cheddar & scallion loaf

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the aroma while this bread bakes is ridiculously good

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a happy piepie waiting for the bread to cool

I have to hand it to my husband, he makes an amazing loaf of bread.  There’s no doubt that I’m the head of the kitchen in our house – but he has me beat in the bread department. It is adapted from a “Taste of Home” recipe, super simple but you need some time for the dough to rise twice.  It works great for a lazy rainy Sunday! The kids love helping out and it is one of those very satisfying moments for me to see them interact with daddy in the kitchen.

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punching out the dough for the 2nd rise

We have made this bread dozens of times and the top two favourite combos are sharp cheddar & scallions, and cinnamon, raisins & pumpkin seeds.  You can certainly play around with different ingredients and find your favourites!

prep: 20 min + 2 hrs time to rise     bake: 30 min       yield: 2 loaves

what you need:

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar (you can use organic cane sugar)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp grape seed oil
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • *optional 1 egg and extra shredded cheese

what to do:

  1. In the large bowl of your stand mixer with dough hook, dissolve yeast in warm water, stir gently. Add the sugar, salt, oil, cheese, scallions and flour. Turn the mixer on (slowly) to combine everything. 
  2. Flour your working surface slightly.  Turn the dough onto surface and knead with your hands until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
  3. Grease a large bowl (quite a bit larger than your dough) and place dough in, cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rise in a warm spot for 1 hour.
  4. The dough should double or more in size after an hour – if it doesn’t try putting it in the oven on warm (low temperature, around 180 F) for about 5 minutes then turn off the oven and let it rise for another 30 minutes.FullSizeRender.jpg
  5. Remove the tea towel and turn the dough out onto floured surface – punch the dough to release the air. Cut the dough in half, then press it gently into greased loaf pans (we use silicone ones).
  6. Place damp tea towels over the loaves and allow them to rise until doubled, about another hour.
  7. If desired, you can brush the top of the loaves with egg wash (beat an egg) and top with a little more cheese.
  8. Bake loaves in the middle rack of your oven at 350 F convection for 30 minutes.
  9. When the top is evenly golden brown, it’s done! Remove and when cool enough to handle, turn onto a rack to cool some more. Slice and enjoy!IMG_0846.JPG

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christmas guacamole

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super easy, super pretty – perfect for the holidays

Who doesn’t love guacamole!? It’s such a great party appetizer, it’s healthy, and it takes minimal effort to make it. With December just around the corner, our weekends are already starting to fill up with Christmas parties and gatherings (’tis the season!). And along with that my mind starts spinning for new ideas for dishes while hosting and also thinking about what yummies I can bring to other parties. I was staring at my fruit basket on the counter and noticed the pomegranates beside the avocados…and it occurred to me that bright vibrant red beads of this juicy, tangy and sweet fruit might be a pleasant surprise in a smooth creamy bite of guacamole.  So I decided to give it a try…and guess what? It’s so good, so beautiful, and so much fun. The pomegranates not only add a festive touch but they are a sweet and textural pop in your mouth!

what you need:

  • 3 avocados
  • 1/2 pomegranate
  • 1 small garlic clove – finely grated
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped green onion
  • 1 lime (zest and juice)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

what to do:

  1. Remove pomegranate fruit from pith. One way to do this is to shallowly slice along the outside of the fruit all the way around – then use the tip of the knife to split it open.  Carefully remove the red jewelled fruit from the white pith (juices will stain your clothes so be careful!).
  2. Cut avocados in half and remove the pits. (Best way to do this is to cut in half, twist to open, then carefully use your knife to spear the pit, twist and remove).
  3. Scoop avocado flesh into a bowl.  Add garlic, cilantro, 1 tbsp green onion, lime zest and juice – mash with a fork until mostly smooth.
  4. Add a little bit of salt and pepper – taste and adjust.
  5. Spoon mixture into serving dish and sprinkle pomegranate and remaining 1 tbsp green onion over top – serve with tortilla chips. Enjoy!CSC_0822.JPG

salmon lettuce wraps

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so good and good for you

We eat salmon at least once or twice a week and it’s usually pan fried to get a bit of a caramelized crust on the fish, seasoned with just a bit of salt & pepper.  This time instead of serving it alongside stir fried veggies, I decided to try it in a lettuce wrap. Creamy avocado, crunchy tangy cucumbers and carrots, and warm caramelized salmon, all wrapped up in a tender lettuce leaf – pretty delicious! I think this might be my new favourite!  Boston bib lettuce is not a lettuce I normally buy (it’s in a huge plastic clamshell and I always think it’s expensive!) – but it really does make a difference to use this type of lettuce because it is soft and pliable but still has a nice crunch along the middle stem part. It does make for a very nice vessel for the ingredients inside and holds up without ripping or tearing mid-bite.

If your kids are like mine, they like to see what they are eating! (Especially piepie, no mixing for her…) – this meal is easy for that and suits the kiddie divided plates perfectly.

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after seeing me take a picture of the above wrap…piepie reminds me “I don’t want mine all mixed up together mom”

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of course once piepie wanted it separate…so did boss…

You can definitely use store bought pickles or pickled veggies, but it honestly takes one minute to make your own quick pickled veggies and they still maintain a vibrant raw vegetable appearance. These homemade leftover pickled veggies are great to top off salads or other dishes for another day – it will stay good in the fridge for about a week.

prep: 15 min    cook: 15 min    yield: 4

what you need:

  • salmon filet (enough to serve 4, about 12 ounces)
  • grapeseed oil
  • 3 mini cucumbers
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 cup or so white vinegar
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • 1/2 jalapeno *optional
  • salt and pepper
  • small handful of cilantro
  • 1 green onion
  • 2 avocados
  • boston bibb lettuce
  • 1 lemon

what to do:

  1. Carefully remove one large lettuce leaf at a time, wash and allow to dry on a clean dish towel or paper towels.  Set aside.
  2. Wash carrots, cucumbers and jalapeno. Peel carrots, then cut all these veggies into bite size pieces. Remove seeds from jalapeno if you want it to be less spicy.
  3. Place carrots, cucumbers, and jalapeno slices into a mason jar and add vinegar and sugar, shaking it slightly until sugar crystals dissolve. There should be enough vinegar to cover almost all the veggies. 15 minutes should be enough time to get some pickled flavour into the veggies.
  4. Season salmon with salt and pepper.
  5. In a non-stick pan on medium heat, add 1/2 tbsp grape seed oil, then carefully place the salmon in the pan. Cover with a lid and fry for about 5-7 minutes – once the salmon is crusted and caramelized on the bottom side, flip it gently to cook on the other side – about another 5-7 minutes. (This will depend on the thickness of your fish. You can easily check the doneness by breaking it apart a bit at the thickest part of the fish and make sure it is solid pink and not opaque pink. Although some people prefer their salmon slightly medium or medium rare in the middle – it’s your preference).
  6. Remove salmon from pan and set on a serving dish to rest while you cut up your avocado into long slices.  The easiest way to do this is cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, then use a spoon and scoop out long lengthwise slices.
  7. Wash and roughly chop green onions and cilantro. Cut lemon into wedges (to squeeze on top of fish).
  8. Lay out all the ingredients and let your hungry eaters build their own wraps. Enjoy!

pan seared ginger chicken with tangy roasted grape tomatoes

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nothing like a home cooked meal

We are back from two weeks of travels (and eating out) and absolutely craving good old home cooked meals.  And I missed my kitchen and cooking for my family!  Don’t get me wrong – I had so much fun trying different foods and dining out.  Not having to worry about lunch and dinner prep or grocery shopping…pretty different from my typical week of juggling work, home life and scrambling to get good food into everyone’s bellies.  As much as I feel overwhelmed and crazy at times (I cannot count the number of times I have said to my kids “mommy is not an octopus”) – I love my time in the kitchen and cooking is MY time, my therapy, and it feels good for my soul (okay maybe not when the girls are screaming and running around me and it’s chaotic, but these are the joys of having children right?).

Anyway, this dish was a hit for dinner last week and provided ample leftovers for 3 lunches (that’s a win, always). When I roast chicken my husband always comments on how juicy and tender it is – but this time he was really surprised at how moist the meat was, especially the white meat. I think it is because I pan seared it first (sealing the juices in) then finished it off in the oven over a bed of grape tomatoes, which popped in the heat and released their juices.

I have to say the kids were not fans of the tomatoes (in fact, piepie was bribed to finish at least 3 tomatoes… “I don’t like it mom! it pops slimey” and boss just outright opened her mouth “blah” and it fell to the floor) – however they loved the sauce over top of their rice and they ate up all their kale and chicken. Good enough:)

what you need:

  • 1 whole chicken (organic or local best!)
  • 2.5 cups grape tomatoes, washed
  • 3-4 thick slices of fresh ginger
  • 2 green onions, cleaned and cut into 2″ long pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic, roughly smashed
  • cooking oil (I used grape seed oil)
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic powder

what to do:

  1. Butcher your chicken into pieces (breast, thigh, drumsticks, wings) – keep the middle back bone for chicken stock for another time (you can freeze it).
  2. Season the chicken lightly with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  3. In a baking dish, add grape tomatoes and garlic. Toss with 1 tbsp oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. img_9399
  4. Preheat oven to 375 F. (350 F for convection ovens)
  5. In a frying pan on medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp cooking oil. Add the ginger slices and green onions. Saute for about 1-2 minutes, until you can smell the aromas of the ginger and green onion.img_9398
  6. If the pan seems dry add 1 tbsp cooking oil. Add chicken pieces to the pan, skin side down, you will have to do this in two batches (don’t overcrowd the pan or the chicken will steam instead of sear).  Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. img_9400
  7. Transfer chicken to baking dish and place the pieces right on top of your tomatoes.
  8. Pan sear the rest of the chicken just like step 5 (add more cooking oil too!). Once all the chicken is pan seared, place it evenly over top of the tomatoes and transfer the ginger and green onions over top as well.img_9405
  9. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes – 35 minutes (convection oven is faster) – the tomatoes will pop and shrivel a bit, and there will be lots of juices at the bottom of the pan (great over greens or rice). Check one piece of dark meat to be sure it’s cooked (cut right near the bone and make sure the juices run clear).
  10. Remove from oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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    perfect over hearty greens (e.g. kale) & rice

Ricebowl with turkey leftovers

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deliciously rich and fresh

How many turkey sandwiches did you eat this week? Be honest! We actually didn’t have any bread at home so our leftovers were literally eaten exactly the way we had it on Thanksgiving (and, still delicious!) but today we finally ran out of the sides dishes. You know, no more mashed potatoes, squash, green beans…etc…what we had left was the funny little bits of turkey (you know those, perfectly good little dark and white meat pieces but they aren’t in one big attractive slice!).

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rice awaiting saucy turkey & egg

So I thought a rice bowl with tons of crunchy greens, saucy turkey, and a runny egg (my favourite!) would be a nice change after a few days of repeated thanksgiving dinner.  It’s definitely a fresher taste and warms your belly at the same time!

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load it up with chopped greens!

Happy lunch time for me! I’ll probably make this for dinner for the rest of them fam! What you can do is chop up a bunch of veggies and let everyone load up their own bowls with what they want!

what you need:

  • left over turkey and gravy
  • rice (I cooked up some white and brown), about 1/2 cup per person.
  • shanghai or baby boy choy (about 2-3 per person)
  • mini cucumbers (1 per person)
  • green onion and cilantro
  • egg (1 per bowl)

what to do:

  1. If your turkey is in big slices, chop up roughly to bite size pieces or shred it with two forks (think pulled pork texture). Reheat it with your gravy in a saucepan on medium low heat (if you’re low on gravy, use chicken stock or some other broth to make it more saucy).
  2. Cook rice!
  3. Wash bok choy thoroughly (it can be very sandy inside so make sure you tear off each leaf from it’s bulb and wash well). Also wash the rest of your veggies.
  4. Chop greens up into small bitesize pieces.
  5. When ready to serve, poach or fry eggs so that the yolk remains runny (over easy).
  6. Assembly -put rice at the bottom of your bowl – then top with turkey gravy mix, egg, and lots of greens. Garnish with cilantro and green onion.
  7. Poke the egg to break yolk and mix everything to get a bite of all ingredients while eating. Enjoy!

banana muffins with a seedy crumble

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a school safe twist to banana nut muffins

Since pie pie started kindergarten, I’ve been tweaking my baking a bit to accommodate school safe snacks.  Sometimes for banana bread, muffins, or even cookies, I like to add ground up nuts into the batter for extra nuttiness and nutrition, but today I used seeds instead and made it into a crumble.  I am really pleased with how they turned out!  The crumble adds texture to the muffin and also makes them look really pretty.

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fresh out of the oven

prep: 15 min    bake: 15 min    yield: 12 regular muffins

what you need:

crumble:

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 heaping tbsp flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar

muffins:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt, plain
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 large bananas
  • 1/4 cup sugar (you can use white, brown, or coconut sugar)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

what to do:

  1. Line a muffin tray with muffin cups, preheat oven to 350 F (or 325 F for convection).
  2. In a food processor or powerful blender (I used my Ninja), chop up seeds (not too fine). Place them into a bowl and add cinnamon and butter, mashing the butter with the ground seeds to evenly distribute. It should be mealy (sort of looks like partly wet sand).
  3. In a large bowl, beat bananas and sugar together, then add in vanilla, egg and butter (it is easier to incorporate if you melt the butter slightly).
  4. In a separate bowl, measure and mix together your oats, flour, salt, and baking soda.
  5. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture, mix just until they come together – do not over mix or you will have tough dense muffins!
  6. Fold in greek yogurt.
  7. Scoop to fill your muffin cups, then top generously with crumble (about 1 heaping tbsp each muffin).

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    ready for the oven

  8. Bake for 15 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean and tops are golden brown. If the toothpick comes out clean but the tops are not browned yet, switch your oven to broil just for 30 seconds – 1 minute to brown the tops.
  9. Remove from oven and when cool enough to handle, remove from muffin tins and onto cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. ENJOY!
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boss, my little helper

sweet potato, spinach & chick pea hash

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Tonight’s main was this hash, inspired by two reasons:

1. My kids love sweet potatoes but were getting a little tired of sweet potato fries (usually I just cut them up into sticks and oven roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper).

2. I decided to go lighter and vegetarian for dinner because over the weekend we hosted two BBQs and definitely had our share of meaty proteins.

The girls (piepie and boss) ate this sweet potato hash right up and didn’t even flinch at the green spinach.  It also packs easily for lunch the next day, delicious at room temperature or slightly cool.  You could even spice it up by adding cumin, cayenne pepper, coriander, and/or turmeric.

prep: 10 min    cook: 10 min    yield: 2-4

what you need:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, washed/scrubbed thoroughly
  • 1 cup chick peas (cooked)
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp mild tasting cooking oil (I used avocado oil)
  • salt & pepper
  • cooking oil

what to do:

  1. Place washed sweet potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil then turn down to medium low, parboil (partly cooking) for about 10 minutes. You want them to be tender but not falling apart.
  2. Once cool enough to handle,  roughly cut sweet potato into bite size chunks. (I like to leave the skin on for texture and fibre).
  3. In a large skillet (best to use cast iron) – on medium high heat, add butter and cooking oil. (If you are using a non-stick pan, use medium heat). Once the butter melts, add the cooked sweet potato chunks and mash slightly with a large fork or potato masher. Lightly brown the sweet potatoes to make them hash-like.
  4. Add in your chick peas and spinach – stirring to mix everything together – about 5 minutes – once the spinach wilts and the chick peas are warmed, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Remove from heat and enjoy!