Archive | January, 2011

I hear that the South is nice this time of year…

30 Jan

So I have no less than 6 blog posts that are partly done and I’ve bypassed all of them to show you what I did today!

Earlier Todd and I were eating breakfast and he mentioned that we hadn’t been to Point Pelee National Park (45 mins away) in a LONG time.  Between having a busy few months and Todd’s knee injury, we haven’t been there nearly as much as we’d like.

But there’s no time like the present, right?

Buuuuut, I had just gotten dressed for the gym and capris certainly wouldn’t cut it outside today.  So change clothes and play outside, or go to the gym and start the strength training program that I’ve been debating starting for awhile (more at the end of the post). 

Changing clothes doesn’t sound difficult, but when you’re already dressed and oh so comfy…

So I threw it our there on the great sounding board of twitter,

Tweet1

The resounding answer was to enjoy the outdoors (except for my cousin across the pond who said to order a Chinese take away and watch tele – lol!).

So we bundled up – and I put full length pants on – then off we went to the Park we went!  

The drive flew by and before we knew it, we were flashing our season passes and entering the park.  I was actually going to start this post off today with “So Todd and I decided that we needed to go south today…”  Point Pelee National Park is the southern post point in all of Canada. 

And that’s your random tidbit for the day ;)

Anyway, It was perfect temperature wise, but the sun was nowhere to be found…

IMG_0511

Clearly I don’t care about the pics that I send out into the internets…. Are my teeth really that crooked?  Oh, how I wish that my parents could have afforded braces…  Honestly though, I’ve learned to accept my grill and like to call it endearing  :) 

IMG_0513 IMG_0514 IMG_0515 IMG_0516  IMG_0518 IMG_0519

The ice has been pushed up onto land and broken up, over and over.  Gorgeous. 

IMG_0521 IMG_0522 IMG_0523  IMG_0525So Point Pelee comes upon its’ name honestly.  It’s a land mass that has a point – a peninsula that comes and goes with the seasons and the years.  The Point used to be very long (all the time), but because of changing water currents and other natural events, it comes and goes.  Last year, the point was only a tenth of a mile long or so.

Today, we walked out on the Point, and across the frozen snow, ice and sand almost a half a mile out.  We decided to stop when we saw no more sand, or footprints from anyone else…

Looking back at the mainland

IMG_0527 IMG_0528

You’d almost think that we were in the arctic from this picture,

IMG_0529

And is that an iceberg?  Well, not so much.  It’s just another bunch of broken up ice.  But isn’t it absolutely beautiful? 

IMG_0530

IMG_0531

Yes I have my Garmin on.  How else would I know how far we’d walked?  :)

And Todd being a goofball… 

IMG_0535

I got distracted by something pretty, had to try that pic again…

IMG_0536 IMG_0537What a fun day!

I don’t want Monday to come, but this will definitely carry me through the work week :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So I mentioned that I was looking at starting a strength training program (again).  I’m not a huge fan of strength training (kinda boring…), but know that it’s a necessary evil.  Seeing as I’m a third of the way through my training plan for my April race, it kinda seems like inopportune timing, but I think it’s needed.  I’m doing 3 run days and 3 gym cardio days, but it doesn’t seem to be enough.  The weight just isn’t moving.  So I think that it’s time to add in some weights too.  I’m reluctant because I’m not willing to give up any cardio, but it just means that I need to do a couple two-a-days.  I think I might wait another week to start this though.  I really need to think/wrap my mind about this, and what this commitment will really entail.

“A job worth doing, is a job worth doing right.”  – Ken Gardiner (My dad)  :)

Motor City doin what it knows best…

25 Jan

Ahhhh, what a good weekend  :)  Full of cooking, relaxing, exercise and my favourite, grocery shopping!

This weekend was also FRIGID.  Where I live, it’s very humid in the summer and a damp cold in the winter.  Damp, frigid and oh, did I mention windy?  Sounds like a great weekend for running!  My run was only 5 miles (thank goodness), but I thought that I’d better do it on Friday after work (my Rest Day!) when it was only –10 air temp.  When I was originally supposed to run Saturday morning, it was –18 air temp and the wind chill was in the –30’s!!!!  Thank goodness I ran the day before.

Instead, Saturday morning Todd and I took my parents to Detroit to go to the North American International Auto Show.  We’ve been before and had a great time, but they’ve never had the opportunity to go.  With the economic downturn and the virtual collapse of the auto industry, there was a definite change in how the vehicles were presented.  A lot of the glitz and opulence wasn’t as present as in years past.  Mind you, it was still flashy and amazing to see; but not with the past grandeur.  I don’t think that that’s necessarily a bad thing!

A couple of concept cars that kinda look like large vacuum cleaners,

IMG_0345 IMG_0346

This was part of the Michelin display and I don’t know what they had to do with tires, but these little guys sure were adorable!

IMG_0347 IMG_0348

After I took this picture, I heard a giggle beside me and one of the reps put a Michelin pin in my hand.  Alrighty, then.  I gave the pin to my dad as a belated Christmas gift because I didn’t know what to do with it.

This exhibit was people using the Kinnect to drive the new Chevy Volt.  There were several stations and it was really funny to watch all of the people using their whole body to drive the car :) 

IMG_0350 IMG_0351

The show is huge!  What you see is ONLY the Chevy exhibit.  Now think about how many car and luxury car companies their are…

IMG_0353

The Volt really seems amazing – I’d love to plug my car in!

IMG_0354

Me sitting in my dream machine…  

IMG_0362

And look!  It’s a hybrid!  …ya, because that makes it more likely that I’ll be driving this gorgeous vehicle any time soon  :)

IMG_0364   IMG_0367

The Lexus exhibit.  It had little LED lights that constantly changed patterns and colours. 

IMG_0370

It was on the floor, up the walls, on the ceiling and everywhere!

IMG_0371  IMG_0373

This was probably one of the flashier displays and it was really cool! 

IMG_0376 IMG_0377

Don’t these Scions remind you of Hot Wheels? 

IMG_0379

I’ve always wanted a porthole in my car…

IMG_0380

Todd sitting in the Toyota Land Cruiser – his dream mobile :)  

IMG_0383

There were a few driving simulators.  Really neat, with really long lines.  Ummm, I’ll just get in my real car and really drive, thanks.     

IMG_0389

This video was hilarious!  It was a couple rapping about their Toyota minivan – their Swagger Wagon  :)

IMG_0390 IMG_0391

I stood and listened to the whole thing.  Funniest thing I’ve heard in a LONG time!

Behold the brightest car I’ve ever seen.  This picture doesn’t show just how bright this Mercedes is – but it actually HURT my eyes!

IMG_0394

Doesn’t it look like a face?

IMG_0397  IMG_0399

One of the few cars that you couldn’t get near…     

IMG_0405

We had a great time.  And did you notice that everyone in the pictures were carrying red reusable bags?  Ya, they were handing them out and they looked like the perfect size.  For some reason I couldn’t figure out where they were being given out!  I walked every inch of that show with my eyes peeled and nada.  oh, such a fan of free :)

And it may not be free, but White Castle must be the place to be, because look at the sign that I saw when we left the Auto Show…

IMG_0408

Better get those calls in quick  :)

TVP ‘Meatballs&rsquo

20 Jan

Today I was sure that it was Friday.  *sigh*

It has been a great week though.  So great that I’ve gotten up to date with most (ok, I still have 3 partials in my writer…) of my to be written posts!

And speaking of posts, here’s my post from Sunday when I was writing my third entry for my Recipe Challenge…

My workspace for the afternoon.  We used to have our giant kitchen table in this spot, but it was way too big, so we moved it to our den/dining room area.  Since then, I’ve had this fold-up table here.  It works nicely and 90% of the time I have tablecloths that fall in a way that you wouldn’t even know it’s a fold-up table.  I’d like to get a small pub table (really small, like half the size of this table)  with two saddle stools or pub chairs.  I  think it’ll work perfectly – although maybe not as a work surface.  And that’s what is preventing me from doing it thus far (oh, and I’m cheap.  Buying nothing and using this table is free :P).

IMG_0247And check out this expensive ergonomic kitchen seating device :)

This stool has been well LOVED.  It’s Rubbermaid and is as old as I can remember.  I was uber-excited when I inherited it this past summer.

IMG_0251

And the stack of cookbooks – well, I decided that they need a new home.  Clearly this isn’t it.  So far they’ve made it to my dining room table, but I just can’t find the perfect, accessible spot.

IMG_0252

Oh, and the Post-it Flags?  Ya, that’s my type A personality coming out.  Yellow means, interesting recipe, an option to make.  Red means, make this recipe ASAP.  Blue means, made the recipe and it was great.  Green means, useful food or cooking tip.  There are a lot of flags….  Hey, but it works for me :)

So on to the recipe at hand!  The newest recipe for the Recipe Challenge!

Today (err, last Sunday) we’re making TVP ‘Meatballs!’

Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?  Don’t let the TVP thing scare you off.  Textured Vegetable Protein sounds scary, but it really isn’t!

Textured Vegetable Protein is made from defatted soy flour.  It’s dehydrated and very economical.  And the best part, the Nutrition Stats!  For 1/4 cup of dry TVP:

  • Calories – 80
  • Protein – 12 grams
  • Sugar – 3 grams
  • Carbohydrates – 7 grams
  • Fibre – 4 grams
  • Fat – negligible

How bout them stats?  So what do you think, ready to try TVP?  Here’s an awesome recipe that showcases the TVP.  You can also hide it in sauces, but then, how would you know if you liked it then?

Onward we go!  Here are our ingredients for the day:

IMG_0256

And here is the aforementioned TVP,

IMG_0257

I told you it wasn’t scary (boo!).  It might not be that attractive, but there’s really nothing to be afraid of.

IMG_0258

Clearly this is still dehydrated.  2 cups of TVP needs approximately 2 cups of boiling water.  I used a beef bouillon cube in mine in order to add some flavour, but to veggify (it’s a word!  Ok, it’s not…) this, just leave it out!

IMG_0262

Add the boiling liquid to your TVP, mix it around and let it sit for about 10 minutes.

IMG_0263

After 10 minutes, your Ground Beef TVP will look like this,

IMG_0265

Mince your your onion.  Add the onion and minced garlic (the pic at the top shows a garlic bulb.  Clearly I actually used jarred, which I totally forgot that I had bought the day before!) to your bowl with the TVP

IMG_0267

I love the taste of fennel seeds and I actually chose to make some sort of meatballs, so that I could easily put them in!

IMG_0269

Take a sharp knife and chop those little seeds up.  It doesn’t need to be perfect, but having whole fennel seeds in little wee meatballs isn’t really appealing to me.  Add this to the bowl.

IMG_0271Oregano.  Probably my favourite herb :)   Add it in!

IMG_0272

Add in the basil,

IMG_0276

I bought this whole grain Dijon from Trader Joe’s (holla!) and being a mustard connoisseur, it has become one of my favourites.   So add it in too :)

IMG_0277

And add in your Lea and Perrins (<—ha, my last name…minus the ‘s’ of course) or your store brand knock off Worcestershire sauce.  You’d think I’d buy the real thing  – and in this case I should have (sometimes being cheap isn’t a good thing!), the flavour wasn’t as good.  Either way, add it in!

IMG_0278

Lastly add in your egg and mix all together.

IMG_0280

Once you mix it all together, add your breadcrumbs and mix again, thoroughly.

IMG_0281 IMG_0282

Now for the fun part!  Time to get your hands dirty, or rather, messy and a little gooey.  Take you mixture and form into uniform balls.  You should end up with 30 –35 meatballs, depending on how large you made them.

IMG_0284

Now tell me that that doesn’t look like a ground meat meatball?

IMG_0286

Throw them in the oven – oh and put them on parchment (I put just about everything on parchment:  live and learn), no need for any possible sticking or use of oil.

20 minutes later…

IMG_0287

I could just eat these right up! …oh, I did!  Todd kept popping one in his mouth every time he passed through the kitchen too!  And he knew full well that they were TVP (which he claimed before this that he really didn’t like!).  I put a third of these in the freezer before they vanished, for an easy dinner one night.

IMG_0289

I’ve tried them with barbeque sauce, ranch, plum sauce, marinara sauce and plain.  I’ve eaten them in a wrap, with pasta and on their own.  Winner, winner, ‘meatball’ dinner ;)

 

TVP ‘Meatballs’

  • 2 Cups Textured Vegetable Protein
  • 2 Cups Boiling water
  • 1 Beef bouillon cube (optional)
  • 1/2 Small onion, minced
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp Basil
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 2 T Whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 T Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Egg
  • 3/4 Cup Breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Boil two cups of water and dissolve a beef bouillon (optional) cube in it.
  3. In a bowl, combine the water and TVP.  Mix together and allow to sit approximately 10 minutes, allowing the TVP to rehydrate.
  4. Once water is absorbed.  Add in onion, garlic, fennel seeds, basil, oregano, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and egg.  Mix well.
  5. Add in Breadcrumbs and again, mix well.
  6. Line a pan or baking sheet with parchment.
  7. Form the mixture into small uniform balls.  The mixture will make between 30 and 35 meatballs.
  8. Place in oven for 20 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

Cinnamon and blueberries and loaf, oh my!!!

19 Jan

How’s your Wednesday going?  It’s almost over, in my case.  However, I did not want to get it started this morning.  I’ve been sleeping in the spare room (Todd has a gross head cold) and the duvet in there is extra cushy, so I totally didn’t want to get out of bed.  But of course, I got out of bed, had a productive workday and came home.  

I had a great run after work.  It wasn’t the fastest I’ve done in a while (and I really had to be careful with the bits of ice), but it just felt good.  I was happy to be done – simply because it was cold – but I really felt like my running mojo was returning!

Ok, seriously, I’m boring myself with this bather… 

How about a recipe then?

Last Saturday I felt like something with blueberries in it.  Pancakes?  No.  Muffins?  Not quite.  Loaf?  Yes, who doesn’t love a good loaf :)

I searched online for a recipe that had a good ingredient list and didn’t have lemon or coffee.  I just wanted to taste the blueberry flavour.

I ended up mainly using this one, with a few wisps of this one in it.    

It started out with mixing the sugar and butter together until it was creamy.

Does this look creamy to you?

IMG_0218

It doesn’t look creamy to me either, but I don’t think that it ended up making a difference in the finished product.

IMG_0215

Once I added the egg yolk to the sugar and butter, it took on an almost creepy vibrant yellow colour.

IMG_0219

Try as I might, I couldn’t get a picture that translated the eerie colour that it was.  

In went (alternately and slowly) the milk and flour/baking powder.  I used half whole wheat and half all purpose.  It called for all purpose, but why not use some whole wheat if you can, right?

IMG_0222 IMG_0223 IMG_0224In went the vanilla and I thought that I’d add a tablespoon of cinnamon.

IMG_0225

This cinnamon was definitely a good choice.  I think that the recipe would have been lacking without it. 

In went the slightly still frozen blueberries.

IMG_0227

Hehehe, it’s purple…

IMG_0231

I have never had to beat eggwhites to get them to froth before.  This was oddly satisfying!

IMG_0216

It amazes me that all of this eggwhite frothiness came from one egg!

I tried my best to fold in the eggwhites without sacrificing their integrity.  Easier said than done, but I think I did ok ;)

IMG_0232

Everything mixed together and placed in the greased pan with some cinnamon sugar on top to make a crust.

IMG_0237 IMG_0239And out of the oven!

It looks flat, doesn’t it?  Well, that’s because it is – but through no fault of the recipe.  It rose nicely in the oven and was a good looking loaf.  Then I turned it onto its’ side in order to let the bottom cool and stay crusty.  This has worked a thousand times.  Well, this day it rolled right over and sat upside down for a good 20 minutes while it cooled, and I didn’t notice.  And that’s why it’s squished.

It certainly didn’t hurt the flavour though!  It was absolutely delicious.  My one complaint was that it was a bit too moist inside.  I would imagine it was because the blueberries were still slightly frozen when I used them.  However, there was nothing in the second recipe that I based this on that said that they should be defrosted (and if they were defrosted, wouldn’t they just be more moist and liquid?  Hmmm…).  Or maybe it was just a moist recipe.

Either way, it was good enough that half of it was gone in 12 hours, so I stuck the other half in the freezer ;)

IMG_0242

This recipe was tasty and I might make a few more tweaks next time, but there will definitely be a next time :)

Spanakopita (and phyllo) – part 2

18 Jan

Did you miss part one?  Be sure to check it out, because otherwise you’re going to be a little lost…

So where did we leave off?  Ah yes, it’s time to make the phyllo!

IMG_0029 An empty bowl.  This shouldn’t be at the beginning of a recipe, it should be at the end – right?  Well, this silly blogger forgot to take a picture of everything in the bowl!  Fortunately, I’m sure you’ve seen a bowl full of white dough being mixed together and can imagine what it looked like :)

This was everything:  flour, salt, water (save for 1/4 cup), vinegar and olive oil.

IMG_0030Knead the dough for 10 –15 minutes.

IMG_0031While kneading, add the rest of the water as you feel it is kneaded (haha, that was on purpose :P), in order to bring the dough together and make it pliable.  When the dough is workable and elastic, you’re done kneading (it won’t take an hour, but that much kneading might feel like it!).  Shape the dough into a ball.IMG_0033When you’re done, put a small amount of oil in your hands and coat the outside of the dough.  Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and leave on the counter.

Now walk away.

Seriously.

Don’t touch this dough for at least 2 hours.  I did a lot of research when I was trying to figure out if I’d be able to make my own phyllo dough and most said the longer you leave it, the better.

Speaking of research, I read a lot about phyllo dough and read a ton of recipes on how to make it.  I was shocked at the vast differences.  If I were planning on following a recipe, I wouldn’t have known which one to follow.  Instead I found a few (fairly) consistent ratios and the ingredients that made the most sense to me.

And that’s how this recipe was born :)

*ahem* Now where was I…

Ah yes, it’s now 2 hours later.  Now get this lovely piece of equipment out:

IMG_0127That’s right, your pasta maker!

*sidenote:  I read lots of recipes that said that you could just roll the dough out and stretch it to how you wanted and I can see how it would work.  However, I think I would much prefer this method – even though it probably takes MUCH LONGER!  Fair warning…

Before you start, grease your ramekins with a little butter.  This way you won’t forget when you’re all excited about the phyllo and ready to put it in.  IMG_0129Cut your dough into equal pieces.

IMG_0130

I actually cut one of the quarters again and only used 1/8 of the dough for the rest of the recipe.

I wrapped the remaining phyllo tightly so that it would freeze well and could be used another day.

This recipe purposely uses only a little bit of phyllo.  This is because I not only wanted the spinach to be the star, but  I wanted to cut calories by eliminating the layers and butter that are typical in phylllo recipes.

IMG_0159

Now flatten your dough enough that you can fit it through the largest setting on your pasta maker.  IMG_0132In order for your dough to come out evenly, without bubbles or tears – crank it SLOWLY and be sure to guide the top end of dough with your hand – otherwise it’ll stick to the machine.

IMG_0133Once your dough comes out, fold it and put it through again.

IMG_0134

Continue this process.

If you notice that it’s getting too narrow, fold it in the opposite direction and put it through again.    IMG_0138

Once you feel that you’ve gotten the dough through the machine to your satisfaction (no bubbles, tears) and that it wouldn’t get thinner by passing it through again, take it down one setting smaller.

I generally passed the dough through 6-8 times (it is a time commitment….) on each setting before going down to the next one.

I can’t stress enough, how important it is to go SLOWLY.

IMG_0140

Once you’ve worked your way through the lowest setting, you’ll end up with this!

IMG_0141 IMG_0142 Notice that you can see through the dough.  This is the consistency that you are aiming for.  This stuff stretches like no tomorrow!

Clearly you would now use the dough in whatever manner your recipe calls for.

My recipe had me only lining four ramekins and bunching the excess on top.  In order to do this, I cut the dough into four equal pieces and then s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d it a little bit more to fit the shape of the ramekins.

IMG_0143 IMG_0144Place the dough in the ramekin, stretching if need be in order to have the dough reach the bottom and have enough hanging over the edges to eventually cover the top.

Be sure to be careful doing this.  You would hate to tear your dough when you’ve put soooo much work into it.

IMG_0146

Take your spinach mixture and divide it evenly between the four ramekins,

IMG_0147  IMG_0149Bring the edges of the dough over the top of the mixture and press all of the edges together in order to try to seal the Spanakopita.  IMG_0151

Melt enough butter to coat the tops of the Spanakopita and brush on.

IMG_0153

Place all of the ramekins in a baking pan just to be ready for any potential spill over.

IMG_0158

Into the oven it goes!

IMG_0161

Putting the Spanakopita under the broiler for a few minutes will help to get it brown and crispy.

IMG_0163

Et voila!  One single serving Spanakopita, heavy on the spinach and light on the phyllo and butter.  Just remember that that spinach is going to be HOT when you dig in.

IMG_0164 IMG_0165

Delicious!  Can’t wait to make it again!  Todd’s only complaint:  he wished that there was more phyllo!  This would have definitely been tasty, but was also what I was trying to get away from.  A taste of the phyllo instead of layers, upon layers was quite sufficient in this case :)

…oh, and they reheat wonderfully!  I brought one for my lunch one day and it tasted nearly the same as when I took it out of the oven.

 

Spanakopita

  • 1 lb Spinach (I used half raw and frozen)
  • 2 Green onions
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves Minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander
  • 1/4 tsp dill
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup Cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup Feta cheese
  • 2 tsp grated parmesan
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • Butter to grease ramekins and brush tops
  1. Put spinach in food processor on low until spinach is in small pieces and stems are incorporated.  If spinach is frozen (better to use fresh), you can get this same consistency, and no need to thaw.  You’ll simply have to let the water evaporate in step 3.
  2. Mince your green onions, using the entire onion, except any dark green ends that may be dried out.
  3. Place a pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil to the pan, and once heated add spinach, onions and garlic.  While mixture is heating, add oregano, coriander and dill and incorporate spices well.  Take pan off the heat when onions are tender, approximately 5-8 minutes.
  4. Allow spinach mixture to cool to room temperature.
  5. When cooled, add beaten egg, all three cheeses, salt and pepper to the mixture.  Stir well, to ensure flavours are throughout.
  6. Place 1/4 of mixture in each of 4 buttered, phyllo lined ramekins (phyllo recipe follows).
  7. Bring edges together and press tightly to seal mixture inside
  8. Brush melted butter on top, to help the phyllo brown and crisp.
  9. Place all ramekins in a baking pan, in case of any overflow.  Place pan in oven at 325 degrees for 20 minutes, or until tops are just beginning to brown and and butter around the edge is bubbling.  Then place under low broiler for 3-5 minutes (but watch carefully!) to make the top crispy.
  10. Enjoy!

Phyllo Dough

  • 2 2/3 cups All purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Very warm water + 1/4 cup Very warm water
  • 1 Tbsp White vinegar
  • 2 tsp Olive oil + 1/2 tsp to coat outside of dough
  1. Sift dry ingredients together.
  2. Gradually add in the wet ingredients: 1/2 cup water, vinegar and 2 tsp olive oil.  Use the warmest tap water that you can.  Warm water is the key to the dough coming together properly.
  3. Knead your dough for 10-15 minutes, until the dough feels elastic.  You may need up to another 1/4 cup of water (added gradually) in order to get this consistency.
  4. Form your dough into a ball and use your remaining oil to put a thin coat on the outside of the dough.
  5. Wrap your dough tightly in plastic wrap, and let sit on counter for at least 2 hours.
  6. Dough is now ready to put through your pasta maker or be rolled.  Your goal is to make the dough thin enough that you can see your fingers through it.  When you have that consistency, it is at the correct thickness to use for your recipe.  For tips on rolling your dough through a pasta maker, see above!

Spanakopita (and phyllo) – part 1…

17 Jan

I’ve been trying to write this post for over a week now and it just seems that the world has been conspiring against it!  In a good way though – been busy and been having a full life.

So my Recipe Challenge continues!  The second recipe is actually two-fold.  After a lot of research, I not only made Spanakopita; but I used my own phyllo dough!

Because there is so much information between the two recipes, I’ve split the post in two.  This is part one, with part two (and the recipe listing) following tomorrow.

IMG_0024 IMG_0028

Start off by putting the spinach in your food processor and grate it until it’s in small pieces and the stems are incorporated.  IMG_0036IMG_0037

I misjudged how much fresh spinach I had in my fridge and ended up using some frozen too.  After I took out the fresh spinach, I put the frozen stuff right in and did the same thing.

IMG_0038

In a bowl, mix the spinach all together, and set aside.    IMG_0042

Cut off any dry parts of your green onions and mince.IMG_0046 IMG_0047

Place a pan on medium heat, heat up your olive oil and add the spinach and onions.

IMG_0048

Mix thoroughly to ensure even distribution of the olive oil.  IMG_0050

Add in your 2 cloves of garlic.  I have a little problem with garlic.  I love it.  On or in just about anything. Limiting myself to two cloves was a challenge ;)

IMG_0051

In goes the oregano,

IMG_0052

and the coriander.  This was my first time ever using coriander and I really enjoyed its’ flavour.

IMG_0053

last in the pan is the dill.  That’s right, dill.  I read A LOT of Spanakopita recipes and some called for it and some didn’t.  I thought that it would really add to the complexity of the flavour.  I was right ;)

IMG_0054 IMG_0059

Mix this altogether and cook until the onions are tender, about 5-8 mins.

Remove from the pan and allow to cool to room temperature.

IMG_0060

Once cooled, beat one egg and add to mixture, being sure to mix thoroughly.IMG_0062

Next up, add in the cottage cheese,

IMG_0063

the feta cheese,

IMG_0064

and the parmesan cheese.

IMG_0065

Add a few turns of ground black pepper and mix everything together well.

That’s all there is to the filling for the Spanakopita!

Tomorrow’s post will have the rundown of the entire recipe along with a phyllo dough recipe and tutorial.  Having it all in one post was just toooooo long.

So instead, here’s a sneak peak (and a blurry picture) of the nearly finished product… IMG_0149

See you tomorrow for part 2!

The easiest soup ever!!!

16 Jan

 

Okay, I have had one heck of  busy week.  The crazy thing is that I couldn’t even tell you exactly what I’ve been doing!  It’s now the beginning of the next week and I am STILL working on my Sunday recipe posts!  I can’t seem to stay focused.  I have three posts associated with Sunday’s escapades, one from Tuesday and one from yesterday (Saturday).  And of course, today I’ll in the kitchen doing it all over again ;) 

Some of them are marathon posts, I tell you.  I need to learn to say more, with less words.  But if you know me IRL, you’ll know that this just isn’t possible!

So instead, I’m going to share with you the soup that I made last Saturday (Jan 8), which is the easiest soup to make ever!  This soup is not only easy, but it’s delicious!  I make this soup every 2-3 weeks without fail.  In fact, if it gets closer to that 3 week point, Todd will actually request that I make it.  Now that is the ultimate compliment  :)

I call this soup ‘Leek and Lima Bean Soup,’ although the broccoli and cauliflower components are almost as equal.  Buuuut, I don’t want the name to be crazy long, so Leek and Lima Bean Soup it is!

Start out by chopping the leeks,

IMG_4988You want to use the white and light green parts of the leeks.  Discard, the dark green parts of the leeks, as I’ve done with the two full leeks you can see.

Place your leeks in a large bowl and fill it with water so that all of the leeks are floating off the bottom.

IMG_4990

Swish them around for a half a minute or so.  This will get any dirt left on the leeks (it likes to hide within the layers) to fall to the bottom of the bowl.

Use your hands to scoop the leeks out of the bowl and shake off any excess water.  Clearly you want the dirt to stay in the bowl, so you can’t pour the water out, you need to leave it in and get the leeks out.

Put your leeks in a large saute pan, where you have melted your butter over medium heat.  IMG_4993 IMG_4994

Stir the leeks in oder to get the butter to coat all of the leek pieces.     IMG_5000Cover and let sit until the leeks are slightly translucent.    IMG_5004Add your chicken stock, IMG_5008

and lima beans.

IMG_5009

Chop up your head of broccoli.

IMG_5005 IMG_5006 

Leave lots of stalk, as it has lots of flavour!  Add to the pan.

 IMG_5010

IMG_5011Chop your cauliflower florets in the same manner as the broccoli and add to the pan.

IMG_5012       IMG_5019Stir everything together.

Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low until cauliflower is fork tender.

IMG_5020Next is the hard part.  Allowing your soup to cool.  I bring my soup down to room temperature before I put it in my blender.  This has come about because of this recipe, a blender glass jar and a complete break in it from the bottom to the top – while in my hand!  So now, I don’t put hot liquids in my blender.  I reheat if necessary.  

Usually, I just take it off the burner and take the lid off, but today, used my environment, IMG_5024Lid left on to deter any potential visitors.

Stirred after 10 minutes…

IMG_5028

And moved to a new patch of snow…

 IMG_0001 

And voila! It’s soup!  Not so appetizing this way though, so into the blender it goes!

IMG_0002 IMG_0003 IMG_0004 

Blended to your own tastes.  We like a few small chunks, but mostly smooth.

IMG_0005 IMG_0006  IMG_0008Ready for the ridge and the freezer.

IMG_0009

IMG_0011

Doesn’t that look good?   I promise it is absolutely delicious, and you’d never believe how few (and how healthy!) ingredients there are in this soup!  Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Leek and Lima Bean Soup

  • 1.5 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 bunch Leeks (2 large, or 3 medium)
  • 12oz frozen Lima beans
  • 4 C Chicken stock
  • 1 small Broccoli stalk
  • 3 large Cauliflower florets
  1. Cut leeks down the center and slice 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide.
  2. Put sliced leeks in a large bowl.  Fill the bowl until all of the leeks are floating.  Use your hand to swish the leeks around.  Dirt likes to hide in the layers of the leeks, so you want to make sure you get all of it – no one likes gritty soup!  After swishing, any dirt left on the leeks will sink to the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Melt the butter on medium in a large saute pan.  Once melted, put the leeks in the pan.  Saute the leeks until tender and slightly translucent, approximately 6-8 minutes.
  4. Add chicken stock and lima beans.  Any type of lima beans work, and if frozen, there is no need to defrost.
  5. Chop broccoli, leaving several inches of stalk.  The stalk has lots of flavour!  Add the broccoli to the pan.
  6. Chop cauliflower and add to the pan.  Cover, bring to a boil and then simmer until cauliflower (which will take the longest) is fork tender.
  7. Once, cauliflower is tender, take pan off of the burner and let sit until cooled to room temperature (could take more than an hour).
  8. Once mixture is cooled, put half in blender and blend to desired smoothness (8 secs in my case).  Place in bowl and add the second half once blended.  Mix together to ensure consistency.
  9. Enjoy!   …freezes VERY well.

Cooked Chickpeas? Ummm…

12 Jan

…I wrote this last night, but was so tired I forgot to publish it!

It’s snowin like a mofo out there right now!  It started snowing around two and and it doesn’t look like it’s stopping anytime soon.  I was at the gym for only an hour and a half and it took me a good 7 minutes to clean my car off after I was done!  And of course I came home and shovelled the sidewalk.  In my capris.  That’s right, I’m Canadian hard core. 

When I got home, I fully intended to have leftovers again; but they were missing from the fridge when I looked.  I’m guessing Todd took a menagerie of food for lunch today.  So I decided that this was a great opportunity to open up a cookbook and follow a recipe!  That’s right, trudging along with my recipe challenge!  I already fulfilled my week 2 recipe commitment (x3! I just haven’t written the posts yet), so this doesn’t contribute – it’s just bonus and a great habit to get into.

I didn’t feel like having any meat tonight, which was good, because I didn’t feel like cooking any meat.  Confession:  If there isn’t meat already made, 95% 99% of the time, I don’t bother with it.

I found a delicious looking recipe in Cooking Light:  The Essential Dinner Tonight

IMG_0175  IMG_0177Looks pretty good, doesn’t it!  Now of course, since I hadn’t planned on making this (and amazingly it wasn’t one of the tabbed recipes that I want to make – think I have enough of them? lol!), I had to make a few substitutions.  Although there were several of them, I don’t think that the substitutions interfered with the integrity of the recipe.

My one complaint with the recipe came right at the beginning of the process. IMG_0178The amount of oil you use to saute the garlic seems a bit excessive to me.  I understand that the flavour of the oil helps to flavour the sauce for the dish, but it just seems unnecessary to me.

Now this recipe called for chickpeas cooked into a sauce.  I really don’t like chickpeas – save for hummus of course – so I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it.  I decided to increase the amount of crushed red pepper it called for, in order to hedge my bets. IMG_0180 IMG_0181IMG_0182As I don’t keep seashell pasta on hand (ummm, does anyone?), I used half a box of whole grain fettuccine instead.

IMG_0183These are the fixins to be tossed with the pasta.  The red peppers were supposed to be grape tomatoes and the mushrooms were an add in, and definitely a good add in.   

IMG_0188

I drained the pasta, but didn’t rinse it.  The starch will help the sauce stick to the noodles.

And speaking of sauce,IMG_0187Well, this was a bit of a non-start.  We just replaced our food processor and this one has an extra piece that the old one didn’t.   IMG_0190Yup, there it is.  Once I actually attached it to the bottom (which actually allows the blade to turn), we were off to the races!

IMG_0191The recipe said that it was pureed enough when it was smooth.      

IMG_0196This is definitely not smooth.  There are two reasons for this:  1) I used a can that had 4 oz more chickpeas in it than I should have (and forgot to reserve it) and 2) I used my food processor when I should have probably used my blender.  I‘m VERY hesitant to use my blender for hot or warm items though.  I had the glass container part of my last blender actually crack all the way from bottom to top – IN MY HAND!  Scary, for sure.  And the liquid was just warm, not hot (which the glass was supposed to withstand).

All together now,

IMG_0197     IMG_0202Looks delicious!

IMG_0203Of course, I had to make one more substitution.  It called for parmesan, I used a bit of asiago.

Other notes that I had about the dish:

– Although it was absolutely delicious, I will say that the sauce looked like vomit

– The few grape tomatoes it called for definitely wouldn’t have been enough.  More veg to the dish would definitely enhanced the dish.

– I felt like this dish could have used a tad more raw garlic – or maybe that’s just my addiction talking…   

I’d give this recipe a 7.5/10, but will absolutely make it again (incorporating my notes of course).  I actually left the cookbook open on the counter, because I know that when Todd sees this in the fridge, he’s gonna be like, “What in the world is that?”  lol!

They won’t be leftover for long…

10 Jan

Hope you had a great weekend!  I certainly did.  My weekend involved, relaxing, reading, lots of cooking, lots of grocery shopping, some laundry and some cleaning.  Perfect if you ask me.

Today was good too.  Work was productive, my Reader shrunk, my workout was fantastic and my dog was happy to see me when I got home.  Again, perfect if you ask me.

Another perfect thing?  Leftovers.  Not having to cook dinner after a busy  and very full day, sign me up!  Leftovers really get a bad rep, and I have absolutely no idea as to why.  Just look at this delicious plate:

IMG_0172Here we have leftover barbecue chicken, leftover pan-fried mushrooms, leftover green beans, leftover homemade macaroni and cheese and some raw cauliflower.  If it weren’t for leftovers, there’s no way I would have eaten this well tonight.

The macaroni and cheese is a Cooking Light:  the Essential Dinner Tonight recipe.  Todd made it yesterday and it was absolutely fabulous (and fabulous again today!).  The only complaint with the recipe is that we had to double the amount of macaroni (and we switched out whole wheat instead of white); because it was so cheesy, it was nearly soupy.

We’ll definitely make this recipe again.  It’s a stovetop version and I think next time we’ll make it on the stove, but transfer it to the oven with some breadcrumbs and grated cheese on top.  Yum.

Speaking of yum, this is the second week of my Recipe Challenge and I must say it’s going great!  I created not one, not two, but three new recipes!  I also made a soup that I’ve made dozens of times, but have never featured on the blog.  Because I’ve made it before, it doesn’t fit in with the challenge, but I think that I’m set for recipes for this week ;)

So look to see those recipes in the next few days.  Which means that I have a lot of typing to do (2 of those recipes are for one dish)!  Off I go to type my heart out :)

I hope you’re not wanting to drive that…

8 Jan

I woke up this morning before the sun had a chance to reach the sky, and also before most people had had a chance to shovel their sidewalks. 108_0001And it was –11.  So why not go for a run! I decided to head out in my neighbourhood and get out before everyone else did.  I also decided to make this the first time that I have ever took a camera with me on a run!  Ya, smart when everything has a good coating of snow and you KNOW that there is a bunch of ice underneath it, (which I found out firsthand here).

108_0002My route was to the left, where there were no more sidewalks. I wasn’t sure if this would be a good thing, or a bad.  My run the other day had me running on everyone’s yards, because the road was so slippery.  Today I was a little more fortunate!

108_0003The first peeks of the sun between the trees, coming up over the houses…

108_0004I love when evergreen trees are full of snow.  So pretty! Although, you don’t want to be walking underneath when they let go…

108_0005I ignored the  subliminal message and continued along the snow covered road.

108_0006Not a ton of snow, just enough to keep your feet sliding with each step and getting your feet full of snow.

108_0008My first ever running self portrait.  I can’t believe, 1) it turned out (as did ALL of my pics), and 2) that I’m posting such an unflattering pic.

108_0009 108_0010 108_0011

Ummm…I live in an okay neighbourhood – I hope that this was done by the owner –lol!

108_0013Look!  shovelled sidewalk!!!!

108_0014Of course this wasn’t to last…

108_0015And only got worse.  Fresh powder is good for skiing (and apparently biking?), not so good for running.

108_0017Let’s just say, it’s a good thing that Todd had a dry pair of socks and shoes waiting for me at the gym.

108_0018That’s right, my destination was to the gym!  I actually live only 4/10 of a mile from the gym (meaning their is NEVER an excuse not to go), so I definitely took the long way.  I managed to make it take me 2.10 miles to get to the gym :)

I was meeting Todd at the gym (where I ran another mile and did some major stretching) because I wasn’t sure how long I wanted to be outside running with the low temps.  I figured I could shorten my route if it felt really cold, but it was actually really nice.  I know that my city’s name (Windsor) has nothing to do with the wind, but it seems like it is ALWAYS windy here.  Except this morning – which helped the air temp and windchill.

108_0021Yay!  Made it to the gym in one piece, no slips, no falls and not even that cold (except for my ankles).  This looks quite like the last unflattering pic, except this one has more sweat and a redder face:)

I really felt fine here, lung wise and cold wise; but I must say that my legs really got a workout with searching for traction the entire run! This was the slowest that I think that I’ve EVER run 2 miles.  And it doesn’t bother me a bit, because it felt great and it was nice to see the neighbourhood waking up.

However, I must say I’m happy that I have this,

108_0022

I was in a race on New Year’s Day – the Resolution Run 10K – and this is what you got instead of a tshirt.  It’s lightweight, but keeps you warm (without you overheating), it has thumbholes for days unlike today when you don’t need gloves and it’s bright enough that no car has an excuse not to see you.

Getting this jacket was well worth the ick race.  I’m pretty sure I never did a review of it, but here are the main crappy points:

  • It was way colder than today and windy as all get out
  • The course was FOUR 2.5k loops (idiotic)
  • There was a 5k and a 10k, with only a few dozen people running the 10k
  • It was described as flat, but had some of the biggest hills I’ve ever seen in a neighbourhood (and remember, I had to run up them 4 times!)
  • The course wasn’t closed, so we actually had to battle traffic
  • I finished last :( ….and JUST barely…

But I’d do it all again for the jacket!

My next run is Monday – I’m hoping for a thaw by then, think I’ll get it?