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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 ūüôā
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 ūüôā
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 ūüôā

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 !!!

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‚Äôs no such thing as not indulging our sweet tooth during the weekend ūüėČ

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!

 

 

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. ūüôā¬†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. ūüėČ

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 ūüôā when I did not play with my furry babies ūüėČ

 

 

 

 

 

Green Olives Focaccia

Focaccia is flat bread that is oven-baked. Focaccia dough is pretty similar to pizza doughs.

You can serve Focaccia as an appetizer, snack or just table bread. Focaccia can be topped with herbs, onion, and cheese or even meet. Focaccia with Rosemary is a common focaccia style in Italian cuisine.

The main difference between pizza dough and Focaccia dough is that focaccia contain a higher quantity of yeast causing the dough to rise significantly. Also this higher quantity of yeast permits the dough to absorb a large amount of oil.

After you rolled out the dough, you need to dot the dough by creating multiple wells in the bread just by using your fingers. Spread olive oil on top either by hand or with a pastry brush before rising and baking.

Ingredients for about 10-12 servings

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour plus more for
  • 5 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, some extra for the top
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion (this time I used onion flakes)
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary (I had only dry one handy)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh oregano leaves
  • 4 tbsp. of green olives (I used stuffed ones)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a medium bowl. Wait a few minutes for the yeast to proofing. Add the yeast mixture and two tbsp. of olive oil to the flour and start working the dough. Add more flour if needed. Work the dough for about 5-10 minutes until is coming off your hands.

Transfer the dough to a oiled bowl. Cover loosely (with plastic wrap) and let stand in a warm area until dough has almost doubled in size. (approximately an hour)

Lined a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush it with 2 Tbsp. oil. Stretch and press dough on sheet into a rectangle slightly smaller than the sheet. Brush the top of the dough with the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil.

Preheat the oven to 475. Remove plastic wrap and dot the dough with your fingertips. Scatter onion flakes, rosemary, and oregano and stuffed mushrooms over dough; season with salt and pepper.

Bake focaccia until golden brown, 10‚Äď15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before slicing it and enjoy it ūüôā

 

green-olives-flat-bread-2

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 ūüôā

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 ūüėČ

savory-muffins-1

savory-muffins-2

savory-muffins-3

savory-muffins-5

 

Sweet and Savory Bread Puddings

I don’t know what you do when you have too much bread or ¬†stale bread in your kitchen but I would always come with a bread pudding version: sweet or savory depending on what else is there in the fridge or cupboards.

Bread pudding is a bread-based dessert popular in many countries’ cuisines . As you might know the main ingredients are stale bread and milk or cream, eggs and some ¬†form of fat: butter or suet. If you choose a sweet bread pudding version you also need sugar, dried fruits, nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, bourbon or rum extract. ¬†If you choose a savory variation you can also add cheese, mushroom, spinach, olives depending on your inspiration.

I  think no matter what kind you choose they both are a great choice for brunch.

Savory puddings can also be used as meal.

Sweet bread pudding:

dried prunes, cinnamon and dried prunes bread pudding 

bread-pudding-1bread-pudding-2bread-pudding-3

apples and cinnamon bread pudding 

raisins-and-apple-bread-pudding-1raisin-and-apple-bread-pudding

Savory bread puddings:

cheddar, feta and green olives bread pudding 

feta-and-cheddar-bread-pudding-1feta-and-cheddar-bread-pudding-2

Spinach and cheese bread pudding: 

spinach-and-cheese-bread-pudding-1spinach-and-cheese-bread-pudding-2

Spinach and goat cheese whole wheat bread pudding

dscn7610dscn7611

I hope that whatever your choice will be you enjoy ¬†the bread pudding ūüôā

No Butter Cinnamon Raisins Buns

As you might know, the main ingredients in a cinnamon roll are flour, cinnamon, sugar and butter. So you might ¬†think why no butter ? It’s not because I don’t like butter; I love butter. I love it too much and sometimes I prefer not to buy it so I can stay away from it

But who can stay away from cinnamon buns ?!? If you don’t use butter you can substitute with olive oil ( any oil of your choice it works ) ¬†and believe me there was almost no difference ūüėČ

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp instant traditional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large run free egg
  • 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup of 1% lactose free milk

Heat the milk but never reach boiling point.

In a bowl add 1/2 cup of warm water and 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 2 tbsp instant yeast. Let it activate for about 10-15 minutes.

In a large bowl add the flour, salt sugar and mix. Make an indentation, add the egg lightly beaten, milk and the yeast mixture. Start kneading until the dough is coming from your hands and it’s no sticky. ¬†You might have to add a bit of all-purpose flour. Knead for about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a clean, oily bowl and cover with a kitchen towel or plastic foil. Let it rise for about 1 hour in a warm place.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a thin rectangle. Brush with 3 Tbsp of olive oil ( you could also use grape seeds oil ). Top the dough with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 – 1 Tbsp cinnamon (to taste).

Starting at one end, tightly roll up the dough. Cut the dough into 2 inch pieces. Add the pieces in a square or round pan lined with oily baking paper. Brush the rolls with olive oil for a reach golden color. Cover them with plastic wrap and let them stend on the top of your preheat oven ( 375 F ) for about 30 more minutes.

Bake the rolls for about 25 – 35m minutes until nice and golden on top. While fresh from the oven brush them with some honey ( optional )

Let them cool for a few minutes and then serve and enjoy them ūüôā

 

no-butter-cinnamon-buns

                  ♥