Thursday, October 14, 2010

Recipe Testing!

I volunteered my services again for Dreena Burton to test recipes for her upcoming cookbook and am truly honoured that she accepted my offer. This will be Dreena's 4th cookbook and it's going to be terrific!

Obviously, I can't give away any of the recipes or a whole lot of detail, but what I can give you are teaser pictures.

Up first, Nutty Veggie Burgers. These are super delicious! I would say they are the best burger/patty I've ever made from scratch. This recipe didn't require a lot of ingredients, or really much work.

The burgers held their shape, didn't fall apart and were easy to flip in the pan. We had them fairly simple, on a ciabatta bun with lettuce, mayo, red onions and BBQ sauce. Leftovers were re-heated the next day and tasted just as delicious. (In a household with only 2 people, how food holds up to being re-heated on another day is a big deal. If we don't eat it for another dinner meal, I will take leftovers for my lunch.)

This is Lemon Infused Mediterranean Lentils. This savoury dish is different from other lentil dishes I've made. There is a lot going on and every bite made me want to take another one.

More lentils in Fragrant Kidney Bean Lentil Dahl. It's certainly not Dreena's prettiest dish, but with lots of spices, it really is fragrant. Delicious with basmati and naan.

Of course, Dreena has made quite a name for herself with her baked goods recipes. He legacy will continue with the new book.

Here we have Coconut Banana Muffins. These turned out beautifully!

A little sprinkling of sugar on top gave just an extra touch of sweetness.

Inside, nice and flavourful. We ate a few and I put the rest of them in the freezer for a quick grab-and-go snack and they freeze really well. Scrumptious!

Cake anyone?

This Pumpkin Spice Cake is a wonderful autumn treat. The layers are so moist and delicious. This could even be a birthday cake.

Everyone that tried it really liked the flavour and texture of this cake. I used a generic cream cheese frosting for the outside, but Dreena is offering a few tasty icing recipes that would definitely be suitable for this cake.

If you like Banana Oat Bundles and have a love of chocolate (like Dreena and I both do!), you're going to be very happy to discover Cocoa Almond Jumbles. This is a super chocolately cookie that is better for you than most cookies. But, you don't feel like you're sacrificing anything!

I don't know if you can see this picture very clearly, but I wanted to show you the chocolately, nutty goodness inside.

If this little sampling hasn't gotten you looking forward to Dreena's new book, then stay tuned. There is more to come!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Jerry, Roger & Eats

Once again, there has been a long time between posts. Sorry about that (again). Time just seems to go by so fast lately. I have been busy with among other things -

going to see Jerry Seinfeld perform his live stand-up act. Totally hilarious!! We laughed for an hour and a half. He makes the silliest observations & verbalizes it so well. I still rank "Seinfeld" among my top 5 TV shows of all time. Sometimes, that show is my life.

My biggest event, BY FAR, was the Roger Waters concert.

Can you believe it's been 30 years since "The Wall"? (one of my all time favourite albums). I loved the songs, I loved the story, I loved the movie....and when I heard Roger Waters was doing an anniversary tour, opening in Toronto, there was no doubt in my mind that I would be there.

What a FABULOUS show! Roger was in terrific form.

He brought along the inflatables, wall projections, special effects, pyrotechnics, the pig - EVERYTHING! (except David Gilmour - boooo!!)

The experience was mind blowing. Roger's voice was great. During the first half of the show, the wall was constructed brick by brick across the front of the stage.

And at the end, they tore it down. It was wild! Best concert I've ever been to.

Anyhoo, as exciting as all of that was for me, probably not as exciting for you, so let's move onto a bit of food, shall we?

I really like the Podleski sisters cookbooks (Looney Spoons, Crazy Plates, Eat Shrink & Be Merry) They are quirky cookbooks filled with lower fat/calorie recipes - a bit of healthier cooking, shall we say. They are NOT vegetarian, although they do have some recipes with tofu & a meatless chapter. A lot of the other recipes can be modified to be meatless. Anyway, one that is vegetarian is Mexican Lasagna.
(Sorry the photo is a little orangey. I didn't have the proper lighting setting on my camera.)

This uses corn tortillas instead of noodles and lots of beans and veggies. It was really, really tasty! It did make a big pan and we had it for a couple of meals and I put the leftovers in the freezer. Not a good idea. It was all soggy and fell apart when defrosted. So I'll have to halve the recipe next time.

I had a bunch of dill that was starting to wilt and needed to make something so I could use it up. I found one on the Campbell's soup site. It was supposed to be with chicken, so I just used PC World's Best Meatless Chicken Breasts.

I also got to use up some sugar snap peas I had in the fridge. Combined with red pepper, cream of mushroom soup (recipe said cream of chicken, but I used mushroom) and some noodles, this was quite good. If you'd like to make it, the recipe is here.

Jim is not a big fan of cauliflower but, I found a dish that has won him over to the cauliflower side -
Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry from Veganomicon! He even had 2 servings of this. We had it with some basmati rice and Naan bread. It was sooo good. I took some leftovers for my lunch the next day and it heats up well in the microwave. 2 thumbs up on everything! (if I had an extra thumb, it would be 3 up for Roger)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Something New & "Chicken" Marsala

I've been working a lot of shifts and didn't have a whole lot of cooking time available. I thought this new product by Sunrise would be great for a quick meal. It's tofu in sauce and all you have to do is add vegetables.
These were on sale at the grocery store for 99¢ and I had a coupon to save 75¢, so I got this package for a quarter! The instructions said to add carrots and broccoli. I also had 1/2 of a green pepper in the fridge, so I threw that in too. This was ready in no time.

I found it wasn't quite saucy enough for my liking, so I poured in some jarred teriyaki sauce I had. The tofu was tasty and for 25¢, I'd say I got a pretty good meal. There was enough for 2 servings and I also had some brown rice on the side. I've since seen the "tofu n' sauce" at $2.49 which I probably wouldn't pay. It would be much more economical to get a whole block of tofu and cube it myself & add sauce.

Finally, I had some time off to make a bit of a special meal for Jim & I. I started with some Naked Quorn Cutlets and did "Chicken" Marsala. Marsala is a fortified wine from Sicily and gives this dish a succulent flavour.

I used Martha Stewart's recipe and it turned out really well. Of course, I didn't have any mushrooms on mine and I like it just fine that way.

New potatoes are out now and I just had to have a feast of those. These were steamed until almost done, then I tossed them in a pan with some olive oil and fresh herbs to finish them off. I used some parsley, rosemary and a sprinkle of chives. Soooo freakin' yummy!

I found a recipe for carrot ribbons on the Bon Apetit site that sounded interesting, so I gave those a try too. They turned out quite nice. I found I had to do a bit of fussing because the ribbons kept sticking together. I wanted to make sure that each one got a good coat of the sauce, so I spent a bit of time separating them. For a unique presentation, this was nice, but next time, I will probably just cut the carrots in pieces.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I'm very excited about my new purchase. I have never had a proper Dutch oven, but now I do! I have yearned for one by Le Creuset, but as you may know, they are very expensive. I stopped into Canadian Tire to look at attachments for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer when low and behold, I saw this -

It was displayed on and end aisle at HALF PRICE! It was listed at $99.99 but on sale for $49.99. Needless to say, any thoughts of pasta attachments flew right out of my head. I wanted the Dutch oven.

Lovely! It's such a pretty deep red colour. I haven't used it yet, but I already know what I'm going to make first.

Leek & Bean Cassoulet from Veganomicon.

These are pictures of one I made in the winter months. I had to cook it in a large skillet on the stove then transfer to an oven safe dish to finish it in the oven. Not really much of a nuisance, but still.....Now I won't have to!

If you have not made this dish yet, I don't know what you're waiting for. This is totally worth the cost of the book. I wanted to just keep eating, it was so delicious. I don't know which I liked better, the stew part or the biscuits. Both were incredibly good. Come on colder weather. I want more cassoulet!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Easy Peasy

A while ago, I bought Colleen Patrick Goudreu's newest cookbook The Vegan Table. Right near the beginning, is a recipe for Spring Vegetable Risotto. I knew I had to make it. I patiently waited until asparagus was in season, got all of the other ingredients needed and got stirring.

I'm still a bit of a novice when it comes to making risotto, but once I got the first few tries under my belt, I'm no longer intimidated. Despite what one may think, in the end, it is pretty easy-peasy. Jim is always standing by the ready for when I need him to take over periodic stirring duties while I prepare other things for dinner.

Doesn't this look absolutely delicious!? It made so much that we had it for 2 nights and I still put a container in the freezer. Can you freeze risotto? I guess I'll find out.

With all the fresh local produce available, I like to make simple dishes where the flavours really shine through. This one is so ridiculously easy.

Pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes, spinach, fresh basil, Asiago cheese...mmmmm. There is hardly any cooking involved in this one. I found the recipe on line somewhere, but did print it out, so I'll include it at the end of this post.

Speaking of ridiculously easy, last night I made Zoe and Andy's Sesame Tofu from The Garden of Vegan.

I'm positive I've blogged about this before because it's a snap to make and it's so tasty. 5 ingredients including the tofu, probably 15 minutes of prep and cook time total and it's done!

I served it with some fresh Ontario cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini and sliced carrots that I just saute├ęd/stir-fried with some olive oil, onions, garlic, salt & pepper. Delicious!


3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup balsamic vinegar*
2 tbsp. olive oil*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. each salt & pepper (I halved this)
4 cups baby spinach leaves
1 pkg. spaghetti (or enough to serve 4-6 people)
½ cup Asiago cheese, shredded
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
Toasted pine nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F. Toss the tomatoes with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Spread tomatoes on a foil-lined or parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast tomatoes for 20-30 minutes or until shrivelled and lightly browned.

Scrape the tomatoes and juices into a large bowl. Add the spinach. (At this point, I put a large plate over the bowl to help steam the spinach and wilt it a bit).

Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Toss pasta with the spinach, roasted tomatoes, Asiago cheese and basil. Sprinkle with pine nuts, if using. (I don’t like pine nuts, so I left them out). Serve with additional cheese on the side.

*The first time I made this, I found the pasta to be a bit too dry. The second time around I used 6 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 3 tbsp. olive oil. I found that to be better.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

My Big Operation by Simon

Hi everyone! Simon here. I haven't posted for a while, and since Mommy's been kind of slow at getting something new up, I decided I'd tell you all about the big operation I had.

Unfortunately, I tore the cruciate ligament in my knee. Dr. Woolard said we had to go to a specialist so Mom & Dad drove me almost all the way to Mississauga to see a special doctor!

I ended up having 2 doctors look after me. Both of them we ladies and they were super nice.

Here I am eager to go in. Unlike most dogs, I really like going to the vet. They always fuss over me and give me treats. To tell you the truth, I love the attention. See how I'm holding up my leg. That's the one I got the operation on. It hurt me to stand on it, so I just hopped on 3 legs.

I had to stay overnight for 2 nights. I was glad when Mommy came to pick me up. Although I liked everyone at the hospital, I missed my own stuff.

This is my leg the day I got home. See how it's all bruised. It kind of hurt. But look! I got stitches! How cool is that?

My leg was really swollen too.

And look what they did to me at the hospital. They shaved a big chunk of my fur off! It's a good thing it isn't winter time. I'd freeze!

I also had 2 shave marks on my front legs. This is where the IV's were. What a nusiance that was. I was sure glad when they took those things out.

Look what they had to say about me in the papers they sent home with Mommy. What can I say? Even in those circumstances, I was able to charm the ladies.

After a couple of days my leg started to look a lot better. The swelling was down and the bruises were gone.
I was sent home with antibiotics and pain killers so I spent most of my time like this.

Or this. I was really able to catch up on my sleep. Mommy and Daddy had to massage my leg and do exercises with me to keep my knee joint moving. Boy, was that great! I just laid there and they did all the work!

I had to wear a cone when I couldn't be watched so I wouldn't touch my stitches. They get itchy and it's hard for me to resist the urge. Well, I'd been such a good boy & not once touched them. Mommy & Daddy felt sorry for me having to sleep in my crate with the cone on, so after 5 days, they left it off one night.
I was overcome with the freedom and chewed out almost all of the stitches. What can I say? It was that devil on my shoulder. Mommy let me out of my crate in the morning and freaked. She called the vet and we had to drive out so they could look at it. I didn't see what the big deal was. My cut was holding together just fine. This time, I got staples.

How cool is that? It garnered me quite a lot of sympathy. hehehe. But I had to wear that damned cone every night and anytime Mommy & Daddy were away from home.

Here it is a couple of days before I got the staples out. Lookin' good. We went to see Dr. Woolard who took them out. He said everything looked good and that I'd healed nicely. What a relief that was. On the way home I hear Mommy say "no more cone". Yay!!

But, I gotta tell ya....I'm a Jack Russell and that devil was back on my shoulder. My incision was a little itchy, so I chewed on it and ripped off scab and made it bigger. Mommy said I was "trying her patience". Uh-oh.

Next thing I know, she comes home with this spray that she squirted on my leg and boy, did that stuff taste awful! I didn't mess with my scab any more.

It started looking really good and I was feeling pretty good too.

And here is my leg now. The fur has grown back and practically covered up the scar. I'm mobile and get all my long walks again. I can run and am feeling fine.

Yep, things are pretty much back to normal. Now to get Mommy posting again.....