Roasted Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad

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Sometimes I feel like I misrepresent myself. I scroll through my shared photos of meals and it appears as though I have the eating habits of a pubescent boy. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have indulged in all of these things; however, I recognize that one must have balance. One must eat: nutrients.

We usually try to eat vegetarian meals 3-4 nights a week – this is a template for pretty typical dinner in our house.  As we transition into fall, we crave those belly warming meals – I find this salad exceptionally satisfying.

You really can play around with this; substitute the legume, cheese; and add whatever vegetables you have and/or crave. Other vegetables I have often included with good results, (but are not seen in the photograph) are: red onion, broccoli, butternut squash, and zucchini.  You could also top with a fried egg!
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, diced into about ½ – 1 inch cubes
1 red pepper, chopped
2-3 tablespoons herbs, roughly chopped (we had rosemary, lemon thyme, and oregano)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 cup chickpeas
3-4 large handfuls of spring mix
Feta cheese, to taste
Dressing (Jazz this up as necessary; I love the simplicity)
3:1 ratio of olive oil and white balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  2. Prepare the sweet potato, red pepper, and herbs. Coat in olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes. At this point add the red pepper and most of the herbs. Reserve some of the oregano for the final product.
  4. Continue to bake for another 15 minutes or so, tossing as needed, until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the mixed greens with dressing to taste. Divide on plates.
  6. When the veggies are ready, toss with chickpeas on the baking sheet.  Divide between the plates. Top with feta.IMG_3900
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Two Recipes, One Post – Peach Jam and Peach Iced Tea

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It’s a peachy frenzy! So, I realize it’s late September and here in Southwestern Ontario we may be at the bottom of our peach baskets. However, what better way to use up those peaches that are less than perfect than jam? And to top it all off, you use the skins and pits to steep into an iced tea.

The original jam recipe called for a lot more sugar than we felt we wanted to add. We took a chance and cut it in half, with the hopes it wouldn’t affect the pectin process. It’s a ‘looser’ jam (but certainly not ‘runny’), more like a preserve, which is my preference anyway.  I hope you enjoy and find some time this weekend to stock your pantry with the tastes of summer.

Peach Jam
Our recipe yielded 3 x 250mL jars. We used the oven method for sterilizing our jars and equipment as seen: here.
Ingredients
8 Peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
1.5 to 3 cups white sugar (we used between 1.5 and 2 cups)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (or lime juice, which is what we used in a pinch)
¼ to ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Prepare the peaches, reserving the skins and pits if preparing the recipe for peach iced tea (below).
  2. Pulse the peaches in the food processor. OR, mash with a fork/potato masher as the jam cooks. Chop smaller if using this method.
  3. Combine peaches with lemon juice, salt, and sugar.
  4. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  5. Continue to boil (while stirring) for about 10-15 minutes, until the jam passes the ‘cold plate test’. 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.
  6. Ladle into prepared jars.

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart

Peach Iced Tea
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Ingredients
Skins and pits of peaches from above jam making adventure
3 bags of black tea (we loyally brew Tetley brand)
1-2 teaspoons white sugar (optional)
Splash of lime juice (optional)
4-6 cups of boiling water

Instructions

  1. Fill the kettle and turn it on. Easy enough.
  2. Place the tea bags in a large heatproof bowl
  3. Place the peach skins and pits in a fine strainer over said bowl.
  4. When water has boiled, measure/pour water over peach scraps and tea bags. Let the tea steep for about 6 minutes. Remove bags.
  5. Allow to cool, serve with ice cubes.
  6. You may notice some sediment; if you desire you may further strain this through cheesecloth…I did not.

Chicken Pad Thai

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A few months ago Andrew and I ordered Thai food. We don’t order in very often (and usually it’s as simple as a pepperoni pizza), but it was one of those days where we were feeling both lazy and uninspired.  And I had a ravenous rice noodle craving. It was a big letdown – the pad thai was cold and ‘ketchup-y’; I prefer pad thai to be more tamarind heavy.

Repeats are fairly rare in this home, but we have made this version about 4 times; I am never disappointed. It’s important to keep in mind that pad thai, generally, is a bit of a ‘drier’ noodle dish. If you’re looking for something a bit saucier, I’d play around with the sauce quantities a little bit. **update we double the sauce as listed below, except the lime.**

Note: The original recipe calls for bean sprouts, instead of coleslaw mix. We usually figure out something to do with the leftover coleslaw…but the rest of the bean sprouts in a pack always get wasted. Do as you wish!

Ingredients
3 tablespoons oil, divided (we use olive oil)
3 eggs
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or more, if desired)

3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons chili paste (we use this product from Thai Kitchen)
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 shallots, finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 ½ cups of water

8 ounces of medium width rice noodles (1/2 of the pack shown below)

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1 to 1½ cup coleslaw mix (see note above)

½ cup unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
Lime wedges, for serving

Instructions

  1. Let’s get everything ready before we get started: prepare the shallots, garlic, and pepper.  Chop the peanuts and cilantro.
  2. Prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, chili paste, lime juice, sugar, and ½ cup of water.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat – make sure the pan is hot! Break the eggs in the pan and quickly stir until cooked. This usually takes a minute or so. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. My preferred way to prepare chicken breast is to flatten the breast to an even thickness and pan fry cook the breast whole until cooked through.  Set aside, letting the chicken rest.
  5. Heat the remaining oil; cook the shallots and peppers until the shallots are slightly softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  6. Pour the soy sauce mixture in the pan, and stir.
  7. Place the uncooked noodles in the pan (as one large mass) and press the noodles down to flatten them with a sturdy spatula. They will start to absorb the sauce.
  8. After about 2 minutes, flip the noodles over. This is a delicate process. If it feels a little awkward, then you’re doing it right. Add another ½ cup liquid.
  9. Repeat this process of flipping and adding more water (we usually end up adding another cup) until the noodles can be tossed with tongs.
  10. Now, let the noodles cook in the sauce, tossing occasionally for up to 15 minutes, or until noodles are done to your liking.
  11. Slice the chicken and add with the egg, peanuts, cilantro and coleslaw mix. Toss and cook for a minute or so to heat through.
  12. Serve, and garnish with more cilantro and peanuts…and a lime wedge or two!

Source: Slightly Adapted from:  The Curvy Carrot

 

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Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Onions and Fig

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I missed fig season. I blinked, and it was gone.

I made this recipe two fig seasons ago; I remember it as one of the first meals I was really proud of. It was a bit sophisticated (move over, corn-flake crusted chicken), balanced, and crave-worthy.

We were at our local produce shop a week or so ago, and I saw containers of tender figs; I got very excited. I had flashbacks to this dinner and I mentally put it on the menu. Today, they were gone. Not a single fig in sight. I was set on having this dinner tonight, so we substituted the figs with some fig preserve.

It was better than I remembered. And now, I am not restricted to making this in a tiny two week window in late August.  Win.

Ingredients
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter
1 yellow onion
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, divided
1/3 cup, or so, fig preserves
1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh parsley
*I think this would be delightful with a combo of fresh figs and the preserves. Reduce the amount of preserve if adding the fruit. Refer to original recipe for how to prepare

Instructions

  1. Let the pork sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F. Season the pork well with salt and pepper.
  2. Prepare your onions: Halve and slice the onion, length-wise (from root to tip)
  3. In a large pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Brown the pork tenderloin on all sides. Transfer the pork to a baking pan. We do this because we can now caramelize the onions in the same pan we browned the pork. Magic.
  4. Move the pork to the oven. Depending on your loin size, I find it takes anywhere from 20-30 minutes. Don’t go by time, though. The safest and most delicious way to tell when meat is ready is by checking temperature of the meat. When the thickest part of the loin has reached 145F, remove from the oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes.
  5. While the pork is roasting, we will caramelize the onions. Add the remaining butter, onions and salt to the pan over medium heat. After a few minutes, once the onions have a bit of colour on them, add the sugar and 1 teaspoon balsamic. Reduce the heat to low-medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 15 minutes (or, until the pork is done resting).
  6. When ready to serve, turn up the heat of the onions and add the fig preserves, remaining balsamic, and rosemary. Cook until heated. Serve with the pork and enjoy!

Source:
Adapted from Simply Recipes

Dinner Inspiration: Italian “Tapas”

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Sometimes I get bored with the same old formula of meat + starch + vegetable = dinner.  I love having a bunch of simple, small plates to pick and choose from. This is another reason why finding Dolcetto in Montreal was so exciting (see: this post for more details).

This dinner was a spread of prosciutto, ham, roasted red and yellow peppers, and crostini topped with ricotta and a tomato basil mixture. The highlight of this dinner, and the only one that might benefit from a recipe post, was the crostini. Use it for this purpose, or as a stand-alone appetizer

This was a really fun dinner shake up, and is completely doable on a weeknight.  It’s a way to slow down, have dinner last a little longer and spend a little more time with your favourite company. Best served outside (in my opinion!), so hurry before the summer evenings quickly turn into autumn nights.  Bring wine.

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Crostini with Ricotta with Tomato Basil Topping

Ingredients
1 cup ricotta cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1 demi-baguette, sliced
olive oil, for brushing

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved/quartered
¼ cup red onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, grated/finely minced
several leaves of basil, thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine ricotta and salt and pepper, lightly whipping with a spoon. Get creative here; add herbs and seasonings as desired!
  2. Combine tomatoes, red onion, garlic, basil, olive oil and salt and pepper. Set aside
  3. Preheat the oven to 400F. Brush one side of each slice of bread with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Toast until lightly golden, about 5-7 minutes or so. Watch closely.
  4. Assembly: spread desired amount of ricotta on toast and top with tomato-basil mixture.