Sunday, October 24, 2010

Montreal Bound

What a week! I hate to say it, but that artichoke is still in the crisper of my refrigerator. It will stay there for another week, most likely going bad, because I am en route to Montreal! :)

I did learn how to use the artichoke. I had plans all week to saute it in some butter and garlic. It would have been delicious I am sure. Not only did I not get to use my artichoke this week but most of my meals consisted of grilled sandwiches and kale chips. I am glad my super busy week is over and I can resume to cooking up some new recipes, when I return from Montreal of course.

I will hopefully have some excellent food experiences in Montreal that I will share upon my return, or maybe even mid trip.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I've been busy but not too busy to cook!

Looking at my photo albums in iPhoto today made me realize how much I have cooked lately. I have been pretty busy with school and when I come home I am usually starving. Anything that slows down the time it takes for me to eat (aka. taking pictures/writing down quantities) has been cut from the routine. This week is equally busy so I will make this post relatively quick. Showing some pictures of my latest creations and either a link to a recipe, or a quick recap of what I did.

A while back my Nonna made me a pasta dish with no sauce, and was dressed with some olive oil and canned clams. I LOVED it! I made it once after that and then totally forgot about the potential of canned clams. They went on sale at the grocery store a couple weeks back and I remembered how much I loved them. I sauted up some garlic, chili pepper, onions, mushrooms, and broccoli, and then added the drained canned clams. Once all the veggies were tender and the calms were hot, I added some cooked rice noodles and tossed until mixed well. Any noodle would work well here but I liked the tenderness of the rice noodle.

One night a couple weeks ago I knew I wanted to use up some lentils so I did the usual search on Google Reader. I came across this recipe for a Vegetable Pie With Cornbread Topping from Seasonal Ontario Foods blog. I made some substitutions with vegetables I had on hand and I was a little disappointed. I definitely didn't like the pepper and I could have done without the eggplant (my substitution for zucchini). I liked the combination of the cornbread with the lentils (mostly because I LOVE) however and see a lot of potential in this one! I think next time I would use my personal favourite cornbread recipe.

I have been big into making baked fries lately. I make them about once a week, with sweet potato or regular potatoes. I love changing up the flavours using different spices to toss the taters in olive oil with, but one of my favourites is this flavour combination by Dani Spies, Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges With a Garlic Yogurt Dip.

On the weekend of Thanksgiving I found stewing lamb at the grocery store. Now I love lamb! It is by far my favourite meat. The best peice of lamb that every graced my lips came straight from a pot of sauce my Tatone was making. So I knew for sure I was cooking this lamb in some tomato sauce. I cut off as much of the lamb from the bone as I could. I then browned the lamb, as well as the bones with meat still on it, in a sauce pan, and then added onion and chopped portabello mushrooms. Once the veggies were cooked I poured on the strained tomatoes, added some basil, oregano, garlic powder, and 2 bay leaves. I let this simmer for about 45 minutes covered, and then allowed to reduce for another 15-20 minutes. I served it over cooked spaghetti squash, a great alternative to spaghetti! The sauce was delicious becuase you could taste the flavour of the lamb in each bite.

I am off to Montreal next week :) but I will be sure to write a real post before then. I bought myself an artichoke on the weekend and I am going to find out how to use it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!...and Pumpkin Spiced Cookies

Today is officially Thanksgiving so Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We had our family dinner on Sunday and it was delicious! I am actually writing some of this post ahead of time so I am still nursing quite the food baby. I know for some people Thanksgiving is all about the turkey. Not so much for me. I am all about the sides. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, peas and mushrooms....drool. I look forward to these classics every year.

Thanksgiving dinner this year was at my Aunt's house in Waterloo. They live in a beautiful neighbourhood with lots of very large old trees. This makes for beautiful scenery for a Thanksgiving feast. It was so warm out so we got to sit outside. The sun was shining and there were barely clouds in the sky! Here are some pictures from our day of thanks...

I am thankful for figs.

I am thankful for those who can carve a turkey

I am thankful for my aunt and cousin for cooking all the delicious food!

I am thankful for roasted red peppers from my Tatone's garden.

I am thankful for calorie induced comas (not really actually).

I am thankful the live music at every family gathering.

I am also thankful for cookies!

We had vegan chocolate raspberry (by cousin Diana)

Oatmeal, biscotti, pizzelli (by Nonna), and pumpkin spice cookies (by me). The pumpkin spice cookies was a hybrid of two recipes. The cookie was very soft and almost muffin like. I would love to play around with the recipe some more to make a crispier cookie which I much prefer. Here is the recipe as it stands so far.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies adapted from the Voracious Vegan and Vegan by Valerie

¾ cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

½ cup wheat bran

1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1/4 cup butter
¼ cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar

granulated sugar for coating cookie

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 cookie sheets.

2. Mix dry ingredients.

3. Mix wet ingredients. It is difficult to mix the butter well into the wet ingredients.

4. Mix wet ingredients into the flour mixture in two portions. Mix well until fully blended. The batter is pretty sticky and wet (kind of like cake batter). It also tastes delicious by the way.

5. Roll into 1 inch diameter balls and roll lightly in sugar. Place on cookie sheet and flatten with a fork in a crisscross pattern.

6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from the pan.

These cookies are chewy and soft, if you are into that sort of thing. Next time I am going to cut back on the oil and butter and see where that takes me. I will let you know how it turns out. Since I have so much leftover pumpkin puree I may just make another batch this week ;)

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving too!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pizza on the BBQ

For the past few days I have had a craving for pizza. Finally tonight, that craving was satisfied. I made a last minute decision to go home earlier than I had planned to spend more time with my family. When my Dad asked what I wanted to have for dinner, obviously I could not have said pizza fast enough. On the BBQ? Of course! It was such a beautiful day today which was perfect. While driving home up the escarpment in Hamilton this morning it sunk in that autumn was here, which even with a cool wind makes me feel warm inside. I have a soft spot for leaf senescence.

Now onto the pizza. I have yet to tackle making my own pizza dough. One day I will attempt it but for today Fortinos fresh whole-wheat pizza dough did the trick. Store bought pizza sauce would do as well.

1. Fire up the BBQ and let it get really hot!

2. Roll out the dough into preferred thickness and size.

3. Place onto hot grill.

Once the bottom is cooked, the outer edges are almost cooked and the middle is still soft, remove the crust from the grill, uncooked side down (rotate halfway through cooking time).

4. Place your toppings onto the grilled side. We added sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, veggies (green pepper, onion, mushrooms, hot peppers), then Romano cheese.

5. Put pizzas back on the grill and close the lid to allow the cheese melt while the bottom is cooking.

Once the cheese is melted and the bottom has the desired colour, it is done!

While the sauce was a little bland, the pizza was delicious and satisfied my desire for some cheesy pizza.

Since it is Thanksgiving weekend there is a whole lot of food fun going on. Tomorrow I am heading to my Aunts for Thanksgiving dinner and will definitely be a meal to write about. I am baking a special treat which I will be able to share with you as well (through pictures and words only unfortunately).