Sunday, February 27, 2011

nachos with mango salsa

perfect party snack
A week ago a group of 12 of us went up to the cottage for family day weekend.  It was a fun-filled 3 days of pond hockey, lots of good company, beers, and of course food.  It was a little intimidating to plan meals for that many people but it was successful and tummies were satisfied!  Everyone helped cook - even those who claim they can't - which made it even more fun.  Some of my friends have requested the recipes from our weekend so I will start posting them!  First up, homemade nachos with mango salsa.

What you need:
  • 6 tomatoes (any kind, remove the seeds/excess juice)
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 mango
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 3 green onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • pinch of salt & pepper
  • 1 jalapeño (more if you like it hot)
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro
  • 1 bag of mutigrain tortilla chips 
  • 3-4 cups of freshly grated cheddar cheese
What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°
  2. Dice tomatoes, peppers, jalapeño and mango into small cubes.  Place into a large bowl.  Finely chop green onions and cilantro and add to bowl.
  3. Zest the lemon then squeeze its juice into the bowl.  Grate garlic cloves over the bowl and add the olive oil.  Mix roughly with a large spoon.  Add salt and pepper - taste and adjust seasoning if required.  If your salsa seems watery, sieve it.
  4. Line cookie sheets with aluminium foil and evenly spread one layer of tortilla chips.
  5. Spoon salsa evenly onto chips and top with cheese.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes in the oven, or until golden brown on top.  Serve hot and enjoy!
baked and ready to eat
prep and cooking with friends
best part - eating together

Sunday, February 13, 2011

ginger soy beef

a great dinner entrée - recipe serves 4
This is another one of my mom's recipes, and she probably got it from my grandma. Everyone who tries it loves it, especially with rice because it absorbs the flavourful sauce.  If you end up with extra no worries - it's even tastier the next day.  

What you need:
  • 1 onion sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp diced fresh ginger
  • 2 green onions, sliced lengthwise on a sharp angle
  • 500 g flank steak, sliced thinly against the grain
  • 1 tomato, cut into wedges
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 dashes Worcestershire 
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 tbsp Bull Head Barbecue Sauce (made in Taiwan, found in Asian food stores) - if you can't find this, no worries - it will still be good with the ginger and soy)

What to do:

  1. In a bowl, use your fingers to gingerly mix sliced steak with 1 tbsp soy, Worcestershire and 1 tbsp cornstarch.  Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large sautée pan on medium.  Add ginger and onion, stir occasionally until onions soften and are slightly translucent. 
  3. Add the BBQ sauce and stir, coating the onions.  Add the tomato wedges and the beef - try to spread the beef so that it creates one layer in the pan, then after 2-3 minutes turn them over.
  4. In a small bowl, add remaining cornstarch to about 3/4 cup cold water.  Mix well.
  5. Add remaining soy sauce and red pepper flakes to pan.  Once the tomato wedges look shrunken and juices are flowing, stir and slowly add the cornstarch with water.  Let it simmer on medium-low heat for about 2 minutes, or until beef is tender and just cooked through.
  6. Turn heat off - add sliced green onions and stir.  Transfer to serving plate. Serve on top of rice - enjoy!  

ginger soy beef, garlic sautéed spinach & brown rice

Taiwanese BBQ sauce

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

three days of refined food...

I just came back from an acupuncture course in Toronto at the Crowne Plaza airport hotel and my digestive system is very unhappy with me.  The three day course included breakfast and lunch.  Here's what was served:

  • muffins (white flour), mini croissants, scones/biscuits, sliced canteloupe, pineapple, honey dew, watermelon, coffee, tea, orange and grapefruit juice from concentrate
  • Day 1 - sandwiches (only 1 whole wheat option) of cold cuts, egg or tuna salad, vegetarian, watered down and sugary squash soup, coleslaw, potato salad full of mayonnaise.
  • Day 2 - american chinese - chicken pieces sopped in some sort of salty brown sauce, spring rolls with very little but very salty filling, and dry, salty fried rice
  • Day 3 - american italian - cream of broccoli soup (where was the broccoli I wondered...), caesar salad, lasagna (many layers of pasta and layer of ricotta), cream sauced pasta with bacon and mushrooms (again, very salty), vegetarian pasta (pasta in tomato sauce with a few peppers), tiramisu (which tasted like marshmallows and lady fingers)
  • yogurt (actually very exciting)
  • nature valley crunchy granola bars
  • cookies
  • fruit (one day only...this was also exciting)
Now I'm normally not a very picky eater - I love food and there isn't really anything I don't like!  But this spread actually made me feel gross.  I can't believe how much three days of eating refined sugar, fast acting carbs, and oversalty foods has changed my energy, mood, and digestive system.  I could feel that if I ate that way any longer I would get sick, become super tired and moody.  There was not enough nutrition, protein or fibre in any of those meals.  It was terrible because we would all be really hungry by lunch (there were about 90 people at this course) and then crash in about an hour because the fast acting carbs and sugars from lunch would drop and leave us tired and sleepy.  The meals were poor for mental energy - and the afternoon cookie snack only put us at another high for about 15 minutes then we would crash again.

I was lucky to have dinner on Friday evening at my friend Abby's house - there were 5 of us and we had a delicious homemade dinner with whole wheat pita bread with hummus and olives, grapes & brie, homemade whole wheat pasta, homemade sauce, watercress and sunflower seed salad, and then gelato for dessert.  Saturday evening I had sushi with friends, which was delicious and refreshing.

It really amazed me that a few days of eating refined foods really negatively affected my energy, digestive system, and overall general sense of well-being.  Now I'm even more inspired to create healthy recipes and keep this blog up:)