Blueberry Oat Squares

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I am lucky enough to live a subway stop away from my sister and her family. I am also lucky enough to benefit from the goods that come out of her (husband’s) oven.  This luck is how I came to have this recipe. They both popped by one evening and handed us a Tupperware, warm with these fresh blueberry squares. They were devoured within hours, and within days we had produced another batch for ourselves and to share with co-workers.

With blueberry season creeping closer to us in Southern Ontario, you owe it to yourself to bake these buttery blueberry treats.  Bring them to your friends and/or family…they will thank you and likely make them feel a little luckier to have you in their lives.

Ingredients
Filling
3 cups fresh blueberries
½ cup white sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Base/Topping
2 cups quick oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup unsalted butter

Instructions
Filling

  1. Combine blueberries, sugar, and orange juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  2. When the blueberries are tender, stir in cornstarch and boil until thickened (about 1 minute).
  3. Cover with plastic wrap (directly on surface of blueberry goo) and cool for at least an hour

Base/Topping

  1. Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl
  2. Add butter, by ‘cutting it in’ until a coarse crumbed mixture has been formed

Assembly

  1. Preheat the Oven to 350F
  2. Reserve 1 ½ cups of crumb mixture for the topping
  3. Press remaining mixture into a greased 9 X 13 baking dish
  4. Spread the cooled blueberry mixture over the base
  5. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top
  6. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until lightly golden on top
  7. Cool completely before cutting. Although these were heavenly when delivered warm, my true preference is when they are served directly out of the fridge.

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Yoink!

Source (unchanged from):
Food.com

Sausages with Fennel, Pepper and Red Onion Slaw

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It’s pretty typical to hear a chorus of “mmm” noises coming from my side of the table whenever I am out for a tasty meal or happily digging into a successful new recipe. This meal was no exception. I was flipping through a Longo’s magazine when this recipe popped out at me. I put it on the meal plan for the week and was so pleasantly surprised by how this simple topping elevated sausages to beyond delicious.

This screams summer, so take advantage while you can prepare your entire meal on the grill. You will find oven directions below, but follow the link for instructions for cooking the slaw outdoors. As you do so, think of us sacrificing a cool home for satisfied taste buds.

Ingredients
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced *(this is often labeled as Anise in the produce section)
1 to 2 red peppers, thinly sliced
½ to 1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar + 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or use double the fresh)
Salt and pepper

4 your favourite sausages
4 whole wheat buns

Instructions
1.  Preheat oven (or grill) to 400F
2. Combine all ingredients (except sausages and buns) and spread evenly on baking sheet, reserving the 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
3. Roast for 30 minutes or so, stirring a few times to prevent burning. (Although, a little char never hurt anyone). When ready, toss with remaining balsamic
4. Meanwhile, if preparing indoors, preheat grill pan. Brown sausages on all sides and move into oven until cooked through. Alternatively, if you do not have a grill pan, roast sausages in oven for about 20 minutes, turning once.
5. To assemble, place sausage in bun, pile on slaw. Dig in. Serve with greens (swiss chard seen above) or veggie of choice

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Oh, baby.

Source:
Adapted slightly from: Longo’s

Shandy

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Anyone else feeling sweet relief today? The thunderstorm that broke yesterday evening was just the remedy for the nutso heat wave we were just hit with. Hopefully you all stayed safe and had your fridge stocked for a beautiful day on a backyard patio today.

Beer and Lemonade. Go.

This drink has been the beer of Summer 2013 for me – it is crazy refreshing! I believe Rickard’s has just released a premixed Shandy this year, but why do that when you can buy your favourite beer and your favourite lemonade and customize how lemony or how beer-y your want your beverage? This is a bit of a sham as far as recipes go, but I think it is well worth a try before the months get cooler.

Ingredients
1 bottle/can of lager beer (Brava, Corona, Keith’s etc.)
Lemonade, to taste

Instructions

1. Combine all ingredients.

The above picture has about 3/4 bottle of beer and approximately 1/3 cup of lemonade (if that). Adjust to your liking, and enjoy. Lemon slice optional

Montreal: I’m Still Full.

This is a long post.

What a weekend. I wouldn’t normally post about a getaway, but this trip to Montreal for our one year anniversary ended up being extremely ‘food-centric’. We unintentionally planned our entire itinerary around when and what we were going to eat.  My tastebuds were not disappointed and I was truly impressed with the offerings. We did quite a bit of research for where we were going to eat, which is necessary. There are a lot of amazing places to eat, but there are also a lot of places that, as my wise friend Laura suggested, are merely capitalizing on their real estate.

We stayed in the Plateau Mont-Royal, which I am so pleased about. It was removed from the tourist vibe and we could just enjoy the charm of Montreal. We ended up staying in two places (a story for another time), The Auberge de la Fontaine on Rue Rachel and at a loft that we booked through AirBnB close to Mont-Royal – an awesome experience!

Okay, the food.

Hachoir

This was our first meal on Friday. We started the evening by walking around Rue Rachel and Rue St. Denis; this little number was on the corner with the windows open. I saw a girl with a burger on a wooden platter and I knew this was where we would be for dinner.

I had “Le Jean-Guy”, which is a bison burger with old cheddar, bacon, arugula and a tomato-raisin mayonnaise. When I read the menu I presumed it was a “sundried tomato mayo”, which it very well could have been…but there were raisins. It was amazing.

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Andrew had “Le Penache” which was a venison burger with cheddar and BBQ sauce. It was juicy and super flavourful. Oh, and did I mention the onion rings?

 

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What really made these burgers for me was the bun. It had a blistered top, was soft but sturdy and completed the whole experience. The fries were excellent as well!

The burgers are on the pricier side, but the meat is ground in house and the ingredients are quality.

Boulangerie Kouign-Amann

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We truly benefited from having a friend who lived in Montreal. There are tonnes of bakeries and pastry shops and I would have felt cheated if I left the city not having discovered this one. I knew it was going to be good when our host Dominique (who is a baker) recommended it, despite there being a closer option!

We went twice during our weekend stay and were never disappointed. We got a cheese croissant, a croissant ‘croque monsieur’ style, a regular croquet monsieur, and almond croissant and the most delicious raspberry juice. I cannot recommend this darling place enough!!!

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Schwartz

Schwartz is one of those places that you just need to go to when you visit Montreal. It is iconic to Rue St. Laurent and has some pretty kickin’ brisket to top it off.  We split a sandwich because, as you can tell, it’s a lot of meat. We were nervous when we saw the line out the door, but that line is only if you want to dine in. There is a takeout option, which we opted for, and dined in one of the many green spaces the Plateau had to offer.

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Banquise

Poutine.  A must eat in Montreal. I was recommended to visit this place for their poutine and wasn’t disappointed! We ordered and split “La Classique” The curds were just as squeaky as you could ever want. I could have probably halved the gravy, but go big or go home.

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Dolcetto&Co

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This was one of the best meals I have ever had. It was so beautiful. This restaurant is located in Old Montreal, on Saint-Paul Ouest. If you’ve been down to this area, you know that there are A LOT of restaurants. This nautical themed ‘Italian tapas’ restaurant stood out to us. We sat at the bar which allowed us to watch all the food being made by the talented cooks. Everything was made fresh with such precision and care – it made the food even more delicious.  We ordered 4 things off the menu to share: a caprese with burrata, gnocci with a truffle cream sauce, the calzone with duck confit and mushrooms, and a pizziette with prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella and spinach. They didn’t all come out together, which I really liked since it allowed us to enjoy each one individually. I don’t think I will forget this meal anytime soon.

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So there you have it. We did do other things on our weekend getaway that didn’t involve food, such as Bixi-ing and hiking…but that is for another time. Hopefully this post guides your belly on your next adventure to Montreal.

Thai Crunch Salad


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I really enjoy salads. They can be really interesting and diverse and satisfying – we do a disservice to the salad name if we only think of some iceberg with tomatoes and cucumber swimming in ranch or Italian dressing.

This recipe meets my criteria for a tasty salad that can behave as a meal.  It’s really crunchy and fresh while still delivering the health factor that salad for dinner should. The dressing is excellent; we have used it as dipping sauce for rice paper rolls, as a sauce for a wrap, or whatever really. It’s great.

Ingredients
Dressing **(Recipe yields 2 cups!)
1 cup sweet chili sauce
½ cup rice wine vinegar
½ cup coconut milk (we freeze the remainder of the can)
6 tablespoons brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
3 tablespoon peanut butter (we use chunky, based on what is in our cupboards)
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
Juice of 2 limes

Salad
2 chicken breasts
2-3 cups Coleslaw mix (or, use shredded cabbage)
½ red pepper, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, shredded
½ cup shelled edamame
¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted, roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Instructions
Dressing

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Whisk together.
  2. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes. The mixture will thicken
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool

Salad

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a baking dish, brush the chicken with dressing (making sure you do not put the utensil you used to brush the chicken back in the ‘main supply’!!!)
  3. Cook chicken for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through. Allow to cool slightly before shredding or slicing.
  4. Prepare the edamame as per package instructions.
  5. Divide prepared ingredients among plates.

Adapted slightly from:
Smells Like Home
How Sweet It

Teriyaki Pineapple Burgers

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I love when a burger is more than just ‘a burger’. Sometimes you want something with a little more flare to help you celebrate the beloved grilling season. Unfortunately, our apartment building does not allow barbequing on the balcony (although, with all of Andrew’s plants, I’m not sure where we would put it!!) However, we received this lovely grill pan from my sister last year and it has helped us cope until we are able to finance a yard.

We halved the recipe below as found on Skinnytaste and from it made 3 burgers. I regret halving the sauce though…because you can never have enough sauce. Try not to slice the pineapple too thick or it could overwhelm the burger. The red onion and cilantro were not originally listed, but I love red onion and pineapple together…and it was very tasty!

 Ingredients

Pineapple Teriyaki Sauce
½ tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
½ pineapple juice
3 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 small garlic clove, finely minced

Burger
2 lbs lean ground beef (we used half extra lean ground beef, half ground chicken)
½ cup grated carrot
2-3 scallions, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon siracha sauce (we used a dash of chili flakes!)
slices fresh pineapple (1 slice per burger)
whole wheat burger buns (1 bun per burger)
lettuce leaves
¼ cup diced red onion
Small handful of cilantro leaves, chopped

Instructions
Pineapple Teriyaki Sauce

  1. Combine cornstarch with water until dissolved. Set aside
  2. Combine soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium low heat for about 15-18 minutes, until reduced by about half.
  3. Add the cornstarch mixture and simmer for about 2 minutes – the sauce will thicken.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside. This will be drizzled on your finished burger

Burgers

  1. Combine ground meat, carrots, scallions, ginger, soy sauce and hot sauce. Hand mix the ingredients, careful not to over mix. Form into equal sized patties of desired size.
  2. Preheat your grill/grill pan. Brush with oil to prevent major stickage.
  3. Place the patties on the grill, flipping just once after 5-7 minutes. You should see some good colour on the meat. Cook for another 5-7 minutes or until cooked through.
  4. Depending on your grill surface size, grill the pineapple slices for about 2-3 minutes per side while the burgers are cooking/after removing the cooked burgers from the heat. Grill marks aren’t just pretty, they’re delicious.

Assembly

  1. Place lettuce on the bottom bun. Add patty. Drizzle desired amount of sauce directly on top of burger. Top with slice of pineapple, red onion, and cilantro. Dig in.

Source:
Skinnytaste

Strawberry Jam

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This was the first year Andrew and I went strawberry picking. We drove north of the city, to Downey’s farm in Caledon. The goal of this picking trip was to make jam, as it has always been on my bucket list.  In all honesty, I can’t believe it has taken me this long. All jam making really takes is a bit of time and some tasty fruit. It’s a really special feeling to spread something on your toast that was homemade from fruit you yourself plucked from the plant.  I’m really looking forward to trying peach jam later on in the season!

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Aren’t they beauts?

Ingredients

7-8 cups of hulled strawberries,     quartered, halved, or mashed, depending on your tolerance for chunks
2 to 2.5 cups of sugar (or less depending on how sweet you like your jam)
Juice from half a lemon

Instructions
1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan.
2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer for at 20-30 minutes.
3. You’ll know it’s ready by using the “plate” method. Place a small plate in the freezer while the jam is simmering. At the 20-30 minute mark place a teaspoon of jam or so on the plate. Place it in the fridge for 2 minutes. Bring out the plate and draw a line in it with your finger. If the line stays (and the jam doesn’t close in on itself again), then it’s ready. Remove from heat. Otherwise, simmer longer.
4. Ladle into prepared jars. We got 4 x 250mL jars of jam from this recipe.

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Source:
Alexandra’s Kitchen