Posts tagged tomato
Posts tagged tomato
Easy summer supper: caprese salad
I love it when the ingredients for a dish you’ve been craving simply fall right into your lap when you least expect it! That’s what happened when I made this caprese salad while my mother was visiting recently.
I had been craving a caprese salad for a while, but I hadn’t quite figured out how I wanted to pull it all together. Well, my mother helped to clear it all up by bringing fresh tomatoes and basil from her and my Dad’s garden, and a bottle of amazing olive oil from her trip to Spain as a gift to the husband and I. All I needed was some fresh cheese, and I knew exactly what I wanted: President’s Choice’s new formaggio di bufala mozzarella!
The directions for making caprese are fairly self-explanatory, so I won’t bore you with how I did it. But I will say that I thought that interchanging the green and purple basil leaves made for an even prettier presentation! I also drizzled my salad with some balsamic vinegar and some of the olive oil from Spain. It was delicious! It is one of my favourite ways to enjoy the summer bounty of tomatoes and fresh basil from my parent’s garden. (P.S. - the zinnias in the background are also from my parent’s garden. So pretty!)
Weeknight supper: Balsamic braised chicken and peppers
This is another dish that I made when our supposed spring weather was still not feeling very spring like. But that has finally changed: it really feels like summer around here now, and today especially, since it is supposed to be 30 degrees out today!
But back to earlier in the spring, I was still craving warm, easy suppers like this one. An almost one-pot dish (I cooked my couscous separately), this is one fantastic, easy and delicious weeknight supper! I have been loving using boneless, skinless chicken thighs as a change to boneless, skinless chicken breasts lately. They have more flavour and can be just a bit more tender, which is a nice change. As well, being slightly smaller and thinner than their breast counterparts, they cook a bit more quickly in a dish like this one, which makes them convenient.
I found this recipe on the lovely Cookin’ Canuck blog, and you can click here to link to her site to view the recipe. I followed it pretty much as written, but my chicken thighs were quite large (length-wise), and I purchased a package of 6 (the recipe calls for 8) so I played with the amounts of liquid a little bit to adjust for my ingredients. As well, I found it difficult to fit the 6 thighs that I had in my pan, so you might have to adjust (or use 2 pans) depending on the largest size of pan you own.
Both the husband and I loved this dish; the flavours were fantastic and bright, and it was hearty. We served ours over Israeli couscous, but you could eat it as is, serve it over pasta, over rice, over regular couscous - basically whatever you like!
Weeknight supper: Tex mex pasta bake
Since it took so long for spring to finally make its way to Ottawa, I was still making cold weather-esque meals up until quite recently, including this tex mex style pasta bake. I came across the recipe for this tasty, hearty dish on the lovely Pink Parsley blog, and you can link to her original recipe here.
I made a few tweaks to the recipe, so I have included it below to reflect my changes. Both the husband and I enjoyed this dish, but would probably not make it too often as it is pretty heavy. Best saved for a bitter cold, blustery winter’s night!
Tex Mex Pasta Bake - serves 4
Slightly adapted from Pink Parsley
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped into small pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 to 1 tsp chipotle powder (depending on how spicy you prefer)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 lb extra lean ground beef
- 2 cups water
- 1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce (I used Farm Boy Passata)
- 8 oz (about 2 cups) small shell pasta
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1/2 a 4.5 oz can chopped green chilies, drained (or use the whole can, but beware - these are spicy!)
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Avocado, sour cream, and/or hot sauce for serving
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, and cook until just about no longer pink. Add the onion, bell pepper, and green chilies and sauté until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, chipotle powder and salt (optional) and pepper to taste. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in the water, tomato sauce, pasta and corn. Increase heat, cover, and bring to a vigorous simmer. Stirring frequently, cook until the pasta is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
While the mixture is simmering, spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Once the pasta mixture is finished, spread about half the mixture into the dish. Top with half the cheese and 1 tbsp of the cilantro. Add the remaining pasta mixture and top with the rest of the cheese and another 1 tbsp of the cilantro. Put the dish in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, browned, and bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes.
Cool 10 minutes, sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of cilantro, and serve with desired toppings (sour cream, avocado, a squeeze of lime juice).
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!)
I have been eating this same salad for lunch all week and I am still addicted to it! There is nothing better than roasted veggies and quinoa for a hearty salad.
Weekend cooking project: tomato stew with farro and roasted eggplant
I am a big planner. I like to know when things are going to happen down to specific dates, times, locations etc. I am habitual. And all of this applies to how I feel about my weekday work lunches!
As someone who brown-bags it for lunch most days, I like to prepare so that I’m not scrambling every morning to gather up something that is healthy and that I actually want to eat each and every day. I find that, with a little planning and preparation, a brown-bag lunch can be just as exciting as going out!
One of my favourite ways to make easy brown-bag lunches is to make my own frozen dinners of sorts. By making a big batch of stew and freezing it into individual portions, I make the ritual of preparing my work lunch each and every day easy and tasty. It also allows me to try recipes that the husband wouldn’t be interested in, like stews such as this tomato stew with farro and roasted eggplant.
This stew is fantastic! If you’re looking for a hearty stew that is packed with veggies (and can be totally vegetarian if you like - I used chicken broth so mine is not vegetarian), this one will warm you up and fill your belly. I love the unique mixture of flavours and textures in this stew, from the slight hint of cinnamon and the raisins to the luxurious sundried tomatoes. I came across this stew on the fabulous Honeycomb blog, and modified it slightly. Click on my photo above to link to Honeycomb’s original recipe.
Tomato stew with farro and roasted eggplant - serves 4 as a main (large servings)
(Adapted from Honeycomb)
- 1/2 cup farro, cooked (I used PC Italian farro)
- 1 can (796 ml/28 oz) low-sodium or no salt added diced tomatoes
- 1 eggplant (approx. 1lb), chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 onion, chopped/diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 can (540 ml/19 oz) low-sodium or no sodium chickpeas
- 1/2 lb carrots, quartered and chopped into small pieces
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped (use the ones packed in oil)
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
1.Get your eggplant roasting! Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Chop eggplant into bite-sized pieces, toss with olive oil and roast for about 20 minutes.
2. Cook the farro according to your package’s directions. Set aside.
3. In a large pot heated on medium, add a splash of olive oil. Add onions, carrots and bell pepper. Cook until just slightly tender and the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, cooked eggplant, cinnamon and tomato paste and cook for a minute. Add canned tomatoes, using the liquid to scrape any burnt bits off the bottom of the pan. Next add your chicken broth, chickpeas, sundried tomatoes, raisins and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until carrots are tender.
4. Once the carrots are tender, add the 1 tsp of sugar and the cooked farro and stir. Enjoy!
Sunday supper: spicy chunky beef chilli
I adore chili: it is one of my favourite hearty wintertime meals. It is a blast to experiment in the kitchen with different chili recipes as they can each be so different in terms of flavours yet very much the same in terms of components.
During a recent trip to Bulk Barn, I noticed that they had chipotle powder in the spice section, so I got some to try. I thought it would be a delicious new ingredient to try in my classic chili recipe. I was right - but it was spicy! I have used canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce before, and I knew to play it safe and that a little goes a long way. But I was not so safe when adding the chipotle powder to my chili, and it packed a spicy punch! But along with the spicy kick comes a rich, smoky flavour that I love, so this was a resounding success. We also had a box of cornbread mix on hand so I made cornbread muffins to accompany our chili - a classic accompaniment!
Spicy chunky beef chili (my own recipe)
- 1 to 1 1/2 lb extra lean ground beef
- 1 bell pepper (colour of your choice), seeded and chopped
- 1 8 oz package mushrooms, cleaned and chopped or sliced
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- 1/4-1/2 cup red wine
- 1 28 oz (796 ml) can diced tomatoes (or pureed tomatoes)
- 1 19 oz (540 ml) can sodium free black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 19 oz (540 ml) can sodium free red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 tbsp chipotle powder
- 2 tbsp chilli powder
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- garlic powder to taste
Make the spice mixture - mix all of the spices in a bowl and set aside.
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add onion, bell pepper and mushrooms and cook until softened.
Add the garlic and the spice mixture and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the red wine (you can use this at any point during the cooking process to deglaze the pain if the meat and veggies start to stick), the tomatoes, the corn and all the beans. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
Serve topped with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, cilantro, avocado and your other favourite chili toppings.
Weeknight supper: pasta bake
I don’t really have a recipe for this pasta: I tweak it a little bit each time that I make it so it always turns out a little bit differently. Basically, I gather whatever vegetables I have on hand (usually onions, bell pepper, mushrooms and broccoli) and meat (usually pork sausage or ground beef), and cook them together, throw in some passata (strained tomatoes), some dried herbs and other seasonings (garlic and red wine). When that has all come together, I toss it with some cooked pasta, then pour into a casserole dish. I top the whole thing with some cheese and bake it off until good and bubbly. This is comfort food at its best!
Another lunch at the Flying Banzini (trying their online ordering system)
I was a bit short on time during the lunch hour one recent day, so I decided to put their take-out/online ordering system to the test. It is a pretty detailed system that asks you to spell out exactly what you want right down to specific sandwich toppings and condiments. I placed my order, and, at my designated pick-up time, I arrived at the restaurant. It was a success! My order was ready to go, I simply had to pay and collect my yummy sandwich. I’ll definitely use their system again in the future when I need to get in and out quickly!
I am currently making my way through the Flying Banzini’s soft bun sandwich menu, so on that day, I went for the porchetta. Described on their menu as “marinated pork loin stuffed with Luciano’s sweet Italian sausage, fennel seeds, sweet chilies, sage and sea salt, wrapped in bacon and slow roasted,” this sandwich was incredible. So many amazing flavours in each and every bite! I added fresh tomato and spinach as toppings as well as Major Craig’s mango chutney as my choice of sauce. This is one beast of a sandwich, so come with an appetite! I think the porchetta has been my favourite of the Flying Banzini’s soft bun sandwiches so far, but I’ve still got a few to go before I make any final decisions! haha
Weeknight supper: spicy pork, red pepper and corn soup
I made this hearty and spicy soup forever ago - but I still wanted to share it with you!
Once again, I had great success with a recipe from Serious Eats. Their recipes are tried, tested and true! I made this soup exactly as directed except that I used red bell pepper instead of green bell pepper, and I used red wine vinegar instead of sherry (it is noted as an acceptable substitution in the notes for the recipe). This soup was fantastic - incredibly hearty and fulfilling, which was exactly what the husband and I needed during the recent cold spells in Ottawa. I will definitely make this soup again!
Click on my photo above to link to the recipe. Happy soup-making!
I love relaxing Sunday nights. Spending mine making spaghetti sauce for a quick week night dinner tomorrow night!
Weeknight supper: lasagna soup
I love my subscription to the Food Network Magazine. Some may find the magazine a bit silly, but I enjoy its cute monthly recurring sections and the various seasonal features.
The October 2013 issue of the magazine featured a section called "Soup for Supper," which immediately intrigued me as I am pretty obsessed with soup. In sticking with the magazine`s character, the Food Network chefs modelled the soups in the article after everyone`s favourite dinners, including lasagna.
This soup has all the things I love about lasagna - the hearty tomato sauce, the sharp taste of parmesan cheese and soft, supple noodles - but in soup form. I also love that the typical ground beef found in lasagna is replaced in with flavourful Italian sausage in this recipe. I was very happy with this soup and would definitely make it again! Click on my photo above to link to the recipe on the Food Network`s website.
Lunch at Freshii
I noticed Freshii a while back when I drove past it in a blur trying to focus on the lanes of traffic and cars around me while driving into the downtown core. I didn’t think much of it until my sister mentioned the name, saying that it was a great spot for a quick, healthy lunch.
During my sister’s recent visit, we took advantage of my day off and went to Freshii for lunch so that I could see what it was all about. There are two locations in Ottawa, one on the University of Ottawa campus and one on Sparks Street. We had parked on the university campus so my sister could attend a meeting so we ate at that location.
The interior is bright, and Freshii’s colour theme is quite apparent: white, bright emerald green and black. There are menu boards displaying the myraid of options for their wraps, salads, burritos, soups and bowls. I decided to stick with their menu boards for my first time, but they have another option: design your own _____ (wrap, salad, burrito, bowl or soup). They provide little clipboards with pre-made forms that list all of the available ingredient options and prices for each choice. Wow! You could literally go in and order something completely different every day of the week. You might think that this is no different than say, Subway, but Freshii has even more toppings such as chopped beets, artichoke hearts, corn, edamame, green apple, chickpeas, celery, cabbage…and the list goes on! Definitely not your average toppings.
So as I was saying, I decided to go with one of their menu board items, and I chose the Fiesta burrito, which is basically a heated wrap that comes stuffed with brown rice, cajun chicken, avocado, corn, black beans, diced tomato, cilantro, salsa and low-fat ranch dressing. It was fantastic! A huge burrito that left me full for the rest of the day. I did feel the price was a tad steep at $7.99 plus tax, but it was a really big portion and the ingredients were all of excellent quality.
I can’t wait to go back to try more of their menu board items (or even create my own). I’m going to try to take the husband as I know he’ll love it, even though I know he’ll be totally overwhelmed by the choices! Have you been to a Freshii? Any tips? What is your favourite menu item?
Weeknight supper: proscuitto-wrapped chicken mini meatloaves
I had been craving proscuitto lately: that salty, rich, earthy flavour was haunting me and it had been forever since I’d had it. Lucky for me, I came across this recipe on the fantastic Barbara Cooks blog (click on my photo above to link to her recipe) and into the kitchen I went!
I’ve also really come to love meatloaf over the past couple of years. It is so incredibly hearty, wholesome and filling. It can also be healthy depending on how you make it, in my opinion.
I made a few changes to Barbara’s recipe so I am going to post my version below. I will definitely make this again (whether or not I’m craving proscuitto!)
Proscuitto-wrapped chicken mini meatloaves
Adapted from Barbara Cooks
Ingredients for the meatloaves:
- 1lb ground chicken
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
- 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning (I used Farm Boy’s version - it is sodium free)
- freshly cracked sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 8 slices proscuitto (not too thinly sliced)
Ingredients for the sauce: (Note: You could use pre-made tomato sauce here if it helped keep things quick and easy for you. Simply heat by your preferred method and have it ready to serve on top of your mini meatloaves).
- 1 cup tomato sauce of your choice, I used passata
- 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
- 1/2 tsp or 1 clove freshly minced garlic
- freshly cracked sea salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 425°. Lightly coat 8 cups of a muffin pan with cooking spray. Line the 8 greased muffin cups with the proscuitto - you might have to tear it into smaller strips in order to make it fit.
Mix all of the ingredients for the meatloaves in a large bowl. Divide among the 8 muffin cups. Cook for about 25-30 minutes until the tops have started to brown or a thermometer inserted into the middle of a meatloaf reads 160°.
Meanwhile, heat a medium-sized sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add a little olive oil and the garlic, and let cook for a minute but be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the tomato sauce and the herbs. Turn the heat down to low and simmer until the meatloaves are done.
To finish the meatloaves, pull the pan from the oven. Top each meatloaf with a teaspoon of the tomato sauce and a little bit of shredded cheese (i used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella). Return to the oven just until the cheese melts. Serve topped with some freshly snipped chives and your choice of side dish.