Cooking with friends

Recently I was visiting my friend Victoria in the Peterborough area and we always get into cooking when I go to spend a couple of days there (We also talk about financial ideas, the economy, the psychology of people – great brain work out). Anyway, we decided to do a combo dinner where I would bring the soup and she would make the salad. I made my homemade vegetable soup with beans sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese- recipe below.

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…and Victoria made a wonderful spinach, pear and caramelized walnut salad.  Perfect dinner. The salad was from the cookbook called “The Pollan Family Table” by none other that Tracey Pollan (remember her – married to Michael J. Fox and starred in Family Ties? – click on link above for recipe).

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Vegetable soup recipe:

Talk about hearty! I used the vegetables that were in the fridge and usually I add some pasta to this soup but thought I would add white beans to give it more protein and fibre.

Ingredients

1 tbsp of olive oil

2 sliced medium sized carrots

2 sliced stalks of celery

2 small onions chopped

1 tetra pak of vegetable broth

1 large can of low sodium diced tomatoes

1 can of navy white beans

1.5 tbsp brown sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

1 handful of chopped kale (I buy a fabulous product called “Chopped Greens” which is a bag of frozen chopped and cooked kale.  I add it to everything and it is wonderful! – use as much as you want)

 

Directions

In a saucepan add the olive oil and the diced onions. Stir till translucent. Add the chopped carrots and celery and sauté for about 3 minutes. Then add the diced tomatoes. Stir well and then add the vegetable stock. Add some salt and pepper to taste.

Stir this and let it simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes. Then add the kale (since it is already cooked it doesn’t need as long). Cook for another 15-20 minutes and then add the canned beans. Sprinkle in the brown sugar (takes some of the acidity out of the tomatoes and adds a slightly sweet note to the soup). Let this simmer all together for another 10-15 minutes and you have a wonderful hearty soup.

I served it with some shaved parmesan on top and it was perfectly filling and warming. Just what you need on these cold cold days.

 

Breakfast the next day was one of my favourites.

I have developed a craving for poached eggs. I always loved them but used to make egg whites for breakfast every morning. Now I make a poached egg on a slice of toast with a bit of cheese as my go to brekkie every day.  The whole egg has all kinds of things that are good for you and if cholesterol is not an issue then I say go for it.  Keeps me feeling satiated until lunch. This time we shared an english muffin (whole wheat) and I used some baldersons 4yr old white cheddar cheese with a couple of slices of avocado. YUM!!!

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Breakfast With Friends at ViVetha on Queen Street East (Toronto)

A couple of weeks back I had brunch with a few friends at a great spot called Vivetha. The restaurant is located at 2485 Queen Street East near Victoria Park. I believe they have a second location at Yonge and Lawrence.

So Vivetha is one of my favourite places for brunch as it is fresh, delicious, huge and not expensive.  All the elements needed for a great meal. (Their dinner is great too by the way).

The do a large a assortment of eggs benedict including their special of the day that Geoff had which if I remember correctly included a crab cake and grilled shrimp and some smoked salmon.  (See photos below). I had the traditional eggs benedict and coffee and my bill at the end of the meal was just over $11. Not bad for a meal that lasted the rest of the day (I wasn’t even really hungry by dinner time!)

I highly recommend this spot for any meal – I have been for dinner too and the food was great and again the prices very reasonable. I will say the earlier you go though the better as I am not the only person who loves this restaurant! It does get a bit busy at brunch and at dinner.

 

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Breakfast Pizza

Okay so it’s really an omelette but in my mind I was putting it together like a pizza so work with me on this…

I chopped up half a zucchini and a large handful of mushrooms and sautéd them in a small frying pan. Then I poured 2 beaten eggs with a drop of vanilla thrown in (adds a neat very subtle flavour). I then aded a few halved grape tomatoes. I cooked this up like an omelette and covered it. (You can also put the pan in the oven and cook it that way but for a small omelette it seemed like overkill in a big oven. Covering it worked fine).

When the top was pretty much cooked I used two spatulas to flip it and put some grated old cheddar cheese on top and slid it onto a plate. Then I added some slice avocado on top.  The heat from the eggs finished melting the cheese which held the avocado in place and within about 7 minutes I had a delicious breakfast. You could make this for dinner too and add different ingredients like sliced meat, onion, mushroom in larger slices etc – anything that you might put on a pizza could work here. For my meal, I served it with a bit of hot sauce just to kick it up a notch.

This would be fun to make with kids and let them put different toppings on it just like a pizza.  Great way to get kids to eat a good breakfast!

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Brunch with Elizabeth and David

My friends Elizabeth and Dave are busy people. Trying to organize a get together is not easy, so when someone has a day free we jump on it.  The other Saturday afternoon we gathered for brunch at their place.

Brunch is one of my favourite meals because it is usually laid back, spent with friends and served with delicious food. Does it get any better?

This day was no exception. While Dave may have been worried that the brunch wasn’t over the top enough I am here to say it was outstanding!  Perfect meal to enjoy with friends and just kick back and have a good yak.

Brunch was an avocado dish that I thought was quite brilliant and have to try making.  We had avocado mixed with baby shrimp put back into the avocado shell which it was served in (so smart!). Beautiful tri-coloured tomatoes (one of my favourite things) and a touch of smoked salmon on the side.  It screamed springtime even though it was only 1 degree outside and pretty darn cold (if you can’t get your fill of spring with the weather you may as well get it with your food 😉 ).

Take a look at how beautiful this brunch was.  2 hours later we were talked out and we all had other stuff to get done. I left with a big smile on my face and the feeling of warmth and contentment.

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Drop Scones (or… Pancakes from Heaven)

On a visit to my friend Victoria a few months ago I tasted these heavenly delights for breakfast. They are like a cross between a pancake and a scone I think.  Light and airy with the taste of a scone/pancake crossover. After requesting (read as begging 😉 ) for the recipe she emailed it over and I am sharing it with you all.
These “Pancakes from Heaven” as I call them are from Serena Bass’s book, Serena, Food and Stories.  She calls them drop scones.
IMG_0686Mix
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar.

Add
1 extra large egg
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup milk.

Put butter on hot griddle, drop tablespoons of batter into fry pan.  Cook for 3 minutes, turn and cook for 2 more minutes.

You can put the dry ingredients together the night before and the next morning you are eating as quickly as you can heat the fry pan.

These are a real treat.  Thanks Victoria! (and Serena Bass)

Easy Italian Baked Eggs (Gluten Free)

I came across this blog (which I now follow), and it looked like the perfect cold weather comfort bowl for either breakfast, lunch or dinner!  I saw it on a blog called nutritionist in the kitch. It seems she came across it on a site called Damn Delicious (that’s how blogs work – stuff gets linked around – although you always link it back to the original place the recipe came from).

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Check out the blog at the link below (photo is by nutritionist in the kitch):

http://www.nutritionistinthekitch.com/2013/11/25/easy-italian-baked-eggs-gluten-free/

I am including the recipe below but check out the site as it really is great.

Prep time 10 mins

Cook time 10 mins

 Total time 20 mins

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • ½ teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons diced onion
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • ¼ cup prepared marinara sauce
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • ¼ cup part-skim mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons light parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • dash of salt
  • dash of pepper
 Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Add oil to a saucepan and heat at medium, add in onions and sautee until soft, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add in spinach and sautee until just wilted, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in marinara sauce and sautee until heated through.
  5. Transfer mixture to a ceramic soup bowl or individual sized ramekin.
  6. Crack in both eggs.
  7. Top with cheese and sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes, and broil for an additional 2 minutes until cheese is bubbling.
  9. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information

Serving size: 1 Calories: 290 kcal Fat: 18g Carbohydrates: 11g Sugar: 4g Fiber: 3gProtein: 22g

Zucchini Cheese Strata

My apologies – I started to re-blog this last week and realized I already had a blog going that day so I cancelled this one.  It looked so good and since stratas are one of my all time favourite brunch meals I am re-blogging it now.  This recipe is gluten free but if that is not an issue for you then I would use a large loaf or two of french bread. I also make this recipe with sautéed mixed vegetables as well.  You can put anything into it.  Pancetta is great diced in small pieces.  Also I generally use egg whites so when I make a strata I go half and half with whole eggs and egg whites. This recipe comes from a blog I follow called Gluten-Free Gus.

Enjoy!

http://glutenfreegus.com/2013/11/05/zucchini-cheese-strata/

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Enjoy

Chicks in Charge Retreat

I just love that name!  We just had our annual Chicks in Charge (women running their own businesses) retreat at Sheryls country home.  I always come back exhausted, stuffed with good food, invigorated and enlightened! This year was no exception.  Food always seems to be the key to getting everyone connecting – we eat like royalty when we are there starting with Sheryls initial lunch which was once again outstanding.

We had poached salmon, roasted green beans, mushrooms, walnuts and baby potatoes, pesto marinated tiny heirloom tomatoes and a kale and mango salad. That was just lunch!

poahed salmon

Kale salad

roast veg

tomatoes

Snack time (as though we needed more food….) Amy made an incredible flourless, sugarless chocolate cake (sugar was in the chocolate only – it was divine).

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Dinner was my turkey chilli (click for link to recipe) with toppings that included guacamole, shredded old cheddar cheese and low fat sour cream along side a great mixed green salad and home baked oatmeal cookies made by Victoria.

Breakfast the next day was a fabulous frittata with peppers, onion, mushrooms and zucchini (I forgot to take pictures again – forgive me,  we just dove into the meal) made by Nancy. We also had Eloise’s home made granola (click for recipe) and yogurt along with regular and gluten free muffins.

Lunch was leftovers of the day before but the main course was Mariannes fabulous coconut curry chicken – so so good. Below is the recipe. Well worth trying it was devoured by the chicks.

Coconut Curry Chicken

I usually DOUBLE this recipe, and freeze the extra portions.  Can be served hot or cold.

Ingredients                                                                           Substitute

¼ cup coconut oil                                                                Canola oil

¼ cup (or less) Dijon mustard

2 tbsps.  regular mustard (e.g., French’s)

½ cup coconut nectar                                                        Honey

½ tbsp. or more Curry Powder

1 tsp.  lime juice AND grated rind

1 tsp. salt

Garlic

1-1.5 lbs. boneless chicken thighs (~12)                        Boneless chicken breasts,                                                                                                             sliced

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a stainless steel saucepan.  Pour over chicken.  Cook for 45 mins. at 350 degrees.   Enjoy!

Believe it or not, we also managed to have a great guest speaker (Wendy) and business and life discussions from morning till night and then again the next day.  Now you understand why we leave feeling exhausted, stuffed with good food, invigorated and enlightened!

Till next year!

Frittata Breakfast in Collingwood Ontario

I spent a wonderful weekend in Collingwood Ontario at my friends Susan and Todd’s place. It just happened to be the worlds largest Elvis festival that weekend so we had lots of fun wondering around seeing the Elvis impersonators in between bike riding and hot tubbing – oh yes, and eating…..

This was Sunday morning breakfast made up from whatever we found in the fridge.  Frittata and grapefruit.  Turned out well.

frittata

Frittata

Ingredients (anything we could find in fridge)

Salami chopped (can use any meat or none at all)

4 eggs and 4 egg whites

Broccoli chopped

Sautéed onion (1/4 of an onion)

1/2 Chopped red pepper

 

Directions

Chop all ingredients into small pieces, sauté in a large frying pan (coat pan in oil or PAM). Whisk eggs together and pour over sautéed ingredients. When bottom is slightly hardened put in a 375 degree oven till top is cooked.  About 10 minutes.

That’s it – serve with fruit and toast and you have a yummy Sunday breakfast!

Quinoa Pizza Pie

I was so inspired by the blog on pizza bites that I thought “why not make a whole pizza pie”???

Here is the recipe for what turned out to be a quick and delicious meal.

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quinoa pizza

Ingredients (I used what was in my fridge – feel free to use whatever you fancy for toppings)

1 cup quinoa (will yield extra but extra quinoa is a good thing)

5-6 egg whites (I buy egg whites in a carton so I think it was about 6 egg whites) You want enough to seep throughout the quinoa but not make it too wet.

6-8 large mushrooms sliced

8 asparagus stalks cut into 1 inch pieces (use whatever veg you want to just as when you make a pizza)

1-2 minced garlic cloves

1/3 cup of old cheddar cheese shredded

Sprinkling of parmesan cheese (again use whatever cheese you have on hand or that you feel like having)

Directions

Make quinoa as per instructions on package and when done spread into a non stick frypan (or use an oil to prevent sticking). Add the egg whites and mix up. Press the quinoa into a flat layer. The layer of quinoa should be about 1/2 – 3/4 of an inch high in the pan. I used a 9 inch fry pan.  I didn’t want to use tomato sauce as it would make it a bit too wet for my taste but by all means add sauce if you like. I then added a layer of old cheddar (wanted something with a bite to it as the quinoa is quite a mild taste). Sautéed mushrooms and cut up asparagus along with some garlic till browned.

Add the veg to the top layer of cheddar cheese and then sprinkle the parmesan on top.

Heat the pie over a low flame till the bottom becomes fairly solid then pop into a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes till the cheese melts and the edges of the pie begin to brown (will depend on the oven for timing so keep an eye on it).

Take the pie out of the oven and loosen the edges with a spatula – then slide the whole pie onto a plate and slice in wedges and serve.