Sunday, October 25, 2015

Parsnip and Carrot Puree

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I was put on side dish duty for two Thanksgiving dinners the weekend before last (it was Canadian Thanksgiving here), and my friend Kristy suggested I try one of her family favourites - Parsnip and Carrot Puree.  She said it was so good that she likes to have a little bit of it on the fork with every bite of her Thanksgiving dinner.  Sold!  So I found a great recipe on and decided to give it a shot.

Just four ingredients: parsnips, carrots, chives, and butter.  So simple, yet so much flavour!  You will need an immersion blender for this recipe to get the vegetables pureed easily and to the right consistency.  The Hubby was a little leery about it being too much like baby food, but in the end even he agreed it should be a new holiday dinner staple.  The great thing is that this recipe is made entirely on the stovetop, so you can save the room in your oven for a bird or other side dishes.  You can also make it ahead and reheat in the microwave or oven before eating.

Oh, and when I brought this to Thanksgiving dinner, The Hubby's cousin Shannon told me that parsnips are the trendy vegetable right now.  They are like the kale of 2015 or the brussels sprouts of 2014...her predictions (and she is vegetarian I might add, so she knows) are that 2016 is going to be all about the parsnip!  I mean, look at these could they not be trendy and cool?

Calling it right now...trendiest vegetable of 2016.
I had 32 parsnips on my kitchen counter because I doubled the recipe for both dinners.  The young clerk who sold them to me at the grocery store was like, "Are these white carrots?"  No, they are parsnips, I said, as if I didn't have to Google what a parsnip looked like myself before heading to the grocery store so that I would know what to look for.  Although they are related to the carrot family (also learned on Google before leaving the house), I wanted to add but didn't, because in no way would he care.  He responded, "Why do you have so many parsnips?  No one needs this many parsnips."  Fair point.  But his comment didn't discourage me, and with 32 parsnips I left the store, nervous that I had too many parsnips and that no one needed this many parsnips.  But all 32 were used, eaten, and enjoyed.

So if you're in the mood to try out something new at your holiday table (or really any dinner with roasted meat), this side dish is a winner.  As mentioned, I doubled the recipe both times that I made it, so the pictures you see here are for a doubled recipe, which would feed about 8-10 people at a small dinner without many other side dishes and with people taking a big scoop, or it will feed many more people if you are at a larger dinner that likely has more side dishes and where everyone will just take a very small scoop.   It's a great alternative to mashed potatoes, or just served right alongside the masted potatoes like we did.  Delicious.


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One Year Ago:  Easy Refried Bean Soup
Two Years Ago:  Healthy 'Everything' Cookies
Three Years Ago:  Goat Cheese Pesto Torte

My messy pot of parsnippy deliciousness

Parsnip and Carrot Puree

Serves: 4

  • 8 parsnips, peeled, cored, and cut into 2-inch pieces (see this helpful video for a how-to on coring parsnips)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chives, snipped
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Put parsnips and carrots into a pot, covering completely with water and a couple of pinches of salt.  Place over high heat on the stove, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Drain water, return vegetables to pot (if not already there), and add the chives and 3 tablespoons butter.  Using an immersion blender, puree until just a few small chunks remain.  Add remaining 3 tablespoons butter, and blend or stir until combined.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Serve immediately, or cover and reheat in oven or microwave when it's time to serve your meal.

Recipe Source: Parsnip and Carrot Puree

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Plum Cake

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Hi friends!

I keep doing that thing where I don't post for months and then get a random burst of energy and blogginess, and then don't post again for months.  The food I have been cooking lately has lacked any inspiration, and thus I haven't had much of anything to post besides the 50 or so draft blog posts in my drafts folder but who's counting.  But then, this plum cake happened.  In my mouth.  In all it's plummy deliciousness.  And so here we are again!  Also, my friend Katie told me this week that her friend from work recommended my blog to her, which is the first time that's happened that I know of, and that is just so cool to know that people who I don't know are out there reading this blog of mine...hello unknown readers (of which I now know there are at least one)!!!  Welcome!

The Hubby and I were asked to bring a dessert to our friends April and Brad's house the night they had to cook us dinner as their punishment for a three-peat loss in our Big Brother pool.  Embarrassing performance, April and Brad!  Well, my mom had recently visited her friend Denise at her apple (and plum!) orchard in Okanagan Falls, BC, and had come home with bushels of apples (and plums!), and split them with my brother and me.

Some of her bounty
I knew that the dessert I made would use one of those two fruits.  I chose to make an apple dessert, hoping that The Hubby would have forgotten his contempt towards any warm-apple-based-food, but NOPE, not forgotten.  Back to the drawing board (and plums!) I went, and I immediately became excited when I stumbled across this amazing plum cake recipe.

This recipe is adapted from an oldie but a goodie from the New York Times, where it was first published in 1982 and has made many repeat appearances after that.  The Times version has cinnamon, which I have omitted, and instead I have added both vanilla and almond extract.  I like my version a lot (don't mean to toot my own horn, but TOOT TOOT!), and so did the people who ate it with me (and had seconds I might add!).

The cake is so pretty and interesting to look at.  I love that plum halves are simply placed onto the batter, and that the cake just sort of moulds itself around them.

The juices from the plums tunnel their way jam-like through as everything is baking, and you are left with a moist, delicious cake.  Make sure that you use a springform pan to bake this cake, so that the cake can be removed from the pan easily and without changing the appearance before serving.  And then definitely top it with vanilla ice cream.

As summer is changing into fall, this is a great way to still cling onto the last tastes of summer fruit.  Plums are still in season until the end of October, so this plum cake would be a nice way to change up    your (Canadian) Thanksgiving dessert from the typical pumpkin pie (shock! horrification! dismay!).

Speaking of which, The Hubby and I wish you all a very happy Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend to all of my fellow Canadians (and my favourite know who you are)!  To celebrate, we have a ham dinner going on tonight at my parents' house, and a turkey dinner to follow tomorrow night at The Hubby's aunt and uncles's house.  So much deliciousness coming our way...I'm ready!

I hope that you enjoy this delicious plum cake as much as we did!

For a printer-friendly version of any recipe, simply click 'Print' below the title of any blog post. Voila - a clean recipe without my ramblings or any pictures!

One Year Ago:  Slower Cooker Phillippine Pork Stew
Two Years Ago:  Flourless Spicy Dark Chocolate Cake
Three Years Ago:  Thanksgiving 2012!

Plum Cake

Serves: 8

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 plums, pitted, and sliced in half
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.  In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt, stirring well.  In a separate medium bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and 1 cup sugar together.  While still mixing, add the vanilla and almond extracts, the eggs, then the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into an un-greased 8, 9, or 10-inch spring-form pan.  Arrange the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter.  Sprinkle lightly with remaining 1 teaspoon sugar.  Bake for 50 - 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake (not a plum!) comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool on a rack in the pan.  Remove outer ring of spring-form pan.  Slice cake and serve with vanilla ice cream of whipped cream, if desired.

Recipe Adapted From:  New York Times

Monday, August 10, 2015

Thai Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing

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Your grocery list is about to get a whole lot longer!

This has been our favourite salad this summer.  It's a bowl of goodness.  I love that this is even considered a salad.  Also, it's gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian, but you could totally make it into a complete meal by adding grilled chicken or another protein.

The recipe is from the Whitewater Cooks with Friends cookbook, which if you haven't flipped through before is just chock full of beautiful, unique recipes.  There are four books in the cookbook series, and if you have ever been to my house for dinner then you have probably tried something from at least one of them.  The series is definitely in my Top 5 cookbooks.

This recipe makes a large salad, so it's perfect for a gathering.  I can't even explain to you how good the dressing is.  It's like delicious peanut sauce had babies with a super fresh salad dressing.  Its by far the best Thai salad that the Hubby and I have ever eaten.  The ingredients are a bit of an investment, but once you have them in your pantry you are all set for the second, third, fourth time that you re-make the salad (because you will!).

This summer has been soooo beautiful in B.C., and it's been hard to find time to post.  Also I don't cook dinner ever anymore (just kidding, kinda).  I hope all of you have had a hard time staying indoors this summer too!

For a printer-friendly version of any recipe, simply click 'Print' below the title of any blog post. Voila - a clean recipe without my ramblings or any pictures!

One Year Ago:  Mango and Black Bean Quinoa Salad
Two Years Ago:  Watermelon Salad with Feta and Fresh Mint
Three Years Ago:  Pesto Edamame Salad

Thai Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing

Recipe Source:  Whitewater Cooks with Friends

Serves: 8


  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 lime, juice and zest of
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 16-ounce package pad thai rice noodles
  • 1 kettle full of boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1/2 long English cucumber, seeded and julienned
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and julienned
  • 2 cups bean sprouts (washed well)
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced diagonally
Blenderize all Dressing ingredients except cilantro and vegetable oil, using an immersion blender or a food processor, until just mixed.  Then, while still mixing, add vegetable oil in a slow steady stream.  stir in half of the cilantro, setting the rest aside.

Heat butter in a pan, then add the slivered almonds, sesame seeds, five-spice, and salt, stirring until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Add sugar and cook, while stirring, for another 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Place rice noodles into a large bowl, and pour the boiling hot water over top until covered completely.  Soak for 10 minutes, or until just tender.  To avoid the noodles sticking together, give them a store every couple of minutes.  Once cooked, drain the noodles, rinse with cold water, put back into the bowl, and toss with sesame oil.

Add the julienned carrots, julienned cucumber, julienned red pepper, bean sprouts, and green onions to the noodles.  Add the dressing.  Toss to combine all ingredients (you may need to use your hands - I do!).

Garnish with the remaining cilantro, and the toasted almonds and sesame seeds.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Alex's Crispy & Crunchy Baked Chicken

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Here's another recipe from my brother's girlfriend Alex and her blog The Bookish Cook.  In the words of Gordon Ramsay, "This chicken is cooked perrrrfectly."  Also in the words of The Hubby quoting Gordon Ramsay, "This chicken is cooked perrrrfectly" (in loud angry British accent).

Alex nailed it again.  Some of her other hits that I have copied on this blog are the Flour-less Spicy Dark Chocolate Cake (The Hubby's favourite cake and also gluten free!) and the Brussels Sprouts Salad with Bacon, Avocado, and Lemony-Dijon Dressing (which is actually the salad that appears at the top left of the plate in these chicken pictures).

I'm happily hanging out in town this weekend after a super fun girls weekend on Vancouver Island last weekend.  The Hubby and I ordered way too much Chinese Food last night (partly because I hangrily made the statement, "Let's order, like, WAY too much Chinese Food tonight."), so we have quite the task ahead of us this weekend in polishing that off.  Other than that, I'm checking out a new kids park in my neighbourhood with my BFF Sheena and her daughter Natalie, running with my mom Sunday morning, and then The Hubby and I are checking out some local breweries with our pals Kendra and Kyle on Sunday afternoon.  Nice little weekend!

I hope you enjoy another recipe hit from Alex!  Have a great weekend everyone.

For a printer-friendly version of any recipe, simply click 'Print' below the title of any blog post. Voila - a clean recipe without my ramblings or any pictures!

One Year Ago:  Classic Spinach Dip in Bread Bowl
Two Years Ago:  White Wine Sangria Jello Jigglers
Three Years Ago:  8-Layered Greek Dip

Crispy & Crunchy Baked Chicken

Serves: 4

  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons dried Italian blend herbs
  • 1/2 cup grated or ground parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon mayonnaise
  • Drizzle of olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease a non-stick cooking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large plastic bag, combine bread crumbs, herbs, parmesan, garlic seasoning, paprika, onion power, and salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, toss chicken breasts with the mayonnaise, rubbing it with your hands until well coated.  One at a time, put the chicken breasts into the plastic bag with the bread crumb mixture, and shake to coat the chicken completely.  Repeat with all four chicken breasts, moving each to the greased baking sheet once coated.

Drizzle the chicken breasts with a small amount of olive oil, and place into the oven on the middle rack.  Bake for 30 minutes, then flip over and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown and no longer pink in the centre.


Recipe Source: The Bookish Cook

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tuscan Vegetable Soup

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Anther vegan recipe on the blog...who am I with this fake detox where I still get to drink wine and eat Girl Guide Cookies?!

This soup is great on its own, but its also great as a base recipe that you can play around with.  So, sure - get trendy and use kale instead of spinach!  Substitute chicken broth for the beef broth if it makes you feel like a free-wheelin' babe!  YOLO it with chickpeas instead of canellini beans!  You can do what you want, and the main idea would be similar and delicious.

Look at the rainbow of beautiful vegetables in mine!

On a completely different topic, it's been a year since I became a runner and I've never really mentioned it on this blog because I guess I was scared it wouldn't stick.  But, it has stuck and I guess I'm a runner now, and here are a few of my thoughts on it.

I was never a runner.  I was the girl in high school that got winded and nauseous and felt like I was going to keel over in Physical Education class when we had to run a lap of the track.  But back then I didn't really have to have any physical activity in my life and could eat whatever the heck I wanted and still be twig-like.  I still think that Nutrition should be a semester-long class taught in today's high schools.  Nowadays, in the words of my childhood orthodontist, Mother Nature's goal is to "turn a pretty girl ugly."  I found out the hard way that if you don't wear your bottom retainer every night your teeth will go crooked again, and also that as it turns out metabolism becoming slower with age is a thing.  And here we are.

It all started for me because the location of my office building in downtown Vancouver is right on the most gorgeous stretch of seawall in North America, and right beside the 2014 Best Park In The World (according to Trip Advisor).  From my office window I can see hundreds of runners every day just running all the time - before work, on their lunch breaks, and as the sun is going down.  Seeing this every day (even on Vancouver's rainiest days) was enough to make me feel like I should be doing something like that too.  After all, it can't get any easier than throwing on your runners (Canadian word for sneakers; I've been told it's not used in other countries?!) and walking a block.  The only problem was that, just like when I was back in high school, I 'could not' run.

So, back in May 2014 I downloaded the '5K Runner' iPhone app by ClearSky Apps.  In 8 weeks it promised to take me from the couch to a 5K race.  I was doubtful, but decided to give it a try.  The app gets you doing a combination of run/walk intervals three times a week, until eventually on the last day of the eighth week, you can magically run for 35 minutes without stopping.  I couldn't believe that it worked, but it did.  From there, I wanted to keep going with their program and so I downloaded their '5K Forever' app, which helped to improve my time with walk/run speed intervals over the next eight weeks.  I was on a roll at that point, so I downloaded the '10K Runner' app, and six weeks later I was able to run for an hour without stopping.  After that I participated in our local 10K Terry Fox Run in September 2014 (with my mom, who is my role model in many things, including running), the 10K Turkey Trot for Thanksgiving 2014 (with my friend Ashley and a horrible head cold), and coming up this weekend I'm participating on my office team in Canada's biggest 10K run, the Vancouver Sun Run.

There were a few things to overcome along the way, namely the following:  the wobbly feeling of my butt always running a few steps behind me (catch up, butt!), the commitment to run three times a week in rain or shine or snow (and when it rains and snows, that promise to myself that I can't break totally sucks), Netflix, the amazing smell of popcorn being sold along the Stanley Park Seawall as I run past and can't eat it, knee issues resulting in multiple trips to the physiotherapist, and an Imposter Syndrome that I've been harbouring since my youth.  But I did it.

Nowadays I trail run with my mom, I run the Vancouver Seawall with friends, and I run on my treadmill at home.  I'm proud (yes, proud!) to say that it's now a very healthy part of my life.  Some wonderful side effects have been a 20 pound weight loss over 12 months, finding strength and feeling good, muscle definition in my legs for the first time in my life, and an amazing feeling of self accomplishment.  I run for these things, but I also run for wine and cheese and pasta and health and vanity and better fitting jeans. But the best side effect of running so far has been the ability to completely silence my mind to almost everything else and just concentrate on the matter at hand - running.  Some people think when they run; for me it's the only time in my life when my head is totally clear, and I have found that I crave that.  There is a wonderful piece from The Oatmeal that totally speaks to me on this topic, with my favourite line being, "I run very fast because I desperately want to stand very still."  It's not about the butt, it's about the brain.  If you are a runner and have some time, click on the link and have a's worth the read.

I recently went back to my high school track, and ran around it 28 times without stopping, just to prove to myself that I could.  The high school version of me would have been impressed.

OK, back to the soup...

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One Year Ago:  Classic Spinach Dip in Bread Bowl
Two Years Ago:  Chicken and Broccoli Casserole in Creamy Curry Sauce
Three Years Ago:  8-Layered Greek Dip

Tuscan Vegetable Soup

Serves: 4

  • 1 (15 to 19-ounce) can canellini beans (white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or use 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves (or use 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups low-sodium broth (beef or chicken or vegetable broth is fine)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves

In a small bowl, mash 1/2 of the canellini beans with a potato masher, and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and tomatoes with their juice, then bring to a boil over high heat.  Add the beans (whole beans and mashed beans), and the spinach leaves, then cook until the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes.


Recipe Source: Tuscan Vegetable Soup Recipe - Food Network

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Kale, Shrimp, and Chickpea Pitas

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So I'm officially in Detox Mode 3000.

Actually make that 6000.

Actually let's amend that to 2000 (I forgot that I drank a bottle of wine last night).

First a trip to San Francisco to visit an old gal pal for 4 nights (so fun!  why doesn't she live closer!  damn geography!  all we did was eat and drink and repeat!)

The Hubby was whooping it up in Phoenix with a friend at the same time.

Then with less than 10 days turnaround, we took a trip with my parents to New Orleans for 5 nights (so fun!  why is my next vacation so far away!  all we did was eat very deep fried food, and drink, and repeat!).

It was our fourth time in New Orleans in the past 4.5 years, so I guess you could say that we are basically Southerners now.  Because Southerners usually like to spend an entire afternoon in New Orleans watching two Canadian hockey teams play against each other in an Irish bar with the afternoon's climax being when the entire bar sings the Canadian National Anthem in unison.  True story.  It was a great day.

Anyways, I'm basically 700 pounds heavier than I was a month ago (well, remove two zeros, but STILL), and I want my pants to fit again!  The Hubby must feel the same way because the lunches he has taken to work this week have consisted of the following:  raw broccoli, raw cauliflower, ranch dip, banana.  Exciting!  We also have a new evening ritual three times a week when Big Brother Canada is on, where we go into his Man-Cave in the basement and he rides the stationary bike and I walk or run on the treadmill beside him.  It's quite quaint.  Couples who play together stay together?  Ha!

I thought these healthy Kale, Shrimp, and Chickpea Pitas would also help us on our quest to remove the unwanted poundage.  The Hubby freaked out a little bit at the idea of eating kale, but in the end even he was gobbling these pitas down.  I used prawns, but the original recipe from Food Network called for shrimp.  The filling has grape tomatoes and some finely chopped red onion, but you could really mix it up however you wanted, and it would be great.  The lemony-garlicky dressing really makes these pita pockets delish!  Everything tastes very fresh and healthy and nom nom nom!  Oh, and I think they took me about 11 minutes to make, which makes Megan and happy girl on a weeknight when the hangry-ness tends to settle in quickly.

I'm going to keep the detox train going with a healthy Tuscan Vegetable Soup coming up on the blog later this week.  Choo choo!

For a printer-friendly version of any recipe, simply click 'Print' below the title of any blog post. Voila - a clean recipe without my ramblings or any pictures!

One Year Ago:  Curry Coconut Chicken Vegetable Soup
Two Years Ago:  Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Bars
Three Years Ago: Classic Creamy Hummus

Kale, Prawn, and Chickpea Pitas

Serves: 4

  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt (don't accidentally buy vanilla!)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 small bunch kale, stems removed and leaves thinly sliced (or use baby kale)
  • 3/4 pound medium shrimp (or prawns), peeled and deveined
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 pieces pita pockets, halved
In a large boil, whisk together the yogurt, 2 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon juice, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Add the kale and toss with tongs to coat.  Set aside at room temperature while you make the rest of the filling.

Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the shrimp, sprinkle with some freshly ground pepper, and cook until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, red onion, and shrimp to the bowl with the kale, and toss gently with the tongs to coat everything well.

To prepare the pita pockets, stack them on a plate and microwave for about 30 seconds until warm.  This will also make them easier to open.  Fill the pitas with the kale-shrimp mixture.  Enjoy!

Recipe Source:  Food Network - Kale and Shrimp Pitas

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Vegetarian Yam and Black Bean Stew

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It's been nice and warm in Western Canada, but on the eastern part of the country they haven't been so lucky.  Why must it unfairly snow all the way into April over on the east coast, while on the west coast we haven't seen snow all year (and crocuses have been out of the ground and cherry blossoms in bloom since February)?  I don't know, I don't know.  This comfort food recipe is for the east coasters (you're welcome).  Of course, you can still enjoy it in Spring weather too!

I love when I'm eating something and I know that not only does it taste good, but it's wholesome and nutritious.  This Vegetarian Yam and Black Bean Stew has chili and soup-like components, and I love the chunks of fresh yam.

This recipe came to me from a girl who I work with named Jenna, who you may remember from Mango and Black Bean Quinoa Salad fame.  Jenna eats a dairy-free and gluten-free diet, so her recipes follow the same dietary restrictions or can be modified easily (for instance, in this recipe you can substitute the all-purpose flour for gluten-free flour, or just eliminate it altogether). What they aren't missing is taste, flavour, and colour.  I've told her to keep the recipes coming, because they are keepers!

Happy one week belated Easter!

For a printer-friendly version of any recipe, simply click 'Print' below the title of any blog post. Voila - a clean recipe without my ramblings or any pictures!

One Year Ago:  Curried Coconut Chicken Vegetable Soup
Two Years Ago:  Spinach Quinoa Salad with Grapefruit
Three Years Ago:  Greek Quinoa Salad

Yam and Black Bean Stew

Serves:  4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper (seeds and stem removed), chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of crushed red chili flakes
  • 3 cups peeled and cubed yams
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced (for garnish)
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and green pepper and cook for 4 - 5 minutes, until tender.  Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and chili flakes, and cook for 3 minutes longer. Add the yams, beans, tomatoes, tomato pasts, broth, flour, salt, and pepper, and bring to a gentle simmer.  Simmer 10 - 15 minutes, until yams are tender.  Adjust seasonings as desired.  To serve, sprinkle with sliced green onions.


Recipe Source:  Jenna!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad

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The Hubby and I got a little bit obsessed with the Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Salad that we were hitting pretty hard around Christmas-time.  So I decided to take the peeled Brussels Sprouts idea and turn it into a Caesar Salad peeled Brussels Sprouts idea.  And it was a good idea!  Mmm.

Warning - the Caesar dressing recipe is super garlicky, which I love.  Yum.  Regarding the Brussels sprouts themselves, we have found that the smaller ones are better because the leaves are thinner.  But make sure to remove the looser outer leaf (it's not good in the salad), as well as any other scruffy looking leaves.  

I'm off to San Francisco to visit my friend Ariana, and I can't wait!  Lots of girl time and wine (a bit of a redundant statement), including an overnighter in Napa. Woo!  I've packed my suitcase with some gifts for her in the form of Canadian delicacies not sold in the United States, such as ketchup-flavoured potato chips, all-dressed flavoured potato chips, Hawkins Cheezies, Kit Kats, Coffee Crisps, Smarties, and Aero.  Oh, and I can't forget le piece de résistance...a few packets of McChicken Sauce straight from McDonalds.  Apparently McChickens don't come with McChicken Sauce on them in the good old US of A, and that just doesn't work for her.  And, you don't know Ariana, but she will love this care package of Canadian junk food.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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One Year Ago:  Spring Salad with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese, and Pecans
Two Years Ago:  Classic Beef Stew
Three Years Ago:  Very Berry Muffins

Peeled Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad

Serves: 4

  • 5 pounds Brussels Sprouts, trimmed, with outer layer and any scruffy leaves discarded
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 1/3 cup olive oil 
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste 
  • 1/4 tsp. dry mustard 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. anchovy paste
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 - 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese 
  • Croutons
Blenderize the garlic, oil, salt, pepper, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, anchovy paste, egg, and lemon juice until smooth.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Slice off the hard end of each Brussels sprout, pulling off the leaves one by one, and placing the leaves into a medium-sized salad bowl.  Once you are done, give yourself a pat on the back.  

Toss Brussels sprouts with dressing.  Sprinkle on parmesan cheese and croutons, and toss again.  Enjoy!

Recipe Source:  Caesar Salad Recipe from Playing With My Food

Monday, March 16, 2015

Prawn and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

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Ever since our first visit to New Orleans for our honeymoon in 2010, The Hubby has been asking me to recreate in our kitchen the delicious gumbo that we ate there.  He even begrudingly approved the purchase of a cookbook with a gumbo recipe in it from our favourite restaurant there (NOLA), even though I have 90 million cookbooks already (side note: and want more, more, MORE!)  Then we went back to New Orleans in 2012, and again in 2014, and coming up again this year, and still I hadn't made the gumbo.

But then!  My mom and I decided to make the gumbo together one night, and I surprised The Hubby with a hot bubbling pot of this Creole concoction the next day.  He was stoked (well, as stoked as one can get over soup).  I was redeemed.

So, I'm either a really good wife, or a really bad wife.  Or both (but probably the second one).  In any event, I'm glad that I put my cookbook (Emeril's Potluck) to good use and finally got around to making this gumbo.  It was delicious, and one of those things that is better the second time that you eat it, and since this is a big recipe, the third and fourth and maybe even sixth time that you eat it too.

The stores didn't have any fresh okra when I was making this dish, so I purchased it from Safeway's frozen vegetable section and it worked just fine.  Having never worked with okra before I was very surprised at the resulting 'goo' or slime that appears when you start cooking it.  The slime just keeps coming and coming, and I just kept commenting and commenting on how, just, WEIRD it was, and my mom just kept tolerating and tolerating my incessant noticing of and commenting on the slime.  But then the slime cooks itself away and eventually it becomes the thickening (and flavouring!) agent in this gumbo.  You can't skip the it's a fun science experiment to watch along the way.

We are heading to New Orleans again this year, and I can't wait!  This time my parents are joining us too.  But dare I say...I actually enjoyed this homemade gumbo more than the authentic stuff that we ate in the (ok, yes, very touristy, but still more authentic than say, Canada, for instance) French Quarter.

And if you're in the mood for Cajun / Creole food, here is an awesome Jambalaya Recipe that appeared on this blog back in 2012.

For a printer-friendly version of any recipe, simply click 'Print' below the title of any blog post. Voila - a clean recipe without my ramblings or any pictures!

One Year Ago:  Easy Weeknight No-Brainer BBQ Chicken Salad
Two Years Ago:  Butternut Squash Risotto with Arugula
Three Years Ago:  Crispy Chicken with Green Curry Sauce

Prawn & Andouille Sausage Gumbo

Serves: 10

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch round slices
  • 2 pounds okra (frozen or fresh), stems trimmed off, and then cut into 1/4 inch round slices
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 pounds prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Fresh parsley, finely chopped (for garnish)
  • Green onions, thinly sliced (for garnish)
  • Cooked white rice, for serving

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and cook for five minutes, or until fat is rendered.  Add the okra and cook, stirring continuously, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until most of the slime disappears.  Add the tomatoes, onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic, then cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes, or until the okra and the vegetables are soft and the slime from the okra has completely disappeared.  Add the salt, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, thyme, and chicken broth.  Stir well, and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, put your prawns into a medium sized bowl, then sprinkle with paprika, garlic powder, pepper, oregano, and a dash of salt.  Toss to make sure that the seasoning is distributed over all of the prawns, then set aside.

Once your pot is boiling, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  Add the prawns and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves.

To serve put the heated cooked rice into a bowl, then top with the soup.  Garnish with parsley and green onions.


Recipe Source:  Emeril's Potluck - Shrimp, Okra, and Tomato Gumbo

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Slow Cooker Creamy Santa Fe Chicken

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Oh, I looooooooove it when you don't have to pre-cook the ingredients going into the slow cooker before throwing them into the slow cooker!  This recipe does just that.  No browning, sautéing, or otherwise prepping of meat or just toss 'em into the Crockpot and you are on your merry way.  Which is the way that I feel it should be for slow cookers.

Oops, I did it again!  Another completely unappetizing picture of a total delicious meal. 
This was another winner from the Best of Bridge cookbook series.  The flavours of chicken, beans, and corn in a rich and creamy salsa and cream cheese sauce were oh so good overtop of white rice and served with a side salad.  My rice of choice is always jasmine (even though it's more frequently used in Asian cooking) because it has such great flavour.

This meal served The Hubby and me as the perfect weeknight dish on a cold rainy winter night.  This recipe is a definite keeper, and we will be making it again soon.

For a printer-friendly version of any recipe, simply click 'Print' below the title of any blog post. Voila - a clean recipe without my ramblings or any pictures!

One Year Ago:  Butternut Squash, Italian Sausage, and Spinach Pasta
Two Years Ago:  Creamy Roasted Garlic, Caramelized Onion, and Bacon Soup
Three Years Ago:  Tomato and Italian Sausage Risotto

Slow Cooker Creamy Sante Fa Chicken

Serves: 4


  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 can black beans (14 to 19oz.), drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn kernels (frozen, canned, or fresh)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 4 green onions, chopped

In a slow cooker, add chicken, beans, corn, salsa, tomato paste, and salt, and give everything a good stir.  Cook on low for 5 - 6 hours, or on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder and vinegar until smooth.  Add the mixture to the slow cooker, along with the cream cheese.  Continue to cook on high for another 15 minutes until the cheese is melted, then stir again.

Serve over rice and top with green onions.  Enjoy!

Recipe Source:  Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook - Creamy Chicken Santa Fe

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Hubby's Smoked Salmon

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The Hubby's first blog recipe, and of course it's one for the BBQ.  My apologies to my Canadian readers who don't live on the west coast, but out here it's barbeque season all year long baby!

Hubs has made this to-die-for smoked salmon for New Years Eve every year for the past two years (so, twice), since his parents bought him the smokebox accessory for our Weber BBQ.  He stresses and fusses and toils over it as though it were his baby.

"It's getting too smoked!"
"I think this will be my best smoked salmon attempt yet!"
"This is going to be a total fail!"
"It's not getting enough smoke!"
"I think the smoke level is good now!"*

*he has just informed me that he has never actually said this last one.

The BBQ smoking away!
In the end it's always perfect.

This year he made a double-batch because I accidentally bought double the amount of salmon that I was supposed to.  That works just fine for me because now we will have super flavourful smoked salmon in our freezer for a quick appy.  Speaking of quick appy, this one takes over a day to prepare in its entirety, so make sure to plan ahead.  You will need some hardwood chips to smoke the salmon.  The Hubby's preference is hickory.

We choose to serve it with bagel chips, cream cheese, and capers.  This is a crowd pleaser and he always gets rave reviews!

For a printer-friendly version of any recipe, simply click 'Print' below the title of any blog post. Voila - a clean recipe without my ramblings or any pictures!

One Year Ago:  Turkey Meatballs in Coconut Curry Sauce
Two Years Ago:  Curried Chicken and Rice Soup
Three Years Ago:  Caesar Salad

The Hubby's Smoked Salmon

  • 2/3 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large salmon fillets or sides, pin bones removed
To prepare the rub, mix together the salt, brown sugar, white sugar, and pepper in a medium bowl.  Spread a piece of extra-wide aluminum foil a little longer than the length of the salmon along the counter, then top with an equally-long layer of plastic wrap.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the rub onto the plastic.  Lay one side of the fish skin down onto the rub, then sprinkle 1/3 of the rub onto the flesh of the salmon.  Place your second piece of salmon flesh-down onto the first piece of salmon.  Use the remaining rub to cover the skin on top of the second piece.  Fold the plastic over the salmon to cover it completely, then close the edges of the foil together and seal tightly around the salmon.

Place the wrapped fish onto a rimmed baking sheet, and top with another baking sheet.  The rimmed edges are important because lots of juice (salmon juice??) leaks out during the marination process, and you need something that will collect the run-off.  Weigh down with something heavy, such as a phone book, heavy cookbook, or a brick.  Refrigerate for 12 hours.  Flip over the salmon, then refrigerate again for another 12 hours.

Unwrap the salmon and rinse well with cold water to wash off the rub.  Pat the salmon dry with paper towels, then place in a cool place (not the fridge) until the salmon is dry, about 1 - 3 hours.

Now you are ready to start smokin'!!!  Set your BBQ's smokebox attachment or a smoker to between 150 - 160 degrees F, and start smoking your fish over hardwood chips such as hickory.  Keep smoking away until the thickest part of the fish registers at 150 degrees F.  After that, you can serve right away (or chill and serve), or keep it for later in the fridge for up to 3 days.   We choose to serve with cream cheese, capers, and bagel chips.

Recipe Source:  Alton Brown's Good Eats - Where There's Smoke There's Fish!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hamburger Soup

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Mmmmm...lately it's just all comfort food all the time on this blog!

This is another family favourite...Best of Bridge's delicious Hamburger Soup!  This is one of my mom's best-loved recipes, and totally reminds me of home.  At under 300 calories per bowl yet satisfyingly filling, this is the soup that eats like a meal baby!  When I cook this bad boy I usually make a double batch and freeze half, and that way I can simply defrost for a quick and easy dinner or work lunch a few weeks later.

Ok, so two quick disgusting stories about this soup that should never be told by a food blogger on a food blog that I want people to return to, but I am going to tell anyways.  If you are planning on making this soup today and have a queazy stomach then maybe just skip right below to the recipe.  Here we go...

Story 1:  When I was a teenager, one time my parents left my brother and I at home when they went on vacation.  My mom wanted to make sure we were well fed while they were gone, so before leaving she made a slow cooker full of this Hamburger Soup.  Not knowing my way around the kitchen at all (like, at all!) when I was a teenager, when the slow cooker finished cooking and turned off, I didn't know that meant that eventually I should put into the fridge.  I happily fed my brother and myself leftover counter-top (microwave reheated) Hamburger Soup for a few days, finally noticing near the end of the batch that it was starting to taste a little off.  Ummm...try rancid!!!  I had essentially left a soup with ground beef out of the fridge for days and kept eating it.  My mom honestly must have wondered where she went wrong in raising such an incompetent child.  It took awhile to eat Hamburger Soup again after that.

Story 2:  When I moved out of my parents house into my first apartment, I was missing my mom's cooking from home.  I went to the store and bought all of the ingredients for Hamburger Soup, and spent the entire afternoon making it (I was a slower vegetable chopper back then!).  The final ingredient to add was the barley, which I had purchased in the bulk section of the grocery store.  I dumped the barley in and started noticing that the soup appeared to be crawling.  Ummm....crawling with bugs!!!  The container of barley must have been infested, because only then did I realize that the bag that I had put the barley in was crawling on the inside.  All of my hard work went to waste and I had to dump the whole double batch down the garburator.  The good news was I went back to the grocery store to let them know to clean their bin, and they comped my whole grocery bill from that day!  It took me awhile to eat Hamburger Soup again after that too.

End of gross Hamburger Soup stories.  I'm sorry.  And if you still feel like making it, the recipe is below.

For a printer-friendly version of any recipe, simply click 'Print' below the title of any blog post. Voila - a clean recipe without my ramblings or any pictures!

One Year Ago:  White Chocolate and Cranberry Cheesecake
Two Years Ago:  Easy Peasy Cauliflower Cheesy Soup
Three Years Ago:  Minestrone Soup

Hamburger Soup

Serves: 8

  • 1 & 1/2 lbs. extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 x 10-ounce cans consomme
  • 1 x 10-ounce can condensed tomato soup
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook ground beef and onions until the beef is brown.  Drain off all liquid from the pot.  Add all remaining ingredients to pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low for at least 2 hours, or all day.

Recipe Source:  Best of Bridge 'Best of the Best' Cookbook

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Land of Nod Cinnamon Buns

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Happy New Year!!

Just had to do a quick blog post today about these cinnamon buns that we ate for New Years Day brunch this morning.  This is a recipe that we make in my family as a tradition for almost every holiday or special occasion brunch since I was a kid.  The whole family loves it.  It's ridiculously easy to make, and you prep it the night before so you just have to quickly pop it into the oven in the morning and, voila!, delicious home-made cinnamon rolls on your table in 25 minutes.  Everyone will think you are a genius who has been up baking cinnamon buns for hours!  The recipe comes from the Best of Bridge cookbook series, and the page for this recipe in my cookbook at home is worn out from overuse.

We served this as one of the dishes for our friends this morning after a very fun New Years Eve games night* at our place with us and three other couples.  The cinnamon buns were served alongside a hash brown casserole, an egg frittata, and fresh fruit.  Oh, and Baileys/coffee and champagne mimosas too, because if you are with some of your best friends then why not be drunk twice in 2015 before noon on January 1?

*no games were actually played.

Ainslie, Kendra, Sara, and me!
I wanted to get the recipe up on the blog today because I was asked for it a couple of times.  We didn't turn off the lights last night until past 4am, and I was in bed nodding off before I realized that I hadn't made the make-ahead night-before cinnamon buns!  Out of bed and off to the kitchen I went (with Hubby sawing logs already).  Good thing they are super easy to make and take no longer than five minutes to assemble, if you don't spill half of the melted butter on the floor (I did), which does in fact delay the process.  I was still back in bed in a matter of about five minutes, and the effort was worth it this morning!

Speaking of beds, I just want to show off our new bed and bedding because this is my blog and I can do that!

The bed is from Costco (my favourite store in the world), the bedding is from West Elm, and the new mattress is so high that we almost touch the ceiling!  The Hubby says he is excited for hot summer nights since he will be so close to the ceiling fan!  I always thought I just was a person who has a sore back all the time, but ever since getting a new mattress my back pain has disappeared....hooray!  It's the most comfy bed in the world.  New year, new bed...woo hoo!  But, I digress...

Definitely make these gooey, sticky, delicious cinnamon buns for your next brunch and then the one after that won't regret it!!!  One quick word to the wise...the recipe calls for a bundt pan, not an angel-food cake pan.  You cannot use an angel food cake pan for this recipe.  I have tried to do so, my mom has tried to do so, my best friend has tried to do so, and each time the recipe fails miserably.  You can pick up a cheap bundt pan at the thrift store if you don't have one already.  I'm not sure how this would work in a loaf pan, but if you try it with success (or with a failure), please let me know!

For a printer-friendly version of any recipe, simply click 'Print' below the title of any blog post. Voila - a clean recipe without my ramblings or any pictures!

One Year Ago:  Chocolate Mocha Roll
Two Years Ago:  Meyer Lemon Chicken Piccata
Three Years Ago:  Egg Nog Supreme (another Best of Bridge winner!)

Land of Nod Cinnamon Buns

  • 20 frozen dinner rolls
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vanilla dry instant pudding
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
Grease a 10-inch bundt pan, add half of the frozen dinner rolls, then sprinkle with half of each of the brown sugar, pudding powder, cinnamon, and raisins.  Repeat with the other half of the rolls, sugar, pudding, cinnamon, and raisins.  Pour the melted butter overtop.  Cover the bundt pan with a damp cloth (make sure not to omit this step as it is important), and leave out on the counter overnight at room temperature.  In the morning, preheat your oven to 350F and bake for 25 minutes on the middle rack.  Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes, then flip it out onto a serving plate.  Enjoy!

Recipe Source:  Best of Bridge Land of Nod Cinnamon Buns

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