Archive for November, 2009

BAgal or Baaaagal?

November 23, 2009

Saturday morning at the St. Lawrence Market makes me happy. I’m especially happy when I indulge and leave with a warm bag of fresh bagels, straight from the wood oven. This is the closest thing to a “real” Montreal bagel that you’re going to get in Toronto.

I always have pronounced the word “bagel” with a hard “A” (as in Bay-gel) and Adam is convinced that the “a” should be soft (as in baaag-el). This often leads to a friendly duel. I’m not sure who is right or wrong, but I’m keeping my ground strong.

Anyways, one of my favourite things to do with bagels is to make warm, buttery garlic bagel chips. This is such an easy and satisfying treat.  A must try!

Ingredients:

  • Bagels
  • Melted Butter
  • Powdered Garlic
  • Salt + Pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees and brush a cookie tray with olive oil or butter.

Slice bagels as thinly as possible, avoiding all finger tips.

Place on a single layer on the tray and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle on Garlic, Salt and Pepper. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until golden brown.

Easy as one, two three…

Meet my Sous-Chef Isla…she’s my toughest critic!

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It was a dark and stormy night…

November 21, 2009

This past Thursday, it was raining, cold and gloomy. I think at about 3:00 p.m., I looked out the office window and could have sworn it was midnight. I guess that’s all part of the Mother Nature thing and winter being just around the corner (oh Canada!). I can’t really complain though, because it’s the end of November and I still haven’t had to put my snow boots on.

A big bowl of Chile simmering on the stove definitely helps to lift the cloudy spirit. Chile has got to be one of the easiest meals to make and is the definition of comfort in a bowl. You can pretty much add just about anything you like to it and it will be delicious.

Here’s what you need to make my version “du jour”:

  • 1 package of Ground Beef, browned and drained (Chicken, Turkey or Texturized Vegetable Protein works just as well!)
  • ½ an Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 2 Bell Peppers, chopped (colours of your choice)
  • 1 Jalapeño, chopped (optional)
  • 1 can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 can Mixed Beans
  • 1 cup Corn (frozen or canned)
  • ½ litre of Chicken Broth
  • 5 tbsp Chile Powder
  • 2 tbsp Cumin
  • 2 tsp Chile Flakes (if you like a lot of heat, add more)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I like to start by heating the oil (in a big pot) and sweating the garlic and onion on medium high heat to get the flavours going. After a few minutes, add the browned ground beef.

  • Add Chile Powder, Cumin, Salt and Pepper. Mix well.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for as long as you like (I left this simmering on the stove on low covered for about 2 hours, while I was at yoga. Adam had the job of stirring it from time to time.

Cheesy garlic bread makes for the perfect partner in crime. Just slice a baguette, spread on some butter and sprinkle with fresh chopped garlic (or powdered garlic). Top with shredded cheese (I had Mozzarella on hand) and a pinch of Italian Seasoning. Bake in a 400 degree oven on a cookie tray for about 5-10 minutes, until golden.

Garnish with Sour Cream and Chopped Green Onion.

Dinner Time!

November 17, 2009

It’s just about 10:00 p.m. and we just finished dinner.

Pretty late for dinner, right?

With busy work schedules and yoga class, we often don’t get to sit down and eat until 9:00 p.m. Well…maybe now’s the time to admit that we actually don’t “sit down” and eat (we don’t have a table), but we do have a good setup going on the coffee table or on the arm of the couch.  It works…sort off.

Anyways, if you have a busy schedule, a healthy and easy dinner is still possible! No excuses! You just need to plan ahead.

I had about a 45 minute window between work and yoga and I was able to whip up a Spicy Hoisin Chicken Stir Fry with time to spare. I always start by getting the rice going. Tonight I used sticky rice (probably my favourite), but any type of rice works. With Stir Fry, the most important step is to prep all of your ingredients before you start cooking. When it’s time to start frying, the process is very quick and you need to be ready. This dish reheats well, so after yoga, dinner was served!

Here’s what you need for my Spicy Hoisin Stir Fry:

  • 2 Chicken Breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 or 3 Bell Peppers, cut into bite sized pieces (play around with the colours)
  • ½ of an Onion, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 can of Baby Corn, drained (one of our favourites)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of ginger, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil

You can also add Mushrooms, Snow Peas, Bok Choy etc. Anything you have on hand!

Sauce:

  • 2 cups Chicken Broth (water works just as well)
  • 3 tbsp Hoisin Sauce (you can find this in the Asian section in your grocery store)
  • 1 tsp of spicy chilli sauce (also in the Asian section)
  • 1 tsp granular sugar (to balance out the spicy)
  • 2 tbsp Soya Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Corn Starch

Start by mixing all of the sauce ingredients together, making sure that the corn starch dissolves completely. 

Heat oil in a pan or wok on high, add ½ of the garlic and ginger, stir for about 5 seconds. Add chicken and stir until cooked. Remove chicken from pan. 

Heat a little more oil and add remaining garlic and ginger.  Then add the veggies. 

Be careful not to over cook the veggies, you want them to stay crisp. After about 2 minutes or so of cooking the veggies, add the chicken back into the pan with the veggies and pour over the sauce.

Simmer until sauce thickens (about 1-2 minutes) and it`s ready!

Serves 4-6 people (or two, with lunch leftovers for tomorrow)

*PLATING TIP*

Fill a bowl with rice (my bowls are square) and flip the bowl onto a plate. The rice should release easily and mould into the shape of the bowl. Garnish with chopped green onions.

Now it`s time for bed.

Sunday Night HBO

November 15, 2009

It’s Sunday night, our favourite TV night!

Curb Your Enthusiasm, Bored to Death and Dexter. What could be better? Well…maybe a little company from our neighbours.

I typically like to make a big homemade Sunday feast, but today, we had a bite at our local pub for some stick to the ribs grub. Sometimes, you just have to give in to those deep cravings that don’t want to go away.

I also like to go through my fridge and cupboards to see how I can salvage some food that is reaching its death sentence. I found a bag of whole wheat pitas and decided it was time to make one of my classics – pita chips with hummus. I think I’ve made pita chips for my friends and family about a gazillion times, but I do like to play around with the flavours. Sometimes it’s pesto and parmesan, other times it’s cinnamon and sugar, or even hot sauce and celery salt. Tonight, it’s another classic: garlic and herbs.

Here’s all you need to make this simple snack:

– Pitas (I like to separate my pitas in two, by pulling them apart)
– A couple tbsp’s of melted butter mixed with one tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (a like the combination of the two together)
– Garlic Powder
– Dried Basil, Dried Oregano and Dried Thyme

Heat oven to 400 Degrees Fahrenheit

  • Brush each pita with the butter and oil mixture and sprinkle on a pinch of each herb
  • Bake for about 5-7 minutes, keeping a close eye on them because they do tend to brown quickly
  • Take out of the oven when golden and let them cool for a minute or so
  • Break into pieces

Now for the hummus.  Again, one of the most simple dips to make (and you can change-up the seasonings to make different flavours).

  • 1 can of chick peas, drained
  • 2 tbsp’s lime juice (lemon also works well)
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 2 tbsp’s Tahini paste (sesame butter, which adds a nice nutty flavour)
  • 2 tbsp’s olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Combine everything into a food processor and mix until smooth
  • Garnish with a sprinkle of Paprika and Parsley

Et voila!  A quick, easy and healthy snack is born!

Pita Chips and Hummus

Bon Appetito!

November 14, 2009

Hello World!

I’ve always had the idea of starting a blog, but I definitely took my sweet, sweet time sitting down to create one (it’s been all talk, no action for at least a year).  Last week I decided it was time.  I opened a bottle of wine, poured myself a glass and got down to business.

Problem was, I knew how to read blogs, but had no idea how to actually start one.  While I consider my computer skills to be advanced, the technical webpage building part is quite foreign to me.  After a few hours of reading instructions and downloading, I managed to get myself my first very own page and banner!

It`s taken me a week to write my first post…

I love food. It makes me happy. It makes other people happy. So why not keep all that goodness going by sharing the food that I make (or encounter) with others. 

Tonight it was lasagna.

I find lasagna to be pretty easy. Meat sauce, cheese, pasta (I used whole wheat), some onion, garlic, Italian seasoning and red chilli flakes.  I love all kinds of lasagna, but sometimes just the classic meat and cheese hits the spot.  In an hour’s time I made an Italian dinner for two and it was delicious!

Meat and Cheese Lasagna