Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Seared Turmeric Chicken and Skinny Homemade Houmous

Back on track with a real meal tonight!  I ran through the grocery store to get a few necessities after work, yet still had the energy to cook.  This felt more like a 15 minute meal than some of the 15 minute meals I've done, even though it was actually two recipes in one.  :)

508.  Skinny Homemade Houmous (Jamie's Everyday Super Food, page 230)

I tried my best to find jarred chick peas for this one, but they just don't seem to exist in Canada.  I went with canned instead, first draining them but retaining the liquid, then adding it as needed to give the hummus the right consistency.  I substituted soy milk for the yogurt, to keep it dairy-free, and added tahini, lemon juice and cayenne pepper as instructed.  I was pleasantly surprised with the results - creamy and delicious!

509.  Seared Turmeric Chicken, Hummus, Peppers, Coucous & Greens (Jamie's Everyday Super Food, page 140)

Turmeric really is a super food!  My naturopath wants me to eat it whenever I can, so this recipe sounded like a good plan.  Turmeric really doesn't have much of a flavour, but oregano does.  I added some that I dried in the summer to the turmeric & olive oil mixutre to create the marinade for the chicken.  I doubled the amount of meat in the recipe so I could feed the kids, but I figured they wouldn't want the healthy stuff, so I kept the veg to the original amounts.

I would never have thought of eating chicken with hummus, but does it ever pair well!  Nothing special about the greens (a mix of fresh spinach & broccoli rabe) or the couscous, except that I added fresh basil in place of mint.  I toasted Brazil nuts instead of hazelnuts as a garnish.  Might as well use what's already in the house!  The only special purchase I made was a jar of roasted red peppers, which are grilled alongside the chickenbreast, but I got them on sale for $1.99.  ;)

This was a decent meal that filled my tummy with the good stuff.  Lo and behold, one of the kids actually ate some couscous with his chicken!  And I have lots of hummus left over for snacking this week.

Monday, February 1, 2016

February Resolutions

After a month of travel, restaurant meals, arena snack food, and easy-to-make family favourites, it's time to get back to cooking some recipes!  I'm still trying to eat as much as I can from my freezer and pantry, so my grocery shops have been minimal.  I've been buying a few things here and a few things there, to complement whatever I can defrost.  Yesterday we had a big, blow out make-your-own pizza lunch.  I think that is the first time I've made the full batch of pizza dough, split it into six, and no left overs made it to the fridge!

It will depend on the night, but here are some ideas for quick but healthy meals this week:

Squash Dhal (from the freezer) with spinach salad & fried egg
Ground beef tacos for the kids, tofu tacos for me
Turmeric Chicken with
Skinny Homemade Houmous (use left overs for lunches)
One of Jamie's ready-made meals (from the freezer)
Frozen chicken strips/JO fish fingers with sweet potato fries & salad

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Frozen Fruit Crisps and Soups

Fruit gets pretty boring in winter.  Apples, oranges & bananas are staples, but other varieties get awfully expensive.  I like to freeze fruit when it's in season so I can pull it out to brighten things up occasionally.  I was off sick on Friday so I decided to make a rhubarb/strawberry crisp.  I tweaked this online recipe to fit the ingredients I had on hand.

My Frozen Fruit Crisp

22 oz frozen mixed fruit (mostly strawberries)
10 oz frozen chopped rhubarb
1 tablespoon arrowroot flour
2 tablespoons spelt flour
1/3 cup honey
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup  rolled oats
2/3 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan margarine
sprinkling of demererra sugar

I put the fruit into a large bowl and allowed it to defrost enough that I could cut the larger berries into quarters.  Then I added the arrowroot flour and mixed it up to absorb some of the excess liquid that you get with frozen fruit.  Finally I added the spelt flour, honey, lemon juice & vanilla and spread this mixture into a 16 x 9 baking dish.

I combined the first six topping ingredients in a small bowl, and then mixed the margarine in with a pastry cutter ( you could use your fingers or two knives) until crumbly.  I scattered this evenly over the fruit, and then sprinkled the demererra sugar over the top for extra crispiness.  I put this in a 350 oven for 55 minutes or so until bubbling and golden on top.  I refrigerated it over night and then served it with whipped cream the next day.  It was delicious!


I wanted to do another Jamie recipe (before January was over) so I dug out the most recent cookbook and came across these interesting fruit soup ideas.  He describes them as smoothies in a bowl, which makes them totally appropriate for breakfast.  I also like that the recipes are all to serve just one person.  Perfect!

506.  Basil & Strawberry Fruit Soup with Yogurt & Granola Dust (Jamie's Everyday Super Food, page 40)

I just so happen to have a basil plant in the kitchen, so I pulled 8 leaves off of it, combined them with my remaining strawberries, a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, a cup of boiling water poured into the dregs of a jar of strawberry jam (for sweetness), and two heaped tablespoons of chia seeds.  I didn't even flinch at the thought of vinegar & basil in the morning, because it's just so Jamie. :)

I used my hand blender to puree this as much as possible, then put it in the fridge to chill.  I just couldn't wrap my head around eating it hot, and to me, you need to let the chia seeds soak to do their job.  I had to veer off a bit for toppings, so I used some leftover homemade granola, coconut whip and sliced banana (as I had no strawberries left!)  I was really surprised at how delicious this was!  The basil & balsamic were really not very prominent, but the strawberries shone through.  I look forward to trying the other 3 varieties - mint & kiwi, nettle tea & blackberry, and ginger tea & mango.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Weekend Wellness Cooking

Instead of posting a meal plan today, I'm going to post a recap of what I cooked on the weekend.  The reason being is that's what I'll be eating for the rest of the week!  I may do some cooking for the kids, but I have a ton of left overs.  It all started yesterday, after I took a morning visit to Globally Local, an organic & vegan market just outside of London.  It was pouring rain, but after I got home, hot soy chai tea latte in hand, it turned to snow and got really nasty outside.  I decided I wasn't going out for the rest of the day.  The house was empty so I puttered around, put some music on, and did some laundry, dishes, and cooking to pass the time.

Squash, Pumpkin & Leek Soup from Cooking Matters

I needed to use a butternut squash that had a crack in it.  They keep a long time on the counter, but once they have a defect they can rot or mold.  So I peeled and diced it, minced some garlic, sliced some celery then added some pureed pumpkin and sliced leeks, both of which I had in the freezer.  To make it even more enticing, I was able to use up my extra turkey stock!  Talk about a win, win recipe.  

Roasted Radishes (Simply Nigella, page 227)

Another pink & green Nigella recipe!  I stumbled upon roasted radishes a couple of years ago by accident, when I was roasting some beets and figured why not chuck a few radishes in to get rid of them?  I had no idea it was a "thing".  Apparently it is.  This is just a simple recipe of halved radishes, roasted with a bit of olive oil, the sprinkled with flaked salt and green onions.  Yummy.

I ate these with crackers, cashew cheese and a bowl of squash soup.

505.  Chicken Moilee (Jamie Magazine, 2015 Yearbook, page ??)

I was excited to find the Jamie Magazine Yearbook in Chapters the other day.  Last year it was either sold out every time I looked, or they forgot to order it.  I'll have to back order it to complete my collection.  I had a bunch of fresh cilantro in the fridge that was looking a bit wilted, so I washed it to get rid of any of the bad bits, and put the stalks in the food processor with some fresh garlic, ginger, green chile, salt, curry powder and water to make a quick paste.  In a large pan, I fried some dried curry leaves, added the paste & a sliced onion and let it cook while I cubed up some chicken breast.  I added that to the pan with some cherry tomatoes & coconut milk and let that simmer.  Lastly, I decided to add some mushrooms & zucchini since they needed to be used up.  The more veggies the better!  I served this with some basmati rice, a squeeze of lime juice and a scattering of cilantro.

I found this quite mild, either due to the fact that my chile was not very spicy or I went overboard on the coconut milk to finish the can.  Either way I can spice up the left overs if necessary!

Healthier Salted Caramel Sauce from The Almond Eater (yes, it's vegan!)

I've been enjoying a small tub of cashew ice cream lately, but it was missing a sauce.  I used maple syrup a couple of times, but then I found this recipe online and I have been dying to make it ever since.  I used 1/3 cup of the coconut cream from the refrigerated can of coconut milk needed for the chicken moilee.  The sauce took about 30 minutes to simmer, then I put it in the fridge and it firmed right up.  First, though, I poured some warm sauce over my banana split.  :)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Obi-Wonton Kenobi Soup

I saw this recipe the other day and it immediately caught my eye.  I love, love, love wonton soup but I haven't had it in over a year because it's always made with pork (and I don't eat red meat).  Making my own wontons sounded like a great idea!  Every comment I read was positive, and that convinced me.  I went whole hog (ha ha, not really) and made my own turkey stock from the frozen wings & drumsticks left over from the Thanksgiving turkey.  I'm really all about using the whole bird if I'm going to buy one.  I even used the neck of the Thanksgiving bird at Christmas to make gravy for my turkey wellington.  

Obi-Wonton Kenobi Soup (from the LooneySpoons Collection by Janet & Greta Podleski)

I put the stock on to simmer away while I did other things, then when we got hungry my daughter and I quickly made the filling for our store-bought wonton wrappers. Obviously, this step is not necessary if you are using store-bought chicken or turkey stock!

We combined ground turkey with sesame oil, soy sauce, minced ginger, an egg white & a bit of arrowroot flour.  I chopped up a green onion and added it to half the mixture, leaving her half plain, then we each put a teaspoon of meat into the middle of each wrapper and folded them into triangles.  We sealed the edges with a bit of water and then folded the two corners over to create the perfect shape.  It was picky work but didn't take very long.

I strained my turkey stock into a pot, and added soy sauce, sesame oil, minced ginger, fresh basil and salt.  I decided to throw in a few whole baby bok choy as well...why not get some veggies in there?  This came to a boil them simmered until the veggies were soft.  In a separate pot we boiled the wontons for 5 minutes, then drained them and added them to 4 bowls.  To mine, I added more green onion.  Two bowls went in the fridge for the next day, and to the other two we added the broth and dug right in!

Oh, how I've missed you, wonton soup!  The meat filling is so flavourful, and the broth is delicious.  I drank what remained in my bowl (and that's a rarity for me).  We ate the leftovers for lunch today.  I am very, very tempted to make another batch of wontons tonight.  This soup is to die for!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Foodie Inspiration & Meal Plans

I had a pretty cool foodie weekend.  I hit the farmer's market as per usual, and discovered a booth selling brand new cookbooks for 50% off.  I grabbed a couple that I've been looking at for a long time - Jekka's Herb Cookbook (with a forward by Jamie) and My New Roots by Sarah Britton.  I also hit the Asian market and picked up some of the authentic Chinese ingredients that Nigella lists in her new book, Simply Nigella.  I should have a lot of inspiration to get cooking in 2016!

As a result of all my new purchases, I tackled the old computer desk in the corner of the kitchen. Up until now, I've been stacking my cookbooks on top of it, with the rest of it taken up by all sorts of CDs, DVDs, and a variety of clutter that just seems to accumulate over time.  At one point it actually housed a computer, but in recent years my laptop lives on the coffee table in the living room, or sometimes on the kitchen table if I have work to do.  However, the computer desk just collects more junk (and dust).  So I cleared it off completely, stored all the discs in an under-the-bed container, threw away (or recycled) lots of junk, and made it into a bookshelf!  It looks so much better now.  :)

On to the first meal plan of the year....I've gone from one to two "kids" living at home, so I'll be doing more family-style cooking and less cooking-for-one.  Both of them have made new years resolutions to stop eating junk food and lose weight, so I'm hopeful we can find some compromises with our wildly different likes & dislikes, as well as my dietary restrictions.  For lunches I'll be eating lots of cashew cheese with crackers, raw veggies & salads, or left overs.

Monday - sweet potato & bean quesadillas for me, salsa & cheese quesadillas for the kids
Tuesday -  veggie fried rice
Wednesday - left overs (aka Mom's day off)
Thursday - Obi-Wonton Kenobi Soup from the Looneyspoons Collection (turkey wonton soup)
Friday - pumpkin chicken chile in the crock pot

Friday, January 1, 2016

New year, new book!

Happy New Year!  It seems to have ushered winter in along with it.  I guess we've been fortunate to make it to January with very little snow, so I can't complain, but it's snowing and blowing like crazy this morning.  I had to break out the new winter parka and the old winter boots.  I promptly slipped on some snow-covered ice and took the first fall of the season while walking the dog in the park. 

I went a bit crazy with Boxing Day sales last week in two of my favourite stores:  Chapters & Farm Boy.  As a result, I have much reduced produce, and the new Nigella Lawson cookbook (my first of hers, surprisingly).  I spied this simple breakfast recipe and prepped it last night to start the new year off on a healthy note.

Avocado Toast with Quick-Pickled Breakfast Radishes (Simply Nigella, page 355)

I've seen some pretty nasty and ridiculous tweets in regards to Nigella calling avocado on toast a recipe, but why not?  You can pimp it any way you like it, and what else is a recipe but your take on some way to combine ingredients?  I thought the pickled radish idea was genius.  I made my pickling brine quickly last night, using rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper & water.  I heated it until the sugar dissolved, then poured it over my radishes (cut into eighths). I let them cool before putting them in the fridge.

This morning I smashed up an avocado with lime juice, flakes of red chile, grated ginger, salt and some fennel fronds (in place of dill).  I spread this deliciousness on whole grain oat & honey toast and topped it with the awesomely pink coloured radishes. Nigella has a pink and green theme going on in her book, and I can't say I mind.

I love relaxing with a cup of tea, a plate of tasty food, and a good book.  A bit of soothing adult colouring to finish starts my day on the right foot.