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Weekend specials – Second weekend 2019, first real snow :)

Second weekend of 2019 came with first real snow in Toronto.

Snow blanketed the city from Saturday morning to well into the early hours of Sunday.

My initial plan was to go out and look for some flower pots but the biting chill in the air and the eye-watering winds changed my mind.

And it was just as well since I had a few projects to finish while inside: two scarfs that are ready to go to charity to hopefully help someone in need to keep warm this season, as well as starting my new pullover. (I am thinking of making a post sometime next week to showcase the progress of my pullover – if that’s something you think you’re interested in seeing, please leave a comment below!)

I also had plans to spend some time in the kitchen, doing what I enjoy best: cook. Which brings me to the best bit: weekend specials!

Saturday morning for breakfast, I decided to try a recipe that caught my attention: Potato Latkes from jyospassions.

Breakfast in the making: shredding 5 small to medium potatoes, drain well the excess water; season with salt a pinch of smoked paprika and dried dill.

Heat a nonstick pan and with a scooping spoon add the latkes to the pan. I pressed a bit the mixture and arrange the edges.

After the latkes were ready, in the same pan I grilled a few breakfast sausages which made this a more wholesome breakfast.

Shredded potatoes, salt, dill, smoked paprika and a bit of flour
Potato Latkes in the making
Potato Latkes and breakfast sausages

Since Saturday was a day for savory dishes, and so on Sunday we started the day with two kinds of pancakes: Orange oats pancakes – gluten free and double chocolate pancakes-also gluten free 🙂
I was so lucky to discover a very nice blog where I will return to for some more inspirations: giverecipe. 

In this post I will show you the Double chocolate pancakes.

Ingredients needed:

  • two large eggs
  • 1 cups of original almond milk (you can use whatever milk you prefer)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup 1/3 white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter powder (optional, I used it because I wanted to finish what I had left in the cupboard and the recipe was asking for chocolate chips which I did not have at this time )
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • cocoa syrup ( the original recipe was asking for chocolate genache and I am pretty sure would have been delicious, I just didn’t have what I needed so I made a cocoa syrup instead )
  • raspberries for garnish I would definitely recommend this to add some acidity to go with the rich cocoa 🙂
Double chocolate pancake


Double chocolate pancake

Looking at the snowy white canvas outside the kitchen window and knowing that I had to brave the biting cold come morning, was enough to arouse my craving for some good old-fashioned hot soup. And the winner was Lemon Chicken Soup from Pinchofyum.com. It is rich and hearty and frankly, quite delicious. Just the perfect hot dish for all soup lovers out there.

Lemon chicken soup
Lemon chicken soup

What I used for my soup: three large carrots, two medium parsnip, a quarter of a celery root,two medium 2 zucchini, fresh dill, two chicken breast, juice from one lemon, almond milk ( about a cup and a half ) and half a teaspoon turmeric, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper.

And of course there has to be another more substantial dish which was my adaptation of a Mediterranean lunch. I had some chicken breast stripes which I grilled in a non-stick pan over medium heat. I seasoned the chicken only with salt and lemon juice. I made a quick homemade tzatziki sauce, with Balkan yogurt, cucumber, fresh dill, salt and a pinch of garlic powder.

Pan roasted chicken stripes, oven roasted wedges with homemade tzatziki sauce


Pan roasted chicken stripes, oven roasted wedges with homemade tzatziki sauce

And if you were wondering if there was enough room left for desert I will let you know there was. Driven by the holidays that we just passed I decided to fall back on my favorite Apple crumble recipe.

Apple crumble
Apple crumble
Apple crumble – a bit messy but delicious

And I cannot end this post without showing you who kept me warm throughout the weekend 🙂

Sherlock , the grey tabby and Steve, the white and orange
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Good bye 2018 … Welcome 2019 !

2018 was an eventful year, but that was not the reason for my absence. Somewhere along the way, the drive that once fueled my desire, my passion for cooking dwindled until months had gone by without me realizing it.

Some major personal breakthroughs in 2018: (Not in a chronological order) the best thing that happened was that I found a “cure” for my digestive problems. Looking back, I realize that this was the turning point for me. Little by little, my passion for cooking returned and I found myself thinking of what recipes I could try my hand at again, and most importantly, what the next post could be. Additionally, I changed my department under the same company at work. I am very happy with my decision. I had the chance to learn new things and to meet a bunch of new, wonderful people. And last but not least, we have also decided it’s time for us to buy a condo and move to a new location. Like I said, it’s been a busy year.

All I can say looking back at 2018, is that I am so grateful to have such a wonderful family, including my two furry boys, Sherlock & Steve, of course :); I am so grateful for my friends and coworkers and not at least for being able to improve my health.

Do I have a list of resolutions ? Not really. But I have a few ideas I would love to stick with and achieve in 2019:

  1. to read more: I decided a book a month;
  2. to knit/crochet more: at least on little thing a month;
  3. Socialize more. As my daughter says YOLO.
  4. Blog more; a post a month (at least).

I am pretty sure most of you have a say that whatever we do the first day of a new year, we will do it through the year. So what better way to start the new year with than a platter with grilled cheese and ham sandwiches.

What cheese and ham did I use? Soft goat cheese, Old Cheddar cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, Brie and Camembert cheese along with Black Forest Ham. Who doesn’t want to eat cheese all year round?

Happy New Year 2019!!!

Ham and cheese sandwich ready for the pan

Ham and Cheese sandwiches in the pan
Getting the platter ready
Grilled ham and cheese platter for the first 2019 breakfast
Am I going to get a sandwich or not ?!?

Bon Appetite!
and
Happy New Year 2019 !!!

First Weekend Specials 2018 and Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I had so many plans to cook and to post many delicious meals and recipes for the first weekend of 2018, but unexpected bronchitis got my plans ruined. 😩

Anyway, I tried to satisfy some of our preferences for the first day of the year and to indulge a bit from breakfast through dinner 😉

Me and my daughter, we started the day with a chocolate chia pudding that I prepared the day before and let it in the fridge overnight. For that, I mixed three tablespoons of chia seeds with one tablespoon of each cocoa and brown sugar and 2 cups of unsweetened cashew milk. Give it a good stir or shake to mix all the ingredients in a jar and let it in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Now, you can imagine I had to let mine warm up for a while as eating right from the refrigerator was not an option at this point 😉

Cocoa chia pudding 2

While the two of us continued with some delicious Ricotta Chocolate Overloaded Pancakes:

Ricotta Pancakes.jpg

my hubby decided to move to the savoury side and enjoyed an Italian Sausages Omelette with Sauer kraut and homemade pickled beets. While the Sauer kraut was store bought I like to make the pickled beets at home. I just boil the beet with skin on. Let them cool down, peel them and cut them into cubes or chunks depending on your desire. I just drizzle the beet pieces with lemon juice ( I use the juice from a small lemon ) and half teaspoon balsamic and a  pinch of salt.

Sasauges Omelette

 

With such an indulgence for breakfast, you can imagine that our lunch was quite late, or we could call it an early supper. But this gave me a chance to take care of the cake. I made the same cake for my daughter’s  birthday, early December 2017. The cake was quite a hit after a try like ” mom, really I am not little anymore. You don’t have to make a cake every year …yadda, yadda, yadda. ” And because we all loved it I decided to make it again as the first dessert of 2018.

While the lunch was cooking, I prepared the ingredients for the cake. As a Romanian tradition, we would serve cabbage rolls for New Year. However, I did not go for the original recipe, but I made something to remind us of cabbage rolls. I had left two Italian sausages, and I made some pan-fried turkey meatballs from extra lean ground turkey. I cooked the sausages in a large pot. After they turned quite brownish, I added the sliced cabbage. I seasoned all with salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, dried dill and oregano. I give it a stir and let it cooked until the cabbage softened a bit. I added some more hot water and the turkey meatballs on top and let them simmer on low heat for another hour or so. If you are wondering why did I add boiling water instead of just water, is because the sausages and cabbage were already cooking and by adding the hot water you won’t stop the cooking process. I had to admit the combination of pork, turkey and cabbage was just delicious.

Sausages with cabbage

 

And we end our first day if 2018 with a decadent Chocolate Tiramisu:

You could check the original recipe, my inspiration for this delicious cake here.

Here is what I used. I changed a few ingredients, but the final result is very close.

  • 500 g ladyfingers
  • 500 ml coffee, sweetened with 1 tbsp of brown sugar ( I made it again, and I skipped the sugar and was just okay as well )
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 500 gr smooth ricotta
  • 300 gr semisweet chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee ( optional)
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • a few amaretto biscotti for decor, optional.

Here is the result. I think that the pictures talk a thousand words :

Chocolate tiramisu 1

 

Chocolate tiramisu 2

You could add a beautiful festive ribbon around. I just couldn’t find mine, and I had no energy to look for it. Like my daughter says ” mom, don’t put it away too well, you know that you never remember after that” LOL

 

Chocolate tiramisu 3

I have only one more comment to make about the cake: with every day that passes it becomes more delicious, the ladyfingers will be so moist and soaked with the coffee, and the cream cheese just melts into your mouth. Now it depends on how long you can resist it but in my opinion, the third day was the best, so maybe if you have guests, it’s better to prepare this one day ahead. 🙂

Turmeric Sandwich Bread

I love to make home made bread. The smell of freshly-baked bread is simply…mouth-watering. Most of the times I make buns. I think they are easy to share and eat at home, work or school and they are suitable for all meals: breakfast, lunch dinner.

Last week I wanted to try something different: a sandwich loaf. I followed pretty much my usual recipe, and I was impressed of the high bread I got.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. Instant yeast (or active dry yeast)
  • 1 Tbsp. Sugar (it helps using sugar but it works without as well, so it’s optional)
  • One tsp salt
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive oil (or any grape seeds oil)
  • 1/4 Tsp turmeric
  • about 1/4 cup additional bread flour to work the dough and flour the work surface

Directions:

1. In a medium size bowl, add the warm water, sugar, and yeast. In about 10 minutes the yeast should be activated.

2. In the large bowl add the flour, salt, and turmeric; stir all together. Add the yeast mixture and the oil. Work/knead the dough for a few minutes or until it comes off easily from your hands. You might need to add a bit more flour when you work the dough if it’s too wet or still sticks to your fingers.

3. Put the dough in an oily bowl. Brush the top of the dough with oil and cover it with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm place aside from any draft. Let it rise for about an hour. The dough should double the size.

4. Oil a loaf pan. Set the pan aside. Place the dough on a floured surface. Knead it for a minute by folding it a few times. Form a loaf shape and add it to the prepared loaf pan. Cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise for another half hour.5

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread for about 35 to 45 minutes until the top is golden brown. If you noticed that the top of the bread turns brown too soon, add a piece of aluminum foil to stop it from burning.

6. Let it cool completely on a wire rack.

Here is the result:

Turmeric loaf

 

Turmeric loaf 2

 

Turmeric loaf 3

 

I hope you enjoyed a slice of the turmeric sandwich bread!

♄

 

 

 

 

Tuna melts

When it’s time for grocery shopping, I always check the fridge and pantry for the items I have already. It’s good to know what I have left around because those should go first.

One of the things I hate the most is wasting food. I think most of you would agree with me that it can be pretty challenging to do the groceries to stay in the budget but also to buy healthy and nutritional food.

There might be a few reasons why I haven’t used left items through out the week:  we were not in the mood for a particular recipe, or I had a missing ingredient from the recipe that stopped me.  However, on Saturday mornings I am more eager to use what we have left around, and sometimes ideas come quickly, and the missing items are not as important anymore.

While the coffee was brewing and the kitchen started to smell of good things, I checked the fridge: half of tuna can; a little bit of cheese ( no more than 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella). Some white baguette that my hubby bought but that was not as fresh anymore. So it took me around 30 seconds to figure out how to use all of these ingredients before the new ones come to fill the fridge shelves. In other circumstances, I would love to have had some tomato slices or olives or maybe more fresh cheese, but everything that’s left has to be used.  I sliced the baguette, added the little bit of ketchup left in the bottle, put the tuna on top and sprinkle with cheese and bake for about 8 min in the preheated oven at 350 F and the last three minutes on broil.

I sliced the baguette, added the little bit of ketchup left in the bottle, tuna on top and sprinkled the cheese. I baked the baguettes  for about 8 min in the preheated oven at 350 F and the last three minutes on broil.

The result I think speaks for itself: Tuna melts

tuna melts 1

 

tuna melts 2

Bon Appetit! 🙂

Weekend specials

As much as I wanted these days to stay away from the kitchen, and mostly for the oven, we still had to eat something.  The idea to stay away from the oven it’s not as easy as it seems.

Like almost every Saturday, we indulged a frittata for breakfast. Usually, when I make the weekend frittatas, I just check the fridge and decide pretty quick what should I throw into the pan. This time the winners were: green olives; red pepper and tuna. The greens you can see in the picture is fresh dill. In my opinion, there is no frittata without fresh herbs. They make such huge difference in frittatas. I have to admit though, that I don’t have them always handy so I will use dry herbs instead. The herbs I used the most are dill, parsley, oregano or basil.

 

tuna frittata 3

 

Saturday’s lunch followed with a homemade (from scratch) pizza: Artichoke, Tuna, and Feta Cheese Pizza. Some of you might think tuna again? Well, the tuna can in olive oil I like to buy is pretty big, so I try to use it throughout the day. When it’s not possible, I would store the rest in an airtight glass container and use it in the next days. Most of the time the other half of the can will end up in a Greek Pasta Salad or Potato Tuna Salad.

What I like about making pizza is that you have just enough for lunch and dinner and you have time to focus on other projects.

 

artichoke tuna and feta pizza

And, of course, there’s no such thing as not indulging our sweet tooth during the weekend 😉

I checked what we had in the fridge and pantry, and the winner was chosen:  Cinnamon – chocolate chips buns! You might ask: why chocolate chips in a cinnamon bun but it was my daughter’s request to try them this way, and I have to say I will most definitely make them again. They were yummy!

 

Cinnamon chocolate chip buns

 

And because is Summer and it’s so hot, and it’s very humid here in Toronto, one way I ensure that we all stay hydrated is making citrus infused water that the whole family can enjoy.

 

citrus-infused-water-3

 

Stay chilled!

 

 

Long Weekend Specials

We celebrated Victoria Day this Monday, so we had a long and relaxing weekend. The weather was not friendly, and I had in mind a weekend with smoothies and salads, but it did not turn as I wanted.

The strawberries that I bought for the smoothies ended up in a melt-in-the-mouth goodness: Strawberry Clafoutis. I know I have another post about Clafoutis, which you can read here.  This time I used strawberries ( abut 250 grams) but they were giant in size, so I cut them into pieces.

Ingredients :

  • 250 g strawberries 

  • 4 eggs

  • 400 ml cashew milk (warmed up)

  • juice from half of lemon

  • 1/4 cup of grape seeds oil 

  • 3 tablespoons of sugar 

  • 1 cup of all purpose flour

Preheat the oven at 350. Oil a baking dish. Wash, drain and cut the strawberries.  Place the strawberries on the baking tray.

Lightly beat the eggs; add the sugar and whisk together until smooth. Stir in the flour.

Add the milk ( warmed up ) and the lemon juice. Pour into the baking dish over the fruits.

Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown.

Christmas Morning Pancakes

Makes about 10- 12 pancakes ( about 4 inch pancake )

Every Sunday morning our family will start the day feasting on pancakes. This past Sunday was even more special because it was Christmas day as well. I always get up early to get the batter started so by the time my hubby and daughter come to the kitchen, there will the perfect pancakes awaiting.

Our favorite are those loaded with blueberries but because it was Christmas morning I decided to use chocolate chips instead. 🙂

Right off the bat, my husband piled 6 pancakes onto his plate and devoured them with organic smooth peanut butter.  I have to admit I had three as well. Ops!  I just loved them simple like that. The chocolate chips did more than enough for my taste buds.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups GO-GO QUINOA Pancake mix ( the ingredients listed on the package were: Organic brown rice flour, organic tapioca flour, organic kaniwa flour, organic pink salt, xanthan gum, Baking soda, baking powder. )
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter powder
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract.
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened cashew milk
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl add the flour mix, peanut butter powder, sugar and chia seeds. Whisk until all ingredients are combined. Make a well in the flour mixture and add the milk and vanilla extract.  Stir until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and fold them into the batter.

Heat a skillet over the medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup of a batter for each pancake. Cook until small bubbles form and pop on the surface and the bottom is golden-brown. Flip it over and cook until golden -brown, about 4-5 minutes.

Store the pancakes on a cooling rack over a baking sheet to prevent the steaming.

Enjoy !

vegan-pancakes-2vegan-pancakes-3vegan-pancakes-4

 

Pineapple-Kiwi Smoothie

We are still playing with the Ninja blender. This time we tried a green smoothie just with green and yellow fruits.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium Granny Smith apples, cored and cut in pieces
  • 1 small fresh pineapple, cut in chunks; I used the juice from the container
  • 1 large red and green mango, pilled and cut in pieces
  •  2 medium ripped bananas
  • 2 large  ripped kiwi
  • 1 cup filtered water

Blend all the ingredients together to the desired consistency and enjoy it.

pinepple-kiwi-smoothie-2

pinepple-kiwi-smoothie

 
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