Tuesday, January 29, 2013

quick fried rice

Wednesdays have become a potluck lunch baby date for a few mommy friends of mine, and I had promised to make jalapeno mac & cheese but realized tonight (Tuesday!) that I definitely don't have enough cheese!  Instead I made this quick and tasty veggie fried rice.  This is one of those dishes my mom would whip up at home when she was in a hurry and had to feed us fast - and it's a great way to use up any left over rice.  And you can substitute any vegetables you like, or whatever is in your fridge:)

what you need:
  • about 2 cups cooked rice (don't pack the rice down to measure it! keep it fluffy)
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 2 tbsp naturally brewed soy sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp canola oil + 1 tsp canola oil
what to do:
  1. Prepare vegetables by washing, peeling, then dicing into small pieces.  Break eggs into a bowl and whisk with a fork to break the yolks.
  2. In a large non-stick pan, heat up 1 tbsp canola oil on medium.  
  3. Saute onions, carrots, broccoli and jalapeño until onions are translucent and carrots and broccoli are slightly tender.  Season veggies with a small pinch of salt. 
  4. Add cooked rice and stir to mix, then move everything to one side of the pan and add 1 tsp canola oil to the pan where you've made space.
  5. Pour the egg over the oil and gently stir it with a wooden spoon, until the egg is cooked and is broken up into pieces.  Stir rice mixture with egg to incorporate.
  6. Add soy sauce, stir, then add freshly ground pepper.  Turn off heat and taste.  You may want to season with a bit more salt.  Serve hot (it's good with some sriracha drizzled on top) & enjoy!

Friday, January 25, 2013

thai-inspired noodle salad with curried steak

a spicy citrus dressing brings this dish together
I love this dish because you can use any veggies you have on hand, any protein (tofu, fish, meat), and some rice noodles which cook in no time.  I've written out the ingredients I used for the photo above, but literally it was what was in my fridge (groceries tomorrow!) so you can use whatever you've got!  It's the dressing that brings it all together and balances the flavours.

what you need:
*serves 4

for the dressing:
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp ponzu
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 red thai chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • zest and juice of 1 lime (or lemon)
  • grilling steak (~16 ounces)
  • 250 g thick vermicelli noodles
  • 1/3 daikon
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 tbsp red curry paste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
what to do:
  1. Combine dressing ingredients in a mason jar and shake well.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Bring a big pot of water to boil for the noodles.
  3. Prepare vegetables by slicing thinly, about the width of the noodles.  Toss in a large bowl with dressing and set aside.
  4. Smother both sides of the steak with curry paste. Season with pepper (my curry paste has salt so I didn't use more salt).
  5. In a cast iron skillet, heat canola oil on medium-high heat.  Sear steak 2 minutes on both sides, then transfer to oven for 3-5 min, depending on steak thickness and how well done you like it.  Remove and allow steak to rest, tented under aluminum foil for 15 minutes.  Reserve the juices from skillet for next step.
  6. Cook noodles for about 6 minutes (check your package for instructions) - drain and immediately toss with the juices from the steak skillet (the oil will help prevent noodles from clumping together).  Add noodles to veggies and toss to mix.
  7. Slice steak against the grain and serve on top of noodle salad.  Enjoy! 
steak cooked medium
 2 min sear each side, then 4 minutes in a 350 F oven

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

tangy mango salad with shrimp

a light meal on its own, or a fresh side dish
The flavours of lime, cilantro & chilies make this salad arguably thai or mexican!  Doesn't really matter what you choose to eat it with, it's really easy and super tasty.  Make it vegetarian easily by eliminating the shrimp.  I served this alongside the spicy adobo beef enchiladas, which was perfect because the sweet mango cooled down our palates.

what you need:
  • 1 ripe mango
  • 1 cubanelle pepper
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 small handful of cilantro
  • ~ 12 large shrimp, shelled and cleaned
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ~2 tsp canola oil
  • salt and pepper
for the dressing:
  • 1 lime - zest and juice
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 red thai chilli, finely chopped (seeds removed for less heat)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • small pinch of salt
  • freshly ground pepper
what to do:
  1. Combine dressing ingredients and taste - adjust if needed (e.g. if the lime wasn't very juicy, you may need more lemon juice to add acidity).
  2. Dice mango and pepper into approximately equal sized pieces.  Thinly slice green onion, and roughly chop cilantro.  Toss all ingredients together with dressing (except for shrimp), and allow it to sit in the fridge for 15-30 minutes before serving for flavours to combine.  
  3. When you are about ready to serve, pat dry shrimp.  Season with salt and pepper.  In a non-stick pan, heat canola oil on medium.  Add garlic, once you can smell the garlic aroma, add the shrimp, cook just until pink, about 45 seconds each side.  Toss shrimp with salad and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 18, 2013

ginger citrus tilapia with daikon & celery slaw

healthy and nutritious
After all the cheese and spice from the beef enchiladas, this week's dinners have been on the lighter and  fresher side:).  Last night's was particularly good, with lots of crunch from the daikon and celery, mild heat from ginger, tender baked fish, and roasted sweet potato and cauliflower as a side.  This meal came together in about 30 minutes and is super easy with minimal mess.

what you need:
*serves 4
  • ~500 g tilapia
  • 1/3 daikon (about 1 cup cut up)
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • salt and pepper
for the fish marinade:
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger (easiest to grate frozen ginger)
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • juice from one orange
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp canola oil (or any light tasting cooking oil)
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
for slaw dressing:
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • small pinch of salt and pepper
what to do:
  1. Rinse fish and pat dry.  Season with salt and pepper.  Combine fish marinade ingredients in a big bowl and place fish in; allow to marinate for about 20 minutes (in the fridge, but take it out 10 minutes prior to baking to bring it to room temperature before putting it in the oven).
  2. Combine slaw dressing ingredients in a small sauce pan, bring to boil then turn low to simmer for 15 - 20 minutes, until sauce is slightly reduced.
  3. Prep veggies by cutting into approximately equal matchstick sizes (or, you can use a grater for a finer slaw).  Pour dressing over vegetables and stir to coat; allow flavours to marry in the fridge while you bake the fish.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  5. Line a baking dish with parchment paper which is long enough to have both ends come together to crinkle and fold.  Put marinaded fish in the dish, then roughly fold the ends together to form a loose package around the fish.  Bake in the middle rack for 12-15 minutes.  Fish is done when it no longer looks opaque and is white.
  6. Serve fish hot with daikon & celery slaw on top.  Enjoy!  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

spicy adobo beef enchiladas

truly flavourful and wickedly spicy
Last night our friends Kim and Steve came over for dinner and we decided on a Mexican themed menu.  For the main I decided to make enchiladas with homemade flour tortilla wraps and a spicy adobo sauce.  They can handle their spice and I've been on a mission to meet their spice tolerance and I think this adobo sauce almost hits the mark (although, while I used it sparingly on my enchilada, Kim proceeded to spoon extra sauce on hers!).   The sauce is very spicy so take caution - you can half or even quarter the adobo chilli amount.  Be sure to serve it up with some sour cream and guacamole to help cool the heat!  And add some homemade salsa for a fresh bite.

what you need:
*serves 4
  • 8 tortilla wraps (I used my homemade flour wraps)
  • ~450 g of lean ground beef
  • 1 small can of corn kernels
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano (Mexican if possible)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese (or even better, use queso fresco) 
spicy adobo sauce
  • 1 - 7 oz can prepared adobo chipotle chillies (use 1/2 or 1/4 this amount if you prefer medium heat)
  • 1 - 28 oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 small red onion - diced
  • 2 cloves garlic - roughly chopped
  • small pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp canola oil
what to do:
  1. For the sauce - preheat oven to 425 F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and carefully place whole tomatoes on it, bake for about 15 minutes, until tomatoes are charred on the outside (for a smokey flavour).
  2. In a large sauce pan on medium heat, sauté onions with oil.  After a minute or two, add garlic.  Continue stirring to avoid burning the garlic, about 1 minute. Season lightly with salt and pepper.            
  3. Add the adobo chillies and continue stirring, then add the charred tomatoes (be careful when transferring them, the juices inside are very hot!) - and the rest of the tomato liquid from the can.
  4. Put a lid on and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.  Allow to cool, then puree until smooth.  Optional - Strain for a silky smooth sauce.

  1. For the enchiladas - Dice up onion, finely chop garlic, and get your spices and ingredients ready.  
  2. In a pan or pot on medium heat, sauté onions and ground beef in a little bit of cooking oil, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon.  Season with cayenne, pinch of salt and pepper, oregano, and cumin.  Once the beef is cooked, add the corn.  Stir, them reduce heat to medium-low. 
  3. Mix cornstarch with about 1/4 cup of cold water.  Add slowly to beef mixture as you stir, to thicken.  Turn off heat once it is thickened.
  4. While beef is cooling, make your flour wraps (or get tortilla wraps ready).
  5. Spoon some of the adobo sauce to coat the bottom of a baking dish.
  6. Spoon beef mixture onto wrap and then roll it up tightly and place it down on the baking dish.  Continue until all 8 are made and nestled. 

 7.  Top with more sauce, then shredded cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes in a 375 F oven,    
      and finish with a 1 minute broil to brown the top.  Garnish with chopped green onion 
      and cilantro.  Serve hot with sour cream, salsa, guacamole, and extra adobo sauce 
      for those who dare.  Enjoy!
ready to bake!
the perfect bite includes all the fixings!

Monday, January 7, 2013

chunky cranberry chocolate chip cookies

soft, chewy, and loaded with goodies

I probably didn't need to make cookies so soon after Christmas (let's be honest, there was lots of baking and consuming of sweets over the holidays!) - but I couldn't resist baking up these cookies when I got back to my own kitchen and oven:)

what you need:
*makes about 30 cookies
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
what to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar and white sugar. 
  3. Combine flours, baking soda, salt and rolled oats in a separate bowl.
  4. Add egg, vanilla, and milk to butter mixture, then stir in dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Add chocolate chips and cranberries and mix.  
  5. Using your hands, form cookie dough balls (about half the size of a golf ball) - and place on lined cookie sheets.  Bake for 10 minutes, the edges will be golden brown but the centres still light coloured (this ensures it stays soft and chewy).  Remove as soon as they are cool to handle and allow to cool completely on a rack before storing in an airtight container.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

warm kale salad

Sometimes for me it's hard to want a salad on a cold winter day, but a warm kale salad is almost as appealing as a hot bowl of soup or stew.  The kale is best steamed (to maintain optimal nutrients) but you can also boil it.  This salad has lots of different textures; crunch from the potatoes and bacon, creamy smoothness from the avocados, and lots of body with the hearty chick peas and kale.  For my vegetarian friends, just eliminate the bacon garnish:)

what you need:

  • 1 whole bunch of kale
  • 1 can chick peas
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 avocado
  • 4 strips of bacon 
  • 6 small potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a splash of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
what to do:
  1. Parboil the potatoes (about 10 minutes, depends on size) so that they will bake up faster in the oven.  While potatoes are cooking, mix dressing ingredients together and set aside.  Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Prep kale by washing and removing tough stems.  Roughly chop shallots and garlic, set aside.  Rinse chick peas and drain.  Drain potatoes after boiling and once they are cool enough to handle, slice them into 1/4" thick discs.
  3. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, toss potato slices with olive oil, cayenne, garlic powder, and pepper.  Place potato slices on 2 lined baking sheets (don't overlap) and bake in the middle rack of the oven.  Bake until crispy and golden brown, about 20 minutes (you have to flip them half way through).  Place bacon flatly on 3rd baking sheet, and bake at the same time but they will only need about 10 minutes.
  4. While potatoes are baking, steam kale for 10 minutes (it's done when it looks bright vibrant green).  Saute shallots, garlic, and chick peas on medium heat in a non-stick pan with a little bit of cooking oil.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  5. Slice up the avocado and squeeze some lemon juice over it to prevent browning.
  6. When you are ready to serve, put kale, chick peas and potatoes in a large bowl and toss gently with the dressing.  Garnish with avocado and crushed bacon slices.  Enjoy!