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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

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. 🙂

Thank you and a homemade pizza

Thank you so much to all of you, my over 200 followers, for taking the time to stop by and following my blog.

Thank you for your comments but also for all your posts that inspire me daily.

Image result for 200 followers on wordpress

This week, I had a couple of days off, so called a short vacation that I needed it so much. My mind and body were crying for some time off. When I was asked what my plans were, I said that I just wanted to relax. Now I believe we are all different and we relax in our own way. Usually, when I relax means, I want to be equally productive and physically active and just at the end of the day, lazy. 🙂 I really like exuberance and happiness I feel after a good and thoroughly house cleaning or after a five-kilometer ( or more ) walk.

I just wanted to share with you what a day off means to me. I woke up at 06:00 AM instead of 05:00 AM. I started as usual with coffee and getting the breakfast ready. Becuase there was no rush I decided to make a frittata with feta cheese and fresh dill.

fritatta

Around 06:50 hubby and daughter left for work and college, so there were only my babies left in the house and me. After a few coffee sips, I put my furry boys in the crate on the balcony so they can enjoy the warm morning, so I started to clean the house. By 08:30 I finished two laundry loads and by 09:30 the cleaning was done. The cleaning included the windows as well. 😉

After a quick shower, I could finally enjoy the fresh scent of a clean house and my second cup of coffee while browsing the internet for lunch ideas. Homemade pizza was the winner. I decided for a Three Cheese Tuna- Crab Meat Pizza. I have to admit it turned out delicious. My daughter said: “I have no idea what you do or put on your pizza that makes it always the best pizza comparing with  the takeout ones ;)”

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 2 1/4 cups of whole-wheat flour ( I used 1/4 cup when kneading the dough )
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups of warm water
  • the juice of one lemon

For the pizza topping:

  • sweet basil tomato sauce
  • 100 gr mozzarella
  • 100 gr feta cheese
  • 50 gr of Parmigiano  petals
  • 1 large tuna in water ( no drain one )
  • 1 can of crab meat ( well drained )
  • 1/2 of a large organic white onion
  • green olives

Combine the flour, salt,  turmeric and chia seeds if using.

Put the yeast in a cup of warm water. When it start to bubble, pour the mixture over the flour. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and mix all together.  Once combined, knead by hand for about 5 to 10 minutes. The dough is ready when it feels soft, springy and elastic.  Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl, cover it and set it in a warm place.

In about an hour the dough should triple the size and be ready for the pizza. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Oil a work surface and roll the dough into a rectangle shape. Rol the dough in half and place it on the baking tray and start topping it.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Using a ladle add the sauce and using the back of the spoon swirl it all over the top of the dough. Top it with tuna, crab meat, thin slices of onion and green olives. Crumble the feta cheese and sprinkle shredded mozzarella and Parmigiano petals.

Cook in the preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes.

 

pizza 1

 

pizza 2

It feels like I’ve been making pizza since I was young. I started by using the ready made dough, but once I learned to make the dough, it became so natural to have a homemade pizza a few times a month.

Some people might think that is time-consuming, but I like it because while the dough is getting ready, I have the time to prepare the topping. While the pizza is in the oven, I got ready and left to wait for my daughter so we could enjoy 3 kilometers walk back home. We kept hydrated with lemon infused water. It was a good exercise that made us hungry, so when we reached home, we were so eager to enjoy that pizza and watch our favorite show: The Bridge.

 

lemon infused water.jpg

 

In the evening I didn’t do much but watched some videos on Youtube, planning my new knitting – crochet projects 🙂 when I did not play with my furry babies 😉

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Savory muffins

After we ‘overloaded’ on the Overloaded Muffins I was just craving for some savory ones for a change. Personally, I love both. These goodies are called Grab and Go Muffins. I had two for breakfast and two for lunch at work. I could have another two for dinner, no problem if I wouldn’t have to share them 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 chicken breast cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 1 cup frozen spinach, (chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 4 free run eggs
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan flakes ( save a few cheese flakes for the muffin’s top )
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup cashew milk ( you can use any milk of your choice )
  • 3 strings green onion ( I would say that green onion is highly recommended  in savory muffins. However,  I had no green onions handy so I substitute them with 1/4 red onion diced )
  • Himalayan  salt
  • pinch of sweet paprika

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Lined a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin papers.

In a on stick skillet saute the onion, spinach and mushrooms for a few minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Set aside to cool down.

In a small bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Not too much as you have already seasoned for salt the veggies.

In a large bowl mix together the eggs and the milk. Add the chicken, red pepper, Parmesan cheese  and  veggies mix. Stir until well combined.

Add the dry ingredients over the wet ones and stir gently until well combined.

Scoop the mixture in the prepared tray. Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown on top. Let it cool in the tray for about 5 minutes and than place the muffins of a cooling rack and just enjoy them 😉

savory-muffins-1

savory-muffins-2

savory-muffins-3

savory-muffins-5