Sunday, 29 September 2013

Balsamic Grilled Mushrooms

I love mushrooms.  However, last night mushrooms and I were friends off.
For starters I made a lovely marinade.  Then while mixing away, half of it ended up on my shirt, forcing an impromptu laundry session.  Strike one.
Once I got the marinade re-mixed (and my shirt promptly in the washer) I poured the marinade over top the mushrooms and let time do its thing.  However, half an hour into marinating and mid toss, the lid flew off the container and mushrooms went everywhere.  Strike two.
One more strike and I was going to throw in the towel, or be out of mushrooms and clean clothes.
It's was me against the universe (the universe not wanting me to eat mushrooms that is) and the universe was making it personal.  I was bound and determined to have mushrooms for dinner so I wasn't going into this lightly.  Finally attempt number three produced results I was happy with.
mushrooms on my plate - check
clean shirt - check.

Who knew tiny button mushrooms could be such a challenge.  A yummy challenge at that.

Balsamic Marinated Grilled Mushrooms

11 oz whole button mushrooms
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried parsley
salt & pepper

4 wooden skewers (soaked for 1 hour in water)

In small bowl, whisk together all ingredients, except mushrooms.  Pour mixture over mushrooms, and marinate covered for at least 1 hour.  Turning every 15 minutes.
Thread mushrooms on 4 wooden skewers and grill on BBQ for 3-4 minutes per side.

yields: 4 servings.

Prosciutto Wrapped Melon

A few weeks back, J and I played the roles of host and hostess to a big group of friends.  We had an array of food and drinks, but one of the biggest hits of the night was my prosciutto wrapped nectarines.  Sweet and salty, they were simple yet delicious.
Last night we got to entertain again and I decided to once more wrap fruit in prosciutto, however this time I exchanged nectarines for cantaloupe.  Simple, yet equally delicious and so pretty to look at....

3 ingredients.  1 Skewer.  Happy bellies.

Best thing ever is we have enough supplies leftover to enjoy them again today.  Football Sunday, booyah!

Prosciutto Wrapped Melons w/ Basil

1 cantaloupe, cut into bite size cubes
8 slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise
16 basil leaves

Wrap each cube of melon with prosciutto and top with basil leaf.  Skewer together with toothpick or bamboo fork.

Yields: 16 skewers

Friday, 27 September 2013

Pumpkin Waffles

We are mere hours away from the weekend, so it's only appropriate we have waffles for lunch.  Right?  At least the kids and I are on agreement with this fact.

So, because it's fall, it's pumpkin season, and waffles are always appropriate, we are having pumpkin waffles.  For Lunch.  The end.

Pumpkin Waffles

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup milk, plus a splash or two more
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat waffle maker and spray with non-stick spray.
In large mixing bowl, whisk together four, sugar, baking powder, spices, and salt until blended.
In separate bowl, combine milk, pumpkin puree, eggs, and vanilla.  Stir wet ingredients into dry, adding a splash more milk if needed, mixing until combined and smooth.  Cook waffles per manufacturers directions.
Top with icing sugar and maple syrup.

adapted from my cinnamon pecan waffles

Thursday, 26 September 2013

White Chocolate, Pumpkin & Molasses Cookies

It's official, my favourite season is here, autumn.  Colourful scenery, crisp mornings, tall boots, and cozy sweaters.  Is there anything better?

This fall I plan to immerse myself in homemade soups and stews, visit a pumpkin patch, get lost in a corn maze, and drink hot apple cider.   Oh, and most importantly eat as much pumpkin as I can, without turning orange (or into said pumpkin)
As a fall treat I decided to jazz up my favourite white chocolate and ginger cookies by adding in pumpkin.  Cheers to autumn and pumpkin, and these spiced cookies.  I love September.

White Chocolate, Pumpkin & Molasses Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
white chocolate chips

Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl.  Set aside.  Beat butter, brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in the the bowl of stand mixer and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add molasses, pumpkin, egg and vanilla; mix well.  Gradually add in flour and beat on low speed until well mixed.  Press dough into a thick flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350F.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Roll in remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar to coat.  Place 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges of cookies just begin to brown.  Immediately press in 3-4 white chocolate chips into the centre of each cookie.  Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
Store cookies in airtight container for up to 5 days.

Yields: 3 1/2 - 4 dozen

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Frosted Zucchini Sheet Cake

I'm afraid zucchini season, courtesy of my parents garden, has come to an end.  It's a sad day, a very sad day indeed.  Gone are the baskets of free vegetables, replaced now with with the exchange of money for food.  Boo.
Not too worry I have big plans for this last batch.  Big special plans.  Wait for it.....

Cake.  Chocolate Zucchini Sheet Cake.  

Vegetables = Healthy

Healthy = Eat more

Eat more = Cake

I've always been really good at math.  Let's just agree it's my strong suit.

Now some might argue these are brownies, not cake.  However, to me brownies should be fudgy, not cakey.  These are cake-like, delicious, but a brownie to me they are not.  Perhaps I will attempt a fudgy zucchini brownie in the future, but for now I leave you with dessert in any respect, call it what you will.

Frosted Chocolate Zucchini Sheet Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla

5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
finely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray 13-inch by 9-inch baking pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
In large bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
In medium bowl mix together zucchini, applesauce, oil, sugar and vanilla until well incorporated.  Add to dry ingredients and mix till combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out to form an even layer.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting:  Mix together butter and sugar.  Add in milk, vanilla and cocoa powder until smooth and creamy.  Fold in nuts if using.  Spread over top cooled cake.  Cut into squares

Yields: approximately 18-24 squares (depending on size)
adapted from

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Breakfast Tacos

Let's discuss for a minute the beauty that is breakfast for dinner.  I beam at the thought of this morning meal in the pm hours.  In fact you could give me breakfast anytime of the day, or even all day for that matter, and I'd be a happy camper.  See J, I am easy to please, despite what you think....

I'm always looking for different ways to incorporate breakfast during supper.  Our go to's are usually bacon and eggs, pancakes or frittatas, but today I'm doing tacos.  Yes, that's right, breakfast tacos!

Over the course of the last few weeks my kids have been begging for tacos at dinner.  Truth is I've had my fair share lately, albeit I consume them at restaurants sans children and usually fish style.  So today I decided to give in to their request and make tacos, but in a slightly unconventional approach.  Breakfast style.  Eggs, avocado, black beans and salsa.  Delicious!

Breakfast for dinner, yes please!

Breakfast Tacos

8 large eggs
1 large russet potato; peeled, grated, and squeezed dry
1/2 cup onion, diced
19oz black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, grated
1 cup salsa
1 avocado, pitted and diced
8 flour tortillas
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro for garnish 

Heat large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of butter to pan and scatter prepared potatoes evenly in pan.  Cook for 5-7 minutes until golden brown.  Flip and cook on the opposite side for another 5 minutes.
In small bowl whisk together eggs and salt and pepper.  Add to pan with cooked potatoes and stirring for approximately 2 minutes.  Add cheese and cook for an additional minute till eggs are set.
Meanwhile in medium non-stick skillet over medium heat melt 1/2 tablespoon butter.  Add onion and cook for 4 minutes stirring occasionally until softened.  Add in salsa and beans and heat over low heat for 2 minutes.
To assemble:  add egg mixture to tortillas and top with salsa.  Sprinkle with avocado and garnish cilantro if using.

Yields: 8 tacos
slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine

Monday, 16 September 2013

Summertime Salsa: Watermelon

Is it just our household or does salsa consumption increase with the start of every football season?  It can't just be us, right?  Luckily, salsa is one of those foods that you could eat everyday, and everyday make it a little different.  No such thing as a salsa rut in this house, oh plus, let's just agree how well it pairs with sour cream and guacamole.  Heavenly.

In my last ditch effort to hold on to summer, I made a watermelon salsa for our summer BBQ/football watching weekend.  Nothing says summer like juicy watermelon and mangos co-mingling in a bowl alongside some chips.  
Thanks summer you've been a blast once again, but I'm looking forward to breaking out my oversized sweaters, eating lasagna, and wearing my tall boots again.

I love September.

Watermelon Salsa

1 1/2 teaspoons lime zest (from about 1 lime)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 3 limes)
1 tablespoon sugar
Freshly ground pepper
3 cups seeded and finely chopped watermelon
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
8 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Tortilla or pita chips, for serving

Stir together the lime zest, lime juice, sugar and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Add the watermelon, cucumber, mango, jalapeno, onion and basil and toss gently. Chill the salsa until ready to serve.

Add the garlic salt just before serving. Serve with chips.

Yields: 3 cups
Recipe Courtesy: Trisha Yearwood

More Salsa Recipes:

Tropical Salsa
Fruit Salsa
Homemade Salsa

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Prosciutto Wrapped Nectarines w/ Basil

My favourite appetizers are the ones that come together effortlessly.  Great dishes don't need to be complicated or time consuming, all you need is quality ingredients and they practically make themselves.  Like these ones....

Prosciutto Wrapped Nectarines w/ Basil

3 ingredients
1 skewer
happy belly

Prosciutto Wrapped Nectarines w/ Basil

2 nectarines, halved, quartered
8 slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise
16 basil leaves

Wrapped each slice of nectarine with prosciutto and set atop a basil leaf.  Skewer together with toothpick or bamboo fork.

Yields: 16 

Friday, 13 September 2013

The "Dirty" Dozen & The "Clean" Fifteen

Food for thought: organic or not organic, that is the question.

When should you as a consumer anti up and splurge on organic foods?  Well, according to a list published by Environmental Working Group, the 'dirty dozen and clean fifteen' categorize those fruits and vegetables which are the most and least pesticide contaminated.  source:

Obviously fruits and vegetables are essential in maintaining a healthy diet, however this list gives you something to ponder next time you are in the produce section of your supermarket.


The "Dirty Dozen Plus"
1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Cherry tomatoes
4. Cucumbers
5. Grapes
6. Hot peppers
7. Imported nectarines
8. Peaches
9. Potatoes
10. Spinach
11. Strawberries
12. Sweet bell peppers
+ Kale and collard greens
+ Summer squash

The "Clean 15"
1. Asparagus
2. Avocados
3. Cabbage
4. Cantaloupe
5. Sweet corn
6. Eggplant
7. Grapefruit
8. Kiwi
9. Mangos
10. Mushrooms
11. Onions
12. Papayas
13. Pineapples
14. Frozen sweet peas
15. Sweet potatoes

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Tagliatelle & Mint Pesto

Yesterday, the hubby, kiddos, and I, decided to take a rainy stroll down 4th Street to one of our favourite Italian markets/restaurants, Mercato.  On the grocery list; fresh pasta, fresh bread, bruschetta, and more bread.

Saturday Night = Pasta Night.  And to me pasta is best served with batch of homemade Pesto.  No jarred tomato sauce for this girl, I'm fancier than that (on occasion at least.)  When it comes to pesto I love the versatility it offers;  you can use any herb/greens/nut/cheese combination that you have on hand, and in no time flat you've got sauce that not only works with pasta, but with chicken, lamb, fish, etc.  Limitless possibilities.

This pesto would be especially delicious served with lamb.  In fact I think I just may have found my next challenge...

Mint Pesto w/ Tagliatelle Pasta

3 cups fresh mint
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup Parmesan, shaved or grated
1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Fresh Tagliatelle

In bowl of food processor, add nuts and grind till fine crumbs.  Add in remainder of ingredients except olive oil and pulse till combined.
Stream in olive oil pulsing to incorporate.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

In large pot of salted water, cook pasta until al dente.
Drain and serve with prepared pesto, using as much or as little as desired.  (general rule of thumb is 1/2 cup of pesto per 1 lb of pasta)

Top pasta with shaved Parmesan and pine nuts (because more cheese and nuts is 100% acceptable.)  Enjoy.

Yields: approximately 1 cup of pesto

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Two Ingredient Healthy Cookies

With school back in full force, so to is the need for healthy, portable, nut-free snacks.  My go-to's are usually veggie sticks, crackers, raisins, or granola bars.  Never cookies, unless they are my zucchini banana cookies, or now, these two ingredient (plus, mix-ins) cookies.

Today's rainy Saturday was the perfect opportunity/excuse to get some healthy baking done.  Things may just be looking sunny after all, especially since this weekend-batch contained chocolate chips, walnuts & a splash of vanilla.  Can you say banana bread? Yum.
Healthy cookies at their finest.  Looks like a second (nut-free) batch will be needed for Monday.  #weatethemall #welovecookies

Two-Ingredient Cookies

1 ripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup quick oats

+ mix ins (if desired)
chocolate chips
chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line  cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
In small bowl mix together banana and oats until combined.  Add in a handful of mix ins if desired.
Spoon out rounded spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Transfer to baking rack to cool.

Yields: 6-8 cookies

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Cherry-Vanilla Breakfast Smoothie

I survived the first two days of back to school tear-free, well almost, I may have gotten a little misty eyed, or perhaps its allergies??  Yes, allergies, let's go with that.   This school year has quite the schedule in store for us, R goes to morning classes, while L attends afternoon ones.  Making for 2 pick-ups and 2 drop-offs everyday, with only a quick break for lunch in between.  Hmmm, somehow I feel like I need to hire a personal assistant to keep me on track with this next year, or maybe I need to become a checklist wizard instead.

I've said it before, I love mornings.  I love waking up before everyone else to get in a good run, having a cup of coffee and quiet breakfast well perusing Pinterest and Facebook, mostly I just look forward to some downtime.  That being said my mornings have now begun almost two hours earlier to account for school.  This I'm not a fan of.  5am is too early, I much prefer the 6:45 time slot my body has grown accustomed to.  

After my typical morning workout (which was made infinitely harder thanks to this lovely head cold,) I decided to treat myself to a smoothie.  I've been off the smoothie train for awhile now, but today I was craving one.  So I caved.  This is me living on the edge.  Wild and crazy I know.  I decided on Cherry Vanilla as my potion of choice, and holy smokes am I ever glad I did.  I'm officially back on the smoothie train now.  All aboard.

Smoothie downed, I'm now off to start my job as personal chauffeur for two of the tiniest (albeit cutest) littlest folk ever.  Happy Thursday!

Cherry-Vanilla Smoothie

1 1/4 cup frozen pitted cherries
1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients above in blender or food processor and whirl till smooth and creamy.
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