Monday, February 13, 2012

Mashed What?!

So I've been recently addicted to and also to a more healthy and wholesome approach to feeding my body. Now, I still want all the flavour in my meals and I hate to give up favourites like bread or potatoes or stuff like that, but I'm learning that I don't have to give them up altogether. There are some great substitutes out there that are SUPER yummy and healthier. Mashed cauliflower is one such sub for mashed potatoes.

Now, if you know me, you know I love, love, LOVE the creamy, buttery flavour and texture of a mashed potato. I don't make it at home often because it's a lot of work for just one person and, well, I can be lazy when it comes to cooking. So I was a little skeptical that mashed cauliflower could be any good...

Here's what I did:

I cut up and boiled 1 head of cauliflower (way more than one person needs... could do 4 servings for sure).
Once it was soft, I added a pat of butter, about 1/4 cup of cheese (I used mozzarella this time), a few leaves of fresh basil, a dash of salt and a dash of garlic powder. I then used my hand-held blender to blend it all together and what I got was a delicious surprise. The texture was creamy and smooth, the flavour was excellent and I felt like I was getting a treat when I was eating really healthy!

I made it as a side for my salmon (I didn't finish the salmon but went back for more of the mash... *sigh* carbs are always my downfall). I can't wait to make more varieties (like one with garlic and parmesan... or one with ranch seasoning in it and a little butter... or a spicy version with some crispy bacon chunks in it and chipotle seasoning... the varieties are ENDLESS)! Needless to say, I am a convert... it's easy to make and super delicious! Have fun and enjoy!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Grown Up Grilled Cheese

I've always loved grilled cheese sandwiches. And, yes, as a kid I LOVED the Kraft processed cheese kind of sandwiches. I loved the crisp, buttery bread with the cheesy inside. But as I've grown up, I've looked for more interesting versions of the same thing. And until recently my favourite kind of grilled cheese was a simple grilled sandwich with smoked Gruyere and thin sliced tomatoes inside.

But this week I got a little creative and this is what I did:

You'll need the following and you can adapt it however you want:

  • bacon (Turkey bacon or regular or not at all if you don't want... I just liked the smokey, salty addition)
  • avocado (about 1/3 per sandwich)
  • fresh purple basil (whole leaves)
  • 2 kinds of cheese (I used white cheddar and Turkish kasar)
  • butter or margarine
  • garlic powder
  • dried dillweed
  • dried oregano
  • dijon mustard
  • cayenne pepper

Okay... I baked my bacon so that it didn't crinkle or curl and was just easier to work with.

I mixed all the dry spices with enough margarine to spread on the slices of bread that I used (whole wheat for me... trying to make it somewhat healthy)

Then I layed one slice of the buttered bread in a pan that wasn't on the heat yet (I like to build my sandwiches before heating so that the cheese gets all melty). I then spread the avocado onto the bread and put on one layer of the cheese. Then I added the basil and bacon and the last layer of cheese. Before I added the last slice of bread I added the dijon mustard to the inside of the bread.

Grilling is a little tricky with something so stacked unless you have a panini press, and I don't so it was tricky but turned out great and made me want to think of a billion different variations! Enjoy!

Amazing Eggplant

In my quest to eat healthier, delicious meals I asked around for some recipes. My teaching partner, Nilay, shared a recipe that her roommate shared with her for cooking eggplant. And of course, I tweaked and played with it in order to come to my own interpretation. :) What can I say? It's just my way.

I used one of the large eggplants and sliced it into 1/3" slices or so. I then boiled and salted some water. I dropped my eggplants into the water to soften them up a bit. I think they sat in there for about 3-5 minutes. While they were boiling away I made the following mix for coating them for the next step of cooking:

1 cup corn meal
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp dried garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
a dash of salt and pepper.

Then I took out my eggplant circles from their water (but I didn't get rid of the water, instead I poured in a little extra virgin olive oil and my pasta) and tossed them in the coating mixture. Once they were well coated, I put them in a hot pan with olive oil and browned them on both sides.

Then I plated the whole mess up and topped the pasta with diced, canned tomatoes. It was delicious and for a leftover, I put the eggplant circles in a container, topped them with the rest of the tomatoes and a slice of cheese (like eggplant parmesan) for heating up at the lunchroom.

It was an excellent, fulfilling and healthy dish. I hope you enjoy!!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Beautiful Brunch

Pinterest strikes again (yes... it's official and I have no real life)!! I was browsing on there the other night while waiting for a show I wanted to stream to load. I saw this recipe for avocado eggs and became intrigued so I thought I'd try it on Saturday... so I did (with a few twists of my own of course).

You will need:

1 avocado pitted and sliced into 1/2" slices (keeping the skin on in order to keep the shape)
2 eggs (I made this for one... because it's just me)
olive oil (just enough to cover the pan)
salt (just a pinch)
1 tbsp grated fresh parmesan
Chipotle Tobasco sauce

Let your pan get warm and make sure it's coated with the oil. Put your avocado slices in it and crack and egg in the center of each slice. Sprinkle your salt and tobasco on top and then evenly sprinkle on the cheese. Cover the pan with a lid and let cook until the eggs are done how you like (I like runny yolks so... )

And that's it... it looks impressive, tastes incredible and is just that easy!!

Happy Eating!

Pesto Salmon

I also got this idea from Pinterest... have you discovered this site yet?! It's pretty amazing place to see and share things that you like. I don't always look at the recipes etc in detail, I just look... take my inspiration... then cook!

As my good friend was coming over for dinner and to celebrate our new jobs for the coming school year, I wanted to make something yummy but that was still healthy and within my new goals of eating clean and homemade (the only thing in this that I didn't make from scratch was the pesto... maybe next time though! ;))

For the salmon you will need:

Salmon fillets (we had 2)
Pesto (about 1 tbsp per fillet)
Sliced tomatoes

For the quinoa you will need:

quinoa (rinsed and soaked for about 20 minutes) - I used 1 cup of quinoa so I could have leftovers for a salad the next day
1 small onion (finely diced)
1 buillion of your choice(I used a white wine and herb one I had)
water (for my 1 cup of quinoa, I used 1 3/4 cup water)
a dash of olive oil

For the broccoli you will need:

1 small head of broccoli
salted water for blanching
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

To cook the salmon you need to pre-heat your oven to 200C or whatever that converts to in F (you're smart... you know how to google that, right?). Lay the fillets out on a piece of foil (that is big enough to make into a pocket around the fillets). Butter them with the pesto and then cover them with the sliced tomatoes. Wrap them in a pocket that is big enough to not let the top touch the salmon and place it in your oven for about 20 minutes.

To cook the quinoa, you need to first heat the oil in your pan, then saute the onions in the oil. Once they have sweat to a transparency, add the quinoa and let that cook in the oil for a few minutes (gives it a nuttier flavour and allows it to soak up the sweetness of the onions). Then add the water and buillion. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and let cook until there is no more water in the pot (about 25 minutes or so).

To cook the broccoli, get your salted water to a rolling boil and toss the veg in for about 2 minutes, just enough time to get them hot and bright green. Drain the water off and transfer to a pan containing the hot oil... saute for a few minutes before adding the vinegar. This takes less than 5 minutes and should be done right before serving.
Sorry for the poor picture quality... used my phone and the lighting was dim... *sigh*
The meal was super flavourful and tasty. And the best part was that it was healthy! Happy Eating!

Homemade Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

If you know me, you know soup isn't my thing. Sure, I can appreciate a good soup but I like my foods to FEEL substantial and like I'm really getting something good. With that said and the understanding that I am trying to eat foods that are more clean and homemade, I decided to try making a soup. My inspiration came from a recipe I'd seen online but I didn't follow that recipe... I made up my own... so, yup, this is all me! I've included approximate measurements ( since it's just me, it's a small recipe but I got about 4 servings out of it)... and like all cooks will tell you, use your own judgement and tastebuds to tell you if you need more or less of something.

You will need:

1 small can of tomatoes
1 white onion (finely diced)
1 carrot (finely diced)
2 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
1 glug of olive oil (just enough to saute the onion etc in)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp fresh basil finely chopped
1/3 cup of cream (this is optional of course)
700 ml of chicken stock (use veggie stock if you want)
salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch of oregano
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

So I started off by heating up the oil in my soup pot (yup... made it all in one pot because I hate to do unnecessary dishes)

Once the oil was hot, I dropped in the onion and garlic, turning down the heat and letting them sweat a little. Then I added my oregano, vinegar and carrot. I let those saute together for a little while before adding the can of tomatoes which I also allowed to cook (soaking up those yummy garlic and onion flavours into the tomato).
Next came the chicken stock. I brought that to a boil and then let it simmer for about 30 minutes before adding the basil (basil can be a little delicate and I wanted that flavour to shine through). I brought it back to a boil and then broguht the heat down low to stir in my cream and cheese.

And that's it! It was so easy... and it tasted better (of course) the next day (if you know me, you know I HATE leftovers... but this soup... well, I ate it for 3 days and could have eaten it for 3 more days!).

Happy Eating!