Black Bean Flautas

Came across this on Pinterest as a meatless dish.  Looks so nice and I thought what kid (or adult for that matter) would not love this for lunch or dinner one day. It looks so summery and I am getting into summer mode with some lighter dishes these days.  Check out this link to ohmyveggies.com for the recipe.

 

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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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Low Calorie Brownie (gluten free?)

So there I was reading through facebook and on my friend Katherine’s timeline I see a recipe for 37 calorie brownies!!!! Well it started a huge chain reaction on her timeline and so I had to make them then and there to see whether they were real and any good.

Below is the full recipe as it appears however I did change one or two things (hence my title “low calorie” versus 37 calorie). I also didn’t see gluten in anything but I wasn’t sure which is why I have a question mark by the title.

First the recipe and then the pictures. I have to say they were actually quite delicious.  Very very moist and somehow they held together too which when you read the ingredients you will wonder how. They were super quick and easy to make.  All done in about 40 minutes.

3/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt  (original recipe used vanilla flavoured)

1/4 cup skim milk

1/2 cup Cocoa powder

1/2 cup Old fashioned rolled oats (like Quaker)

1/2 cup Truvia (or any natural/stevia based sweetener that pours like sugar) – I used mostly organic real sugar and topped it up with Splenda (I am not that crazy about artificial sweeteners – hence the more than 37 calories – but not high calorie by any means)

1 egg

1/3 cup applesauce

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 pinch salt

* I added some chopped pecans to the mixture and blended and then topped with some chopped pecans when finished)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a square baking dish (I used 8″x8″). Combine all ingredients into a food processor or a blender, and blend until smooth (about 1 minute). Pour into the prepared dish and bake for about 15 minutes (I baked mine for 25 minutes as they were still wet at 15 minutes). Allow to cool completely before cutting into 9 large squares.

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Enjoy!

Leftovers – Lets Make Pizza!

It’s been just over two years now that I have been blogging and I still love it! Great readers from all over the world who themselves publish great blogs that I enjoy reading.

Many of you know from past blogs that I like to use things up that are in the fridge rather than throwing them away.  This time I had some tofu, some roasted grape tomatoes that I made with balsamic vinegar and olive oil (recipe to follow), some pork tenderloin and a piece of mozzarella cheese.  Something screamed pizza!

I had some whole wheat wraps in the fridge. I spread a bit of marinara sauce over one and added a small amount of the grated cheese. I quickly sautéed some mushrooms and garlic with the chopped up tofu (I know it sounds weird but for those of you that are vegetarian it really works!). I also chopped up the pork tenderloin (I am not a vegetarian) and threw that into the pan to sauté as well.  Once everything was warmed, I spread it over the wrap. I then added some roasted balsamic grape tomatoes and the additional cheese on top. Baked the whole pizza for about 20 minutes till the edges were crisp and there it was – a quick and easy dinner (and lunch the next day!).

Recipe for roasted grape tomatoes follows images…

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Roasted balsamic grape tomatoes.

I had a couple of containers of grape tomatoes that were starting to get a bit wrinkled so rather than tossing them in the garbage I sliced them in half and put them in a bowl,  sprinkled a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil over them and let them marinate for about 20 minutes. I then drained them and put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roasted them for about 3 hours at 350 degrees F. They make a great addition to salads, pizza, roasted vegetables etc.

Spending Time with Wonderful People

I have a friend Beth who I see for one day each year between Christmas and New Years.  She works in Asia and comes back to see her parents once a year and that’s when we hang out.  I always go out to see her and her parents because I love spending time with them all – She has very wise and interesting parents and spending time with them is always a treat.

Every year we  have fabulous meals for both lunch and dinner.  This time was no exception. Lunch was this rustic charcuterie platter with a variety of cold cuts and cheese but the star of the show was the Moroccan pickled salad. This was a recipe Beth found of Chef Michael Smith that is actually called “Moroccan pickled veggies with marmalade and mint” but it was served as a wonderful mouth watering salad. The flavours alighted one by one in your mouth going from sweet to spicy to tangy to pickled. Below are the pictures and the salad recipe. I encourage you to try it.

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Recipe for the salad above:

Moroccan pickled veggies with marmalade & mint (takes 15 minutes)

For the warm dressing:

  • ½ cup (125 ml) of cider vinegar
  • ½ cup (125 ml) of orange marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of ras el hanout or curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of cumin seeds or ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of your favourite hot sauce
  • ½ teaspoon (2 ml) of salt

For the salad:

  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (250 ml) of dried apricots, sliced
  • 2 English cucumbers, cubed
  • 1 cup (250 ml) of chopped fresh mint

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, stir together the vinegar, marmalade, ras el hanout, cinnamon, cumin seeds, hot sauce, and salt. Bring the pickling brine to a simmer, allowing the flavours to blend.

Stir in the carrots, onions, and apricots. Bring the mixture back to a simmer for a few moments. Turn off the heat, then stir in the cucumbers.  Just before serving, toss in the mint, preserving its intensity. Serve and share.

This salad is excellent served freshly made, but like anything pickled it may rest for an hour or more or even overnight. Its flavours and textures will evolve and intensify as it rests.

 

I have to say you would think we would then just have  a simple dinner but “simple” is not the way when I come to visit. They always outdo themselves with the most flavourful meals and dinner was no exception. Chicken thighs marinated in marmalade and grainy mustard with cabbage cooked to perfection with some sugar and balsamic vinegar olive oil and garlic (I may be wrong on the garlic but it certainly can’t ruin the dish). The chicken was marinated in the marmalade and mustard for an hour or so and then baked at 350-400 until ready. We joked about it being a very marmalade day since it was in the lunch salad as well. (Funny thing is neither Beth nor I are big fans of marmalade but cooking with it gives a whole different texture and taste – mellow and citrus in perfect balance).

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For the cabbage – I believe the recipe was to sauté 4 cups of thinly sliced cabbage with 2 tsp of sugar and a shake of balsamic vinegar.  Sauté until tender and serve.  The chicken with the cabbage and green beans was comfort food with an upscale twist – very yummy!

Once again my favourite thing – sharing great food with wonderful people! It was a great day and I left that evening with a smile on my face thinking it never feels like a whole year between our visits and I look forward to next years time spent all together.

Chicken Enchiladas

I mentioned in a previous post I have been doing a bunch of cooking for my friend Darren which gave me a great excuse to try out some new recipes.  Darren was great and agreed to be my tester for a few weeks. Here is another one of the new recipes I tried and I think turned out well. The pictures don’t do it justice. (I apologize as the pictures were taken from the leftovers – which is my food 😉 )

Note: this can be made vegetarian by eliminating the chicken and perhaps using tofu.

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This looks like a ton of food I realize in the picture but it is on a small bread plate not a dinner plate. Once again I would consider this comfort food and on the whole quite healthy.

Ingredients:   Serves 8

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast sliced in thin lengthwise strips (similar to fajitas)

1 onion, chopped

1.5  cups low fat yogurt

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (you can use a low fat cheese here – I used an old cheddar for the extra zing)

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch black pepper

2 cups of pasta sauce

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 cup chopped  pepper (any colour will do)

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 – (10 inch) whole wheat flour tortillas

1  jar salsa  (about 1.5 cups)

3/4 cup shredded cheddar or any cheese you like

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté chicken till cooked. Drain excess moisture.  Add the onion, yogurt, 1 cup of cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano and ground black pepper. Heat until cheese melts – about a minute or two. Stir in pasta sauce, water, chili powder, chopped pepper and garlic.

3. On a plate – lay one torilla flat and spread a portion of the mixture down the middle of the tortilla. Fold over the ends and place in a baking dish with the seam side facing down. Cover with salsa, the left over sauce from the pan  and the remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven 20 minutes.

4. When serving, add a spoonful of yogurt on top and rice on the side (or in my case red and white quinoa with vegetables).  The rice/quinoa helps to absorb any extra juices from the enchiladas.

Dinner at Pizza Libretto (Toronto – Danforth Ave.)

Last night I had dinner with my friend Peter before we went to see the movie “Philomena”.  We decided on Pizza Libretto as it was in the neighbourhood and was fast service. Pizza Libretto serves traditional style Neapolitan Pizza. What does that mean you ask? Well it means it is cooked using all natural ingredients such as Marzano tomatoes in ovens imported from Italy and built by 3rd generation pizza oven makers in Naples. It also means the dough is naturally leavened with Italian Caputo dopio zero flour. Further, these specialty ovens cook the pizza at 900 degrees for only 90 seconds (hence the fast service).  All that being said you are probably wondereing “How good was the pizza?”

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Well Peter had the fresh arugula with Ontario prosciutto, garlic, tomato, oregano, basil and shaved grana padano cheese. His pizza was quite delicious and very fresh tasting.

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I chose the cremini mushroom with bufala mozzarella, goronzola, roasted garlic, rosemary, thyme and pecorino (I did ask them to leave out the thyme as it is not my favourite herb).

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While mine tasted fine – Peters was definitely better in my books – more flavour. I love mushrooms but I guess when they are only baked for 90 seconds albeit at 900 degrees – they don’t release much of their flavour so I found mine a bit bland.  Also the center of the pizza is very very thin and quite moist so you cannot pick a piece up with your fingers and eat it – you need to use a knife and fork. I am not saying this is a bad thing it is just different from that usual.

I will say that adding the hot chilli oil helped add flavour to my pizza.  Peters was certainly more flavourful though but same issues with the centre.

Portion size is big – I couldn’t finish mine. The cost for mine was $17 and for Peters – $16.  Not crazy high prices and it certainly was large enough to share along with a salad I think.

All in all – Yes I would go back but no, I would not order the mushroom pizza again.  I would try something different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Broccoli, Sweet Potato and Cheddar Soup

I thought I had blogged broccoli soup before but I don’t see a post on my timeline about this particular version so I am blogging it now.  This is super easy to make and tastes great.  Can be a meal, a side or even served as an appetizer in a small shooter style glass. I have been seeing this from time to time served at dinner parties where you don’t want to fill up on soup.  A small amount of soup is served in a shooter or other style of small glass, it is literally just a mouthful or two – that way the guest gets a taste. It is something different and they don’t get full on soup before the meal).

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Here is the recipe for this easy and versatile soup.

Ingredients:

2 small onions diced

1 large or two small sweet potatoes cut into small pieces

6-8 cups of chicken or vegetable broth (if made with vegetable broth it can be vegetarian and or gluten free)

1 head of broccoli cut into small pieces

1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese

Dash of oregano

Salt and pepper to taste ( I don’t add salt but you can if you like)

 

Directions:

Sauté onions in a pot with some olive oil. When softened add the small pieces of broccoli and sweet potato and the oregano. Stir and cover for a minute or two then add the broth.  Stir everything, cover and let cook with a slight boil but not a strong boil for about 15 minutes until the potato and broccoli are soft.

Using a blender put small batches in the blender and add some cheddar to each batch.  Mix until puréed but still slightly thickened.  Pour into a large bowl and keep the process going until all the soup has been blended.  Serve with a nice crusty bread and there you have lunch, dinner, appetizer or side dish!

Enjoy!