Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's always fun to say Mahi Mahi @ Baton Rouge!!

On Friday night it's always easy to get out of making dinner when you feel lazy: make the dinner date suggestion.  I did just that this Friday, and even though our wallets became a little lighter, my stomach and taste pallet thanked me greatly.

Baton Rouge at Heartland in Mississauga is one of those restaurants that you can find yourself going to every so often when you want a nice atmosphere, great service, and good food. We decided to sit in the bar to give my husband the option of looking at the TV once in a while (which is essentially one of the things I mentioned when bringing up the idea of going out for dinner). But even in the bar, you are treated like gold...and looked after with fast service I might add.

Baton Rouge uses a type of service where all of their wait staff help everyone in the restaurant. Yes they are all given a section, but you will have any server in that section help you out. Sitting there, looking at your empty glass of wine, you no longer have to wait or look for your server that seemed to disappear. Just ask anyone that walks by for that refill. And to be honest, they would probably approach your table before you would have to look for anyone.

So on Friday night I had to go with the Mahi Mahi. Yes it was like butter as my fork just gracefully sliced through it and the fish just seemed to melt in my mouth....but it's also just so much fun to say Mahi Mahi.  My husband opted for the filet mignon which came with these delicious onion (I'm calling them) frings! They looked like fried potato wedges, but with one bite that onion ring flavour captures your mouth. The spicy dipping sauce that they pair it with, makes eating them even more delectable.

We walked out of there pretty much $100 poorer, but we left knowing we had a rich experience. So it can be pricey, but when you taste the food and get that great service, the price makes sense. Would I go there all the time? Not unless someone else would pay for me at some points. But I would make the trip every once in a while when I want a dining experience where I'll feel pampered, get to eat great food, and not have to think of taking out a loan to do it.

The cream of mushroom soup that came with my entree.
The mood setting low lighting made it hard to take pictures,
but added to the comfortable atmosphere of the restaurant.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Cookies

After looking at this leftover pumpkin puree I had sitting in my fridge, I finally found a recipe I wanted to try to help my make use of it. AND this recipe is one that I have already come back to and used again...and will definitely use many more times.

I need to send out a "thank you" to for posting this recipe ( for everyone to try. It's so easy and so delicious. You won't be able to get enough of these little pumpkin'll probably be like me and go get even more puree to have on hand. 

I now know what I'll be doing with the pumpkin I have on my front porch after Halloween!! 

Try it out and enjoy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Eating My Own Words...Or At Least My Tomatoes & Peppers

So before Thanksgiving I kind of "made fun" of my mom and what I thought she would have prepared for our Thanksgiving dinner. It turns out that I was totally wrong. My mom had decided to go "simple" as she stuck to turkey, stuffing, and a few side dishes. WOW! Even my husband sat down to dinner, looked at the table, and said "where are the sausages?". So I even though I tell people to never assume things, I didn't take my own advice...but I should!

Now I always seem to make fun of the fact that my mom cooks like she's feeding an army of 20 sometimes, but I just realized that I may have grown up to be just or almost like her. Soon after Thanksgiving, my husband and I decided to take on the farmer's market. Why? We thought we'd attempt to go "old school" and make and jar our own tomato sauce and roasted red peppers. Yes, our parents were very proud....and they also may have thought we were a little crazy. It wasn't the fact that we wanted to try to make and jar this stuff that made their eyes pop out, but we decided to buy 6 bushels to work with: 3 bushels of Roma tomatoes and 3 bushels of red peppers!!

This is only 2 bushels. We had 4
more bags.
A bushel equals 36.38 litres. We bought 109.14 litres of tomatoes, and 109.14 litres of red peppers! What were we thinking???? Well...we obviously weren't. Or, we just had some delusional idea of how easy and fun it would be.

So, making your own sauce is not hard, but it takes some work. Honestly, the part that is the most fun is either having a shot of brandy to help warm you up as you work outside in the cold (because it's a really messy thing to do inside) or when you have finished and can get excited about how much sauce you have.

Getting ready to start.
Feat #1: lifting these heavy bags onto the table.

The tomato workstation.
1. Cut the tops off of the tomatoes and cut a small "X" into the bottom.
2. Boil the tomatoes until the skin starts to peel off, then let them cool. (this shouldn't take too long)
3. Once they're cool, peel the skin off of the tomatoes (so annoying and messy)
4. You can either de-seed them (way too much time) or do what we did and just put them through a food/meat grinder.
5. Heat up some olive oil in a LARGE pot. (It helps if you have a burner that works off of propane. They are so fast. Thanks Mom!) Throw in some onion, garlic, grated or processed carrot and celery (or really anything you don't even have to put anything other than tomatoes in it if you don't want to).
6. Pour the ground up tomatoes into the pot. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer until it reaches the consistency you want. (We went for the not too chunky but not too watery sauce...that way it may be used for more things than just pasta sauce. So we had to let it simmer for at least about 40-60 minutes.)
7. Pour the sauce into cleaned jars, and put the lids on as soon as you can. It will be really hot to handle, but you'll hear the jars "pop" soon because of the heat of the sauce (that way you don't have to boil the jars to seal them).
8. Clean up the mess of tomatoes all over the place (this is gross, annoying, and will lead to prune like fingers).

My husband hard at work.


1. Barbecue the peppers on each side until they start to blacken a little and the skin starts to pull away.
2. After they've cooled a bit, peel the skin off of the peppers, take the tops off, and de-seed them.
3. Clean some jars, and pour a bit of vinegar into each one (about one or two fingers-width worth, depending on the size of the jar).
4. Mix the peppers with some vinegar and red wine, and start to place them in the jars (and pour yourself a glass of that red wine to help you stop wondering when you'll be done).
5. Once the jars are full, pour in some of the leftover juice from when you mixed the peppers into each jar.
6. Run a knife along the inside edge of each jar to get rid of any air bubbles. This will cause some more of the liquid inside to rise up...that's good.
7. Pour a little olive oil in the top of each jar and  seal it.
8. Put each jar into a pot of water, at least to the brim of the jar's cap. Bring the water to a boil and leave the jar in there until you hear it "pop". This means it is sealed.

**you could also add in some chopped up garlic into the jars before adding olive oil.

Jarred and ready to eat.

We had to try it out!

So now I have about 40 litres of tomato sauce and 15 litres of roasted red peppers....I think I'm good for the next couple of years! Your turn!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pre-Thanksgiving FeastS

So my Thanksgiving weekend started off a little "non-Traditional". We had some teriyaki fondue on Friday night and some burritos on Saturday night. To be honest, it was kind of nice to think of it as an "international" Thanksgiving weekend feast.  Today will be a little more "traditional". Now I say "traditional" in quotations because, from previous experience, I'm assuming it will be more than turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing...

I thought I'd post a little something before I went off to family Thanksgiving lunch/dinner #1.  Today we'll be at my mom's house, where I'm sure the 6 of us that will be there will be inundated with about 3 different entrees of a selection of meats. And then let's not forget about the side dishes to go with each entree...just so everyone will have something that they might want. But who are we mom will expect us to try everything. Oh the good old Eastern European mentality...if no one tries it, that means it's not good (but really, we wouldn't know if we didn't try it. We're just too stuffed to take another bite).

My contribution to today's meal....honey pumpkin pie! It's a recipe I found on that uses honey instead of sugar! I'm actually really excited to try it.

But again, this is my assumption about what Thanksgiving lunch/dinner #1 will be like today...I guess I'll find out if I'm right in about an hour or so.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone (in Canada) and I hope your tummies get as full as mine will probably be.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday Morning Cookies and Coffee

Ok, seriously, what could be a better way to start a Sunday morning than putting together some homemade cookies, brewing some coffee, and then sitting down and enjoying them with a good book?  That's exactly how my morning began, and I am now having a hard time doing anything else but dunking my cookies in my coffee and reading. So it may have ruined me from doing anything else today, but all that other stuff can wait!

A couple of weeks ago I decided to make a cookie cake for a children's birthday party (which is essentially just a giant cookie with "Happy Birthday" written on it) and found a recipe for the "Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie"  from And once we got to dig into it, I realized how seriously correct that name is. It was like biting into a homemade Mrs. Fields cookie. And it was gone a couple of minutes after it was put out. This made me realize that kids are happy with simplicity. Who needs a big chocolate cake decorated as their favourite cartoon character? If you put that cake next to a tray of cookies, there's a good chance they'll go for a cookie (and come back for more)!

When I woke up this morning I was debating between cookies and crepes. Then I thought of my husband, who, like those kids, would probably prefer the simple joy of dunking cookies into his morning coffee. So, I went with the cookies. I thought I would make those delicious Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, but then I thought I'd try playing around with them a bit. They still turned out great, but maybe a tad too sweet. Next time, maybe I'd cut more of the sugar or honey.


1/4 cup honey (I also mixed this with Agave nectar since I ran out of honey)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips

The Process
-melt the butter and mix it with the honey and sugar until kind of creamy
-add in the egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix until all combined
-in a separate bowl sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda
-add the dry ingredients to the wet ones (a little at a time) and mix until all is combined and the batter has formed
-add in the chocolate and peanut butter chips and mix by hand
I couldn't resist trying one once they were done!
-put the batter in the refrigerator to cool for at least 30 minutes (it's ok if you leave it in there even longer)
-preheat oven to 325 F
-put tablespoon sized balls of batter (or bigger or's completely up to you since they are your cookies) onto an ungreased baking sheet
-bake for about 12-15 minutes (take them out once they start browning so that you don't over bake them)
-put them on a wire rack to cool...and ENJOY!

This ended up giving me about 26 cookies (it depends on the size of your cookies), which will last for at least a couple of days ; ).  And I'm definitely happy with my decision to make cookies...but who am I kidding, I still might go for some crepes too!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Peanut Butter Chip Chocolate Cookies

Yes, it's a mouthful to say...but they are so worth making.

Waking up this Saturday morning I was already thinking of making cookies to have with my coffee after breakfast.  And since I was up to trying something new, I pulled out my trusty vegan cookbook by Kim Barnouin, Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook.

The original recipe in the cookbook was for white chocolate chip cookies, but since my urge to bake only hit me this morning, I didn't have any white chocolate chips. I also wasn't in the mood for chocolate chip chocolate cookies (maybe a little too chocolatey, or I just overdosed on my sister's chocolate truffles last night) what goes better with chocolate than peanut butter. Ah yes. The trusty peanut butter chips I had in my cupboard came to good use.

Yes this recipe is vegan (possibly except for the peanut butter chips I included), but for those sceptics out there, vegan doesn't mean there's a lack of taste. They have the smallest bit of crunch when you bite into them, leading you into the soft and chewy centre.

So good. So worth a try. So easy to make.

If you like these. I must say that everything else in the cookbook has only been tasty and easier to do than expected....definitely on my list of recommendations!

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar*
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter chips*

*These are the ingredients I used. Some are different as the recipe originally called for vegan or natural ingredients that I didn't have.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and powder, salt, and cornstarch.
In a separate bowl whisk the sugars, oil, milk, and vanilla extract until well blended.
Stir in the flour mixture until well combined.
Add in the peanut butter chips.
Let the dough sit for 15 minutes.
Drop about 1 Tbsp of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, leave about 2 inches in between each (they spread a little when baking).
Bake 8-10 minutes.
Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Baby Bum Baby Shower Cake

Whew...what a tongue twister. But that's exactly what I got myself to try out and make: a baby bum baby shower cake.

I had some hesitation about trying this for the first time when I was making it for a friend's baby shower, but I couldn't resist trying to make something so cute.

The butter, sugar and eggs; just one part of the cake recipe.

Just about ready to put it all together. Adding buttermilk and dry ingredients
into the "wet" mixture in 3 doses.

Two cake pans (an 8" and a 6") ready to go. Remember
to cover the top with tinfoil if the top starts to brown long
before the rest of the cake is ready

In the end, my lemon coconut baby bum cake turned out great. But I can't take all the credit. I made it, but I didn't come up with all of the ideas myself. The Coconut Cake with Lemond Curd recipe is from The mommy and daddy to be seemed really pleased with the taste. Well, they tried it and kept eating it at least ; ). And I got a lot of help with the design from Cake Central. The step by step instructions were not confusing, too detailed, or vague....they were just right. I got the idea of what I had to do, with some leeway to do my own thing with it as well. The only thing I did add was my own recipe (well I should actually say the Wilton recipe) for buttercream icing, to dirty ice the cake before layering with fondant.
The finished product: a baby bum cake for a a baby shower.

So sometimes it's good to take a chance with baking and decorating. If you don't try, you'll never know if you can do it. Right?!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I couldn't resist.

Sunday morning, coffee, rainy day...all I needed was some cookies to top it all off. So I whipped some up! : )

I happened to have a recipe on hand from for the standard chocolate chip cookie. But the fun part about baking is mixing it up and trying your own thing. So I did, and this coconut chocolate chip cookie is what came out of it.

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Combine and mix these dry ingredients in a bowl.

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup agave nectar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the butter and sugars until soft and combined (about 1 or 2 minutes). Add in the agave nectar and mix. Add in one egg at a time and mix it in fully until you add the next. Add in the vanilla and mix.

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut

Add the dry ingredients into the bowl with the butter/sugar mixture and mix it altogether. Add in chocolate chips and coconut and mix until it's all combined.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and drop heaping spoonfuls (make them as big or small as you want) of the batter about 1 inch apart. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Then let cool on a rack and enjoy!!

**I originally only added 1/4 cup of coconut, but I felt like it needed more once they were done.

**Make sure you keep an eye on the time while they bake. My last batch (it was only 4 cookies...thank goodness) got a little too, um, burnt as I forgot about them while writing this. Oops.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Food Truck Eats @ The Distillery

Whoever invented the idea of the food truck, I have one thing to say..."Thank You".

From poutine to pizza, to ice cream or cupcakes, The Distillery District had all of it today, and it was all mobile. The Food Truck Eats Festival had part 2 of their series happening today from 11am-3pm. The walkways of the district were lined with food trucks that each had their own specialty. Yes some of the lines were long. But that 45 minute wait for my specialty grilled cheese was well worth it!!

There is apparently a part 3 in this series. I'm not entirely sure when it takes place - I would guess some time in September - but whenever it happens, I'll be there for more food truck eats!

The appetizer:

The Traditional Poutine from Smoke's Poutinerie.
My first try with poutine....tasty.

The Entree:
The Gorilla Sarducci from Gorilla Cheese.
A fantastic melted creation of mozzarella, red onion, tomato,
basil, and balsamic drizzle. All on what tasted like multigrain bread.

 The Dessert:

A variety of flavours of soft, creamy, and delicious ice cream from Twirlees.

Birthday Cake in a cup.

Pralines & Cream in a cone. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Good Friend, Good Coffee, Good Dessert

So not only did I get to have a very overdue coffee and catching up with a friend, I got to try out a recipe for Strawberry Walnut Bread.

I always love these sweet "breads" (i.e. banana, zucchini, lemon, etc.) because they are so easy to make and can work with so many fruits or veggies you may have on hand.


1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Mix these together in a medium sized bowl. Make a well in the centre.

2 eggs
2/3 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 cup diced strawberries
1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans would work nicely too)

Mix these together in a small bowl. Add them to the dry ingredients and mix together.
Place the batter in a greased pan.

2 Tbsp butter cut in pieces
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour

Put all ingredients into a small bowl. Use a pastry blender or two knives to "cut up" butter and mix it into the sugar and flour until it is crumbly.  Sprinkle this on top of the bread.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes (but check occasionally as the timing may vary depending on your oven. You can even reduce the heat if that works better, but just keep checking by inserting a toothpick into the bread and check if it comes out clean.) Allow bread to sit in pan for about 5 minutes. The cut up and enjoy!!

The photo doesn't really do it justice (since it's kind of blurry). But it's easy and goes great with coffee or tea! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cookies, Teas, Organic Everything...oh my

Grande Passion tea and a (giant) Chocolate Chunk Cookie please.

That was the first moment of my great foodie morning. You've got to love Starbucks when you can get such a variety of teas and coffees, with a variety of cookies (ones that are bigger than any you could probably get anywhere else) to choose from. As I ordered my tea I figured, "ah why not get that cookie for something sweet to indulge in, I mean I'll probably only eat half of it anyway". Half? Yeah right! How can you stop eating something that's so rich, yet not too sweet, yet sweet enough that you just want to keep going. can't stop. Thank you Starbucks. Thank you for now making me wonder if I should've skipped my workout this morning... ; )

And it doesn't end there. Today, I finally ventured to Whole Foods. I know that it's kind of weird that I've never been there before. But hey, now there's one near me and I won't have to try to convince myself to drive there.  Now, I totally regret not ever having been.

The moment I walked in, I realized how nice it was not to have to search for the organic produce, or even wonder if they had organic produce. Why? Because everything is organic, grain fed, antibiotic free, etc, etc... I was mesmerized by the clean set up, prices that didn't make me want to run out screaming and not come back, and the variety of, well, everything! Thank you Whole Foods for finally coming to Mississauga. I'll definitely be going back...soon.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Scone Kind of Day

Mmm the pumpkin scone. I couldn't resist.

Every time I walk into Starbucks, I can't help but ogle at the display of pastries that sits next to the cash register. My eye always seems to end up at the awesomely delicious looking scones that are just calling out to me to take a bite. Sadly (and I guess gratefully), my discipline (well as much of it as I have these days) kicks in and I simply order my coffee.

But today, a day that I'm trying to do anything other than clean, I found some left over pumpkin puree that I figure I needed to use why not now.

Pumpkin puree + craving something delicious but not super sweet = pumpkin scone!

The scone is a pastry or bread that comes from Western Europe, and which we've adapted to obviously make bigger and sweeter in North America (since that's what we seem to do with all foods). Now since my family meals and delicacies as I was growing up centred around those treats from the Balkans, the scone was not in my mind's recipe index. My saviour?

These pumpkin scones were easy and quick to make, easy to alter if necessary or desired, and delicious to eat. They were definitely worth putting up with the extra heat from the oven on an already humid day. But about 30 minutes after my process of putting together and baking them, my husband's only suggestion was the addition of a cream cheese spread, filling, or topping to go with them. And I totally agree. Delicious on their own, yes. But just that added bit of cream cheese would make them even better.

Try them and enjoy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Comfort food with style? What's better than gnocchi?

So it just seemed to be one of "those" days. Those "all I want to do is stay in bed, drink some cocoa, cuddle with my dog, and watch a movie" days seem to be creeping up a lot lately. Now there's a good chance that it all comes from the oh so fantastic weather of rain....and more rain....and rain...and let's not forget the teasing of sun, no sun, sun, no sun.

On my way home from, what seemed to be, way too long of a day of work, I couldn't help craving something comforting. I mean sure, there's always pizza or the quick pick up of some Thai Express. But comfort food is only really comfort food if it's made in the "comfort" of your home.  Ok, I know, way too many "comforts" in that sentence. But seriously, on a rainy and cold day like today, nothing could be better.

This was the perfect time for me to use the rest of the gnocchi I had sitting in my fridge, just waiting to be eaten.

I must say though, that I'm not a huge fan of pasta. So I wanted to get away from the "traditional" or more common pasta dish of some sort of noodles in a tomato based sauce. And thank you to for the recipe and idea of the night: Gnocchi Primavera.

This simple dish of gnocchi, zucchini, mushrooms, and roasted pine nuts tossed in some olive oil was easy to make, alter to my liking, and was a delicious side to the fish (for me) and chicken (for my husband) that I made to go with it.

So thank you for always being there when I need an idea or a recipe! : )

A delicious  mix of gnocchi, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, pine nuts,
olive oil, and a handful of grated Parmesan cheese for that extra bit of
something special. Unfortunately, the picture doesn't really do it justice.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It's never bad when there's leftover rice

So my birthday was earlier this week, and to "celebrate" (it might be more honest if I say "thank people for putting up with me for 30 years") my husband and I decided to have our families come over for dinner. It's a great idea: experimenting with recipes and foods, having the chance to entertain, and enjoying some nice conversation with a warming glass of red wine. But cooking for a group of people always leads to one thing (for me that is): leftovers. I must admit that my mom always taught me that it's better to have too much than too little. Well, too much we did have. We were left with a large Corning-ware bowl full of a brown and wild rice mix.

I guess at first I had to question whether or not it was the rice, and if everyone just didn't want to eat it. But considering how much we started with (I definitely made a whole lot of extra rice), I was lucky there wasn't even more left over.

Actually, I may be using "lucky" in the wrong context here. I've actually come to realize how great leftover rice can be. Everything mixes well with rice. Everything. Want some sweetness? Make rice pudding. Add some raisins. Beef, pork, fish, eggs, any kind of vegetable; they all mix well with rice. So with this is mind, my "bad luck" was actually quite...lucky. I had a whole bowl of rice to use for dinner today. Meaning, I had a lot less to do and think about while making dinner.

Leftover rice+kale and mushrooms needing to be used up soon+some already peeled and cut up carrots that I didn't eat at lunch today=an easy mix of rice and veggies (with pieces of fresh parmesan cheese thrown in to add a little saltiness to it). I even threw in a poached egg on top for that extra dose of protein and a variety in texture.

Oh rice, thank you for being so easy to use and so easy to mix with anything I have on hand. And for that little bit of rice that I still have left...get ready for some rice pudding!!

And by the way, for next year's birthday, we'll definitely be dining out!

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Work With What You've Got" Quinoa and Tofu Mash Up

Since it was a solo dinner again tonight, I only had to work with my particular cravings. And tonight, that craving was quinoa. Mmmmm the lovely, good for you grain that pretty much takes on the flavour of whatever you eat or cook it with.

Now, what goes good with quinoa? Well, everything. But what did I have that I could work with and eat with my quinoa? I had the perfect item in my fridge in the form of firm tofu. So with that, I had two versatile items that could take on whatever flavour I wanted. That flavour? A mix of veggies and a nice soy based marinade!! It's like a full grain tofu stir fry!

 This was probably one of the easiest meals that I've made. The ingredients that you use can be changed depending on whatever you have in your fridge. It's actually an awesome thing to put together when you have those vegetables that are on the "must use soon or throw out" list. For me, that was mushrooms and broccoli.

First off, cook the quinoa so that it's ready when everything else is done. Before cooking quinoa, be sure to place it in a strainer and rinse the grain a bit. Then place it in a small pot with double the amount of water (I used 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water, since I wanted some leftovers for a yummy lunch tomorrow). Once the water and quinoa mixture comes to a boil, cover it and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes (the grain seems "clear" once it's done).

While the quinoa is cooking, marinate the tofu. Before using it, dry it off on a paper towel. Cut the tofu up into cubes and place in a bowl. You can marinate it with anything you'd like. I used a mixture of 1tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp rice vinegar, and 2 Tbsp soy sauce. Let that sit for about 15 minutes or so.

Place 2 Tbsp olive or grapeseed oil into a pan and let it heat. Saute some chopped onion for a couple of minutes. Throw in the marinated tofu so that it can brown a little before adding the veggies.

Once the tofu seems to be browned, add in whatever veggies you had on hand. For me, that was broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, and green pepper. Saute that mixture for about 4-5 minutes, until the veggies have cooked but they don't totally lose their form. Once done, add some quinoa (I added about 1 1/2 cups) and throw in a handful of raisins for a touch of sweetness. Mix it all together and done! Bon appetite!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Carrot, Dill, and White Bean Salad..Thank You 101 Cookbooks

So deciding on what dinner will be is like a daily adventure to me. I stopped eating meat about 8 months ago (for reasons I won't go in to right now), and for someone who was raised in a very traditional Eastern European household (where delicacies consist of roasted pork and lamb) it was somewhat of a challenge to adjust to not thinking of meat as the entree of any meal.

But, so far so good. And part of the reason I've been doing so well is thanks to Heidi Swanson's website 101 Cookbooks. Since I, and I'm assuming the majority of you out there, don't have a Whole Foods store hiding in my kitchen cupboards, working with what I have on hand is a necessity. For me, this on hand item today was some white navy beans that I cooked just yesterday.

And TA-DA, the recipe appeared as I typed in my ingredient: Carrot, Dill, and White Bean Salad.

Again, I couldn't wait to dig in. All that
was left? My leftovers for an awesome lunch!
Carrots...check (well some at least).

Dill...check (had some frozen from the herbs I grew in the garden last summer).

White Beans....uh duh....check.

Even though I have gone "veggie", I do have a husband that I feed as well. A husband who is also of Eastern European decent and cannot fathom a meal with some form of meat. So I do usually have to think of an added meat portion to the meals I make. However, tonight was a loner night for me. Meaning that I only had to make a dinner for one and could forget the meat!
I couldn't put up the recipe without a decent picture.
This one if from the recipe on Swanson's website.

This recipe was quick, easy, and with the addition of leftover quinoa from the night before, broccoli as a filler to help with my lack of carrots, and some kale to add just a little something something, I was filled and even had leftovers for a lunch to look forward to tomorrow.

So, no, I didn't follow the recipe with the exact ingredients. But while still using the overall idea and method, this recipe is definitely a "keeper" and "must do again".

To close, I reiterate, thanks Heidi Swanson for some healthy, easy to make, and extremely tasty recipes!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tutti Frutti...tutti greasy

To go along with this breakfast theme that I have going on here so far, why not try a new place for a late lunchtime breakfast. Tutti Frutti is a very Cora-esque type of breakfast establishment: open kitchen where you can see your food being made behind the counter, a selection of booths and tables, and chicken figurines placed around the restaurant. The only thing that distinguishes Tutti Frutti from being just another Cora's (despite the name) is the lack of cartoony menu item names and pictures on the walls, the cute little pictures adorning Cora's bathroom doors, and the additional grease that Tutti Frutti adds into their menu items. 

The Vegetarian Omelette:  too much cheese?
At first it was refreshing to see a new breakfast place that was close to home with a family friendly atmosphere to it. No line to get in or to get seated. Quick and friendly service. Everything seemed a little refreshing. Except that as I sat in my seat and looked around, "refreshing" turned into "rehashing" as I was reminded of the interior of all of the Cora's restaurants I'd ever been to. Ok, so they look similar, no big deal. But upon perusing the menu, the "Cora's Special" was now the "Celine's Special" and the "Crepe Panini" was not catching my eye in awe as I'd seen it so many times before. Ok, so they have similar menu items and similar pricing, no big deal. Then the deal breaker showed up with the arrival of our meals: the vegetarian omelette topped with melted, grated cheese and, it seemed, a couple of spoonfuls of oil, and the Celine's Special of two eggs alongside some very thin and crisp lacking bacon. All of this came with a side of over buttered toast of your choice.
The "Celine's Special"......sounds familiar.

So did I satisfying my craving for a breakfast like meal with some eggs? Yes. But I also left with an impossible to remove taste of butter from soggy toast and grease lined stomach that was aching for me race home and lie down. 

Would I go their again? Maybe to a different location to see if it makes a difference. Maybe in about 6 months once this new location establishes itself a bit more. But would I really choose Tutti Frutti over something like Cora's? Not a chance.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A little bit of everything is a little bit of Heaven

What better to do mid morning on a Saturday than go for brunch? And what better place to go to than Cora's

I woke up craving a satisfying and sweet bite of french toast. I couldn't help but think of the crunchy outer layer covered with the sweet taste of maple, and a warm gooier inside that made it all seem like it would melt in my mouth.  So convincing my husband to make the trip to Cora's was easy enough...I pretty much just had to mention Cora's and he was game.

As we waited in line to be seated (because there is always a line at Cora's on the weekend...but it's fast and so worth it) my mouth watered just thinking of what I would order. As I peeked at the meals that were being served to those who were seated (don't judge, you know you do it too), I saw it: the king of the stack of pancakes! Four huge blueberry pancakes covered with some English cream that could probably feed a family of 4! So it wasn't french toast, but it would be close enough.  

The "after" picture of my devoured meal. I was so hungry and it was too good to wait to try it.  My suggestion? Just order it and you'll get to devour it for yourself too.
However, when it was time to order, I realized I just couldn't do an entire meal of pancakes; I needed more. I needed some egg, some fruit, and the sweet goodness of a french toast like dish. I was torn, confused, and saddened at the thought that I may have to sacrifice one of those options. That was until I saw it. My heart (or more like my stomach) filled with happiness at sight of my solution: the 1990's Harvest. With an egg, fruit, and a cinnamon raisin brioche dipped in french toast batter, my perfect brunch was constructed. Biting into that brioche and satisfying that craving was a moment of utter perfection. 

What did I realize after all of this? Cora's may just be the breakfast/brunch solution to anyone's troubles. And with Cora's restaurants just popping up all over the place, this shouldn't be a problem.