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You say tomato…

8 Aug

IMG_2463Happy Monday all! So I promised you yesterday that I would show you some of what I’ve been doing with the tomato goodness from my garden. Just a quick refresher on the varieties I’m growing: golden cherry tomatoes, Roma/plum, beefsteak, and 2 kinds of heirloom tomatoes: Brandywine and Japanese Truffle. I seem to have a little blight on some of my plants, but happily, not all of them. I’m not in peak season yet, the tomatoes are coming slowly but surely. However, within a week or so, I’m sure I’ll be overloaded (and ready to share).

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Today’s spotlight is mostly going to be on the Romas. Last year was my first year growing plum tomatoes, and I LOVE them. They are perfect for cooking, making sauces, and roasting. Oh, how I LOVE roasted tomatoes. Confession: when I was out in the garden harvesting tomatoes on Saturday and thinking about roasting them, I *may* have made a rock fist and declared aloud how much I love roasted vegetables….that’s normal, right?

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The tasty lunch you see here is a salad of sorts. I roasted plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, red pepper and onion with some fresh thyme, salt and pepper and olive oil (confession: I was actually running out to get a few groceries, and put these in the oven before I left (on a lower heat than I normally would), then turned them up when I got home. But I do not condone/recommend having the oven on when you’re not home, for obvious safety reasons). I tossed the warm veggies with some fresh spinach and spritzed with my fancy truffle balsamic vinegar. The spinach wilted slightly, but not all the way – it was just perfect. I also tossed in about 1/4 cup black beans (all that was left from the can I opened for the chili), some feta cheese, and a piece of chopped lunch meat chicken (seasoned with lime and an herb – I forget what).

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A close-up of the grilled goodness

On the side, as you can see, I enjoyed 2 slices of fresh local muskmelon wrapped in ham (my nod to the classic prosciutto/melon combo). Mmm! Such a perfectly delectable summer lunch. I mean, I love salads and vegetables, but roasting them just takes the flavour to a new dimension. If you haven’t tried it, what are you waiting for?!IMG_2468

The other Roma/plum tomato usage I’m highlighting is in my Neapolitan green beans that were an accompaniment to my pizza Friday night (if it looks like a light meal, that’s because I was heading out to go to Costco and eat samples and then head to Starbucks with a friend). I made the beans the same way as I did when I first told you about them, only used fresh plum tomatoes. Garden fresh tomatoes + basil + beans = delicious side dish and happy Hilary.

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And the pizza? Ok, it does not contain tomatoes, but it was so simple, fresh, delicious, and AMAZING that you’re just going to have to hear about it, okay?

Goat Cheese, Beet and Arugula Pizza

Crust – by now, you’ve got the idea (click the link if you’re new here).

For sauce, I topped it with a smear of red wine onion relish (if you haven’t made it yet, WHY NOT? Seriously, so good) for a little added flavour and so that I wouldn’t be putting my toppings on a naked crust.

I topped that off with 3 beets that I cooked earlier in the day (it’s my new thing with beets. I LOVE them, but they are a pain to cook, so when I know I want some, I just boil the whole basket and put them in the fridge, then they’re good to go when I want them), sliced.

I sprinkled the beets with some crumbled PC Blue Menu goat cheese, and added salt and pepper, then popped it in the oven.

Now, to get all fancy and “restaurant-y,” I topped the baked pizza with arugula that I lightly dressed in a vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil and fat-free Italian salad dressing (basically my standard here). I’m really liking the fresh, cool salads on pizza thing lately (as in my spicy BBQ chicken pizza). Something about the contrast in flavour, texture and temperature just works.

Mmmm…this pizza was incredibly simple (as long as you’ve got the beets pre-cooked) but the flavours of summer produce really stood out in a delicious way. It’s so light that it would work for lunch, or cut in wedges it would make a great summer appetizer too.

Speaking of summer-fresh eating, head on over to Nourishing-Flourishing and check out her recipe for Garden Green Goddess Dressing. It uses avocado, fresh parsley, and a load of other delicious ingredients. I’ve really been digging the fresh parsley this summer. I’ve always planted it, but it took a backseat to Basil and my other fresh favs. But this year, I’m loving it’s fresh, grassy, herbaceous-ness and throwing into all kinds of salads (and dips – like that asparagus hummus and of course, cowboy caviar).

What is your favourite kind of tomato/favourite way to use fresh tomatoes (or you a hater, like I used to be)?

They’re coming!

7 Aug

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The tomatoes in my garden are starting to appear. I makes me so happy!

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Roma, golden cherry, beefsteak, heirloom, it’s a beautiful thing. Come back tomorrow to see how I’m using them (so far).

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Look at that close-up of the golden cherry tomato and the cut heirloom (Brandywine) tomato. You can’t really see it in this shot, but they’ve got a beautiful green tinge on top.

 

 

 

 

Happy Sunday! Eat local today!

Confessions of a “healthy” food blogger

6 Aug

You’ve heard it here before. I’m not perfect. I like to eat things that are not always healthy for me (read: I am obsessed with dessert). My kitchen “experiments” don’t always turn out. I’m actually kind of jealous of Jamie of The Sometimes Healthy Living Blog for coming up with such a perfect name. I like to say that hungry comes before healthy in my blog name because I’m ALWAYS hungry and sometimes healthy. So are you ready for a round of HHH IMG_2412confessions? Fasten your seatbelts, ‘cause here we go!

Confession Number One: On Thursday night (designated as a splurge night back when I did WW, and can’t get the mentality out of my head) I ate 1.5 pieces of better than you-know-what cake and the little bit of homemade ice cream leftover from Sunday’s BBQ. I smartly gave most of it away, but kept these little pieces for myself. I didn’t post the recipe (because it’s dangerously addictive, and I care about you guys), but it’s basically chocolate cake soaked in the Nectar of the Gods (AKA sweetened condensed milk) and caramel sauce, then topped with Cool Whip and SKOR bars. It is, as Professor Harold Hill would say: “trouble with a capital T.”

I also ate a couple of jelly beans, a brownie, a cookie with PB (but both were small and low-fat), cereal, and a few frozen mango chunks (no, you’re not mis-reading, this is all in the SAME NIGHT). Oh well, just get on with things, start the next day with a workout, and it all works out in the end, right?

Confession Number One point five: This is one point five and not 2 because it relates to number one. I ate a sliver of a piece of better than you-know-what cake after my long run on Monday. Here’s my rationale: chocolate milk is supposed to be the perfect workout recovery food because it its protein/fat/carb ratio. And this cake was chocolate soaked in sweetened condensed milk, so pretty much the same thing, right? (just smile, nod, and agree with my rationalizations to eat insanely decadent desserts before noon). Winking smile

IMG_2450Confession Number Two: Inspired by Nourishing Flourishing’s Savory Summer Squash pancakes I decided to try and create my own variation on it with zucchini, adding fresh corn and black beans, and using a piece of crumbled leftover cornbread . I also added onion and fresh basil, and seasoned with garlic salt, pepper and cumin. While the results were delicious, they weren’t pancakes AT ALL.

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Everything crumbled and fell apart in the frying pan, creating what I called “zucchini hash.” Like I said, delicious, but not pancakes. I think I needed to better drain the zucchini and add some sort of binding agent. It isn’t really a “confession,” but I just HAVE to tell you about the sauce on the chicken in that photo. I made a red wine cherry onion sauce by simmering leftover onion relish (make it. Make it NOW. So good that you’ll eat it by the spoonful) with Dijon mustard, a splash of red wine and pitted fresh sweet cherries. Yeah. It was awesome. You know you want some.

IMG_2462Confession Number Three: I ate chocolate for breakfast yesterday morning. Okay, this really wasn’t a “bad”/unhealthy breakfast, it just sounds like it should be, and it was a really good breakfast and I wanted to share it with you and it’s my blog so I make the rules…okay? I had a deep chocolate VitaTop, a mix of fat-free regular and Greek yogurts, unsweetened cocoa powder, Splenda, fresh raspberries (last of my garden I think for this year) and a few strawberries. I finished it off with an iced coffee made with sugar-free caramel syrup (not chocolate, but still delicious). Mmm…if you want to get your day off to a great start, eat chocolate for breakfast! This one hit all the right spots! Smile

Happy Saturday! Do you have any healthy (or not-so healthy) eating/kitchen mishap confessions of late to share?

Corn to be wild

2 Aug

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I made a lot of corn on the cob for Sunday’s BBQ. So much so that I had to cook it on the stove in our HUGE roaster. See these bags of corn? That’s *almost* all of the leftovers (minus the one cob I used for lunch today).

My mom informed me that she’s kind of tired of corn on the cob right now. I told her it’s a bad time to be tired of corn. So what to do with it all? Here’s what I’IMG_2424ve come up with so far….

For lunch yesterday, one cob’s worth of corn kernels made their way into a tasty salad, along with the teensiest bit of leftover “cowboy caviar,” red pepper, green onion, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, pickled red onions, fresh basil and parsley, and a tasty dressing made with chardonnay peach vinegar.

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What are those herbaceous cheesy topped veggies beside the salad? SO glad you asked. They don’t contain corn, but they were so tasty, I just have to share with you! I grilled a slice of eggplant and a portabella mushroom. Then I topped them with a couple of tablespoons of light ricotta cheese, salt and pepper, chopped thyme, basil and oregano, and lemon zest and juice. Mmmm! Summer deliciousness to the max. All the flavours worked SO well together and made a great light bite.

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Lunch was good. But more corn still remained. What to do, what to do? Then I thought, “I bet if I made cornbread with fresh corn kernels, it would be really good.” Then I thought, “I bet I could find a recipe that uses buttermilk, since I still have buttermilk kickin’ around in the fridge after making these biscuits.” Then I looked in Pioneer Woman’s cookbook and found her recipe for buttermilk cornbread. Then I though, “I bet I can make this healthier.” And here we are.

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I think that Pioneer Woman would be disappointed in me if she saw what I did for her cornbread. And this is why: 1. I sweetened it. I think I’ve heard that southerners DO NOT like their cornbread sweetened…but I do. And not only did I sweeten it, I used Splenda (the horror!). 2. I cut out the shortening and used a reduced amount of oil. You know how PW loves her ranch food. Since my long runs can never come close to the rigors of working on a ranch, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, ya know? I also used a square pan since I don’t have a cast iron skillet. PW, I love you, and hold you in highest esteem. Please don’t hate my northern cornbread, ok?

Fun fact: It took me three tries to get my “ingredients” (or cast of characters, as PW would say) shot since I kept forgetting things! The things I do for the blog!

Northern Girl’s Healthified Corny Cornbread

  • 1 cup Yellow CornmealIMG_2430
  • 1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ cup Splenda
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled jalapeno peppers (optional)
  • non-stick spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. While oven is pre-heating, put a 9 inch square stoneware pan or other oven-safe pan in the oven to get nice and hot. MAKE SURE YOUR PAN IS OVEN SAFE SO YOU DON’T HAVE A TRAGIC ACCIDENT AND HURT YOURSELF!!!!

Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder and Splenda in a bowl. Stir together.

Measure the buttermilk and milk in a measuring cup and add the egg. Stir together with a fork. Add the baking soda and stir.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until combined.

Slowly add vegetable oil to the batter, stirring until just combined. Gently fold in fresh corn and jalapenos (if using).

Remove the hot pan from the oven and spray liberally with cooking spray. Pour the batter into the hot pan. Spread to even out the surface. (Batter should sizzle.)

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Edges should be crispy! Cut into 12 pieces.

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Dry ingredients.

 

 

 

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Plus milk/buttermilk/egg/baking soda mixture.

 

 

 

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Add in the jalapenos and the corn kernels.

 

 

 

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Mix it all up, and ready to go in the oven.

 

 

 

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My pan is nice and hot. It’s really fun to pour in the batter and hear it sizzle.

 

 

 

 

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Now what goes good with cornbread? Can’t you tell what I’m going to make with olive oil, MORE CORN, zucchini and tomatoes from my garden, red pepper, mushrooms, onion, garlic, cauliflower, black beans, crushed San Marzano tomatoes, canned black beans, and leftover outside-in tamale pie (a little freezer burned after almost 4 months in the freezer, IMG_2441but not much worse for wear)? Don’t those leftovers just look SO appetizing in the photo? Smile with tongue out 

What? It’s not obvious? Ok, I’ll tell you: chili! And a darn tasty chili too! I just combined the above ingredients (well, sautéed the fresh veggies in the oil first) with a bit of water, salt, pepper, spices and Epicure seasonings, simmered away, and voila!

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The chili was delicious, and even better topped with Greek yogurt and leftover pickled onions, with a side of a cool cucumber salad, and of course, cornbread! I picked a pretty hot day to have chili, I’ll admit, but it did use up a lot of leftovers, so mission accomplished. At the end of the day, I said I felt like all I’d done was cut corn off the cob…do you understand why?!?!

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I was literally sweating after eating the hot chili for supper, so this chocolate cherry sundae (low fat vanilla ice cream, fresh sweet cherries, fat-free biscotti, light chocolate syrup, fat-free Reddi-Whip) cooled me down nicely.

 

I’ve still got a big bag o’ corn left. Any bright ideas to use it up?

Tea for Two

28 Jul

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I had an awesome landlady for the 3 years I lived off-campus during university. As in, free parking in the driveway, drive you to the hospital and wait with you for 5 hours and pay the parking ticket when you needed stitches kind of awesome. So when I bought a groupon to Dishington’s, a tea room just outside of London, I called her and asked her if she wanted to get together for lunch to catch up (she’s an avid HHH reader…Hi Lynne!). Thankfully, she accepted, and Tuesday we had lunch.

When I thought tea room, I was thinking creamy salads, sandwiches and baked goods, but thankfully, I managed to find some healthier options (since this week/weekend are PACKED with food-focused occasions, I didn’t want to start 80/20 –ing too early Winking smile). I ordered the “soup, salad and biscuits” with a garden salad. The soup of the day was tomato vegetable, so pretty healthy. I didn’t snap a picture of the biscuits, but I only ate one (no butter). I LOVE biscuits, but rarely eat them, so it was a nice treat. The salad was your average salad, and the soup was good.IMG_2306

Lynne and I decided to share a dessert. Given my love for peanut butter and chocolate, when we heard that peanut butter chocolate ice cream cake was the feature, that was our choice – YUM! It was pretty much just as delicious as it looked and sounded. The tea was good, but I was a little disappointed that at a fancy tea room, it was just Lipton! I was hoping for something a little more special.

All-in-all, it was a great lunch though. So nice to catch up with Lynne, who is no longer my landlady, but a dear friend. And I treated myself without going too overboard.IMG_2313

After saying good bye to Lynne, I headed downtown to The Running Room to get new runners. My current pair have been through a marathon and a half marathon with me, so they were well past their prime. After consulting with the helpful staff, I came away with the most expensive running shoes I’ve ever owned – these Asics. The guy told me that the shoes I have now weren’t supportive enough for my arches (I expected as much. I have flat feet and was in MAJOR pain when I crossed the finish line last fall at my marathon). I’m planning my “maiden run” in them today, so I’ll keep you posted!

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I was really hungry by the time I got back home (around 6). Although my lunch included some yummy treats, what it didn’t include was very much protein. I wanted something that would be satisfying and filling, but still pretty light. Enter: zucchini “pasta” with meat sauce.

Not only does zucchini “pasta” IMG_2309have way less carbs and calories than the usual stuff, it also cooks up WAY quicker ( a great benefit when your stomach’s eating itself). All you do is use a vegetable peeler to make thing strands from the zucchini. As long as it’s not too big and seedy, you can use the whole thing (one medium zucchini makes one serving).

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I cooked my “noodles” in salted water in my microwave cooker for 4 minutes, drained, seasoned with salt and pepper and that’s it!

 

 

 

 

For my quick meat sauce, I sauteed ground turkey, onion, garlic, mushrooms, IMG_2308red pepper and yellow pepper (from my garden!) in a teaspoon of olive oil until browned. Then, I added part of a can of San Marzano tomatoes, a splash of red wine (because it was sitting there, I was feeling rebellious, and I like the taste of wine in sauces, just not to drink)and salt and pepper; brought to a boil, then reduced the heat and simmered for a few minutes.

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Right at the end, I stirred in a generous handful of chopped fresh basil and oregano, simmered for a few more minutes, and we were good to go. I poured the sauce over my “pasta,” added some Parmesan, garnished with more fresh basil, and dinner was served!

 

Thank you to those of you who submitted questions to me earlier in the week. I plan to answer them in a post to come – it’s just been a bit crazy this week. Stay tuned for the rest of my eating adventures (and a shoe summary).

If you are a runner (or any other type of exerciser for that matter) have you shelled out the big bucks for shoes, and was it worth it?

Sorry….salads!

26 Jul

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Just to clarify the title, these are not sorry salads, as in, salads that have seen better days. More like, sorry…I’m posting salads AGAIN! But it’s hot, it’s summer, and this really is what I’m eating these days. So if you’re a salad hater like my cousin Jonathan, my apologies.

But before I give you the down-low on my latest salad sensations, some exciting news: I WAS FEATURED IN MY LOCAL PAPER YESTERDAY! Check out the article here. I called the paper to tell them about my blog and upcoming trip to the Healthy Living Summit, and to see if they wanted to write an article about me…turns out they did! As a Canadian blogger in a small town, there are many strikes against me when trying to promote HHH, but there are also benefits (ie, if I call up the paper, I get an interview and an article. Also, my stats jumped way up yesterday, so I guess even the smallest media feature helps. And if you are a new reader who found me via the Reformer, welcome!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled salads.IMG_2285 When I tell you the main ingredients of my Sunday lunch salad, it’s going to sound sort of like a weird casserole your hippy-Aunt would make.

  • kale
  • beets
  • quinoa
  • spinach
  • zucchini
  • portabella mushroom

….see? But it’s really good, I promise! This was my first time eating raw kale, and I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but it was actually pretty good. I mixed the kale with arugula and spinach for my IMG_2286greens, and tossed in some beans and peas from the garden as well. Then, I grilled a slice of zucchini, Vidalia onion and a portabella mushroom cap; sliced them up and tossed them in. I topped it all off with a cup of cooked, sliced beets (I pre-boiled and chilled them so they’d be at the ready when I needed ‘em), half a cup of leftover, cooked quinoa, fresh thyme and basil, and feta cheese. My dressing was made up of fancy cranberry wine vinegar, grainy mustard, oil and fat-free Italian salad dressing.

Oh. Wow. This salad was seriously yummy, and not in a weirdo healthy way at all. I love beets, and the sweetness of them and the cranberry vinegar in the dressing worked perfectly with the saltiness of the feta. The mix of grilled and fresh veggies provided a nice mix of textures as well. Mmmmm! And, as seen in the last close-up, one thing I love about beets is how they colour everything around them – I think it’s just so purdy.

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Salad number two is another grilled veggie wonder – grilled corn and zucchini, tossed with fresh spinach, onion, cucumber, red pepper, tomato and a bit of broccoli slaw. I put a bit of ham and feta in the mix, along with fresh dill, salsa, red wine vinegar and fat-free Italian dressing. Another winner! This salad was nice and light, and was the perfect pre-pool party lunch for Friday when I knew I’d be nibbling all afternoon.

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This is not a very good photo (I only have two hands, and I don’t have my own personal photographer), but I am attempting to show you a little trick I learned from Rachael Ray: when stripping corn off the cob, stand the corn up inside your bowl vertically, and run your knife down the cob – then all your kernels will end up in the bowl!

This may seem like a lot of salads, but starting today, it won’t be like that the rest of the week. I’ve got two lunches out planned (thanks groupon and wagjag), a BBQ/dinner planned with family and some friends visiting from BC, a potential girls’ pool party (rescheduled from last weekend), and we’re hosting two BBQs on the long weekend….so wish me luck! This is going to be one of those weeks when the 20% of the 80/20 rule won’t be enough for all of the splurging I want to do!

Do you like eating salad all summer, or do you get sick of it?

Road Trip!

21 Jul

I am blessed to live where I do. grapes of wrathNot only do I live within driving distance of most of my extended family, I also live within driving distance of many fun places to visit, such as Stratford Ontario, home of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. So when my Aunt asked if I wanted to go with her and my cousins to see a play in Stratford and go out for dinner (and generously offered to buy my ticket…thanks Auntie Rue!), how could I refuse?

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Since the play was at 2, we planned to leave around noon, which meant I’d be eating on the road. By now, you know me better than to think that equals McDonald’s (at least I certainly hope you do). I packed a nice little car-friendly meal: PC blue menu Tzatziki and veggies (including peeled pickling cucumbers…oh how I LOVE them….so crunchy…seriously one of the best parts of summer), ham slices with lemon dill mustard wrapped around arugula, 2 Source: Dessert Selection yogurts and fresh cherries. Since I was eating cherries and wearing a white skirt, I packed a paper towel, just to be on the safe side (thankfully there were no fruit/fashion mishaps). This lunch was perfectly portable, and perfectly delicious.

The play we saw was The Grapes of Wrath. Let me warn you, if you are feeling a little sad, or down-in-the-dumps, I wouldn’t recommend this one. It takes place in the depression, and it was, well, depressing. Don’t get me wrong, it was a really good play – very well done, superbly acted and great music, but not exactly a feel-good play, and you don’t come away feeling all warm and fuzzy. Thankfully, my Aunt and Cousins and I all have a pretty good sense of humour, so we were able to get our spirits up over dinner afterward.

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Speaking of dinner, we ate at Pazzo, which has a fancier trattoria upstairs and a more casual pizzeria downstairs. I ate a couple bites of a piece of bread and to start, my Aunt and I both had the “soiled reputation greens, roasted chickpeas, monforte toscano, lemon and olive oil” salad. Delicious! Perfectly dressed (not over-dressed at all) and the chickpeas had a pleasant crunch to them that worked beautifully with the other tastes and textures in the salad.

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Since we were at a pizzeria, of course we had to go with pizza for our main course. You can choose your crust and toppings, so my aunt and I shared a whole wheat crust (nice and thin, incredibly crispy, and not oily in the least) with tomato sauce, mozzarella, goat cheese, roasted garlic, portabellas, roasted red pepper, fresh basil, sundried tomatoes and roasted red onions (I think that’s everything). You pay by the topping, so it wasn’t cheap, but it sure was tasty! I ate two (plus a little bit) slices and enjoyed every bite.

Me and my cousin Emily at Pazzo (think we look alike? You’re not the first.)

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All-in-all, a great day. Nice weather, good (albeit rather sad) play, great food, and even better company. Thanks again Auntie Rue!

 

What are your go-to road-trip meals and snacks?IMG_2235

P. S. See this guy? It’s a yellow cherry tomato. It came out of my garden on Tuesday. It’s a slow start, but, my friends, tomato season has begun…stay tuned!

Oats, peas, beans and barley grow

19 Jul

Oats, peas, beans, and barley grow,IMG_2208
Oats, peas, beans, and barley grow,
Can you or I or anyone know
How oats, peas, beans, and barley grow?

…anyone else know this song? I feel like it may have been a Sharon, Lois and Bram classic. Anyways, that’s what was going through my head as I picked snow peas and beans from my garden today. I just need some oats and barley to complete my song! Or maybe I could rewrite the lyrics: “herbs, peas, beans and zucchini grow”? Any takers?

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So you know me, almost as soon as I got those guys outta the ground, I had to get them into my stomach! Exhibit A: my delicious watermelon, ham and veggie salad for lunch yesterday (there are peas and beans under all that pink-ness, I promise!). My greens were spinach and garden-fresh arugula, the vegetation was red pepper, cucumber, yellow and green beans and snow peas from the garden, cucumber, red onion and tomato. I used up the last of the watermelon leftover from the fruit bouquet and 4 slices of lean deli ham (preservative-free, thank-you-very-much). For herbage, I added some fresh cilantro.

I topped this all off with salt and pepper and a delicious vinaigrette made from schmancy maple wine vinegar, fat-free Italian dressing, oil and Dijon mustard. Once again, another salad winner, folks! Peppery arugula, sweet and juicy melon (just that combo alone was FANTASTIC), crunchy veggies, and herb-y freshness from the cilantro: summer perfection! Another added benefit? The lovely pink hue. Nothing like a salad in your favourite colour to get your week off to a good start!

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Exhibit B: The delicious bean side dish I made for supper last night. It was a riff on a Martha Stewart recipe I made last summer for my mom’s birthday called Neapolitan Green Beans. The original recipe calls for simmering the beans with fresh tomato, slice garlic, chili flakes, and basil. I have done my own variations on this dish several times, and they all turn out great. Here is a loose recipe guideline to help you re-create and/or re-invent this dish.

Neapolitan Green Beans

Adapted from Martha Stewart

  • Green and/or yellow beans to serve as many as you’d like
  • Tomato/some sort of tomato product (you can use any kind of fresh tomato – plum, cherry, regular, or canned tomatoes, or tomato sauce, or any combination of the above) This time, I used a bit of frozen spicy tomato sauce and part of a fresh tomato.
  • A pinch of chili flakes (omit if you don’t like things spicy or if you’re using spicy tomato sauce, as I did this time)
  • Fresh garlic, sliced (use as much or as little as you’d like)
  • A few sprigs fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Trim the beans and cut in half. Place the beans, chili flakes, garlic, tomatoes and salt and pepper in a pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer on medium-low for about 10 minutes. Add basil sprigs (leave whole), increase heat to medium and simmer, uncovered for 5 to 7 minutes until liquid is slightly reduced. Remove basil sprigs and serve.

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When the beans have simmered for about 10 minutes and look like this, it’s time to….

 

 

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….add the basil! Then simmer away some more.

 

 

 

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This is what it looks like when it has simmered and is ready to go…just take the basil out first!

 

 

 

This is a seriously simple side that tastes amazing! It will be even better when made with the fresh tomatoes that will arrive in my garden in a few weeks. No taste better captures the essence of summer than fresh tomato and basil, if you ask me.

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Now, what to pair these beans with for a garden-fresh summer meal? So glad you asked. How about a Sobey’s Compliments Chipotle BBQ chicken breast, quinoa with balsamic sage mushrooms, and corn on the cob? Yes, I think that would be nice.

All joking aside, this was one tasty, summer-licious meal. The only downside? A lot of pots to clean – between cooking the quinoa, the beans, the corn and sautéing the ‘shrooms – that was 4 pans!!! Good thing there was no clean up from grilling the chicken! Smile with tongue out

Do you have any favourite “unconventional” summer sides (besides the usual suspects – potato salad, corn-on-the-cob, etc)?

Corny

18 Jul

Happy Monday everyone! First, of all, to address the “loose ends” from yesterday’s post. If you haven’t read it yet, I really suggest you do so, it’ll make this one make a lot more sense…go ahead, I’ll wait.

Back now? Ok. IMG_2207First for the potluck summary. I sort of felt an “angel on one shoulder, devil on the other” vibe with my contributions – a big bowl of watermelon and cherries and then peanut butter chocolate gooey butter cakes with m&ms. And that, my friends, is where the pictures stop. Based on my general mood lately, I made a deal with myself that I was going to go, eat what I wanted, enjoy, no pictures for the blog…and I did. And it was fun.

I had a hamburger( with a bun…gasp!), some tasty salads, more dessert than I care to admit (mine and stuff that other people brought) and some fruit (see…I was healthy). I spent the afternoon sitting in the sun, chatting, with a bit of swimming thrown in to cool off, then ate 2 pieces of Delissio pizza (it’s been AGES since I had that stuff, and it is seriously yummy) and had ice cream for dessert. All in all,  a perfect summer day.

My “de-funking: list? I did it all. I’d love to say that I instantly and magically snapped out of the funk, but it didn’t happen quite like that (but really, when does life happen like that?). It was nice to be out of the house and with other people for most of the day yesterday to keep myself distracted. Sometimes, funks just happen, but you can’t let them take over…you just have to pray, be grateful for what you have, and move on with your life…at least that’s what I try to do.

I hope I didn’t scare any of you off with all of what I shared yesterday. It really was helpful for me though to have a place to share my feelings and be honest…so once again, thanks for listening!

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Now that we’ve got that our of the way, let’s move onto happier things – like the fact that corn is in season (now you’re starting to get the post title)! I used that corn in an absolutely delicious grilled veggie and bacon pizza creation Friday night, and I’d love to share it with you.

Friday was sort of a weird day eating-wise, with a late lunch, then a classy snack, and a late supper. So since I knew I’d be eating dinner pretty late, I prepped in advance before I went out.

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I grilled an ear of corn, a big fat slice of zucchini and two thick slices of Vidalia onion, then chopped them up and put them in a tupperware for when I got back.

I tossed the cold grilled veggies with cumin, salt and pepper. I crisped my crust as per usual in the oven, then for sauce, I used some of this absolutely delicious corn, black bean and roasted red pepper salsa I bought when we were in Buffalo (brand is Desert Pepper, but can’t find a link online). I topped it with 1/3 cup shredded light cheese, and most of the veggies (the rest of which I ate cold…delightful!), then sprinkled lots of chopped fresh parsley on top of that, and topped it all off with 1 tablespoon of bacon bits.

Now, I know that bacon bits are processed and real bacon is probably better, but I don’t really use bacon all that much, so it would go to waste if I bought it, so for that reason, bacon bits work better for me….sorry! I baked this guy to melt the cheese, just 5 or 10 minutes (although it was so late that this seemed like much longer). IMG_2188

Let’s go in for a close-up, shall we? ‘Cause this guy was GOOD! Herby freshness, just a touch of spice from the salsa, the charred taste of the veggies, gooey cheese, and salty bacon. Pretty much summer pizza perfection…so simple, but so good!

 

If you were to create a perfect summer pizza, what would you put on it?

Naughty and Nice

14 Jul

So, you’ve heard this before. The name of the blog is Hungry Healthy Hilary. And while I am always hungry, I try to always be healthy, but let’s be honest, it doesn’t always happen. As for the title of today’s post, I’ve made two chocolate IMG_2130things this week – one is a little more indulgent – the naughty. And one can be enjoyed on a more regular basis – the nice.

Let’s go naughty first – I’m talking cheesecake pops! Now, to be fair, I didn’t make these for me. They were for the same meal as the fruit bouquet and the lemon thyme biscuits. So while I did eat one (and may have a couple more, as the recipe made A LOT), I am not the sole benefactor, and thankfully, I don’t have all 56 of these beauties kicking around my house – that would be trouble!

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The recipe is courtesy of one of my favourite decadent dessert cookbooks – Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor. There are just so many fun and over-the-top recipes in there. If you want to indulge, this book is it! And since kids were part of the group I’d be making these for, I figured they’d be a huge hit (they were – and I don’t think the adults minded either Winking smile). My only “complaint” was that the recipe made WAY  more than it said. 30 to 40 turned out to be 56!!!! Guess they were supposed to be bigger?!? So I’m taking the 14 or so I have left here to my ladies’ Bible study tonight. I figured with a group of girls, chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick will go over well, don’tcha think? (so if any of my Bible study gals are reading this, you know what I’m bringing tonight).

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From Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor

Makes 30-40 (or 56 in my case)

  • 5 – 8 ounce/250 g packages cream cheese, at room temperature (you’ll notice I used reduced-fat, so this is practically health food Winking smile)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • boiling water as needed
  • 8 inch lollipop sticks (30 to 40 or 56, depending on how many pops you get)
  • 1 pound semisweet chocolate coating (the disk shapes – I couldn’t find these at my grocery store, so I had to use chocolate chunks – it turned out find)
  • decorations of your choice (I used sprinkles, mini m&ms and graham cracker crumbs)

Preheat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer set a low speed, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour and salt until smooth. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in vanilla and cream.

Lightly grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan) (I didn’t have one, so used a 9  inch square pan). Pour the cheesecake batter into the cake plan and place in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan (my roasting pan wasn’t big enough to fit my square pan, so I used my large bar stoneware pan). Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes (mine took over an hour, and I still think it could have been firmer. Likely this was due to using a smaller pan).

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or overnight.

When cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2 ounce balls and place on a parchment or waxed paper-lined baking sheet (if you don’t have a cookie scoop, you MUST get one for this task – it works perfectly) . Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 to 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate coating. Place half of the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave and stir. If the chocolate is not completely melted, microwave for 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth (this is what the recipe says, I microwaved less than half the chocolate for 2 minutes, then stirred in some unmelted pieces until they melted and the mixture was smooth. I melted more chocolate as needed).

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Hold the pop over the melted chocolate and shake off any excess. Place the pop on a clean parchment or waxed paper-lined baking sheet to set. If using decorations, sprinkle them on right away, as the chocolate sets quickly due to the frozen pops. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate as needed.

Refrigerate the pops until ready to serve (and store any leftovers in the refrigerator).

These would be great party food. Kids would love them, but they’d also be fun for bridal or bachelorette parties, birthdays, anniversaries, you name it! Also: they’re delicious! And you can personalize them by using decorations of your choice.

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On the left is just the cream cheese and sugar. On the right is in the middle of adding the eggs….beat, beat, beat!

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Hmm….5 packages of cream cheese, 2 cups sugar, 5 eggs and 2 egg yolks….I’m not sure if this is decadent enough yet. We better add some heavy cream just in case! Winking smile

 

 

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My square pan inside its water bath (in case you ever wonder why I have so much stoneware, I do love it, but I also used to be a Pampered Chef consultant).

 

 

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Let the scooping begin! I found it worked better if I let the scoop do all the work and I just left my hands out of things. The dangerous thing about a recipe like this is that no one will know how many cheesecake bits and bites you sample (strictly for quality control, you understand).

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These guys are scooped, sticked, and ready to chill out in the freezer.

 

 

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Chocolate is melted, decorations are set, let’s go for a dip!

 

 

 

 

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Don’t forget the sprinkles!

 

 

 

 

Now onto the “nice” chocolate item. I’ve IMG_2146already mentioned the copious amounts of zucchini that my garden produces. That means lots of zucchini baking ‘round these parts. I am about to share with you my favourite zucchini muffin recipes. It’s a recipe for chocolate zucchini muffins that I got off of the Weight Watchers Community Forum waaaay back in 2004. It comes from the kitchen of “Wootsy.”

Wootsy, I don’t know who you are or where you are, but if you’re reading this – thank you! Thank you for giving me a chocolate zucchini recipe that contains no oil, whole wheat flour, and still tastes amazing, and that I love with all my heart. I thought the 2 cups of white sugar seemed a bit much, so I cut down just a touch when I made these yesterday (I could hear the whole healthy living blog world “tsk tsk”-ing me for using 2 cups of REFINED. WHITE. SUGAR…..the horror!), but then I got to thinking – this makes a HUGE batch (30 muffins), so really, when you consider that, 2 cups isn’t SO much.

Anyway, thanks to Wootsy (and me), you too can enjoy these delicious muffins (in fact, Donna has already – I surprised her with some after UFC class last night). If you need zucchini to make them, you know who to call! Please, please make these. Like all zucchini baked goods, they are incredibly moist, and they are totally delicious, and can be enjoyed for breakfast, snack or dessert! Also: this is a one bowl recipe – everybody’s favourite!

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One tip before I launch into the recipe. I always use a regular old box grater to grate my zucchini. With a little elbow grease, the zucchini you saw above was reduced to what you see on the right.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins – Makes 30 regular muffins (or 24 plus 14  mini muffins. I like to make a few minis for snacking.)

From Wootsy on the Weight Watchers Community Recipe Forum in 2004

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  • 3 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (which conveniently, is almost exactly 2 individual cups)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin tins with paper cups or spray with non-stick spray.

Sift (which I almost NEVER do, including here. Just use a fork/whisk/slotted spoon – save yourself some time) flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together. Mix with remaining ingredients until just combined (did you know that over-mixing muffin/quick bread batter can result in a domed top? I learned that from Mrs. Douglas’ food and nutrition class back in grade 9).

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (about 10 for the minis) or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean (watch out for the melted chocolate chips though, they can mess with ya Winking smile). Cool and dig in and/or share with loved ones, as it makes a HUGE batch.

*Note: as with all muffins, these babies freeze beautifully.

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Blogging sin: I forgot to take a picture of the dry ingredients before I started adding the rest. So here’s the mixed dry ingredients with the shredded zucchini on top and nothing else added.

 

 

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Batter is mixed up and ready for action. And just because these are “healthy” muffins, it doesn’t mean the batter’s not delicious … not that I would know or anything, ‘cause I NEVER eat batter (if you believed that, you obviously haven’t been following this blog very long).

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Muffin cups filled up and ready to go. Let’s get these guys in the oven and get this party started!

 

 

 

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All done. It’s muffin time!

 

 

 

 

Ok, I promise, I’m done! Kudos to you if you made it all the way to the bottom of this post. It turned out a little longer than I thought, but I just had to share both of these recipes with you, and I thought the naughty and nice was a fun idea. So you can decide if you want to be naughty (although I truly don’t think it’s naughty to enjoy little indulgences like these every so often, and their small size makes it easy to treat yourself) or nice. Or be like me and do both!

When you make indulgent treats, do you gobble them down yourself, or try and get them out of the house as soon as possible? Or do you just avoid making decadent desserts altogether?