Cooking on Sundays: Fried Rice and Zucchini Patties

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It’s been a hectic couple of weeks and haven’t had the chance to sit down and blog. My busy season at work has started and September is only going to get busier since we have four events and I’ll be on the road for at least three of them. With so much on my mind, I didn’t really want to think about what I was going to be cooking this week so I went grocery shopping and went with what my body wanted. Meals this week include: fried rice with roasted veggies (and steak – not pictured because I’m going to make it fresh for dinner), zucchini patties with tzatziki and potato salad (because that’s what I’m craving). Keeping it super simpleĀ this week. Happy cooking šŸ™‚

IMG_20160828_210423508Zucchini Patties

Ingredients

  • 2 zucchinis, grated
  • 2 inch block of cheese (I used Gouda), finely diced
  • 1 egg or flax substitute (ground flax seed mixed with water, 1:1)
  • 2 tablespoon cilantro, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs green onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon super hot spicy chili flakes

Directions

  1. Grate zucchini and add some salt to it and let sit for at least 15 minutes. Wring out the water from the zucchini and place in medium sized bowl
  2. Finely dice cheese of your choice. I find that the cheese melts better when diced instead of grated
  3. Mix all ingredients together and form into patty shape. You can use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to mold it and keep consistent sizing
  4. Please molded patties into the fridge for 30 minutes so that it can firm up
  5. When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 350F and bake for 10 minutes and then flip them for another 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Tzatziki

Ingredients

  • 1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated or diced
  • 2 cups plain yogurt (I used PC lactose free yogurt)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. Peel the cucumber, remove the seeds and then either grate or dice it – depending on your preference
  2. Combine yogurt, garlic and lemon juice with cucumber. Mix and place in fridge or use immediately
  3. Serve with your favourite veggie sticks or with zucchini patties
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Port Credit: my first long distance bike ride

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I had always wanted to visit Port Credit, Mississauga for no apparent reason other than I have passed it many times on the GO Train and have always wondered what was there. A couple of weeks ago, my roommate and I decided to take the ride via the Waterfront Trail and it was awesome. A couple things I learned along the way:

  • If there’s a will, there’s a way. I haven’t ridden a bike in a very long time and having only started recently, I didn’t think I could take such a long journey (45 kms is not an easy feat, at least not for me) but with determination to get out of the house and see a new place, I did it!
  • Bike riding is a great way to see and explore new places. The last time I did something like this was when I visited Niagara-on-the-Lake vineyards in 2013 (rented bikes and rode to each one, it was a spectacularly fun and exhausting day).
  • Always wear sunscreen. I learned the hard way and slightly burnt my nose and have a wicked farmer’s tan.
  • Getting lost is part of the fun. We were following the GPS but it is sometimes different from real life – it happens. Since we weren’t in a rush, we backtracked and eventually found our way. Also met some nice ladies that led us back onto the trail!
  • Being carefree. Since the ride took longer than suggested by Google Maps – 1 hr 50 mins to get there and 1 hr 30 mins to get back, we spent a lot of time outside and it’s a joy being able to stop and look at the clouds in the sky; without a worry to be had. Also, when you’re riding and you feel that summerĀ breeze passing you, there’s something inside of you that says everything is going to be alright.

For a first long distance trip, I think it was well worth the couple of hours it took and I maybe fitter than I think since there weren’t any muscle aches afterwards. Also, the mint chocolate ice cream bar helped šŸ™‚

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Cooking on Sunday: Pantry Medley Mix

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I wasn’t feel well last week so didn’t end up doing a lot of grocery shopping. I also noticed that the freezer was starting to fill out so decided to do another pantry/freezer clean out (read about my first one here) to make way for other foods. The medley of meals this week include:

  • steak with mushrooms, onions, green beans and mushroom burger mix (sauteĀ the mushrooms and onions after the steak, it smells and tastes amazing!)
    • basting and cooking the steak in butter is heavenly

mushroom and onions

  • mushroom burger mix with tuna cakes (I still have so many cans of tuna left!),
    • Mix 2 cans of tuna with 2 eggs, chopped green onion, salt and pepper, bread crumbs, crushed red chili pepper flakes. Mold into 1/4 cup sizes and bake in oven for 22 mins.

meatballs and tuna cakes

  • homemade tomato sauce with lasagna sheets and turkey meatballs
    • Sauce: chop up veggies and tomatoes and place in a pot and simmer until it thickens (you can add tomato paste too)
    • Pasta: break up sheets of dried lasagna and boil until al dente (about 8-10 mins)
  • stir fry veggies and vermicelli
    • Chop up desired veggies and saute them in a frying pan
    • Prepare vermicelli according to package instructions. Add to veggies
    • WhiskĀ together: 3 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp hoisin sauce, 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar and pour over veggies and vermicelli, stir until mixed

Not much of a recipe week, more of a put things together that taste good and keep it simple. Happy cooking šŸ™‚

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Cooking on Monday because it’s a long weekend!

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With it being a long weekend, I spent most of the timeĀ outdoors and with friends and family – very much needed. Also, the weather has been really nice so I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen but there’s no shorter way to do meal preps. To avoid being too hot in the kitchen, I did everything in batches and in the oven so I wouldn’t have to stand over the stove. For this week, I made: baked porkchops with roasted veggies, Napa cabbage slaw, carrot soup, tofu “jerky” and mushroom barley burger mix (I defrosted it and broke it up in a pot and mixed with collard greens).

Porkchops

Baked Porkchops

Ingredients:

  • 5 porkchops, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven at 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Rinse the porkchops and pat dry with paper towel.
  3. Mix salt, pepper and brown sugar together. Massage into the pork on both sides – get it right in there.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes and flip over for another 15 minutes.

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Carrot Soup

(adapted from Thug Kitchen’s cookbook)

Ingredients:

  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 5 stalks celery
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Ā 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375F. Peel and chop the carrots. Chop the celery. Toss with olive oil, cumin and salt. Roast in oven for 35 minutes, until the carrots are tender.
  2. Once the carrots have cooled, place in food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Add more water to get to desired consistency.
  3. Garnish with herbs if you have some on hand.

Tofu jerky

Tofu Jerky

IngredientsĀ (from Thug Kitchen’s cookbook):

  • 1 package of firm or extra firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mince fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha or similar hot sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, thickly sliced

DirectionsĀ (adapted from Nacho Average Cook):

  1. Open and drain a package of tofu. Pat the tofu dry with paper towel or a cloth towel.
  2. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a shallow, flat pan (I use a Pyrex dish).
  3. Slice the tofu into 1/4 inch thick slices and place into marinade. Set aside in fridge for at least 2 hours.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Place marinated tofu slices on a single layer and set the marinade aside.
  6. Put in oven for 15 minutes. Then remove and flip. Bast with more marinade on each piece and put back in oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, flip once more and bast with more marinade and put back in oven for 5 minutes.
  7. Let cool and enjoy on its own or in a salad.

Napa Cabbage Salad

Napa Cabbage Slaw

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 medium Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 6 leaves kale, thinly sliced
  • 4 stalks green onion, thinly sliced
  • Tofu jerky marinade
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Directions:

  1. Rinse and dry Napa Cabbage and kale leaves. Thinly slice them and put them in a large container.
  2. Thinly slice the green onion, can include white bit if you like (I do).
  3. Mix the lime juice with the leftover tofu jerky marinade. Toss with salad when ready to eat.

Hope you had a good Monday and happy cooking šŸ™‚

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Cooking on Sundays: Eggplant Rollatini, Salad and Meatballs

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After spending most of the weekend outside at festivals (T&T Waterfront Night Market and Rib Fest at Fort York Garrison), meals for this week were pretty simple and full of vegetables. Eggplant rollatini (lasagna rolls with eggplant instead of pasta sheets), cauliflower salad, and kale salad with avocado dressing.Ā I haven’t been eating as much red meat lately to the point where my iron count was too low to donate blood this weekend – so I got some turkey and made meatballs. Recipe links are below. Happy cooking šŸ™‚
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Eggplant Rollatini – recipe from The Kitchn

Cauliflower salad

Cauliflower Salad – recipe from Tasty/Buzzfeed

Turkey Meatballs

Turkey Meatballs – adapted from DareBeeĀ and made with ground turkey instead of ground pork

Kale Salad with Avocado Dressing – adapted from The Kitchn recipe (I didn’t take a separate picture)

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Cooking on Sundays: Nicoise Salad in a Jar and Baked Salmon

Now that I’m done my travelling for this summer, it’s back to cooking and eating better. Vacation took a toll of my body – who can resist having seafood everyday in Halifax? The inspiration for this week’s menu came from having dinner with a friend and her talking about wanting to cook in larger batches so she wouldn’t have to cook everyday. We got talking and I was telling her that there are many ways to cook in larger quantities in a more efficient manner, such as using a slowcooker or baking multiple items in the oven at the same time. This allows for you to complete other tasks without having to stand at the stove top and have to keep an eye on things.

Vegetables for the week

I chose a Nicoise salad because it’s packed with vegetables and protein. Also, it’s easy to store it all in a jar and take it to work. I made the dressing and stored the tuna separately so that it wouldn’t make the salad too wet and last longer.Ā I had frozen salmon in the freezer so it was easy to pair it with roasted vegetables. I was craving green things this week so that’s what I got.

Nicoise salad in a jar

Nicoise Salad

Ingredients

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the salad:

  • 5 large eggs, sliced
  • 15Ā fingerling potatoes, sliced
  • 3 handfuls green beans
  • 2 5-ounce cans tuna packed in oil, drained
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 3 cups salad greens (I got to use some greens from my balcony garden!!)
Greens from garden

Kale and greens from my balcony garden

Directions

  1. Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, minced garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the oil, and whisk continuously until the dressing is emulsified.
  2. Cook the eggs, potatoes and green beans.
  3. Slice the potatoes and eggs into 1/2 inch slices.
  4. Assemble the jar in the following order:
    • grape tomatoes
    • green peppers
    • green beans
    • potatoes
    • salad greens
    • eggs
  5. Serve with dressing and mix with tuna.

Baked salmon and veggies

Baked Salmon and Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 4 frozen salmon, defrost and pat dry
  • 2 zucchini, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 500g cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoonĀ Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven at 350F.
  2. Defrost the salmon overnight in the fridge or in the microwave.
  3. Chop up the zucchini, cauliflower, mushrooms and green pepper.
  4. Place in a large bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Put the vegetable pan into the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. SpreadĀ the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper over the salmon fillets.
  7. Put the salmon panĀ into the oven with 15 minutes left on the vegetables.
  8. Portion out the salmon and vegetables into containers.

Happy cooking šŸ™‚

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Popsicles!!

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I was on vacation this past week and didn’t actually cook anything (re-heating fries on the stove doesn’t count). After gettingĀ home, the summer heat has arrived and what better way to cool down than with popsicles! I came across this cucumber mint green tea popsicle recipe fromĀ Cake Over SteakĀ and decided to give it a try.Ā They turned out delicious and perfect for a hot summer day šŸ™‚

Cucumber Pear Mint Green Tea Popsicles

(adapted from Cake Over Steak recipe)

Ingredients
For the mint simple syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 large sprigs of fresh mint
For the popsicles:
  • 1/2 cup mint simple syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened green tea
  • 3 tsp fresh lime juice (from about one lime)
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 pear, roughly chopped

Instructions

To make the mint simple syrup:
  1. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan. As soon as the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and stir in the mint leaves. Let it steap until it cools. Strain out the mint leaves and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
To make the popsicles:
  1. Add all of the ingredients to a blender (I used a Magic Bullet) with the liquid in the bottom. Blend until smooth. Give it a taste – it should be a little sweeter than you might want it to be, as it will lose some of its sweetness when you taste it frozen. Add more lime juice or simple syrup, etc. to taste.
  2. Pour the mixture into your popsicle molds and freeze for 4-6 hours or overnight. Enjoy!!

Popsicle1 Popsicle2 Popsicle3

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Cooking on Sundays: Canada Day Edition

IMG_20160703_232314Since it was Canada Day long weekend, I decided to stock up on veggies and take my time to put together some meals for this upcoming week. I’m also going on vacation so only have to make six meals (lunches/dinners) since breakfast is always steel cut oats.Ā Since I had more time to shop, I visited my local farmer’s market, supermarketĀ and produce store to get all my vegetables.

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I was inspired by a friend’s meal this week to try and make a collard greens wrap and just my luck, they were really fresh at the farmer’s market so I went for it and made aĀ chicken hummus collard greens wrap. To go with the wraps, I paired it with a potato salad and some cabbage/carrot slaw. As well, summer vegetables looked really good so made a simple veggie bake to go with the baked chicken breast.

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Chicken Hummus Collard Greens Wrap

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast, baked and shredded
  • 12 collardĀ leaves
  • 2 carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 8 stalks asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces
  • Hummus, store bought or homemade (mine was homemade)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Trim the white ends of the collard leaves as well as try to pare down the rib so that it’s flush with the leaf thickness.
  2. Simmer 2 inches of water in a largeĀ pan with salt and lemon juice. When it starts to simmer, turn heat down and place your first leaf in the water. Submerge for 30 secs and remove from water. Set aside on top of paper or kitchen towel to dry. Repeat for all leaves.
  3. Heat the pan with the canola oil and place the cut asparagus and pepper into it. Toss until asparagus is cooked yet firm.
  4. To assemble, place 2 leaves overlapping with the stems away from each other. Layer hummus, chicken, carrot and asparagus onto the leaves. Roll like a burrito with tucking in the sides as you roll. Repeat until all rolls are done. Then enjoy!!

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potato salad

Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 6 baby red potatoes, washed and cut into quarters
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 English cucumber, de-seeded and diced
  • 1 stalk green onion, diced
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp hummus
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Boil the potatoes until soft yet firm. About 15 mins. Rinse and run under cold water to cool.
  2. Mix together the carrots, cucumber, potato, green onion, mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, hummus, salt and pepper.
  3. Place in fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. It just tastes better cold!

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Summer Veggie Bake

Ingredients

  • 2 small zucchinis, sliced in rounds
  • 4 Roma tomatoes,Ā sliced in rounds
  • 1 Ā baby summer squash, de-seeded and sliced
  • 9 stalks of asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 stalk leek, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450F.
  2. Cut up the leek and wash it thoroughly. Here is a great Youtube video on how to wash it – I had to look it up.
  3. Put 1 tbsp of olive oil in the pan and put leek slices into the pan and saute until soft. Add the garlic for an additional minute.
  4. Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil into your baking dish (mine’s a 2 qt) and spread around with paper towel until lightly coated. Place sauteed leeks on the bottom of the dish.Veggies2
  5. Layer tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash, alternating slices. Place asparagus in between the rows.
  6. Drizzle the remaining olive oil and salt and pepper over veggies.
  7. Put in oven and bake for 45 mins or until veggies are soft. Serve with baked chicken breast.

Hope you had a great weekend and happy cooking šŸ™‚

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First Harvest Garden Salad

First Harvest Summer Salad
I’m super excited today because I harvested my first batch of spring mix from my balcony garden! Check out my tips and ideasĀ if you’re interested in starting your own garden.Ā Everything is growing but only after a couple of weeks, the spring mix had been doing really well so it was time to harvest and turn into a salad šŸ™‚

The spring mix was paired with grape tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, pear, mint, homemade croutons and dressing.

Homemade croutons were made with a stale baguette, olive oil, pepper and dried rosemary. Bake in the oven at 375F for 7 minutes. I unfortunately didn’t set a timer and burnt some on the bottom but managed to salvage most of it.

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I used my chickpea salad dressingĀ to toss the salad in and it complemented the ingredients perfectly!

IĀ can already see the tops of the radishes – probably ready for harvesting next week šŸ™‚

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Cooking on Sundays: Baked Mushroom Burgers

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I have been eyeing this mushroom burger from Host the Toast for a while and never really got to making it. I saw cremini mushrooms on sale this week and jumped on the idea of creating this delicious veggieĀ burger. There were a couple of changes to the recipe depending on what I had in my kitchen as well as being bakedĀ in the ovenĀ instead of fried on the stove top.

Mushroom burger1

Ingredients

  • 1 Ā½ cups hulled barley, cooked
  • Oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Ā¼ cup old cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • Ā½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Ā½ teaspoon salt
  • Ā½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cups panko bread crumbs, or as needed

Instructions

  1. CookĀ the barley according to packageĀ and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat the oven for 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In the meantime, chop up the onion, garlic, cremini mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes.
  4. Saute the mushrooms, add the onion and then the garlic until all soft.
  5. Put mushroom mixture in a food processor with half of the cooked barley. Pulse until mixed and has a paste-like consistency still with some chunks of mushroom.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the processed mushroom mix with the remaining barley, old cheddarĀ cheese, basil, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and eggs.
  7. Place mixture in fridge for 30 minutes. When ready to cook, pull it out from the fridge and add the panko bread crumbs a little at a time until the mixture is sticky but not wet. Shape the patties by placing mixture into aĀ Ā½-cup dry measuring cup and flipping it over onto your baking tray. Flatten the patty with the back of the cup.
  8. Place on the center rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Flip over and bake for additional 10 minutes.
  9. Pair it with your favourite bun and toppings.

I had it with a crusty Kaiser, slaw, cucumber and spicy mayo! Happy cooking šŸ™‚

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