Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Baked Polenta

I have been craving polenta for a while now, but because John doesn't like polenta, I haven't really rushed to make to it, until today. I cheated a little and bought the prepared polenta in the tube-y thingy that you get in the grocery store. I have to say, that stuff is sooo convenient. It's pretty amazing. I just sliced it up, spooned some sauce over, sprinkled some cheese on it and popped it in the oven. I prepared my lunch and had it on the table in 30 minutes. How fabulous is that?

I made a salsa cruda (raw) instead of a cooked sauce. I wanted it to taste light. I didn't give you any amounts for this recipe because thats totally up to you and how many people you're feeding. I made the whole tube and it was enough for 2 people, but since it was only me, I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Lucky for me!

Baked Polenta with Salsa Cruda

Prepared polenta in a tube
Salsa cruda, recipe below
Shredded mozzarella
Olive oil
Butter, to grease baking dish

Preheat oven to 375F. Butter a baking dish with butter. Slice the polenta into 1/2 inch rounds and layer in pan, overlapping a little. Spoon over the salsa cruda and sprinkle evenly with mozzarella. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes until bubbly and golden.

Salsa Cruda

Fresh, ripe tomatoes, chopped
Garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix together and set aside.

m xo

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Cheesy Quinoa Muffins

Ok, so these muffins came together like the perfect storm. I pinned them a while ago and have been wanting to make them for quite a while but just never got around to it…until today. I looked in my refrigerator and had EVERYTHING. I didn't have to substitute anything. Those who have been following me know that I do a lot substituting when I'm in the kitchen and sometimes it's not even that I don't have a certain ingredient, it's just that I want to try something different. But this time I did exactly what the recipe called for, and they were great! I think these would make a nice picnic fare. Or for lunch, with a salad.

Just a little tip that I think would help. When you take them out of the oven, cool them completely before taking them out of the muffin tin. They stuck to the pan a little when I tried to take them when they were still warm.

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Muffins

2 cups cooked quinoa
1 small broccoli, cooked and chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons sriracha
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Generously grease a 12 cup muffin pan.
Mix everything together and fill muffin pan. Bake for 45 minutes until golden. Cool in pan before removing from the pan.

m xo

Monday, 28 April 2014

Merluzzo al Forno

I never knew what this fish was called in English until I had to find a translation for this post. Hake or whiting, thats what I found on the world wide web. Not sure if that helps, but if you go to any fish monger, they will know what it is for sure.

Merluzzo is sooo good! It's a nice flakey, mild tasting fish. I'm not going to lie here, I buy it from my fish monger already clean and frozen. I hate cleaning fish. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever cleaned fish, except shrimp. That's easy.

So anyway, I took out the fish fillets a couple of hours before I wanted to cook them. They don't need that long to defrost.

Preheat oven to 375F.
Brush a baking dish with some olive oil.
Place the fillets in the pan and season with salt and pepper.
Add a sliced garlic clove.
Sprinkle with herbes de provence.
Dust with some ground almonds.
Add a splash of dry vermouth.
Top with a few cherry tomatoes.
Drizzle with a little more olive oil.
Bake for 15 minutes.

This was really tasty! You must try it.

m xo

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Springtime Golden Split Pea Soup

I planned on making this split pea soup a few weeks ago, the beginning of spring. The recipe was in the March edition of Vitality magazine. I went out and bought the split peas but they just sat there, waiting for me to make them into soup. Better late than ever.

I liked the soup but I have to warn you, if you don't like sweet, this is not for you. The lime juice at the end is definitely needed, it cuts down on the sweetness a bit. Maybe next time I would eliminate the pear, I don't think it was needed, but you be the judge. I thought this was perfect for a cool, overcast day like yesterday.

Golden Split Pea Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large white onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 cup dried yellow split peas
2 cups peeled, cubed sweet potato
1 pear, peeled, cubed pear
3 inch cinnamon stick
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons chili powder
7 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
Juice of a lime
Chopped cilantro

In a large pot, sauté onion in olive oil until soft. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and ginger and cook another minute. Next add the split peas, sweet potatoes, pear, cinnamon stick, tomatoes, chili powder and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about an hour till the split peas are tender.
Take off the stove, remove cinnamon stick and puree with a hand blender or food processor. Stir in the lime juice and chopped cilantro.

m xo

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Grape Focaccia

I usually make this focaccia in the fall months when the moscato grapes are in season and local. It's one of my favourite focaccia's to snack on. Great with a nice piece of parmesan cheese. But I couldn't resist making it today after I saw and bought moscato grapes at the grocery store. The moscato grape is a little sweeter than most grapes and that's why it also makes a nice dessert wine, which btw, I also love!

The dough for this focaccia is a little less dense than my pizza dough. It's a little softer and more tender. I find it produces a dough that is light and airy. I don't even knead it. I just mix with my hands until the flour and water are combined. It's a very forgiving dough recipe that my mom always made.You can definitely use this dough for pizza too.

I made my dough the night before and left it on the counter at room temperature until the next day when I was ready to stretch it out in my pan. You can also make it in the morning, the day of. I used a 12x17 jelly roll pan.

Moscato Grape Focaccia

For the Dough

2 teaspoon dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon honey
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water
olive oil

For the Topping

Moscato grapes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped

Dissolve the yeast and honey in the warm water and let stand for 10 minutes. The yeast should become foamy. Place the flour in a large enough bowl that the dough can double in size. Mix in the salt. Pour the yeast in the flour and start pouring in the water a little at a time. You might not need all the water. Using your hands, mix until the dough is soft and sticky. Drizzle a little olive oil on the top and cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Place in a warm place for at least 2 hours or overnight, until double in size.
When the dough is ready, use your fingers and stretch it out in a greased jelly roll pan. Let it sit for 45 minutes. In the meantime, make the topping.

Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl, combine the grapes, olive oil, sugar and rosemary. Spread on dough and let it sit for 30 minutes. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour or until a nice golden colour. Serve warm or at room temperature.

m xo

Friday, 18 April 2014

Not Really a Recipe #2…Good Friday Lunch

As I'm sure you all know, Good Friday, one of the holiest day of the year, we are not supposed to have any meat products. Growing up, we usually had linguine with vongole or mussels. Nothing too fancy but I always looked forward to it. Things have changed a bit because my husband AND brother-in-law both don't like fish. Except tuna fish…in a can. Not fresh tuna. Go figure. Anyway I needed a quick lunch today so I decided to make tuna melts.

Now growing up, we NEVER mixed seafood and dairy. It just wasn't done. Things have changed a lot since. You see more and more people, especially Italians, mixing the two.

I think I made my first tuna melt last year after seeing them everywhere and knowing John loved them. I have to say, they are delicious! I make mine open faced because I like the bread to tuna ratio. I also love these made on crostini as an appetizer. Yummy!

So if you, like me, have never mixed seafood and dairy, You MUST try this! And who knows?  You might experiment with other seafood/dairy recipes.

Preheat oven to broil.
Toast a nice piece of wholegrain bread until nicely browned.
Using tuna in olive oil, drain and add a little mayo. You don't want to drench it, just enough to bind it together.
Spread the tuna mixture on top and top with your choice of cheese. I used cheddar cheese this time, but you can use whatever melty cheese you prefer.
Put under the broiled until the cheese bubbles.


Have a Happy Easter!

m xo

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce

I have been craving soba noodles with peanut sauce for a while now, ever since I went to the new, local health food store in my neighbourhood and bought the fresh peanut butter in the "peanut crusher" machine. I also bought organic cabbage that day. I don't why, I didn't have anything in mind to make with it but then I thought I'd make soba noodle/slaw salad with peanut sauce.

Soba noodles are usually made with buckwheat flour but I used a kamut and buckwheat combo.

Boy, was this ever good!! I couldn't stop eating it. Thank goodness it makes quite a bit because I had it for lunch the rest of the week. This dish would great for a picnic.

Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce


1/2 cup smooth, natural peanut butter
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/3 cup warm water
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sriracha
juice of a lime

8 oz soba noodles
1/2 green cabbage, thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated
1/4 cup chopped peanuts

Cook the soba noodles according to the directions on the box. Drain and rinse with cold water. Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Pour over the noodles, cabbage and carrots and stir until combined. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts. Serve at room temperature or cold.

m xo

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Steamed Mussels

I was watching my local morning show, Breakfast Television, this morning and their live eye, Jennifer Valentyne was at our local fish market, giving away mussels. I couldn't resist free mussels…so I called my sister Sandra. She lives just down the street from the market and could pick them up and drop them off to me on the way to work.
I don't cook fish and seafood as often as I would like because John is not a fan but I forgot how much I love mussels. They are so easy and quick to make. The only thing missing tonight was a loaf of crusty bread, to sop up all the flavourful liquor the mussels give off.

I'm definitely making these for Good Friday again.

 Steamed Mussels with Vermouth 

2 lbs. mussels, scrubbed, beards removed and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon ghee or butter
1 leek, white part only, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup dry vermouth
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Heat a pot, big enough to hold the mussels and with a tight fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and sauté until soft. Add the garlic and sauté a few more minutes. Pour in the vermouth and bring to a boil. Drop in the mussels in and cover with a lid. They should take about 7 minutes to cook. They are ready when the mussels open. Discard the ones that don't open. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve hot with crusty bread, if you have.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Chicken Pozole Soup

I didn't get my Mexican fix the last time I went to NYC, so I decided to make a Mexican influenced dish at home for tonights dinner.

Pozole (also called hominy) are kernels of corn that have ben soaked in lime water, hulled and boiled so they become puffy. You can find canned pozole in most grocery stores nowadays. Traditionally they are used in a soup with pork but I decided to make a lighter version using roasted chicken.

I made this recipe up as I went along and it was pretty good except maybe next time I would add a little chili powder and definitely a jalapeño, for a some heat. It needed some zing and we like it a little spicy. And you definitely need a little squeeze of lime juice before serving, it adds some brightness to the soup. This soup is perfect on a chilly day.

Chicken Pozole Soup

2 chicken thighs, roasted and shredded
4 Roma tomatoes
1 yellow onion, halved
2 garlic cloves, skin on
4 cups chicken stock
1 can pozole, or 1-1 1/2cups
salt and pepper, to taste
cilantro, chopped
lime wedges

In a cast iron skillet, over high heat, place the tomatoes, onion and garlic and cook until there is a nice charr on them. This will give the soup a nice smokey flavour. Transfer the vegetables (take the skin off the garlic) to a blender and pour in the chicken stock. Blend until smooth. Pour into a sauce pan and cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes. You might have to skim the top. Season with salt and pepper and add the cilantro and shredded chicken. Cook until the chicken is heated through. Serve in soup bowls and squeeze in some lime juice before serving.

m xo

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Chocolate Brownie Yogurt Muffins

I made these muffins with my niece Chloe when she was at my house one afternoon. I don't get spend a lot of time with her and I know that she has been wanting to come by and cook or bake with me, so we decided to make muffins.

I have to tell you, we ended up making 2 types of muffins. The first batch of muffins were Chai Chocolate Chip muffins (recipe in a few days). They usually contain almonds but because Chloe is allergic to nuts, I left them out until she gently pointed out that I used almond milk instead of cows milk. Oh Man! I can't believe I did that! I thought I was so careful. Thank goodness she noticed. Sweet kid!

So we decided to make these Chocolate Brownie Yogurt Muffins (no nuts, I promise). I got this recipe from a quinoa cookbook that I have, although I made many alterations. First of all, I didn't have quinoa flour- I used regular all purpose. Second, I didn't have sour cream- I used Greek yogurt and third, I didn't include the toasted nuts, for obdvious reasons. But I have to say, even with all the changes I made, they turned out pretty good. They're not too sweet because of the cocoa powder and they are really moist because of the yogurt. Pretty impressive. The kids and the adults liked them. I will definitely make them again!

My guest photographer for this post is Chloe LeBlanc. She's got a great eye!

Chocolate Brownie Yogurt Muffins
(loosely adapted from Quinoa Revolution by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming)

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup, unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup Greek yogurt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup grape seed oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400F. Place paper liners in a 12 cup muffin pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar until combined. Stir in the yogurt, milk, grape seed oil, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and stir until combined.. Stir in the chocolate chips. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin pan.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the muffin comes out clean.

m xo

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Fennel and Beet Salad with Tarragon-Shallot Vinaigrette

My go-to salad dressing is pretty basic: olive oil and vinegar. It's what I grew up with. Sometimes we would convince my mom to buy the bottled salad dressing because we wanted to be like everyone else, but inevitably we would have it once or twice and then go back to our usual oil and vinegar.

I came across this tarragon and shallot vinaigrette recipe awhile ago and filed it away for when I had tarragon to use up. This time it wasn't my tarragon but my sister's, who had leftover from something she made with it. Alexandra, from "Alexandra's Kitchen" blog, suggests you double the batch just to have on hand, well thank goodness I did because I loved it! The tarragon gives it a nice anise flavour and really enhanced the fennel that I made my salad with. I'm planning on making the salad the rest of the week!!

I combined all the ingredients in a mason jar. It was easy to shake up and store in refrigerator.

Tarragon-Shallot Vinaigrette
(from Alexandra's Kitchen)

4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 tablespoons tarragon, finely chopped

Combine vinegar, shallots, sugar, mustard, salt, olive oil and tarragon. Macerate for a few minutes before using.

I just threw this salad together with what I happened to have in my refrigerator. The combination totally rocked!! 

Baby greens
Roasted beets
Dried cranberries
Feta cheese

 m xo

Monday, 7 April 2014

Breakfast A Go-Go

It seems like everywhere I look, there are mason jar recipes. Salad in a mason jar, pasta in a mason jar, cookies in a mason jar, lemonade in a mason jar, soup in a mason jar. You get the picture...Well I love this idea!! They look so pretty and best of all, they're portable. I really like this concept for lunches or any on the go meal. Think how fabulous they would be for picnics or the beach. You can get real creative with this concept.

I came across oatmeal in a jar on Pinterest I think. And because my favourite way to eat oatmeal is soaked overnight, I thought I would give it a try. It was great, especially on mornings you know are going to be rushed. Or if you go to the gym before you go to work in the morning, just pop it in your gym bag and it's ready for you when you're done your work out. And so easy to put together the night before.

The recipe I'm sharing with you is made with quinoa flakes instead of oatmeal. I had them sitting in my pantry and gave it a try with this method instead of cooking them, which I never did. It was good! I used raspberries but you can obviously use any fruit you like.

Breakfast in a Jar

1/4 cup quinoa flakes
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon honey
cinnamon, to taste

Combine all ingredients, except the raspberries in a mason jar and shake. Top with raspberries and refrigerate overnight.

m xo