Tag Archives: pizza

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)?

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!

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?

Sides Show

10 Jul

Everyone needs some good summer sides, right? IMG_2014Either for a BBQ at your place or a summer potluck, it never hurts to have a few more recipes for tasty, healthy dishes, right? So, as promised yesterday, here are the sides that completed last week’s birthday barbeque-less BBQ dinner menu. Both are from the July/August issue of Food Network Magazine.

Red Coleslaw with Grapes – serves 6 to 8

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp fat-free Italian dressing, to lighten things up even more)
  • 1 small or 1/2 large head red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • 2 cups seedless red grapes, chopped

Make the dressing: Whisk the vinegar, mustard, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until well blended.

Add the cabbage, parsley, scallions and grapes to the bowl and toss to coat with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 4 hours before serving.

Baked Beans with Swiss ChardIMG_2026 – serves 6

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small bunch Swiss chard or mustard greens, stems removed, leaves chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced smoked turkey or lean ham (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 15-ounce can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can navy beans, undrained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and golden, about 7 minutes.

Add the chard, turkey and 1/4 cup water to the skillet; cook, stirring, until the chard wilts slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, increase the heat to medium high and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the pinto beans, then add the navy beans and their liquid. Add the parsley, thyme and oregano and return to a simmer.

Coarsely mash about one-quarter of the beans in the skillet with a potato masher or fork to thicken the mixture; season with salt. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish. Cover and bake 45 minutes, then uncover and bake 10 more minutes.

*Public service announcement: Please ignore the apple cider vinegar in the ingredients shot for the beans. For some reason, I got it in my head that there was vinegar in there, but clearly, there’s not. I only realized this once I had already started the recipe. Thank you for your cooperation (not like you have a choice Smile with tongue out).

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Mashing up part of the bean mixture with a potato masher.

 

 

 

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This is what it looks like when it’s ready to go into the oven.

 

 

 

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…and when the beans come out.

 

 

 

Now the coleslaw was great, I really enjoyed it. But…I CANNOT say enough about these beans! Seriously…I. LOVE.THEM. Now, these are not what you would typically think of as “classic” baked beans (molasses/brown sugar, bacon etc) but I love this twist on them. And if you are lucky like me, you’ll have a good amount of leftovers.

The leftover beans were a standout in the salad I showed you yesterday. IMG_2056Also delectable on Friday stuffed inside a pita with garden-fresh lettuce and arugula (I almost forgot I had that stuff for a while…SO good), mustard, onion and tomato, with a bit of leftover coleslaw and a big old pile of roasted garlic scapes on the side.IMG_2063

Saturday, the beans made another star turn in a delicious tofu shirataki “pasta” dish. I sautéed a boatload of fresh veggies (zucchini, asparagus, orange pepper, garlic scapes, sliced portabella) and a minced garlic clove in a teaspoon of olive oil, then added part of a can of San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand, salt and pepper, reduced heat and simmered a bit, and at the last minute, added chopped fresh basil.  I made HG girlfredo, and stirred this in, along with 1/2 cup of the beans, simmered for a couple of minutes just to heat through and served – voila! This was SO tasty and filling with all the veggies and protein and fibre-packed beans.

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Speaking of awesome uses of the leftovers from Wednesday’s birthday meal, I just can’t sign off without showing you this simply AMAZING pizza I made Friday night: Slightly Spicy BBQ Chicken Pizza. By now, you know what I did for the crust.

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For the sauce/meat component, I mixed 1/2 cup of the leftover pulled chicken with just a bit of light ketchup and BBQ sauce, a couple of dashes of the hot sauce I bought in Mexico (‘cause I like to live dangerously) and some cumin (I like it smoky).

I spread this on top of my crust, then topped with 1/3 cup light shredded Tex-Mex cheese, chopped red bell pepper, Vidalia onion and chopped jarred jalapenos (there I go living dangerously again).

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When the pizza came out of the oven, it looked like this. But I didn’t stop there.

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After slicing it up, I topped with the rest of the leftover coleslaw and some chopped fresh cilantro. I have seen enough BBQ recipes where you put slaw on the bun to think that this might be a good idea – and it was! The sweetness and coolness of the slaw contrasted perfectly with the spicy, smoky chicken – I’d definitely do this again!

Just to recap the birthday menu, since it was broken down over 3 posts, I thought I’d bring it all together for you here:

HG Guacamole with veggies and Guiltless Gourmet Chips

HG Crockpot Pulled Chicken on Buns

My Mom’s Potato Salad

Red Coleslaw with Grapes

Baked Beans with Swiss Chard

Chocolate Cappuccino Cake

Try some (or all of it)….it was really good!

Porky Pizza Pleasure

25 Jun

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Boston Pizza used to have a Jack Daniel’s BBQ pork pizza that was majorly delicious, and for some reason, one of the lowest-calorie options on the pizza menu (for the life of me, I can’t figure out why). But it got last in the midst of one of their menu reinventions. Sad smile Of course, I won’t let BP get me down. Inspired by the last few pieces of pork tenderloin from Father’s Day last night (yep, I used 5 day old leftover meat…don’t judge), I created my own version.

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My sauce was a mix of everything you see in the photo (although I think I might have forgotten to add the liquid smoke): crushed tomatoes, light BBQ sauce, light ketchup, cumin and sugar twin (in a pinch, you could just dump in some BBQ sauce, but I’m pretty sure this ends up being lower in calories). I mixed the sauce together, then added the pork tenderloin, which I had finely chopped.

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To create sort of a quick pulled pork-like texture, I microwaved the sauce/meat mixture on high for 2 minutes. Crust was the usual – by now you know the drill (toasted light wrap). I spread the sauce/meat over it, topped with 1/3 cup light Tex-Mex cheese, then chopped mushroom, red pepper and Vidalia onion (can’t get enough of those guys). I baked it for a few minutes ‘till everything was melted and hot. Mmmm….sweet and smoky! BP, who needs you anyway?

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Side dishes: two. Number one was this soup, which was super-easy to make, but not a flavour all-star. Good, but not great. All I did was microwave some chopped garlic scapes, broccoli and asparagus in salted water until very tender, almost mushy (7 minutes on high). I used my immersion blender to puree the veggies and most of the cooking liquid (in retrospect, I would have drained a tad more, as the soup was a little thinner than I would have liked…but it all depends on your preference) with 2 wedges of Laughing Cow light cheese, fresh dill, and salt and pepper…that’s it, that’s all.

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Side dish number two was in fact, quite simple AND delicious: roasted garlic IMG_1902scapes! All I did was toss some chopped garlic scapes with olive oil, fresh ground salt and pepper. I roasted at 425 (I think!) for 20 to 30 minutes. What I liked about this was the mix in textures – some of the scapes got kinda crispy, while others still had a nice chew. I ate them with my fingers – sort of like some green twisty, garlic-y oven fry. I thought for a second about roasting them with garlic, but then stopped myself. That is like putting garlic on garlic, which might be a bit much, even for me! Smile

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Do you have any favourite restaurant dishes that have been discontinued? Have you ever tried to recreate them at home?

Quick Pizza Post

20 Jun

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Happy Monday everyone!

Yesterday was a delightful but busy day, full of food, family and a delightful concert, so I didn’t have time to type up my usual post. So, I’m just going to give you a quickie review of a delicious frozen pizza I tried on Friday, and then I’ll be back as usual tomorrow.

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I saw these McCain Ultra Thin Crust pizzas at the grocery store and was attracted by the delicious-sounding flavours, but even more so by the fact that half of the pizza is only 300 calories!!!! I was a little worried that the low calorie count, was too good to be true and that the taste would suffer, but I had to try it out.

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Let me tell you, this pizza was AMAZING! We tried the “pollo” variety, and it was super-tasty! Nice thin and crispy crust, and seasoned chicken and peppers on top…I’d definitely have this again! I’m excited to try the spinach variety. And although it is a frozen pizza, the ingredient list isn’t too bad!

Do you have any frozen pizza favs?

Meat-free, the way to be!

11 Jun

…don’t worry, I haven’t gone vegetarian. Smile I just ate vegetarian suppers two nights in a row, and I like post titles that rhyme! June 10 2011

Thursday night, after meeting up with Donna for a chat and to plan our August trip to the Healthy Living Summit together (we were both relieved that we got along so well…otherwise it would be a long 9 hours to Philly), I met up with my mom and sister for a lovely ladies’ night out. We met at Devlin’s, a lovely “country bistro” (that’s what the website says) for dinner and then my mom surprised us by treating my sister and I each to a pedicure after dinner for an end-of-the-year treat (we’re both teachers) – thanks mom!

Instead of bread waiting for us, there were chips and black bean and corn salsa on the table. I nibbled on a couple, but it wasn’t anything fantastic, so I saved myself for the main meal. My mom ordered a Caesar salad, and was kind of enough to share a little bit with my sister and I (okay, so if you count the bacon bits, it’s not technically a vegetarian meal Winking smile)…we all LOVE restaurant Caesar salad.

I was trying to go for the “healthier” option on the menu, so I ordered the vegetarian roasted tomato ragout with polenta for my entree. The polenta was nice and creamy, and I liked the flavour of the ragout, but it was REALLY oily (I tried to ignore this). It was pretty good, but I fell like I could have made an equally tasty and less oily version at home. Shoulda gone with what I craved and got something else – oh well, live and learn.

Dessert was 80/20 in a BIG way! Caramel peanut cheesecake anyone? And, except for the two bites my sister had, I ate that WHOLE thing! Embarrassed smile…and had a bite or two of my mom’s rhubarb crisp too. I definitely did not need that whole dessert, but since I didn’t order an appetizer or eat a huge entree, I didn’t feel TOO horrible. The problem was that I munched on a few things when I got home (that whole Thursday night mentality). It wasn’t absolutely horrible, but more than I needed. What can I say? I’m a work in progress!

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Last night’s vegetarian effort was homemade, and, not to brag, but at least for the entree part, I enjoyed it MORE than the restaurant ragout (I haven’t quite figured out how to make a healthy cheesecake that tastes that decadent…any suggestions? Winking smile).

Since it was Friday, that meant PIZZA! Specifically, a balsamic wild mushroom pizza with goat cheese. My sides were roasted asparagus (roast at 450 for 20 to 30 minutes with PAM, salt and pepper, add balsamic at the last minute) and a simply amazing tomato and roasted red pepper soup with fresh basil. Mmmmm….the perfect spring supper celebrating seasonal veggies and herbs. I made the pizza and soup recipes sort of “in tandem” (read on and you’ll see what I mean, so I’m going to write those recipes up simultaneously.

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If you’ve read HHH for any length of time, you can already guess what I did for my pizza crust. For the base of my pizza topping (and soup), I sautéed half of a sweet Vidalia onion in one teaspoon of olive oil on medium-high heat until it just started to brown, reduced heat and cooked a bit more, then I added two cloves of chopped garlic. After cooking for a few minutes, I removed half of the onions to use later for the soup. For the pizza, I added chopped creminis, shitakes and one half of a GIANT portabello mushroom (you could use any combo of mushrooms you have).IMG_1710 I turned the heat back up to medium-high, then cooked the mushrooms until starting to brown and they were nice and juicy, then added chopped fresh sage from my garden (fresh sage and mushrooms are simply DIVINE together…try it!) and splashed in some balsamic. I let it all cook together until the liquid evaporated, seasoning with salt and pepper.

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For the sauce, I used a new Costco find (I made a trip on Monday) that is sure to become a favourite ingredient: mashed San Marzano tomatoes. It’s just tomatoes and basil, but it’s all pureed, so it’s the ideal base for sauces and soups – you can just add your desired seasonings and meat/veggies. So flavourful, but healthier than pre-made sauces with lots of additives. My pizza sauce was creamy – I combined one wedge of Laughing Cow light with a bit of this stuff, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a touch of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.

I spread the sauce over my crust, topped with the mushroom mixture, a few spinach leaves for added colour/nutrition, and crumbled goat cheese (just LOVE goat cheese and mushrooms…can’t get over it). I baked at 450 until the cheese had melted, only about 5 or 10 minutes.

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Meanwhile, my soup was going on. In a small saucepan, I combined the reserved onion/garlic mixture, about 3/4 cup of the tomato puree, a bit of water (tip: it was the bottom of the jar and I didn’t want any of the puree to go to waste, so I rinsed out the jar with water and poured straight into the pot to get all the goodness) and salt and pepper, I brought to a simmer over medium heat. I added one roasted red pepper, 2 wedges of Laughing Cow (can’t say enough how great this stuff is for creamy soups), and right at the end (remember, add late for maximum flavour), a handful of fresh basil. I pureed with my immersion blender (really, you NEED one) and topped it off with a bit more fresh basil.

After meals like this, I think it wouldn’t be heard to be vegetarian (but then I think about it and realize I’d never last). This meal was also perfect, as it was nice and light, which I needed after Thursday night’s splurge, and a few delicious samples I consumed while shopping at the market and grocery store yesterday afternoon. Embarrassed smile

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For dessert, I was excited to try some of the Chapman’s Yogurt Plus: Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble frozen yogurt I bought, topped with some of the new batch of stewed rhubarb I made and fresh strawberries. It was ok, but honestly, I wouldn’t have guessed there was rhubarb in there if I couldn’t taste it. It just tasted like ordinary strawberry fro yo to me (it was no soft serve sundae, that’s for sure). I do like Yogurt Plus though: it’s packed with fibre and probiotics, so can’t go wrong there, right?

Happy weekend! I’m hoping the weather forecast is wrong and we can enjoy some sunshine. Sun

Do you eat vegetarian very often, or are you a carnivore to the core? (I am on a rhyming role today Smile).

Chill out!

4 Jun

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I love oatmeal. I love soup. I love summer. Don’t think these things go together? That’s where you’d be wrong. Yesterday, I enjoyed cold versions of both, perfect for warmer weather ahead. Read on, and you’ll learn how to summer-ize two of my (and maybe your) winter favourites.

Yesterday’s breakfast was a delicious take on the blog world’s overnight oats: a recipe I am calling “Tropi-cold” Oatmeal. Here’s how you make it:

The night before, combine:

  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup fat-free plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • a splash of vanilla
  • tiniest pinch of cardamom (optional: I didn’t put enough in, so couldn’t really taste it)
  • touch of Brown sugar twin (or sweetener of your choice, or leave out)
  • 1 cup mostly mango and pineapple, chopped, plus a few sliced strawberries

Stir it all together in your bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight. Open up the fridge in the morning, uncover and serve (no AM prep required Smile). Mmmm….SO GOOD! And would be great for a busy morning. I have to say, this was only my second attempt at overnight oats, and I liked it much better than my first. Expect to see this one (and variations, of course) all summer long!

Now onto the cold soup (same bowl, different deliciously chilled dish). I’ve IMG_1657made a cool cucumber soup before, and figured with all this fresh local asparagus, I could come up with something tasty. Add in a few fresh herbs and some PC Blue Menu Tzatziki, and we’ve got ourselves a winner!

Cool as a Cucumber (and Asparagus) Soup (I didn’t measure, so quantities are not exact – this made one large portion)

IMG_1653– several spears asparagus, cooked until tender (I cooked them softer than I normally would since I was going to be blending them up), then immediately plunged into icy water

– a handful fresh spinach

– about 1/3 cucumber, peeled and chopped

– 2 green onions (white and most of the green part), chopped

– fresh mint, parsley, dill and chives, chopped

– a big spoonful of PC Blue Menu Tzatziki

– garlic salt and pepper to taste

– a couple of splashes of waterIMG_1650

 

This is what the asparagus looks like when it’s in the ice water. It’s important to do this right away, so it doesn’t cook too long and so it’s nice and cold to add to the soup.

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This soup is EASY! All you have to do is put everything in a bowl/pot/micro-cooker that you microwaved the asparagus in and then blend away with your immersion blender (or you could put it in a blender/food processor if you don’t have one of these guys, but really, YOU SHOULD….I use mine all the time). Season to taste with salt and pepper, add water until you reach your desired thickness. Then chill it in the fridge until it’s nice and cold (I didn’t have a lot of time, so I actually stuck mine in the freezer for a bit to get it nice and refreshingly cold.

Optional: garnish with Greek yogurt and fresh parsley before serving. Mmmm! This will be a perfect one for the dog days of summer, when it is just too hot to cook (although I will have to eliminate/substitute the asparagus once it’s out of season). It is so refreshing and also filling, while also being incredibly light.

So IMG_1655that soup did not appear all on it’s own on the stage that is the dinner table (or more often than not, dinner counter) of HHH. Nope, it was a part of Friday night PIZZA night! And it had been FAR too long since I made my own Friday night pizza…what with last week’s low carb-ness, 2 Fridays of being on vacation (NOT complaining), crazy-mad catering, ladies’ retreat at church, we’re talking a month and a half! So Friday night pizza at home came back with a bang in a majorly summery and delicious way: summer corn and bacon pizza! Let’s go in for a close-up!

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So here’s the down low on this beauty:

The usual crust (pre-baked, of course)

Sauce: quick mix of some salsa, light BBQ sauce, Splenda and 2 finely chopped grape tomatoes

Cheese: 1/3 cup ligh Italiano cheese (it was what I had on hand)

Toppings: just under 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed; chopped green onion; chopped red bell pepper; chopped fresh parsley and chives; 1 generous tablespoon of bacon bits.

Bake around 425 until cheese melts (5-10 minutes). Cut and enjoy!

I also served this supper with some roasted cauliflower (cumin, garlic salt, pepper, olive oil). Simple, but delicious…why change what works?

Dessert was a new recipe I tried for a frozen creation that I’m debating about whether or not to share with you, as it didn’t WOW me…we’ll see.

Just a note about all the fresh herbsI’ve been using on here (and you’ll continue to see all summer). I have a lovely herb garden to pick from, and I try to take full advantage of it all summer long. That being said, I know that many of you don’t have the luxury of having a wide variety of herbs right outside your kitchen door. I would hope that my posts/recipes might inspire even one of you to plant a few herbs. But I know not everyone is a green thumb, so feel free to buy the fresh herbs, and if this gets too expensive, experiment with dried herbs and/or leave out one or two. I’m telling you now, the flavour won’t be the same. It will be good, but different.

I’m just writing this because the last thing I want is for you to take one look at a recipe and say “I don’t have that herb, I can’t make it.” No, no, no, my friends! One thing I want to get across with my recipes/cooking is that they’re quite flexible, and can be varied according to your tastes and what you’ve got on hand. Who knows? You may just make a variation that is even better than the original. Use my recipe as your guide, and let it be your jumping-off point to whatever you create! Your kitchen is your studio, let the recipe be your own unique work of art (okay, I’m done with the chees-y clichés now Winking smile).

Do you have any summer versions/variations of favourite dishes?

Melty Mango

28 Apr

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Remember that case of mangoes I bought? They’re all gone, by the way. The last of the fresh ones was in the fruit salad I ate Easter morning. I used the last frozen chunks in some ban-ango soft serve Tuesday night. But, due to Easter and other food goings-on, I didn’t share with you all of my mango experiments.

Of course, I did the things you’d expect with mango – like making smoothies, or mixing it with yogurt for breakfast. I also made a few more unconventional combos. The picture above is one such creation. What you see is the mango and the light English muffin. What’s hiding is the melted light brie cheese in between the two. To make this breakfast, I just toasted the English muffin, then sliced an ounce of light brie over it, topped with mango slices, and microwaved for about 30 seconds. I served it with extra mango on the side. I love any brie and fruit combination (really, any fruit and cheese combo is good in my books), so it was no surprise that this was totally delicious! I think the combo would also be great for lunch, grilled in a panini.IMG_0815

The mangoes also found their way into supper – on a BBQ chicken and mango pizza. Crust – usual suspect. My sauce was mainly BBQ sauce, mixed with a little salsa. I topped it with chopped mango, onion, red and green peppers, one cooked PC Blue Menu Herb and Garlic Chicken Skewer (chopped up) and an ounce of the light brie again, sliced.

I loved the sweet and slightly spicy combo of this pizza. The brie wasn’t really the star (I would have had to used a lot more to get the flavour to come through). I think if I was making this again, I’d probably just use cheddar. Still, it IMG_0816was a really tasty (and colourful) pizza. My sides were kale chips and a spicy/sweet slaw, also with mango in it (going with the theme).

So mango (and any other fruit) is not just for breakfast any more. Think outside the box – you’d be surprised what flavours go together! Do you have any unusual flavour combos you love? What flavours do you like to pair with fruit?

A Hot Date and How Hula Helps

1 Apr

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So….which part of the title to deal with first? I’ll go for the “hot date.” No, it’s not about a great night out with a handsome guy (sigh Winking smile…just messin’ with you). No….all my hot dates are of the Medjool variety. I love these guys….sweet, sticky, and according to this article they are often referred to as “the king of dates.” I love ‘em in desserts (especially date squares) or just to snack on, but last week I thought I’d try something new…dates on pizza! Sounds weird, but don’t stop reading….they made an AWESOME pizza!

So, to start….basic crust (same old, same old…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). The dates had been in the pantry for some time, so I revived them by soaking in boiling water (that’s what made these dates so HOT) for a few minutes (this is a great trick that works with any dried fruit that’s a little past its prime). I caramelized a small onion in half a tsp of olive oil, and added some balsamic vinegar right at the end (I’m liking this trick lately to rev up the flavour of caramelized onions, particularly if I’m not using much oil….it adds a great sweetness and depth of flavour).

My pizza sauce was a sweet one…apple butter base, a touch of BBQ sauce, and a tad of my favourite balsamic mustard. Continuing on the sweet toppings theme I added part of an apple, thinly sliced, and the two dates, which I chopped finely after soaking. I piled on the caramelized onion and an ounce of crumbled goat cheese. I topped it all with a sprinkling of ground black pepper, baked until everything melted together and enjoyed! Mmmm..best date I’ve ever had! Open-mouthed smileWell, I guess since I used 2 dates on the pizza…I was on a double date?!? If Friday night is your pizza night and you’ve got some dates in your cupboard, why not give this a try this week?

The side dish you see is a unique creation I made…sautéed part of an onion, the rest of the apple from my pizza, some chopped cabbage and brussels sprouts…after cooking in oil for a few minutes, I added some chicken broth, Dijon mustard, a splash of vinegar, caraway seed and salt and pepper and let it simmer. After tasting, I determined it needed a little sweetness, so I added a dab of apple butter and a pinch of sweetener. At first, I didn’t love this, but it grew on me the more I ate….not my favourite side dish ever, but a good flavour combo.

Now onto the second part of my title…it’s been a while since I’ve told you about my love for hula hooping. I’ve kept it up, going to my one class a week, and have even purchased one of Judy’s hoops to practise at home. The home practise hasn’t been totally consistent, but I feel like some is better than none, right? After over 4 months, I’m noticing some small but definite changes in my body. There’s a bit more definition in my waistline (both my mom and sister agree Smile )….nothing huge…but at least a little trimmer. I wish it would work my lower abs a little bit more (no matter how hard I work, the good ol’ muffin top will ALWAYS be my trouble spot…sigh).  I definitely don’t have ANY natural curves, I’m as straight as they come, so I’m happy with anything that gives me a bit of a waistline.

And, two more things that made me smile happened on Tuesday when I was at the gym for hooping. Before class, I was working out with a personal trainer, and she was talking about exercises for me to do and working with another client, and she used the words: “she wasn’t as advanced as you.”….me…advanced at working out? Why thank you very much! As the former “fat kid in gym class,” I will take any exercise-related compliment, even if it isn’t totally direct! Secondly, during class, I was having a lot of negative thoughts/sort of a “fat” day (the hoop can make your shirt ride up/pants ride down, putting the spotlight on any belly fat you’d rather not have. Then after class, my friend told me she could tell I’d been running a lot lately. I asked her what she meant, and she said I looked a bit skinnier….score! I will take compliments like that any day, but on a “fat” day, they are especially welcome. Smile Don’t you love timing like that?

What was the latest compliment that made you smile…unexpected or not? Happy Friday everyone (that makes me smile any time).