Posts tagged food
Posts tagged food
Weekday lunches: quinoa salad served over spinach
During the last few grueling weeks of cold, snow and general yucky weather, all I was craving was the fresh, bright flavours of salad. I think my tastebuds were trying to demand that springtime get its butt to Ottawa and fast!
So I turned to my newest cookbook (see here) for some inspiration and found this delicious quinoa salad. It has colourful veggies, seeds and quinoa, all tossed in a fresh, homemade vinaigrette. I decided to serve the quinoa salad on top of a bed of baby spinach to add some green goodness. This salad totally quenched my craving for the fresh and bright flavours of spring!
Quinoa salad - adapted from the Toronto Star Cookbook by Jennifer Bain
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup organic quinoa (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
For the Dressing
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp honey
- salt and pepper to taste
Make the quinoa: bring the water to a boil, lower the heat to medium and add the quinoa. Cook for about 12 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and keep covered for about 15 minutes.
Make the dressing: combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well mixed.
Toss carrot, bell pepper, cranberries and pepitas in another bowl. Add cooled quinoa and dressing and toss. Serve on top of a bed of fresh baby spinach or as is.
I ate this over a span of a few days for my work lunches and the flavours got better as the mixture had a chance to rest and mix together.
Lunch at Spris - South Beach, Miami, Florida
I did a heck of a lot of restaurant research before the husband and I left on our South Beach, Miami, vacation this year, and I was glad that I did. There are so many places to eat, I don’t know how one makes any decisions!
One of our first lunches was at Spris (pronounced “sprees”), a little Italian place on Lincoln Road (South Beach’s famed pedestrian walkway/mall) known for its thin crust pizzas. With more than 30 different kinds of pizzas from which to choose, it took us a while to decide!
I couldn’t help but start off my lunch with a cappuccino, which they made perfectly, and even served with two cute and delicious little almond cookies. We decided we wanted to try an appetizer, so we settled on the $4 fresh rosemary focaccia (thinking it would be a small-sized treat). We were blown away when basically an entire pizza arrived! We were pretty hungry, so we had no trouble eating every last delicious wood-fired bite!
For our main we settled on the Salsiccia Gorgonzola Dolce pizza to share, which came topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, Italian gorgonzola cheese and crumbled Italian sausage. This pizza was a delight! The crust was thin but not overly crispy, the toppings were ample but not overwhelming, and the gorgonzola added the perfect spike of flavour to the whole thing.
This is a great spot if you’re looking for authentic, wood-fired, thin crust pizza. Its location on Lincoln Road is also great for outdoor eating (they have a huge patio) and people watching!
A special treat: Flapjack’s Pancake Shack
Who knew that Ottawa would fall in love with a small shack serving up pancakes, panwiches (a pancake breakfast sandwich), and other delights like pancake poutine, all over the course of one the coldest and longest winters that we’ve had in quite some time.
I finally got my chance to try one of their most popular menu items, the Jimberrr! Watson panwich - a concoction of two of their buttermilk pancakes (secret recipe!), double-smoked bacon, a fried egg and a slice of gouda cheese, all served with a side of real maple syrup (and cutely named after our mayor, Jim Watson). It was delightful! The pancakes are everything that pancake dreams are made of: they’re light and fluffy with that perfect buttermilk flavour. The rest of the sandwich was just as excellent, and everything came together wonderfully.
This is a fun little spot, and I can’t wait to go back to try more of their menu items! Ottawa has gone pancake crazy, and I love it!
Weekend baking: apple cinnamon oatmeal muffins
I like to keep a stash of healthy muffins in the freezer to toss in my work lunches. Sometimes my craving for something baked to go with my morning coffee is just too overwhelming to ignore, and having one of these little gems on hand to satisfy my craving is for the best.
I came across this recipe on the lovely Steph’s Bite by Bite blog, and you can click on my photo above to link to her site. I followed her recipe as written with two exceptions: I used regular milk (instead of almond milk) and I used vegetable oil (instead of canola oil).
These are definitely healthy muffins, but I think they’re great! I like the flavour and texture (the texture is a bit more dense) and they aren’t too sweet, which I prefer. A great snack and baked good to pair with your morning tea or coffee!
Prep and bake: sausage lasagna
As I get older, I’m learning that prepping makes all the difference. Doing your prep work in the kitchen saves time, money and frustration. It helps to make weeknight dinners get on the table faster and without any stress.
I feel this way about lasagna: why not make it a head of time and bake it the night you’re going to eat it? It had been quite some time since I had made a lasagna, so, under my new initiative to prep, I made this on a Sunday but wrapped it up and put it in the fridge to bake off the next night.
The result was fantastic! It is delicious, cheesy, meaty lasagna. So hearty and belly warming! I loved the single layer of ricotta - it was so fluffy and light. I will be making this again! The recipe comes from the lovely and talented Rachel of the Baked by Rachel blog. Her recipes are always fantastic!
Adapted from Baked by Rachel (click on my photo to link to her recipe).
- 1/2 lb extra lean ground beef
- 2 hot Italian sausages, casings removed
- 1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, divided
- further salt and pepper to taste wherever you like
- 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
- 2 tsp dried Italian herbs
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped (any colour would work)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 14oz petite diced tomatoes, undrained (I used garlic and olive oil flavoured tomatoes)
- 1 720 ml jar passata (strained tomatoes - or use a tomato sauce of your choosing)
- 12-15 lasagna noodles (not oven ready)
- 15oz ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- 4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Prepare your lasagna noodles. You can boil them, but because my lasagna sat in the fridge for 24 hours before baking, all I did was simply soak my noodles in boiling water for about 20 minutes. It is up to you how you choose to do this. I think oven ready noodles might work here but I have not tried it with them so I cannot vouch for it.
Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Remove the sausages from their casing and break up in the frying pan. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer raw. Add onions, bell pepper and garlic and cook until softened, a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, Italian herbs and red pepper flakes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine ricotta, egg, Parmesan cheese and 1/2 tsp of pepper. Stir well to combine.
Now you can start putting together your lasagna! Start by taking a 9X13 baking dish and giving it a one over with cooking spray. Now, put 1 cup of the passata in the bottom the dish. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles (however many will fit - feel free to break some to fit in the ends). Top this with all of the ricotta mixture, and then another layer of noodles. Next, add half the meat mixture, then more noodles. Top this with half of the mozzarella cheese and then the remaining meat mixture. Add a final layer of noodles, the rest of the passata sauce (it will be saucy! But it sinks down throughout the dish) and the rest of the mozzarella cheese.
You can bake this at 375° for 30 minutes, or, let it cool (if necessary) and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you want to cook it. To cook from being refrigerated, remove lasagna from the fridge a half hour before cooking, and preheat oven to 400°. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until warmed through and the top is bubbling and slightly browned. I would recommend placing the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any sauce that bubbles over.
Try to wait about 10 minutes after removing it from the oven before serving to let it rest. Serve with salad, bread and top with more Parmesan and red pepper flakes if desired!
Weekday lunches: kale, bacon and white bean smash
Is this a pretty little dish or what? I was looking to try something completely different for my weekday lunches recently, so when I stumbled across this recipe on the President’s Choice website, I decided to give it a try.
This dish is very simple, and uses many pantry staples like canned tomatoes and beans. But its flavour also comes from a few fresh ingredients, like bacon, onions and the superstar veg kale! I have a rough time digesting raw veggies (TMI?) so I have been looking for ways to incorporate cooked kale into my daily diet. This recipe is excellent for that since, as you know, greens tend to wilt down quite a bit, so a LOT of kale becomes a little after being heated ever so slightly!
This recipe is fantastic! It is simple, quick, healthy and delicious. I found that the flavours were even better the next and subsequent days. I’d even recommend waiting to eat this until the day after you make it! Click on my photo above to link to the recipe - I made it exactly as described on the President’s Choice website. This is the perfect light stew for a cold late winter morning! (Yes, I know, it is spring, but not in Ottawa!)
Weeknight dinner: pork chop casserole
This particular dinner was something of a stretch for me: we aren’t much into casseroles around my house, but with some boneless pork chops taking up space in the freezer and the fact that it was too damn cold outside to bbq, I needed a solution, and this casserole was it!
I came across this recipe on the funny and lovely Bev Cooks blog and deemed it perfect for my pork chops. It is very much a meal made up of pantry staples as the other ingredients are simply red new potatoes, a can of cream of mushroom soup, sliced onion and cheddar cheese. Click on my photo above to link to her recipe: I followed her directions exactly.
To my surprise, both the husband and I really liked this! It is very much a basic “meat and potatoes” kind of meal, but sometimes it is nice to have something simple. We ate ours with a side of steamed green beans to balance the meal veg-wise. I would make this again, but perhaps with thin chicken breasts (cutlets).
A couple of recipe pointers - be sure that all of your ingredients (including the top layer of potatoes) are covered in the milk/soup mixture in order to cook properly and thoroughly. No one likes undercooked potatoes!
Brunch at the Scone Witch
Does it ever happen to you that a restaurant up and moves and you have no idea about it until you just happen to stumble upon the new location completely unintended? Well that happened to me recently as I stumbled upon the new location of the Scone Witch while taking some out of town guests down to Winterlude a few weeks ago.
Granted it had been some time (well, a very long time) since I’d been to the Scone Witch’s location on Albert Street, but in all of my internet reading about the food scene in Ottawa, I had not heard of it’s move to Elgin Street to a beautiful new (and HUGE) space.
So it was a few Sundays later when I met some friends to give it a try. I had also never been to the Scone Witch for weekend brunch, so it was a double shot of new for me.
Their brunch menu is quite small, but just go with it: you’re there for the delicious scones anyway! It is also kind of pricey, but worth it. I ordered the breakfast plate, which comes with scrambled eggs and your choice of topping (I chose smoked salmon, of course), fruit, salad, a scone of your choice and jam (or clotted cream AND jam for a little extra). I also ordered the largest cappuccino they could make for me to accompany my breakfast, which was fantastic. All in all, a great brunch: light and delicious. I went with one of my favourite of their scones, the oatmeal, with wild blueberry jam. It was heavenly.
I will definitely be back to the Scone Witch’s new location - it is bright, airy and much larger (read: more seating, less chaotic) than their Albert Street location, all which makes for a much more relaxing and enjoyable experience. Plus, there’s no better spot to get a scone in Ottawa!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This was as green as things got for me today: a green smoothie! So wild and crazy, I know!
Weekend project: slow cooker baked beans (round 2)
I loved making baked beans so much the first time (see here) that I have already made my second batch! I tried a different recipe this time around - this batch has no booze and I soaked the dried beans overnight before putting them in the slow cooker. Why eat baked beans from a can when you can make your own?
I was very pleased with this batch of baked beans. They were so tender with a hint of sweet and smoke - perfection to me. This recipe is a keeper! Click on my photo to link to the original recipe or see my adaptation below.
Slow cooker baked beans - serves 8-10 as a side dish
Slightly adapted from chow.com
- 1 pound dried navy beans (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 8 ounces thick-cut bacon slices (about 6 slices), small dice
- 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
- 2 1/2 cups water, plus more for soaking the beans
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup dark molasses, also known as robust (not blackstrap)
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I used grainy Dijon)
- 1 tablespoon salt, plus more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
Place the beans in a large bowl or stock pot and pick through them, discarding any broken beans or stones. Cover the beans with at least 3 inches of cold water. Allow to soak uncovered at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain in a colander. Place the beans, bacon, and onion in the slow cooker.
Whisk the remaining measured ingredients in a bowl until combined. Pour into the slow cooker and stir with the beans, bacon and onions until thoroughly combined. Cover and cook on low heat until the beans are tender and the liquid thickens slightly (it will thicken more as it cools), about 9 hours (test them at 8 hours to see if they are tender to your liking.
These freeze really well; I like to freeze them in batches for the husband and I to enjoy on the weekends for breakfast.
Weeknight supper: honey dijon baked salmon with walnuts
One of the quickest weeknight dinners that I know how to make is baked salmon. Pair it with a salad, and voila: dinner is ready! The other great thing about salmon is that it can be seasoned with so many different flavours to keep your taste buds interested.
One recent weeknight (while the husband was filling his craving for a pizza) I decided to top my salmon with a mixture of honey Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper, and then top it with chopped walnuts. I baked it at 425° for about 15 minutes (bake for more or less time depending on how well done you prefer your salmon - I don’t mind if mine is just slightly underdone in the middle) and served it with a side of Farm Boy’s freshly prepared Mediterranean orzo salad. This is definitely one of my new favourite ways to season my salmon! What’s yours?
Breakfast at Gabriel Pizza
When you have company visiting for the weekend, I always find that it is less stressful on everyone to just go out to eat, especially for breakfast. People have such different routines when it comes to breakfast (is it just me or do more and more people these days not eat eggs?) and appetites also differ.
It had been forever since the husband and I had been to Gabriel Pizza for breakfast, but we knew it was good and very reasonable, so off we went with our house guests in tow, promising many choices and low prices (and no dishes! haha).
A lot had changed in this particular location of Gabriel Pizza since the last time the husband and I went: a renovation made for a lovely remodeled space and an even bigger brunch menu. Our guests had no problem choosing something to eat and fuel up before we headed downtown to Winterlude.
I have been on a bit of an omelette kick lately when the husband and I go out for breakfast, so I ordered the Western, which comes stuffed with ham and onion. Served with homefries and toast, this was one satisfying breakfast! Everyone else thoroughly enjoyed their meals, and we all left feeling satisfied and ready to start our day.
The husband and I will no doubt be back at Gabriel Pizza for breakfast very soon!
Sunday supper: slow cooker beef stroganoff
I came across this recipe for slow cooker beef stroganoff a while back on the Serious Eats website. I was intrigued by the idea of making stroganoff in the slow cooker: it seemed easy and I like the idea of cooking something I’ve made before in a different way.
This recipe has all the regular components of stroganoff, except that the beef is slow cooked instead of being pan fried. However, the original recipe doesn’t contain mushrooms, and stroganoff just isn’t the same without mushrooms to me, so I added them in while making the sauce during the last stage. I fried them first and then added them to the sauce that I made using the juices from the slow cooker.
This is definitely an interesting take on stroganoff: the beef ends up being like pulled beef depending on how you break it down after being in the slow cooker, which is a very good thing. It is incredibly tender and juicy. The sauce turned out pretty good too, and I think adding the mushrooms makes it even better! Click on my photo above to link to the original recipe. I made it exactly as described except that I added fried mushrooms to the sauce right before serving and I used red wine instead of dry sherry. As well, you might want to play around the sauce recipe to suit your personal taste: perhaps a bit more wine/sherry for more of a zing.
Oh, how I love Saturday mornings.
Did anyone else in eastern Ontario/Ottawa give in to firing up your BBQ last night? With the temperature finally rising just above freezing, the husband and I couldn’t resist breaking out our BBQ.
We didn’t have any fresh meat on hand, so instead we grilled up a whole bunch of veggies (potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers and mushrooms) and served them over a bed of brown rice with some feta cheese. Yum! You just can’t beat that grilled flavour!