Tag Archives: vegetables

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 (saute 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
    • Whisk 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 🙂

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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. 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
  • 15 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 tablespoon 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. Spread the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper over the salmon fillets.
  7. Put the salmon pan into the oven with 15 minutes left on the vegetables.
  8. Portion out the salmon and vegetables into containers.

Happy cooking 🙂

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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 ideas if you’re interested in starting your own garden. 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 🙂

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 dressing to toss the salad in and it complemented the ingredients perfectly!

I can already see the tops of the radishes – probably ready for harvesting next week 🙂

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Cooking on Sundays: Butter and Vegetables

Butter potato

Butter Potatoes and ZucchiniAfter a couple of days in Montreal, I have a new found appreciation for the flavours that butter brings to a dish. I stayed with some friends of mine and when we cooked, butter was often the first and last thing in the pan. The aromas that melted butter produces is truly heavenly.

Having been on the road and visiting my parents for Father’s Day, it was an easy decision to make a simple and delicious dish – baby potatoes, red peppers, green and red onion all sauteed in butter as well as sauteed zucchini sticks with the cilantro sauce from last week. I paired it all with meatloaf I had in the freezer.

vegetables

Realizing that it wasn’t going to be enough food, I went and got more vegetables and made a stir-fry. Tossed everything together and a meal was done 🙂

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vegetable stirfry

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Balcony Gardening: Tips and Ideas

Gardening listHaving moved out almost a year ago, I have been staring at an empty balcony long enough. With the weather getting nicer and actually some outdoor space, my love for food easily translated into growing my own food. Unclear on where to start, I spoke to an avid gardener friend of mine about starting a balcony garden and he was eager to impart his advice to me. There is something very satisfying in knowing that you grew something from the start and are able to harvest it for consumption.

Here are some tips and ideas on how to get your small space garden started.

Containers

The bigger the better but basically anythingcan house your plants – empty peanut butter jars, empty laundry detergent containers, old lunchboxes, etc. It also depends on how much space you have. Most of my containers came from my parents’ place since they haven’t been planting much over the last couple of years. Take a look around you and be creative, advice I was given that I’m passing onto you. As most of my containers are on the smaller side, I’ve chosen to plant foods that don’t require deep containers. This Apartment Therapy article has some interesting ideas.

Also, since I don’t have a lot of space, I opted to get a small shelf where all the containers can sit in a compact area. This VINRUTA Plant Shelf from IKEA was inexpensive, easy to assemble, and fits my space perfectly.

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Potting Soil

I’m putting it out there now, I know nothing about potting soil. However, this article from Proven Winners gives a great explanation. My friend said get potting soil so that’s what I did, a huge 60L bag. He said I would need it all but that was a lie – for all my pots, I used maybe a quarter of it. Depending on the number and size of your pots, it might be better to get a smaller bag. Potting soil can be found at your local garden centres.

When planting, fill up the pot to almost the edge since when water, the soil will compact a little.

Seeds

What do you want to grow? Flowers, herbs, vegetables, fruit, there are many choices. For my balcony garden, I decided to grow radishes, chives, chard, cucumber, spring mix, green onions and nasturtiums. One thing I’m missing is a tomato plant – looking to get one this week. I also wanted to grow garlic but apparently it’s supposed to be planted in the fall, so that’s what my plan will be. My best resource for the types of food to grow comes from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

When you’ve decided on what you want, visit your local garden centre and talk to the people there. They are experts and can also give you advice on what’s best for your space. If you’re in Toronto, a great place to visit would be the Evergreen Brick Works, there is a great garden centre there and plenty of plants and seeds to choose from. I got my cucumber and salad spring mix seeds there.

I do realize that some people may not want to start plants from seeds, there’s nothing wrong with buying already grown plants. I was skeptical of growing from seeds because it was already late in the planting season but it’s worked out well so far.

Seeds

Water and Sunlight

Depending on the type of plants you choose, it may require more or less sun, shaded or full sunlight, everyday watering or more intermittent. Consult with the Almanac or refer to the seed packaging as there are usually instructions on what your plant needs. My balcony faces west so the plants get the most sunlight in the afternoon – there is no shade whatsoever, the plants get full sunlight, which seems to be working out. As for watering the plants, I do it first thing in the morning when I have time and the soil stays moist for the most part until the next day.

Most importantly, have patience. I was starting to fret a little because it had been a couple of days and nothing had sprouted yet. But, it all works out in the end. Here’s the difference between Day 1 of planting and Day 10.

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Day 1 of planting

Balcony garden2

Day 10 of planting

Follow me on Instagram @gt20 for more gardening progress. Hope this helps in getting your little garden started 🙂

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Cooking on Sundays: Meatloaf and Salads

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Even though it’s only May, the weather has been super hot and will continue this week. To combat that, I’m sticking with a salad/sandwich combo for lunch and meatloaf with roasted vegetables for dinner. It was super simple to prep since I didn’t want to be in the kitchen with the stove on. Below are some simple recipes that you can put together in very little time.

Chickpea Salad

This is adopted from a recipe I had at a friend’s place – super easy since it’s mixing vegetables together with a dressing. I usually go with what I already have in the fridge and need to use up.

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 2/3 English cucumber, de-seeded and diced
  • 1 cup Edamame beans (I use PC Frozen ones)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 handful curly parsley, finely chopped

Dressing (I usually go with 1/3 part lemon juice, 2/3 part olive oil ratio. It all depends on your taste but it’s my basic dressing recipe.)

  • Olive oil
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Garlic, minced (the more the merrier unless you’re taking it to work, might want to hold back on putting too much)
  • Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut up all vegetables. Mix the dressing ingredients together. Pour dressing over cut vegetables and enjoy!

Tuna Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of flaked tuna, drained
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 onion, diced finely
  • 3 TBSP plain yogurt (I use PC 2% Lactose Free Yogurt)
  • 3 TBSP mayonnaise
  • 1 TSP Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate for 2 hours minimum and serve with bread, crackers or on a bed of salad greens. I went and got bread at a local bakery – did a taste test and it was excellent.

Meatloaf (recipe and instructions from Allrecipes.com, with a couple of modifications)

I didn’t have any protein in the fridge so I decided to get a family sized tray of ground beef and figured meatloaf was the best choice. Having never made it before, my roommate tried this allrecipes.com one and it turned out great (moist and delicious). I made a couple modifications since I didn’t have some things on hand. There’s another recipe I want to try next time so I can compare the moistness of the two.

Meatloaf Ingredients

Glaze Ingredients

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the carrot, celery, onion, mushrooms, and garlic in a food processor, and pulse until very finely chopped, almost to a puree. Place the minced vegetables into a large mixing bowl, and mix in ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, and egg. Add herbs, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Mix gently with a wooden spoon to incorporate vegetables and egg into the meat. Pour in bread crumbs. With your hand, gently mix in the crumbs with your fingertips just until combined, about 1 minute.
  3. Form the meatloaf into a ball. Pour olive oil into a baking dish and place the ball of meat into the dish. Shape the ball into a loaf, about 4 inches high by 6 inches across. Or, make two smaller loafs
  4. Bake in the preheated oven just until the meatloaf is hot, about 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together white sugar, ketchup, Dijon mustard, and hot sauce. Stir until the white sugar has dissolved.
  6. Remove the meatloaf from the oven. With the back of a spoon, smooth the glaze onto the top of the meatloaf, then pull a little bit of glaze down the sides of the meatloaf with the back of the spoon.
  7. Return meatloaf to oven, and bake until the loaf is no longer pink inside and the glaze has baked onto the loaf, 55 more minutes. 

Share in the comments below what easy recipes you use. Happy cooking!

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Cooking on Sundays: Salad in a Jar

After a long week of being on the road, I didn’t have a lot of time to do groceries so I ended up with the easiest recipe I know: salad in a jar. Went to my local fruits and produce store and stocked up on vegetables (something I ate very little of, other than being smothered in butter or jus). I went with a list in my head and then changed up some things when I saw what was available.

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Ingredients today include:

  • Organic spring mix
  • Organic cherry tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Green and yellow peppers
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Bag of kale salad
  • Grapefruit (to eat on its own and to put in the salad)

I layered celery, carrots, green pepper, onion and spring mix in the jars. Then I roasted the yellow peppers, zucchini and cherry tomatoes with the balsamic reduction from a couple of weeks ago. To add some protein, I made two servings of egg salad (two eggs, celery, yogurt, mayonnaise and pepper). Along with this, I made a quick dinner of freezer dumplings (the last of them) and bok choy. I can’t wait to get back into the rhythm and cook some more later this week. Happy cooking 🙂

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