato sauce. Layer 1/3 of the lasagna sheets evenly over the sauce. Set aside.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, blend cottage cheese, egg, and parmesan cheese together using an immersion blender. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil. Add in chopped onions and saute until soft and transparent. Add the beef, break up using a spatula, and continue cooking until all the beef is cooked through. While the beef is cooking, grate in the garlic.

4. Add the tomato sauce and water into the meat and onion mixture. Stir to combine. Set aside.

5. In the lasagna dish, layer over 1/3 of the meat mixture evenly over the lasagna sheets. Spoon over 1/3 of the cheese mixture, and 1/3 of the sliced mozzarella cheese. Top that with another 1/3 of the lasagna sheets, 1/3 of the meat mixture, 1/3 of the cheese mixture, and 1/3 of the sliced mozzarella. Repeat.

6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350º oven for 1 hour. Remove foil during the last 15 min of baking to brown the cheese slightly.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

Man is it getting cold in Toronto...yeah, yeah I know the last few days have been mild, but with some of my best friends sending me email updates several times a week, retelling stories of their travels in HOT HOT HOT Australia, I can't help but feel that cool Toronto chill a little more than usual. Although I consider myself to be much more of a savory food craver than a sweet one, it's cold, rainy, and windy weather like today that has me craving all things sweet. Not a day has gone by since the weather declined that I haven't stopped my parents, right in their tracks, and asked them if they happened to pick up a dessert on their way home from work. Pie? Cake? Donuts? Baklava? ANYTHING?! It's hard to hide the sound of desperation in my voice.

After all the times my mom thought of me on her way home, bringing me little pastries, a pie on sale, or a danish, I figured I owed her a dessert of my own. I decided to make this one a little bit more healthy to make up for all of the other sweets I had been consuming in the previous weeks. So I pulled out my trusty Williams Sonoma: Cookies cookbook to hunt for a great oatmeal cookie recipe. As I often do, I wanted to add my own little touch to their cookie recipe. Ever since not having pecan pie at Thanksgiving I haven't been able to get pecans off my mind, so I decided to substitute in pecans instead of the suggested walnuts. I also added in some dried cranberries. The cranberries were my favourite part as the beautiful deep red cranberry confetti added another textural element to the cookies, as well as a fantastic tangy flavour to cut the sweetness. The cookies were just what I was craving! Chewy, sweet, nutty, with a touch of tartness, the only thing you'll be craving after this is a warm blanket and a glass of milk.

Note: I also reduced the amount of nutmeg, as I am not the biggest fan of the spice, so feel free to add more to your liking.
Tip: Because these cookies are flecked with beautiful red cranberries, they would make great healthy holiday cookies!

Recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma: Cookies.
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/4 cup - 1/3 cup dried cranberries

Directions:
1. In a medium-large saucepan, over low heat, melt butter, then remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, beat in both the granulated and brown sugar until blended. Add the egg and beat again.

2. Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together into a bowl. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture. Add the rolled oats, pecans, and dried cranberries and stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a baking sheet or line with Silpat mat or parchment paper. Drop tablespoons of the cookie batter onto the sheet, making sure to space cookies at least 2 inches apart. Using a metal spatula or the palm of your hand, flatten each mound of batter. Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. For chewy cookies, let cool on hot pan. For crispy cookies, let cool on wire rack.

Listening To:
Can't Stop - Red Hot Chili Peppers

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fried Zucchini

For all you out there that have become a fan of my Oma's cooking, here's another one for your books. Despite the fact that I think I would enjoy anything my Oma cooks...well...that is except for her pickled herring...ew...pickled herring (I cringe!). She has a handful of recipes that we have come to love as our favourites. You can bet that one of her all-star dishes will be on the table anytime you're invited over to her and my Opa's home. Although it's not too difficult to predict what the entree will be for dinner (especially with an Oma who wants to please everybody and may very well make a number of her specialties all at once!), it's always a bit of a guessing game as to what the sides and dessert will be. There are a few special side dishes and desserts that only show face a few times a year...and you never quite know when that will be. One special side dish in particular that I absolutely love snacking on is my Oma's Fried Zucchini.

Although my Oma doesn't make Fried Zucchini too frequently, that just may be one of the reasons why I love it so much. Eating Oma's Fried Zucchini feels like a special occasion, a special occasion that stirs up memories of my Oma's kitchen in her old house, with the screen door wide open, the sound of popping oil and the faint radio, the smell of batter being fried, and me leaning on the kitchen counter sneaking rounds of Fried Zucchini the moment they hit the paper towels to drain. With a memory so vivid, it wasn't too hard for me to replicate her recipe. With only a few ingredients, my Oma's Friend Zucchini is incredibly easy to make, although I added in an extra ingredient and seasoning step to evolve the dish a bit. Hot, crispy, and salty, with a hint of heat from the paprika, Fried Zucchini is sure to become your new favourite snack as well. The only issue you will run into with this recipe is keeping your friends and families hands away from them as they come off the griddle to cool. Nothing gets tummies growling like the smell of something being fried, so keep an extra spatula next to your work space to swat at people trying to sneak the zucchini before they have a chance to drain of their oils. Oma you have an open invitation to sneaking my Fried Zucchini anytime. This is a recipe that's meant to be served immediately, so unfortunately for the cook, you're going to have to be a bit of a sneak as well, and snack while you fry.

Tip: For fastest, easiest, and cleanest preparation, line up your work station in the following order before you begin frying:
  1. Sliced zucchini
  2. Flour mixture
  3. Batter
  4. Griddle with vegetable oil next to it
  5. Plate lined with paper towel
  6. Salt and pepper grinders
Ingredients:
8 oz. zucchinis, washed and trimmed
about 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
vegetable oil for frying
salt and pepper to season

Batter
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup water

Directions:
1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the batter. Add water and whisk together. Cover and let stand at room temperature for an hour.

2. In a shallow dish, combine the flour with salt, pepper, and paprika. Set aside.

3. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, cut zucchini into 1/8-inch thick rounds. Set aside.

4. Heat a griddle or large skillet to medium-high heat. Add a layer of vegetable oil.

5. Lightly coat several slices of zucchini in flour mixture. Carefully dip slices, one at a time, into batter and place on hot, well-oiled griddle. Make sure not to crowd the griddle or pan. Let slices fry for a few minutes, or until golden. Flip slices and fry until the other sides are golden as well. Place fried slices on a paper towel-lined plate and top with more paper towel. Lightly dab at slices with paper towel to remove excess oil. While slices are hot season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining zucchini slices. Serve hot.

Listening To:
What's My Name - Rihanna ft. Drake

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You can't help but smile and shake your hips when this one comes on!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Canadian Food Blog Awards 2010

This past Sunday marked the kick off to the very first Canadian Food Blog Awards! Public nominations will run until December 21st 2010, when the finalists will be determined. Judging for all categories will take place from January 1st - January 25th. What a great way to promote the foodie community in Canada! Excited to learn about what other blogs are out there!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Broccoli & Fusilli

When I was little my mom used to take me to an art workshop that was held at Hazelton Lanes in Yorkville every month. Each month a new arts and crafts workshop would be held, everything from painting, clay sculpting, t-shirt making, etc. It was always one of my favourite days of the month, as it meant getting to spend one-on-one time with my mama, doing lots of fun arts and crafts aaaaand a special lunch out at Lettieri Cafe. Lettieri sells lots of in-house made sandwiches, baked goods, and prepared foods and when I was little I just couldn't get enough of their broccoli pasta. Every single time we would go to our art workshop, I would eagerly anticipate my broccoli pasta for lunch. I guess my mom didn't mind spending the money on rather overpriced prepared food when it meant me eating my vegetables.

I haven't had that broccoli pasta in years but it popped into my head the other day when I came home from work absolutely famished in a mad hunt for something to eat! It was the day before a big grocery pickup and it seemed like the only fresh thing in the fridge was a head of broccoli. I don't know about you, but when I'm starved like that, I don't exactly dream about eating a bowl of broccoli for lunch. I wanted something that would leave me feeling satisfied but still be healthy at the same time. It was then that memories of Hazelton Lanes art workshops and Lettieri flashed through my head, inspiring me to replicate their simple dish that I loved so much, but with a few additions of my own.

This is a really simple dish to make, not to mention incredibly fast because there is no real sauce. This is one of those times when you should use the best of the best. Because there's no sauce you need to make sure that all of your ingredients have as much flavour as possible. This means really fruity extra virgin olive oil, freshly grated parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper, etc. Trust me, it will make all the difference. Lightly toasted pine nuts add texture and extra flavour. I also used whole wheat fusilli, which not only added extra health benefits, but also gave the dish a great nutty flavour.

Tip: Turn pepper grinder on a thicker grind for this one. You'll love that extra kick of pepper in each bite.
Tip: Need extra protein? Grilled chicken would taste great thrown in this mix!
Note: I don't have exact measurements here because there is really no need. This is something you an play around with and adjust depending on what you like.

Ingredients:
whole wheat fusilli
broccoli, florets and stems, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
butter
pureed garlic
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
pine nuts, lightly toasted (optional)
salt and pepper, freshly ground

Directions:
1. Cook desired amount of fusilli in salted water according to directions on package.

2. While fusilli is cooking, steam broccoli until fork tender but with a bit of a bite (you don't want mushy overcooked broccoli, you want that crunch). Once cooked, cut up broccoli into bite-sized pieces.

3. After pasta is cooked, drain and transfer back to pot. Add broccoli and drizzle with olive oil until pasta is coated. Add in some butter and garlic for flavour and toss. Grate over parmesan cheese and add the pine nuts (optional), toss together. Taste and season well with freshly ground salt and pepper. Serve with extra parmesan cheese on top.

Listening To:
Kanye West - Dark Fantasy

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Baked Sweet Potato Mash

In my house, were really good about always serving at least one vegetable for dinner, but I find that we often put a lot of effort into the entree of our meal and don't really experiment much with our sides, particularly our vegetables. One of my favourite foods in the Fall is sweet potatoes, so it's not surprising that sweet potatoes can be found on my dinner plate at least 3 or 4 times a week. So one night for dinner this week, I decided to shake up our usual roasted or baked sweet potatoes by making a creamy and comforting sweet potato mash.

What was intended to be just a simple sweet potato mash turned into something much more interesting when our entree was a little behind schedule. The new rib recipe we tried seemed to be taking longer than we thought, so I had to stall my recipe so that I could still serve my mash hot and fresh. I decided to transfer the mash into a baking dish and top with some ingredients I happened to have on hand to add extra hits of flavour and texture. My Baked Sweet Potato Mash turned into out to be such a tasty dish! The sweetness of the buttery brown sugar sweet potatoes was cut by the saltiness of the parmesan cheese, with a little bit of crunch from the breadcrumbs and pecans, and a tiny hint of heat from paprika. Not only was this delicious as a side, the leftovers made for a perfect lunch to bring to work the next day!

Note: As you can see from the above picture, my pecans got a little burnt and my breadcrumbs are not very golden-brown. I made the mistake of pre-toasting my pecans, which had them browning up pretty fast with that second bake as the sweet potato topper. I had to cover the mash with tinfoil so that the nuts wouldn't burn anymore, which didn't allow for the breadcrumbs to crisp.
Note: This recipe can easily be made gluten free, just eliminate the breadcrumbs.

Ingredients:
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup half-and-half cream
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 tbsp melted butter
about 1 tsp paprika
1/4 cup pecans
grated parmesan cheese to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Put cubed sweet potatoes in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, and partially cover pot with lid. Let cook on a gentle boil for 20-25 min. or until sweet potatoes are fork tender.

2. Drain water and place sweet potatoes back in pot. In a small saucepan, heat the cream with the butter and brown sugar. Add to potatoes and mash using a potato masher or add ingredients to a stand mixer and mix using the paddle attachment. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Pour mixture into a medium-sized greased baking dish. Place breadcrumbs in a small bowl and drizzle melted butter overtop. Combine using fingertips and crumble evenly over sweet potatoes.

4. Top breadcrumbs evenly with paprika, parmesan cheese, and pecans. Bake at 350º or until topping is golden brown. Serve hot or warm.

Listening To:
Paolo Nutini - Candy

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(for my Robo in Australia!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Quinoa Salad

If anyone saw my twitter post stating that the ultimate hangover breakfast is challah french toast topped with melted cheddar cheese, smothered in real maple syrup, and served with a side of crispy bacon (oops) may be thinking "hey, isn't this chick supposed to be eating healthy?" and the answer would be yes...yes I am...Sure I may have strayed a little this week, but let's talk about how good I was last week! Last week, after just having begun my newfound healthy kick I decided to try out a new ingredient. In my previous entry on my Bacon Cheddar Broccoli Salad I mentioned that I have been taking advice from @joyoushealth. One of the ingredients that I kept seeing popping up on Joy's twitter was quinoa and the many benefits of this super grain. After doing a quick search of some quinoa recipes, it wasn't hard for me to see that quinoa is not only amazing for your health, but also delicious and incredibly versatile.

Before I began experimenting with using quinoa as a stuffing or filler, I wanted to begin with a basic quinoa salad recipe. I quickly found a recipe for Red Quinoa with Butternut Squash from the blog Gluten Free Goddess. Although this recipe sounded awesome, I wanted to adapt it slightly to make it my own. The result was my Butternut Squash and Cranberry Quinoa Salad. Satisfying and creamy with the chunks of caramelized butternut squash, with tangy bursts of freshness from fresh cranberries, and zesty bites of red onion, all immersed in sage-speckled quinoa. This recipe was delicious as a side with my dinner, not to mention the perfect leftover to pack up for my lunch at work the next day!

Adapted from Gluten Free Goddess.
Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa (rinsed)
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp garlic, pureed or minced
1 small red onion, diced
3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tbsp olive oil
3 sage leaves, chopped finely
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375º. In a medium baking pan, toss the squash with the cranberries, onion, and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, and maple syrup. Season with salt, toss, and roast 25-30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, bring the stock and quinoa to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove cover and fluff with a fork.

3. Add the butternut squash mixture to the quinoa. Add the sage and red wine vinegar and toss to coat. Serve at any temperature.

Listening To:
Kanye West - All Of The Lights (Feat. John Legend, The-Dream, Ryan Leslie, Tony Williams, Charlie Wilson, El...

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bacon Cheddar Broccoli Salad

Something you may not know about me is that I'm probably an alien. After years of discovering strange things about myself like my lack of fingerprints, my ability to turn on and off lights just by walking past them, and my skin bleaching all of my clothing, my friends have decided that the only explanation could be that I'm an alien. As much as I'd like to sit back and blame my strange discoveries and health issues on being an extraterrestrial, I've decided to finally take some action. Although changing my diet may not magically bring me fingerprints or help me with my knack for messing with technology, it will definitely help with my skin and stomach.

When I first discovered that my skin was bleaching my clothing, I learned that this is likely due to my extremely acidic body. The high levels of acidity setting up camp in my body not only led to the bleaching of my clothes, but acne issues, and terrible stomach and heartburn problems that would arise when I did not balance my body with alkaline-rich foods. For years, I would go back and forth pigging out on highly acidic foods that I knew were bad for me, and then eating properly for a few days, just to go back to the danger foods. It wasn't until very recently when I added Joy McCarthy @joyoushealth to Twitter that I decided I needed to make a change. Joy is a registered holistic nutritionist and writer for her own personal blog Joyous Health, as well as numerous other websites. Joy provides helpful tips, tricks, and recipes for creating a healthy mind, body, and soul. Joy's recent post stating that a highly-acidic body is like a magnet for disease, thankfully shook me into seeing just how harmful I was being.

It was at this point that I made a personal vow to make conscious and healthy choices about what I'm putting into my body. No, I'm not going to up and change my entire diet overnight, but I am going to begin taking small steps in the right direction. The first step I took was committing to change what I eat for lunch. Everyday I bring a packed lunch to work, and although it's more healthy than the pizza, chips, and pop many of my coworkers bring, it can certainly be improved. My Bacon Cheddar Broccoli Salad was the perfect start to my new diet. True this broccoli salad has cheese and bacon (two ingredients that Joy isn't too fond of) making it a little bit of an indulgence, but it's certainly a step in the right direction compared to the previous lunches I was making myself like sandwiches with processed meats, cheeses, and lots of spreads. Broccoli (along with other dark, leafy greens) is an alkaline-rich vegetable making it the perfect star ingredient to my lunch. This salad is bursting with flavours and textures, making it easy to forget the lunches of my past...and let's not forget how fast and easy it was to prepare!

It's easy to feel discouraged about making changes, thinking of all the sacrifices you'll have to make, but even little changes make a difference. The first steps are always the hardest, so take them one at a time. Those little changes will become healthy habits that will add up over time. Follow @joyoushealth today to begin making your own changes towards a better mind, body, and soul!

Tip: Hellman's 1/2 the fat is a great alternative to regular mayonnaise. You can't taste the difference at all!

Ingredients:
1-2 heads broccoli
1/2 cup red onions or scallions, chopped
6 slices bacon
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup vinegar

Directions:
1. Fry bacon until crispy. Pat with a paper towel to remove excess grease, and cut into small strips. Set aside.

2. Cut broccoli into bite-sized pieces, using both the broccoli flowerettes and stems. Place them in a large bowl.

3. Add the cheddar, cheese, onions, and bacon to the broccoli and toss.

4. In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise and vinegar together. Pour over broccoli mixture and toss to coat.

Listening To:
Joy Division - Disorder

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Simple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


I guess it doesn't come as a shock by now that my family is really big on holidays. Whenever there is any type of holiday my family goes all out to create a fun and festive occasion. Out of all the holidays, Halloween has always been one of our favourite traditions. Every year my dad, my sister, and I carve out our own pumpkins, which are always the most talked out pumpkins in our neighborhood. We then have a warm comforting meal that my mom has prepared, while sneaking candy for myself and opening the door for trick or treaters. This tradition has changed over the years due to busy schedules and social lives, but this year I was able to take the time to carve out my own pumpkin. Unfortunately, I didn't have as much time as I would have liked (trick or treaters were ringing the bell before I was even finished!), it turned out pretty good and I think the neighborhood kids really liked it.

Another tradition that I have is saving all the pumpkin seeds to roast off as a snack for the rest of the week. I always make Spiced Pumpkin Seeds so this year I thought I would switch it up and just make very basic roasted pumpkin seeds so they could be tossed into salads and other dishes. Crisp, salty, and nutty, these seeds are going to taste great dressing up dishes all week long!

Ingredients:
seeds from 1 medium pumpkin, washed and dried
2 tsp butter, melted
2 tbsp sesame oil
generous pinch sea salt or kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 300º. Pour pumpkin seeds into a medium baking pan and drizzle with butter and sesame oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir until seeds are evenly coated and in a single layer.

2. Bake for 45 min to 1 hour, or until golden brown. Stir twice during baking. Store in an airtight container for about 2 weeks.

Listening To:
Neil Young - Cowgirl in the Sand

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Slow Cooker Beef Stew and Rustic Chive Biscuits




So I've finally come to accept that I won't be tanning in my backyard for a while now (I was really counting on one more Indian-Summer-like day), so this means it's time to indulge in the best that Fall has to offer. My absolute favourite thing about Fall is bringing out the comfort food. In my mind, one of the only positives of cold weather is using it as an excuse to indulge in warm and comforting meals. One of my favourite comfort foods is beef stew. My mom has been making beef stew for years, and it's always right around this time that I begin craving that thick sauce, tender and flavourful beef, and abundance of hearty vegetables. Although my moms beef stew is outstanding, we recently purchased a slow cooker and have been experimenting with all of our classics, trying them out in our new toy. So we decided to find the most basic recipe we could and see how it did in the cooker so we could compare my moms classic stovetop recipe with the basic slow cooker recipe. We also decided that any good stew needs a good dipper to soak up all those leftover delicious juices. So I quickly whipped up some Rustic Chive Biscuits.

The stew tasted delicious although it didn't even compare to my moms classic. After finishing numerous helpings of the stew, we realized that using the slow cooker method eliminated one very important step. One of the biggest flavour boosters in making a stew is browning your meat before adding in the liquids. In a slow cooker you are unable to do this. Although the slow cooker beef stew wasn't as spectacular as my moms classic beef stew, it was still absolutely delicious and is extremely convenient for people who are unable to nurse a pot on a stove all day long. With a slow cooker you can literally throw everything into the pot, and forget about it for the rest of the day, and hours later you have a delicious, tender, warm, and hearty meal ready to be served! My Rustic Chive Biscuits were the perfect accompaniment to the stew. Crisp on the outside, and steaming hot, soft, and buttery on the inside with chive confetti throughout. Who needs a spoon when you can use biscuits?!

Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.
Ingredients:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 pounds beef stew meat
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups beef broth
4 potatoes, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 cups mushrooms
1/2 cup frozen peas

Directions:
1. In a large ziplock bag, mix together the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper. Add the stewing beef and shake to coat.

2. In a large, heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the stewing beef in batches, and brown on all sides. Remove and place in slow cooker. Add the red wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Scrape the bits at the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the remains into the slow cooker as well.

3. In the bowl of the slow cooker, stir in the garlic, bay leaf, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, onions, beef broth, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and the remaining flour mixture in the bag.

4. Cover and cook on low setting for 10-12 hours, or on high setting for 4-6 hours. Add frozen peas within the last 1/2 hour of cooking.

Rustic Chive Biscuits
Ingredients:
2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp cold butter
2 tbsp cold shortening
1 cup buttermilk, chilled
1-2 tbsp chives, chopped

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450º. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. Using fingertips, rub the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles fine crumbs (work quickly so the fats do not melt).

3. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in the chilled buttermilk and chives. Stir just until the dough comes together/ The dough should be very sticky at this point.

4. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface. Dust the top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times.

5. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Using a sharp knife cut dough into very rough square-or-rectangle-like shapes about 2-3 inches in diameter. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch.

6. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until biscuits have risen and are golden on top.

Listening To:
Dolly Parton - Jolene

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Monday, October 25, 2010

My Premier Life


I am very excited to announce that I am now officially a contributing writer for Premier Life, an online lifestyle magazine bringing you the latest in Music, Fashion, Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Technology....and now Food! Check out my first article A Beginners Guide to a Wine Tasting Experience, where I give some insight on the do's and don'ts of wine tasting.

Listening To:
Leonard Cohen - So Long Marianne

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ooey Gooey Cranberry & Coconut Lemon Squares


You know when you have a cold and the only thing in the world you feel like doing is curling up on the couch with a mug of tea, a bowl of chicken soup, a box of kleenex, and a marathon of old movies? You know that horrible sinking feeling when you realize you can't do any of that because you have to work every single day? You know how excited you get when you're managers kindly let you leave work early to go home and rest? You know that fantastic sensation of letting your body crash onto that couch...oh wait...I'm not familiar with that part. Last week, despite the fact that I was sick as a dog and all my body was telling me to do was rest, I decided to take a raincheck on that rest (leaving me still sniffling a week later), and bake (while washing my hands every 2 minutes!).

For Thanksgiving my mom had bought an extra bag of cranberries so that one of us could make a recipe for Cranberry and Coconut Lemon Squares that she found scribbled onto a loose sheet of paper tucked into her favourite cookbook with 4 stars drawn on the top corner. I knew those squares would be the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea so I thought it would be the perfect thing to make on my "restful" day off. I realized that it probably wasn't the best idea to go off baking when my body was jacked with numerous cold and flu meds when I went to top the crust with the lemon filling. Something had clearly gone wrong. The crust looked like it could use a few more minutes in the oven, the filling was almost overflowing over the baking dish (if those squares had risen even a millimeter, I would have been screwed!), and there looked like there was too many cranberries. I guess those meds messed with my sense of perception because I had baked my squares in a pan way too small than the recipe had called for.

I nervously paced the kitchen as the squares baked, scared that I had wasted all those ingredients for defect squares. Finally the timer rang, I took the squares out, let them cool for a few hours, and then it was the moment of truth. I cut through the cooled dish to make squares and carefully lifted out each square. Eureka! The squares turned out even better than I remember the original squares tasting! The thicker squares with the same cooking time resulted in incredible messy, ooey, and gooey sweet and tangy squares that I couldn't get enough of! This is one mistake Ill be making over and over again in the future!

Note: If you prefer the texture of the original squares, simply bake them in a 9 x 13 dish instead and reduce the baking time of the crust to 20 minutes.

Ingredients:
Base
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup cold butter, cut into chunks

Filling
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups whole cranberries
1 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

Directions:
1. For base, preheat oven to 325º. Grease a 7 x 11 baking dish.

2. Pulse the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor until crumbly in texture.

3. Pat evenly into bottom of greased baking dish. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice in the food processor until combined. Add the flour and baking powder and blend until just combined.

5. Scatter cranberries evenly over the warm, baked crust, and sprinkle with coconut. Pour the lemon mixture on top.

6. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until middle is set and edges are golden. Let cool and serve.

Listening To:
Gorillaz - Dirty Harry

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(kicking myself for not going to their concert last Thursday!!)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Creamy Tomato Pasta Primavera

I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone that one of my favourite topics to talk about is food. Anyone who has ever spent more than 10 minutes with me would know this. My interest in discussing all things food related becomes especially apparent when standing around for hours on end doing aaaaabsolutely nothing. So all of my coworkers at the patisserie I was previously working at would be very familiar with these food discussions. One foodie talk in particular stands out in my mind. I asked one of my coworkers Saxon, a trained chef, what some of her go-to dishes were after coming home from a long day at work. She began to enthusiastically describe her Pasta Primavera in a Creamy Cheese Sauce. That was it. I had to make it. There was only one problem, I had been convinced for quite some time that I had been cursed with the inability to make a successful cream sauce. Time and time again I had attempted to make a roux which would hopefully develop into a smooth and thick cream sauce, only to result in utter failure. So Saxon went through her step by step guide on how to make a successful cream sauce.

How to Make a Successful Cream Sauce
1) Use equal parts fat and flour.
2) Do not walk away from cooking roux.
3) Always add either hot cream/milk to hot roux OR cold cream/milk to cold roux.
4) Do not add the cream/milk all at once. Add a little at a time, allowing each bit to thicken before adding more.
5) Give the sauce time to simmer, thicken and develop flavour.

That night I came home super excited to try out Saxon's cream sauce. I have to admit, I was skeptical that it would work considering my past failures, so I decided to make a bit of a rose sauce just in case it didn't work out. I went through her tips step by step, adding in my own little touches along the way and, to my amazement, it worked! My Creamy Tomato Pasta Primavera turned out incredible! I actually had this as my dinner three times that week I loved it so much!

Great big thanks to Saxon for teaching me how to make a successful cream sauce, for keeping me semi-sane at work, and for all the hard work you do! I hope you're finally receiving the credit you deserve.

Ingredients:
bow-tie pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp flour
1 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic, pureed
1 onion, chopped
broccoli (stem and head), chopped
red pepper, chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved
snow peas, cut into thirds
frozen peas and carrots
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup equal parts fresh basil, parsley, rosemary, and chives, chopped finely
parmesan cheese
a pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Heat milk and cream over the stove or in microwave until warm to the touch. Set aside. In a medium pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and flour on medium-low heat, stirring the mixture constantly.

2. Once flour and olive oil have come together and turned slightly golden, add the warm milk and cream a little bit at a time, allowing the mixture to thicken slightly before adding more.

3. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. In a large pan or pot at medium heat, cook 1 tbsp olive oil with garlic and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have softened.

5. Add the vegetables and saute until cooked but still slightly crisp. Add the tomato sauce and fresh herbs, stir and cook another 5-7 min.

6. In a separate pot, cook pasta according to directions on the package.

7. Combine the tomato sauce and vegetable mixture with the cream sauce. Grate over desired amount of parmesan cheese and sprinkle over red pepper flakes.

8. Toss pasta with sauce and vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Listening To:
Tokyo Police Club - Bambi

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Salsa Verde

In my cooking repertoire there are a few ingredients that have a pattern of re-appearing in different dishes over and over again. Hey, Bobby Flay has his habanero peppers, Giada her parmigiano-reggiano, and I have my goat cheese, salsa, and whatever fresh herb I can get my hands on. So when my mom and dad brought back a big paper bag filled with bright green tomatillo tomatoes, still wrapped in their husks, along with a recipe for Salsa Verde, straight from the hands of the farmer himself at the farmer's market...I....nearly....lost it! I had been wanting to make my very own homemade salsa all summer, but I never even thought about kicking things up a notch and making the ever-mysterious-to-me, Salsa Verde.
This recipe is crazy easy and results in big bold flavours and the most stunning bright green colour (that yes, my dad called "scary"). The tomatillos add a touch of tartness to the salsa that makes it unique to other red tomato salsas. What I love about this salsa is that it just screams 'FRESH!' Although I used jarred jalapeno peppers when I made the salsa, its the freshness of farm fresh tomatoes that you taste, along with the bright flavour of fresh cilantro, and the tanginess of freshly squeezed lime juice. Just as I have a habit of putting my bought salsas on everything, I have been putting my homemade Salsa Verde on just about everything as well! Mixed into omelettes, potatoes, any sort of Mexican inspired dish, chicken, fish, and of course on top of a salty and crispy tortilla chip!
Note: For a milder salsa, remove the jalapeno peppers seeds and veins before processing.
Tip: Serve this at your next Mexican inspired gathering! This is a great make-ahead addition to your meal.

Recipe by Chef Jim Hayward
Ingredients:
1 lb tomatillos (about 12-15), husks removed, washed, and cut in half
1 small white or yellow onion, roughly chopped
2-3 jalapeno peppers, stems removed (you may subsitute about 1/4 cup pickled jalapenos)
olive oil
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic
juice from 1/2 of a lime

Directions:
1. Place tomatillos, onions, and peppers in a baking dish. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.

2. Bake in a 350º oven for 15-20 minutes. The tomatillos should be nice and soft at this point. Set aside to cool.

3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tomatillos, onions, jalapenos, garlic, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Process to form a smooth textured puree as necessary for the desired consistency.

4. Transfer to a serving bowl. The salsa can be kept for 1 week in the refrigerator in an airtight container or jar.

Listening To:
Caribou - Odessa

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Love Of My Life Peaches n' Cream Pie

Some people find the love of their life in high school, others at parties and clubs, or even online...I, on the other hand found mine in my very own house. Fickle is a word often used to describe my heart, but my love for my moms peach pie will never die. Here I go again making these hyperbolic statements, but kids, I ain't kidding because this peach pie is outstanding. To be honest with you, I've never tasted a pie of my moms that I haven't fallen head over heels in love with. In fact, I even promised her I would give her the very official title of "Worlds Best Pie Maker" if I could put her recipe on my blog, a title she rightfully deserves. But out of all my moms delicious pies, her peach pie tops them all. The unique addition of the sweet sour cream and brown sugar mixture on top turns a classic peach pie into a Peaches n' Cream Pie, and turns me into one very happy lady.

Ingredients:
19" unbaked pie shell
6-7 peaches peeled and sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2-3 tbsp brown sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425º. Slice the peaches straight into the pie shell and spread them out evenly.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar and sour cream. Pour evenly over peaches.

3. Bake for 12 minutes, then reduce heat to 350º. Continue baking until fruit is tender and sour cream mixture is set, about 40 min.

4. Sprinkle the top of the pie with brown sugar and return to oven for another 5 min. Cool to room temperature before serving.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fig and Goat Cheese Salad with a Honey and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Recently I developed a love for figs. For years I could never understand what was so great about this expensive fruit, and would stick to grapes and olives when a cheese plate would come my way. Well I'm making up for lost time now, experimenting with figs in any way I can when they make a rare appearance in my fridge. I even went so far as trying to create fig and goat cheese pancakes...an experience I will not be sharing with you...let's just say, you wouldn't want to try that one at home. My Fig and Goat Cheese Salad with a Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette was a much more pleasant experience for me. Satisfying, tangy, and sweet, this salad is great served as a side dish with your entree or even as a light meal on its own.

Note: Use your discretion on how much of the salad ingredients to add. It may vary depending on your taste and how many people you are serving it to.

Ingredients:
mixed greens
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
figs, cut into quarters
red onion, very thinly sliced
goat cheese
dried cranberries
toasted pecans, chopped
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar with the honey until well combined. While continuing to whisk, slowly add in the olive oil in an even stream. Set aside.

2. Place desired amount of mixed greens in a large serving bowl. Top with figs, red onion, crumbles of goat cheese, dried cranberries, and toasted pecans.

3. Pour dressing over salad and toss until everything is coated. Season with salt and pepper, and gently toss again.

Listening To:
The xx - Heart Skipped A Beat

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