Friday, August 28, 2015

Vegan zucchini "carbonara"

I booked tickets for Esther's Thanksgiving feast today.  Eeeeeeeeeeeee!  We've never had the chance to tour the farm sanctuary yet, so we are very excited about it.  I love having things to look forward to as the gardens die off and the warm days start to turn cool.  I always find winter so depressing!

Tonight I decided to make myself a quick zucchini carbonara for dinner, to use up my farmer's market haul from last week.  Sadly, my patty pan squash plant really didn't do much in the garden this year.  When I got home from work, I realized we had no eggs.  Damn!  I almost walked to the corner store to get some but then I stopped myself.......surely there would be a vegan alternative recipe I could use?  As always, Google was my friend and I found a blog with a Creamy Carbonara Pasta recipe.  I didn't have any shitake mushrooms or hemp hearts, so I simplified it a bit and came up with this:

Vegan Zucchini "Carbonara"

2 medium zucchinis (yellow or green)
2 smallish red onions
6 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp arrowroot flour
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
3/4 tsp sea salt
black pepper to taste
3/4 cup almond/coconut milk blend
227 g GoGoQuinoa penne pasta

I sliced the zucchini roughly, peeled and quartered the onions, but left the garlic cloves in their skins.  I combined the veggies in a roasting pan with the olive oil and mixed everything around, then put it in a 400 F oven for about 30 minutes, until soft and slightly golden.

I removed the veggies from the oven, put the garlic aside, and spooned the rest into the blender.  I squeezed the garlic out of it's skins and added it to the blender, along with the nutritional yeast, arrowroot flour, vinegar, salt, and milk.  I let the blender run on high for a couple of minutes, until smooth.  Then I poured half the contents into a small pot, and put it over a medium heat to thicken.  The other half went into a container to be frozen for another night's meal.

I wanted to stay gluten-free this evening, so I boiled a pot of water, salted it, and added the amaranth/rice noodles.  When they were al dente, I drained them, reserving a bit of the water, and added the sauce.  I dished it out into my bowl and sprinkled it with some fresh parsley from the garden and a bit more black pepper.

Oh wow, this was amazing!  So creamy and smooth, you'd never know there wasn't any dairy in it.  The yeast really does give it a cheesy flavour, too.  It reminded me a bit of the vegan mac 'n cheese I've made before using cashews, onions & red peppers, but the parsley was such a nice finishing touch.  It just gave it that freshness it needed and complemented the slightly greenish colour of the sauce.  I hope the it freezes well.......I don't see why it wouldn't.  :)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Six years and counting

I just glanced at the calendar and realized what today was.......six years since my first blog!  Where does the time go?

I have had a rather busy and stressful week, with some travel involved.  In short, we got stuck in a parking garage elevator for an hour and a half underground, I attended two great concerts, I got my very first tattoo, one of my dogs had to go to emerg to have his stomach pumped after eating three grapes, with follow up blood-work yesterday.....the list goes on and on.

I had a nice, light meal prior to my elevator fiasco the other day, at a little Japanese place in Yorkville (Toronto).  I thought the cute little egg was a nice touch, and yes, I ate it, much to my daughter's horror!

This week I've been laying low, cooking simple things that I know how to make without a recipe, like spaghetti with garden fresh cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic and balsamic vinegar.  Last night I actually made the first recipe I ever blogged, my annual batch of Jamie's humble, home-cooked beans and ate them with sauteed, garden fresh kale & beet greens and a tuna steak.  It's great to be able to knock up fresh, healthy food quickly when you are feeling a bit down and out.

Jamie has a new book out in the UK this week entitled Everyday Super Food.  I am totally looking forward to getting my hands on it when it hits Canada in October!  I love that he is continuing along with more healthy meals!

Hopefully things will calm down enough this weekend that I can actually cook a new recipe.  :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Canadian National Exhibition

I spent last Friday at the CNE.  Typically I struggle with getting healthy food, or at least knowing what's in the food I order, when I'm there.  If you've never been, the Food Building is huge and there are hundreds of vendors set up to take your money.  This year, they actually had icons with a legend on the maps, showing which vendors were vegan, gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, peanut free, etc.  I was amazed!  The first booth I found was this one:

I couldn't believe my eyes!  I ordered a dhosa with a cauliflower and potato stuffing.  Right across the aisle I found this:

Everything they served was vegan and raw.  I got a great smoothie with nut milk, pineapple, mango and spinach.

For dinner, my friend wanted to go to the Mamma Mia's pizza booth.  I reluctantly tagged along, figuring I'd probably go back to the Indian booth later.  Lo and behold, they had a big, bold poster advertising their new, vegan pizza made with Daiya cheese!  Seriously, I had to read it twice before I believed what I was seeing.  

I went back to Wild Childs for dessert.  Wow, has the "EX" ever come a long way!  Bravo!  We stuck around and caught the free America concert at the bandshell that evening.  On our way over there, we encountered a pure maple syrup booth that sold their product spun into cotton candy.  OMG!  I thought I had died and gone to heaven. :)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Summer Bountiful Meal Planning

Here we go again.....back to basics, back to meal planning, got to get back into the swing of things.  I haven't eaten a meal out since I got home from SK so I'm doing ok so far.  I bought quite a bit of produce and fruit on the weekend, and of course the garden is still producing.  Yesterday, I spent the afternoon making strawberry freezer jam, and assembling some ziploc bags of excess berries for the freezer.  These make great smoothies!

Today's lunch was a handful of things thrown into my apple, a banana, a hard boiled egg, an avocado and a garden tomato.  I've also got a couple of little tins of "spicy thai chili" tuna hiding out in my desk drawer.  ;)   The only thing I forgot was the bread!  A co-worker of mine saved me and gave me a slice of 12-grain.

Monday - Skillet Gnocchi with Greens & Beans (using beet greens & cranberry beans from the garden)
Tuesday - left overs
Wednesday - Keralan Veggie Curry with a frozen, hand-breaded tilapia filet
Thursday - left overs
Friday - BBQ I hope! 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Steaming Ramen Bowl

We flew home from Saskatchewan on Wednesday, and I'm just now getting back into the swing of things.  I was surprised to find Jamie & Jimmy's Friday Night Feast amongst the TV selections on the plane!  The episode I watched involved an elaborate ramen dish.  I looked it up and it came from the Comfort Food book.

484.  Steaming Ramen (Jamie's Comfort Food, page 168) recipe

Today is an unusually cold and overcast day for August, so it seemed perfect for a hot bowl of soup.  I soft boiled the eggs early this morning, and marinated them in the soy sauce/mirin/ginger/garlic mixture until late this afternoon.

I picked up some green onions & bean sprouts at the market, otherwise I had everything needed to make this dish.  I skipped the pork element completely, as I don't eat pork, and used chicken thighs in place of chicken wings.  I put the thighs, along with some smashed garlic & ginger, into the oven to bake at 400F for about 40 minutes, until crispy.  Then I removed the chicken skin, and put everything else into a pot to simmer with six cups of water and a spoon of miso paste.   After about an hour, I strained the liquid into a jug, and salvaged the chicken from the bones.
I picked some kale from the garden for my steamed greens (in place of spinach).  I also found a few handfuls of fava beans so I shelled them, parboiled them and then removed their skins.  I chopped up some green onion and some chile, then quickly boiled up some soba noodles.  I assembled my bowl with a bit of everything, then poured the hot broth over the top.

I was pretty impressed with my 5-minute eggs....they were perfectly cooked, stained brown, and they really absorbed the flavours of the marinade.  This was quite a feast, and I went back for seconds!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Meal Planning

Last week's meal plan got kind of derailed when I went to an all-you-can-eat sushi place on Monday and it never quite recovered.  I made the Lemon Chard Aloo and ate it for the next three days (it was delicious) and had the Thai turkey burgers yesterday.

Tonight I hope to make this great shrimp dish with whatever greens & beans I can pull from my garden.  I've been neglecting it but I had a bit of a peek yesterday and things are going crazy out there!  Cranberry beans, fava beans, green beans, starship squash, a few tomatoes, and loads of beets!  Seeing as how I'm going to be gone for five days next week, I'd better do some picking now and eat up as much as I can.

Monday - Healthy Pan-Cooked Prawns (from Jamie's Dinners)
Tuesday - left overs
Wednesday - frozen vegetable "momos" from the Nepalese booth at the farmer's market
Thursday - dinner out for my son's birthday
Friday - eat up anything left in the fridge!
Saturday - off to Regina!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lemon chard aloo

Enough with the restaurant food!  Argh, my body does not tolerate it for any length of time.  I have two more weekends away coming up, so I need to be very careful in my selections and portions.  I went home from work yesterday exhausted, and the last thing I felt like doing was cooking, but I'd already picked and washed my chard and it was waiting for me in the fridge.  I cooked my son some Thai turkey sausages and ate one to give me strength, then jumped into this next recipe.

Lemon Chard Aloo (from A Modern Way To Eat by Anna Jones)

I've been making Saag Aloo with chard for a few years now, and I even blogged my recipe a few years back.  More recently, I've made Jamie's version with spinach.  I liked the idea of adding lemon for a bit of a different flavour combination.


•1-2 tbsp olive oil
•1 tsp black mustard seeds
•1 red onion, finely sliced
•3 cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
•1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
•1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
•1/2 tsp cumin seeds
•1/2 tsp turmeric
•350g potatoes, washed & diced
•1 bunch chard (approx 300g), large leaves roughly chopped and stems cut into 1cm slices
•1/2 lemon
•small bunch coriander, roughly chopped

I took a few minutes to chop my potatoes, garlic, onion, ginger, chile, and chard stalks.  Then I put a pan over a medium heat with a lug of olive oil, and got my mustard seeds popping.  I went in with the spices and veggies one at a time, other than the chard leaves, and once I had the potatoes and chard stalks in I added about 100 ml of water and covered the pan for 20 minutes or so. 

I went out to the garden and picked what cilantro I could find, then put a spelt tortilla in the toaster oven to heat.  Once the potatoes were fairly soft, I gradually added the chard leaves in, with a generous pinch of salt.  I also added another splash of water as things were getting a bit dry.  I put the lid back on for a few minutes, until the leaves were wilted.  I stirred everything around and turned off the heat.  I grated the lemon zest over, and squeezed in the juice.

 Usually I would serve this with plain non-dairy yogurt but I didn't have any on hand.  It was quite tasty with just the bread, though.  It was really filling, and I only ate about a third of the pan.   Left overs means no cooking tonight!  :)