Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sweet, Sweet Avocados | Avocado Mousse

With Cinco de Mayo six short days away, I decided to continue my early celebrations with my Costco sized bag of avocados.  I've usually always thought of avocados as something to serve on the more savoury side.  With one exception, my go-to favourite of most favouritest smoothies, avocado-strawberry.  Sweet and creamy it makes my mornings happy.  Very, very happy.
Smoothies aside.  I was looking for another way to make this fruit into something sweet, creamy, and oh so delicious.  So when I stumbled upon a recipe incorporating avocados into chocolate mousse, I was instantly excited.  I knew from the get go, this had success/winner/yummy, written all over it.  And it didn't disappoint.  A healthy alternative to the original, and in my opinion better than the original.  My chocolate cravings were calmed, at least for the short term.
An evening spent on the couch, mousse and wine in hand, oh and the season finale of The Good Wife.  Happy Sunday!


Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Ingredients:
2 large avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

In bowl of food processor add prepared avocado, cocoa powder, honey and vanilla extract.  Process for 1 to 2 minutes. Scraping sides of the bowl as necessary.  Continue to process until smooth and creamy approximately 2 minutes longer.
Spoon mixture into 3-4 small ramekins and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Serve and enjoy!
Top with fresh berries, nuts, or even coconut.  Endless options await.

serves 3-4
adapted from: If It Makes You Healthy Cookbook by Sheryl Crow

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Baked Eggs & Avocado

This is my perfect breakfast.

Today is the start of soccer season for the little people in our house.  Saturday's have now become infinitely busier than usual as mr handsome and I each go our separate ways with a kid in tow.  Conflicting time slots, and field locations means there is going to be a lot of running around.
Running around = a hearty breakfast and coffee.  Time to fuel up.


After returning home from my Friday night Costco date, I had an enormous bag of avocados that I purchased because:

A) I love avocados &
B) Cinco de Mayo is next Saturday (it's never to early to start celebrating)
 
So this morning after an early morning run, I grabbed one of these green gems, cracked an egg, and baked until warm and bubbly.  Delicious Saturday.


Baked Eggs & Avocado

Ingredients:
1 avocado
2 eggs
salt & pepper

Method:
Preheat oven to 425F.
Cut avocado in half lengthwise and remove pit.  Using a spoon make the holes a little larger to fit egg.
Crack an egg into hole, place on baking sheet* and cook for 15 minutes or until eggs are at preferred doneness.  
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Serve with toast.

note:  to prevent the avocado from moving on the baking sheet, slice a little off the bottom of each half.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

A Giant Cookie for My 1st Blogiversary


Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?



In blog posts, in recipes, in dishes, in cups of flour....

(Oh how I love you Rent!  Except now I can't get this catchy Broadway tune out of my head.  Meh.)



Break out the bubbly and raise a glass, because today I'm celebrating my 1 year blogiversary.  It's hard to believe 365 days ago I sat down to write my first post here @ Edible Life in YYC.  I'll be honest, I waivered a little in the beginning.  "Was 'blogging' really something that I wanted to do?" 
For those of you that know me, you know that when I start something I need to see it through.  It's one of my flaws.  Along with stubbornness, wanting to be right all the time, and leaving my clothes on the bathroom floor.  But failure, or giving up is simply not in my DNA.  Looking back now, it was a great decision to start this little blog.  It has allowed me to find a true passion for cooking.  I now eat, dream, think ,and sleep, all things food.  When I go to sleep at night, I count by cups or tablespoons, not sheep.  Whether I'm creating a new recipe, or revamping a favourite, I try and cater each one to the special people in my life.   More importantly though, is the story behind each post.  Why I did it, who it was for, or how it came about.  It's my very own foodie diary.  Only difference is this diary is out there for the world to read, unlike the one my 12 year old self, had stashed in between mattresses, and kept under lock and key. 

Cheers to year #2.  I'm looking forward to more adventures, the ability to learn, grow, and continue to challenge myself.   I hope you've enjoyed this past year as much as I have.  Thanks for all the comments, feedback and continued support, it makes it all the more worth while.

With tremendous love & respect,
JS


PS.  Another perk of celebrating a blogiversary (aside from the giant cookie pictured above.)  The gifts of course. My ever-so-sweet husband marked the occasion with a present to celebrate. I in turn made this giant cookie and shared a slice.  I guess you could say we know how to make each other happy.  Presents for me.  Food for him.

Giant M&M Cookie


Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted & cooled
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
plain M&Ms for garnish

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a medium bowl, cream together the sugars and butter. Add the egg and vanilla and mix. Add the dry ingredients and mix well.
Line a pizza pan with parchment paper and press the cookie into a 9-inch circle, about 1/4 to 3/8-inch thick.
Top cookie with M&M’s. Bake for 13-16 minutes until the cookie is lightly golden brown. Let the cookie cool completely on the baking pan.  Once cool, gently use the paper to lift the cookie off the pan.


recipe courtesy Mels Kitchen Cafe

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Apricot-Balsamic Glazed Chicken

Last weekends family dinner had the theme of apricots.  The sweet little fruit did double duty as a glaze to some whole chickens and as a sweet addition to some wild rice.
I particularly enjoy this stone fruit because it offers a little sweetness and a little tartness.  Balanced perfectly, it's the best of both worlds.  It almost reminds me of a cross between peaches and plums. 
Here's an exciting fact for all you apricot fans out there, we are only a couple weeks away from apricot season.  Bring on the month of May!




Apricot-Balsamic Glazed Chicken

Ingredients:
1 (4-5 lb) whole roasting chicken
2 Tbsp cold butter
3 sprigs of thyme (fresh)
3 sprigs of rosemary (fresh)
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Method:
Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray roasting pan with non-stick spray and place a rack at the bottom.  Set aside.
Wash chicken and pat dry. 
To make glaze: mix together apricot preserves, balsamic vinegar, cider vinegar and sugar. Set aside.
Sprinkle the chicken and cavity with salt and pepper.  Insert 2 sprigs each fresh herbs into the cavity.
Gently loosen the skin of chicken and rub underneath with butter and garlic.
Line roasting pan with white wine, 1 sprig each of fresh herbs and dried apricots.  Place chicken on rack.  Roast for approximately 20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 15-20 minutes, until cooked through.
When chicken is 15 minutes away from being done, brush with glaze mixture and continue cooking, basting 2-3 times more.
Remove from oven, let chicken sit and juices settle for 10 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Apricots & Almonds

When it comes to rice, I have three go-to favourites; basmati, jasmine and wild.  For dinner this past weekend, I decided on option #3, a wild & brown rice blend.  And as with most things in my life, boring and plain can take a backseat to fun and exciting any day.  Rice (or food in general) is no exception.  Nothing jazzes up this grain like some great add-ins.  Whether we are talking fresh herbs, nuts, or even fruit, don't be afraid to experiment.  Rice is a blank canvas, begging to be made more enjoyable.  
Since the main dish at our weekly family dinner was a whole roasted chicken with an apricot-balsamic glaze (*drool*)  It dawned on me to add some apricots to my rice and mimic the flavour.  Two dishes, one fruit, all in all a perfect spring supper in YYC.



Wild Rice w/ Apricots & Almonds

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups wild & brown rice blend
3 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp water
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp apricot preserves
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
4 sprigs fresh thyme

Method:
In small saucepan over medium heat.  Add olive oil and onion and cook till translucent 3-5 minutes.
Add in water and apricot preserves, whisking till blended.  Add rice, dried apricots and thyme.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until tender. 
Remove from heat, and remove thyme.  Fluff with fork.  Transfer to a large serving dish, add in toasted almonds and enjoy.

Serves: 6

Monday, 23 April 2012

Fire Grilled Asparagus



Yesterday was a perfect spring day in our beloved city.  In fact, if you were outside for any length of time you may have even experienced your first sunburn of the season.  I'm still as pasty as they come, but I'm working on adding a little colour.  I prefer the look of bronzed skin to red blisters anyway.  Slow and steady...

Being that it was so nice, we took the opportunity to grill up one of our favourite fresh veggies.  Sun, deck and a fired up BBQ resulted in a delicious side dish.

Don't you wish weekends lasted longer.  I know I do.  Happy Monday!


Fire Grilled Asparagus


Ingredients:
2 lbs fresh asparagus
1 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt & pepper
juice from half a lemon

Method:
Preheat BBQ to high heat.
Bend asparagus gently, ends will snap off at their natural breaking point.  Drizzle olive oil over top and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Place directly on grill and cook for 2-3 minutes, turning often, until charred and desired tenderness is reached.  Remove from heat.  Squeeze with juice from half lemon and serve.

Serves: 4

Sunday, 22 April 2012

A Pastel Layer Cake & Orange Meringue Frosting


I'm not one to toot my own horn, but really, lets be honest, this has got to be the prettiest cake I've ever made, hands down.  Give this cake the blue ribbon already.  Nah, make it a pastel pink ribbon, we wouldn't want to clash, right?
On the outside this cake looks like any other.  White icing - standard.  You'd probably guess either chocolate or white on the inside.  Then, BAM!  You cut it open and you are greeted by a sea of girly vanilla flavoured pastels.  And the frosting?  That's none other than an Orange Swiss Meringue.  Fancy.

Part of me  wants to just stare at this cake all day.  "It's just too cute to eat," I constantly hear myself say.  Then my taste buds take over, and well, now only crumbs remain.  Why is it those pesky taste buds always win?  At least I have pictures to remember this by, trust me I need them, especially at the speed that this cake was scarfed down.  Sugary-carby-slice-O-heaven. 
Winner winner.  We had cake for dinner.  Okay, we had it for dessert, but that doesn't rhyme.

You may be wondering who the lucky recipient of such a cake was.  I can tell you that it was for my kid sister, and the celebration that we refer to as her birthday week.  She's turning the big 2-7, so that's worthy of at least an entire weeks celebration.  As for me, we celebrate birthday month, but I'm sure you've come to expect that by now.
Happy Birthday Jam-Rock, may this year be your best one yet.  Love ya!



Orange Swiss Meringue Frosting


Ingredients:
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 pinch cream of tartar
1/2 tsp pure orange extract

Method:
Fill medium saucepan one quarter full with water.  Set the saucepan over medium heat, and bring water to a simmer.
Combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer, and place over saucepan.  Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 3 1/2 minutes.  Test by rubbing between your fingers.
Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes.  Add orange extract and mix until combined.  Use meringue immediately.


Yields 4 cups
recipe slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

Thursday, 19 April 2012

A Sweet Colour Chart


Have I mentioned how much I adore my magazine subscriptions (all 5 of them.)  It makes my daily trip to the mailbox all the more exciting.  Today I was greeted by my favourite of the five.  Any guesses?? 
Hint:  I'm a food blogger.  (Did I stump you?)
Answer: Food Network Magazine.  Oh the excitement!
In addition to featuring 50 different kinds of Tacos, the May issue also included an icing colour chart.  Yes, a whole chart on how to colour sugar.  Hello, looks like I've got some baking in my future.  After all I really should *test* out all these colour combinations.  Wouldn't you agree?
Below you'll find some pretty cool ones.  My favourites:  Raspberry Sorbet, Papaya, Purple Cow and Pistachio.   Although lets be honest I'd take/eat anyone of these guys.

Have fun and try some of these out on future cakes and cupcakes.  Oh and feel free to bring me one or two, or a batch...
Happy Icing!





All Photos Courtesy: Food Network Magazine


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Wild Blueberry Sauce w/ Maple Syrup & Vanilla


Dear Frozen Bag of Blueberries currently residing in my freezer,

I have plans for you, grand plans.  You are about to swim in a warm bath of maple syrup and vanilla.   Thicken up, and become the topping to my beloved morning oatmeal.  Oh, and then because I love you so, you are also about to end my day on a giant bowl of vanilla ice cream.  Are you game?  Doesn't matter, I am, therefore you're in!  

Thanks for being delicious.

Love,
JS


From morning to night, these blueberries made my entire day.   Best part?  I get to do it all over again tomorrow.  Mmmm


Wild Blueberry Sauce w/ Maple Syrup & Vanilla


Ingredients:
1 cup frozen wild blueberries
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp water

1 1/4 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp vanilla

Method:

In small saucepan, combine syrup, water and cornstarch.  Stir.  Add in blueberries and bring to boil over medium heat.  Boil for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Serve warm or cold with oatmeal or ice cream.  Or option #3 both.  Same time, same bowl.  Hot oats, cold ice cream and warm sauce.  I'm in heaven!  Looks like I've figured out breakfast tomorrow.






Sunday, 15 April 2012

Grilled Bread & Tomato Salad

A salad made of bread?  I think my heart just stopped.  Is it possible to get this excited about salad?  Answer.  Yes, yes it is.  Even those non-salad people would be hard pressed not to like this one.  Seriously, a salad that is comprised of 50% bread, you know by now that this makes me happy.  Very, very happy.  Tomatoes, olive oil, and fresh herbs, round out this light and refreshing side dish.  Oh and the bread, the charred, grilled bread.  (drool)  Couple this with the fact that it was eaten Saturday night along side steak, asparagus and some great company.    Winner, winner.  Bread salad for dinner. 
If summer 2012 needed a salad mascot this would be it.  However, this is also going to be my spring/fall/winter go-to-salad from here out.   After all, I'm a bread girl carb junkie at heart!




Grilled Bread & Tomato Salad


Ingredients:
4 large tomatoes, cut into cubes
1/2 loaf of ciabatta bread, sliced into 2 inch thick strips
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh basil loosely packed & chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved
sea salt & pepper


Method:
Heat BBQ to high.  Brush each side ciabatta slices with olive oil.  Grill oil side down for 1-2 minutes until crispy and charred with grill marks.  Flip and repeat.  Remove and cut into large sized chunks.
In small bowl combine olive oil, vinegar, minced garlic and salt & pepper.  Whisk well.
In large bowl combine tomatoes, onion, and olive oil mixture.  Add in basil and bread.  Toss to coat.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Serves 4.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Purple Chips

Earlier this week I posted my homemade potato chips recipe.  Today, get ready for another vegetable chip.  A little unconventional, but as tasty as they come, I promise.  Save your potatoes for something else (mash 'em, roast 'em, stuff 'em, whatever,) and break out a different root vegetable.  Beets.

You already know that beets make a weekly appearance on my grocery list.  They are about as essential as milk, eggs or even bread.  Typically we eat them roasted, boiled, in salads, or muffins; but today they are coming to you in the form of chips.  You heard it right, chips.  Now before you get all judgemental and send me letters telling me I'm crazy, I urge you to give them a try, I betcha can't eat just one.  In fact as I'm writing this, batch #2 is currently baking away.

Happy/healthy snacking!







Beet Chips


Ingredients:
2 medium beets, ends trimmed and peeled
1 tsp olive oil
sea salt

Method:
Preheat oven to 300F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper  and set aside.
Using a mandolin, slice beets very thin. Place in bowl and toss with olive oil until coated.
Transfer beets to prepared sheets in a single layer.  Sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake for 20-30 minutes. Watching closely so as not to burn them.
Remove from oven. Allow to cool on rack.
(note: the beets will crisp up as they cool)


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Healthy Chips

Before I had kids (and was a lot younger) I had the eating habits of a boy (yes, boy) in his late teens/early twenties.  Fast food and potato chips could have been classified as their own food group.  What can I say I use to despise cooking.  The drive thru or chain restaurants always seemed more appealing.    And, who doesn't want a huge plate of french fries to wash down that burger? 

As far as potato chips were concerned.  No bag was safe.  If it was opened, it was consumed. In its entirety.  That day.  I loved the salty, crunchy bites of delight.  I loved all the flavours.  Ripple w/ onion dip, ketchup, mexican chili, bbq, I could go on.  I was a chip-o-holic.
Fast forward years later.  Gone are the days spent in the drive thru line and bags of deep fried potatoes.  I still enjoy burgers, fries and chips.  But now I make them myself.  Opting for lean meats and baking not frying the potatoes.  Equally as satisfying, not processed, and healthy to boot.  Sorry McD's and Wendy's, I'm certain my new lifestyle probably dipped in to some of your profits...




Baked Potato Chips


Ingredients:
2 medium russet potatoes
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
black pepper
coarse salt

Method:
Preheat oven to 425F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Using mandolin, slice potatoes (skins on) 1/8 inch thick. 
Toss sliced potatoes in bowl with olive oil.  Transfer to prepared baking sheets in a single layer.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper
Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp and golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on parchment paper.
Enjoy!

Dinner @ Redwater

Last night J and I went out for dinner with J's brother.  He's been living in Australia for the last 18 months and was back in town for a quick visit before he moves on to the Cayman Islands.  (Insert feelings of jealously here)  It's worth noting C came back with a tan that could only be achieved if I swam in a vat of bronzing lotion.  Gotta love the pasty glow of a girl from YYC in April.

Once I finished applying enough bronzer, the three of us headed out to Redwater for dinner.  Between the glasses bottles of wine, countless appetizers and a main course that was incredible, we did a lot of catching up and dinner ended up being a 3 hour event.  I love nights like that.

Good luck in the Cayman's C.  We'll miss you!  (well after Monday we'll miss you)


Here's a recap of our meal.
(Disclaimer:  I woke up still full from dinner this morning.  I blame the bread basket, it does it to me everytime)




Wild Shrimp

chili garlic butter . crostini


Roasted Red Pepper Dip

brushetta . ricotta . garlic naan


Bison Meatballs

smokehouse tomato sauce . grana padano


Crab Cakes

fennel & apple slaw . orange chili aioli


Wild Ahi Tuna

cherry & sweet onion relish . broccolini

 

Herb & Apple Glazed Pork Chops

broccolini . roasted beets w/ honey & dill


Wild Ahi Tuna

garlic poblano butter . buttermilk mashed potatoes . sauteed crimini mushrooms


Favourites of the night:

Roasted Red Pepper Dip - I would eat this dip on particle board, off the bottom of a shoe, on pretty much anything.  And the naan bread, delicious.  (a second order of bread was needed, yes needed)

Ahi Tuna w/ cherry & sweet onion relish - Seared perfectly, cool interior.  Chewing wasn't even necessary, it melted.  Mmmm.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Scalloped Potatoes

Easter Sunday was yesterday.  A visit from a special bunny, too much chocolate, and lots of family time, made for a fun filled day in our house.  I like to think that I give my kids a run for their money when it comes to getting excited about holidays.   I have a difficult time sleeping the night before.  Waking up multiple times.  Tossing and turning.  Wondering if the bunny/Santa/anyone who might be delivering presents, has come.  Yesterday was no exception.  I was up before the sun, went for a run, ate breakfast, AND it was still too early to get the kids up.  Sheesh!

Even though I'd like to have spent the entire day eating chocolate, I made sure I saved lots of room for our big family dinner.  There are few things I enjoy more than gathering around a big table with the people I love most.   Throw in some delicious family favourites, and you've got yourself a successful holiday dinner.
Last night my contribution was scalloped potatoes.  Easter isn't quite Easter without scalloped potatoes.  They go hand in hand with ham.  This year I decided to take a fresh approach to the standard dish.  Roasted tomatoes, peppers and onions, layered between potatoes and Gruyere cheese.  Mmmm.  Seconds please!





Scalloped Potatoes w/ Oven Roasted Tomatoes & Bell Peppers


Ingredients:
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups 2% milk, divided
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/8 inch thick and patted dry
1 cup Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced 3/4 inch thick
2 orange bell peppers, cut into 3/4 inch thick strips
1 onion, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for dish
1 1/2 tsp herbes de Provence
1 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs, divided

Method:
Whisk the egg yolks and 1/2 cup 2% milk in small bowl, set aside.  Combine the remaining cup of 2% milk and 1 cup of evaporated milk in a medium saucepan; stir in the nutmeg, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Add the garlic and bay leaves and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to medium low; add the potatoes and simmer until halfway cooked, about 6 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Gradually stir in the egg-milk mixture and 1 cup of cheese.  Cover and keep warm.

Preheat the broiler.  Put the tomatoes, bell peppers and onion on a baking sheet in separate piles.  Drizzle each pile with 2 teaspoons olive oil and sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence, and salt and pepper to taste.  Toss each pile of vegetables to coat, then spread out.  Broil until tender and charred around the edges, about 10-12 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Brush a 1 1/2 quart baking dish with olive oil.  Sprinkle half of the breadcrumbs in the dish.  Spoon out half of the potatoes and arrange evenly over the breadcrumbs; top with the broiled onions and half each of the tomatoes and bell peppers.  Top with the remaining potatoes in an even layer and all of the milk mixture; discard the garlic and bay leaves.  Top with the remaining tomatoes and bell peppers.

Bake until the potatoes are tender and lightly golden, 45-50 minutes.  Drizzle with the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk and sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs.  Return to the oven and bake for another 5-7 minutes.  Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!  Serves 6-8













slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine - April 2012
(made healthier, with substitutions for heavy cream and whole milk)

Saturday, 7 April 2012

How To Catch A Bunny...

Dear Mr. Bunny,

I want you to know that despite what my 4 year old says, Easter egg hunts are not only for little kids.  I would appreciate the odd egg hidden for me to find.  Feel free to splurge this year.  I enjoy dark chocolate, chocolate with crispy rice, mini eggs (by the truckload) and of course, the staples....wine, shoes and diamonds.
As payment, please accept this delicious bag of Confetti Popcorn.  Happy Easter!

Much Love,

JS






Confetti Popcorn  (aka Bunny Bait)


Ingredients:
1 bag microwave popcorn (white)
1 - 225g bag of white chocolate chips
1 cup m&ms

1 1/2 cups pretzels, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
sprinkles

Method:

Cook popcorn according to package directions.
Place the popped popcorn, pretzels, marshmallows, and m&m's 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 mixture and stir to coat. Dump out onto wax paper lined baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Sprinkle sprinkles over top.  Let cool and harden in the fridge. Break into small pieces and serve.



adapted from singforyoursupper

Monday, 2 April 2012

Roasted Red Pepper & Asparagus Lasagna

Last night I had a dream I was stranded in a grocery store.  Hmm, come to think about it, that might not be so bad after all.   A foodies paradise.  So, should the opportunity to become stranded/live in a grocery store ever present itself, you will be able to find me stationed in two aisles. 
1. Cereal 
2. Produce
Of course given my #1 choice, I'd also have to swing by the dairy section for some milk.  But aside from than that, I'd be one happy camper. 

You might be thinking to yourself,  "cereal, that makes sense.  But produce, really?  What about the candy aisle, the bread section, ice cream?"  What can I say, I'm a girl that loves fruits and vegetables (my parents would be so proud.)  And, as far as veggies are concerned, there are 3 staples that make it into my cart every week without question.  Curious?
  • Beets
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Mixed Greens
I'm smitten with these guys.  I make trips to multiple stores, just to ensure my pantry is stocked.  J loves this quality about me, I'm sure...
So, while perusing my second favourite aisle, two other veggies caught my eye.  Bright, bold, and vibrant, give it up for red peppers and asparagus.  Now to put them to use...

Lasagna is one of those dishes that I usually save for the colder months.  Given it's spring, (insert excited screech now) I decided to springify my regular recipe.  Swapping out the meat and tomato sauce, opting instead, for fresh vegetables, goat cheese, and a homemade red pepper sauce.  Spring appropriate indeed.  Let the mercury rise! 






Roasted Red Pepper & Asparagus Lasagna


Ingredients:
roasted red pepper sauce
6 red peppers, seeded and chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
1 head of garlic, peeled & whole cloves
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh basil
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil & drained
salt & pepper

lasagna
4 cups roasted red pepper sauce
12 lasagna noodles (oven ready)
2 lbs asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
500g ricotta cheese
140g  goat cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup fresh basil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup half and half
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
salt & pepper
                            
Method:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place peppers, onion and garlic cloves into a 9' x 13' baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss well.
Roast for 45-55 minutes, until soft and caramelized.
Using an immersion blender or food processor, blend roasted vegetables and sun-dried tomatoes.  Add basil, and salt & pepper to taste.  Should yield approximately 4 cups of sauce.


In a large pot of boiling water, blanch asparagus for 1 min. Transfer to ice bath.  Drain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F.   

In a bowl, combine eggs, ricotta cheese, goat cheese, basil and salt & pepper.
In a saucepan, add cream and whisk in flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 8-10 to minutes,  or until thickened.  Whisk in roasted red pepper sauce and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.  Heat thru.  Set aside 1 1/2 cups of sauce in a small bowl.


To assemble:  Line baking dish with 1 cup of sauce.  Arrange 4 noodles over top, breaking to fit. Layer half of remaining sauce, half of the cut asparagus, half of ricotta cheese mixture and half of mozzarella cheese. Repeat with layer of noodles, sauce, asparagus and cheeses. Top with 4 more noodles and reserved sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Allow to sit for 15 minutes prior to serving.


**note:  I typically make my lasagna a day ahead and reheat covered @ 350 for 65-70 minutes (uncovered for the last 10-15).  Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before cutting.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Broiled Peaches & Ice Cream

I seem to have jumped on the broiling fruit bandwagon as of late.  Grapefruit was first, and now I'm on to peaches. 
I have to be honest with you.  I adore peaches, but I get freaked out by the skin.  I can eat the skin, I just can't touch the skin.  Is that weird?  Maybe.  But why does it have to be so fuzzy?  In a perfect world peaches would be more like nectarines on the outside.  You think that by 2012, they could genetically alter the fruit to be smooth and not fuzzy.  Hmmm, science experiment anyone?  In the meantime, I've appointed my trusty sidekick/hubby J to pick the fruit for me.  My hero!



Broiled Peaches & Ice Cream

Ingredients:
4 peaches, halved and pitted
4 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
butter

ice cream for serving



Method:
Preheat boiler.
Using either peeled or skins-on (depending on your freaked out factor,) place prepared peaches cut side up on baking sheet. 
In small bowl mix together cinnamon and sugar.  Divide mixture evenly among peaches.  Top with a pad of butter.
Transfer to oven and broil for 4-5 minutes until fruit is warmed and sugar is caramelized (watching closely to avoid burning.)
Serve warm with ice cream.


Mmm...hello spring!
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