Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Flatbreads and Falafels

Dear Sally,

The holidays are just about over but the cooking frenzy is just starting! I love the cookbook you gave me and I have been dying to try recipes from it ever since I first opened it. After flipping through I came to a recipe for falafels and thought I would take a stab. How hard can it be to mash chickpeas and a few other ingredients and fry them up? I had a few trials with the blender but thankfully everything worked out and they were delicious! Nothing like curry to warm your belly on a cold day.

I miss our dates but I guess this just means that I have to make my way to Peterborough more often :)

Love ya!

Navajo Flatbreads
From Jamie's America
Scant 5 cups white bread flour plus extra for dusting
1 tsp. salt
2 heaped tablespoons baking powder
optional: 1 teaspoon dried herbs or spices
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup warm water

Mix your flour, salt, baking powder, and herbs (if using) in a large bowl, using a fork. Make a well in the center, then pour in the olive oil and about 2/3 cup warm water. Use the forl to gradually bring in the flour from the edge of the bowl, and add another splash of water if you think it's to dry. Once it starts to combine, wet your hands and use them to really bring it all together until you have a nice ball of dough.

Dust your hands and clean a worktop with flour and knead the dough with your hands until it is smooth and elastic. This will take 5 to 10 minutes. Pop the dough back in the bowl, dust it with a bit more flour, then cover and leave to relax.

Divide your dough into 10 equal-sized balls, then slightly oil your hands and squeeze each ball between your palms to flatten it slightly. Dust with a little flour as you go, and pat and slap the dough from the palm of one hand to the top of the other. Turn and twist the dough about in a circular movement as you go and keep slapping from hand to hand - each flatbread should be about 1/2 inch thick.

Normally the flatbreads are cooked as you're making them. You can do this on a grill or in a nonstick frying pan on a medium heat. Cook them for a few minutes on each side and check the underside - you want them to puff up with a nice bit of golden color. Keep them warm in a basket covered with a dish towel until you're ready to serve them.

From The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
1 can chickpeas
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp parsley
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp baking powder
4 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
vegetable oil for frying

In a food processor, coarsly chop the onion, garlic, chick peas, parsley lemon juice, salt and spices. Mix into a paste and pour into a bowl and add the flour.
Shape by heaping 1 tbsp each into 24 balls; flatten to 1/2 inch thickness. Arrange in single layer on waxed paper - lined tray; refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 12 hours.

Pour enough oil into a dutch oven to come up about 2 inches. Heat to 350 and in batches gently drop falafels into hot oil. Deep-fry, turning once, until golden and cooked through, 3 mintes. Drain on paper towel.

Tahini Yogurt Sauce:

1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cucumber (seeds removed and shredded)
2 cloves garlic

Monday, December 20, 2010

Flatbreads, Green Chili and Lemon Loaf

Dear Jess,

What a week! Between packing, working, Christmas shopping and everything else that fills the hours of my days it's amazing I find time to breathe! But what a ride it is!

I picked these three recipes for a few reasons. All of them fall under the category of 'I have never tried this before' and 'The ingredients are not expensive.' It as been snowing (as you know) and both Jason and I wanted something warm and cozy. I made two loaves of Lemon Bread. One for me to go with my evening tea, and one for Amber for Christmas. (I have been making a lot of my Christmas presents this year!)

There were a few hiccups along the way, but it all turned out to be delicious none-the-less.

Navajo Flatbreads and Green Chili, Jamie's America, Pg 139, 165

Navajo Flatbreads
From Jamie's America
Scant 5 cups white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
2 heaped tbsp baking powder
optional: 1 tsp dried herbs or spices, such as thyme, parsley, sumac, or crushed fennel seeds (I used basil)
1/3 cup olive oil

Mix your flour, salt, baking powder, and herbs or spices (if using) in a large bowl, using a fork. Make a well in the center, then pour in the olive oil and about 2/3 cup of warm water. Use the fork to gradually bring in the flour from the edge of the bowl, and add another splash of water if you think it's too dry.* Once it starts to combine, wet your hands and use them to really bring it all together until you have a nice ball of dough.

Dust your hands and a clean worktop with flour and kneed the dough with your hands until it is smooth and elastic. This will take 5 to 10 minutes. Pop the dough back into the bowl, dust it with a bit more flour, then cover and leave to relax.

Divide your dough into 10 equal-sized balls, then lightly oil your hands and squeeze each ball between your palms to flatten it slightly. Dust with a little flour as you go, and pat and slap the dough from the palm of one hand to the top of the other. Turn and twist the dough about in a circular movement as you go and keep slapping from hand to hand - each flatbread should be about 1/2 inch thick.

Normally the flatbreads are cooked as you're making them. You can do this on a grill or in a nonstick frying pan on a medium heat. Cook them for a few minutes on each side and check the underside - you want them to puff up with a nice bit of golden colour. Keep them warm in a basket covered with a dish towel until you're ready to serve them.

*I found I needed a LOT more water... Don't be shy to add water, or else it will fail to stick together.

Green Chili
From Jamie's America
Olive oil
1 3/4 lbs ground pork
1 tsp dried sage
sea salt and black pepper
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 green bell peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
6 small green chiles, roughly chopped
4 large, ripe red tomatoes, chopped into small chunks
1 romaine lettuce, leaves washed and spun dry
a small bunch of fresh mint
4 scallions
optional: 1 lime, sour cream or natural yogurt, to serve

Put a large saucepan on a high heat and add a little olive oil. Add the ground pork, dried sage, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Use a wooden spoon to break the meat up a bit and stir it about, then cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add your onions, garlic, bell peppers, and chiles, stir everything together, then fry for 15 minutes on a high heat until any liquid from the pork has evaporated and everything is starting to turn golden. When it looks good, stir in your chopped tomatoes and half a glass of water. Remember that it's supposed to be quite dry (in a really wholesome and nice way), not stewy and wet, so don't add too much water.*

Turn the heat down to medium and let it tick away for 10 minutes or so while you wash and roughly chop up the lettuce. Pick the leaves from the bunch of mint and roughly chop them. Trim and thinly slice your scallions.

Put a flatbread on your plate/in your bowl. Put down some romaine lettuce. Ladle your chili on the lettuce, and top with scallions, mint and sour cream (if you choose, I only topped with scallions)

*I put too much water in... well, I put half a glass of water in, but it was too much. Next time I might not bother with the water, as I found the tomatoes created a lot of moisture.


Lemon Yogurt Loaf
From Canadian Living Magazine, September, 2010, Page 141
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking pwder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 tsp finely grated lemon rind
2/3 cup plain yogurt
3 eggs
1/3 cup olive oil

3/4 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice

In bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl and using fingers, rub sugar with lemon rind. Whisk in yogurt and eggs; whisk in oil. Stir in flour mixture in 2 additions. Scrape into greased loaf pan (8 by 4-inch.)

Bake at 350 until tester inserted in centre comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan; place on small tray.

In a small bowl, whisk icing sugar with lemon juice until dissolved. Brush over top and sides of loaf, moving loafe around to absorb excess liquid. Let cool on rack.*

*I totally messed up the 'syrup'... I added WAY too much lemon juice, so I just kept adding icing sugar until it looked thick enough. Also, I didn't have a whisk or anything that would properly mix the sugar with the lemon juice, so I got chunks of icing sugar which sort of look gross, but the whole thing tastes amazing!

I hope your week is going well! I can't wait to see you tomorrow night for dinner. I will miss you so much when I move. Although I am very excited to be within a community again. I never thought I would miss it so much. I know you know that I love you. Have a very Merry Christmas, babe. 

I love you,

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sandwiches and Corn Chowder

Dearest Jess,

I came home this weekend not sure of my plan. All I knew was I was excited to see people that I miss during the week. Excited to visit with them, and possibly (if the opportunity presented itself) make food for them. Much to my delight, all such things were accomplished.

I was lucky enough to arrive on Friday night just in time for a game of Settlers of Catan with Jason, Jim and Alex. We tried a whiskey that I think you would like called Forty Creek. It is proof that LCBO samples really help their sales!

On Saturday we went and visited with my Mom and I rediscovered my love for sandwiches. It's not that I had lost my love for them, rather I had neglected it. I find the beauty is in the layers.

Whole Grain Toast, Spinach, Fresh Squash (from my uncle's garden), Chicken, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Pepper
And then there was Sunday. On Sunday, my Dad invited us to help pick out the family Christmas Tree. We got all bundled up and hiked through a Christmas Tree Farm that was 100 acres to find (as my mom famously says) 'a tree with character!' After hauling it home we all curled up to Corn Chowder that I had made the night before.

Smoky Roasted Chicken Corn Chowder 
From Eat Shrink and be Merry, 'Chowdy Doody, Page 59
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup diced onions
1/2 cup each diced celery and diced red bell pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tbsp minced fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried (I used Basil)
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 can (12oz/385 ml) fat-free evaporated milk
1 can (19oz/540ml) diced tomatoes, well drained
1 can (14oz/398ml) cream-style corn
2 cups chopped roasted chicken breast 
1 tbsp hickory-flavored barbecue sauce
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook chopped bacon in a large, non-stick soup pot over medium-high heat until lightly browned but not crisp. Stir in onions, celery, red pepper, and garlic. Cook and stir until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
2. Add thyme (or basil) and flour. Mix well. Stir in broth and evaporated milk. Bring mixture to a gentle boil and stir continuously until soup thickens slightly.
3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot.

I hope your week goes well! Thanks again for inviting me on Wednesday. I can't wait for our next date!

I love you,

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweet Potato Tuna Melts and Ham, Spinach and Gruyere Croissant Ring

Dear Jess,

I agree! The weather is so frightful! I hope you are feeling better and getting some rest! I just started feeling that my cold has left me (for now) so I completely know how you feel. The chilly wind doesn't help either.

To aid in keeping warm and happy, I made two recipes that are both hearty, simple, and (of course) delicious.

I found this one in a Canadian Living (I think) magazine at Moksha. I was sitting with Jason on Sunday night, and neither of us wanted to go outside just to pick up some groceries. I decided it was a perfect opportunity to make this, because we had some sweet potatoes lying around.

Sweet Potato Tuna Melts
olive oil
2-3 sweet potatoes (the ones I had were extremely skinny, so I used 3)
1 can of tuna
thyme or basil or oregano (anything you like, actually)
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
cheese (the recipe called for swiss, I used cheddar because it's all I had... It would be yummy with any kind)

1. Stab and bake your sweet potatoes on a tray and/or in foil at 375 for 45-50 minutes. When they are cooked, cut them in half length-wise and with a spoon, scoop out the potato into a large bowl.
2. In a small pan on medium heat, put some olive oil, onions and celery. Cook for 10(ish) minutes, or until they have softened. Add to your bowl with the sweet potato. Add tuna and thyme (or whatever you choose).
3. Line the potato skins on a cookie sheet. Stuff with your filling and top with your cheese. Broil until cheese is melted.

This next recipe I found in Tana Ramsay's cook book 'Home Made'. I think you were with me when I bought it at Costco last year. This is the first recipe I have tried from it, and I am so excited to try more! I chose this because it looked fancy yet simple. It also had lots of spinach in it (which I love) and honey ham (which I had leftovers of). I made some changes (of course), so I will give you my changes in brackets!

Ham, Spinach and Gruyere Croissant Ring
oil for greasing
2x240g packs of croissant dough
250g/9oz spinach, washed
10 slices of honey-roast ham, cut into strips (I used my leftover 2-3 slices of ham, and added 2 chorizo sausages, skinned and finely chopped, that I had left from my soup)
zest of 1 lemon
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
5 spring onions, chopped (I used one small yellow onion finely chopped) 
10 small button mushrooms, sliced into quarters
50g/2oz rocket leaves (I just used 2oz more spinach) 
5 tbsp mascarpone cheese
50g/2oz Gruyere cheese, finely grated (I used feta) 
black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Oil a pizza stone or grease a baking tray. Leave the croissant dough in the fridge until the last minute.
2. Start by blanching the spinach. Bring a pan of water to a boil, drop in the spinach and allow it to wilt for 3 minutes. remove from the pan and leave to drain over the pan - this takes a little while but you don't want excess water in the dough ring.
3. Meanwhile, put the ham (and sausage) into a large mixing bowl, add the lemon zest, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and rocket (extra spinach, not blanched.) Once the spinach has drained, stir the mascarpone cheese through it and add to the ham mix in the bowl. Add a good grinding of black pepper.
4. Take the dough out of the fridge, lay it out on the chopping board and separate along the perforations until you have them separated. Arrange the triangles (if they are squares, then cut diagonal into triangles) so they overlap and are in a large circle - the idea being you place your filling along the middle then pull over the top tips of the triangle and tuck underneath to encase the filling. (I did two logs rather than a circle to save space.) Continue until you have used all your triangles, then spoon on the filling. Finish by sprinkling the Gruyere cheese (feta) over the filling, then fold the triangle tips over and tuck them underneath.
5. Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Ensure the dough is cooked through and has a golden top. Serve immediately. 


I love you and miss you. Although I am thrilled that I get to see you more often these days! 


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Soup

Dear Sally,

As we figured out today . . . "the weather outside is frightful" and after waiting for the Santa Clause parade in the windy streets of Toronto I returned to my snug little apartment desperate for warmth!

As I am writing this I think a better title would have been "Triple S!" Sickness, Soup and Sunday.

Nothing warms me up better than fresh homemade soup and so I set to work on creating something that is easy enough to make when drowsy with a cold but most importantly delicious.
Carrots, Celery, spices and a few other things is all you need to make a yummy smooth and satisfying soup. I will warn you that I didn't use an actual recipe for this but then again I have never been one to follow a recipe directly anyways.

Creamy (creamless) Carrot Soup

1 bag carrots
1 stalk celery
1/2 red onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 red, orange and yellow pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3-4 cups chicken stock
olive oil
dried thyme
salt and pepper

1. Wash and trim the bag of carrots and chop into small chunks. Toss with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and thyme. Crush garlic and mix with the carrots. Roast in the oven for 1 1/2 - 2 hours depending on temperature and size of the chunks (I just kept cooking them until they were all tender)

2. While the carrots are cooking chop the onion, celery and peppers into small chunks and cook slowly. Season lightly with salt, pepper and thyme and add the chicken stock after vegetables have softened.

3. When the carrots are finished roasting add them to the soup pan and cook for another 30 minutes. Blend the vegetables and stock in small batches until thick and creamy. Reserve most of the stock and add as needed to ensure the soup is thick enough but doesn't have any chunks.

4. Top with a dollop of sour cream and serve!

Sally I quickly want to thank you for those silent moments when I swear you can read my thoughts or at least what is on my heart. Thank you for a silent hug and a love that extends beyond the boundaries of friendship.

I love you,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Scrumptious Spanish Chickpea and Chorizo Soup

Dear Jess,

Firstly, I am sorry about the delay in this post. It has been unavoidable, because of some neighbourhood squirrels that seem to thoroughly enjoy chewing through internet chords (even after we have fixed them numerous times). Thus, I find myself making frequent trips to OCAD (which, I believe is now named OCADU) between teaching my classes, to use the internet here.

The weather has been crazy. It was calling for snow this week, however I don't believe it has dipped below 8 degrees. Due to this, and my lame sickness that seems to have completely owned me for a week, I decided to make soup last night!

This recipe actually came from your house. Jamie Oliver's book 'Jamie's Dinners' to be more specific. I made a few changes during the process, however it turned out delicious, and very appropriate for an easy, hearty and tasty mid-week, curl-up-in-your-track-pants, dinner. Instead of using ham, I doubled the sausage, and I used half a pound of spinach instead of a full pound.

Scrumptious Spanish Chickpea and Chorizo Soup
olive oil
5 1/2 oz chorizo sausage, finely chopped
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 lb fresh spinach, washed and chopped
8 fresh tomatoes, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 14oz can or jar of good quality chick peas, drained
5 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
2oz spanish ham or prosciutto, finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
2 hard boiled eggs

1. Put your oil and chorizo in a large pot. Cook for a couple of minutes and add onion, garlic and celery. Turn heat down and cook for 15 minutes with the lid on and without colouring the onions. Take the lid off and allow a little colouring to happen. Add your spinach, tomatoes, chickpeas and chicken stock. Bring to boil, and then lower the heat and simmer for 40 minutes.

2. Partly puree. Remove from heat and stir in your ham or prosciutto and 2 or 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.

3. Garnish with grated hard boiled egg and serve!

In closing, I want to express how much I appreciate our friendship. You are such a supportive and encouraging force in my life. I am truly blessed to have you in my life. Last weekend was precisely what I needed. I love that we don't have to pretend about anything with each other, and that sincere honesty and love reigns.

I love you,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chicken and a Movie

Dear Sally,

This is a late post for which I am very sorry but better late than never! By the way I am SOOOO excited about our sleepover :)

Ok so I had Greg over for dinner and a movie and I had ZERO time to prep and two thawed chicken breasts that needed to be used. I went to the only place to go in this situation . . . . Jamie Oliver!

I made Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Crispy Posh Ham, roasted rosemary garlic potatoes and lemon balsamic green beans.

The food and company were nice but I have to admit that the entire time I was thinking WHERE IS MY STINKING WINE OPENER!!!!! Is this bad?


Parmesan Chicken Breats with Crispy Posh Ham, 
Roasted Garlic Potatoes and Lemon Balsamic Green Beans

2 fresh sprigs of thyme
2 skinless chicken breasts

freshly ground pepper
1 lemon
1 1/4 ounces grated parmesen
6 slices prosciutto
olive oil

1. To prepare your chicken grate the parmesan and pull the leaves off the thyme sprigs. Carefully score the underside of the chicken breast in a criss-cross fashion with a s
mall knife. Season with salt and pepper (DO NOT add any salt because the prosciutto adds anough). Lay the chicken breasts next to each other and season with thyme, lemon zest and parmesan cheese. Lay 3 prosciutto slices on each chicken breast, overlapping them slightly. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining thyme leaves. Cover with plastic wrap and bang with a fry pan till they are about 1/2 inch thick.

2. Cook the chicken over medium heat for three minutes on each side) a little longer on the prosciutto side so it is crispy) and serve.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The First Snow

Outside the front door
Dear Jess,

Today I woke up and it was only 4 degrees outside. It was also snowing. I decided that today was a good day for staying inside to make warm food.

As you know, in the fall/winter I love to make chowders, stews, chilis etc. Today I decided to branch out and try something new.

On the menu for today: Broccoli and Roasted Red Pepper Quiche (with a brown rice crust), Creamy Tuna Rotini Casserole, and Peanut Butter Gingersnap Cookies!

'Sealed With a Quiche' Pg 68 Eat, Shrink & be Merry
 Broccoli and Roasted Red Pepper Quiche
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup minced onions
1 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
5 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, divided
7 whole eggs
1 cup chopped broccoli florets
1/2 cup chopped bottled roasted red peppers
1/2 cup packed shredded light Swiss cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 plum tomato, thinly sliced

1. Preheat your oven to 350. Grease an 8 inch round cake pan or casserole dish. Set aside. Beat eggs in a small(ish) bowl. Set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook and stir until onions are tender (2 minutes.) Transfer onion mixture to a medium bowl. Add cooked rice, 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, and 2 tbsp of beaten egg. Mix well. Spread mixture evenly over bottom of prepared pan and press down with the back of a spoon to make a crust.
3. Top crust with broccoli florets, roasted red peppers, and shredded cheese, in that order. In another medium bowl, whisk together remaining eggs, salt, basil, and pepper. Pour over vegetables and cheese. Top with tomato slices and sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese.
4. Bake quiche for 45 minutes, or until it's puffed up and golden, and eggs are set. Let stand for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

It comes out of the dish beautifully! And, oh man is it yummy!

'Tinbucktuna' Pg 111 Eat, Shrink & be Merry
Creamy Tuna Rotini Casserole
8oz uncooked rotini pasta
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1 tbsp butter
1 cup diced onions
1 tsp minced garlic
1 can (10oz) condensed, reduced-fat cream of broccoli soup, undiluted
2/4 cup packed shredded light old (sharp) cheddar cheese
1/4 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cans (6oz each) chunk light tuna in water, drained

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding frozen vegetables to the boiling water for the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Drain pasta and vegetables.
2. Meanwhile, prepare sauce. In a large, non-stick pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook and stir until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add soup, shredded cheese, sour cream, parmesan cheese, basil, mustard powder, and black pepper. Mix well and cook until sauce is bubbly and cheese has melted. Remove from heat. Stir in pasta, vegetables, and tuna. Serve hot.

A Taste of Everything!
'Girl-Guy Cookies' - Pg 168 Eat, Shrink & be Merry
Peanut Butter Gingersnap Cookies
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 tsp each ground ginger and salt
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light peanut butter
3 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together both flours, baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, ginger, salt, and allspice. Set aside. Combine granulated sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. In another medium bowl, beat together peanut butter, butter and brown sugar. Add egg, molasses, and vanilla. Beat again until smooth.
4. Using a wooden spoon, mix peanut butter mixture and flour mixture. You will be making a stiff dough. Using your hands, shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll balls in reserved cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place on cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart (they spread a lot while baking). Flatten cookies slightly using a fork.
5. Bake cookies for 7 minutes. They may appear undercooked, but that's okay. Remove cookies from oven and immediately transfer from pan to a wire rack to cool.

They are chewy and full of winter flavour!

 I hope your weekend was fantastic!

So Much Love,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chili Done Student Style

Dear Sally,

I think it is hilarious that I still miss you even when we are in the same city. Life has a way of getting busy and ever since I started working I have felt too rushed to bother making food. THIS is a tragedy and so last night (while on the phone with you) I thought that should change.
As you know I was making chili and I was so hungry that I didn't really look at what I was putting in but I think the recipe would look a little like this:

3 celery stalks
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 red bell pepper
1 can chick peas
1 can kidney beans
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 wee bit of water
1 - 2 tbsp. chili powder
salt and pepper
couple dashes of Louisiana Style hot sauce

1. Over medium heat fry the onion and garlic till onion is slightly transparent. Add the celery and pepper and stir. When the veggies are soft I add the beans, tomatoes and spices and stir for a long time :)
2. Serve and eat!

As I was making this last night I started comparing life to the process of making chili. In order to experience the best chili you have to wait for all the flavors to blend and absorb just perfectly. The same is true for life (yes I realize that I may be stretching things just a wee bit). Sometimes we have to be patient in order to enjoy the best possible experience. I think of you and Jay and I am filled with so much joy. You have found something so unique and special that there is no way it can't be the best possible blessing and I am sure that he was worth the wait.
You deserve the best experiences. Patience is a virtue that is definitely worth it.

I love you!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Personal Pizzas

Dear Jess,

As you know, one of my favourite things is date night. Whether it's with your significant other, or your very best friend, quality time together is the best.

Jason and myself recently had one such date night. We were both so tired, and had not seen each other in five days! We were starving and in need of some cheep, tasty, simple food. We were walking to the grocery store, contemplating what we had energy to put together when I had a flashback to my first two years of university...

I lived in Weston with the Robinsons, and every Saturday night Kathy would make everyone personal pizzas. She would use whole wheat pitas as the base, and ask everyone what they would like on it. Toppings ranged from sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, two or three types of cheese, spinach, chicken, pepperoni, bacon, sausage... basically anything your hungry heart desired. (What a wonderful woman!)

As you can guess, this is exactly what we did, and   o h   m a n   was it delicious!

Personal Pizzas
whole wheat pitas
whatever toppings you want!

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place your pitas on the pan. Top first with your sauce, and then your desired toppings, and end with cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and toppings are heated through.

2. Devour!

My Pizza had: mushrooms, spinach, green peppers, and hot peppers
Jason Topped his with: mushrooms, pepperoni, green peppers and hot peppers


Saturday, October 2, 2010

So Much Food!

Dear Sally,

I think Friday night was one of many theme parties to come. I love the idea of combining food and costume and great company. What is it about food that seems to bring people together (besides the natural need for sustenance)? The 1920s party was just the start of an epic journey through the history, food, and
fashion. I look forward to sharing many more nights like this one with friends!


The pictures were taken just before all the food was demolished. Sally and I were so hungry we were worried there would
be no food left for everyone else once we got it all togeth
er but thankfully there was lots!

There were yummy chocolate treats such as homemade
truffles and turtles.

I served avocado salsa with chips, homemade tortillas with
dip (no I did not make the dip) and yummy veggie pitas with a lemon-pepper bite!
I learned this recipe from my mother's friend Margie so I am guessing a little but this is what I do.

Veggie Pita Triangles

4- 6 inch multigrain pitas
4 oz cream cheese softened
1 tbsp. Italian salad dressing or 2 tsp dry seasoning
tomato and cucumber slices
lemon pepper

1. Combine cream cheese and salad dressing and let stand for a few hours.
2. Slice cucumber and tomatoes into thin slices and set aside.
3. Spread 1/4 of the cream cheese mixture over a pita. Place the tomato or cucumber slices on top and sprinkle with lemon pepper. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
4. Cut each pita into triangles and serve!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Avocado Rescue

Dear Sally, 

I had an avocado sitting at home slowly ripening beyond the point of use. I remembered that you made guacamole the other day with yours and had plans to do the same until something changed. I was running around with your lovely sister today and happened to be at your house. While I was waiting for her to get ready I flipped through a Canadian Living magazine and found a wonderful recipe for Avocado Salsa. I think it is the perfect combination of creamy avocado, sweet fresh tomatoes and spicy jalapeno peppers. Easy and delicious enough and I think Caitlin would approve!

Avocado Salsa

2 tomatoes chopped
1/2 a red onion
2 jalapeno peppers
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 fresh parsley
1 avocado
1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine tomatoes, onion, jalapeno peppers, vinegar, salt and pepper.

2. Peel and cut avocado into large dice; gently toss with salsa without breaking up. Set aside while preparing tortillas.

Homemade Flour Tortillas

3 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup warm water

1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the shortening and mix with your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly.

2. Add the warm water to the dry mixture slowly while working it with your fingers. Let the dough stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.

3. Heat a dry skillet over med-high heat. Roll a golfball size piece of dough out until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick. Fry each tortilla till is bubbles up and then flip it over and do the same on the other side. Let cool or serve warm.

I like to eat these tortillas with dips more than salsa because chunky foods tend to make them break. Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Love Affair with Eggplants

Dear Jess,

The temperatures are dropping, and it is coming close to donning colourful layers of shirts, jackets, scarves, jeans, and boots! Because my job does not start until the 11th, I needed something delicious to make, yet cheep! Ah, the search for balance!

I got this recipe out of yet another Everyday Food magazine from my friend's house. I find I am falling in love yet again with this purple vegetable. As you know, I used to use them in many recipes as a meat replacement to keep my recipes more affordable. It is delicious and simple! Perfect for the beginning of Autumn.

Roasted Eggplant and Chickpea Soup
olive oil
2 medium eggplants - peeled and diced
1 medium yellow onion - chopped
2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
15.5 oz can of chick peas - drained and rinsed
4 cups of chicken broth (or water)

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant cubes with the onion and two whole garlic cloves in 4 tbsp of olive oil and salt and pepper. Put mixture on a baking sheet.

2. In a bowl, toss your chickpeas with 2 tsp of olive oil, salt and pepper. Put them on a baking sheet. Roast until eggplant is golden (about 35 minutes).

3. Set peas aside and peel your garlic. Add the roasted eggplant mix and the peeled garlic, and chicken broth (or water) in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer over med heat. Mash with a spoon or a masher. Stir in chickpeas and serve!

I also whipped up a quick batch of bruschetta. Believe it or not, we still had a few tomatoes to use up.

Lots of Love,

Tasty Turtles

Dear Sally,

I found another recipe this morning that I think you will love and SURPRISE it has chocolate!!!!! Like you I was bored today and decided to make use of my time by creating homemade turtles. It kept me busy as I had to run up to the boxes in my garage more than once to find the necessary tools but I think it just might have been worth it!
To give you an idea of just how delicious these will be I need you to close your eyes. Imagine yourself walking into a kitchen where sweet fresh caramel is carefully being boiled to perfection while the clusters of tender pecans patiently wait for their creamy coating. Then breath in the deep delicious scent of dark chocolate being tempered over the stove ready to completely embrace the caramel pecan clusters.

Love you and miss you!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Too Many Tomatoes!

Dear: Jess,

This morning I woke up and it was pouring rain, and was supposed to continue all day. I decided to suck it up and make the trek to the grocery store so I could make some yummy comfort food.

As you know, Caitlin has a love for tomatoes, so we always have a surplus. This week, however, neither of us had been home, so I found myself with about 10 tomatoes that needed to be used immediately. I found this recipe in an Everyday Food magazine that my friend had in her kitchen. They're easy, and so yummy!

Baked Eggs in Tomatoes
4 large tomatoes
Fresh ground salt and pepper
1/2 cup of corn
4 large eggs
2 tsp chives
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch dish with parchment paper. Remove the seeds and inners of your tomatoes. Put the tomatoes in your dish. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Divide the corn among the tomatoes. In a medium bowl whisk eggs, chives, and salt and pepper. Divide your egg mix among your tomatoes. Top with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the egg mix is set.

I love you and miss you!