Friday, July 22, 2011

Kale and Pasta Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

How is everyone handling the heat? I am handling it okay, but only because of the decision to finally turn the air conditioner on in our house. I am unsure if it has turned off since the heat wave began. That should be fun when the bill comes around! With all the heat, it is hard to get motivated to cook. Yesterday I made the mistake of making tea (to ultimately chill it), kale chips, and veggie burgers. The kitchen was a HOT MESS! Literally though, I spilt tea everywhere at one point. Luckily, I had an amazing lunch which was nice and cold. A kale and pasta salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

The salad came together rather quietly. It was the result of a series of fortunate events.

1. First it was just a container of leftover pasta. Maybe I will eat it with some pesto? Maybe I will just eat it cold straight from the fridge if I get THAT hungry?

2. But, when I was making a salad for dinner Wednesday night I saw the kale I had from my parent's garden. "Let's just throw that in there!" I said. So I did.

3. As I was chopping up some cucumber (from my Grandfather's garden) for the dinner salad, I had some extra. "Let's just toss that in the leftover pasta container too."

4. Kale is best raw when it has been in some dressing at least a few hours. Well, I was already dressing a salad, "why don't I just pour some of it on the pasta too?"

5. In the morning, I threw in some orange tomatoes, some goat cheese, and called it a day. A great day that is...because of this salad of course.

Kale and Pasta Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

farfelle pasta, cooked (penne, Conchiglie or rotini would also work well)
zesty balsamic vinaigrette
crumbled coat cheese

1. Toss together (everything except goat cheese and tomato), the night before. Refrigerate overnight.
2. Add tomato, goat cheese, and serve.

When I opened up the container for lunch I was so excited, and also very hungry. It looked so beautiful and vibrant that I had to take the 10 second to take a picture with my phone. I think it captures the colour rather well! The salad was really good and very filling. Be sure to use whole wheat pasta to get the same effect ; )

By the way, you should really check out this link. Deciding what pastas would work well led me to that wikipedia page. So many pasta types! I think I better brush up on my Italian pasta vocabulary!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Overnight Oats with Cottage Cheese

I have been back on an overnight oats kick lately. I hadn't had them in a while until a couple weeks ago. I rekindled my love for them inspired by this recipe by the Healthy Foodie. I made some changes, but it got me hooked again. I have also seen some recipes for overnight oats out there using cottage cheese. Before I left for the weekend I wanted to use up the last bit of cottage cheese I had in the fridge, so I thought, what better time to give it a try. I love cottage cheese but only recently (last few months) have enjoyed it in a sweet state. I used to only enjoy it on pasta, or salads, on its own, or maybe with some nuts. But now, I like it with sliced strawberries or nectarines. Yum.

I started out with my usual standard overnight oats recipe, and substituted 1/2 cup of the soy milk for almost 1/2 cup of 2% cottage cheese. I absolutely loved the modification. I was quite full so I think next time I would scale it down, but it sure did pack a protein punch, 27 grams to be exact. Woah.

Overnight Oats with Cottage Cheese

1/2 cup oats
1 tbsp ground flax (or chia seeds)
1 small banana, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese

1. Chop banana into bottom of bowl.
2. Add oats and flax on top of banana.
3. Add soy milk and cottage cheese.
4. Mix, trying to keep the banana on the bottom (prevents browning).
5. Chill overnight (or for a few hours).

It was just the right about of cheesiness. It was a bit thick in the morning so I added a dash of milk until it was the consistency I like. I also added a little bit of almond butter (peanut butter would be good too).  Like I said, I would probably scale it down to 1/3 cup oats next time because I was too full after eating it all.

Overnight oats are a great breakfast for the summer because they are quick, cold, and require no cooking. There is so much potential for this kind of breakfast. Let your imagination run wild!

....And then come back here and let me know what you come up with!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chickpea and Kale Multigrain Pizza

I have shared before how making pizza on the BBQ is awesome. It gets the crust nice and crusty, which sometimes doesn't happen in the oven. Plus, it is the summer and I'd rather cook outside on the BBQ than assist in making this house of mine any hotter. I have been wanting to make my own pizza dough for a while now, so I finally did. I made a batch of this recipe by Eat, Live, Run. The only change I made to Jenna's recipe was substituting a 12 grain flour instead of the whole wheat. This substitution made the dough a little more tough and it didn't rise quite as much, but it was still delicious.

I divided the dough after rising into 4 balls and put them in the freezer. Each one makes a small pizza which serves two.  With the doughs I have made 3 different kinds of pizza. I brought along some dough to the cottage and made classic veggie pizzas with tomato sauce, cheese, peppers, and mushrooms. Nothing too out of the ordinary.

The next was a veggie heavy pizza. I topped it with some mozzarella, cooked spinach (previously frozen in nuggets), and tomato slices. It was actually REALLY good. I have never put spinach on my own pizza before, but I loved the mozzarella and spinach combination.

The next pizza I made without having quite as many ingredients on hand. I had some leftover sauce still, but that was about the only "normal" pizza topping I used. After the sauce I plopped on some cottage cheese, chickpeas, dukkah, and kale. I could have gone without the dukkah truthfully, but chickpeas and dukkah go hand in hand. 

The first time I had kale on pizza was at Earth to Table Bread Bar on Locke St. in Hamilton. The pizza also had olives on it and it was a winning combination. The kale got really crispy, which was welcomed, but was lacking some moisture. I think the oven method would have gotten the desired effect in this case. Either way, still a good pizza, and definitely not ordinary.

The fact that I have no more dough left makes me sad. I will probably make some more soon because it makes for a pretty quick dinner. Even with nothing else on hand, simply olive oil and spices is really all it takes to make a good pizza. I wonder how it will compare to the pizza in Italy? Probably won't come close but I can't wait to find out!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Chickpea Flour Pancakes

In about 5 weeks, I will have completed part of my research study for my Master's thesis, move out of my current house and into my parent's house, and depart for Italy for a 2 week trip with my Nonna and cousin. I am really excited for it all to happen, but I feel like a lot needs to happen in the next 5 weeks. One thing that needs to happen is that I need to use up a lot of my pantry and freezer items. This will not only make my move easier, but I will reduce the risk of wasting food and I will save some money. I am going to start making the conscious effort to use up what I have and attempt to make-due rather than taking those oh so tempting grocery trips.

What have I done in the past few days to accomplish this:

1. I made some granola. I made a version similar to the crunchy quinoa granola, but I added some oats and different nuts.
I have lots of yogurt in the fridge that needs to get eaten in the next week or two. Normally I add some fruit and I am good to go. However, I want to save some of those frozen berries for in the future when I may not have any fresh fruit available to me. Plain yogurt is a bit boring on it's own however so I made this high protein and fairly low sugar granola. It also used up lots of nuts that I had as well as some dried cranberries which I will not eat on their own.

2. Used up that big bag of frozen vegetable scraps.
For the past few months, I had been keeping some veggie scraps in a ziploc bag in the freezer. It had a little bit of everything. I kept aspargus ends, parsnip tops, carrot peelings, bruised zucchini, mushroom stems, and wilted celery. I had been doing this since I wrote this post on wasting less food, but I have not kept everything. I figured it was about time to make the vegetable stock I was keeping these veggies for. Soup is literally the last thing I would want to be making this time of year, but it had to be done. I will write about making vegetable stock in the near future, and what I end up using it for.

3. Developed a yummy pancake recipe using chickpea flour.
Once my oats run out, pancakes are the next order of business for breakfast, which will also help with using up some flour. However, I'd like to save my wheat flour for baking bread, and I have a lot of chickpea flour to play with. I wanted to figure out a good recipe that is quick and also delicious. After first trying chickpea pancakes with blueberries, I knew I needed to up the sweet factor if I was going to enjoy them for breakfast. My first try was a great success and after one more tweak I have settled on the following recipe.

Banana Chocolate Chip Chickpea Flour Pancakes
serves 1

1/2 cup chickpea flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk (I think the sweetened soy milk might be neccessary)
1 banana, chopped
1 tbsp dark chocolate chips - an extra tbsp doesn't hurt ;)

1. Whisk together the first three ingredients.
2. Slowly add the soy milk, whisking in to remove any clumps.
3. Stir in the banana and chocolate chips.
4. Heat a greased pan on medium heat, and add 1/4 of the batter to the pan (I like to cover the pan). Once the bubbles no longer close up, it is time to flip the pancake. After 2 minutes or so the pancake should be about done.
5. I eat them plain or with a bit of almond butter on top.

These pancakes are really good, especially the bites which have lots of banana and chocolate. I have a feeling the use of the chickpea flour is an acquired taste, and definitely needs to be sweetened to be used as a pancake flour. I have been having these for breakfast for the past few days and have really been enjoying them. It is a great way to use up my chickpea flour as well as some frozen bananas kicking around. If you don't like banana, adding a tbsp or two of coconut is also good.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Protein Smoothie

Now does it feel like summer or what? I had another fantastic cottage weekend (2 in a row) this past long weekend. It is so nice to be by the water with friends, relaxing by the water, boating, canoeing, making s'mores, drinking some beer, and getting mosquito bites. Well, maybe the last part isn't so nice, but it comes along with all the pleasures of a cottaging weekend.

Cooking kind of takes a back burner in the summer I think, as making a fresh salad and not turning on the oven sounds like a better idea. The recipe I am going to share with you today is just what the summer calls for. It does not require cooking, could replace a hot breakfast, is cold, and tastes like a delicious milkshake. I have been delaying sharing this recipe because I don't have a picture of it, but a request for a smoothie came along and did not want to delay in sharing this amazing recipe.

Peanut Butter Banana Protein Smoothie

1 cup soy milk
1 tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 medium banana
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp peanut butter

1. Blend all ingredients until smooth.

This smoothie is actually amazing. It tastes so rich and the peanut flavour really comes through. I have yet to take a picture of this beauty, but it is a beige thick liquid with specks of flax throughout if not having a picture is throwing you off ;). A picture adds nothing to the story here.

In lieu of a picture of this plain looking smoothie, I am going to show you a picture I took of my meal two weekends ago when we went out for dinner in the Muskokas. It is just an iPhone pic, but it will have to do. A friend of mine has a fantastic picture, but he is being a bit slow in sending it to me *hint hint*. This post just could not wait. I am sure I will update the post with the much better picture, that my talented friend Derek took (me sucking up a bit), soon enough.  Updated picture from my friend Derek!

This was a beet risotto from the restaurant we went to somewhere in Muskoka. It was amazing. It was one of the few vegetarian dishes on the menu (unless they used chicken broth, but I don't think they did) and I ordered it out of curiosity. The risotto was creamy, sweet and had a touch of lemon, potentially just from the lemon zest. In the middle of the bowl was a thick slice of baked brie cheese, and pistachio pieces were sprinkles on top. The flavour combination was unreal. I hope to one day recreate this dish but I have a feeling it wont happen until the fall, as I could not bring myself to stand over a pot for an hour and a half in this heat. Instead, I think I will make a peanut butter banana smoothie.

Here are some other pictures of where I have been hanging out on the weekends:

Lake Joseph

Lake Joseph

Maple Lake