Friday, 30 September 2011

Pumpkin Pie Oats

It's pumpkin time.  From seeds, to pie, and everything in between.  I can't get sick of this stuff.  Consider yourselves warned.  You are about to see big, orange pumpkins in your sleep, as I plan on using this stuff in ridiculous amounts.  Let's hope this pumpkin shortage doesn't come into play and ruin my plans.

This recipe is for my sister.  Actually it's for me, but my sister will benefit just the same.  She loves pumpkin pie!  She is also the type of girl that never orders dessert at a restaurant.  Unless, she is tricked into it by me.   It's usually cheesecake, warrants a special trip and usually ends with me eating all of mine, and stealing more than a bite of hers.  However, during a recent trip to her favourite dinner place, she was tempted and then talked into having dessert (without me present.)  How did this happen?  Two words.   Pumpkin Pie.  This is a seasonal dessert that is once again available on menus everywhere.  That's it, dessert ordered and finished.  After telling me this story, and gushing over it's deliciousness, she asked for my help.  I was all set to make her a pie, only to find out that wasn't what she was after.  Nope.  Instead she wanted me to make oatmeal taste like pumpkin pie.  Consider it done.  Pie @ breakfast, you betcha. I've already succeeded at making oatmeal taste like cake, so pie should be a cake walk.

So for you dear sister, (and for me) here it is....

Pumpkin Pie Oats

1/2 cup quaker quick oats
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk, plus additional for serving
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
pinch of cloves
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp pecans, chopped

In saucepan, heat almond milk till it reaches a boil.  Add spices and oats.  Reduce heat and cook stirring occasionally for 6-8 minutes.  Stir in vanilla, brown sugar and pumpkin puree.  Heat thru.
Remove from heat, pour into bowl.  Top with pecans.  Add additional milk if desired.  Devour.

Pumpkin Pie for breakfast.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Healthy Veggie Frittata

If ever there was a bigger advocate of having breakfast for dinner than myself, it would be my husband.  In fact, I'm pretty sure the two of us would be more than okay with the idea of having breakfast 3 times a day.  To some people, the sheer thought of breakfast for dinner couldn't be less appealing, my dad for example.  I don't know that in all of my years on this planet, that I have ever seen him eat breakfast at dinner.  Mind you, he isn't a big breakfast @ breakfast guy either, a bowl of cereal and some milk suits him just fine.  Maybe he wasn't a good example.  However, I know those people for you, pretend this is breakfast.  For me, I know it's dinner and I couldn't be happier.  Oh, it will also be breakfast tomorrow.  Nothing wrong with leftovers.  A nice piece of buttered toast, a coffee and I'm set to take on two toddlers...well, as set as any parent can be, you never know what the day will hold.
Mmmm...Egg-celent dinner!

Healthy Veggie Frittata

6 extra large eggs, beaten
1 cup asparagus, trimmed into 1-inch lengths diagonally
1/2 cup sweet red peppers, diced
1/4 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved
1 - 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 9-inch pie plate.  Set aside.
In large skillet over medium heat, cook asparagus in olive oil for approximately 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add in red pepper and cook an additional 3 minutes until softened.  Last, add in onions, garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and set aside.
In large bowl combine eggs, cheese, basil, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Stir in cooked vegetable mixture and tomatoes. 
Transfer to prepared baking dish.  Bake for 35-40minutes, until golden and set.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Yields: 4-6 servings.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Surprise Cornmeal Muffins

My earliest memory of corn bread (well actually corn muffins) comes from shopping trips I had with my mom and sister.  Now, if you know my mom, she likes to be early for everything.  Not on time.  Early!  This annoying trait has now passed itself down to me.  Thanks mom.  So, whenever we had a PD day @ school, mom would take us shopping.  Stores opened @ 10.  We were there @ 9:15, seriously.  Being early did offer up some perks.  Mostly in the form of muffins, fresh baked muffins.  The place of choice, Mmmmuffins.  It was here, where my love of corn muffins was first realized.  My sister always got a chocolate chip, and to this day remains the only muffin she will eat.  I always got the corn muffin, mostly because I can't remember on one occasion of my mom baking this variety at home.  So the mall was my go-to place when I needed my fix.  Being that we were always early, you could always count on them being warm and fresh out of the oven.  Pure bliss.

This corn muffin recipe comes with a sweet surprise.  Literally sweet as in sugar-sweet, not sweet as in 'this is awesome' (confused?)  Although, technically both sweets would apply, because this muffin is awesome.  On the outside it just looks like a regular muffin.  But one big bite into it and voila...jam, strawberry jam.  I love surprises!  I love jam!

Surprise Cornmeal Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup applesauce
2 Tbsp oil
4 Tbsp strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line muffin tins with paper cups.  Set aside.
In large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Mix well. 
In separate bowl combine milk, egg, oil and applesauce.  Pour into dry ingredients, stirring until just combined.
Fill muffin tins 1/2 way, top with 1 heaping tsp jam, fill another 1/4 way (should be 3/4 full in total)  Repeat process for remaining muffins.  Top with sugar.
Bake 20-25 minutes.

Yield: 12 muffins

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Preserving Berries

This is a tip, not a recipe.
And it comes from one savvy lady, my Grandma M.  She is full of ideas in the kitchen and this one is no exception.  It was passed onto her from one of the girls in her gourmet group.  (yep, my savvy grandma belongs to a gourmet cooking group - did I mention that I want to be her.)

We tend to be wasteful when it comes to food in North America.  We don't think twice when tossing out a bruised apple or throwing out the leftover rice from dinner.  Other countries don't fare so well, or have the abundance or access to food that we are lucky enough to.  In our house, I'm always looking for ways to cut down on waste and this tip just seems like a no brainer.   Who doesn't want fresh berries for as long as possible.  I can't think of anything more frustrating than berries that go bad before you've had a chance to finish them off.  So, in order to keep you and your berries together for as long as possible, wash them in an apple cider vinegar solution.  1 part vinegar & 10 parts water.  Done.  The vinegar will kill any spores or bacteria that is on the fruit, keeping them fresh and delicious.  Make room in your fridge, you are bound to have berries that last!

Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 10 parts water.  Dump berries into solution, and swirl.  Rinse berries and store in fridge.  Simple.

Monday, 26 September 2011

My First Attempt @ Indian Food.

When I first started this blog, I only shared it with family.  Something about sharing recipes, and my inner thoughts with the world scared me.  Good thing I got over that.  My family was also super supportive and even helped me out with potential recipe suggestions. 
My Aunt L pitched the idea of croissants, after returning from a recent trip to Paris.  Great idea!  Too bad they didn't turn out, not even a little bit.  I'm leaving these pastries to the expert bakeries in town or the freezer section with the dough boy.  Epic failure.  Okay, so the first suggestion from family member #1 didn't work out so well.  Let's hope suggestion #2 has a better outcome.  My Aunt S wanted to know how to make Indian Dhal.  Okay, no problem right?  I know I love Indian food.  Do I know the first thing about cooking it?  Nope, not even the slightest.  Hmmm, suggestion #2 isn't looking so good either.  Good thing I have a friend we'll call her "MU" who was sweet enough to share her dad's recipe.  Turns out you just need to know the right people.  Recipe for success.  This dish was awesome, perfectly spiced and a big hit.   Thanks MU and Poppa R.  Much appreciated.

Now that I've attempted (and succeeded) with my first Indian recipe, I'm looking forward to trying other dishes.  Perhaps some Tikka Masala or Korma.  Maybe even some naan bread is in order.  Oh, how I love this cuisine!  New found confidence.

Indian Dhal

1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 cup dhal/lentils
1 cup spinach, packed
1 tsp coarse pepper
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste

Rinse dhal with cold water.  Set aside.
In medium sauce pan heat oil and add chopped onion.  Cook until they become transparent in colour, approximately 3-5 minutes
Add in 2 cups of water, dhal and spices.  Stir with wooden spoon.
Let dhal cook over medium heat for 30 minutes and add 1/2 - 1 cup of water until dhal becomes soft.
Using a hand blender or food processor, blend.  Add in spinach.
Serve w/ naan bread.
Serves: 4 (as a side dish)

Sunday, 25 September 2011

2 Kinds of Pancakes, 1 Sunday

Good Morning!
Today was a little different from our regular Sunday morning routine.  I went out for breakfast!  The last few months, it's been pancake Sunday @ our house, but not today (well for me at least, but we'll get to that.)  Today someone else made me pancakes as my friend M & I ventured out for a breakfast date.  I had the pancakes, I always have the pancakes.  Blueberry pancakes to be specific.  No big surprise there.  Coffee, pancakes and a good catch up session.  Hooray for weekends!

Being I was ditching the family this morning for some quality time with M.  I was still 'required' to make pancakes @ home.  Just because I was getting my pancakes elsewhere, doesn't mean I get to forget about my weekly pancake commitment.  Plus, my little guy is just so cute when he asks "what kind of pancakes are you blogging about today mom?"  Did I mention he is 3 going on 67.  To answer his question, apple cinnamon.  I made a homemade apple pie last night for a dinner party, and what better way to use apples if not in a pie, then to put them in a pancake.  Pies & Pancakes in less than 12 hours.  Mom of the Year!  That's how I'd like to be referred from here out. 

Happy Sunday & thanks for the breakfast date M.  Loved it!

Apple Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup apple juice
1 1/2 cup apple, peeled & grated (squeezed dry)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

maple syrup for serving

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder,salt and cinnamon.
In separate bowl, whisk together milk, apple juice and eggs.  Add in grated apple.  Stir.  Add to dry ingredients until just moistened.
Spoon batter in 1/3 cup portions onto lightly oiled griddle or pan (spread batter out a little).  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbles form on top and underside is golden.  Flip and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Keep pancakes warm in oven while repeating with remaining batter.
Serve warm with maple syrup.
Yields: 8 pancakes

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Steel Cut Oatmeal | Vanilla, Maple & Almond Butter

Hello Weekend!  Thanks for finally getting here.  Is it just me, or did this last week seem longer than usual?  Hmmm, in any case, the weekend is here and our social calendar is full.  Between gymnastics, dinner parties, birthday parties and breakfast dates, these next 2 days are jam-packed.  I hope I'm up for it.  Beginning the day with a hearty breakfast is bound to get me started on the right foot and power thru.
Oatmeal is my usual breakfast of choice, but during the week I tend to stick with rolled oats.  I save the 'good oats' for the weekend, when mornings are more relaxed and we can take our time with breakfast.  I prefer the taste and texture of steel cut oats, compared to the rolled variety.  They have a nutty flavour to them and chewy texture.  Super satisfying.  Better flavour and texture means a longer cook time.  Instead of a 6 minute breakfast this one takes 45, but so worth every extra minute.  Good thing I was up before the sun.   An early start, an early workout and a delicious breakfast.  Bring it on Saturday...I'm ready for you! 

Vanilla, Maple & Almond Butter Steel Cut Oats

1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups water
1 cup milk
1/2 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup homemade almond butter
1/4 cup granola (optional)
milk for serving

In large saucepan bring water to a boil.  Slowly stir in oats.  Allow to thicken, approximately 5 minutes, reduce heat.  Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. 
Add in milk and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Stir in vanilla, maple syrup and almond butter.
Divide among 4 bowls and top each with 1 Tbsp granola if desired.   Serve with milk.
Serves 4

Friday, 23 September 2011

A Change in Season.

Happy 1st Day of Autumn!  We have finally entered 'comfort food season.'  Banished are summer salads, smoothies, and burgers (okay maybe not burgers.)  Replaced by, mashed potatoes, hot chocolate, and casseroles.  Hooray.  I'm pretty sure over-sized chunky sweaters were invented for this reason.
This change in season also marks the beginning of sweet potato over consumption in our house.  Making today the perfect day for a sweet potato loaf.  This veggie doesn't need any help in becoming more delicious, but with chocolate chips and coconut baked into this bread, it happened.  Sweet potatoes got better tasting.  Oh fall, you sure do taste yummy!

Being the 1st day of autumn, brings about another exciting things besides sweet potatoes.  Any guesses?  It means I can finally hang my autumn wreath.  J makes me wait every year, but today is the day.  Our front door never looked so good.  So pretty handsome!  Wouldn't you agree?

Sweet Potato Loaf w/ Chocolate Chips & Coconut

1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sweet potato, cooked & mashed
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly butter 9-by-5 inch loaf pan.
Mix first seven ingredients in large bowl.  Add in coconut and chocolate chips.  In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, applesauce, yogurt and vanilla.  Stir sweet potato into egg mixture, then fold into the dry mixture until just combined.
Spread batter into prepared pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.  Cool 30 minutes in pan on a rack, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.

adapted from here

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Almond Butter Granola

Time to replenish the granola jar.  This poor jar has been sitting empty for some time now.  Longing to be filled.  I, like this empty jar, need these sweet, crunchy, clusters in my life.  They make me happy!  Granola not only, makes everything taste better, it is also a wonderful way to give added texture to a bowl of oatmeal or yogurt (heck, I love it so much I put it in pancakes too.)  I decided to make use of my own homemade almond butter for this granola go-round.  How can you go wrong?  Short can't.
All is right in the kitchen again, balance has been restored.  Granola is stocked, and I'm a happy camper! 

Who says Thursdays aren't fun.  Got Granola?


Almond Butter Granola

2 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup ground flax
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 250F.  Set aside two cookie sheets.
In large bowl combine first 5 ingredients.  Mix well.
In small bowl, mix almond butter**, vanilla and maple syrup.  Pour over oat mixture.  Tossing to coat.  Spread mixture evenly onto prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, till golden brown in color.  Tossing every 10-15 minutes.
Remove from oven, and allow mixture to cool. 
Store in air-tight container.

**you may want to microwave almond butter for a little to make it easier to work with

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Gnocchi w/ Sausage & Roasted Vegetables

Happy almost fall!

I know this change in seasons comes as a disappointment to all you sun babies out there.  But autumn is my favourite season by a landslide.  After all, it's the season that gives us Thanksgiving.  Enough said.  Cooler temperatures, tall boots, and warm comfort food.  Eeek.  I can hardly contain my excitement.  You should really see the grin on my face, it's reminiscent of the Cheshire Cat (except my teeth don't glow in the dark) an ode to my favourite season.  It's gnocchi time.  Potato dumplings will soon become a regular on the menu, because well, I love them.  Not that I owe an explanation, but I'm throwing that out there!  LOVE them!  So tonight's dinner not only encompasses these fluffy pillows of carb-heaven, but with it, comes roasted vegetables and sausage.  Some of my favourite foods, 1 bowl, hanging out, ready to be scarfed down.  I'm beginning to think I spoil myself, but then again, I deserve it.   

Gnocchi w/ Sausage & Roasted Vegetables

500g gnocchi, cooked (homemade or store bought)
1 chicken sausage (spolumbos sun-dried tomato)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/2" rounds
1 sweet pointed red pepper, halved and seeded
3 cloves garlic
5 Tbsp olive oil,  divided
2 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese, shaved

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line baking sheet with aluminium foil, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
Place cut vegetables on prepared baking sheets, except for garlic.  Wrap garlic cloves in aluminum foil and place on baking sheet.  Top vegetables with 2 Tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Toss to coat.  Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until tender.  Turning once halfway.  Remove from heat.  Allow to sit.
Meanwhile, preheat BBQ or indoor grill, cook sausages over low-medium heat until desired internal temperature is reached, approximately 15 minutes.  Turning occasionally.  Allow to sit for a couple minutes before slicing into bit sized rounds.

Remove vegetables from oven, chop zucchini and peppers into bit sized pieces.  Unwrap roasted garlic. 
In small bowl mash roasted garlic with back of a fork until its of paste consistency.  Add remaining 3 Tbsp olive oil, basil, and additional salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well.
In large serving dish combine cooked gnocchi, sausage and vegetables.  Pour olive oil mixture over top, tossing to coat.
Divide among two bowls.  Top with shaved parmesan. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Tuna Love

You know those people that go to Costco and stock up on canned tuna in case of a natural disaster.  Well I'm the person that buys ridiculous amounts of tuna and eats it all, disaster or not.  I usually have it for lunch, never really at dinner.  But tonight I was just looking for a light simple supper, oh and I forgot to defrost another type of protein, so time to raid the pantry.  This lack of being organized on my part, actually yielded a fantastic dinner.  Beans, tuna, avocado.  It's a trifecta. 


Tuna w/ White Beans & Avocado

1 can tuna, drained and flaked
1 19oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried parsley, plus more for garnish
salt & pepper to taste

crusty bread for serving

In nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Cook onions until tender 3-5 minutes.  Set aside.
In small bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper.  Set aside.
In medium bowl combine tuna, beans, cooked onion, avocado and tomatoes.  Add dressing, toss to coat. 
Divide among two bowls.  Garnish with parsley.  Serve w/ crusty bread.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

A cookie in a cookie.....

Everyone loves the classic Oreo cookie.  Everyone loves the classic chocolate chip cookie. 
Not everyone knows about combining the two into what I refer to as Awesomeness.

These cookies are a guilty pleasure, not to be entered into lightly.  Enjoy each and every delicious bite.  Walk away after one  two, if in the same sitting your working on #3, I would suggest keeping the skinny jeans in the closet tomorrow, you really wanted to wear sweats anyway.

These friend maker cookies, will have you filling your appointment calendar and cookie jars of new 'besties' for weeks, maybe even months to come.  This was my birthday present to D on the weekend.  HBD! 

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 pkg Oreo cookies (double stuff)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with silpat mat or parchment paper.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together with a mixer until well combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
In medium bowl whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda. Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined.
Using a cookie scoop, form balls with the dough.  Place one ball on top and bottom of an Oreo cookie. Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until Oreo cookie is fully enclosed with dough.
Place onto prepared baking sheets and bake cookies for approximately 11-13 minutes or until golden brown. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack
Cookie vs. Skinny Jeans?  Cookie wins.

yields: 24 big cookies
recipe courtesy of picky palate

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Oat Bran Pancakes {Brancakes}

 Happy Sunday!

Today is our 2nd annual family photo day!  This is the day where we enlist the (free)services of my fabulous sister, to take some shots of our little crew.  With one lucky photo making it to the all important Christmas card.  I know it's only September, but I like to be prepared, I'm like that.  Also, I'm not a fan of mixing colder temperatures with outdoor photo shoots, so September suits me just fine.  Because today is going to be a fun and busy one.  Filled with what I hope are (fingers crossed) lots of good photos, I wanted to start the day off with pancakes.  I figured I'd bribe the kids with pancakes and syrup in the hopes that they will want to smile for 100+  200+ photos.  All so that we can have maybe 3 contenders for the Christmas card.  Capturing good photos seems to be a challenge with two toddlers.  Someone is always distracted, crossing their arms in frustration, or simply has their eyes closed (the last one being my husband.) 

Question of the day:  Do pancakes yield good family photos?  Wait for your Christmas card and then be the judge.

Oat Bran Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat bran
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
maple syrup for serving

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, bran, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In separate bowl, whisk together milk, egg and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients until just moistened.
Spoon batter in 1/4 cup portions onto lightly oiled griddle or pan.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until bubbles begin to break through.  Flip and cook an additional minute, or until nicely browned.  Repeat with remaining batter.
Serve warm with maple syrup.  Enjoy!
Yields: 8 pancakes

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Popcorn on Steroids

 Everyone knows popcorn makes an wonderful companion to movie night.  You know what makes a better companion?
Popcorn.  Oreos.  White Chocolate.  Co-mingling in the same bowl.
I wish I could take credit for thinking of this combination, but alas, I can't (I did however, adapt it to suit my great love for chocolate and cookies.  ie. adding more of both.)  And rest assured, this has now inspired future (or s'more) creations.  Watch out future movie nights, you will never be the same!

This batch is accompanying me D's birthday BBQ tonight.  Good thing too, because once you start popping (pardon the pun) these cookie-popcorn nuggets you won't want to stop.  Share the love I say. 

Who wants regular popcorn after this concoction?  Not this girl.

Simple.  Sweet.  New friend maker. 

Cookies 'n Cream Popcorn

1 bag microwave popcorn (white)
1 cup white chocolate chips
15-20 Oreos, roughly chopped

Cook popcorn according to package directions.
Place the popped popcorn and Oreos in a large bowl. Heat the white chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between until melted and smooth.
Drizzle the white chocolate over the popcorn/Oreo mixture and stir to coat. Dump out onto wax paper lined baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Let cool and harden in the fridge. Break into small pieces and serve.

slightly altered from sing for your supper

Friday, 16 September 2011

Sandwiches for the Kids

'it's friday night....and the mood is right, gonna have some fun, show you how it's done TGIF'  
does anyone else remember this song?  it played before all the great 'family' shows airing on ABC.  Family Matters, Step by Step, Full House.  my sister and i lived for this programming.  popcorn and TV what more could two preteens ask for?  well, maybe a car in a couple years....(start laying the ground work early)

anyways.  it's friday night.  mr. handsome is finishing up a round of golf, so it's just me and the kiddies for dinner.  looks like a soup and sandwich night with a little 'Jungle Book' on the side.  a perfect end to the school week and an even better kick off to the weekend ahead.
this post is a different from all of the others before it, there is no recipe.  the soup is from a can & the sandwich, well it's our go-to-favourite...almond butter and strawberry jam.  
what this post does feature is just how fun sandwiches can be.  
take a look at our creations.  
seriously, too cute to eat.  but, oh so tasty once you do.  i'd say i made these sandwiches for the kids, but I really did it for me. 

who knew AB & J could look so flippin' cute!  sandwich party anyone?  xo JS

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Chickpea Blondies

Last week I brought black bean brownies to a family BBQ.  They were a hit!  Absolutely delicious and devoured by all.   Only a few tiny crumbs made it out alive.  Those sweet, moist, fudgy brownies didn't stand a chance against this family.   

The following is my process of thought regarding chickpea blondies.  Forgive the jumbled mess of words strung together.  You will soon see how scatter-brained I truly am.  Consider yourself warned.
Me, lying in bed trying to sleep.  Can't.  Mmm brownies.  I want another one.  Shoot.  None left.  Go to bed, go to bed.  I know, I'll make another batch tomorrow.  Wait, what would that blog post look like?  No one wants to know that you made the same recipe again the next day.  Seriously, go - to - bed!!  Zzzzzz. (5 minutes later...)I know, I'll make blondies!!!  The sister to the brownie.  I can use white beans, no wait, I can use garbanzo beans.  If black beans were good, then garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) are bound to be out of this world.  Remember last week, when you opened up the lonely can in the pantry and started eating those peas cold.  Yep, chickpeas are going to work!  Just the thought of them mingling in the same pan with brown sugar and baking till golden...ahhh.  Hooray, for blondies!
Wow, exhausting much?  Are you as tired as me, after reading that?  I'm sure my english teachers would be shaking their heads in dissappointment with my run-on sentences, use of punctuation, etc, etc.  Oh well, let's just hope these blondies produce an uninterupted sleep tonight.

Chickpea Blondies

1 19oz can chickpeas (no salt added), drained and rinsed
1 extra large egg
1/3 cup applesauce
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ground flax
1 Tbsp almond butter
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or mixture of chocolate chips and butterscotch chips)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray 8-inch x 8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside
Place all ingredients in food processor, except for the chocolate and butterscotch chips, and blend till very smooth.  Stir in 'chips' and transfer to prepared pan.  Sprinkle top with a few more butterscotch and chocolate chips (for good measure.)
Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. 

adapted from my black bean brownies

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Squash 101

Tonight's dinner is what I call an improvisation.  A forced improvisation.  Allow me to explain.  Earlier in the week I had asked J to go to the store and pick up a spaghetti squash, being an amateur he came home with a butternut squash.  Hmmm...looks like we need a lesson in squash 101.  Here is the difference: (courtesy of wikipedia)
Butternut squash - is a winter squash.  It has a sweet, nutty taste, similar to pumpkin.  It is typically roasted and toasted and used in soups, casseroles, breads and muffins.

Spaghetti squash - is a winter squash that is commonly used as a substitute to pasta.  When cooked the flesh falls away from the fruit in ribbons or strands.  It can be served with or without sauce.

I'm confident J is now well versed in all things squash related.  What can I say, I'm a good teacher.  However, should he ever need a reference point he now has one.  Oh, he also has an iphone, so I'm certain this won't happen again.

Anyways, J's supermarket mishap yielded a fantastic, flavourful and spontaneous supper.  I guess 'thanks' is in order.  What was going to be lunch of spaghetti squash with roasted red pepper sauce, turned into a great dinner, perfect for autumn and colder weather.  Who knew mistakes could taste so delicious.

Sausage, Spinach and Roasted Butternut Squash

1 chicken sausage
1 butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded and pulp removed
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp dried rosemary
salt and pepper
1/2 Tbsp olive oil (skillet)
1/2 red onion, thick chop
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups spinach
2 Tbsp pine nuts

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line baking sheet with aluminium foil, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
Place two halves of squash, cut side down on board, cut into 1-inch cubes.  Transfer to baking sheet, top with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper.
Roast for 30-35 minutes, or until tender.  Turning once halfway.  Remove from heat.  Allow to sit.
Meanwhile, preheat BBQ or indoor grill, cook sausages over low-medium heat until desired internal temperature is reached, approximately 15 minutes.  Turning occasionally.
In nonstick skillet heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onion, cook till tender 4-6 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium, add in spinach, cook till wilted, approximately 2-3 minutes turning often.  Add garlic and salt and pepper.  Cook for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.
Divide squash and spinach mixture evenly among 2 plates.  Cut sausage and serve on top.  Sprinkle with pine nuts.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A Trip to the Tropics

Nothing shouts tropics and summer more than mangos and pineapples.  Except maybe pina colada, that screams tropics, especially when accompanied by a mini umbrella. 
So as a last homage to summer, before the leaves start turning colors and falling off the trees, we are having a tropical inspired coleslaw for dinner.  Simple and refreshing.  Oh summer, you've been a blast.  Between the fantastic BBQs with loved ones, days spent in the water, and warm nights where we just sat and enjoyed the stillness.  You will be missed.  Until next year...


Mango-Pineapple Slaw

5 cups coleslaw mix
2 mangos, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple or 1 - 14oz can pineapple, cubed and drained
3/4 cup plain yogurt
3 Tbsp pineapple juice
2 Tbsp sugar

In small bowl whisk together yogurt, pineapple juice and sugar.  Set aside.
In large bowl combine coleslaw mix and mango.  Pour dressing over top, using as much or as little as desired.  Stir to combine.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Just prior to serving add in pineapple**.  Mix to combine.
Plate up & serve.

**canned pineapple retains a lot of juice despite being drained.  in order to avoid a soggy and watered down slaw, use either fresh pineapple or add in 'canned' pineapple just prior to serving.

Monday, 12 September 2011

A Sandwich Inspired by Pie

Sometimes all you need is a different kind of bread to completely change the dynamic of a sandwich.  In this case, a simple swap of cinnamon raisin bread from texas toast, makes for a sweeter lunch.  It's almost reminiscent of apple pie.  No, seriously.  You've got all your essentials.
Apples - check
Cinnamon - check
Buttery Goodness - check
Cheese - check  (really, on pie?  trust me it is more common then you think, and delicious too!) 
Now if only I could wash this sandwich down with an actual piece of pie...hmmm.  Good thing we are hedging upon apple season.

Grilled Apple & Cheese Sammy

2 slices raisin bread
1/4 apple, thinly sliced
2 slices cheddar cheese
Preheat nonstick skillet.
Butter bread and assemble sandwich.  Grill till golden brown in color and cheese has melted.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Quinoa Pancakes

i'm drowning my sorrows in pacakes...
I've made mention that I'm sometimes a little dramatic and over-the-top. 
So why the need to drown my sorrows in carbs and sugar?  Tonight will mark the end of Entourage.  I know, I's only a show.  I can buy the previous seasons on itunes and continue to watch them repeatedy (trust me I will.)  But it won't be the same.  I need my Ari Gold & Vincent Chase fix.  It's what makes a Sunday, a Sunday.  Well that, and pancakes.  I've still got my pancakes, and I refuse to give those up.  What would I be left with?  Today, pancake batter will be my Kleenex as I sniffle away at the end of a great series (drama queen much?)  Now on to the pancakes....

Last week's chocolate & bacon waffles are what I would consider indulgent.  Although I would love to eat them daily and at all meals (oh, snacks too), that can't happen.  My pants would no longer fit.  So this weeks pancake is a healthy one.  You know, to balance things out.  It's still a pancake so you know its going to be good, don't be dismayed by the 'healthy' caption.  I promise, I wouldn't let you down, more importantly, I wouldn't let myself down.
These hotcakes are made with quinoa, a super food.  A good source of protein, fiber and iron.  Yep.  That's right, dig into that stack of carb-filled goodness and feel good doing it.  Eat them all!  Today is a day consumed by emotional eating.

So long Vince & Ari, see you at the movies!  You are making an Entourage movie, right?  If not, I'll start a petition.  Where's my pen?

double swoon

Quinoa Pancakes

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.
In another bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.
Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and quickly whisk.  Do not over mix.  Fold in quinoa
Heat a griddle over medium-hot heat.  Drop batter in 1/4 cup portions.  Cook until bubbles begin to break through, 2-3 minutes.  Turn and cook on the other side for an additional minute, or until nicely browned.  Repeat with remaining batter.
Top with yogurt and fresh fruit or fruit preserves

Yields: 7-8 pancakes
I enjoyed mine topped with vanilla yogurt & blueberries

J & the kids, went the strawberry jam route

adapted slightly from NY Times
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