Posts tagged food
Posts tagged food
Weeknight supper and stocking the freezer: red lentil-pumpkin soup
There was a second large can of pumpkin puree lingering in my pantry for the last month or so. I had initially bought two cans in a burst of pumpkin excitement earlier this fall, but only ended up using one of them (see here, here and here).
I wanted to try something different with this second can; I had it in my mind that I would attempt to make something savoury with the puree (and of course something baked too). I came across this recipe for a red lentil-pumpkin soup and I knew it would be perfect! It would also be great for my quest to stock my freezer with homemade lunches for the winter. Click on my photo above to link to the original recipe, or see my adapted version below.
I was very impressed with this soup! It is hearty and has great flavour. It is very gingery (due to the freshly grated ginger that you add right at the end) so if you’re not a fan of ginger, you will not like this soup. But I love it so this soup was perfect for me! I topped mine with some cilantro and a dollop of 0% plain greek yogurt. This recipe could also easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
Red lentil-pumpkin soup - serves 4 (Adapted from myrecipes.com)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
- 1 cup dried small red lentils
- 1 teaspoon ground chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Heat a large pot/Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes (take care not to burn the garlic).
Stir in 3 cups broth, lentils, chili powder, salt, cinnamon and paprika; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Puree the mixture - blend until smooth. (Either place the lentil mixture in a blender or use a hand-held immersion blender - I used the immersion blender and it worked fairly well but was not perfectly smooth, which was fine for me).
Return lentil mixture to pan over medium heat. Add remaining 1/2 cup broth, 1 cup water, and pumpkin to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in ginger and lemon juice.
Top with fresh cilantro, a dollop of greek yogurt and some pepitas (pumpkin seeds) if desired.
Don’t you love it when a gift gets put to good use? My bff sent me this photo of her enjoying my birthday gift to her, which was a bottle of 2009 Wildass Red. She and her mother-in-law made a lovely supper to accompany the wine, pairing it perfectly with lamb chops! Happy Birthday, lovely! xoxoxo
The most perfect mini corn breads to accompany a southern BBQ-style lunch from @DoubleDsBarBQ - always a delicious meal!
My favourite @FlyingBanzini cheesecake yet: the eggnog cheesecake! A perfect two-bite treat.
Product review: Bodum Schiuma milk frother
I had been on the hunt for a good milk frother for forever when I hit the jackpot: not only did I find a great milk frother, but at a great price too!
With my trusty stovetop espresso maker, I have been making delicious iced lattes in the summer and hot lattes in the winter. But my hot winter lattes just haven’t been what they could be without the milk froth! Silky, cloud-like and the perfect topping to a latte, the milk froth is what it is all about. I found this Bodum milk frother on sale on Sears’ website for an incredibly amazing sale price of $7.72 (plus tax). It regularly sells for $15 (according to the Bodum website).
I have never used a hand-held milk frother in the past, so I was careful to read the instructions in full before getting started. The instructions recommended using ice cold, non-fat milk for the best results, so I pre-chilled my glass measuring cup in the fridge for about 15 minutes or so to help keep the milk really cold. The instructions recommend using 2 to 4 oz of milk, which, at first I thought was far too little. But once I started, I was wrong! Once you have your milk measured out and you’re ready to froth, you place the milk frother into the milk without touching the bottom of the measuring cup but also staying under the top surface of the milk (this is a bit tricky when you only use the 2 oz of milk). Run the frother for about 30 seconds or so, or until you reach your desired amount of foam. Now, here is the part where I’ll be experimenting for a while because finding the right balance between foam and milk is key. The directions say that, once you’ve reached your desired amount of foam, you can heat the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. So, for me, this wasn’t quite long enough; a minute was a bit better. Also, the milk doesn’t have to be piping hot as your espresso will be and it will heat the entire drink. See my video above for a brief demonstration of how it works!
Overall, I really like this product. It is simple to operate and it came with great instructions. As well, it says that it can be a multipurpose kitchen tool: you can use it to make mixed powder drinks or salad dressings or anything else you can think of! I will continue to experiment and enjoy this tool all winter long!
I had the absolute pleasure of attending a ladies’ night at a friend’s house this weekend, and she spoiled us all with this amazing raclette for dinner!
Among the bounty of perfectly chopped and presented veggies (I loved the asparagus! Such a genius idea), we were spoiled with huge fresh tiger shrimp, succulent marinated beef and proscuitto. Not to mention the plethora of cheese! Gruyere, Swiss, and, of course raclette cheese made for a tasty supper. Thank you again to our gracious host for such a lovely evening! xo
Weeknight supper: chicken enchiladas
I’m still on the hunt for a good, simple enchilada recipe. I liked this one that I tried in 2011 (see here) from the Food Network’s Janet and Greta Podleski of Eat, Shrink and Be Merry, but I’m always tweaking.
This newest version comes care of myrecipes.com, a website that I have been loving lately! The criteria that I’m looking for in an enchilada recipe is that it is simple, (fairly) quick, and uses ingredients that I’m likely to have in my pantry/fridge and doesn’t specifically call for “enchilada sauce” as it is near impossible to find this in Ottawa! This one delivers! Click on my photo above to link to the recipe. I would make this again - it turned out great!
Weekend dessert: easy apple crisp
Accompanying the plethora of butternut squash bestowed on me by my parents was a big box of apples from this year’s garden harvest. It was a good year for apples!
My box had a mix of McIntosh and what my Dad said were russet apples, but they looked more like a gala or a honeycrisp in colour to me, so I told him that I didn’t think they were russet. Do you know of a variety of russet that is red with green on it? When I think of a russet apple, I think of the Egremont russet with its distinctive brown and bright green colouring. But I digress.
In any case, the apples were a bit beyond being perfect for eating out of hand, so I put a great many of them to good use in a couple of batches of delicious, soul-warming apple crisp.
Care of my trusty How to Cook Everything app, I have discovered my perfect apple crisp recipe. I know, a recipe for apple crisp is a bit lame, but I’m terrible with measuring amounts for the topping, so I prefer to have some solid parameters. This recipe is very basic, but it delivers!
Apple crisp (very slightly adapted from the How to Cook Everything app for iPhone)
For the apples:
- 6 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples (I sliced mine pretty thick so as to keep the apple fairly intact in the crisp. I like to taste the apple!)
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup large flake rolled oats (not quick/instant oats)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 2/3 cup brown sugar, or to taste (I used a little bit less than that)
- small dash of salt
- 5 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
Preheat oven to 400°. Spray an 8X8 pan with cooking spray or butter it lightly. Toss the apples with the cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and lemon juice. Pour into the prepared dish and spread out evenly.
To make the topping, combine all of the ingredients in the list in a food processor and pulse a few times or until everything is incorporated but not uniform. To make by hand, mix all of the dry ingredients then cut in the butter using a pastry blender. Pour the topping evenly over the apples and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the apples are bubbly and the topping is browned. Enjoy it hot!
Stocking the freezer: chickpea and roasted squash chili
As I mentioned here, I have been having fun with coming up with ways to use up the butternut squash I got from my parent’s garden during a recent visit.
Since there is no convincing the husband to eat any kind of squash, I knew this was going to be a fantastic opportunity for me to stock my freezer with some healthy lunches.
I had come across a recipe for a black bean and squash chili on the Serious Eats website a while back (click here for the original recipe), and realized it was the perfect way to both use my butternut squash and stock my freezer with ready-made lunches for my work week.
I altered the recipe quite a bit, so below is my adaptation. This turned out wonderfully! It is a hearty, healthy meal, and a perfect lunch for a cold winter day. It can also very easily be a vegetarian or even vegan dish by using vegetable broth (instead of chicken or beef). As I mentioned in my post about butternut squash soup, they key to amazing flavour is to first roast your squash!
Chickpea and roasted squash chili (adapted from Serious Eats)
- 1 can (540 ml/19 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I used President’s Choice no salt added chickpeas)
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed into bite-sized chunks (about 2-3 cups)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used an orange one)
- 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. herbes de provence
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups beef broth (or you can use vegetable broth to make this dish vegetarian)
- freshly cracked pepper and sea salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 425°. Toss squash chunks in olive oil, salt and pepper and spread in an even layer on a shallow roasting pan/cookie sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, turning once. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Heat a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add a splash of olive oil, onions and bell pepper, and cook until softened, about 5-10 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, herbes de provence and cook for a minute or two but be careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the beef stock, chickpeas and squash. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. If desired, mash a few of the chickpeas to thicken the mixture (I left mine all whole).
Serve topped with diced avocado!
Lunch at the Flying Banzini (round 2)
I was excited to return for a second lunch at the Flying Banzini recently; my first experience was fantastic (see here) and I couldn’t wait to try another of their delicious sandwich creations.
After being warmly greeted by the owner, Dave Scharf (he is so incredibly friendly and helpful!) I placed my order. This time, I opted for the Swing Swing Swing panini, which contains smoked salmon, spinach, red onions, capers and dill cream cheese all on a rosemary focaccia bun. I have an obsession with smoked salmon, so my hopes were high for this panini. It delivered! The classic pairing of smoked salmon, red onion, cream cheese and capers is artfully and skilfully brought together in this panini; there was the perfect amount of each ingredient on this sandwich.
Of course you don’t leave the Flying Banzini without also having one of their delightful mini cheesecakes! This time, I had the pumpkin cheesecake, which came topped with marshmallows - wow! The texture of this cream cheese was incredible: soft, silky and smooth. I managed to scarf it down before I had the chance to take a photo so you’ll just have to use your imagination about what this little gem looked like!
Once again, I’ll be back to the Flying Banzini, hopefully sooner rather than later this time! My next quest is to try one of their soft roll sandwiches…my mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Weeknight supper: chipotle chicken chili
As I try to expand my knowledge and experience in the kitchen, I’m constantly faced with ingredients with which I have never worked. A great example of one of these ingredients is chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
I’m slightly ashamed to admit that my first ever cooking experience with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce was just one short year ago! The first challenge was simply finding the ingredient in a grocery store, which was a bit of a challenge and took a few tries at a few different stores. The internet helped me to get a sense of what I was looking for: most chipotle peppers in adobo sauce come in a small can, sometimes with a pull-tab top.
For the recipe that I was making at the time, I was to puree the whole can of peppers in their sauce to make a paste. One of the first things I learned about chipotle peppers in adobo sauce after getting them home and opening them up is that they are very, very spicy! A little bit goes a long way (if you’re using a puree like I did) in a recipe. The second thing that I learned is that you will have lots left over. So, what to do with the rest of it? And that’s what brings me to today’s post.
I put the rest of mine in a glass Tupperware into the freezer, and have been slowly chipping away at it since, adding it to various recipes throughout the year (one surprise: it worked very well in chicken burgers!) until I finally used up the last bit of it in this chipotle chicken chili.
Today’s recipe comes from one of my all-time favourite blogs, Bev Cooks (click on my photo above to link to the original recipe on her site). I made the recipe exactly as indicated except that I did not add the can of pinto beans (I didn’t have any); I added about a tablespoon of pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (instead of three minced chipotle peppers in their adobo sauce); and I added one chopped red bell pepper. Her recipe also calls for beer, so I used a bottle of Bud Light Lime! This is a great recipe: it was very easy to make and it has everything that I keep as pantry staples which I love. The husband loved it too!
Best of all, I can finally wash the Tupperware that was sitting in my freezer holding the chipotle pepper puree for the last 12 months! Now that is something to be happy about! Hahaha.
Dinner at Luxe Bistro
I was at Luxe for dinner about a year ago this month celebrating the husband’s birthday. It was our first time at Luxe and we had an excellent meal. So when my bff suggested celebrating her birthday at Luxe one recent weekend, I knew it was going to be a night to remember!
With seven ladies in our party, we were given one of Luxe’s corner booth tables, which, in my opinion, is one of the best seats in the house. Our first order was to get the birthday girl a drink, so we ordered a bottle of wine to her liking: the only malbec on the menu, this. It was delicious - velvety smooth and easy to drink.
For my meal, I wanted to experience a different side of Luxe’s menu (I had the bouillabaisse last time), so I opted for two appetizers for my meal. I started with the tuna crudo (my first photo) from Luxe’s cold seafood bar. Thick, luscious pieces of fresh tuna came drizzled in yuzu ponzu sauce and topped with crispy fried ginger and a few thin slices of radish. I savoured every single bite of this dish! It is one of the best raw tuna dishes I have ever had, and it was a perfect portion size. I would eat this again in a heartbeat!
For my main dish, I ordered the steak tacos from the appetizer menu (my second photo). Described as Asian stir-fried beef topped with pickled daikon and carrot, fresh jalapeno, sour cream, cilantro and lime, these were just as tasty as they look! I’m not sure exactly what the “Asian” flavours on the beef were, but it was incredibly rich tasting. The richness of the beef paired with the pickled daikon and carrot was delightful.
And if you think at this point I hadn’t had enough - you’re right! My other bff and I decided to share a dessert, and we were not disappointed. Simply named chocolate spring rolls, this dessert (my third photo) is comes exactly as described! Light and crispy spring rolls filled with dense, dark chocolate ganache. The rolls were served with two dipping sauces for further indulgence: banana Anglaise and caramel. To finish off my meal with the perfect touch, I had a cappuccino; it is my favourite way to end the night!
Overall, we had a fantastic time at Luxe, and everyone, the birthday girl included, enjoyed their meals immensely. Our servers were fun and attentive, and helped to make the birthday girl’s night perfect. I would highly recommend Luxe for a night out!
Weeknight supper: roasted butternut squash soup
After returning from a recent visit to my parent’s house with a bag full of butternut squash from their garden, I was thrilled with all of the possibilities of things to come. Soups, stews, chili - I was looking forward to eating some delicious butternut squash!
What’s more classic than butternut squash soup? It is an easy (and delicious) way to use up oversize butternut squash. To make my soup even more tasty, after peeling and chopping the squash into one inch chunks, I tossed it with olive oil and smoked paprika and roasted it in the oven. I have discovered that roasting veggies for a soup (especially something like squash) is almost essential: roasting departs an incredible depth of flavour that just cannot be achieved by a quick pan saute prior to adding the broth to make the soup.
The result was a rich, flavourful and healthy soup! Click on my photo above to link to the recipe that I used from myrecipes.com. The only changes that I made to the recipe were to roast the squash tossed in olive oil and smoked paprika (instead of simply adding it to your stock pot) and I used 1% milk instead of half and half cream. This is definitely now my go-to butternut squash soup recipe!
I love relaxing Sunday nights. Spending mine making spaghetti sauce for a quick week night dinner tomorrow night!
Weekend breakfast: quick and easy banana pancakes
The poor husband has been sick for going on two weeks now. I feel so helpless as there isn’t much I can do for him except to offer him warm beverages and comforting words. He’ll be ok; it is just a bad bacterial infection and seemingly a cough that will not go away. But aren’t these everlasting colds the worst?
He was craving pancakes one recent weekend morning, and we had some overripe bananas laying around, so I found a recipe and got to work. The recipe comes from allrecipes.com (click here or on my photo above to link to the recipe) and I was quite pleased with how the pancakes turned out. The ingredients are pantry staples in my house, so I had no problem making these without any preparation. The result are light and fluffy pancakes but with the excellent flavour of banana! These are definitely a new favourite of ours.
Banana pancakes, slightly adapted from allrecipes.com
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- cinnamon to taste (I used half a teaspoon - I am addicted to cinnamon!)
- Combine flour, white sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, milk, vegetable oil and bananas.
- Stir flour mixture into banana mixture; batter will be slightly lumpy.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan or griddle over medium high heat (no oils are necessary if you’re using a non-stick pan). Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook until pancakes are golden brown on both sides; serve hot with maple syrup!.